Whoever was trying to shimmy out of his bed was not doing a good job of being secretive.

Jack was awake with the first loud thud of someone tripping over something in his room, landing to the carpet heavily. He heard her whisper curse words and finish pulling on her jeans. Usually, while digging through a pile of clothes, one would not have made any sounds, but she was louder than an elephant stampede, tossing clothes up into the air before they rained down like bombs from World War II.

Jack sat up in bed, unable to fall back to sleep. "Morning to you, too," he said, his voice hoarse. The girl spun around as though surprised that she had roused him.

"Oh, hey, uh, Jack, right?" she said, running a hand through her dark hair. She looked slightly nervous, as though she'd been trying to escape his room and erase herself from his presence completely. She'd clipped on her bra and was now rummaging from her shirt, pretending he wasn't there.

"You know, I never did get your name," Jack said, not moving from his place on the bed.

"I told you my name was Lacey."

Jack laughed, his fingers closing around a lanyard and he lifted it from his sheets. He glanced at the plastic car dangling on the end of the rope. "Funny, your nametag says Skylar."

"That's my, uh, fake nametag," she laughed, not looking at all ashamed that she'd been caught. She stepped over his clothes and pulled the string from his fingers. "Thanks." She shoved it in the back pocket of her jeans.

"I'm usually not into small talk, but you're actually really pretty," Jack said, grinning at her. Skylar pulled on a black collared shirt, buttoning up the front. Her hair was kept short in a bob cut with the fronts grazing her collarbone, the back not longer than two inches below her ear. She was petite, with a small dark beauty spot under her left eye, her olive skin looking almost yellow in the rays of the sun.

"Thanks, I guess."

Jack didn't bother getting out of bed yet. A part of him actually hoped she would stay. "So, what school do you go to?" He was sure that he hadn't seen her around his school before. She was too pretty; he would have definitely noticed her if they shared halls.

A look of confusion flashed across the girl's flawless features. She smiled slightly, rubbing her nose with her hands as though trying not to laugh. "Oh, God, you're in high school, aren't you?"

Now it was Jack's turn to look confused. He realized what she was implying and quickly caught himself. "No, silly, I meant college, duh."

"I'm not in college," she said, her eyebrows shooting into her hairline in amusement. She was still smiling as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. She giggled. "Oh, jeez, I think I'm a little too old for you, Jack."

"You look seventeen."

"You wish I was seventeen." Skylar laughed, finding her bag and sweeping her cell phone off the nightstand. She flipped it open, a curse word escaping from behind her lips. She pressed a few buttons and snapped the phone shut, throwing it into her bag hastily. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm a working woman. I've got places to be today."

"I love working women."

Skylar giggled, rolling her eyes playfully. "Thanks for the great time," she said, slinging her bag over her shoulder. "It's probably best we don't see each other again. God knows how you got into a twenty-one-and-over club."

"You think you're the only one with the fake ID," Jack chuckled.

Skylar smirked. "Touché. Be good, kid."

Jack made a face at the nickname, and then winked. "Can't promise you anything."

He was still smiling as Skylar closed the door behind him. He had an itching in his stomach that things were only about to get interesting. He flipped his legs out over the side of his mattress and rolled his shoulders back. He heard Skylar's shoes clicking out the front door, and the engine of a car purr to life. He waited before he couldn't hear her car down the street before searching for something to wear. Jack had school today.

Jack didn't mind going to school; it just got repetitive. He kind of just wanted it to end. It was almost the end of the first semester and he couldn't wait for it to go any faster. He got dressed, ran hand through his dark hair and slung his bag over his shoulder. It was 7:45 in the morning – he'd be late if he didn't get moving now.

"Hey, Jazz," he greeted his little sister as he came down the stairs.

The fourteen-year-old girl rolled her eyes as she picked up her things. They went to school together, but Jack actually didn't mind. He kept an eye out for his younger sister. "Who was that? You know you're lucky that Mom went to work early today."

Jack grinned. Jazzlyn was used to girls coming home with her brother, but she was good about it, never saying a word to their mother. Stephanie preferred that her son search for job and career, not one-night-stands.

"Skylar," Jack answered, grinning from ear to ear as he scooped up a breakfast bar from the table, along with his car keys.

