A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Attempted Temptations"
"No thanks," you tell Amanda with a shudder. "I don't need to know what kind of assholes Lin's turning tricks for in bed."
Amanda's lips twitch into a private kind of smile. "No, I guess you don't," she says as she lifts the coffee mug to her mouth.
You can't help shooting her a sharp look. It's just one of dozens of remarks that Kelsey has heard that make it sound like she knows all about her and Karl.
Which is another reason to cool things off between you and Hennepin.
So when Karl texts you later that evening, and after some small talk suggests some erotic messaging, you shut him down by saying you're not in the mood and still have homework to finish.
* * * * *
But as if the universe wasn't crazy enough, it throws you another curve the next morning as you're striding in to the school. You hear your name called—a not uncommon occurrence for Kelsey Blankenship—and wheel to find Cindy Vredenburg jogging over to join you. You give her your sweetest, most poisonous smile.
"Hey, what's up?" you greet her. "How's Lucy?"
Cindy's eyelid twitches. "She's fine too, I guess."
"Lucy have any advice for how to deal with her?"
Cindy looks momentarily startled, and you stifle a giggle.
Kelsey, Cindy, and Chelsea Cooper were the three girls vying all summer for the captaincy of the cheerleader squad. Of the three, Cindy probably wanted it the worst, on account of the fact that her sister, Lucy, had been captain of the squad two years ago. When Chelsea outmaneuvered her rivals at the start of the semester, Kelsey quit in a huff but Cindy stayed on. From everything you've heard—through your own ears and now through Kelsey's—it has been a miserable time for Cindy.
And so with three innocent and seemingly concerned remarks about Chelsea and Lucy, you feel like you've successfully twisted a knife deep into Cindy's guts. Because you—Kelsey—have never forgiven Cindy for fucking up your own plan to become captain of the squad while fumbling her own, thus handing it to Chelsea instead.
But now Cindy just makes a face. "Why don't you ask me how Seth is?"
"Seth?" You pretend puzzlement with a frown. "Is something wrong with Seth? Is he sick?"
"How would you like to take him off my hands?"
Now it's your turn to start. What is Cindy babbling about?
"You do like Seth, don't you, Kelsey?" Cindy asks.
"I don't think I really want to talk to you about what I think of your boyfriend," you reply.
"Please tell me you like him, that you want to jump his bones. Because I want to get rid of him, and you'd be doing me a huge favor if you took him off my hands."
You blink hard. You had heard rumblings in recent days that there was trouble between Cindy and Seth—humdinger fights and crying jags, with some of the tears (it was whispered) shed by Seth himself—but your mind has of course been on other things. Besides, things have always been tempestuous between Cindy and Seth. He's a swaggering bully who thinks he's God's gift to Westside High, and Cindy is a high-strung girl whose senior year has so far been a keen disappointment. But this approach by Cindy astonishes you, and for lots of reasons.
"What are you talking about, Cindy?" you exclaim. "You and Seth, you're like perfect for each other! I mean— Oh my God!" you gasp. "He hasn't been, like, abusing you or anything, has he?"
Cindy rolls her eyes. "He's an asshole, Kelsey. You know that."
"Then why don't you just—?" You touch her arm. "If you need to talk, Cindy, we'll go talk. But—"
"Can't you go talk to Seth?"
"What for? Is there something you want me to specially find out, or anything?"
Cindy gives you a sidelong look. "You do like him, don't you?"
You clap your mouth closed into a grim line.
"I don't know what you're trying to imply, Cindy, but I never, ever—"
"Okay, fine," she sighs. "I guess I'll just have to go find someone else who'll take him. Only it does seem like you and him are made for each other."
You feel the steam starting to build between your ears. "And what's that supposed to mean? You said he's an—"
"Figure it out yourself, Kelsey," she jeers, and flits away, leaving to gasp angrily at her retreating back.
* * * * *
So your brain is in a whirl when you stomp into first period. Seth and his friend Darren were the guys who grabbed you just before the "body swap," so you know they're mixed up in it. From what Cindy says, it sounds like he's causing trouble for her too, and you find yourself wondering what kind. And was that really Cindy? Or has Seth switched her with someone else?
