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Horror at Harvard
On the Scene of the Crime: #1
Hello, my name is Morgan and I am 13 years old. Even before I was five, I had two best friends, Kennedy and Cassidy, identical twins whose identities were mixed up by everyone except for me. Their facial features always looked different to me somehow. We were so creative, that we could make something out of nothing in an instant. We were always making up some game to play. Even at our ages of twelve and thirteen, we love acting out mysteries.
Recently, I was at Kennedy and Cassidy’s brand new house, and we were watching Legally Blonde after finishing a bowl full each of Cookies n’ Cream ice cream. It’s a hilarious movie about a blonde Barbie girl who enrolls into the University of Harvard. She is all glam and glitter, while everyone else in the law college are brilliant and serious students. She has no idea about anything in the law business, and doesn’t know what to do, AT ALL! It is quite funny watching her transform into a law expert. This movie inspired us to play mysteries again. We pretended that we were all undercover law students at Harvard, three best friends trying to investigate a murder. In the mystery we were acting out, my name was Bella, Cassidy was Janae, and Kennedy was Natalie. Playing this gave me the idea for this series called, “On the scene of the Crime,” the first book being, “Horror at Harvard.”
For Kennedy and Cassidy, with much love and thanks, for without them, this story or series would not exist.
Introduction: About Janae, Natalie, and Bella
All three girls, Janae, Natalie, and Bella were different in amazing ways. Each girl had her own side of glam and glitter, girly girl talk and giggles. But, each girl also had her tomboy side, getting dirty, and playing basketball, volleyball, or softball until they were sure they had sweated all the fluid in their body. Both sides came out and shone at different times, dazzling the audience.
Bella was a tough little girl, 5’1, and not afraid of bugs. That is a random but important fact that will come up later in this story. Her hair was short and brown, her face was round, but not in the least bit fat and she had freckles all over her tan little cheeks. Her eyes were huge and shiny brown, understanding and deep under her dark lashes. She liked her chin length hair best when it was flipped out to the sides, or when it was completely straight. But, it dried different after every shower, so some days she would be a mass of wavy and loose curls. She dressed casual but cute, and you couldn’t pay her to stop playing the sport she loved, basketball. Also, the fact that she had an in ground pool in her backyard turned her into an amazing diver and swimmer.
She often curled up with a book in her reading corner, or could be seen using her strong imagination to type up stories with suspenseful plots and lively characters, all having their own unique style. A straight A student, Bella loved school, and was considered “the smart one” in her group of three. She was a truth teller, even when it got her into trouble.
All three friends could contort into unbelievable shapes and stances that others couldn’t understand. They’re flexibility came in handy only once in a blue moon, because it wasn’t something they needed to help them in everyday life. All three girls loved to hide behind matching bug eyed white Hollywood sunglasses when in sunny places.
Natalie had the most attitude of them all. She was glam and glitter MOST of the time, while JJ and Bella were split between the two personalities equally. A star setter on her volleyball team, Natalie never missed the chance to shine, even when she wasn’t trying to. She loved all sports, and animals. She was an average student and had a great sense of humor and personality.
Fashion was one of her main things, and she managed to stay modest and cute looking, while other girls struggle with that very thing. Each girl had deep set Christian values that they did not intend to break. They believed in their Savior, Jesus Christ, and knew that whatever mystery they took, God would help them get to the bottom of each perplexing problem surrounding them.
JJ, or Janae, was sweet and caring, a great babysitter and a lover of food like Bella. Cheerios were her idol. She even got a box of Cheerios for her birthday. (If that is even believable) She was also an average student, like Natalie, and loved softball, basketball, and volleyball. She liked to grab a box of guess what cereal, and watch TV while satisfying her craving by stuffing her face with Cheerios. She had strawberry blonde hair that she wore down, but sometimes put up, doing her hair to suit her mood.
She always seemed to have scratches and cuts, bruises, and blemishes from her pitching career on her softball team, called the Human Highlighters for their bright neon colors in their uniforms. She was a pretty girl, and had lots of guys falling for her. Enough about the girls, and on with the story!
Chapter 1: Introducing Three Best Friends
“Natalie, this will look horrible on me, and I am never buying it in a million years,” Bella complained, coming out of the dressing room in a bright neon sun dress, which was a piece of merchandise at Janae, Natalie, and Bella’s favorite department store in Tremont, Illinois. Bella exited the dressing room and dragged herself over to a mirror, forcing herself to look up at her reflection. She stared in astonishment, while Janae gaped and Natalie giggled.
“What did I tell you? It looks great on you!” Natalie praised. “So, are you going to take back those silly words you said when you were coming out of the dressing room? Are you going to buy it, or ‘never in a million years’ are you going to buy it?” Bella looked at Janae, whom she often called JJ, and then at Natalie, and back at Janae again. Her eyes sparkled and she looked down at the beautiful dress she was wearing. “No way in a million years am I going to live without this dress!” she giggled. They all laughed their funny laughs.
Janae’s a cute giggle, very loud, and lasting for a very long time when she thought something was seriously funny. Natalie’s loud guffawing one, which did not in the least bit match her Hollywood/Tom Boy life style. And then there was Bella’s laugh, which switched from a loud bellow that grew more silent as she laughed harder, to a shrill squeak of a giggle. Only Janae and Natalie knew which laugh she was going to use even before she started laughing.
Bella entered the changing room again, and changed back into her normal clothes, a pink and white striped shirt from Hollister covered with a short, white jacket. She was wearing her favorite blue jeans, and a pair of plaid Rocketdogs; the newest and most comfy back to school shoe since the Crocs came in. She stuffed her new dress into a sack, and linked arms with JJ and Natalie, heading for the checkout.
Chapter 2: Getting Hired
“I never did that!” Janae retorted. “You did too, I remember. You were in the car with me and we were heading out for swimming lessons. I asked you your hobby and you asked me what in the world a hobby was. I told you and you said that your hobby was picking up toys when Mom told you to and picking your boogers. Of anyone, I would be the one to remember,” Bella shot back in a teasing tone.
“Whatever, but my hobbies have changed big time since then,” Janae said in an irritated tone. Natalie giggled and she and Bella shared secret smiles while slapping a high five. Sometimes, Bella teamed up with one of her two best friends to get the other one, not out of revenge, but in a teasing way that they all understood. Janae and Natalie more often than not did the same thing to Bella. Putting salt in each other’s drinks, or switching drinks around at restaurants was one of the many pranks Janae and Bella pulled when they decided to team up on Natalie for the day.
Natalie cringed whenever she thought about drinking Janae’s backwash when Bella switched the drinks, or the salty paste that she discovered in her drink one evening, all thanks to Bella and Janae. Some best friends they were. But, all three girls could read each other like a book, and knew that everything was a joke, and they weren’t meaning to hurt anyone.
