"Nala, it's time to get up. We're going to be late." It is seven in the morning on Monday and Nala Peters has yet to even grace her brother Corbin with her appearance. As a normal high school student she should not even need to be on campus until eight, however when riding with her brother, an assistant teacher at the same facility, she needs to be up in time for him to arrive early. "I'm going to leave without you," he threatens from the other side of her door.
"Bribe me!" she shouts back at him from under her covers.
"What?" he does not understand.
"Motivate me to actually get up," she rephrases her sentence.
"Fine, let me think. If you get up now, I will make you breakfast before we go."
"You're just going to cook eggs or something. Even I can do that," she grumbles while tossing her covers onto the floor. In truth she is already prepared for school, wearing her white blazer and blue skirt along with a pair of black knee-high stockings. She only crawled back into bed in order to force her brother to pamper her. It is part of the routine she has adapted ever since moving to the city with him.
Four years ago her brother announced his desire to become a teacher rather than live his entire life in the countryside. His parents had refused to support him in any way. Nala was the one who suggested that she move with him so their parents could have more time to themselves; maybe even rent out the farm and go on a permanent vacation like they always talked about. It took a lot of convincing but eventually they gave in.
Ever since then, Nala has been going to school in the city; first middle school, now high school. She used to ride the city bus when her brother was attending college but now he is an assistant teacher at her school; not by accident either. Whenever possible he drives her to school despite the fact that it is only a twenty minute commute by foot.
"Nala, your eggs are getting cold," Corbin is becoming impatient.
"So you already made breakfast," she laughs as her door swings open, almost hitting him in the face.
The tiny two room apartment they share is all their parents would allot for them when they first made their journey to the city. Now that Corbin has a proper job they could probably upgrade but for the moment this place feels like home. As their parents are traveling in foreign countries constantly they have no way to contact them. Their only reminder that they even exist is the occasional postcard, usually with a picture of their father doing something outrageous. To them, each other is the only family they know or need.
The two of them are similar enough in appearance, both taking after their mother. They have round faces and slender frames, though Corbin gets his height from their father. Neither one inherited his large stomach or hairy arms though. Corbin's skin is lighter like their mother's as is his hair while Nala has a slight tan and darker hair, like their father. Finally they both have perfectly blue eyes, another gift from their mother, though it stands out more on Corbin. Some of Nala's classmates have even accused her of dying her hair or wearing color contact lenses because of how they contrast.
"Are we ready?" Corbin jingles his keys in front of Nala.
"Just a minute." She begins to shovel the cold food from the table into her mouth.
"You're so un-lady like," he mocks her as she wipes her mouth.
"If I were any cuter I'd have to buy a stun gun to protect myself from you," she spits back jokingly. It is an established fact that Corbin enjoys flirting with attractive looking girls. He seems not to realize that he is now a fully grown adult and sometimes acts like a student at school.
He apologizes to Nala constantly for it but she does not seem to care. She is not on especially good terms with any of the same people he knows. They do not even have any classes on the same side of the school as he works mostly with seniors; a good thing as they are closer in age to him.
Corbin drops Nala off at the front of the school in his barely functional silver two-door before pulling around to the back where the teachers are allowed to park. As it is only seven in the morning, the only other people present on campus yet are teachers or students with morning practice for clubs.
Nala yawns and stretches, dangling her bag over her shoulder as she shuffles into the school. As her track practice is not until after school, she has nothing to do for the next hour. She normally paces around aimlessly, unless she has some extra studying to do. In this case it is the latter though as she did rather poorly on one of her recent tests.
As she makes her way to her homeroom, she passes by one of the open classrooms. Inside she can see a teacher hunched over his desk, grumbling as he tries to make sense of the pile of papers in front of him. He notices her shadow though and glances up at her with a forced smile. It is Mr. Thalmus, the geography teacher. Unlike Corbin who always wears a dress shirt and combs his hair, Mr. Thalmus wears some form of dirty sweatshirt and sports a mess of dark tangles, which casts an eerie shadow over his eyes.
