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MAKING THE TEAMAlec London Series Book 1
By Stephanie Perry Moore Derrick Moore
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2011 Stephanie Perry Moore and Derrick Moore
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSOME hope
"Alec Sylvester London! Dad wants you right now!"
There he goes again, I thought. My big brother, Antoine, was trying to scare me. To make things seem even worse, he was teasing me, knowing I didn't like being called by my whole name.
"Oooh, I'm so glad I'm not you, man, because Dad's gonna tell you somethin' ... and you're not gonna like it."
I wanted to ask him if I was in trouble or something. What exactly did Dad tell him that was making him grin from ear to ear? Antoine was two years older than me, but sometimes he acted like he was my little brother.
Boy, he gets on my nerves! I wish we could get along like brothers should, but Antoine acts like he knows everything. And that bothers me. After all, he just barely made it to the sixth grade and I'm in the fourth.
At first, I didn't like my new neighborhood. We used to live in a real cool area of Dekalb County, a few miles from downtown Atlanta. Then my dad lost his job and we had to move to another part of the county. Looking back, it doesn't seem so bad now. That's because ever since we moved, we've had nothing but problems.
"C'mon. You're walkin' too slow," Antoine said, while pushing me in my back. "You'd better get in there."
The next thing I knew, he was dancing all in my face. I wanted to push him away and tell him to leave me alone. I get so angry with him. He's always trying to do things to get me in trouble. But I have to say that sometimes it's my own fault, because I let him get next to me.
Two years ago, when I started going to a new school, I was nothing but a bully. Everyone hated me. See, when Dad lost his job, he took his anger out on all of us. He and Mom argued all the time. They haven't been happy, and my brother and I were getting punished for no reason. So when I was at school, I wanted to take out my anger on everybody else.
Then, one day this boy named Trey stopped me dead in my tracks. Trey got tired of me beating up on him, so he wanted to teach me a lesson. He stood up to me and was ready to take me on. While we were fighting, it made me think about how I had been hurting other people just because I wasn't happy at home.
I guess it also took this girl, Morgan Love, to get in my face and get me straight. She lives a few houses down from my family. It's not that I like girls or anything, but she's pretty cool. The thing I like the most about her is the fact that she loves God.
Her stepdad even works at a church. He came by one day and helped my dad turn his life around. Since then, Dad and Mom haven't been getting along all the time, but he does seem happier. When he went back to school to get his degree in education, everything was starting to look better.
Even though Antoine was standing in my way, I didn't say anything to him. I just brushed past him and kept walking. He might be my big brother, but lately I've been getting bigger and gaining on him.
"Hey! Don't push me again," he said, shoving me in the back real hard.
This time, I wasn't gonna let Antoine get to me, so I decided to ignore him. That made him even madder.
"Alec, don't you hear me talkin' to you. Turn around!"
I kept on walking and didn't look back. I was heading to our parents' bedroom. Unlike Antoine, I'm trying to learn how to keep my cool.
"There's my boy! Come here, son," Dad said when he saw me. He had a big smile on his face.
He was too excited and I didn't know why. But something was up. What did he have to tell me?
"Don't worry. You're not in trouble, Alec. Are you ready for another school year? You did a good job in the Challenge Program last year, and I want you to keep up the good work. Keep applying yourself in school. Okay, son?"
"I got you, Dad. Antoine said that you wanted to see me. Is this what you wanted to talk about?" I still wasn't sure what he was going to tell me.
"Well, I couldn't wait to give you the good news."
"What good news?"
Maybe somehow he saw the class assignment list and found out that Morgan is in my class. Even though I don't like girls, it's okay to be in the same class with her. Morgan, Trey, and me having fun together another year sounded good to me. I was ready to hear that news.
I was so focused on my friends that I wasn't sure I heard Dad fight the first time.
"Huh?" I said really loud.
Giving me a chance to let it sink in, Dad slowly repeated, "I'm going to be your new assistant principal."
"What? You mean, you're gonna be at my school all the time?" I said with a big frown on my face.
