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The Prom Kiss

The Prom Kiss

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When the mean girl kisses a nice guy, someone is going to get hurt. Or fall in love. Or...maybe both. 

Tina Withers doesn't do nice. When she kisses Julian-the-emo-songwriter-freak to make his cheating ex-girlfriend jealous, it's absolutely not out of the kindness of her heart. She's only evening the score since he'd not only let her cry on his shoulder after her latest breakup with her jerk of an ex, but he'd kept the whole humiliating incident a secret.

Her frenemies would have leaped at the chance to take her down a notch by spilling the gory details of her supply closet meltdown. So yeah, she owed him one. Besides, a good guy like Julian deserves better than his manipulative, selfish ex. And no matter how hot his kisses might be, he deserves better than her, too.

She's spent a lifetime creating her reputation as the biggest baddie at school, and her crowning glory is in sight as she prepares to claim her throne as Briarwood's reigning prom queen. It's too late to change all that now...isn't it?

Or maybe Julian is right. Maybe a little nice goes a long way when you're known for being mean.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to More
  • Mean Girl Redemption Story
  • Opposites Attract

Intro Into Chapter 1

There was nothing more embarrassing than being caught crying in the girls' bathroom. 

But then again, if you couldn't come up with anywhere more private to lose your cool, then you kind of had it coming. I mean, let's face it. If you were crying in the girls' room, you probably wanted to get caught. I knew a lot of girls who loved that kind of attention. 

Boo hoo, my boyfriend broke up with me. Or, Poor me, no one asked me to the dance. 

Ugh. Have a little dignity. 

I had no sympathy for those girls who put their pity parties on display all for the sake of attention. 

So I guess I should have said, for me there was nothing more embarrassing than getting caught crying in the bathroom. Which was why, when I couldn’t hold back the flood of tears any longer, I did what any sane, proud, ready-to-weep student would do and hid in a closet. It was a stockroom, really, filled with miscellaneous band equipment and some other crap no one wanted. 

It was the perfect hiding spot as I dealt with the latest brutal heartbreak, delivered mercilessly as always by Alex, my cheating flirt of a boyfriend—no, ex-boyfriend. 

There I was, minding my own business and sobbing quietly when the door jarred open so suddenly I sat up straight like I’d just been electrocuted.

The intruder was backlit since he was coming from the brightly lit hallway. I was sitting cross-legged in the corner of the pitch-dark storeroom. 

Holy crap. I’d been caught.

After that initial shock, humiliation washed over me in waves as the intruder just stood there gawking.

“Get out!” My voice came out too screechy and high-pitched. The sound of it ringing in that small room only added to my embarrassment. My hands curled into fists in my lap. I was still folded up cross-legged in the corner. That had made me feel all snug and safe a minute ago but now I was trapped as this weirdo stalker stood there and stared.

And then he flipped on a light I hadn’t known was there and suddenly I was blinking at the sudden jarring light. “What are you doing? Turn it off!”

God, I sounded like a banshee…or some sort of mutant vampire that was allergic to fluorescent light rather than sunlight. Either way, I was overreacting but I couldn’t help it. 

I hated for anyone to see me crying, and now that I could see who was standing there staring at me in obvious shock, my humiliation had escalated a million times over.

Julian. Julian Morris. AKA emo loser. A fellow senior, he’d transferred to Briarwood last year from…I don’t know, somewhere.

That was pretty much all I knew about him. The only reason I remembered when he’d transferred was because the arrival of any new hot guy always caused a major stir among my friends. 

And he was hot. Sort of. If you liked that geek vibe, ala Seth Cohen from The O.C. He was like a tall, lanky version of Seth, but with black-rimmed glasses and an ever-present smirk.

I hated him on principle. He was one of those kids who thought he was too cool for the cool crowd. You know the type. A loner who typically kept to himself and who clearly judged the rest of us who actually cared about our school and our status. As far as I knew he had one friend. One. Alice Kern, who was our quarterback Brian Kirkland’s girlfriend. She was another weirdo. But she was nice at least, and she made Brian happy, which in turn made me happy. Brian was a good guy, he deserved to be happy.

