"Please, Dean Marymount," Tinsley Carmichael began; throwing her long, black hair over her shoulder. "I realize that the Cinephiles party might have been a slight disaster but-"
"Slight?" thundered Dean Marymount. He rose in his chair. "Slight? Not only did you, hooligans, burn down a barn, but there was also evidence of drinking!"
"Sir, I can explain-"
"Explain? Explain what, Miss Carmichael? That the barn caught fire by itself? That the beer appeared out of nowhere?"
Sighing angrily, Tinsley combed a hand through her glossy hair. She'd already prepared an argument the night before, but for once, Tinsley wasn't on top of things. It had been bad enough after that horrible game of "I Never", but now? How had they? How had little Jenny Humphrey been able to lure Julian away? And how dare he, that arrogant freshman. How had he dared cheat on Tinsley behind her back? And she had actually liked him! Well, she'd never make that mistake again.
The tapping of Dean Marymount's fingers brought Tinsley back to the present. Banishing her thoughts to the back of her mind, Tinsley took a deep breath. It wouldn't do for her to be stressed. Not when she was this close.
"Please, sir," Tinsley continued, calmly, "Those… events weren't my fault."
"Oh really?" Dean Marymount raised an eyebrow and leaned forward. "Tinsley, your record speaks for its-"
"This isn't about my record, it's about Callie!" Tinsley blurted out.
"And what exactly would Miss Vernon have to do with this?" Tinsley took a deep breath, looking every inch a concerned friend.
"I think Jenny started the fire." There was a pause, as Tinsley watched her words sink in.
"Jennifer Humphrey? Miss Carmichael, I don't see how Miss Humphrey had anything to do with-"
"Well, sir, you know about Jenny and Easy's relationship."
"I am aware of Mr. Walsh and Miss Humphrey's affiliations, yes." Tinsley smirked inwardly. Like every other student on campus, she knew that Dean Marymount and the rest of Waverly's staff always kept up-to-date with the latest campus gossip. She continued.
"Well, after Callie and Easy got back together, well, I think that Jenny never really got over Easy." She paused dramatically, as if her emotions were threatening to overcome her. Then, after a swift glance at her nails, she continued.
"I think Jenny saw Callie and Easy together and got jealous. I think she tried to hurt Callie!" Again, she paused, savoring the moment. She and Callie had planned this very carefully and it all went right, Jenny and Julian would be out of school before they could say, "Waverly".
"So, if I am to understand your theory, Tinsley," Dean Marymount repeated, emphasizing the word "theory", "you believe Miss Humphrey burned down the barn?"
"Not Jenny," Tinsley corrected, "Julian." For a second, Dean Marymount's face looked incredulous. Then he leaned forward.
"Miss Carmichael, I have been very patient with you so far. I have listened to your outlandish theory without objection, but Julian McCafferty? That's the last straw. And there's not even a shred of evidence supporting this ridiculous tale!"
"Actually," Tinsley replied lightly, "There is." This was the moment she had been waiting for. With one move, Jenny would be expelled, along with that annoying freshman. It was a bit like chess, Tinsley thought, you just had to know how to play.
With a swift motion, Tinsley slapped the lighter onto Dean Marymount's desk. There was a pause, then the light from outside illuminated the initials, "J.M".