Secrets Are Best Kept by the Dead

My chest weighed heavy with trepidation as I weaved through the vehicles parked in the student lot. I held my hand against my forehead in a salute to shield my sensitive eyes from the glaring, evil, and torturous rays of the sun. Didn't Trevor understand that it was a pain for me to walk all the way to the back of the parking lot? Of course he had to park as far from the other cars as possible, less his own shiny, expensive car got hit or scratched.

Rich people.

As I passed the last row of cars, I spotted the sleek and flashy exterior of his car in the far right corner of the lot. My heart rate quickened. With one hand grasped around the strap of my black messenger bag, I raised the other to toy nervously with my new locket.

Yanking open the passenger side door, I peered in to find Trevor leaning over and looking up at me agitatedly. "Hurry. Get in."

I swiftly slid into the passenger seat and slammed closed the door. I looked over to see Trevor sigh in relief. "Did anyone see you?"

I frowned, not feeling very welcomed. "Do they ever?"

He laughed, but it was tense and painfully forced. What the heck was up with him? Again, that pulling fear began to whirl in my chest. I folded my arms across my ribcage and dug my black fingernails into my arms. It was time to get to the point. I didn't tiptoe around things, I stomped right through them.

"So what is it that you want to talk about, Trevor? You're making me late for class."

"Right, cause I know you're such a stickler for being on time for English," he retorted, smirking at me all-knowingly. I grimaced.

"Stalker," I accused. "Do you have my entire schedule memorized or something?"

I was only joking when I asked so when he answered with a nonchalant "So what?" I was taken by surprise.

I looked at him with wide eyes. "What?"

I could tell by the blotchy pink in his cheeks that he was a little embarrassed. "You didn't think all those times we ran into each other were just coincidences, did you?"

"Well, yeah," I said honestly. I never even entertained the idea that the instances Trevor ran into me in the hallway had been planned. My stomach fluttered.

"Well they weren't."

"…thanks?"

He lifted a blond eyebrow at me. "Thanks?"

I shrugged my black covered shoulders. "Well, it's kind of a compliment when someone stalks you. So thanks."

Trevor shook his head. "Okay, before you get too ahead of yourself, why don't you come out of dreamland, Raven. I wasn't stalking you. I was strategically planning opportunities to harass you and you're gonna thank me for it?" He reached out to pet me on the head. "Babe, if you ever see a dude squatting in the bushes outside your house with a camera, don't thank him. Call the police, okay?"

"Why can't you just say you're welcome and be done with it?" I asked grumpily, swatting his hand off my head.

I glared stonily at him and he glared right back. We had now entered into a tense staring contest and he was going down. I puckered my un-blackened lips, furrowed my penciled brows in concentration and stared into his emerald eyes. I noticed his mouth turn up in a smirk and I knew something was up. Seconds later, I gasped as his hand latched onto my boob.

With the strength of a superhero on steroids, I shoved him off of me.

"You lose!" He announced triumphantly.

"You jerk!" I hissed back. Retaliation conquering common sense, I thoughtlessly groped him back, my hand grabbing his crotch.

"Raven, what the fuck?!" He shouted, slapping my hand away and looking just as flustered as I was.

Mortified, but refusing to own up to it, I simply said, "What? You can dish it out, but can't take it?"

He shook his blond head, looking bewildered. "Okay, but there's a huge difference between me grabbing your boob and you grabbing my dick."

"There isn't," I bit back childishly.

"There is. You need me to take you back to ninth-grade health class to explain why?"

I narrowed my eyes and reached for the door handle so I could leave. Trevor was being such an ass. "Well obviously you need to go relieve some stress. I cordially invite you to go hump a soccer goal." Just as the door cracked open, Trevor grabbed hold of my wrist and pulled me back in.

"Raven, we need to talk."

I turned to look at him, a little staggered by his closeness. "We were talking."

"We were arguing."

"We're always arguing," I sighed, rolling my eyes.

He reached for my hand and I let him. When his lips brushed my knuckles, I dragged my gaze back to his apologetic one. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry for what?" I probed.

"Sorry for being a jerk," he began, smiling when I mumbled even though you're always a jerk under my breath, "and sorry for grabbing your boob. Even though it was really nice and I'm dying to do it again, I swear I won't ever touch you again unless you specifically ask me to."

Now he was just being stupid. My lips wavered as I struggled not to laugh. "What makes you think I'll ever ask?"

He smirked suggestively against my fingers. "The Raven I was with last night definitely would've asked."

Good humor killed, I snatched my hand back and once more turned for the exit. "Okay, goodbye."

He was laughing this time as he pulled me back into the seat, his face nuzzling my neck as he breathed a last and sincere apology against my skin. "I'm kidding, Monster Girl. Don't be mad. I'm sorry." He retook my hand and laced our fingers. "I was being a jerk and I shouldn't have done that. Do you forgive me?"

I pretended to consider, just to leave him in suspense. "Hm…maybe."

"Is there any way I can convince you?" He asked seductively, nose brushing behind my ear.

"I guess I might be willing to maybe forgive you if…"

"If?" He urged, already skimming my jawline with his mouth.

"If you get me the collector's edition of Nosferatu. It's released tomorrow," I added, helpfully. When he made no reply, I twisted to look him in the eye and smiled. "What? Did you think you could buy my forgiveness with a kiss? I'm not that cheap, Trevor."