Both Janae and Natalie’s phones vibrated, and an envious Bella watched as they pulled out matching enV 2’s, the newest and most coveted phone, opening up to reveal a keypad complete with a back space and send button. Seconds later, Bella’s phone beeped, signaling the arrival of a text. Bella pulled out her phone, the complete front side covered with pink and orange cell phone jewels to cover the scuffmarks of her 5 year old cellular device. Bella, Janae, and Natalie’s fingers moved in blurs as they returned texts to some school friends.
They were all sitting on a trendy leather couch in their JNB Detective Office. The office was placed on one side of Natalie’s huge storage room, while all the junk in the room was moved over to give more space for the detective agency, complete with a large roll top desk, and metal filing cabinets, holding information on all of their cases. Extra file folders were kept on top of the cabinet, to be labeled and filed into place when another mystery came along.
“Hey, we haven’t had a mystery in like two months, and I am seriously craving one right now,” Natalie whined. Bella punched her lightly on the arm and rested her head on Natalie’s lap, placing her feet on Janae’s, sprawled across the couch and squishing her BFFs. “Stop it right now,” Janae said pushing Bella’s legs off her lap. “You’re going to make me claustrophobic.”
She went over to the file cabinet to check and see if the charging of her iPod on top of the cabinet was nearing completion. “Yes,” JJ chanted, when her iPod was fully charged, and unhooked it.
Natalie, not looking up from her Seventeen magazine, tossed Janae her iPod and JJ hooked it up to the cord where hers had been. While she was over there, she checked the progress of Bella’s iPod. “Yours has about ten more minutes, honey,” JJ informed Bella. Bella sighed. It was frustrating waited for her slow moving, hot pink iPod to charge.
All of the sudden, the desk phone for the agency rang. “I’ll get it!” JJ said eagerly, and hopped over to answer it. JNB Detective Agency, this is Janae,” she answered cheerfully and politely. “How may I be of assistance?”
For a while, Janae was silent, and the person on the other line chatted endlessly, and the fact that Natalie and Bella didn’t know what this phone call was about built the suspense. Let me talk to my fellow detectives about it, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Can you tell me your number please?
Janae quickly jotted down the caller’s number on a sticky note, and politely bid the person on the other line a goodbye. She put the phone back in the cradle, and turned to face Natalie and Bella, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “We have a case!” she screamed. Natalie and Bella shrieked with delight.
“Where is it?” Bella questioned. “Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Harvard Law School,” Janae stated. Natalie and Bella’s mouths flew open in shock and amazement. “A case?” stuttered Natalie. “At Harvard University?” “Yup.” They said they’d pay for the gas money that it will take to travel from Tremont all the way to Cambridge.”
“Who was talking to you on the phone?” demanded Natalie. “The head professor at the college, named Mr. Bradley Duncan. There’s been a murder at the college, the one that is all over the news. The FBI is working frantically to find the killer, but on the side, Mr. Duncan would like us to try to work on it. He thinks it may be an inside job.” Bella’s eyes widened. “As in, someone at the college may be the murderer?” she asked. Janae nodded. “Mr. Duncan saw our pictures numerous times in the newspaper for our other cases, and decided he’d give us a shot. He has privately hired us to work undercover as law students at the University and try to crack the case.”
“Wow, this is big,” exclaimed Natalie, ignoring the vibration of her cell phone, signaling a text. “We’ve never investigated a murder, much less at a famous college that takes loads of studying to get into.”
“Hey, that just made me realize something,” Bella said. “How are we going to maintain good grades at Harvard if none of us study law?” “I don’t have a high enough IQ, and neither does Natalie, but Bella could manage,” Janae said. Bella blushed. “Hey, you guys are brilliant, but not as book smart as me. We’re all street smart; we have to be in order to solve mysteries. And, besides, you could whoop my tail in softball Janae, and I can’t spike a volleyball to save my life, Natalie. You know that.”
“True, we’re both brilliant in our own way, but not in the way Bella is, and not in the way Harvard wants,” Natalie admitted. There was a moment of silence, before Janae spoke up. “Lets not worry about that. I’m sure if some of the professors know that we’re undercover, they’ll pull some strings to make it look like we’re all studious law students from the outside. I’m sure all of the head professors and principals will know that we’re not REAL students. So, it won’t really matter will it?” Janae asked simply. Bella shook her head.
“But what if it does matter?” Natalie said, still worried. “Let’s not worry about that right now,” Janae encouraged. “Right now, we have a murder to investigate. I think we should take Mr. Duncan up on his offer. Who’s with me?” Bella and Natalie’s hands shot up. Janae laughed. “You take this one, Bella.”
Bella jumped up eagerly, and grabbed the phone from the cradle, punching in the numbers on the sticky note. After the second ring, Mr. Duncan answered. “Hello Mr. Duncan, this is Bella, a fellow detective of Natalie and Janae here at JNB Detective Agency. And, I think we’re going to take you up on your offer. We want to do the case. But, we have to get permission from our parents, and that will be a tough nut to crack. They may not agree, but I’ll call you later on my cell phone and tell you their decision. There was a short pause before Bella thanked Mr. Bradley Duncan and hung up the phone.
“Man, Bella, you’re a pro at talking to important people at big colleges,” Natalie praised, as she answered the text that she had previously ignored.
“Thanks, but that’s not important right now,” Bella gushed. “Guys, we’re hired!” They all screamed and clasped hands to pray. They all said a prayer for their protection and accuracy when working on the case. Natalie ended with, “And, Dear Jesus, help us to do what you think is best. Help us to be able to still have time for you with all this work on our hands. And, help us to crack a tough nut, GETTING PERMISSION FROM LEGAL GUARDIANS!
Chapter 3: Headin’ to Cambridge, Massachusetts
It took lots of coaxing on Bella’s part to get her parents to let her go to investigate the murder at Harvard, but finally they let her go, after her promising to call if in trouble, to stay safe. Bella also told them that she would be with Janae, Natalie, and the professors, who would make sure she was safe. Since Mr. Duncan wanted the girls there as soon as possible, Bella quickly called him back and started packing.
She threw her cell phone, iPod, sunglasses, Devotional Bible, hand sanitizer, and her Twilight Book into a sequin purse and flung it onto her bed. She packed a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, a brush and comb, lotion, and a travel sized deodorant stick in her polka doted toiletries bag, and threw it into her matching suitcase along with a week’s worth of clothes. She was so glad it was Spring Break so that she and JJ and Natalie would have more time to investigate the murder at Harvard.
She packed a basketball, and a string bikini if they went swimming at a local pool. She grabbed her leather, lime green wallet off of her dresser. Bella was one year older than both JJ and Natalie, so she was the only one who had a Visa and was planning on having to pay for almost everything her two friends purchased. She stuffed her wallet with cash she kept in an envelope behind her dresser. She put the wallet in her purse, slung the sequin purse over her shoulder, zipped her suitcase, and scurried out to her light orange Toyota Camry.
