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My calves burn as I try to make myself comfortable on a stone bench outside after dinner. Natalie sits to my left, while Adriana's twin, Martina, scrolls through her phone on the bench across from us, looking up every few moments.

"Okay guys," Natalie chirps, forever trying to initiate conversation, "what are your trainers like? I'm stuck with this cynical blue-haired hippie who already told me not to expect to have any fun here."

Martina snorts, brushing back her long black hair. "Can't relate. My guy's Austin, and he's beyond chill. He spent half the session trying to get to know me or cracking stupid jokes. I gave him a pass on the humor because he's nice to look at." She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively.

"What about you, Whitney?" Natalie asks, noticing my wide eyes and pursed lips.

Well shiver me timbers, can Martina and I please trade?

"Let me put this out there," I begin, rubbing my calf. "Is he hot? Hell yeah. Are we going to get through these next five weeks without wanting to kill each other? Hell no. I'm not sure what level of athleticism he was expecting, but this"—I gesture from my head to my toes—"was not it."

Martina shoots me a sympathetic smile. "Oh, come on, Whitney, you don't seem that bad at exercise. It's not like you finished last place in our run today."

"Yeah, because I thought that was all the running we were going to be doing today. Are there actually people who enjoy that sport, or have I been living a lie all these years?"

She snorts. "No, they exist. They're those weird cross-country kids from high school who never aged past fifth grade."

We all break out into laughter, as those people were arguably lower on the social hierarchy than I was.

But at least they could run.

Before anyone can add something else to the conversation, I leap to my feet and let out a shrill scream, swatting my hands around of my face like a ceiling fan.

"Whoa, whoa, are you okay?" Natalie exclaims, dashing towards me. "It's just a mosquito, Whitney. You'll be fine."

"What if she's allergic?" Martina suggests. "My cousin breaks out into crazy hives after a bite."

I shake my head and lower myself back to my seat, spitting out the strands of hair stuck to my mouth. "Not allergic. Just terrified."

A bout of awkward silence floats between us, and all we hear is the slight breeze and the faint chatter of other girls around us. In the left corner are three girls sitting under a large oak tree with a shared iPad, one of which is the tiny girl I finished ahead of in the race. Diagonal from us, but still a fair distance away are Willow, Adriana, and a model-like brunette, daintily sitting on another bench.

They all fit on the narrow seat, with room to spare.


"Wait a minute," I say, breaking the silence as I notice Martina stares in the same direction. "Do you happen to know that tall, skinny blonde over there?"

"Who?" she asks, but the face becomes clearer to her with a blink. "Wait, do you mean Willow?"

She knows her name? "Yeah."

"I do," she says. "She and Adriana have been friends since childhood. They danced together for years—ballet and modern and all that fairy shit—until Willow quit two years ago."

Willow didn't seem like the type to quit anything, having made it her steadfast mission to torment me for all four years of high school. Rumors, pranks in the locker-room, endless comments about my appearance; it was all a part-time job to her.

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