"Oh, you know her name this time?" Jazz teased, following her brother out the front door. Jazz shrugged, her dark waves bouncing on her shoulders. "Well, she seemed nice enough. She wasn't like the awkward ones that didn't say hi to me."

Jack chuckled, shrugging. He couldn't get the girl out of his head.

"I think I'm too old for you."

That line had launched Skylar into becoming something forbidden, the fruit in the Garden of Eve. She was thrust onto a pedestal now, so delicious and unobtainable that she was practically a goddess in her own world. And for some reason, Jack found himself wanting to be there more than anything. It was the mystery shrouded around her name – he hadn't gotten a good look at her last name on her nametag – that made her so alluring.

He wanted to find her again.

"Did you at least get a phone number for this one?"

"Dammit," Jack mumbled, completely forgetting to ask for digits. She could have been a tourist, for all he knew, stopping in for a weekend. But he realized that that probably couldn't be true – the Vanity Ballroom might have probably been the most popular club, but it was definitely underground. Not a place a tourist would know.

Jazz giggled. "Guess not."

The engine of Jack's Corolla spluttered to life – it was an old car – and he backed out of the driveway, preparing for the five-minute drive to school.

Although she was only fourteen, Jazz was definitely smarter than she looked, and often wondered why Jack was the way he was. He hid a damaged past all too well and sometimes he was so good at acting that it scared her.

Jazz watched her brother for a moment, staring at him as his hands turned the wheel on the familiar route to their high school. She thought for a moment, and realized what a great pretender he was. He always stood up straight when he walked, but moved like water, casually, with the power to break and erode the strength of any obstacle that crossed his path. Each footfall screamed another shadow of a footprint that he didn't want to follow, another of his own footprints that he didn't want anyone else to follow. His strides were soft, like he was trying not to fall into a grave that had already been dug for him. They were damaged, the both of them, with no means to a recovery.

Jack was just trying to get by, but he never showed it. He always spoke of going to college, and leaving this town, but Jazz knew that the reason he wouldn't was because of her. A part of him would always feel obligated to stay with his sister, the way their father never had.

"You're going to be late if you don't snap out of whatever trance you're in," Jack said in a singsong voice as he knocked on Jazz's window. She rolled her eyes and scowled playfully, pushing her door open so abruptly that it slammed her brother in the gut. He grunted in pain and hobbled away from door-opening range, waiting for his sister to pile out.

He sighed. Another long day of classes that would probably never benefit him, of lunch rooms that smelled of spoiled milk and rotten egg salad, of two thousand and one people that he'd probably never see for the rest of his life once he graduated. It was all just so tedious. Jack just wanted to grow up. Leaving had always just been a dream to him, something that he could see in the distance, but never actually imagine obtaining.

A tap on his shoulder from his sister's slender finger brought him back to the reality he so loathed. "Isn't that her?" she asked, her voice a little unsure. Jack followed Jazz's eyes, but he realized that he would have probably spotted her the moment he looked up.

Heading into the school building, carrying thick text books in her hands and a messenger bag slung over her shoulder was Skylar. She had changed out of her jeans and casual shirt into a dark blue pencil skirt and a white polo, looking like the typical new prep. She probably had a change of clothes in her car.

Jack was drawn to her, like the way a magnet longed to stick to the surface of a refrigerator, and he glanced at Jazz for approval. She rolled her eyes playfully. "Just go before you piss yourself."

Jack was gone before she even finished her sentence, jogging towards Skylar. "Hey, beautiful," he greeted, grinning as he adjusted his backpack over his shoulders.

Skylar looked genuinely startled and jumped slightly. She turned her heart-shaped face up, looking slightly embarrassed, like she was about to apologize for being shocked, but she recognized Jack instantly. Her eyebrow rose. "You're either stalking me, or I'm in the wrong school."

Jack's grin widened. "I thought you didn't go to high school," he said, somewhat triumphant. "You must be new here, then."

Skylar nodded slowly, as though tasting the idea. "You could say that."

Jack held out his arms. He didn't carry much to school everyday besides a couple sheets of paper and a pen – if he was lucky, it was working – in his bag. "A pretty new girl like yourself shouldn't be carrying all those books by yourself."