"Ah, Nala, here early again I see," he greets her like a friend. She is in his class, so it is not surprising he knows her name, but it still bothers her. He is rather friendly with her brother in the teacher's lounge apparently, though Corbin seems not to like him very much. They have gone out drinking together upon occasion after school hours are over; something that leaves Nala to walk home on her own after a tiring track practice. "Is something wrong? You don't look happy to see me," he is rather perceptive.
"It's nothing," she does not wish to get on the bad side of a teacher. "I'll tell my brother you said hi." She turns to leave.
The sound of his chair scraping the floor startles her as he stands up, pacing across the room rather quickly. "I didn't talk to you because of your brother, you know." He places a hand on her shoulder.
"Um, okay, I won't tell him anything." She tries to move away but his grip tightens.
"Yes, it's better if you don't tell him anything," he mutters.
"Um, if you could just let go of me, I have a lot of studying to do."
"Don't be so nervous," he chuckles with another forced smile. "You can tell me anything. Are you doing okay in school? Do you have any friends yet? I was a senior at college when your brother was a freshman so I kinda feel responsible for him."
"That doesn't concern me." She stares down at her feet. She has no idea why but she wants this conversation to end as quickly as possible.
"We met once, do you remember? You came to the campus during the annual festival. You sat on Corbin's shoulders and watched the parade with our group."
"I remember," she mutters while shuffling her feet uncomfortably. It might be her imagination but she can smell something strange. It could be his dirty sweatshirt.
"You were so young and cute," he continues to reminisce. "I couldn't believe you were living alone with a playboy like Corbin. To be honest I was a little worried about you. He hasn't done anything strange to you, has he?"
"No!" she shouts too fast to mean nothing. It is true though. The most Corbin has ever done was let her sleep in his bed during thunder storms. She knows she sounds suspicious though.
"Don't worry, I'll believe you," he laughs again. She is starting to hate his laugh. "Anyway, I was ever so excited when you both picked the same school as me to attend this year. I thought it was fate or something. You've cut your hair shorter since then and you've gotten a little tanner."
"It can't be helped. I'm on the track team," she mutters. She doesn't know why she has to explain herself to him.
"Ah, that makes sense. Even so, I thought you'd be more popular than you are. You have barely any friends in class, right?"
"I don't need friends. I know people on the track team," she makes another excuse.
"But you'll never get a boyfriend like this, will you?" the tone in his voice changes. He is not quite mocking her.
"I don't need a boyfriend," her voice is soft and hoarse. She doesn't want to talk anymore. She doesn't want him to hear her. She is embarrassed and scared. Her legs are trembling.
"You know, it might help to broaden your horizons," he suggests. "You could try hooking up with a senior or perhaps even a teacher."
"So that's it," she whispers to herself. That was his plan all along. "I don't want to date you, Mr. Thalmus," she squeaks nervously.
"Come on, don't be like that. To be honest, I'm having trouble finding a girlfriend as well. I thought we could help each other out."
"I really can't believe you're saying this," she musters enough courage. "I'm seriously disappointed in you."
"Really?" his voice becomes stern. "You know where I got the idea? From your brother." She finally looks up from the floor as her eyes widen. "That's right, he's dating a student. I believe her Name was Celli or something French. They flirt in the halls all the time and exchange notes in class and make out in the bathrooms and storage closets. It's rather shameless." Nala starts to tremble. No matter how much she wants to deny it, it sounds like something her brother would do.
"Are you getting it now?" Mr. Thalmus places his other hand on her opposite shoulder. "If you don't want me to expose his secret then you better do as I say. I'm doing you a favor here. No other boy in this school wants you." Nala is too scared to respond. She stands perfectly still, trembling like a leaf.
"So? Which girl do you like?" Madison, a second year student, asks his best friend.
