Chapter I

A wave of nostalgia washed over Kate Haverford as she climbed familiar steps. This wasn't her old high school, but it might as well have been. All high schools are alike, she reflected. Emily Dickinson High more so than the rest. The cracked stone steps led her into the empty, dimly lit corridor with graying cinderblock walls and vile colored lockers. She felt distinctly out of place with her formal burgundy scoop-neck sweater and black miniskirt in this grungy place. As she hurried down the hall, it occurred to her that she had no idea where she was going. A young man around his late twenties or early thirties-a teacher, undoubtedly-with dark, slightly greasy looking black hair but an impressive build, was the only person in the hallway, and he walked right past Kate, clearly not even noticing her. Gently, she called out to him, "Excuse me?"

He looked up irritably, as though harassed by the interruption. He glanced at her, looking her up and down, and his agitated expression became one of eternal patience. He grinned at her, an unnaturally white smile. "Yes?"

"Hi, um, do you think you could direct me to the board room?" Kate asked, biting her lip and tasting her recently applied French Vanilla chap stick.

"Oh, certainly," he complied agreeably. "I was just heading there myself. First staff meeting of the year. Are you new?"

"Yes, I'm Kate Haverford, the new English teacher." She extended her delicate hand and he grasped it firmly-too firmly. Kate could feel her bones crunch. She smiled faintly as they continued down the hallway. "That's some handshake you've got there."

He grinned again, not comprehending that it wasn't necessarily a compliment. "Thanks. I'm Reginald Mormey-math."

"Great," Kate enthused lightly as she clutched on tighter to her handbag.

Noticing this, Reginald reached out for the bag. "Here, let me take that for you," he offered.

"Oh no, I'm good, thanks," Kate replied, impressed by his courteousness.

"Are you sure?" Reginald pressed.

"Oh yeah," Kate smiled breezily. "I carried this three thousand times on the bus to college."

"Where did you go?" he asked with interest.


"Really?" Reginald asked with interest as he led Kate down the hallway, and then turned left. "I know someone who graduated from Dartmouth with a major in education. Did you know Kevin Prink?"

Kate shook her head.

"What year did you graduate?"

Kate turned slightly pink. "Last year," she admitted, a bit embarrassed.

He grinned again. "Ah, so you're new. Kevin graduated in '98, like me." He turned the knob on the teachers' staff room and looked reassuringly at her. "Don't worry. You'll like it at Dickinson. It's much better than most high schools. We won an award for best school in the county last year. The kids are quite bright."

"Good," Kate said, stepping into the room as he held the door open for her. Immediately, she was immersed in noise as teachers saw each other for the first time since the previous school year. They, for the most part ignored her, and she examined her surroundings. The room clearly lacked the capacity to host nearly one hundred teachers, but her new colleagues appeared accustomed to it. Reginald had gone off talking with a biology teacher, and Kate stood alone in a corner, nibbling on a carrot in vegetable dip she'd snitched from the table beside her.

She was enjoying her solitude when a tall stranger-about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old with twinkling green eyes and wavy brown hair approached her with a mischievous half-grin on his face. Kate knew enough to know that look meant nothing good. Before even greeting her, this stranger leisurely looked her up and down, all five feet five inches of her, drinking in her thick, light brown hair, friendly aquamarine eyes, ski jump nose, pale complexion, and size two figure. He let his eyes sink in on her legs, which were, other than her neutral tights, perfectly visible from the knee down where the miniskirt ended. Without any sort of introduction or even a polite "hello", he observed, his green eyes twinkling with mischief, "Nice legs."

Kate lifted an eyebrow at him. "What?"

"How bout you come over tonight and give me a better look?" he suggested, grinning with amusement and winking. He even emitted a little growl!

"I'm sorry," Kate declared, changing her shock into disdain, poised for a retort, "Did you not hear the news? This year, the meeting is for teachers only, not for twenty-eight year olds who are retaking their senior year for the tenth time."

"Ouch," the stranger proclaimed, putting a masculine hand over his heart. "You wound me. By the way, I'm not twenty-eight. I'm twenty- seven. So this is only my ninth attempt at the twelfth grade."

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Kate hissed as frantic clapping became audible-the man who'd hired her, Mr. Craiser, the principal, was trying to get the staff to quiet down.

"Please, settle down," he pleaded. "Sometimes I wonder who's worse, you or the students!"

