April Showers, Mallory Flowers

Mallory Flowers hates the month of April. Too much rain, she thinks. Not enough sun. But Connor, he loves the rain – he says the heat makes him cranky. "Then why do you carry around that umbrella?" she asks. "In case I run into you." ONESHOT.

She hated the rain.

It was depressing, really. The dark clouds, the rumbling thunder, the steady stream of water falling from the sky that messed up her carefully curled hair – it made her feel really crappy. That was why she loved living in Atlanta.

So it was really too bad when her father got a job offer at Microsoft and they were forced to move across the country to gloomy Seattle, Washington.

"It's not as bad as you think it is," people would always tell her. "It can get pretty hot in the summer, don't worry," they'd say. "It'll be a good excuse to buy some cute rain boots."

But she didn't want to buy rain boots, even if they were cute. She wanted to stay in Georgia, with her friends and her school and her sun.

Unfortunately, she didn't get much of a say in the matter.

"Mallory, you're going to be late," her mother chastised. "Quit sulking and get moving."

The eighteen-year-old sighed heavily. It was the day that would forever be remembered as "The First Day of Hell" – also known as day one at her new school.

It wasn't fair. It was her senior year; she wasn't allowed to be uprooted. She was supposed to be spending the last six months of high school with her best friends before they all went off to college, not 2000 miles away sucking up to Seattle kids. It just sucked.

"Alright," Mallory whined. She was not looking forward to her first day. She looked out the window and saw the gray skies and the puddles of water on the ground and the raindrops running down the windowpane and groaned. It was so gross here.

She braced herself for the walk to the bus stop, which was right down the street from her house and a mere twenty yards away. But to Mallory Flowers, it didn't matter how long (or short) of a distance it was, she would still have to walk through the rain to get there.

And that wasn't even the worst part – she had to ride the city bus. Their family was too poor after the move to be able to afford more than one car, and her father drove that to work. Her mom was a housewife, which probably contributed to their lack of money, and that left Mallory and her younger brother to take the bus to school.

Mallory grabbed her abnormally large purse (which she used in place of a backpack; backpacks were tacky), opened the door, and sprinted to the bus stop.

Her brother Reggie was already waiting there and he gave her a quizzical look as she sat down on the bench next to him and fixed her hair.

Seconds later, the bus arrived. She clambered onto it, took a seat in the corner, pulled out her cell phone so she could text her friends in Atlanta, and grumbled to herself until they arrived at Puget Sound High School.

And thus began the worst day of her life.

It wasn't really all that bad, thinking back on it. By the time a month had passed, Mallory was used to her new classes. She had made a few acquaintances, but nobody she could really call a "friend." It hadn't rained so much as snowed heavily, which she heard was unusual for Seattle, but it still sucked. If anything, it was worse. At least when it was raining you could get places. When it snowed, the wimpy Western-Washingtonians closed off almost every road and every place you could possibly think of.

One wet February morning, Mallory was running especially late to her first period. The bus had broken down a few blocks from the school, and while her brother had gotten off and walked the rest of the way, she would rather just sit and wait in the busted bus than brave the downpour.

That was a stupid decision on Mallory's part, because it turned out that she had to run in the rain to get from the bus stop to the school, anyway. The binder she held over her head for protection didn't really help, the flats she had worn that day were soaked and hard to run in, and she was eleven minutes late.

She burst into her Calculus class, breathing heavily, attracting attention from every side of the room.

"Sorry I'm late," she breathed. The teacher gave her a stern look and she took her seat. She had a feeling that she was going to be marked absent anyway, since generally being more than ten minutes tardy counted as being truant. "Damn rain," she mumbled.

The boy sitting next to her heard her curse the weather and snickered.

"What?" she snapped at him.

He didn't recoil or frown or any of that, like most people did when Mallory bitched at them for no reason. Instead, he smiled. "You don't like the rain?" he asked, green eyes twinkling.

"No," she said. "It ruins everything."

"Then why do you live in the Pacific Northwest?" the boy inquired.

