have found him, Doreen. Juliet, on the other hand, is single.â
âI am lucky, arenât I? Everyone should be as lucky as I am. Everyone should find true love in this world.â Doreen plucked a leaf off a tree and took a whiff with her eyes closed.
âWatch out for that bench!â said Heidi, though part of her hoped to see the girl tumble over it and back down to earth.
âThanks!â Doreen flicked the leaf away. âAnyway, I think youâre being too hard on Juliet. Sheâs beautiful on the inside.â
Heidi turned away and tried not to gag.
âYou know, itâs funny. I never liked sports before I met Simon.â
âWaste of time, if you ask me,â said Biz. âI really donât understand the appeal at all.â She had helped herself to a little of every single cereal on offer. Cereal suicide, she called it.
âIâm with you,â said Heidi as she loaded up her coffee with skim milk and Equal.
But Doreen did not seem to have heard them. âI never knew why girls wanted to be with athletes. Girls who donât particularly like sports, I mean. Why would someone who doesnât watch football want to date a football player? But now I am starting to understand.â She took a thoughtful nibble of whole wheat toast. âHereâs what it isââ
âYou donât have to explain,â said Heidi. âReally.â
âWhen I watch Simon play football, heâs so much better than everyone else and it makes me feel like a winner myself, naturally. But I also feel very safe. Because Simon loves me and he would kill anybody who would want to hurt me. And he could do it, too. With his bare hands. He is so, so strong.â
âAnyone could do that,â said Biz in between bites of cereal sludge. âI mean, I could kill someone with my bare hands. Truly. Itâs easier than you might think if youâre familiar with human anatomy. All you have to do isââ
âI was thinking,â said Doreen. Heidi made an involuntary cluck with her tongue. When you interrupt you seem overly eager, and stupid. Civilized people wait their turn. Roland had taught her that. âDo you think that Simon could get a football scholarship? To Chandler? I know you havenât seen him play, but you have to believe me when I say he is remarkably good. He would be a huge asset.â
âSorry, did you say football scholarship?â asked Heidi.
âYes. Chandler does have a team, donât they?â
âSure. I think we do. We do, donât we, Biz?â
âI have heard that we do.â
âWhy wouldnât they want to win? And with Simon leading the team, they would win. Wouldnât they be willing to cough up some tuition for the bragging rights? Biz, what do you think?â
Biz and Heidi exchanged a look. Chandler was not the sort of place that gave football scholarships. âUh,â said Biz.
âHe will achieve such greatness. But he needs help. Just a little nudge in the right direction. Wait until you see him play! You will see what I mean.â
âHere comes Misha. Letâs change the subject, okay?â said Heidi.
âBut why should Iââ
âDoreen! Just trust me. Keep it mum for now all right?â
âWhat are we talking about here?â Misha slid in next to Heidi.
âWe were . . .â Doreen looked at Heidi, who subtly shook her head. Simon or not, Doreen still wanted to be popular, didnât she? âWe were talking about that cute top youâre wearing, Meesh. Where is it from? Itâs adorable.â
Bullet dodged, Heidi thought. For now.
As Misha reported on some half-true piece of gossip sheâd heard from Wes Sylvan, Heidi became even more convinced that the Simon Vale business had to be kept under wraps. If it got leaked to the Chandler gossip mill, Doreen would be finished. Doreen had not even finished a single