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Redfall Loves You All
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Writer Bobby Coxx
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Redfall Loves You All
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#2
2. Of Kings and Queens
Bobby Coxx
Dec 5, 2015
1
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17 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!X9IfwHKtw4mtCiy8gzQWposted on PENANA

Zack Maritanocopyright protection95PENANAKbtfvAeljO

-Drum Major of the Redtails Marching Bandcopyright protection95PENANAEhXmxu3hYA

-Captain of the Redfall Boys’ Track and Field Teamcopyright protection95PENANAlk4YDC6UbX

Rita turned up the collar of her old denim jacket. The wind picked up, blowing leaves across the asphalt in front of her as she walked. The trees looked barer and barer every day, and the once brilliant colors in the autumn foliage had all largely faded to brown. The green of the turf field never seemed to fade though, and as she stepped through the gate of the chain link fence she could hear the sounds of football practice clearly through the chilly air.copyright protection95PENANAQV8kbDUpZe

Cheer practice had just finished; girls in sweatshirts and jackets and gloves dispersed in every direction, excitedly buzzing about the upcoming night.copyright protection95PENANAeDvb02G4jE

Rita found Elaina standing on the track that ran around the football field, and Elaina’s face lit up as she approached.copyright protection95PENANAEFZIDCkKww

“Rita!” Elaina said. “Tell me it went well!”copyright protection95PENANAHmrQGDtB3t

“Well,” Rita looked away, rubbing her neck, “it depends on what you mean by ‘well.’”copyright protection95PENANAPh7lt7nabH

“Did we get funding or not?” Elaina said, frowning.copyright protection95PENANAPQmOy0qTKX

Rita shook her head. “The superintendent was worried that we went over budget for Homecoming, he said that the Chess Club wasn’t a priority.”copyright protection95PENANApskRi1vMCy

“Did you tell him we have a real shot to win Nationals?” Elaina said.copyright protection95PENANAgsQnNjvbtG

Rita nodded. “I told him it’s hard to win if you can’t afford a bus to get there. He was sympathetic; he just didn’t want to give you any money.”copyright protection95PENANASixe76eyZZ

Elaina pouted. “That’s why I don’t tell people I’m in Chess Club. We’re a joke! We’re gonna end up pulling up to Nationals in a minivan, it’s like they don’t even care how we reflect on Redfall!”copyright protection95PENANAvprPhKRMwu

“But,” she said with a shrug, “at least Homecoming is gonna kick ass this year.”copyright protection95PENANAkMWaaKuFVY

Rita snorted. “Are you sure about that? Do you know who planned it?”copyright protection95PENANAmNgT2oZgWZ

“I have faith in you!” said Elaina. “Besides, if it was so expensive that the school can’t afford to get us a bus then that’s a pretty big first step.”copyright protection95PENANAfsoHhGr9sY

“You’re on the Court, right?” Rita said.copyright protection95PENANADMLAXVkrAg

“Yeah…” said Elaina, distaste on her face. “All that means is I gotta get there early to decorate, I can’t pregame and I can’t get elected Queen.”copyright protection95PENANApW4GQ64Qm1

“Damn,” Rita said, smiling. “Who’s Danny gonna dance with?”copyright protection95PENANAPCtekLUMUm

Elaina laughed. “If I don’t get elected Queen then Danny doesn’t get elected king. Those are the rules!”copyright protection95PENANAKx9w76rry2

Rita laughed, but something in Elaina’s face changed. “You’re pretty good at winning elections though, huh?”copyright protection95PENANAIYZMFPSJFf

Rita put her hands up. “Oh, please. Me? Homecoming Queen? I’ll be happy if I never hear the word ‘Homecoming’ again.copyright protection95PENANALvSeJcZEZT

Elaina laughed and excused herself to get ready, and Rita decided to do the same. She caught Preston’s eye on the sideline as she passed, and he waved to her merrily. Smiling, Rita looked at her phone on the way back to her car.copyright protection95PENANA1JqafyhH0Q

One new message from Zack: I don’t even need a ride tonight!copyright protection95PENANAJIOIuuyndd

She laughed and went home to prepare.copyright protection95PENANACZIvdsIc7H

***copyright protection95PENANA68rxiG5Ao5

Redfall did Homecoming a little differently than most towns; traditionally, Redfall’s homecoming game was held on Thanksgiving Day against Meadowland High so the most alumni would already be home for the holiday. In order to avoid any familial conflicts, Redfall High’s homecoming dance was held the night before.copyright protection95PENANAq7OfQjJoGX