Since she was older than her BFFs, she was also the only one with her license, and was planning to drive through the night until she found an affordable hotel. Bella started her car, and carefully maneuvered her way out of her driveway and drove to the parking lot by the only ice cream shop in her rural little town.
Natalie was already waiting there with a bulging suitcase. Bella parked her car, leaving the keys in the ignition, and headed out to help Natalie load her gigantic suitcase into Bella’s small trunk. Bella carefully lifted up Natalie’s light blue road bike and also set it in the trunk beside Natalie and she’s suitcases, stacked on top of one another.
Soon, JJ came jogging up to the parking lot, and stuffed her duffle bag in the back where it could fit. She had a box of Cheerios and a bag of potato chips in one hand, and Bella and Natalie could already tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t planning to share.
All three girls had sensitive stomachs when it came to long road trips, so they just had to keep Wal-Mart bags nearby and hope for the best. Janae called shotgun, much to Natalie’s disappointment. “There’s nothing special about the front seat anyway,” Natalie sulked as she climbed into the back seat, with her phone in one hand and her iPod in the other, shoving her laptop on the floor beside her and opening up a box of raisins. JJ smirked and climbed into the front seat beside Bella.
Bella sighed. “You guys can’t always fight over shotgun whenever I take you somewhere. JJ called it; so stop your whining Natalie. Just make up and lets call a truce, shall we?” said the weary girl, almost a babysitter for her friends. “Fine, truce.” Natalie said, and she smiled at JJ. They knew it was nothing worth fighting about, but they enjoyed doing it, and it was fun to annoy Bella. Bella started the car and they were off for Harvard, not knowing what lay ahead of them.
Chapter 4: The Road Trip
The first few hours, the girls stayed awake. Bella, who was always a careful driver, managed to only go 3 miles over the speed limit and still go at a reasonable pace. JJ, sitting beside Bella, listened to her iPod while munching on her chips and Cheerios. Whenever Bella leaned over for a portion of food, JJ pulled away and slapped Bella on the head. “Stop it,” she said greedily. “They’re mine.”
Natalie, her raisins long gone, was lying across the back seat, without a seatbelt I might add. She was scrolling through the photo gallery on her cell phone and taking pictures of the back of JJ’s head, still holding a playful grudge because JJ wasn’t letting her sit in the front seat. “Bella, can’t you go any faster?” JJ groaned, putting an arm over her friend’s shoulders. Bella shook it off so she could drive well. “No, do you want me to crash AND get a ticket? May I remind you that I paid for this car with my own money?” “Yah, but your parents still pay for the gas,” Natalie yelled from the back seat.
“That’s not the point,” Bella pouted. “I wish you guys would stop bugging me. I don’t want to get in trouble or crash my nice car.” Natalie and JJ looked at each other and laughed. “It’s used!” they said in unison, which made them laugh harder. “That doesn’t mean that I didn’t pay a big amount of money for it,” Bella replied. “What, like four thousand dollars?” Natalie joked. “Three thousand,” Bella corrected.
Natalie chortled. “Ridiculous,” she muttered, and settled herself in the back seat. Ten minutes of silence went by before Janae’s head jerked up, and she pulled her earphones out of her ears. “Okay, Bella, do you smell raisins?” They looked at each other. “Natalie?” they asked together, and turned around. They saw Natalie, on the floor of the car, her face a sickly shade of green. “I don’t feel so well,” she groaned. “Hold on girls,” Bella warned, and screeched to a stop on the side of the road. She turned back to Natalie and looked into her Wal-Mart sack. Bella and JJ almost puked themselves, the scent of raisins even stronger than before. “Natalie, when did your raisins start coming back upstream?” Bella asked. “About five minutes ago,” Natalie answered. “Why didn’t you tell us?” JJ said. Natalie just shrugged.
Bella sighed as she pulled into a Casey’s. She started to fill her car with gas, and headed into the store to dispose of Natalie’s Wal-Mart sack. Janae decided to talk to Natalie, to take her mind off of her sick condition. “So, maybe I should have let you have shotgun, huh?” JJ said. Natalie smiled weakly. “Maybe you should have,” she agreed. JJ kissed Natalie’s sweaty hand, and Natalie grabbed her laptop and cell phone and switched places with Janae.
Soon, Bella was out, and she squirted hand sanitizer on her hands, the sick thought of germs from Natalie’s barf filling her mind. Once her gas tank was full, she swiped her Visa card in the slot and they were off again.
Half an hour later, Natalie, feeling much better said, “Janae, what time is it?” Janae glanced at her bejeweled watch. “Six thirty,” she answered absently, and went back to listening to Avril Lavigne on her iPod. “Maybe we should stop for supper,” suggested Natalie.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Bella said, and pulled into a Wendy’s. Each girl grabbed her laptop and wallet and walked into the fast food restaurant. They ordered their food and selected a table for three. As they waited, JJ hummed “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson. Bella and Natalie looked at her, annoyance creeping over their faces. “Because of you, I never stray far from the sidewalk…” JJ stopped in the middle of the chorus and looked up at her friends.
After seeing the look on their faces, she turned off her iPod and stuck it in her pocket.
Soon, the food was ready, and Janae scampered up to get it, trying to escape her friends’ annoyed stares. “You know, ever since you got that thing a couple of weeks ago,” Natalie said, gesturing towards the iPod and eating a burger, “you’ve been obsessed with it.” JJ stuck up her nose. “There’s nothing wrong with liking music,” she retorted. “You’re right, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Bella said, staring at Natalie and trying to prevent another playful argument as she and JJ opened boxes of chicken nuggets.
After the girls finished eating in silence, they all checked their emails on their matching Apple laptops. They also all made files that they named “Harvard” so they could all keep clues and info on their case safe. They threw away their trash and left the restaurant, getting into the car for the rest of the trip. As they drove mile after mile, Bella and Natalie discussed the case, with JJ chiming in with a few words between listening to songs and texting friends from school about the upcoming case. She really was smart, and a big help to Bella and Natalie in cases, but she was a bit of an electronic gadget freak, so she wasn’t always paying attention.
A reluctant Natalie traded seats with JJ so she could once again have shotgun beside Bella. But, it didn’t seem to matter because they both fell asleep within the hour, leaving Bella to drive in silence. Five hours later, at eleven thirty P.M, Bella pulled into a Drury Inn. She answered a few texts before waking up Natalie and Janae. Natalie woke up right away; at the slight touch Bella gave her on the shoulder. Then, Natalie, without success, shook JJ’s shoulder, trying to get her to wake up.