You're so distracted that when Amanda says something to you, you have to ask her to repeat it.
"I said, Check out your boyfriend."
"What are you talking about?" you demand, though the words stick in your throat. Did Karl follow me in here?
You turn around to follow her gaze, but you see nothing unusual. You're just turning around to ask what the hell and why the hell, when you freeze, then whirl to do a double take. Your jaw falls open when you see what's sitting in Will Prescott's desk.
It's Will Prescott. But it isn't. Not the Will Prescott you saw yesterday, or expected to see today.
That Will Prescott dressed in baggy, ill-fitting t-shirts and cargo shorts, with a shapeless white ball cap squashed onto his head. That Will Prescott had hair like a haystack, and he sprawled inside his desk like a spider monkey.
But this Will Prescott—
You have to blink to be sure that it really is him. Only the eyes and the general contours of the face are the same.
He's dressed like a cowboy, sort of, in faded blue jeans and a soft, red denim shirt with the sleeves rolled neatly to the elbows. Forest-green suspenders. He relaxes inside his desk with his legs crossed, showing off dark boots instead of his usual ratty sneakers. And atop his head—
And did he get a haircut? His stiff bangs are still showing, but it looks like the curly crap behind his ears and at the top of his neck has been sheared off.
—is a battered leather hat like Indiana Jones might wear.
And he's staring back at you with a raised chin, as though daring you to disapprove.
You whirl back around and catch your breath. The fuck is going on over there? Is that Kelsey's idea of giving her new body a clean up? What the hell is she thinking? No one in a million years is going to take "you" seriously looking like that! For fuck's sake!
"He's cute, isn't he?" Amanda snickers.
You snarl at her. "You're not serious!"
"No, but it looks like he's serious about you."
She smirks. "I love the hat. Don't you love the hat?"
If you could, you'd flay Amanda alive with the glare you give her—Karl also sports a hat—but she only bubbles over with a laugh as cold as dry ice. You glance back over your shoulder to see how Kelsey's other friends are taking it, but no one else has been paying attention. That, or they looked your double over and are now bored.
Yes, that's the best thing that could happen, you decide. As long as no one pays any attention to him, everything will be fine. No one pays attention to him anyway, and Caleb and Keith and Carson and James will be sure to straighten Kelsey and her shit out.
Then a wave of nausea hits you. Oh God, what are the Molester, and Kirkham, and all the other low-level bullies going to say and do when they see the new Will Prescott?
* * * * *
It's fourth period, and you're in Ms. Simeon's classroom with the study circle, before you have a chance to text Will. You keep your phone up close to your chest as you tap in texts that he won't be able to check until lunch, but you want to get written now. The texts are surprisingly hard to write. It's hard to come up with something more than, What the hell, K? WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?
You can't help glaring at Lisa Yarborough as she settles into the seat next to you, for she's in the study circle too. What the hell is she thinking about Will now? you wonder. Is she going to say anything to you about him? She better not. She's a flake, and it would be just like her—
Your heart staggers a little under the hammer blow of contempt that Kelsey feels for your ex-girlfriend. It's one of the reasons you've done your best to ignore Lisa, who has been constantly around you since this body swap. Kelsey has a very low opinion of Lisa, which didn't keep Kelsey from trying to make Lisa feel like shit for hanging out with you over the summer. Not that Kelsey was trying to break you and Lisa up. She didn't even think that Lisa was going out with you. It was only that Kelsey thought it was all just too embarrassing. You were completely wrong for each other, that was clear to Kelsey. Lisa might be an airhead, but she has a lot more style than Will Prescott, who was just a dopey, sloppy slacker. The only satisfaction you now have is to find that Kelsey is almost as contemptuous of Geoff Mansfield for making a fool of himself around Lisa, who is way too dumb and unsophisticated for him.
"Is that Amanda you're texting?" Lisa asks you now.
"No," you snap, and put the phone away after sending the last text. "It's none of your business."
* * * * *
So what are you to think when Will texts you back at lunch: I was thinkgn of asking Lisa out agin.
Next: "Some Opinions, Truly Expressed"