12: Mmm, Love That New-Test Score Smell

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Okay. Taylor had to calm down.

Wednesday night, she pulled her black Mercedes C-Class hatchback—her sister's castoff car, since she got the new, "practical" Mercedes SUV—into the circular driveway of her house. Her student council meeting had gone extra late and she'd been on edge driving through Rosewood's dark streets. All day, she'd felt like someone was watching her, like whoever had written that "covet" e-mail could jump out at her at any second.

Taylor kept thinking uneasily about that familiar ponytail in gigs bedroom window. Her mind kept going back to Gigi—all the things she knew about Taylor. But no, that was crazy. Gigi had been gone—and most likely dead—for three years. Plus, a new family lived in her house now, right?

Taylor ran to the mailbox and pulled out a pile, tossing everything back that wasn't hers. Suddenly, she saw it. It was a long envelope, not too thick, not too thin, with Taylor's name typed neatly in the windowpane. The return address said, The College Board. It was here.

Taylor ripped open the envelope and scanned the page. She read the PSAT results six times before it sunk in.

She'd gotten a 2350 out of 2400.

"Yessssss!" she screamed, clutching the papers so tightly they wrinkled.

"Yessssss!" she screamed, clutching the papers so tightly they wrinkled

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"Whoa! Someone's happy!" called a voice from the road.

Taylor looked up. Hanging out the driver's-side window of a black Mini Cooper was Shawn Mendes, the tall, freckly boy that beat out Taylor for class president. They were number-one and number-two in the class in practically every subject. But before Taylor could brag about her score—telling Shawn about her PSATs would feel so good—he peeled away. Freak. Taylor turned back to her house.

As she excitedly scampered inside, something stopped her: she remembered her sister's near-perfect score and quickly converted it from the 1600-scale they used to use into the 2400-scale the College Board used nowadays. It was a full 100 points lower than Taylor's. And weren't they supposed to be harder these days, too?

Well, now who's the genius?

An hour later, Taylor sat at the kitchen table reading Middlemarch—a book on the English AP "suggested reading" list—when she began to sneeze.

"Karlie and Zayn are here," Mrs. Swift said to Taylor as she bustled into the kitchen, carrying in the mail Taylor had left in the box. "They've brought all of their luggage to move in!" She opened the oven a crack, checking on the rotisserie chicken and seven-grain rolls, and then bustled into the living room.

Taylor sneezed again. A cloud of Chanel No. 5 always preceded her mom—even though she spent the whole day working around horses—and Taylor was certain she was allergic. She considered announcing her PSAT news, but a twinkly voice from the foyer stopped her.

"Mom?" Karlie called. She and Zayn strolled into the kitchen. Taylor pretended to study Middlemarch's boring back cover.

"Hey," Zayn said above her.

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