Something strange happened the first day of Talmadge’s senior year in high school. A dark-haired freshman girl with dimples strutted into school like she owned the place. She looked vaguely familiar, so he slugged Langston Brooks in the hallway, who was making out with Sandra Edwards between two open locker doors like that would actually hide their near homicidal Frenching.
“Hey, Romeo.” Talmadge adjusted the backpack slung over one shoulder. “Who is that?”
Langston came up for air, smoothing a hand over his mussed wavy brown hair. Sandra didn’t even bother to smooth her long bedhead. She just heaved out an annoyed sigh, her enormous rack bulging even further over a low-cut t-shirt. Which caused Langston to ignore Talmadge and bend his six feet two inch frame to swoop in for more of what Sandra was offering.
So Talmage punched him again.
“Ow!” Langston rubbed his arm. “What?”
“Who’s that?” Talmadge asked again.
Langston straightened, his huge frame towering over Sandra, and looked down the hallway where Talmadge was pointing. “Miranda Cruz, dumbass. You’ve seen her at my house a million times. She’s my sister’s best friend.”
That was little Miranda? No way. Talmadge hadn’t seen her over the summer. Hadn’t seen her in much longer than that, actually. Wow. She still looked young. Too young for him, but she’d…filled out. And she was wearing a little makeup, or lip gloss, or something that gave her a more mature look. Her big brown eyes looked even bigger, her boyish hips looked more rounded, her flat chest looked…not-so-flat anymore.
“I didn’t think she was old enough to be in high school yet.” Talmadge slugged Langston again because he’d gone back to his French-fest with Sandra.
“Dammit, Tal!” Langston finally turned away from Sandra to face Talmadge.
Sandra glared at Talmadge, scratched the side of her nose with a middle finger, and said goodbye to Langston, tossing her straight brown hair over one shoulder.
“She’s not supposed to be in high school.” Langston slugged Talmadge back. “She was moved up a grade, which means she’s too smart and too young for you.”
Her long black curls bounced as she disappeared into Mrs. Clark’s honors English class.
“Uh, I’m not interested. I just wondered who she was.” Right. She was too young. Talmadge was almost eighteen. And that made Miranda jailbait.
So he spent the entire year pretending he didn’t notice her husky laugh, her self-confident strut, and the way she was friendly but not flirtatious to the line of boys that tried to hook up with her. He helped his grandfather out with carpentry jobs and repairs around the inn. He stayed focused on football and college applications and grades and nabbed the scholarship he’d been after so his grandparents wouldn’t have to bear the full burden of putting him through college—all without letting his interest in Miranda Cruz interrupt his life.