“This sounds like the beginning of every horror movie.”
“Another half a day passes and you’re famished. You reach for the 7-Eleven bag and pull out . . .”
“If it’s been three days, I’ve probably eaten all my snacks by now.”
I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “There’s one thing left.”
“Looks like it’s your bag of M&M’s. You must’ve been too busy being fearless and strong to remember to take it with you. I’m going to eat those.”
He snatched the bag of dried bananas from my hand and I opened my eyes.
“Dried bananas and an extra bag of M&M’s it is,” he said. “You will not be stealing mine.”
“Your game was fun,” I called after him as he marched to the register in a pretend huff.
When we arrived at the car, Bec had moved to the back, probably because her boyfriend was now coming.
“Boring people in front.” She was all stretched out on the backseat. “Now give me my treats.”
“I told you I’m not your personal shopper. I didn’t get them.”
She didn’t say a word, just held her hand, palm up, between the seats.
Hayden shook his head and handed her the items she’d requested. “One day I won’t get those.”
“One day I’ll join the cheer squad and go by Becky.”
“Wasn’t that last year?” Hayden asked.
“Oh yeah. Guess that wasn’t a good comparison, then.”
“You were a cheerleader?” I asked, not sure if they were kidding or not.
“She was. A pretty good one too.”
I remembered how Hayden had said at the party that she liked to put up a front so that people didn’t get too close. I wondered if this was another example of that.
“Pretty good?” She met my eyes. “Don’t look so shocked, Ms. President. I was popular once too.”
“Wait,” Hayden said. “You’re the student body president?”
Bec gasped. “Oh no, were we supposed to bring secret service with us? Is this a security breach?”
Hayden ignored his sister. “I thought you just said you were on the student council.”
“I am. President of the student council.”
“Is this for scholarship purposes or because you like being in leadership?”
“Both, I hope.”
“That’s a pretty great accomplishment, Gia. Congrats.”
I shrugged, feeling like he was making it a bigger deal than it was. “I guess.”
“No, he’s right,” Bec said, surprising me for the second time today. “There are a lot of people who campaign for that. So you are the most popular of the popular.”
“I just happened to be the one on the ballot that the most people knew. I think I only got, like, twenty percent of the vote. The rest was divided between the other two candidates and Mickey Mouse, Elvis, and a hundred other various write-ins.”
“So what was your campaign strategy? Did you promise off-campus lunch for all? No PE?”
“I basically spent a lot of time socializing online with a bunch of people I didn’t know to get my name in their heads.”
“So let me get this straight,” Bec said. “You used people to get what you wanted? Did you unfollow all those people as soon as you won?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“But you probably stopped talking to them.”
Bec had this very special way of making me feel like the worst person on the planet. It was her talent or something.
“Bec, stop being a brat.”
I was glad Hayden interrupted because I didn’t want to have to explain that now I responded when people engaged but never reached out first.
We pulled into an older neighborhood and up to a run-down house. Bec jumped out of the car and rushed up to the front door. She smoothed her hair before she knocked.
“She has a major crush on this kid.”
“I would hope she’d have a crush on her boyfriend.”
“He’s not her boyfriend. She just wants him to be. Maybe you can help her with that.”
“Huh. I could’ve sworn they were together.” I watched Nate come out the door and shut and lock it behind him. The half a foot of space between him and Bec as they headed for the car was way more apparent now. I hadn’t noticed it before.
“Hey, Nate,” Hayden said as they both climbed into the back.
“Hi,” I added.
Doors were shut and Hayden started driving again.
“I got you licorice,” Bec said.
Hayden raised his hand. “Well, technically, I got you licorice.”
Bec hit him on the back of the head with the package and then handed it to Nate.
“Cool,” he said. “Thanks.” He tore into the pack right away.
Hayden pointed to the 7-Eleven bag by my feet. “You ready to play copilot?”
“I have no idea what that means.”
“It means you get to open my treats for me.”
“Do I have to feed them to you as well?”
“Ew. No,” Bec said.
Hayden smiled. “I think I can handle that part.”
I opened his treats and put them on the center console.
“Now we play road trip games.”
Bec groaned. “Hayden, this is why that three-week RV trip was unbearable.”
“No, I’m pretty sure that was unbearable because we had to dispose of our own waste and sleep in bunk beds.”
She smiled. “True. But your games came in a close third.”
“Yes, my games.” He took a pretzel and popped it into his mouth. “So, I Spy or Would You Rather? Those are your game choices. Actually maybe we should play Twenty Questions since Gia here lost so handily the last time she attempted that game.”
“You’re right. I need redemption. I’m actually very good at that game.”
“Prove it,” he said.
“I will.” I opened my bag of dried bananas. “Okay, think of something.”
“You’re not actually going to eat those, are you?”
“Why wouldn’t I eat these? Now think of something.”
He tapped his thumbs on the steering wheel a few times and then he said, “Got it.”
I turned back to Nate and Bec. “We’ll take turns asking him questions about it, first one to guess wins. If it takes us more than twenty questions, he wins.”