They visit each other's houses for the 1st time.

Instead of answering, she shrugged. Grayson kept glancing over at her as they ate, finally sighing loudly. "Alright, tell me what it is."
Parker raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about you. You're too mellow, it's weird. Tell me what's going on," he urged. Parker could only stare at him, confused. That only worked to irritate him. "Are you seeing someone?"

Whatever she'd been expecting, that wasn't it. He thought she was relaxed because of a man? "What do you care?" It was a snotty response but she couldn't help it. Grayson set his sandwich down with deliberate slowness.

"Answer the question, Parker." His use of her name made her gulp.



"That's right, no. It's not your business." She tightened her lips, making it difficult to eat her lunch. Grayson glared at her but she refused to look at him. "Not that it matters now. You've completely ruined my good mood." She could practically hear him say good and he went back to his sandwich. They finished eating in a tense silence that Parker pretended not to notice and as soon as she was done, she hopped off the stool and started stomping-no, marching-back to her own classroom.

"Let's grade together again," Grayson said, his voice tight. Parker stopped but didn't turn around. "Even though you're being a brat," he added. Her throat tightened and the blood in her veins grew cold. The last person who'd called her a brat . . .

"Fine. My house this time." Not that I didn't like yours, she thought, but didn't say it. She was still too annoyed.

"I'll follow you," he said. Parker nodded and left the room.

Parker clutched the wheel of her car with one hand and, with just as much force, clutched a cigarette with the other. She lived further out from the school than Grayson and she'd used the extra alone time to panic and smoke half a pack of cigarettes. Finally turning onto her street, she glanced at his car in the rear view mirror and pictured his stern face. Another cigarette was between her lips in a heartbeat.

I shouldn't have agreed to this, she thought for the twentieth time since getting into her car. With one last regretful pull of smoke into her lungs she turned into her driveway and killed the engine. Grayson pulled in behind her and she heard his car door shut and footsteps crunching on the gravel. She stayed in her smoke-filled cocoon, closing her eyes, until her door was opened for her. Parker forced herself to get out.

"Good god, woman. Was that really necessary?" Grayson was waving away the cloud of smoke that lingered, eyes watering. She grinned cheekily. "Alright, lead the way." Her smile vanished.

"Okay." He walked beside her, making sure not to brush her arm as they went up the steps. She fumbled with the key but managed to get the door unlocked and she waved him inside but he shook his head. Rolling her eyes, she went in and flicked the lights on. While she put her jacket and keys on the hooks next to the door Grayson stared around her house and whistled.

"This is exactly what I was expecting." He took in the sprawling lower level that was completely open and uninterrupted, save for the bathroom with its smoke-glass walls. The living room, dining room, and kitchen seamlessly flowed together. The staircase to the left led up to the exposed bedroom that overlooked the dining room.

"It's really just meant for the one person," she said, eyes darting up to the railing that did little to hide her bedroom from view.

"I can see that. It's cozy. Serene." He nodded to himself. Feeling uncomfortable, Parker went into the kitchen and started looking through the fridge. She wanted to give him dinner since he'd done the same at his house, but all she had was leftovers.

"Want something to drink? I have water, orange juice, and about half a bottle of dessert wine." Grayson chuckled.

"You keep your wine in the fridge?"

"You keep your books on the floor, are you really judging me right now?"

"Jeez, so snappy.

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