If you haven't seen it yet, I'm digging through my trenches of old manuscripts and sharing bits of them!
Last week I introduced WRONG ANSWER. You can read the excerpt HERE.
Here's the next installment of WA:
“Thank you, Ms. Parrish,” Mrs. Hornsby said as I handed in my test. I stood awkwardly in front of her, shocked she’d called me up.
And then, straight from my nightmares, the withered old woman stood up and dramatically ripped my test in two, letting the pieces flutter around her to the floor. The classroom collectively gasped. I didn’t move.
“There is no cheating allowed in my class. Ever.”
What a bitch. If she knew I gave Nathan the answer, why didn’t she rip up his test first? And why, may I ask, did she wait twenty minutes and fifty hard problems later to do this? I balled my hands into fists.
“Mr. Wright,” she called over my shoulder.
“Yes, Honey?” he answered. The class snickered. I would have too if I weren’t hating my teacher’s guts for humiliating me.
She tsked. “I’ll see you and Ms. Parrish at three o’clock.”
“It’s a date.”
I dropped my eyes, feeling them sting with the beginning of angry-tears. “Can I sit down now?” I asked in a low, just-got-in-trouble voice.
“Yes you may,” she said. Was that a trace of guilt in her gravelly old voice? Too late. I’d already wished her heart would explode during lunchtime. No take-backs.
My sandals scraped the linoleum floor as I walked back to my desk. No one laughed, not at me. It was too shocking. This was the stuff legends were made of. The school brain and the school bad-boy cheating together on a test? Scandalous.
I dropped in my desk, twitching my nose because the burning in my nostrils was making my eyes run, or vice versa. Please. Let the classroom open up into the netherworld and suck me in. Everyone was staring at me.
He had to be kidding me. I would never, in a million years, look at him again.
“Don’t make me psst you again,” he whispered.
Damn. A tear leaked out of my eye. I turned my head quickly, wiping at it. How embarrassing. I was a big, blubbery baby and now I just had to sit here, testless for the next five minutes.
I heard Nathan adjust in his seat, but I didn’t look over. I was too busy being pathetic. With no other way to cover my face, I folded my arms over my desktop and laid my head on them. And cried. Because I was that uncool.
“For reals?” Madeline asked, pushing her glasses up on her face. They weren’t the geeky bifocal kind either. They were cute, all cat-eyed and drama-club-chic. The rest of our lunch table was enthralled, hearing the tales of Corinne and the Calculus debacle.
“This has been the worst day of my junior year and quite possibly my life.”
“Not true,” Madeline said. “You once puked on Bucky Smifford.”
“Oh, good call.”
“It was totally gross.” She picked up the top bun of her hamburger to examine the patty
beneath it. The noise of the lunchroom was deafening if you didn’t know how to tune it out. Luckily, having a little sister gave me loads of practice with selective hearing.
“But,” Madeline said, dropping her bread and pushing her tray away. “What I want to know is why in the hell you’d give him the answer?”
Hm. I’d like to know why myself.
Madeline straightened her glasses, widening her eyes behind them. “Heads up,” she said quickly. “Known felon alert.”
Damn. That was the raspy voice of Nathan Wright saying my name. Standing over my shoulder, no doubt looking down at the top of my head. I could ignore him, wait until he shuffled away.
“Hey,” he said, sounding annoyed. He tapped my shoulder. I spun around, alarmed that he would a.) want to talk to me again and b.) put his well-trained fingers on my body.
“What?” I snapped at him.
He stepped back, his dark leather hiking boots scraping the floor. His mouth hung open as he looked me over. He was sexy when he was irritated.
“Come walk with me for a minute,” he said, looking bored as he glanced over the room. I started at him.
“Uh…hell no?” Who did he think he was?
His eyes darted to mine. “Corinne Parrish,” he said in a controlled sort of anger. “Get your ass out of that seat and come walk with me.”
Madeline kicked my sandal under the table, but I wouldn’t break Nathan’s glare. How dare he talk to me like that? Like he could just order me around. Make me cheat on tests.
“Nathan Wright,” I said, mocking his tone. “My rear is quite fine where it is. Go harass someone else.” So I was a little mad. I had every reason to be. I’d never in my life gotten a test ripped up. That would be a zero forever recorded on my academic record. And now he was mad at me because I wouldn’t let him apologize?
But instead of quietly brooding like a good misunderstood-hottie, he had the nerve to walk over, take my elbow and pull me up and out of my seat. He wasn’t rough, I was too stunned to fight, and before I could signal the rent-a-cop in the corner, Nathan ushered me forward and out the cafeteria doors.
It took about three steps into the hallway for me to realize I was being manhandled by an eighteen-year-old degenerate. I yanked my arm out of his grasp and spun around to face him. Damn. He was even better looking up close.
“Are you nuts?” I asked. His eyes were narrowed and my heart was racing and good God, this was intense. Why was he talking to me? Was it the fact that I was blowing him off? Guys like him probably weren’t used to that. Well that made two of us. I wasn’t used to guys like him blowing me on.
“I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” he said, crossing his arms over his black t-shirt. When his eyes met mine, I felt a tingle rush through me. They were so gorgeously blue.
“So…. you physically assault me to force your apology?” Yes. I was being melodramatic.
“Assault?” he asked.
“Grabbing, assault, whatever.”
He stared at me, looking confused. “You’re weird,” he said, shaking his head. “Are you a bitch to everyone?”
“Yes.” But ouch! Was I really a bitch?
Nathan looked me over one more time with the same devirginizing stare he’d used earlier. “You know what you need?” he said, his crooked smile working it’s magic.
Uh, oh. Perverted line alert. “What?” Why did I ask?
He dropped his arm and reached for my hand. “I’ll show you.” But my entire body set on fire with white-hot embarrassment as I let Nathan pull me forward toward the front exit. This was insane. I couldn’t go anywhere with him. Especially not off the school grounds.
“Stop,” I said, pulling my hand free. “I…I can’t skip class.”
He bit on his lower lip, stepping closer to me. Wow. I was prickling all over. “Maybe after school then,” he whispered, staring at my mouth.
Okay. Freeze frame. What the hell was happening? How did my day suddenly become an after-school special on abstinence? Especially when this was the first conversation I’d ever had with Mr. Hit-it-and-quit-it.
“Oh my God,” I said, backing away and holding up my arms defensively. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”
His playboy expression faltered and his eyes changed to something more self-conscious. Hot boys were so insecure.
“Not interested,” I said, regaining some of my self-respect. “I don’t date, and I definitely don’t more. So if you’re looking for good-time-fun, you’ve got the wrong gal.” Franchesta’s cleavage shot into my mind. “So I suggest you back away slowly before my knee meets your balls.”
His mouth opened, surprised, probably too soon to be angry. Pig. He just tried to sneak me out of school for a roll in the figurative hay. Really it would be a roll in the back of his Mustang and gross, like I would lose it there.
I turned quickly, letting my body adjust to the dramatic mood swings I’d just undergone and stomped back toward the cafeteria. Just as I got through the doors, I heard a chuckle.
“See you at three o’clock, Corinne.”