Mallory scowled. "I don't know if you noticed," she said. "But I'm new here. I'm not exactly used to all…this." She gestured to her wet hair and soaking clothes and red nose. She probably looked like a mess.

"I know you're new," he said. "You're Mallory Flowers, stubborn and perpetually angry with the world. I just didn't know you hated the rain so much."

"Stub – what? I am not perpetually angry."

The boy laughed. "It sure seems that way," he said.

"It's just all this stupid water that gets me frustrated. And how do you know all this about me, anyway? Who exactly are you?" She had never spoken to him before. She never even spared him a glance, even though they apparently sat next to each other every morning.

"I'm Connor," he said with a grin. "Connor Ferguson."

"Well, Fergie," she said. Connor raised his brow at the nickname. "Just so you know, I may be stubborn, but I'm not always this angry. I promise."

He chuckled. "I'll believe that when I see it."

They had another class together, too. Fifth period United States Government. Mallory had never noticed before, but Connor sat in the seat to her immediate left. Apparently it was the doing of lazy teachers who arranged the seats by alphabetical order. Ferguson, Flowers. No wonder he knew her name.

"Upset because of the weather again, Mal?" Connor asked one day in mid-March. The teacher was lecturing some kid in the back of the room for coming to class smelling like weed.

She whipped her head to the side and glared. "No," she said. He gave her a look. "Well, yes. But don't call me that. You don't know me."

They had brief conversations every morning in math and every afternoon in history, but they weren't exactly the best of friends. All Connor knew about Mallory was that she had an attitude and that she hated dreary weather, and all Mallory knew about Connor was that he was abnormally friendly and he had a pretty smile.

"You call me Fergie," Connor pointed out. "So I should be allowed to call you whatever I want. And I don't know you because you refuse to hang out with me."

"I refuse to hang out with you because I don't know you," she countered. Connor had asked her many times if she wanted to be his partner on various school projects, but she would always insist on doing it on her own. And once he even asked if she wanted to eat lunch with him, but she said no and sat with a group of preppy girls instead.

"Touché," Connor said. "But how do you expect to make friends if you don't let anyone near you?"

"I don't need to make friends," argued Mallory. "I have plenty back in Atlanta."

"But this isn't Atlanta," Connor pointed out. "It's Seattle."

Mallory rolled her light brown eyes. "I know that, unfortunately."

Connor observed the girl next to him for a moment. It wasn't even raining hard that day, just lightly showering, but she was still all in a huff. Come to think of it, he didn't remember a day where she wasn't upset about something. "At least let me walk you to your next class," he said suddenly.

Mallory stared at him, a slight frown on her lips. "Why are you so persistent?" she asked.

The boy shrugged. "I just am. Genetics, I guess. What about you?"

"What about me?"

"Why are you so persistent? Don't try to say you aren't; that would only prove it further," Connor said.

Mallory reddened. How could this guy she barely knew be so comfortable with the new girl? "I just am," she said, copying his answer.

Connor grinned. The bell rang, signifying the end of class.

"Come on," he said, standing up. "I'll walk you to Spanish."

How he knew her schedule, she had no idea, but it was sort of sweet so she agreed and went with him anyway.

He was pleased.


Mallory turned around, searching for the voice. It was a Saturday and she was in downtown Seattle, trying to find where her Dad's car was parked so she could get home. It was, surprisingly, not raining.


Finally, she spotted Connor Ferguson, jogging and waving and smiling as he approached her.

"Fergie?" She was a little surprised to be seeing him outside of school.

"Hi," Connor smiled. "What are you doing wandering the city by yourself?"

Mallory felt embarrassed. She didn't want to admit to him that she was sort of lost. "Uh," she said. "I was shopping with my family, but my parents went to buy birthday presents and told my brother and me to stay away, but Reggie ran off mumbling something about a sparkly cloud."

"So…you were ditched."

"Pretty much," Mallory sighed. "And I looked around on my own for a while, but we were supposed to meet back at the car at three, and it's…2:49 and I don't remember where we parked."

Connor couldn't help it. He laughed.

