Lucky | Chapter 29 of 34

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

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24

A WAVERLY OWL KNOWS THAT WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE.

Motive,” Tinsley interjected, and everyone came to attention again. “That’s what we’re looking for. Motive and opportunity.”

Callie was relieved when Tinsley broke the stunned silence. Brett slumped back into Marymount’s chair, and Callie tried to give her a sympathetic smile, but her gaze was trained on Dean Marymount’s enormous leather-framed desk calendar.

“I think everyone in the room had an opportunity.” Heath laughed, looking relieved that they weren’t talking about him and Kara anymore. “Isn’t that why we’re all here?”

Tinsley shot Heath a look of death, her violet eyes piercing. “Okay, motive, then. We need to concentrate on motive.”

Callie knew where Tinsley was headed. She glanced at Easy, who was doodling on a blank sheet of paper. After hanging out with Tinsley and Chloe for a little while at the party last night, she had found her way to Easy, hoping they’d sneak off to the woods for some alone time. But he’d mumbled some excuse about being tired and then gone home early. He did seem pretty exhausted today, so she hoped he really was just tired. But her stomach tingled nervously at the possibility that he was still suspicious of her. She’d have to be really careful today.

“I don’t fucking get this at all.” Benny crossed her arms in front of her, flattening her already pretty flat chest. “Couldn’t the fire have just been an accident?” People started to nod in agreement.

“Whatever. Marymount wants blood,” Tinsley declared, sweeping a lock of glossy hair off her shoulder. “After all the info he got from his niece”—she nodded her head in the direction of the silver-framed family picture, which was now sitting in the middle of the conference table—“he clearly believes someone started the fire on purpose. He just can’t figure out who had the strongest motive, which is why we’re all locked in here.”

Tinsley’s words drifted around the room, and Callie watched her smug face as she waited for someone to contradict her.

“What kind of motive?” Callie asked tentatively, toying with a strand of wavy blond hair. She glanced up at Easy, who wrinkled his forehead furiously as if to ask, What the hell are you doing?

“Well, let’s see.” Tinsley tilted her head toward the ceiling, pretending to be deep in thought. “What are some good motives? How about jealousy?”

Callie tried not to look at Jenny, who was seated directly across from her and Tinsley. She picked at one of her raggedy cuticles instead. She’d started biting her nails again recently, a bad habit she’d thought she’d given up years ago. Maybe this weekend she’d take the train to Manhattan and get a decent manicure. She could really use a spa day after all this stress.

“Jealous about what?” Brandon asked. He took a delicate swig from his bottle of Evian. Callie stared at the bottle enviously.

“That’s the question,” Tinsley said. Callie stole a glance at Jenny, who shifted in her seat. She was nibbling on the rim of her now-empty paper coffee cup. “Someone was jealous of something.”

“Or someone,” Callie added. She shrugged her shoulders casually, as if the thought had just occurred to her, and pulled her white cardigan tighter across her chest.

“Wait, are we talking about someone trying to murder someone else?” Sage Francis asked, her thin blond eyebrows rising skeptically. Shut up, Sage, Callie wanted to shout. “That’s crazy.”

Tinsley let out a natural-sounding laugh that only Callie recognized as fake. “Not murder.” She shook her head, as if amused by Sage’s outlandishness. “But maybe someone was angry and jealous enough to do something so stupid and thoughtless, it could have killed someone.”

“Like who?” Easy asked defiantly, his blue eyes flashing, as if daring Tinsley to name Jenny.

Callie slunk down in her chair.

“Yeah, like who?” Julian echoed Easy’s question. He’d been so quiet, Callie had almost forgotten he was there.

Callie looked at Tinsley. Her violet-eyed best friend seemed to be feeding off all the doubt in the room, drawing her strength up around her as she prepared to strike. Tinsley stared at Jenny, who at first pretended not to notice but acknowledged her when everyone else at the table stared at her, too.

“What?” Jenny finally asked, her little chin sticking out in defiance. She stared right back at Tinsley, surprising everyone. “If you’re going to say something, just say it.”

Tinsley smirked and Callie knew that it was over—Tinsley, once set on a course of action, was as impossible to stop as a wildfire spreading through dry brush. Ever since she’d arrived back on campus and found Jenny in her old bed, Tinsley had had it in for Jenny. Tinsley was used to being the most-talked-about person at Waverly, but Jenny, with her cute demeanor and gigantic chest, had stolen her thunder. Callie understood why Tinsley resented Jenny, though she still didn’t entirely understand why she hated her. It wasn’t like Jenny had stolen her boyfriend. “Well, Jenny, now that you ask . . .” Tinsley began poisonously.