Next, Bella tried to wake up JJ. “Janae, please wake up,” she said gently. JJ awoke at Bella’s gentle touch and turned over, stating in a sleepy voice, “Are we there yet?” “No, but we’re stopping at a hotel for the night, and we’ll travel the remainder of the hours tomorrow morning at about 9:30,” Bella replied softly. She shook JJ again, but she just yawned and slumped over, turning her head so that Bella couldn’t speak to her anymore. Natalie sighed. “She’s hopeless,” Natalie said. She took a picture of JJ sleeping and labeled it “Sleeping Beauty”. Bella giggled and made a thumbs up sign. She and Natalie climbed out of the car.
“Wait,” said JJ groggily, and she stumbled out of the car as well. Bella and Natalie chuckled. “We knew if we started to leave that you would follow us,” explained Bella, pocketing her car keys. They grabbed their purses, laptops, and bags and Bella locked her car. They lugged everything into the hotel lobby, and Natalie and Janae plopped down on chairs, leaving Bella to check them in.
After about five minutes, Bella walked over to JJ and Natalie, handing them each a room key and keeping one for her. “We have room sixty-eight,” she told them, and they happily carried their luggage to the nearest elevator, their moods brightened by the thought of sleeping in a bed.
Once they got to the room, Janae slid her card through the slot on the door and opened it. The room looked inviting, and Natalie was the first to drop her bag, set her phone, purse, laptop, and iPod next to it, and flop down on one of the double beds.
The girls quickly changed into pajama pants and T-shirts, brushed their teeth, (Bella being the only one who bothered to floss) and climbed into bed, JJ and Natalie curling up together in one of the double beds. Bella, who preferred sleeping alone, took the other double, sighing with pleasure as she snuggled into the crisp and cool sheets. It seemed like they had slept only minutes before light started streaming through their window.
Chapter 5: Getting There
All three girls sat up and rubbed sleep from their eyes. It was eight thirty and they were all well rested. They quickly changed and slipped their feet into some matching bed slippers, scampering down the hall, and tumbling into the elevator.
After a continental breakfast of muffins and orange juice, the girls brushed their hair and teeth and washed their faces. They each left a five- dollar tip on Bella’s unmade double bed for the cleaning lady. Bella wrote a note of thanks to the lady, and set it on the bed next to the money after digging through yesterday’s dirty jeans and looking for the car keys while Janae and Natalie waited patiently beside her.
Once she found them, they all took their crap and lugged it back down to the lobby, thanking the concierge on the way out and shoving everything once again into Bella’s trunk. Soon, they were off again, a smug Natalie quickly climbing into the front seat before Janae could object.
The girls cheerfully chatted the rest of the way, non-stop, until Bella pulled into Harvard’s parking lot. JJ jumped with excitement, turning off her iPod and shoving it into her purse. “We’re here!” she yelled with enthusiasm. Natalie covered her ears. “We’re well aware of that,” said Bella crossly. “You don’t have to yell it.” A few awkward seconds passed by. JJ looked bewildered. Bella never spoke to her like that. Then Bella laughed. “I’m sorry JJ, I’m just tired of driving. I want to get off my butt and do something!”
Natalie smiled. “I think we all have a little bit of cabin fever, or in this case, car fever. Maybe we just need to get out and walk around.” They all laughed together and started unloading their bags. They brought them into the large college.
“Wow, this is huge!” JJ exclaimed. Soon, a man of medium height, and short brown hair came up. “Hello,” he said with a friendly smile. “I’m Mr. Duncan, a professor here at the university. I was the one that hired you.” “Yes, I’m Janae,” said JJ, flashing a dazzling smile. Mr. Duncan, clearly taken aback by her large smile and friendly manner shook her hand politely. Bella and Natalie introduced themselves and let Mr. Duncan help them with their bags and lead them to their dorm room in a different building. He opened the door to a dorm room labeled 156 with a key. It swung open easily, revealing a small, air-conditioned room with a double bed and a pull out leather couch, similar to the one in the JNB agency. In front of the couch was a flat, plasma screen TV.
“I know it isn’t much, but we did our best to prepare an extra dorm room for you on such short notice,” Mr. Duncan said. “It’s wonderful, thank you very much,” said Bella, politely and sincerely. Mr. Duncan smiled. “I’m glad you like it,” he said. “And over here,” he gestured towards a small refrigerator, “we stocked a small fridge with soda pop and ice cream, for we heard that Cookies n’ Cream was your favorite.” All three girls grinned with delight. “Also, we have stocked you with some movies that you may enjoy watching,” he added, pointing to a stack of DVD’s, half of which Natalie and Bella had already brought. Janae spotted a pile of candy bars sitting beside the double bed, and smiled with glee. As the three girls were shown the rest of the dorm room, they thought about how much they were being pampered. They didn’t want to be treated better than any other student; it wasn’t good to make enemies. But, being treated like queens wasn’t so bad, either.
All of a sudden, Mr. Bradley Duncan lowered his voice. “Thank you for coming to be my undercover agents,” he said in a whisper. “I hope you are good at pretending, for it will be hard to convince the smart pupils here that you belong in the law business,” he said. So, I have provided you with notes to study if you ever need help answering a question. They might start becoming suspicious if you show up out of the blue and don’t know anything,” he explained. He handed each girl a pink notebook full of notes. Inside the notebooks were the class schedules.
The girls realized with horror that they didn’t have all of their classes together. Bella and Janae took all of their classes together except for two, but Natalie was only with them in one class. She was going to have to fend for herself most of the time, while it would be easier for Bella and Janae, because they could watch each other’s backs. “Mr. Duncan, if the professors all know we’re working undercover, why is there any need to pretend anyway?” Bella asked quizzically.
Mr. Duncan lowered his voice again. “Although the professors know, the students don’t. We are fairly sure that the murder was committed by one of the students here at Harvard University. If they find out that you have come to investigate the murder, and you’re not actually students, well, something very bad may happen to you.”
The girls looked at each other and shuddered. Mr. Duncan raised his voice again and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry if I scared you,” he said. “That’s quite alright, Mr. Duncan,” Bella said, still recovering from the recent news that something “bad” might happen if someone other than the professors knew their true identity.
“I almost forgot,” said Mr. Duncan, obviously remembering something. “Since your names are almost always grouped together in the newspaper, I am changing two of your identities so that no student will recognize the names of the three new students. Janae, you will be known as Tara-B, and Natalie, you are now Gabriella. Bella, your name will stay the same. You’re lucky that your pictures are not put in the paper, so no one will recognize you in situations such as these.” Mr. Duncan shook his head again. “Girls, if your identities were to fall into the wrong hands, you would be in serious trouble. Just remember not to mention this to anyone, not even the professors.”
