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A Rising Star

By , Arlington Heights, IL
Chapter One

Mike Crowley walked down the bright hallway toward the double doors that stood in the distance. His companion, who strolled silently to the right of him, was his coach and guardian, John Blackthorn. Suddenly, Blackthorn turned his head slightly and spoke.

“Ok Mike,” he started. Then he inhaled deeply, his whole chest heaving up and down, and exhaled slowly. “I know you said you understand, but I want this etched into your skull: do NOT fool around with these guys. This is your first impression, ok? Your in the big leagues now. People are going to care about your character. Do I make myself clear?”

“As a bell,” murmured Mike. He smiled silently to himself. John and he had been together since Mike was twelve, and they had developed a special bond in the past four years that he could not have developed with his real father in forty. But, like most fathers, John was always on Mike’s case about his attitude. Who cared if he had an attitude? Mike thought. He sure as hell deserved to have one.

Mike glanced around the hall as they walked. There were nearly life- sized portraits on the walls of all the great men and women: Andre, Steffi, Pete, Roger, and dozens more. Suddenly, he turned away. No, he could not be distracted, not today. This was his big moment.

John and Mike slowed their pace as the doors in the distance seemed to creep closer. Mike took a deep breath, then twisted his neck from side to side, causing John to cringe in disgust which each crack. Mike checked his ATP pro shirt, making sure it had no crumbs covering it, then combed his blonde hair back out of his face. The shirt was lime green, with a yellow stripe going diagonally across his chest. He looked down at his solid black sweatpants and gray flip-flops, then just shrugged. He met John’s eyes for half a second, but he knew that fraction of a second would cost him.

“You have got to be kidding me,” groaned John. “Sandals, sweatpants, this generation has no respect for style.”

Mike had to admit, John looked very nice. For a man of thirty-seven, John was in excellent shape. He had jet-black hair combined with hazel eyes, which always seemed odd to Mike, since John was originally from Northern Italy, where blue eyes were prominent. Mike had picked out a long sleeved, sky blue, button-down shirt - a very classy look. His jeans matched his shirt almost perfectly, and they were ironed so that every fold had vanished. John wore no socks, but he had very expensive, brown sandals on. His face showed no emotion, and Mike almost burst out laughing. Although it may seem that John was well put together on the surface, Mike knew that John was ten times more nervous for this moment than he was himself.





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