Mallory frowned. And to make matters worse, a small drop of water landed on her nose. The look of horror on her face caused Connor to laugh even harder. "Great! Now it's drizzling, too. I hate my life," she pouted.

Connor rolled his eyes. "You're such a drama queen," he said. "I'll help you find your car. Was it in a garage or parked on the street?"

She was grateful for his friendliness at that moment, even if it was a little annoying how relentless he was. "The street," Mallory said. It started to rain a little harder and she cringed.

"Alright," Connor said. "What kind of car? And do you remember what sorts of shops were around when you got out of it?"

Mallory sidestepped so that she was underneath an awning. It was better than standing out in the now harsh precipitation. Connor shook his head and followed suit.

"It's a dark red Acura MDX," Mallory explained. "And I don't remember what was around, except the Starbucks right across the street where I bought this." She gestured to the coffee she held in her hand.

"Well, that doesn't help much," Connor said. "There's a Starbucks on pretty much every street. How far away was it?"

"I don't know!" Mallory threw her hands up in frustration. "I don't remember. What are you even doing here, anyway? Are you stalking me?"

"No," Connor said. "I happen to live two blocks down. Now come on, let's just start looking around. If you see anything familiar let me know, okay?"

Mallory said nothing but began walking alongside him, anyway. She wasn't happy with the rain beating down on her, but Connor was nice enough to notice and gave her his big jacket to hold over her head.

"I don't have an umbrella with me," he said. "Otherwise I'd lend you that. I didn't think it was going to rain today."

"Me either. Otherwise I never would've agreed to go out."

"You're never going to get used to it here, are you?"

She shook her head.

"You know it's not so bad once you get to know the place. I'll have to show you around sometime," Connor said casually.

Mallory looked at him, perplexed. Was he offering to give her a tour of the city? They barely even knew each other! "You mean like going up the Space Needle and riding the ducks and taking the underground tour? Because my Dad already made us do all that crap, and it wasn't that fun," she said.

"No, not that," Connor said with a laugh. "That's touristy stuff. I'll take you to all the real cool places in Seattle."

Mallory snorted. "Okay, if you say so," she said. "Hey! I think that's my dad over there!"

She broke into a run and started waving frantically at her family. Her brother stood stoically in the rain, getting soaked, while her mother was sitting in the car and her father was under an umbrella, beckoning at her.

"There you are," her father yelled. "Why haven't you been answering your phone?"

"I'm sorry," Mallory said as she caught her breath. She came to a stop in front of her brother, and Connor nearly collided with her because she halted so suddenly. "I left my phone at home so it could charge."

"Well, we have to go; you have an appointment in Bellevue in twenty minutes," Mr. Flowers stated. He then seemed to notice his daughter's companion. "And who is this young man?" he asked curiously.

"What? Oh," Mallory said. She was still using his jacket as a hood. "This is Fer – Connor. He's in my math class. He helped me find our parking spot."

"I see," her father said. "Well, thank you for showing my helpless daughter around, Connor, but we've got to go now. Say goodbye, Mallory. Reginald, get in the car."

Reggie stopped staring into space and climbed into the vehicle. Mallory blushed slightly at the tone her father was using with her and gave Connor back his jacket.

"See you," she said.

"Bye," Connor smiled. Mallory got in the car and her family began to pull out of the parking space. "And hey, don't forget about our plans!" he shouted after the moving vehicle. "You're going to get that tour whether you like it or not!"

Mallory would've stuck her head out the window and yelled back but it was raining and she didn't want to get wet. Instead, she just sat in her seat and shook her head with a smile.

The entire senior class was going on a fieldtrip.

It was April, and it was raining, and it was seven thirty in the morning. Mallory, exhausted after a poor night's sleep, tumbled off the school bus and joined the group of girls she'd come to be acquainted with as they started walking around the Pacific Science Center.

There were three of them, and they were all a bit annoying. Theresa was talkative and material and cared only about herself; Marcy was sweet but unnecessarily cheerful all the time, and Jane was quiet but judgmental and seemed to hate everyone who wasn't as pretty as she was.

