Lexi's Pathetic Fictional Love Life
Lexi Middleton has been socially invisible to her classmates, but starting her junior year, that’s going to change. First, she’s determined to hook a boyfriend, ensuring dates with flowers and possible kisses on the doorstep. Second, she wants to be a writer for the school paper, even though it freaks her out to think of everyone judging her by her punctuation and metaphors. High school is difficult enough—keeping up her grades, dealing with increasing sibling rivalry, and trying to stay out of the way of her personal nemesis, Amberlee—but when Lexi catches the eye of her long-time crush, she also becomes the focus of mean-girl tactics. Caught between who she was and who she wants to be, Lexi must decide how to confront a bully, and choose who to let into her heart.
“Michaels, Middleton, table five.”
Yes! Alphabetical order—genius. Because of the alphabet fetish teachers seem to have, if Brendon is in my class, there’s a good chance I’ll sit in front of, beside, or behind him.
“Didn’t we have science together last year, and the year before?” Brendon asks, falling in behind me.
Right behind me. I feel a slight flush on my neck and cheeks, which I hope isn’t turning red. We cross the room toward our assigned lab seats. “Yes, I think you must be following me.” Ugh, I sound formal. Relax. I drop into my seat and place my books on the table in front of me as Brendon sits down.
“There are worse things to do.” The dimple in his left cheek deepens as he smiles, then he winks at me.
Excitement lurches through my heart until I reminded myself, of course he winked—he’s good at being a high school celebrity. I’m not going to get my hopes up. I’ve got nothing to say, especially while my voice box is melting down my throat and my mind slams into neutral. It’s who he is, and it works for him. Often. I blush anyway and reach out to square up the corners of my books while we wait for our teacher to finish lab partner assignments.
Science labs are the reward for taking extra science credits. And given this class is advanced chemistry, there’s an added element of curiosity and danger. I’m not excited yet. In a few days we’ll break out the equipment and the fun will start, but this is the first day our class has come into the lab, and our teacher, Mr. Williams, doesn’t disappoint—or does, depending on how you look at it. He takes the full seventy minutes droning out thou-shalt-nots for using the equipment and materials in the lab.
The clock is moving toward the last gasp of his lecture when Brendon turns his notebook my way: Did he forget to tell us not to taste the chemicals this year?
A small spark of excitement for breaking note-passing rules makes me smile as I pull his notebook toward me to answer: Yes. And don’t sniff, snuff, huff, or inhale them, either.
Just as Brendon reads my reply, Mr. Williams intones, “Don’t sniff, touch, or taste chemicals.”
We both cover a snicker. Brendon writes, Our world is safe once more.
From the back of the room, James yells, “If we bring our own chemicals, can we sniff those?”
“Shut up, James,” Mr. Williams says without emotion.
“It’s good to be back, Mr. Williams.”
When the bell rings, Amberlee Williams materializes between Brendon and me. Her table assignment is two rows behind ours on the other side of the room. She must have hurdled a couple of tables to reach us before we could even stand. My body recoils swiftly from her.
“I’m having a little back-to-school celebration at my house this weekend. Can you make it?” Her head tips to the right, and golden waves shimmer over her shoulders. Her smile broadens as her eyes sparkle.
Brendon looks at me. I look at him. He seems as surprised as I am at her appearance. My surprise quickly become annoyance when Amberlee slides into the space between our chairs and turns her back so I’m blocked from Brendon’s view—and from intruding on her invitation.
I rise from my seat. My brain warns me that Amberlee has her sights on Brendon this year.
“Sure. Sounds fun,” Brendon answers as I join the flow of the masses moving through the halls. With a pang, I realize he’s all in for her party. Yeah, this is not over.
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