The Amanda Project: Book 4: Unraveled
same strange chalky drawings of their totems, marked in such a way that you could only see them in a certain light.
    The four of us got on the bus in time to get seats together. Heidi and the I-Girls boarded after all the seat pairings were gone, and asked people to move to let them be together.
    “Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange that the I-Girls are on an academic club trip?” I said.
    “Yeah,” Callie said. “What’s going on?”
    “How did they even talk their way into the club?” said Nia. “Eliza only letme join because we’re friends. She hates Heidi as much as I do.”
    “Hey, Wynne,” we all heard Heidi say in a sticky-sweet voice, addressing a girl with bushy brown hair, who always wore hooded sweatshirts and read romance novels under her desk during class. “Since you’re all alone in your seat, would you mind if people who have friends sat there instead so they could be together?”
    Nia made a clickingsound with her tongue against the roof of her mouth, and I agreed with what she was thinking. What was Heidi’s problem? Heidi was a girl who had it all—she was gorgeous, and she was smart as a whip—last year she won a schoolwide literary contest for her poem “Fashion Pollution.” People fell all over themselves to help her out, and her police chief dad and quasi-celebrity news anchor mom basicallyran the town.
    “Why do people obey her every command?” I said, leaning across the aisle so that the other guides could hear me.
    “Yes!” Callie whispered. “Even if they only spend a few minutes with her, people feel like they’re her best friend.”
    “I’m guessing she’s like us . . .” Hal suggested. “That she has a power—to make people do what she wants?”
    “Oh, no,” Nia said, putting her head in herhands. “The idea of that girl being given special abilities on top of her extreme good luck in life makes me ill.”
    “It kind of makes me afraid,” said Hal.
    Just then Cisco and the other peer chaperones began handing out the scavenger hunt forms. Looking it over, I forgot all about Heidi for a moment. In fact, my jaw literally dropped. The sheet listed dozens of landmarks we were supposed to visitin Washington. The U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial. . . . But then there was the extra credit, which listed a bunch of places that were totally obscure. Why would Thornhill want a bunch of high school students looking for the National Institute of Health’s Capitol Hill offices? And the Office of Management and Budget? Was it even safe for us to get outto Langley, Virginia, to take pictures of the CIA?
    I saw surprise on the faces of the other kids on the bus, and a lot of eye rolling—so much for scavenger hunts being “fun.”
    All except Heidi, who looked smug. She clearly was not prepared to do much, with her minions there to do it for her.
    I t was sixth grade. The concert band at our school had won a trip to the state championships. We werestaying at a Days Inn near the community college where the competition would take place the next day.
    After dinner at an Applebee’s, the band met in one of the hotel rooms, and spread out on beds and chairs and the floor to watch James Bond movies and eat popcorn. There wasn’t anything else to do.
    Or at least I thought there wasn’t, until Arabella pulled my sleeve. She raised her eyebrows. “There’sa bar mitzvah going on in the ballroom,” she said. “DJ, free food?”
    “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I said.
    “I have no idea what you’re thinking,” she lied. But we both knew what we had in mind.
    We waited until the trip chaperones and other kids’ eyes were all fixed on the TV. I didn’t even need to look at Arabella to know that this was the perfect time. But I looked anyway, because thatwas more fun. Our eyes met. “Now,” Arabella mouthed.
    We’d packed dresses to wear to the evening portion of the concert the next day. We went back to our

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