Juliana gazed out the window at the moving van parked in front of the house next door.

A lady got out with a little boy, holding his hand firmly and Juliana clapped gleefully. Finally someone to play with! She raced downstairs and crashed into her father as he stepped in front of the staircase. “Whoa honey. Slow down.” He grinned down at her and ruffled her hair. She jumped around impatiently as her mother calmly opened the door. Dashing past them she skidded to a halt in front of the new people. “Hi!” she grinned at the lady who smiled back as the boy narrowed his eyes. “Juliana!” her mother scolded, walking up to stand beside her. “What have we told you about running across other peoples’ lawns?” “Sorry Mommy. I promise I won’t do it again.” The nice lady laughed. “Nice to meet you folks. I’m Tina and this is my son Caleb.” She patted Caleb’s head lovingly. “I’m Heather, and this is my husband Tom. And this is Juliana.” Juliana stuck out her hand and Laura shook it, laughing. “You’re a smart young lady aren’t you?” “Daddy says I am!” Juliana glanced at Caleb, who was gazing off into the distance. “Can I go play with Caleb? Please Mommy?” “If Caleb wants to, go right ahead.” “Caleb would love to.” Laura smiled down at her son, before gently pushing him towards Juliana. “Would you folks like to come in? I can make some coffee-“ “Actually we came over to see if you needed help unpacking…” Tom started as the grownups walked towards the house, leaving the kids on the front lawn. “Come on!” Juliana grabbed Caleb’s hand and pulled him across the street to the small neighborhood playground. Releasing his hand, she tapped him on the shoulder and ran away screeching “You’re it!” “I don’t want to play with you.” Caleb said haughtily, wiping his hand on the front of his black t-shirt. Juliana stopped in her tracks and looked back at him, a confused expression wrinkling her forehead. “Why not?” she asked, honestly bewildered. “I don’t like playing with girls.” He smirked and walked away, leaving her puzzled and hurt in the middle of the playground. Eight years later, when they were both in grade 12, Juliana had given up hope of being friends. Caleb tormented her every time he could, and that was often. One time, he had even cut off her hair. She never forgave him for that. He was rather popular as he was good at almost anything, while she preferred to stay out of the spotlight, staying home as much as possible and hiding herself underneath big sweatshirts and track pants. Her parents worried, but when Juliana told them she had plenty of friends and a boyfriend, they gladly believed her. “Hey Jules! Wait up!” Caleb called, waving and walking towards her. She ignored him and walked down the street, music pounding in her ears. Pulling her hood over her head and jamming her hands into her pockets, Her mind scurried for answers. There had to be something. She could have cried in frustration. Caleb caught up and yanked her hood down. “Jules!” “What?!” she snapped, yanking her earphones out and glaring at him. He grinned at her.

“I didn’t see you in class today.” He shook his finger at her and she was tempted to bite it off. “I was in the library.” “The goody-two shoes Juliana skipping?” he raised his eyebrow. She shot him an ice-cold glare and quickened her pace. He fell into step beside her again. “I heard you guys are holding the neighborhood barbecue this month. And there’s something about this mysterious boyfriend you’ve told your parents about.” He winked at her. “Anyone I know?” “Get lost Caleb.” “Touchy… So I must know him then!” “I said GET LOST.” “Nah, I’m good where I am. So tell me, little princess, whose the poor sucker stuck with you?” Her heart quickened slightly at the nickname, but she ignored it. “No one you know.” “More like no one anyone knows. Least of all you.” He grinned at her slight shock. “Really Jules, you think you could date someone and I wouldn’t know?” “Yes.” She muttered and promptly stomped on his foot without missing a beat in her step. He yelped and hopped for awhile, nursing his sore foot and glaring at her back. “You shouldn’t have done that. I was just about to offer to help you too.” She snorted but paused to wait for him. “Help? From you? I’d rather die.” “Or disappoint your parents?” She hesitated and he hid a grin behind his hand. He had her locked tight, and they both knew it. He felt excitement stir in his gut. “Fine.” She frowned unhappily. “What help were you thinking of?” “I could pretend to be your boyfriend.” He held his breath. She stared. “What?!” “Wow Jules…chill. It’s just for the barbecue. I’ll pretend to break up with you the next day.” “Gee thanks! What a great offer!” she said, sarcasm laying heavy on her tone. “What’s the catch?” “You help me get Melissa Steron off my back about a date.” She glanced at him. “I thought you liked her?” “She’s a pain and talks way too much, when I’d rather be doing…other things.” “Like you’ve ever done “other” things before.” She said, snorting in disbelief. “More than you have.” She turned her head to glare at him. “Excuse me? Was that a slight at my virginity?” “So you are a virgin then.” He said mildly, resisting the urge to dance for happiness. “I never said I was.” She raised her head haughtily and he suppressed the flicker of anger. “Well? Are you going to accept or what?” “Do I have a choice?” she said, sighing. “Not really.” “Fine. We’ll be boyfriend-girlfriend for one day and that’s it.” “Two days.” He corrected. “Or more if Melissa needs more convincing.” She glared at him, before throwing up her hands in defeat.

