The Rivals - Dylan Allen

Chapter 1



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I hear the crunch of footsteps behind me, but I don’t turn around. I know I’m not supposed to be here. It should worry me that I’ve been discovered. I’ve been warned repeatedly that this part of our property is off limits.

But I’m not worried.

Not today.

Maybe not ever again.

What could possibly happen to me that’s worse than my father dying? The worst day of my life has already come and gone. The boulder of pain that has lodged itself into my chest is heavy and no other emotion has been able to find a foothold in it for weeks. With each day that’s passed since my father died, I’ve become more convinced that what I’m feeling is something bigger, less definable than simple pain.

Pain is a basic, localized thing.

What I feel is sophisticated, all-encompassing.

Pain has a remedy.

There’s no cure for what has taken root inside of me.

“Yo! What are you doing here?” a man’s voice calls out from the clearing behind me. I’d been expecting Swish to come looking for me. I did bail on my father’s funeral, after all. But that deep, loose, and jaunty voice is definitely not Swish.

When I turn around, a tall, young, dark-haired man I’ve never seen before is watching me with a wary look on his face. Like I’m the intruder. Yes, I’m breaking a rule by being here, but this is still my family’s property.

I stand up slowly and face him. “Who the fuck are you?” I ask with as much aggression as I can manage.

“Remington Wilde.” He says his name like it’s a title. Like he expects it to mean something to me. And, it does. Even though I’ve never laid eyes on him before. His last name was among some of the very first words I ever learned.

Remington Wilde is the oldest son of my family’s biggest rival.

His family’s heir in training.

Just like me.

I’ve been raised to think of him as my nemesis.

I don’t know what I expected him to look like. Certainly not so… normal. He could be any other teenager at my high school. Like me, he’s taller and broader than average. He’s got a basketball tucked under one of his arms and is dressed like he’s been playing.

“Who the fuck are you?” he says just as combatively.

“Hayes Rivers,” I answer and straighten my spine. The same surprise I felt flickers in his eyes for just a fraction of a second before he schools his expression—but I don’t miss it.

Then, he starts dribbling the ball. His hand meets it every time it springs off the ground, but his eyes never stray from me. I’d heard he was a major basketball talent. But he attended the public high school, Lamar, and I attend the private Strake Jesuit. Our teams have never played each other. But if his playing is anything like his skillful but absentminded dribble, he was clearly born to hold a basketball.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” he says and draws my eyes back to his.

“Neither are you,” I shoot back.

We stare each other down. The longer I look at him, the more I’m sure I’ve seen him before.

He narrows his eyes at me, crosses his arms over his chest and curls his lip. “I came to get a ball that came over the wall. But you look like you’ve been making yourself comfortable back here.” He nods at the sleeping bag that’s stretched across the huge boulder in the center of the clearing. I’ve been coming here since the day my father died. It’s been my escape from an endless stream of people who have been at our house to pay their respects.

“So?” I respond with a defensive shrug. I nod at his arm. “Looks like you got your ball. Why are you still here?” I ask.

His eyes narrow briefly, but his expression stays neutral.

“I thought your old man’s funeral was today,” he says casually, quietly. And yet, the reproach in his tone hits me like he yelled them inches away from my face. A flush of shame washes over me.

Of course, he knows. Everyone does. His mother, the widely-respected Tina Wilde, sent flowers. Eliza hurled the vase against the wall when she read the card, and they were not invited to the funeral. But I know their family must be watching ours closely to see how things change now that my father is gone. I wonder, too. He looks nothing like the mythical foe I’d imagined he would. But, our families Copyright 2016 - 2022