This is another one of those "I intended to write a blog post, but I was too busy editing Acktorek to actually do it" weeks. I'm getting really close to the end of this draft, which means I can give it to my family to read. (And maybe finally have time to make my Anna dress.) So have another snippet.
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She first noticed him when he sat down beside her in math class. He was tall, blond, but other than that, she kept her eyes on her math. Until he said her name.
“Emma, isn’t it?”
Emma turned her head to see the young man full on, glancing at her math teacher out of the corner of her eye. Mr. Willman was focused on Chloe, her math-challenged classmate. Emma would be outside of his notice—for better or for worse—for a while yet.
This young man was new to Gondora Heights Private Academy. She’d gone to school with most of her classmates since she was in kindergarten. And she’d never seen this particular young man before in her life. His face was lean, but not angular, his complexion was fair, his features were well proportioned and his blue eyes were steady. His blond hair just fell over the top of his forehead. He appeared to be well-built and muscular, but not overly bulky. He was naturally dressed in the Gondora Heights uniform: a maroon polo shirt with the school logo embroidered on the left and khakis. Yet somehow it looked different on him than on the other students.
He leaned his right elbow on the table and twirled his pencil through his fingers. Seeming to notice her scrutinizing gaze, he flashed her a bright smile.
Emma barely restrained herself from rolling her eyes. “How do you know my name?”
He gestured toward the top of her paper with his pencil. “It’s not that difficult to figure out.”
Emma moved her arm to shield her paper from his view. Not that there was anything on it to hide, but she still didn’t like him snooping. “You shouldn’t be looking at other people’s papers. It’s wrong to cheat, you know.”
“I wasn’t cheating. I just wanted to say hello.”
“Well, you’ve done it.” He was too close to her—not that it took much to be uncomfortably within her bubble. If it wasn’t likely to attract attention, she’d scoot her chair away. But Emma wasn’t one to purposely attract attention.
“My name is Mitchell Banks. I’m new to Gondora Heights; staying with my aunt.”
“Good.” Perhaps if she kept to monosyllabic answers, he would let her attend her math.
“I feel like a bit of an outsider here. Everyone already knows one another.”
Emma took a deep breath to cleanse the annoyance from her voice before answering. “It’s a close-knit school. Most of us have been here since kindergarten.”
“See, that’s what I mean. Do you think you could introduce me around?”
Emma turned to look at him then, not bothering to wipe her annoyance and surprise from her expression. “Why me?” She darted a quick glance at Mr. Willman, still occupied with Chloe, and almost sighed.
He shrugged, almost imperceptibly. “You’re smart, you seem like a nice girl, and I thought I’d like to get to know you.”
Emma snorted. “That’s where you’re wrong. I don’t have the reputation of being a nice girl.”
“Really?” He closer and lowered his voice further. “Because I would guess they would be the ones without the ‘nice girl’ reputation.” He jerked his head towards Ella Grayson and Hayley Joyce, sitting behind her.
“You’re not wrong,” she had to admit.
“What is your reputation?” he asked.
Emma stiffened. “We’re in a math class. We’re supposed to be doing math.” She didn’t even mind the harshness of her tone or the reproachfulness of her words.
“Oh.” Mitchell leaned back in his chair. “I guess that’s the kind of reputation you’ve got.”