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I waited until bedtime to knock on Greg's door. "Yeah?" he answered.

"Got a minute?" I asked, letting myself in. He was at his desk where Dad's old drafting lamp formed a circle of white light on his history book. "Oh, you're studying."

"And I'll take any excuse to stop," he said, swinging his chair around. Bono was singing a track from the "Rattle and Hum" tape, but Greg turned it down.

I sat on the edge of his bed. "I know you don't like Christina," I began.

Greg waited. "So?"

"So. Sometimes I don't think I like her either."

"What's this all about, Annie?"

I hoped for a burst of courage like the one that had gotten me to his door in the first place, but none came. "Why did you dance with Christina that time?"

"Because she asked me! I was just standing there with the guys waiting for Amanda in the john and she came right up and asked me. I couldn't embarrass her by saying no. Jeez, you and Mom would have had a fit." He stretched, then folded his arms behind his head. "So I figured, what the heck, the kid's got a crush on me. The least I can do is dance with her for two minutes."

"You know she stayed over that night," I said uneasily. "And Greg, I found her outside your room in the middle of the night. She said she was just going to talk to you and I tried to believe her -- I mean, her own brother died and all -- but now I don't know."

"Aw, man, that's all I need -- that girl accusing me of something."

"Anyway, nothing happened," I said. "You see, in a way that's the real problem -- nothing ever really happens."

"Hi, what's going on?" Mom was in the doorway.

"Just talking," Greg said.

"Well good night, kiddos." She pulled the door shut.

"Aren't you going to tell her?" Greg wanted to know.

I shook my head. "Maybe I should have weeks ago, but it's too late now. Anyway, the whole business sounds so stupid. I mean, people don't act like this."

"Maybe some of them do, Annie." Greg was making circles on the margin of his notebook.

"Well, I did try to tell Jill, but she wouldn't listen." I sighed. "And last night, when I went over to give her a birthday present, her mom seemed uncomfortable, like there was something I shouldn't know. I think Jill and Christina were out together."

"Maybe they deserve each other," Greg said. "Anyway, you're not responsible for everything that happens, Annie. Just do your own thing and don't think so much."

I got up and pressed my hands on his shoulders. "Great advice," I said but back in my room, I felt my resolve softening in a flood of loneliness, and I had to force myself not to punch Jill's number.