Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat


The Bandbox Hat

Previously: SarahJane saves Amanda who was comatose in the pool after choking. SarahJane meets Logan, a production assistant. He informs her that she’s been chosen for a bowling date for the next day. She feels strangely warm and tingly as she leaves him.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Cassie was spread across her bed when I tiptoed in and collapsed on my own bed. I stared at the ceiling for only a minute before I blinked my eyes open to sunshine bleeding through the blinds and sounds of the shower running in our bathroom.

“Are you awake yet?” Cassie called.

“Yes.” I struggled upright.

“A date card arrived. They want us downstairs in ten minutes.”

I splashed water on my face and changed into cropped pants and a cute top. Bowling today.

First, I’d have to act surprised then pleased when my name was read. Then I’d have to act pleased to go bowling. When all I wanted was to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

But I made my way downstairs with a smile on my face. A buzz of conversation stilled as I entered the kitchen. “What?” I asked.

“Amanda’s back. She said you saved her life.” A redhead sipped a fruit smoothie as she spoke, her blue eyes rounded and watching me.

“That’s not what she said last night.” I poured a mug of coffee and stirred in a teaspoon of sugar.

“She’s back and she said she was real sorry for snapping at you. I guess the hospital told her she would have died in a few more minutes.”

Relief flooded my chest. As much as I disliked the game-playing and name calling between the girls, I was relieved that any Amanda drama seemed to be over. “I’m just glad I was there.”

“Okay, ladies! We need everyone in the living room.” Liam’s voice echoed from the other room.

We filed like obedient first graders into the next room. The first six sat on the couch. The next four took chairs. The rest of us lined up behind the couch, in front of the French doors to the outside.

After ten minutes of positioning cameras and mics, lights and spotlights, we were ready to begin. Cassie was selected to answer the doorbell and to read the date card.

The director listened to his earpiece then pointed at Cassie as the bell rang. Girls squealed and giggled then quieted when she reappeared with an envelope.

She unsealed it and withdrew an embossed ivory card. “Family is important to me and to Austin,” Cassie read. “We enjoy lots of hobbies and activities together. Today we’re going … bowling!” The murmurs of anticipation quieted and girls looked at each other. “Please join us at the alley.” Cassie paused and looked up, meeting my eyes. “Cassie—that’s me! SarahJane.” She grinned and I smiled back. She went back to the card and reeled off a half dozen more names. Amanda wasn’t one of them. “See you soon, ladies. Signed, Linda.” Cassie stuffed the card back into the envelope as conversation swelled again. She made her way to my side.

“You, me, no Amanda. What’s up with that? It could be boring.”

I laughed. “With you and me around, it’ll be anything but boring.”

“Ladies, let’s go!” Liam herded us with his clipboard in one hand and his other cupping his ear.

We allowed ourselves to be guided outside and we climbed into a pair of SUVs.

“I haven’t been bowling in years,” Cassie said. “How about you?”

“I do Wii bowling with my niece all the time.”

She groaned. “Great. I’ll look like a complete dork while you continue to charm both Linda and Austin.”

I elbowed her. “Yesterday was your day in the spotlight, Miss Beach Volleyball.”

She smiled. “Oh yeah. And I forgot one other thing—” She flushed and fell quiet.

“What?” I asked.

She just shook her head. “I can’t talk about it. Yet.”

I leaned closer. “Whisper it to me, the cameras won’t hear.”

“I can’t,” she said with a smile. Then without moving her lips I heard a whisper. “It’s against the rules, but I think … well, I might have met someone.”

“Here?” I breathed back. “But there’s no one to meet here except Austin. Or the crew … Are you falling for someone on the crew?”

Her smile never changed. “We’re just flirting a little. But I have a feeling …”

The SUV rocked to a stop.

“Don’t say a word to anyone!” Cassie said.

“Even if I could, I wouldn’t,” I said. “I don’t know anyone to blab it to.”

Our door opened with a whoosh. “Welcome to the Glen Eagle Bowling Alley,” Austin said.

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