guys,” Leyla adds.
“I’m sure you are,” Madison replies, looking completely unamused. “But it can’t be a Christmas celebration. This is nondenominational.”
“Roaring twenties isn’t religious,” Reed presses.
Madison shakes her head. “I’d rather not listen to old-timey music all night.”
An idea occurs to me. “What about ‘Winter Solstice’?” I offer, remembering how Echo mentioned it in art.
Chantal scoffs. “That’s so . . . hippie-dippie .”
But Madison is nodding slowly. “Not bad, Kailey. We cancelebrate the return of the sun. That’s really what Christmas is about, anyway—just recycled pagan mythology. But we’ll concentrate on astronomy instead of myth. I like it.” I wonder if she and Echo have been talking.
Reed looks disappointed but doesn’t protest.
“Kailey, you could do an antique astronomical chart for the mural,” Madison suggests. I was hoping she’d forget about that. I smile and nod, though I have no idea how I’ll pull it off.
“Excellent. Nicole, write that down. Kailey’s in charge of the astronomy mural.”
As Madison begins assigning tasks to everyone else, I let my mind drift on the warm buzz of conversation. I can’t stop thinking about what I heard Eli’s bandmate saying last night at the theater. I don’t even know her name. But her words are engraved in my mind: Yes, there are a lot of girls. Which is why there can be no mistakes.
Her words are a wake-up call. I’ve been limiting my search to Kailey’s friends—clearly, I need to cast a wider net. But I’m not sure how I could approach the blond girl, or where to even begin.
On the other side of Noah, Nicole is scribbling frantically, copying Madison’s assignments for the group. Leyla and Bryan will be in charge of food, of course. Leyla’s already suggested several different food trucks that could cater theevent. Noah’s hiring a photographer to take pictures of couples standing in front of my mural. He offered to take the photos himself, but Leyla squashed that idea, declaring that Noah must be free to dance with me all night long. I had to smile, both at the way Leyla looked out for me and at Noah’s furious blush.
Madison declares that she’ll be in charge of booking the band—no big surprise for the indie rock queen. But it gives me an idea.
“What about Eli’s band?” I say quickly. Madison’s head swivels in my direction, and she fixes me with her brown eyes. I wonder if she’s annoyed that I’m treading on her area of expertise.
“Interesting idea,” she says coolly.
“Why don’t I talk to them? You’re so busy, and I don’t mind.” My words come out in a rush.
She stares at me for a long moment, her expression unreadable, then nods. “Thank you, Kailey. Yes, please talk to Eli. Or better yet, Julie. She’s the one who books their gigs.”
Julie. There’s only one girl in the band—that must be the accordionist’s name. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow,” I promise, a thrill running up my limbs.
“All right, then if there’s nothing else, I think we’re done here,” Madison says. Noah jumps up.
“We should go.” He nods at me. “Before the rain starts again.”
“Wait,” Madison interrupts. “Before you all leave—is everyone coming to the Treasure Island party tomorrow night? There are some excellent bands playing.” Her brown eyes sparkle in anticipation. “Including the Travelers. You know,” she says to my blank expression, “Eli’s band. Kailey’s favorite .” Her voice is laced with sarcasm, and I wonder again if I’ve pissed her off.
“I’ll definitely be there,” I answer in a neutral tone. There’s a rumble of yes es as everyone else follows suit.
“Well, Rebecca and I must be going,” Reed says stiffly. “Our parents are taking us to dinner at Range & Saddle. It’s the latest Michelin-starred restaurant.” He smiles, pleased with himself, but no one reacts. I don’t suppose average high-schoolers even know