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Zack's Worst Scheme

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PROLOGUE

Zack stood by his locker as the bell rang. He sighed. Third period was beginning and he was due to head to his history classroom where his friends were. Well if he could still call them that. Slamming his locker closed he found Screech stood behind it waiting for him with a sympathetic smile on his face.

‘C’ mon Zack,’ he said, ‘it’s only one period. What’s gonna happen?’
‘They might kill me?’
‘You’re right,’ Screech said, even his sympathy couldn’t avoid the truth.
‘You know what I’m just gonna skip it,’ Zack said opening his locker backup and slinging his history textbooks inside.
‘You’re already on thin ice with Belding today after what you said about his hair, don’t make it worse,’ Screech said but Zack ignored him.
‘Whatever,’ Zack said as he shoved past Screech and headed down the hall. He wasn’t sure where he was going but as long as he didn’t have to sit in a crowded classroom with every pair of eyes boring into him he was happy.

He winded up walking into the gym which, thankfully, was deserted. He sat down on the bleachers and sighed. How had he messed up this badly? He’d been in sticky situations before but this was nothing compared to know. Before he could delve any deeper into his thoughts there was a clatter and the telltale sound of the gym doors opening and closing. Zack stood but before he could make his way down to the gym floor Mr Belding appeared next to the bleachers.
‘Going somewhere Morris?’ he asked as he folded his arms across his chest.
‘To class?’ Zack asked with a reluctant smile.
‘Question is why aren’t you there in the first place?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well.’
‘Funny, this doesn’t look like the nurses’ office,’ Mr Belding said.
‘I was getting some air,’ Zack lied.
‘Nice try. My office now. I’ll meet you back there once I’ve told your history teacher you don’t need to be put on a milk carton. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.’

Zack sighed and nodded as he trudged down the bleachers to the gym floor. As if this day couldn’t get any worse. He made his way to the familiar office of his principal and sat himself down in his favourite chair waiting for the big man himself. Mr Belding entered soon after and sat down on the edge of his desk knocking the feet that Zack had propped up there down with a thud.

‘Are you going to tell me what’s going on?’ Mr Belding asked.
‘What do you mean, sir?’ Zack asked naively.
‘Cut the crap Morris,’ Mr Belding warned, ‘I don’t like not knowing what’s happening in my school and right now I’m stumped. There’s been no scheming no gimmicks from you in over a week and now you’re cutting class. Try as you might that’s not like you. Neither is you distancing yourself from your friends. Now come on, spill.’
‘I’m not distancing myself from anyone,’ Zack said truthfully.
‘So what’s going on? Because I’ve not seen you and your lot together in a while…y’know Zack, if you want to talk about it you can do.’
‘There’s nothing to say.’
‘Well, what’s the matter then. You seem very glum recently and I worry about you-you students. Did you fall out with someone?’
‘I didn’t fall out with anyone…they fell out with me,’ Zack admitted.
‘How come?’
‘Look, sir, you don’t have to get involved in this. I messed up. It’s my fault no one else’s.’
‘What goes on in this school is my business,’ Mr Belding said.
‘Yeah well this is a new low even for me.’
‘I doubt that,’ Belding chuckled but Zack said nothing. His heart flip-flopped as he thought over the events that led him here, ‘it can’t be that bad Zack.’
‘Wanna bet?’ Zack asked as he recounted back to how he had got here.

One

Two years ago Zack Morris had been the king of Bayside lower class ever since he could remember. The girls loved him, the boys wanted to be like him and the teachers - tolerated him, as much as they could bear. Zack had never seen the appeal of being good, he was too determined to get what he wanted that being naughty was never a bad option. His good looks and charm also didn’t go amiss when getting out of whatever trouble he found himself in. But it had come at a price. You see Zack was complacent. He was under the impression that he would always come out on top. He didn’t think he would be outshone for most popular, never dreamt that Kelly wouldn’t see that they were meant to be together. Never thought that he would lose his friends he cared so much about. Well, maybe he’d still keep Screech - that kid idolised him. Well, a couple of years back that changed, when a new kid arrived at school.