Redfall’s administration thought that this timing had the twofold benefit of keeping kids out of trouble; they reasoned that nobody wanted to stay out late and act recklessly the night before Thanksgiving and an important rivalry football game. Sometimes that was even the case.copyright protection95PENANACjWlPaNxmU

Zack walked into the school’s gymnasium and squinted in the low light. The DJ, clearly a professional, played some sort of house music that Zack had never heard before, and everywhere he looked bodies were grinding on bodies. A second Redfall tradition; students only took dates to the Prom, everybody went single to Homecoming. Dates were less efficient.copyright protection95PENANAet2F0lm5WK

He made his way over to where Danny and Elaina were dancing and said hi. They stopped momentarily, but Zack could tell that he was interrupting.copyright protection95PENANAbmS0CIjm60

“Where’s Preston at?” he said.copyright protection95PENANAjIkg39qRGM

Danny shrugged. “All over the place. Guy’s the life of the party.”copyright protection95PENANAMUgPAgbWm7

Zack chuckled and backed away. Preston looked forward to school dances like young children look forward to Christmas.copyright protection95PENANAHyuzy6hSso

As if on cue, somebody grabbed his shoulder. “Yo Zack!” Preston said excitedly. He pulled Zack in for a hug and gave him a couple of firm claps on the back, with so much enthusiasm that Zack stumbled when they separated.copyright protection95PENANASM6c2als22

“Looking good, man!” Zack pointed out. Preston, dressed in a white suit that fit him perfectly, stuck out clearly.copyright protection95PENANAfOWvExMPt8

“I love dances, man, they’re my favorite. I already made out with two girls and got a third chick’s number!”copyright protection95PENANAWaHqKfx170

Zack laughed, bewildered. “How the hell do you do it?”copyright protection95PENANAp0MwdOGyhJ

“Confidence, buddy!” said Preston. “Try it out! I’ll catch up later.” Preston waded back into the sea of bodies, leaving Zack standing awkwardly on the wall.copyright protection95PENANAAwxx2b5O0y

“Confidence,” Zack said to himself. He looked around, no sign of Rita. He took a deep breath and walked up to the nearest girl, a skinny blonde Junior. Megan something-or-other. She would work.copyright protection95PENANAXXJEotUVv1

“Uh, hey,” Zack said. He waited patiently until she turned. “You were in my math class that time, right?”copyright protection95PENANAWU2Iqfx7OO

“Uh… yeah, I think you’re right,” said Megan smiling politely.copyright protection95PENANAQploWoA2cB

“You wanna dance?” said Zack.copyright protection95PENANAAaykOXOJTj

“Um, actually, I’m just gonna run to the bathroom,” she said, retreating.copyright protection95PENANALPeNxE25MR

Zack sighed, bemused.copyright protection95PENANATDgf1dDBfQ

“Damn, that was pathetic,” said a familiar voice behind him. He turned to find Rita laughing at him, looking absolutely radiant.copyright protection95PENANAcQ1LaQIZzB

“Holy shit,” said Zack, “you look great! Why don’t you dress like that all the time?”copyright protection95PENANAikqw7Yba3Y

Rita laughed. “Cause I usually like wearing real underwear. And breathing.”copyright protection95PENANA1XBhcCuQeJ

She wore a short black dress, accented with gold. Her hair was styled up like a fiery crown on her head and she had clearly taken extra time with her makeup.copyright protection95PENANAHqAIbKyUK7

“Try not to drool,” she said with a smirk.copyright protection95PENANAv2rVzzTLJW

Zack made a show of looking her up and down again and shrugged. “I am what I am.”copyright protection95PENANAJLUl26YxXc

Rita laughed and leaned against the cinder block wall. “At least it’s gonna be over tomorrow. All this class president stuff is exhausting.”copyright protection95PENANAhEDRmPCVJm

“Looks like you did a good job,” said Zack, gesturing at the sea of undulating teenagers. “The DJ’s kicking ass.” He leaned next to her on the wall, facing the crowd.copyright protection95PENANA2epuaY34KN

Rita exhaled out her nose and shook her head. “Remember back in middle school how much fun dances were before everybody was so horny all the time?”copyright protection95PENANA1uyVPA1N8Z

Zack nodded, grinning. “Don’t you miss just getting dressed up and rocking out with all of our friends?”copyright protection95PENANA0pDDhZsTVb