At this admittedly pathetic statement, the adults gathered around the long ovular table, many armed with little plates of vegetables or crackers. Kate purposely maneuvered herself to a seat near Reginald Mormey-the twenty-seven year old made her nervous.

"Good to see you all again," the Principal beamed at the dozens of educators around him. "I'm sure this year will be even better than the last. I'm glad to see many familiar faces-and some new ones, too. Why don't I introduce the new ones, so we can all be acquainted? Just please stand when I say your name. Annie Boris, our new choral director." A shy- looking forty-something woman stood up and smiled coyly at her colleagues. "Jean Carroll, who will teach eleventh grade English. Kate Haverford, who will teach honors tenth grade English as well as AP Lit." Kate rose and flashed her pearly white teeth, Reginald patting her hand as she sat back down. "Jeff Strong, physics. And last, but certainly not least, Jake Wyndon, US History and AP National, State, and Local Government, or, as we all know it, NSL."

Instead of smiling shyly or giving a little wave, like his colleagues, Jake Wyndon, the twenty-seven year old who had been hitting on Kate, stood up and grinned. "It's good to see you all. I can't wait to get to meet you all and I'm sure we'll have a great batch of kids, because you know, that's really what it's all about. We're going to have a fabulous year." Before sitting, he winked at Kate, who rolled her eyes.

Kate's coworkers seemed to disagree with her about Wyndon, however. She saw most of them smiling as if his words were adorable. She supposed they had all gained high tolerance levels from working with kids so much. She herself had plenty of tolerance for teenagers, but less for rude twenty- seven year olds trying to reuse humor from their adolescent glory days. She noticed that Reginald Mormey was also under whelmed by Jake Wyndon's show of idiocy.

"All right, as you know, we have a lot of business to handle, starting with the policy on hall passes." The principal ruffled through an enormous stack of papers before him, evidently searching for something specific. "Many of you have complained that our policy is too strict, and I completely hear your concerns. However-" he stared in bewilderment at something he'd found in his pile of papers. "Oh, right," he said, as if just recalling something. The principal was at least sixty-five years old, balding, with something of a potbelly. He seemed good-natured enough, but the type who might be perpetually trying to recall something he'd forgotten. He must be the students' ideal principal, Kate thought, amused. He's probably got the kids in his office, and then his secretary interrupts him with his afternoon doughnut and he forgets why he busted the kids in the first place.

"Before we handle the hall passes, let me just address this quickly." He pursed his lips, rereading the sheet of paper he held. "Otherwise, I'm sure I'll forget." He grinned. "Yes. The mock trial team needs a new sponsor, as Jill Correnthad has been reminding me ever since Mr. Normandy announced his retirement last year. Is anybody interested?"

Kate searched the room for anybody who looked remotely interested-she knew the more senior members of the staff would get priority to sponsor or coach any team or club they wanted, and she didn't want to seem overeager, or that she was trying to take spots that were rightfully theirs.

Still, she was very interested in coaching the mock trials team, as she had been a team captain less than a decade earlier in her high school, and her team had made it to state finals her sophomore year. She'd seriously considered law school-the pay was certainly better than teaching-but eventually decided against it. She wanted to do something good for mankind, to genuinely connect with people and make a difference in their lives, and she adored kids. Despite all this, she was still fascinated by trying cases, and this was a perfect combination of her interests.

With all this in mind, she shyly stood and volunteered, "I'll do it," in perfect unison with the other staff member who uttered the exact same words. She quickly glanced around the room, searching for the culprit.

Somehow, she was less than surprised to realize that it was none other than the smirking Jake Wyndon. Him? she thought, dismayed. No way. Mock trials are not supposed to be some joke, some opportunity for him to hit on the coaches of the other teams.

Mr. Craiser appeared surprised by this show of interest, but undeniably pleased. "Well," he declared, adjusting his thick-rimmed glasses, a smile creeping across his face, "At least I don't have to beg anyone to take it on this year. I suppose one of you can just drop to the other, and then we can get onto the hall passes."

Kate stared fiercely at Principal Craiser, completely resolute. There was no way she was dropping to this pig. She was more responsible, she was more mature, and she had proven that she had huge success with mock trials. He should drop simply in apology for those stupid comments he'd made earlier. She would have dropped if it had been any other staff member, but this Jake Wyndon had no seniority over her and plus, he'd make a botch of it. She wanted this too much to drop to this jerk. Please, she thought, sending him a telepathic message, Please drop to me. I'll forgive you for your moronic and immature comments, just let me have this.