"I've got it," Skylar assured him stubbornly, shifting her books in her arms. Jack stole a glance at the title of one of her books.

"Hey, Calculus B/C. I'm taking that class, too," he said, smiling. He was glad that at least something remotely interesting was happening in school. God knows he needed some kind of spark to lighten the impeding time during the school days. He had now self-proclaimed Skylar as his new distraction. The fact that she was drop-dead gorgeous made it all the more appealing.

"Oh, yeah?"

Her demeaning tone made Jack chuckle quietly. She was definitely playing hard to get. Jack usually gave up quickly on girls who played games, but he was oddly interested in this one. It was a little fast, even for him, but he couldn't stop himself. The way Skylar carried herself, with such confidence that seemed like she knew that she was hotter than any of the girls that attended this Godforsaken excuse for a school made her more attractive to Jack than he liked to let on. But it was enough. Definitely enough to keep him talking, even when she made it seem that she had no intention of continuing the conversation.

"Yeah," Jack said, grinning. He realized they were both going in the same direction. "Calculus first period with yours truly," he said, smiling as they passed through the same door frame. He frowned slightly, remembering that last Friday was Mrs. Morton's last day – the woman had gone ahead and gotten herself pregnant, so she had to take a maternity leave. If there was anything more that Jack hated more than school, it was the substitute teachers that acted like they knew everything about it.

"Don't you guys have assigned seats?" Skylar asked, glancing around the room. It seemed that the rest of the class felt the same way about having a substitute teacher. Jack was never really the type to excel in school, but he had to admit that he had talent in the math department. He was a black sheep amongst the other little lamb in this class – they had all been in the same classes together for six years that it was hard to distinguish where the nerd cliques started and ended.

Jack shrugged. "Not really. Morton lets us sit wherever. You can chill in the back with me. Be a black sheep."

"What?" Skylar asked, sounding genuinely confused by his last comment. Jack hadn't realized that he'd been talking out loud and shook his head.

"Never mind." He plopped down into his seat as the bell rang. Skylar placed her things next to his, sitting patiently as though any second, the new teacher would walk in and praise her for her good behavior. If only it worked like that.

"So, uh, what brings you to these parts?" Jack asked, grateful to finally have someone to talk to. There was another black sheep. Screw them, he thought, remembering the other little honors students who cared more about the A's they got than the things they learned. He hoped that Skylar wasn't one of those nerd clones and actually tried applying the information she gathered from class in places that didn't have anything to do with college resumes.

Skylar shrugged, her eyes wandering around the room. She noticed everything. Even in the honors classes, there were the "pretty girls" – the girls who had the perfect hair and the perfect grades that all the other nerd boys only dreamed of – the athletic boys – the ones who carried around football helmets like they were supposed to mean something – and the "average" kids in the class, the largest clique that probably all secretly hated each other and competed against each other for the higher B in the grade curvature. One of the even braver souls tossed a paper airplane – of course it was aerodynamically correct to fly a distance of ten feet and do a loop-dee-loop before nose diving into the tile floor. It was a little amusing and a smirk couldn't help but pull at Skylar's thin, chapped lips.

"Seems like a nice town," she answered, realizing that she hadn't spoken for a while. "Very quiet, nice people. I grew up here and I couldn't really bring myself to leave."

Jack raised an eyebrow at her last statement, but didn't say anything about it. He didn't want to come off as an antagonist. "How come I've never seen you around then?"

Skylar smiled. But there was something about that smile that was devious, almost secretive, like she was playing some kind of prank on him. But again, he didn't say anything about it. "I try to keep myself hidden, I suppose. I'm more of a wallflower than anything, really."

"You definitely did not seem like a wallflower at Vanity Ballroom last night," Jack mumbled. Skylar had been throbbing to the music and singing – more like screaming at the top of her lungs – for the band that played every other Sunday night, Little Less Obvious. She seemed to be familiar with all of their songs, and Jack couldn't blame her. It was good music. But if Skylar was a wallflower, then he didn't even want to see her party side.

She hummed in contemplation, a little laugh escaping through her lips. She leaned on the desk, cupping her face in one of her hands, her eyes still flying around the room, absorbing the honors class scene. Jack couldn't put a finger on what was so interesting about them. They were just a bunch of kids who thought they were so much better than everyone else that they lacked the social skills to communicate effectively with anyone else who didn't have a five AP class schedule.

