Web of Lies (The Goode Life #2) - Isla Olsen


Eighteen years ago

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I’m in a bit of a daze as I make my way down the hall, heading toward my locker. I hadn’t been expecting that biology pop quiz first thing this morning—which, I guess, is why they call it a pop quiz—and all I can think about is how badly I bombed. I should know all that stuff back to front, but for some reason, the second the test was in front of me, it all just seemed to slip out of my head.

It didn’t help that I had Web Goode sitting next to me sending me weird looks all through the test. Something akin to nervous anticipation written on his face. Or maybe it was just his usual awkward [?] ramped up to a new degree.

It frustrates me that a year ago I would have been able to tell exactly what he was thinking. But that was before; back when we were friends. Before I came out and he got all weird about it. Before we started high school and he decided the douches on the baseball team were way more fun than nerdy, little gay me.

Whatever. I shake my head, clearing the nagging thoughts. I don’t need Web. I can do my best to get along with him because our families are tight, but I’m done hoping for our friendship to get back to what it was. I have new friends now who love me for who I am. They’re all I need.

“What’s with the glum face?”

I glance up as I approach my locker to see my friend Lily standing next to it, twirling the end of her blonde braid around her finger as she waits for me.

“Bio pop quiz,” I tell her as I open my locker. “I totally bombed.”

“Well, at least it was only a pop quiz…”

“Yeah, but I’m supposed to know this stuff. There’s not that long until finals—I need to be better prepared than this.”

“Jess, it’s freshman year. It’s not like this biology grade’s going to decide your entire future.”

I offer her a dubious look. “Aren’t you the one who’s always talking about how quick this is all going?” I ask. “You know…three years until we’re out of here and can make our big move across the country.”

She grins at me. “True. It’s going to be so amazing. You’re going to be a doctor at a big New York hospital, and I’ll be a star on Broadway…” she lets out a sigh, placing a hand over her heart.

“You’re getting a bit ahead of yourself, Lil. I haven’t decided if I want to be a doctor yet.” Truthfully, the idea of being in school for so many years is just completely daunting for me, especially when I think I’d be just as happy and probably a lot less stressed being a nurse. I still want to have the option, though, which is why I’m stressing about a stupid pop-quiz.

Lily smiles at me. “As long as whatever you do you do it with me in New York, I don’t really care.”

“Oh, you can count on it,” I say, flashing her a bright grin.

I’m about to close my locker after retrieving my books, when I notice an envelope at the bottom that definitely wasn’t there earlier this morning. It’s a little crumpled, as though someone’s slipped it through the tiny gap between the bottom of the closed door and the floor of my locker.

“What’s that?” Lily asks, eyeing the envelope curiously.

“I have no idea.” I open the envelope and unfurl a letter written in chicken-scratch handwriting that I recognize instantly as belonging to Webster Goode.

The jolt of recognition has me on my guard, and my wariness only increases as I read through the letter.

“What is it?” Lily asks. “Why do you look like you want to do murder?”

Done reading, I shove the letter toward her, before shoving the books I’d come for into my bag and slamming my locker closed.

“He likes you?” Lily’s eyes are wide as she reads through the letter.

I shake my head furiously. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course he doesn’t like me.”

“That’s what it says…” she shakes her head, clearly confused.

“Look, see what it says there. He wants me to meet him by the bleachers.” I point angrily to that particular part of the letter. “What do you think’s going to happen if I go? No doubt all those assholes on the baseball team will be lying in wait to pull some kind of prank.”

“Do you think maybe you’ve seen