began. I’d started smoking in secret since the night of the party, and the woods around campus offered plenty of cover. Before I could, though, Hugh Marsden’s black Lexus GX pulled up. I had to stop myself from cringing.
Hugh honked, and I looked at him reflexively. He grinned, waved, and winked. I looked away from him, then back at the car. A blond girl with a compact, athletic build was climbing down from the passenger side, laden with two tennis racquets, a large gym bag, and the trademark backpack of any good Belknap Country Day Student: a deluxe model from L.L. Bean in unisex teal, straining around a stack of textbooks, with a nickname Magic-Markered onto the reflector strip in spite of the formally embroidered initials. MOLLY. This was Elaine Winslow’s little sister, who was a slightly shorter version of Elaine and played tennis instead of golf. They had another sister in the lower school, a seventh grader, and together they appeared as a matching set. They had actually been models for a company that made high-end silver knick-knacks; they were the girls in the photographs that come in the picture frames when you buy them. The Winslow sisters had always reminded me of
The Stepford Wives
. But Molly had surprised everyone that fall by auditioning for
and landing the part of Mary Warren, the maid who ultimately damns John Proctor as a witch. I was even more surprised to see her climbing out of Hugh’s car—Molly wasn’t the same as the sophomores Melissa had spit on at her party. I didn’t think I’d ever seen Molly at a party, period. But there she was, climbing out of Hugh’s car while he leered at me.
“Hi, Courtney,” Molly said, a little hesitantly, as she walked up the steps onto the portico. “You headed to rehearsal?”
“Yeah,” I said, opening the door for her. “Where are you coming from?”
“I was practicing my serve at the gym.” She jostled her tennis racquets in their cases. “Hugh took me to Friendly’s for a shake before rehearsal.” She said “rehearsal” with a certain reverence; I recognized the tone from when I first began acting in middle school. She also threw an infatuated smile at Hugh’s car as it pulled away down the drive.
, I thought.
“So, um, are you excited for the first rehearsal?” she asked. Molly talked like she was totally thrilled that I was speaking to her and also totally terrified that it might be a joke, or that she’d embarrass herself somehow. I remembered feeling the same way when I was a freshman, talking to Lena Henson, perennial star of the class of 2008. Lena was most often seen now in bit parts on
Law and Order: Criminal Intent
“Sure,” I said. “Abigail’s a good part. So is Mary, by the way. It’s always cool to have people who aren’t, like, the usual drama suspects in the play.”
“Thanks,” she blushed. “I was worried everyone would think it was weird. I mean, I play tennis.” She said it like a person was only ever allowed to do one thing and nudged the tennis racquets with her hip.
“So, Hugh Marsden,” I said, as we walked down the hall to the auditorium. I tried to sound gossipy and fun, but my acting skills betrayed me, and I knew I sounded suspicious and, weirdly, jealous.
“I mean, I don’t know if we’re, like, going out,” Molly said, rolling her eyes. “But Jake Hobart told me that Hugh is going to ask me to the Rivalry Revelry.” And she smiled so big I thought my heart might crack in half.
“Do you like him?” I asked.
“Well, yeah,” she said, as if to say
“It seems like he likes me, too.”
, I thought. I bit down on my lip. If I came right out and told her to stay away from Hugh, Molly would probably tell him what I said. And Hugh would say something to Ted, and then I’d have to explain why I was cockblocking my boyfriend’s best friend, someone who was supposed to be
friend, too. I looked at Molly’s creamy face, her wide,