Overview: The game's afoot in the next book of the Bookish Boyfriends series—this time starring Huck and Winston! After Ms. Gregoire assigns the works of Sherlock Holmes in English class, a mystery deepens at Reginald R. Hero High. Huck and Win—Curtis's younger brother—team up to solve the case . . . and while the sleuths gather clues, another swoon-worthy romance blooms in the school halls. Perfect for younger readers of YA or older readers of middle grade, this squeaky-clean series is sure to charm any reader who's ever had a book boyfriend of their own.

 

Get a Clue (Bookish Boyfriends Series Book 4) by Tiffany Schmidt Book Chapter One

 

Boredom is a sign of a lazy mind.
This was my dad’s catchphrase during rainy weekends, snow days, and the long afternoons I’d spent rinkside while my older brother, Miles, played hockey. He said it whenever I complained that there was nothing to do, adding, There’s always something to do if you use your imagination.
But Dad had never been in Mr. Milverton’s Earth Science class. Imagination can take you only so far in a room with drawn shades and bare walls, where the closest thing I had to entertainment was timing how long it took my teacher to monotone “Four legs on the floor” if I tipped my chair back.
I yawned without bothering to hide it. Mr. Milverton was never going to like me—and not because of chair tipping. I’d ensured his loathing in October when I causally mentioned an upcoming pop quiz to a few classmates.
When we’d shown up prepared and anticipating it, he’d marched me to the headmaster’s office and accused me of looking in his planbook.
I hadn’t. And my suggestion that planning online would be more secure and eco-friendly hadn’t been well received. Neither had my explanation of his tell: the day before pop quizzes, he chewed his mustache and said, “Looking forward to class tomorrow.”
So, yeah. I was not in contention for teacher’s pet.
That would be Bancroft. He was a solid B student. The sort who tried, but not too hard. What he lacked in studiousness, he made up for in toothy grins and answers like, “I’m not sure. What do you think, Mr. M?” He’d fist-bump on the way out of class and say, “Cool lecture today, Milvernator,” and our teacher would flush flattered pink from the top of his sweater vest to the roots of his gray hair.
In all fairness, the role of favorite should’ve gone to Clara Highbury. In other classes she was a people pleaser. Here, she veered into try-hard. She volunteered to distribute materials, was the first to jump up and shut off the lights when Mr. Milverton used the projector—despite her seat being dead center of the classroom. One row over and one seat back from mine. My best friend, Rory Campbell—well, really one of my only friends, but regardless, she was The Best—sat in front of her. And every time Clara’s eager hand shot up, Rory’s brown hair swished from the momentum. Like I said: Clara should’ve been the favorite.
But Mr. Milverton didn’t call on her. Her persistent attempts to participate made him purse his lips and look away. I’d been keeping track in my notebook for a week. In that time he’d asked fifty-seven students for answers. Only fourteen had been girls. Only once had it been Clara. Those statistics were grimmer once I factored in our class size of twelve. And it was a fifty-fifty split between those identifying as guy or girl.
See, Dad, I wasn’t lazy. Since nothing in this class had been stimulating, I was keeping my mind busy with my own projects. Or . . . trying to. I yawned into my collar and looked around.
Gemma sat behind me. Her nails were bitten down again, which meant she’d broken up with her sometimes-girlfriend from Aspen Crest Academy. Dante was totally checked out. He had his phone under the desk and based on the airline app he had open was leaving a day early for spring break. His flight to Vail left at ten thirty. First class.
I wasn’t going anywhere. My parents were college professors. Their spring break didn’t match mine. Even if it had, our vacations were road trips and bargain-hunted hotels. They didn’t involve boarding passes, or first class, or jet lag.
Dante clicked to a map of ski slopes. In front of him, Bancroft was stealthily scrolling his iLive page on his phone. No, wait. It was Elinor’s iLive page he was scoping. She, sitting in front of Rory, was oblivious to his interest. When she wasn’t typing notes, she was using her stylus to doodle hearts on her screen—while staring at Umberto on her left.
Mr. Milverton cleared his throat. “Who can tell me”—Clara’s hand shot into the air—“which scale measures the intensity of an earthquake from one, microseismic, to ten, extremely high intensity tremor?”
