Project: Super Soldier - Part 7

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Project: Super Soldier

Written by Nuuan

71 year old John Dodge, retired military, now sits in a nursing home, his body riddled with cancer, waiting on the grim reaper to come for him when he is given another option.

~o~O~o~

Chapter 45

Several minutes after Marshall Brown put her phone away both Marshall Bergman and McKinney came running back into the alley followed by one uniformed police officer, “What happened?” Marshall Bergman leaned forward both hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.

“Marshall Brown spotted something unusual in the alley, “Kat’s arms waved wildly as she spoke, “She went to check it out, and I was really scared and didn’t want her to leave me alone so I followed her. And, and this guy jumped out from those boxes with a knife and grabbed me!” Kat’s eyes went wide in mock fear as she did her best to imitate a frightened girl, “Marshall Brown was awesome! She got me away and then, then he tried fighting her and she like really let loose like in the movies!”

“Pull the other one kid.” Marshall Bergman frowned at the girl that was so obviously lying to him before looking over at Marshall Brown with her left arm secured under her breasts with white bandaging material that wrapped over her right shoulder around her back to her left waist and back around rendering her arm immobile, “Want to tell me what really happened Beth?”

“The suspect had the drop on me, Kathleen jumped down off the roof disarmed and took him down.” Marshall Brown them added, “She saved my life.”

Marshall McKinney, CR, looked up to the roof of the building inspecting the brick wall of the building, noticing no ledges, windows or other features that would allow someone to climb to that height, “How did she get up there in the first place?”

Kat smiled sheepishly at the Marshal’s and the lone cop that was all looking her for an answer, “I like running parkour stuff.”

Noticing the bandages on the female Marshal’s shoulder the uniformed cop asked, “You’re injured?”

“Yea, He fired a few rounds at our vehicle after he darted into the alley,” Marshall Brown glancing at her shoulder, “one of them caught me in the shoulder.”

Looking over toward Marshall Bergman, “I can take over here if you want to take her to go get looked at?” Thumbing toward the man on the ground with an arm and leg both bent at unnatural angles, “I doubt he’s going to cause any more trouble.”

“Thanks officer,” Marshall Bergman smiled at the cop before looking over at Marshall McKinney, “CR see if you can clean that broken glass out of the back seat so the ladies have a place to sit.”

“I’m on it boss!” CR grinned as he started jogging back up the alley back toward their SUV.

Looking toward Kat and Marshall Brown, Marshall Bergman waved his hand in the direction of the SUV, “Ladies, after you.” Marshall Brown and Kat turned and walked side by side back down the alley toward the SUV.

Marshall Bergman could not help but wonder about this teenager as he followed the two women back toward their vehicle. She looked like a normal teen girl, a little on the skinny side. He knew that had been the trend for some time with young women, at least this kid didn’t look anorexic like so many young women tended to be today, so worried about their looks they would starve themselves at meals and when they did eat it would be little more than rabbit food.

No he could tell now that this kid was obviously athletic, which confused him since she has such unusually long hair. Most athletic women kept their hair short, some so short they appeared quite butch to most men. From the file he had received on her and what she had done to the suspect she could clearly defend herself, evidently some type of martial arts training that had to have begun at a very young age.

Looking at the teenager’s hair falling clear down to her lower calf's he saw a darker streak of reddish brown about five inches long and an inch or so wide at the end of her long blond tresses. Marshall Bergman immediately recognized the darker color as blood, figuring it must have gotten into her hair while the girl was bandaging Beth’s shoulder wound. He thought to himself, ‘Strange that the blood stain would be limited to such a long streak in her hair like that,’ looking the girl’s long hair over carefully for any other signs of blood as he followed the two toward their vehicle.

~o~O~o~

Marshall Bergman was already at the nurse’s counter in the emergency room with the injured Marshall Brown at his side when Kat and Marshall McKinney entered. CR pointed to their right to a small alcove that contained some seats to wait in, “Let’s go have a seat.”

Walking over into the alcove Kat saw there was one woman already sitting in one of the seats. The woman’s auburn hair was tied back into a high ponytail that looked long enough to still reach below her shoulder blades. To Kat this woman didn’t appear to be more than thirty, thirty-five at the most. In her lap sat a small girl wearing a pink dress with purple trim that could not have been more than three or four years old. When the small girl saw them enter she held tighter to her mother as she watched the two strangers come in and sit down across from them. The small girl’s eyes grew wide when she saw Kat sweep her hair around over her shoulder to sit down.

“You think I could call my mom and let her know we are here so she doesn’t drive all the way up to Alexandria?” Kat looked up at CR using the sweetest voice she could, “Please?”

CR sighed heavily as he looked down into Kat’s big sad eyes that appeared as if she were ready to cry, “Boss is going to probably have my head for this,” he said to no one in general as he fished his cell phone out of the breast pocket of his jacket and handed it to Kat. “Make it quick.”

“Doctor Marlete,” Kat heard her mother answer.

“Mom, it’s me.”

“Kat? You’re not already in Alexandria are you?”

“No, One of the Marshals to let me call you,” Kat explained. “We’re still in Fredericksburg, at the hospital.”

“Oh god, are you okay?” Deb gasped.

“I’m fine mom. Some bas… um I mean bad guy shot at our car and the lady Marshall took one in the shoulder.”

“Which hospital?”

“Mary Washington, in their ER.”

“Okay, we are not that far. Williams turn around, they are at the hospital in Fredericksburg. We’ll be there soon as we can honey.”

“Williams is with you?”

“Yes Honey, we stopped at the base, he and O’Connell are with us. The general was at home and will be following us soon as he can. This reminds me I need to call him and let him know where we will be.”

Handing the phone back to CR, “Thanks.”

“Who’s Williams?” CR questioned, “I overheard you saying he was with your mother.”

“Um yea, he’s kind of in charge of security where Mom works,” Kat mumbled looking over at the small girl and her mother to avoid looking at CR.

Noticing the little girl still sitting in her mother’s lap wide eyed staring at her, Kat smiled and waved at her, “Hi.” The small girl quickly turned her head into her mother’s breast while tightly hugging the woman. The small girl continued to steal glances at Kat, burying her head back into her mother’s breasts anytime she saw Kat looking her way and whispering to her mother for the longest time.

“I think you have a fan,” CR grinned at Kat.

“I’m sorry,” Looking over at Kat, the woman holding the small girl apologized, “She thinks you’re Rapunzel. I have to say, the resemblance is quite remarkable.”

“I get that a lot,” Kat smiled. The small girl’s jaw dropped when she saw Kat wink and then place her finger to her lips in a gesture to keep quite.

Kat sat there twirling a bit of her long hair around her finger for several minutes before separating it where it came across her shoulder and began braiding it. Kat had braided all but a foot of her long tresses when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Looking quickly over she saw that Marshall Bergman and another man, who she was certain must a doctor from the white lab coat and the stethoscope that hung from his shoulders and around his neck.

“Miss Marlete would you be so kind as to explain to the good doctor and myself why the bullet is not showing up in the x-rays taken of Deputy Marshall Brown’s injury?”

“It’s in your first aid kit,” Kat lowered her eyes from his stern gaze. “It felt like it was all the way into the joint and I was afraid it would do more damage if I left it.” Realizing that the way she was playing with her hair would only draw attention to the dried blood in it, Kat dropped the hair from her hands.

“CR would you please go grab our first aid kit from the vehicle?” Marshall Bergman looked over toward his fellow Marshall sitting beside Kat.

“Sure boss,” Smiling over at Bergman as he stood and walked around toward the exit.

Kat noticed the doctor’s sour look directed at her, “Young lady, what in the devil made you believe you could remove the bullet? You realize you could have done more harm than good!”

Looking back down at her now empty hands in her lap Kat thought to herself as she tried to hide the anger that rose up, ‘How can he even say that? That bullet was lodged in her shoulder joint, if it didn’t come out it would have sat there grinding at the cartilage and stuff in her joint causing more damage! Hell them digging it out would have caused even more damage!’ Kat sighed deeply, ‘I can’t let them start asking how I did it, and I can never let anyone know about that! If they ever found out I would end up more of a guinea pig than I am now. They could stick me in the lab and never let me outside of the building again. I would never see Mom or Becky again!’

‘Use your head girl!' Kat thought to herself, 'I’ve used that tone of voice with Karen when she was young, they’re trying to frighten me, show me that what I did was a mistake. Use that to your advantage! Show them the frightened teen girl they are expecting.' Pushing back her anger Kat let her thoughts dwell on her new life, her new mom, Karen and especially Becky. Thoughts of being taken away, not being able to be around the people that she loved and had come to love did scare her, Kat could think of nothing that scared her more!

Sheepishly Kat looked up at both the Marshall and the doctor, her lower lip quivering. “I, I’m sorry,” Kat’s choked out, “I, I was trying to… to help.”

The doctor could see the tears running down both her cheeks when Kat looked back up toward them. 'Thank god my wife is not here, she would have my hide for upsetting a young girl this badly.' Stepping forward he placed a hand on Kat’s shoulder, “I’m sorry this upset up so much miss, I know you were trying to help. I only want you to understand how dangerous what you did was and to please never try that again.” Sniffing back the tears, Kat nodded.

“I will say this young lady,” The doctor continued, “You did an excellent job of dressing the wound. That was a unique use of the um, supplies you had on hand. I would have never thought of using what you did to pack the wound, but truthfully that was exactly what it was designed for.”

Rubbing his chin, Marshall Bergman looked as if he was about to say something when they were interrupted by CR reentering the waiting room carrying the red and white first aid kit. “Guess who I ran into while I was out grabbing this,” holding up the first aid kit.

Seeing the tears, Deb rushed over and knelt down in front of Kat, “Honey are you alright? Are you hurt?”

“Mom!” Kat wrapped her arms around Deb and began sobbing louder into her shoulder.

“Shhh, it’s okay honey I’m here,” Deb rubbed Kat’s back gently as she held her.

