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"Lauren is definitely hiding something," I told my sister, Ashley, as we dropped our trays on our regular table in the cafeteria. It was a rainy Monday afternoon, and the room was crowded and noisy.
Ashley shook her head. "I don't get it," she said. "How can you be so sure?" She opened up her bottle of water and took a sip.
Our friend, Brittany Bowen, sat down across from us and shrugged off her red cardigan. "Mary-Kate is right," she said. "Hold on to your headbands, girls, and listen to this." Her chunky earrings swung wildly as she looked around for any sign of Lauren. Then she leaned forward and said in a low voice, "Yesterday, I caught Lauren in a lie!"
"No way!" I said. I took a bite of my mac and cheese. "What about?"
"Are you sure, Britt?" Ashley looked doubtful. "You know Lauren doesn't like to lie."
"That's true," I said. Lauren is one of the sweetest girls we know, with an always positive outlook. Besides, her pale, freckled skin turned fire-engine red whenever she tried to tell even the tiniest of white lies.
Brittany nodded. "Yeah, I know. She's really bad at it. But I called Lauren's house yesterday afternoon, and her mom said she was at the mall -- with Tashema!" She widened her big brown eyes, and looked from Ashley to me expectantly.
I scrunched up my face. "And that would be a problem because ... ?"
"Because Tashema has piano lessons on Sunday afternoons," Brittany explained. "There was no way she could be at the mall with Lauren."
Ashley took a bite of her salad and chewed thoughtfully. "So let's say Lauren is hiding something from us. What do you think it is?"
"Asecret life?" I joked. "Maybe she just found out she's a princess, like in that book."
Brittany laughed. "Yeah, and she's the new heir to the throne of Genovia. That would explain her new haircut -- it's part of her royal makeover!"
"Hmmm ... "
I looked up. Ashley had that faraway look in her eyes that meant she was trying to figure something out. Her face lit up. "Oh, my gosh! Maybe it's a boy."
"No way," I said. "Why would she keep that a secret from us?"
"Yeah," Brittany said. "We're her best friends. Whenever Lauren likes a guy, I'm the first to know about it."
"But she's never had a serious boyfriend," Ashley said. "You know how shy she is with guys. Maybe she met someone she really likes. And she wants to keep it to herself for a while."
"Well, I don't know about you, but the suspense is killing me," Brittany said. "We have to find out what's going on before I explode!"
A sneaky thought crept into my head. "Hey! Why don't we follow her after school today?"
Brittany put down her fork and stared at me. "That's a great idea -- we'll be spy girls!"
"Cool!" I gave her a high five.
Ashley shook her head. "I hate to bring this up, but don't you two have rehearsal today?"
I sighed. "Don't remind me. We have less than two weeks left until opening night!"
We were putting on a production of Grease and I was playing the part of Sandy, the female lead. As vice president of the drama club, I wanted it to be the best show Bayside High School has ever seen.
Brittany glanced over my shoulder. "Here comes Lauren."
A few seconds later, Lauren rushed up to our table. "Hey, guys! Sorry I'm late," she said. "Mr. Skidmore asked me to drop off some things at the office for him." She slid into the seat next to Brittany and pulled a tuna sandwich and some carrot sticks from her lunch bag.
"Hi, Lauren!" we all chimed.
"So, what were you guys talking about?" Lauren asked.
"The play," I answered. "I'm getting a little nervous about opening night."
"What could you possibly have to be nervous about?" Lauren asked. "You're going to be a great Sandy. Nathan is the perfect Danny. And you even managed to get Danielle Bloom to play Rizzo! She's so talented."
"And the fact that her mother is Diana Donovan doesn't hurt, either," Brittany said. "The daughter of an Oscar-winning actress is going to be in our play? Who can beat that?"
I nodded. "I know, I know!" I said. "And even though she's still got an attitude -- always going around saying that she studied acting with 'very famous coaches' -- she's been terrific in rehearsals."
"How's Jake doing with his part?" Ashley asked.
"Great!" I smiled as I thought about my boyfriend, Jake Impenna, a senior here at Bayside. He was gorgeous, athletic, and totally sweet. Even though he wasn't into acting, he was playing a small part in the show -- just so we could spend time together.
"Oh, Mary-Kate, I might not be able to make it to the stage crew meeting after school today," Lauren said. "Could you tell Damon when you see him?"
Ah-ha! Here was Lauren mysteriously backing out of yet another activity. Brittany raised one of her perfectly shaped eyebrows and gave me a meaningful look.
"Sure, Lauren," I said. I don't think Damon's ordered the supplies for the sets yet, so it should be okay." Damon Williams was in charge of the stage crew.
Brittany snatched one of Lauren's carrot sticks. "So, Lauren," she said casually, "if you're not going to the meeting, what are you going to be doing after school today?"
Lauren stared down at her sandwich. "Ummm ... nothing much," she said. I have to get home."
"Really?" I leaned forward. "Why?"Mary-Kate & Ashley Sweet 16 #6: My Best Friend's Boyfriend. Copyright © by Mary-Kate & Ash Olsen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.