Chapter Ten

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“So, to finish completing the square, you have to flip the equation round. Don’t forget to keep in the plus-minus square root sign, and that’s your answer. Do you get it?”

            Nathan looks up from the textbook, staring expectantly at me with wide blue eyes. Etched across his features is a hopeful expression, his gaze darting toward my open notebook for a split second before returning to my face. The two of us are seated at the table in my kitchen, our first study session in full swing. Not that much has been going on. If I’m honest, the previous half an hour has consisted mostly of Nathan talking complete gibberish to me, whilst I nod and act like I have the faintest clue about what’s he’s trying to explain.

            “Uh…”

            “You don’t get it, do you?” Nathan looks genuinely disappointed, punctuating his last sentence with a small sigh.

            “I’m sorry,” I say, sending him an apologetic look. “This really isn’t my best subject. It’s not you, I swear. Um… how about we go over the problem again and you can explain it a little bit slower?”

            I feel bad, I really do. It starts off fine (well, when Nathan tells me what page of the textbook we’re working from), but as soon as he starts garbling nonsense about letters and equations and whatever else the torturous subject of algebra involves, I tend to switch off.

            Or just stare at his mouth and wonder if he’s still speaking English.

            “Okay, we’ll start right from the beginning. Tell me as soon as you don’t understand something.”

            And that’ll be… right now.

            “Sounds good. Let’s go for it.”

            It doesn’t really sound too great, but I’ve got to at least try. If only to avoid the humiliation of looking like an absolute retard in front of my tutor. I think I’m an unteachable student.

            I should probably leave that off my college application.

            Nathan continues explaining the problem, looking up at me every few seconds to check that I haven’t suddenly drifted off or something. When he does, I’ve taken to nodding enthusiastically like I’m really engaged in the equation he’s going over, even though I’m closer to booking a one-way ticket to snooze-ville. About two minutes later, when my eyelids are growing heavier and heavier with each passing moment, I’m jolted back to reality by the sound of the back door slamming open.

            And someone barging right into the kitchen, as if they own the place.

            “Connor?” I exclaim, frowning, as my eyes zero in on the dark-haired guy who’s randomly walked into my house. “What are you doing here?”

            Nathan breaks off from his long-winded algebra speech, him too peering at Connor curiously.

            However, Connor doesn’t respond. Instead, he just saunters into the kitchen as if it’s his own house, barely even sparing Nathan and I a glance. What the hell is he doing, anyway? And how did he get in? I’m pretty sure that back door’s meant to be locked – precisely to avoid situations like this.

            “Connor!” I snap. “Don’t ignore me!”

            At the sound of my voice, his head turns in my direction. A faint look of distaste crosses it before he answers. “Oh, great. It’s you.”

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