Author's Note: Lalalala, I know I'm taking forever. I'm sorry! Heeeeere. I offer you the newest chapter in return for your forgiveness!




Chapter 4




Mr. McGowan sucks. Sucks so badly. Like a vacuum.

Thanks to that stupid vacuum, I couldn't contact Adam. And if I couldn't contact Adam, I would die. Absolutely, positively, without a doubt DROP. DEAD. How could he do this to me? Doesn't he know that a girl like me needs a best friend to vent to, complain about, and tell off? It should be a simple concept, but you never know with people these days.

My point is, I'm going crazy.

Like, really crazy.

"Rockaby baby, on the desk top. When the bell rings, your companions will drop. Drop like the lightning, drop like a bear. Drop like Dean Kane when I cut off his hair..."

A grin tugged at my lips and I couldn't help but picture the gorgeous boy with a bald head. Then I frowned. What if he looks really attractive without any hair? It just wasn't fair that people could pull off anything. How was karma supposed to screw you over if it couldn't get people to stop wanting to screw you?

Life was such a vacuum sometimes.

"Tonight, I want you all to study ballads. Try to write a few."

My literature teacher sucks too.

Ignoring the persistent urge to kick the tin garbage can as I walked past, I made my way to Mr. McGowan's room. He always took forever to grade papers, so I was positive he would still be sitting at his desk.

When I pushed the door open, a scowl crossed my face. Mr. McGowan, the one person I could depend on to be a complete jerk to everyone, was having a decent conversation with none other than Dean Kane.

It irked me. I'll admit it.

McGowan hated me ever since I stepped foot into his class. And then Dean Kane walks in and they're all hunky-dory? No, siree, that is NOT how it works.

With the courage of a lion and the grace of a chicken with a broken hip, I walked up to my teacher's desk and waited quietly for their conversation to stop. I'd like to say I was patient, too, because Andy thinks I'm not patient. Unfortunately, my patience ran as thin as water.

My fingers tapped on the desk quietly and I felt my feet wanting to bounce. I held back, only because I didn't want to look like a complete idiot in front of the pair baffoons. They didn't notice my presence.

Tap, tap, tap.

I drummed lightly on the wood and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Needless to say, I waited for ten seconds too long. I reached over and tapped Kane on the shoulder (the very hard shoulder, might I add) before shoving him out of the way. It wasn't like I gave him a hard push, but it got the job done.

It's just too bad he didn't fall over.

"What are you doing here, Ms. Thompson?" Mr. Baldy-locks gave me the evil eye. I raised one eyebrow, a trick I only recently learned, and held my thumb and pinkie finger up to my ear to represent a phone. He just looked confused for a moment.

Seriously, though. It's Universal Code for phone!

I wanted to slap my forehead, but that would have really done it in for me. There was no need to aggrivate the man further.

"She wants her phone."

That oh-so-smooth voice sounded like velvet and silk wrapped into one delicious swirl of husky sexiness. Just kidding. It was an average voice for a slightly better-than-average looking boy. Nothing special, I swear.

I grinned as I replayed the words in my head. Husky sexiness? That was another phrase to add to my ditz-dictionary. It was definitely something an airhead would think up. Or an evil mastermind with a knack for cunning ridicule. It was a talent, really.

"How would you know that?" McGowan's penetrating glare turned to that of acceptance and genuine curiosity as he looked at the teenage boy standing nearby.

Dean shrugged casually, managing to look extremely suave. It made my hand twitch with the urge to smack him, just to see how suave he could be in a state of shock or pain. Knowing how cruel the fates were, he would probably look just as amazing as ever.

Not that he looked amazing.

Because he didn't.


"This sign," he explained, gesturing to his hand, which formed the telephone sign, "It's how people refer to a phone."

I rolled my eyes when neither of them was looking at me. It was annoying how easily Dean Kane could capture attention. All he had to do was breathe for crying out loud! Such power came with fame and fortune. It was just my luck that I was poor and invisible.

"That's quite interesting indeed," Mr. McGowan stated as he formed the sign in his own hand.

I silently cursed the two of them as time continued to tick by. They were getting lost in the conversation again, I could tell. Just as I was about to open my mouth to speak—although I'm sure neither of them would notice—Dean steered our teacher back to the situation at hand.

"Looks like I've got somewhere to go," he said. "As soon as you give her the phone back, I'll be on my way."

Now that was smooth. I'm not even being sarcastic. This Dean Kane sure had quite a few surprises up his sleeve. I held back a bright smile when the phone was placed in my grasp and I hurriedly scurried to the door.

No, I take it back. I WALKED. Not scurried.

I swear, I didn't actually scurry.

