Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sneak Peek at All-American Liars Chapter 2

Hi there lovely readers,

I'm working away at All American Liars with the goal of publishing it in late April. I'm pretty excited and it's hard to wait, so I'm sharing Chapter 2 with you today. :)

If you missed Chapter 1, read it here.

Keep in mind, this hasn't gone through the final proofread, so there may be mistakes in it.


Chapter 2

Tristan’s parents were standing in the doorway of Principal Hastings’s office watching him, and neither one looked happy. Tristan’s dad’s face was a blank slate and his mom’s was set with a frown. The police officer who had come to the gym earlier with the principal stood behind Tristan’s parents with arms crossed.
Tristan’s mouth went dry.
Annie put a hand on his arm. “Want me to wait outside?” She glanced toward the door to the hallway, fidgeting as she did so.
Tristan simply looked at her for a moment before shaking his head. “No, it’s okay. Go on home.” He pulled her toward him with his hand still grasping hers and gave her a quick hug. “Call you later.”
Annie gave him a small smile as she backed away. Then she pulled the faux fur-lined hood of her anorak over her head and almost ran down the hall.
Tristan took a deep breath and strode toward Principal Hastings’s office, but his courage failed him and he paused in the doorway. His parents sat in the two wingback chairs opposite Principal Hastings, who leaned against the edge of his desk facing them. The officer moved to stand in the corner of the room behind the desk. He watched with a stoic face as Tristan entered.
The principal stood as Tristan came in. “Have a seat, Tristan.” He motioned toward his desk chair, which sat to the side of the desk rather than behind it.
“I’m fine,” Tristan said as he stood still in the doorway. He’d rather be standing when his parents heard whatever Principal Hastings was about to tell them. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good news.
“Go ahead and close the door.” He gestured toward the office door, which hung wide open to Tristan’s right.
Tristan sighed. “All right.” He closed the door quietly before turning back toward the four adults in the room.
“So, Patrick, what’s this about?” Tristan’s dad asked as he leaned forward. “Why is there an officer here?”
“Yes, what’s going on?” Tristan’s mom asked as she fidgeted with the zipper on her purse. She glanced toward the officer before looking at Tristan. “Surely this officer isn’t here for our Tristan. He’d never do anything illegal.”
Principal Hastings started to speak, but his voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat and tried again, measuring his words as he spoke. “Officer Vaughn is here as a part of our school’s zero tolerance policy. He and another officer inspected the school, using their dogs, in search of illegal substances.” He paused and made eye contact with Tristan, frowning. His face had a gray tinge that made Tristan look away. It was the pall of disappointment. But what could he be disappointed about? Tristan hadn’t ever done any drugs, and he certainly didn’t have any in his car or locker. What in the hell was going on? Tristan’s stomach curled in on itself.
“What are you getting at, Patrick?” Tristan’s mom asked, her hands now clutching her handbag.
“Laura, I don’t know how to tell you… I’m so disappointed myself…” Principal Hastings spoke slowly as he turned from Tristan to look at Tristan’s parents. “They found steroids in Tristan’s truck.” He leaned toward the cop, who handed him a small plastic bag with a travel-size Rolaids bottle inside, surrounded by a few large white capsules.
Tristan jumped as if he’d been shocked. “What?” exploded out of his mouth. “No way. That’s impossible. I’d never…”
Tristan’s dad jumped out of his seat. “Are you serious? Steroids?” he barked. His body stilled, tense as he turned back to Officer Vaughn. “Am I to assume you got a warrant for my son’s truck?”
Officer Vaughn produced it and showed it to Tristan’s dad. “Judge Collins had a slow day,” he deadpanned.
Color built in Tristan’s dad’s face as he read the page. He let out a “hmph!” before moving to stand directly in front of Tristan. “Son, be honest now. Have you been doping?”
Tristan’s face grew hot. He must be the same shade of red as a cardinal’s feathers. “No. No way. I’d never do that. No way.” He was stunned. How… how could this happen? He had never even laid eyes on steroids, much less taken any. He’d heard whispers about other players using, but not Tristan. How in the hell would there be steroids in his truck? The color drained from Tristan’s face as it dawned on him that someone had to have put the drugs in there. “Someone must have planted them,” he blurted out. “They aren’t mine,” he finished, realizing how lame he sounded.
His dad’s eyebrows shot up as he leaned in close to Tristan’s face. “That’s… hard to believe. Who on earth would put steroids in your truck?”
Tristan couldn’t hold his dad’s gaze. He looked at his mom, who remained seated in the crisp wingback chair.
She was starting to cry. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined that you would take drugs, Tristan. You’re so talented. You don’t need them. I can’t believe it.” She took a tissue out of her purse and dabbed at her eyes.
“I didn’t take them,” Tristan insisted. “I wouldn’t do that. I’m telling you guys. Someone planted them in my truck. It has to be.”
