“She didn’t see anything,” I say.
But then, because apparently luck just isn’t on our side today, there’s a backup of cars leaving at the same time—right as Grayson makes it across the lot.
She has to walk in front of our car.
I hold my breath as she does, hoping she won’t look over and notice us. She keeps her eyes ahead, but then once she’s on the sidewalk on the other side and we start to creep forward, she glances at the car. Grayson sees me and smiles, then raises her hand to wave. But then her forehead creases.
“She’s looking at me,” Bet says through clenched, smiling teeth.
The car ahead of us moves. Ella floors it and almost hits a bicyclist, who swerves and shouts. I see in the side mirror that the commotion pulls Grayson’s attention away from us; she covers her mouth in surprise and pulls out her phone—probably in case she needs to call an ambulance. Thankfully, the guy’s fine. But by the time Grayson looks at us again, all she can see is the backs of our heads.
“Freaking stupid,” Ella says as we pull into traffic.
I turn around and look at Betsey, who seems like she might agree. Probably sensing my worry, she tries to lighten the mood.
“At least we got ice cream.”
On the way home, we decide to wait and see what Grayson does at school. If she asks about it—which I hope she won’t—we’ve got a story ready. If she doesn’t, we’re in the clear.
With Ella’s “freaking stupid” comments all the way home, by the time we arrive, I don’t feel like hanging out anymore. I take two pieces of pizza to my room and call Sean. As it rings, I worry about Mom seeing his number on the bill, but I ignore the thought in favor of Sean’s voice.
“Lizzie B.,” he says, like he’s been waiting for me.
“Hey,” I say, melting onto the bed.
“Hi,” he says, and I can hear his smile through the phone. “I still have sand in my pockets.”
“I still haven’t washed my T-shirt,” I admit, gripping the phone like it’s a fish trying to squirm away from me.
“You look good in it,” he says. “You should wear it every day.”
“I’m not sure the others would go for that,” I say, happy that I can talk about Ella and Betsey. Happy that he knows about them.
Sean and I are quiet for a couple of seconds, listening to each other’s stillness. And then: “So, I have to talk to you about something,” I say, remembering a conversation from earlier.
“Something else?” Sean asks, and even though he’s joking, I can hear his nervousness. “Should I be worried?”
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but you might.”
“Why? What is it?”
“Well, you know that our mom will only let us date Dave,” I say slowly.
“Yeah, but I sort of assumed…” Sean’s words trail off. This is what I was afraid of: that he’d think I could simply start dating him instead. “You’re going to keep seeing him, aren’t you?” he says, voice dipped in jealousy.
“Well, it’s not like I like him,” I say. “But it’s that or nothing. And dating anyone is a step in the right direction.” I sigh. “Besides, it’s not me who’s dating him. I just have to tolerate him at school.”
“You’re not exactly selling me here, Lizzie,” Sean says quietly.
“My… the others and I talked about it, and we think there’s a way for us to date both of you at once.”
“Won’t your mom know?” he asks.
“Not if we’re careful.”
“I don’t like this,” Sean says. “What about at school when you’re with Dave? I’m just supposed to pretend I don’t care when you’re holding his hand in the hallway?”
“I don’t hold his hand in the hallway.”
“Ella probably does,” he says.
I blow my hair out of my eyes, frustrated. Getting to know Sean shouldn’t have to be this complicated. I don’t answer because I don’t know what to say.
“So, what are we doing then, Lizzie?” he asks seriously.
“I…” I begin. “I’m not sure.” When I hear him tsk on the other end of the line, I hastily add, “But I know what I want to be doing.”
“Okay,” he says. “We’ll figure it out.”
“Will we?” I ask, feeling hopeful and defeated at the same time.
“Yeah,” he says, surprising me by sounding sure. “We will.”
Monday at the switch, Betsey follows me outside to meet Ella. Even though it’s lunchtime, she’s still wearing pajamas. I hear her fuzzy slippers shhshhshhshh on the walkway behind me.
“What are you doing?” I ask, looking over my shoulder. She ignores me, so I turn forward again. I pull the bottom of my pink tank top so it’s smooth under the white cardigan. I stop walking and wait for Ella to park, shifting my weight to my left foot. I hate these flats. Ella wears them all the time, but they pinch.
Ella takes her sweet time getting out of the car, but finally she appears. She flips her curly hair over one shoulder and starts toward us, removing the necklace and eyeballing Betsey at the same time.
“How was Grayson?” I ask. They have history together.
Ella shrugs. “Quiz day. She was late and I rushed out at the bell, so she didn’t have the chance to say anything. I’m not sure she was going to, though.”
Ella looks at Betsey. “What’s up?” she asks, manicured eyebrows furrowed. It reminds me that I meant to pluck this morning. I hope no one notices that Elizabeth Best’s eyebrows are less sculpted after lunch.
“Give me the locket,” Bet says, holding out a hand.
“Why?” Ella asks, looking fearful, like she thinks Betsey might smash it or something. I gotta admit: I’m a little afraid myself. Betsey is getting pretty gutsy where Mom’s concerned. She’s seemed genuinely unfazed since Grayson saw us Saturday.
“Just do it,” Betsey says impatiently. Just when I’m wondering whether Ella’s going to refuse, she hands over the necklace, and Betsey quickly clasps it around her neck. Then Betsey looks at me.
“All she needs to hear is a heartbeat,” she explains. “A calm, steady heartbeat. What’s more calm than being at home all the time?” she asks with a smile, waving her right hand toward the house. “I’ll just take it off when you’re in dance, then put it back on for creative writing, and take it off again when you’re at cheer. No problem.”
“Except that if she logs on to the GPS tracking site and finds that the necklace is at home, we’re dead,” Ella says.
Betsey shakes her head. “She won’t. If there are no irregular heartbeats, no unexplained periods of time when the locket is silent, she’ll have no reason to worry. No worry; no problem.”
“What if she sees it on you?” I ask. “You’re with her all afternoon.”
“I’ll hide it under my shirt,” Betsey says. “Or I can pretend I’m cold and wear a scarf. I’ll figure it out; don’t worry about it!”
It makes sense, except Ella doesn’t look convinced. I’m not sure I am, either, but I’m not about to second-guess the chance to spend an entire day without the possibility of being spied on.