To think I had declared those blue eyes of his innocent. Oh, the irony. No, my friends, they were far from innocent. They were sneaky. They were stealthy.

And they followed me everywhere.

It had all started about three weeks ago, when a new student, Aiden Osborne, transferred to our class. I was annoyed as hell, especially when the teacher pointed to the seat behind me and assigned Aiden to sit there for the rest of the year. (I assure you that that annoyance did not stem from the fact that I had been using that desk as a convenient storage for my books so that I would not have to bend down to get it from underneath my chair all the time, like I had to do now).

Where was I again? Oh yeah…I was annoyed. And I tried my best to make it show on my face. I did not want desk-stealer…I mean, Aiden, to think I was happy about him sitting behind me. Especially since every other girl in the class was practically drooling over his good looks. He wasn't all that hot or anything. He had nice, glossy black hair. Gorgeous blue eyes. Unblemished skin.

Oh, who am I kidding? He was such a pretty boy.

That's beside the point, though. The important thing was that I tried my best to look annoyed and unflustered by his appearance. I didn't look at him as he walked by, and I definitely didn't turn to acknowledge him when I felt him sit down.

He tapped me on the shoulder anyway.

"Hey, I'm Aiden. What's your name?" he asked in that not-too-deep, sexy voice of his. What the hell? Did he think we were in second grade or something?

"I know your name. The teacher said it quite loud and clear," I snapped back. I hoped that my tone would irritate him and convince him to stop this conversation now before it really started. However, he merely chuckled. Chuckled! And I was appalled because I actually found it attractive.

"Yeah, well, I feel better saying it for myself," he replied in an amused tone. The nerve of him! Stealing my desk! Being amused at my obvious annoyance.

"Whatever," I shot back. This time I put in extra anger into my tone.

It didn't work, though.

"I'd still like to know your name," Aiden persisted. I heard the simultaneous shuffling of twenty-six sets of papers and realized that class had begun. That only brought to mind the fact that I would have to reach under my desk to get out my notebook, and my irritation increased tenfold.

"None of your business!" I snapped again. Ugh! Did this guy not get a clue?

"What's wrong with knowing your name?" Aiden whispered as our teacher started talking in the background about sines and cosines and polynomial somethings.

I drew one of those curvy, mountain-looking things the teacher just put on the board, trying to distract myself from answering that ridiculous question. But like everything that I had attempted since Aiden walked in, that didn't work.

"What's wrong? What's wrong? You stole my storage desk, you jerk!" I accused rather loudly. Even from all the way at the back of the room, my voice was loud enough to catch my teacher's attention.

"Miss Irwin, is there something you would like to say? Is it more important than inverse trigonometric functions?" I looked up, startled.

What the hell were inverse trigonometric functions?

After a few stunned moments, I found words. "No, Mr. Wells!" I answered while looking studious, notebook in hand. My stout, bald teacher pushed back his glasses and returned to his lesson book looking entirely unconvinced. I heard Aiden chuckle from behind me. Again.

"So, Miss Irwin," he whispered. Oh damn. The way he said that made me melt involuntarily. That was the last straw! I waited until Mr. Wells had his back to us before I twisted around in my seat. I meant to shut up Mr. Aiden Desk-stealer once and for all.

However, I hadn't expected him to be leaning forward. I nearly screamed when our foreheads almost collided. I was nose-to-nose, staring straight into those terrible blue eyes of his. Oh gosh, he was so gorgeous up close! And those eyes…this is the part where I decided that they were innocent – God knows what possessed me then – and I sighed.

"My name is Miranda," I told him pointedly. Aiden leaned back a little but didn't break eye contact. "Most people call me Randa."

"Randa," Aiden repeated. His blue eyes widened in almost kid-like fascination. Once again, I mentally noted that they looked innocent. "It rhymes with panda!" he exclaimed in toddler-esque fascination. "Randa-panda!"