‘Hey girls,’ Zack greeted his three girl friends as he approached with his best friend Screech.
‘Hi Zack,’ murmured Jessie before she turned back into the conversation she was already having, ‘he’s so dreamy.’
‘And strong too,’ Kelly said longingly which caused Zack’s ears to prick up, ‘apparently, he was on the football and the wrestling team back at his old school. How cool is that?’
‘Not that cool,’ Zack scoffed, ‘who are you guys on about anyway?’
‘The new kid, haven’t you met him yet?’ Lisa said.
‘Nope,’ Screech said, ‘who is he?’
‘His name’s A.C. Slater,’ Jessie said.
‘He’s so cute,’ Kelly said.
‘Not as cute as me though, right Kel?’ Zack asked but Kelly didn’t seem to hear him as she was looking behind him to where a new student was coming down the hall surrounded by a sea of girls. He stopped in front of the girls and gave them a smile before continuing to class. Not seeming to take any notice of their male friends in front of them Jessie, Lisa and Kelly headed towards the class Slater was headed for.

Zack watched them disappear down the hall with outright disapproval. Screech watched with him. ‘What do they see in him anyway?’ Zack asked opening his locker and fishing around inside it.
‘‘He’s a jock, he’s got massive muscles, he’s cute, he’s got great hair, he’s mysterious, he’s well travelled-’
‘Yeah, thanks Screech,’ Zack said shutting his friend up.
‘I don’t think he’s that great,’ said a voice from behind the locker door next to where Zack was stood. It slammed shut to reveal a brunette girl Zack hadn’t met before.
‘How come?’ Screech asked.
‘He’s a show-off, obviously. I mean all those girls drooling after him and him lapping it up, how cringy.’
‘Yeah, and his hair’s full of product,’ Zack said.
‘His muscles are too big like no one wants to see your gross armpits. Put a proper shirt on dude,’ she chuckled.
‘I know right, we get it you work out,’ Zack said.
‘And he takes forever in the bathroom!’ she said. Zack and Screech looked at her bewildered before she caught what she had said, ‘oh yeah. I probably should have led with my name… I’m Sophia Slater - A.C. is my brother.’
‘Oh,’ Zack said, ‘sorry for bagging on him like that.’
‘It’s not a big deal,’ she said waving him off, ‘besides any enemy of my brother is a friend of mine.’
‘Good to know,’ Zack said as a flutter of excitement went through his gut.
‘Hey,’ Sophia said tucking her hair behind her ear, ‘you couldn’t show me where the science lab is, could you?’
‘Sure,’ Zack said.

Zack and Sophia became fast friends after that much to Slater’s dismay. Having a new friend even took the sting out of Kelly turning her head for the new high school heartthrob. He liked having Soph in his life. She was funny, cute and feisty. She took none of his crap and told him how it was which he loved - not that he would ever tell her that. As Sophia and Zack got closer Kelly got jealous and so took matters into her own hands. Zack and his long term love got together and he couldn’t have been happier. Or so he thought.

Two

Zack would like to have thought the drama started way back then but he was wrong. It started about a month ago, Zack and Kelly have been going steady for almost 8 months. Jessie and Slater were kindling a new found flame. And everyone else was wondering who they were going to take to homecoming. Zack was sat at the back of the class listening to Miss Krasinsky drone on about their latest homework assignment. Though it was to be part of their midterm he was barely listening, he knew what it would be about anyway.

‘Now, class, I’m sure you’re all happy to know that your midterm will be about our favourite author this semester, Mr William Shakespeare,’ she said and there was a grumble of appreciation from Everyone who wanted an easy grade, ‘Though this midterm isn’t for another few weeks I want to allow you to prepare as much as possible and so I want you to pair up and select any scene from a play of your choosing. You are to learn these by heart and be able to analyse your scenes afterwards with questions from the class. I expect great things.’
‘We get to choose our partners?’ Jessie asked before her hand was even fully in the air.
‘Sure do,’ Mrs Krasinsky said, ‘I trust you all to make wise choices.’

As she finished the bell rang and the gang traipsed to their next classes, all except Jessie who seemed keen to linger and ask questions. She wasn’t seen until later that day in the Maxx. The group were in their usual booth. Screech, Lisa and Sophia were squished on one side of the booth whilst Zack took up the other side with Kelly. The two of them kissed as if no one else was there much to the gang’s dismay. Slater almost had to turn his chair which perched next to the table to face the other way to get them out of his brain. A welcome relief was Jessie who came thundering in all in a tizzy and plonked herself down next to Kelly with a thud.

