Chapter 5

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On Friday morning, I stowed my pink cashmere cardigan in my school bag in preparation for the Homecoming game in Kenosha later that night.

"I'm going to be home late tonight," I informed my mom in the kitchen, where she was correcting papers submitted by her students with a red pen between her fingers, ready to strike. I took a swig of orange juice straight out of the jug from the fridge.

"How late?" Mom asked, barely looking up from her grading task.

"Somewhat late," I replied smartly. Kenosha was a three-hour drive from Willow, and the game started at seven. Even if it ended promptly at nine, which I was sure it wouldn't since I knew from past experience that the half-time show would last at least twenty minutes, the earliest I could possibly expect to be home again was midnight. And that was if we didn't stop for fast food on the way back to town. Which, I strongly suspected, we would.

"Can you define somewhat?" Mom asked, finally putting her red pen down, adjusting her glasses and looking at me.

I rolled my eyes, knowing that she was going to make a big deal about my being out past midnight. "I'm going to the Homecoming game with Olivia and Candace. The game starts at seven, but Homecoming games always start late. And it'll be at least two hours long, and it's all the way in Kenosha, so the drive back is almost three hours."

My mother took a deep breath, not amused with me at all. "So, after midnight is what you're saying without saying it."

I crossed my arms over my chest to suggest my annoyance with her.

"I don't feel very good about that, McKenna," Mom told me. "You know I don't want to spoil your fun, but that's really late for a bunch of kids who just got their licenses to be out on the highway. Who's going to be driving?"

I hesitated, not really wanting to divulge that we'd be in Pete's car. Pete's expensive car.

"Olivia's boyfriend," I replied, not sure my mom would recognize the name if I had said Pete Nicholson.

"And how old is Olivia's boyfriend? Old enough to buy beer?"

It was becoming difficult to resist the urge to groan and tell my mom she was being ridiculous. "Mom. No one is going to be drinking beer. Do you realize Olivia is the Class President? She wouldn't go around driving drunk. And her boyfriend is not old enough to buy booze, okay? I don't see what the big deal is. You let me go to the Homecoming game last year with the band and you weren't a huge freak about it."

My mother sighed as if she couldn't stand to hear another word come out of my mouth. "McKenna, I liked you a lot more before you were fabulous. I want you home by midnight. End of story."

I exhaled loudly to let her know that she was ruining my social life. How was I going to tell an entire car full of my friends that I had to be a party pooper and get home before everyone else?

At lunchtime, our entire table buzzed with excitement. The football team, including Isaac, was loud and obnoxious, obviously getting psyched up for the game that night.

"Victory! Victory!" Isaac bellowed, manhandling his meatball submarine sandwich to make it look like the sandwich was leading the table in a rousing chant. The other players on the team were roaring with laughter and chiming in, pounding on the table and stomping their feet. The cafeteria supervisors were beaming. Any other day of the year, they'd be handing out detention slips for rowdy behavior left and right, but the day of the Homecoming game, everyone was encouraging the chaos.

"We should leave no later than three forty-five," Pete told us. "I have basketball practice for an hour after class, but after that, we should all meet in front of the library."

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