A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "What a Girl Like You Likes"
You haven't talked to Kelsey, or even paid much attention to her, since this morning at the donut shop, and though you dread hearing what she thinks of your shitty, unpopular life—and you dread having to tell her about the day you spent pretending to be her—getting in touch with her seems like the best idea.
You're caught first by Anthony Kirk, though, who comes sauntering out into the parking lot about the same time as you. "Hey Kelz!" he calls out when he sees you. "Long as I got you here!" He gestures you over.
Anthony Kirk is one of the few peers who can "gesture" Kelsey to come to them. Like Kelsey, he's an AP student, from a high-income family, and their families have known each other through the country club since they were little. And unlike some of the other guys in Kelsey's group—Brent Pruitt or Martin Gardinhire or even Geoff Mansfield—Anthony combines preppy looks, good grades, and expensive tastes with a quiet authority that even Kelsey can't resist.
It's country club business he wants to talk about now. There's an unofficial "junior" country club inside the regular country club—one for the kids of the regular members—and Anthony is its unofficial president. He's organizing a charity drive, and he not only wants your help with it, he wants your input on setting it up. You tamp down Kelsey's own impatience and your own boredom as he unreels plans and contingencies, and you're standing with him nearly forty minutes in the parking lot before you finally part. Only after you're driving away do you realize that despite all the talk, nothing seems to have gotten decided, and you're not even sure what (if anything) you are supposed to be contributing to Anthony's project.
Anyway, the upshot is that it's too close to the Prescotts' supper time for you to be texting or calling Kelsey. You stay in town to eat a large apple-chicken salad at Panera (texting Kelsey's parents to tell you what you're doing) and finish homework. Along about seven, you start to text your old phone to find out if its current owner is free to come into town to meet with you. You change your mind at the last minute though, and instead gather up your stuff and drive out to your old place.
It's a nice house, you have to admit as you park in front of it. It's certainly a lot bigger and nicer than someone like Kelsey would expect of a scruffy scarecrow like Will Prescott, who (now that you think of him with Kelsey's mind) seems more like the type to live in a tract house with an old, worn-out, molded-plastic play set in the front yard. Yes, a molded-plastic play set, and a crusty/rusty dirt bike dropped in the weedy front yard, and basketball hoop hanging off the front of the garage, you find yourself thinking. Why do parents who live in a place this nice let their kid dress like a seventh-grader?
Shut up, Kelsey, you chide that annoying inner voice.
Your heart is beating hard as you ring the doorbell, and the words fail in your throat when the door is opened by your little brother. For half a second, you are sure he's going to recognize you, and fall to the ground, howling with laughter, at seeing you dressed up like a girl.
"Hey!" you exclaim when you recover your nerve. A smile that feels fake even to you twists onto your face. "Is Will home? I'm a friend from school."
Robert gives you a look up and down—the kind of appraising look that Kelsey remembers getting in middle school—and backs up a step. "Hey, Will!" he shouts back into the house without taking his eyes off you. "Will!" Guess they really don't care about manners around here, you helplessly think.
"Go upstairs and get your brother!" That would be your real dad, and a moment later he wanders into the foyer with a frown. His eyebrows twitch when he sees you, and you have another vertigo-like moment of panic at being discovered. "Hello, you want to come in?" he gruffly asks you.
Before you can reply, feet come thundering down the stairs and Will Prescott tumbles into view. He has to catch himself against a wall when he sees you, for his knees visibly buckle. "Hey Will!" you chirp at him. "I was in the neighborhood, wanted to stop by and talk to you."
Will gapes back at you. So does Robert. At least your dad has the presence of mind to slap your brother in the back and pull him out of the foyer. You don't step inside to take his place, but only continue beaming at Will from the porch. "I thought maybe we could go for a walk. To talk. At the old school. Or, I dunno, we could go out in your back yard?"
"No, walking is fine," he stammers. "Er. I'll be back in a few minutes!" he yells back into the house.
"Don't shout, Will!" the retort comes echoing back.
You step back onto the porch as Will comes out to join you. "I didn't text or call because I was out here anyway," you tell him as he pulls the door shut. "I thought you'd rather meet up somewhere here instead of in town, where someone might see us together." You can't help it that it comes out prim and snarky.
Will gives you a quick, angry look. But he only says, "That's okay. Probably smart."
"Well, it's not on account of, you know, not wanting to be seen with you," you tell him. "Only— Okay, like we were saying, whoever did this to us is probably watching us, and if we want to play it cool for them, like nothing's going on, we probably don't want them catching us, uh—"
"No, I get it," Will says, but his expression and tone of voice continue to be pinched. "Maybe we should go in the back yard, then."
You shrug, and let him lead you around to the side gate. The back yard is muddy from the rain, and with Kelsey's eye you can't help noticing and sniffing at the patches of bald, bare mud where the grass has shrunk back from the tree that spreads its canopy over the side yard.
You wind up standing near the tool shed. "So how was your day?" you ask your replacement.
"It was okay. Your classes aren't hard." His dark eyes dart about beneath his stiff bangs. "It was ... interesting ... with your friends."
"Keith and Caleb?"
"And Carson and them. Had lunch with them out front. It was kind of—" But he trails off with a shrug instead of finishing. "And how was your day?" His voice is strained.
"It was good. Can't complain. Your classes are hard, but, you know, I got your brain to help me handle them."
An awkward silence falls between you.
"Yeah?" you eagerly ask.
Will draws a deep breath and shifts from foot to foot.
"So what do you want me to do about Eva and Jessica?"
The question startles you. "What about them?"
Will has been avoiding your eye all this time. But now he does look at you directly, and there's a flush of anger behind his gaze.
"I remember everything you did, Will. That 'curse'?"
It knocks you back a step, though it shouldn't have. If Kelsey can "remember" that Keith summoned you out to the Ag Annex, of course she can "remember" you telling Eva to curse her.
"Well, obviously it wasn't an actual curse," you protest.
"You don't know that! And you cursed me anyway!"
"Well, you were cursing at me, Kelsey! At Meghan's party!"
"That was an accident, and you know it! I got shoved into you!"
"Alright," Will grumbles. "But you still cursed me."
"Oh, bite me!"
Will bristles all over, and for a moment you think he's going slug you. But you only glare back, and he settles down again. "Well, what are we going to do about Eva and Jessica?"
"I told you, we play things like nothing's changed."
"Okay. Then what do you want me to do about the fact that Eva and Jessica want to take me out this weekend?" When you don't answer right away, he adds, "Jesus, don't you see it's gotta be them? Since when were they ever interested in you, Will? And even if you didn't mean for that 'curse' to be real, you picked me to curse, and you told Eva it was me you wanted to curse. And look what happened!"
"We don't do anything about them! Remember? We want them to be bored, whoever's watching."
"So do you want me to tell 'em to go fuck themselves? Because that's how come they're asking me to come out with them. So they can get a look at me!"
You fold your arms and look around the back yard. It's getting dark, and suddenly you don't want to be here. You came out to see Kelsey only because you felt like you should, and now it hits you how horribly complicated things are, even with your plan to do "nothing" about it all.
"Well, what do your instincts say to do?" you ask. "You've got my instincts, right? I think I've got yours."
Will's brow darkens.
"Yeah, we know all about each other, don't we?" he says. "So what do your instincts say to do?"
"About Eva and Jessica?"
"And about Karl."
Your heart almost fails to beat. Does Kelsey seriously want to hear your gut instincts about how to handle her secret fuck-buddy?
Next: "Attempted Temptations"