He ignored her and pointed at me. “Mr. Baker?”
The answer came from a sidebar in last night’s reading. I’m sure most of my classmates had skipped it. Besides Clara, obviously. And me. I lifted my chin. “The Rossi-Forel scale.”
He nodded and pointed at Umberto. “What’s the difference between P and S waves?”
I was off the hook until next class, so I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I had the data in my notebook. Now I wanted proof.
Unfortunately, these desks were not designed for anyone taller than five six. After last spring’s growth spurts, I was five inches past fitting and could barely wedge the phone underneath. I shifted my knee so the camera wasn’t filming the pen marks on the bottom of my desk. The back of Elinor’s head came into view, along with Mr. Milverton’s profile.
“Who can tell me what an L wave is?”
I panned the classroom, catching the swish of Rory’s hair as Clara’s hand rocketed up. After a two-second delay, Dante raised his and was called on immediately.
Mr. Milverton had Atticus answer next—he hadn’t even raised his hand. He never did. It never stopped Milverton from calling on him. Even when Atti was sleeping, Mr. Milverton would have someone poke him awake and repeat the question.
Clara added a soft “Oh!” the next time she raised her hand, but it was Gemma’s bitten nails he pointed to.
By the end of class I’d added another nine tallies to the “Questions Asked” column. Another seven to “Boys.” Neither of the remaining two were Clara, but she’d made Rory’s hair swing all nine times.
Mr. Milverton dismissed us, saying, “Some of you might want to review that reading.”
It was his new tell—and not even a subtle one. We’d be having a pop quiz tomorrow.
“Highbury,” I called.
Clara stepped to the side of the hall. “Hey, Huck. Are you coming to the meeting today? Gemma will be there. Hannah and Sera and Shi—”
I shook my head, but flashed some dimples to soften the no. I’d get to a Hero High Pride meeting one of these weeks, but as much as I appreciated Clara being a good ally, this time I wanted to help her, not the other way around. “Aren’t you mad Mr. Milverton doesn’t call on you?”
Clara was fair. Her blond hair was lighter than mine, and hers rotated from curly to straight on an alternating-day schedule. She was the type of girl who color-coordinated her notebooks to the covers she put on her textbooks and her glittery nails to her sparkly shoes. The type who greeted everyone with a smile, even if she hated them.
She didn’t hate me—we got along pretty well—but she’d hated that question. “I’m not the only one in class.” Her smiled dropped. “Why do you want to know? I didn’t ask for your help.”
Right. That was my biggest problem with Hero High: It was the last day of February, and I’d been attending since the first day in September, but no one here asked for my help. Back at my old school I’d been that person—the one everyone turned to. Want to take him to prom? I’ll come up with a promposal. Need to get on a teacher’s good side? I knew the specialty coffee in their travel mug. After-school job? The hardware store was hiring or the Bensens needed a babysitter. I knew everyone’s pronouns, their crushes, their best and weakest classes—I was a matchmaker for romance, tutoring, and more. Mr. Gershwin had me help pick the school musical. Coach Mortimer came to me when she needed a team manager. Principal Bellinger consulted me about school morale and rumors.
Here, I had no purpose. Clara was already the Hero High fixer. I was the new kid.
“What are you two up to?” Rory must’ve noticed we weren’t following her and doubled back to find us.
“Nothing,” Clara said. “Huck was offering his help with something, but I’m fine. I don’t need it.”
I didn’t miss how her gaze and voice hardened, but they were like waving red before a bull. She might not think she needed my help, but she was wrong. What was happening was wrong.
I blurted, “There’s going to be a pop quiz tomorrow.”
Rory groaned. “Another one?”
Clara looked over her shoulder at the classroom door and dropped her voice. “You’re going to get us all in trouble. If you want to cheat, keep me out of it.”
“It’s not cheating. It’s observation.”
But before I could clarify, a booming “Huckleberry!” resounded down the hall.
Hero High had all sorts of private school traditions, from the basic—uniforms, small classes, people with posh backpacks and fancy vacation homes—to the things that made the school unique, like mosaic tiles embedded all over campus as tribute to the school’s founding donor, Reginald R. Hero, a famous artisan tile maker. But my favorite tradition was the Knight Lights program.
