SAMPLE CHAPTER 7 of 7
It had all started with the bracelet.
The shiny, silver, one-of-a-kind bracelet that I idiotically never realized I needed to take off. I honestly didn’t expect it to be the key to my getting accepted by Grace Hawthorne, leaving me stuck and basically betraying my principles. I was so out of place, but at the same time, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be to survive. . . and I hated every minute of it.
Currently, I, Evelyn Chase, was actually at the table where my name had been number one on the “Do Not Let Sit Under Any Circumstances” list, followed closely by, at the time, Valerie Taylor, and smelly Frankie Turner. I couldn’t have even planned for things to go this way. This wasn’t some genius, thought-through plan to put Aunt Mil’s words into action. No, this was some sort of messed-up fate.
In History, I got put next to Hollie, which was better than Grace, but—I thought—worse than Valerie. Turns out, Hollie actually wasn’t that bad. For someone who was friends with Grace Hawthorne, she seemed genuinely nice.
During our time for partner work, she had asked me all about what life was like in Boston. What things I liked to do, what things I hated. She told me the best places to shop and hang out with friends around here.
She kept the bracelet talk to a minimum, not wanting to pry much. On the other hand, when class ended and we were reunited with Grace and Valerie, my bracelet was all Grace could ask about as we walked to our next classes. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stick around them for long.
I looked up from playing with the material of my sweater at Hollie across the table. Since that fiasco this morning, I’d made sure to keep my bracelet hidden to prevent it from becoming the topic of conversation again. With it currently being “Senior Break”, when every senior got to hang out in the cafeteria, grab a quick snack, and talk for ten minutes, I couldn’t really avoid Grace.
I trailed my gaze around the cafe. It was odd to think about how almost everyone in this room must have been there when she’d humiliated me. I couldn’t help but wonder if they remembered it, and if they did, what they remembered about it.
“So how’s Operation ‘Grace and Adam, Redux’ going?”
The sound of Adam’s name snapped my attention to Grace and Hollie. Amazingly, I hadn’t seen him at all yet, though I could’ve sworn I heard his name brought up by people in some of my classes. I knew I was going to have to face him at some point, so I spent as much time as I could mentally preparing myself.
“I don’t know.” Grace let out an exasperated sigh. “I mean, I don’t know if I literally just have to go in front of him and take my shirt off and be like, ‘hey, idiot, let’s get this going’. He’s just really freaking oblivious sometimes.”
I could feel my features curl in distaste.
Hollie giggled and bit into one of the crackers that she said her mom had to drive forty-five minutes away to get at the Asian Supermarket. “Well, he’s pretty hard to pin down.”
“He shouldn’t be for me.”
“He really hasn’t picked up on any of your signals yet?”
I must’ve still been doing something weird with my face, because Hollie began to explain, “Adam is Grace’s ex-boyfriend. I don’t think you’ve met him yet. Really cute, captain of the baseball team. He broke, like, three school records last year, and a state one too, I think. He was the state Player of the Year, basically guaranteed to go to a D1 college for baseball. Everyone’s almost certain he’s going to the majors within the next four years. Basically a local celebrity around here.”
Now I knew what Will meant about hype surrounding Adam.
As much as I tried to push it away, I could feel my heart start to swell with pride. My mom had relayed to me on a few occasions that Adam was doing really well in baseball—earning different accolades and frequenting the newspaper headlines nearly every day during the spring—but I tried to never “pay attention” to what was actually going on. I didn’t want to slip into thinking about him, wondering how he was.
Hollie continued, “As you can imagine, he’s a hot commodity—I’m pretty sure every girl in this region of Connecticut has had a thing for him and tried to hook up with him at least once. He doesn’t really do girlfriends, but Gracie here is trying to lock him down. And since she and him broke up freshman year, she’s been trying to use any past feelings to her advantage.”
“Wait, freshman year?” Of all the information Hollie had just thrown at me, that was the biggest thing that stuck out. They broke up freshman year?
I’d never known if Grace and Adam had broken up. Valerie and I never talked about it during our conversations way back when. I didn’t want to have to think about it for the same reason I didn’t want to hear about how he was doing in baseball, but I always assumed they were still together.
