It was only the middle of my second day of school and I already had two papers due next week and a quiz on Friday. Consider my back to school high officially over. Like Rachel had said yesterday at volleyball practice, nine months of incarceration had begun.

Will and I stood in line to get hot lunch while Rachel grabbed us seats with Will's group of guys—all of whom were following her with their eyes as she ran her fingers through her hair, hip cocked flirtatiously as she moved in on Brandon. I rolled my eyes and turned my attention to back to Will and the pizza that I was eagerly awaiting.

"Hey, I'll be right back, I gotta go see Brie," Will said in my direction with his eyes focused on something else entirely. Yeah right, see Brie—more likely he had spotted an ex fling and wanted to make amends with her quick enough to hang out with her on Friday night.

Bored and without anyone to talk to, I began to pull out my phone and pretend that I had text messages that were more important than anyone else in the room. But before I could busy myself with pretend texts, I felt someone grab my elbow, and turned around to face the grabber. It was Grant, Will's friend who had directed those flirty freshmen to their first classes yesterday.

"Grant! How was your summer?" He hung out with Brandon and the rest of Will's other friends, but I had hardly seen him over the last couple of months. Grant was quieter and less socially inclined than the rest of his friends, and he would often choose to do things other than feigning interest in skateboarding at the local park every single day (dumb idea) like Will and Brandon often did.

"It was great! I just played a lot of baseball with the team and tried to learn how to water ski!" He laughed at his own joke. I forgot—Grant was the star of the school baseball team and he had several colleges interested in recruiting him next year. "What about you?" he asked.

"Eh, same old, same old. I played some volleyball, worked at the pool, and just kind of enjoyed the fact that I didn't have to wake up before ten o'clock every single day." I would have mentioned my mother's pregnancy—after all, it was a big deal, but my mom was keen on keeping this news private until she was further along. She had a history with miscarriages when she was married to my father, along with the last one that threw her into her own personal hell. She didn't want people to know until she was absolutely sure.

"You sound as boring as me!" he exclaimed. I had to laugh at that. Grant was always a little awkward, but I was strangely charmed by his unique way of saying things. He was so genuine that I couldn't help but liking him in spite of his awkwardness.

"Shh! I don't want that to get around!" I grabbed his arm with one hand and looked around urgently. For a second, Grant gave me a slightly bewildered look, and then it dawned on him: I was joking. Yep—awkward down to his very core.

"Hey man, get your hands off my girl!" said Will menacingly as he came back from wherever he was. Grant jumped back nervously. Will laughed and jokingly punched his shoulder. "Just joking dude, but what can I say? I'm the jealous type." Grant gave a half smile as Will stood behind me and began massaging my shoulders. "This girl right here is the best thing that's ever happened to me." I elbowed him in the gut.

"You're a loser," I told him as I smiled at Grant while he turned to walk away.

"What can I say, Auds? I just love you too much to let any other guy get near you. I'm a jealous guy!" He winked.

"Oh, brother. You are in no way possessive of people—it's never bothered you to see your ex girlfriends with other guys. Ever."

He shrugged. "That may be true, but they're not you. If any guy ever breaks your heart, I will kick his ass."

I looked at him. Will rarely shared his true feelings about people with anyone—including me. He was either pulling my leg right now or being serious and I was inclined to think the latter. I loved that guy so, so much and it was kind of cute how he was just as protective of me as he was Brie and Bella.

"Well you don't have to kick anyone's ass just yet. No one's trying to break my heart right now. So be nice to Grant. He's a good kid and I don't want you to scare him away from ever talking to a girl for the rest of his life. I worry about him sometimes," I said. It was true—Grant was the nicest guy in the world, but he had a hard time warming up to new people, and the fact that he had actually started a conversation with me was vast improvement from last year alone.

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about Grant if I was you—he's got the hots for you and frankly, I don't think I'm okay with that."

"What? So you're allowed to date anyone you want for half a second, but the minute some guy might be into me, you have to approve of him? Yeah, that's fair." I groaned and rolled my eyes in his direction as I paid for my pizza and we started walking to our table.