“STOP IT,” Tristan’s dad raised his voice as he glared at him. “If you’re going to make a huge mistake like this, at least own up to it. We’ve raised you better than that.”
Tristan clenched his hands as he stepped toward his dad. “I swear. They aren’t mine. I don’t know how they got in there. You have to believe me.”
His dad put his hand up to silence him. “Have a seat,” he said as he glared at the wall over Tristan’s shoulder, refusing to meet Tristan’s eyes.
Tristan slumped into the chair. His heart was beating too fast, and he felt his chest tightening. Tears slipped down his cheeks and he cried quietly. He was so confused and embarrassed, but he couldn’t stop them from coming.
“What happens now?” his mom asked quietly. She reached out and took Tristan’s hand. She sat straighter and met Principal Hastings’s gaze. “What can we do?”
The principal looked at the floor and back up. “I wish that was all I had to tell you, Laura,” he said.
Tristan’s mom paled. “There’s more?” She looked at Tristan, who shrank back into the wingback chair.
“Tristan?” she asked. “What is it?”
“Do you want to tell them?” Principal Hastings lowered his chin and stared at Tristan.
Tristan, thunderstruck by the whole exchange, couldn’t look at his mom. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He fixed his eyes on the muddy brown carpet.
“No?” Principal Hastings said with a drawn out sigh. “Okay then. Laura, Eric, there was also a bottle of vodka in the floor of the truck.” He reached behind his desk and pulled out an empty bottle of raspberry vodka.
“What?” Tristan’s mom squeaked as she gripped Tristan’s hand so tightly his fingertips turned deep, purple-red.
“I can’t believe this,” Mr. Adams spat out. “Steroids and alcohol? Have you lost your mind? And ten days before final selection for the All American teams?” He was fuming. His ears were bright red and his eyes were scrunched into the bridge of his nose.
Tristan whispered. “None of it was mine.”
Tristan’s dad narrowed his eyes. “Do you expect us to believe that someone planted that stuff in there? Come on.” He shook his head as he turned to look at Principal Hastings. “What now?” he asked. He stood ramrod straight as he crossed his arms roughly over his chest.
The principal shook his head. “I have to suspend him for ten days. And he’s no longer eligible to play sports. We’ve got a zero tolerance policy here and I can’t get around it, or I would.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
Tristan jumped out of his chair. “What? I can’t play basketball? That’s insane. I’m telling you, that shit isn’t mine!” He looked at them with wild eyes, willing them to believe him.
“Language,” Tristan’s mom hissed.
“Sit down,” his dad growled at him.
Tristan flung himself into the chair and pulled his sweatshirt hoodie over his head. His life was over.
His dad closed his eyes tightly and pressed the back of his hand over his mouth. He nodded slowly without looking up.
Tristan’s mom squeezed Tristan’s hand tighter and began to cry. “My boy… my boy,” she blubbered.
“Ahem,” Principal Hastings cleared his throat again. “Officer Vaughn is here to explain Tristan’s legal situation.” He gestured toward Vaughn. “Mike, please fill us in on what happens now.”
Officer Vaughn uncrossed his arms and stepped forward. “Possession of steroids and alcohol is a misdemeanor in our state, and each item is a unit. Because Tristan is a first time offender, he probably won’t serve any time in a juvenile detention center, but he will have at least a year of probation, a $1,000 fine, and his driver’s license will be revoked for twelve months. In addition, he’ll be ordered to attend alcohol awareness and substance abuse meetings.”
Tristan’s dad huffed loudly. “Fine. We’ll handle it. Patrick, thank you for letting us know.” He nodded to Officer Vaughn before turning to his wife. “Let’s go home.”
She unclenched Tristan’s hand and stood, still clutching her purse in her other hand.
Tristan wiped his eyes on his sleeve before meeting his dad’s eyes. His chest was constricted, but his heart had slowed. His life was over. Maybe he’d die of it. It’d be better than being on the receiving end of the daggers in his dad’s eyes.
“Go to the car,” Tristan’s dad said to him.
Tristan swallowed and trudged out of the school to the empty parking lot. The weak winter rays hit the white truck, making it gleam in the light.
“Keys!” Tristan’s dad barked.
Tristan looked at his dad. He had tears in his eyes too.
Tristan dug through his backpack, found the keys to the truck, and handed them to his dad, who strode away from him across the asphalt toward the shining white truck.
“It’s open,” Tristan called after him with a garbled voice.
“Let’s go,” his mom said quietly.
“Mom,” Tristan whispered, “I’m sorry.”
She frowned slightly before unlocking her car and sliding into the driver’s seat. Her feet hit the floor inches away from the pedals, so she pulled a lever at the side to move the seat forward.
Tristan hung his head as he shuffled around the back of the car to the passenger side and folded himself up so he could get into the front seat. He stared out the window, not focusing on anything, on the short ride home.
* * *
Tristan was sprawled on his back on his bed in the dark, scrolling through his Instagram feed when his phone vibrated. It was a notification from WhatsApp. Arlo was messaging him.

