"I don't want any of Verity's crew warned."
"Everyone here saw Mr. Baker giving you the envelope, Laura."
"It's like we're being set up."
"Skye, she had a friend."
Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 10 - Carly Thinks This Chapter's About Her
Verity lounged on the couch in the dorm suite she shared with her girls, her black Mary Janes on the floor beside her. She stretched her stockinged legs, working out the kinks. The main door burst open as Sarah ran inside. Verity sat up, brushing one of her pony tails back over her shoulder. "I trust you have something to report?"
Sarah dropped into an overstuffed chair. "Caitlin's up to something."
Verity rolled her eyes. "She's always up to something. It's her natural state. She'd forget to breathe if her plot didn't need her to."
"What about digging?"
"Digging?" Verity sat up on the couch. "That is something. Was she digging or did she get her minions to do the dirty work?"
"She only had one other girl with her, so they both dug. They found a box, opened it, looked at an old piece of paper, then buried everything again."
"I see." Verity tapped the arm of the couch with a finger. "Which girl was with her? The new one, or Martin? No, couldn't have been Martin. Caitlin would have her do all the digging."
Sarah grinned. "She had Caroline's favourite Unruly with her."
On hearing her name, Caroline emerged from the suite's bedroom. "What favourite? You mean, Autumn got her hands dirty? For real?" The purple-haired girl flounced into the room's recliner. "Did you get photos?"
"No photos," Sarah said. "I couldn't see what they were looking at, either."
"Did you dig up what they buried?" Verity asked.
"I left my shovel in my other uniform, Verity. They dug down at least a metre and a half."
Caroline snapped her fingers. "I bet it was a time capsule. If you told the geek where you were, I'm sure she could find it. It'll give her something else to do than write wretched poetry."
A small, bright pale-green plush pony flew out from the bedroom and hit Caroline in the side of the head. "The geek can also hear you."
Caroline picked up the stuffed pony. "Leave Lyra alone, Mackenzie!" She cuddled her toy close to her.
"Girls, please." Verity got to her feet. She smoothed out her plaid skirt. "What do we know? Mackenzie, I need you out here."
Mackenzie came from the bedroom holding a modelling knife. She gave a meaningful look at Caroline and Lyra before sitting down on the couch. "Caitlin is investigating the basketball season, last I heard. The Phoenix beat the Loyalists in their opening game, which was apparently fixed." Mackenzie adjusted her glasses with her free hand. "On Simcoe's behalf, not Gephardt's."
"We're facing Simcoe Friday," Sarah added.
Verity waved her hand in dismissal. "I'm sure that Melina is working on minimizing Simcoe's influence on the game. We need to focus on Caitlin. I owe her for that Diet Coke stunt. She completely ruined my work on Carly."
"That seemed a little childish for Caitlin," Caroline said. "Ng, sure, but Caitlin?"
Verity sat back down on the couch. "She has her new girl. Caitlin always tests her people."
Mackenzie put her knife down. "Should we really deal with Caitlin and her girls now? Carly's making a move, too, and she knows we were at the Legion Hall."
"Carly is a nuisance. I will deal with her once I have had my revenge."
"I don't know, Verity," Sarah said. "Carly's competent lately. Remember what happened to Caroline in History class?"
Caroline shuddered. "Don't remind me. Hey, do you think that Carly and Caitlin are working together? The enemy of my enemy and all that?"
Verity laughed. "Caitlin and Carly? Never. Caitlin has a paranoid streak that would have her double- and triple-guessing Carly's motivations. Besides, both of them know the story about the scorpion and the frog. They'll expect the other to betray them and look for ways to backstab first. Carly is on her own for this."
"I don't know, Verity. Carly's never been this effective." Sarah nodded at her purple-haired roommate. "She knew exactly how to get Caroline."
"I said, don't remind me. My face still hurts after scrubbing the dye off." Caroline rubbed her cheek. "I missed a shot at Jay thanks to her."
"Fine." Verity leaned back on the couch. "Let's get back at Caitlin first, then focus on Carly. Happy?"
Verity's roommates all nodded.
Caitlin and Autumn returned to a room filled with the mouth-watering aroma of fish and rice. Skye and Laura were already eating. The tall girl waved to the returnees. "Help yourself." Skye pointed to the counter. "Plenty left."
"There's milk in the fridge," Laura added.
Autumn slipped past Caitlin. "I need to wash up. Someone had me dig in dirt." She threw a glare at the red-haired girl.
"Don't take long." Caitlin sat down at the room's dining table. "Find out anything?"
"Maybe," Skye said. "Bree Powell was at the mall tonight, with someone. I didn't recognize him, but I did get his photo."
"Give the picture to Autumn. Anything else?"
Laura shrugged. "Bree saw us and ran."
Caitlin grimaced. "Can't be helped. Did you hear Powell and her friend talking?"
"Not from where we were, and she saw us first." Skye finished her meal. "What about you?"
"I hit the jackpot."
From the bathroom, Autumn called, "Who hit it?" She emerged, drying her hands with a towel. "We found a box then buried it again."
"Let me get cleaned up." Caitlin disappeared into the bathroom.
"Help yourself, Autumn." Skye pointed at the last two bags of cooked fish.
Laura nodded. "I didn't know fish was this easy."
"It's even easier when you stand aside." Skye gave her new roommate a warm smile. "You'll get there."
Autumn grabbed a plate from the cupboard. "Or you'll get rich enough to have someone cook for you. I've already planned the chef's uniform."
Skye shook her head. "You do realize that oil spatters? That it hurts if it hits bare skin?"