“Fine!” “Oh. There are some requirements to being my girlfriend, by the way.” “What the fuck? Requirements?!” “Yup. For example, all my girlfriends dress sexy, not in huge oversized clothes.” He plucked at her sleeve disdainfully, before pulling at the baseball cap covering her hair, which he had personally cut a little under a year ago, much to her anger and his amusement. “Anything else you egotistical moron?” she said, crossing her arms and stepping away. He was shaking with suppressed laughter and she hated that he was laughing at her. If only looks could kill… “Yah. One more thing. She has to be a good kisser.” He winked at her suggestively. She snorted with utter contempt. “Save it for your real girlfriend.” “Don’t you want your parents to believe it?” “Yah, but what does that have to do with kissing?” “Well, couples kiss don’t they? Which reminds me. We need to practice, to make it look like we’ve been kissing for awhile. No clinging.” He warned. She shook with the urge to punch him as he grabbed her hand and led her to his house, unlocking the door and pulling her inside. Tossing his keys onto a small end table, he took her backpack and led her up the stairs and into his room. “You move fast-even with fake girlfriends.” she said dryly. He laughed and turned to face her. “Ok. Hat off.” He reached for it but she smacked his hand away and backed up warily until her legs bumped against the bed. “Why?” “I’d prefer to know I’m kissing a girl rather than a guy.” She gaped at him as he grinned. “Are you freaking blind?!” she asked angrily. His eyes trailed down, tracing her barely noticeable curves as his mouth went dry. “No, I’m not.” he murmured. “Nonetheless…” He walked over to her and yanked her hat off, tossing it away. Thick waves of hair fell down around her face in beautiful, shimmering waved. What was now a honey brown colour had been a dirty mud brown before. His mouth opened slightly in wonder as he raised a hand and tucked a strand behind her ear reverently. Juliana watched him cautiously. He’d been acting weirdly ever since she had broke down crying when he had cut her hair, but this unexpected tenderness was a little unnerving. She leaned away and waved a hand in front of his face. “Caleb?” He snapped out of his daze. “What happened to your hair?!’ he asked, furious at his shaky voice. “It grew out…hair does that you know.” She watched him warily as he stared at her. “Caleb, this isn’t a good idea-“ “Yes it is.” He cut her off abruptly. “I’m going to kiss you now. Remember what I said earlier.” “No clinging. As if I would.” Disdain lay heavy on the words. “Hurry up Caleb. I want to get this over with.” “As if I would drag this out.” Rolling his eyes, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. A shock coursed through him as her eyes snapped open to stare straight into

his. His arms slowly closed around her and brought her closer as she let her eyes drift closed and twined her arms around his neck. He pressed harder against her mouth and her lips opened slightly in response. Acknowledging a shiver of excitement, he slipped his tongue between them and traced her teeth with its tip. She shivered as he lowered her slowly onto his bed and ran his hands down her body, shaping the baggy sweater around her body. His hands got ahead of his mind as his hand slipped under her sweater to run up and over her ribs. He fiddled with the clasp of her bra as she moaned softly. Shaking her head, she pushed him away. “Caleb stop.” “No.” He kissed her again, nibbling on her lower lip as he popped the clasp on her bra open and pushed the sweater up over her flat stomach, skimming her soft skin with his hands. “Caleb wait. Stop!” She shuddered as his fingers stroked along the bottom curve of her chest. Pushing his hands away, she yanked her sweater back down and crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him with cool eyes and trembling lips. He frowned in disappointment. “I think we’ve had enough practice.” she said unsteadily. “If you say so.” He shrugged and shoved his hands into his pockets as he got off her. Sitting up, she turned away from him and quickly hooked her bra back together before climbing off the bed and retrieving her hat from the floor. “Here let me help.” He took the hat away and smoothed down her hair before putting it on her head. “Thanks.” She turned away and walked out the door and down the stairs. Suddenly anxious, he grabbed her hand as she reached for her bag. “I’ll walk you home.” She stared at him as if he was insane. “Caleb, I live next door.” She pointed out. “So? If I’m going to pretend to be your boyfriend, then I should be thorough.” She stared at him for another moment before shrugging and twining her fingers with his. He felt a rush of relief and joy as he led her outside, ignoring her protests as he carried her bag. When they reached her front door, there was a moment of awkward silence as she fumbled with her keys. Before she could scramble inside to safety, he tightened his hold on her hand. She looked at him warily. “Don’t forget to dress sexy.” “Huh?” “You know. Wear a dress or something. You don’t need much.” He grinned as she blushed in confusion. “And for god’s sake, don’t put your hair up.” She nodded slowly, before smiling at him. It was like a kick in the gut. “Ok.” She opened the door and looked at him. “See you tonight?” “See you tonight.” he answered, before pulling her to him and kissing her. Grinning at her parents who had just pulled into the driveway, he released her and squeezed her hand before walking back to his house and hummed as he shut the door behind him. Juliana pressed a hand to her trembling lips in wonder, before slipping inside and upstairs to avoid her parents’ inevitable questions. Two hours later, Caleb walked through the gate to Juliana’s backyard. The smell of hamburgers on the barbecue was strong and he sniffed contentedly as he wove through the crowd in search of her. “Caleb!” a fierce whisper had him looking up and he saw Juliana’s face peering over the edge of her tree house. Motioning for him to come up, she rolled over and sat up,

