Publication Date: 01-03-2013

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“Shawna, babe, over here!” a cute blond college guy hollered across campus. I checked my scowl and ignored the stares, walking over to where Joel sat with his friends, grinning at me. “Joel, babe,” I copied him sweetly when I got close enough. “I was really hoping to never see your face again.” His friends laughed obnoxiously and I struggled not to smack one of them. “What do you want?” His grin only got wider and he held up his iPhone. “Just one little picture to send to the ‘rents,” he assured me, shoving his buddy out of the way to make room for me on the stairs. I looked over his golden head at the university building behind him. It was an expensive, beautiful campus, and I felt a subtle thrill of pride again as I remembered all the work it took to get here. “Fine, but make it fast,” I sighed sitting down beside him, closer than either of us liked. “Anything for you, baby,” he said, and I knew he meant it. I turned my face away from the camera and looked adoringly at the rich boy beside me who was grinning at his own phone. He snapped the camera. “One more,” he murmured, turning to kiss my cheek. I cast down my eyelashes demurely, calling on the blush that came to me easily. Joel snapped the phone again then pulled his arm away from me to look at the pictures. I leaned over, too. My adoring expression looked convincing, as though I thought the world of this boy while his perfect white smile glinted at the camera. The second picture was sweet; I was blushing and looking down, the wind blowing a tendril of hair into my face as Joel leaned tenderly into me, kissing my cheek. The innocence of the moment would have been adorable, if I hadn’t known that it was all a lie. Joel and I were from two entirely different worlds. His world required him to have a pretty, steady girlfriend while his reports home included nothing but praise at his amazingly good marks. Since Joel had none of these, he made up for it how he could. The marks were taken care of by various campus nerds he employed to do his assignments for him. I don’t know how he managed exams. But I was the answer to his other problem. I’d met his parents, charmed them with my hard-working adorable orphan facade, and every month or so I’d pose with Joel for fake pictures where we pretended to be enamoured with each other. He sent those home to assure his reputation- obsessed, perversely wealthy family that he and I were still together. Not that we ever had been. Both my meetings with his family I’d gotten paid for. Now I held out my hand and Joel gave me a ten, scooting away from me once more. I stood stiffly and continued on my way to class, trying hard to ignore the feelings of self-disgust. I was stowing away my books and notes into my bag after my Psych seminar was over. I heard someone plop next to me and glanced sideways. “Hi Scott,” I said neutrally, rummaging around for some gum. “Shawna,” Scott greeted me warmly. I felt myself relax slightly. “And what can I do for you?” I asked with just a touch of bitterness that he picked up on. “Nothing that you don’t want to,” he replied quickly. I smiled. “Seriously. What’s up?” Scott hesitated, his adorable features looking worried. “Well, there’s this dinner...” I held up a hand. “Say no more. I’m your girl.” He smiled at me in relief, pulling out his wallet. I swallowed, looking around, and put my hand on his which was holding a fifty-dollar bill. dont pay me yet

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