Fanny doesn’t want to be at The Jane Austen Academy. She intends to lay low until graduation when she can try out for the Olympic track team. She doesn’t need friends or love. She only needs her running.
But The Academy is in danger. In an effort to save it, Fanny joins forces with the friends she never knew she wanted. Suddenly, Fanny finds herself center stage in the middle of the Academy’s biggest love triangle as the lead in the school play…only this track star can’t afford to break a leg.
January, Junior year
Fanny Sato banged her gavel on the desk. “This meeting of the Jane Austen Academy’s Asian American Cultural Society will come to order. Let the record show it is Monday, January seventh. Welcome back from Christmas break.”
From the middle seat of the back row, Tran Blackburn’s gaze shifted to the empty seats to his left, the empty seats to his right, then back to her. He tilted his head and slid further down in his chair, his knees widening away from each other in his baggy cargos.
“I’ll take the roll,” she said. “Tran Blackburn?”
“Present.” His lips twitched ever so slightly when she insisted on parliamentary procedure even though membership in the Asian American Cultural Society had consisted of only the two of them since the Academy had opened up to boys at the beginning of the year.
The Society’s membership of two was still a 100 percent increase over the previous year, when she had been the only member. Not that there weren’t other Asian students at the Academy—just none who cared enough to join or who knew the club even existed, which had suited Fanny fine. She hadn’t recruited anyone for a reason.
“Agenda items?” she asked.
“Mischief and mayhem.” Tran’s answer had been the same week after week. And week after week, Fanny denied him this request. She had tried to bore him out of the club by demanding they take calligraphy classes and study obscure historical texts and watch romantic manga shows. Only, he never seemed to get bored. Tran always came back.
At first, Fanny had found his persistence annoying. Then infuriating. But somehow, she’d come to expect him, then look forward to him, and today, finally, she needed his help.
For a girl who didn’t ask for help, this was a big deal.
“Tran Blackburn, the board is happy to grant your request for mischief and mayhem.” She banged the gavel again.
“What did you have in mind, Flash?”
Fanny warmed. She hadn’t heard his nickname for her all Christmas break. She’d missed it. So she was grinning a little when she answered, “Maybe a little B&E?”
Tran shot out of his chair, his shirt shifting to reveal a sliver of the black tattoo across his belly. “Get out. What do you think B&E means? Tell me you think it means brioche and eclairs.”
“Brioche and eclairs?” Fanny blinked in confusion—was this her Tran talking?
“I’m a guy who likes his pastry. Don’t change the subject. Are you serious? B&E? Do you know even what that is?”
“Of course I do. You think I don’t know my felonies because I’m a girl?”
“I think you don’t know your felonies because you’re Fanny Sato, track star, honors student, and all-around good girl. I mean, look at you.”
“If that was a compliment, why do I feel insulted?” she muttered, feeling self-conscious now about her black hair in its ever-present ponytail and her standard uniform of T-shirt and sweatpants. Scratch that—she did wear her tracksuit, too.
Tran ran an anxious hand through his choppy black hair, giving her another glimpse of skin beneath the hem of his shirt. Usually, Fanny couldn’t care less about half-clothed guys. She was a runner, an athlete. She’d seen her fair share of naked abs and butt cracks while competing across the country, but nothing intrigued her the way Tran’s tattoos did. The way the black lines swirled across his skin and dove beneath his shirt at his collar, sleeves, and hem.
She dragged her eyes back up his chest to his face, and he was right there to meet her.
His dark eyes bored into hers with an intensity that sent shivers to her toes. “You’re serious, Flash.” He took a step forward. “You and me.” Another step. “Breaking and entering.” He was at her desk. “Right now.” Tran rested his knuckles on the desk and loomed over her.
She cleared her throat and scooted back her chair. Having him this close, this serious, made her throat itch. “Err…maybe I’m joking.”
He smirked but rose up, giving her a chance to breathe. “We know that’s not your kind of humor.”
She scowled. Somehow Tran had gotten to know her. In four short months, he’d figured out how to make her smile, when she needed oranges for an energy boost after a run, and how to tell when she was lying—like now. Which made him dangerous for a girl with a secret.
“I’m going to do it with or without you,” she said, although she had no idea how to go about it. “I just thought you’d be interested.”
The right corner of his lip toked up. “Why? Because I have tattoos and a tongue ring?”
“You have a tongue ring?” Fanny’s throat went dry again.
“The nose ring was getting old, so I thought I’d switch it up. Christmas present to myself.”
“Can I see?” She hated herself for asking, but what girl wouldn’t?
Tran grinned. “Come and get it.”