I grab my books from my locker and head to my first class of the day, Biology. This will be an interesting morning since Dane is my partner. When I enter the classroom, I see that Dane is already seated at our desk. I pause, take a deep breath, and then go to my seat. Dane watches me silently as I sit down next to him, and he smiles at me.
“Hey,” he greets me.
“Hey,” I greet him back without returning his smile.
“I know you’re mad at me,” he says.
“I’m not really mad Dane, just…I don’t even know,” I say with a shrug.
“You’re worried I’m going to rat you and Conrad out?”
“Well, fret no more. I’m not going to say anything,” Dane tells me.
“And what changed your mind?” I ask, even though I know it was Hailey’s influence, but I want to hear it from him.
“I just…well I accepted that you don’t feel the same way about me as I do for you, and I need to give it up already. However, regardless of what I may have said before, I would rather still have you as a friend than not at all,” he explains, sounding sincere.
“You mean it?” I ask, hopeful.
I would still like to have Dane as my friend, despite his recent jerkiness.
“I do, and well, I was kind of hoping I could ask your sister out. With your blessing, of course.”
I smile at him and feel relieved that his feelings for my sister are mutual.
“I think that would be awesome Dane. I know she likes you,” I tell him.
“She does?” he asks, sounding surprised.
“Tell her I told you and I’ll have to kill you,” I laugh, and he laughs with me.
“I missed this,” I add.
“Me too,” he agrees with a nod.
“Thank you for not telling, Dane. What I have with Conrad is really complicated as it is. I’m glad you’re not going to make it worse,” I admit honestly.
“After some soul-searching and a stern talking-to from Hailey,” he looks sideways at me with a contrite smile, “I realized that I don’t want to be responsible for hurting you that way. After all of our years of friendship, what kind of friend would I really be if I did that? You’ve always been so good to me. It’s my turn to return the favor.”
“Again, thank you,” I smile broadly at him and feel a tremendous weight lift off my shoulders.
“I think I’m going to ask her to the Fall Dance,” he then tells me, just as Mr. Jepson enters the classroom.
“What dance?” I ask, searching my brain.
“Really, Syd? You haven’t noticed the posters everywhere?”
“No, I guess I’ve been preoccupied.”
“It’s next weekend,” he says.
“Oh,” I murmur.
“Just, oh? Are you going to go?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like I can bring my boyfriend if you know what I mean.”
“Maybe he’ll be there as a Chaperone,” he teases.
“Oh god,” I make a horrified expression and then laugh at the absurdity of it.
“Yeah, it’d be so weird,” Dane nods.
“Okay everyone, pipe down. Let’s get started,” Mr. Jepson announces loudly, cutting off our conversation.
After Biology, Dane and I walk together to English class. He’s acting like the good old Dane that I know and it’s a relief. We chat and joke all the way to the classroom. As we cross the threshold, Dane pats my back and leaves me to go to his desk. I glance at Conrad, who is staring at me with a perplexed expression on his face. I offer him a small and hopefully reassuring smile and take my seat. Desiree rushes in just as the bell rings and slips into her desk behind me. Conrad clears his throat and waits for everyone to be quiet before he speaks.
“I hope everyone had a good weekend,” he says, “I know I did.”
I hear Des snicker behind me, and I glance nervously towards Dane who just stares at Conrad impassively. Good.
“So, let’s get on with it, shall we?” Conrad continues, “First, it’s time to hand in your essays. I’ll come around and collect them, and then we can discuss what you’ve learned.”
I successfully manage to pay attention in class, even though it took all my willpower to do so. Watching Conrad as he gave his lesson while having the image of his naked body in my mind is extremely hard. Okay so maybe I wasn’t as focused as I thought, but I got the gist. Conrad does an excellent job of mostly keeping his eyes off of me. We managed a few lingering glances here and there, but nothing that would catch the attention of others. It’s a little exhausting really; I’m not sure how I’ll be able to handle keeping this up for the rest of the semester.
Ten minutes before the end of class, Mrs. Gallagher, the principle, comes into the classroom.
“Sorry for the interruption Mr. Riley, class,” she says.
“It’s quite alright, Mrs. Gallagher, what can I do for you?” Conrad asks her.
“Well, I’ve just received some information today,” she starts.
I feel Des kick the back of my chair, and feel a nervous prickle in my scalp.
“Information?” Conrad prods.
“Yes,” she smiles, “about you.”
“And what would that be?” Conrad furrows his brow in confusion, or maybe nervousness.
Although I really don’t think this would be about us; otherwise she wouldn’t do this in front of the class, it must be something else.
“Well, I’ve just learned that you are in a band,” she says, and then turns to the class with a hopeful expression.
“Okay…” Conrad’s jaw clenches, but he manages to fix his expression quickly, “yes, I am.”
“I heard you’re quite popular around town,” Mrs. Gallaher continues, “and it just so happens that, unfortunately, the band we had hired for the dance next weekend has backed out last minute, and we are looking for an alternative, and a few students on the council said that they thought I should ask you if maybe your band would perform at the dance?”
Desiree giggles and I have to stop from giggling too at Conrad’s dumbfounded expression.
“With all due respect, Mrs. Gallagher, I don’t know if my band’s music will be to the faculty’s liking,” Conrad says, shaking his head.
