I paced back and forth in front of my bed. Strands of my hair tickled my cheeks, and I angry blew them away with a huff of breath. You know, having hair wasn't all it cracked up to be. It was always getting in the way, always annoying me—God damn, it was horrible. It was great for pulling at when I was distressed or pissed off, and sure, it was nice for looks and such. But really, come on! It was quite unpractical now that I thought about it. Maybe I should just shave it all off and donate it—

Alright, alright, I was thinking about shaving my head. I was definitely stressed out. But two days. It had been two whole days since he made that little offer of his. It was driving me insane, I'm telling you. Was he serious? Was he really serious? Okay, never mind; I kind of already knew he was serious. The question had already come up:

"Were you serious?" I whispered, staring at my hands. His fingers tightened around mine.

"Serious about what?" he asked. I watched his thumb trace strange patterns into the fair cream of my skin. It was as though he was silently coaxing the answer out of me. Really, he didn't know how much he could control me; the second he asked, the response was pretty much already out of me.

"About the whole…sex thing," I muttered quickly, and immediately my cheeks flooded with red. It annoyed me that I immediately blushed—what was I, six? Honestly, I'd gotten the speech from my mother, I was forced to discuss it with my doctor, and here I was, unable to speak about it maturely with the man that I wanted more than anything. But he seemed undisturbed.

"Didn't you ask me that when I said it?" he laughed. "If I knew it was going to bother you this much, I wouldn't have said anything!"

"No, no!" I said hurriedly, my head snapping up so I could look at him. "No, that's not it at all. Please don't take it that way. I didn't mean it like that, I swear."

He chuckled some more and laid his hand on the crown of my head. The tips of his fingers pulled lightly at a few tendrils. "Alright, calm down. But I do apologize if I've…crossed a line that I shouldn't have. I didn't mean to ruffle you so much."

"I'm not ruffled," I protested, laying my head against his collar. "I just…look, I didn't want you to be kidding, okay?" I crossed my arms over my chest and drove my lower lip out, acting like a five year old. Really, I had to grow up. This was becoming quite embarrassing, especially since I didn't really know when I was doing it anymore.

"Of course I wasn't kidding," Mr. Scott cupped both of his hands over my temples, pressing my skull further into his chest.

"I don't…I…ugh," I resigned, then looked up at him from my place just beneath his chin. My eyelashes brushed lightly against his throat, and I saw a smile draw itself across his face. His cheeks crinkled just slightly. It made me smile myself.

Okay, so he was serious. Great, right? Right, it should be great. So why was my tummy having seizures? I mean obviously I was nervous. If this actually went down, I would be terrible. I just know it. Hello, I was a virgin. I didn't know much, being a rare species and all (see, a lot of people had sex, which meant virgins were going extinct). Some of my friends were virgins, but most in my grade were not. I guess if you think about it, it was a little sad, considering we were so young, but they made their choices and I couldn't stop them even if I tried. Which I didn't try. I mean, how creepy would that be? If I just went up to some random girl that I haven't spoken two words to and was like "Don't do it! Don't have sex! You're too young, dear, too young, and he's not the right boy for you!" No, you know what would be even worse? If I went on to quote Mean Girls. Don't have sex. You will get pregnant. And you will die! That would just be horrible—

Okay, okay, anyway, I'm trying to say that I was kind of proud of my virginity. Like, I felt kind of special, you know? I had the guts to hold out and not just fuck the first thing with a dick that came my way. I felt strong, brave, different. Of course, I was horribly unprepared for this whole Mr. Scott thing because of that fact, but I didn't regret it exactly. It made me feel like I was still a child, which I was.

But then again, shit, did I make a mistake. If I was a whore, I could be awesome at sex by now! I could impress Mike with my amazing moves and be like BAM! Didn't see that one coming, did you? But no, I had to be Little Miss Virgin Mary and keep some chastity. Great. Now I would have to just feel my way blindly through this whole thing. Oh God, how embarrassing would that be? He's probably a pro because of his goddess wife, and I was here, knowing absolutely nothing. This was really not looking good.

