Sunday morning, my phone woke me up. It was buzzing incessantly, almost knocking itself off my nightstand. At first, I tried to roll over and ignore it, but after it continued vibrating nonstop for several minutes, I sat up and leaned over to check my texts.
It was a group chat with a bunch of unknown numbers, plus Becca's. Based on the authoritative tone of the first text, I assumed it was from Paige.
Be at the cafe by 10:00 sharp today for initiation. If you don't attend, there'll be trouble.
Becca: I assume this is Paige?
Another text from the same number had come through.
Yes, obviously. Jeez. Did everyone else get the message?
There were three texts with affirmatives that I assumed to be Alyssa, Joanne, and Coral. Sleepily, I typed out a text.
Yeah, sure. I'll be there.
I was about to flop back into bed (Sundays are for sleeping in!), but I got a quick glance at my clock. It was already 9:30! How could Paige give us such short notice? Was she setting us up to fail? Did she want us to be late so we'd get on her bad side?
Throwing off the covers, I stood and stumbled over to my closet to search for an appropriate outfit to wear. What if Paige was doing this on purpose? She'd give us an initiation she knew we would fail just for an excuse to torture us! I pulled a burgundy sweater off a hanger and rifled through my shelf for a pair of skinny jeans, muttering under my breath. That would be so like Paige. And the only way I could avoid that was to not fail the inititation, no matter what the cost.
It didn't matter whether or not I wanted to be in the Clique. If I didn't pass, I would be punished, and the price I would pay would be way worse than attending some stupid initiation, anyway.
After I got ready, I hurried downstairs for a quick breakfast. I was lucky that the cafe was only about fifteen minutes away; I literally had five minutes to eat and get a ride to initiation. As I grabbed a blueberry muffin from the pantry and hastily began gobbling it down as I walked, I nearly ran into Dad.
"What's the rush, sweetheart?" he asked. He was tying on his white cooking apron, backwards like he always did it.
I took two more giant bites of muffin before I answered. "I'm so late," I replied hurriedly, shoveling in another bite as I spoke. "I've got to be at the cafe near Ambler in fifteen minutes."
Dad casually pulled out a mixing bowl and rolling pin. "Why? I didn't think you had class on Sundays."
"It's...uh...I'm meeting some friends." Quickly, I finished my muffin and hurried over to the trash can to throw my wrapper away, avoiding Dad's eyes. Ha. Like Paige and Co were really my friends.
"Oh. That's nice." Evidently, Dad wasn't considering how I was supposed to get to the cafe, because he was still preparing to bake. "Is Riley going to be there?"
Why was he so concerned about Riley? I edged my way back up to my bedroom to brush my teeth, calling as I went, "Nope! Just us girls! But, um, can you drive me?"
There was a faint affirmative call as I raced up the stairs, still trying to beat the clock. Getting a ride there wouldn't matter if I was late.
Dad pulled up to the cafe at 9:59 and I hopped out, shouldering my brown leather messenger bag and running towards the door. Joanne was coming from the opposite direction, her sheet of jet-black hair flying in the wind as she raced for the entrance. We caught each other's gazes and started laughing.
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