Bookish Musings, Banter & More
Plus a Tiffany’s Bracelet Giveaway! Go to Camy Tang’s Blog and leave a comment on the Teen FIRST All About Us Tour and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below. But the winning FaithWords Tiffany’s bracelet will be a double heart charm.
About the Author:
Shelley Adina is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She knows the value of a relationship with a gracious God and loving Christian friends, and she’s inviting today’s teenage girls to join her in these refreshingly honest books about real life as a Christian teen–with a little extra glitz thrown in for fun! In between books, Adina loves traveling, listening to and making music, and watching all kinds of movies.
Carly once told me she used to wish she were me. Ha! That first week at Spencer Academy, I wouldn’t have wished my life on anyone.
My name is Lissa Evelyn Mansfield, and since everything seemed to happen to me this quarter, we decided I’d be the one to write it all down. Maybe you’ll think I’m some kind of drama queen, but I swear this is the truth. Don’t listen to Gillian and Carlyâ€”they weren’t there for some of it, so probably when they read this, it’ll be news to them, too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. When it all started, I didn’t even know them. All I knew was that I was starting my junior year at the Spencer Academy of San Francisco, this private boarding school for trust fund kids and the offspring of the hopelessly rich, and I totally did not want to be there.
I mean, picture it: You go from having fun and being popular in tenth grade at Pacific High in Santa Barbara, where you can hang out on State Street or join a drumming circle or surf whenever you feel like it with all your friends, to being absolutely nobody in this massive old mansion where rich kids go because their parents don’t have time to take care of them.
Not that my parents are like that. My dad’s a movie director, and he’s home whenever his shooting schedule allows it. When he’s not, sometimes he flies us out to cool places like Barbados or Hungary for a week so we can be on location together. You’ve probably heard of my dad. He directed that big pirate movie that Warner Brothers did a couple of years ago. That’s how he got on the radar of some of the big A-list directors, so when George (hey, he asked me to call him that, so it’s not like I’m dropping names) rang him up from Marin and suggested they do a movie together, of course he said yes. I can’t imagine anybody saying no to George, but anyway, that’s why we’re in San Francisco for the next two years. Since Dad’s going to be out at the Ranch or on location so much, and my sister, Jolie, is at UCLA (film school, what elseâ€”she’s a daddy’s girl and she admits it), and my mom’s dividing her time among all of us, I had the choice of going to boarding school or having a live-in. Boarding school sounded fun in a Harry Potter kind of way, so I picked that.
Sigh. That was before I realized how lonely it is being the New Girl. Before the full effect of my breakup really hit. Before I knew about Vanessa Talbot, who I swear would make the perfect girlfriend for a warlock.
And speaking of witch . . .
Note: my name is not Melissa. But on the first day of classes, I’d made the mistake of correcting Vanessa, which meant that every time she saw me after that, she made a point of saying it wrong. The annoying part is that now people really think that’s my name.
Vanessa, Emily Overton, and Dani Lavigne (“Yes, that Lavigne. Did I tell you she’s my cousin?”) are like this triad of terror at Spencer. Their parents are all fabulously wealthyâ€”richer than my mom’s family, evenâ€”and they never let you forget it. Vanessa and Dani have the genes to go with all that money, which means they look good in everything from designer dresses to street chic.
Vanessa’s dark brown hair is cut so perfectly, it always falls into place when she moves. She has the kind of skin and dark eyes that might be from some Italian beauty somewhere in her family tree. Which, of course, means the camera loves her. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there was likely to be a photographer or two somewhere on the grounds pretty much all the time, and nine times out of ten, Vanessa was the one they bagged. Her mom is minor royalty and the ex-wife of some U.N. Secretary or other, which means every time he gives a speech, a photographer shows up here. Believe me, seeing Vanessa in the halls at school and never knowing when she’s going to pop out at me from the pages of Teen People or some society news Web site is just annoying. Can you say overexposed?
Anyway. Where was I? Dani has butterscotch-colored hair that she has highlighted at Biondi once a month, and big blue eyes that make her look way more innocent than she is. Emily is shorter and chunkier and could maybe be nice if you got her on her own, but she’s not the kind that functions well outside of a clique.