‘Whoa Mama,’ Slater said, ‘what’s the matter.’
‘I just caught up with everyone in our English class and they’re all doing the same thing for our assignment.’
‘How can they be doing the same thing I mean we’re not right?’ Zack said, ‘me and Kel are doing Romeo and Juliet-’
‘-Romeo and Juliet,’ chorused everyone else at the same time.
‘See!’ Jessie said, ‘and I was talking to Krasinsky earlier and she said that everyone who does the same thing scores badly. Everyone picks the easy way out and she’s looking for something new.’
‘Surely she can’t mark everyone down,’ Lisa reasoned.
‘Wanna bet?’ Slater said, ‘anyway don’t worry about it, mama. No one’s a better Romeo and Juliet than us.’
‘Ahem,’ Zack said gesturing to him and Kelly with a quirked eyebrow.
‘Zack’s right,’ Sophia said, ‘not that you’re a better Romeo but you and Jess are more Beatrice and Benedict.’
‘Who?’ her brother asked.

‘This is going to be a disaster!’ Jessie sighed, ‘I can’t do badly in this test I just can’t. I need to get a better grade than everyone the SATs aren’t the only thing colleges look at and my GPA needs to be perfect.’
‘What are you saying? Kelly asked.
‘I don’t want to do Romeo and Juliet,’ she said.
‘Then we’ll do something else,’ Slater said.
‘Actually, I’ve sort of found something already,’ Jessie said with a wince as she pulled out Macbeth from her bag.
‘Alright,’ Slater said, ‘I’ll be this Macbeth dude whatever.’
‘I didn’t pick it for you to be Macbeth…I picked it because no one else would.’
‘So what does that mean?’
‘I asked Mrs Krasinsky the best play and she said this specifically the witches.’
‘Right and?’
‘You’re out Slater,’ Zack said with a chuckle.
‘Can it preppy. Jess, are you really ditching me?’
‘Not just you,’ Sophia said huffily.
‘I already asked Mrs Krasinsky and she agreed. I had to give their names though and I picked them first I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘look I don’t know if they’ll say yes-‘
‘You guys going to stop talking in code?’ Lisa asked.
‘Jessie wants you and Kelly to be in her group and play the witches from Macbeth.’
‘Oh,’ Kelly said.
‘Which means Zack, Slater and I don’t have partners now.’
‘Neither do I,’ screech interjected.
‘You never did pinhead,’ Zack said, ‘Kel you’re not gonna do this right? I mean Romeo and Juliet is far more your scene right?’
‘I don’t know,’ Kelly said, ‘I need to get a good grade in this midterm. My GPA could be really good if I do well this time.’
‘So you’re gonna do it then?’
‘Sorry Zack, I’ll make it up to you,’ she said kissing his cheek.
‘I’d you guys want to go practice now we can,’ Jessie suggested feeling the tensión in the air.

There was a murmur if agreements as all but one girl left the Max leaving the rest of the gang looking very forlorn.
‘This is bullcrap,’ Slater said, ‘how can they just form their own group, what about us?’
‘It’s not the end of the world,’ Sophia said, ‘why don’t we just form our own groups?’
‘And do what?’ Slater asked.
‘I don’t know but there’s gotta be something.’
‘There is,’ Zack said with a coy smile as he leant across the booth and took Sophia’s hand, ‘Juliet.’
‘Whoa preppy,’ Slater said, ‘if my sister is going to pair up with anyone it’s going to be me.’
‘I didn’t think you were that kinda family but…’ Zack teased.

‘Soph, you can’t leave a guy in the lurch for preppy,’ Slater said to his sister. She looked at him with a bit lip and weighed up her options. It was a shame that the girls had crossed them this way but she was going to make the best of it. Zack, she could wrap around her little finger, Slater was an argument waiting to happen.

‘Sorry bro,’ she winced, ‘I’ll help you and Screech find something good, I promise.’
‘Well I think Screech would make an excellent Juliet,’ Zack joked.
‘Bite me preppy,’ Slater said, ‘come on Screech. We’ll do it ourselves.’
Slater got up and gestured for Screech to follow him, which he did after throwing Zack a sorrowful look. Zack and Sophia were left in the Max feeling hurt.
‘Let’s get on this is suppose,’ Sophia said.
‘Let’s go,’ Zack agreed.

