My Know-It-All Nemesis - Maggie Dallen



Class had only just started, but everyone’s heads were down as we worked to solve the equation Mr. Klaton had given us in our AP Calculus class. There was only one empty seat in the class, and it mocked me.

Where is he?

Miller Hardwell was at school today. I knew this for a fact. We had almost all the same classes, including this one, and he’d been in every one of them up until now. So why wasn’t he here?

What is he up to?

I shifted in my seat, trying to concentrate on the numbers and letters in front of me and failing. He was talking to Ms. Dunderfin about the extra-credit biology assignment, I just knew it. Buttering her up, most likely. Ugh, the guy was a stinking snake when it came to extra credit.

It was fine. Totally fine. I tapped my pencil against the desk. I’d go see her after lunch and tell her to sign me up as well.

I rubbed my forehead and brushed some stray blonde hairs out of my face. When would I have time to do an extra-credit project between work, committee meetings, and the upcoming debate team competition? I had no idea. I tapped my pencil a little harder.

I’d find the time. I always did.

The baby-fine strands of hair that never cooperated fell back into my face, and I blew them away with an exasperated puff of air. Focus. I narrowed my eyes at the piece of paper in front of me and forced myself to stare at the numbers rather than the empty seat three rows over.

The room was filled with silent concentration when Pauline Derby, the receptionist from the front office, poked her head in, her gaze seeking me out in the front row. “Kate, Mr. Gentry would like to see you in his office.”

“Ruh-roh,” my friend Bella muttered beside me in a silly Scooby-Doo voice.

I grinned as I sat back up, slinging my backpack over my shoulder. I’d started gathering up my things before Pauline had even finished speaking.

Call me crazy, but I actually liked being summoned to the vice principal’s office.

“Someone’s in trouble,” one of the guys in the back said in a sing-song tone.

I laughed and rolled my eyes as some more guys in my class made the comments they always made when someone was called to the front office.

They were only teasing. We all knew I wasn’t really in trouble.

I never got in trouble.

Well, there was that one time last spring, but that wasn’t my fault.

“What’s up today?” I asked Pauline as she led the way back to the office. The pretty platinum-blonde receptionist shot me a little smirk that said, nice try.

Students were likely always trying to get some sort of heads-up about why they were being led to the main office. But like I’d said—I wasn’t worried. I was on more committees than I could count and led more charity organizations and after-school clubs than the rest of my classmates combined.

I was in Mr. Gentry’s office a lot, since most of my endeavors fell under his domain. This meeting probably had something to do with the charity food drive I was planning for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

By the time we got to his office and Pauline gestured for me to go on in, I had the latest food bank information on the tip of my tongue and a big smile on my face.

It was a genuine smile, because I truly did enjoy my visits with Mr. Gentry. I liked his wife, the principal, too, but she wasn’t as involved in the day-to-day activities like Mr. Gentry was. He was one of the few people in this school who seemed to appreciate all that I did and who had a genuine interest in seeing me succeed.

The Ivy Leagues. That was my dream. And in a few months, I hoped to be receiving my acceptance letters. But until then...everything counted. Every grade, every charity drive, every extracurricular activity. This was the final push. What I’d been working toward since kindergarten. If there was ever a time to keep my eye on the prize, this was it.

I opened the office door and poked my head in, my smile firmly in place. “You ready for me, Mr. Gentry?”

He wasn’t behind his desk.

A snicker to my right had me whipping me head in that direction so fast my ponytail smacked me in the face.

Miller Hardwell. He mimicked my smile—or at least that’s what I assumed he was doing when he gave