Some people are born independent and some aren’t. You should see Emily these days. All that money doesn’t help her one bit out at the farm, whereâ€”
Okay, Gillian just told me I have to stop doing that. She says it’s messing her up, like I’m telling her the ending when I’m supposed to be telling the beginning.
Not that it’s all about her, okay? It’s about us: me, Gillian, Carly, Shani, Mac . . . and God. But just to make Gillian happy, I’ll skip to the part where I met her, and she (and you) can see what I really thought of her. Ha. Maybe that’ll make her stop reading over my shoulder.
So as I was saying, there they wereâ€”Vanessa, Emily, and Daniâ€”standing between me and the dining room doors. “What’s up?” I said, walking up to them when I should have turned and settled for something out of the snack machine at the other end of the hall.
“She doesn’t know.” Emily poked Dani. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell her.”
I did a fast mental check. Plaid skirtâ€”okay. Oxfordsâ€”no embarrassing toilet paper. White blouseâ€”buttoned, no stains. Slate blue cardiganâ€”clean. Hairâ€”freshly brushed.
They couldn’t be talking about me personally, in which case I didn’t need to hear it. “Whatever.” I pushed past them and took two steps down the hall.
“Don’t you want to hear about your new roommate?” Vanessa asked.
Roommate? At that point I’d survived for five days, and the only good things about them were the crÃ¨me brulÃ©e in the dining room and the blessed privacy of my own room. What fresh disaster was this?
Oops. I’d stopped in my tracks and tipped them off that (a) I didn’t know, and (b) I wanted to know. And when Vanessa knows you want something, she’ll do everything she can not to let you have it.
“I think we should tell her,” Emily said. “It would be kinder to get it over with.” “I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.” There, that sounded bored enough. “Byeee.” “I hope you like Chinese!” Dani whooped at her own cleverness, and the three of them floated off down the hall.
So I thought, Great, maybe they’re having dim sum today for lunch, though what that had to do with my new roommate I had no idea. At that point it hadn’t really sunk in that conversation with those three is a dangerous thing.
That had been my first mistake the previous Wednesday, when classes had officially begun. Conversation, I mean. You know, normal civilized discourse with someone you think might be a friend. Like a total dummy, I’d actually thought this about Vanessa, who’d pulled newbie duty, walking me down the hall to show me where my first class was. It turned out to not be my first class, but the teacher was nice about steering me to the right room, where I was, of course, late.
That should’ve been my first clue.
My second clue was when Vanessa invited me to eat with them and Dani managed to spill her Coke all over my uniform skirt, which is, as I said, plaid and made of this easy-clean fake wool that people with sensitive skin can wear. She’d jumped up, all full of apologies, and handed me napkins and stuff, but the fact remained that I had to go upstairs and change and then figure out how the laundry service worked, which meant I was late for Biology, too.
On Thursday Dani apologized again, and Vanessa loaned me some of her Bumble and bumble shampoo (“You can’t use Paul Mitchell on gorgeous hair like yoursâ€”people get that stuff at the drugstore now”), and I was dumb enough to think that maybe things were looking up. Because really, the shampoo was superb. My hair is blond and I wear it long, but before you go hating me for it, it’s fine and thick, and the fog we have here in San Francisco makes it go all frizzy. And it’s foggy a lot. So this shampoo made it just coo with pleasure.
You’re probably asking yourself why I bothered trying to be friends with these girls. The harrowing truth was, I was used to being in the A-list group. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t fit in with the popular girls at Spencer, once I figured out who they were.
Lucky meâ€”Vanessa made that so easy. And I was so lonely and out of my depth that even she was looking good. Her dad had once backed one of my dad’s films, so there was that minimal connection.
Too bad it wasn’t enough.
jolie.mansfield L, don’t let them bug you. Some people are
threatened by anything new. It’s a compliment
LMansfield You always find the bright side. Gahh. Love you,
but not helping.
jolie.mansfield What can I do?
LMansfield I’d give absolutely anything to be back in S.B.
LMansfield I want to hang with the kids from my youth group.
Not worry about anything but the SPF of my sun
jolie.mansfield It’ll get better. Promise. Heard from Mom?
LMansfield No. She’s doing some fundraiser with Angelina.