“I, I don’t… so afraid… losing you… Be… Becky…” Kat’s sobs increased, Can’t… stop… crying…”

Deb looked up at the doctor, “Where’s the nearest restroom?” Then before he could answer she glared over at Marshall Bergman, “I’m taking my daughter to calm her down.” Deb stood, holding on to Kat as she did, pulling the girl up with her.

The doctor pointed over his shoulder, down that hall on the right, just before those double doors.”

CR took a step toward Deb and Kat, Marshall Bergman held up his hand stopping CR with the back of his hand against CR’s chest. “Don’t ever get between a mamma bear and her cub,” whispering as he shook his head. “If she was going to rabbit on us she would have done it by now.”

Karen stepped around the Marshals, leaving the General, her husband and the two enlisted men standing there as she followed Deb and Kat to the restroom. Halfway to the restroom two police officers came walking out from the double doors. The shirt of one was unbuttoned and hanging open allowing the bandages to be easily seen that covered his lower chest area. Both men stopped and followed the two women as they walked by.

Karen stopped by the two police officers, “That’s my sister you’re staring at!” she huffed.

“Uh sorry,” the bandaged officer stammered, “She, the girl I mean, fits the description of the woman that took down the perp. I kind of imagined her to be a lot bigger, you know taking down a man the size of the perp.”

Karen chuckled, “What did my baby sister do now?”

“From what I heard,” The second officer said, “guy pulled a knife on her and she broke his arm. Just hard to imagine that little wisp of a thing could do anything remotely like that.”

Shaking her head while smiling at the two officers, “Yea pulling a knife on her is isn’t the smartest thing in the world to do,” Karen chuckled. “If you officers will excuse me, I really need to go see what has my sister so upset.” Karen began walking toward the bathroom that Deb and Kat were already in.

It took quite some time to calm Kat down, then even longer as she had to retell Karen and her mother what had happened with Marshall Brown getting shot and Kat capturing the gunman. Exiting the restroom they found Master Sergeant Williams and CR leaning against the wall waiting on them.

Williams smiled, the concern he held for Kat showing through his rough features, “Hey Badger, feeling better?” Kat nodded.

“Badger?” CR looked over at Williams.

Williams began chuckling, “Yea that is kind of the nickname the guys on base gave her after she started sparing with us.”

CR began rubbing the back of his neck while looking down at Kat through narrowed eyes, “Badger huh?” The vision of the suspect lying on the ground after the attack came to his mind, “Sounds kind of fitting actually. Buddy of mine does a lot of hunting, told me he once saw one fight a bear that must of been ten times its size. But all that aside, we need to get over to the conference room. District Marshall arrived while you ladies were indisposed and he is waiting in one of the conference rooms the hospital was kind enough to loan us.” CR motioned for everyone to follow him as he began down the hall.

~o~O~o~

“Jurisdiction be damned!” Kat heard the large gray haired black man as CR opened the door for them, “My investigation supersedes any jurisdiction the Army thinks it may have.”

“There’s nothing to investigate!” The General raised his voice.

Looking over at those entering the room, the black man waved his arm gesturing at the chairs on the left of the table as she stood, “Ladies please have a seat. I’m District Marshall James Kern.”

Deb took his hand then motioned toward Kat, “I’m Doctor Debra Marlete, this is my daughter Kathleen.” Placing herself protectively between the Marshall and Kat as she sat down.

Karen took the chair on the opposite side of Kat, “Karen Sawdey, Kat’s sister.”

Marshall Kern looked across the table where Matt was sitting, “Your wife?”

Matt nodded, “Yes sir.”

“What exactly are you investigating Marshall?” Karen questioned.

“Your father’s death.”

Karen glanced over at Kat then back to Kern, “Our father died of cancer. He had been fighting it for years before his death.”

“Yes ma’am, I have read the medical reports. What I am concerned with is how and why he was transferred from the nursing home he was in to a military facility that supposedly does cancer research and that he died while under the care of said facility just a few weeks after his transfer.”

“Our facility has cared for many terminally ill patients, Deb interrupted.

“None of which has ever left alive,” Kern stated.

“What part of terminally ill are you misunderstanding Marshall?” The General mocked.

“Then the fact that one of the doctors there is now alleged to be the mother of an illegitimate child that he never knew about.”

“Marshall I’ve seen the proof, Kat and I are both products of our father and thus is my sister,” Karen put her arm around Kat’s shoulder.

“You don’t find it a bit convenient that a sister you never knew about suddenly shows up after your father’s death?”

Kat tensed with anger as she realized what the man was insinuating, ‘Who does he think he is to accuse me of trying to take advantage of my own family!’

Feeling Kat tense up, Karen gave the younger girls shoulder a squeeze while glaring at Kern, “Of course I did, even after I was shown irrefutable proof I had several concerns, which I quickly came to realized were unfounded. My sister would move heavens and earth to help me if she could, and I would do no less for her, we’re family and that what family does.”

Marshall Kern sighed heavily, “Alright I can see that my suspicions may be unwarranted, so I’ll drop it for now.” Changing his attention toward Kat, “I still need to speak with Kathleen about the assistance she gave in the capture of the suspect earlier.”

After over an hour in which Kat was asked to retell her story three times along with a barrage of questions many of which were asked multiple times, Kern told everyone they were free to take Kat home. Once the door closed leaving the three Marshals alone Kern looked over at Bergman, “What do you think Jim?”

“They’re hiding something.”

Kern nodded, “Got any ideas?”

“It’s something to do with the kid,” Bergman paused as if deep in thought, “You see those pictures of that bathroom her and that boy fought in?”

Kern nodded once again, “Yea, looked like a bomb went off in there.”

“The boy is one of their football players, good sized kid too. He got beat up pretty badly, she walked out without a scratch on her,” Bergman pondered.

“Not that hard to believe when you take a look at her training,” Kern handed Bergman the brown folder that had been lying on the table in front of him.

Bergman thumbed through the pages it contained for several minutes before looking up from the folder, “This list of training looks like something you would find on a special forces resume.”

“Or a trained assassin’s,” Kern stated.

“That kid, an assassin?” CR gulped, “You can’t be serious?”

“Doubtful that is the case,” Kern’s stern expression was not lost on CR, “but with all the military brass that became involved so quickly, that kid is definitely not the simple teenage girl they would have us believe. I want to know what the hell is going on.” Standing up, “Let go see if we can speak with Beth yet.”

~o~O~o~

“No sir, I have no idea how she got up on that roof so quickly, one moment she was behind me and the next thing I knew she was pulling herself over the top of the wall.” Marshall Brown sat with the head of the hospital bed raised to allow her to sit up comfortably while talking to the other Marshals that were standing in her hospital room.

“You did see her fight the suspect though,” Kern said most as a statement than a question.

“Yes,” Beth nodded, wincing as the movement irritated her wound, “she jumped straight down, landing on her feet uncovering the suspect and taking the rifle from him—”

“The girl jumped off a fifteen foot wall landing on her feet?” Kern interrupted.

“Yes sir, then after disarming the suspect of the rifle she pulled him out of the storm drain he was partially hiding in. There was a scuffle and they both went to the ground when they got to their feet he had a large knife. I was looking for a clean shot but Miss Marlete was in the way. He lunged at her with the knife and she took him down hard.”

“Martial arts training,” Kern nodded.

“I assume she knows some type of martial arts sir,” Beth agreed. “Although the way she moved, she was, I can only describe it as graceful, like a ballet or belly dancer.” Beth then added, “I have no idea what style of fighting that was but I would love to learn it myself.”

“Bruce Lee School of dance,” CR quipped.

Kern began rubbing his chin, “What would you say if we arranged that for you Beth?”

“Arrange what sir?” Beth asked.

“To learn more about that fighting style Miss Marlete uses,” Kern stated.

“You want me to spy on Kat?” Beth’s jaw fell open.

“Call it what you want, but I want you to start keeping an eye on her.” Kern explained, “There is more going on than they are telling us. Look at the facts, John Dodge dies weeks after being transferred to the same cancer research center that that the mother of a daughter that no one knew he had works at. His other daughter, the CEO of a defense contractor welcomes the girl into the family with open arms without so much as a single legal hiccup. And when we get involved high ranking military brass come out of the woodwork protecting the girl.”

“That is a lot of coincidences,” Bergman acknowledged.

“Once is luck, twice is coincidence, more than that is planned,” Kern maintained.

Chapter 46

Kat knew there would be trouble the moment she saw Bishop standing inside the front doors glaring at her as they walked into the school that morning, although it was something not only Kat, but both her mother and sister knew would probably happen and had prepared for.

“Young lady, my office now!” Bishop grabbed Kat by the arm as her and Becky entered the school.

Becky waited until Bishop had disappeared with Kat into the office before pulling her cell phone out of her purse.

~o~O~o~

“Zero tolerance policy!” Kat’s face red with anger as she stood up from the chair in Bishop’s office, “You can’t be serious, he tried to rape May! Where’s the zero tolerance for that?”

“You were fighting on school grounds,” Mr. Bishop bluntly stated, “That is automatic suspension of three days.”

“So what’s the suspension of attempted rape?” Kat spat back.

“Rape? I’m told you walked in on two students showing their affection toward each other in an inappropriate manner on school grounds, both of which will be punished for their sexual misconduct, which by the way is none of your concern. You on the other hand attacked the boy without provocation.”

Placing both fists on Bishop’s desk, Kat leaned toward the much larger man, “Who are you trying to convince with that line of bullshit, me or yourself!”

“I’m calling your mother Kathleen!”

“Want me to dial the number for you?” Kat spat.

“Kathleen I am fed up with your insolence!”

“Maybe you should look for another career path?” Kat grinned, “One where you don’t have to deal with people that are smarter than you? Maybe the zoo? No that wouldn’t work the monkeys would make fun of you. I got it you could raise earthworms, you got to be smarter than an earthworm!”