“Back before Preston was good looking,” Rita said, pointing at him as he turned the girl he was with around and began kissing her.copyright protection95PENANAgXqFsAEvEp

Zack laughed, shaking his head. Rita leaned over against his shoulder.copyright protection95PENANAjGTRBJsDxA

“Remember how cool we were in middle school? Back when we were the only two in the whole place who would actually dance with each other?” she said.copyright protection95PENANACx0fbifDca

Rita caught a glint in Zack’s eye.copyright protection95PENANAPs8g8ARM6w

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he said.copyright protection95PENANAbpc5gNOIql

“Probably not,” she said dubiously.copyright protection95PENANAj2Ski4CxHO

Zack grinned and grabbed her hand. He lead her towards the middle of the gym, through the crowd.copyright protection95PENANAIxhQNpqEcw

“Where are you going?” she said, laughing.copyright protection95PENANAanVnscahVB

“Right here,” said Zack, stopping on top of the Redtails logo on the center of the basketball court. He held out his hand. “May I have this dance?”copyright protection95PENANACfEvzWzcth

Rita blinked at him, and then looked around at all of the couples rubbing their crotches together.copyright protection95PENANA1bOi2CIshU

“Are you serious?” she said.copyright protection95PENANAZsiVPK7022

He tilted his head, his smile only getting wider.copyright protection95PENANABEhfaRbJ3F

She looked around again, and then back at Zack. Finally, she shrugged. “Sure, what the hell.” She took Zack’s hand. He grinned and put the other around her waist, pulling her in close.copyright protection95PENANA14RQnTs5mK

“What the hell is this?” she said, laughing.copyright protection95PENANA0lcig23n35

“Trust me, I took a salsa class in Mexico last summer. Now, it’s a four count- Just follow my lead.”copyright protection95PENANAqEJIUUz6ED

Rita had seen better teachers than Zack in her life, but it didn’t really matter. She kept stepping on his feet, he kept elbowing other couples, and they undoubtedly looked rather silly, but Rita was surprised to realize that she didn’t really mind.copyright protection95PENANALFIDv6wYbS

Panting, out of breath, they stopped for a minute to rest. Rita seemed about to say something, but she stopped when she caught Zack’s eyes. Zack had pretty eyes, now that she thought about it. He looked down at her lips… how come he had never really noticed them before? They parted, slightly. Her skin was perfect- smooth, silky even, and in the back of his mind Zack knew that he desperately wanted to touch it. He gently took her by the waist with both hands…copyright protection95PENANAJceWuuZxS2

And the music stopped. Zack, surprised, looked up and let his hands fall back to his sides.copyright protection95PENANACjGm1BgBHU

“Yo, Redfall! How you doin’?” The DJ said over the microphone. The crowd cheered.copyright protection95PENANAesAX663C5e

The crowning, Rita mouthed. She probably said it, he just couldn’t hear her over the rest of the students. She straightened her dress, a little embarrassed, and turned to watch the proceedings. Zack ran a hand through his hair.copyright protection95PENANAvOrJKVeJs7

“I’d like to turn it over to the chairwoman of your Homecoming Court, the one, the only, Elaina DeLuca!copyright protection95PENANAL5qsss3I3K

The crowd cheered and Elaina took the mic.copyright protection95PENANADidefjkiWp

“Redfall High School! The votes are in! And it is my honor to crown your Homecoming Queen…”copyright protection95PENANAxseYcZTrIm

The crowd grew silent, save for the sound of two hundred girls crossing their fingers.copyright protection95PENANAyusYXUq1Du

“…your class president, Rita Flynn!”copyright protection95PENANAMgM0u1kPjg

The crowd cheered, and Rita took a step back into Zack, surprise written on her face. She looked at him apologetically and turned, almost reluctantly. She slowly walked up to Elaina to receive her tiara.copyright protection95PENANAeRJtPVsJmb

Zack could have sworn that he saw Elaina wink as she put it on Rita’s head, and Rita turned to smile embarrassedly at the crowd.copyright protection95PENANA5VGyTDskF5

“And your 2015 Homecoming King is…”copyright protection95PENANAOrmArQCLGV

Zack’s heart jumped. Maybe…copyright protection95PENANA2VMLoCHQl4

“…Preston Morris!”copyright protection95PENANA2rZIZTmsd1

The crowd went wild. Preston galloped up to the table, clicking his heels together and busting out a dance move as Elaina placed the crown on his head. He bowed elaborately to Rita and kissed her hand, and the DJ put on the first slow song of the night. The crown parted and Preston led Rita onto the floor…copyright protection95PENANAx1sTCUKeGq