He really did make an effort to look annoyed, but it was trumped by his amusement. In the end, he ended up giving me a kiss anyway, his mouth warm and smiling. "You're really one of a kind, Raven Madison."

"You're just now noticing?" I teased, returning the kiss. "Now what is this all about, Trevor? I really don't like English, but there's a quiz on The Twelfth Night that I can't miss."

As soon as he released me and moved back into his seat, I knew that what he was about to say was not going to be good. When he glued his eyes to his lap, visibly too afraid to even look at me, I knew that what he was about to say was going to be catastrophic. With a weak and strained voice, he spit it out. "I think we should keep the fact that we're dating a secret."

A bone chilling cold rushed over me, numbing everything and momentarily inhibiting my ability to speak.

He shot a nervous look my way before returning his gaze to the steering wheel. "I just don't think it's the best idea right now."

I looked out the window to hide the hurt screwing up my face. I could feel his gaze on me, gauging my reaction. I didn't want him to see me injured, but I did need him to see me wrathful. So I waited for the initial shock of hurt to ease into a dull ache before turning back to face him, my expression cooled and hard.

"I'm going to make this very easy for you, and call this entire thing off. We're done." I reached for the door with feeble fingers. "Now you've got nothing to hide except your shitty personality."

Before I could open the door, the lock shot down, trapping me inside. "Unlock the door," I ordered, trying my best to keep my voice calm. If I let leak a hint of how much pain I was in, the dam holding me in check would surely break. Already, I was cracking under the pressure to remain composed.

"Let me explain, Raven."

"There's nothing to explain. Do you think you're the first person that's rejected me because they're embarrassed to be seen with me? I get it, Trevor. I'm used to it. It's my fault for thinking maybe you were different. Now let me out of here before I start making a scene."

Anger was in his voice this time; unmistakable and fierce frustration. "Look, this has been stressing me out for days now so please just listen. I swear I'm not doing this because I'm ashamed of being with you. Will you just listen? Please?" The locks shot back up, giving me a choice.

A small part of me—the part that didn't want to rip his head off right now—wanted to hear what he had to say. Taking a deep breath and temporarily swallowing my anger, I twisted around in my seat, folded my arms across my chest, lifted an intimidating eyebrow, and pinned him down with a steady glare. "You have one minute."

He exhaled unsteadily and nodded, agreeing to my terms. "So, I know this is going to sound unbelievably cocky but it has to be said," he glanced at me cautiously, "but I'm kinda popular."

I rolled my eyes. "And let me guess: I'm damaging to your reputation?"

"I guess, but that's not what the problem is. I don't even care about that."

"Right," I scoffed mockingly. "Well, if that's not the problem then what is?"

He sighed and shook his head. "If you would just give me a little more time than one minute, I'd love to explain it to you." He looked at me expectantly.

Narrowing my eyes, I ceded. "Fine. Two minutes."

"Anyway, as I'm sure you're aware, there are more than a few girls at school that like me—"

"Yeah, the mentally insane."

"And I would prefer if you were still included in that group," he continued hopefully.

I scowled. "We'll see."

"And I know you know which Jennifer I'm talking about when I say she'd go nuts if she found out you and I were together."

I couldn't believe this was what he was worried about. He didn't want to hurt Jennifer Warren's feelings? "And you care so much about her feelings because…?"

"I don't care about her feelings, but I do care about what she'll do to you if she finds out about the two of us." He looked at me pleadingly and reached for one of my hands, grasping it firmly. "I just don't want anyone to ruin this right now, Raven."

"You're doing a fine job of that yourself," I bit back, excessively scathing. My tone gentled when I noticed him recoil. "I can take care of some psycho cheerleader, Trevor."

"It's not like she's going to try and beat you up. You don't know how conniving and low she is. She'll do everything in her power to tear us apart and she has a massive weapon at her advantage."

"And what would that be?" I asked curiously.

"My mom."

A small chuckle escaped my lips and I swiftly brought my free hand up to stifle it. Was he really that scared of his own mother? I mean, sure, she was intimidating and whatever, but what could she possibly do? Ground him? "Oh no, not your mommy."

He sent me a slightly peeved look. "Do you know why my family is so rich?"

"Yeah, you only own the biggest real estate agency on this side of the state," I answered matter-of-factly.

"And your mom works for that agency," he added.

I raised my eyebrow higher. "So what?"

Now it was Trevor's turn to roll his eyes. "So basically, if my mom finds out that you and I are together and that I'm not making moves on Jennifer, your mom is pretty much out of a job."

Now I was very confused. "Slow down Speed Racer, I'm lost." He smirked. "What the heck do you mean 'if I'm not making moves on Jennifer'?"

Trevor grimaced. Obviously this was something he really didn't want to explain. "It shouldn't be a secret to you that my mom likes Jennifer. She's practically a younger version of her."

"And also the complete opposite of me," I added, quite proud of the fact.

"And that," he agreed. "Jen's mom and mine have been brunch-buddies since I was a toddler. They've been planning our futures over eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary's for seventeen years. But more importantly, her family owns a large contracting business. In the eyes of my parents and her parents, we're a match made in real-estate heaven."

Now it made a little more sense. "So if Jennifer found out that you and I were together…?"

"She'd do any number of things, even put your mom out of a job," he finished, giving my hand a gentle squeeze.

I looked down at my fishnet covered knees as my brain processed this new predicament. "How long do we have to keep this a secret?" I asked quietly, picking at a pull in my stockings.

