Sweet Venom
Page 15

 Tera Lynn Childs

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“Yes, I—” I resist the urge to check over my shoulder to make sure the Minotaur is gone. “Fine.”
Did she see what I was reading? Maybe I didn’t clear the screen fast enough. What if she saw that I was off task? Don’t panic, I tell myself. Even if she did, I could pass it off as research for English class. According to our syllabus, our second unit will be about mythology. If Miss Mota asks, I can just say I’m trying to get ahead.
She pulls up a plastic chair and sits next to me. “I know you are more advanced than the other students in this class,” she whispers conspiratorially. “But I think you will find the work interesting. We can always arrange independent projects if you aren’t feeling challenged enough.”
“Okay,” I say, letting out a sigh of relief that she didn’t notice the Minotaur. “I’m sure it will be great.”
“You know,” she says, eyes wide and a big smile on her face, “when Ms. West first showed me your application, I nearly cried.”
“What?” I ask, confused. “Why?”
“Because I’ve never had a student with your level of experience and interest in computer science.” She claps her hands together excitedly. “I absolutely insisted they give you a full ride.”
“Really?” Ms. West made it sound like she was the one to get me my scholarship.
“Well . . .” Miss Mota kind of rolls her eyes. “Okay, so I begged. But still! You’re here and I’m going to make sure you get some valuable training in this class.”
“Oh, thanks,” I say. “That’s great.”
“And”—she leans in close again—“I have a great connection in the computer science program at Stanford.” She pushes to her feet. “But we can talk about all that next year, when you’re applying for college.”
Wow, first day of class and she’s already working on getting me into a good college computer science program. I’m impressed.
“Okay, class,” Miss Mota announces to the room, “now double click on the downloaded file to begin the installation. A window will pop up, asking you to confirm that you want to run the file. Click Yes.”
Before she’s done, I’ve started the installation, clicked through all the security questions and acceptance of terms, and have the program open to a new web document.
I hope Miss Mota comes through on her promise to give me challenging work soon. Otherwise I’m going to start hoping for a minotaur to walk through this door.
By the time Thane gets home from soccer tryouts that afternoon, I’m done with my second day of school homework. Not that I’m usually the do-your-homework-immediately kind of girl—more like the do-your-homework-at-the-last-minute kind—but the possibility that Milo might come home with my brother again is enough to make sure I have nothing in the way of whatever comes up.
I’ve also traded out my standard schoolwear tee for a slightly girlier turquoise one with a ruffle along the neckline and some kind of drawstring thingies up the sides. I’m not exactly sure how to operate the drawstrings, so I leave them as is. My Chucks lose out to a pair of dark purple flats that I usually save for weddings and birthday parties. And, for the finishing touch, I pull out my ponytail and swipe a glob of tinted lip gloss over my mouth.
All very out of the norm for jeans-and-tee me. I’m just collapsing into a trying-to-be-casual heap on the couch when I hear a key in the lock. I quickly flip open the fashion magazine I borrowed from Mom to use as a prop. Thane, who walks through the front door disappointingly alone, takes one look at me and gives me a silent, raised brow.
“What?” I demand, more irritated that I’ve obviously girlied up for nothing than by his questioning look.
He shrugs and shakes his head, giving me a silent I didn’t say anything.
Thane has such an expressive face, he always manages to say more without words than most people do with an entire monologue. And after all these years I can interpret his expressions so easily, I might as well be reading his mind. He drops his bag next to the front door and starts down the hall to his room.
I want to throw something at his retreating back. Mom’s magazine could do the job. At the last moment I decide to fight the urge. Obviously I can’t ask Thane about Milo without completely revealing my crush on his new friend. He doesn’t say much and I know he wouldn’t break my confidence, but I don’t want him feeling weird or awkward around Milo. Thane needs new friends as much as I do. I know he’s taking the move pretty hard, even if he doesn’t say anything.
He didn’t want to leave Orangevale. Not that I can blame him—nobody wants to move their senior year. Thane’s becoming friends with Milo can only be a really good thing. And I’m not just saying that for selfish reasons.
Well, if Milo’s not coming by, there’s no point in hanging out in my uncomfortable girlywear. The flats are already pinching my toes.
Pushing myself off the couch, I swing through the kitchen and grab an oatmeal-raisin cookie and a glass of pineapple Fanta. On second thought, I grab another cookie. I’m going to need it. I’m friendless in a new city and my only prospect for Friday-night entertainment is a no-show.
Heading to my bedroom, down the hall from Thane’s closed door, I realize that the anticipation of seeing Milo tonight had been keeping my mind occupied. Now, alone in my room with the door closed against the outside world, there’s nothing to keep away thoughts about last night and what I discovered in Computer Science earlier.