But apparently Jake Wyndon had no intent to do so. He watched her, one eyebrow lifted quizzically, clearly waiting for her to do what she was waiting for him to do. They stared unwillingly at each other, their eyes meeting, frustration and intensity reverberating through them both. Even though they were surrounded by over a hundred teachers, Kate could have sworn that at that moment, she and this Jake Wyndon guy were the only two people in the room, battling wordlessly.

Noticing the hostility between his two newest employees and both of their refusal to surrender the position to the other, Mr. Craiser awkwardly cleared his throat. "Well, um, I." he began uncomfortably, unsure of how to handle the situation with such unmasked enmity and stubbornness present with adults.

"How about," a middle aged overweight woman with thick dark hair commenced, "you split it? Cosponsor. It's not unheard of, you know."

Kate still maintained that Jake Wyndon should drop his claim to the mock trial team. But upon examining his equally unyielding and the same smirk he'd granted her earlier, Kate reluctantly perked up and smiled charmingly. "Good idea!" she cooed.

"Then that's what we'll do," Mr. Craiser declared, sounding pleased again. "It'll be great. Now, onto other business.where were we?.ah, yes. The hall passes. Now, I understand your complaints about the severity, and I've reviewed and carefully considered all of your comments. However."

But Kate Haverford's mind meandered off the banal subject of hall passes. She couldn't fathom that someone like Jake Wyndon could be hired as a high school teacher, much less as the school's mock trials co-coach. She supposed, maybe with the nation-wide teacher shortage and all, perhaps it was understandable that this moronic Neanderthal had been hired, but it certainly didn't speak well of the United States, or for the District of Colombia, that they were so desperate for educators that they were forced to hire this imbecile, whose brain had clearly atrophied at the age of fifteen.

The meeting droned on, but Kate could only stare at the smoothly polished table in front of her, listening with only one ear as topics such as which department could claim use for the bulletin board beside the cafeteria and whether or not to offer men's chorus for a class came and went. She was so infuriated she could hardly think. This would ruin the entire experience! And when she took a respite from staring at the table to look up at Wyndon, hoping perhaps that she had simply gotten a bad first impression, and that he wasn't as she'd first understood him to be. She looked over at him, and realized he was staring at her intently. When he noticed she was observing him as well, Wyndon winked again at her and licked his lips in what was an unmistakably suggestive way, followed up by that lopsided grin.

Kate shut her eyes with frustration and annoyance. Reginald Mormey, witnessing this silent exchange, smiled comfortingly at Kate and patted her hand. She smiled back up at him, pleased by this gesture. Unfortunately, she didn't miss Jake's gagging noises and gesture from across the board room. She glared at him, and he grinned back, blowing her a kiss. Kate almost laughed at how pathetic it was, then remembered that she'd have to deal with him for God knew how long. She buried her head in her hands as she heard Mr. Craiser drone, "So, does anybody have any suggestions as to the standardized test issue?"


The remaining month of summer passed rapidly as Kate hurried to prepare lesson plans and get organized for her three class periods of AP Literature and two of 10th grade English, reading as many good books as she could find in order to assemble a diverse, interesting series of books that the English Department would allow her to teach. She soon got to know a good bunch of the teachers, including Reginald Mormey, who often helped her out when she didn't know something she needed to, and Leanne Rowland, the art teacher, who she immediately befriended. She entirely avoided Jake Wyndon and barely saw him in the whirlwind that was August, much to her relief. She certainly could handle him if necessary, only she didn't want to have to.

Before she knew it, the school year was beginning. "Don't worry, Katie," her sister Marianne comforted her over the phone the day before school started, when she called in the hopes that Marianne could calm her nerves. "Your kids will love you. Just remember, don't ask them to call you Kate. I think I read somewhere that if a teacher asks their kids calling them by their first name, they instantly lose all respect for them."

Kate doubted the veracity of this statement, but said nothing. She'd long since learned not to try to contradict Marianne. She'd observed that, as a species, older sisters were opinionated, stubborn, and could be staring in the face of a bluebird and still insist it was a robin if they felt like being contrary, which they frequently did. All of this went double for Marianne, who was by far the most domineering person Kate had and would ever encounter in her lifetime. Despite all this, Marianne and Kate still maintained a good friendship, which had developed mainly once Marianne left for college and they no longer had to split a bathroom.