Bishop stood, face red with anger jumped out of his chair, “If I was your father—”

Kat stormed, “I would slap my mother!”

The door to Bishop’s office opened quickly after three sharp raps of someone knocking ended their arguing. “Good morning Mr. Bishop,” Mr. McCray, the principal, stuck his head past the partially open door. “Good morning Kathleen,” He smiled warmly at Kat before his attention went back to Bishop. “I think under the circumstances it would be best if you allow me to handle this Mr. Bishop.”

‘It’s my responsibility to handle disciplinary issues,” Bishop declared.

“Yes, yes it is,” Mr. McCray’s smile never faltered, “But I think it best if I handle any issues we may have with Kathleen from now on.” Opening the door all the way as he stepped in allowing Kat enough room to exit, “Kathleen would you please join me in my office?”

Once Kat walked into the hallway, Mr. McCray looked curiously at the door his gaze stopped at each of the three hinges that held the door to the frame before he tentatively swung the door back and forth as if testing it. Looking back toward Bishop, “I’ll have maintenance come take a look at this door for you since I know it must have somehow swung closed on its own as I know you would never violate the district policy on being alone with a female student.”

Once inside his own office, with the door left wide open, Mr. McCray motioned Kat to have a seat, Mr. McCray walked around the large wooden desk and sat down, “Well Kathleen, for only being enrolled in our school for a few weeks you have found your way into the office quite often,” Mr. McCray watched to see how Kat would react, “I hope this isn’t going to become a habit with you?”

“I hope you’re not trying to say that just because I am a student, I don’t have the right to defend myself or assist someone in danger of being assaulted?” Kat spoke with a calm but clear voice.

“Heavens no,” a slight gasp escaped as Mr. McCray replied, “I would never insinuate that a student should not defend them self, especially when it comes to a female student defending herself or another girl from sexual assault, if that is what this turns out to be.”

“It was,” Kat glared.

“It’s the police’s job to determine that my dear,” Mr. McCray leaned back in his chair, “I’m just a lowly high school administrator, it’s not my job to investigate all the aspects of what happened Saturday and if any legal charges should or should not be pressed. What is my job is to make sure the rules and guidelines set forth by the school board and the school districts policy are followed, even those rules we may not agree with.”

‘Yes sir,’ Kat nodded, already understanding where he was going with the lengthy explanation.

“Good,” Mr. McCray smiled across the desk at Kat, “So you understand that your suspension has nothing to do with why you were in a fight. The fact is fighting is against the rules and punishable by a minimum of three days suspension. The district’s policy does not discriminate on how justified a fight may or may not have been. There was a fight, all involved are punished, Mr. Semfer, Miss Hudson and you are all officially suspended for three days.”

Kat’s eyes opened wide as her head shot up, “May? All she was doing was trying to get away from him!”

“I think Miss Hudson could use a few days to get over what happened, don’t you?” Mr. McCray winked, “She didn’t grow up a tomboy living on Army bases like a student we both know.”

Kat realized what Mr. McCray was saying, ‘He isn’t punishing her, he is giving her a few days to heal!’ “Yes sir, I think she could use a couple days to get herself together.”

“Good, now do I need to call your mother to come take you home or has that already been taken care of for us?” Mr. McCray gave Kat a knowing smile.

“Um, my sister was concerned about what happened last time so she stayed with us last night so mom wouldn’t have to leave work.”

Mr. McCray chuckled, “I never met your father but from what I’ve heard he could be quite a force of nature. It’s apparent that you and your sister take after him in that respect.”

“I, I never met him until right before he died.”

“I am sure he is proud of the strong, intelligent young woman you have become,” Mr. McCray smiled warmly.

The intercom on the phone sitting on his desk chirped as it came on, “Mr. McCray, Mrs. Sawdey is here for Kathleen,” the voice of Mrs. Potts, the schools secretary came over the speaker.

Picking up the handset, “Could you please send her back to my office Mrs. Potts.”

~o~O~o~

Mr. McCray stood, holding out his hand as Karen walked into his office, “Good morning Mrs. Sawdey. Kathleen and I were just discussing your late father and what a great role model he was, while we waited on you to arrive.”

Karen, having prepared herself to defend Kat in yet another lingual duel, was surprised at receiving such a warm greeting after the last time she had come to the school. Taking his hand, “Sorry I wasn’t expecting such a gracious greeting. Mr. McCray isn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m the principal of our school.” Mr. McCray smiled, “Mr. Bishop who you met with on your last visit is our assistant principal and athletic director.”

“I hope he is a good coach?” Karen smirked, making sure that Mr. McCray knew that she felt he was terrible as an administrator.

“With cutbacks we were forced to combine the two positions a few years back.” Mr. McCray explained, “As a businesswoman I am sure you know how demanding a position with multiple roles can be.”

“Yes,” The smirk on Karen’s face still blatantly obvious, “finding someone that is qualified and able to balance both roles can sometimes be impossible.” Karen’s expression changed back to that of stone, “but we are here about Kat, aren’t we?”

“Yes ma’am,” Mr. McCray ignored the change in Karen’s attitude and continued smiling, “District policy is that anyone involved in a fight gets a minimum of three days suspension. It may not seem fair at first, but in all honesty it gives everyone a chance to calm down, allow tempers to settle and everyone to begin putting the incident into the past.”

Nodding her acceptance of the logic he used, Karen turned to Kat, “So you ready to go then?”

Climbing into her SUV Karen noticed that Kat was staring at her, “What?”

“Uh, you gave into McCray pretty easily,” Kat voiced her concern, “Is something wrong?”

“His argument made sense,” Karen smiled while putting on her seatbelt and starting the engine. “I can see why the school board would create such a rule.”

“Still it isn’t like you to give in so easily. There’s something you’re not telling me.”

“Do you think I always have some secret agenda?”

“Yes,” Kat deadpanned.

“Now is that anyway to talk to your sister, a sister that took the day off just so she could spend the day with you?”

“I thought…” Kat’s train of thought derailed as Karen turned the wrong direction out of the school’s parking lot, “Where you going?”

“I thought we could spend the day down in Richmond.”

~o~O~o~

“Hey you said we were heading to a park?” Kat protested as Karen turned into the parking lot.

Grinning, Karen pointed to the large sign at the entrance that read, ‘Stony Point Fashion Park.’

“So your idea of having a fun day with me is shopping?” Kat shivered at the thought of following Karen in and out of the women’s fashions.

“Well I hate to say it baby sister,” Karen looked over at the way Kat was dressed in blue jeans, tennis shoes and a tee shirt, “but you look like some coal miner’s daughter that just came down out of the hills for the very first time.”

“I do not!” Kat argued, “Lots of girls wear jeans, even you!”

Karen huffed, “I’m surprised you’re not wearing combat boot too!”

“I, um…” Kat blushed as she remembered the deal she had made with her mother to only wear her boots when she was planning on working in her shop. “I kind of made a deal with mom about that, which part of that deal is that she doesn’t force me to dress up all girly either.”

“I am not part of any arrangements you and Deb have made,” Karen grinned as saw Kat’s eyes widen, “But I will promise not make you wear anything that is uncomfortable. It’s not like I’m trying to force you to wear nice clothes all the time, but you are going to find there are times that dressing in something other than worn out jeans can be highly beneficial to you, and not just to distract men.” Karen waved her hand down her side pointing out the power suit she wore. “Do I dress like this all the time?”

“No,” Kat almost whispered.

“What do you think when you see me dressed this way?”

“Um, look out she means business.”

“Exactly why I dress this way for work,” Karen explained, “I want the men to see a shrewd businesswoman who is ready to go toe to toe with anyone who disagrees with me. How do you think I would be treated if I went to a meeting wearing a peasant’s blouse and gypsy skirt?”

“I get what you’re saying.”

“We women have it easier and at the same time harder to pull off certain looks. A man in a business suit, whether it’s a cheap suit or expensive suit still looks like a businessman, a man in a pair of slacks and polo looks casual but nice and a man in worn out jean and old tee shirt, well he looks like he probably lives in a van down by the river. The thing that makes it easy and hard at the same time is the wider variety of clothing we can choose from. We can tweak our appearance just by changing one item. For instance the color or style of the blouse I have on or how I wear my hair would make me look completely different in the same skirt and jacket. So it’s easier for us to come up with a different look but sometimes very difficult to get just the right look you are going for.”

“Alright, lead on oh great master of fashion,” Kat giggled as she stepped out of the vehicle.

~o~O~o~

Walking back into the large open area inside the mall after their third trip back to the SUV to unload more bags full of their shopping, Karen looked over at Kat, “Want to grab a bite to eat?”

“Sounds good to me!”

“How about there?” Karen pointed to a sushi place.

“You know what I think of that stuff,” Kat made a disgusting face.

“Well it doesn’t hurt to try,” Karen chuckled, “I’ve gotten you to do some things today that I am sure you would have never tried before.”

“I draw the line at eating something that should be dangling from a hook on the end of my fishing pole.” Kat giggled, “Fish should be cooked, preferably battered and deep fried!”

“Okay, we can go over to the bistro,” Karen suggested, “Their menu is excellent.”

Finding an empty table Karen watched as Kat swept the skirt under her that she had talked Kat into changing into. “Very good,” Karen smiled.

“What?”

“You swept your skirt under you without giving it a second thought.”

“It’s not the first time I’ve worn one.”

“So then Becky makes you wear them?” Karen chuckled.

Lowering her eyes to the table, “Um, yea sort of. She says that it would look weird if she wore one and I didn’t. Not sure why it would look weird, but it’s easier to wear one than to watch her pout.”

“She’s right it would. So what do you think?”

“About what?” Kat was confused.

“The skirt and top you’re wearing.”

“Oh,” Kat looked down at the red peasant blouse and blue maxi skirt or gypsy skirt as she had always called them she had on, “They were way too expensive.”