Zack found himself walking away. He passed a group of his friends from the marching band on the way out who gave him quizzical looks, but for some reason he just didn’t feel like dancing. Or watching Rita dance with Preston, for that matter. He left the gym and stepped outside.copyright protection95PENANAaIlXuKzbBV

A group of boys stood in a circle on the sidewalk and smoked cigarettes. Zack sulked over.copyright protection95PENANAgDmflm8HOl

“You guys aren’t feeling it either?” he said.copyright protection95PENANAJlncf060fM

The kid to his right shrugged, “Dances aren’t really my scene.”copyright protection95PENANArpvMnZxWb8

Zack stuck out his hand. “Zack.”copyright protection95PENANARrLeH7APOo

The kid shook it. “Marcos.”copyright protection95PENANAbyKzK0AQ0P

Marcos went around the circle, introducing Lenny, EJ, and Javier. They didn’t like dances either.copyright protection95PENANADrf9eD9LAk

“You look down, Zack. What’s the matter?” said Marcos.copyright protection95PENANAUsMFGuMhkB

“You can tell?” said Zack. He shrugged. “I dunno. It’s a girl. I’m confused.”copyright protection95PENANAGw9q5TrGKr

Javier held out a box of cigarettes. “Always helps me think better.”copyright protection95PENANAwoTMx7pGTZ

Zack didn’t smoke, but he took one anyway. “Got a light?”copyright protection95PENANA1NrOt7ifpC

Marcos and his friends weren’t bad people, and they made Zack feel a little bit better. They decided to leave before long though, and Zack had no ride. He was about to go inside and find Danny to hopefully explain his problem when Danny bumped into him.copyright protection95PENANAR580veUXVE

“Let me get this straight,” Danny said into his phone. He distractedly fist-bumped Zack in greeting. “You’re at the Meadowland police station. All three of you.”copyright protection95PENANAor3hdApDgj

He paused. Zack stood by and listened.copyright protection95PENANACi636zboPA

“Don’t give me that, you screwed up. Yes. Yes, I’m on the way. I’ll give Coach a call, sort this out. Alright, bye.” Danny hung up and punched the wall. Zack stared at him, waiting.copyright protection95PENANA1GFaHboC8k

“Mikey, Sammy and Garcia just got arrested in Meadowland, apparently,” Danny said.copyright protection95PENANAhxLkPZUfCb

“Arrested?” Mikey, Sammy and Garcia were three upperclassmen on the football team, specifically on the offensive line. “What the hell were they doing?”copyright protection95PENANAyetFiAfuZ4

“Fuck if I know,” Danny said, fuming. “They said something about a prank, I think they got caught messing with Meadowland’s locker room. I dunno. But I’m sure they’re not playing tomorrow anymore.”copyright protection95PENANA40LKatWz55

“Can I help you?” said Zack.copyright protection95PENANATmCFGsEBHg

Danny shook his head. “Tell Elaina I’m taking a ride to figure it out. I’ll catch you later.”copyright protection95PENANAMfvgVNQahP

The two bumped fists and Zack went inside to find Elaina. He didn’t have to go far; he found her standing outside of the gym on her phone. She looked surprised when she saw him.copyright protection95PENANAemQ071u4AA

“Zack, you’re still here!” she said. “Rita thought you left, I think she was a little upset.”copyright protection95PENANA9uWMaDfPfW

“Wait, really? No, I was just outside,” he said. “Fuck.”copyright protection95PENANA51cBi7o8hG

“Hey... I’m sorry about that, Zack, that was a shitty thing of me to do,” said Elaina. “She didn’t want to be Queen. I just figured it might be good for her, show her a little appreciation. I didn’t realize you guys were gonna...”copyright protection95PENANAYw3OxbP1fq

Zack shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. Is she still here?”copyright protection95PENANABpVyc5crUr

Elaina shook her head. “But don’t worry about it, you two can make up tomorrow at the football game. It’ll be okay, I promise.”copyright protection95PENANAn0tABLI0T0

Zack shrugged. “No need, she’s allowed to dance with whoever she wants to. It’s fine.”copyright protection95PENANAHSxLG4Wv6c

