Ashley was nervous.
Not because she was worried about getting in trouble. This whole thing was a prank at the end of the day, elaborate as it was. But if she was caught, the rest of her senior year would be more of an inconvenience. The wrist slap of a punishment would probably involve taking away her hours in the office and the perks that only Ashley knew came with it. That was really her only worry, other than the annoyance of putting on an apologetic show.
Thankfully, it seemed like things had worked out. The little blonde was still dressed like a schoolgirl, and had a bit of a lost look on her face. Cute. Ashley would be more than happy to lead the way, but only after asserting that ‘Millie’ was a better name for her. Maybe Millie would have stood up for herself if she was dressed in her normal clothes and standing at the front of a classroom, but she had no such defenses at the moment. Not only was Ms. Song a force to be reckoned with, but Ashley herself had a way of getting what she wanted. Dealing with both women back to back would be difficult to handle.
Sure enough, Millie caved, and that was that.
Ashley proceeded to lead an unnecessarily long tour of the campus with the intention of slightly tiring the girl out. Every little bit helped, and physical exhaustion tended to pair well with the mental stress that Millie would no doubt be dealing with soon. That, and it gave Ashley a chance to drop the nickname dozens of times along the way. The fact that Millie had actually been assigned a dorm was amusing, too, considering the school hadn’t yet received a down payment for room and board. Normally the office waited until they had the check in hand, to avoid potential financial complications down the line, but perhaps the mid-semester ‘transfer’ had caused that particular step in the process to be overlooked.
No matter. Ashley wasn’t intending for Millie to stay the night, although giving the student teacher a curfew designed for thirteen year old girls was a fun thought. For the moment, it was just a matter of making this feel more real and official. That way, the reveal would be all the more delicious. Uniform, aptitude test, class schedule, dorm. For all intents and purposes, it would seem like Millie was set up to be an actual Westridge student. By the time Ashley sent her home later that day, there was no way she’d ever return. If anything, she was helping the school by filtering out a gullible pushover from the pool of applicants.
There really wasn’t an end goal to the dark haired, dark souled girl’s plan. It was mostly an impulsively inspired exercise meant to flex her creative and manipulative muscles. And, as she walked schoolgirl Millie around campus, Ashley couldn’t help but appreciate the results of her little experiment. Now it was time for the next wild card. There was no telling how the young woman would react to learning the truth.
While it would be fun to keep Millie in the dark for as long as possible, Ashley really wanted to be present for the realization. Partially because she was both excited and curious to see the look on the girl’s face, to see the first words that sprang to mind, to witness how a girl straight out of college handled the fact that everyone at the school but Ashley actually believed that she was thirteen without question. But from a more pragmatic standpoint, Ashley also wanted to be there to control what came next. If she and Claire weren’t present, then there was nothing stopping Milllie from storming across campus and telling her story to the office. Even though Millie was a compulsive liar, at least according to her online registration form, it would still only take one phone call to sort things out if an administrator indulged her. It would be best if Ashley could intercept that line of thinking before it fully formed into a proper idea.
So, with her ‘younger cousin’ in tow, Ashley met Claire in their usual study room between classes, and mentally prepared for any number of ways this would go.
Time seemed to stand still as Amelia took in the sight before her.
The brunette on the sofa totally clashed with the former image Amelia had of her. It wasn’t just because of the student uniform; her posture was more relaxed, her hair was up in a casual ponytail, and even the smile on her face contrasted the stern expression she wore behind the desk during their interview.
This wasn’t one of those situations where Claire might have been Mrs. Thompson’s daughter, or a girl who bore a striking resemblance to the young woman. Amelia was really good with faces, and this was definitely the same person. So, what was going on? Why on earth would Mrs. Thompson be dressed like that? Unless . . . Ever so slowly, things began clicking into place. The late interview. The ‘first day experience.’
“You-” Amelia hesitated. She didn’t know what to say, and her mind was still racing as she connected all the dots. Fragmented memories of the last few hours, all of which were mortifying in hindsight if her suspicions about what was going on were true. “You set me up?!” Settling on more of a question than an accusation, she wondered just how many people were in on this. Now that she had been given the answer to a puzzle she hadn’t realized needed solving, it was easy to see how Claire could have passed as an adult with the proper outfit and make-over. But Ms. Song? The half-asian features might have given her some youthful features, but Amelia knew without a shadow of a doubt that the advisor was an adult. Same with Mrs. Lewis, whose age was a lot more obvious at first glance.
Either those two women actually believed that she was supposed to be a transfer student, which was absurd, or they were somehow involved. Did she get the job, and this was nothing more than an elaborate first day prank? No, that didn’t make sense. Technically, Amelia hadn’t interviewed with anyone. Before today, she had only met with Ashley and Claire. Was this a psychology experiment or something, done at her expense? Westridge was known for its academic excellence, so they probably offered a psych class. But Amelia was a candidate for a student teacher position! If someone approved what Ashley no doubt suggested, what did that mean for her real interview process?
Claire was the first one to speak, breaking Amelia out of her thoughts. “Millie, proper girls don’t raise their voices. And that’s no way to speak to your older cousin.”
“She’s not my cousin!!” Amelia snapped. Belatedly realizing she was still holding Ashley’s hand, she immediately yanked free from the casual grip and took a step back. Even though Claire was the one who replied, Amelia turned her attention to the girl who she had spent the most time with throughout this charade. “Ashley, what the fuck is going on?”
“Careful, Millie.” Ashley didn’t seem intimidated in the slightest. Her voice was calm and quiet in comparison, and she gestured towards the brunette. “Claire is a prefect here. She can write you up for just about anything, and I already count two infractions. Treating girls with disrespect, and swearing. Now, I suggest you apologize before you make it worse.”
Apologize? In what universe did it make sense for Amelia to apologize for anything, when she was the victim here? “No.” She dropped her voice and tried to keep it as flat as possible despite the way her heart was pounding and her head was spinning. How could she have been so stupid?! Putting on a fucking student uniform and letting everyone treat her as such? While Ashley was obviously to blame, Amelia was the one who let it all happen without pushing her unanswered questions. “One of you, explain. Now.” She was still the adult. And as badly as she wanted to just demand her things back–her clothes, in particular–it would be easier to handle a conversation like that once she had the full picture. Was this a test, a prank, an experiment; something in between, or completely different?
Ashley just sighed. “You always were the difficult little cousin, Millie. Such a brat. Honestly, it’s not that difficult to behave. Apologize first, okay? Then we can talk.”
Amelia parted her lips, jaw slightly dropped at the audacity. Collecting herself in what she hoped was a timely manner, she said, “Ashley-”
“Now, Millie. Apologize.”
“But, you can’t-”
“It’s fine,” Claire said. She sat up and pulled out a binder from her backpack that was resting against the sofa, “Maybe a few official infractions is what she needs. I’m sure the office would love to hear all about how poorly little Millie is doing on her first day . . .”
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