"I don't know, Rave. Ever since I realized me and you were a possibility, I've been thinking of ways to work this out. I don't want to hide this." He kissed the back of my hand reassuringly and my heart clenched. "You're the coolest chick in all of Dullsville and everyone thinks so. I'm so damn happy to call you my girlfriend, you have no idea."

"Stop trying to butter me up," I said, smiling weakly.

"I mean it," he insisted. "You're amazing, and one day my parents will see that too."

I shook my head wryly. "What do I have to do? Dye my hair blonde and place first in a national golf tournament?"

He laughed, though it lacked its usual zeal. "I'm not saying it wouldn't help, but I would personally be very bummed to see you change a thing about yourself."

"Even the fake blood?" Sometimes I liked to dab a little here and there just for the hell of it, because why not?

"Especially the fake blood." His thumb brushed mine and my anger waned. "I need my parents to like you, Raven."

"They already don't like me."

"They don't know you," he argued fairly. "All they know is your reputation and I know you don't care about that," he started, predicting what I was about to say next. "But they do."

"So if they believe the rumors, your parents think I'm a drug-abusing skank that dabbles in the occult and defaces public property, is that right?"

His expression was reluctant. "To an extent, yeah."

"And you can't just tell them that none of it is true?" Somehow this seemed the easiest solution. Telling the truth was liberating in all kinds of ways.

"They stopped trusting what I had to say the first time I snuck a girl in my room and told them it was Matt." He looked annoyed. "You're not the only one whose bad reputation precedes them. My parents would never believe me if I told them I was serious about you. Hell, no one would. Not even you did."

"It is kinda hard to believe," I admitted.

He shook his head, looking absolutely disagreeing when he muttered, "If you knew how crazy I've been about you." He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "Anyway, my point is it'd be too easy for Jennifer to trash your reputation even more. She'll make you look so bad that my parents would never agree to me even being around you, never mind date you."

"Do you really need their permission?"

"No, but I would like their approval," he countered earnestly. "They're my parents, Rave. Would you be okay with your parents not liking me?"

"Are you kidding? My parents would throw a celebration and invite the entire community if they knew I was dating Trevor Mitchell." I saw his point, though. It definitely would be unfortunate if my family didn't support me being with someone that made me happy, especially if their dislike was based off of rumors and lies.

"We just need some time, Raven. I need my parents to see that Jen isn't the girl for me. They're not gonna even consider me being with anyone else until I can prove how horrible she is."

I frowned. "I don't want you dating Jennifer."

He actually laughed. "As if I would."

"But you aren't going to push her away, either."

"I'm not just gonna let her do whatever she wants," he assured me, reaching up and cupping the side of my face. "I'm not gonna screw this up." He leaned forward as if to kiss me, but paused when I pressed my hand to his mouth.

"You're not allowed to kiss her."

His gaze turned disparaging. "Raven, I wouldn't. One: that's disgusting. Two: I literally just told you I wasn't going to mess this up. I already know that kissing Jen would put me six feet under." Grabbing hold of my fingers, he kissed my fingertips and smiled. "Or am I wrong?"

"I would be more than happy to dig your grave for you."

"That's what I thought," he murmured as he closed in, pressing his mouth against mine. "Anymore boundaries you'd like to draw?"

"No holding her hand."

"I won't," he promised, giving me another kiss.

"No taking her out on dates."

Another kiss. "Understood."

"No lying or hiding things from me," I finished, locking my gaze with his.

"You got it, Monster Girl." This time the kiss was deeper, longer. When he broke away, he was grinning. "Anything else?"

I moved my eyes to the roof of the car as I mulled everything over. "If I think of anything, I'll let you know. For now, that's all I've got."

Gently, he let his forehead drop against mine. "If we're going to do this right, we're gonna have to remember how to hate each other again."

My smile widened. "You mean pretend to hate each other."

He grinned back. "You're just a weirdo creep with a vampire fetish."

"And you're just a soccer snob who still needs his mommy to dress him in the morning."

"Now that sounds like a match made in heaven."

And strangely enough, it kind of did.


It hadn't quite hit me just how difficult it was going to be to revert back to our old ways until lunch came around and I had to pass Trevor's crowded table and pretend like I didn't notice him. It was very hard. Every fiber of my being wanted to see who he was sitting with, what his face looked like, what he was eating, to hear what he was talking about. Most of all, I wanted to see if Jennifer Warren was sitting with him.

Ignore him, I demanded of my will. With my Hello Batty lunchbox in hand, I glued my eyes to Becky's table up ahead and didn't let them stray for a second. I made the smart decision to sit with my back towards his table. There was no need to expose myself to temptation. "Hey Becky."

"What's up?" She said happily, gulping down a spoonful of chocolate pudding. "How come I didn't hear from you all weekend?"

I knew she wanted to hear all about my project with Trevor, but now just wasn't the time. "Sorry. I was busy."

"Really? With what?" She asked encouragingly.

I wracked my brains. Lying didn't have to be hard. I could just tell the truth while leaving out one major detail. "I went to the mall."

"Did you buy anything?"

"Um, yeah, this necklace," I said, pointing to the chocker Trevor had bought for me.

Becky's eyes grew wide. "Oh wow. That's super pretty. Hot Gothic?" She guessed.

No way in hell was I going to tell her it was from a lingerie boutique. "Mm-hmm. So, um, where's Matt?" I asked, quick to change the subject.

