Lucky | Chapter 17 of 34

Author: Cecily von Ziegesar | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4613 Views | Add a Review

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12

A WAVERLY OWL NEVER FORFEITS A MATCH.

Tinsley made her way down the gravelly path to Dumbarton, her white leather Prince tennis shoes cushioning each step. Practice today had been more amusing than usual. Ms. Nemerov, the ultra-fit, slightly mannish Russian coach, was unabashedly giving Tinsley special treatment due to the dean’s list of suspects—she was horror-struck at the idea that her star player could be taken away, and had even brought Tinsley aside and offered to put in a good word for her to Dean Mary-mount. Tinsley politely declined. She was doing just fine on her own, thank you very much. With Chloe’s help, the dean would already be convinced Jenny was the culprit by Wednesday’s meeting. Tinsley felt like a puppeteer playing with her marionettes, holding all the strings.

On the lawn, a flock of underclass girls in tank tops were sprawled out on a maroon Waverly stadium blanket, their skinny arms soaking up the last gasps of the summer sunshine before it was gone completely. They all turned, almost imperceptibly, from the books they were pretending to study to watch Tinsley, and she had to stifle a smile. She sliced her racket through the air as she walked, imagining Jenny’s head on the chopping block. She didn’t notice the tall, lanky figure approaching her until she’d nearly run into him.

“Tinsley,” Julian announced abruptly, and she almost jumped.

“Julian,” she replied automatically, unable to think of anything else to say. Faced with his adorable rangy figure and his puppy-dog brown eyes, she felt strangely nervous. Her stomach flip-flopped as she remembered their sexy encounters all over campus—the Dumbarton bathroom, the movie screening room in the basement of Hopkins Hall. She’d turned it into a top secret affair, all because she was afraid of the world finding out she liked a freshman. But really, now that she thought about it, how bad could it have been? She probably would have started a trend, à la Demi Moore.

“Hey, I’m, uh, sorry we never really talked this weekend.” Julian dug a toe into the gravel path. He looked up again, his shaggy blond-brown hair falling messily across his forehead. He wore a yellow plaid button-down, and Tinsley wondered what he had on underneath. “Things just got sort of crazy. But I really did want to talk to you about some stuff.”

Tinsley straightened, feeling like she’d just been slapped in the face. She chastised herself for her moment of weakness. Why did she let this freshman get under her skin? “Some stuff?” she asked icily, narrowing her violet eyes. “And by ‘things got sort of crazy,’ you mean you were too busy with your new girlfriend?”

“What are you talking about?” Julian looked genuinely confused. He ran a hand through his messy hair, probably wondering how she knew about Jenny. Did he really think he could sneak around with that top-heavy little slutbag without her finding out?

“Don’t play dumb with me. I saw you with that midget.” She rested her titanium tennis racket on the ground and leaned on it, feeling like she’d just won match point.

Julian raised his eyebrows. She couldn’t tell if he was surprised or angry. Probably both. “When?”

Tinsley froze, realizing her mistake. If she told him she’d seen them outside the barn, she’d practically be admitting to arson. She stole a glance to her left. The sunbathing girls were still engrossed in their books, though she suspected they were straining to hear every word of her conversation. “It doesn’t matter when,” she hissed. “But I’ll make this easy for you. The next time I see you and your little girlfriend together might be your last timetogether.” She said the last words slowly and carefully. She didn’t want to have to repeat herself.

Julian’s face turned slightly pink. “Are you threatening me?” His voice wavered and he lost his usual easy composure, seeming both shocked and a little scared. Which was exactly how Tinsley wanted her opponents to feel.

“Don’t be silly,” she laughed, tossing her black, silky hair. “I think we both know who I’m threatening.”

She turned on her heel and walked off, swinging her racket daintily. Game, set, match. But the loser here wasn’t Julian. It was someone much, much shorter.

For the special dinner that night to honor the prospectives, the dining hall had apparently been transformed from a mundane eating establishment into a five-star restaurant. The setting sun glinted through the stained glass windows, sending sprays of color across the white linen tablecloths. Irritated as she was at the presence of all the geeky prospectives—well, all but one—Tinsley was impressed that Marymount had splurged like this for their benefit. She paused in the doorway, both to admire the changes and to allow everyone the opportunity to see that she was as calm and unperturbed as ever, despite Marymount’s threatening e-mail.