Seeing that the girls were confused, Mr. Duncan continued. “It’s true that some student might overhear and if they were not the murderer themselves, they might start spreading everything around and the information could fall into the wrong hands. But, that’s only one thing I’m worried about. The professors did not all like the idea of me hiring teenagers to work on the job, especially when this is a murder we’re dealing with. They think the FBI can do a good enough job. If enough of the professors want you to leave, you will have to leave. If you start talking about this with them, they might get angry all over again with my decision,” said Mr. Duncan.
As the girls took in the information they had received, Mr. Duncan smiled. “That is a lot for you to absorb, I know. Just remember what I told you. You must be tired. I will leave you so you may have some peace and quiet.” The girls nodded and Mr. Duncan started to exit the dorm room. He stopped half way to the doorway and turned around. “Girls?” he said. Natalie, or Gabriella, nodded; indicating that he should go on and they were listening. “Be careful,” he finished insistently. He hesitated before leaving and shutting the door behind him.
Natalie, Bella, and JJ looked at each other and took deep breaths. “Wow, this is scary,” said Bella. JJ nodded. “Yah, it is, but we still have to do it.” “You’re right,” Natalie agreed. “We started this thing and we have to finish it.” “We better study some law notes and go to bed early,” suggested Bella. And that is what they did.
Chapter 6: The first day of Class
JJ awoke first, ironically, and shook awake Bella and Natalie, quickly. The girls spent the first ten minutes studying out of their law notebooks that Mr. Duncan had prepared for them. They dressed in drab law outfits they had found in the wardrobe that Mr. Duncan, or another female professor had stocked, taking the hint that the three friends and detectives didn’t have many “law” outfits. They each dressed in gray suits with long gray dress pants and had dark red camis underneath.
They spent a long time on their hair. JJ put it into a bun, which made her look more sophisticated. Bella settled on flipping her hair out and putting a plaid, gray and blank headband in her hair to give her a “smart” look. Natalie, after fussing for a long while, decided to leave her hair down.
The girls discovered an array of boots in the closet, and picked matching black high-heeled boots, covered by the long school pants they were wearing. Once ready, they grabbed law textbooks in the corner, their pink notebooks, and their laptops, ready to take notes. Instead of brushing teeth, they all took a piece of Janae’s mint gum to save time.
They looked at their class schedules. Bella frowned as she looked at the class schedule. “How do you read this thing anyway?” she asked. While Natalie helped her, JJ was keeping an eye on two students, or professors for all she knew, whispering suspiciously in a dark corner of the hallway. She made a mental note to look for the two people in a class she might be taking.
Bella frowned again. “I don’t get this map,” she said, tucking the class schedule aside and looking at the large map of Harvard College. “Oh, good grief,” said JJ. “We’ll see you later, Natalie. I wish we had all of our classes together,” said JJ, hugging her friend. “Yep, that would be a lot easier. We’ll see if Mr. Duncan can pull some strings for us regarding the class schedule. Maybe he can change it so we can all be together,” suggested Bella. Natalie nodded. “Good idea,” JJ said. “And, Natalie, remember, you’re now Gabriella when in public and I’m Tara-B, okay?
Tara-B. I like it,” thought Janae aloud. Bella rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t start, JJ. You have to have legal permission to change your name.” “Well, we are at a law school. Why can’t I just get legal permission here?” JJ joked dryly.
“Whatever JJ,” said Natalie, but you have to go. I guess I better go too. I want to make a good impression on the professor by being early.” “First impressions last a lifetime,” warned Bella playfully, and blew Natalie a kiss. She and JJ linked arms, and they walked their separate ways, until Natalie was only a small speck in the distance.
JJ and Bella entered a large room. There were only about four other students in their room, finishing up last minute law assignments on fancy laptops, or jotting down notes in large notebooks. Many had textbooks in hand, studying before the bell rang. Bella looked around. “So, this is how they spend their extra time. Studying boring stuff while they could be out and about. No wonder so many people in this world are starting to get obese. Not enough exercise,” Bella whispered jokingly so that only JJ could hear. JJ laughed quietly.
“Although that doesn’t seem to be a problem here,” she noted. She glanced at all of the students individually. The two girls and two boys had exceptionally good looks, and all but one were about average weight and size, just like the three detective BFFs, although Bella was a little on the small side. “No obese kids here,” she said into Bella’s ear. They all looked just right, except for the one seriously skinny blonde girl that looked so fragile that Bella thought if anyone were to touch her she might fall apart and break.
Bella turned to JJ. “Maybe she needs to eat more donuts,” said Bella. They both tried to keep a straight face but ended up having to cover their mouths and swallow their giggles. There were rows and rows of uncomfortable looking desks. Bella and JJ took their seats next to each other.
Unlike other schools, Harvard, of course, had no graffiti of any sort carved into the desktop. JJ was afraid to touch anything for fear that she might soil its perfection. The kids here obviously were very serious about their studies, and took extra perfect care of the school’s property and their belongings.
Janae looked down at her notebook, where she had already penciled in a number of doodles, and then looked at the girl’s notebook in front of her, the one that needed a few extra donuts, according to Bella. JJ still chuckled when she thought of that little inside joke.
But, she stopped chuckling and looked in shock at the extra -organized style of the skinny girl. Everything was perfectly lined up and stacked, with two extra pencils in case her pen ran out of ink, and absolutely NO doodles on her notebook. She even had a bathroom schedule carefully and precisely taped on the inside front cover of her flawless notebook. Everything was even color coordinated with bright neon highlighters, which reminded JJ of her softball uniform. Janae hadn’t realized that her mouth was hanging open in shock, and admiration. She quickly closed it and started to erase her drawings with the chewed up eraser on the back of one of her pencil stubs. She immediately started to clean up any mess she saw, still in awe from the girl’s perfection.
JJ quickly wrote a note to Bella about what she had just seen, and slipped it under the desk to her friend. Bella took it between two fingers, read it quickly, her eyes skimming over the messy scrawl, then smiled slightly, crumpling the note and putting it in her pocket so she wouldn’t be caught.
JJ realized that Bella must have already seen the girl’s unbelievable organization, for her materials suddenly looked almost as flawless as the slim female’s in front of JJ, signaling that she must have been embarrassed and decided to fix her supplies.
Neither JJ nor her best friend realized that all of the pupils were filing into the large classroom one by one, and all were staring at them in confusion. They must have been surprised to see two new faces in the classroom.
A slim girl with wavy blonde hair and a perfect complexion walked up to JJ with a smirk on her face, and an unsatisfied look in her piercing blue eyes. Her designer clothes and horrible attitude put both Bella and JJ at a loss for words.
“Um, this is MY seat,” the girl said rudely. “Well, I’m new here, my name is…” “I said, this is my seat,” interrupted the girl through clenched teeth, raising her voice. “And no one sits in my seat.” Bella sighed with relief. She was glad the snobby girl had interrupted JJ in mid sentence, for she knew that Janae had forgotten that she was no longer Janae, but Tara-B. JJ flushed a bright red. “Alright then,” she mumbled.