I tried to sound as disgusted as possible as I sighed and rolled my eyes, turning back into my seat. His Randa-panda chant continued from behind me, drowning out all the mathematical information spewing from my teacher's mouth.

Innocent, my ass.


The lunch bell finally saved me from the Pretty Boy misery I was suffering at the back of the math classroom. I was one of the first to commence the obligatory shuffling and rustling of notebooks and papers as I stuffed everything into my tote bag. I was going out to lunch today with a guy friend of mine, and I had to drive. Therefore, I took out an elastic hair tie from my purse and proceeded to braid down my hair to keep it out of my way.

That's when I felt a pair of eyes staring at me. I turned slightly to see Aiden still in his seat, math book held awkwardly in his hand, gazing at me in wonder.

"You have the longest hair I have ever seen," he remarked. Normally, I would shrug at this comment. Yes, I had hair that came down past my butt. It was brown. And wavy. People noted its…um…abundance, all the time.

Then why the hell was his reaction making me blush? Oh, now I was really annoyed.

"Will you just stop talking to me?" I demanded, angrily pulling my tote bag onto my shoulder. I stalked off to the doorway of the classroom, very aware that Aiden was watching me the entire time. Probably in amusement. Which meant that the last thing I should have done was to glance back at him.

But, as a glutton for punishment, I did it anyway. Our eyes met, and he grinned. I huffed angrily and left the classroom. What else did I expect from that desk-stealer?


Needless to say, that wasn't the last time I saw Aiden, and it definitely wasn't the last time he saw me. He would infuriatingly glance at me as soon as he walked into the math classroom every day (and even more irritating was the fact that, for some reason, I had my eyes glued to the door until he came in). If we passed each other in the hallway, he would look at me, while I frowned and tried my best not to look affected by his presence. I think I did a pretty good job, considering that I stayed calm while all the other girls in the hall literally sprained their necks as they turned to watch him walk away.

I wouldn't really blame them. He was so beautiful; it was a sin not to stare. Except I would rather go to hell than submit to that desk-stealing, conversation-pursuing, easily-amused pretty boy.

So for three weeks I endured all the blue-eyed glances in my direction, the close-up flawlessness of his skin as I talked to him before class started, and his ever-smooth-and-sexy voice as it carried over to my ears. It was all small talk up to this point anyway. Sure he liked a few of the bands I liked. And maybe he had the same obsession with strawberry banana smoothies at the nearby fast food place as me. So what?

Well, the answer to that question came by quicker than I had imagined it would. I was packing up just a few moments after the lunch bell had rung, very aware that Aiden was doing his staring routine again. However, this time, he got up before I finished putting away everything. I noticed because he was a good head taller than me, and he practically loomed over my petite figure.

"Yes?" I asked.

"Come with me," he told me. Had I been any other girl, I would have unquestioningly followed. However, I was Miranda. And Miranda did not fawn over Aiden and obey his every command.

"What for?" I immediately snapped as I usually did whenever Aiden said anything. (Yeah, I still haven't gotten over that desk-stealing thing. So what?)

Pretty Boy was used to this by now. "Come on, Randa-panda!" he insisted. And he grabbed my wrist.

Now, I had plenty of guy friends. I was totally fine with being touched by a guy. But apparently, being touched by Aiden was something different. It was as if all the nerves in my body had all suddenly gathered around my hand, and I could feel the warmth radiating from his fingers throughout my arm. Before I could get a grip on my head and force myself to ignore the sensation, however nice it was, we were outside.

Whoa! We were outside?

"How did we get out?" I asked dumbly. Aiden chuckled. I was used to that by now. Or mostly used to it. It still sent those annoying shivers down my spine.

"I dragged you here while you stared at my hand," he replied. I fought the blush. I could not risk looking embarrassed of all things when I had no clue what was going on.

Maybe I ought to figure out what Aiden had in mind. "What's going on?"

"Remember, yesterday I borrowed five dollars from you because I forgot my lunch money at home?" Aiden explained. "I told you I'd pay you back. Well…I'm paying you back." He pointed forward.