“No silly, I mean don’t you think that outfit is more comfortable than those old jeans and tee shirt you were wearing?”

“Yea I guess,” Kat hated the thought of telling her the truth of how comfortable and cooler the new clothes really were. “It is easier to get in and out of this with all the other things you’re having me try on.”

“Exactly why we both changed into these outfits,” Karen who was now dressed similar although in a white top and burgundy skirt smiled knowingly. “It’s a lot cooler than jeans too isn’t it?” Seeing the scarlet glow appear on Kat’s face, Karen reached across the table placing her hand on top of Kat’s, “Liking how comfortable and pretty your clothes are is nothing to be ashamed about sis.”

“I know,” continuing to look down, “It’s just…”

“There’s nothing wrong with feeling pretty,” Karen’s smiled.

“It’s not that, well maybe it does embarrass me a little.” Kat stammered, “It’s just when I see myself in the mirror when I get out of the shower, or just in my underwear I feel like…” Kat’s head fell further down as she whispered, “a pervert.”

Karen reached up from the table to Kat’s chin, gently pulling the young woman’s face up so they were seeing eye to eye, “When you look in the mirror you see the reflection of a beautiful young woman.”

Kat nodded, “Yes.”

“And you like looking at her right?”

Kat quickly shook her head before letting out a long sigh and nodding, “Yea, I do.”

“I bet you’ve even struck poses in front of the mirror in different bra and panty sets to see how you look in them haven’t you?”

Kat’s eyes grew really wide at the accusation. ‘How could she know? I’ve never done it when anyone is around and I always locked my door!’

Karen tried to stifle the chuckle that escaped her lips, “It’s okay sweetie, it’s something all us girls do. I’d be more concerned if you didn’t.”

Kat felt a vibration in the small purse she carried right before the musical chime of an incoming text message. Retrieving the phone from her purse she read the message. Looking back up to Karen, “It’s Becky, she wants to know what happened this morning.

Kat spend a minute replying to the message, ~Everything ok, won’t be back to school till Thursday. Karen shanghaied me for the day. See you tonight~

~U in trouble?~ Kat saw the new text appear.

~No. Karen said she wanted time to bond with her sister~

~OMG!!!! She took you shopping didn’t she? I am so jealous. Where did you 2 go? Did you find any good sales?~ Kat giggled then handed her phone over so Karen could read the last message.

Handing the phone back, “Tell her you both are welcome to come spend next weekend with us. We can do a girl’s weekend hitting the malls, the water park and any of the historical sights anyone wants, Becky, Susan, Emily, you and I. And don’t forget to invite you mother too, I am sure she would love to go.”

“We can’t, this weekend I have that demonstration.”

“Oh I almost forgot about that,” Karen chuckled at the thought of how bad Kat would make those boys look. “Matt, the girls and I will probably be spending the weekend with you. Emily has done nothing but talk about it since she found out what you were going to do.” Grinning over at Kat, “You know she has been telling her friends that her aunt is a ninja.”

Kat’s mouth fell open, “I hope you told her that isn’t true!”

“Of course, but do you really think it did any good?” Hearing the musical note informing them that Kat received another text message, “You probably should answer her.”

Chapter 47

Kat entered the kitchen wearing a black sports bra and pair of cut off blue jean shorts. On her feet she had laced up the black combat boots everyone kidded her so much about.

“Perfect timing, breakfast is almost ready hon,” Deb said, glancing over her shoulder at Kat.

Sitting the laptop she was carrying down on the table Kat went over to the counter to pour herself a cup of coffee.

Sitting at the table sipping on her own cup of coffee, Karen frowned seeing the way Kat was dressed. Karen had decided to spend one more night due to how late they finally got in and the fact that she was quite tired after spending the previous day on an all-day shopping excursion with Kat. Remembering one of her father’s favorite saying Karen eyed Kat evilly while shaking her head, “Buy them books, send them to school, they rip off the covers and eat the pages.”

“What?” Kat rolled her eyes at Karen, “I’m going to be working on my shop today. Digging the hole for a septic tank if you must know!”

“Septic tank?” Deb turned to look over where Kat was pulling a chair out to sit down, “Why?”

“I’m putting a bathroom in the shop.”

“Shoe’s on the other foot now that you can’t whip it out and pee on a tree anymore!” Karen began laughing.

Deb saw Kat stick her tongue out at Karen, “Am I missing something?”

Still chuckling, Karen explained, “Dad’s original shop was almost as far from the house as Kat’s is now and it didn’t have a toilet. Any time I needed to go he would tell me to either run back to the house or go squat down beside some bushes outside.”

“Kat!” Deb scolded, “How could you.”

“Um,” Kat blushed, “I never realized…”

“Well you make sure you have plenty to eat and drink if you’re going to be exerting yourself that much today,” Deb sat a plate in front of Kat turning to go back to grab the plates she made for Karen and herself, “I don’t want you getting sick.”

“I have some stuff in the freezer in the shop, plus I was planning on making a sandwich to take with me,” Kat grinned.

After everyone was finished with their plates Kat took them all to the sink where she rinsed everything and placed it all in the dishwasher, once done with that Kat used a folding step stool to get in the cabinet above the refrigerator where she found a large roll of butcher paper that she placed on the counter beside the refrigerator. Getting down from the stool, she proceeded to cut a long section off the roll, before putting the butcher paper and the stool away.

Retrieving one of several loafs of French bread from a baker’s rack on the other side of the kitchen, Kat removed it from the clear plastic bag it was purchased in, then used a knife out of the butcher block knife holder on the counter to cut the long loaf of bread open lengthwise.

Karen watched Kat is awe as Kat piled several types of meats and cheese on top of one half of the two foot long half of bread after coating the bread first with a layer of yellow mustard, knowing the small girl would have no problem eating the whole sandwich later.

Finishing it off with lettuce and a layer of sliced tomatoes, Kat capped the massive sandwich with the top half of the bread just as Becky walked into the kitchen. Prancing over, she kissed Kat on the cheek, “How sweet, you made lunch for me!” Picking up the knife Kat had been using and slicing off about five or six inches off the end of the sandwich.

“Hey!” Kat giggled as Becky side stepped to the refrigerator before standing on her tip toes to reach the cabinet above it and pull out the aluminum foil.

“What?” Becky giggled while tearing off a piece of foil then placing the box back in the cabinet. Standing back beside Kat she began wrapping the section of the sandwich up in the aluminum foil. “If the only thing better would be if you could be there at lunch to share it with me,” Becky kissed Kat on the cheek once more. “But since you’re not going to be there for a few days I wanted to give you a kiss before I took off for school.”

“What about our morning exercises?” Kat leaned over so her shoulder was against Becky as she wrapped the rest of the sandwich.

“I went through the twenty four that you said I was doing correctly this morning in our backyard while mom was making breakfast, that way I can get to school early. Jenny texted me last night and said she Hanna and Maddy needed my help with something before school.”

“With what?” Kat gave Becky a peck on the cheek.

“No idea, she said she would explain in the morning when we met up.”

~o~O~o~

“Becky, wait up!” Becky, who had been hurrying toward her car in the student parking lot so she could get home and see Kat, turned to see Hanna, Britney and Jenny walking quickly in her direction. All three were members of the sewing club that were creating the costume Kat would wear for the demonstration she would give this Saturday. Like Becky, both Hanna and Britney had grown up in the area of Bowling Green and all three had been friends since third grade. Jenny’s father was in the army and had moved to the area two and a half years ago and had quickly become part of their group.

“Are you going over to see Kat?” Hanna asked once they had caught up to here Becky waiting on them.

“Well she does live next door,” Becky grinned.

“Um, would you mind if we tag along?” Britney asked.

“No, I’m sure Kat would love it if you guys came along,” Becky looked at Hanna, “You drove today right?” Becky saw Hanna nod, “Cool you can follow me in your car.”

“If it’s okay I’ll ride with Becky?” Jenny asked.

“Okay with me,” Hanna agreed.

“Okay with me too,” Becky motioned Jenny to come with her. After getting in the car they waited until they saw Hanna’s car before taking off.

Once they were out of the parking lot Jenny turned to Becky, “Are you worried about Saturday?”

Becky glanced over then focused back on her driving, “You didn’t see what she did at the mall. I was there, Kat went all leaping dragon, crouching tiger on them.”

“I saw the video, so did my mom. Mom gave me and all her students in the dojang a big lecture about it. The big thing she kept telling us is that there is always someone bigger, stronger or better trained than you.”

“Probably not many for Kat, You know she has like five black belts.”

“I’ve never seen anyone as good as my mom, but daddy can still beat her if he gets hold of her. He’s so much bigger and stronger than me and mom.” Jenny’s thoughts went back to all the times she had sparred with her father in her mother’s dojang. Even how much better Jenny’s technique and forms were over her father’s she had never stood a chance against him on the mat.

“You saw how that jerk Doug ran from her.”

“Yea,” Jenny nodded, “But he’s just a goon, some of the guys on the team are in my mom’s classes.”

“Any of them any good?” Becky unconsciously bit her lip.

“Kayden is and so is Danny and since he saw the video Danny’s been talking about how much he would like to see how good she really is.”

“Now I am starting to worry,” Becky glanced over at Jenny then back to the road.

“Kayden seems like a nice enough guy, I don’t think he would hurt her intentionally. He acts more like he just wants to test himself against her on the mat, Danny I’m not so sure about. On the bright side I did hear mom telling dad that since the video went viral enrollment in her school has went up, especially with girls,” Jenny giggled.

The two chatted about several subjects on the drive, which teachers and classes they liked best, dresses and clothing they wanted. The one subject Jenny was careful not to mention was boys. Once at Becky’s house, Hanna pulled her car up in the driveway behind Becky’s car. After going inside to let her mother know she was home and that she and her friends were heading over to see Kat, they all went back out the front door.

As Becky led them up the driveway to Kat’s house Jenny gaped at the sight of the house, “Kat lives here?”