Mallory only hung out with them because she didn't want to seem like a loser with no friends. They didn't really pay much attention to her, but she didn't mind. At least they let her sit with them at lunch and walk with them to classes and hang out with them on field trips.

The girls talked loudly and walked around the exhibits they'd probably seen a thousand times having grown up in Seattle and Mallory walked alongside them, silently surveying the different displays. An hour into the trip, the group got bored of the inside showings and migrated to the outside area, where a large spherical fountain was set up and several young kids were running around. There was even a small amusement park area a few blocks down.

Mallory would've loved to get a better look around, but it was raining and the girls seemed to only want to sit on the grass and gossip. They didn't appear to be the least bit unsettled by the water pouring from the sky.

She didn't want to sit in the damp grass, so she stood next to Theresa and company instead, occasionally contributing to the conversation but mostly just zoning out and wishing it would stop raining. She was listening in on Marcy's ramble about some football player when suddenly an umbrella was over her head.

"In need of assistance, milady?" Connor Ferguson bowed.

Mallory turned to him with eyebrows raised. "What?" she asked, amused.

Her "friends" noticed Connor's arrival, but continued their conversation after giving him one shameful glance. It seemed that they did not deem him worthy of their attention.

"You looked bored and aggravated," he said with a grin, completely disregarding the trio of girls' cold attitudes. "I came to rescue you. Want to hang out with me and my friends?" Connor looked behind him at a group of teenage boys. They were jeering and laughing and making kissy faces in the pair's direction.

Mallory didn't particularly want to hang out with them. "They look kind of…obnoxious," she said.

"Yeah," Connor shrugged. "They are. But I have an umbrella!" He wiggled the contraption to emphasize his point, causing rain drops to splash off the sides and hit him in the face.

Mallory laughed. "Looks like you need it more than I do," she said.

Connor looked at her curiously. "Oh, really? I'll just take this back then – "

"No, wait!" Her death grip on the umbrella was terrifying. "Please let me use it."

The boy chuckled. "We'll just have to share," he said as he ducked under the umbrella, his shoulder brushing hers. Mallory blushed slightly at his close proximity, not because she liked him or anything but simply because he seemed so comfortable with the physical contact. "You sure you don't want to stay with your…friends?" Connor asked.

Mallory looked back at Theresa and Marcy and Jane, sitting there on the grass chatting about hot guys. They didn't even seem to care that she wasn't joining in on their conversation.

"I'm sure," she said with a sigh. Maybe hanging out with obnoxious eighteen year old boys wouldn't be as bad as hanging out with bitchy eighteen year old girls.

Connor grinned and pulled the umbrella (and with it, Mallory) towards his friends.

"Gentlemen, I bring you Mallory Flowers," Connor introduced with a flourish. His friends, all four of them, snickered and stared at the girl before them.

"Oh, so you're the new girl that Ferguson – " A hand was slapped over the blonde boy's mouth. After a second of surprise, he ripped Connor's arm away and laughed. "Dude, relax, I was just going to say has calc and gov with," the boy said.

"Sure you were," Connor said, wiping his hand on his jeans. "Mal, this is Rory."

The blonde boy smiled and held out his hand for her to shake. She took it, surprised by his politeness.

"Wow," Rory said, taking notice of her fingernails. "A French manicure. This girl is something else, isn't she? Not your usual type, Ferg – "

"And these guys are Darren, Tucker, and Xavier," Connor cut off his best friend completely. Rory frowned and Mallory laughed.

A black-haired-blue-eyed boy, a redhead, and a brunette with freckles all greeted her with an enthusiastic grin and a handshake, leaving her very confused. Since when were teenage boys so nice?

"Nice to meet you," she said.

Mallory spent the entire rest of the day with Connor and the boys, and surprisingly, she had fun. The fieldtrip itself was sort of a waste of time (nobody really knew the real purpose of the trip), but it was preferred over doing actual schoolwork. After the long day of running around the city attached to Connor and his yellow umbrella, Mallory was convinced to sit with them during lunch for the rest of the school year.