"You know what? I don't really want to sit with everyone else today, let's just eat by ourselves," he said distractedly. We found a table just across the way from where Brie and her friends were sitting and talking animatedly.

"Are you sure we shouldn't tell Rachel…." I trailed off as I saw her sitting practically in Brandon's lap. Looks like they were on again.

"Anyway," Will continued. "I don't want you to go out with just anyone, okay? You're a special girl and there are a lot of douche bags out there that would rip you to pieces if they got the chance."

"So you're saying I'm naïve?"

He looked at me pointedly. "You're a virgin. Of course you're naïve."

"Look, just because I'm not about giving my v-card to the first guy" I shoved him. "who says a couple nice things to me, doesn't mean I'm naïve."

"Speak for yourself, but you don't know what I hear guys saying about you sometimes and I don't want you to fall for anything stupid, okay?"

"Okay, I won't," I said curiously. Why was he getting so serious all of a sudden?

"Good." He turned to look around at Brie's table. "It's so weird that she's in high school now."

"Yeah, stop worrying about me and start worrying about her! She's gonna break as many hearts as you have!"

He looked at me darkly. "I will kill the first boy even touches her. And the first boy that tries to get into her pants…" he shuddered.

"Will? She's already kissed someone and don't you do anything rash." He was looking murderous. "She told me not to tell you."

"What?"

"Will? Chill out. It's completely okay that she's starting to date. And you, mister serial dater over here, have no room to talk. Just give it up, okay?"

He gumbled as he dropped his head on his arms defeatedly, "First you and now Brie, all in one day."

"Yes, your life is so hard," I said and patted his head. At that moment, the bell rang. It was times like these when I could understand how he got girls to fall for him so easily. He was so charming, even when he wasn't trying to be. Will was a big ol' softie.

"Get a room guys!" said Brandon the moron. I hadn't noticed how close Will and I had been leaning into each other. We kept brushing shoulders, which was normal enough that I didn't give it a second thought, but this idiot was immature enough to comment on it.

Will snapped back into cool mode. "You're just jealous!" He smirked at Brandon the moron and gently grabbed my face with both hands. He pulled my face close to his and I looked at him quickly as my heart started beating faster. He looked at me kindly as he brought his lips closer and closer to mine. I was almost positive he was going to feel my heart's out of control thumping when he barely missed my lips and kissed my forehead instead. "Love you, Auds," he whispered and jumped up to tackle Brandon the moron. "Yeah, when was the last time you got even that close to kissing a girl, huh? Punk!"

I watched them walk off as my heart still raced. We were always flirty with each other without a second thought, but once in a while my emotions would get the best of me and started to think of us together. What if? Today was one of those times. I shook it off—he was just showing off for Brandon (the moron) and it didn't mean anything. Right? Yeah, it didn't mean anything to him. He was a natural flirt and I was an easy target because he we were so comfortable around each other. It meant nothing. Right.

-ooOoo-

I sat in my German class and it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway—I was bored out of my mind. Did I really care about conjugating verbs in past tense in German? I'll have you know that I did not even in the slightest. Did I care about getting into a decent college? The answer to that one was yes and that was the entire reason I chose to torture myself with yet another year with Frau Crazy.

Sophia and I shared this class, but we did not share her love for the German language. I had spent the last two years pretending to be interested and rushing through my homework during my other classes on the day it was due. Sophia on the other hand was absolutely fascinated with the German culture—her grandparents were German immigrants—and her tutoring was the only reason that I passed this class with a B every year.

Today we not being subjected to another lecture from Frau Crazy (praise the gods), but we were reviewing all the grammar and vocabulary words from our two previous years that I had not bothered committing to long term memory. So while Sophia rushed through our worksheet, I copied her answers and basically had a conversation with myself.

"Rachel and Brandon are back together," I said.

"Mmm," she responded.

"I don't know why they're trying this out again—it's not like this time is any different from the last. She's still going to hang out with other guys and he's still an idiot who can't tell his right from his left."

"Yeah, but neither can Rachel, so maybe they're perfect for each other," said Sophia without taking her eyes off her paper.

