âUh, no, I donât know that move.â
Amanda ignored me. âAnyway, then Chazz stopped coming to school and I figured, whatever, good riddance. He called me a bunch and left these weird rambling voice mails, but I never really listened to them. I was just waiting for him to lose interest.â
âYour romantic life is seriously fascinating to me,â I said.
âShut up,â she countered, not missing a beat. âHe finally showed up at school yesterdayâremember, when you interrupted us with all your lame jokes?â
âThatâs not exactly how I remember it.â
âSo, at the time, I figured it was just, like, desperate guy-talk because he didnât want to break up. All this bullshit about being soul mates and blah blah blah. But he said one thing that seriously grossed me out at the time and now has, like, some heavy context to it.â
âPlease tell me he quoted you poetry.â
âNo,â she answered. âHe told me I was the only girl in school he didnât want to eat.â
I laughed. âIs that a pickup line?â
âIt is if youâre a zombie.â
âThe reason for that huge relationship over-share is that I have a theory,â Amanda continued patiently, âbut it relies on you having gotten some action since Sasha. So, spill it, Jacob Albert.â
âUh, hypothetically,â I stammered, feeling my face start to flush like it always did when the sex talk started up, smooth operator that I am, âletâs say I have. What does that prove?â
âWell, yesterday you pointed out that when we bite people, they donât turn into other zombies like in the movies. Which makes sense because nobody bit me either. But Iâve done, um, other stuff . With my sort-of ex-boyfriend who probably ate his parents. So, JakeÂ .Â .Â . how do you think we caught zombie?â
âOh,â I said, Amandaâs theory finally clicking. âOh gross.â
âYeah. Way worse than anything they told us about in health class.â
âSo youâve got like herpes of the undead?â
âYou do too, buddy. Which is why I asked about Sasha. Because I know we didnât hook up, and I seriously doubt you hooked up with Chazz.â
âIt wasnât Sasha.â
âOh. Who was it then?â
Janine. That night in Princeton, which at the time had seemed like my rite of passage into the world of getting down with hot bohemian college chicks. Now it turns out that was, like, the biggest mistake of my life.
âYou wouldnât know her,â I said. âSheâs from out of town.â
Amanda laughed. âFirst time Iâve ever believed that line.â
We eventually dropped the whole undead sex topic and fell into a mellow silence, just listening to the radio. Still, all those revelations about Chazz and Amanda, their relationshipÂ .Â .Â . Not to mention, her being single totally changed the dynamic of this road trip. I just had to ask.
âWhat did you see in Chazz Slade anyway?â I blurted.
Amanda tilted her head at me, half smiling. I could tell she was trying to figure out how honestly to answer me.
âWell,â she said, âhave you seen his abs?â
Oh yeah, Iâd seen them. Chazz made sure everyone saw them. Heâd strut around in the locker room after gym class daring people to break their hands on his six-pack. I shook my head.
âThatâs it? Seriously?â
I sounded more disappointed than Iâd meant to. Amanda sighed and shook her head.
âNo, Jake, thatâs not it.â She paused, thinking. âI donât know. You wonât get this, but itâs like it was expected . He was good-looking, and cool, and could buy beerâI sort of had to date him, you know?â
âYouâre right,â I said. âI donât get it. You really wanted to lock