Bailey pulled her books tighter to her chest as she shuffled into her homeroom, stopping in the doorway, her heart skipping a beat when she caught sight of a certain blond-haired, blue-eyed boy. He was sitting on the edge of his desk in the front row of the class, currently conversing with another one of their more attractive female classmates. He began to laugh, his entire face lighting up as he smiled, and Bailey felt a warm feeling burst into her chest, the corners of her mouth tugging upward at the sight. She stood in place for a few minutes just watching him, her mind drifting into another one of her romantic daydreams. This time they were in Paris, situated at the top of the Eiffel Tower. There was a candlelit dinner sitting between them, their hands resting on the table in front of them as he held onto hers, stroking the back of her hand with his thumb. He was smiling at her, that smile of his that she adored, the one that made his eyes sparkle. He gazed into her eyes for a second before leaning forward across the table for a kiss. Bailey felt a flutter of butterflies invade her stomach and her heart began to pound. She was sure at any second it was actually going to beat straight out of her chest. She leaned in toward him, her eyelids drifting shut as she anxiously awaited a moment she had dreamt about a thousand times before. She leaned in closer, closer, the anticipation and exhilaration building up inside her.
Right as their lips were about to connect, she heard someone in the distance calling her name, and her surroundings began to dissipate, the voice getting louder and louder until it was loud enough that it sounded like it was coming from directly behind her. She was pulled violently back to reality and she whirled around to see the boy’s twin brother, Zack, and his best friend and her present roommate, London, staring at her, London looking annoyed while Zack just looked amused.
“Hey, Bail. You with us?” Zack inquired as he waved a hand in front of her face. She felt the heat crawling up her neck and into her cheeks.
“Uh, yeah. Sorry,” she murmured timidly, shaking her head a little, trying to rid her mind of any remaining remnants of her daydream.
“Can we pass or is there a secret password or something?” Zack asked with a cheeky grin. Bailey felt her face get even hotter as she realized then that she had been blocking the doorway. She glanced down at the floor in embarrassment and stepped aside, muttering out a “sorry.” London stuck her nose up in the air as she strutted into the classroom, shooting Bailey an irritated look as she passed. Zack followed after her, still giving Bailey an entertained smile. He kept his eyes on her, and she watched as the pair made their way to their seats side-by-side in the back of the class. Once they sat down, she and Zack broke eye contact and Bailey turned her attention back to the object of her affection. She took a few deep breaths, steeling herself before she plastered on her best flirty smile as she strode over to him. She went to stand by his side and waited patiently for a break in his conversation before she spoke.
“Hey, Cody,” she said, a fanciful tone to her voice. His eyes flicked to her, and he smiled, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes as it had just moments ago.
“Hey,” he responded, his tone more polite than enthusiastic. Before she had a chance to say anything else he was turning his attention back to the pretty brunette he had been talking to before. Bailey exhaled sharply, doing her best to keep her composure.
“So...the Valentine’s Day Dance is coming up soon...” she continued as she watched him intently, fluttering her eyelashes flirtatiously at him, but he didn’t seem to notice. His eyes snapped to her once more.
“So, it is…” he responded flatly. Bailey tossed her hair back more dramatically then she meant to, trying to up the flirty factor, but it was coming across more awkward than attractive. She gently laid her hand on his shoulder, his eyes moving to her hand for a second before he met her gaze again, a puzzled expression crossing his face.
“You know...I don’t have a date yet. I’m still waiting for that special someone to ask me,” she said expectantly, tilting her head to the side ever so slightly as she leaned in closer to him, giving him her sweetest smile. He kept his eyes locked with hers for a beat, clearly perplexed at this whole ordeal. His lips spread into a slow smile, and she felt butterflies invade her stomach, her excitement bubbling up to the surface. This was her moment. He was finally going to ask her.
“Well, don’t worry! I’m sure it’ll happen for you soon!” he replied with a wide grin as he playfully punched her in the arm.
