Lost in the Strange, Cold Pleasures of the Night to bring her grades up or they wouldn't let her drive their car." "I see," her mother said, glancing at Emily's father. "Well, maybe you could see when they're free and get together. You know, find some time in their busy schedule?" Her mother's eyes were slightly widened; it was the face she wore when she was actually worried about something. "Sure, mom. I'll text Kate and Sherri in a minute, when we're done here. I'll see what they're up to this weekend." She sipped her water, watching for her mother's face to relax. The rest of dinner was mercifully free of questions about Emily's life. Her father talked about his day managing the farmhands. After dinner Emily made good on her platitudes by texting both of her friends. Sherri had an away game coming up on the weekend, but Kate was free. Emily invited her to come over on Saturday. It bothered the teen that her parents were being nosey when she was following all of their rules. Their behavior meant it was too risky for her to see Jack tonight. She frowned at the thought, and sat in the living room with her parents watching TV until she felt tired enough to sleep. *** “H ey, Lee!" Chirped Kate as she took her seat at the lunch table. "Hey," Emily responded. "How goes? Is Sherri coming?" "Nah, she's sitting with her man over there," said Kate gesturing to a table at the far side of the cafeteria. "They're, like, going to get married or something. That's the third time this week she's sat with him at lunch. We're never going to see her again!" "Think she'll remember to invite us to the wedding?" Emily said smiling. "She better make us part of the fucking ceremony or we're done! Seriously. But I'm sorry, Lee, I'm going to be the maid of honor. You'll have to settle for bridesmaid." "Bitch, please! You know her older sister won't let that go. You're going to be stuck a bridesmaid like me." They both laughed. "So," Kate said opening her yogurt, "what's new?" "Not a lot. Just living. Trying to keep my parents off my back," Emily said. Kate had an uncanny habit of knowing when something was up. "Yeah? I was surprised when you texted me last night. We haven't really been hanging out much outside of school. I was starting to think you'd gone the way of Sherri and not told me." Emily smiled reflexively; Kate's eyes went wide. "Shut up! Emily Stumpf finally lands a man and doesn't think to tell her girl? Who is he? Does he go to our school?"