“But that’s the thing Zack, she…” Elaina trailed off. “I dunno. I don’t get you two.”copyright protection95PENANAVIBRhNWteR

Zack glowered over her, but he realized he couldn’t bring himself to be mad at Elaina for such a made-up sleight. “And Preston?”copyright protection95PENANAVCSodt9Vu3

Elaina gestured. “Still in there, killing it. And don’t worry about it, their dance was the most platonic I’ve ever seen him.” She glanced outside. “Say, have you seen Danny?”copyright protection95PENANAVcVsXBxU7D

Zack nodded. “I guess a couple of his lineman got arrested in Meadowland. He said he was going to go get Coach.”copyright protection95PENANA63mHUDvR7K

Elaina’s eyes widened, but after a second she shrugged. “He’ll figure it out. I’ve gotta go get drunk, it’s been a long night. You want to join me? You look like you could use a drink.”copyright protection95PENANAJ2mBqz5AvA

Zack sighed. He shouldn’t have wanted to, but he did. “Nothing better to do,” he mumbled.copyright protection95PENANADrMzTKbrEi

***copyright protection95PENANA5Kmrsh5Y8c

“So are you two ever going to acknowledge your feelings for each other?” Elaina said. The bottle of scotch was half empty on the table.copyright protection95PENANAISe5tFEzfa

“Depends. What kind feelings does she have for me?” Zack said, carefully enunciating.copyright protection95PENANA9TBWsvHDWl

“How should I know? She can’t even acknowledge them herself,” Elaina said.copyright protection95PENANAW16iszAxxI

Zack shrugged. “I don’t think I can either. I think it’s how I was raised. I’m stoic.”copyright protection95PENANAKfBYk5DZET

“That’s the problem,” Elaina said, frustrated. “You two are too damn similar.”copyright protection95PENANA9OMLLegsSc

Zack had nothing to say, so he reached for the liquor bottle. Elaina’s phone buzzed.copyright protection95PENANAOOdU7GtHe1

“Oh, Danny says Sammy and Mikey and Garcia aren’t playing tomorrow after all.”copyright protection95PENANAqYh1WB7ABM

Zack took a drink. “How bad could it be?”copyright protection95PENANAuLAgwmuNOn

***copyright protection95PENANAZCcdxjU118

Danny hit the ground, hard, and his head bounced off the turf. A two hundred and thirty pound tackle fell on top of him. When he finally forced his way up his vision swam a little, but he ran back to the huddle dutifully.copyright protection95PENANA2s6ju3VBEx

“And Fitzgerald is sacked for the sixth time today,” said the announcer through the loudspeaker.copyright protection95PENANAn8iYoPkTC9

Elaina’s hands had not moved from her eyes in three plays. The cheerleaders had long since stopped cheering; their coach had ordered them to kneel on the track in solidarity with Danny for the beating he had been taking. “They’re gonna kill him. He’ll actually die on the field and I’ll have to wear black at his funeral,” she said.copyright protection95PENANAgCMtQkMKlO

“These freshman linemen are terrible!” Zack said, outraged, standing against the fence behind Elaina. The band director liked to conduct the marching band at Homecoming; Zack was left without a job other than looking good in his uniform. “You’re supposed to stop the sack! That’s your job!”copyright protection95PENANASogZIK2ElH

Danny took another snap and just barely got rid of the ball before he got hit again. He landed on his rear on the turf and pounded his fist into the ground when he saw the pass go incomplete.copyright protection95PENANAbJPuHej27W

“Meadowland doesn’t even have an offense,” Zack lamented. “They just have to give him enough time to throw the damn ball and we’ll win.”copyright protection95PENANAbozYRpiE9D

“Hey, have you seen Rita?” Elaina said, looking around.copyright protection95PENANAs22J1Kt4pP

“No, I haven’t,” Zack said, frowning.copyright protection95PENANALAyA4fOohW

“I don’t know why she would miss the homecoming game. You should text her, man. Maybe she’s not feeling good.”copyright protection95PENANAltlUrdjJSt

I hope she feels better than I do, he thought.copyright protection95PENANAnlwp4xayBz

The defense held, and Danny reluctantly marched back onto the field. Zack saw him yell at his linemen, and the first snap he took he handed the ball off before he could get knocked down again. Gain of a yard, nothing doing.copyright protection95PENANAnmaVXfbMDs

