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Then she clamped up, finished second in the tournament and insisted on driving home to Ohio with Aaron Handy, a teammate seven years older who'd become her best friend, her rock. Her mother, full of dread, flew home.
Aaron smelled fire. On the ride he hammered away, asking Kayla to tell him exactly what their coach had done to her. She trembled. She knew that she was on the verge of doing something extreme—ending either her life or her lifelong dream, quitting judo forever—but what she couldn't do in that moment was tell one more lie. Not to the one person on earth she trusted.
She hung her head. "We've been having sex," she murmured. "For a few years."
His hand shot up and shattered the windshield. He pulled the car off the interstate.
"You're calling your mom," he said.
"No, I'm not. And you can't tell anyone else."
"You're telling your mother now! We're not going anywhere until you tell her."
They sat. Finally she lifted her phone and called her mother, got her voice mail—Jeannie was still in the air—and forced out the words.
Jeannie landed in Ohio, listened to the message, called Kayla and began asking questions that she couldn't imagine ever forming in her mouth ... then stood there, thunderstruck at how far it all had gone.
Jeannie took the bat she used on a travel softball team. She went to Daniel's, smashed all the windows of his car and truck, then smashed a half-dozen more on his house.