Arlo Ramirez: What the hell man? Steroids?
Tristan Adams 04: What? How did u hear that?
Tristan Adams 04: Hell no. I don’t dope.
Arlo Ramirez: Crap. Some nozzle posted on here saying the cops found ‘roids and vodka in your truck.
Tristan Adams 04: Yeah. But that stuff is NOT mine. Someone’s framing me.
Arlo Ramirez: Insane. Who?
Tristan Adams 04: ?
Arlo Ramirez: So, is it true your expelled?
Tristan Adams 04: No. suspended for 10 days.
Arlo Ramirez: That sucks.
Tristan Adams 04: Yep.

Tristan navigated to his home page and clicked on the group he’d named Muskrats Unite! He scrolled through his friends’ posts. Everyone was talking about him, and most of it was bad.

Howie Cline II: Can’t believe it.
Arlo Ramirez: It probs ain’t true.
Howie Cline II: Right…

Howie had posted a GIF of Beyonce throwing shade while drinking coffee.
Tristan scrolled up further, scanning the group messages for whoever had posted about it first. His eyes hit on a mention of his full name, and he stopped to read the message.

Muskrat123: You guys… just heard Tristan Adams got busted for having vodka and ‘roids in his truck!
La(WREN)ce Williams: No way. How’d you hear that? Can you give me any more details?
Muskrat123: No. That’s all I know.

And from there the messages had spiraled quickly. Nobody cared about the vodka. But everyone was mad about the steroids.
One of the players on the freshman team had posted:

Trev Le Beouf: Not surprised. Nobody’s that good.

Tristan’s blood boiled. He had spent hundreds of hours working out and practicing and it was all for nothing. Aside from Arlo, everyone assumed he had doped. Tristan swiped to open the keyboard on his phone and typed.

Tristan Adams 04: Fork you all! I’ve never done drugs in my life. It’s called hard work.
MuskratCheerleader: So how did that stuff get in your truck then?
Trev Le Beouf: You expect us to believe that? *eye roll*
RatBoii: Your pants are flaming.
Tristan Adams 04: I don’t know. Somebody put them in there.
Tristan Adams 04: I’m not a liar.
Rich Ryan: If he says he didn’t take them, he didn’t.
Tristan Adams 04: Thanks.
Rich Ryan: *thumbs up*

But even Tristan realised how ridiculous it sounded. Didn’t every teen caught with drugs or alcohol say something to the effect of, “It’s not mine?” He bit his tongue to keep from crying as he closed his phone. He was off the basketball team. Nothing else mattered. Tristan threw his phone on the bed, flopped over onto his stomach, and shoved his pillow over his head.

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