The Unexpected Everything(7)

By: Morgan Matson




BRI

Don’t worry


PALMER

We figured it out.

ME

But the press are still all over this place.

We’d need a way to get me out of here unseen. . . .

Don’t know how that’s possible.


TOBY

Andie, RELAX. We have a plan.

I looked down at that sentence, feeling a tiny stab of nervousness. The fact that nobody would tell me what exactly this plan was had me concerned. Especially if Toby was the brains behind it. I moved a little closer to my window, still trying to keep myself out of sight, and pushed it open more. There must have been a reporter doing her recap practically right beneath me, because suddenly I could hear it crystal clear, her miked voice traveling straight up to me.

“The last time the congressman was the focus of this much attention was five years ago, when, due to his wife’s failing health, he withdrew his name abruptly from Governor Matthew Laughlin’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, despite the fact he was seen as the front-runner for the VP slot. His wife, Molly Walker, died from ovarian cancer six weeks later. It’s unclear what this latest upset means for the congressman’s future—”

I slammed the window, shutting out the reporter on the lawn, and picked up my phone again.


ME

A party actually sounds great.

Let’s do it.





Chapter TWO


“Okay,” I heard Palmer say as the car slowed down and then turned left. “We’re almost there. Andie, how you doing?”

“Um,” I said from where I was lying between the seats on Palmer’s minivan’s floor, under a blanket that seemed to be covered in equal parts dust and cat hair, “I’ve been better.”

“Just a little bit longer,” Bri said from above me as what felt suspiciously like a foot patted my shoulder.

“Better safe than sorry,” I heard Toby say, with the blithe assurance of someone who wasn’t currently trying not to breathe through her nose.

“Toby, do I make a right?” I heard Palmer ask, as the car slowed and then stopped.

“To get to Ardmore?” I piped up from beneath the blanket, then sneezed twice. “It’s a left, then another right.”

“How can you know that?” A corner of my blanket lifted up, and there was Bri—a piece of her, at least, just wide brown eyes and side-swept bangs. “You can’t see anything.”

“She’s making it up,” Toby said confidently as the blanket dropped again.

“Check your map,” I yelled up through the blanket, then started to cough on the dust I’d inhaled.

“It’s . . . ,” Toby said, and there was a long pause in which she must have checked the directions on her phone. “Seriously?” she asked, not sounding impressed, but annoyed.

“Told you,” I said. I hadn’t been trying to track where we were going ever since we’d left my house, but there were some things you couldn’t turn off, and I liked always knowing where I was and how to get where I was going. It was the reason, whenever we needed to go somewhere in separate cars, everyone always followed me.

“Quick, drive around in circles to confuse her,” Toby said, and I heard Bri laugh.

“I don’t think the party’s going to be worth all this,” I said, as the car made, sure enough, a left and then another right. It slowed even more and started to feel like it had pulled off the pavement and onto the side of the road. It was amazing how much more you could tell about these things when you were lying on the floor.

It turned out that the plan to get me to this party had been Palmer’s, and I had to admire her thoroughness. Palmer lived three houses down from me in Stanwich Woods. She’d taken a walk after the press conference to scout things out and had seen—even though the media was supposed to have cleared out—that there were several news vans parked in front of the Stanwich Woods gate, no doubt hoping for another scoop.

So she’d picked me up at my house, and then she’d smuggled me—hiding under the blanket—past the vans. Even though I was pretty sure we were in the clear and that nobody was tailing us, I stayed hidden as we drove to pick up Toby and Bri. Luckily, it was only one stop—it almost always was. All four of us were best friends, but Toby and Bri were best best friends and basically inseparable.

We headed to the party right after picking them up, which was good, since I was nearing the limit of my endurance for being stuck under a blanket. But even though I couldn’t breathe very easily, I was glad we were taking these precautions. I knew that if I were caught going to a party hours after I’d stood next to my dad, the responsible daughter in pearls, it wouldn’t be good for anyone.

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