Song 14 ♪ This Is Gonna Suck

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We made it back to school from Sarasota with enough time to beat the curfew, to find that the orchestra was already practicing. The plot twist here was that as soon as Ash and I ran into the music room I found that it was Sister Louisa who directed the orchestra. Saturday night and all Sunday was spent practicing a few religious songs for the recital. Those were fairly easy for me to sing because they didn't require great skill. In fact, I added a few touches here and there that I could tell made the Sister very happy.

Monday morning I woke up extra early so that I could catch up on all the homework I had neglected because of the crazy weekend. I was in the middle of it when the scrape of a chair being pushed back made me look up.

Madison Whatsherface sat in front of me, sweeping back her long blonde hair over a shoulder. Unexpected was to put this mildly. I couldn't shake off the impression anytime I was around that she was not pleased by my presence. I looked around. There was nobody else in the cafeteria. I didn't know if that was a good thing.

"Um, good morning," I said.

She rested her chin on a hand delicately. Her eyelashes were so long that they couldn't possibly be natural. "Everybody seems to be in love with you, the teachers, the nuns, Ashton."

Her expression was neutral as she said this, but a shiver racked my spine. As if my instincts were warning me that I was treading dangerous territory. I picked my cellphone up and looked at the time. I had a solid hour before the breakfast rush started. I couldn't waste it hearing someone talk crazy.

"Not to be rude but I really need to work on my homework."

"Oh, great. I should catch up with mine too." She pulled out a binder and a couple of notebooks and set them on my and Addy's table. As if this were totally normal. "My weekend was just so busy. I had to rush back to school for practice from Fisher Island, and I'd been intending on doing all of this on a yacht." She smiled at what was undoubtedly a stunned expression on my face. "Of course, that's nothing compared to your entire adventure with Ashton."

I hoped that by sustaining my silence she'd just drop it, but she leaned closer with a certain glint on her eye that made me feel trapped.

"How'd you know?" I asked.

"Oh, so there was an adventure? Are you guys dating now?"

"What? No." I lifted my palms up to form a defensive barrier. "How did you even-"

Madison ran her fingers through her hair, combing it to the side. It fell in perfect waves of spun gold and yep, that was me feeling jealous.

"Someone saw you come in with him. One thing you'll learn here is that there's no such a thing as a secret." Her glossy lips curled into an evil smile. "And gossip about the people at the top of the food chain spreads like wildfire."

I looked down at my notes and scratched my left elbow. Worrying my lip, I hoped no one had found out that my ma cleaned houses for a living. It was quite nice of her to give me this warning to cover my own tracks, really.

Her soft laughter twinkled. "You don't need to look so worried. That's why I'm talking with you now, when no one can see that I'm with you."

The way she said it made it sound like that kind of gossip would be bad for her image. I shot her a resting bitch face. "Are you done here?"

Madison started picking up her stuff, like she hadn't had any intention of studying in the first place. "I just thought I'd warn you to stay away from Ashton Winters. Hanging out with him is not what it's cracked up to be."

I batted my eyelashes as she stood up. "It can't be any worse than hanging out with cheaters, I suppose."

She froze. Her perfectly made up eyes looked murderous. "Careful. You don't want to alienate me, especially as I was trying to give you advice."

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