"Why would you ask that so suddenly," the other boy, Sean, another second year, brushes off the question. He has dark straight hair unlike his friend whose brown roots show despite dying his hair blonde. They are the same height though Sean's shoulders are slightly broader, making Madison look like a stick figure when they stand next to each other. They are both rather popular and the object of several girls' affection; however, neither one is currently dating anyone, prompting Madison's question.
"Come on, just a hint," he pesters his friend. "What kind of girl do you like? I bet it's Mina from the freshmen class."
"I like girls with long hair and pale skin," Sean admits. "They need to be shorter than me with proper posture and frail looking."
"You're definitely describing Mina," Madison laughs while slapping him on the back. "Completely different from… that girl," he pauses to look around before spotting Nala and Mr. Thalmus in the doorway to the geography class. "Look at them getting it on so publicly. Never mind that it's early. Get a room you two!" he shouts at them, startling the pair.
"Um, hello, Sean, Madison," Mr. Thalmus greets them nervously while snapping his arms to his sides.
"Well, if it ain't a teacher and a student," Madison snickers.
"What were you two doing?" Sean is much more concerned. "Were you making a pass at her?"
"What? No." Mr. Thalmus gives his normal forced smile. "She was making a pass at me. Isn't that right, Peters?" He nudges her.
Sean examines her face closely as she nods unconvincingly. He can tell she is distraught as her eyes will not meet his. "That's not a very funny thing to do." Sean shakes his head disappointedly. "I'm sorry for the trouble she caused you, Mr. Thalmus." He drapes his arm over her shoulder and pulls her out of the room, startling everyone present.
"Wait." Mr. Thalmus grabs her by the wrist. "What is your relationship with Nala?"
"Nala," Sean tries the name out. "Nala is my girlfriend." He smiles proudly.
Madison's jaw drops in shock. "What, what is the meaning of this, Sean?" he demands. "How could you go and get a girlfriend without telling me. Further more, she's the exact opposite of what you just said."
"Oh that? I was just trying to hide it. We're still a little too shy to tell anyone, aren't we, Nala?" He smiles at her.
For some reason she does not feel any of the apprehension she felt with Mr. Thalmus, despite the fact that he is leading her the same way; perhaps because his intentions are not the same. "Y-yeah, that's right," she spouts quickly. "Sean and I have been dating in secret for a while," she builds on the fake story. "I didn't want to tarnish his popularity."
"Ah, how cute." Sean squeezes her shoulder affectionately. "Thank you for that, sweetie, but the cat's out of the bag now. There's no point." Before she has time to stop him, he has kissed her on the lips, again shocking everyone.
"But, but, but…" Mr. Thalmus starts to stutter.
"So now you see why she wasn't serious, don't you?" Sean glares at the teacher. "I think it'd be best if you stayed away from my girlfriend from now on." Mr. Thalmus glares back at him as the three students walk away. Madison is still bouncing around the two, asking questions about their supposed relationship, which he still can't believe.
Nala spends her morning classes in a daze. She knows she should be more concerned about her brother and Mr. Thalmus but all she can think about is Sean. Up until that morning she did not even know his name; now at least two people are under the impression that they are dating. She has to find a way to thank him and apologize as soon as possible.
It is now lunch time in her home room and the atmosphere is rather cheery. The males are all talking about sports and girls while the female students talk about boys. Mr. Thalmus's words start to sink in as Nala realizes she has no one to talk to. She is not simply friendless; she wouldn't even have a place in these kinds of conversations. She has no boy to dote over and no boys doting over her.
"So, are you going to do it?" one of the girls in the corner of the room closest to the door asks another of her friends. They are all gathered in a circle around a pretty dark red haired girl's desk.
"I don't think I'll ever get the chance." The center girl twiddles her thumbs shyly. "Sean is a second year. When would we ever meet?"
"Don't worry about that, Mina." Her friends are extremely encouraging. "Sean always goes to the roof with Madison for Lunch. They should be passing by here any second." As if on cue, a shadow dances past the open door, belonging to Sean and Madison. Everyone in the room stops talking to watch the two popular students walk past.
