The first in Andrea Montalbano’s series, “Lily Out of Bounds” introduces us to 13-year-old Lily and her teammates, the “soccer sisters.” When the new – and rebellious – girl, Colby, comes to town, everything changes for Lily and the Soccer Sisters Code. Here’s an excerpt:
Lily James’s heart thwapped in her chest like the churning blades of a helicopter. Somehow, Vee was sleeping soundly in the bed next to her. Lily couldn’t imagine how all the jumping and thudding her heart was doing wasn’t keeping her friend awake.
Thwap. Thwap. Thud. Thud.
Was Colby really brave enough to sneak out of the hotel room in the middle of the night?
Sure, Lily wanted to soothe her sore muscles like a pro, but she’d never done anything like sneak out before. She’d never even contemplated doing anything like that. Lily saved her most daring exploits and passionate moments for the field. The rest of her life—in school, with family and friends—she hovered right on average.
This was insanity.
But it was also exciting. Colby was exciting. Lily loved her cool tattoos. She envied Colby’s wild hair. Colby was different, in the best kind of way. Lily gathered a section of her own strawberry blonde hair around her finger as she lay in the bed. For games she always wore a long ponytail, or when she was feeling crazy, two French braids. Next to Colby, Lily’s hair was basic and boring. How was anyone going to notice Lily next to someone like Colby?
Vee rolled over. Lily could tell Vee didn’t get Colby. Vee wasn’t very good at hiding her feelings. Was what Colby had done during the game really that wrong? So she tied her shoe at the end. Big whoop. It’s dangerous to play with your shoelaces undone. And she twisted her ankle. Not her fault she stepped in a hole. Lily thought Vee was being a little hard on Colby.
Lily adjusted her pillow and felt a twinge in her side. She hurt all over. Getting the wind knocked out of her was a new, awful experience. Maybe it would be good to relax in a nice warm tub. Lily felt herself calming down, the helicopter circling in to land. Yawning, she pulled the covers over her shoulder and nestled down into the soft sheets. The room was pitch black and quiet.
She was pretty sure Olivia and Colby were already asleep, anyway. Well, it would have been fun, Lily thought. I’m no chicken. I’m brave too. She closed her eyes and started to doze, relieved she didn’t have to prove it.
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She didn’t feel the first poke. The second one made her sit straight up.
“What?” Lily cried out.
“Shhhhhhhhhhh,” Colby said. “Here.”
Lily’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, and she saw Colby and Olivia standing over her bed. Vee shifted slightly next to her. Lily noticed Colby and Olivia both had streaks of black under their eyes.
“Is that eye-black?” she asked.
“Let’s move,” Olivia ordered.
“Here,” Colby said again, shoving something into Lily’s hands.
“T-shirt and shorts. Unless you want to go naked? I don’t have a bathing suit. Do you?”
“Oh, right,” Lily said. Silently, she changed her clothes. “What time is it?”
Lily realized she must have fallen asleep.
“Coast is clear, team,” Olivia said in a soft staccato voice after poking her head out into the hallway. Lily suddenly imagined her teammate with a fine career in the military.
The three girls crept silently down the hall to the stairs. Their room was on the fourth floor. Quickly, the trio found themselves in the lobby. The receptionist was busy on her iPhone and didn’t seem to notice the three barefoot girls scurrying by. They found the door that said PATIO and slipped outside.
It was that easy.
Hot vapor swirled invitingly in the cool night.
Colby went first. Making a face that said the water was scalding hot, she slid slowly into the Jacuzzi.
“Ahhh,” she whispered. “Now that’s awesome.”
Lily and Olivia climbed the steps. Lily paused before getting in. She looked around, but saw only potted plants. She heard muted voices from people in the parking lot behind the hotel.
“Get in,” Colby urged.
Olivia went next. Then Lily slipped her foot into the steaming water.
“Ow!” Lily cried, yanking her foot back. She hadn’t been in too many hot tubs in her life. “That’s hot! Really hot.”
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“You get used to it,” Colby said, lounging in the corner, her arms resting on the sides.
Lily tried again. She could not believe people did this on purpose. Her skin was going to fall off. Olivia, the budding Navy SEAL, didn’t seem to be having any problem, Lily noticed.
“Since you’re up,” Colby said, “How about turning on the jets? The button is right behind you.”
Lily reached back, hit the green button, and saw the pool come to life. Colby and Olivia immediately started trapping bubbles in their t-shirts and shorts. It’s now or never, Lily thought. She marched down the first few steps, sucked in her breath, and slowly sank down in the water.
“This. Is. The. Life,” Colby said, her head tilted back, black hair sticking up in front like a tuft of grass.
Lily had to agree. “I feel like a celebrity,” she said, moving closer to one of the jets. “Plus, I really do think this is helping my muscles.”
“I wonder what the Thunder will be like tomorrow? I hear they’re really tough,” Olivia said.
“Me too,” Lily agreed.
“Piece of cake,” Colby said. “They have matching bags and stuff. Think that makes them good or something.”
Lily turned to the side to massage her sore back. “Man, that really hurt today.”
“Yeah, but you got us the free kick; that’s all that matters,” Colby said.
“How is your ankle?” Lily asked. “Did you step in a hole or something?”
Colby rubbed her leg and smiled. “I saw that in the USA-Brazil game. It must have eaten up at least the last three minutes. Just like in the World Cup.”
“You mean you didn’t really step in a hole?” Olivia asked.
“Look, all the pros do it. Don’t you guys watch soccer on TV? When you’re ahead, you gotta do what it takes to eat up the last few minutes of a game. I didn’t make it up.”
Of course Lily watched the World Cups, men’s and women’s. There was a lot of falling down in the final minutes, no question about it. It just had never occurred to her that it was something U13 girls could do.
“But Colby, isn’t that cheating?” Lily blurted out.
“Getting hurt isn’t cheating, Lily. It’s a totally expected part of soccer. Just remember, when you get hurt, even a little, roll on the ground and act like your leg is about to fall off. That way you’ll get the free kick or the penalty kick. Everyone does it. You guys need to wake up. If you want to play soccer like the pros, you better do what the pros do. That’s how you win.”
Lily and Olivia shared a look. Coach Chris had never told them to do anything like that. Lily shifted to massage the other side of her back as she thought. The Bombers lived by the Soccer Sisters Code, the rules they had made up themselves one day when practice was rained out. Falling down and rolling around was definitely not on the list.
But still, Colby seemed so sure of herself. And she knew what she was talking about with SOPs and ODPs.
Lily didn’t know what to think. She traced the outline of the tattoo on her arm. VICTORY.
Lily was opening her mouth to tell Colby about the Code when she heard loud footsteps approaching. She looked past the bushes and saw the beam of a strong flashlight bobbing on the path to the hot tub.
“Someone’s coming!” Lily said.
“Kill the jets,” Colby whispered to Olivia. Olivia jumped out of the Jacuzzi and hit the red button. The hot tub went silent, which only made the footsteps seem louder.
“Hey!” they heard a deep voice yell. “Hot tub closed at ten.”
It was hotel security. A tall man with a substantial belly and a serious scowl was approaching. Olivia stood dripping on the patio, eye black smudged across her face.
This was not good.
“What are you doing over there?” he yelled. “This is private property. Don’t move.”
Olivia’s newfound confidence seemed to fly out the window. She looked at Lily. Then at Colby. Lily and Colby’s eyes met and they yelled as loudly as they could.
An excerpt from Lily Out of Bounds, Book 1 of the Soccer Sisters Series by Andrea Montalbano with permission from In This Together Media. Copyright © 2012 by Andrea Montalbano.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive