Success in life takes more than straight As.
Melinda is an engineering honors student with a secret: she's cheated on every lab assignment since her junior year. She thought she'd gotten used to sacrificing her own dreams for her parents'. Going to the school they chose and majoring in what they wanted seemed like a fair price to pay for family harmony. If she switches majors, she's on her own.
But as her senior year ticks by, Melinda realizes she can't keep trying to be someone she's not. She knows her first job after graduation will expose her for who she actually is: a fraud. As Melinda prepares for life in the real world, can she find a way to live with honors?
"Welcome and congratulations to all of you," Dr. Simon said. "You represent the best students at Fulton Tech, and you should be proud of your achievements."
His booming voice reverberated off the walls. I squirmed. It was the voice of my nightmares.
He droned on about the honor society's grand history. I tuned out and focused on trying to stay upright in my shoes. The heels weren't that high, only two inches, but fashion-challenged me wore heels once or twice a year, if that. Converse high tops, sweatshirts, and jeans were more my speed.
I glanced at Rob, who had an appropriately solemn expression on his face. He seemed to be listening intently to Dr. Simon. When he caught my eye, the twinkle told me otherwise. He thought this was as ridiculous as I did.
My face grew hot and I looked away. I stared at my feet until Dr. Simon started calling out each of our names. Since I was at the end of the alphabet, it would take a while to get to me.
I studied everyone else in the room. Nerds, all of us. There was no getting around that. Did they all actually like studying engineering? They geeked out over stuff like microprocessors and motors, stuff that bored the crap out of me.
[i]I don't belong here.[/i]
Rob slipped past me, walked up to Dr. Simon, and shook his hand. Unlike me, Rob actually did belong here. He'd earned all his grades honestly, through hard work and loads of natural talent.
On top of that, he was also a nice person and hot in a geeky sort of way, facts that weren't lost on the dozen women in my class. Despite the 5-to-1 male-to-female ratio at Fulton Tech, Rob attracted more than his fair share of groupies. I wasn't one of them. I didn't have the time. Or the energy. Or the interest.
Sure, Rob and I spent a lot of time together, but as the cliché went, it was complicated.
[i]I don't belong here.[/i]
I straightened my back and tottered over to Dr. Simon, praying with each step that I wouldn't slip in front of everyone. When I made it to the front table, I forced myself to meet Dr. Simon's eyes and grip his hand with a firm shake, the way I'd been taught by the Fulton Tech career counselor. He pressed a tiny plastic box in my hand.
Time to escape. I hurried back to my place in the circle and kept my eyes cast downward. The box had a clear lid, revealing the Tau Beta Pi "bent," or key. Dr. Simon had mentioned it was once used for winding watches. How practical.
I stared at the key, keeping my head bent down, afraid that if I looked up, everyone would know my secret.
I'd cheated on every lab assignment the last two semesters. And Rob, the class superstar, had helped me.