Just then, Antoine rushed in the room and stood beside me. I'm sure he'd been listening at the door. Putting his arm around my shoulder, he said, "Yep! Dad's gonna be at your school every day, watching every move you make. Isn't that great?" Then, just to rub it in even more, he said with a big frown on his face, "I'm so sad that I'm going to middle school this year. Man, too bad for me."
It took everything in me not to pay my brother any attention. He was trying to annoy me, as usual. As for Dad, I couldn't smile and fake like I was excited either. Folding my arms, I said quickly, "I don't understand. Why my school, Dad? That's not cool at all."
Just then Mom walked in and heard us talking. She'd been in the family room, folding clothes. My mother was such a good mom. Coming over to me, she said, "Oh, Alec, you'll see. It's going to be great. Your dad has found a job. Isn't that good news?"
"But—but, was this the only job he could find? I don't want Dad working at my school. The kids are gonna tease me like crazy. I can hear them giving me a hard time, saying stuff like, 'Your daddy is a principal. He's gonna be watchin' you all the time.'"
I couldn't help but be upset and couldn't hold it back. "Man! No way!" I shouted.
Then Dad cut in and said, "It won't be so bad, son. Besides, it's not about what you want. You need a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your stomach. Right? Only God and money can take care of all that. God blessed me with this job and I'm going to take it. You'd just better get over it."
Mom was looking worried and said, "Okay, honey, let's just try and be a little more understanding." At least someone was feeling my pain.
"Please, Lisa. He's got to grow up. I don't have time to hear him whining like this is killing him."
After he said that, Dad quickly left the room. Since none of this seemed to matter to him, Antoine skipped out behind Dad. I just shook my head and sat on the chair, wishing I'd never heard this bad news. Wow! What a day!
"Mom, he doesn't care about how I feel. I know he needs a job and all but-"
Cutting me off, she said, "He does care, sweetie. I know you're having a hard time with the news, but just keep this in mind. At first, you didn't even want to go to this school. Now you don't want your dad to work there. Try and get used to the idea, and don't be so sad. It'll all work out."
She gave me a big hug and that made me feel a little better. I still wasn't excited about Dad's new job, but being in Mom's arms made it seem not so bad.
* * *
Later that night, things got even crazier. Because my parents told me that I couldn't lock my bedroom door, Antoine thought he could just pop in whenever he wanted to. He acted like he owned my room and everything in it.
"Man, this is not good," Antoine said, looking serious for a change.
He always wanted to brag or joke about something, but this time I could tell it was different. He came in and sat on my bed with tears in his eyes. I was used to him acting so tough. But now his mood made me sit up and listen to him.
"What is it?"
Antoine pointed toward the hallway. "Don't act like you can't hear that."
He was right. I could hear the shouting. Mom and Dad were having the loudest argument ever. I wished my parents would stop doing this. Usually they cared when my brother and I were around, but this time they didn't hold back.
"You know, she's packing her bags," Antoine said in a broken-up voice, trying hard not to cry.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"I saw her when I looked in their room. That's what this whole argument is about."
"No. No!" I yelled out.
I jumped out of my bed and ran as fast as I could to my parents' room. I opened the door and saw that Antoine was right. Three suitcases were packed and sitting on their bed.
I screamed, "Mom! What are you doing? Where are you going? Dad, tell her you love her. She can't leave us!"
Throwing his hands up in the air, Dad said to her, "You explain to Alec what's going on. Is this what you want to do to them? Is this what you want?"
Mom didn't answer him. She turned and said to me, "Sweetie, let's go and talk."
She was reaching for my hand, but I pulled back. "No. I don't wanna talk. I just want you to tell me you're not going anywhere." Not knowing what else to do, I went over to the bed and started taking her things out of the suitcases.
Mom raised her voice and said, "Alec! Stop that! We need to talk, baby." Turning to my dad, she said, "Andre, you need to tell him what's going on."
"No," Dad shot back. "You need to explain it to him, Lisa. If this is what you want ... some acting job out in California ... you tell him."
My mom used to be an actress when she was much younger. She had some money saved up from her TV shows and that's what my family was living off of when my dad lost his job a year and a half ago. Dad had some savings too, but that money was almost gone.
Now, with Mom planning to leave, it didn't seem so bad now that Dad was getting a job. I didn't get it. The only thing she would have to do is take care of the three of us. But, all of a sudden, she wants to take an acting job in California. What was she thinking? We're in Georgia, for goodness sake!