THREE

Things were going great. Zack and Sophia had picked an argument between Beatrice and Benedick from much ado about nothing and it was the best thing they could have done, they were sure they were getting an A. There was only one problem.

The scene ended in a kiss. It was the only scene that they could do which didn’t overlap with another group and didn’t have anyone else in it. They had done the scene a million times but had yet to lock lips. They almost had their lines down to pat. Like most nights Sophia had come to Zacks house to rehearse. The truth was they had been enjoying spending time together they usually only rehearsed for an hour and then spent the rest of the time watching TV on Zack’s bed.
‘He did not,’ Zack laughed as Sophia recounted a tale about her big brother.
‘I swear to God,’ she said. They were lounged on the bed chatting the TV being ignored in the background.
‘I’m so going to use that against him on Monday,’ Zack chuckled.
‘Oh no don’t,’ she said, ‘you’ll get me in so much trouble!’
‘Like you’re scared on Slater.’
‘I’m not at school,’ she said, ‘but at home that kids got nothing against pinning me until I yield. I mean, he’s the only person who could pin me but still.’
‘Only one huh?’ Zack said cocking an eyebrow.
‘Don’t even think about it,’ she warned but before she could prepare herself Zack had leapt up to pin her to the mattress she managed to slip out of his grasp and knocked him off kilter from where he rested on his heels. He toppled over and off the bed but pulled Sophia with him and they rolled off in a tangle of limbs. It was a scramble but Sophia got the best of him for a second and straddled him pinning his arms above his head. They stared at one another for a moment. They were sweaty and breathing heavily. 

‘Yield yet?’ She said breathily, giving Zack a smug smile but Zack couldn’t say anything because his stomach was fluttering like mad. ‘What what’s the matter?’ she said panicking when Zack didn’t say anything.
‘Nothing, nothing,’ Zack said, ‘it’s late you should probably get going.’
‘Oh,’ Sophia said moving off of him. He clambered up and sat on his bed as she gathered her stuff, ‘I’ll see you at school then.’
‘Yeah see you,’ Zack said paying attention to the TV as she left.

Monday rolled around quicker than Zack planned and he was stood outside his locker before he knew it listening to Kelly babble on about the tryouts they were holding for Sara Sefton’s replacement. As Zack closed his locker he heard Sophia say hi. She was stood next to him putting her book bag inside her own locker.

‘Hey Sophia,’ Kelly greeted, ‘good weekend?’
‘Pretty good,’ she smiled though Zack could tell it was forced. The bell rang
‘See you in geometry?’ Kelly asked the pair who both nodded. She leant up and kissed Zack and then disappeared down the hallway with the mass of students. Zack tried to do the same but Sophia latched onto his sleeve.
‘Zack, did I do something wrong?’
‘No,’ Zack said.
‘They why did you go all weird the other night? It’s not because I pinned you is it?’ she scoffed. Seeing his chance to dodge the truth Zack nodded, ‘You’re not that sensitive..right?’
‘I was being macho, I shouldn’t have been off with you. Sorry.’
‘No problem,’ she said, ‘now come on Morris time for Gym.’

FOUR

Zack was a wreck. He had been unable to focus since the weekend and he had been avoiding Sophia as much as he could. Unfortunately, the gang spent so much time together it was face his problems or eat alone. He was sat in the max with everyone. Sophia was sat opposite him chatting about the tickets she had just gotten for a Bon Jovi this weekend. The gig was the envy of everyone, as was anyone who got tickets. Sophia hadn’t decided who she was going with yet. She had initially thought of asking Zack but he had been so odd with her this last week she didn’t feel like she could. Slater had no interest in the concert and so she was torn about asking one of the girls. They all wanted to go, she felt mean picking between them.