Grace rolled her eyes. “It was for a dumb reason. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Why would things end so abruptly?
“Oh, look! Speak of the devil. He just came in with Paul,” Hollie said.
Grace let out a low grunt. “Great.”
“Paul Shepard?” I was talking to myself, but Hollie heard.
She nodded and pointed at me. “Yeah, Paul Shepard. Did Val tell you about him? If she did, I hope she emphasized the kind of person he is. It’s a lot to deal with.”
“I hate him,” Grace said.
“He’s not that bad. He’s an ass, but he’s a funny ass. So it’s okay.”
“You only think he’s funny because you think he’s hot, and because he had that big thing for you during sophomore year.”
"So I may be biased, but you are too. You just don’t like him because you say he doesn’t like you.”
“And because he’s an ass.”
Hollie and Grace stop talking, and the three of us glanced towards the end of the table. I had to say, I was impressed.
Paul Shepard had been Adam’s friend since we were in sixth grade. He was annoying and a complete jerk. He and I had a ‘miniscule love/mostly hate’ relationship growing up, especially when we both ended up at Adam’s house at the same time.
From what Grace and Hollie were saying, he hadn’t changed at all personality-wise, but looks-wise.. . I would say that Paul was just behind Valerie for the biggest change in appearance. He’d grown almost a foot, bulked up, traded in his cornrows for a buzz-cut, grown facial hair, and lost his braces. He looked way older than any of us did, but if I remembered correctly, he was on the young side in our grade.
I hated to admit it, but Hollie was right. He was definitely attractive—I’d be dammed if I ever let him know that—yet he still didn’t elicit the same involuntary, heart hammering reaction out of me that Adam did. Just because I thought he was awful, didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate that he was nice to look at.
He and Paul picked parts of the circular table to sit down.
As Adam took a seat beside Grace, who was next to me, he tapped my shoulder lightly. “Nice seeing you again.”
“Wait, you know her?” Grace turned to me. “I thought you didn’t know who Adam was.” Her tone was accusatory.
Finding myself on Grace’s bad side was not something I really wanted to deal with right now.
“I—I don’t. We just met, like, a few days ago. I’d totally forgotten. Didn’t realize that’s who you were talking about,” I said.
“Yeah, so chill out, Hawthorne.” Paul sat down in his seat, signaling Grace to relax with a motion of his hand.
“Screw off, Shepard,” she bit in response.
I couldn’t keep my eyebrows from shooting up in surprise at the exchange. Grace really did hate Paul. Adam coughed, and I glanced over and found him looking at me while laughing at my shock at Grace and Paul’s hostility.
I turned away and shifted uncomfortably in my seat. There really was no avoiding him anymore. The two of us belonged to the same group of friends, if I could even call them that. Ending up in the same place most of the time was pretty much inevitable.
Paul slapped his hands down on the table in front of me, and I jumped. “So, who are you, mystery gas station girl?”
Index cards, I thought, go off the index cards.
Hollie placed her hand over mine and grinned. I jerked in shock, but she didn’t catch it. “This is Brittany. She’s new here. We met her in History today.”
I slowly relaxed my hand where it was. Well, Hollie took care of saying my name. “Yeah. We all became friends instantly.” To emphasize my point, I snapped my fingers, causing my sleeve to slip down my arm and reveal my bracelet again.
I brought my hand down as quick as I could, but it was too late. The jewelry became the center of attention again.
“I still can’t believe you have one of those.” Hollie rested her head in her hands and ogled the piece peeping out from my sleeve. “I mean, it’s the real deal. It has the marks and everything.”
Adam’s face was drawn in perplexity. “What’s so special about a bracelet? It’s a bracelet.”
“It’s not just any bracelet, Adam. It’s a Louise Federucci. There’s only, like, a hundred of these in existence, not to mention they’re super expensive! You’d have to be filthy rich or a celebrity to even look at one that isn’t on a computer screen,” Hollie explained.
“Ah, I see.” Paul had a smug look on his face. “So the new girl’s loaded.”