"Don't just sit there, go!" one of Mina's friends pushes her out into the hall. She squeaks as she stumbles into Sean.
"Hey, watch where you're… oh, it's you, Mina," Madison is initially upset but quickly changes his tone when he recognizes her. "This is the girl I was telling you about, Sean. Isn't she cute? Isn't she just your type?"
"What?" Mina's eyes widen in surprise.
"She's nice," Sean mutters uninterestedly. "I'm hungry, Maddie. Can we go?"
"Just a second. What do you need, Mina?" Madison is almost too polite to the silent girl.
"Um, I was wondering if Sean had found a girlfriend yet," she mutters while running her hand through her hair nervously. Her red locks are rather puffed out and curly, not tangled though. A black ribbon keeps her bangs out of her eyes. She is wearing a grey button sweatshirt rather than the normal white blazer. Since it is not winter yet, almost none of the students are wearing it except for Nala.
"Ooh, can I tell her? Please, can I tell her?" Madison is brimming with excitement. "You said the cat was out of the bag, right?"
"What?" Sean seems to have forgotten about that morning already.
"It was like a soap opera," Madison continues. "He just came and swooped Peters off her feet. Apparently they've been dating in secret for a while now." Sean winces as the memory comes back to him. Why did Nala have to make up that part of the story?
"Peters?" Mina recognizes the name. "Nala?" She peeks back into the classroom.
"There she is!" Madison spots her in the back corner. "Come over here, Peters." Rather than waiting for her to comply though, Madison drags Sean and Mina into the room, coming to a stop next to Nala's desk.
"Wh-what's going on?" Nala is startled to find three different people surrounding her.
"He's joking, right?" Mina slams her hands down on the desk.
"Hey, Nala." Sean blushes while patting the back of his neck shyly.
"Um, hi, boyfriend," she does not know how else to address him.
"Someone's nervous." Madison pats Nala on the back. "So you see, Mina. Sean is already taken. Perhaps you could switch your affection to me."
"Unacceptable!" Mina surprises everyone by shouting. "When did this happen? Why her?"
"Hey, calm down." Madison pats her shoulder.
"Don't touch me." She swats his hand away. "I can't believe this. I won't accept it."
"But it's true," Madison moans. "Come on, show her. Kiss like you did this morning."
"Maddie!" Sean is startled.
"Um." Nala tilts her head up in preparation.
"What's this?" The other freshmen start to gather around as well.
"We can't disappoint them," Nala whispers while closing her eyes.
"So you want me to do all the work," Sean grumbles as he leans down the rest of the way. The class erupts in gasps and squealing excitement as their lips touch. With that morning as her only reference, Nala has no idea how to hold a kiss but she tries her best. It bothers her how experienced Sean seems to be though. He must do this sort of thing a lot. "Are you happy?" he whispers as he breaks the kiss.
"Who wouldn't be?" Madison slaps her on the back again. "Now if I could just get a kiss from Mina."
"Shut up you annoying pig," the pretty girl is no longer acting shy and cute. "I'm only interested in Sean."
"About that…" Sean rubs the back of his neck again. "Who are you?"
"What?" Mina sinks into a nearby seat.
"Ah, Mina, you should have at least told us you hadn't even met before." Her friends are disappointed in her.
"But we have," Mina whines. "We went to a mixer together and chatted all night long."
"Oh, I remember now," Sean laughs. "I only go to those to make the numbers equal. I'm not really interested in hooking up with a random stranger. At the very least, they have to leave an impression first."
"And what kind of impression did Peters leave on you?" Madison nudges him in the ribs.
"Um…" he is suddenly at a loss.
"It must have been something huge, right?" Madison continues to sputter. "She's not even your type. Say, what did you do? Did you offer your body to him? You are an athlete, right? I guess you could have some secrets in the bedroom."
"What?" Nala covers her blushing face.
"Is that true, Nala? Are you that kind of girl," several of her fellow classmates start to pester her.
"Look what you've done." Sean places a hand on Nala's shoulder. "Do you really think Peters is that type of girl?"