“What makes you so innocent, Tinsley?” Julian cut her off before she could finish. Callie looked over at him, unable to believe that a freshman, no matter how cute or how tall he was, had the courage to challenge Tinsley Carmichael. The red leaves of the birch trees outside the window whipped angrily in the wind behind him, but he looked perfectly collected, as if he had an ace in his pocket and was waiting for the perfect moment to throw it down on the table. The Usual Suspects looked at Julian and then again at Tinsley, as if watching a tennis match.

Tinsley turned to face Julian. Her stomach turned over as she met his gaze. His normally warm brown eyes were narrowed. She dug her nails into her palms under the table. Did Julian really hate her? True, she hadn’t exactly been sugaring him up recently. But if she had to be honest with herself, she’d sort of hoped that once Jenny was out of the picture, he’d come crawling back for forgiveness. But if Julian was through with her, then he might as well be as miserable as she was.

“Of course, you assume I’m the bad guy here. You’re so quick to defend Jenny’s innocence,” she said evenly. She turned to face Jenny across the table. Jenny stared back rebelliously and refused to avert her eyes. “Jenny, why don’t you tell everyone about the picture you drew in Mrs. Silver’s class on Tuesday?”

Callie bit her lip, holding her breath. She couldn’t look at Easy, whose eyes she felt trained on her. All the color drained from Jenny’s face. Her mouth opened and closed a little, like a dying goldfish’s, as she clearly scrambled to figure out how Tinsley knew about her drawing of the fire. They’d really gotten lucky. Their plan had been for Chloe to convince the dean of Jenny’s guilt. But since Marymount had decided to let the students decide who was guilty, it was a good thing Jenny had been stupid enough to do something so incriminating—and that Chloe had been there to see it. She’d reported back to them about the drawing at the party last night. Even though Callie felt a teensy bit bad for Jenny, why would she draw something like that if she weren’t, like, subconsciously trying to admit to starting the fire?

Jenny’s face had turned a sickly gray, reminding Callie of the time they’d had to dissect a frog in biology class sophomore year. Brett’s face had turned exactly that color before she booted all over the lab table.

“Jeez, it was just a drawing,” Alison spoke up suddenly, sitting forward in her chair. She looked a little nervous about challenging Tinsley, but she glanced back at Jenny, whose color had returned to a more normal-looking pink.

“What . . . uh . . . was it a drawing of?” Benny Cunningham glanced from Tinsley to Jenny, as if uncertain with whom she should ally herself, before setting her brown-eyed gaze on Tinsley.

Tinsley crossed her arms, looking as though she’d been waiting for someone to ask her that very question. “Oh, just a detailed sketch of the barn burning down. With two people in it kissing,” she said casually, letting the words hang in the air.

Callie gasped. She hoped that she looked and sounded appropriately shocked. She’d never been much of an actress, but this was quite possibly the most important performance of her life.

“Who were the two people?” Easy asked, clearly annoyed. Callie stared mutely at a long scratch in the conference table. It looked as if someone had been so desperate to get out of the room that they’d tried to claw their way out.

“You asked the question,” Tinsley drawled, putting her palms on the table and rising to her feet, her emerald green dress draping regally around her slim, perfect figure. She leaned forward intimidatingly, looking so much like a little lawyer that even Easy’s father would have been impressed. “And now Jenny’s going to tell you the answer.”

Callie felt Easy’s smoldering anger burn through her clothes. Her tongue felt heavy, as if it were a cold, wet sponge stuck in her mouth, and she suddenly felt like she might be the one to vomit all over the table. Just knowing that Easy was angry made her wonder if the whole thing was worth it, but she’d gone too far to back out now.

“How do you even know about the drawing?” Jenny demanded, finally finding her voice. “Have you been spying on me?” She sharpened her tongue with as much anger as she could muster, but she was still a little bit afraid of Tinsley. Did everyone think that just because she’d drawn a picture of the burning barn, she’d actually burned it down? That was totally crazy. But then, so was this whole situation.

“Are you denying it?” Tinsley paced by the window like a prosecutor on TV. Jenny had the sense that she’d been waiting for this moment—maybe since the second her vintage Fendi boots had set foot back on campus and she’d found Jenny in her room. Tinsley had hated Jenny long before anything had even happened between her and Julian, although that must have been the final straw.

“But how—” Jenny cut herself off rather than repeat her question. She felt the room starting to spin, like something in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Except instead of Johnny Depp, it was Tinsley Carmichael pulling the strings. She couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t make her sound guilty, and even Alison and Brett and Brandon and Julian, people she’d thought would be on her side, were waiting expectantly for her to say something in her own defense.

“It doesn’t matter how I know,” Tinsley snapped. “Just answer the question.”

Jenny could sense the restlessness in the room. Even Julian was looking at her with a curious expression in his big brown eyes. “It’s not a big deal,” she tried to explain, focusing on Brett, who had to know she was innocent. “Mrs. Silver, you know how she is.” Jenny brushed her curly hair away from her face, feeling the heat in the room and wishing she had a glass of water. She stared at Brandon’s bottle of Evian longingly, already feeling herself losing her train of thought. “She had us do this drawing, you know, with our eyes closed,” Jenny explained, her breathing becoming labored as she fumbled through the words. “And I was having a hard time with it. I guess I was stressed out by . . . well, we’re all stressed out, right? This whole thing has us stressed out, right?”