That's when I noticed the car standing before us. A nice, silver convertible.

"I'm taking you out to eat," Aiden clarified when I said nothing. He probably figured that I thought he had gotten the car for me as repayment (and I admit that I did think that at first).

"No way!" I declared immediately, finally pulling my hand out from Aiden's grasp. I waved my hands sideways in front of my face to further emphasize my refusal. "I am absolutely not going to let you do that." And I would stick to my word. There was absolutely no freaking way I would get into a car with that desk-stealer. Nope. Not happening.


A few minutes later, Aiden and I were sitting across from each other at a nearby fast food joint. I had eventually gotten into the car with Aiden, but for the record, it was forced (meaning he literally picked me up and put in me in the passenger seat. No kidding).

Both of us had strawberry banana smoothies, and we were sipping it silently. Aiden looked a bit apologetic, and he had every reason to be. I was absolutely smoldering, not just from the fact that he had picked me up, but from the fact that his hands had sent a warm sensation crawling through my body that left me dazed for the entire car ride. Annoying.

"Math lesson was pretty interesting today, huh?" Aiden said, attempting to start a conversation. I glared at him. "Triangles are so cool," he continued. I rolled my eyes. Ugh, how old are you?

"I'm seventeen, just like you," Aiden said. I blinked. Had I just said that aloud? I looked at him with a puzzled expression.


"You asked me how old I was." Oh. Apparently I had. I sunk my chin into the palm of my hand and sipped my smoothie.

"That's lovely," I remarked dully. "But I don't like math." There, maybe he would stop talking about it now. Even though I sorta liked the sound of his voice.

"Yeah, it's kinda hard," Aiden admitted. I raised my eyebrows.

"Kinda hard?" I demanded. "It's impossible! I haven't passed any of the tests in there."

Aiden looked sympathetic. "Really?" he asked softly.

"Yeah," I muttered. "I got a fifty-four on the last one." I had no idea why I was telling him this. This was the first time I told him something really personal. And for some reason, I wasn't minding as much as I told myself I should.

"Well, I can help you a bit if you'd like," Aiden offered. "We can study together." I stared down my smoothie. I liked that idea. I really did. But apparently my ego came first.

"Uh, no thanks," I replied. "I can get it. I know what I'm doing." And just because I was curious… "What do you have in there anyway?"

Aiden looked embarrassed for the first time since I had met him. He shrugged half-heartedly, and I pinned him with a cold stare.

"I have a ninety-eight," he said reluctantly. I gaped at him. "I like math."

"Is that similar to your other grades?" I asked. Aiden looked embarrassed again.



"Okay, fine. I have all A's." I nearly choked on my smoothie. Pretty Boy didn't look happy about the information I was making him tell me, though. And why not? He had all freaking A's! The only subject I got an A in was PE!

"You're smart," I muttered. I tried not to make it sound like a compliment, which was hard.

"Thanks?" Aiden responded. We sunk into silence again. Before long, I heard the uneven, airy sound of a straw in an empty cup. I looked up to see Aiden tossing his empty drink between his hands. Mine was nearly done as well. I pursed my lips and stared at the bright lines on the straw, wondering what to say.

"You want to head back now?" Aiden asked. I nodded. He got up and stretched, and I followed him as he headed out to his car. We silently got in and he drove back to the school.

When he finally put the gear in park and killed the engine in the school parking lot, I contemplated thanking him. But then I remembered that the whole outing was a thank you in itself, and I became very confused.

"So," Aiden said, rotating the keys around his fingers. I stared straight ahead, still confused.

"Yeah, thanks," I replied, finally settling to thank him anyway. I felt Aiden's eyes study the side of my head.

"No problem. And thank you for lending me money."

I shrugged. Suddenly, I realized what I was doing. I was being nice to Aiden the desk-stealer. When did I lose my mind like this? That was it! No more car rides from him.

