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  Grant finds us. “Bobby’s baby was born a little while ago,” he announces. “Her name is Amanda.”

  “I didn’t know you were friends with him,” I say, trying not to appear too interested in the whole baby thing, even though I am.

  “I’m not, really,” he says. Then he seems unsure. “Well, sort of, I guess.”

  “It seems to me,” Zoey says, “that Sherri did all the hard work. You didn’t even mention her.”

  Grant shrugs. “I’m sure she’s fine.”

  Then I remember what Missy Hiver said at lunch. “They didn’t break up, did they?”


  I knew Missy was lying!

  Megan pays for her mints and turns to Grant, still holding her hair in front of her neck even though Stu has wandered away. “I thought they were giving the baby up for adoption.”

  “They are,” Grant says, pulling a piece of beef jerky out of the glass bowl on the counter.

  “Then how come they named her?” Megan asks.

  “I dunno.”

  “We’ve gotta go,” Zoey tells us, glaring at Grant. “Dennis is already in the car.”

  Grant waits until we’re halfway out the door to call out, “I’m really sorry about tricking you.” We let the door close and run into the car laughing. As we pull away he’s still watching us. I give a little wave goodbye. My obsession has passed. He’s still totally hot, though.

  Dennis drops me off first and waits at the curb as I stick the key into the front door. I’m about to turn it when Rob swings the door open. Since my hand is still on the keys I get yanked inside. He must have been waiting right there for me to get home. As soon as he sees me he starts laughing.

  “So you chose dare, huh?”

  “Yup.” I step past him, accidentally sending a stray pack of Smarties rolling under the closet door.

  “You must have a really good secret,” he says, admiringly.

  I nod. “I do.”

  “Because there are leeches in that lake, you know.”

  It takes a second for the words “leeches” and “lake” to come together in my brain. When they connect, I scream at the top of my lungs. Rob steps to the side, my parents run out of their room, and I run up the stairs and directly into my third shower of the day.

  9:00 P.M. – 11:15 P.M.

  Chapter 11B: Everyone

  “Are you sure these girls are hot?” Justin asks his friend Marc as they toss another few twigs onto the growing fire. They’ve already piled rocks around the outside to protect it.

  “I’m sure,” Marc says. “I met one of them last week. She’s a little pale, but hey, in the dark it doesn’t matter, right?”

  “That is correct, my man,” Justin says, high-fiving Marc. They both take this opportunity to polish off their Coors Lights, which was the only kind of beer Marc could find in his older sister’s fridge.

  “Plus,” Marc says, “she said she’s bringing brandy.” “Sweet.”

  Marc nods. “I wish I could remember her name, though.” “Maybe another beer will help,” Justin suggests.

  Megan enjoys being outside late at night. It always feels like an adventure, even if she’s only taking the trash out to the curb. She doesn’t think real life offers enough adventure. That’s why she is drawn to make-believe worlds and wants to be an actress. Megan likes putting on other people’s lives like coats that she can slip on and off. She hopes tonight will prove to be an adventure. Maybe she’ll even get some action with one of the guys from Orlando South.

  As she follows a freaked-out Josie through the woods to the lake, Megan’s sweatshirt pockets are weighed down with her share of the piñata candy. She also has the cigarettes she stole from Dennis’s room. Before dinner, she had tried one in her bathroom. She blew the smoke out the window so her mother wouldn’t smell it. For a few minutes the bitter taste it left in her mouth made her feel older. Then it just made her mouth taste gross and she had to brush her teeth twice. Plus everyone knows that smoking makes your skin gray and gives you even deeper lines on your face when you get older.

  When she sees the guy intended for her she is psyched. He’s prep-pier than the guys she usually likes, but he’ll do fine for a one-night adventure.

  Katy watches the square of chocolate sink to the bottom of her cup. Maybe getting drunk will make it easier to have The Conversation with Josie. Maybe it will fortify her. Take away her hesitancy and fears. Before she can change her mind, she lifts the cup to her mouth and takes a big gulp. In retrospect, she thinks that probably wasn’t such a good idea. Her throat may never be the same again. When Megan and Zoey say they’re going off with those two guys, she feels her chest tighten. The time has come and there’s no getting out of it. Water always calms her, so she leads Josie to the edge of the lake. Watching the ripples of the water and the leaves drift by is almost like meditating. Usually, that is. Right now, it’s barely having an effect.

  Josie starts guessing and Katy almost hopes she lands on the right thing. That’ll take away the pressure of having to actually say she might be gay. Or a lesbian. Or whatever a girl is called when she has a crush on another girl, or on a woman, in her case. Finally Katy sees her opening and she takes it. She holds her breath while Josie absorbs the news. At least Josie didn’t storm off or say “That’s gross” or anything. When Josie asks if she wants to kiss Ms. Conners, Katy pictures herself walking into the world religions classroom after school. Everyone has left for the day. Ms. Connors is sitting at her desk, slowly fanning herself with her hand because the air conditioning has broken. She looks up and says, “Hello, Katy. I was hoping you’d come see me.” Then they walk toward each other, lean forward, and... and what? Katy can’t see past that. Does this mean she doesn’t want to kiss her? Or simply that her powers of imagination aren’t strong enough?

  When she and Josie laugh and fall down onto the sand, Katy is laughing more out of relief than anything else. Even if she doesn’t figure this out right now, she is grateful that Josie will be by her side for the ride.

  Megan can’t help thinking that Justin’s mouth tastes like barbecue sauce. At first she couldn’t put her finger on what it was. But now she settles on barbecue sauce with medium spiciness. Barbecue sauce happens to be one of Megan’s favorite condiments, but she prefers when it enters her mouth via fork. After a few minutes she gently turns her head to the side, not wanting to offend him. Now she’s going to need a mint to take the taste out of her mouth. Justin takes her move as a sign that she wants him to kiss her neck. All she thinks while he’s doing it is that it’s going to leave a bruise.

  Zoey glances through the trees at Megan and Justin. Justin is kissing Megan’s neck, and Megan has her eyes closed. Marc is talking about some big golf tournament in town next weekend, so of course she stopped listening almost immediately. She feels bad that Katy and Josie don’t have anyone to be with. It would have been really cool to set up Josie on her birthday, and Katy could use a little action too. While Marc is yammering on about “below par” and “a Big Bertha” — which she thinks is a kind of golf club but isn’t really sure — an old memory is sliding around the outskirts of Zoey’s brain. Something about the way Marc kisses reminds her of someone else, but she can’t quite place it.

  Megan and Justin step out from behind the trees and join them. “We should go,” Megan tells Zoey. “Katy and Josie must be wondering where we are.”

  Zoey agrees and tells the boys they have to go sit with Dennis for the next ten minutes. She tells them Dennis is an old friend, because she’s too embarrassed to admit that her brother had to come along. When the boys try to argue she leans in and kisses Marc on the lips. “Just ten minutes,” she says. When they walk away, she says to Megan, “Boys are so easy.”

  At first when they return to the bonfire, they think Katy and Josie must have left.

  “Oh my god,” Megan says. “We’re the worst friends in the world.

  We just ditched them for some stupid guys. And it’s Josie’s Leap Day birt