Gone were the pizza bar and the cereal bins—even the soda fountains had been pushed back and turned toward the wall, replaced by a dizzying array of servers clad in pressed white shirts, black pants, and white gloves. Tinsley nearly knocked over one carrying a tray of canapés. Hors d’oeuvre trays? Apparently, when it came to securing Waverly’s financial future, the dean was more than willing to open his wallet a little. Someone had even gone to the trouble of calligraphing a sign stating ABSOLUTELY NO CELL PHONES, displayed prominently at the entrance.

She was one of the last to arrive, but she preferred it that way. She felt everyone’s eyes on her as she strode across the dining room in her vintage black Chanel baby doll dress and dark patterned stockings, walking in a way that made the somewhat shapeless dress come to life and cause everyone to wonder about the body underneath.

One of the long tables near the giant stone fireplace—in which a heap of logs had been set ablaze for the occasion, Tinsley noted with irony—had been overtaken by Sage and Benny and company. “Nice dress, T,” Benny offered up in a loud whisper as Tinsley passed.

“Thanks,” Tinsley answered in her regular voice, which made her realize how silent the cavernous dining hall was. Heads were pressed together at every table, and low whispering filled the air, as if everyone was afraid that speaking out loud would somehow indicate their guilt. At the other end of the table Callie caught Tinsley’s eye. She leaned her strawberry blond head toward Easy, who was practically sitting on top of her. Get a room, Tinsley snickered to herself. Callie beckoned her over with a raised blond eyebrow, patting the seat next to her with her Swarovski-pearl-braceleted hand.

Tinsley squeezed past the other Owls toward Callie’s end of the table, where Heath was trying to convince one of the servers to set her tray of hors d’oeuvres down directly in front of him. Whispering erupted in Tinsley’s wake, and she smiled to herself. She didn’t mind being named a suspect in the Miller fire—anyone who’d read any Agatha Christie knew that the culprit was always the person least expected. Someone, for example, like little Jenny Humphrey. No one could imagine her sweet little five-foot self setting a barn on fire, but when she finally got busted for doing it, everyone would wonder why they hadn’t realized it sooner.

“Nice entrance,” Callie hissed under her breath. “Mary-mount’s supposed to speak in like two minutes.”

Tinsley slid into the uncomfortable oak chair Callie had reserved for her. “Well, it’s not like he’d start without me,” she whispered back with a smirk.

Brandon Buchanan was trying to surreptitiously pass a note scrawled on a napkin to someone at the other end of the table. Reflexively, Tinsley intercepted it and held it in her hand. Brandon, in a neatly ironed Armani dress shirt and tie, smirked at her, daring her to open it. She uncrumpled the napkin. Think she did it? it read in Brandon’s surprisingly sloppy cursive. Tinsley stuck her tongue out at Brandon—was he talking about her? She definitely wouldn’t mind too much if that know-it-all got kicked out—and crumpled up the napkin. All of the tables had little clusters of crumpled napkins scattered around, and Tinsley wondered how many others contained notes about her.

“T.C.” Heath nodded a formal hello as one of the servers—a cute blond sophomore—parked an entire tray of stuffed mushrooms in front of him.

Tinsley just stared back. She hadn’t noticed the prospective sitting next to Heath before. His light brown hair was gelled into place exactly the same way as Heath’s—sides back, top tousled artistically and frozen into place—and Tinsley did a double take, wondering if Heath had a little brother. As the kid reached for a stuffed mushroom, she noticed that he even kind of moved like Heath. Freaky. He plopped the mushroom into his mouth, not stopping to roll up the cinched sleeve on his baby blue dress shirt. It looked like it had come from the Junior Miss section of Bloomingdale’s.

“I like your shirt,” Tinsley noted, forgetting to whisper. The entire table turned in alarm, as if they were hiding from the enemy and she had given away their position.

“Yeah, it’s cool,” the prospective said, mimicking Heath’s head bob as he spoke.

“That’s my boy, Sam,” Heath whispered, making little fists of triumph with his hands. Sam immediately imitated the gesture, and everyone at the table snickered.

“I didn’t know you were a father, Ferro.” Alan St. Girard leaned forward, snatching up one of Heath’s mushrooms. He’d shaved his beard scruff for the occasion, revealing the baby fat on his pinkish cheeks. Tinsley glanced around to see where his girlfriend was and spotted Alison Quentin’s glossy black head at a round table in the corner of the room, where she was sitting with Jenny and, she noted with pleasure, Chloe. Taking a sip of water, she scanned the room, finally spotting Julian’s familiar handsome head at a table of squash players tucked in the corner, about as far from Jenny’s table as possible. She took another sip of water, pretending it was champagne, and congratulated herself on a job well done.