I didn't care how crazy Aiden thought I was. One moment I was sitting calmly in the car. The next second, I was scrambling to squeeze out the door, tote bag slung awkwardly around my forearm.

"Randa-panda!" Pretty Boy shouted after me, but his voice already sounded far away. I dashed into the school without looking back. That's right. No more car rides from Aiden. Absolutely not. I had my own car anyway.


The next morning, my car broke down outside my house. It was like fate had decided to suddenly be a bigger bitch than I was to Aiden. But at least I was justified. He had stolen my desk. What the hell did I do wrong?

Anyway, I briefly considered calling up one of my friends to give me a lift. But that idea quickly vanished when Aiden's face popped up first in my mind, and I abandoned the plan before I got any crazy ideas. I was not about to get in that car with him again. Nope. There was still one other (slightly less attractive) alternative.

The bus. Okay, fine, it was far less attractive. But the big yellow vehicle was just pulling into my street, and my house was just a few down from the stop. It would take far less time than any other plan. Even if I loathed the bus. I was the last stop, and it was always crowded by the time I got on. And in the afternoons, I had to wait a whole hour until it completed all the other stops before it got to my house.

See why I have a car (or had, since it didn't work at the moment).

I got into the bus and spent an agonizing ten minutes with my butt hanging half off of the seat as the couple that I shared the seat with made out rather noisily. The girl on the seat next to me was listening to rock music so loud that I could hear it through her earphones, and mixed in with her obnoxious gum-chewing, it was driving me insane!

Whatever little bit of patience I had retained after that horrible bus ride was quickly destroyed by the Socratic seminar we had in English, followed by that confusing lab in physics, and an equally puzzling reading assignment in Spanish. By the time I reached math class, I had absolutely no good humor left in me. It wasn't exactly the state I wanted to see Aiden in, but it could have been worse.

"Everyone take your seats!" Mr. Wells shouted as I walked in. "Clear your desks! Take out a pencil! Pop quiz."

Never mind. It could get worse. (You know, I have a feeling something only gets worse if you think it can't get worse.)

The class collectively groaned. I plopped down in my seat and shoved my tote bag off my shoulder and onto the floor, growling because Aiden's desk was occupied now. And yes, I still hadn't gotten over that.

"Randa-panda!" Aiden whispered. Ugh! Didn't he see that I wasn't in the mood to entertain today?

"Shut up," I said, taking out a pencil.

"Good luck!" Aiden replied. I paused and rolled my eyes. As if that could help me!

"You know, I had to ride the bus, my classes have been crappy so far, and there's a pop quiz in math! I don't think luck is on my side today, so I would appreciate it if you stopped talking to me!" I growled. Aiden didn't say anything after that. Finally!

Now…it was time to flunk this pop quiz with at least some dignity.


I don't even think I have to mention that the rest of the day was crap. There was one good thing that happened, though. Band practice. And since I was not in band, that meant a relatively empty bus ride home. Sweet!

I climbed onto the bus a few minutes after the last bell rang, having shoved everything into my tote bag and ran all the way down the halls. I was so ready to go home and take a bubble bath or something! Like I had predicted, most of the bus was empty. I had more than a fair share of empty seats to pick from, and I happily sat down and threw my tote onto the spot beside me.

I should have known by the way I had suffered through so many unfortunate things in one day that this wasn't going to be that easy. But I absolutely refused to believe that anything could go wrong until I felt someone staring at me. And it was the familiarity of the sensation that made me look up with an expression of absolute horror.

Pretty Boy was at the front of the bus! What?

"Hey, Randa-panda!" he greeted as he walked up the aisle towards me, his black backpack slung over one shoulder. I could literally feel the jealousy emanating from the few females on the bus as they watched him approach me.

"You!" I accused. Aiden simply chuckled like he normally did whenever I said something that was meant to annoy/irritate him but failed to do so, and he pointed to my tote bag.

"Can you move your bag?" he asked.

