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Resentment

By´╝ÜNicole London

PROLOGUE

MIA

Smalltown, USA

2004

Dean Collins is the most irresistible asshole at Central High School.

He’s your typical cliché, Mr. Popular. The “guy’s guy” who’s been voted “Homecoming King” two times in a row (minus my vote); the sexy star quarterback who’s capable of making grown women swoon from the sidelines (it really is sad), and the guy who can charm the hell out of any admiring girl with a simple smile, and a “Hey...What’s up?” in five seconds flat.

His face is the stuff of sculptures—hard and strong jawline, deep and piercing green eyes, and dimples that show even when he’s not smiling. And as if that wasn’t enough for the gods to endow him with, he has a six pack of abs that he always shows off, with full and defined lips that sometimes even make me wonder what they would feel like.

Nonetheless, I always do my best to avoid Dean Collins like the plague: I leave the four classes we take together early, never go to pep rallies to cheer on the team (Dean is the team), and the few times that he’s attempted that “Hey...What’s up?” thing on me, I’ve offered a blank stare and walked away.

Today, my usual avoidance routine seems to be getting tested, though. Especially since he’s currently standing five feet away from me.

“Yes?” I look up from my canvas and stare at him from across the classroom. “May I help you with something, Dean? You’re not in the art club.”

“I’m aware.” He smirks, looking around the empty classroom. “But it doesn’t look like anyone is in art club...”

That part is true. There’s actually no such thing as “art club” at Central High. It’s just me taking over whatever classroom I can find after school to paint for a few hours.

“We’re currently accepting applications for membership,” I say, setting down my paintbrush in the easel tray. “What can I help you with?”

“You know, I did come here for something.” He steps into the room and closes the door. “But, now that you claim that you’re accepting applications for your club, can I fill one out?”

“We don’t accept douchebags,” I say flatly. “Your application wouldn’t make it past round one.”

“Douchebag?”

“Yes, douchebag. Would you like me to give you the definition?”

Laughing, he tilts his head to the side. “I’m well versed on the definition, Mia Gray.” He stares at me for a long time, looking right into my eyes, giving me his usual infectious charm.

I immediately break our gaze and clear my throat. “You said you came here for something? Can you hurry up and tell me what that ‘something’ is so I can get back to addressing my art club? Today is a very important day for us.”

“I can see that...” He pulls his backpack off his shoulder and opens it, pulling out a black notebook. My black notebook.

“I found your notebook this morning,” he says. “I wanted to find you and give it back. I tried to give it to you after Physics class but I couldn’t get your attention.”

“Oh...” I reach for it, but then I stop. “Where exactly did you find it?”

“It was in the ‘Lost and Found.’ I saw it on top of everything in there when I got here for practice earlier.”

“You know, that’s funny,” I say, crossing my arms. “Because I’ve been checking’ Lost and Found’ every single day and in between every single class for weeks and it was never there.”

“Maybe you just didn’t look hard enough.”

“I even checked it this morning, and it wasn’t there. It. Was. Not. There.”

He smiles and flips through the pages. “You have very pretty handwriting. Has anyone ever told you that?”

“Where did you really find it, Dean?”

“You take pretty detailed notes, too.”

“Did you steal my fucking notebook?”

“Maybe.” His lips curve into a smirk. “Depends on how you define stealing.”

WHAT?! I nearly scream, knowing that that’s exactly what he’s done. “I had to rewrite the entire thing in one night! The night before our midterm!”

Still smiling, he walks over and sets the notebook on the window sill. “Well, good thing you somehow managed to still get an A, right? If it wasn’t for me, you probably wouldn’t have known that you were capable of rewriting a whole notebook in a night. I helped you push your boundaries, so I think I deserve a thank you.”

It takes everything in me not to pick up my canvas and hit him over the head with it, but I remain calm. Kind of. I stand up from my chair and push the easel against the window. Then I toss my “newly-found” notebook into my backpack and storm out of the room, biting my bottom lip to prevent myself from screaming.

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