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By lunchtime, Keeley was worried. Her phone remained eerily quiet, setting her nerves on edge. It was the first time since their date that Talon hadn’t messaged her back. She tried to rationalize it, telling herself he was busy with his own school’s pep rally and preparing for the game that night, but her heart wasn’t convinced. Deep down, she knew if he wanted to message her, he would have.

“Would you stop staring at your phone?” Nicky asked. When she didn’t respond Nicky plucked it out of her hands and pushed it into her own backpack. “This is for your own good,” she said cutting off Keeley’s protest. “I won’t have my best friend developing an ulcer over some boy.”

“You said you would give him a chance,” she accused. They had a heart to heart after the cookie incident. Nicky promised she would have an open mind where Talon was concerned. Of course this was after threatening to never bail her out of the shopping mall jail.  

“And so far he’s failing.” She paused and raised an eyebrow. “Abysmally.”

Sighing, Keeley pushed her half-eaten sandwich away. Everything seemed to be compounding on top of each other—the big game tonight, Nicky hating Talon, Talon hating Nicky, Zach and Talon hating each other, the situation with Claire, Talon ignoring her. It was enough to drive a girl mad. A part of her wanted to hide in her room and bury under the covers, blocking out the insanity that was her life.

Books made it seem so easy. The heroine would make a self-discovery about herself and voila! Instant epiphany! Why couldn’t her life be so simple? Instead, it was a convoluted mess of conflicts and emotions. There was no straight line. It went up and down, sideways and diagonal.

“Listen, if this Claire thing is really bothering you I can look into it.”

Keeley turned to her best friend. She didn’t like the glint in her eye. It was far too impish for her liking.  “Look into it how?” she asked suspiciously.

“Let’s just say I have some…” Nicky leaned in and whispered, “connections.”

Keeley sent her a dubious look. “Connections? Care to expand on that?”

“I’ve already said too much,” she said gravely.

Her suspicions rose. This sounded like a bad gangster movie. “What exactly are you planning on doing? Hang out in the underbelly of Crosswell High?”

“Be quiet!” Nicky sent a furtive look around before leaning in even further. “Do you want people to hear you?”

“That depends on whether or not you belong in a mental ward,” Keeley answered. “I may want some witnesses to testify at your hearing.”

“I can get you answers. I just need a five batteries, a bottle of aspirin and twenty dollars.”

“Because that isn’t shady at all,” Keeley said with an eye roll. 

“Do you want to find out who this Claire person is or not?”

Of course she did! She was dying to know. But she wanted to come by the knowledge truthfully, not sneaking around in the bowels of Crosswell. She’d hoped Talon would tell her, but since he hadn’t…

Her fingers drummed against the tabletop. Decisions. Decisions. Instinctively, she looked over to her brother. He was sitting with his football buddies, laughing and joking. Immediately, his lighthearted attitude dissipated as his gaze landed on her. His posture straightened, his eyes traveling down to where Talon’s ring hung around her neck.

“Alright,” Keeley said, her decision made. “I’m in.”

Excitement poured off of Nicky. “Excellent. I’ll contact my informant.”

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