"Okay, girls, listen up. Today is the twenty-eighth. That means we have a little more than two weeks to get organized. Does anyone have any ideas besides the tired old hearts-and-flowers thing? We have to announce the theme this week. How about you, Kate. Any thoughts?"

Kate Morgan looked up from her carton of blueberry yogurt, the spoon still in her mouth. Sherrie and the other girls were all looking at her, waiting For an answer, and she had no idea what the question was. She had been trying to get a look at Scott Coogan, who was sitting four tables over with the rest of the guys from the varsity football team. By turning her head she could just catch a glimpse of Scott, who was laughing at someone's joke, and she had been wondering what it would be like to sit with him and gaze into his blue, blue eyes.

"I'm sorry," Kate mumbled, swallowing her yogurt. "What were we talking about?"

Sherrie rolled her eyes and tossed her long, curly black hair over her shoulder indignantly, the way she always did when she caught someone not listening to her. "The Valentine's Day dance," she said, as if the answer should be obvious. "You know, that little party we've been talking about for the past month? Maybe if you spent a little less time mooning over a certain dumb jock and paid more attention to us, your very best friends, you'd know what was going on."

Kate felt herself blushing. She'd thought she'd hidden her crush on Scott, but she should have known her friends would notice. By the smirks on their faces, she saw that they had.

"I'm not... " she started to say defensively, but they cut her off with shrieks of laughter.

"Come on," said Jessica mischievously. "We've seen the way you space out when he's sitting near you."

"Yeah," added Tara. "And whenever he passes your locker you suddenly forget Your combination. Don't try to fool us. You've got it bad for that boy."

"Not that it will do You any good," said Sherrie. popping a potato chip into her Mouth and looking very pleased with herself" as if she knew some vital piece of information they didn't know.

"Tell," said Jessica and Tara simultaneously.

"Well," said Sherrie dramatically, leaning over the table so she wouldn't have to talk too loudly. "After cheerleading practice yesterday I was in the locker room changing. You guys had already left thank you very much for waiting. by the way-and the varsity team came in. I heard Linda Thomson telling Sarah Jennings that Scott is planning on asking Terri Fletcher to the dance. Linda is going out with Evan Markson, who, as you know, is Scott's best friend and..."

"We know who Evan Markson is," said Jessica, interrupting the story. "You aren't the only one around here who's up on the social scene at Beecher Falls High School."

"I was just citing the source," said Sherrie. hate to be accused of spreading false information."

"You and The Enquirer," Jessica teased.

"Terri Fletcher," said Tara thoughtfully, twirling a strand of her red hair around her finger. "She's that blond girl who played the lead in the drama club production last year, right?"

"Right," said Sherrie. "She's a junior."

"Scott would look good with her," said Tara, then she grimaced. "Sorry, Kate. I didn't mean you Wouldn't look good with him or anything."

"Kate doesn't have a chance with Scott Coogan," said Sherrie decisively. "No offense, Kate. But look what you're up against. Terri's a junior. You're a sophomore. She's blond. You're blond-ish. She's a dainty little drama club girl. You're a jock. Clearly, Mr. Football likes them ditzy and helpless."

"Thanks for the reassurance," said Kate, wadding tip her napkin and shoving it into her brown paper lunch bag. "I didn't realize I was so highly undatable." "Relax," said Jessica, trying to smooth things over the way she always did when she felt someone getting upset. "You're gorgeous. I'd kill for your skin. We're just saying that clearly you're not what Scott is after. That's all."

"I don't know why we're even talking about this," Kate said angrily as she stood up from the table. "I don't care if he likes me or not any..." She was cut off as she turned to leave and bumped into someone. The cup in her hand fell, splashing soda across the table top and onto Kate's shirt, soaking her. "Sorry," said a male voice.

"Why don't you look where you're going?" Kate cried as she grabbed some napkins and dabbed at her shirt. She was already embarrassed by her friends' teasing, and now because of some guy's carelessness she was covered in soda. She looked up to see who had run into her, ready to give him a piece of her mind, and saw none other than Scott and his friends leaving the cafeteria without even a glance back at her. When she looked at her friends, they greeted her with we-told-you-so expressions.

"Now that that is out of the way, can we please talk about the dance?" asked Sherrie. "We can worry about who Kate's date is going to be once we decide on a theme."

"I need to go change my shirt," said Kate. "I'll catch YOU guys later. That is, if YOU can stand to be seen with someone so deeply socially challenged."

Before any of them could protest, Kate walked toward the cafeteria doors. Tossing her lunch bag into the trash, she stormed into the halfway and made her way to the girls' locker room. Being a member of the junior varsity basketball team meant that she had her own locker, and she was pretty sure she'd left an extra shirt in it.

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