I threw myself backward onto my bed and let my duvet explode into the air around me. It fell down and lapped lightly at the edges of my face as I stared at the ceiling, the white paint eventually melting into just an endless expanse of blankness. Was now decision time? Was now the time that I had to choose whether or not I wanted to go all the way with my math teacher?

Fuck…that's a huge decision…

God, why was this so hard? Why was this always so difficult? Why couldn't the path just be laid out perfectly for me, lined with neon signs? How isn't this simple? It should be simple. It should be effortless. Love was supposed to just be. And this was just not.

But really, who did I think I was? How was I so special that I didn't have to work for it? I turned over and buried my face into my mattress. Maybe I was bipolar. Or was it schizophrenia? …Did it matter? A mental illness was a mental illness, however you classify it. Maybe I was just insane. That would certainly be a good excuse. That would cover a broad spectrum of my issues. And then, thinking of this, a groan dropped from my lips. Could I get a little more self-centered? I was bitching and moaning about myself when there was clearly someone else that I should've been preoccupied with.

I was a horrible person. I'd made up my mind: I was terrible. Hell probably had a chair waiting for me and everything. Maybe it would have my name engraved in it.

"Fuck it," I mumbled and heaved myself off of my bed to totter into the kitchen. My feet dumbly wandered around, helping me search for something edible. After a moment, my fingers landed upon the cool brass knob of the cabinet. A little yank, and from the depths of the shelves, a jar of Nutella beamed at me. I swear, it was like a little angel was just waiting for me, waylaying me, ready to pop out and make my day. Without a second thought, my palm ripped the comfort food out of the cupboard and plopped it onto the counter.

Moments later, I was shoving Nutella-coated banana into my mouth. I wished I could've seen myself. I must've looked like a bona-fied pig.

A racket sounded from downstairs, followed by a holler. "Kylie? You home?"

"Yeah, Dad," I called back, my speech muffled by the snack. I didn't make a move to go to him. Instead, I popped another piece of the healthy junk food onto my tongue. Hey, if he needed help, he'd ask for it, right? Right. That's how I looked at it.

Next thing I knew, my dad was lumbering into the kitchen. Sweat glimmered on his brow just beneath his golfing visor. The lucky asshole apparently didn't need to work today or something.

"My God, do you live on that stuff?" he asked, gesturing to the container of chocolate spread. My gaze shifted from him, to the jar, to my snack, and then made the round again before a little shrug shook my shoulders.

"I 'unno," I mumbled. "Ischood."

"How about you chew and then answer me?"

I swallowed. "I don't know, but it's good."

"Well, at least you added a banana this time," he smiled warmly at me. "How was school?" Soon his own head was poking into the refrigerator. As he yanked out a full-blown healthy apple-and-pear fruit salad, guilt began to rush through my insides. It was quickly silenced when I took another bite of my chocolaty concoction.

"Fine," I answered. "I got a hundred on my math test."

He peered at me out of the corner of his eye as he took a seat at the kitchen table, metal fork in hand, ready to dig in. "You're just tearing math up this year, aren't you?"

"Yeah…I guess…" I averted my attention. With my snack pretty much disappeared into my tummy, I didn't have much left to focus on.

"Which is strange, because you've never been all that terrific at math."

"Are you suggesting I'm a cheater?" I snapped. That was really an awesome strategy. Going on the defensive never made someone look guilty. It was guaranteed to clear one's name, because really, what reason would anyone have to expect fault?

Of course, I was being sarcastic.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked, staring at me full-on now. His dark brown eyes bored into mine, and I had to avert my gaze. My eyes fell onto the hardwood floor.