“Oh come on,” she places a hand on Conrad’s chest and smiles at him, and I hate it, “it’s about what the kids want, and I’m sure you guys could clean it up if need be, and I’m sure you could take requests as well, play some other music? I heard you guys are quite talented, so it shouldn’t be an issue unless you have other obligations, of course. We’re just in a bit of a pickle here, and we’d hate to have to cancel.”
She shoots him a doe-eyed expression, giving him the guilt trip.
Conrad sighs loudly and runs a hand over his chest, effectively brushing her fingers away from him. I smile at that.
“I’ll have to speak with the other guys first and let you know,” he finally says.
“Oh, that would be lovely,” she smiles broadly.
After Mrs. Gallagher leaves the room, everyone starts talking.
“What’s the name of your band, Mr. Riley?” somebody asks curiously.
Desiree turns in her seat to address the question, obviously loving this.
“You don’t know?” she says dramatically, “you’ve heard of Un-Classic Heroes, right?”
“Yeah, everyone has been talking about them,” the girl answers, then her eyes go wide and straight to Conrad.
“You’re in Un-Classic Heroes? Oh! Oh my god, you’re the lead guitar!” she exclaims, “I thought you looked familiar, but I thought there was no way.”
“Um…yeah,” Conrad murmurs, looking slightly uncomfortable for some reason.
The room is then filled with excited whispering.
“Oh man, it would be so cool if you guys would do it,” one of the guys says to Conrad.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Conrad says.
“Who would have thought Mr. Riley was also a local rock star,” Desiree says with a devilish grin.
After class, I head to my locker to grab my textbooks for my next class when I feel my phone start buzzing in my pocket. I pull it out and see Conrad’s number. He has never called me during school, only text, so it must be important. I quickly answer it.
“Hey,” I answer.
“Hey baby,” he says, his voice low.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m… I guess I knew people would figure it out eventually. I think I’m just a little worried that this is going to be even harder now.”
“It shouldn’t be any harder than it usually is. We just behave like we always have,” I say.
“I suppose you’re right. So what’s going on with you know who?”
“He’s not going to say anything,” I tell him.
“How do you know for sure?”
“He said he’d rather have me as a friend than not at all, and also, he’s interested in my sister.”
“Do you believe that?”
“Yeah, I think I do.”
“Well, I hope he's being honest, with you and himself,” Conrad says, sounding slightly dubious.
“Yeah, me too. So, do you think the guys will agree to play the dance?” I inquire.
“Probably. I don’t think we have anything booked next weekend- oddly enough. It’s going to be a bit weird, though. Promise me you won’t bring a date,” Conrad chuckles.
“I’ll probably just go with Desiree,” I tell him.
“Good. That’ll please Harrison as well,” he replies, “Anyway love, I should probably let you go before my next class comes in. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Okay,” I smile into the phone, “love you.”
I hear the phone cut off just as the warning bell rings. I shut my locker and hurry to my next class.
“So, I told him that you and I would go together,” I tell Des after school while heading towards the parking lot.
“Good, I was going to tell you the same thing anyway. I wouldn’t bring a date since I might start seeing Harrison, and I don’t think that would go over very well.”
“It’s going to be weird seeing them play in the school gymnasium,” I muse, and we both start giggling.
“Conrad seemed a little annoyed at Mrs. Gallagher,” Des adds.
“I think it’s because he wanted to keep the school and the band separate,” I tell her, “he’s worried that this will just bring more unwanted attention to him.”
“If he didn’t want attention then maybe he should have thought about that before trying to become a rock star.”
Just as we reach our cars that are parked next to each other, Desiree’s phone rings, she pulls her phone out and smiles.
“It’s Harrison,” she says before answering.
I’m about to get into my car, but Des waves a finger at me to wait.
“Hey Har,” she says, “Oh? So Conrad called you already then? Yeah? So you’re doing it? Yeah… I know that’s what I said.”
Desiree’s eyes flicker to me then she smiles broadly.
“Tonight? It’s Monday but sure. I’ll tell her. Okay, I’ll see you later then.”
Desiree hangs up the phone and laughs at my expectant face.
“So?” I prod.
“So the band is on board with doing the dance. They think it’ll be good press for them- and the guys think it's hilarious..”
“That’s good. Mrs. Gallagher will be pleased,” I say, making a face.
“What?” Des asks.
“Did you see the way she pawed at him?”
“Yes. I thought I was going to have to hold you down in your chair.”
“I know she’s married, and all, and I don’t have to worry, I just don’t like seeing other women touching Conrad, especially when I can’t even do it in public.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Des agrees.
“At least you can be seen with Harrison if you date,” I grumble, feeling sorry for myself.
“Yeah, he’s not my teacher,” Des laughs.
“It’s not funny. What I wouldn’t give to kiss my boyfriend whenever I wanted to.”
As if on cue, I hear a bike rumble by. Des and I look up to see Conrad leaving the faculty lot and taking off down the street.
“It should be illegal to be that sexy,” Des says.
“Bah!” I exclaim loudly in frustration, making Desiree laugh.
“Sorry, I’ll try not to rub it in,” she pats me on the back, “but hey, let’s look at the bright side. Now that every girl in the school knows who he is, they’re all going to want him more, all the while you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re the only one who gets to experience the pleasure that is Conrad Riley.”