JJ grabbed her things, the snotty goddess eying her messy supplies with disapproval. Her smile was sickening and smug as she sat down, flipping her gorgeous hair over her shoulder. Oh, no, the hair- flip. This is going to be a long week, thought Bella. “By the way, the name’s Jordan. And, just to remind you again, NO one sits in my seat.”
Soon, a handsome, tall guy came up from behind. His hair was curly; his complexion perfect, and his dark blue eyes were much prettier than Jordan’s. His muscles billowed out obviously from beneath his Hollister shirt. “Except for him,” she said, kissing him on the cheek and running her fingers through his hair. JJ eyed them in disgust. James looked confused. He flashed a brilliant smile, but not in Jordan’s direction and took the seat Jordan offered him. He smiled apologetically at Bella. JJ could see some major flirting going on. But, she already had a boyfriend back home, so she wasn’t going to worry about it. So did Bella, but she would get over this Harvard crush in a jiffy.
He flashed a brilliant smile at JJ, mouthing “She’s crazy,” to both of the girls. “And desperate,” he said aloud, but making sure Jordan couldn’t hear him. They laughed and he moved to the front of the room to talk to the professor about a late assignment. Jordan took her chance and stormed back over to Janae and Bella.
For the first time, they noticed a girl behind Jordan; they were guessing it was her follower. She had chin length red hair, and green eyes boiling with anger, just because Jordan’s were. She obviously liked to follow suit and was a loyal slave of her “friend.”
“Listen ladies,” Jordan hissed under her breath, leaning closer. “That boy, James, is mine! I will find a way to get him, and I will do whatever it takes, even if that means shoving you two away.” “You better not mess with her,” taunted Jordan’s follower in a warning tone. “Trust me from recent experience.” Jordan looked at her with annoyance. “That was the wrong thing to say, Becca. Just shut up.” Becca cowered back to her seat.
Then it happened again. Jordan flipped her silky hair over her shoulder and sauntered back to her seat. JJ rolled her eyes. Bella did too. “Her type never prospers. She’ll lose in the end, JJ,” said Bella with a casual glance back at James, still talking to the professor. JJ happened to look into Jordan’s direction and saw her glaring at her and Bella suspiciously and angrily. JJ quickly lowered her gaze and pretended to be studying.
A girl with long orange hair and sympathetic gray eyes from across the room looked at them in pity. In no time at all, class had started. Bella and JJ stood up and stated their names. Bella cleared her throat, nudging JJ slightly to remind her that she was Tara-B from now on. The professor winked when she said her fake name. This must be the only one supporting Mr. Duncan’s decision, thought JJ happily. At least I have one non -enemy.
The class dragged on and on and on. JJ found herself opening up Minesweepers five times, but had to stop herself. Even Bella grew fidgety, and decided to doodle Jordan and then draw X’s on her pretty face. She had to admit that the girl WAS any guy’s dream, but she was so annoying! And Becca, her follower, had to get a little tired of Jordan’s attitude.
JJ glanced over at the donut-lacking girl and saw that she had her head bent down, as if she were concentrating on writing something in her huge notebook, but she was sneaking looks at Bella and JJ out of the corners of her eyes. She almost acted like she was afraid of the two friends. She acted like they were poisonous or something. Bella tried to contain herself from laughing at the silly simile. “Poisonous?” she whispered. “Can’t I do better than that?”
Before they knew it, class was over and JJ and Bella hurriedly cleaned up their things to meet Natalie at the dorm before the next class. The girl that had eyed JJ sympathetically walked over with James. Bella’s eyes widened and the gray-eyed girl laughed. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m only his best friend. You can have him.” Both James and Bella blushed and she looked at the floor. The girl put her hand on Bella’s shoulder and Bella’s eyes shot up. “I’m Melissa,” she introduced with twinkling eyes, “and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. James is used to it,” she finished, punching him lightly on the arm. He punched her back and put an arm around her.
‘’Many people get the wrong idea,” he said, kissing Melissa’s cheek in a friendly manner. “They ask us if we’re dating. But, no, we are not secretly in love, and I don’t like her. We’ve been best friends ever since she told me that I was doing the stroke’s wrong when I painted my picture of a bird in Kindergarten,” James joked. “What?” Melissa said. “You were doing it all wrong.” JJ looked confused. “She’s an artist,” explained James. Melissa turned to Bella. “It was pretty bad. What’s your name?”
“I’m Bella,” she said. “And this is Tara-B,” she added, introducing her friend, before JJ could mess up her artificial name. “Nice name,” complemented James and Melissa simultaneously, which made them laugh. “Thanks,” responded JJ casually and easily, not at all nervous. “How long have you guys been here at Harvard?” Melissa gazed up at James with question. “I forget,” she said, poking his stomach playfully. “He smiled and hugged her to his chest. “We rigged the class schedules so we could have class together,” he whispered. “This is our second year.” He looked down at her in admiration.
Bella arched her eyebrows. It certainly did look like they belonged together, but if they said they were just friends, then they were just friends. “What do you know about that tiny, gawky girl over there?” questioned Bella curiously, gesturing towards the donut-lacking girl they had noticed before class.
“Oh Megan?” asked Melissa, making it sound like her name should be obvious although Bella and JJ had never met her. “She’s my roommate.” Bella nodded. “Small world,” she commented. “I also have another roommate. Becca Sanchez, I’m sure you’ve met her,” Melissa said, cringing as she said the red head’s name.
“The follower?” asked JJ in surprise. “She’s the one,” said Melissa. “All she talks about is her slave driver, Jordan. It’s always Jordan this and Jordan that. She’s thoroughly obsessed with her so called ‘friend,’ Jordan.”
Melissa shook her head in disgust. “I don’t like those girls.” Bella and JJ nodded in agreement. “I mean, we are new here, and the first thing she says to Tara-B is, “This is my seat,” mimicked Bella in a snobby voice, perfectly matching Queen Jordan’s. Melissa looked at James and they laughed. James put a hand on Bella’s shoulder. “That was perfect.” “Yah, well, I love acting,” said Bella in a bubbly voice. She seemed a little more at ease with the male model looking guy and his best friend/girlfriend. Bella still wasn’t sure if they were just pretending not to like each other, or if they were really serious when they said that they didn’t have a relationship at all except for being the best of friends.
“So, who’s your roommate?” she asked James, over the crush on him, and satisfied with being his friend. “Nick Larson,” he answered. He’s only in one of my classes, and he’s a Harvard buddy I met on my first day. And, I know it seems unfair, but Jordan’s “Daddy” is the only professor above Mr. Duncan, and he shifted the rules a bit so that Jordan can have her own dorm room. I guess that even Becca’s company can’t compare to having the luxury of your own dorm room,” said James. They talked for a while longer, and then exchanged numbers and JJ and Bella watched James and Melissa clasp hands and exit the room.
