Bright teeth flashed; I fought the instinct to recoil. Perfectly white, perfectly even, possibly once human. Coral pink lips pulled back all the way to the gums, giving the smile an unfortunate equine quality. “Soooo . . . ?” The owner of the teeth and lips drew out the word and flipped it up at the end in a question. “What’s your major?”
“English.” An untruth. I don’t tell them, as a rule, but I’d been asked this question five times in the last hour, and the lie rolled off my tongue now with ease.
“Gosh, you must have to read a lot, huh?” Another blinding smile; I hoped my squint passed for an answer. “So, Maggie. What made you decide to go through Rush?”
She pronounced it with a capital R. Five rounds of the cattle call officially known as Sorority Formal Recruitment had run together in my banality-numbed brain, and I couldn’t remember where I was. I glanced around the crowded room for a clue. The noise was formidable, the chatter of a hundred or more coiffed and groomed girls like purebred dogs at a show, their yelping echoing from the walls.
Just like every other sorority house I’d been to in this first series of parties. Here, though, the décor was Cotton Candy Pink and Tampax Box Blue. Verily, I had reached the lair of the Delta Delta Gammas.
“Well, Ashley . . .” My slightly breathless drawl mim- icked hers. “I thought Rush would be fun. Get to know people, you know.”
She laughed, her eyes squinched up in two half-moons of insincerity. “Soooo? Which dorm are you in, Maggie?”
She kept checking my name tag. At every house, the girls had used my name exhaustively, making me feel as though I’d wandered onto a used car lot.
“I’m living at home.” This much was certainly true. “I grew up here in Avalon.”
“Oh.” Her smile, and I use the word loosely, was forced. “Well, at least you know your way around. You probably have a car, too. What kind is it?”
Her segues could really use a little polish. “It’s vintage.”
“Oh, really?” She raised her brows with renewed interest.
“Yeah. A Ford Pinto.”
“Really.” Beneath her carefully applied self-tanner, the corners of her mouth were white with strain. “Your parents live here in Avalon?”
It would be hard to live at home and go to school here if they didn’t. But smart-ass wasn’t my persona here at the International House of Snobcakes, so I merely answered enthusiastically, “My dad works here at Bedivere University. He’s an engineer.”
“Is he really? Mechanical or civil?”
“O-kay.” She glanced at her watch, then searched the room for rescue, or maybe just an avenue of escape. “Well, it’s been real nice meeting you, Maggie. I need to go . . . um . . . talk to these girls over here.”
She took off; I knew from my research that leaving a rushee standing alone was a big fat no-no. Unless, of course, you’d rather invite a chimpanzee to join your sisterhood. And no one in the Delta Delta Gamma house looked like Jane Goodall to me.
But since I’d been deserted, I reached into my purse and turned off my microrecorder. No sense in wasting megabytes.