Chapter Twenty

In the days of the BSC, whenever something major happened, we'd call an emergency meeting. If possible, we'd immediately file into Claudia's bedroom (our "office" of sorts) and discuss the problem at hand.

When Logan volunteered himself and Alan to clean up the remains of the party and kicked us out of the rec center saying, "Get a burger or a smoothie or whatever it is you girls do when someone's down," going to Claudia's just felt like the next natural step. Granted, none of us really knew all the details, but Stacey looked about as upbeat as the central character in a country song, so we knew she needed us.

"You wanna come, too?" I asked Cokie, as we walked hand-in-hand through the parking lot.

"This looks personal. Plus, I've haven't even started on that English paper that's due Monday." She pulled me in for a kiss. "Call me."

"But..." I looked over her costume, "You ain't no holla back gi—"

She kissed me again, then got into her car.

Fifteen minutes later I was climbing the Kishi's stairs. In the past, we made extra effort to rush past Claudia's older sister's room because Janine is this crazy genius whom always wants to discuss some random nuclear physics equation or something. But Janine was off at college, probably discussing the same equations with people who actually care, so the coast was clear.

Stacey was sitting on the bed, mournfully chewing on red licorice, while Claudia and Mary Anne on either side of her.

Wait, red licorice? "Oh lord, Stacey, whatever happened, it's not worth risking your health over it!" I glared at my other friends for letting this happen. "What are you guys thinking!" Seriously, Stacey has diabetes and if she's not careful about what she eats, she could die.

Mary Anne gave me a Look. "They're sugar free, dork."

"Oh." I collapsed into Claudia's old director's chair, which had been my throne during my reign as BSC president.

Stacey had already given me a brief rundown of her encounter with Charlotte when I found her crying in the rec center. But the extent of what I knew could be boiled down to, "Charlotte-gave-me-this-and-I-didn't-really-know-what-to-say-and-then-she-got-upset-and-walked-home" with a few sobs inserted here and there.

By now she had calmed down and managed to give us a less abbreviated version.

"Oh, wow. That's... wow." Which, in Mary Anne, means she thought it was painfully romantic.

"Are you okay?" asked Claudia.

Stacey shrugged. "I guess. I don't know. It's not like we can date. She's a kid. And a girl. And I'm not... I've never..."

"And you think that'll change in six years?" I asked.

"It might. I was just trying to be fair. Or something. But I wasn't. Hell, Sam was in high school when I liked him." She flopped backward on the bed. "I don't know what to do."

Fortunately (unfortunately?), Stacey didn't have to do anything. That evening, Charlotte dug out her academic scholarship letter from Westdale Academy and made a phone call, asking if she could still take advantage of what they'd offered her, even though the school year had already begun. Normally, most schools would say, "Haha, tough luck, kid. Try again next time." But Charlotte's a whiz kid and Westdale had practically begged her to attend in the first place. Dr. Johannsen wasn't sure what was behind her daughter's sudden change of heart, but a free private school education was too good to turn down, especially if Charlotte expressed genuine interest in it.

Frankly, I can guess exactly what her genuine interest was. Westdale's a boarding school. An all-girl's boarding school. And if I'd just been turned down by the girl I'd been pining for over the last three years, I'd probably pack up and head to Westdale myself.

I, however, was a million miles from rejection. While the Johannsens were getting acquainted with the Westdale grounds over Thanksgiving break, Cokie and I were celebrating our one month anniversary with pizza and a movie (we decided to do without the vehicle breakdown this time).

Despite Charlotte's sudden relocation, Stacey says they're still on good terms. They email each other, like, four thousand times a week. From what I can tell, it's all platonic.

But who knows? Every time I look over at Cokie, I realize that you never have any idea what hand life's gonna deal you. One day, you're running a bra up the flagpole, the next you're finding that bra on your bedroom floor. Er, not that I would find Cokie's bra on my floor... Um... yeah. Gotta run.