"Bad day at school…" That was an alright explanation, wasn't it? "I've got homework to do," I said under my breath, and strode out of the room. He didn't follow me. My reputation probably saved me right now. I'd never done anything, never caused shit, never had any blemishes of any sort on my record. I was an average daughter except for the whole drugs and alcohol and sex thing. I stayed away from that. Little me, little virgin, and my dad knew that. He knew that too well.

In my bedroom, I tossed myself onto the bed again. My face landed in the mattress this time. I pulled long, labored breaths through my nose.

*

"My God, this class never ends, does it?" Courtney hissed under her breath. Her legs jiggled up and down as she anxiously bounced in her seat. I was this close to whipping out some duct tape and strapping her to the chair.

"We've only got like two seconds—" I started to say.

RING!

"Or no seconds," I muttered. But I doubt she heard me. She was on her feet before the bell had finished ringing, throwing things meaninglessly into her pack. "What are you in such a hurry for anyway?"

"I've got a dentist appointment after school today," she answered me breathlessly. "I can't be late!"

I laughed loudly as I packed up myself. "The dentist won't shoot you if you're five minutes late."

"Says you! He's not your scary-ass dentist." And with that, she wriggled out the door amidst the massive wave of students that preceded and followed her. I smiled at where she used to be. It was strange. The urge to reveal the secret to her had increased tenfold, and yet I couldn't place why I hadn't yet. I knew I could trust her. I was certain. So how hadn't my mouth started to go a thousand miles an hour in an effort to spill it all to her? I was a little impressed with myself, I've got to say. Secrets about myself were always difficult for me to keep, but I was doing alright.

But I didn't have time to think about that. My gaze flicked up from my backpack, and I caught Mr. Scott's pretty green-brown eyes locked on me. A smile twitched across my lips as one flew over his. Casualness was carefully measured in my step as I sauntered over to the door and kicked it shut with a little flick of my heel. Then, trying pathetically to be sexy, I slowly turned. I was sure I failed miserably, but he didn't seem to mind.

"Oh, just come here," he said as he strode toward me. We met in the middle of the room, and it felt perfect to have his palms close around the side of my head and to be able to sense the smile widening on his mouth as he brought my head into his chest.

"I like this," I mumbled.

"You like what?" he asked. The length of his fingers found their way into the strands of my hair, and I sighed.

"I like this," I repeated, squeezing my arms around his ribs and pushing my nose into his pecs. "It's nice. I like it. I like it a lot."

A small chuckle slipped from him and his torso shook. Then, he carefully planted a gentle kiss on the top of my head. Of their own accord, my eyes slipped closed and I melted. I melted into time, dragging him with me. We were attached now, and it was as though I was holding my soul to my body. I was clutching at my soul, my inner being. Everything disappeared. Good feelings just ricocheted inside me, and it was a little strange. I'd never felt so blissfully happy before this year. Now it was like happiness was just overwhelming me. I didn't deserve it, but I didn't argue it.

Instead, I let him tilt my face up to his with his index finger, and I let him lean in, and I let him brush our lips together. My toes pushed against the floor on their own, and our faces were pressed together more securely. One of his hands left the side of my face and instead wrapped around my waist.

We melted. It felt good. I liked it.

Then we exploded.

There was a bang.

We leapt apart, shoving at each other.

"Holy shit!" a voice shrieked.

Silence from us. Only bright green eyes stared, jumping from his face to mine and then back again. They hovered longer on my shocked features instead of his.

"Courtney—" I choked, but words failed me.

"I didn't just see what I think I just saw," her voice quivered as she took a step back. "Did I?"

"Please, Court," my voice spoke again. I wasn't aware of it. It wasn't my voice anymore. I didn't know who was speaking. It sounded familiar. It had to have been me; Mr. Scott was still stupefied and Courtney was still ogling.

"What the…" she didn't finish either. It seemed no one could finish. Instead, in a flurry of rich brunette hair, she stalked down the hall, fists balled at her sides.