brushing the bits of dirt off her white shirt. Nimbly climbing up the tree, he pulled himself up into the small room, stood up and promptly smacked his head on the roof. “Ow…” he said, rubbing his head and sitting down with a frown. “Are you ok?” Don’t laugh, she commanded herself as she rearranged her features into one of concern. “It hurts.” he whined. She burst out laughing and his frown deepened. “Sorry.” she apologized, still grinning. “Will you kiss it better?” he pouted. Rolling her eyes, she crawled over to him and gave his forehead a quick kiss. He pointed to his nose. “Here too.” She shot him a dubious look. “I fell earlier.” He explained. “Sure you did…” She pecked his nose anyway. “And here?” He didn’t bother to hide a grin as he motioned to his lips. “Oh really…?” She leaned closer and brushed his lips gently with her own but pulled back before he could deepen the kiss. Laughing at his expression, she sat back on her heels. “My parents saw you kissing me earlier.” she commented. “I thought they did.” He shrugged and sprawled out beside her on his back, closing his eyes. “And I talked to Melissa. Did you know she only lives two minutes away from here?” she said casually. His eyes shot open and he watched her warily. “What did you talk about?” “Oh I just asked how you two were getting along and she gushed about how wonderful you were…how helpful you were in picking out a one year anniversary gift for her BOYFRIEND.” Her eyes narrowed at that last word and she crossed her arms over her chest. “So he liked it then.” he said mildly. “That’s good.” She huffed in frustration. “You lied to me Caleb. Why?” “Does it really matter?” He grabbed her hand and played with her fingers. She glared at him. “Yes, quite frankly, it does! Why did you lie to me?” “Because.” He shrugged. She longed to scream. “God dammit Caleb! Tell me, or I’ll scream bloody murder!” she threatened, raising her voice a little more on every word. “Of course you will.” He sat up and yanked her forward, until she was practically sitting on his lap. Catching herself with a hand right above his heart, she glared. “Caleb-“ “I did lie.” He admitted. “Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t have accepted my offer of help unless you thought I had a reason for it that didn’t involve you. I don’t blame you. I’ve been an ass. And I’m sorry.” “Right.” She tried pulling away, but he wouldn’t let her. “I wanted to be your fake boyfriend, Jules.” He said hurriedly. “I wasn’t planning on breaking up after the barbecue. I was kind of hoping,” he gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “That we could be real boyfriend-girlfriend.” She snorted in disbelief. “Caleb, you hate me. You always have.” He frowned. “Why do you think that?” She stared at him. “Has your memory disappeared?”

“Oh.” The confusion in his eyes cleared. “I already said sorry. Besides, do you think I would pick on you all the time if I hated you? Hasn’t anyone ever told you, that when guys are little and they like a girl, they tend to pick on her?” He twined his fingers with hers. “Well that’s stupid.” She said, frowning. “I know. And I really AM sorry.” He leaned forward and kissed her cheek before touching his forehead to hers. “Forgive me?” “No.” “Jules. Please? I like you a lot. Maybe even love you. Let me prove it.” He kissed her nose lightly. “Juliana, would you like to be my girlfriend?” After a long pause, she grinned. “Do I have a choice?” she teased. “Not at all.” “Jerk.” She laughed softly. “Don’t I know it.” He leaned forward to kiss her, but she pulled back. “I still don’t believe you, you know.” He frowned, and she hurried to add, “But I’m going to give you a chance to prove yourself.” He paused for a split second, before his face slit into a grin and he hugged her tightly. “I love you Jules.” He kissed her hard, wrapping his arms around her. “Love you too Caleb. No matter how much of a jerk you are.” She tapped his nose playfully. “Thank god for that.” Smiling foolishly, he pulled her lips down to touch his.

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