Read an Excerpt
I shoved open the door to the boys' locker room on Wednesday afternoon, feeling my usual lack of eagerness. Somehow I never got the my-life-isn't-complete-without-sports gene that most guys are born with. Gym isn't exactly my favorite class of the day. That'd be lunch.
I saw Damon Ross by his locker. "Hey," I said. He lifted his hand in a wave and flashed a brief smile.
Even though Damon hangs around with a lot of people in my grade, he's actually a ninth-grader. He's been going out with Elizabeth's twin, Jessica, for a while, but I still don't know him all that well.
I continued walking toward my locker in the back, passing a bunch of guys grouped around a locker in the center of the room.
"Isn't she one of those cute blond twins?" I heard one of the guys say. I stopped, dropping down onto a bench between the guys and my locker as I waited to hear the response.
"Yeah, and she's even cuter up close," a familiar voice replied.
I bent over and pretended to inspect something on my shoe.
"We went to Vito's yesterday," Richard said. "And we're catching a movie today. She is definitely into me."
I felt my teeth clench. Stay calm, I told myself. So he was bragging to his friends about Elizabeth. It's not like he was saying anything bad.
"So how long do you think this one will last?" someone asked him. "A week? Two weeks?"
"Yeah, how many girls have you gone through so far this year, Griggs?" another guy put in. "Like, twenty?"
My hands tightened into fists. Richard was a player? He was using Elizabeth? I wondered if Elizabeth would visit me inprison after I killed him for her.
"No, guys, this one's different," Richard insisted. "Elizabeth's awesome. She's really sweet and smart too."
I let out a slow, deep breath. Elizabeth was awesome. More than that. So maybe Richard used to be a jerk, but he was trying to reform for Elizabeth.
"This one's different," one of the other guys mimicked. They all started to laugh, and my body stiffened again. "Griggs, you say that every time, man."
"Not every time," Richard protested. "Remember Shari?" He shook his head, and his friends just laughed harder.
My head was spinning. I glanced up to see if Damon was listening, but I couldn't catch his eye--he was staring down at the floor.
I winced as I pictured the way Elizabeth's face had glowed when she talked about Richard yesterday. He was right--she was really into him. But unfortunately, it looked like I'd been right too--he wasn't good enough for her.
Still, if I tried to warn her, she'd think I was just a jealous jerk. I could already imagine the lecture I'd get from Anna. Let Elizabeth be happy and give it up already, she'd say.
Still, I have to do something, I thought. But what?
"...then he leaned over," Elizabeth said, her eyes filled with this lost, dreamy expression. "And he kissed me, right in front of everyone at I Scream. I mean, don't worry, it was really fast, and I don't think anyone saw. But isn't that so sweet?"
I cringed. Every time I thought about the way that jerk was playing Elizabeth, I got so furious. The whole time I'd been waiting for her to come home, I'd been dreaming up revenge schemes. I'd even thought about asking Bethel to burn all of Richard's stuff from their locker or something. But now Elizabeth was pouring out the whole story of how he'd asked her to be his girlfriend, and I realized what I really needed was to help my sister get over the guy somehow. She'd really fallen for him. Hard.
"It's almost like he put a spell on me," Elizabeth continued.
I sighed. "Actually, that's what I'm worried about," I said, perching on the edge of the bed next to her.
"What do you mean?" she asked, frowning.
"Look, Liz, there's something I have to tell you," I said. She stared at me, her brow furrowed. I hated having to break my sister's heart--but I'd rather do it myself than leave the job to Richard Griggs.
"Richard is a big-time player," I blurted out. "He goes through girls like dirty laundry--and his friends are even teasing him about how long you're going to last."
Elizabeth scrunched up her face in disbelief. "Where did you hear that?" she asked.
I jumped up and started pacing around the room. "Richard was bragging in the boys' locker room about how he scored one of the Wakefield twins, and his friends all started picking on him about how you wouldn't last any longer than all the other girls he's gone out with."
Elizabeth took a deep breath. "Jessica," she said in this weird, supercalm voice. "Since when do you hang out in the boys' locker room?"
"Well," I admitted. "I wasn't exactly there, but Salvador and-"
"Salvador told you this?" Elizabeth burst out. Slowly her face transformed into an expression of total rage. "I knew he was acting a little weird about the whole thing," she said. "But I never thought he'd..." She trailed off, then narrowed her eyes at me. "And you actually listened to him? It didn't occur to you that he was making it all up because he's jealous? Jess, how could you?"
I sank down next to her on the bed again. "Liz, I know Salvador's jealous, but that's not the point. Damon was there too, and he said it was all true. I asked him because I didn't believe Salvador either."
"Just stop, okay?" Elizabeth interrupted. "I know Richard, and he's not like that at all. I don't know why my own sister can't just be happy for me that I have this amazing, wonderful boyfriend."
I stared at her helplessly, noticing the glint of tears gathering in her eyes. Obviously the direct approach wasn't going anywhere. Richard really had put a spell on her. I'd have to think of something more creative.
And as much as I hated to admit it--I was going to need help.