“He’s my protégé,” Heath boasted, patting Sam on the shoulder. “He’s going to carry on the Ferro legacy long after I’m gone.”

“Which could be soon, right?” Tinsley smiled, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms in front of her, which she knew drew attention to her perfect chest.

“We’ll see,” Heath said, glancing around.

A murmur spread through the room as Dean Marymount ascended the podium, decorated with the Waverly crest, at the front of the dining hall. He surveyed the crowd and said something no one could hear, reaching under the podium to turn on the microphone. Everyone glanced around at each other, but the room remained surprisingly silent. He tapped the microphone with two thick fingers and a sound like staticky thunder echoed in everyone’s ears. Finally, a few snickers spread through the crowd. Tinsley kept a straight face, not even looking away when Marymount seemed to rest his eyes directly on her.

“We’re very pleased to welcome our visitors,” he began, his voice grave and serious, as if he were addressing the Supreme Court and not a group of rowdy teenagers. “Tradition is an important part of Waverly’s continued reputation for excellence. Our standing not just in the immediate community but in the community at large is a worthy combination of honor and respect, which are two-way streets, intersected by a wide boulevard known as truth.”

Tinsley pressed her lips together and stared at Marymount, cupping her chin in her palm in what she hoped looked like a gesture of interest. She stared at the last stuffed mushroom on Heath’s plate, her stomach letting out a tiny growl. “Respect for each other and for our community is central to what makes Waverly an honorable institution. Do not forget that Waverly is not just a place. It has a character and a moral fiber of its own, and each and every person who dons a Waverly blazer and takes on the proud title of Waverly Owl becomes part of the fabric of our community. If we want the school to be honorable, we must be honorable individuals. An Owl is, above all, moral, principled, and an upright citizen. These are the qualities every Waverly student should embody, a truth I hope the prospectives—our future Waverly Owls—will intuit from you this weekend as you continue to inspire their quest to join the Waverly community.” Marymount paused dramatically, drawing in his breath and making sure he had everyone’s attention before he delivered his next line: “Of course, it goes without saying that anyone who doesn’t embody the qualities we cherish dearly at Waverly does not belong here, and can only become a blemish on Waverly’s long-standing, hard-earned reputation. Rest assured that Waverly will not suffer any embarrassments on my watch. That much I promise you.”

Marymount looked up from the podium, his cold blue eyes searching the crowd like a hawk. Tinsley glanced around at her classmates. Everyone around her had averted his or her eyes, seemingly afraid to make eye contact with the dean. The only person oblivious to the dean’s ominous message was Sam, who had just discovered that the buttons on his shirt were a pearly pink and not white. He stared down at them in dismay. Tinsley wondered how he’d overlooked the Peter Pan collar and pleated shoulders.

She glanced again in Jenny’s direction. She hung on Mary-mount’s every word, looking worried, her dark curls less perky than usual. Next to her, Chloe turned and caught Tinsley’s eye. The prospective gave her a super-obvious wink, looking like she was trying very hard not to wave and shout, “I’m friends with Tinsley!” She might not have been all that suave, but she was invaluable.

Tinsley smiled. Dean Marymount didn’t realize—at least, not yet—that the person he was describing to a T was, in fact, little Jenny Humphrey. How could anyone with a chest like that have morals?

art

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

Date: Monday, October 14, 10:27 P.M.

Subject: Meow!

Meow Mrowr (Dear Jenny),

Everyone here at West 99th Street and West End Ave misses you, especially me, Marx the Cat. Rotting milk doesn’t taste the same when you’re not around, and I can barely muster the energy to chase mice onto the fire escape. I’ve taken to sleeping in your old bed, but the girl who sleeps there now, the one that doesn’t have any hair—what breed is she, a Sphinx?—doesn’t seem too happy about that. Probably because she only wears black, a color that shows up fur very nicely.

Dearest Jenny, my favorite owner, when will we be seeing you again? Your absence is as tough to swallow as a very large furball.

Sincerely,

Marx the Cat

P.S. Please call your father! He seems lonely without you. He won’t stop brushing me.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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