"Kids love you, they always have. They sense you're a kindred spirit, because you're just an overgrown kid yourself," Marianne joked.

"Thanks, M," Kate said sarcastically. "You're always full of support, aren't you? Hey, how are the wedding plans going? Set a date yet?" Marianne's longtime boyfriend, Charlie Vorpella, had proposed to her three weeks prior, and they'd been struggling to find a date for the wedding that the two of them and their closest loved ones could all be in attendance for.

"Yes, actually. December 16. You can come, right?" Marianne asked worriedly.

"Will that be enough time?" Kate wondered.

Kate could practically see Marianne shrugging nonchalantly. "Eh," she proclaimed with a certain finality about her. "You know we wanted a small ceremony. Besides, you've known me since I was three years old. Have you ever met anyone more efficient than me?"

"No," Kate answered honestly.

"I can get it done," Marianne decided confidently. "Plus, Mom says she's going to help me with all the preparation and arrangements."

"I'll do as much as I can," Kate stated hesitantly, "but, you know, with the school year starting, and all."

"I understand," Marianne told her sister warmly. "And don't worry, Katie. You'll do great tomorrow. And if you don't, well, you'll just be another mediocre teacher-nothing to cry over." This was just the sort of supportive comment Kate could expect from her darling elder sister. And people wondered why she wasn't flattered when they told her she acted just like Marianne. "You're going to wear your green skirt and jacket, right?"

"Well, actually," Kate started, "I bought this really cute pale blue sweater from Benetton. I was gonna put it together with that khaki Nordstrom skirt, and my pale blue belt, and I found some really cute lollipop sandals-"

"No. Wear the green," Marianne commanded her authoritatively. "It'll look imposing. It's all about the power balance, you know."

You would think that, Kate mused to herself. "Great, thanks for the advice," she said breezily, wondering why, if she had needed support, she had thought to called Marianne. Having an older sister was invaluable, but sometimes Marianne was more of a hindrance than a help. Kate frequently wondered whether or not Charlie was as whipped as he pretended to be, and if he wasn't, how had the relationship lasted as long as it had? "I've got to go. Bye now."

"Wait, Katie. What are your feelings on a turquoise bridesmaid dress?"

"Turquoise? No way, Marianne. I'll kill you. Bye now." And she hung up the phone before her sister could reply. She pocketed her cell phone and reexamined the itinerary list she'd prepared the day before for her students when she heard discreet coughing from the door. She turned and looked in that direction and saw a tall, lanky figure hovering by the door. She winced.

"Hey, Kat!" he enthused.

"Kate," she corrected coldly. "What are you doing here?"

He languidly approached her desk. "Oh, don't be that way, Katie," he pouted. "I know we got off on the wrong foot, but I figured, hell, we'll have to run the mock trial team together-"

"How long were you listening to my conversation?" Kate interrupted.

"Long enough to know about your antipathy toward the color turquoise," he snorted. "No doubt you're wondering why I burdened you with my presence." A smile played at his lips. Kate shrugged, as if it hadn't really occurred to her. Then he paused. "Kat, huh?"

"Kate," she repeated.

Ignoring, this he asked, "What's that short for, Kaitlin?"


"Really?" Wyndon looked interested. "Katherine, huh?" Then he shook his head. "Right, what was I saying?"

"Why you came?" Kate prompted him, attempting to conceal her annoyance and impatience.

"Right, right." He exhibited that lopsided smirk again. "Anyway, I know we got off to the wrong foot-"

"That was entirely your fault," Kate reminded him. "Your first words to me did not have to be 'nice legs'. You did not have to lick your lips at me. And you didn't have to fight so aggressively for the mock trial sponsorship."

"Oh, but I did." He grinned at her. "I had to see how you'd react. You should have seen your expression when I invited you to my place. It was hilarious!" He burst into laughter, but Kate stared at him, completely straight faced. Noticing this expression on her face, he innocently asked, "What? It's true. It was absolutely comical. But rest assured, Kat, I'm not generally like that. I just needed a laugh that day."