"I'll see you later, sir." Dean followed me out of the classroom, but I was already rushing down the hall and out of the building. My dirty sneakers squeaked loudly a couple times before I was finally pushing through the doors.

"Wait up!" That masculine voice traveled to me and I could tell he was gaining on me.

As he got closer and closer to me, I heard him mutter a few words about me. They weren't too kind, so I'll spare you the details.

"You know, I just saved your butt back there," he said, as if he wasn't tired at all from the quick walk. "You're welcome."

I didn't reply, but that wasn't unusual.

"It seemed as if he didn't know you were mute," he mused.

When I still didn't say anything, he gripped my arm and pulled me to a halt. His eyes burned into mine and I concentrated on the poster behind him about the debate club.

"It was almost as if he expected you to speak," Dean whispered.

I shrugged his hand off and gave him a disbelieving look. I think it was convincing, because he didn't push the subject further. Then we were moving again.

On the way through the parking lot, I wracked my brain for ideas on how to thank him without speaking, but I only found one—and I wasn't too sure he would take it as gratefulness.

Oh well.

I reached over and nudged him in the shoulder with my fist, a tad too hard to be considered a friendly push. With a teensy tiny grin, I spun on my heel and bounded down the sidewalk. A slither of doubt crossed my mind about my approach at thanks, but disappeared altogether when he said my name.

I glanced back, eyebrow arched slightly. My feet kept moving. He sent me a half-smile-half-smirk. "You owe me."

Something welled up in my stomach while I slowed my walk to a decent pace. It was near amusement, but there was also a hint of gratitude. I'm sure he knew that I knew that he knew I was trying to thank him. It caused relief to settle inside of me.

After all, I wasn't really one to thank people.

"Dakota Renee Thompson, why on earth are you so late?"

That's what a normal mother would ask. Maybe they would even wonder how my day was. But that wasn't what greeted me as I unlocked the door to my house.

Silence engulfed the entirety of it and I couldn't be less surprised. In fact, it would have come off as a shock if I did hear voices. If that ever happened, I would probably faint. Not even the graceful 'catch-me-while-I-slowly-fall' kind of fainting either. It would definitely be of the 'take-everyone-down-with-me' variety.

I can be very clumsy sometimes.

The sound of quiet footsteps drew my attention to the hallway, which my mother was making her way through. Her fluffy slippers dragged slightly and a pink robe hung off her shoulders.

"Hey, mom," I greeted.

She smiled politely at me. "Hello, Dakota. Did you just arrive home?"

I nodded. Maybe she would ask why…

"Well, we're out of milk and I was hoping…" She trailed off in the end. I just sighed and nodded again, which was much better than telling her to go buy herself some milk if she wanted it that badly.

"Thank you," she automatically said. I listened hard to catch the sincerity in her voice and when I finally did, I grabbed a couple bills from the wallet she left on the table and headed out.

It wasn't until much, much later that I realized I was a pushover when it came to my mother. I mentally slapped myself. She wasn't supposed to look so tired and…pathetic. And I wasn't supposed to cater to her.

Shouldn't it have been the other way around instead?


My internal ranting about my mother in particular was cut to an immediate halt once I reached the grocery store. Before I could forget, I grabbed a carton of milk and dropped it into a basket before looking around at the foods.

I was no cook, but my mom was great. Even if she lost her spark and that nice gleam in her eyes, there was no doubt that her cooking was and would always be fantastic.

Seriously, dude. I could just drown in her homemade desserts and I would be perfectly happy with it. If I could choose how I would die, that would be it.

Death by brownies. How 'bout it?

When I realized I was wandering around looking at nothing in particular, I snatched the first thing I saw-which turned out to be a package of cookies-and headed for the cash register.

Upon my arrival, I noticed two things. One, the cashier was sending odd looks my way. And two, that cashier happened to be of the good-looking male species.

He wasn't sexy or incredibly hot, as some of the girls from the movies would say. He wasn't tall, dark, or handsome. He was just...cute. Yes, that's the word. Thick-rimmed glasses sat atop his nose and his white button-up was neatly pressed and creased.

One word popped into my brain when I took in his appearance. Nerd.

I snickered softly to myself when that thought came to me. He gave me another odd look when he heard my quiet laughter.

"Something the matter?"

Ooh. Pretty boy's got a southern accent.

I shook my head. "Nope."

He looked like he didn't believe me, but I ignored it. He handed back my change and I exited the store. But not before looking back to study him.

Shaggy black hair, pale skin, and tidy clothing. Definite nerd.

It was a nice change, though, and I found myself smiling to myself.




Author's Note: Was this longer than the last? It should be. It's not as long as I hoped, but it got the job done. Cashier boy will come in later. So will Adam.

Let me know what you think.

Forever and Always,