"My GPA, sir," he sheepishly admitted.

This appeared to only please Mr. Muir according to the nod he gave. To me, it was odd that anyone would put forth an extra effort beyond a simple passing grade. I couldn't imagine a school GPA being so important that you would take a summer class to rectify it, especially when you were consistently on the honor roll like Broderick Cooper.

I found myself staring at him. He obviously felt my gaze because shortly after Mr. Muir resumed his checklist of students, he glanced over at me. He turned his lips back into a small and kind smile. As much as his smile encouraged me to smile back, I refused to share any of my smiles with him. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of openly being another girl added to his likely inventory of broken hearts and foolish affections; I had already been on someone else's inventory for that. Besides, guys like Gavin and Broderick were of the same mold. They were popular. Cari was right never to trust them. I knew that now.

My brows began to furrow at him and I could feel my imperfect lips push upward into a stubborn pout. I will never allow a guy to make a fool of me again. Never again, will I...

"Miss Juliana Taylor." Mr. Muir was standing over my desk.

"Sir?" I twisted around facing forward in my seat again, only to catch a glimpse that my expression must have insulted Broderick.

"Can we be expecting any repeat performances from you this summer?" He was partly joking, I could tell. His tone wasn't degrading, but I was humiliated just the same. If no one remembered before, they certainly did now.

"No sir." I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

"Are you sure?" he continued to rouse, "I wouldn't want to hinder any of your artistic output."

"No, sir," I quickly answered, hoping he would move on to his next victim and forget about me if I played polite and quiet.

"No, you're not sure or no, you don't feel the need to express yourself?" He wasn't letting up and his question made me flustered. I was willing to answer the question as long as it meant that he was willing to let up on the aggravating, but a voice two rows down became my sudden saving grace.

"Sir?"

"Yes, Mr. Cooper?"

"I was wondering if we were meeting for class on the Fourth of July?"

Mr. Muir's shook his head. "Absolutely not. I'd rather spend that day with my family just as most of you would probably prefer spending that day groping young girls in their bikinis by the lake."

The boys in the class laughed in agreement as Broderick smiled in appreciation. "Thank you, sir."

"You each will be allowed one sick day," he announced to the class. "Anything beyond that will result in a drop of a letter grade and possibly failure if you're only holding a D at that time."

Broderick caught my stare again and smiled awkwardly at me. I got the bizarre feeling that he distracted Mr. Muir on purpose to save me from any further harassment. Whatever the reason, I was grateful because I was already long forgotten and the next student on his list was now being tortured.

Steering my eyes to the front chalkboard pretending to be deep in thought, I could still feel Broderick's gaze upon me. My back stiffened and my lungs became more like full iron vats instead of balloons. My head slowly edged back over my left shoulder. Just one more peek. Real quick. Broderick's eyes were burning holes through me. He wasn't smiling this time, but he didn't seem upset, either. His thick brows were pulled together and his eyes narrowed in a studious manner as if I was the hardest algebra equation he would be confronted with this term. Was his expression supposed to threaten me or was he genuinely confused by me? Maybe he was puzzled by my bipolar hair color? Maybe I really hurt his feelings with the way I looked at him. I didn't mean to; I just wanted him to know where he and I stood. We would not be friends. Not even close.

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