She’s pretty busy.
jolie.mansfield If you say so. Love you.
Copyright Â© 2008 by Shelley Adina
Top Five Clues That Heâ€™s the One
1. Heâ€™s smart, which is why heâ€™s dating you and not the queen of the snob mob.
2. He knows heâ€™s hot, but he thinks youâ€™re hotter.
3. Heâ€™d rather listen to you than to himself.
4. Youâ€™re in on his jokesâ€”not the butt of them.
5. He always gives you the last cookie in the box.
THE NEW YEAR. . . when a young girlâ€™s heart turns to new beginnings, weight loss, and a new term of chemistry!
Whew! Got that little squee out of my system. But you may as well know right now that science and music are what I do, and they tend to come up a lot in conversation. Sometimes my friends think this is good, like when Iâ€™m helping them cram for an exam. Sometimes they just think Iâ€™m a geek. But thatâ€™s okay. My name is Gillian Frances Jiao-Lan Chang, and since Lissa was brave enough to fall on her sword and spill what happened last fall, I guess I canâ€™t do anything less.
Iâ€™m kidding about the sword. You know that, right?
Term was set to start on the first Wednesday in January, so I flew into SFO first class from JFK on Monday. I thought Iâ€™d packed pretty efficiently, but I still exceeded the weight limit by fifty pounds. It took some doing to get me and my bags into the limo, let me tell you. But Iâ€™d found last term that I couldnâ€™t live without certain things, so they came with me. Like my sheet music and some more of my books. And warmer clothes.
You say California and everyone thinks L.A. The reality of San Francisco in the winter is that itâ€™s cold, whether the sun is shining or the fog is stealing in through the Golden Gate and blanketing the bay. A perfect excuse for a trip to Barneyâ€™s to get Vera Wangâ€™s tulip-hem black wool coat, right?
I thought so, too.
Dorm, sweet dorm. I staggered through the door of the room I share with Lissa Mansfield. Itâ€™s up to us to get our stuff into our rooms, so hereâ€™s where it pays to be on the rowing team, I guess. Biceps are good for hauling bulging Louis Vuittons up marble staircases. But I am so not the athletic type. I leave that to John, the youngest of my three older brothers. Heâ€™s been into gymnastics since he was, like, four, and heâ€™s training hard to make the U.S. Olympic team. I havenâ€™t seen him since I was fourteenâ€”he trains with a coach out in Arizona.
My oldest brother, Richard, is twenty-six and works for my dad at the bank, and the second oldest, Darrenâ€”the one Iâ€™m closest toâ€”is graduating next spring from Harvard and going straight into medical school after that.
Yeah, weâ€™re a family of overachievers. Donâ€™t hate me, okay?
I heard a thump in the hall outside and got the door open just in time to come face-to-face with a huge piece of striped fiberglass with three fins.
I stood aside to let Lissa into the room with her surfboard. She was practically bowed at the knees with the weight of the duffel slung over her shoulder, and another duffel with a big Oâ€™Neill logo waited outside. I grabbed it and swung it onto her bed.
â€œWelcome back, girlfriend!â€
She stood the board against the wall, let the duffel drop to the floor with a thud that probably shook the chandelier in the room below us, and pulled me into a hug.