Jenny looked around the room for affirmation, but the Usual Suspects—her supposed friends—averted their eyes.

“So . . .” Tinsley prompted, resting against the window ledge, her arms still crossed over her chest. “Your drawing?” she asked coldly.

“It was a picture of the fire,” Jenny answered, feeling miserable, cursing Mrs. Silver for pushing her so hard to get into her subconscious. Why couldn’t she have just drawn some stupid random rectangles, like Alison?

“Big deal.” Heath spoke up. He glanced at Jenny, and she thought of her first night at Waverly, when she’d made out with him. “No offense. I’m sure it’s a Picasso or a Rembrandt or whatever.” She’d been so eager to fit in then, so excited about her brand-new life at boarding school. Now two boys had lied to her and broken her heart, and the popular girls clearly wanted her dead. Was her life any better than it had been before? No, it was a thousand times worse.

Tinsley shot Heath a glare that silenced him. Of course he was in her power, too. “What else was in the picture?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” Jenny asked innocently. She was hoping Julian or Heath would jump in again, or Brett, and derail Tinsley’s cross-examination. But no one said anything, and she stared at the silly red watch on her wrist. She wished she were anywhere but here—on the sweaty, crowded 2 train in the Bronx after a Yankees loss, even. Anywhere.

“Did you draw two people in the fire?” Tinsley asked point-blank. Before Jenny could open her mouth—she wasn’t sure what she was going to say; if only she were capable of the kind of first-class lying she’d witnessed in her short time at Waverly—Tinsley added, “And wasn’t it Callie and Easy you drew in the burning barn?”

Someone in the corner gasped. Jenny hoped it wasn’t Julian.

“Is that true?” Benny clapped a delicate hand to her mouth. “That’s so . . .” Her words trailed off.

“Weren’t you so jealous of Callie and Easy that you decided to burn the barn down when you saw them go inside?” Tinsley put her hands on her hips, drumming her fingers on her slim waistline.

“That’s enough. Knock it off.” Easy sat up in his chair, a chagrined look on his face. “It was just a drawing. Stop being such a pushy bitch.”

Jenny felt a surge of gratitude, but before she could say anything else, the door flew open, and in one smooth motion, Dean Marymount breezed in and stood in the center of the room.

“So,” he said, hands in the pockets of his blazer. Jenny felt like she was about to pass out. What kind of lazy dean was he? Instead of interviewing students, gathering evidence, and talking to the police like he should have, he’d let the bullies have their way. “Have you come to a decision?”

Jenny glanced around. Everyone was staring back at her. Even Julian was looking at her like he didn’t recognize her. She gripped the table, conscious only of one thing: She’d never really belonged at Waverly to begin with. It was obvious that if everyone was so quick to turn on her, none of them really cared about her. At the start of the semester, all she’d wanted was to make friends and feel like she belonged. But was anyone present ever really her friend? She’d thought Callie was briefly, but she’d been so very wrong about that. Brett certainly cared about her, but she’d been too caught up recently with whatever was happening with Kara to even ask how Jenny was doing. Her entire relationship with Easy now felt like a mirage. And Julian’s kisses were completely tainted by the fact that he’d lied to her, too.

“Well?” Marymount demanded, a note of impatience in his voice. No one spoke.

Jenny looked around. One of them was guilty, but suddenly, it didn’t really matter who. She just knew she had to get out of that suffocating room.

I did it, all right?” She pushed her heavy chair back from the table with a screech, her fingertips burning against the wood. She could feel her cheeks flush, and before anyone could stop her, she marched straight out of the room.

Hot tears blinded Jenny as she tore down the steps and sprinted across the quad to Dumbarton. It was over—boarding school, boys, hanging out with the in crowd. She was going to her room to pack her bags and leave, forever.

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From: [email protected]

To: Waverly Student Body

Date: Wednesday, October 16, 12:34 P.M.

Subject: Justice

My fellow Owls,

The matter of the fire at the Miller farm has been resolved. A student has come forward and confessed to the crime. She will be removed from campus immediately.

I am counting on you to take this as a serious warning. In the future, you will behave like proper Waverly Owls.

Gratefully,

Dean Marymount

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KaraWhalen: I just woke up. WTF happened?

HeathFerro: Some shit went down. Short answer: Jenny confessed.

KaraWhalen: What??? No way!

HeathFerro: Sux, I kno. But maybe U should talk to Brett.

KaraWhalen: Y?

HeathFerro: Just talk to her.

KaraWhalen: OK . . .

HeathFerro: Actually, if you come over I’ll tell you everything. ;)

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

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