The Unwanted Invitation

The gate swung open despite a very creaky protest and Alice gulped, the sound audible even over the creaking. She hoped the other girls — Gwen especially — didn’t hear.

Thankfully, Gwen’s mind was on other matters. She tossed her white blond hair over her shoulder and pouted. “Stupid gate,” she said as she peered down at her hand. “Made me break a nail.”

One of the girls in their group, a petite redhead with a baby face, suddenly turned to Alice and smiled. “I bet Gwen’s scared, too,” she hissed.

Alice smiled at her, trying to remember her name. Teresa…? Tabitha…? Tess! It was so hard to keep track of all of the new names and faces she’d met since her recent move to Northern California. Let alone match the right name to the right face. Gwen had been her first friend. If she could even call her that. She’d invited her out to dinner, out shopping, out swimming, and Alice had been delighted to say yes every time.

Tonight’s invitation was the first she wished she’d turned down. But it was too late now.

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