Chapter 22

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I hadn't realized how much I didn't miss Dakota until she was back. I should have cherished her brief absence. Maybe baked a cake and ate the entire thing in her dishonor.

Not only had she returned, she'd come back with a new dye job, and a renewed sense of superiority tinged with cold hatred. Maybe she'd attended a one-day seminar on bullying techniques and wanted to try them all out. On me.

It began before homeroom. I twisted the combination on my locker, my fingers coming away coated with a sticky sap. Washing it off in the bathroom made me late for homeroom. It was obvious from Dakota's undisguised sneer who had sabotaged the lock. She might be ace at bullying, but she was piss poor with covert ops.

"Bitch," she said under her breath as I made my way past her desk to mine.

Oh, it was on.

I slumped into my seat. Darren gave me a half questioning, half fearful expression. What is going on?

I glared at the back of Dakota's ombre hair, hating myself for admitting how awesome it looked. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I glanced over at Darren, who nodded. He must have texted me.

Taking out my phone, I kept it low so Mr. Anderson wouldn't see it. Teachers seemed to think we should be living back in the 1990s from 8 am to 3 pm, and I did not want to get my phone confiscated.

Darren: Dakota called you an assortment of colorful adjectives to her friends before you got here.

Me: She's super pissed at me. Must be a Thursday.

Darren: Yeah but what did you do?

Me: Nothing!

Darren: But what does she think you did?


Darren: You do too.

I assumed Blake finally grew a spine and dumped her. But that had nothing to do with me, and I didn't feel like chatting about it over text message with Darren.

Me: Whatever it is, the whole school will know by lunch.

I wasn't wrong. By midday, I knew, my friends and enemies knew, the custodian probably knew too. And what I thought I knew, well, I was super wrong.

Kayla laid it out for me. "Are you ready for the drama?"

Vanessa, Darren, and I leaned our heads in towards the center of the table. Kayla proceeded. "Our Popular Queen has sent our Popular King packing."

"What?" I said this louder than I'd intended. Several heads at neighboring tables turned towards me. Their gazes lingered. I lowered my voice. "I thought he broke up with her."

Kayla shook her head. "You should know more than us about this."

"What's that supposed to mean? Why would I know anything?"

Vanessa nudged my shoulder. "You know, because of you and Blake."

"There is no me and Blake. We're just friends. Barely that."

"That's what people always say when they're not just friends," Vanessa said.

"Mazie," Kayla tapped her spoon against her water bottle like she was about to give a toast. "Do you really not know what the rumor mill is churning out?"

I shook my head. "I have enough on my plate with, you know, my home situation. I don't care what people here are saying."

"Well maybe you should, because what they're saying is that you told Dakota you're getting it on with Blake, and that's why she dumped him."

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