"Rather estranged from your own girlfriend, aren't you?" Madison snickers.
"Well, that's because we've been hiding it for so long," it is Nala's turn to make an excuse.
"Wait, just how long?" Madison's tone changes. "We only just started the semester. Did you guys know each other before?"
"I happened to see her during the track tryouts before school started," Sean spouts. "She stood out quite a bit."
"Oh yeah, you had that summer attendance thing going on," Madison remembers something. "I guess that makes sense. You still should have told me though. Aren't I your best friend?"
"The day I told you, all of this happened." Sean gestures to the clamoring freshmen.
"Well that's your own fault for being so popular." Madison grins. "Anyway, we better get going if we want to eat lunch before time is up."
"What?" Sean looks at the clock on the wall. "We've wasted half the time already. Man, why did you drag me here?"
"Isn't it fine? You got to see your girlfriend after all," Madison reminds him.
"Um, oh yeah… Nala. See you later… Nala," he is not used to her name yet.
"Yeah, you too… Sha-Sean." She looks down at her shaking hands instead of at him.
"Oh, look how embarrassed they are," all of the girls squeal, except for Mina and her friends.
"We're sorry." They all try to comfort the redhead. "We didn't know. We shouldn't have pushed you."
"This isn't over," she mutters to herself through gritted teeth. "Watch out, Nala Peters. I'm going to steal him from you for sure." Her friends look a little concerned about her sudden change in attitude but they all continue to console her.
Nala stares out at the hall as the two second years disappear toward the roof. She can hear Madison asking Sean why he didn't invite his girlfriend to join them. His response is something about not cutting into his time with friends. All of the excitement has upset Nala's stomach, making it difficult on her to eat her own lunch.
"Good work today," Trevor, one of Nala's fellow track teammates, congratulates her at the end of practice. She has just finished changing back into her school uniform and is leaving the track field.
"Thanks. You weren't so bad yourself," she responds in kind. The truth is neither one is much better than average though. Nala is still the top female runner in the freshmen group and therefore holds a proper position on the team. Trevor, however, is barely noticeable among the many freshmen boys. The second years and seniors are on a completely different level, making both of them feel rather unimportant.
"Are you heading home with your brother again today?" Trevor tries to start a conversation with Nala. This is not the first day he has attempted to do so. She has noticed him watching her during practice. After the morning's incident with Mr. Thalmus, she is slightly reluctant to speak to someone unfamiliar.
"Yeah, he has work to do after classes end at three so he gets done about the same time as practice ends," she answers with a nervous chuckle while putting more distance between herself and him.
"Is he meeting you here? I'll wait with you."
"Actually, he'll be in the teachers' parking lot," she spouts quickly.
"I'll walk you there," he offers. She wants to shout at him to knock it off but she knows it is not his fault. He is simply being considerate. He has no way of knowing what happened that morning.
"Ah, there you are. I've been waiting for you." Both of them are startled by another voice. "Hey, sweetie." Sean waves to Nala. "I know this is sudden but I thought we'd walk home together. Is that alright?" His eyes are fixed on Trevor, sizing him up and comparing him to Mr. Thalmus. He is much shorter than Sean with darker hair slicked back for better speed when running. He is tanner than Nala with a slightly less athletic build.
"Who is this?" Trevor glares back at Sean.
"Um, this is my boyfriend," Nala gives the only answer she can.
"What, since when?" Trevor is furious.
"Since summer." Sean sticks out his tongue. "Get lost, stalker boy."
"He's not… he's just trying to be a good teammate," Nala defends him.
"He's hitting on you, plain and simple." Sean crosses his arms.
"I'm not stupid, I would know if he was." She turns up her nose.
"Maybe you are stupid," Trevor mutters while walking back onto the track field.
"What did you say?" Nala cups her ear.
"I forgot something in the locker room. You have fun with your… boyfriend," he says the last word with distaste.
"What was that for?" Nala demands as soon as Trevor is out of earshot.
