Analyzing the cover: Tara being comforted by Olivia and Hope in someone’s bedroom – a scene that does not happen in the book!
Olivia is jealous when she sees David Duffy talking to a cute girl at the basketball game. The girl is Jennifer Clark, a senior basketball player at Deep River – David’s alma mater – who wants to become a sports journalist just like him. She says she’s a fan of David’s writing, and he has agreed to take her under his wing and teach her all he knows. He’s a whole year older than her, but okay. David says he’s invited Jennifer to come out with the group after the game, and Olivia says okay through gritted teeth. It’s clear Jennifer has her eye on David.
Diana sees the gang all out with their significant others and seethes at their happiness. If I thought Vanessa was a cartoonish villain, Diana puts her to shame. She sets her eyes on Jessica and Patrick and gets an idea. Oh NOOOOOOO, not Jessica and Patrick!!
When David cancels a date with Olivia because he needs to finish a story for the paper, Olivia is pissed and thinks it has something to do with Jennifer Clark.
Tara is at the grocery store picking something up for dinner when she sees the hottest guy ever. His name is Nick Stewart and he looks to be about 20 and says he just moved in to his new apartment last night and doesn’t know where anything is in the store. Tara quickly offers to help him. She tells him about all the best restaurants in town and they joke and laugh together. He casually mentions he’s a bachelor and she wonders if it was on purpose to let her know he’s single.
Jessica’s mom works at Marnie’s, where Mary Ellen used to model, and tells Jessica that Mary Ellen was in the shop that day. She’s in town for an unplanned visit because her mother is having an operation. Jessica is immediately upset because she is STILL worried that Patrick loves Mary Ellen and is still jealous of her. Get a grip Jess!
Duffy picks up Olivia for their rescheduled date and mentions that he spent a lot of time showing Jennifer the newspaper’s press room and then they went to lunch. He is thinking back on all the interesting questions Jennifer asked when he realizes Olivia isn’t talking to him.
Somehow Diana, who only just moved to town recently, knows all about the history of Patrick and Mary Ellen. She sees them both separately in the mall and wonders if they know each other is there. She invites herself to sit with Patrick, who is eating at the food court, and not-so-casually mentions that she saw Mary Ellen in Marnie’s. Then she claims she’s late for a meeting and hurries away. Patrick is interested in this information, but doesn’t get up to go anywhere.
Jessica is also at the mall, looking at dresses at Marnie’s. She sees Mary Ellen but ME leaves before seeing her, so they don’t talk. Diana meanwhile has been trying to find Mary Ellen again, and spots her in the drug store. She introduces herself to Mary Ellen and tells her she was just in the food court with a boy who couldn’t stop talking about her – Patrick. Mary Ellen says she wants to go see him, and starts to leave with a “Nice meeting you, uh…?” ME hurries away, thinking she could get advice from Patrick on something because he’s such a straightforward thinker.
Diana watches her go and then worries that Patrick has already left the food court. “What if the two of them searched the mall and fate played a trick and they never found each other?” Diana goes after ME to make sure her plan is working. It is – she watches them talking and wishes she had a camera. Shouldn’t any decent villain have a camera on hand at all times to use for evil and not good?
Diana starts to head elsewhere and to her very good fortune, sees Jessica coming out of Marnie’s. She suggests they go get a drink at the food court, and though Jessica has every reason to turn down this psychotic train wreck, she says sure. When they get there, Jessica sees Patrick and Mary Ellen and turns to run away, but she runs smack into Hope, who along with Peter who had been approaching her. They both make her feel really bad about it and leave. In reality they’re both in a bad mood because they’re still dating but not really happy with each other anymore. Jessica also leaves, thinking that Patrick is honest and will tell her about the conversation later.
At school Holly Hudson tells Tara about the new hot math teacher who is filling in for a teacher that had a baby. Tara has been too busy dreaming about Nick Stewart and says she couldn’t care less about the hot teacher, they can all have him.