He could not have possibly imagined the anger that coursed through my veins at those words. Desk-stealer was now going to steal my bus seat too? No way! That was the last thing I was going to allow him to do.

When I said nothing in reply to his request, Aiden took it upon himself to pick up my tote bag and move it to his lap as he sat down beside me. The nerve of him. I glared.

"Sorry," he apologized. "But you must have had a tough day, right?"

No kidding. "You have a car. What are you doing here?" I asked. I tried to ignore the growing feeling inside my head that said I actually didn't mind his presence.

Aiden shrugged. "My car…well…it ran out…of gas." I squinted at Aiden. He looked back with the most innocent expression in his blue eyes. Ugh!

"Go away!" I muttered. Aiden looked worried.

"Are you alright? I know that math quiz was hard-,"

"Impossible," I cut in. "I get it. Now stop talking." I turned my head towards the window and reached within my purse to take out my iPod. Hopefully that would indicate that I wanted to be left alone and Aiden would stop pestering me, no matter how much my traitorous mind actually wanted him to continue talking.

"Do you hate me?" Aiden asked suddenly.

"Yes, I do!" I answered vehemently. And damn the guilty feeling that followed that declaration. I felt like I was lying, but I wasn't. I really did hate him. I guess.

Pretty Boy shut up for a good while after that. It wasn't until we reached the first stop that he tried to talk to me again.

"What exactly do you hate about me?" he asked. I rolled my eyes.

"You stole the desk I used for my things," I replied, wondering why I was answering the question.

"Is that all?" Aiden asked. He sounded pretty relieved at that point, but I couldn't tell for sure. I was busy pressing my forehead against the window glass and staring at the passing cars on the road.

"No. You also talk to me a lot," I added bitterly. About interesting things. And you are smart. And you like the same music and the same things I like. Especially strawberry banana smoothies, which are my favorite. And you're pretty.

"Funny…those are usually things to like about a person," Aiden commented. I turned and stared at him. Then I realized I said all those things aloud.

"Uh…" I said. Aiden had a small smile playing with his lips.

"I'm pretty?" he asked. Damn! I had absolute no intention of revealing that to him.

"When's your stop?" I asked in a pathetic attempt to change the topic. It seemed to work though, because Aiden shrugged.

"I don't know," he admitted. I stared at him.

"You have no idea?" I asked. Aiden shook his head.


"Then what the hell are you doing on this bus?" I asked him. Aiden frowned.

"Isn't that obvious?" he asked. Isn't what obvious? I frowned.

"Well, just look and see if you can recognize anything. It's probably close to your house, then," I said. Aiden chuckled.

"Randa-panda, you are so funny!" he responded. He scrunched up his face. "And you make funny faces, too!"

I suddenly realized that his weird expression resembled mine, and I concentrated on relaxing my cheeks. Aiden laughed.

"You have such a funny nose!" Pretty Boy poked the body part in question, and I wondered what had happened to suddenly bring on this humiliation.

"What are you doing?" I demanded.

"Isn't that obvious?" Aiden asked for the second time. This time, he decided to explain himself, probably because I hadn't gotten it before. "I'm trying to cheer you up. You look really…mad."

"You think?" I cried. I turned around to the window again, abruptly ignoring Aiden. No need to make this more exasperating then it had to be.

Wait a minute. That tree was familiar. This was the second to last stop. Already?

Wait another minute! If this was the second to last stop, and Aiden hadn't gotten off yet, could that mean…?

"You get off at my stop?" I asked, turning around suddenly. I bumped immediately into Aiden's chin. Wow, I didn't know he had been leaning over me!

Why was I slightly happy about that? I had a strange mind.

"Sorry," Aiden said. "I was just looking outside. We're the only ones left on the bus."

Oh, we were. I just realized that.

"And," Aiden continued. "If you haven't figured it out already, this isn't my bus. I don't live here."

I blinked. "Then what are you doing here?"