â€œI am so glad to see you!â€ Her perfect Nordic face lit up with happiness. â€œHow was your Christmasâ€”the parts you didnâ€™t tell me about on e-mail?â€
â€œThe usual. Too many family parties. Mom and Nai-Nai made way too much food, two of my brothers fought over the remote like they were ten years old, my dad and oldest brother bailed to go back to work early, and, oh, Nai-Nai wanted to know at least twice a day why I didnâ€™t have a boyfriend.â€ I considered the chaos weâ€™d just made of our pristine room. â€œThe typical Chang holiday. What about you? Did Scotland improve after the first couple of days?â€
â€œIt was fre-e-e-e-zing.â€ She slipped off her coat and tam. â€œAnd I donâ€™t just mean rainy-freezing. I mean sleet-and-icicles freezing. The first time I wore my high-heeled Louboutin boots, I nearly broke my ankle. As it was, I landed flat on my butt in the middle of the Royal Mile. Totally embarrassing.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s a Royal Mile? Princesses by the square foot?â€
â€œThis big broad avenue that goes through the old part of Edinburgh toward the queenâ€™s castle. Good shopping. Restaurants. Tourists. Ice.â€ She unzipped the duffel and began pulling things out of it. â€œDad was away a lot at the locations for this movie. Sometimes I went with him, and sometimes I hung out with this really adorable guy who was supposed to be somebodyâ€™s production assistant but who wound up being my guide the whole time.â€
â€œItâ€™s a tough job, but someoneâ€™s gotta do it.â€
â€œI made it worth his while.â€ She flashed me a wicked grin, but behind it I saw something else. Pain, and memory. â€œSo.â€ She spread her hands. â€œWhatâ€™s new around here?â€
I shrugged. â€œI just walked in myself a few minutes ago. You probably passed the limo leaving. But if what you really want to know is whether the webcam incident is over and done with, I donâ€™t know yet.â€
She turned away, but not before I saw her flush pink and then blink really fast, like her contacts had just been flooded. â€œLetâ€™s hope so.â€
â€œYou made it through last term.â€ I tried to be encouraging. â€œWhat doesnâ€™t kill you makes you stronger, right?â€
â€œIt made one thing stronger.â€ She pulled a cashmere scarf out of the duffel and stroked it as though it were a kitten. â€œI never prayed so hard in my life. Especially during finals week, remember? When those two idiots seriously thought they could force me into that storage closet and get away with it?â€
â€œBefore we left, I heard the short one was going to be on crutches for six weeks.â€ I grinned at her. Fact of the day: Surfers are pretty good athletes. Donâ€™t mess with them. â€œMaybe it should be, â€˜What doesnâ€™t kill you makes your relationship with God stronger.â€™â€
â€œThat Iâ€™ll agree with. Do you know if Carlyâ€™s here yet?â€
â€œHer dad was driving her up in time for supper, so she should be calling any second.â€
Sure enough, within a few minutes, someone knocked. â€œThatâ€™s gotta be her.â€ I jumped for the door and swung it open.
â€œHey, chicas!â€ Carly hugged me and then Lissa. â€œDid you miss me?â€
â€œLike chips miss guacamole.â€ Lissa grinned at her. â€œGood break?â€
She grimaced, her soft brown eyes a little sad. Clearly Christmas break isnâ€™t what itâ€™s cracked up to be in anybodyâ€™s world.
â€œDad had to go straighten out some computer chip thing in Singapore, so Antony and I got shipped off to Veracruz. It was great to see my mom and the grandparents, but you know . . .â€ Her voice trailed away.
â€œWhat?â€ I asked. â€œDid you have a fight?â€ Thatâ€™s what happens at our house.
â€œNo.â€ She sighed, then lifted her head to look at both of us. â€œI think my mom has a boyfriend.â€
â€œEwww,â€ Lissa and I said together, with identical grimaces.
â€œI always kind of hoped my mom and dad would figure it out, you know? And get back together. But it looks like thatâ€™s not going to happen.â€
I hugged her again. â€œIâ€™m sorry, Carly. That stinks.â€
â€œYeah.â€ She straightened up, and my arm slid from her shoulders. â€œSo, enough about me. What about you guys?â€
With a quick recap, we put her in the picture. â€œSo do you have something going with this Scottish guy?â€ Carly asked Lissa.
Lissa shook her head, a curtain of blonde hair falling to partially hide her faceâ€”a trick Iâ€™ve never quite been able to master, even though my hair hangs past my shoulders. But itâ€™s so thick and coarse, it never does what I want on the best of days. It has to be beaten into submission by a professional.
â€œI think I liked his accent most of all,â€ she said. â€œI could just sit there and listen to him talk all day. In fact, I did. What he doesnâ€™t know about murders and wars and Edinburgh Castle and Lord This and Earl That would probably fit in my lip gloss tube.â€
I contrasted walking the cold streets of Edinburgh, listening to some guy drone on about history, with fighting with my brothers. Do we girls know how to have fun, or what? â€œBetter you than me.â€
â€œIâ€™d have loved it,â€ Carly said. â€œCan you imagine walking through a castle with your own private tour guide? Especially if heâ€™s cute. It doesnâ€™t get better than that.â€
â€œUm, okay.â€ Lissa gave her a sideways glance. â€œMiss A-plus in History.â€
â€œReally?â€ I had A-pluses in AP Chem and Math, but with anything less in those subjects, I wouldnâ€™t have been able to face my father at Christmas. As it was, he had a fit over my B in History, and the only reason I managed to achieve an A-minus in English was because of a certain person with the initials L. M.