Diana watches the cheerleaders’ practice and thinks that if Jessica is distracted enough, she might like fall and break her leg, and then Diana can take her spot on the squad! Psy-cho-path. She decides to add fuel to the fire, and tells Jessica she continued into the food court after Jessica hurried home. “I’ll bet there isn’t a guy in this dinky old town that doesn’t see [Mary Ellen] and fall instantly in love with her. Don’t you agree?” Diana asks. Jessica hurries away again, and Diana is happy with her accomplishment of the day.
Sean, Olivia, Jessica, and Tara go out to eat at the Pizza Palace. Peter and Hope don’t tag along, as both are in this weird state where they want to break up but neither one knows how to say it. When Olivia gets home, she has a message from David that he won’t be able to see her for the rest of the week because he will be busy with something. She blames Jennifer.
As Tara is leaving the pizza place, she runs into man of her dreams, Nick Stewart. They have a brief, nothing conversation, and he calls her Cinderella because she’s always hurrying off somewhere. The next day in the cafeteria, she hears girls murmuring about the hot new teacher. Hope points him out in the lunch line, and Tara almost chokes on her macaroni and cheese – it’s Nick. She runs out of the lunchroom, not wanting Nick to see her and find out she’s a student. She’s still distracted by it at practice, while Jessica is distracted about the fact that Patrick has yet to mention his meetup with Mary Ellen.
Someone actually named Red Butler, who got the nickname Red for his hair, compliments Olivia after practice. Mad at David, Olivia flirts with Red as he walks her to the locker room. She asks for a ride home and he says yes.
Tara is filling up her car at the gas station on the way home when she sees Nick again. He asks her to go out for a drink sometime, and she wonders what kind of drink does he mean? He’s going to die when he finds out her age. She says sure why not, and he says to follow him to a place called Class Act. She has heard of it but has never been. They go there and Tara orders a Coke, which raises Nick’s eyebrows. “Don’t tell me you’re a teetotaler.” Oh, she’s way worse than that, Nick. She explains it away that she doesn’t want to risk getting inebriated when she still has to drive home. She avoids telling Nick anything about herself by asking him tons of questions and keeping him talking about himself for an hour. Then she says she has to go, but not before he asks for her phone number and she reluctantly gives it to him.
Patrick gives Mary Ellen a ride home from the hospital, where her mother has had gallbladder surgery. Jessica just so happens to see them drive by and is extremely upset. She tries to calm herself down as she drives. “It would never do to get in an accident. She could get killed, and then she’d never get the chance to tell Patrick off!” Diana also sees P and ME together and figures she’ll drop this bomb on Jessica tomorrow, right before she’s about to perform a complicated routine or something.
Olivia is out with Red at Burger Benny’s when David and Jennifer walk in. David sees her and smiles, coming over, and she feels like she just got caught. They sit down in the same booth and David says he and Jennifer have been working on a big scoop. Every time Jennifer contributes to the conversation, she only looks at David, as if it’s just the two of them talking. Olivia asks Red to take her home, and Duffy offers to give her a lift. Olivia scoffs, thinking, “With that raven-haired fiend sitting between us – if not physically, at least figuratively? No way!” Olivia feels bad for using Red but is determined she will not be the one dumped like she was with Walt. That had to be pretty embarrassing – it was WALT.
Tara spends the next day at school literally running from class to class and ducking around corners to avoid being seen by Nick. Sounds like good exercise. “This is ridiculous,” she thought. “School has become an endurance trial.”
At practice the squad is practicing the difficult Arabian jumps they have been working on. Diana goes over to Jessica and mentions seeing Patrick in his garbage truck being hugged by a girl who was not Jessica. Jessica is pissed but excuses herself away from Diana to try and put her focus back on the squad. Coach asks Jessica to demonstrate an Arabian somersault. As she’s set up to do it, she’s thinking about Patrick and Mary Ellen and falls, with a nice crack in her spine as a sound effect. Ouch. Jessica is able to stand up and Coach tells her to take the rest of the day off. Diana is very disappointed that Jessica is okay.