"Following you," Aiden replied. My jaw dropped.

"What? And how do you expect to get home once this…following is over?"

Aiden bit his lip. "Well, you see…you were really mad, and you mentioned you were riding the bus, so I decided to follow you. Frankly, I wasn't exactly thinking very well about the whole thing."

"So, on impulse, you followed me onto the bus, and now you are stranded ten miles from your car?" I asked. Aiden nodded. "Why?"

"All for you," he replied. And I could tell he wasn't teasing in the way he kept eye contact after he said those words. I blushed. Why, oh why? I should hate him! I should! I really should! He stole my desk! He stole my bus seat! And I have a sinking feeling he's stealing something else too, but to avoid sounding cheesy, I'm not going to say it.

But I should hate him!

"So you don't hate me anymore, do you?" he asked. I rolled my eyes. The bus slowed to a stop at last, and I could see my house out the window.

"Whatever, Pretty Boy," I replied before I could catch myself. Aiden raised an eyebrow. Embarrassed, I stuttered a hasty goodbye and practically shoved him off the seat and ran down the aisle. Muttering a thank you to the driver, I climbed down the steps and started speed walking to my house.

"Randa-panda!" Aiden called behind me. I ignored him. What the hell? Why could I not control myself around him? Why did I have to blush at half the things he said? Why did I secretly enjoy it when he talked to me?

And why did I like him? Because it was obvious now that I did, however impossible that seemed. Stupid, stupid! It was all his fault.

"Randa-panda!" Aiden called from much closer this time. I took a deep breath. Well, guess what. I wasn't going to let him see that he had power over me. Oh no.

When I decided that I was in complete control of myself, I turned around. Aiden was only a few feet behind me, slowing down to join me in front of my house. We were standing by the front porch off to the side near the flowers.

"You left your bag," Aiden said, handing me the tote. I grabbed it out of his hands.

"Bye," I said with finality. Aiden shook his head.

"Do you seriously have no clue why I'm here?" he asked. I stared at him silently. Aiden sighed. "Do you seriously have no clue why I took you out to eat instead of just handing you five bucks? Do you seriously have no idea why I try to talk and cheer you up each day, even if you pretend it doesn't work?"

Aiden looked more serious than I had ever seen him (and it consequently made him look very delicious). My voice found the need to be absent, and I could only dumbly shake my head.

"I like you," Aiden said (and if anything was still working inside my body, it abruptly stopped). "And I want to go out with you." He paused, putting his hands into his pockets, waiting for my response.

I didn't move. I didn't open my mouth. Some strange part of me wanted me to keep quiet and refuse to surrender. And so I told myself that I would not give in. I would absolutely not agree.

"Whatever," I responded. And I started to turn.

That's when Aiden sprung into action.

Instead of letting me go like I had expected him to, he practically crashed into me, turning me around. My back hit the wall, his hands cupped my face, and the next thing I knew he was kissing me.

And it was a good kiss.

My surprised whimper was muffled as he parted my lips and his tongue brushed against mine. For the next few moments, I was just lost. Lost in this little world where Aiden and I stood, our arms now wrapped around each other, drowned in this kiss.

Aiden brushed my bottom lip with his, pulling back. I found that I could only see about half of my normal scope of view, making me realize that my eyes were half closed. I could care less.

"Please reconsider?" Aiden pleaded. I couldn't remember what question he was asking, but it seemed polite to answer yes. So I did.

"Fine, even though you stole my desk," I muttered absently.

"I know," Aiden whispered into my hair, pulling me closer towards him.

"And my bus seat," I mumbled into his chest. His hands were rubbing my back in wide circles. It felt like someone was running a torch close to my body, because every bit of him that touched me was hot.

"Yeah, sorry," Aiden said.

"But worst of all, you stole my heart," I said. Aiden chuckled. My spine tingled.

"Hopefully you won't be wanting that back anytime soon," he teased. I grinned.

"Nope," I said. "Not as long as I can have yours."