"Yeah, whatever." Kate shrugged. "That's great. Now if you could get out-"

"And as for pursuing that mock trial sponsorship, well, I've had a big history with mock trials." He grinned again, and Kate cocked her head, examining his visage, trying to figure out from where she recognized him. When she realized it, she gasped.

"No way," she breathed. "You weren't on the Crisford team, state finals, 1994?"

"I wondered if you'd recognize me."

"I was only a sophomore that year, but that was the only year we ever made it to state finals. You-you were their head lawyer! I remember you!" She grimaced. "You guys didn't deserve to win! You'd cheated! You made the most ridiculous objections in world history! You called speculation when someone on my team asked 'so what did you see next'? That judge was a moron!"

Wyndon shrugged, smirking. "Yeah, excuses. We beat you, didn't we?"

"Ugh.I wanted to kill you! You all were horrible! And then your team made fun of us as we left the courtroom!"

Wyndon stopped smiling. "Hey, now, that's uncalled for. That was my teammates, not me. I didn't want to laugh at you, I wanted to ask you out."

"Isn't that flattering," Kate drawled, rolling her eyes. In fact, generally she would have been flattered by that-it was a flattering statement, to be sure-only she knew Wyndon's type. They flirted with everything female on two feet. She knew better than to take it personally. Inhaling deeply, while wondering why this Wyndon jerk was managing so effectively to get under her skin, she summoned up every bit of politeness she could and stated, "Was that before, or after, you called me a liar in front of the entire mock-trial watching state?"

"You should know better than to take that personally," Jake frowned. "It's all part of the competition."

"Whatever. Enough with the small talk. What the hell did you come here for?"

"Aren't you a sweetheart," Wyndon grinned. "You seem to be a lot nicer to your precious Reggie the Third, don't you?"

"Reginald," Kate corrected firmly. "And he's actually a nice person, not a jackass like yourself." She sighed. "Sorry. That wasn't fair. We're colleagues. Even if you're going to be a jackass, I should make an effort." She sighed again, then looked up at him and said, in an exasperated but nicer voice, "So. What do you want?"

Ignoring everything Kate had just said, he smirked, picking up her favorite pen off her desk-the one with a pink feathered pompom on the top- and examining it. "What would a girl like you want with a pompous shit- head like him?"

"He is not a pompous shit-head!" Kate cried passionately. "You can't just call another teacher a pompous shit-head! What if I called you a pompous shit-head, huh? How would you like that? He's a good guy. Now, if giving me a hard time about Reginald was your sole purpose in coming here, I'd respectfully ask that you get your ass out of here, and pronto." She folded her arms across her chest and glared as evilly as she could up at him.

"I'm sorry. It's not my place to make fun of the men you choose to date, even if they are pompous shit-heads." Wyndon tried to look serious, but he couldn't help smiling with amusement.

"We are not dating! And he is not a pompous shit-head! Get out!'" With that, Kate gave him a hard shove toward the door.

Oddly enough, the muscular, 6'1" Wyndon was unintimidated by the 5'5" young woman who'd just shoved him and was now cornering him at the door. "Listen, Kat, I know how much you desperately want to jump my bones, but cornering me into the corner of your classroom might not be such a good idea. I think I saw some kids wandering around already, and, well, you wouldn't want them to get the wrong idea." He lifted an eyebrow and gave her that lopsided grin again.

"Oh my-you are so dense, you know that? Talk about infuriating!" She pushed on her doorknob and opened it. "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

But instead of taking Kate's very pointed suggestion and getting out of her classroom, Jake casually strode toward one of Kate's student's desks and sat on top of it. "You are so hilarious, do you know that?" he wanted to know, grinning. "It's just too easy to get a rise out of you. I'd love to leave and let you go out to dinner with your darling Reggie, but I actually had a purpose in coming here."

"Get off my desk. You're going to break it."

"Oh come on, Kat. I don't weigh enough to break this thing. Especially since I started the Slim Fast program. No more junk in the trunk, see?" He grinned, giving her a good look at his trim body, which she glared at.

"That is so not funny. Well, what is your urgent purpose, then, Mr. Wyndon?"

"Jake, come now, there's no need to be so formal, Kat."

"If you could just call me Miss Haverford, I'd appreciate it," Kate declared stiffly, turning away from him.