“Yea, Kat and her mom,” Becky led them up the drive and around to the side of the house toward the backyard.

“What does her mom do?” Jenny questioned.

“She’s a doctor,” Becky answered.

“Oh, I didn’t know,” Jenny conceded, “I guess that explains how they have such a big house.”

“From what Kat told me her sister bought the house for them when they moved here a few months ago,” Becky explained.

“I thought it was just Kat and her mom?” Britney asked, “And why are we going through her backyard?”

“Kat has been fixing up an old barn that’s way back on their property, she’ll be out there working on it,” Becky stated then went on to explain about how Kat has a half-sister that was over twenty years older and two nieces around their own age as the passed through Kat’s backyard, past the in ground pool and onto the footpath that led to the barn. “Their dad had this big company that he left to Kat and her sister that her sister runs.”

“She doesn’t act like someone with a lot of money,” Jenny commented.

“You’ve never been shopping with her,” Becky giggled.

~o~O~o~

“Figured I would find you out here. Have you been out here all day?” Becky asked as she walked into the old barn Kat had been renovating into a workshop.

Kat looked up from the work bench to see Becky walking into the barn, “What are you doing out of school already?”

“Schools got out almost an hour ago.” Becky leaned over the fender to peer under the hood of the old Ford Thunderbird Kat had bought, to see what Kat had been doing while Becky had been in school. Becky didn’t know much about cars, but she knew enough that there should have been an engine in the space between the fenders, which now was bare except for several bundles of wires and what looked like some steel lines hanging from the inside of the area. “Isn’t there supposed to be an engine in here?” Becky motioned at the engine compartment being careful not to lean against the car or touch anything for fear of getting grease on her clothes.

“Very funny,” Kat stuck her tongue out at Becky. “Figured since Bishop was so kind in giving me three days off, I would use it to get as much done around here as I could. I got the hole dug for the septic tank they are delivering tomorrow and started stripping out the thunderbird so I can restore it and start driving it.”

“Restore it? You mean like rebuild it totally? I thought you were just going to fix it and start driving it?”

Shaking her head, Kat grinned at Becky, “Nope, this baby is getting a frame off restoration. Well it would be if it had a frame, it has uni-body so no frame to speak of, but everything is coming apart, checked, cleaned painted, etcetera before it gets put back together. This baby is going to be brand new when I get done.”

“God,” Becky roller her eyes at Kat, “my girlfriend is a bigger grease monkey than the guys in auto shop.”

“Girlfriend?” Kat looked behind Becky to the entrance of the old barn at the three girls that had followed her in then back at Becky, “Are you telling everyone we are a couple? I thought you were afraid of what people would say?” Looking back over at the three who were all looking over the interior of Kat’s shop except for Hanna who was grinning back at Kat. “Hi Jen, Hanna, Britney.”

Becky walked over to Kat aware of how dirty and greasy Kat was as she kissed her on the cheek, “Well it’s not like we are wearing signs advertising it but we are a couple aren’t we?”

Kat felt tingly all over as she thought of how Becky’s kisses made her feel, “I do like how it sounds when you say it.”

“You say the sweetest things,” Becky gave Kat another peck on the cheek, jumping back as she saw Kat trying to reach around to hug her, “Don’t you dare touch me with those greasy hands!” Becky giggled.

“Don’t worry Kat,” Hanna smiled, “We kind of already knew you and Becky were an item.”

“Is it that obvious?” Kat leaned back on the stool she was sitting on.

“No,” Britney giggled, “but I don’t think any of us have seen Becky this happy ever.”

“Yea and there is only one thing that can make a girl that happy,” Jenny giggled.

All three girls looked at each other then chorused, “She’s in love.”

“My brother would go nuts with a place like this,” Britney tried to change the subject when she saw both Kat and Becky’s face reddening.

“Your brother?” Hanna giggled, looking around at the neatly organized benches and machinery, “My dad would call it his dream garage. Your dad must have been quite a gear head to build a shop like this one. Heck put in a recliner and a really big TV my dad would call it a perfect man cave and my mom would never get him to come out.”

“This all Kat’s, she built it.” Becky watched the others to see their reaction.

“Well the barn was already here,” Kat explained, “We’ve been fixing it up.”

“So it’s your girl cave?” Hanna asked.

“Girl cave?” Britney giggled, “Wouldn’t it be a she shed?”

“Lady Lair or Babe barn,” Jenny added.

“The Kat cave!” Becky grinned at Kat.

Kat giggled at the pun on the Batman movies, “At least no one has tried to call it a Kat house.” All the girls groaned at Kat’s bad joke.

“What would you call it Kat?” Hanna asked.

“I don’t know?” Kat pondered the question, “It’s a shop, some place I can be myself and tinker around with stuff. I guess it’s kind of like a little haven for me.”

“Haven maybe, but this place is anything but little!” Britney’s gaze went around the large interior to show how large she thought the place was. Spotting steps that led upward for the first time, “It even has an upstairs?”

“It’s the hay loft or was a hay loft at one time,” Kat answered, “It’s empty other than the bathroom I’m putting in. Would have put the bathroom down here but I didn’t think about it before they poured the concrete so it’s easier to put it upstairs.”

“And it doesn’t take up any of your precious shop space down here,” Becky giggled.

“Hey walking up a few steps is a lot better than going all the way back to the house when you need to go,” Kat stuck her tongue out at Becky.

“I’m thirsty,” Becky ignored the look Kat gave her, “Anyone want a soda?”

“I’ll take diet if you got one?” Britney replied.

“Sure I’ll take one,” Jenny answered, “Diet too please.”

“What do you have?” Hanna asked.

Becky opened the fridge that sat under the stairs and started calling out what it held for drinks, “Diet we have Pepsi one, Dr. Pepper, Cherry Pepsi. Regular soda we have Mountain dew, Root beer and RC.

“You have RC?” Hanna grinned, “I’d love one of those! That’s the only soda my grandmother ever bought. She always had two or three wooden cases of bottles any time we went to visit.” Becky came back handing out cans of soda, placing a Mountain Dew on the bench in front of Kat.

Kat opened her soda, “So what was so important for all you guys to get to school early for?”

“Oh my god, Becky didn’t tell you?” Britney blurted out.

“Duh!” Becky cocked her head while making a funny face at Britney, “No one told me until I got there remember?”

“Okay so anyone want to clue me in?” Kat urged.

Hanna was first to begin, “We heard that after Mr. Bishop was going to try to cancel the fight after you beat up Doug!”

“So Maddy’s mom, you know she has a print shop right?” Jenny grinned, “Well she printed out all these fliers that tell everyone about the event on Saturday that she and Clair put up all over town Monday after school. And well Tonya got permission from Mr. McCray to let us in to school early so we could put them up before school started.”

“Why would he give one of the Goths permission?” Kat shook her head in disbelief.

“Maybe cause he’s her dad?” Britney giggled, “But now with all the fliers up everywhere, Mr. Bishop and his precious football team would lose too much face if he canceled it now, especially since everyone has started buying tickets already.”

“They’re selling tickets?” Kat’s disbelief grew.

“Mr. McCray is calling it a fund raiser and some of the other clubs are going to put on exhibitions of their own too!” Jenny stated, “My parents have already bought ours. My mom wasn’t going to go but my dad kept insisting that she really needed to watch you fight. Dad shooed me away to get my homework done after that, but I knew it was really because there was something he didn’t want me to hear so I snuck back close enough to listen, but by that time he was talking about some guy on base called Badger that can kick his butt on the mat when they spar, he kept going on and on at how good this guy was, so I went to my room.”

Becky began laughing at the same time Kat shot the soda she was drinking out her mouth and nose. Kat quickly grabbed a roll of blue colored paper towels, tearing off several sheets to clean herself up with. “You okay Kat?” Jenny hoped she hadn’t said anything wrong.

“Yea, I’m fine,” Kat responded, “I just realized your dad is Master Sergeant Williams.”

“Yea he works on the Army base,” Jenny nodded.

Becky finally catching her breath, “Kat’s nickname is Badger.”

“You’re the Badger he was talking about?” Jenny gasped, “But you’re the smallest one of us, the way he talked it sounded like you were seven feet tall and strong as an elephant.”

Kat thought of the public story everyone had agreed on, “The doctors had me using the same gym the guys at the base use. There were some guys doing some martial arts and the Master Sergeant, um, your dad let me join them. Since then I practice with them whenever I get the chance. You dad said after one of those times that fighting me was like fighting an angry badger and everyone started calling me Badger after that.”

Britney gasped, “You were in the hospital?” Kat nodded.

“My mom told me Kat had cancer,” Becky smiled weakly at Kat, “I hope you’re not mad that I found out?”

“Were they able to cure it?” The concern in Jenny voice apparent.

“No, I’m glad that you know and yes the cancer is gone.”

“How, how bad was it?” Hanna bit her lower lip.

“Doesn’t matter now, the cancer is gone,” Kat felt terrible lying to her friends, especially Becky, but reasoned that the story they had concocted was actually the truth just not all of it, “But I do have to keep going to see the doctors a lot because what they did was so new and they want to make sure nothing changes or that there aren’t any other side effects.”

“There were side effects?” Hanna blurted out.

“You’ve seen how much she eats at lunch!” Becky giggled before turning to look at Kat solemnly, “I was worried and talked to mom about how much you were eating, that’s when she told me about the cancer and how it supercharged your metabolism making you eat so much more.”

“Oh my god, you can eat as much of anything you want and never get fat! I am so jealous,” Britney giggled.

“I would get fat just like anyone else if I didn’t exercise,” Kat proclaimed.

Becky smiled proudly at the girls, “Kat getting me to exercise is how I lost so much weight over the summer.”

“I’d love to learn whatever you did to make Becky look so gorgeous,” Britney’s hand snapped up to cover her mouth, her face taking on a warm red glow when she thought about how that must have sounded.

“I’m sure Becky wouldn’t mind if you joined us,” Kat smiled.