I hurried out of their room and ran back to mine, locking the door behind me. I dropped to the floor and started to cry. My dad always told me that boys don't cry. Somehow I was supposed to be able to handle this. Then why wouldn't the tears stop falling? I couldn't stand the thought of Mom leaving us. There's no way I could pretend to be happy if we weren't going to be a family.
Then, I heard Mom calling my name. "Alec, are you listening to me? Sweetie, open the door and let me in."
"No," I finally said.
"Please let me in. I have to talk to you." There was a pause and then she sounded mad. "Alec, you'd better open up right now!"
Feeling like I had no other choice, I got up and opened the door. Then, I fell across the bed with my face in the pillow.
She came over to my bed and sat next to me. At first, neither of us said a word. Why would she leave us? How could she? I kept wondering, so I asked her a tough question. "You don't love us anymore?"
"Of course, I do, baby."
"But Dad has a job now. You said earlier today that everything was going to be good. How can you say that and you're leaving?"
"Alec, it's not like I'll be gone forever. Right now it's only a pilot program. That means we're just doing one show for the networks to test and see if it works. We don't even know if it will get picked up. I should only be gone for a few weeks."
"I don't care about any of that, Mom. We need you right here. Please say you won't go."
Mom tried to explain. "Alec, I have to go. Please try and understand. I can't raise young men and tell them to follow their dreams and their mom doesn't do the same. You guys are older now, you're not babies anymore. Antoine is in middle school and you're going to fourth grade."
"But, who's gonna cook for us? Who's gonna wash our clothes? Who's gonna get us up for school in the Moming?"
"Your dad can cook. We've been sharing those responsibilities for some time now."
"Yeah, but he burns things, Mom!"
"Come on, Alec," she said to me. "It'll be fine. We all knew that I would be going back to work someday. I'm just sorry it's so far away."
"And, if I tell you not to go—because if you do, I won't be able to handle it—would you stay?"
"Don't talk like that," she said, hugging me.
I pulled away. "Well, I won't. Who knows what'll happen to me?"
"Maybe someday you'll be an actor. You know, sometimes you can be so dramatic."
I didn't even know what that meant, and I didn't care either. So, I tried again, "You just can't go, Mom."
"I'll be back before you know it. Remember, you've got a cell phone now. You can call me anytime. I know that things have been tough around here for some time. My being away for a while will help us all to clear our heads. Then—"
"Then what, Mom? Things will work out? That's not gonna happen, and you know it. If you leave, you're not comin' back."
She just looked away.
I put my head down. "When are you leaving?"
"I'm leaving tonight."
"Then just go. Leave."
She tried hugging me, and I moved away again. She tried kissing me on the cheek, and I turned my head. She told me that she loved me, and I didn't say anything back.
About an hour later, a car pulled up to the driveway. It was her girlfriend, Miss Rhonda, who was coming to take Mom to the airport. Antoine came into my room and we both looked out the window, watching them load up the car. We had the same sad look on our faces like we did when we moved from our old house. At age ten, my life is not fun at all. The only thing I could do was pray, "Dear God, please be with our mom. Be with us too."
* * *
"It's the first day of school! I'm in the class with my boy," Trey cheered. "Give it up, Alec!"
I didn't say one word. Not because I wasn't happy to see him, it's just that my dad was standing right behind Trey. He looked like some kind of assistant principal monitor monster.
"All right, young men. Keep it down in the halls, and keep it moving."
"Who's he?" asked Trey.
Morgan walked up to us and said, "Hey, Mr. London."
"You should call him Doctor now," I corrected her. I was still upset that my dad was even in the building.
"Trey, that's Alec's dad," Morgan explained. "He's the new assistant principal."
My dad spoke up, "You guys didn't have enough discipline in school last year, but I'm here to change that. Now, keep it moving. And I don't want to see any of you in my office. Miss Love, be very careful to stay out of trouble in class. And watch out for your friend Alec too."
Excerpted from MAKING THE TEAM by Stephanie Perry Moore Derrick Moore Copyright © 2011 by Stephanie Perry Moore and Derrick Moore. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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