The Bad Boy Bargain(2)

By: Kendra C. Highley


She took her dance bag from the secretary and flashed her a big smile. “You made my morning.”

Like magic, the secretary smiled back. “Glad to help.”

That was thing most people missed about life—being nice actually worked. And with a name like Faith Gladwell, people expected nice. They wanted an angel with a sweet smile and bubbly attitude, and she was happy to oblige. Most of the time, anyway.

But it was getting harder. Wings were heavy and really hard to keep from dragging on the ground. Especially when you dated one of the most popular guys in school—and you weren’t sure you wanted to be with him anymore.

She hurried to the drama room, dodging past other students as if it were all a dance. Everything was a dance to her, especially now with her big break on the horizon. The musical was in two weeks, and they’d be starting dress rehearsals soon. After Mr. Fisk had learned she was classically trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop, he’d insisted she try out for the lead in Oklahoma!

“You’re a triple threat, dear,” he said in his drawling theater voice. “We knew you could sing, and you can certainly act…but you can dance? Well, between all that and your girl-next-door demeanor, and you’re perfect for Laurey. I can just see you pirouetting in the dream sequence. Perfect!” He’d snapped his fingers and strode off, shouting for the costume designers to come take her measurements, not even waiting for tryouts to be finished.

The lead…she still couldn’t believe Mr. Fist had picked her. Mom was thrilled. Dad had taken to singing “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” at random intervals. Even her older sisters had called home to say congrats.

Cameron, though, had frowned and asked how much time the rehearsals would take up. “Will I be able to see you?” he’d asked. “Or will the musical take up all your time?”

Some people would call that sweet. Faith called it “smothering slowly,” especially since she knew he wasn’t really missing her, but a warm body to coo at his football stories and let him stick his hand up her shirt. She’d almost told him, nicely, that he could keep himself perfectly good company, given what he really wanted out of her.

So much for nice.

She hummed as she skipped through the halls. Getting the lead in the school musical was one more box checked for her high school bucket list. Only two marks left:

Get accepted to NYU’s musical theater program.

Have sex with a guy she loved.

Her mother would need smelling salts if she ever peeked in Faith’s diary, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t give her a stroke. Dad? Well, he’d lock her up and go shopping for chastity belts.

Faith snorted. That image was way too easy to conjure up. Dad probably knew someone who made chastity belts. He hadn’t even let her get into a car with a boy alone until she was sixteen. S-E-X wasn’t spoken of.

Faith slowed in front of the drama room, feeling a little pang catch her heart. Her family loved her. They loved her dreams, her dramatic streak, and even her feet, ugly from years of dance. Still, she knew they worried about her. The baby. The one most likely to turn out wild.

And they hated Cameron.

Funny thing was, she was starting to see why. Every time they went out now, his hands got a little more aggressive, and he couldn’t understand why she was reluctant to go past second base after dating for six months.

She didn’t have the heart to tell him it was because she was waiting until she really fell in love…and that she didn’t love him.

God, that was going to be a horrific conversation, wasn’t it?

“Faith! Wait up, you long-legged gazelle!” Violet Moore dashed after her, cursing the fact—loudly—that she was five three and friends with a girl who was five nine. “George Washington on a pogo stick, you walk fast.”

She chuckled. Violet’s ponytail was coming lose from its elastic and her face was red. “How long have you been trying to catch me?”

“Since you left the office!” Her best friend paused to suck down air. “I wanted to make sure you can still meet after school to get ready for the party.”

“Yep. I’ll be there at three thirty.”

“Good, because I’m seeing my hair stylist at five.”

Faith’s eyes widened. “You’re really going to do it?”

Violet swung her ponytail. “Hell yassss. Tell your mom we’ll send her the hair for the foundation.”

“Sweet!” Faith grinned. “I can’t wait to see you with short hair. It’ll match your height.”

“Aw, shut up, Amazon.” But she smiled. The smile faded fast, though. “Great. Asshat at eleven o’clock.”

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