The next day, Chad decided he should be nicer to Taylor. Just because he was sneaking around with Ryan didn't mean he had to act like a jerk. She ignored him a good portion of the morning, but before English class, he stopped by her locker. "Taylor, I'm sorry I've been a jerk."
She looked at him, confused. "You've been a jerk?"
He hadn't? Chad was sure he'd been ignoring her. "Yeah, I thought so. I know we haven't been hanging out lately. I've just been really busy. Basketball and drama and stuff."
Taylor flashed him an icy smile. "I'm sure you have. We're going to be late for English."
She slammed her locker shut and walked past him. Chad was perplexed. Girls were so weird. Good thing Ryan wasn't like that.
He walked into class and sat in his seat. Troy saw him and asked, "Hey man, you okay?"
Chad didn't say anything. He simply nodded.
o O o O o O o O o
It all happened so fast.
Troy couldn't believe it. The way it happened. Or that Taylor would do such a thing.
Their teacher announced that they would be doing a partner project. Troy figured he would work either with Chad or Gabriella, but Chad MIGHT want to work with Ryan. He noticed Ryan and Chad exchange some kind of gushy look that confirmed his suspicions.
"Who would like to choose their partner first?" their teacher asked.
Taylor's hand went up so fast, Troy hardly saw it move.
"I'd like Ryan Evans as my partner."
That was when all hell broke loose.
Gabriella whispered something to Taylor, which Taylor replied to, and made Gabriella even angrier. She gave Troy a hopeless look, and then raised her hand.
The rest of the partner picking wasn't too bad. Troy and Gabriella ended up together, and Chad ended up with Martha. Sharpay ended up with a kid with body odor and greasy hair. But Troy noticed a battle forming. Chad and Ryan kept exchanging confused looks, Sharpay shot daggers with her eyes at Taylor, and Gabriella ignored her.
They had the rest of the class to work on their projects.
Taylor moved next to Ryan, and Chad moved next to Martha. Both guys sulked. Could they be any more obvious?
"I can't believe her." Gabriella said. "She's only doing it to be mean to Chad."
Troy nodded. "I know. Did you see how they're reacting to it?"
"I feel so sorry for them."
Troy and Gabriella watched both pairs. Martha and Chad worked, but Chad was freaking out at the same time. Taylor kept touching Ryan's arm and leaning in close to him. Even Gabriella, who under normal circumstances would have wanted to work eventually, couldn't work on the project. Whatever Taylor was doing was too distracting. And too unbelievable.
"This is so weird. Doesn't she realize Ryan's not reacting to her flirting?" Gabriella whispered.
"Maybe she doesn't care." Troy replied. Was she just getting back at Chad for going out with Ryan? How did she find out in the first place?
The showdown happened in the hallway.
The moment they stepped out of the classroom, Gabriella grabbed Taylor's arm and asked her, "What do you think you're doing?"
Everyone gathered around, even Chad and Ryan.
"Whatever do you mean, Gabriella?" Taylor asked. She tried to play innocent.
"You know. You took Ryan as your partner because you knew he and Chad wanted to work together. I expected better from you, Taylor."
Taylor laughed. "Are you done yet?"
Gabriella was taken aback. "No, actually. I never thought you'd be this mean to anyone. I thought you were nice. You took me under your wing when I moved here last year. And now what? You become a superwitch. If you want to get through to Chad, why don't you just talk to him?"
The other girl didn't reply. She simply smiled, and walked away. The crowd cleared, except for Gabriella, Troy, Ryan, Chad, and Sharpay.
Gabriella sighed and turned to Ryan and Chad. "I'm sorry, guys. I don't know what's wrong with her."
"Thanks Gabriella. You didn't have to do that." Ryan said, smiling. "But I'm glad it was you and not me."
"You guys are my friends." Gabriella said. She looked at Troy, and he nodded, telling her it was okay to explain more. "And we know. Troy and I know about what's going on. We don't want anyone to ruin it for you."
Chad was the most shocked out of them. He turned to Troy, a surprised, yet happy look on my face. "You... know? And you're still my friend?"
"Yeah, man, why wouldn't I be your friend? We've been bros since preschool." Troy said. "You've got my support."
"And mine." Gabriella said, nodding firmly.
"And mine!" Sharpay added.
It was the first time Troy ever wanted to hug Sharpay. The ice princess, the queen bee of East High, was finally growing up.
And it looked like Taylor McKessie was the new Sharpay Evans.