Becky perked up at the mention of her boyfriend. "He's over there talking to Trevor about their schedule this week for practice. They have a big game coming up on Friday, so practice is going to be tough this week."

"Cool." I wanted to slap myself. Since when did I ever think anything relating to soccer and Trevor was cool?

I don't think Becky noticed my slip-up because just as I said it, Matt was making his way to our table with Trevor hot on his heels. I decided then was a good time to open my lunchbox and play with my fruit rollup with the concentration of a surgeon doing open-heart surgery.

"Welcome back," Becky cooed as Matt leaned in and sweetly kissed her cheek. She giggled and I rolled my eyes. Really, they were the most gag-worthy couple.

"Hey, Raven," Matt greeted, kind as always.

"Hi," I said shortly, offering a quick smile and a glance. In that split second, I saw Trevor take the seat across from me and I returned my attention to my multi-colored, evidently fascinating, fruit snack.

"What? You're not gonna say hi to me, Monster Girl? My feelings are hurt," I heard him say, his voice filled with perceptible false misery.

I lifted my eyes away from my uneaten snack to glare at him. "Why would I say hi to you?"

His green eyes glowed with excitement now that I was paying him attention. "Because you love me, that's why."

My mouth fell open in shock. Was this Trevor's attempt at subtlety? "In your wet dreams. You're nowhere near my type. Grow a brain and then we'll talk."

Trevor frowned but Becky jumped in before he could retort. "So Trevor, I was telling Raven about the game on Friday."

His gaze moved from my face to hers and the light in his eyes dimmed. "Oh yeah?"

Becky nodded. Her gaze lingered a moment too long on his face before she turned her attention to Matt. I needed to speak to Trevor later about controlling his sexy waves or it was going to become a major problem.

"You should come, Raven," Matt chimed in.

"Um…" I didn't know what to say. I couldn't remember what the old me would say in this situation. I mean, it wasn't Trevor that was asking me to come, it was Matt. It was different, right? "Why?"

Matt shrugged his shoulders. "Well, Becky will be there and I'm sure she would like some company."

I wanted to laugh. The last time I went with Becky to a soccer game, she ditched me and left me alone to be harassed by two cheerleaders and my prince charming.

"Yeah, come Raven!" Becky exclaimed excitedly.

"I guess I could go for a little while," I granted. "Are you gonna give me a ride?" I looked at Becky expectantly, but she avoided my eyes.

"Well, you see, me and Matt were kind of planning on going on a date after the game and he's giving me a ride so…." She took a super long sip from her Capri Sun.

"I can pick you up Raven; it's no big deal," Matt said. Jeeze, he really was too nice. "That is if you don't mind going with us afterwards."

"Where are you going?"

"The movies," Becky and Matt answered simultaneously.

I bit my lip. "But won't I be a burden? I'd feel weird tagging along on your date." Being the third wheel was never fun and when around those two, it would be excruciatingly awkward.

"Don't worry, you won't be alone. Others will be there," Matt said, glancing suspiciously at Becky. Others. How vague.

"Who else is going?" I inquired, staring hard at Becky. There was no escape.

"Me," came the short reply from my one and only. Matt sent a weary look Trevor's way.

"He's going?" I said, pointing a thin finger at Trevor and looking from Matt to Becky for confirmation. This was the perfect opportunity. Trevor and I could go on a date together and we didn't even have to try. I only had to make it seem unwanted, yet woefully unavoidable. All I needed was a little help from Trevor.

Discreetly, I kicked him beneath the table. In my peripheral I saw him twitch, but otherwise the move went unnoticed.

"Is that a problem, Raven? Don't tell me my presence bothers you that much?" Trevor chided, leaning his elbow on the table and resting his chin in the palm of his hand, framing his face beautifully. Oh yeah, those sexy waves were on full force.

"Please. I won't even notice you're there," I spat vehemently.

"So you're going?!" Becky squealed happily, grabbing my arm and shaking me.

I smiled, my eyes briefly locking with Trevor's. "I guess so!"

Mission accomplished.


Fourth period finally reared its ugly head and there I sat, a few seats behind Trevor, waiting for us to be called up front to present our project. Due to our lack of work ethic over the weekend, our project turned out to be less than satisfactory, but I was confident that we would pass considering my partner was no other than the esteemed Trevor Mitchell.

When Mrs. Turner finally called us up, I carried out the exhausting task of turning off the classroom lights while Trevor had the honor of slipping in the DVD of our short assignment. As our project played on the outdated TV, I folded my arms across my chest and tried to ignore the fact that Heather Ryan was glaring at me.

When the lights switched back on and our presentation concluded, Trevor did an obnoxious bow to the noise of undeserved applause. I just walked myself back to my desk and tried not to fall asleep as the rest of the class presented their superior projects (though not as acclaimed).

After class I left with Becky, the two of us heading out on our way to her truck. I was disappointed that Trevor and I exchanged little more than a glance before leaving for home. Yeah, we were definitely fooling everyone.

"I was surprised your project even got finished," was Becky's second attempt that day of breaching the topic on Trevor. "So you two somehow managed to get along, hm?"

"Barely," I yielded, forcing distaste into my expression. "It took all day just to create that sorry excuse of a project. It was torture."

"Thank God it's over," added a familiar voice.

