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Totally Schooled
Author: Nicole Dykes





Quick Note:



Because I will never purposely do more harm than good, I want to warn readers of potential triggers with this book. There is a brief mention of self-harm/overdose not by the main characters). It occurs off-page. There’s also mention in this book of a time where one character was trying to please others and not live his truth.

It breaks my heart, but these things are all too common in the real world, and I’ll do everything I can to bring them to light.

I hope you enjoy this book and that it heals, never hurts.



Change Your Mind

The Killers



* * *


Nobody Knows

The Lumineers



* * *


Perfect Situation




* * *


Way Less Sad




* * *


Wish I Knew You

The Revivalists



* * *


You’re Somebody Else

Flora Cash



* * *


Last Nite

The Strokes



* * *


Take Me Out

Franz Ferdinand



* * *


I Wanna

The All-American Rejects



* * *



The Bravery



* * *


Sad Song (ft. Elena Coats)

We The Kings



* * *


A Little Bit Yours

JP Saxe



* * *


The Cave

Mumford & Sons



* * *


**I don’t own the rights to any of these songs. But these are the songs I listened to over and over as I wrote this book because each one felt like they had a connection to Rafe and Nolan.



* * *


“Daddy! Are we going to school now?” I grin at my daughter, who just bounced into our living room, her blond hair a total wreck from her nap. “Pleeeeasse.”

I laugh at her, swiping her hair behind her ear and pulling her onto my lap. “In a minute.”

“Yes!” She’s so damn excited to go to kindergarten this year. It will be her first time in school, and although I’m excited for her, I’m also scared as hell. She’s never been in the care of anyone she wasn’t related to before.

“It’s just to meet your teacher this evening though. You know that, right?”

Her little bottom lip pokes out like it does when she’s thinking hard about something. “Yeah. That’s okay. My teacher is going to be awesome.”

I laugh, I can’t help it. I’m definitely not a laugher, but when it comes to Hailey, I laugh. I joke. I play. Hell—I’m a princess when she tells me I’m a princess and we’re going to have a tea party with her dolls. I’ll do anything for the kid. “Yeah. I’m sure she’ll be really nice, sweetie.”

Or at least, Ms. Burke had better be nice or my ass will be out of that school so fast. I try to shake away my nerves. I know this is part of the whole parenting thing, but I’ve come to terms with this being the hardest part of parenting for me a long time ago.

Trusting someone else with Hailey.

Other than my Aunt Jo, I don’t let anyone watch her.

Guess that’s all changing now.

I move Hailey to the floor in front of me so I can try to wrangle her hair into a ponytail. It’s a mess of curls—just like her mother had. My heart clenches in my chest when I think about Heather, but I try my best to put a smile on my face by the time Hailey jumps up, turns around, and grabs my hand. “Okay, Daddy. Let’s go.”

“Yeah? You sure you want to go to school?”

She puts one hand on her hip, cocking it an angle and giving me the stink eye. “Yes. Let’s goooooo.”

I chuckle, and we walk outside of our small apartment. I lock the door before Hailey drags me down two flights of stairs to my car. I unlock the car, buckle her into her car seat, and drive to the school. We’ve driven past it several times in the last two days since we moved to Shawnee, a Kansas City suburb.

The school is close to our apartment, so it doesn’t take long to get there. As soon as I pull her out of her seat, she’s already dashing toward the entrance. “Hailey!” I holler after her, remotely locking my car while catching up with her and taking her hand with mine. “Don’t run off, okay?”

“I’m just so excited!”

I grin. I know I shouldn’t. I should lecture her on how dangerous it can be running in a parking lot, but damn those blue eyes and blond curls . . . The kid is just too damn cute. “Okay. Just be careful. Hold my hand.”

She agrees, and we walk inside. We’re greeted by the principal—an older, but friendly woman who directs us to Hailey’s new classroom, which we find easily. When we walk inside, I’m suddenly frozen in place, struck by the sight of the hottest man I’ve ever seen.

I stare.

Hailey squeals as she looks around.

The man stands with a bright smile on his handsome face. He probably has a year or two on me, but he’s still pretty young. His light brown hair is perfectly trimmed and styled, cut short on the sides but with thick waves on top. He has a manicured, short beard that is immaculate. And his eyes . . .

Fuck, his eyes.

They actually sparkle. I’ve heard of that but always thought it was bullshit. But his brown eyes? Yeah, they have little flecks of gold that actually sparkle when he smiles. Which so far, has been always.

We’re about the same height, although he might have an inch or two on me. And he’s broad-chested, stretching out his crisp lavender button-down to the max. His muscles strain against the sleeves, and I can’t shake the thought of wanting to see him out of his starched, perfectly fitting dress clothes.

He clears his throat and holds his large hand out for mine. “I’m Mr. Burke.”

“Mister?” My brain finally catches up, and I can feel my eyes widening. “Mister Burke?”

“Yes,” he says, his lips curling with amusement. “I’m sorry about the mix-up. I know the enrollment form said “Miss.’”

“You’re a boy,” Hailey says next to me, and I can’t tell if she’s sad or happy about that fact.


Yeah, I’d rather it was a “Miss” and not an insanely hot “Mister.”

Once again, the universe is fucking with me. I clear my throat and shake his hand firmly. “I’m Rafe Scott. You can call me Rafe though.”

He smiles and nods politely, releasing my hand. “Okay. Then you must be Hailey, right?” He looks down at my daughter with a fondness I didn’t expect.

I know it’s sexist, but I never saw a male kindergarten teacher coming. “Yup! I’m Hailey Eileen Scott.”

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