“Oh, Cody, I’d love to-!” she exclaimed, but she stopped after she registered what he had said. Her face immediately faltered, but Cody didn’t notice, as he had already gone back to the conversation he was having before she had approached him. Bailey let out a deep sigh as she started towards her desk, the blood rushing to her cheeks again when she noticed that Zack and London had witnessed the entire interaction. London snickered while Zack just looked at her with pity. She wasn’t sure what was worse; the fact that her long-time crush had just blown her off or the fact that two of her friends, one of which was the boy’s own brother, had just seen the whole thing. She stood up straighter, putting her shoulders back as she tried to appear as poised and aloof as she could. Zack gave her a sympathetic smile as she took her seat directly in front of him. She was too humiliated to give him anything back, so she pretended like she hadn’t noticed as she slumped down into her chair. A second later she felt a hand lightly squeeze her shoulder, and she turned her head to see Zack out of the corner of her eye, leaning forward in his desk, his hand resting on her shoulder. She gave him a small smile as he let go, just as their teacher, Ms. Tutweiller, strolled into the classroom.
“Good morning, class!” she said, and a very unenthusiastic chorus of “Good morning, Ms. Tuttweiller” rang out in the room. Ms. Tuttweiller did her best to hide her disappointment over the fact that the class seemed as unhappy as ever to be there. “Before we begin, just a few morning announcements,” she said as she picked up a flier off her desk and started rattling off the contents of the page. Bailey opened her notebook and pulled a few pencils out of her backpack, lining everything up neatly in front of her as she prepared for class to officially begin. She stole a few glances at Cody, a heavy feeling forming in her chest when she looked at him. As Ms. Tuttweiller started on the day’s lesson, Bailey did everything she could to put her encounter with Cody out of her mind as she focused on her teacher’s words.
The class went pretty smoothly after that, and before Bailey knew it, the bell was ringing, signaling the end. She scribbled a few more notes in her notebook as the students around her began piling out of the room.
“Zack, if you could hang back a second,” Ms. Tuttweiller announced, a stern edge to her voice. Bailey heard Zack sigh heavily behind her. She quickly gathered up the rest of her things, shoving her stuff into her backpack and shutting her notebook as she stood up, hugging the notebook to her chest. Ms. Tuttweiller made her way over to Zack’s desk just as Bailey began to leave.
“Zack, another F,” Ms. Tuttweiller began, her voice low, “Do you realize what this means?”
Bailey walked out the door, moving to the side so she was out of sight of the two of them as she stopped, listening intently. She felt a twinge of guilt for eavesdropping, but she justified it by saying to herself that it was purely out of concern for her friend. “If you don’t start pulling your grades up, and fast, you aren’t going to graduate.”
“What?!” Zack exclaimed, his voice a few octaves higher than normal, “Ms. Tuttweiller, please,” he said, but she cut him off.
“That’s not the worst of it,” she continued, “Attending this school is a privilege, not a right; if you fail this year, you’ll flunk straight of this school. You’ll have to repeat your Senior Year at your home school.”
“Ms. Tuttweiller, listen, you can’t do this. I can’t go to school at home! I can’t fail! I’ll do anything,” Zack pleaded, desperation dripping from his voice.
“You need to get your grades up,” Ms. Tuttweiller repeated, “I’ll help you as much as I can if you’re really willing to listen and put in the effort. But, I’d suggest getting a tutor as well. You could always ask your brother,” she suggested. Zack let out a heavy sigh.
“We’ve already tried that. It didn’t really work out all that well,” he responded.
“There are plenty of other straight-A students you could ask. But, I’d suggest getting it done, and fast.”
Bailey heard Zack start collecting up his stuff to leave, and she quickly moved away from the doorway and down the hall, hoping he wouldn’t catch her. She bit her lower lip in thought as she walked, a plan beginning to formulate in her head as she made her way to her next class.
That afternoon, Bailey leaned against the wall near the door to the classroom where detention was held, doing her best to appear nonchalant as she waited for it let out. Just a few minutes later, she heard the teacher announce that they were all free to go, and she watched as students began piling out, scanning for the one she was looking for. Zack was the last to leave the room, and he had his nose stuck in his phone so he hadn’t noticed her. He started down the hallway opposite of where she was standing and she quickly sped up to catch up with him.
“Oh, heyyyy, Zack!” she said as casually as she could, trying to make it seem like it was just purely coincidental that she was running into him here.
“Hey, Bail,” he said with a grin, glancing over at her for a moment before he turned his attention back to his phone.
“Can we talk for a second?” she asked as she fell in sync with him.
“Sure,” he responded, shoving his phone into his pocket and readjusting his backpack over his shoulder as he turned to look at her, “What’s up?”
