Chapter Three

The tires crunched over a graveled dirt road, and a distant bell tolled. Heavy fog seemed to be stuck in a clearing, bur it only added to the intimidation of The Manor.

“Seriously, what is this?” Sophie spoke first, obviously flustered.

As they’re drawn in deeper down the one way road, a gate that wasn’t there before closes with a loud clank behind them. A man dressed all in black has pulled it shut, and is retreating to the shadows of the night.

“I’m starting to freak out.” Sophie faced the rest of the car from her front seat. “Did you see where that guy came from? Did you even notice that gate?”

“Calm down, Soph. It’s all a part of the game.” This comes from Sarah.

“Wait, what game? You knew about this?” Madison is fuming. “Weren’t you the one that wanted to get In-N-Out?”

“Well, yeah, that was part of the plan,” Sarah says slapping Seth’s left shoulder from behind, “but ‘Plans change’.” She tried on Seth’s voice for that last bit. If there was anything about Sarah, she sure could make you laugh when you didn’t want to.

“Bro, you told Sarah, but not us?” B. felt utterly betrayed.

“Actually, I told J. … It was Sarah’s idea.” Seth wasn’t helping his case like he thought he was.

“Leave me out of this.” J. always wanted to play Switzerland.

“Stop! Someone tell me! What the hell is going on?!” Sophie rarely let herself get this unraveled in front of so many people. Keep it together.

“Well, I asked Seth to come up with something cool to do for the first night we took Maddy out. I never actually thought she’d ever say yes.” Sarah said with her trademark diabetes sweetness.

“You guys are gunna flip.” J. seemed almost giddy.

“I think we are past that point.” Sophie folded her arms in front of her.

Seth and Sarah sharing secrets? That’s not the way things worked around here… or it hadn’t before she started hanging around.

Madison’s stomach was the first to betray her, but soon everyone’s joined in the groaning and growling.

“Don’t worry, the first part is dinner.” Seth had a new smile on- one Sophie had never seen before. It filled Sophie with a terrible sense of dread. Who was this person sitting beside her? She thought she had known, but now? She wasn’t quite sure.

“What’s after that?” B. voiced what they were all thinking.

“It’s a secret.”          Silence.            Then, “We’re here. Leave your stuff in the car.”  Seth got out first, carefully closing the car door, and inspecting the exterior as he walked around to the back. He unlocked the trunk and threw his phone in first, signaling the others to do the same.

“No, really, what’s going on Sarah?” Madison whispered into her friend’s ear as they threw their purses in the trunk of Seth’s classic. “I actually don’t know. I just knew we were weren’t going to the outlook.”

Madison hated this about Sarah. Maybe she was ready for their paths to fork.