I whipped around. Trevor was following closely behind us, his hands in his pockets and that smirk on his handsome face. My heart fluttered and my gloom lifted. Poof! Just like that, gone.

"Oh, h-hi Trevor," Becky stuttered, glancing unsurely at me.

"I just need to have a quick word with Raven, if you don't mind," he said smoothly, grasping hold of my arm and pulling me away before Becky or I could say otherwise.

I looked at him wide eyed. "For what?"

"Our project—Mrs. Turner needs to ask us something," he improvised. He looked back at Becky and stunned her (there was no other word for the way she stared blankly) with a dazzling smile. "I'll return her to you safe and sound, I promise."

Becky nodded. "O-okay," and dragged her gaze to me, "I'll be waiting in the truck, Raven."

"You better be."

I allowed Trevor to drag me wherever. We wound up in an empty classroom, warm afternoon sunlight filtering through dusty windowpanes. When the door closed I breathed a sigh of relief.

"I said this earlier but this really sucks, Trevor."

"I know," he said, stepping close and wrapping me in his arms. Hugging him back, I closed my eyes and breathed in the spicy smell of his cologne. I felt so relaxed and warm. "We have to make this quick, though. I don't need Becky coming to look for you. I just wanted to say bye, so…" He cradled my face in his hands and tilted my chin so he could kiss me.

My heartbeat was erratic. "This is kind of sweet for you. Are you sick?"

"No, I'm just trying to get up your skirt."

I pulled away. "And with that, I think I'll take my leave." I was only kidding as much as he was. Trevor, I guess, took the threat seriously and pulled me back to him, my back flush with his chest.

He nuzzled my neck. "We still have some time and I haven't seen you all day."

So he noticed the lack of each other just as much as I had. I smiled softly. "Well, we'll have tons of time to spend with each other on our date."

"Yeah, but with Becky and Matt there it's not gonna feel like a date," Trevor pouted, releasing me.

I touched my finger to my lips in thought and turned to face him. "I'm sure we can figure out some way to sneak off."

"And do what? They're our ride so whatever you want to do involves us walking."

"Is that going to be a problem? Last time I checked, you were an athlete. A little stroll shouldn't bother you."

He sent me a loaded look. "You're planning something freaky aren't you?"

I smirked. "If I have to sit through your soccer game then you can accompany me on a paranormal investigation."

Trevor's green eyes all but fell out of his skull. "You're nuts."

Now it was my turn to pout. The thing was, I had this in the bag. I had sexy waves of my own. "So you're telling me that you don't want to be all alone with me in a dark, abandoned, fully-furnished house where no one can hear us?" I fluttered my eyelashes and traced a gentle line down the side of his neck. He gulped.

"Well, when you put it that way, I guess I can deal with a couple of ghosts for a night."

I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck. "Trevor Mitchell, I think it's only a matter of time before you join the dark side."

"Hardly. I'm only going so I can play with you," he responded, nipping at my neck and lowering his hands down my back.

"You're so unromantic, you know that?" I asked, running my fingers through his hair as he continued to assault my neck with little nips and kisses.

"I'm unromantic? You're the one who considers ghost hunting a date," he countered. "Where is this house anyway?"

"On top of Benson Hill."

"Well can I ask one favor from you? Can you wear those tights you have that go to here?" He asked, touching my mid-thigh.

I raised an eyebrow. "You want me to wear thigh highs?"

Trevor's cheeks pinked. "I like them."

"What if I'm wearing pants?"

He frowned. "No pants. You better wear a dress. If not, I'm not going."

"You just want to see my underwear," I accused playfully.

"I want to see more than just your underwear," he said seductively.

"You'll see my fist if you don't stop," I growled.

His chest rumbled against mine when he laughed, his hot breath blowing across my skin. "Keep playing coy, Raven Madison, but if my memory serves me right, last night you were practically begging me to look un—

I held my hand over his mouth. One: because I really didn't need a reminder of my devious behavior last night and two: there were voices talking outside the door of the classroom. I put my finger over my lips in silent command for Trevor to stay quiet.

"—'ve seen her. When her and Trevor got up to present, she looked so gross standing next to him it was almost comical. I can't believe she got to be his partner. Of all people. Poor Trevor."

There wasn't a doubt in my mind that that nasally voice belonged to Heather Ryan. Even though there was a door separating us, I could practically see her hand on her hip and her other messing with her hair as she spewed whatever insults her simple mind could think up.

"Ugh, she's such a freak," came the disgusted voice of Jennifer Warren. The squeak of a locker opening followed the outburst. "I just want to push her into a tub of bleach."

I stepped closer to the door and carefully turned the lock. I had to make sure that neither Heather nor Jennifer walked in less I wanted Trevor and I exposed to the people we were trying to avoid the most. How could we explain ourselves out of this situation? Pressing my ear to the crack in the door, I waited for them to say something truly offensive. I loved having more reasons to hate Jennifer and her little crony. It made revenge all the more sweet.

"Seriously, I just don't get the whole goth thing. It's so creepy," Heather continued. I pictured her sticking her tongue out as if she were gagging.

"It's just an excuse for her to get away with dressing like a slut," Jennifer said. A hard frown fell across my lips. "She probably thinks Trevor likes her or something after he kissed her at the game. She's such an idiot. If she knew just how many girls he's kissed, she wouldn't consider herself so special. It only ever matters if he sleeps with you."