"What? I thought you needed my help again." Sean smiles proudly.
"I'm not a child." She stomps her foot.
"This morning you seemed desperate," he reminds her.
"This morning you were a great help but it's not like I want you to turn every guy away. I just didn't know how to turn down a teacher is all."
"So you like this dude?" Sean gestures to the direction Trevor left in.
"No, I just don't want you to follow me around turning down boys for me forever," she grumbles while marching past him toward the school entrance.
"Where are you going?" Sean chases after her.
"My brother is waiting for me," she informs him. As if on cue, her cell phone buzzes in her pocket. It is a message from her brother saying he has a date and will not be able to drive her home tonight. "That jerk," she mutters to herself while typing out a spiteful reply.
"Looks like your night just cleared up," Sean laughs at her while resting his hands behind his head. His bag is dangling from his wrist over his shoulder.
"Are you really intending to walk me home?" she is suspicious.
"I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us to get our story straight." He grins at her.
"Our story?" She raises an eyebrow.
"Like it or not, a lot of people we know think we are dating. As much as the idea bugs me, having them find out I lied bothers me even more. We need to come up with a story so we don't accidentally reveal the truth."
"That's right. Having people think we are dating is bound to bring your popularity down. No wonder it bugs you," she starts to sulk.
"Hold on, I didn't mean it like that," he tries to apologize. "Honestly, I'm more worried about you. I didn't think about it this morning but are you seeing anyone? Do you have a boyfriend?"
She shakes her head. "What about you? Surely there must be some girl out there who is special to you. Should we pretend to break up before she gets the wrong idea?"
"I think breaking up the day after everyone found out would be extremely suspicious," he disagrees. "We should pretend to date for at least a week before we make any rash decisions. You don't mind putting up with me for that long, do you?"
"And you? You're the one whose reputation is at stake," she counters.
"I can stand to lose a little popularity. People might get jealous of you though. Everyone wants to be my friend after all." His statement bothers her as he basically just praised his own popularity. She can't argue though as she was the one worried about him to begin with. Knowing that he himself is popular is not bad or necessarily vain. He is simply self aware.
"Fine, a week it is." She shakes his hand. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Sean…"
"Baker," he answers before she can ask for his last name. "Pleased to meet you, Nala Peters. I hope we can continue to get along."
"This is so weird. We've already kissed twice," she mutters.
"Does kissing someone like me bother you?" he asks.
"Like your friend said, who wouldn't be happy to get a kiss from the ever popular Sean Baker," she mumbles.
"I don't know. You seem like the person who would hate someone like me."
"I don't hate popular people, I just don't involve myself with them," she defends herself. "I'm not saying you are like her but Mina is a very superficial person. She wants the most popular guy in school on her arm even though you two have barely held a conversation. If fake relationships are all popular people have then I want none of it."
"It's strange to hear you say that when you just started a fake relationship with a popular person," he snickers.
"And what about you? Are you okay having kissed a loser like me?" she turns the conversation around.
"First off, I never said you were a loser. If you keep referring to yourself in that manner I'll take your word for it, but for now, don't try and earn pity points by putting yourself down. I'll take a certain amount of responsibility for what happened this morning but I'm not a crutch. We are helping each other out of a mutually problematic situation we mutually caused, understood?"
She is taken aback by the seriousness of his words. It is true that she expected him to dispute her claim of being a loser. Was she really just trying to guilt him into being nice to her? "I'm sorry." She stares at her feet. "I was being careless."
"I'm glad you understand." He grabs her hand to lead her out of the parking lot of the school.
"Wait, that's it?" she is confused. "Aren't you going to keep scolding me?"
"Why? You accepted that you were wrong. That was all I needed to hear. I don't plan to exacerbate the situation needlessly. If I feel you have done something wrong I will point it out and hope you agree. If you don't then I may have more words for you. I'm not so shallow as to hold onto petty things once you apologize."
"You just keep amazing me more and more." She stares at him with wide eyes. "Why are you holding my hand though?"
