A Courageous Battle (Chapter 2, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 2

THE LONELY days turned into lonely weeks and years. Her teachers praised Lacey for her excellent work. Their appreciation was the only source of esteem in her desperate life, but it also gave the kids who picked on her more ammunition; they could add 'brown-noser' to their scornful name-calling. She rejoiced every June when summer offered a respite from the bullying.

Lacey spent entire days sprawled on her bed engrossed in the lives of the Bobbsey family, and Nancy Drew or Frank and Joe Hardy. And whenever she could, she went to the park when Roger was playing baseball, or the arena where he played volleyball. After he got a summer job as a lifeguard, she devoted herself to swimming.

By then he was resigned to Lacey's presence in his life and he bantered with her when she showed up at the pool. "What's up brat? You swimming today?" he would ask.

She would dive back flips and somersaults and twists and knee tucks, all in an effort to gain his approval. Sometimes, when she finished, he would call out, "Well done, brat," and she would writhe with pleasure. Then he would turn his attention to his latest girlfriend and Lacey would sit by the pool and watch them until it was time to go home.

One summer evening she saw him shooting hoops in his driveway. She rushed outside. "Hello, Roger. Can I play?"

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