Carly shrugged. â€œI like history. I like knowing what happened where, and who it happened to, and what they were wearing. Not that Iâ€™ve ever been anywhere very much, except Texas and Mexico.â€
â€œYouâ€™d definitely have liked Alasdair, then,â€ Lissa said. â€œHe knows all about what happened to whom. But the worst was having to go for tea at some freezing old stone castle that Dad was using for a set. I thought Iâ€™d lose my toes from frostbite.â€
â€œSomebody lives in the castle?â€ Carly looked fascinated. â€œWho?â€
â€œSome earl.â€ Lissa looked into the distance as she flipped through the PDA in her head. Then she blinked. â€œThe Earl and Countess of Strathcairn.â€
â€œVery. Forty degrees, tops. He said he had a daughter about our age, but I never met her. She heard we were coming and took off on her horse.â€
â€œMo guai nuer,â€ I said. â€œRude much?â€
Lissa shrugged. â€œAlasdair knew the family. He said Lady Lindsay does what she wants, and clearly she didnâ€™t want to meet us. Not that I cared. I was too busy having hypothermia. Iâ€™ve never been so glad to see the inside of a hotel room in my life. Iâ€™d have put my feet in my mug of tea if I could have.â€
â€œWell, cold or not, I still think itâ€™s cool that you met an earl,â€ Carly said. â€œAnd I canâ€™t wait to see your dadâ€™s movie.â€
â€œFilming starts in February, so Dad wonâ€™t be around much. But Momâ€™s big charity gig for the Babies of Somalia went off just before Christmas and was a huge success, so sheâ€™ll be around a bit more.â€ She paused. â€œUntil she finds something else to get involved in.â€
â€œDid you meet Angelina?â€ I asked. Lissaâ€™s life fascinated me. To her, movie stars are her dadâ€™s coworkers, like the brokers and venture capitalists who come to the bank are my dadâ€™s coworkers. But Dad doesnâ€™t work with people who look like Orlando and Angelina, thatâ€™s for sure.
â€œYes, I met her. She apologized for flaking on me for the Benefactorsâ€™ Day Ball. Not that I blame her. It all turned out okay in the end.â€
â€œExcept for your career as Vanessa Talbotâ€™s BFF.â€
Lissa snorted. â€œYeah. Except that.â€
None of us mentioned what else had crashed and burned in flames after the infamous webcam incidentâ€”her relationship with the most popular guy in school, Callum McCloud. I had a feeling that that was a scab we just didnâ€™t need to pick at.
â€œYou donâ€™t need Vanessa Talbot,â€ Carly said firmly. â€œYou have us.â€
We exchanged a grin. â€œSheâ€™s right,â€ I said. â€œThis term, itâ€™s totally all about us.â€
â€œThank goodness for that,â€ she said. â€œCome on. Letâ€™s go eat. Iâ€™m starving.â€
RStapleton I heard from a mutual friend that you take care of people at midterm time.
Source10 What friend?
Source10 Been known to happen.
RStapleton How much?
Source10 1K. Math, sciences, geography only.
RStapleton I hate numbers.
Source10 IM me the day before to confirm.
RStapleton OK. Who are you?
RStapleton You there?
BY NOON THE next day, Iâ€™d hustled down to the student print shop in the basement and printed the notices Iâ€™d laid out on my Mac. I tacked them on the bulletin boards in the common rooms and classroom corridors on all four floors.
Christian prayer circle every Tuesday night 7:00 p.m., Room 216 Bring your Bible and a friend!