I wasn't frozen. In fact, it was more like a rope was tied to me, connected with the force of gravity to Courtney. The second she began to move, my own feet hopped into motion, and I was out the door in moments. I called something over my shoulder about being right back, but I didn't really register it. A fog had descended onto my world, and I was just stumbling through it.

"Courtney," I said loudly at the back of her head. She didn't turn.

"Courtney, come on," I yelled. "Stop. Please, Court, don't do this." She just kept walking. My legs worked faster, and soon I was barely a foot away from her back.

"This isn't fair, Court—"

"What did you just say?" she growled and whipped around. I came to a sudden halt, and the fury in her eyes burned through my ribs and seared my heart. It honestly looked like she wanted to murder me. I wouldn't blame her. I should've been murdered. I'd made too many mistakes, put too many people at risk. My luck had run out. It felt as though my life was next.

"Don't you dare talk about being fair to me," she snapped, and took a menacing step toward me. I shuffled one back. "I come back to get my jacket and you're in there, all over a teacher, and you don't even bother to tell me? Ever? Not even a breath?"

"Please, Court, a little softer," I begged her. My eyes must've been the size of softballs, but I didn't care. Perhaps she'd take the puppy dog eyes into account.

"I'll scream it if I want to!" she hollered. "I can't believe you didn't tell me! How could you not tell me? You've always told me everything, everything. What…what was that even??"

"I'll tell you, I promise," my hands actually clasped themselves before me as I was pleading, genuinely pleading. "Please, just don't tell anyone."

She stopped and glared at me, her anger simmering down to a quiet shimmer of heat. Then, with a twisted grimace, she muttered, "I'd never tell anyone, Kylie. You're my best friend."

I blinked. "Are…are you serious?"

"Well, apparently that's a one-way observation!" she exclaimed. "If I was your best friend, you would've fucking told me."

"I couldn't," I admitted. I couldn't hold back anymore; everything just ran out of me like a river bursting a dam. "I just couldn't, okay? How could I tell what you were going to say? I still don't even know what you think. Obviously you're not very happy with it. I couldn't tell anyone. No one knows, no one but us. I was going to keep it like that, I swear. I didn't mean to hurt you or anything. I…I don't know what to think…"

My hands knotted themselves into my hair. What did she want me to say? What did she expect me to say? How could she expect me to tell her that? Tears threatened to spill as everything I wanted to say and everything I'd kept chained inside started to rattle dangerously. The support beams of my life were twanging slightly, quivering, but they didn't collapse. They stayed strong, holding me up by whatever shred of will they had. Perhaps it was the look Courtney tossed me that both caused the twanging and yet kept them standing.

Her green eyes were soft and gentle, but yet they tightened. Confusion clouded my thoughts, but she spoke.

"I think it's creepy," she said softly. "I think it's really weird. It's mildly disgusting and I don't agree with it. But are you happy?"

My gaze locked with hers. "Happier than I've ever been in my life."

"Then I can't do anything about it," she shrugged indifferently.

"But…but why were you fine with Mr. Sayne?" I asked.

"Because that wasn't serious and he was pretty creepy to start with. And you know what? I didn't like that much either, but I was pretty sure that nothing would come of it so I left it alone. But this…shit, sweetie, I don't think I've seen any couple kiss like that. At least, not outside of the romance flicks that I watch when I'm alone in the dark." A small smile plucked its way upon her face, and I grinned lightly back. But the only thing preventing me from a full-fledged beam was the strange little glint in her orbs. I couldn't place it. I couldn't place what it felt like.

The only thing I could come up with was that it wasn't good.

I stared at her for a moment, peering at her. Her face was calculating, measuring me, sizing me up. The spark in her eye shimmered again, and I blinked once. God damn, what the hell was this? It couldn't be good. I was certain.

"Alright," I mumbled against my will. "You're….you're sure you're okay with this?"

"No, but sure," she grinned. It was obvious that her teeth were gritted.

