Chapter 10

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No one at school was surprised that Violet, Michael, Tracy, and I were elected to the junior class Student Government the following week, except, perhaps, me. The votes were counted on Tuesday after school and announced by Mr. Dean on Wednesday morning during Homeroom.

"Congratulations," Dan Marshall told me at our lockers after school. Dan was friends with Jason, and I cringed a little bit, wondering how Jason was taking the news of my victory. I knew all too well how painful it was to have hopes dashed.

As I gathered my books, I noticed Trey down the hall, approaching from the other end, where most of the seniors' lockers were arranged. The sight of him sent an excited shiver up my spine. Feeling his eyes on my body even from so far away made my heart beat faster. He'd never walked right up to my locker before—giving people a reason to gossip—even though he'd been climbing through my window nightly for a week, but the day I was named Treasurer, he did. It was thrilling to share between us the secret of our nights together, even though we were too scared to fool around under my blankets, while everyone at school was oblivious.

He placed his hands on my hips and he planted a soft, slow kiss right on my mouth. The closeness of his body to mine made my head spin. I could taste the wintergreen favor of his gum on his lips, feel the warmth of his skin through the sleeve of his jacket.

"Excuse me," I heard Dan next to me excuse himself as he stepped out of our way, closed his locker and left us alone. Dan was a nice guy, the kind of guy who always did homework and owned a lot of polo shirts. He had pretty much nothing in common with Trey other than romantic interest in me. I felt momentarily a little sorry for him, but it was probably the right time for him to learn that I was pretty much off the market. When Trey and I parted, I caught a few kids staring as they turned back to their lockers in surprise.

"Congratulations, Madame Treasurer," Trey teased me. "I can't believe I'm dating a government official."

On the walk home, I was elated. My peers—the very same jerks who had called me "fatso" and "cow" not six months earlier—had voted for me. Me. I had actually won what could be considered a popularity contest. The scary spirit that had visited me twice in my bedroom hadn't made another appearance since the night it knocked the compact disc off my shelf, and I was feeling a little more like life was getting back to normal.  That afternoon, as Trey and I walked home swinging our arms happily, we allowed ourselves to believe that the paranormal activity Violet had brought into our lives had passed. The leaves on the trees lining the rural route taking us back to Martha Road had shifted from shades of vibrant green to warm hues of gold and persimmon, and it would only be a few more weeks before the branches were bare and snow would start falling.

My excitement about my victory was short-lived, however. When Trey and I reached my house, my mom's car was parked in the driveway, which was a bit curious, since she was typically teaching on Wednesdays and didn't arrive home until late. We found her in my living room, home from the university early, with a little surprise for us.

"I know, it's crazy," Mom admitted, sitting on the floor with a wiggling black and white mutt puppy. The puppy was gnawing on a rawhide bone that was as long as its own body. "The house is just so empty without Moxie. And you'll be leaving for college before I know it."

"Mom, but..." I trailed off. The beautiful little dog, with her liquid cocoa eyes and her salty puppy smell, overwhelmed me with sadness. All I could think about was how Violet had known about Moxie without ever having seen her. My mom have had the best intentions  having brought an innocent little animal into our home to keep her company, but she had absolutely no idea the danger into which she might have just put this dog. She had named the puppy Maude. I didn't want to fall in love with Maude, didn't want to feel her cold wet nose against my hand, didn't want to care about her in the least, or I feared the second I did, she'd be vulnerable to Violet's game.

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