Kane's Hell - Elizabeth Finn

Eleven Years Ago

“Wha’d ya get on… nineteen?”

I looked over at Kane lounging casually against the take-out pizza counter. “Don’t you have pizza to make or something?” I asked, feeling my cheeks warm even as I joked with him.

“Nah… slow night. Plenty of time to get through my Poly-Sci homework … if you help me,” he said sweetly. “So… wha’d ya get on nineteen?”

I snorted, even as I looked down at my nearly complete worksheet in front of me. It was a slow Friday night. Slow enough for me to tend the counter at the old gas station and finish up my homework too, so I didn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend. It was no mistake Kane had the same book and assignment out as I did. This was how we spent at least three evenings a week. He making pizza and trying to coax the answers to our homework out of me, and me running the cash register and ignoring his charm.

“I got the right answer,” I said as I smiled haughtily at him.

“Ah, come on, Hell. How’m I supposed to know what the right answer is?”

“My name is Helene. Stop calling me Hell.” I chastised. “You could try reading?”

Kane sauntered toward the counter where I was sitting on a stool by the register. “In the percolation-up model, where does political power come from?” Kane mocked with a feigned snobby scholastic voice. “What the fuck does percolation have to do with Poly-Sci? Coffee percolates, not politics,” he muttered.

I smiled. “Again, we have an entire textbook filled with all sorts of knowledge—like the percolation-up model. You’re seventeen. Please tell me I’m not the first person to introduce you to the oft forgotten yet absolutely invaluable invention known as the textbook.”

He laughed. “You always talk so smart-like, Hell,” he said in his best Hill-Billy accent. He pulled a bag of chips off the nearby rack and opened it up.

He offered it to me, and I snatched one from the bag as I closed my worksheet inside my textbook and shoved it aside.

He leaned against the counter across from me. “What can I say, that’s why you’re the honor student, and I’m the…” He trailed off.

“Miscreant, troublemaker, popular kid,” I supplied for him.

He smirked his devilish and flirtatious smile right back, but then his expression went slack, and he sighed. “You know I don’t care about any of that.”

I nodded. I knew that fact very well. He was literally the only guy I’d ever met who didn’t care in any way whatsoever who was cool, who was uncool, who was smart, who was a jock. Odd thing was, it made him the coolest of them all. He wasn’t afraid of the fact I was a smarty and his friends thought I was a complete nerd. He also wasn’t afraid they knew we were friends and had been since we were children. He was so unafraid, in fact, that he’d regularly sit with me at lunch if he saw me sitting by myself, ignoring the leering eyes of his buddies and turning his back on their jeering jokes and snide comments.

“You’re not going to help me, are you?” he asked as he sighed. His eyebrows were cocked as he studied me with his crystalline blue eyes.

“I am helping you … by making you do the work yourself.”

He bit his lower lip, his eyes hooded and sexy, and when he reached out to my hand, I held my breath as warm pulses of electricity coursed through me in waiting anticipation. He stroked the side of my hand lightly with his