"Should have said something," Stacy muttered as she checked the coding for the new page in the alumni section of the BWU web site. "Why should I suffer just because Dinah finally gave in and let Retchin' Gretchen brainwash her?"
She smiled at her faint reflection in the monitor, remembering how she and Dinah and Drake had laughed at that nickname. They must have been about twelve, which meant Drake was seventeen. Gretchen had decided that summer that boys weren't disgusting, and when she grew up, her destiny was to marry Drake. She had also decided that she was fat, so she had to start losing weight. Somehow, she got hold of syrup of ipecac and took a dose every time she ate something. The ice cream truck had been a twice-daily fixture on the street that summer, and there were always snacks at summer school and Vacation Bible School and the old youth center, so Gretchen seemed to be always eating. And always puking a short time later. At least, those were Stacy's memories of that summer.
She flinched at the sound of that smooth baritone voice. The Ashcrofts, especially Drake, had been on her mind too much lately -- ever since she heard Mr. Ashcroft tell the chancellor that Drake was coming home for Dinah's wedding reception.
"Stacy, what are you doing here?" Devon Ashcroft stepped around to the side of her desk.
"Hi, Mr. A." Stacy hoped her face only felt hot and didn't look neon red.
"Sweetheart, I thought you'd be over at the house, helping with Dinah's mess." He leaned against her desk, giving her that adorable, slightly fuzzy, warm grin she had loved since she first stepped into the Ashcrofts' home with her grandmother.
"Nope. Gotta work. The Dean wants the new alumni offerings functional by the end of the month." She gestured at her monitor.
"You know, I haven't seen you at all since Dinah got home. Used to be, you girls were thicker than thieves. Drake is due home today -- you'll be there for the family dinner, right? Catch up with Drake and Dinah, and finally meet Troy."
"Uh--"Stacy thought up a silent, desperate prayer for help. There was no way she wanted to admit to dear, slightly befuddled Mr. Ashcroft that she hadn't talked to Dinah, hadn't seen her except from a distance, hadn't even gotten a text message or voicemail, since his daughter returned to town a week ago.