When I moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania in August, I’d known starting a new school would be awkward—but I’d assumed all freshman would be new. I didn’t realize that ninety percent of them had attended the same private middle school. Rory and I made up forty percent of the non–Mayfield Middle Academy students: She came from a local all-girls charter. I came from a tiny public school five hundred miles away. Knight Lights was the Hero High mentor program that paired each incoming student with a sophomore. Curtis Cavendish—the only person who called me “Huckleberry,” which, incidentally, was not my name—was mine.
“Just the mentee I was looking for.” Curtis slung an arm around my shoulder, and my gut gave a guilty hitch. Because here’s the thing I’d learned recently about Curtis: his younger brother was hot.
The hottest person I’d seen since packing up my bedroom in Rio Grande, Ohio. And now I spent every conversation with Curtis searching for smooth ways to interrogate him about Winston. They looked related, but not alike. Both of them had the golden skin and dark eyes of their Egyptian mom. I’d met her; she was petite, so I assumed they got their height from their white dad. Ditto their detached earlobes. But Curtis was all careless cheerfulness. Win’s smiles were rare. At least that was the conclusion I’d drawn, based on how everyone on Rory’s driveway had reacted when he’d aimed one at me.
Win and I had met only once, spent a total of ten minutes talking, and Curtis had been my friend all year—my lacrosse teammate and my mentor who constantly left home-baked treats in my locker. Guess which brother I dreamed about. Spoiler: it wasn’t my straight, platonic friend.
Still, I didn’t want Curtis to think I was using him to get to Win.
Not that it mattered. Winston Cavendish didn’t go to Hero High. And while I was a master at matchmaking other people, I had zero firsthand experience with dating.
It’s just . . . Win had looked at me in a way no one had since the move—like he saw me. Like I had answers. Even if the questions were “What book are you reading?” and “Can I render you speechless with a smile?” Sherlock Holmes and heck, yes.
While I’d been daydreaming, Clara had escaped and Rory had said she’d meet me in the art room for lunch. I turned to Curtis. “What’s up?”
“How do you feel about baseball? Playing, not watching.” Curtis mimed a slow pitch. “The team’s short on players; I’m recruiting.”
If my parents heard his offer, they’d be speeding to a sports store for balls and gloves, building a batting cage in their garden, and inviting the team over for cookouts. They’d also been way overinvested in my lacrosse team all fall—actively disappointed when Toby May’s season-ending injury bumped me up to varsity, where I’d been the only freshman.
But since Dad’s burgers were the most appealing part of any baseball scenario, I hesitated. “I haven’t played since T-ball.”
“We’ll train you up,” he promised. “Even if you’re awful, you’ll fit right in. C’mon, everyone loves baseball.”
This felt like an opening. Cool. I could play it cool. I cleared my throat. “So does your whole family share your baseball fervor?” Fervor? Fervor? Yeah. Not cool.
Curtis snorted. “Wink only plays sports via remote control.”
I nodded. I’m sure his sister was great, and someday I’d ask what “Wink” was short for, but I was leaning forward for news about her twin.
“And Win . . .” Curtis laughed.
And Win what? How was that an answer? There were so many ways I’d finish that statement: And Win could take me out to the ballgame anytime he wanted. I’d buy him all the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I gestured for Curtis to finish his thought.
“Win actively avoids anything I like.”
Yikes. Since theoretically Curtis liked me, that didn’t bode well for my chances. “Why?”
His omnipresent smile flickered. “You know how some people are motivated by sibling rivalry or thrive with competition? Win’s pretty much the opposite.”
I was still puzzling out what the heck that meant when he added, “Anyway, just think about it.”
“Oh, I am.” He blinked at my thick-throated answer and I shook my head. “I mean, I will. Baseball. Yup.”
“Practice starts after spring break. We’ll talk.” He held out a fist for me to bump, then headed down the hall. I stayed where I was, a mortified roadblock for the next group of students filing into Milverton’s room. Was he any less misogynistic to this class? The analytical part of my brain wanted to stay and observe, but lunch beckoned. As did the promise of Rory’s teasing sympathy when I confessed my latest crush-tastrophe.
Food first. Then figuring out how to convince Clara she wanted my help. Then, if there was still time before math, I’d mentally replay my awkwardness until I died of humiliation.