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The Amanda Project: Book One

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CHAPTER ONE

Why is it that when you don't want to think about something, you can't stop thinking about it?

From the second I woke up, the scene Amanda had witnessed at my house yesterday kept playing over and over in my head like some kind of sick YouTube video on repeat. I'd thought about it while I was getting dressed, while I was riding my bike to school, and even while Kelli and I stood by her locker and she tried to recap the entire plot of the Reese Witherspoon movie she'd caught just the tail end of last night. Now I was sitting in history class, hearing not Mr. Randolph explaining the causes of World War I, but my dad's voice in my head saying the same words over and over again while I tried to figure out what, exactly, Amanda had overheard. Everything, probably. The phone rang while I was upstairs looking for my Scribble Book, and since my dad was practically screaming into the receiver by the time I got back to the kitchen, the conversation had obviously begun a while back. I mean, considering how much she and I have talked, Amanda had obviously known something was going on. She knew more than anyone else at school did. But up until yesterday, she hadn't known everything. She hadn't known the worst of it. I mean, she knew about my mom, but she didn't know about the money.

And now she did.

The crazy thing was, she hadn't seemed surprised. It was almost as if somehow she'd guessed a long time ago . . .

". . . Which is why, yes, the assassination of the Archduke is the catalyst but is not the cause per se." I'm usually kind of into Mr. Randolph's class even though I'm not exactly what you'd call a history buff. He's really nice and patient and he explains everything clearly, and he's one of the only teachers at Endeavor who actually prepares you for the test he's going to give. Still, there was no way I could concentrate on this morning's lesson.

I shook my head and straightened up in my chair, clicking some lead out of my mechanical pencil. Perhaps if I resembled an attentive student, I would become one.

"Did you all write that down? Entangling alliances. If you remember nothing else from today, remember that."

The board was covered in notes, but Mr. Randolph had found room to write entangling alliances in letters almost six inches high and he'd underlined "entangling" about fifty times. I rolled my eyes at myself as I began to copy down the crucial phrase. No doubt entangling alliances was the only thing I'd be remembering from today's class. Too bad I had no idea what they were or who had them.

Just as I started writing alliances, Lexa Booker, who was sitting next to me, slid a crumpled piece of paper across my notebook. I palmed it expertly-Heidi and I have had enough classes together that I can pretty much make a note from her disappear in a nanosecond-and finished the word, then carefully unfolded the paper.

Let’s wear green Saturday night.

I looked up. The desks in Mr. Randolph's room are in a big horseshoe, and Heidi was all the way on the other side of it, but her eyes met mine and she raised her exquisitely shaped eyebrows. I nodded almost imperceptibly, grateful to have something to think about besides Amanda knowing even more about my screwed-up family than she had last week. This Saturday's party was going to be amazing, and the I-Girls-Kelli, Heidi, Traci, and yours truly (okay, I briefly spelled my name with an "i," but not anymore!)-the reigning queens of the ninth grade, were going in green. That was cool-I have a dark green fitted T-shirt, and once when we all went to the movies I wore it. Lee was there, and he'd said my eyes looked really pretty when I wore green. Thinking about Lee, I felt my face go pink, which is what happens to redheaded Irish girls when we're embarrassed. Or scared. Or hot. Or just the slightest bit nervous or uncomfortable. Basically between twenty and a thousand times a day.

"Callista Leary?"

My head shot up at the sound of my full name. Had Mr. Randolph noticed the note going around the horseshoe? Some teachers, if they catch you passing a note make you read it out loud to the class. Not that this was such an incriminating missive, but still. Then I realized it was a woman's voice that had said my name and Mr. Randolph wasn't even looking at me; he (along with everyone else in the room) had turned toward the door where one of the secretaries from the main office was standing.

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