"You like math?" Jack asked, turning to her.

"I suppose you could say that." He didn't like her vague answers.

"So, you're into numbers then?"

Skylar sat back up and straightened her back, facing him. She tilted her head sweetly. "Oh, my, it's the first day of school and I'm already being hit on by a black sheep?" she teased, obviously having herad what he'd said about sheep. "I'm flattered, Jack-o, I really am."

Jack chuckled. Her sarcasm was deathly, but he was going to go through with this pick-up line anyway. "Since you're into numbers, could I have yours?"

Skylar giggled, running a hand through her dark bob cut, strands of hair unhooking from behind her ears as she laughed. She tapped the desk with her fingers, dialing her number in fake buttons on the surface. Jack didn't realize it until the fifth digit, completely missing the first four. He frowned and Skylar laughed again. "Maybe next time, kid."

He cringed again at the nick name, remembering how earlier that morning, she had referred to how she had been too old for him. She was obviously a good liar. She didn't look a day over seventeen, her eyes shimmering with the light of a thousand laughs-to-be-had. Skylar couldn't be older than a senior in high school. Jack figured that maybe she was just that uninterested in him that she needed to lie to him about her age as an attempt to turn him off.

It obviously had not worked.

"So, where'd you transfer from?" Jack asked, slightly desperate to keep conversation before she clumped him with the rest of the deadbeats.

"Eh, down the road," she said nonchalantly. She didn't at all seem interested in what he had to say. But Skylar didn't speak rudely, smiling for effect, or shrugging her shoulders in feigned consideration. It drove Jack insane.

"Where is the Goddamn substitute?" he mumbled, running a hand through his hair. He needed an excuse to just stop talking now before he made an even bigger fool of himself. He had embarrassed himself enough for the day. Maybe he'd try again tomorrow, or in another class that they had together. Jack couldn't help but he hopeful. She was alluring because she was so sure in herself and that made Jack want her even more.

The rest of the class seemed to have heard Jack mention something about the substitute, and immediately, the subject of the matter was where she – or as the pretty girls hoped, a he – could possibly be. It was almost twenty minutes into the class, without a sign of any instruction going to occur within the next forty minutes of class.

That was when Skylar stood up. She patted Jack on the head as her black and white converses clicked quietly on the heels as she made her way to the front of the class. She sat on the teacher's desk, tossing up the apple that the teacher next door always left for Mrs. Morton.

To Jack, that was being a little too bold – standing up in front of a class that she did not know at all, acting like she knew everything about—

Holy crap.

Skylar didn't even need to open her mouth to get the class to quiet down. In an instant, the class had become no better than the jungle; the girls had become somewhat territorial that there was a new female within the vicinity, and the males had become inadvertently attracted to the new face amongst a sea of girls they'd been stuck with for six years. Skylar smiled in satisfaction, taking a bite from the apple.

"Who the hell are you?" asked one of the girls, raising an eyebrow like she was Miss World.

Skylar was still smiling as she put the apple back down on the desk, sitting along side it. She crossed her legs, already guessing that some of the pervy nerds that didn't' get any sex were going to try and look up her pencil skirt. "So, for the last twenty minutes, I've been watching all of you," she said, sounding slightly amused. "And I've got a basic idea of what I'm dealing with here, so if you don't mind actually learning something today, my dear honors Calculus class, I would love to get started.

Hopping off the desk, Skylar turned around and snatched up a piece of new chalk from the desk. She had pressed the tip to the board when someone stopped her again.

"Who the hell are you?" that same girl asked, not at all sounding like she was ready to be taught by a girl the same age as she was.

"Oh, I thought you guys were all honors kids, so I assumed you'd be able to figure it out on your own," she replied sweetly, grinning as the girl scowled. She pulled out the nametag that Jack had looked at this morning, fanning it around the room like showing a bunch of elementary school children pictures from a Dr. Seuss book. With a horrific, dawning realization, Jack knew what was happening here.

"I'm Skylar Ryan and I'm your Calculus teacher for the remainder of the school year. We're going to have tons of fun."