The Dysasters (The Dysasters #1)(5)

His shoulders slumped.

I actually told her Sports Illustrated was my favorite book. After I already made myself sound like a deluded superhero wannabe by introducing myself as Nighthawk—to a total stranger—a hot, disinterested, total stranger.

“Shit. Maybe I am a douche.”

“Yo, Nighthawk, who was that ginge you was talkin’ to? She ain’t from here, that’s for sure.” Kyle Case bumped Tate with his shoulder. “If you’re gettin’ in on that St. Joe action, you’re gonna be in major trouble with our women. Especially Emma.”

“Emma and I broke up. I can talk to whoever I want.”

“Not if they’re from St. Joe you can’t. She’s a Spartan. We’re Panthers. The two do not fraternize,” said Kyle.

“Fraternize? You been studying your vocab words again, Ky-kee?” Tate waggled his brows at his best friend.

“Dude.” Kyle lowered his voice. “We talked about this. Like, a million times. You cannot use my baby sister’s nickname for me. Ever.”

“Oh, I can. I definitely can.”

“Nope. It’s not cool.”

“Hey, you call me a nickname all the time,” Tate said.

“Nighthawk is cool. Ky-kee is not. End of discussion. Get back to the ginge with the big boobs.”

“Big boobs? What? No.” Tate shook his head. “I wasn’t talking to her because of that.” He’d been so caught by Strawberry’s big green eyes, amazing red hair, and that skin that looked like she could have been carved from marble—smoking hot, flawless marble—that he hadn’t noticed anything else about her. Well, except that she didn’t like football and, more specifically, she didn’t like him.

“Did you say big boobs?” asked Ryan. “Whose?” The linebacker’s head turned in Tate’s direction, along with half the team, making them look like mutant baby birds. “I thought you and Emma broke up.”

“We did. Kyle’s just being an—”

“Nighthawk got his hands on some boobs. Again!” Ryan, who had never been a genius, talked over him, knocking kids aside as he tunneled his six-foot-two, three-hundred-fifty-pound way through the team to get to Tate. “I gotta get me some details.”

“No details!” Tate said. “I was talking to a girl. That’s all.”

“She’s a Spartan,” Kyle said.

“I didn’t say that!” Tate said. “I don’t know what she is, except not real friendly.”

“Definitely a Spartan,” Ryan said. “But I think big boobs cancel out the Spartan-ness of her.”

Kyle scoffed. “Tell that to Emma and her friends.”

“We broke up!” Actually, Emma had dumped him. Two weeks ago. No explanation except “Babe, it’s not working out.” Not working out? What did that even mean? He was still trying to figure out what he’d done wrong.

“Tate! Get your head out of your pants and into the game!” The team parted with biblical reverence as Tate’s dad strode toward him.

“My head’s totally in the game, Coach!” Tate assured his dad as his teammates snapped to attention.

“Good, because you have your work cut out for you tonight. Do I need to remind you that St. Joe’s a four-A school and we’re a two-A school?”

“No, Coach!” Tate shouted.

“No, Coach!” the team echoed.

“And do I need to remind you that the weather out there is looking crappy, which means anything can happen when the field turns into a swamp?”

“No, Coach!” the team shouted with Tate.

“Hey, Coach, no worries about the weather,” Kyle said. “The darker it gets, the better Nighthawk sees!”

Tate’s dad smacked the back of Kyle’s head. “Boy, when the entire team can see in the dark like Tate, then the crappy weather’s a plus. Can you see like a hawk in the dark?”

“No, sir!” Kyle yelled.

“Like I’ve told you boys since you were in grade school—nothing, not even great night vision, can replace hard work and focus. Now, huddle up and take a knee.”

With the rest of the team, Tate took a knee in the circle of teammates around his dad while everyone bowed their heads and linked hands.

“Keep us safe out there—strong out there—sure out there. Keep us Panthers out there!”

“Go Panthers!” the team chorused.

“Oh, yeah. Almost forgot,” his dad said, looking around the team conspiratorially. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, Coach!” the entire team, except Tate, yelled.


“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Nighthawk! Happy birthday to you!” They all sang—badly, but enthusiastically.

“Sweet eighteen and never been kissed!” Ryan quipped.

“Shit, sweet eighteen and never been missed!” Kyle said.

“Okay, okay, you’ve had your fun. Time to line it up. Captain and co-captain first.”

Tate and Kyle took their places at the front of the double column of Panthers. They moved in perfect time to their end zone, where they waited together for the band to start playing the fight song.

“Damn, your dad wasn’t kidding about the weather,” Kyle said, giving the green sky with its ominous dark clouds a nervous look. “Think they’ll call the game?”

P.C. Cast, Kristin C's Books