"You better not back out on your pinky promise," Rory threatened on the bus back to the high school. "You're the only girl cool enough to get an invitation to sit with us."

"More like the only girl crazy enough to accept one," Tucker joked. Mallory laughed and shook her head.

"I don't know how you managed to convince me to befriend your hyper buddies," she said under her breath to Connor, who sat next to her.

"I'm persistent, remember?" he said.

Mallory rolled her eyes. "Right," she said. "Genetics. I remember."

"You know you want to sit with us," Connor stated. "We may be obnoxious, but we're so much more fun than Theresa and her clones."

"I hate to say it, but you're right," she admitted. "But hey, just because I've agreed to sit with you guys at school doesn't mean we're suddenly the best of pals. You've still got to earn my friendship."

"I won't have any problems with that," Connor said. "After my tour of the city you'll be so amazed by my wonderful intelligence and talent that you'll regret not making me your best friend sooner."

Mallory scoffed. "You're so full of shit," she said.

Connor smiled. "Yet another thing we have in common," he countered.

The way he had her figured out so well made her spine tingle. Maybe being best friends with him would be interesting. She'd have to find out.

Mallory quickly learned a lot about the five boys she'd agreed to sit with for the next few months. She already knew that Connor was the outgoing one. It wasn't long before she found out that Rory was the loyal one, Tucker the funny one, Darren the smart one, and Xavier the video game junkie. They were all pretty dorky, and they were more than just a little obnoxious, but they were nice. And they were cute.

They were cute as in…sort of adorable. None of them were really hot, per se, just, well, charming. She enjoyed hanging out with them more than she thought she would.

"So, I preordered Portal 2. Once it comes out one of you guys have to play co-op with me all the way through. Who's it gonna be?" Xavier asked one day at the lunch table.

"I vote Mallory," Darren said.

"What?" She had no idea what Portal 2 was. She figured it was a video game of some sort, since that seemed to be all Xavier ever talked about.

"You want to play, Flowers? It's fun. Trust me."

"I don't think she'll be able to play all the way through without getting bored," Rory laughed. "You better just let Tucker play with you."

"No," Xavier whined. "Tucker is a glory hog and a backseat driver. He's the worst person to play cooperative story modes with because he never listens to what I have to say."

Tucker shrugged. "I can't help it if you don't know what you're doing half the time," he said.

"Darren, you play," Xavier begged.

Darren lifted his head from behind the thick book he was immersed in. "Huh?" he asked. "Oh, no thanks."

Xavier continued to whine and Rory continued to laugh at him for the next five minutes while Mallory zoned out. Connor was up in the library printing something out for a homework assignment, and she still wasn't as close with the other boys as she was with him, so she didn't contribute much. It wasn't until the weather was brought up that she made an effort to chime in.

"Wow, it's actually really nice out today," Tucker commented. Mallory looked out the window, a bright smile on her face, and saw that it was indeed a nice day.

"Yes!" she shouted. "Sun!"

Rory gave her this incredulous look and Xavier just stared. Darren continued reading his book. Tucker smiled.

"Why are you so excited?" Rory asked. "Oh, yeah. You have this weird aversion to any season other than summer."

"I do not," she protested. "I just hate the rain. It's annoying and gross."

"See, that's where we get confused," Xavier said. "If it's sunny out, then you're forced to actually get up and do something. But if it's raining, you can just stay inside and play video games all day."

Mallory rolled her eyes. "Well, I don't play video games," she said. "And I'm not quite as lazy as you boys are. I actually like going outside. That is, if it's sunny."

Tucker shrugged. "We can't help it," he said. "We're Seattle boys, born and raised. The rain is what we're used to. We've grown to love it."

"Well, Fergie's a Seattle boy and he doesn't love rain. He hates it, just like me," Mallory stated. "So there." She had to resist the urge to stick out her tongue. Hanging out with the guys so much was bringing out her childish side.