Danny took another snap and fell back, and he fired the ball down the field to Preston. Preston would have caught it, but he took a wicked hit on the way down from a defender. A referee called defensive pass interference, and Preston limped back into the huddle.copyright protection95PENANAIZV4Tnid6a

“Preston’s gonna die too,” said Elaina.copyright protection95PENANAHtwdTAK48m

Zack frowned. He’d be bummed if Preston died, Preston was just a genuinely good guy.copyright protection95PENANADwJOrG3CsH

Danny took another hit and limped off of the field, fourth down. The trainer looked at him on the sideline and the conversation got heated, as if Danny wanted to continue despite being advised not to.copyright protection95PENANA5bG1gzozNu

Zack discretely checked his phone and Elaina gazed pointedly at it. She gestured at the Redfall sideline towards Danny, trying to walk off some sort of lower body injury, and Preston, jogging in place to stay loose. “They’re fighting for what they want.”copyright protection95PENANAJuYgHSQsWZ

Zack frowned. The first rule of the marching band was that there could be no cell phone use while in uniform. And besides, he didn’t know exactly what he wanted. But on the other hand… he supposed he knew where he should start.copyright protection95PENANAPAwyoXfrAH

***copyright protection95PENANA8GTOHao6Jb

Rita lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Her dog, Brady, kept her company, and she idly scratched him behind the ears.copyright protection95PENANABtGzJosAQo

“Did I mess up, buddy?” she said. Brady had no answers.copyright protection95PENANAAFY6em4tOF

She sighed and stretched. She didn’t feel sick, but for some reason she couldn’t bring herself to get out of bed for the football game.copyright protection95PENANAbWl4L2fa8Y

“You think they’re winning?” she said. Brady smiled a doggie smile. “You’re no help,” she said.copyright protection95PENANAmJr2jbqLLh

Her phone buzzed, and she looked at it; Message from Zack. She bit her lip and opened it.copyright protection95PENANAamW8savxDj

Rita! Sorry I split so early last night pal, I was hoping I’d catch you at the game. You feeling alright?copyright protection95PENANAcOgxT2A9cJ

Rita found herself smiling. She wrote back:copyright protection95PENANA7ytzBMK1yw

Hey! Yeah, I was feeling lousy but I think I’m better now. Coffee tonight?copyright protection95PENANAiITfRlqmT4

She sat on the side of her bed and stretched. “Yeah, I bet they’re winning.”copyright protection95PENANAG5SXCMZcVc

***copyright protection95PENANAW3LpDmbnnK

At the end of the fourth, Redfall only trailed by seven and had possession of the ball. Zack saw the tackle coming, and Danny did too. The freshman linebacker did nothing to block it, and the biggest player on the Meadowland Mustangs made a beeline for Danny. He knew the hit was coming, but Preston was open! He let go of the ball just as he got hit. Zack heard the impact when Danny was driven into the ground, but Preston had the ball! He ran it all the way to the five-yard line before he was brought down, under a minute to go on the clock.copyright protection95PENANAUGtNVk9lH2

Danny struggled to his feet, and on the very next play managed to run the ball into the end zone himself. The game’s shift in momentum and subsequent overtime victory would be brought up at Redfall Thanksgiving celebrations for years.copyright protection95PENANApo8ilK5lX1

Zack and Rita met for coffee and agreed that the dance had been a lot of fun right up until the coronation ceremony. Any awkwardness was blamed solely on Elaina; she should have known that the surprise attention would catch Rita off guard. The coronation was so unexpected that Zack didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye before he left. Preston wasn’t even that great a dancer, Rita claimed, and he had obviously never taken a salsa class.copyright protection95PENANAxT4iiHFu52

She drove Zack home afterwards. He cracked a joke as she pulled into his driveway, just as usual. She parked the car and looked over at him.copyright protection95PENANAe0JIOF2Y0K

“Thanks for the ride, pal,” he said with a wink.copyright protection95PENANA1q99JuTPQR

He then hesitated, seemingly wanting to say something more. He opened his mouth, she opened hers, and he looked away, his face burning. “I’ll catch you tomorrow,” he said, retreating out of the car.copyright protection95PENANAQoKVH3DmxJ

Rita laughed to herself. “Goodnight, Zack,” she said out the window. She sighed as she pulled out of the driveway, but couldn’t stop herself from smiling as she drove away.copyright protection95PENANApMK8vyNyxO

From that night on, both of them would look back on Homecoming Week 2015 in a decidedly happy, nostalgic light.copyright protection95PENANAiyfrHYWBOM

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