Chapter 5: Nerds Don't Sing

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"You should absolutely go to the mall with Stacey," Rosa said over breakfast. "What a good idea. I'll give you money for two more school shirts, to save me doing laundry in the middle of the week."

Stacey gave a silent harrumph, which told Wynter she didn't want to shop for school clothes.

"I need to be back when Caleb arrives, otherwise it's a waste of his time," Wynter said.

Stacey was horrified. "I can't get through the entire mall in one hour!"

"What do you need to buy?"

"Nothing. That's not the point."

Wynter thought it was exactly the point. "I'll get the shirts, and you can go to the store you want, and then we'll come back."

"I need to teach you how to shop," Stacey grumbled. It sounded like something Jesse would say, not that she knew if Jesse knew how to shop. Even if he didn't, she'd rather learn shopping from Jesse than from Stacey.

Rosa dropped them off. Stacey insisted they go to a fashion store first and then three jewelry stores, two of which had nothing under two hundred dollars. In the third store, Stacey spent fifteen minutes trying on rings. She already had lots of thin rings stacked on her fingers and was adamant she needed another. Wynter watched the clock and calculated when they needed to call Rosa so she still had time to get the shirts and be home on time.

At twenty minutes to noon, Wynter called Rosa to pick them up. If Rosa left the house immediately, they should be back in time.

"Are you gonna call your mom to have her pick you up?" Wynter asked Stacey in the department store.

"I already texted her. She says I can stay for lunch."

That wasn't part of the plan. Wynter grabbed two shirts that were identical to the ones she already had and they met Rosa in the parking lot.

"I've let Caleb know he may have to wait outside the house a few minutes if he's early," Rosa said.

"You could drop Stacey off home on the way," Wynter said.

"Don't be silly," Stacey scoffed. "All my stuff is at your house. Mom says I can stay until four as long as we do two more hours of study."

So, "lunch" had turned into four more hours. Friendships were altogether too inconvenient.

"Oh my god, who's that?" Stacey cried as they pulled into the driveway.

Wynter leaned over to look out of Stacey's window. Instead of Caleb's Silverado truck, it was Jesse's Caprice in the driveway. Caleb and Jesse were up on the porch. Wynter opened her door before the car had even stopped, ignoring Rosa's exclamations, and raced up the driveway to fling herself on Jesse.

"What are you doing here? You didn't tell me!"

Jesse laughed. "Surprise?"

"What about karate?"

"We sorted something out," Caleb said.

She gave him a hug too, and then she was forced to deal with Stacey who had made her way to the porch. She introduced them while Rosa unlocked the house.

Stacey ignored Caleb and stepped up very close to Jesse, tilting her face to examine him. "Wynter's talked about you a bit. I thought you'd be a super-nerd, but you don't look like one."

"I sure am a super-nerd," Jesse said, feigning indignation. "Left my coke-bottle glasses at home."

Stacey giggled. Wynter ground her teeth.

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