‘So who do you think you’ll take?’ Kelly asked with a glint of hope in her voice.
‘I don’t know yet,’ Sophia said biting her lip, ‘I’d love to take all of you but….’
‘You’d love to take me the most?’ Lisa joked.
‘Nice try, I’ll let you know when I’ve made my choice.’
‘Well let us know later, we’ve got gym and we’ve gotta be early,’ Jessie said checking her watch, ‘c’mon girls.’
‘I’ll walk you,’ Slater proffered as the girls slid out of the booth bidding the others adieu, they wouldn’t have to get going for at least another ten minutes. The group was down to Zack, Sophia and Screech as well as an awkward air to the atmosphere.
‘So..’ Zack coughed, ‘you really don’t know who you’re gonna take huh?’
‘No,’ Sophia sighed, ‘I was hoping Slater would want to go but he’s not really interested.’
‘That’s because he has no taste,’ Zack said.
‘You like Bon Jovi?’
‘Zack loves him, he likes to impersonate him in his mirror,’ Screech admitted and a distinct thud was heard under the table from where Zack had obviously kicked him.
‘Oh really?’ Sophia smirked and the tension dissipated and they became like they always had been.
‘I do a great Bon Jovi,’ Zack said cockily.
‘Well if you want to debut it for the whole gang these tickets are yours,’ she laughed.
‘Maybe I will.’

They chatted for a few more minutes before they were pushing their luck in not heading to class and so they packed up all their belongings and proceeded from the max to their next classes. They stopped at their lockers before reaching their final destination where they were intercepted by Josh Milner a senior that Zack, Sophia and Screech only barely knew.

‘Hey,’ he said as he rested on the locker beside Sophia’s. Zack eyeballed him but continued to fiddle inside his locker - though much slower than before so he had an excuse to linger.
‘Hey,’ Sophia said.
‘We’ve not spoken much before,’ he said, ‘but I’ve seen you around for quite a while now.’
‘Yeah,’ she said, ‘I’ve been here over a year now.’
‘Which is why I think we should change that,’ Josh said. Zack rolled his eyes.
‘Oh yeah?’ she smiled, ‘what did you have in mind?’
‘Maybe we can hang out tonight? Say at the max?’ he asked. She couldn’t tell if his nervousness was genuine or not. Before she could overthink it the bell rang and she found herself saying, ‘Okay, see you there about 7?’ 
‘It’s a date.’

Josh walked off down the hall leaving Sophia stood there with a big smile on her face. She started to walk to class and Zack and Screech followed behind her.
‘I didn’t know you liked Josh Milner,’ Zack said coolly as the trio entered the classroom and took their seats.
‘I don’t,’ she said defensively at his tone, ‘I don’t even know him.’
‘Exactly.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well,’ Zack said dropping his tone as class began, ‘I just think it’s strange how he takes a sudden interest in you the second you win tickets to go and see Bon Jovi.’
‘Oh, that’s how you feel huh?’
‘I’m just saying,’ Zack shrugged.
‘Well don’t. I never said I had any interest in Josh and if he is only asking me out for tickets so what? I can enjoy someone’s company without wanting to marry them, Zack.’
‘Don’t blame me if you get hurt.’
‘Thankfully I’m a big girl Zack,’ she snapped. Sophia didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day.

FIVE

Josh Milner was a senior. He was cute and funny. A stereotypical jock. Not Sophia’s type. Too much like her brother. However, as she sat in the max with him having dinner she found herself enjoying his company. Well, she at least enjoyed the stares she was getting from her friends who were sat in their usual booth. They spent nearly all night talking until Josh had to head home and so stood up and bid her goodnight before giving her a chaste and tender kiss. She sauntered to the booth and slid in beside Lisa with a blush on her cheeks. Slater was the first to speak, ‘what the hell was that?’

‘Excuse me?’
‘You just let any guy kiss you in front of the whole school.’
‘Believe it or not, bro I’m 16, not 6 and can actually choose who I kiss and where.’
‘Yeah Slater,’ Jessie reasoned, ‘don’t be such a pig.’
‘She’s my baby sister Jessie.’
‘By four and a half minutes Albert.’
‘Bite me,’ Slater warned.
‘Well I think that you make a cute couple,’ Kelly said.
‘Thanks Kel,’ Sophia smiled before she glanced at Zack and said, ‘nice to know some people are still supportive of their friends.’

As the night wound down the subject turned to school and the English project that they were to debut tomorrow. The girls were ecstatic with how things were going and Slater agreed that he and Screech had made good progress. Zack and Sophia said nothing. As Zack rerouted the conversation to another topic Sophia muttered a goodbye to her brother and slid out from the group, mostly unnoticed. She made it home and was laying on her bed, going over the scene she hadn’t rehearsed in almost a week when her phone rang. On the off chance it was for her she grabbed the receiver quickly to make sure she was the first to answer - not her father.

