Home > A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime(6)

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime(6)
Author: Monica Murphy

My heart is in my throat when she finally says my name.

“Wren Beaumont, you’re going to work with…”

The pause lasts all of two seconds, but it feels like a lifetime.

“…Crew Lancaster.”


The word actually flies from my lips. I said it out loud, when I didn’t mean to.

Oh God.

“Lucky fucker,” I hear Ezra say, and I close my eyes in shame at the word he just used. I hate it when the boys curse.

And they know it.

Ms. Skov finishes with her list of partners and clears her throat loudly, causing the voices to go quiet. She scans the room as she starts pacing in front of our rows of desks.

“I know this isn’t what you envisioned, but let me tell you what your assignment is. It’ll make more sense when you hear.” She stops in front of my desk, because, of course, I sit in the front row. “I paired you with someone I knew would be the opposite of you. I want you all to interview each other. Study each other carefully, because you’re going to take all of that information you learn and give a speech on why and what makes your project partner tick.”

There are more groans. I sink in my seat, gnawing on my lower lip. There is no way I’m going to tell Crew a single thing about myself. He hates me. Whatever information I give him, he’ll find some way to use it against me eventually.

He’s never done anything like that to me before, so maybe my thoughts are just…extreme.

“Now, of course, you shouldn’t share any intimate, long held secrets you don’t want anyone else to know. I know everyone in this class is mature enough to respect each other’s privacy, but you know how it is. Things will eventually get out,” Skov explains.

Exactly. And there’s no way I want Crew to find out anything about me.


“For some of you, this is going to be hard. But I did some research on this type of project, and many of those involved said they found it almost easier to confess their darkest fears or most secret dreams to someone they consider a complete stranger. Those who know us, tend to judge us.”

I think of what Maggie said to me, and how she thinks I’m too “judgey” sometimes. That kind of hurt. I never mean to be judgmental…

“For the next three weeks, there will be no lectures, no tests and no side projects. From now until winter break, I want you to spend this period with your partner. Get to know them, interview them about their past, ask them questions about their future and what they hope for. What they aspire to be. Try your best to dig below the surface. Be real with each other, gang! Don’t present your picture-perfect Instagram life to someone. We all know that’s a figment of your imagination,” Skov teases.

“No one’s on Instagram much anymore, Ms. Skov,” one of the guys shouts, causing a few chuckles to ripple through the classroom.

She smiles, dipping her head in acknowledgement. “I’m an old person, what can I say? I can’t keep up with what social media you kids are on.”

There’s more joking and laughter, but I can’t focus. I just want to disappear. Drop out of the class.

Maybe even drop out of Lancaster Prep.

God, see? I can’t get away from him. Thinking about my school makes me think of him because of the name.

“All right everyone! Break up into your pairs. Do it quickly. I don’t want a lot of chatter going on, unless you’re talking to your partner.” She smiles, looking quite pleased with herself as she goes and settles in behind her desk.

I rise to my feet, ignoring everyone else as I make my way to her desk. I stop just in front of it, staring at her until she finally looks up, her expression calm. “Can I help you, Wren?”

I can see it in her eyes, that flicker of disappointment before I even open my mouth. She knows what I’m going to say. “I was wondering if you’d be open to me switching partners.”

Skov sighs, resting her arms on top of her desk. “I knew I’d have at least one of you come to me and ask this. Didn’t expect it to be you.”

“I don’t like him.” Best to be open and honest, right?

She arches a brow at my bold statement. “You don’t even know him.”

“How do you know?” Oh, that sounded snotty, and that’s the last thing I want to be toward a teacher.

“I’ve been at this school a long time. I know the students don’t think we pay attention, but we do. I see a lot. And I know for a fact you and Crew don’t speak. Ever. Which is funny because the two of you are actually quite similar.”

What in the world is she talking about? We aren’t similar. Not even close.

“No, we’re really not,” I tell her. “We have nothing in common, and he’s always so…mean to me.”

“How is he mean toward you?”

My mind draws a complete blank. I hate it when people ask for examples because most of the time, I can’t provide them. “He gives me dirty looks.”

“Are you so sure about that?”

Now she’s making me doubt every horrible look Crew has ever given me. “I don’t know.”

Her smile is small. “That’s what I thought. First, you have to get to know someone in order to understand how they feel about you. Don’t you think?”

“I already know that he doesn’t like me,” I say with all the finality I can muster. “It would be a lot easier for all of us if I could do this project with someone else. Maybe Sam?”

Sam is sweet. I don’t have a lot of guy friends, but he’s one of them, and he’s always been kind to me. We’ve had the same honors classes together since our freshman year, and he even took me to the prom last year, though just as friends. He knows where I stand when it comes to relationships and sex, and he’s never tried to push himself on me.

He hasn’t even tried to kiss me, and with Sam, I would’ve considered it. I still might.

I glance over to where he usually sits, one of the girls with a too short skirt on sitting next to him, a little scowl on her face as Sam tries to talk to her.

“I’m sure he’d want to switch to be partnered with me,” I tell Skov as I watch Sam smile at that girl, hoping to warm her up. Her name is Natalie.

She’s not very nice. I avoid her and her friend group at all costs.

“I’m sure he would.” Ms. Skov sounds amused, which I find faintly annoying.

This isn’t a laughing matter. This is the next three weeks of my life. The most intense time at school—nearing the most important finals week of my senior year. The one that counts the most. Daddy reassures me our family money can get me into any college I want, but I also prefer to get in to one of my dream schools on my own merit.

My family name makes that nearly impossible, but we’ll see what happens.

“So you’ll let us switch then? I bet Natalie would love to do this project with Crew.” I think they were together at some point over the last couple of years. At the very least, they hooked up.


“No, I’m not going to let you switch. The whole point of this project is to learn about someone who isn’t like you, who is part of a different friend group. You and Sam went to prom together last year so that means he’s out as a possible partner,” Ms. Skov says.

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