As soon as James and Melissa were out of earshot, Janae and Bella looked at each other and said at the same time, “They are definitely NOT “just best friends.”
Bella and JJ met Natalie back at the dorm and told her about James, Melissa, Becca, Megan, and Queen Jordan, and their suspicions that Melissa and James really did like each other.
“I don’t know, but I think that the donut-lacking girl was trying to avoid us the whole class period,” said JJ, happy to discuss her theory. “Megan,” corrected Bella. “Whatever,” said JJ, but she didn’t even come up to say hi.”
After hearing about Janae and Bella’s adventures, Natalie opened up about her first class. “I hope you remembered to use your fake name,” said Bella. “I’m not stupid,” pouted Natalie, “and I only got addressed directly one time, and I remembered, so there. But, anyway, the whole class was so boring that it was killing me and I was going to play pinball but the professor came down the aisle so I HAD to pretend I was actually working.” JJ and Bella laughed.
Bella decided she was in the mood for jumping on the dorm’s double bed, so she hopped up and down on her bed as she listened to Natalie talk about the class’s boring subjects. “But then,” finished Natalie, her voice full of suspense, and then stopped.
“Tell us!” shrieked Bella expectantly, leaning forward to hear well. “I promise that my jumping will cease if you tell us what happened. So, out with it,” Bella pleaded. “All right,” Natalie gave in. “So,” she started up again like she was telling a ghost story. “I was about to leave when this girl dropped a note. Being my curious self I picked it up and read it. It said, “Abbi~ meet me @ my car at 7:00 tonight. We need to discuss the new girls and what it might mean. ~P,” recited Natalie.
“So, I quickly chased her down and told her what she had dropped, pretending that I hadn’t read it. I introduced myself as Gabriella and she told me that her name was Paige Davis. She thanked me for giving her back the note and said that it was important that she slipped it to her friend between classes. She seemed casual, nice, polite, and normal. But, I think we have to investigate tonight. So, I went to the front office and got Paige’s dorm number. We can search the parking lot in front of her dorm building and wait until her and Abbi start talking. I think that they somehow know about us. The dorm building is #5 and her dorm number is 367. We are going there… tonight.”
Chapter 7: Abbi and Paige
“Way to go, Natalie!” JJ praised patting her on the back. “Yah, you did great!” Bella agreed. “We didn’t find out anything in class!” The girls completed the rest of the classes for the day. Megan was in almost all of Janae and Bella’s classes, and she was still avoiding them. The one class Natalie was able to take with her friends, she met Melissa and James, and Megan, but thankfully, the three detectives didn’t see any more of Jordan or Becca.
The professors seemed pretty nice, and JJ, Bella, and Natalie correctly answered any question they were given. Natalie didn’t see Paige Davis again that day, except Natalie gave a full description of Paige to Bella and JJ so they could meet her. JJ and Bella didn’t see her until 6th hour, and when they did see her, they politely explained who they were and talked for a bit. Paige wasn’t supermodel gorgeous like Jordan, but just…normal. She had a large birthmark on one cheek and straight brown hair. Her eyes were brown and wide, and she had full lips that opened up to reveal slightly yellow, but still extremely straight teeth. She seemed nice and looked and talked like a normal girl, just like Natalie had said. She didn’t seem at all suspicious.
On the way out the door when their last class was finished, JJ gasped and pulled Bella aside. “Those are the two students I saw whispering suspiciously in the hallway this morning,” explained JJ excitedly to Bella, pointing at two figures dressed in black. They both looked like students, but Bella hadn’t seen them in class.
“Oh, come on JJ,” Bella reasoned in a soft tone. “There are hundreds of students at Harvard, are you sure these are the same ones you saw this morning?”
Janae nodded. “I’m sure Bellsies, I am. I know I saw them. They even have on the same outfits. I remember because I was thinking about how much they need to work on their wardrobes,” she said seriously.
Bella giggled. “Only you. Well, whoever they are, let’s remember to keep looking for them. If we see them again, we’ll investigate. They could just be some gothic kids that like to whisper a lot and drive everyone else crazy. Lets not worry about it right now though, ok?” “Okay,” JJ agreed reluctantly, still looking in the direction of the two mysterious guys.
Suddenly they looked up and saw her staring at them. She quickly dropped her mystified gaze and dragged Bella away from the men in the suspicious clothes. “You’re going to get yourself in trouble if you don’t stop staring at people, JJ,” warned Bella in a whisper as JJ lugged her towards their dorm building to meet Natalie. They started running. When they got to the dorm room, they were panting.
JJ rapped on the door loudly with her knuckles twice before Natalie pulled herself away from “The Oprah Show” to answer the door. “Did you guys meet Paige?” she asked, letting them in and settling back on the couch to watch her show with a bowl of popcorn.
Bella took a few kernels and munched thoughtfully. “Yah, but she seemed normal, Nat, just like you said. Do you think she knows that WE are the new girls, or do you think she just knows that there are some new girls here, but doesn’t know what they look like, or what classes they’re in?” demanded Bella. “IDK, just leave me alone though, I want to watch this,” Natalie whined crossly. JJ strode over to the TV, flicked it off, and stood in front of it with her hands on her hips. “Nat, we are here to solve a mystery, not to listen to Oprah talk to people about their money problems.” “It’s not always money problems that the people talk to her about,” mumbled Natalie, just as cross.
Bella rolled her eyes. “You still haven’t answered my question,” she said, exasperated. “I really don’t think she knows that we are the new girls, otherwise she would have acted embarrassed that I got the note,” thought Natalie aloud. Bella nodded. “Good thinking,” she said. “That’s what I thought too. But this case is getting more mysterious by the minute.”
Bella and Janae told Natalie about the reappearance of the two suspicious men. “They are so in need of new clothes,” joked Natalie. Bella smiled. “Maybe that’s true, but that’s not the point. I told JJ that we need to keep an eye out for those guys, and if they appear again, then we have to investigate. Maybe Mr. Duncan can find out more about them for us.”
“Oh, that reminds me,” said Natalie, grabbing the remote from Janae and flicking the TV back on, “He says he’ll stop by tonight to give us the gas money and hear what we’ve found out. Oh, and America’s Next Top Model’s on tonight. We need to find out which model wannabe Tyra will eliminate tonight,” said Natalie, her eyes sparkling. “Totally,” said Bella, brightening. “But after the stakeout. I am anxious to find out how Paige knows that there are undercover detectives here.”
Janae grabbed the remote back from a stunned Natalie and turned the TV off again. “Got you,” she said smugly.
