The Guy Most Likely To...

By: Leslie Kelly

Prologue

The Winfield Academy Times

May 2002

Prom Rocks: But Where Was The King?

THIS YEAR’S PROM WAS a huge success!

Held at the downtown Marriott, the members of the class of 2002 partied the night away in their tuxes and glittering dresses. The decorating committee’s “A Night in Paris” theme was a big hit and made everyone feel like they were strolling along the Seine or posing for pictures beneath the Eiffel Tower.

Deejay “Mad Mike” spun all the class’s favorite tunes, and students and faculty alike shook their stuff on the dance floor. The hotel-catered food was delicious, the punch managed to go all evening without being spiked and everyone had a great time.

There was only one incident, which left prom-goers whispering and confused.

What happened to Prom King Seth Crowder?

His queen—and longtime girlfriend—Lauren Desantos had to go up on the stage alone to be crowned, and her tears sure didn’t look like happy ones. Rumor has it that Seth stood Lauren up, with only a mysterious phone call to explain his absence.

The plot thickened Monday when word got out that Seth had withdrawn from Winfield Academy…and he hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Which begs the question: Where’d he go?

One thing’s for sure—judging by the picture of Lauren up on that stage, all alone, looking absolutely heartbroken, Seth Crowder has some explaining to do!





1

Present Day

STANDING AT THE BACK of the A–E line at the registration desk, her dark sunglasses shielding her eyes and her stiff posture discouraging communication, Lauren Desantos came to a sudden realization. The Marquis de Sade had invented the high school reunion   . Him, or that Torquemada guy from the Spanish Inquisition.

It made perfect sense; there could be no other explanation. Only someone who enjoyed seeing others squirm in discomfort, who got off on inflicting pain, who thrived on reducing mature adults back to their overemotional, whiny, bitchy, competitive, miserable adolescent selves, would have thought this reunion   thing was a good idea.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, along with the fear and discomfort came other remnants of high school days—nervous twitches, weak, fake-sounding laughter. Heck, even long-left-behind acne seemed to show up. It was probably brought about by the stress of wondering who you were going to run into first, who looked better than you did, who would notice the extra ten pounds you’d put on since graduation, who would remember you had once slipped on mashed potatoes in the cafeteria. And, more important, who would ask if you ever fulfilled your dream of becoming a magazine editor and what they would say if they found out you worked in marketing for a grocery store chain.

Yeah. Pure hell. Straight evil. Really, only a masochistic idiot would ever agree to attend one of these reunion   s.

So what on earth am I doing here?

There were a thousand ways she could be spending this lovely summer weekend, including staying with her family during this all-too-rare visit back to the Chicago area. Instead, she’d driven outside the city to this sprawling, dubiously themed hot spot called Celebrations, which catered to the let’s-relive-past-glory-days-and-pretend-we-aren’t-bitterly-crushed-by-the-reality-of-our-adult-lives crowd. In other words, a reunion   resort.

Blech. Next thing you knew, they’d be opening a spot for post-hemorrhoidal-surgery patients to get together and shake their recently-operated-upon backsides.

So get out. Go before anybody sees you.

She considered it, but knew she wouldn’t. Lauren couldn’t disappoint her oldest friend, Maggie, who had been there for her during some rough times. Now, when her friend was so unhappy and lonely after her recent divorce, how could Lauren let her down? She wasn’t a coward, or a quitter, so she just had to suck it up and get through this weekend no matter what.

She inched closer to the front of the line, staying quiet, hoping not to be seen by any of the former classmates ahead of her. Some de Sade descendant had decided nobody could get their room key until they checked in at the reunion   registration desk. She had fully planned to go to her room and get cleaned up before risking running into anyone, but instead, she got stuck standing here with her suitcase and her messy hair, trying to remain invisible.

The odds weren’t good that she’d stay unnoticed. Every minute somebody recognized somebody else and the squealing commenced. Watching air kisses between girls who had ripped each other to gossipy shreds ten years ago, and man hugs between former jocks whose beer guts now got in the way of a good old-fashioned chest bump, she could only hope the first person to ID her wasn’t kissy or bumpy.