"Fergie?" The confusion on Rory's face was clear. "Oh, Connor. I forgot you guys have weird pet names for each other. But anyway," he ignored the protesting look on Mallory's face, "he doesn't hate the rain. He loves it more than any of us."

It was Mallory's turn to be confused. Connor Ferguson didn't love the rain – he hated it. That was why he was always carrying that umbrella. That was why whenever she was walking to the bus stop, or to the store, or to anywhere and she would run into him (which was a lot lately; it seemed that everywhere she went he was there, too), he'd be under that yellow umbrella of his. And then, if they weren't in a hurry, he would offer to share with her and they would walk and talk and stay dry together, because they hated the rain. It was what they did.

"What? No he doesn't," Mallory said. What Rory said made no sense. If Connor didn't hate rain, why did he own that god-awful umbrella? And why did he always have it with him? And why, pray tell, did he laugh whenever she complained about the bleak skies as if he knew and understood?

"Um, yeah, he does," Xavier said. "I think we know him better than you do, Mallory."

"But – "

"Who are you guys talking about?" Connor appeared from absolutely nowhere and took his seat next to Mallory. In one of his hands was a packet full of freshly printed papers and in the other he held a Mountain Dew. "Me?"

"Yeah, you," Darren said, taking a brief break from his book to speak for the first time in a while.

"Oh," Connor smiled. "Cool. Am I allowed to ask why?"

"We were just telling poor little confused Mallory here that you love the rain," Rory said. "She is having a tough time grasping the concept."

"Why?" Connor turned to his new friend. "Because you hate it so much? I have a tough time grasping that concept. The rain is so pure and…invigorating. How could you not love it?"

Mallory gaped. "So Rory wasn't lying? You really do love rain?" she asked.

"Oh, yeah," Connor said with a nod. "The fact that I sort of hate sunny weather probably helps a bit. The heat makes me cranky."

"It's true," said Tucker. "The five of us went to Arizona once during Spring Break, and the whole time he wouldn't stop complaining about how much he was going to get sunburned and how much he hated – "

"Then why do you carry around that umbrella all the time?" Mallory interrupted. Tucker sighed, as if he was used to being cut off. Rory snickered at this.

His answer was simple. "In case I run into you," he shrugged.

He had said it so casually, as if it meant nothing, but Mallory couldn't help but feel differently. If he really did carry that umbrella around just for her, then that meant…what did it mean? That he liked her? Or that he was just a really nice person? She didn't know, but it made her blush none-the-less.

Mallory wasn't sure what to say to that, so she stayed quiet. Connor flashed her one of his gorgeous smiles (the only thing about any of the boys that was particularly spectacular in the looks department) and stole one of the french-fries off of her plate.

Mallory ignored Rory's fake gagging and Tucker's sly smile as best she could, and all the while kept telling herself that Connor was probably just being extra hospitable towards the new girl.

Yeah, hospitality. That was it.

As soon as she found out Connor had been carrying that stupid thing around just for her benefit, she went out and bought her own umbrella.

It was pink, and it had flowers on it, and it folded up into a cute little travel case for easy transport. It was so much nicer than Connor's old thing and much more practical. Plus, this way, he wouldn't have to lug around that ugly hunk of metal and material anymore. He did love the rain, after all.

She didn't know why she was so peeved about the fact that he actually liked rain. Maybe she was stupid for not realizing it sooner, but he just never said anything about it so she just…assumed. She liked knowing things about him. It pissed her off that she had "known" wrong for so long.

Mallory walked silently down the sidewalk, pink umbrella over her head, coffee in hand. She had been walking around the city a lot lately. Even if it did rain frequently, their house was right up the hill from one of the biggest shopping districts in the area and she got bored easily. Plus, she almost always ran into Connor (who lived in a cramped apartment with his mom and sister right smack dab in the middle of all the action) and found something to do while out.

Her father always told her to be careful, but it wasn't like she was going to get raped or mugged or anything. Sure, Seattle was sort of sketchy in some parts, but not the parts she was roaming around in and she never went out alone at night. She wasn't that dumb.

