Step On Me More
by Joan C. Afman & Mary M. Ricksen
: New Adult/Women’s Fiction
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: January 15, 2016
Shelburne High School teachers Kailyn Hartigan and Lisa Stone have had enough. Bullying among students is reaching an all-time high, and the rest of the staff is either in denial or too afraid of repercussions to help address the problem.
When Stephanie Moore—aka: Step On Me More—is welcomed by Shelburne High as the new principal, taking an anti-bullying stance becomes a dangerous game. One that could cost Kailyn and Lisa not only their careers, but the lives of the students they seek to protect.
I puttered around for the rest of the afternoon. The smell of chocolate chip cookies filled the house. I knew many of the neighbors and always made enough for the parents, too. Making up my face, I plastered green face paint all over, even on my hands. Every year I wore the same costume. I loved the darn thing and so did the kids. I made a damn fine witch.
Outside, a small speaker fed the sound of wolves as they howled at the moon, followed by chains rattling and ghostly voices. Spider webs covered the bushes and porch, while a scarecrow jumped and groaned when anyone approached. When I first put him out there after I’d inherited my aunt’s house, he’d scared the bejesus out of everyone. The neighbors nicknamed him Clarence. He was part of my Halloween tradition and he had friends of his own. Very effective conversation piece.
At around three in the afternoon the doorbell rang. I wondered if it was a package from Pyramid I’d been waiting for, since it was too early for trick-or-treaters. When I opened the door, two figures stood before me. My breath caught as I stared at them. Both wore black capes, but their masks threw me for a loop. Jason. Pinhead. Were these the masks stolen from Lisa’s students? “What the hell,” I murmured, my voice as shaky as I felt inside. “What can I do for you?”
They stared at me through creepy cut out eyeholes.
Scared, I started to close the door. I couldn’t stop the thumping in my chest and I trembled as one of them stuck his foot in the doorway.
In a move so fast I couldn’t react, he forced my door open and I fell back a step. “Hey! Stop. Get out of my house.” I’d never had cause to be afraid on my own porch, despite the ghosts and witches.
“Take that, bitch.” He pushed me so violently I fell into a heap on the floor, slamming my knee so hard I heard a crack. One of them kicked me in my side and I writhed in pain as another foot connected with my back. I screamed, scared for my life. With one last connecting slam, they bolted. Agonized, I forced myself to breathe. That last kick had taken all the air from my lungs and I gasped. I heard their laughter as they ran down the steps. I lay there for quite a while. What the hell had just happened?
I fell into an agonized daze, holding my sides. Those brats knew where to kick to hurt a girl. The phone rang, jolting me to awareness. I dragged myself to the closest chair, pulled myself into it, and reached for the handset. Tears coursed down my face and landed on the numbers. I couldn’t speak. I wondered if it were enough liquid to wreck the circuits.
“Kailyn.” I heard screaming and shouting in the background as Michael yelled into the receiver.
“Michael,” my voice was the barest whisper.
“Can you hear me, K? Turn on the news. Something terrible has happened.” Michael shouted, his voice oddly shrill. “It’s Andy. Andy Klein.”
I couldn’t speak, but oxygen made its way through my body. I knew better than to clench my muscles, but it had been so long since my last beating, I’d forgotten how best to get past the pain. What about Andy?
“He brought a gun to school. He showed up in Marcelle’s last period class and waved it around. He…he…” Michael forced the words out. “He shot at two other students, K. The only good thing, God help us… is that he’s such a bad shot he missed them both.”
“Andy?” Devastated, I stopped trying to stand up and dropped back to the floor.
“They’re taking him away in handcuffs.” Michael’s voice broke. “He’s just ruined his life, and at this point, there’s not a damn thing we can do to help him.”
Joan C. Afman
Joan Conning Afman grew up in western Massachusetts and central New York. Always interested in art, she began her career as an advertising copywriter and artist and went on to earn her BFA at the University of Hartford Art School, finishing up by teaching art for sixteen years in the Hartford Public School System.
Joan’s mother had been an English teacher and thought that her daughter had the potential to write. However, marriage and family delayed this option until her retirement to Florida, when at last the time and opportunity beckoned.
Married to the Reverend John Afman for twenty-two years, she is the mother of four grown children and grandmother of six. Joan always enjoyed the church life and remains active in church and Bible study at Jupiter First Church in Jupiter, Florida.
Mary M. Ricksen
Born in Vermont, Mary Ricksen, being the daughter of a government official, spent her youth in several places. From New York, Texas, and Virginia, to the beautiful city of Ottawa, her family moved every three years to a new place. A great love of horses found her cleaning stalls and grooming for the privilege of just being near them.
The people she met were diversified. And the scenery ranged from the aqua brilliance of the crystal waters of Florida, to the mountains of Vermont and North Carolina. Mary was always drawn to the beauty of Vermont. Now living in Florida, she still feels the call of those peaks and the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain.
Mary married and lives with her two German Shepherds, a calico cat and her computer engineer husband.
It was the love of books that inspired her to write. Reading, being one of her favorite things, took her to places that she wanted to go. Somewhere between the pharaohs of Egypt and the whimsical world of Zanth, she found a voice. Writing led her to meet some of the most interesting people she has ever known. The mind of a writer is a wonderful thing. And that alone was worth the effort.