That night, Melissa, James, and his roommate, Nick Larson, met Bella, Janae, and Natalie at Taco Bell for a fun night out before the three girls left for their stakeout. “Fake names,” Bella reminded before they entered the restaurant.
Natalie was happy to meet Nick Larson, who had a completely different class schedule than her. She giggled, flirting with the blonde haired roommate that was almost as hot as James. Bella and JJ had already met him, so they waved casually at him, James, and Melissa before stepping into line. Natalie soon jogged up to join them. JJ looked pleadingly at Bella.
“Okay, how much money do you have?” she sighed, taking out her wallet that was stuffed with one hundred and fifty dollars in cash, plus her Visa. “Twenty-five bucks,” said Natalie proudly, as if it was an accomplishment, and Bella slapped a high five and they both looked at JJ. She looked down. “One dollar and fifty cents,” she blurted out guiltily. Natalie laughed and JJ smiled slyly.
“Spent a few too many dollars at Claire’s did you?” mocked Bella. She put a five- dollar bill into JJ’s outstretched hand. “Even though you both had me pay for you at Drury Inn,” Bella droned, “You still can borrow money from me any time.” Janae beamed. “Thanks,” she said. Bella nodded. “Whatever.”
They ordered their meals and went to sit by their new friends, who had already ordered their food. “How come your roommate, Megan, didn’t come?” asked Natalie.
“She’s not really in to…social stuff,” answered Melissa hesitantly. “And Becca already had made plans to go get a pedicure with Jordan.” “Figures,” said Bella, and they all laughed. As they all sat around the table, laughing, giggling, talking, and cracking jokes, Natalie felt like she had known these people her whole life.
“Hey, does everyone want to come to my dorm after dinner?” offered Melissa. “I’m sure Megan won’t mind.” “Sure, but James and I have to get back to the dorm to study for a test at about nine o’clock,” said Nick. “Great.” Melissa turned to JJ. “Sorry, but we have plans tonight,” said JJ regretfully. She really liked Melissa and it would be lots of fun to hang out with her, but they had to go to this stakeout. Melissa’s face fell. “Okay.” She tried to hide her disappointment. “Maybe some other time we can.” “Yah, totally,” JJ said. “And I’d like to get to know Megan better.”
“Good luck with that,” Melissa muttered. “I’m her roommate and on rare occasions she speaks to me, but not much. Even when I have friends over, she acts like they’re not even there.” Bella frowned. “Strange. And, how did you three meet anyway? I would have trouble finding friends in this enormous college.”
“Well, we’re all from the same neighborhood,” Nick explained. “My parents went here, and so that inspired James, Melissa, and I to try to get into Harvard. We studied every day after school our junior year, and were able to skip our last year of high school and enroll into Harvard. We vowed that we would still hang out together, and so far we have kept our promise. We have made up our own study group that we call Inspiration, and through that I met my amazing girlfriend,” Nick continued, practically drooling. James nodded. “That’s about it. What about you? How did you get interested in Harvard?”
Bella racked her brain for a possible excuse. We must look like fifteen and sixteen year olds, not college students, because that is what we are, thought Bella. “Well,” she said, thinking quickly. “We have always been inspired by the brilliant minds of students here. And, we wanted to become like them. So, we studied every day after school, like you. We skipped a couple grades and enrolled in Harvard.” “Yah, and we were premature babies, so we are a little on the petite side,” JJ lied, obviously enjoying making up stories about herself. Bella frowned at JJ’s lame lie.
“Yah, we don’t look like college students,” Natalie added. James looked a little confused, as if he could see right through their stories. After awhile he just shrugged. “Interesting,” he thought aloud. There was an awkward silence.
Worried that James would find flaw in their makeshift and spur of the moment stories, Bella quickly distracted him. “Well, we have to go, but thanks so much and we’ll keep in touch.” Bella grabbed her purse and tried to walk casually out to the car. “That was close,” she said, whirling around to face JJ. “And you certainly didn’t help with your premature baby thing,” she complained. JJ shrugged. “It’s all I could think of.” She climbed into the back seat, in a good mood and still laughing about her stupid story. Natalie smiled, happy that Janae was giving up shotgun, and climbed in beside Bella.
“Guys, there is nothing humorous about it,” Bella said, answering a text from her mother. “They suspect something.” Natalie snickered. “It’s their fault that they’re so smart.” Bella pulled out of Taco Bell and onto interstate. “Bella?” asked Natalie. “What?” “Why don’t you just paint this car purple? It would be so much cooler” Bella glared at her, a smile tugging at her lips. Janae leaned in from the back seat, knowing that Bella was about to laugh. Suddenly Bella burst out laughing and gripped the steering wheel, trying to stay in control of her driving.
“Eww, Natalie, I already like the color of my car,” giggled Bella. “Also, how did you find your way to the school? It’s not like Mr. Duncan gave you step by step directions.” Bella rolled her eyes and pointed to her GPS. “You just now noticed my GPS, Lafonda Sagger. I programmed in our location and it finds it for us. You are so stupid.” Silence. Then Natalie spoke up. “Where’d you find a name like Lafonda Sagger?”
They laughed and talked the whole way to the dorm room. Natalie unlocked the door to the room and stepped in. “I like the way these pants look on me,” Natalie praised herself as she pulled on some sweats. JJ whistled and Bella clapped. “You’re ready for the runway,” she whooped. Natalie blushed and gave Bella a nudge. “Come on, these are sweats. If I really wanted to be in a show, I would make a dress.”
“Yes, with your old pillowcases and some used bed sheets,” Bella replied. “Come on, Bellsies, that was in fourth grade. This dress would be beautiful, with sequins, and a knee length halter top dress dazzling whenever I walk,” Natalie said dreamily. “Speaking of, I have a hot pink halter top that I will wear with my favorite blue jeans tomorrow,” Bella randomly decided. “Okay,” JJ said absently, pulling on some sweat pants and a t-shirt.
Bella put on some knee length shorts and a black baby-T. She slipped on her Rocket dogs, smoothed her hair, and said, “Ready when you are.” She updated the Harvard files on all of their laptops with info about Paige and the stakeout.
Meanwhile, Janae was planning a rather lame surprise, draping blankets around her work- space while she put her surprise into action. She finally was finished and revealed herself from under the blankets. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Natalie looked at her expectantly. “So?” she asked, waiting for Janae to uncover the surprise. “You have to wait and see,” Janae said smugly. They left and tiptoed quietly out the door.
“Dorm building five, dorm building five,” Bella muttered to herself over and over. The girls had spent over ten minutes trying to locate where Paige lived on the campus. She flipped her phone open. It was 6:42, and they had to get there early so they could find Paige’s car. After all, she was planning to meet her roommate, Abbi, at her car at seven, so they had