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I heard myself stammer my understanding, some script I'd written and grooved into the hard drive of my brain after years of rejection. Cool October wind whipped her golden tresses in front of her sapphire eyes as leaves of amber, orange and yellow twisted and fluttered past me in a single moment of perfect awkwardness.

A hesitant touch on my shoulder.

Quick smile. Condescending nod.

I wasn't stupid. I was dumbfounded. Mortified. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if there hadn't been an audience in the wings to witness my demise. Her pack of friends huddled together just out of my peripheral vision. I imagined them holding up their score cards—bright white, eight by ten sheets with glaring black numbers. But were they judging her performance? Or my reaction?

Let's see how fast the geek starts to cry?

At least that was unlikely. Or at least, not here. That's what dorm rooms were for. Or in my case, a room at the frat House.

I nodded. "Sh-sure. I understand." I heard my voice, yet I didn't recall making the conscience effort to respond. I'd been afraid my voice would crack. And it did.

The girls giggled.

Julie gave me a thin smile and then moved past me to join her fan club. I kept my back to them. I didn't trust my face, or rather, my control over it.

The wind kicked up again, and I felt it through the leather jacket I'd spent last month's paycheck on in the hopes it would make me look impressive, stylish and hot.

What I felt was small, insignificant and stupid.

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