Chapter 3: A Walk in the Rain, or The Boy Next Door

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If Elise had paid any attention to the weather forecast, she might have thought to bring an umbrella. Or wear a raincoat.

Audrey and Courtney had both offered her a ride home after it started pouring during last period, but Elise had committed to a student ambassador meeting after being accosted by a particularly enthusiastic girl in her English class.

"That would be Wendy," Audrey had guessed correctly after Elise explained, turning down both Audrey and Courtney's offers. It was nice to know they both were willing to help her though, because even though it seemed like they were truly friends with her, it was only a month into the school year and Elise was still treading the halls of St. Cat's carefully. She had still spent time with her old friends, mostly on weekends, but had to budget her time when it came to homework.

"Wendy is the biggest marketing tool St. Cat's has ever had. She's all about promoting the school. When we were at the elementary school, we heard a rumor that the sisters would rather close the school than go co-ed, and since then, she's been all about keeping enrollment up. If she ever has daughters, they're destined for St. Cat's, whether they like it or not."

Natalie happened to walk by just as Audrey mentioned Wendy, and stopped to explain more. The idea of 'selling' the school was strange, Elise considered, but since it was private, there was nothing keeping the students there, and there were other private high schools in the area to compete for enrollment, so it made sense.

"Hi Audrey, Natalie. We're headed over to tutor some of the girls in the homework help program at Little Cat. Want to come?"

Elise watched as Audrey and Natalie seemed to come to attention as a small girl with long, shining dark hair and matching dark eyes stopped to speak to them. A taller girl stood behind her, wearing a bored look that made it seem like she wanted to be anywhere else but there.

"Oh, hi, Mary Sofia. I can't today, but that's a good idea for service hours, so next time, if you can let me know in advance?"

Natalie nodded along as Audrey spoke.

"Same goes for me. Thanks for thinking of us."

Elise kept her focus on the taller girl, who was smirking now. It did sound a little like Audrey and Natalie were sucking up.

"Will do. Bring your friends, too."

The girl smiled at Elise and turned to walk away. Her companion smiled, too, but hers reminded Elise of a shark waiting for its prey to swim closer.

"I'm not afraid to admit that Jada intimidates the hell out of me."

Elise thought that Jada had to be the shark.

"I better get going before Wendy thinks I've ditched the meeting."

"Okay, see you tomorrow. And the tutoring thing, it's a fun way to get service hours, so if you want to take Mary Sofia up on her offer, it's a good idea. I know I'll be doing it."

Elise nodded. Sure, something more on her plate. Service hours were on the fringe of her awareness right now, but one of those things that could creep up on her and be a problem at the end of the school year if she didn't plan for it.

"But 'Little Cat's'?"

Natalie laughed.

"The elementary school. Kittens, get it?"

It was too cute to be annoying, Elise thought, smiling. What would it be like to have been here since she was a little girl, fitting in and knowing all these little nuances to the school?

She waved to both girls and went to the ambassador meeting, where Wendy praised the school much more than necessary as some bored older girls filed their nails and stared at the clock. There were a couple of freshman that Elise knew from class who looked as stunned as she felt. Just as Elise wondered if there was something Wendy was going to say about what the ambassadors actually did, Wendy went into a description of duties and events and passed around a sign up list that went all the way to the end of the school year. How did anyone know that far ahead of time what they were doing in April?

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