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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
I gaze at her with wide, innocent eyes. "Nothing, Mandy," I say. "Nothing at all."
"You'd better not be doing drugs, freak. You signed a pledge, remember? Cheerleaders just say no."
I roll my eyes. "Just because I dress in black and listen to the Cure doesn't mean I'm some smackhead, you know."
"Yeah, well ..." Mandy seems to be searching for a clever comeback, but none materializes. "What about Cait? What was with that freak-out? I don't want girls on my squad who can't handle the pressure.
If she can't take the heat, she needs to get out of the frying pan."
"Nice mixed metaphor, Mand. And don't worry about Cait. She can take the heat. She's just having a bad day. You remember bad days, right? Before you became popular you had a lot of them, as I recall."
I know I shouldn't be taunt-ing her, riling her up even further, but I can't help it. She's such a self-centered bitch. Thinking the world revolves around her and her cheerleaders. Scorning anyone who isn't exactly like herself. I can't believe the two of us used to be friends.
"Whatever, Rayne," Mandy says, again with the awe-some comeback. She really should join an improv group, she's so quick on her feet. "And you'd better be right. After all, if it wasn't for you, she wouldn't be on the squad to begin with."
I cringe. She had to go there.
Please don't let Cait hear what she said. Please don't let Cait hear what she said—
A small cry of surprise and indignation sounds from behind the stall door.
Great. She heard.
Mandy stares at me and her gaze drifts to the door I'm blocking. "What are you hiding, Rayne?" she demands, rais-ing a perfectly arched eyebrow.
"Cait is talented, Mandy," I argue, ignoring her question. "In fact, I'd bet my belly-button ring that she's the most talented girl on the squad. You can go and say anything about me. I know I'm not Wolf material. But you know as well as anyone that she's amazing and deserves to be on the squad."
"The only thing that ugly little troll deserves is to be back on the math team where she belongs," Mandy returns, look-ing smug. I realize she knows exactly who I'm hiding and she's really mean enough to go there. "And if you didn't blackmail me into putting her on the squad in the first place, she'd be there right now."
I'm thrown forward as the bathroom door slams into my back. Cait pushes past me, running straight for the exit. I catch a glimpse of her tear-stained face and horrified eyes before she exits the locker room.
I turn to Mandy. She's totally the cat who ate the canary with her self-satisfied smile. I hope she chokes on the feathers.
"Why would you say that? You knew she was in there! How can you be so cruel?" I demand, hands on my hips. "When did you become such an uber-bitch, Mandy?"
"When did you become such an uber-softie?" Mandy fires back.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Oh please. Don't get all high and mighty on me, Rayne McDonald. You're first in line when it comes to judging someone based on their fashion sense."
"Me? Yeah, right. I've never turned down a friend because she doesn't carry this year's Prada purse."
"No? Well, how about one who mistakenly wears jeans to a Goth club and embarrasses you in front of all your new friends? Or one who actually—shock, horror—admits she likes high school football and has the nerve to ask if you'd lower your coolness standards for one night to go to a game with her? Or how about a friend who makes the cheerleading squad? Do you congratulate her on her accomplishment and say you can't wait to see her perform? Or do you have the nerve to ask her if the judging was based on hair highlighting and lip gloss selection alone?"
I open my mouth to respond, but suddenly nothing comes out. Did I really do and say all those things to her? Is that why she hates me so much?
"You always say the cheerleaders are elitist snobs," Mandy continues. "But as far as I see it, you Goths are just as bad, if not worse."
Before I can say anything she turns and stomps out of the locker room. The door slams behind her with an echoing bang.
My stomach twists into knots and I feel like I'm going to throw up. Is that really what everyone thinks of me? Am I just as bad as the cheerleaders? Condemning anyone who I deem less cool than me? Of course, maybe Mandy's just pro-jecting—to make herself feel better. But still . . .
I shake my head. No time to dwell on my own possible shortcomings. I've got to find Cait before she does something else to hurt herself.
I push open the locker-room door and head out into the gym. The cheerleaders are sitting on the bleachers chatting amongst themselves. Mandy's nowhere to be seen.
"Have you seen Cait?" I ask.
Shantel gestures toward the exit. "Ran out," she says. "She looked really upset, too. What's up with her?
Is she okay?"
"Mandy," I say, as if that could explain everything. "I've got to go find her. I'll catch you guys later."
I run outside, following the paved path that leads from the gym to the football field. I find Cait down by the bleach-ers, crouched on the ground, head in her hands, sobbing.
"Cait? Are you okay?" I ask, approaching her cautiously.
"Go away!" she cries, waving a dismissive hand in my general direction. "You've done enough."
"Cait, don't let Mandy get to you. She's a bitch and every-one knows it." I lean down to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. She swats it away.