I felt as if someone had just dumped ice water on my head. I was riveted to the spot and my mind was soaking in every word she spoke. It wasn't exactly what she was saying, but how she was saying it. It was as if she were implying that…

"But has he ever slept with anyone?" Heather asked curiously.

My heart skipped a beat in anticipation of Jennifer's answer. My fingers curled against the door and my teeth clamped down on my bottom lip. Behind me, Trevor shuffled close. His fingers touched my shoulders and I shrugged them off. I wasn't going to allow him to distract me.

"No way. You're so lucky, Jen, oh my god. What was it like?" Heather gasped excitedly. The sound of a locker slamming surprised me and I pulled back. Their voices ebbed as they left.

Silence was left in their wake. My fingers felt shaky and weak and useless.

"Raven—"

I shook my head before he could begin to offer excuses for why he would keep this a secret from me. Of course I figured Trevor wasn't a virgin; that much I could make peace with had he slept with anyone but Jennifer Warren.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run away.

"Rave, listen—"

I was shaking my head again and unlocking the door. "No, um," my voice quavered and I hated it; having my vulnerability so plainly displayed, "Becky is waiting for me. I've gotta go."

I was out of that classroom like a bat out of hell. In what felt like seconds, I was in the passenger seat of Becky's truck, gasping for breath and my sanity.

"Raven? What's wrong?" Becky asked concernedly, starting the engine.

"Huh?"

"You're crying. Did Trevor do something?" She asked as we pulled out of the school.

I wiped my face, uncaring that the action swiped lines of black down my cheeks. "No. Turns out that I didn't do as well as I thought on my project," I lied. Becky didn't look like she believed me, but thankfully didn't press the issue. The rest of the ride home was silent, which I was grateful for.

It looked like I was in desperate need of another wallowing session.


It was around eleven o'clock that night when I was lying in bed wearing my black silk night shorts and black tank top and watching Night of the Living Dead when I heard a light knocking on my window. Sitting up, I stared in the direction of the sound in nervous fascination as the knocking continued. I was confused. After all, my bedroom was on the second story.

Cautiously, I moved aside my purple curtains to reveal Trevor's strained face. He was hanging onto the branch of the tree beside my house. I gasped in surprise and opened my window. "What the heck are you doing, you psycho?" I hissed in shock.

"Move outta the way," he breathed.

Obliging, I fell back onto my bed and watched as Trevor heaved himself into my room, his legs thumping loudly against the side of the house as he climbed in. I closed the window once he was in and turned to face him.

As he brushed himself off, he surveyed my dark bedroom. "I expected at least a cauldron. I'm kinda disappointed, Rave," he commented quietly, sending me a teasing smile. He glanced at my television just in time to see a zombie attack a screaming girl. His smile faded. "What are you watching?"

"Night of the Living Dead. Now tell me why you're here, Trevor," I demanded, stepping in front of the television so he was only looking at me.

His eyes studied mine. "You don't seem very happy to see me."

Truth was: I wasn't. After spending all afternoon and evening envisioning him and Jennifer together, I felt very little joy now seeing him face-to-face. I knew this resentment wasn't fair; it wasn't as if he'd cheated on me. I knew that. But still, it hurt so much knowing he'd done something so intimate with the same girl who ridiculed and hated on me on a daily basis. "I get cranky when I'm tired."

Nodding, he took a seat on my bed and extended a hand invitingly. "Lay down with me." There was no underlying motive hidden in the gentle quiet of his voice, and so I accepted his invitation without suspicion. Taking his hand, I allowed him to pull me into bed. His tennis shoes clunked heavily on the floor when he kicked them off.

"You're going to wake the dead with the noise you're making," I grumbled, settling against him.

He pulled the sheets over us and curled his arm around my waist from behind, his face pressed against my shoulder. "Aren't you into that?"

I sighed. "Did you sneak out and climb through my window in the middle of the night just to tease me or do you actually have something important to say?"

He squeezed me apologetically. "I want to talk about what happened earlier."

"And I don't," I replied petulantly.

Trevor dropped silent for a few minutes. Even though the living dead were ripping open the stomach of a terrified teenager on my television, my heart was pounding excitedly for an entirely unrelated reason that had everything to do with the boy pressed against me.

"Raven, I didn't say anything about me and Jen because it doesn't matter. It only happened once."

Another wave of disappointment and anger rushed over me. It wasn't until that moment that I realized a part of me was still hoping it wasn't true. "Why did it happen at all?"

"Will knowing why make you feel better or are you just looking for more reasons to be mad at me?"

This time I was quiet, mostly because I didn't know how to answer. A bit of both, I wanted to say.

With an exasperated sigh, Trevor went on anyway. "It was at my party last year for my birthday. At Matt's place. Everyone was there—"

"I wasn't," I reminded him.

"Yeah, except for you," he finished as if I hadn't interrupted. "And I was so bummed about it. I remember inviting you and you said—"

"The only event of yours that I will ever attend is your funeral," we said in grim unison. Guilt overwhelmed me and I murmured a very delayed, "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it, Rave; it doesn't bother me anymore," he said, despite the fact he clearly remembered my response word-for-word over a year later.

Wanting to see him, I twisted around in his arms and settled my face on the pillow beside his. He was looking at me unsurely, hesitant to go on. I gave him a weakly encouraging smile.

