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Evan leaned back in his chair. “Excuse me. I’ve been to Manila, Bombay, and Haiti on missions. And here’s my proof: As soon as you hit the airport, you can smell the third world countries. That’s something they don’t tell you in travel books. Ask anyone. Ask Dimple here. Isn’t it true?” he asked, his green eyes wide. “Can’t you just smell them as soon as you land?”

Dimple tried not to let her anger show. “Um, I haven’t been to India since I was a little kid, so I don’t remember.” They were just dumb rich kids who knew nothing about anything. She knew that. And yet, somehow, it was amazing how conversations like these made her feel so other . Hands shaking a bit, she picked up her glass and took a sip of chilled water.

Dimple began to wish she hadn’t accepted this dinner invitation.


As soon as he rounded the corner back to the table, Rishi saw the Aberzombies had arrived. He picked up his pace, wanting to get back to Dimple. And when he saw her, cheeks red, teeth nibbling on her bottom lip, he knew they’d already said something. And he’d missed it. Crap.

He sat down and smiled at Dimple. “Sorry I took so long. There was a line.”

“No problem,” she muttered, her eyes on her menu.

Rishi began to study his. “What looks good to you?”

“Um, hi?” a female voice said. “I’m Isabelle?”

Rishi raised his eyes, making sure to wear the “bored mask” he’d perfected at private school. “Rishi.” He didn’t acknowledge the guys before he began to study the menu again.

“Rishi,” Isabelle said, pronouncing it Ree-shee , even though he’d just told her how to say it. “You guys have such interesting names.” The way she said “interesting” made it clear she meant “weird.”

Rishi looked up, feigning confusion. “‘You guys’? You mean people at Insomnia Con? Because I haven’t noticed that.”

He heard Dimple’s sharp intake of breath and looked to see her bite the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. His heart sang.

“No, not . . . I meant, well, Hari ’s name is . . . but you . . . ,” Isabelle began, but clearly her upper-class manners made it hard for her to explain what she had meant.

• • •

They talked about inconsequential, safe things for about fifteen minutes. The guys were pretty silent except for perfunctory replies to Isabelle’s string of inane chatter about which sorority she wanted to join. She wanted everyone to know how her mom would just die if Isabelle wasn’t also a part of the Alpha Omega Toe Jam legacy like her grandmas on both sides.

Eventually, thankfully, conversation looped to Insomnia Con.

“Hari and I think we’re going to win it, don’t we?” Isabelle smiled and leaned toward him, and he rubbed her shoulder, his face slack as he stared down the front of her dress.

Rishi raised his brows and turned to Dimple. “I don’t know; I think we have a good shot. Your idea is really good. Innovative, just ambitious enough . . . I think we’re going to kill it.”

Evan looked up, his eyes showing the merest interest. “And what’s your idea?”

Rishi looked at him, forcing himself to feign a bit of surprise, as if he hadn’t noticed Evan perched on his chair like he was king of the table, the restaurant, and the world. “Oh. Well, I don’t want to give it away. You know, ‘inspire’ you guys inadvertently.” He laughed uproariously and watched in glee as Evan and Hari turned red. “It’s just that good.”

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