What was I supposed to do? What could I do? Was I supposed to scream at her that I didn't trust her? I didn't. I didn't trust her. There was something completely malicious in her gaze, something I'd never seen in her before. It scared me; shivers ripped along my spine, and I shifted my shoulders awkwardly to try and get rid of them. But they wouldn't go away. It was as though they were trying to smack me awake, trying to get me to realize. I desperately tried to shoo them away. They wouldn't leave. So I chose not to listen to them.

She was my friend. She was my best friend. She wouldn't do anything to hurt me. It had to be me. I had to be paranoid. If she said she was fine with this, she was fine with this. We were tighter than the Jonas Brothers' pants. I believed her. I had to.

How I could go from being certain that I could trust her to being certain that she'd stab me in the back the first second she could, I had no idea.

"Thanks, Court," I said. Faux sincerity was layered over my words so heavy that it was makeup. "I knew I could trust you."

"Always," her smile widened. My miniscule attempt to try and guilt trip didn't work at all.

We embraced. It felt more like we were about to engage in battle instead of a hug. I shut my eyes tightly and gripped her tighter, as though I was trying to hold onto the Courtney that I thought I knew.

"I'll see you at softball tomorrow, alright?" Courtney murmured to me as we pulled apart. "Bring my jacket?"

"Sure, sure," I said absently. She turned to leave, and I called after her, "Love you, bestie."

She looked over her shoulder. A little smirk hopped onto her lips. "Yeah. Sure." And she walked away. My tummy did little flips that threatened to burst through my skin.

I was numb. I was completely numb as I trudged back to the classroom. I felt the glassiness in my gaze, the heaviness of my limbs, the slowness of my movements. There was nothing I could do about it. Nothing would respond the way I wanted it to, and I didn't really even know how I wanted anything to respond. What would I do? What would I do if I was coherent? Nothing. I would do nothing. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't even want to think. The only thing that I really wanted to happen was time to turn back so I could lock the fucking door.

I walked glumly through the doorway. Immediately, Mr. Scott's head snapped up, and he leapt off of the desk he was perched anxiously on.

"What happened?" he asked, striding quickly toward me. "What did she say?"

My attention focused in and out on his perfect face, but I managed to make my mouth move. "She said…she said she was fine with it…and she won't tell anyone…"

Though she said it, I honestly didn't believe a word she'd said.

But the huge sigh that whooshed out of his lungs made me bite my tongue and not tell him my opinion. He didn't ask for it anyway. "Oh, thank God. You know, Court's a good kid."

"Yeah…" I muttered uncertainly. His eyes softened to pools of jade and chocolate and he pulled me into his arms, placing a palm on the back of my head and using the other to stroke my hair lightly.

"I'm sorry, love," he mumbled to me. "I was stupid. I can't believe I let that happen."

My arms wound around him gratefully. "It was all my fault. I didn't lock the freaking door. Jesus Christ, I can be so dense sometimes."

"I should've checked."

"But I should've locked it in the first place."

There was a beat of silence, and then Mike said, "Look, she told you she wouldn't tell anybody. That's all that matters."

"I guess…" My God, why did I tell him that? More importantly, how did I forget to make sure she wouldn't? I was so stupid, so stupid, so stupid! Always retarded, that's me! Count on me to make the mistakes, because I couldn't do anything right.

Okay, okay, I just had to calm down. I would ask her tomorrow. I'd get her word then, and everything would be okay. She wouldn't tell anyone, and Mike and I could go on together like nothing ever happened, like everyone was still blissfully unaware that we were together. This could work. This could be legit. If there was a God, and He had mercy, this would all turn out perfectly fine.

Jesus, I couldn't even convince myself.

I tilted my head back, and our eyes met. A little smile crept across his lips and he swooped down to my lips.

"Don't worry," he whispered. "It'll be fine."

He touched our mouths together.

"I'll make sure of it," he murmured.

****

A/N: Hope I don't go too fast, huh?