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Arthur Kirkland leads a less than happy life. Between an abusive father and brothers who drill it into his head that he's the sole reason for the death of their mother, bullies at school who make sure he knows that he's pathetic and worthless, the secret of his sexuality, and a forbidden crush on the Golden Child of Heta High, Alfred F. Jones. When he finds said boy in the woods one fateful day, will everything change?
Alfred F. Jones is the Golden Child of Heta High. Between having a pretty girlfriend, being the best at every sport, making great grades, and having rich parents... everything is perfect for him, right? It seems to be, until one drunken mistake involving his adorable little brother Matthew rips their family down the middle. His parents start fighting, his girlfriend can't stand to be around him because of his self-blame, his grades and sports slip, and all of his friends leave as soon as he's no longer popular. But will one day in the woods change everything?
The first time they speak—as pre-assigned lab partners, as strangers, as presumed equals—the conversation ends in an overturned Erlenmeyer flask and a creatively weaponized Bunsen burner; his butter-soft, Italian-leather satchel is covered in scorch marks, and the collar of her lavender cashmere cardigan has been eaten through by a particularly virulent form of benzilic acid.
It is an inauspicious beginning to their working relationship.