The Swap

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Book: The Swap by Megan Shull Read Free Book Online
Authors: Megan Shull
surprised about?
    â€œEl Capitán had a work thing, so it’s bro time, little buddy!”
    I turn away and stare out the window. Who the heck is El Capitán?
    Gunner gives me a weird look. “You feeling okay, buddy?”
    I nod and quietly pray he can’t tell that I’m on the verge of tears.
    But it doesn’t work.
    â€œC’mon, man, quit being so soft!” he tells me. “Please tell me you aren’t crying like a little girl.”
    That’s exactly what I’m doing , I think. I keep myself turned away, looking out the window.
    â€œTake your skirt off, ya big beauty!”
    Huh?
    â€œDude, relax. You stood up for yourself, right?”
    I keep quiet.
    â€œDid you win or did you lose?”
    I shrug. I have no idea what to say.
    He repeats the question. “Did you win or did you lose?”
    â€œWin, I guess.” I finally manage an answer.
    Gunner’s entire face lights up. “Nails, Jacko!” he says, reaching over and squeezing my shoulder.
    Nails?
    â€œYou took care of your business, little man. Just, you know, there will be some hell to pay. Let’s not tell The Captain just yet, okay?”
    â€œThe Captain?” I ask.
    Apparently I’ve said something funny. Gunner laughs and looks at me. “You’re sounding a little off, bro. Did you get your bell rung or what?”
    I shrug again.
    Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Gunner check himself out in the rearview mirror. “Lost about five pounds in sweat today. Good skate this morning with the boys. Grind now, shine later, right?”
    He turns the music up. “Nothing better than cruisin’ with all windows down, big dog! I can sing as loud and bad as I want.” He pauses and grins right at me. “Gonna stop and get my flow chopped. You in?”
    â€œUhhh, I guess?” I say. I have no idea what he’s talking about.
    Gunner looks surprised. “Seriously?”
    â€œSure.” I shrug. Whatever I said I would do makes Gunner very happy.
    His eyes light up and he reaches over again, grabbing my knee this time and squeezing it hard. “Pumped! Proud of you, man. Holdin’ it down. What did the girls think of your eye?”
    â€œHuh?”
    â€œIt’s a good look, Jacko. Beast mode!”
    Boys are so weird!
    Jack’s brother is kind of funny. He smiles a lot. “Bro,” he says. “Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit, right? What did the other dude look like?”
    â€œWhat other dude?” I say.
    Gunner laughs. “The donkey you dusted.”
    â€œUm, oh, not too good, I guess.” Yes, I’m just making stuff up at this point.
    â€œDid you destroy him?”
    â€œI guess?”
    â€œThat-a-boy, little man. Flat-out brawl. Showin’ a little grit!” He stretches his arm out toward me and ruffles my—Jack’s—thick, messy hair. “Showed some jam, bro!”
    I work up the nerve to look over at him again. He’s probably sixteen or seventeen, I guess. And he has the same blue eyes as Jack and the same wild dark hair. Gunner catches me looking. It’s awkward. “You sure you’re okay, little man?”
    â€œYeah,” I manage. “I’m good,” I say with a nervous laugh.
    I’m not exactly good! I’m riding in a truck with a kid I just met, and I’m in Jack Malloy’s body.

UNCORRECTED E-PROOF—NOT FOR SALE
    HarperCollins Publishers
    ..................................................................

    AS SOON AS I BUST out the back gym door, I kind of freeze in my tracks. Small problem, right? I forgot to ask Ellie what kind of car I’m supposed to look for.
    I stand there and stare out into the bumper-to-bumper line of parents waiting to pick up their kids and just keep thinking, This has to be a dream . . . tell me this isn’t really happening . But I’m pretty sure it is happening. No, scratch that,

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