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THE FIGHT FOR KIDSBORO
By MARSHAL YOUNGER
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Focus on the Family
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE PIT BULL AT MY DESK
My foot seemed to have a life of its own as it tapped uncontrollably on the ground. I pressed it flatter against the ground in an attempt to stop it, but I couldn't. Fortunately for me, the desk hid my foot's nervous dance from Valerie. I've heard that in the presence of vicious animals, you should never show fear, because it's the first thing they sense. I forced myself to look at her, stone-faced. She would not see me flinch.
She spoke, an evil smile crossing her otherwise perfect face. "I don't care if you are the mayor, Ryan. If I don't get what I want, I'm gonna take over this town and run you out."
I felt the blood drain out of my face. I tried to return the smile, even though I knew that was silly. Valerie's smile didn't convey friendship or kindness. The fact that Valerie smiled was worse than if she had frowned or gritted her teeth. A frown would've meant she was serious about crushing me into tiny little bits. A smile meant she would also enjoy it.
She stood up without taking her eyes off of me. She leaned over my desk until her long, brown hair was almost swinging in my face. It smelled like strawberries, and for a split-second I was distracted. But I shook off the momentary crush and stared at her eyes, which were half-closed like a lion ready to pounce.
"Ashley gets in," she said. She turned around and left, her work here done.
Whew! I could finally exhale. I wiped the sweat from my forehead with a sleeve and paced around the office, trying to work off some nervous energy. Most of the guys in our school, including me, actually admitted to being afraid of Valerie. The guys who wouldn't admit it were lying. And crushing me under her cruel thumb would be as easy for Valerie as crushing an ant with her foot.
We had grown to 29 citizens in our short two-month history, and we were planning to accept a new person into our town to make it an even 30. That afternoon, Valerie's best friend, Ashley, would be reviewed by the city council for possible citizenship. Valerie was trying to ensure that Ashley got the votes required to get in. One thing about Valerie: It was horrible being her enemy, but it was great being her friend. Having power in your corner has many advantages. Valerie knew that the five council members had to vote on Ashley. If Ashley didn't get an 80 percent majority vote (meaning four out of five people had to say "yes"), she didn't get in at all. No doubt Valerie pretty much knew how the voting would go: Ashley had three votes in the bag, and one vote against her. I was the wild card. If I voted yes to Ashley, she got in. If I voted no, she didn't.
The problem was, I didn't like Ashley. She called me "Dummings," a less-than-clever variation of my last name, Cummings, plus she got into trouble a lot in school. I'd seen her cheat on tests and copy other people's homework assignments. She was not the type of person I wanted in my town. Kidsboro was a community filled with good citizens who followed rules. After all, this was not a real city—we couldn't actually force anyone to pay a fine or stay in jail, so everyone had to follow the rules on his or her own. A person like Ashley wouldn't take the laws seriously. I was sure of that.
So here was my choice: I could put the town in danger by allowing in a person who might ruin it; or I could put myself in danger by tugging on the chain of a fierce pit bull named Valerie.
* * *
I went to the meeting hall pavilion where the city council met. All five members of the council gathered around the table.
Scott Sanchez was talking to himself, muttering the phrase "Walk the dog" over and over, which most likely meant that he was supposed to go home and do that right after the meeting. He would probably end up forgetting anyway, as he usually did.
To Scott's left, Kidsboro Chronicle reporter Jill Segler had her notebook out and a pencil resting on her ear. Next to her, Police Chief Alice Funderburk was jerking her head back and forth to crack the bones in her thick neck.
Finally, Nelson Swanson was studying a chart he had created on his computer. At the top, the heading was "Voting for Ashley." Below the heading were two columns—a list of reasons for voting "yes" and a list of reasons for voting "no." In the "no" column were all the things that I would've had in my "no" column—that Ashley was not very nice, that she was a dishonest student, and so on. In the "yes" column was one phrase, typed in the biggest font Nelson could fit on the sheet of paper: "VALERIE WON'T KILL ME!" Nelson was Valerie's brother and the only one smarter than her in town. But unlike her, he used his intelligence in positive ways.
They sat there staring at me, knowing exactly what was going through my head. Ashley's future in Kidsboro, and possibly my future as a living, walking human being, depended on my vote. Jill and Alice would vote for Ashley because she always invited them to her birthday parties. Ashley lived on Trickle Lake and her birthday party always included boating, swimming, and water skiing. It was the best party of the year. So Jill and Alice would vote for her simply because they wanted that invitation in their mailboxes.
Nelson would end up voting for Ashley. Getting Valerie mad at me was one thing. But actually living with her every day in adjoining rooms like he did, where she had easy 24-hour access to his neck, would be a nightmare.
I knew Scott would vote against Ashley. Scott had never liked Ashley, and he would do anything to keep her out, even if it meant putting his life in danger.
So the vote would be three to one. If I voted yes, the vote would be four to one, and Ashley would have the required 80 percent.
We went around the room. "Yes," Alice said.
"Yes," Jill said.
"No," Scott said.
"Yes," Nelson said.
No surprises. They all sat up in their chairs and gazed at me. I could almost feel Valerie's hands around my neck, ready to squeeze. I took a long breath, still not quite sure what I was going to say. I closed my eyes tightly. Sweat began to drip down my face. Not a sound came from the other four members of the council as I opened my eyes and let the word slide off my tongue.
Excerpted from THE FIGHT FOR KIDSBORO by MARSHAL YOUNGER Copyright © 2011 by Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsBOOK 1 Battle for Control....................3
BOOK 2 The Rise and Fall of the Kidsborian Empire....................85
BOOK 3 The Creek War....................157
BOOK 4 The Risky Reunion....................239