â€œNice work,â€ Lissa told me when I found her and Carly in the dining room. â€œLove the salmon pink paper. But school hasnâ€™t officially started yet. We probably wonâ€™t get a very good turnout if the first oneâ€™s tonight.â€
â€œMaybe not.â€ I bit into a succulent California roll and savored the tart, thin seaweed wrapper around the rice, avocado, and shrimp. I had to hand it to Dining Services. Their food was amazing. â€œBut even if itâ€™s just the three of us, I canâ€™t think of a better way to start off the term, can you?â€
Lissa didnâ€™t reply. The color faded from her face and she concentrated on her square ceramic plate of sushi as though it were her last meal. Carly swallowed a bite of makizushi with an audible gulp as it went down whole. Slowly, casually, I reached for the pepper shaker and glanced over my shoulder.
â€œIf it isnâ€™t the holy trinity,â€ Vanessa drawled, plastered against Brett Loyolaâ€™s arm and standing so close behind us, neither Carly nor I could move. â€œGoing to multiply the rice and fish for us?â€
â€œNice to see you, too, Vanessa,â€ Lissa said coolly. â€œBeen reading your Bible, I see.â€
â€œHi, Brett,â€ Carly managed, her voice about six notes higher than usual as she craned to look up at him.
He looked at her, puzzled, as if heâ€™d seen her before somewhere but couldnâ€™t place where, and gave her a vague smile. â€œHey.â€
I rolled my eyes. Like we hadnâ€™t spent an entire term in History together. Like Carly didnâ€™t light up like a Christmas tree every time she passed a paper to him, or maneuvered her way into a study group that had him in it. Honestly. I donâ€™t know how that guy got past the entrance requirements.
Oh, wait. Silly me. Daddy probably made a nice big donation to the athletics department, and they waved Brett through Admissions with a grateful smile.
â€œHave any of you seen Callum?â€ Vanessa inquired sweetly. â€œIâ€™m dying to see him. I hear he spent Christmas skiing at their place in Vail with his sisters and his new girlfriend. No parents.â€
â€œHeâ€™s a day student.â€ I glanced at Lissa to see how she was taking this, but sheâ€™d leaned over to the table behind her to snag a bunch of napkins. â€œWhy would he be eating here?â€
â€œTo see all his friends, of course. I guess thatâ€™s why you havenâ€™t seen him.â€
â€œNeither have you, if youâ€™re asking where he is.â€ Poor Vanessa. I hope sheâ€™s never on a debating team. It could get humiliating.
But what she lacked in logic she made up for in venom. She ignored me and gushed, â€œI love your outfit, Lissa. Iâ€™m sure Callum would, too. That is, if he were still speaking to you.â€
I barely restrained myself from giving Vanessa an elbow in the stomach. But Lissa had come a long way since her ugly breakup with a guy who didnâ€™t deserve her. Vanessa had no idea who she was dealing withâ€”Lissa with an army of angels at her back was a scary thing.
She pinned Vanessa with a stare as cold as fresh snow.
â€œYou mean you havenâ€™t told him yet that you made that video?â€ She shook her head. â€œNaughty Vanessa, lying to your friends like that.â€ A big smile and a meaningful glance at Brett. â€œBut then, theyâ€™re probably used to it.â€
Vanessa opened her mouth to say something scathing, when a tall, lanky guy elbowed past her to put his sushi dishes on the table next to mine. Six feet of sheer brilliance, with blue eyes and brown hair cropped short so he didnâ€™t have to deal with it. A mind so sharp, he put even the overachievers here in the shadeâ€”but in spite of that, a guy whoâ€™d started coming to prayer circle last term. Who could fluster me with a look, and wipe my brain completely blank with just a smile.
â€œHey, Vanessa, Brett.â€
My jaw sagged in surprise, and I snapped it shut on my mouthful of rice, hoping he hadnâ€™t seen. Since when was the king of the science geeks on speaking terms with the popular crowd?
To add to the astonishment, the two of them stepped back, as if to give him some space. â€œYo, Einstein.â€ Brett grinned and they shook hands.
