Boy Next Door

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I took the first seat inside the door. My chest was warming and I was sure that a blotchy redness wanted to make its unsightly appearance up my neck. Mr. Muir was studying the class with speculative eyes then shifted slightly to the clock on the wall. He set his coffee down and jumped to his feet lightly. This little man was obviously a morning person. His expression was rejuvenated and fresh.

"Question: who would be opposed to getting out of class at ten instead of noon?" he asked.

I heard a high five and a few excited whispers coming from around the room behind me.

"Before you answer," He continued, "keep in mind that you will still pay your debt of four hours a day; you would just be starting the sentence two hours earlier."

This time a few groans were muttered.

"It's up to you as a class. You can come in at eight; leave at noon, when a good chunk of your day has been spent within these walls or you can drag yourselves in at six and leave at ten, giving you pretty much an entire day to do whatever it is you do to waste your summers."

As much as I would like to stay in a comatose state until ten every morning, the earlier class time was appealing to me. Still, it didn't really matter to me because I was still grounded and my "daylight" was wasted anyway. After we all voted to start class at six, I braced myself with the understanding that I would have to start going to bed earlier. Although I may not have a life outside of my own home, I still couldn't get myself to sleep before midnight. It just wasn't in me; I have always been more of a night owl.

Mr. Muir went through the class list. Most of us, he was familiar with.

"I see we have..." he scanned the list first then would search for the face that went with the name. "Mr. Overby, how good of you to join us for both terms this summer."

"I thought you'd like that," Kevin Overby quipped.

Kevin Overby was a notorious trouble maker in our school. His long hair was always hanging in his face, which bothered me. It made me want to put a bow in his hair.

"Mm-hmm." Mr. Muir clearly was not excited to have him for eight full weeks of the summer. "Mr. King. Good to see you again, too."

The young boy casually lifted his chin and then turned back to his friends sitting behind him. Those boys, too, were noted as returning students.

"Mr. Cooper, what brings you in here for the summer?" Mr. Muir was clearly caught off guard by this name on the class list. It caught my attention, as well.

Broderick Cooper, who could be easily called a next door neighbor if it weren't for the patch of trees and small creek that separated our properties, was now sitting two rows over and two seats back. Often I would see him jogging in the neighborhood or mowing yards and landscaping, a summer business he started with his best friends Jackson Pugh and Joey Burnett. He was well known in our town for being an athlete. Often, I would hear my dad's prediction that Broderick Cooper would someday play major league baseball. He also excelled in football and basketball. I, along with every other girl at our school, lusted after him, though he was practically untouchable. Providing a scandal almost as big as mine last year, he dated beautiful Taryn Green for a few short months before she hooked up with his best friend, Jackson, behind his back. Since then, he hadn't been seen with anyone and yet still continued to be friends with both of them. It baffled all of us.

His puppy dog brown eyes, that always seemed to beam, were lined with thick lashes and brows, and his boyish appeal was made more apparent by the way his perfectly shaped lips smoothly pulled back into a smile emitting two very defining dimples. His brown hair always had that tousled look and his bangs hung lightly over his forehead as he tried sweeping them off to the side with his fingers as he spoke.

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