That day, Mallory was finishing up her coffee and getting ready to go buy a new one when she heard a familiar voice. The tone in which it was speaking, however, was unfamiliar.

"What the hell is this?" Connor exclaimed.

Mallory turned around to face him. He was sopping wet, probably because he wasn't actually using the umbrella he held at his waist, and he looked confused.

"What?" Mallory asked.

He made grand gestures with his hands, almost whacking himself in the face with his giant umbrella in the process. "Why do you have your own? I thought we were supposed to share!" He was referring to the umbrellas, of course.

Mallory shrugged. "You don't have any use for an umbrella, and I hate to make you carry something around when you aren't going to use it, so I bought my own. Is that a problem?"

He frowned. "Yes," he said. He stealthily and quickly snatched the pink flowery contraption from Mallory's hands, closed it, stuffed it in his back pocket, and covered the protesting teen girl's head with his umbrella instead. "Much better."

"What the – Fergie, give that back. It was twenty dollars!"

"Twenty dollars? Why would you pay so much for a stupid umbrella?"

"Because I needed one," she explained. "Duh."

"You don't need one," Connor said. "You have mine. And you don't even really need that; you could just walk in the rain like a normal person."

"Um, just so you know, that's not normal. At least not where I'm from," Mallory rolled her eyes. "Why do you care so much, anyway? Why won't you just let me use my own umbrella?"

"I think it's pretty obvious," Connor stated. "I want to share with you."

"But why?"

"Because I like you, Mal. As more than a friend. I'm pretty sure you figured that out already," he said.

Mallory blushed. She had guessed that he felt something for her that went deeper than friendship, but she hadn't wanted to acknowledge it because she wasn't sure if she felt the same way. Connor was great, sure, but…he was part of her new life. And she was supposed to hate everything about moving to Washington.

When she didn't say anything, Connor sighed and continued. "And I'm pretty sure you like me too," he said, looking her straight in the eye. Boy, he sure was confident.

That pissed her off. She ripped the yellow umbrella from his hands and stalked a few feet away angrily. "Well, you're wrong," she said. Her voice wavered a little on that last word. Was he wrong?

Connor frowned. "Am I really?" he asked, stepping closer to her. "Well, that's too bad."

She had a feeling he didn't believe her. Mallory whipped around so that she was facing him. "It is too bad, because you're really nice but I don't like you that way. Come on, Connor, whatever gave you that impression? I hate everything about this place. I hate that there's no sun; I hate the rain, I hate – "

He wasn't listening. He decided to cut her off by swooping down and pressing his lips to hers, causing her to drop the umbrella. She responded by moving her lips against his for a split second before she pushed him away.

"What are you doing?" she asked, embarrassed.

"Trying to change your opinion on the rain," he shrugged casually. "Well, that and your opinion of me."

She stared at him. "Well it's not working," she huffed.

"Really?" Connor asked, brows furrowed. "Most girls would kill to be kissed in the rain. Let me try again."

"What, Connor – "

He kissed her again, softly. "Is it working now?" he asked, that stunning smile dancing across his face.

She shook her head. "No," she whispered. It was a little hard to breathe with him so close to her. Plus, she didn't want to admit it, but his evil scheme was kind of effective.

"Hmm." She should've known he would do what he did next. He was known for being persistent, after all. He kissed her for a third time, this time harder. "Now?"

When Mallory still didn't respond, he stuck to his mantra: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Another kiss. "Now?" Kiss. "Now?" Kiss. "How 'bout now?"

"Connor," she groaned in irritation. She was losing will power. If he tried anything more she'd probably give in, and she didn't want to lose that easily.

He mistook her moan for one of pleasure (or did he?) and kissed her once more, a real kiss this time, causing her stomach to do flips and her heart to pound.

When they finally broke apart, he rested his forehead on hers and nuzzled their noses together a little. "Did it work?" he asked excitedly, as if he were a young child asking if his toy was fixed.

Mallory reddened. "…I still hate the rain," she murmured.

Connor laughed wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled into his chest.

"Let's go on that tour now, shall we?"