Home > Fake It 'Til You Break It

Fake It 'Til You Break It
Author: Meagan Brandy

Synopsis:

 


Fake.

That’s what we are.

That’s what we agreed to be.

I thought it would be harder, convincing everyone our school’s star receiver was mine and mine alone, but we played our parts well.

So well, the lines between us began to blur until they disappeared completely.

The thing about pretending, though, someone’s always better at it, and by the time I realized my mistake, there was no going back.

I fell for our lie.

And then everything fell apart.

It turned out he and I were never playing the same game.

He didn’t have to break me to win.

But he did it anyway.

 

 

Chemistry, my least favorite subject, but the class I’ve looked forward to the most since school started last week, and even more so today.

Finally, we’re being assigned our lab partners, and I know exactly who mine will be.

Not counting myself, there are only three others left standing, two being uninterested, academically opposed football players while the third is second in our class, also on the team, but possesses the brains and the brawn.

It’s an obvious choice.

Mr. Brando looks to his paper, ready to announce another pairing, and I can hardly hold in my grin.

“Nico Sykes.”

I step toward Alex only to freeze, my frown cutting to Mr. Brando, who just read off the wrong name!

“Wait.” I glance from Alex’s tense expression to Nico, already on his way to the lab table. I turn toward Mr. B, keeping my voice low. “Are you sure? Shouldn’t I be with—”

“I’m going to stop you right there, Ms. Davenport,” he cuts me off. “While I asked each of you to list the person you’d prefer as a partner, I gave no guarantees. So, if you are about to make a judgment call on one of your peers, I suggest you don’t finish your thought. I’m aware you’re a bit of a teacher’s pet, however, in my class, you won’t make, nor influence my decisions,” he states scornfully.

My ears heat in both anger and embarrassment, but my hair works as a shield to cover it, my expression giving no sign his words meant a damn thing.

Talk about a judgment call.

Asshole.

“Go, Ms. Davenport. Mr. Sykes is seated and ready to go.” He dismisses me, turning to the last two standing.

Defeated, I head for the back of the classroom where my ‘partner’ has chosen to sit – of course the last space up front wasn’t the one he wanted.

And ready to go? Please! He hasn’t even opened his backpack.

Nico is simply sitting there with his elbows on the tabletop, waiting.

As I approach, he pushes off the cement slab, now lazily leaning against his chair with those eyes, as dark and impassive as always, locked on me.

I stop in front of him. “Guess we’re stuck with each other all year.”

His gaze narrows. “Guess we are.”

When I don’t move, he drapes an arm over the back of my seat, tipping his chin.

“Sit down, D. I don’t bite without permission.”

A heavy sigh leaves me as I walk around, dropping beside him. “Sure you do. Third grade, Ms. Fisher’s class, and I’ve got the scar to prove it.” I flip him off with my ring finger, right where his bite mark was left.

“That’s called leaving my mark. I was smart at eight.”

“Too bad it didn’t carry over to eighteen, huh?”

He only stares, not a word spoken, no sign of a functioning train of thought on his flawless face.

I shake my head, pull out my materials, and set them in front of me.

Mr. Brando makes his way to the front of the room to go over how the class will work now that we’ve been paired up, but I lose track of what he’s saying when I notice Alex’s attention pointed in my direction.

He’s focused on Nico, so I peek over to find Nico hasn’t a clue. Or at least he pretends not to as his face is buried in his phone. When I look back, Alex’s stare slides to mine.

His shoulder lifts in a small shrug, and he nods toward Mr. B as if he doesn’t understand the teacher’s choice either.

For the last two years, he and I have been partners, and it’s worked perfectly. We put in equal time and effort, and the end result is less stress and a perfect grade.

This unpredicted switch, though, means I’ll likely have to pull double hours to make up for what, I’m sure, will be a consistently ill-prepared Nico, but hitting the books harder isn’t even the worst part of this.

Being paired with Nico puts a twist in my plan.

It’s senior year, and I was finally going to bite the bullet and go full schoolgirl mode on Alex, make my interest obvious since he’s never seemed to catch on. Yes, he typically dates the Round Robin girls, the ones who make their way through all the teams in the school depending on the season and don’t care about the commitment side, but still. It could happen.

We’re friends, we run in the same crowd for the most part, and usually go to the same parties. We both want to do well in school and sports and have a good time along the way.

We would work well together.

Alex begins to turn to face forward, but suddenly his glare cuts back to my partner.

In the same second, warm air fans across the hollow of my neck and my body responds to the heat, the knot in my stomach tightening even more when Nico’s unexpected whisper follows.

“Not that you could be more obvious, but don’t waste your time, D.” His voice is low and raspy. “He’s already chasing tail, Sandra Black.”

An instant frown forms, and I force my eyes to Nico.

“Been braggin’ about how he’s got it locked in at practice all week.” He shrugs, focusing back on his phone.

I glance to Alex again.

He’s observing Nico, a question I can’t decipher written across his face, and I don’t have much time to try either.

Mr. Brando walks up behind him, slapping a palm on his table to get his attention.

Alex turns around while I sit and trip on Nico’s words.

He’s not one for gossip, or conversation for that matter, so his bothering to mention it must mean it’s true.

Sandra Black.

Five-eleven, gorgeous caramel skin, and my competition for this year’s valedictorian, not to mention, the nicest person you’ll ever meet, Sandra Black.

Awesome.

I flip open my booklet, about to tell Nico what he can help with when his hand covers mine on top of my paper. My eyes flash to his.

“I got the answers.” He doesn’t look away as he slides his already completed packet over with his free hand. “You can thank me later.”

“Thank you?” I deadpan, attempting to tug myself free of his hold, but he presses harder. “For getting one of your fans to do your work for you?”

He shakes his head, a smirk now playing on his full lips.

“Nah.” His grip lessens, his fingertips dragging along my skin with their retreat.

My eyes fall to the contact, a heavy tension tugging at my muscles as I force my gaze back to his, but Nico is no longer looking at me.

His focus has fallen to my chest, and he takes his sweet time bringing it back, leaning the slightest bit closer as he does.

My frown deepens.

“For being the reason lover boy can’t stop slantin’ back.”

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