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It was weird, but probably not as weird as two best friends who slept together but didn’t so much as kiss. It was like they were living together, but alternating from one house to the other. They spent a lot of time together, but they also spent a lot of time on their own or with friends. When he was away from her he wondered what she was doing and thinking. A few times he had to stop himself from calling her to find out. The only thing that was saving his sanity was knowing that she wasn’t dating another man. He didn’t know how he’d feel about that. Judging by the urge to put his fist into a wall every time he thought about her and another guy it wasn’t good.

Another loud cheer went up next door. He clenched his jaw tightly as he focused on the fifteen students of his Honors U.S. history class. This was their two hour study block to go over the material for the final exam which was tomorrow and only ten minutes into it and he wanted to throttle every last one of them.

He threw his papers onto his desk in disgust, making his students shift around nervously in their designer school uniforms.

“I don’t understand this. We’ve gone over this material all year and none of you have any idea what hell we’re talking about!” his voice rose, making the girls look close to crying.

Another roar of applause came from next door, drawing his attention back to the woman who was always on his mind. He speared his fingers through his hair and paced the floor. He was wound so damn tight right now, so close to snapping.

A soft knock came at the door connecting his classroom to Haley’s. She popped her head in, smiling. That smile was like a balm to his soul, instantly relaxing him.

“Yes?” he asked her in a much softer tone than the one he’d been using with the kids.

Haley nibbled her lip nervously. “Mr. Bradford, I was wondering if I could ask you and your students a huge favor. I need some help preparing my kids for their test tomorrow and since both classes are studying the same material I was hoping you wouldn’t mind coming in here and giving me a hand.”

“Yes, of course,” he found himself answering immediately. Who in the hell could say no to someone so adorable? She pushed her glasses back up on her nose and smiled again damn near making his knees buckle.

“Excellent!” she said brightly, pushing the door opened wider. “Why don’t you kids come in here?” She turned to face her class. “Alright, you bunch of miscreants, make some room!”

Jason grabbed the review packet he made over the weekend and followed. As he walked past Haley he couldn’t stop himself from grabbing her hand and giving it a squeeze. If any of the kids saw they smartly kept their mouths shut.

He watched as his students filled the empty seats in her classroom. They kept shooting him nervous looks. No doubt they were waiting for him to start yelling again. Little did they know his little grasshopper kept him grounded.

Haley hopped up onto her desk and crossed one beautiful leg over the other, drawing every guy’s attention. He had to stop himself from killing the little bastards then and there.

His little grasshopper seemed oblivious to the attention she drew as she reached back to grab a large brown paper bag. She winced a little as she picked it up and placed it onto her lap. She held onto it, grabbing a large packet with the other hand. He didn’t wait for an invite. He sat down on the desk right next to her.

“Alright, guys, for those of you who are just joining us we’re having a review. We’ll each take a turn asking you a question. If you know the answer you get a prize,” she said. He saw his students visibly relax. He didn’t think it was over the prize, but over the reprieve from his temper.

Curious about the prize he leaned over and gasped. How dare she hide these from him! He sent her a glare, earning one of her exasperated eye rolls. He reached into the bag only to have his hand slapped away. How dare she?

“You can have one after five of your students answer a question correctly,” she informed him.

He sent a scathing look to his students, letting them know they damn well better answer correctly and quickly if they wanted to live. The woman had a huge bag, probably twenty pounds, of Hershey’s Kisses and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and he’d be damned if he wasn’t getting at least fifteen pounds of that. The hell with the kids. Did they really need an education more than he needed chocolate? They all had trust funds. They could get away with a tenth grade education. He on the other hand needed that damn chocolate. Once his five students answered their questions correctly he was attacking that bag consequences be damned.

“Alright guys, first question,” Haley announced as she looked at her packet. “Who was the first President of the United States?”

Every hand in the room went up.

Jason snorted. “Are you trying to just give away my chocolate? Make them work for it.”

Haley randomly picked a student, one of his, and tossed a Kiss. As she asked the questions they got tougher. Nine questions later he was patiently waiting for one of his students, John, to answer one of Haley’s questions.

“It was eighteen sixty….” the kid trailed off as he thought it over. Jason was going to fail the kid if he couldn’t answer the question. Not because it reflected poorly on his teaching skills, but because this was the fifth question and he wanted chocolate!

While Haley was watching the kid for the answer, Jason discretely raised four fingers.

“Eighteen sixty-four,” John answered quickly, trying not to look at Jason.

“Very good,” Haley said, tossing John a peanut butter cup.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Cindy or whatever the hell her name was from the dance cried. He should have known the little witch would be looking for revenge. “Mr. Bradford told him the answer!”

“Don’t be petty. John answered the question correctly,” he said, holding out his hand for the chocolate that was due him.

Haley eyed him carefully while he gave her his most innocent expression. “Did you just cheat so you could get chocolate?”

He did his best to look insulted. “Would I do that?” he demanded.

She rolled her eyes and handed him a huge handful of chocolate. “This should keep your cheating ways at bay for a while.”

“You would think that, wouldn’t you,” he said, unwrapping his treats while Cindy or whatever the hell her name was scowled at him. He ignored her. He ate his chocolate between asking questions of the class. He only paused to reach back and snag Haley’s water bottle to wash down the chocolate.

Tags: R.L. Mathewson Neighbor from Hell Young Adult