"Anyway, it was that night that I decided I was just gonna give up on you. I didn't see it happening, you know? I mean, you hated my guts and I didn't know how to change that. Even when I was nice to you, you thought it was some act. You just kept pushing me away and I just," he rubbed a hand over his eyes, "couldn't do it anymore."

My heart felt like it was breaking for him. "Trevor, I'm so sor—"

He kissed me, gentle but sudden. "I know this is a cheesy way to shut you up, but I'm not gonna let you feel guilty over any of this, Raven. So if you're gonna keep apologizing, then please shut up."

"Fine," I half-heartedly agreed behind a small smile. "But just so you know, I would love nothing more than to punch past-me in the face."

"Noted," he said, smiling back.

My heart fluttered, but I wasn't to be distracted. "Now get to the part with you and Jen."

"Right." His lips tightened into a line. It was obvious he didn't enjoy any of this. "So anyway, aside from being kinda drunk, I was committed to moving on and Jen, uh," he moved his eyes from mine, "she just kept throwing herself at me, so to speak. So I just sorta…went with it."

"Oh," was all I knew to say, the word lame and insufficient.

He glanced at me, his emerald gaze dark with something I was too tentative to call regret. "I'm not gonna lie to you and say I was too drunk to remember it or that it happened because I wasn't thinking. I remember all of it and it was a choice. Jen too," he added, "she knew what she was doing. And yeah, that's it. It wasn't the greatest first time."

I blinked, surprised that it took me this long to catch on that this was how he lost his virginity. "It was bad?"

"I don't wanna say it was bad. It was just," he paused, searching for the word and settling on an unimpressive, "whatever."

"That sounds bad," I commented.

"You gotta understand, Rave. I didn't like Jen. Hell, it honestly could've been any chick that night."

I frowned. "That's kind of horrible, Trev."

He laughed wryly. "You really don't get it. If it wasn't you, then it didn't matter."

Despite the veiled compliment, something unpleasant was weighing heavy on my conscience. "Is it stupid that I actually feel sorry for Jen right now?"

"No," he assured readily. "I knew how she felt about me and I disregarded her feelings for my own selfish reasons. Me being upset doesn't justify what I did."

"What does she think about it?"

He shrugged. "No idea. We never really talked about it after it happened. It almost felt like it didn't happen. I mean, next day we were back in school and she and I were still just friends and I was still crazy about you." He took hold of my hand beneath the sheets and tangled our fingers. "Listen, Raven. I'm not a saint and Jen isn't the only girl I've been with. There have been others and I'm sure you'll find out who if you don't know already. But please believe me when I say they meant nothing. I was bored and stupid and I didn't care."

All of that anger I'd felt earlier ebbed away, eased by his grief and sincerity. I felt sorry for Jen. I felt sorry for Trevor. It was an unfortunate situation that neither party seemed to reflect positively on, and no matter my current grievance with Jennifer, I would never wish for anyone's unresolved feelings to be handled so poorly. Squeezing Trevor's hand reassuringly, I nodded. "I believe you, but—"

He looked concerned.

"I think you need to talk to Jennifer."

Trevor propped himself up and looked down into my face, his expression an adorable combination of curiosity and bewilderment. "About what?"

"About what happened!" I exclaimed in an excited whisper. "You know she has feelings for you and I don't think it was right to sleep with her and not talk about it."

He stared at me for a long moment, his eyes drinking me in. "You're right, but I don't think now is the right time."

"Then when is the right time?"

"When talking to her about it won't result in her demanding to know why I haven't tried anything with her since." His hand came up to cup my cheek, his thumb brushing back and forth beneath my eye. "I'll be forced to tell her about you and like we talked about, it's too early." I sighed and he smirked, dropping his forehead against mine. "But I promise I will talk to her about it, okay?"

I nodded.

He lifted our linked hands to his mouth and pressed an affectionate smile to my knuckles. "Do you feel better now?"

"You mean am I still angry that you slept with Jennifer?" His gaze turned disapproving. I giggled. "Rest easy, Trevor Mitchell. Your past sins are hereby forgiven."

"My sincerest thanks," he laughed, his relief near palpable. "Is there anything else you would like to talk about while you're in such a forgiving mood?"

"Just that I hate how much more experienced you are than me," I complained.

"Well we can fix that quite easily," he teased, tilting my chin up to kiss me.

The kiss was gentle at first. Languorous and cherishing. He dragged his lips against mine teasingly, our eyes locking and playful. I was the one that deepened it, taking his bottom lip between mine and suckling it. Trevor's wide frame dropped against me, bracketing me in heat and muscle. My lips parted to receive the slip of his tongue, slick and warm. His hand moved into my hair as our lips nudged and slid, my own settling against his stomach beneath the sheets. My lips felt clumsy against his; too wet and overeager. He didn't seem to mind and neither did I. All that mattered was the gentleness of his hands and the heat trapped between us and under my skin.

When he pulled away, I could feel it was grudgingly. "Okay, slow down. We need to talk about this."

I scowled, my attention falling to his cherry-bitten mouth. "Talk about what?"

"This," he repeated, nodding downward.

I glanced between us and blushed at where my hands were actually located, one beneath his shirt and the other dragging away the waistband of his soccer shorts. "Oops," I breathed.

"Yeah, oops," he repeated, laughing and kissing my cheek. "You're the one steering this ship, captain, so do try and pay attention."

My eyebrows knitted. "Why am I the one in charge?"

"Someone has to be," he explained. "And I don't want to rush you into something you're not ready for."

