“Christmas magic, Hanukkah magic, It’s a Wonderful Life?” Dorrie said to me. She lifted her eyebrows. “You going to connect the dots for us?”
“Don’t forget angels,” Tegan said.
I sat down on the end of my bed. “I know I did a terrible thing, and I know I really, really, really hurt Jeb. But I’m sorry. Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“Of course it does,” Tegan said sympathetically.
A lump formed in my throat. I didn’t dare look at Dorrie, because I knew she’d roll her eyes. “Well, if that’s true”—it was suddenly hard to get the words out—“then where’s my angel?”
“Angels, schmangels,” Dorrie said. “Forget angels.”
“No, don’t forget angels,” Tegan said. She flicked Dorrie. “You pretend to be such a Grinch, but you don’t mean it.”
“I’m not a Grinch,” Dorrie said. “I’m a realist.”
Tegan got up from the computer chair and sat beside me. “Just because Jeb didn’t call you, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe he’s on the reservation, visiting his dad. Didn’t he say the res has crappy cell service?”
Jeb had taught us to call the reservation “the res,” which made us feel tough and in-the-know. But hearing Tegan say it just deepened my despondency.
“Jeb did go to the res,” I said. “But he’s back. And how I know this is because evil Brenna just happened to come to Starbucks on Monday, and she just happened to trot out Jeb’s entire Christmas break schedule while waiting in line to order. She was with Meadow, and she was all, ‘I’m so bummed Jeb’s not here. But he’s coming in on the train Christmas Eve—maybe I’ll go meet him at the station!’”
“Is that what made you write the e-mail?” Dorrie asked. “Hearing Brenna talk about him?”
“It’s not what made me, but it might have had something to do with it.” I didn’t like the way she was looking at me. “So?”
“Maybe he got stuck in the storm,” Tegan suggested.
“And he’s still stuck? And he dropped his phone in a snowdrift like the kissing girl, and that’s why he hasn’t called? And he doesn’t have access to a computer because he had to build an igloo to spend the night in and he doesn’t have electricity?”
Tegan gave a nervous shrug. “Maybe.”
“I can’t get my head around it,” I said. “He didn’t come, he didn’t call, he didn’t e-mail. He didn’t do anything.”
“Maybe he needed to break your heart the way you broke his,” Dorrie said.
“Dorrie!” Fresh tears sprung to my eyes. “That’s an awful thing to say!”
“Or not. I don’t know. But, Adds . . . you hurt him really bad.”
“I know! I just said that!”
“Like deep, wounding, forever bad. Like when Chloe broke up with Stuart.” Chloe Newland and Stuart Weintraub were famous at Gracetown High: Chloe for cheating on Stuart, and Stuart for being unable to get over her. And guess where their breakup occurred? Starbucks. Chloe was there with another guy—in the bathroom! So skanky!—and Stuart showed up, and I got to be there for it all.
“Whoa,” I said. My heart started thumping, because I had been so mad at Chloe that day. I’d thought she was so . . . heartless, cheating on her boyfriend like that. I told her to leave, that’s how worked up I was, and Christina had to give me a little talk afterward. She informed me that in the future, I was not to throw out Starbucks customers just for being heartless bitches.
“Are you saying . . . ” I tried to read Dorrie’s expression. “Are you saying I’m a Chloe?”
“Of course not!” Tegan said. “She’s not saying you’re a Chloe. She’s saying Jeb is a Stuart. Right, Dorrie?”
Dorrie didn’t immediately answer. I knew she had a soft spot for Stuart, because every girl in our grade had a soft spot for Stuart. He was a nice guy. Chloe treated him like dirt. But Dorrie’s protectiveness went even deeper, I think, because Stuart was the other Jewish kid at our school, so he and she sort of had a bond.
I told myself that was the reason she brought Stuart and Chloe up. I told myself she didn’t mean to compare me to Chloe, who, in addition to being a coldhearted bitch, wore red lipstick that was totally the wrong shade for her skin.
“Poor Stuart,” Tegan said. “I wish he’d find someone new. I wish he’d find someone who deserves him.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “I’m all for Stuart finding true love. Go, Stuart. But Dorrie, I ask you again: Are you saying I’m the Chloe in this scenario?”
“No,” Dorrie said. She squeezed shut her eyes and rubbed her forehead, as if she’d developed a headache. She dropped her hand and met my gaze. “Adeline, I love you. I will always love you. But . . . ”
Prickles shot up and down my spine, because any sentence that combined “I love you” and “but” could not be good. “But what?”
“You know you get wrapped up in your own dramas. I mean, we all do, I’m not saying we don’t. But with you it’s practically an art form. And sometimes . . . ”
I rose from the bed, taking the blanket with me. I rewrapped it around my head and clutched it beneath my chin. “Yes?”
“Sometimes you worry more about yourself than you do about others, kind of.”
“Then you are saying I’m a Chloe! You’re saying I’m a heartless, self-absorbed bitch!”
“Not heartless,” Dorrie said quickly. “Never heartless.”
“And not a”—Tegan dropped her voice—“you know. You are not that at all.”
It didn’t escape me that neither of them denied the “self-absorbed” bit. “Oh my God,” I said. “I’m having a crisis, and my best friends gang up and attack me.”
“We’re not attacking you!” Tegan said.
“Sorry, can’t hear you,” I said. “Too busy being self-absorbed.”
“No, you can’t hear us because you have a blanket over your ears,” Dorrie said. She strode over to me. “All I’m saying—”
“La-la-la! Still can’t hear you!”
“—is that I don’t think you should get back together with Jeb unless you’re sure.”