"I know. He'll have an apron." Autumn sat down at the table and opened her fish in a bag. Steam rose from her meal. "Thanks, Skye."
Caitlin returned. She took the last bag and brought it to the table. "It was the contents of the box that was important. Wheeler is a local, so I figured his school would have a time capsule somewhere."
Laura finished her meal. "Time capsule? What if his school didn't?"
"I would've found another approach." Caitlin shrugged. "I found what I needed, a newspaper clipping about Wheeler and his best friends."
Autumn swallowed her morsel of fish. "You could have looked that up in the library, Caitlin. I didn't need to go digging."
"I didn't know if the clipping existed. I admit, this was a long shot." Caitlin cut into her fish. "However, I did find what I wanted. Wheeler's good friends were Joel Powell and Richard Sullivan."
"Sullivan?" Autumn set down her fork. "Why do I know that name?"
"As in Carly Sullivan."
Laura tilted her head. "As in, the Carly who Verity wanted to cause problems for but we interfered? That Carly?"
Caitlin smiled. "Indeed."
"That links Wheeler and Carly, but what about that St. Dymphnoid?" Skye asked. "Who is she?"
"That's the question. I need to talk to the Jennifers."
"I am not going, Caitlin." Autumn picked up her fork again. "They hate me."
"I wasn't going to take you." Caitlin turned to Laura. "They do seem to like you, though. Would you like to visit your friends after dinner?"
Deep in the bowels of the Academy, Laura kept close to Caitlin. "I didn't think you meant right away."
"No time like the present. We are on a timetable."
"Couldn't we have invited Jenn up to our dorm instead?"
Caitlin stopped still, forcing Laura to avoid the redhead. "No!" The red-haired girl stood aghast.
"Invite a Jennifer to the seniors' floor? Let's ignore that Jennifers seldom travel alone and that they're destructive. Our neighbours will notice and if anything happens to them, we'll be blamed. We brought the Jennifers in." Caitlin resumed walking. "Cassandra is so unbearable when she gets on her high horse."
Laura quickened her pace to keep up with the redhead. "Fine. What about the library? Or the cafeteria? Or somewhere that's less dismal than the basement?"
"The Jennifers are more comfortable in their dorms. You've seen them in their habitat."
Laura rolled her eyes. "You get to open the door."
"I won't need to." Caitlin nodded to three Jennifers stepping out from the shadows. "Hello, ladies," she called.
"Parlay?" Laura added.
One of the Jennifers turned to yell behind her, "Jenn! One of them's speaking French!"
Jenn came around a corner. "We are sitting you down in front of a TV, Isabelle." She looked up at the newcomers. "Are you dropping off or looking for a senior?"
"We need to talk to one of the girls who disappeared," Caitlin explained. "I want to know if she recognizes a description."
"Juliana, if she's available," Laura said.
Jenn folded her arms. "And what do we get out of it?"
Caitlin opened her satchel. "I have Aero bars."
"Chocolate? That's so last week. I want something else."
"I can get you Diet Coke."
"How about a favour to be named later?" Jenn countered. "You've been using us for a while. Time to let us in on the good stuff."
"What sort of favour?" Caitlin asked. "I have limits on what I can do."
Jenn grinned, showing her teeth. "I'm not asking for you to kill anyone. Just access to a room or to materials when I need it."
"As long as it doesn't involve cheating or getting Headmistress Stone coming down on us, I don't see a problem."
"Good. Wait here." Jenn ran back down the side corridor. After a few minutes, she returned, Juliana in tow. "Here she is."
Caitlin stepped forward, pulling Laura with her. "My colleague here has a question to ask of you."
Laura stared at the red-haired girl. "Me?"
"Yes, you." Caitlin stared back. "As opposed to Autumn, remember?" She jerked her head towards Juliana. "Ask."
Laura shrugged. "Fine." She stepped towards Juliana, who was held in place by Jenn. "Juliana, do you remember the girl you saw in the St. Dimples uniform? The one working with the Academy girl?"
Juliana shook her head. "No. I barely saw her."
"That's fine. I'm just looking for information right now. If I described her, would you recognize her?"
"Maybe?" Juliana shrugged the best she could with Jenn holding her in place by the shoulders.
Laura described the girl leaving the Wheeler house for Juliana, looking back at Caitlin to confirm some of the details. "Is that the girl you saw?"
"I couldn't say for sure. We weren't allowed to see much. She could have been that tall. Wait, she had a bracelet. Heavy chains for one, too."
"Medic Alert, maybe?"
"Her jacket covered most of the bracelet, but I noticed the chain and wondered why it was so thick."
Laura looked back at Caitlin, who asked. "Was it silver or gold?"
"Silver, I think," Juliana answered.
"I think we're done, Laura."
"Thanks, Juliana." Laura gave the young girl a reassuring smile. She looked up at Jenn. "Thank you, too."
"Remember our bargain," Jenn said.
"We will. Laura?" Caitlin turned to leave.
Laura hurried to keep up with her roommate. "Coming!"
Caitlin remained silent until reaching the second floor. "What do you think?"
"How hackable is Medic Alert?" Laura asked.
"A computer system filled with life-threatening medical information? Autumn will enjoy the challenge." Caitlin kept climbing the stairs. "How is it you can remember the names of the Jennifers but can't remember the proper name for St. Dymphna?"
"The girls appreciate people remembering who they are," Laura explained, "and schools don't have feelings."
"She has two choices."
"I need someone at my side to make sure that I'm the scorpion."
"Have you ever heard of the word subtlety?"
"It'd be nice if she asked for once."