Ways to Ruin a Life

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Beau did text again

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Beau did text again.

That's okay. I only asked because a friend had a Halloween party, and I thought it would be better to go with someone. Another time then?

Cora read his message in between classes with Eva looking over her shoulder. She hadn't had any reason to tell Eva about Beau. She hadn't even told her about her sprained arm. If she did, she'd have to explain why she'd turned down a date with a cute boy.

Eva, who believed in love at first sight and all of that drivel, would have said it was fate bringing them together. Cora had her own doubts about fate at the moment and she certainly didn't believe in true love. She even doubted what her great-grandmother had said about finding the one. The tingle she'd felt could have been her adrenaline and nothing more. Either way, it was all too late. She'd already done the ritual.

"Who's Beau?" Eva asked.

Cora turned off her phone. "No one."

"You don't expect me to believe that." Eva's voice was teasing. "Is he cute?"

"I don't know," Cora said, but in her mind she saw his face and her stomach flip-flopped. She told herself it was because she'd had too many pancakes at breakfast. Her grandmother had made them as a treat for Cora completing the ritual.

Around them, students slipped into their classrooms or loitered in the halls with their friends. A teacher stood by, ushering those students who'd stayed behind to chat out of the hall. Cora and Eva's math teacher hadn't yet shown up. His room door was locked. They stood in a line outside of his class with their other classmates.

One of the boys, a boy named Max draped his arm around Eva's shoulders. "Did either of you girls do the homework?" he asked with a brazen grin, popping his gum as he chewed.

"Yes, Max." Eva shrugged him off.

Everyone in school knew Eva was one of the best students. She might have outranked Willow when it came to her studiousness. People, like Max, often came to her when they'd missed a class, begging for her notes. Eva's nature sometimes allowed them to get away with it, but not today, not for Max, who was notorious for never handing in homework.

"How about you let me take a look," he said.

"No, Max," Eva said.

Max spread his arms wide. "Come on. Okay, fine, what about you?" He pointed at Cora.

"Trust me you don't want to copy from me," Cora said. Even if she'd wanted to give him her homework, there was a chance she'd gotten every single problem wrong. Math wasn't her best subject. She managed to maintain a C average. She was at least a B in her other classes. She'd spent all Sunday writing her Essay for English, emailing it to Ms. Brydel before midnight.

When Max was pulled away by another classmate, Eva said to Cora, "Don't think I've forgotten about you and this mystery boy." She nudged Cora's arm." I want to know who he is. You can't keep these details from your best friend."

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