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Mr. Donatelli stopped me in the hall. Everyone who had paid to escape class and see the talent show was entering the auditorium. The boys had gone and grabbed front row seats and reserved spots for our group, so I wasn't worried about getting a bad seat as I stood off to the side with Mr. Donatelli.

         "Yes, sir?" I asked as I stuffed my hands into my short's pockets. It had gotten hot and May was definitely bringing the sunshine after several months of freezing cold and raining on and off.

"I just wanted to talk to you about the paper you and Miss Jacobs turned in," Mr. Donatelli said. "That is honestly the best essay I've read in a long time at this school. I'm actually thinking of taking it out with me tonight and showing a few colleagues from college."

I had thought our paper was brilliant, but not that brilliant. "You're showing professors?"

Mr. Donatelli shrugged. "Just a few friends, a couple of them actually do teach at KSU. My good friend Byron teaches African Studies and I think he'd like what you and Miss Jacobs put together."

I made a mental note to rub it in later when my father was around. "I'll make sure to tell Cree the good news."

Mr. Donatelli reached out and patted my arm. "Easiest A+ I've ever given out. You and Miss Jacobs make a great team. I only wish I could see what else you two could do when you put your heads together. Enjoy the show."

I headed on inside and found my spot next to Tremaine. We were in the middle row of seats sitting up front. The end seat next to me was empty as Tremaine, Marcus, Troiann and Chris all sat down to my right.

Marcus had his arm across the back of Troiann's chair, his hand playing in her curled hair and together they were lost in conversation. He had yet to claim her still and each time she tried to pull away there he was pulling her back. Tremaine joked it was love, but Marcus didn't find it funny. With Darnel I wasn't entirely sure I wanted him to be with Ashley, especially if she had him asking for space from his family and second-guessing basketball. Troiann seemed to be the exact opposite. As far as I could see, she wasn't trying to change Marcus or herself, and strangely, that was what made them work so well.

I leaned over to get Troiann's attention. "Yo, Troy, we should get into something later to celebrate."

Marcus glared at me, pulling Troiann into him. "Get your own girl, Dre."

"My own girl? Is that your way of saying you have a girl?" I feigned ignorance as I asked the simple question that had the rest of the boys instigating and looking at Marcus for a response.

He shook his head and faced the stage. "Enjoy the show."

The lights in the room dimmed as the seat next to me filled. Looking over, I found Draya sitting beside me, sucking on a sucker.

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