Chapter Four

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Even though part of me was sure he'd forget all about me and be gone by the time school finally ends, Miah is leaning against the trunk of his disaster of a car when I walk out to the student parking lot. My heart turns over in my chest, and I struggle to keep the corny grin off my face. I almost feel like one of those girls in those ridiculous teen movies, where all it takes is a smile from the "right" guy to turn the day around. It's sad, but true; just seeing Miah always makes me feel a little more hopeful, even if it's hard to believe I'll ever really have a chance with him.

As if fate has heard my thoughts, Becca brushes past me and strides up to Miah, a confident swagger in her hips. I hang back for a minute, uncertain, but Miah doesn't look happy to see her. In fact, a pained expression flickers across his face before he gives her a polite smile. I'm too far away to hear what she says, but Becca isn't trying to be polite. She stands close enough to Miah that she could kiss him, her hand resting on his chest possessively. Miah tilts his head like he's listening to her, but then he shakes it slowly, and I see Becca's fingers curl reflexively. I'm not sure I want to get in the middle of whatever is going on between them, especially knowing how vicious Becca can be, but my feet clearly have other plans, and I walk up to them, struggling to look casual.

Miah smiles when he sees me, but Becca ignores me. I clear my throat, trying not to sound nervous. "You ready?"

Miah steps away from Becca and reaches for the drivers' side handle. "Just about."

Becca turns and studies me, her eyes narrowing as she realizes that Miah is going to give me a ride home. "I thought you took the bus," she says, her voice cold.

I force a smile. "Not today." Moving with more purpose than I feel, I head to the passenger door, glancing back at Becca to make sure she's watching. She is; her eyes are trained on me like a basilisk, but I try to ignore her poisoned stare. She studies me, her face calculating, and then she slips back into her flirty demeanor and turns to Miah.

"I'll see you later, right?" Her words are thick with meaning, and I watch Miah intently, wondering how he'll react.

"Becs, I don't think..." he clears his throat, casting a glance over his shoulder at me, and I hurriedly pretend to be looking for something in my backpack. "Let's leave it for now, okay?"

She leans toward him, pretending to whisper, but she's pitched her voice so I can hear every word. "You aren't seriously thinking of replacing me, are you? Even if we're taking a break right now, there's no one who knows you like I do. That's the kind of scribe you need if you want to win—"

Miah interrupts her quickly. "Not now, okay? We'll talk later."

Without waiting for her answer, he opens the car door and gets in. Becca smiles after him, but when the car pulls out of the lot, she glares at me, and I have a feeling that I've just given her another reason to hate me. My skin turns cold, but then I remember I'm in Miah's car, alone with him, and I focus on the caster next to me.

His light brown hair is long enough to gather in a short ponytail at his neck, but instead of looking sloppy, it just makes him look even more charming. My eyes skim the lines of his face, and I notice with a shock that he's starting to grow what looks like a goatee. It's darker than his hair, closer to black, and I wonder what he'll look like when all the stubble grows in the way he wants it.

Miah glances at me, and his expression of concentration slips into an easy smile. "How was your first day?"

"It's not really a first day when I went here last year, you know."

He chuckles. "But now you aren't a freshman, so that definitely counts for something."

My heart starts to thud. Does that mean I count for something to him? Miah's only six months older than me, but because of the birthday cut-off, he's a junior this year, an untouchable upper classman...and he's sitting here waiting for me to say something.

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