‘Slater residence, Sophia speaking,’ she said. Her father’s military precision was laced in her no matter who she was speaking to.
‘Soph,’ said Zack.
‘Zack?’
‘Hey,’ as he said this he fell silent.
‘What is it Zack?’ she said curtly.
‘I just wanted to say…we still on for tomorrow. Y’know the scene we’re doing.’
‘Yes, Zack.’
‘Good..great.’
‘That it?’
‘Yeah, I guess.’
‘Bye then.’
‘Bye-’ she had hung up before he could finish.

SIX

Zack didn’t sleep that night. He hadn’t slept for the past few if he was being honest. He was the first to class and was pacing, waiting for his friends. They filed in one by one and he chatted distractedly to them as he waited for their project partner. The bell rang again and their teacher entered ready to start the class just as Sophia slipped in and took the seat in front of him without a glance his way. The teacher got the class underway and group by group they debut their Shakespearean scenes for everyone to see. As time ticked by Zack got even more nervous - it was like they were being left deliberately till last. Finally, their names were called and they took their starting places at the front of the class.

‘What have you chosen?’ Miss Kraskinsky said.
‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ Sophia stated.
‘Ah, Claudio and Hero. A gorgeous couple.’
‘Beatrice and Benedick,’ Sophia corrected handing her the piece they were planning on doing so she could introduce them.
‘Oh,’ Miss Krasinsky said, ‘an interesting choice. I love watching youngsters choose a challenge. I don’t suppose you find it easy arguing with one another.
‘Oh it’s not a problem,’ they both said in unison causing them both to smirk.
‘Whenever you’re both ready.’
They took a stance opposite each other and prepared as Miss Krasinsky read aloud, ‘Benedick has just arrived in town to where his friend Claudio will be marrying his love Hero. Hero’s cousin is Beatrice with whom he has never gotten along with. This is the first time they see one another upon his arrival. And begin.’

Zack pretended to chat to those on the front row whilst Sophia took a step forward and said, ‘I’m amazed you’re still talking, Signoir Benedick. No one’s listening to you.’
‘Look, it’s my dear Lady Disdain! Aren’t you dead yet?’ Zack said, getting a chuckle from the class. He moved to stand opposite her.
‘How could disdain die when you’re here? When you’re around, even Lady Courtesy becomes Lady Disdain.’
‘That makes Lady Courtesy a traitor. All ladies love me, except you,’ Zack winked at the girls in class before he continued, ‘ It’s too bad I’m so hard-hearted because I really don’t love anyone.’
‘Women are lucky, then. You would make a nasty suitor,’ Sophia chuckled as she squared up to him and as he looked down at her big brown eyes Zack lost his train of thought.
‘Is that what you think Beatrice?’ Zack asked.
‘Zack- I mean Benedict, why do you ask what I think?’
‘Because there must come a day when I’m not so hard-hearted. I must love a woman.’
‘When that happens I’m sure you’ll be able Benedict,’ Sophia said, ‘but that is not now.’
‘What if it were?’ Zack asked. He had forgotten where he was. He was speaking only to her, despite all of the class looking on.
‘I’m sure you would be a great suitor,’ she said.
‘And I’m sure these were not the lines Shakespeare wrote,’ Miss Krasinsky said as she stood and the two broke apart from one another, ‘if you forget your lines you may begin again,’ the bell rang and she sighed, ‘never mind. What you did do was sufficient Mr Morris and Miss Slater. Class dismissed.’

Before Zack could speak to Sophia she had grabbed her book bag and ran from the room. The class filtered out until all that was left was Zack, who was now embarrassed that he had spoken so out of turn in front of everyone and Kelly who waited by his desk.
‘Zack are you okay?’
‘Yeah,’ he said unconvincingly, ‘Kel, can we talk.’

SEVEN

Sophia slammed the car door shut with a force so hard it could have knocked it off its hinges. She stomped up the path fumbling around in her bag for her keys, feeling tears sting in her eyes. As she looked up just before she reached the porch she was stopped.

‘Zack?’ she asked spotting the blond on the steps in front of her.
‘Soph,’ he said standing up.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I wanted to see you. Are you okay?’
‘Yeah,’ she said though her teary eyes and smudged mascara was a bit of a giveaway, ‘Josh Milner is a dick.’
‘What happened? He didn’t hurt you did he?’
‘No, no, no nothing like that. He didn’t even speak to me half the night. He took some interest in this girl sat next to us and spent the night talking her ear off about Bon Jovi.’
‘I thought you didn’t like him.’
‘I don’t. I’m just annoyed because…well because you were right.’
‘Annoyed you that much that I’m right about something?’ he chuckled as he reached down and wiped her eyes dry.