â€œHi, Lucas.â€ Vanessa glanced from him to me to our dishes sitting next to each other. â€œI didnâ€™t know you were friends with these people.â€
He shrugged. â€œThereâ€™s a lot you donâ€™t know about me.â€
â€œThat could change. Why donâ€™t you come and sit with us?â€ she asked. Brett looked longingly at the sushi bar and tugged on her arm. She ignored him. â€œWeâ€™re much more fun. We donâ€™t sing hymns and save souls.â€
â€œSo Iâ€™ve heard. Did you make it into Trig?â€
â€œOf course.â€ She tossed her gleaming sheet of hair over one shoulder. â€œThanks to you.â€
I couldnâ€™t keep quiet another second. â€œYou tutored her?â€ I asked him, trying not to squeak.
He picked up a piece of California roll and popped it in his mouth, nodding. â€œAll last term.â€ He glanced at Vanessa. â€œContrary to popular opinion, she isnâ€™t all looks.â€
Oh, gack. Way TMI. Vanessa smiled as though sheâ€™d won this and all other possible arguments now and in the future, world without end, amen. â€œCome on, Lucas. Hold our table for us while Brett and I get our food. I want to talk to you about something anyway.â€
He shrugged and picked up his dishes while she and Brett swanned away. â€œSee you at prayer circle,â€ he said to me. â€œI saw the signs. Same time and place, right?â€
I could only nod as he headed for the table in the middle of the big window looking out on the quad. The one no one else dared to sit at, in case they risked the derision and social ostracism that would follow.
The empty seat on my right seemed even emptier. How could he do that? How could he just dump us and then say heâ€™d see us at prayer circle? Shouldnâ€™t he want to eat with the people he prayed with?
â€œItâ€™s okay, Gillian,â€ Carly whispered. â€œAt least heâ€™s coming.â€
â€œAnd Vanessa isnâ€™t,â€ Lissa put in with satisfaction.
â€œIâ€™m not so sure I want him to, now,â€ I said. I looked at my sushi and my stomach sort of lurched. Ugh. I pushed it away.
And here Iâ€™d been feeling so superior to Carly and her unrequited yen for Brett. I was just as bad, and this proved it. What else could explain this sick feeling in my middle?
Two hours later, while Lissa, Carly, and I shoved aside the canvases and whatnot that had accumulated in Room 216 over the break, making enough room for half a dozen people to sit, Iâ€™d almost talked myself into not caring whether Lucas came or not.
And then he stepped through the door and I realized my body was more honest than my brain. I sucked in a breath and my heart began to pound.
Oh, yeah. You so donâ€™t care.
Travis, who must have arrived during dinner, trickled in behind him, and then Shani Hanna, who moved with the confidence of an Arabian queen, arrived with a couple of sophomores I didnâ€™t know. Her hair, tinted bronze and caught up at the crown of her head, tumbled to her shoulders in corkscrew curls. I fingered my own arrow-straight mop that wouldnâ€™t hold a curl if you threatened it with death.
Okay, stop feeling sorry for yourself, would you? Enough is enough.
â€œHey, everyone, thanks for coming,â€ I said brightly, getting to my feet. â€œIâ€™m Gillian Chang. Why donâ€™t the newbies introduce themselves, and then weâ€™ll get started?â€
The sophomores told us their names, and I found out Travisâ€™s last name was Fanshaw. And the dots connected. Of course heâ€™d been assigned as Lucasâ€™s roommateâ€”heâ€™s like this Chemistry genius. If it werenâ€™t for Lucas, heâ€™d be the king of the science geeks. Sometimes science people have a hard time reconciling scientific method with faith. If they were here at prayer circle, maybe Travis and Lucas were among the lucky few who figured science was a form of worship, of marveling at the amazement that is creation. I mean, if Lucas was one of those guys who got a kick out of arguing with the Earth Sciences prof, I wouldnâ€™t even be able to date him.
Not that there was any possibility of that.
As our prayers went up one by one, quietly from people like Carly and brash and uncomfortably from people like Travis and the sophomores, I wished that dating was the kind of thing I could pray about.
But I donâ€™t think God has my social life on His to-do list.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authorâ€™s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2008 by Shelley Adina
This article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Shelley Adina. All rights reserved.
Read my review of Book 1, review of Book 2 coming soon. Check out the author’s site by clicking on her picture, visit the website for this book series and read other Teen FIRST Bloggers’ reviews (there’s a member list on the sidebar of the Teen FIRST Blog – click the logo to go there). And don’t forget all the info on the bookseller page the bookcovers will land you there.