“Really?” The excitement evident in Britney’s eyes.

“Sure,” Becky chimed in, “we usually go through all the Tai Chi exercises here at Kat’s in the morning before school.”

“Before school?” Britney gulped, thinking about how hard it was for her to get ready in the morning and get to school on time. “I’d like to, but I’m not sure if I could get here that early.” Looking over at Hanna while she softly bit her lip.

“Britney’s not a morning person,” Hanna giggled, understating how bad it could be to drag her out of bed in the morning.

“Neither was I until I started exercising with Kat,” Becky grinned.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Kat giggled. “It took her a little bit to get used to getting up early.”

“But now I’m up before my mom most of the time and have coffee ready for her,” Becky beamed. “I’ve even had breakfast ready for her and daddy a few times when they come downstairs.”

“Maybe we both could come?” Hanna grinned at Britney before looking over at Jenny, “What about you?”

“Actually my mom has had me doing Tai Chi in the morning with her and dad since I was little.”

“How about we all head back to the house so you can get cleaned up and I can finally get a hug?” Becky grinned at Kat.

“What’s a little dirt and grease when someone needs a hug so badly,” Kat got up from the stool and stepped toward Becky with her arms outstretched.

“Not before you get cleaned up!” Becky giggled as she ran out the large open barn doors.

Kat took off jogging behind her slowly enough that she wouldn’t catch Becky, “Aww, come on Becky, it’s only a little dirt, it will wash out.”

~o~O~o~

Nodding his understanding, after listening to the directions, the driver pulled the flatbed truck carrying the heavy concrete septic tank through the now opened wrought iron gate.
The younger man sitting in the passenger seat of the company truck was the first to notice the girl standing out by the road, “Damn!” He grinned, eyeing the long tan legs that protruded down from the cutoff jeans she wore, cut so short that he could see an inch or so of the white material of the front pockets. An inch or two of the white of the socks she wore could be seen above the pair of black work boots that protected her feet. A baggy off white tee shirt with a faded American flag centered on the front concealed her figure from view, “I think I’m in love.”

Taking one look at the young girl, the older driver muttered, “Jailbait.”

“No way?”

“I’m betting she’s still in high school,” The driver told his coworker as he brought the truck to a stop.

“Okay, you’re buying lunch if she isn’t,” figuring this to be a sucker bet, there was no way a girl that lived in this neighborhood would play hooky from school.

“And you’re buying if I’m right.”

Kat had walked around the front of the truck to the driver’s side, looking up at the older driver, “The road to get back where this is going is kind of hard to spot so I figured I would need to show you where it is.”

Looking up the road, the driver could see that on the right side of the road, past the large white house the girl apparently lived, it appeared to be forest although on the left side he could see that houses continued as the road gently curved to the left. “How far is it to this road?”

Kat jumped up on the step, grabbing the side mirror to hold on, “Two, three hundred feet. See that tall pine there,” Kat pointed ahead toward a very tall yellow pine that stood above the other trees along the edge of the road. Kat saw the driver nod, “Just past there.”

“Okay,” looking at how she was hanging on the side of his truck, “Although I can’t have you hanging on the side of the truck, insurance doesn’t allow anyone not an employee in or on the trucks.”

Kat stepped down off the truck, “No problem, I can walk.”

The older driver waited as Kat backed up until he thought she was at a safe distance before putting the truck in gear and proceeding further up the road toward the pine that Kat had pointed out.

Kat watched to make sure they found the entrance before walking back up her driveway and taking a shortcut through the backyard toward the barn. When she got to the barn, they had already backed the truck up to the hold Kat had dug for the septic tank. The back of the truck held a metal framework attached at the four corners of the flat metal rear. The metal beams formed arches at the front and rear with an I beam that bisected the center of each of the metal arches, they were in the process of extending the center I beam out behind the truck that they would use to lower the tank into the hole.

The older man saw Kat walk up, “So why aren’t you in school, you are in school aren’t you?”

“I go to Caroline High,” Kat smiled thinly, “The principal sort of gave me a few of days off.”

The older man chuckled, “A few days off? Is that a polite way of saying you were suspended?”

“Um, yea,” Kat nodded.

“What did you,” He grinned at Kat, “Forget to wear your cheerleading outfit to a pep rally?”

Kat felt her anger rise at the accusation that she could be some kind of petty airheaded girl. Although logic quickly rose to the surface, ’Calm down,’ Kat told herself. ’He’s a blue collar worker that sees a teenage girl, living in a rich neighborhood, silver spoon and all that goes with it.’ Kat grinned at the man, “Well it was like, you know, the color of my nails was like all wrong to wear with my cheerleading outfit and like the other girls would have made fun of that and it would be like embarrassing and they wouldn’t give me time to like change my color.”

Both men stood there staring at Kat with their mouths open. After a long silence the younger man laughed, “Um, you’re joking right?”

Giggling at the thought that either of them could believe a girl would actually talk like that, “Yes, I’m kidding. I had a discussion with a boy about his treatment of women.”

“You did what?” the younger man grimaced.

“That’s a fancy way of saying she beat up a boy that couldn’t keep his hands to himself.” Everyone turned to the sound of the new voice to see a woman with shoulder length brown hair, wearing a dark blue pants suit and lighter blue blouse with her arm in a tan canvas sling.

“Marshall Brown!” Kat ran over and gave the woman a hug, careful of her arm as she did. “How’d you know where to find us?”

“Please Kat, I’d like to think we’re friends, call me Beth. Your man at the gate was very helpful, once he saw this,” She tapped her fingernails against the badge clipped on her belt. “He told me that you would be out here and how to find it,” Marshall Brown returned the hug using her good arm.

“What brings you out here?” Kat quizzed the Marshall.

Beth leaned closer to Kat speaking softly, “I need to talk with you, privately.”

“Well then why don’t I give you a tour of the little workshop I’m building, while these two guys finish up with the septic tank?” Taking Beth’s good hand, Kat led her around the work the men were doing and over to the barn. Sliding open one of the two large double doors partially, Kat led the Marshall into the barn.

Looking around at the equipment Beth gasped, “All this equipment looks brand new.”

“Most of it is,” Kat grinned, “This place had a dirt floor and was knee deep in in old straw and manure that had turned to rock hard compost when I started on it.” Kat noticed Beth looking closely at the Thunderbird, “That’s my project car. I found it at the dealership, probably bound for the scrapyard I’m restoring it.”

“So is this your next project car?” Beth pointed at Kat’s truck.

“That’s Junkyard,” Kat giggled.

“Junkyard?”

“Becky, my friend, she named it.” Kat explained, “First time she saw it she said it belongs in a junkyard. Honestly it runs and drives perfectly, it just looks like crap.”

“I have to say Kat, you are full of surprises.” Beth exhaled, “Which is one of the reasons I’m here.”

“Oh?”

Beth’s face took on a serious look, “Kat you seems to be a great kid, hell I’m sure what you did saved my life and possibly the lives of other officers!” Beth took a deep breath, “That’s why I’m going to be straight with you. The district Marshall is convinced something is going on with you.” Placing her good hand on Kat’s shoulder, “Is there something I should know about? I owe you, if you need my help…”

“Excuse me?” The older of the two men walked in the partially open barn door with a clipboard in his hand, “We’ve set the tank in and need a signature before we take off.

Kat walked outside to find the younger guy standing on the back of their truck retracting the boom arm that allowed them to place the tank. Looking over into the pit she had dug, she saw the tank was in fact there and properly placed. Signing the document she handed the clipboard back then pulled a twenty dollar bill form her back pocket and handed it to the man, “Thanks a ton, lunch is on me! I’ll make sure to call your company and tell them what prompt and courteous service you two gave me.”

“Um thanks,” surprised that Kat had not only praised their work bit tipped them too.

Beth walked up from behind to join Kat outside as the two guys climbed into their truck and left, “About what we were talking about in there, Kat the district Marshall has told me to keep an eye on you and wants me to report anything unusual.”

“So no using my super powers when you’re around, check.”

“Kat this is serious.”

Turning to face Beth, “Look I know things are kind of weird around me right now, but in the past few months I met my father who, I had always imagined was some asshole that left my mom when he found out she was pregnant, but instead never knew I existed. I find out I have a sister and two beautiful nieces. And my family is filthy rich, including me now that my father left me a considerable sum of money. It’s like a fairy tale ending.”

Chapter 48

The next few days went by in a blur as Kat was back in school. Then Saturday was upon her and the demonstration now turned circus that Kat had promised to give.

Leaning over Kat spoke softly so that only Becky could hear her as they stepped out of the Girl’s locker room into the school gym, “I feel stupid wearing this.”

Becky’s eyed the long black sleeveless cheongsam dress they had made for Kat to wear for this occasion. Both sides of the dress were slit up the sides to just above her hips making the front and back of the skirt appear like long red trimmed black flags that hung from her waist. The arm openings and neck were also trimmed in the inch wide red trim that matched a wide crimson scarf tied around her waist. The top of the outfit had a short straight collar that while concealing any cleavage was skin tight, leaving nothing of her figure to the imagination. “You look great!” Becky smiled at her best friend.

“This makes my boobs look enormous,” Kat grimaced, “I feel like I’m walking two steps behind them!”

“It’s the padding.”

“Well they used too much!”

Becky giggled, “Think of it as a distraction.”

“Oh it’s definitely distracting.”

“For them silly,” Becky grinned, “they’ll be so busy staring at your boobs they won’t be able to fight.”

“Oh goody,” Kat rolled her eyes, “Just what I wanted more boys ogling my chest.”

Kat stood there for a moment taking in the gym. The lower bleachers that folded up into the walls had been pulled out and metal folding chairs had been placed in neat rows at each end of the gym allowing as much seating as possible in the space. The bleachers seemed to be over half full of students and their parents and Kat could see more filing in through the doors looking for a place to sit.