I mean, technically I’m not broke.“I’m not—I just—uh. . .”
I suddenly felt cornered, and sometimes, when I felt cornered or thrown off, I babbled—a lot.
“This was a birthday gift from my parents last year. They—uh—got it from a friend who knew somebody,” I said.
Paul quirked an eyebrow. “So, you stole it, huh? Pretty badass if you ask me.”
“I didn’t steal it. It was a gift.”
There had always been something about Paul Shepard that put you on the defensive. Something in his personality always made you feel on edge and on high alert.
“So your parents stole it?”
"No.” I ground my teeth, before blurting, “Louise gave it to me.”
“Louise? Like theLouise?” Hollie’s already big, bright eyes grew as wide as saucers.
Crap.“No, uh, my parents’ friend Louise. . . who knows Louise? She got it from Louise who wanted to give it to me.” I definitely just said Louise way too many times.
“And what makes you so special?” Paul asked.
I tried my best to play it cool, to think of something amazing right there on the fly, but the only thing I could think of, besides just coming out and saying, “Well, I’m Evie Chase. Surprise!” was the strange movie about farm animals I watched with Aunt Mil and Addy last night.
“My—uh—sister saved a cow from drowning in the river behind my house. Everyone knows my family now.” I almost felt my jaw falling open as I replayed the words through my head. “At least, back in Massachusetts. Guess the news didn’t make it all the way here.” I quickly added the last part in as if it made the story more credible.
There was nothing I wanted more than to shove my head into my sweater and never come out. Everyone blinked at me in silence. If one ever needed to put a picture next to the word confusion in the dictionary, they just needed a snapshot of this lunch table.
“You know, I heard about that!”
"You have?" The words came out of all of our mouths in frightening unison. I knew from talking to her in History that Hollie was a little out there, but not this much so. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was just saying it to save my butt.
But then she continued with complete conviction, “Of course! You guys haven’t?” We simultaneously shook our heads, and she clicked her tongue in return. “Seriously? It was on the news and everything! Your sister’s named Penelope, right, Britt?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.”
In the corner of my eye, I caught Paul look at Adam, bewildered, and Adam reciprocated with a shrug. After that, unfortunately, Paul directed his attention back to me. “Alrighty then, so we’ve established that you aren’t from a family of felons, but apparently animal rescuers.” His eyes narrowed a little. “You know, you kind of look like someone I know.”
I tried to stay calm. I’d be dammed if Paul Shepard of all people was the one to figure out my secret. “Excuse me?”
“Well, not a perfect match, but I’d say you—”
Grace threw her hand up. “Shepard, I swear, if you say who I think you are. . .”
“He was going to say it. Paul, you think everybody with relatively high cheekbones looks like Evie Chase. Throw a dark wig on me, and I could look like Evie Chase to you. You see her everywhere, and I really doubt it’s evergoing to be her.” She followed that up with a mumbled, “and I’m going to pretend I’m not bitter about the fact I came in the year after she left.”
Paul snickered. “Hey, it’s just because it was such a missed opportunity. I mean, come on. Who would’ve guessed Chase would become a smokeshow? We had her right here, and then Hawthorne had to—”
A loud bell rang through the cafeteria, miraculously stopping my otherwise inevitable heart attack.
Hollie leaned over my shoulder, once again spooking me. “What class do you have? I have Trig next period.”
“Oh.” I forced my lips to part in a smile, hoping to mask the fact I felt like a criminal in an interrogation room. I pulled out my schedule and scanned the timetable. “I have English with Ringer.”
“Hey, we have that class too!” Grace gestured to herself and Adam. “You can come with us.”
So. Many. Fake. Smiles, I thought as I grinned again. I deserved an award for all the false feelings I’d feigned today. Maybe I could give Cassidy a run for her money in the acting business. I couldn’t help but wonder if things were going the same way with Addison.
This is the final sample chapter for this first draft of The Real Evie Chase. Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed and want to continue the story, you can read the immersive, interactive version over on Inkitt’s sister app, GALATEA, which you can download on iOS and Google Play devices.