Crush, p.4
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       Crush, p.4

           Lacey Weatherford
 

  Chapter One

  Cami- Three months later

  “Can someone please tell me the ruling for comma placements in this particular sentence?” Mrs. Stuart tapped the board with her old-fashioned, stick pointer as she peered over the top of her small, gold wire-rimmed glasses. Her gaze floated around the classroom, looking for a volunteer as she absently reached up to pat her French twisted gray hair.

  I raised my hand from the back of the classroom and she stopped on me, smiling.

  “Anyone besides Miss Wimberley?” she amended.

  I lowered my arm quickly, accidentally hitting the edge of my binder, which was hanging off my desk. The action caused it to pop up and fall to the floor. The three rings burst open, and papers scattered everywhere.

  Laughter twittered through the previously silent classroom, and my face flushed in embarrassment as I slid to my knees, hurriedly trying to gather the mess.

  “Attention! Please!” Mrs. Stuart’s voice snapped, directing everyone to look back at her. “Mr. Wilder, please help Cami pick up her things.”

  I groaned internally. Not Hunter, I thought.

  My humiliation was complete. It was bad enough almost all my classes were seated alphabetically, bad enough the computer had somehow managed to put him in four of my seven periods when he’d moved in a few weeks ago, bad enough he’d risen to immediate ‘in’ status and was now considered the hottest, coolest—and maybe the worst—partier in school. Despite the two of us being from entirely different social classes, him the king of stoners, me the queen of nerdy chic, I still managed to have a crush on him—a crush I did my absolute best to hide from everyone . . . especially him.

  “That was a sleek move you did there, Cami,” Hunter whispered as he knelt down next to me and began to gather papers. “I didn’t think notebooks could fly like that. Did you have to get special training?” He glanced up at the board where Mrs. Stuart was continuing with the lesson. “Too bad it didn’t work.”

  “What?” I sighed in exasperation, trying to figure out what he was talking about. He flashed a bright smile, and my gaze settled first on his perfect, white teeth, then on those deliciously plump lips of his.

  I bet he’s fun to kiss. I blinked. Whoa! Where did that come from?

  “Are you saying this whole knocking of the binder was truly an accident?” he spoke.

  I jerked my attention from his mouth back to the floor and the task in front of me.

  “And here I thought you were trying to save the rest of the class from answering the question,” he continued.

  I paused to stare at him. “Really? You did?”

  He leaned past me, reaching to grab some papers under a vacant desk, and I caught a whiff of his cool scented aftershave, mixed with the faint smell of cigarettes.

  “No.” He chuckled quietly, and a lock of his black hair tumbled over his tanned forehead. He straightened and handed me the papers. “I was trying to give you an out so you didn’t feel quite so humiliated.” He winked, and I couldn’t help but notice his chocolate colored eyes looked like they had little drops of caramel scattered through them. I’d never been this close to his face before.

  “Oh.” I suddenly felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny. “Thanks . . . I think.”

  His smile widened. “Anytime. I may have only been here a short while, but I’m sure I’ve been in enough of your classes to have you pegged.”

  “Is that so?” I began arranging things in my binder so I wouldn’t have to look at him or his tight, black t-shirt stretched across his perfectly muscled physique. It should be a sin for a guy in high school to have a body that good. Besides, I was pretty sure he was messing with me.

  “I do. It didn’t take me long to figure out you’re sweet, probably the smartest girl in school, maybe the most talented as well, and you’re definitely every teacher’s pet. You always pay attention and do your work like a good student should.” He shook his head, as he stared. “Little-Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes. Do you have a life outside of class? I haven’t seen you around. I bet you’ve never even been to a party before, have you? I just can’t picture you kickin’ back with the homies.”

  He was baiting me—and it was working. “Of course I have,” I snapped under my breath, not knowing why I cared whether or not he thought I was cool. “My mom throws the most amazing parties, and I hang out with my best friend, Clay, all the time.”

  “I don’t think birthday parties count. And Clay? Now there’s a nerd for you—pocket protector and everything. Someone told me he has a girlfriend.” He snorted a little too loudly. “I find that hard to believe.”

  “Hurry up you two,” Mrs. Stuart called out before turning to her desk.

  I snapped my binder back together. “Thanks for your help, even if it was required of you.” I got into my seat feeling irritated.

  He slid into his beside me, slouching and stretching his long frame into the aisle. I could tell he was still looking at me, so I stared straight ahead, determined to ignore him. He was such a punk.

  “You need a partner for the next part of this lesson, so buddy up please,” Mrs. Stuart said as she started passing out a worksheet.

  There was a bunch of noise as everyone hurried to find whom they wanted to work with. Hunter promptly slid his desk over next to mine before I had a chance to move.

  “Hey buddy.” He smiled.

  My eyes widened. “Back to degrade me some more?” I grumbled.

  He looked surprised. “What do you mean?”

  “Isn’t that what you were doing a minute ago? Telling me what a nerd I am and how I have no social life?”

  “Is that what you thought?” He leaned forward, placing his arms on his desk and turned to stare at me.

  I didn’t answer. He was so close he seemed intimidating, like he noticed everything about me with just one glance. It made me feel self-conscious.

  Mrs. Stuart paused at our desks and handed us a piece of paper before she returned to the front of the room. “As you can see, there are several paragraphs on this. All but one are punctuated incorrectly. You’re to take turns reading aloud to each other. In the space below each paragraph, rewrite it the way you think it should be. When you find the correct one, circle it. Put both your names in the top corner, and turn it in before the bell please. You may begin.”

