By the end of the school day, Mandy was in a very bad mood. She was tired and sweaty from gym class, nervous and a bit frustrated about her meeting with Neal, and a tiny bit jealous of Cy and Beck, who had managed to ditch Melinda and sauntered out of school laughing to go to the milkshake shop. When the final bell rang, she threw a couple books into her backpack and rushed to Neal’s locker, eager to get this over with as soon as possible.

Neal was standing cooly with his back against his locker, his dark hair framed by the light streaming through the front doors. The last secretary from the main office was just leaving, and by the time Mandy reached him, they were the only ones left in school.

“Ok, so what?” said Mandy, her tone more than a bit defensive. Knowing about Neal’s recent dumping of his cheerleader girlfriend had made her suspicious that she was some sort of rebound or joke to him.

“Hey, chill out, Mandy babe.” Neal grinned and leaned a bit closer to her. “I’ve just got a question for you.”

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