This guy, though…he was still watching me and he was definitely not happy.

“What are you doing in here?” His tone held a world of disgust, as if he’d just found me dissecting cute fuzzy kittens in this stockroom rather than crying like a loser.

“Crocheting a toaster cozy,” I shot back with just as much disdain. “What does it look like?”

He squinted a bit as he took in my red nose and my puffy eyes.

Have I mentioned how humiliating this was? Yeah, it freakin’ sucked. “Seen enough?” I snapped. If I’d had anything at hand I would have thrown it at his head. I had to settle for giving him my fiercest glare. “Get out, freak.”

He started to turn, one hand on the doorknob. Close it. Close it. My ESP apparently had the opposite effect. He hesitated. 

Dammit. I’d lost all track of time but surely the bell would ring any minute now and that hallway behind him would flood with students. Anyone walking past would have a perfect view of me in all my weeping glory. 

Get out, get out, get out!

He licked his lips as he glanced out into the hallway and then back to me, conflicted. Like he didn’t know if he really ought to turn his back on a girl who was crying in the dark.

Oh Lord, please spare me from loner geeks with a savior complex. I let out an impatient exhale and spoke to him in the slow, too-sugary voice I reserved for my little brother and idiots. “Turn off the light and go back the way you came,” I said. I dropped the fake sweet. “And I swear to God, if you tell anyone about this, I’ll make you wish you’d never been born.”

Any sane Briarwood student would have turned white at the venom in my voice, and gone running in the other direction. 

Most would. Julian did not. 

He ignored my threat and my command. For a second I wondered if he was deaf because he did the exact opposite of what I’d told him to do.

With a weary sigh, he shut the door behind him, closing us both into the well-lit but thoroughly stocked walk-in closet. There was no room for him to go so he just hovered there awkwardly while I hunched further into my corner.

“Are you all right?” His voice was gruff. He wasn’t concerned, not really. He was just doing what he thought he should.

“Of course I’m all right. Never been better. Why do you ask?” I rolled my eyes on the off chance he hadn’t picked up on the sarcasm.

His lips twitched upward a bit before he seemed to catch himself. “Look, I don’t know what I’m supposed to say here to make you feel better but—”

“You’re not supposed to say anything,” I said. “You’re supposed to leave me alone or—” I couldn’t finish my threat. My throat closed up with a choking sensation, like I was drowning. 

Oh no, not now. Please not now. 

Too late. It was here. Panic. Anxiety. I hated this sensation more than almost anything in the world. The only thing I hated more was for someone else to see my descent into crazy. I fought for air, just enough to speak. I swallowed down the panic, focusing on anger instead that this loser was still here, watching me like I was an exhibit at the zoo.

Panic bad. Rage good.

“What are you still doing here? Stare at someone else if that’s your thing, but leave me alone.” 

I needed him to leave. Now. But instead he shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned back against the door. 

The sound of my breathing, all frantic and out of control, was the only noise in the room. I swallowed convulsively as I tried to slow my breathing. 

It didn’t work. It never worked.

“Stick your head between your legs,” he said.

“You stick your head between your legs,” I muttered. It lacked the right amount of heat and I heard his short huff of laughter.

I wasn’t trying to be funny.

I looked down at my crossed legs and grit my teeth. That just made my jaw hurt as my teeth ground together, my hands clenching and unclenching convulsively.

I heard another sigh from my least favorite gawker before he crossed the room. I kept my eyes on my knees, tensing even more as he approached. Tears threatened again, but this time it wasn’t over Alex. It was because of this guy. Julian freakin’ Morris. Why did he have to witness this humiliation?

He paused beside me and I was weak. Useless. It was always this way when a panic attack hit. My body was no longer under my control. My heart was pounding too fast against my ribcage, my breath was coming too fast and shallow, my muscles were spasming, contracting painfully over and over again.

Julian’s large hand on my back was gentle but insistent. He was pushing me forward and I was too far gone to protest. 

Next thing I knew my head was between my knees and he was methodically stroking my back. “Easy,” he said quietly. “Breathe in and out. Just like that.”

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