  Hunter grabbed the paper and penciled his name in before sliding it over. “I’m glad I picked you as a partner. Maybe I’ll get a good grade on this now.”

  “Why? Because I’ll do all the work?” I hissed. I knew guys like him. They sucked up to you until they got what they wanted and then acted like you were no one the next time you were around. There was no way I’d let him do that.

  He looked at me funny. “Did I do something to piss you off? You seem mad.”

  “Never mind.” I picked up the paper to begin reading, but he placed his hand on it, flattening it against the desk.

  “What’s wrong?”

  “Nothing.” I wouldn’t look at him. I wasn’t sure why I was getting so upset. It shouldn’t matter if some party boy thought I was a nerd. It’s not like I would ever go out with him even if he didn’t. I was positive he was into the whole drug and alcohol scene, just from the friends he’d made already. I’d seen him smoking in the parking lot a couple of times, trying to hide his cigarette in the curl of his hand so no one would notice. I always wondered why the kids in this school were still stupid enough to party after Jordan Henley’s overdose on meth three months ago. You think they’d learn, but no, everyone seemed content to keep on using. “Can we do this please?” I gestured to the assignment.

  He removed his hand and leaned in closer, following along as I read the first paragraph.

  “Okay, where do you think the punctuation goes?” I asked, not wanting to share my knowledge all of a sudden.

  He pointed to a spot. “Comma here, I think.”

  Dang. He was right. I begrudgingly penciled it in.

  “I can tell you’re a singer.
You have a musical quality to your voice. That’s so cool, by the way. I hear you’re pretty good. Do you think you’d ever want to do it professionally?”

  “Whaa . . . ?” I couldn’t finish the comment, his remark caught me so off guard. I fumbled, trying to find words. “Where did you hear that?” I narrowed my eyes. “Have you been talking to people about me?”

  He laughed. “Of course. Guys always talk to each other about the pretty girls at school.” He bumped his shoulder into mine in a friendly gesture.

  My mouth popped open, and I was reduced to the facial movements of a fish. I was stunned, unable to believe what he’d just said.

  “I needed to be brought into the loop about who’s hot and who’s not, when I moved here. You know how it is,” he added. “Social status and all that.”

  And then I was deflated, because I understood what he meant.

  “Yes, I’m sure they were happy to fill you in that I’m part of the ‘who’s not’ category. In fact, I’d imagine I’m probably on the top of that list.”

  He lifted an eyebrow in question, and I noticed the color of his eyes again for the second time today. “You’re kidding, right? I don’t think any guy has you on his ‘who’s not’ list.”

  “Then please, enlighten me as to which lucky category I’ve fallen into. It’s always nice to be sorted like inanimate objects.”

  He appeared unfazed by my objection. “I think you’re more on the unattainable list. Guys figure you’re too good for them, so they don’t bother asking.”

  I laughed in spite of myself. “I can’t imagine why anyone would think that. I’ve never acted that way.”

  He shrugged. “Must be that Goody-Two-Shoes attitude then.”

  “Stop calling me that.”

  “Why? I kind of like it. I think it’s going to be my nickname for you from now on.” He grinned.

  “Are you this irritating with everyone you know?” I glared at him.

  He laughed loud enough that Mrs. Stuart sent a disgruntled look in our direction.

  “Pretty much, yeah.” He grabbed the paper, read the next paragraph, and we took turns marking the punctuation together. He got a couple wrong, and I had to explain the rules to him.

  I chewed lightly on the tip of my pencil eraser as I quickly skimmed through the next paragraph. “I think this is the correct one. Do you want to read it before I circle it?”

  “No. I trust you,” he said, waving it off. “So what are you doing this weekend?”

  I stiffened, suddenly worried about where this conversation might be headed. “My dad has a fundraiser concert and dinner on Saturday for his Jazz band. I may attend that, but I haven’t really decided yet. Why?”

  “Your dad plays in a band?” he questioned.

  “Yeah, my mom is the choir director at New Mexico West University, and my dad is the band director. They’re always putting on concerts together. It was their dream jobs to find two positions together like they did here. I’ve participated in all their concerts and musicals since we moved here when I was little.”

  “Really? That’s interesting. Where’d you live before?” He seemed genuinely interested.

  “Tucson, Arizona.”

  He looked shocked for a second before he laughed. “What a small world. That’s where I’m from. So you know how painful it is to move from there to a middle-of-nowhere place like Copper City then.”

  I nodded. “I do. Of course, I don’t really remember Tucson that much. We moved when I was five. It’s not so bad, once you get used to it. There’s lots of fun things to do here, like visiting the museums, checking out the local artistry, or driving out to see some of the Indian ruins and mines in the . . .” I let my sentence dwindle off at his horrified look. “Yeah, Copper City is definitely not your kind of thing.”

  He slouched back into his chair with a sigh. “I know. My life is over.”

  “I believe your life can be whatever you want to make of it.” I lifted my chin defiantly, daring him to challenge me.

  “Is that how it works? Well then, I want my life to be a big, giant, keg party.”

  I pursed my lips together and glanced over him.

  “What?” He squinted his gorgeous eyes. “You think I’m a loser now, Goody-Two-Shoes? Just some worthless partier?”

  “Actually, I was trying to imagine what you might look like with a beer belly.”

  He grinned and sat up, grabbing the paper on the desk in front of me. “I like you, Goody. No one mentioned you were so snarky.”

  He started reading the next paragraph out loud before I could respond. I wasn’t sure what to think of him. He’d hardly spoken to me before, except to ask for a pencil once. Now he was suddenly Mr. Talkative? It didn’t matter really. He would probably forget all about me by tomorrow.

 
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