Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1)

38,396
05.03.2019

“That sucks,” Mary says.

I nod. “And he barely even said sorry. Rich people never say sorry.”

Lillia rolls her eyes but keeps her mouth shut.

I take the tarp off my Catalina daysailer, fold it up, and put it in the hatch. It’s been a while since I’ve had it out on the water. Maybe not even since June, which is crazy. But the thing is, Alex and I would always hang out on his boat, because it had a fridge to keep our drinks cool and leather bucket seats that reclined, and an amazing stereo system. For some weird reason I feel guilty about this. About forgetting who I was before I met him. The things that used to be important to me. Fixing up my boat, hanging out with my real friends. I never thought I’d be one of those girls, those girls that compromise who they are just for a guy. Especially some two-timing wannabe player like Alex Lind.

“Get in,” I say, hooking my floodlight up to the battery. It sends a bright beam out through the night, lighting up the caps of the waves. Perfect.

Lillia takes one step on board and freezes as the boat sways. Then she hops off like a scared bunny rabbit. She almost backs right into Mary, who looks nervous too. Crossing her arms, Lillia says, “Let’s just talk out here.”

Laughing, I say, “I’ve been sailing ever since I was old enough to turn the steering wheel on my own, for God’s sakes! I feel safer driving this than a car.”

“I said I’m not getting on that thing,” Lillia snaps. “Either we talk out here or I leave.”

Under my breath I mutter “Diva,” unhook my floodlight, and then join them on the dock.

The three of us sit in a semicircle.

It hits me right then that I’ve already won. Because Rennie’s best friend is sitting here right now, pledging to help me take her down. And Alex is going to get his, too. I could give two shits about Reeve, but it’ll be nice to see him get what’s coming to him. It’s like a freaking three-for-one deal.

I stretch my legs out in front of me. “We’ve got to set some ground rules. First off, I think each of us has to participate in all three acts of revenge. That way no one can back out or blame someone else.”

“Obviously,” Lillia says.

I shoot her a look but keep going. “Second, we can’t be seen talking to each other in public. Ever.”

Mary nods. “Yeah. I guess that makes sense.”

I continue, “In fact, I even think texting each other is too risky. Lillia, what if Rennie picked up your phone and saw my number?”

Lillia looks down at her lap. “Not that Rennie’s, like, snooping around on my phone, but yeah, I guess you have a point. We’re going to have to be careful.”

“We have to be more than careful,” I say. “No one can ever know what we’re up to. What we do together lives and dies with us.” Then I clear my throat, because this is the most important part. “And if we’re really going to do this, no one can bail halfway through. If you’re in, you need to be in until the very end. Until we all get what we want. If not, well . . . consider yourself fair game. It’ll be open season, and we’ll have a hell of a lot of ammo to use against you. If you can’t swear to that, we might as well just pretend like tonight never happened.”

Mary nods first, then Lillia. I smile, because, holy shit, we’re doing this.

“All right, then,” I say. “I think that’s it. Now we just have to figure out what we’re going to do to Rennie, Alex, and Reeve.”

“Alex first,” Lillia corrects.

We look at each other. No one’s saying anything.

“So what’s the plan?” Lillia asks.

“Don’t expect me to do the heavy lifting,” I say, defensive. “I just came up with the rules!”

Lillia purses her lips. “Are you serious? I thought you’d be all over this. I figured you’d already have, like, a notebook with everybody you hate and lists of things you’ll do to get back at them.” She actually sounds disappointed, which gives me a weird sense of pride.

Off the top of my head, I start riffing. “Okay, well, Alex is obsessed with his SUV. We could spray paint it, mess with the engine—”

“Not big enough,” Lillia interrupts.

Mary asks, “Does he have a pet or something? We could kidnap it . . . and kill it!” Lillia and I exchange a horrified look as Mary giggles. “I’m just kidding about that last part. I love animals!”

I keep going. “We could hack into the school computer and mess with his grades. Make it so the only college that will take him is Jar Island CC. His dad will beat his ass if he doesn’t get into an Ivy.”

Lillia sighs and says, “I don’t know how to hack into anything, and I doubt you do either, Kat. Do you, Mary?”

Mary shakes her head.

“I think I have a better idea,” Lillia says. I start to bristle, but she goes on. “I want to make it so no Jar Island girl will ever hook up with Alex Lind again. So . . . how do we make that happen?” There’s something about the way Lillia says it. Leaning forward in the dark, her eyes are wide open and calm. She means business.

“Hell yeah!” I clap my hands. I can’t help myself.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

LILLIA

AFTER CHEER PRACTICE ON FRIDAY, RENNIE LOOPS HER arm through mine as we walk together through the parking lot. “So, what do you want to do tonight?”

“Oh, you aren’t working?” I’d figured she was. I’d hoped she was.

Rennie shakes her head. “Terri said she’d switch with me. I want to do something fun!” She says this last part in her baby voice.

“Hmm,” I say, pretending to think. But I just want to go home, lie on my bed, and dream up more stuff to do to Alex. I kept zoning out in class, imagining how amazing it will feel when we start messing with him. It’s, like, therapeutic. I haven’t been this happy since . . . well . . . for a while.

During lunch yesterday Rennie noticed me smiling to myself and asked, “What’re you all smiley about?” I almost choked on my chicken wrap. I’ve never had to keep a secret this big before. When my mom planned a surprise fiftieth birthday party for my dad, I worried so much I’d spill the beans that I had a stomachache for two weeks. When my dad tucked me in at night, I would be thinking, Don’t say anything, Don’t say anything. I had this fear that it would just come out because I was concentrating so hard on keeping it to myself.