"In case anyone is watching," he answers. "I'll let go when we are further from the school."
"You really do plan to walk me home, don't you?" He continues to impress her.
"I said I would, didn't I? By the way, I keep my promises. I don't particularly care if you do or not but it will make things easier for the next week if you don't lie to me needlessly. We are in this together."
She gulps while nodding to show she understands. For some reason she feels he does not trust her to hold up her end of the bargain. Perhaps he has been let down before. "So, we should come up with a better story for how we met, right?" she changes the subject.
"I actually did see you during summer tryouts," he informs her. "I had something to do on the school grounds and I noticed you when you went to the infirmary once."
"Wow, of all the times you could have remembered." She starts to blush.
"What happened that day?" he is curious.
"I was trying too hard and I had a little bit of heatstroke. It was not one of my prettier moments. I thought I was going to get kicked off the team. Wait, were you the boy on medical duty?"
"Wow, you really don't fall in with the normal crowd, do you?" he laughs. "Most people would have committed me to memory on first sight. Yes, I was the boy helping the nurse that day. It was like a detention or something. Well, I can't blame you for forgetting. All I did was sit in the corner and watch her check you over. You seemed out of it too."
"Why do I feel like you wish I had remembered you? Are you so full of yourself that you think every girl will swoon immediately? Your fan girls may treasure every encounter they get with you but I wasn't even a freshman yet. It was my first meeting with any of the second years."
"Oh, right. I wasn't thinking about that. Sorry." He bows his head.
"This is why I avoid popular people," she sighs as they continue along the sidewalk. It has been a while since they left the grounds but he has not released her hand yet. She would say something if she weren't actually enjoying his company. She has never had the opportunity to hold a boy's hand before and sees no reason to end the exhilarating experience prematurely.
They continue to discuss their situation the entire way to her house. They are still holding hands when they reach her first floor apartment. "Um, I guess this is it." He finally lets go.
"Yeah, thanks for everything." She is blushing.
"Wow, this really feels like we're dating or something."
"I hope you're not expecting another kiss." She narrows her eyes slyly.
"I don't think anyone is around to see us; unless of course your parents are home."
"Oh right, parents," her voice softens. It is the first time she has actually thought about it in a while. She hasn't seen either of her parents in person for over four years. It may have been her suggestion to travel the world but it is almost like they are enjoying not having children to look after. She can't even remember if they were strict parents or not. There has been no reason to visit the farm since they began renting it out. Practically all of her memories have been overwritten by her current life with Corbin. He is her only family right now.
"Is something wrong? Did I say something bad?" Sean is surprised by her silence. "Don't tell me your parents are divorced or something."
"It's nothing so dramatic." She shakes her head quickly. "I suppose I should tell you, shouldn't I? I live with my brother right now. He is an assistant teacher at school. You might have met him."
"There are no teachers that look like you," Sean informs her.
"Well, Corbin and I look nothing alike. Well, maybe our eyes…"
"You have wonderful eyes," he spouts something strange. "I feel like I could drown in them."
"Um, thanks, I think." She takes a step back.
"What?" Sean does not find anything wrong with his statement.
"Anyway, If anyone asks if you've met my parents the answer is no," she continues coaching him.
"You live with your brother. His name is Corbin Peters. He is a teacher at our school. We met during summer tryouts," he rattles off the list. "I think I've got it."
"Alright. See you later then." She leans against her door, pushing it open slowly. His eyes follow hers as she disappears inside. As soon as she has closed the door, she leans against it again and sinks to the floor. For some reason she feels weak in the knees. Being around someone so bright and carefree is draining.
She doesn't hate it though. In fact, she can understand why so many of her classmates like him. She can't let herself get swept away by the day's events though. They aren't really dating. She does not have a wonderful boyfriend admired by all. She is still the same unpopular girl with barely a friend to mention.
She presses a hand to her neck to check her pulse the same way she does after track practice. Her heart is racing faster than it has ever when she runs. This is a new sensation for her. What is it?