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"Joanie, honey! Hurry! The bus--"
"Got it!" Joanie leaped the last two steps and hit the kitchen floor running. "I'm outta here." She grabbed a banana and a slice of toast off the table as she hurried by it, stopping to kiss her mom on the cheek.
"You're late again, stupid," Liz told her.
"Shut up, weenie." Joanie stuck her tongue out at her little sister and headed for the front door at a jog.
"On it, Mom!" She hefted her bag higher on her shoulder, stuffed her jacket under her arm and sprinted the half a block to the bus stop where Zane, trusty Zane, was holding up the bus for her. He'd stopped just before getting on board, taking his time while pretending to tie his shoe.
Joanie skidded around him and caught the door in one hand. "Good morning!"
"It is now!"
She got on the bus and tossed her bag into a seat. "You rock, Zane."
Zane fell into the seat across the aisle from Joanie and gave her that cute lopsided grin, the same one that made all the freshman girls sigh over him and draw stupid little hearts around his name in their notebooks. "I try."
There were no hearts around Zane's name in any of Joanie's notebooks.
"I thought I was gonna miss it today for sure."
"No way." Zane shook his head. "I wasn't about to let you miss math today."
Joanie rolled her eyes. "I got, like, maybe five hours of sleep. Watch me fail the test."
"Shut up," Zane complained, crossing his arms over his chest. "What's failing for you, Jo, a B?"
"You shut up. I get Bs sometimes."
"But not in math."
"Okay, no. Not in math." Never in math. Sometimes in English or history, but she really liked math. She wasjust good at it, even she wasn't sure why. "You know if I get a B on a math test my dad will seriously ground me."
"Damn." Zane shook his head. "But still. That's pretty harsh."
"Yeah, well. I studied my butt off last night."
"And that's why you were late?"
"I overslept." Her answer was deliberately vague. Well, that part was true, she had stayed up too late and overslept, but she wasn't losing sleep over the math test; she'd stayed up late drawing again. Joanie stuffed the rest of her toast in her mouth so she couldn't say anything more. The drawing thing wasn't the issue; he knew she drew comics in her journal, but she didn't dare tell Zane that she'd ended up drawing pictures of his ex-girlfriend, Samantha. She was so cute. And so nice.
And so totally straight.