I lifted the barbell over my shoulders resting it back on its rack, letting out a groan of exertion for good measure, just in case anyone was watching. The weight distributed on each side equaled well over a hundred pounds; I had to pretend that it was at least a challenge, even if realistically it was a cinch for me. Actually the whole working out wasn't even necessary for me, but I had to keep up appearances. A guy eats like I do and never works out, people might wonder how in the hell I'm so muscular. And in football you know people's mind are immediately going to jump to steroids. So, even though it was an annoying and unnecessary waste of my limited time, I spent a couple hours each day in the school gym.

"Black," Coach Armstrong called out as he walked into the gym. "You ready for this game against the Eagles?"

I sat up on the bench and wiped some non-existent sweat off of my face with the towel that was slung over my shoulders.

"Would you think I was a terrible sports cliché if I said I was born ready?"

He narrowed his eyes, seeming to decide whether or not he should scold me for joking about the big game - he took his football pretty seriously - but he just chuckled. "Good, I don't think I have to remind you how important this game is."

No, I definitely didn't need any reminder of how much was riding on this game, of how much was riding on my shoulders, as the quarterback and captain. We needed to win this game to finish the season in first place. And it's common knowledge that scouts are much more inclined to go check a player out if he's playing on a top team, so quite a few guys' futures were riding on this game. It was definitely a lot of pressure, but nothing I couldn't handle. I'd been under worse pressure.

"Alright, I'll see you at practice tomorrow Black," he said, slapping me on the back. "Oh, and you tell Cleary that if he misses one more practice I'm finding a new starting running back." he added as an afterthought.

"Will do Coach," I told him as he walked away.

He would occasionally get me to pass on such messages to the guys, saying that it's part of being captain. But I suspect that sometimes he just doesn't feel like seeking them out at school, or doesn't want to be the bad guy. Not that I mind, I'm used to being a leader, and the team respects me, but I just don't like the feeling that I'm doing his dirty work. Now don't get me wrong he's a great coach, but I guess everyone has their quirks.

I ran into a couple guys from the team as I was leaving the gym. They were both in grade ten, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, thought I was some sort of god.

"Hey Jake, what's good tonight?" Alex Wright, the taller of the two asked.

"Not too much,"

"Well there's this party at Marissa Lancot's house. We were thinking about checking it out later. You in?"

"I can't, I have some shit I have to do tonight." I replied vaguely. It was getting harder and harder to come up with new excuses for why I couldn't go out certain nights, nights I was patrolling.

Nate nudged Alex. "Told you he wouldn't want to go to a sophomore party. He's a senior," he said this reverently, as if the fact that I was a couple years older put me in a class above everyone else. I always hated that particular, small-minded, high school way of thinking.

"It's not that, I just have plans. Maybe I'll swing by later," I said, so they wouldn't think I wasn't blowing them off. Well, I was, but not for the reasons they thought.

"Alright man, well we'll see you later, maybe." Alex said and Nate nodded his head in way of goodbye.

I slung my gym bag over my shoulders and walked back to my car. I read the time on the dash and groaned. I was really hoping to get a nap in before patrols, but it looked like I'd be lucky to squeeze in time to eat.

Between football, school, the pack, and hanging out with Bella I was the busiest I'd ever been. But even though it felt like I didn't have time to breathe sometimes, I was happy; it was like everything in my life was finally coming together. The pack was thriving under my leadership, I was getting very good grades in my AP classes, the team has a very good chance of winning state with me at quarterback, and of course I'm with the girl I love. Also the added popularity that came with being on the football team didn't hurt. It was very well shaping up to be one of the best years of my life. Wait, no, I didn't say that out loud. It doesn't count; it's not going to jinx me. No drama this year.

Yeah, right. I can't even think that with a straight face.


AN: So just a little prologue of sorts to give you an idea of what the story's gonna be about. I'm kind of excited to write this, so hopefully you guys are excited to read it :)