"True." I thought about it. "Oh jeez, if he's her date to Homecoming, I'm going to have to go in the same group as that loser. Will and his date…" His date. "…always join Brandon and the rest of those guys, and you, Meg, and Rachel all go together too. And if Rachel is going with Brandon, that means I'm going to spend my whole night right next to him. Great."

Sophia remained silent. Apparently I wasn't saying anything important enough for her to comment on.

"I'd better get a date." My thoughts turned to Grant. Was he really interested in me? Was Will right? ….Will. Will. That kiss—well, almost kiss. My heart started beating excitedly again.

"Did I tell you Will pretended like he was going to kiss me at lunch?" I asked her again.

"Hmm?" she muttered thoughtfully to her paper.

"Did I tell you Will pretended he was going to kiss me today?"

"Oh, no. But you guys are always doing stupid stuff like that so why is today any different?"

Oh, only because I can't put that out of my brain for more than a couple minutes at a time? "No reason, he was just showing off for Brandon." (The moron.)

"Mmmm." Again, she was back to her stupid German homework.

"Okay, maybe it's because he just said some really nice things to me beforehand and I started thinking, 'Hm, what if we actually dated?' and then I thought, 'What if he's trying to tell me that he really likes me but I'm to dense to figure it out?' and then I thought, 'Wait, am I in love with him too?' and then I thought, 'Hold it, no too! He's not in love with me. I'm not in love with him. No love!' and my heart was beating really fast the whole time." I gasped for air and slumped against my seat. I had said that entire thing in one breath. Impressive, even for me.

Sophie put down her pencil and looked at me. "Audrey?" I started to think she was going to say something profound and meaningful. "First of all, you said that awfully fast and I didn't understand half of it. Second of all, you were giving me crazy eyes the whole time, so I'm guessing that this is important, but I really want to finish this before the period is over and I also want to devote my full attention to you. Capishe?"

I drooped my body dramatically. "Capishe."

-ooOoo—

"Okay, so maybe I didn't do that stupid get to know you essay last night. But this is Chemistry! Why do I have to write a damn get to know you essay in Chemistry!" Meg was having a bad day, even for second day of school standards, and her two favorite ways to rid herself of anger was to complain about everything and to say swear words. I was doing my best to not give her anything else to complain about and to keep her from swearing at me.

The late bell was only seconds away, so it was impertinent that we were on time to class. I had had a knack for showing up at my classes literally the second after it rang for my entire high school career thus far. Unfortunately, Mr. Hart had a similar knack of handing out detention ruthlessly for tardies and I didn't want to get on his bad side this early in the semester.

"I'm sorry, Meg."

"It's okay. Anyway, how is your mom doing?" Meg knows about my mom's depression and pregnancies.

"She's good, I guess. Yesterday was a good day but I don't know if today was—she wasn't awake when I left and that's never a good sign."

"How many weeks along is she now?" she asked me as she opened the door to walk inside. I did a double-take at a familiar figure just over by the boys bathroom as she pushed me inside.

"Uh, hold on Meg," I said as I rushed outside the door, pushing against the small crowd of people trying to not be tardy.

Once outside, I took another look at that familiar figure. Like I had suspected, it was Will. He was with a tall girl with blonde hair that rippled down past her shoulders. His hands were pushing the small of her back closer to him and hers were entangled in his beautiful, dark hair as they kissed a little too passionately for school premises.

All at once my heart dropped to my stomach and my stomach was suddenly in my feet. The bell rang and I forgot how to breathe when I saw them break apart from their embrace and watched him grin at her like they shared a secret. That's how he smiles at me.

Already late to class, I just stood there watching them shamelessly. She gave him a quick peck on the lips and walked away from me. I caught his eye as he walked over to the classroom next to mine and he smiled at me guiltily as he shrugged he shoulders.

I stared at him, stony-faced. He's got a girlfriend, he's got a girlfriend, he's got a girlfriend. I imagined myself in the faceless blonde's position and didn't recoil at the thought. I wanted to be the one running my fingers through his hair and kissing his neck while he pressed me to him. I wanted Will to make out with me.

Oh no.

I had crossed that forbidden line—I'd just fallen in love with my best friend.

Well, I told myself, welcome to the club.

I can't like him! I can't!