Realizing that he'd genuinely pissed her off, he said, "Listen, I know I started off on the wrong foot-you're just so funny!" He grinned, then noting her hostile visage, returned to seriousness. "But we need to get to work for the mock trial information. And to do that, we should be civil. So, Miss Haverford," he gave her that lopsided grin again, mocking her formal name as he extended his hand. "We haven't really been formally introduced, have we? Jake Wyndon, but call me Jake."

"Kate Haverford. I suppose you can call me Kate, but I draw the line there. No Kat. I am not anybody's pet," she muttered, accepting his hand, which was surprisingly firm and warm, with slightly calloused fingers. The first time Kate had shaken hands with Reginald Mormey, he had nearly cut off the circulation to her hand, but amazingly, Wyndon's was neither too hard nor too soft. She looked up at him with her soft aquamarine eyes.

"There, that wasn't too hard, was it, Kat?" he demanded teasingly, receiving another bitter glare, but, surprisingly, no other reprieve. Apparently, Kate had decided not to give him the satisfaction of her anger anymore. "Alright, I called the county, asking them to send us this year's trial information, but they told me they'd already sent a packet to Dickinson High School. Did you by any chance get the packet?"

"You should have asked me before you called the county," Kate replied, searching through the piles of papers atop her desk and finding the booklet she'd been looking for. "I got it from them a week ago."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Jake wanted to know. "I am the cosponsor, after all."

Kate shrugged. "Sorry," she answered him, not sounding very apologetic at all.

Jake grabbed the packet and professionally flipped it to the first actually significant page. "Stipulated Facts.on November 22, 2003, 18-year- old Milan Jackson died as a result of a 26-foot fall from the clock tower located in the student center of Columbus University," he muttered under his breath, reading it aloud. "Her death occurred during a pledging activity sponsored by Phi Gamma (hereafter Gamma) the coed fraternity Milan was pledging at the time-"

"You know," Kate interrupted loudly. "I've read this packet twice already. You don't need to read me the stipulated facts."

"Fine, whatever," Jake agreed distractedly, reading the rest to himself.

Milan was a freshman at Columbus University, having graduated from Ida B. Wells High School in 2003.

Greek life plays a large role on the Columbus University campus. Gamma, in particular, is known for having members in high school and social standing. Milan was eager to become a part of this organization, as had her aunt, Tanya Maddox, in 1992.

Pledging is the process fraternities use to select which freshmen they will accept into their group that year. In the Gamma fraternity, the last week of pledging is known as "Hell Week". During Hell Week, pledges are given various tasks by the fraternity's upperclassmen, which they must complete if they want to be considered for membership. The defendant, Chris Archer, is the president of Gamma, and was in charge of planning Gamma's 2003 pledging activities.

On the last night of pledging, known as "Hell Night," all pledges of the Gamma fraternity were blindfolded while inside of the Gamma fraternity house. Then they were to be led, one at a time, outside of the fraternity house to perform one last task before they were informed who had made it into the fraternity who had not. While Milan was outside and blindfolded, the defendant whispered something in her ear. Shortly thereafter, Milan grabbed the fraternity flag, ran to the student center and up to the clock tower. It was from the top of the clock tower that she fell.

At the time of her death, Milan's blood alcohol content was 0.10. The level of legal intoxication in 0.08.

"Hmm," Jake murmured, flipping through the applicable case law, exhibits and affidavits. "Not a bad case. Not nearly as heinous as the one from '91. God, that one sucked. I was just a witness that year, but I remember- "

"That's very informative. Now, believe it or not, I actually have things to do, so if you could please just get the hell out of my classroom, I'd really appreciate it."

Jake tore his eyes away from the packet to stare lovingly at Kate. "Aw, Kat, you know you love me."

"Oh, get out, you loser. And by the way, if you lose the packet, I'll chop off your head."

He grinned again, apparently still unintimidated by Kate's threats, seemingly amused instead. "Violent one, aren't you?"

"Surprisingly, no. I can't remember the last time I got this pissed at someone. I mean, except for that groper on the metro. So the fact that I'm this angry with you means you're one of the most aggravating people I've ever met, so just get out, now!"

"Fine, no need to yell," he declared, with a mischievous glint in his green eyes. He blew her a kiss, waggling his eyebrows. "Goodbye, my love!" With that, he strutted out of the classroom, and Kate slammed the door behind him, fuming with exasperation.

"Jerk!" she muttered under her desk, returning distractedly to her paperwork.