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He conquered every one of my dreams last night and the minute I opened my eyes, he was all I could think about.

Broderick Cooper.

I couldn't wait to see him. No longer some silly school-girl crush, it was quickly becoming so much more to me. The continuous pull to him was becoming an unrelenting battle against my determination to remain wise when it came to matters of the heart. Every little thing about him, from his undignified way of befriending me to his hero-complex stirred my soul. And through it all, I resented my weakness to see him and be near him.

In spite of her newly acquired injury, Natalie had to be at cheer practice by six, so mom loaded us into the van and out of the driveway before fifteen minutes to the hour. Unlike me, she and Natalie were reliable with schedules. I had a habit of either being late or rushed to get anywhere on time.

Natalie stepped out of the van with apprehension when we arrived at the school. Her mind was completely focused on cheering with one arm in a sling and while still in pain. Her face was full of concentration as she said goodbye. I quietly waved at my mom and wished Natalie good luck.

I walked slowly to class since I arrived earlier than usual and had the time to enjoy the coolness of the morning before the humidity kicked in for the afternoon. When I arrived in class, I found only five others, including Mr. Muir waiting patiently.

All the guys in the room, including Mr. Muir, winced at my revelation that my car was no longer in existence. I was beginning to gather the feeling that if my car had survived and I hadn't come out so well, it wouldn't have affected them as negatively. Normally, I would have dwelt longer on that insulting thought, but this morning, the anticipation of seeing Broderick was practically sweeping me into the air. Would he walk in with the pretense that nothing had changed between us? Would he say hi to me with our mutual classmates as witness or try to keep our new friendship private?

Five minutes before the hour, a few more students walked in, but there was no sign of Broderick. Kevin Overby walked in just before the hour. He was usually late, Broderick wasn't. I glanced at my watch. Two minutes left. I opened my Algebra book and pulled out my notes. As the seconds slipped by, my shoulders dropped in defeat and I stole a quick glimpse over my left shoulder at Broderick's empty seat when I heard the door to my right fly open. Broderick walked in hastily.

"Sorry that I'm late, sir," he apologized.

"You're just in time, Mr. Cooper," Mr. Muir assured as he began reviewing for the test.

My heart leapt as Broderick slid into the empty seat directly behind me.

"What time did you leave your house this morning?" he whispered as he leaned into his notebook.

I was caught off guard by the question. I kept my eyes locked on Mr. Muir at the front of the class but twisted my head slightly to speak over my shoulder. "Huh?"

"Did your mom bring you?" he asked.

"Of course she did. I don't have a car."

"I thought you'd need a ride this morning, so I went by to pick you up; I waited for ten minutes." Instantly, my body went languid at his confession. "I assumed that you were just running late and couldn't answer the door. You almost made me late. I'm blaming you." He chuckled in a hushed whisper. Amused at his little blame game, I let a small giggle escape.

Frowning at the insight that I was losing my self-control with Broderick, I faced forward and tried to listen to Mr. Muir. His lesson was in a hollow box outside my ears. This class, like so many others, had become a wash due to my long winded daydreams and reflections. I zipped through the test absorbed with Broderick's proximity, sensing every sudden movement behind me. Every time he made a sound—clearing his throat or heavily sighing—I fell further into a realm of pleasure, enjoying the low electrical hum that covered my back, literally feeding off of his presence.

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