“I kind of need your help with something.”
A curious expression crossed his face.
“And what would that be?” he inquired. She bit her lower lip, pulling her notebook tighter to her chest as her eyes flicked to the ground for a moment.
“I kinda need your help...wooing your brother,” she responded softly. Zack stopped dead in his tracks, turning his whole body towards her as he made a face.
“What?! Ew, no!” he uttered before he started walking again, his face still twisted in disgust.
“C’mon, Zack! You’re his twin! You know him better than anyone! You can help turn me into his perfect girl!” she pleaded as she swiftly stepped in front of him, putting her hand to his chest in order to get him to stop walking. He froze, glancing down at her hand before he met her gaze once more. Her expression was desperate, her eyes practically begging him. He exhaled sharply and rolled his eyes.
“Listen, Bailey...first of all, me helping you ‘woo’ my brother,” he started, putting air quotes around the word “woo” as he visibly cringed at the thought, “is...sick and twisted in about a million different ways. Secondly, you’re pretty much already the perfect- his perfect girl. Thirdly, why would you want to change for anyone, anyways? One of the best things about you is your unwavering confidence in who you are.”
She blinked for a second, slightly taken aback by his words as she slid her hand off his chest.
“That was...sweet of you to say,” she said, surprise dripping from her voice, the corners of her mouth tugging up ever so slightly as she studied him for a beat.
“I’m nicer than you guys give me credit for,” he responded as he stepped around her, continuing on his way.
“Okay, okay! You don’t have to help me woo your brother,” she said as she chased after him, quickly making her way to his side once more, “but...listen...you’ve been on a lot of dates, right?”
“Well,” he responded in a proud tone, a cocky look on his face. Bailey did her best to hide her repulsion.
“So, you know what guys are looking for in girls. In case you haven’t noticed I don’t exactly have that many...gentlemen callers.”
Zack halted as he let out a snort, trying, and failing, to stifle a laugh.
“Gentlemen callers?” he echoed in a mocking tone. Bailey rolled her eyes, now entirely fed up.
“Fine, just forget it,” she remarked as she started storming down the hall.
“No, no, wait!” Zack called after her, reaching a hand out to her, but she was already too far away for him to reach. She stopped, exhaling sharply, turning on her heel to face him. “You were saying? You don’t have that many gentlemen callers?” he repeated, his tone still teasing as he let out another laugh.
“I don’t know why I ever thought I could ask you for anything,” she growled, her eyes going dark as she spun back around, starting away from him once more.
“Wait, wait!” he declared, as he hastily went after her, his tone serious as he gently grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her towards him again, ”I’m sorry, I’ll stop. You were saying?”
She watched him for a moment, and she could tell by his facial expression that he was being genuine this time.
“I have a proposal,” she began. An inquisitive look crossed his face as he let go of her shoulders.
“You help me become someone more...desirable, and I’ll make sure you pass your classes.”
His curious expression only deepened as he looked at her.
“You’re already plenty desirable.”
She cocked her head to the side a little, her eyebrows furrowing as she narrowed her eyes.
“I just...I just mean that I’ve seen guys hit on you before,” he stuttered out.
“Yeah, one or two. But, have you seen how many guys hit on London or Addison?” she responded. His eyes snapped to the ground as he remained silent, as he couldn’t very well dispute that. “Please, Zack? You’ve gone out with so many girls, I know you know what guys like,” she implored.
He kept his gaze locked with hers for a beat, clearly contemplating her offer, and she made sure to give him her best sappy-eyed look. He let out a sigh of defeat.
“Alright, fine. Deal.”
A wide grin crossed her face, as she extended her hand out for him to shake. He was clearly resisting the urge to roll his eyes, smiling somewhat to himself at her formality. He clasped onto her hand and gave it a light shake before letting go.
“So, where do you want to start?” he inquired.
“Well, you’ve got that big science test tomorrow. Have you studied for it at all?”
Zack let out an obnoxious laugh as he gave her a skeptical look.
“I think you know me better than that by now,” he responded and she rolled her eyes.
“Right. Well, I think we should start there. Meet me at my cabin after your shift. We can start with me after that.”
“Whatever you say. Later, Bails,” he said as he started down the hall once more.
“See ya, Coach,” she responded with a smile as she watched him go.