Today's Reading

PART ONE

THE FESTIVAL

CHAPTER ONE

Friday

Countdown to the Naming Day Cast List Is OVER

If there's one thing the good people of Horseshoe Bay love, it's a celebration, and maybe none more than the annual Naming Day Festival! And the jewel in the crown of the two-day celebration? Well, people may debate their own favorites—and do they ever!—but it's safe to say that the Naming Day live naming reenactment, held on Saturday afternoon, is always a strong contender.

This year, expectations and enthusiasm are at an all-time high, as we all get ready for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the naming of our fair town. After all, what could be more jubilant than a Horseshoe Bay jubilee?

So it's no wonder, then, that the halls of Keene High have been buzzing with excitement and lots of speculation about who the lucky cast members of this year's show will be. Fear not, fellow Neptunes! Sources have revealed that the full cast list is set to go up in the quad this afternoon, and will be waiting for all of you dying-to-get-the-deets folks by the chime of final bell today. You heard it here first! Now get thee to the quad and keep those fingers crossed. For a few lucky seniors, this Naming Day Festival is set to be their best yet!


"Wow, Nancy, that's definitely a...perky piece you have in today's Masthead. Seriously, I'm exhausted just from skimming it. Did you accidentally inhale some cold medicine this morning?"

I closed my locker door to find Lena Barrow, head cheerleader and one-third of my utterly inseparable high school trio, waiting for me with a bemused grin on her lips and a folded-up copy of the latest issue of the school paper—replete with my own latest byline—in her hands.

"Oh, really?" I rolled my eyes at her. Lena was no stranger to strong opinions—and she 'wasn't' shy about voicing them, which meant that she sometimes had a tendency to strike terror in the hearts of her fellow classmates. Lucky for me, I understood Lena, "got" that her bark was worse than her bite. Luckier still, I don't scare easily. "Noted."

"What are we noting?"

Speaking of "perky," right on cue, there was Daisy Dewitt, the third in our power trifecta, hovering at Lena's side and practically thrumming with energy. Her wide, blue eyes sparkled, and even her shiny, sun-streaked blond hair radiated excitement. Lena may have been our head cheerleader, but Daisy was definitely MVP when it came to team spirit. And generally speaking, she was a kinder, softer cool girl than our queen bee. And she was my best friend.

"Only the fact that the festival is officially here!" I squeezed her hand. Daisy was a senior, which meant this was her year to—hopefully—snag top billing in the annual reenactment. Girl was a shoo-in for various reasons; her last name alone conferred on her "founding family" status, which was as close as Horseshoe Bay got to royalty. But, adorably, she still managed to be nervous about the whole thing. And her humility wasn't even fake. Which made what would have been downright insufferable on anyone else completely charming on her. It's one of my favorite things about her, and a big part of why we've been friends since our preschool days.

"The festival cast list, to be specific," she said. "As profiled so deftly in your actually rather, uh, enthusiastic Masthead piece."

Lena waggled an eyebrow, smug. "What did I tell you, Nance? I'm just saying, it was the punctuation."

"Guys, I get it. I promise, next time I'll go lighter on the exclamation marks." To be honest, I'd been iffy on them. Anyway, "perky" isn't usually my thing.

Daisy linked an arm through each of ours and began leading us down the hall at a rather brisk pace. "It's okay," she trilled. "I know you were just excited for Naming Day—meaning, for me. You guys are probably the only two people as excited for me as I am!" She giggled. Sometimes hanging out with Daisy felt like being shaken up inside a giant bottle of soda, bubbling and sweet and threatening at any moment to froth up and totally spill over the rim. But in a good way.

We passed down the hall through the back exit of the school, which led outside to the wide, grassy expanse of the quad. The sky was marbled blue, shot through with milky swirls of cloud, and the quad itself was...

Lena was the first to say it. "Yikes. There will be blood."
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...