It was dark. Really dark. And loud. Music was blasting so loud I could actually feel it vibrating in my chest and thudding in my ears. And there were people everywhere. Not boys and girls. Men and women. Dancing. Wearing black and silk and some of the women weren't wearing all that much at all. No one even looked close to my age, and there sure wasn't any other woman there without makeup, wearing jeans, sneakers and a baggy cotton sweater. Except me.

Holy cow.

"Want a drink?" Theo asked.

"No." I pulled my hand out of his and backed against the wall. Oh my God. What kind of place was this? Where had I let him take me? It was one thing not to be uptight, but this was something else entirely.

I was way out of my league.

Look at the people on the dance floor! Going crazy! Making out! There was no way I was going out there!

Then Theo moved in front of me and blocked my view. "Frances? Are you okay?"

"No!" I shoved at his chest, and he caught my hands. "Let go of me! How could you bring me here?"


The simple comment caught my attention, and I stopped railing long enough to look at him. "No smug remark that it proves I'm uptight?"

He shrugged, still holding my hands. "I didn't mean to scare you."

He sounded like he really meant it. I didn't understand. Where was this Theo coming from? It was like there were two of them. "Why aren't you being a jerk?"

A grimace pulled at the corner of his mouth. "I don't know."

"Oh." Not the best answer.

"You want to leave? We can leave."

"Well..." Now that he was being all nice, and blocking my view of the raunchy stuff happening on the dance floor, it didn't seem so bad to be there.

"Want to just hang here, against the wall, for a few minutes while you decide?"

I nodded. "Fine."

He gave me a slight nod, then dropped my hands and moved to the wall beside me, leaning against it, his arm pressing against my shoulder. Like he was being supportive.

We stood like that for a while. I watched the people, thought about Theo still leaning against me, not saying anything jerky or anything. Just hanging.

No one came up to us and bothered us. No one pointed at me, like I stood out as being the only fourteen year old in the place.

"How are you feeling?" Theo asked.


"Want to dance?"

I looked at the floor. It was a slow song. "No."

"Why not?" He moved to stand in front of me again, but he didn't take my hands or anything. "I won't try anything."

"I just don't want to."

"You ever slow danced with a guy before?"

I lifted my chin. "None of your business."

He shrugged, but there was that thing blazing in his eyes again. "One dance."



I almost laughed. "What kind of a line is that? You use that on all your dates?" Not that we were on a date, or anything.

"The Homework Club." He didn't acknowledge the date remark.

"What about it?"

"You can't run it the way you want to."

I lifted my chin. "Yes, I can."

"I brought you here so you can see what else is out there. So you can see why your approach is too hard line. My friends know how much fun a co-ed environment can really be. You need to play on that, instead of denying it."

"Since when did you become a philosopher?"

"Since you threatened to get me kicked off the lacrosse team. No way am I going to let that happen. And if the only way I'm going to get to play lacrosse is to get this club of yours to work, then that's what I'm going to do."

"Oh." That's all tonight was about. His desire to keep playing lacrosse. Which was fine. The only reason I was here was for the Homework Club.

So why did I feel so disappointed? I didn't even like him, remember?

"So..." He took my left hand. "In order for you to understand what changes need to be made, you have to see how the other side lives."

I eyed him. "Sounds like a line to me."

"I wouldn't waste a line on you."

"What does that mean?" That I'm not worth it? That you have so little interest in me that you wouldn't want me to succumb to your charms?

"Because you'd probably kick me in the nuts."

I laughed. "Probably. You are a womanizing jerk."

"See? I knew it." He grabbed my other hand and started walking backward, pulling me with him. "One dance. For research sake."

One dance.

For the Homework Club.


A nice smile lit up his face, and he dropped one hand and turned, to lead me out on the dance floor.

Where his arms would soon be around me.