• So, as it turns out, Nick and I had almost the same exact schedule. Yes! One class of freedom! His last class was swimming; mine was track. Yes, we have a swimming class at our high school. As well as soccer, and basketball, and any other kind of sport you can probably think of.

    I showed him where the pool was and then made my way to the track field. Vincent and Cameron were both on the track team, but Kellie said she was too girly to join us. I had teased her until she threatened me with a tennis racket. She plays tennis, so of course she has one.

    “So, where’s your stalker?” Cameron asked with a smile.

    “Swimming, thank God. I don’t have to deal with him for this last class too. I’ve already gotten yelled at so many times today I can’t even remember what they were about.”

    Vincent heard me as he walked over and laughed. “Aren’t you going to get changed?” he asked.

    “Oh yeah! Thanks, Vince,” I told him as Cameron and I walked towards the locker room. There we changed into shorts and tank tops. We walked out and Cameron said, “You do realize Vincent likes you, don’t you?”

    I looked over at Vincent, not really surprised about this news, and he waved.

    “Not surprised. But—”

    Cameron surprised me by looking pissed off. “Don’t give me any crap either as to why you won’t go out with him. It’s been three years, Renata. Three! Don’t you think it’s about time you’ve gotten over Blake by now? I mean, honestly, how many boys think you’re just another psycho? You’re lucky to even have friends like us, Renata, after he left. Would you like a description of what you looked a few days later when I came over, a few days after he left?”

    I shook my head, almost in tears. Cameron hardly ever yelled at me, especially not over a reason like this. She was usually the most supportive one.

    “I have pictures, Rena, of what you looked like. When I first saw you that day, it was like someone had taken a branding tool and burned it into my head. And then I drew what you looked like, Renata, I drew it,” she continued quietly. “And then I buried it under a heap of stuff on the top shelf of my closet. I’d hate to have to show it you, but if need be, I’ll get it out and make you look at it, Rena. So get over Blake, or I’m bringing it out.”

    Cameron was a very good artist, so I knew the picture probably looked almost exactly like me. She suddenly shook her head, as if coming out of a trance and said, “Never mind, Renata. But if you say anything about what I just told you to Kellie or Vincent, it won’t be pretty.”

    I nodded, and we made our way back to Vincent.

    After class, Nick came striding up to me, acting like he didn’t care what others thought, but, hey, maybe he didn’t. And, he still reminded me of Blake.

    “How do we get out of here?” he asked me.

    “You just walk back through the school until you come to a door that leads outside,” I answered. “But, I have to stay after for my English teacher today, since she was so kind as to give me detention because of you. You have it too, remember?”

    He rolled his eyes. “Please. You actually stay behind for detentions? That old whore probably forgot about it by now.”

    I was surprised that he’d called the teacher an “old whore,” so surprised, in fact, that I actually smiled at Nick.

    He hesitantly smiled back. “Okay, how about this. We go to the teacher’s room, and then if she’s not there, we skip?” he said, walking a good distance behind me. I was leading the way.

    Just then, Vincent walked up to me. He cast a disapproving glance at Nick, but then turned back to me. “He’s going to ask you out!” Kellie screamed as she ran out and almost tackled me to the ground. I laughed at her expression.

    “You ran all the way after him just so you could ruin it?” I asked with a smile.

    “Yeah, why not? Besides, I wanna see how he goes about it.”

    Vincent smiled, glared at Kellie (her thankfully not seeing), and then said, “Will you go out with me?”

    I smiled and hugged him. I did like him, a little bit more than a friend. “I’m guessing that’s a yes?” he said, staring down at me in surprise.

    I let him go, right as Kellie said, “What do you think, Vincent?”

    “I think Nick and I have to go. English teacher gave us both detentions for some stupid reason I can’t remember,” I told Kellie and Vincent.

    I turned back around, facing Nick, and he stared right at me, a look in his eyes that I couldn’t place. Jealousy, maybe?

    But why would Nick be jealous of Vince?

    I shook my head to clear it, and started walking, without even seeing if anyone was following me. I eventually got to the English room, where the teacher wasn’t there.

    “We’re skipping,” I called down the hall, just as Nick turned around the corner. He gave me the thumbs-up sign, telling me he heard me. I started walking back to him. We didn’t speak as we made our way out of the school. “I’m thinking you can find your way home from here,” I told him.

    “Yeah, don’t worry about that,” he said.

    I started walking, and a few minutes later, I realized Nick was still following me. “Why are you following me?”

    “Because this is the way I have to go to get to my house.”

    “What street do you live on?”

    He gave me the address, and I groaned internally. “You live on the same street as me, only farther down the road.” And what struck me as odd is that his family moved into Blake’s old place.

    It wasn’t a very long walk, only about twenty minutes or so. I walked into my house without a word to Nick.