What appeared to be a new olive green wrestling mat with two white circles, the smaller ten foot circle in the very center of the mat surrounded by a larger 28 foot circle took center of the gym’s floor. Each of the four corners of the mat held the US Army Logo of a white star bordered in gold inside a gold bordered square with another gold bordered rectangle underneath that had, “U.S.ARMY,” written in white. Inside the center circle the words, “Army of One,” were printed with a graphic script.

Across the mat Kat could see her mother sitting in the front row in one of the metal folding chairs. Beside her sat Karen with Emily, Susan then Matt, who was in his military uniform. Kat smiled inwardly to herself when she saw that The Master Sergeant had been able to make it, Kat reasoned that the oriental woman beside him must be Jenny’s mother. Spotting General Tollman sitting between Matt and the Master Sergeant, Kat was reasonably sure where the new wrestling mat had come from. In front of her mother and friends a wooden podium sat half way between the first row of chairs and the wrestling mat.

The lust filled stares Kat saw in the eyes of the male students that had already found seats in the gym gave Kat a sour taste in her mouth, although the looks from many of the adult men that had accompanied their kids made her skin crawl. She seriously considered turning around back into the girl’s locker room to change out of the outfit her friends had made for her, although knowing that doing so would have everyone believing she was afraid to fight.

While Kat felt fear, it had nothing to do with the fight its self, no her fear came from knowing the thoughts hidden behind those lustful stares, the same kind of thoughts she had on so many occasions in her past. Kat realized there was no difference between all the looks she was receiving and the ones she used to give women in her past. She also knew that most of the guys giving her those looks, like she had been in her past, would never act on the fantasies that ran through their minds, ‘I deserve this, it’s punishment for the way I used to act.’

Glancing over to the bleachers where the boys on the football team sat Kat spotted each of the trouble makers. It was those few, the ones that felt that women were beneath them, something they could possess, and something they deserved due to their status on the team. Her eyes met Danny’s, the big oaf from the cafeteria that was responsible for beginning this chain of events. She saw him grin wide then pucker his lips into a kiss toward her when he noticed she was looking at him.

‘Show no weakness,’ Kat though as she returned the disgusting gesture with the sweetest smile she could muster.

“What are you doing?” Becky gasped, seeing the interchange between the two, “How can you smile at that asshole like that?”

Leaning over, Kat whispered, “Easy, I was thinking about what his smile would look like after I knock his teeth down his throat,” turning back around to see the other girls with her, “We should get going.”

“Not yet,” Hanna grinned.

“Yea,” Madison smiled, “We need to wait for Mrs. Burkowitz to announce us.”

“She’s going to what?” Kat’s eyes narrowed as she looked back at Madison.

Clair, who had always been the quite one of the group smiled sheepishly at Kat, “We couldn’t pass the opportunity to do a little fashion show.”

“A what!” Kat jerked back, her eyes opening wide.

“Aww, come on Kat,” Hanna pleaded, “This is like the first time we have ever been able to show off the dresses we make.”

“I just wish I would have worn higher heels,” May, the only one shorter like Kat, forced a smile.

“Heels!” Kat took a deep breath, “There are TV cameras out there and you’re worried about your shoes?”

“Yes isn’t it great!” Clair squealed, “Our designs will be on TV!”

Becky giggled, “Make the biggest jerk on the football team cry, cool. Made the assistant principal look like a fool, awesome. Shivers in fear over a television camera, priceless.”

“I’m not afraid of a camera, I just don’t want to be on national TV.”

“It’s only the local news silly,” Madison grinned, “They always cover the high school sports.”

“Yea you act like you really did escape from a North Korea Ninja training camp,” Jenny giggled, “You didn’t did you?”

Pursing her lips, Kat glared back at her, which got all the girls giggling.

“What are you girls doing out there?” They heard a voice behind them.

“Sorry Mrs. Woodby,” May lowered her eyes innocently, “I forgot to tell everyone.”

“Well get back here behind the screen, for the reveals.”

Noticing the pastel pink paper which looked like someone had painted to look like it had branches covered in cherry blossoms covering the partitions they had walked right past when they left the locker room. Kat turned and followed the group over behind the screen.

From behind the screen Kat heard their principal Mr. McCray being speaking over the PA system in the Gym. “Ladies and gentlemen, students and parents, thank you all for coming out and supporting our school. We have several demonstrations that will be taking place this afternoon, of course not the least of which is a martial arts demonstration. One of our fine students has given us the unique opportunity to watch as she puts on a martial arts demonstration. Now while most of us have seen people break boards and other items using martial arts, she will be demonstrating the self-defense side of the physical training, the basic reason that many take up marital arts in the first place. To do this our football players will be playing the part of the attackers that she will defend against.” Mr. McCray stopped as noise rose within the gym as everyone began talking to each other in the bleachers.

Once the commotion had died down he continued, “I also wish to thank the U.S. Army and General Tollman for donating the fine new wrestling mats that we will be using later in the program,” Turning to his side where he could see the general, “General Tollman would you please stand up.” General Tollman stood and a round of applause went throughout the gym. He took a quick bow then sat back down. “Now I would like to hand the mike over to Mrs. Burkowitz who sponsors one of the many after school clubs available for our students.”

Moments later Kat heard Mrs. Burkowitz on the PA system, “Thank you principal McCray. “A couple of our after school clubs would like to take the time to demonstrate a little of the types of activities that takes place within their club. First up we have our clothing design club.” As she said this Jenny walked over to the end of the screen they were standing behind and stepped out. “Here we have Jennifer wearing a quarter sleeved maxi length dress fashioned along the lines of the oriental Cheongsam that is done in a black background with red roses…”

As the number of girls dwindled behind the partition screen Kat felt the butterflies in her stomach increase, ‘I can’t believe they are putting me on display like this. How can they want parade themselves out there knowing the boys will be drooling over them?’

The next thing Kat knew it only her, Becky and Mrs. Woodby were left. Becky leaned over giving Kat a kiss on her cheek, “You’ll be fine, just imagine them after you’ve knocked their teeth down their throat.” Becky giggled before walking out from behind the partition screen. Kat listened at the teacher introduced Becky to the crowd then began describing the details of the top and skirt that Becky wore, along with how it had also been designed and hand made by their clothing design club.

Suddenly Mrs. Woodby was pushing Kat into position to preform her catwalk across the gym, “Remember back straight, arms at your sides.” The aging home economics teacher smiled warmly at the nervous teen, “You’ll be fine dear. I’m more worried about this fighting thing you’ll be doing.”

“Fighting is what I know best, it’s parading myself in front of guys that scares the hell out of me.”

“Oh dear, you must have been a late bloomer huh?”

“You could say that,” a giggle escaped Kat’s lips as the irony of that remark caught her.

“Well dear I don’t know what you may have looked like before, but with the way you look now you could easily go into modeling after you graduate.”

As Kat stepped out from behind the screen she heard Mrs. Burkowitz introduce her to the crowd, which from sneaking peeks out from where they had waited several times while the other girls were doing their walk of fame, she knew was her cue to start the walk toward the other side of the gym around the side of the wrestling mat. Between thinking about keeping her back straight, not swinging her arms like she was so accustomed doing and trying to make sure she did not trip and break her neck in the four inch heels they insisted she had to wear, Kat was on the other side of the gym standing beside Mrs. Burkowitz before she had the chance to worry about the looks she may have received during her catwalk across the gym.

“Let’s have a big round of applause for Kathleen!” Mrs. Burkowitz said into the microphone while smiling over at Kat.

Kat turned toward the unoccupied chair beside her mother, then noticed the way General Tollman was looking at Kat as he tried to hide the humor he saw in the position Kat had been placed in. The corner of Kat’s lip curled upward as an idea came to mind. “Grandpa Tollman you did come!” She squealed like an excited little girl before prancing over and sitting down across his lap while embracing him in a hug. Both Kat’s mother and Matt were doing their best to cover up their laughter at what Kat had done.

“What the hell are you doing?” He whispered in her ear.

Squeezing him in another hug before turning her head so she could whisper a reply in his ear, “Giving you plenty of plausible deniability. If these people think you are my grandfather or at least treat me like your granddaughter, then they will think the new wrestling mat and you being here is nothing more than an old man spoiling a little girl.”

“Is that your only reason?”

“Well, the look on your face when I yelled grandpa then jumped on your lap may have had a little to do with it,” Kat finished the explanation with a kiss to his cheek before getting up off his lap and going over to the empty seat beside her mother.

“Next time you are going to do something like that warm me so I can have a camera ready,” Her mother leaned over speaking softly so General Tollman did not hear. “That was a Kodak moment if I ever saw one, the look on his face was priceless. I have never seen anyone get the old man’s goat like that before.”

“It was a spur of the moment thing mom,” Kat explained, “I was so worried about falling off these stilts they made me wear, all I could think about was not tripping over my own two feet in front of everyone.”

“Speaking of your heels,” Deb reached into a bag she had in the floor by her chair, producing a pair of black tennis shoes with red laces that she handed to Kat, “Put these on and I’ll put your heels in my bag.”

Taking the shoes her mother offered, “You knew? You knew they were going to make me wear those heels?”

“Of course I knew, I bought them,” Deb smiled.

Kat was lacing up her shoes as Mrs. Burkowitz introduced then handed the microphone over to Mr. Robertson, one of their science teachers. He began talking about their robotics club then on cue nine boys walked out the edge of the wrestling mat carrying quad copters and simultaneously threw them all into the air. Each of the quad copters righted themselves and immediately formed up in a square formation of three rows of three all equal distance from each other hovering in place eight feet off the floor. The boys all walked back over to the bleachers were people made room for them to sit.

Once they sat down the quad copters all started moving. At first they all seemed to be doing a figure eight pattern of follow the leader, but from there the patterns they began flying became more and more complex with them weaving in and around each other in several sophisticated patterns, some so intricate that Kat was amazed none crashed into each other.