‘Well yeah. And I thought that just for a minute he might actually be interested in me. But why would he?’
‘Why wouldn’t he?’
‘Zack…’ she said.
‘I mean it. You’re cute and funny and smart. You take no shit. You gorgeous.’
‘Zack you have a girlfriend. You shouldn’t be saying stuff like that.’
‘I can’t help it. I don’t know what it is Soph but I can’t get you out of my head. I can’t stop thinking about you.’
‘What about Kelly?’
‘She’s not happy about it but she’ll be okay…eventually.’

Zack stepped forward and swept a strand of hair out of her face. His boyish charm made her knees weak and feeling his breath dance over hair made her tingle all over. Slowly, he bent down and kissed her. It was short but passionate and the grin from both of them could have lit up the night sky. But there was no need. The porch soon became illuminated and the telltale sound of Sophia’s father coming to the door echoed through the night air.

‘I better go,’ she whispered leaning up to kiss his cheek.
‘See you soon.’

EIGHT

Though Bayside’s newest couple had spent the whole weekend talking about how they were going to keep their relationship on the down low until things had settled down, Sophia couldn’t help feeling nervous as she set foot in the corridors on Monday morning. She felt as if she were being scrutinised by everyone though this was not the case.

‘Hey guys,’ she said greeting her friends as she joined their circle. Zack smiled at her quickly as they greeted her and chatted on. Sophia didn’t miss the fact that there was one less member than usual, ‘where’s Kelly?’
‘She’s sick,’ Jessie explained, ‘stomach flu.’
‘Oh no,’ she said though she and Zack dropped their eyes.
‘She’ll be right as rain in the next few days,’ she said waving her off, ‘besides I wouldn’t miss school for anything like that.’
‘We know mama,’ Slater laughed, ‘hence why everyone got flu last year.’
Jessie shrugged as the bell rang and the group dispersed to all their classes all apart from Zack and Sophia who lingered by the lockers.

‘Is she really sick?’ she whispered feeling horrendously guilty.
‘I don’t know,’ Zack said, ‘but we can’t blame her. I wouldn’t wanna face the day would you?’
‘Well sure,’ she said, ‘we should get going to class.’
‘Do we have to? We have no classes together today.’
‘Well, how about we go to the max after school today?’
‘Sounds good,’ she said.
‘Just one thing before we go,’ Zack said leaning down to capture her lips with his.

They were separated from then on by Zack couldn’t keep her out of his thoughts. He was in the locker room changing for gym when the door slammed shut. It was Kelly.

‘Hey,’ he said standing up quickly.
‘Hey Zack,’ she said.
‘Feeling better?’
‘Much better,’ she said coming towards him and leaning up to place a kiss on his cheek, ‘I’ve gotta go and get ready for gym. See you at the max after school?’
‘Course.’
Kelly left and Zack threw his head back against the lockers with a great thud.

NINE

Zack didn’t know what he had expected. He hadn’t been able to break it off with Kelly. And Sophia meant so much to him he just wanted to be with her. Maybe it wouldn’t work out and he and Kelly wouldn’t have to change. Needless to say, this was one of his worst ideas. He thought he could stagger their visits. Not get caught.

But Zack couldn’t account for everything and he hoped that none of his friends would be there. He was caught red-handed.

Kelly was heart broke.
Sophia was angry.
Slater almost killed him.
Jessie and Lisa stopped him though the disappointment in their eyes was evident.
Even Screech seemed against him.

TEN

‘So you see why everyone hates me?’ Zack sighed.
‘Why do you get yourself into these predicaments, Zack?’ Mr Belding sighed.
‘I wish I knew.’
‘Well, you know what you’ve got to do.’
‘What sir?’ Zack asked.
‘You’ve gotta decide what you want. Ask your friends for forgiveness. And pray that whoever you choose wants to choose you back. Girls don’t always forgive and forget. You’ve gotta respect that.’
‘How do I do that?’
‘Just rip the band-aid off and do it. Speak from the heart.’
‘Thanks, Mr Belding,’ Zack sighed as he stood up, ‘here goes nothing.’