“I think I’m going to go.”
“Go? Go where, Sheldon? Please come inside. You need to eat.”
Her amber colored eyes hardened and pinned me to the spot. “Sometimes it’s not that easy. Eating won’t change the fact I left him alone to die.”
She was gone before I could take my foot out of my mouth.
* * *
Thank God for tests.
Tests weren’t what people made them to be. Tests were a means of escape.
At least it was supposed to be.
If I didn’t already, I definitely hated fifth period now. Every shift, shuffle, and cough in the silent room had me ready to bolt.
As a result of my recent adventures, I needed to ace every assignment for the rest of the year to avoid having to endure summer school in order to graduate. My attention should have been on graduation and the test in front of me, but professional development and the importance of social responsibility were the least of my concerns. Every hair on my body was raised and goose bumps traveled every inch of my too warm skin.
I had been stuck on question three for the last fifteen minutes with only sixty minutes to go, and while I should have known the answer, I couldn’t concentrate long enough to comprehend the question. An hour would have been more than enough time if my focus weren’t on the mercurial boy at the back of the class. At this rate, I would never finish in time.
Which of the following statements are true?
A. CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility
B. Keiran is going to hurt you.
C. CSR applies to large and small businesses.
D. All of the above.
I circled the last and moved on, but instead of reading the question, I abruptly turned and sought out Keiran at the back of the class. I couldn’t take it anymore. The temptation was too great. My gaze zeroed in on his dark head bent in perfect concentration. I watched his large hand grip the thin yellow pencil as he scribbled his answers. The weight on my chest lifted, but my heart constricted now that I knew he wasn’t watching me.
As if sensing I was watching him, I was suddenly met with stormy gray eyes that shifted and changed as they assessed me. A sly smile slowly appeared, and I realized too late that his lips were moving.
“Mr. Lawson, could you explain this question to me?”
Keiran was fully grinning by the time I realized he’d led me into a trap. It was too late to pretend nothing had happened. I was caught.
“Miss Monroe. Eyes on your own test. I will not tolerate cheating,” Mr. Lawson scolded while making his way to the back of the classroom. Subtle snickers echoed around me, fueling my embarrassment.
I swiftly turned in my chair, swaying slightly and feeling my cheeks heat. I forced myself to work through the test I had spent all night studying for, and by the time the bell rang, I was putting the finishing touches on the last question. I hadn’t noticed Willow and Sheldon had left with the rest of the crowd, and when I finally looked up, Keiran was in front of my seat with his back turned to me.
“Piece of cake, Mr. Lawson.” I narrowed my eyes at his back. “Shame about those cheaters.” He turned suddenly and winked at me before leaving.
I was tempted to hurl my entire sack of books at his head when an idea occurred to me.
The day Trevor and Anya were announced dead, I made a vow to see Keiran in prison once and for all. Until I was able to make good on my promise, I could resort to petty revenge to hold me over.
I grabbed my test and backpack and practically jumped across the table to reach Mr. Lawson’s desk. He shot me a disapproving look as he took my test.
“You know, Ms. Monroe, I’m surprised by you.”
“What do you mean?” My face immediately fell and my plans for sabotage faded into the background.
“You were always considered a model student and well respected among the staff. Your potential to do well in the world has always been measured highly. However, over the last few weeks, it has severely plummeted.”
“Senior year is hardly the time to lose focus, young lady, no matter the motivation.”
“But, sir, I—”
“There is no excuse. If kids like Keiran Masters can turn themselves around, there is no reason you can’t continue to uphold yourself in a way that is beneficial to your future.”
Keiran? Turn himself around? Did Mr. Lawson and everyone else forget he was the very person on trial for a double murder? I wanted to scream at the man and remind him I wasn’t the one who torched two people alive. I wasn’t the monster, but yet Keiran was still being viewed as the golden boy?
“Mr. Lawson, speaking of Keiran Masters, I overheard him mention his intention to use a cheat sheet for the test. I think, as a model student and a person who takes social responsibility seriously, I should let you know.” I managed to hide the bitterness I felt from his unwanted judgment with a sugary sweet tone matched with an expression that screamed concerned student. His words actually stung but only because they were true.
“What? Are your absolutely sure about this?” I ignored the suspicious look he cast me and nodded my confirmation. I wanted to break out into a hysterical fit and unleash on the world the same cruelty it wreaked on me.
“Thank you, Miss Monroe. I’ll look into it.” He bent his head to study the test papers in front of him, dismissively.
I took my cue and left. As far as I was concerned, my job was done.
I struggled with the decision to wait around for Monroe, but when she didn’t leave class immediately after me, I figured she was hiding. My feet reluctantly carried me away from the classroom after I reminded myself there were too many prying eyes, and I was still barred access from her.