While everyone’s attention was focused on the precision aerial acrobatics going on inside the gym someone cupped their hands around Kat’s ear, “We dyed all the boys jock straps hot pink last night.” Kat turned just in time to see a girl with short black hair, wearing all black, mini skirt, leggings and tee shirt and of all things a pair of combat boots walking away quickly.

~o~O~o~

Once what turned out to be an incredible quad copter display was over Mr. McCray stood and went back up to the podium, “Let's all give a big round of applause to the robotics club for that amazing display!” taking one step back and began clapping himself. Once the applause died down Mr. McCray stepped back up to the microphone, “Okay as cliché as this sounds, time for the main event.” Turning toward Kat while holding out his hand, “You’ve all been introduced to Kathleen during the first part of our program with Mrs. Burkowitz and her clothing design club, come on up here Kathleen,” motioning for her to join him.

Over half the boys on the football team seemed entranced at the sight of Kat standing patiently in the center circle on the mats laid out on the gym floor, most of them with their mouths agape. “You’re keeping the lady waiting!” Bishop yelled at the group of boys, “John, Mike, Tommy, Konner you’re up first!”

“Sorry coach, I’m not fighting a girl,” Kat heard the one boy that did not stand speak up. Kat recognized him from the mall, he had been the boy that tried to get his friends to leave Becky alone. Mr. Bishop walked over and Kat could not hear what Bishop was saying although the boy replied loud enough so she could hear his reply, “My mom and dad taught me a guy should never under any circumstance hit a girl, I don’t care if this is an exhibition I’m not fighting her!” Bishop stormed away from the boy glaring at Kat as he did.

The three boys that had stood walked side by side into the circle. Once in the circle they spread out slightly but did not attack. Kat stood with casual ease, her arms crossed under her breasts for several long seconds tapping her foot impatiently waiting for them to make a move, “Anytime boys.” Kat grinned at the three, “By the way, all us girls really appreciate all you guys showing your support for breast cancer.”

“What the hell you talking about?” One of the boys spat.

“You know,” Kat glanced down at his crotch, letting him know all too well that she knew about the teams jock straps being dyed, “wearing pink the way you guys did for this.”

“You bitch!” the boy on Kat’s right launched toward her. Reaching out, he tried to grab Kat by the shoulders as her own hands grabbed his loose fitting tee shirt chest level. His momentum carried him forward into Kat who raised her knee up into his stomach as she let him carry her backwards a couple steps. Kat leaned back, letting her other leg sweep up between his legs, her weight and his momentum carrying them both to the mat. Arching her back she landed on her butt then let the momentum roll her body upward toward her shoulders at the same time pulling hard with her hands while pushing him away with the knee she had planted in his stomach causing the boy to flip upward over her. Letting go of his shirt as he sailed over the top of her, the boy landed on his back, several feet outside the circle. Going with the built up momentum, Kat continued to roll backwards bringing her body up into a ball allowing herself to roll backwards until she was once again on her feet, crouched on the mat.

The boy that had been in the center of the group was only a couple steps behind his partner Kat feigned trying to stand as he made a grab for her, ducking under his hands to plant her shoulder in his stomach before heaving upward with her legs while rolling her shoulder against him causing his feet to leave the ground as he began to somersault over the smaller girl. Twisting as she felt him go over the top, Kat planted one hand on the mat and released a side kick into his stomach, kicking the boy further away and out of the circle.

Spinning around toward the third boy that was upon her, Kat’s outstretched leg arced around behind the legs of the third boy, coming back around to sweep his feet out from under him. Still trying to turn to grab Kat the boy twisted in the air and instead of landing on his back, did a face plant directly into the mat beside Kat.

Swinging back around toward the last boy Kat gasped when she saw the amount of blood, “Time out! We got an injury!” She yelled going down to her hands and knees, rolling the boy to his side so she could see how badly he was hurt. Both his hand were covering his face, blood seeping out around his fingers. “How bad are you hurt? Let me see.” Kat reached over trying to get him to move his hands.

“God dammit! You broke my nose!” the muffled scream could be heard through his hands.

Kat looked up and over to where the two men and a woman of the ambulance crew had been sitting to see that two of them were already heading over. “Lay still the paramedics are coming over to make sure you’re okay.” Once they arrived Kat helped the woman escort the injured boy over where they had him lie down on the gurney after elevating the head portion. The second paramedic had stayed behind to clean up the blood from the boy’s nosebleed came up behind Mr. Bishop who had followed them over.

Pointing at Kat, “You left the mat, that’s a forfeit!” Mr. Bishop grinned.

Standing up glaring at Mr. Bishop, “One of your players was hurt don’t you think you should be more worried about that?”

“He’s fine it’s only a bloody nose!” Mr. Bishop’s face red with anger, “Rules are when someone leaves the mat they are out, you left the mat… It’s over, you lost!”

The crowd could not hear what Mr. Bishop and Kat were saying to each other although the outburst from the female paramedic that stood up and faced him was loud enough to be heard by everyone in the gym. “You call yourself a coach!” she all but screamed, as the whole gym went silent “You, You’re a hypocrite! You should be over there telling your team how this girl showed true sportsman like conduct in making sure that an injured opponent was given prompt medical attention, rather than come over ranting that she left the mat and should forfeit!”

The booing was so loud no one could be heard until Mr. McCray walked back up to the podium and began tapping the microphone. Finally getting everyone to settle down, Mr. McCray spoke, “Thank you for reminding all of us of the conduct that we expect from our students and staff in both athletics and academics.” Looking over where Kat and Bishop stood by the paramedics, “I take it Mr. Sutton will be alright?” He watched as one of the male paramedics gave a thumbs up, “That’s good to know, Now Mr. Bishop if you would escort Kathleen back to the mat, I think we should continue the demonstration Kathleen has been gracious enough to provide for all the parents and students that have come to watch.”

Mr. Bishop glared at Kat as he motioned for her to lead the way. Knowing that it would bother Bishop more than anything she could say, Kat smiled warmly at him before walking back toward the wrestling mat. Once Kat was back on the mat and Mr. Bishop standing beside the bleachers the football team sat on as a group, Bishop looked over at the players, “Danny you’re up!”

“My turn!” Danny shot up from where he sat on the bleachers.

Bishop nodded as he smiled as his largest member of their football team. Heavily muscled and standing six foot three, Danny was one of his star players that could easily end up in the pros if he played his cards right. Knowing that Danny had an Axe to grind after she had blindsided him in the cafeteria weeks ago was icing on the cake.

Walking up onto the edge of the wrestling mat Danny smirked, “I guess Coach is tired of playing around, he told me I had to give the other guys a chance since he knew I would get that kiss once he let me play with you.”

“Sure of yourself aren’t you?” Kat stood casually in the small center circle of the mat, seemly relaxed with her arms at her sides.

“Why don’t we cut through all the foreplay and you come on over and give me a kiss now.”

“Don’t you want to dance with me first?” Kat lowered her chin, looking at him with big sad eyes and her lower lip stuck out pouting.

“Hell ya!” Danny grinned wide as he walked over and reached for Kat’s arm. Grabbing his arm Kat stepped in close while turning to her side pulling him over her hip and down to the mat on his back.

Quickly regaining his feet, Danny went into a classic three point fighting stance. “You’re not the only one who knows a thing or two,” Danny grinned before twisting around letting his leg sweep upward and around in a round house kick toward Kat’s head. Kat easily ducked under the move before jumping over his leg as he continued to spin around but with his leg just above the ground.

“I hope you got more than that, I saw those kicks coming from a mile away.”

Danny stepped in close with a flurry of punches and kicks, everyone Kat either dodged or blocked easily until she grabbed his arm during one of the punches and threw him across her hip once again, “You’re not half bad,” Kat giggled as the boy rolled over and got back to his feet. “I bet you’re one of the guys that are in Mrs. Williams classes aren’t you?”

Danny nodded as he stood there breathing hard to catch his breath, “You, you’re really good.”

“Why thank you Danny,” Kat smiled, “that’s something you should try with girls more often.”

“What’s that?” He began to slowly circle around at Kat.

“Being nice to them, giving them compliments like you just did,” Kat explained, “Girls like that kind of stuff. Not the macho, me Tarzan, you Jane crap you’re always coming across with.”

Danny was careful not to get to close to the outer ring while they sparred back and forth, never close enough so that Kat could throw him out without making her real strength obvious to those watching. Finally after what seemed like an eternity of Kat blocking and ducking his attacks Danny threw up one hand in a sign to stop. His other hand went to his knee while he panted for breath. “I’m done!” He gasped out.

“What do you mean you’re done?” The blood vessels in Mr. Bishop’s forehead clearly visible as he yelled.

Danny looked over at Mr. Bishop, “Coach she may be small but she knows her stuff. Hell Coach I don’t even think she was trying that hard.” Several of the boys had gotten up from the bleachers and walked closer to the wrestling mat.

“It’s because she’s some kind of Mutant alien freak!” someone screamed from within the crowd of boys standing there. Doug Semfer pushed his way to the front of the group, emerging with a large hunting knife in his hand and charged toward Kat. Grabbing Doug by the shoulder as he past, Danny tried stopping his teammate only to feel a searing burning pain as Doug spun and embedded the knife into Danny’s abdomen.

Pulling the knife out Doug turned back toward Kat only to find that she was already beside him. Kat grabbed him by the wrist that held the knife, twisting his arm so that his elbow pointed outward with his arm intended as she spun to his outside. The force of her forearm connecting to his elbow caused a loud snapping sound as his arms bent backward in a sickening angle. Losing his grip on the knife it fell to the ground as the pain of his broken arm sent him to his knees. Kat kicked the knife away before rushing over to Danny.

Helping Danny to the ground, she got him to lie down and using both her hands to put pressure on the gaping stab wound in his upper left stomach. Within moments the paramedics were there pushing Kat out of the way so they could work on stabilizing him and getting him up on the gurney and loaded in the ambulance.



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