I wait until he disappears around the corner, then widen my eyes. "He totally just massaged my shoulder. You saw that, right? He was all in."
"All in on squeezing your shoulder?" If there's some kind of world record for highest eyebrow raise ever, I'm pretty sure Seeley just broke it.
"He massaged it. You witnessed it. It was glorious."
"Oh my god, Lou, it finally happened: you've lost your last remaining marble." I try to elbow her, but she grabs my arm, laughing.
"Hey, guys." Angie Martinez appears out of nowhere right then, giving Seeley a little nod as she skirts around us. Her black hair is pulled tight in a ponytail, which bounces against her light brown skin as she walks down the hill to the Emporium. Angie's a year ahead of us, like Nick, and she runs the Ferris wheel. I'm 93 percent sure she's got a thing for Seeley, but I'm also about 100 percent sure Seeley is oblivious.
Seeley tugs my arm, snapping my attention back to her. "Come on, Lou, let's go find a place to sit."
We find a spot in the middle of the theater, our butts sticking to the metal seats as we sit shoulder to shoulder with every co-worker we'll have for the next few months. Seb and Marcus plop down next to us, chattering away about their job assignments. Seb's in the rabbit costume again—now I'm wondering if Mr. Prendergast just copied the costume list from last year—and Marcus got the water park since he's already CPR certified.
This is Seeley's and my second year, but only the first one that I'll be considered a full-fledged member of the team. Yet another hazard of having an August birthday: everybody else in my grade got their driver's licenses and upgraded working papers way before me. Luckily, my dad has been doing Mr. P's books since the dawn of time, so even though the official stance of the park is you have to be sixteen to work here, Dad fixed it so I could start last year when Seeley did. There were tons of rules about what I could and couldn't do, but at least I was with my best friend.
And okay, I definitely hoped for a cooler job assignment this year, literally and figuratively, but whatever. I can work with this. No matter what, I'm still determined to make this the absolute best, most carefree, oh-my-god-remember-the-time-I-can't-even-believe-you-did-that summer ever. But first, I gotta survive Magic Castle's orientation.
Seeley looks over to the side, and I follow her line of sight, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. Angie waves from across the way, and I wave back, even though she probably really only means it for Seeley. I notice Nick and Jessa off to the left, along with a group of the other pirate divers home from college. Jessa says something I can't make out and they all laugh, because of course they do; she's funny and perfect and gorgeous and will probably still be cast as the park princess even when she's 57,000 years old.
"You're staring," Seeley whispers, leaning into me. "Young loooove." She giggles, ducking her head. Good thing too, because I was about to flick it.
Feedback from the microphone screeches loudly across the audience, cutting me off before I can respond. I glance at Seeley to let her know this isn't over, but she crosses her eyes and sticks out her tongue so I know that it is.
I turn my attention back to the stage, my eyes glued to Mr. P and the way the straps of his suspenders strain as he steps out and bows. He taps hard against the mic in his hand, which sends more thunder roaring across the crowd, followed by a jolt of screaming feedback.
"I guess this is on." He chuckles, his mustache twitching under his nose. "Welcome back for another great year." This is followed by an obligatory round of applause. Only some of us mean it. I, for one, definitely do.
"It's going to be a great year here at Magic Castle Playland. A great, great year," he snuffles. "And also, a very special year—"
Seeley gives me a look and I give her one right back. We heard this same speech last year, and we'll probably hear it a thousand times more before we're totally grown.
"—because this will also be our last year here at Magic Castle Playland."
Or maybe not.