That sounded like a challenge. In reply, I dragged my hand further along the waistband of his shorts and curled my fingernails into his hip, pulling him down atop of me. Nipping his Adam's apple, I murmured, "Who isn't ready?"

The fingers he still had tangled in my hair pulled painfully on reflex. The pain felt good. Wanting more, I nipped him again, pinching warm skin between my teeth and tasting salt. "Do it again," I asked, lapping at pinched and reddened skin, "pull my hair, Trevor."

He hesitated before doing as asked. My scalp burned where he tugged on it, blood tingling beneath the skin and sending shivers down my spine. I moaned, the sound leaden with satisfaction.

"Holy shit," he breathed. "Raven, seriously. We need to talk."

The sigh I released was impatient. Surrendering, I dropped back against the pillow and met his gaze. The flush high on his cheeks and the feverish look in his catlike eyes left me curiously uncomfortable and warm. "I'm listening."

He bit his lower lip (stupid sexy Trevor) and untangled his hand from my hair and left it resting against my neck. His eyes dragged from my mouth to my collarbone, my breasts, my stomach, before coming back to my eyes. "There's probably a better way of saying this, but," when he spoke, his voice was husky and strained, "I really want to fuck you."

"Oh."

His smile was exasperated and shy. "Sorry. 'Make love' just sounds so lame, y'know?"

I nodded, my voice somewhere buried beneath layers of shock, embarrassment, and the encompassing desire to pull this beautiful boy back on top of me and never let him go. Maybe he was thinking the same.

His hand lay flat against my stomach, his fingers fanned wide as he stroked low across my abdomen. He pulled his attention downward, his fingers slipping beneath my tank to drag it up past my navel. He stopped at my ribcage, his eyes again meeting mine. "I'm telling you this because I need you to know how easy it will be for me to get carried away with you. Especially with that dirty mouth of yours," he admitted with a slight shake of his head.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, not liking the implications behind his words.

"No, I don't mean it that way. I'm saying," he sighed, frustrated as he tried to find the words, "I can't tell when you're serious and I don't want to move too fast thinking you're ready when you're not. I care about you," he suddenly confessed, flushing darker than I'd ever seen him before, "and I want it to be good for you. Not something you regret. That would just—"

Now it was me shutting him up with an unexpected kiss. "That is very sweet, Trevor, but when I say I want something, I mean it."

"Okay, but we both know how impulsive you are."

"Impulsive or not, I still like you," I insisted, reaching up and tucking a fallen lock of blond hair behind his ear. "And you worrying about all of this makes me like you even more."

It took a second for him to accept. I knew he agreed to my terms when he captured my hand and pressed a kiss to the inside of my wrist. "Whatever you say, Monster Girl. You're still in charge here."

"Good." I smiled, tracing his jaw and pulling him down by his neck for another kiss. "I like being in charge."

"You're also," he said between kisses, "a huge tease."

"Am I?"

"Yeah," he breathed against my temple. "And the next time you dare me to check if you're wearing underwear, I'm gonna damn well check."

Dracula help me, I prayed as a wave of electric heat buzzed beneath my skin. Taking the hand lying against my ribcage, I guided it down between my legs, pressing his fingers against my silk shorts as I murmured against his mouth, "Then check."

Instead, he twisted his hand in mine and laced our fingers once again. I sighed into his mouth when he kissed me, his free hand cupping my face. "Ask me on Friday."

I looked up at him questioningly.

"I'll feel a lot better about it when your family isn't sleeping right next door," he explained.

I groaned. Somehow I'd totally forgotten about them. "They won't care," I lied.

Trevor had to actually bury his face in my pillow to laugh. When he came up for air, he was practically glowing. "Oh, hey Mr. and Mrs. Madison. It's nice to meet you. I'd shake your hand, but I'm kinda busy fingering your daughter."

Flustered, I bit back a laugh of my own. "Okay, maybe putting your hand down my pants isn't the greatest idea right now."

"Thank you for understanding," he said affably. "I'm already worried how the hell I'm gonna manage to get home like this. I don't need your parents making it harder."

I paused, confused. "Like what?"

"Huh?"

"Is something wrong?"

He laughed again, this time the sound tense. "Well, uh, yeah. I'm kinda," he looked away awkwardly, "turned on, I guess."

Immediately my attention fell to his crotch. How I didn't notice the significant tenting earlier was beyond me. I flushed crimson.

"Are you proud of yourself?" He asked teasingly. "This is what happens when you beg me to pull your hair and put my hand between your legs."

Curious and fascinated, I reached out my hand to touch. My fingers stopped just short, his hand gripping my wrist tightly.

"Friday," he urged.

Yielding, I agreed. "Fine. Friday."

Smiling warmly, he leaned down for one last, lingering kiss. "Good night, Monster Girl. Dream of me, 'kay?"

I rolled my eyes as he climbed off my bed and slipped into his shoes. "I don't have dreams, I have nightmares. They're way more fun."

"That works. I don't mind being a sexy bloodsucking vampire if that's more your thing."

It was my thing. It used to be my only thing. Lately, however, I found my dreams and fantasies much more prone to featuring soccer balls and cleats.

I watched Trevor climb back out my window and carefully guide himself back down the tree. When he reached the bottom, his feet back on solid ground, he blew me a dramatic kiss and whispered, "See you tomorrow, my sweet Juliet."

"Good night, Romeo." Laughing, I closed my window.