Patrick picks Jessica up and she is tempted to ask if he’s been hugged by any hot models lately, or how his other love life is doing. He acts like everything is normal, and she considers that she could give him the benefit of the doubt.
David asks Olivia why she was out with a carrot-top the other night. She wants to ask why he was out with an ebony-haired witch. She acts like it was no big deal, and when he starts to tell her he’s covering a game with Jennifer on Friday night, she interrupts him and says SHE has to cancel their date Friday. “Listen David, sometime when you and Jennifer aren’t covering something so crucial, give me a call. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if I find someone else to fill up my free time.” When they get off the phone, Jennifer asks David if he wants to get pizza after the game. He says okay, and figures that Jennifer doesn’t play games like Olivia. While he tries to figure out Olivia, he can enjoy Jennifer’s company.
Tara is worried that Nick will be at the next basketball game and see her cheering. He calls her house and asks her to go to dinner with him somewhere in Garrison, and she stupidly says yes. He plans to pick her up at her house. Now she has to come up with something to tell her parents.
Olivia and Jessica go out together, the two girls pissed at their boyfriends. Patrick still hasn’t said anything about his run-ins with Mary Ellen, so Jessica is still really mad at him and cancelled a date they had. “I am not going out with a liar!” They pull into the parking lot of the Pancake House and see Patrick and Mary Ellen through the front window. Patrick sees her too, and she pulls in reverse and peels out of there. She sees Patrick come running out the door, but she is gone.
Nick says he wants to take Tara to see Casablanca on their date and she is dismayed, thinking that’s something old people like. They go to dinner and a movie, and he kisses her goodnight at her door. Does he not ever ask her any questions about herself, because I’m still not seeing her explain who she is and what she does?? Tara thinks she loves Nick but knows he could get in big trouble for being with her.
Jessica avoids six of Patrick’s phone calls until she finally agrees to talk to him, and his first question is what’s the matter with her. She says she’s found him with Mary Ellen three times and she knows all about Mary Ellen putting her arms around him because Diana told her. Patrick comes over and explains that Mary Ellen and Pres are the ones having a big romance – something that was already explained to her in the last book, too. SIGH. Patrick is happy though because Jessica’s jealousy shows that she’s crazy about him. They kiss and make up, and she vows not to be so uptight every time Mary Ellen comes around. I’ll believe that when I see it!
David comes to Olivia’s house and asks what’s wrong with her. She finally unloads on him about Jennifer. He tells her Jennifer was really just interested in him for his journalism connections, because they got pizza together and some other guy who works at a different paper came over with a job offer to cover high school sports, and she was all over that guy for the rest of the night. Olivia apologizes and David admits he spent too much time with Jennifer. They too kiss and make up. So we’re still not rid of 3-D then. Darn.
Tara is on edge all during the next basketball game wondering if Nick is there, and then she sees him in the crowd wearing a shocked expression as he stares at her. Tara collapses in hysteria, and the squad surrounds her to see if she’s okay. She continues on with cheering. After the game Nick calls her house. She admits she’s a student and cheerleader, and Nick says he wants to talk to her the next day after school.
They meet at the Pancake House, and Nick actually wants to continue their relationship. He says they can go out of town for all their dates. Ew, that is so gross. I don’t care how young he is. Tara is the one who isn’t sure this is a good idea. Then the principal, Mrs. Oetjen walks by, and looks at them with suspicion when Tara has to quickly withdraw her hand from his. They are really bad at this if they are already getting caught at a local restaurant. After she leaves, Nick whines that it’s not fair, it’s them against the world! Tara needs to dump this loser ASAP.
That night, Nick calls Tara and says he got a call from Mrs. Oetjen, who definitely saw the hand-holding and said it was against rules for teacher-student romantic entanglements. Nick was apparently stupid enough to tell her he doesn’t agree with that rule (who cares about statutory rape laws, I guess!), and she tells him if he keeps seeing Tara he will be fired. Ummm pretty sure at most schools he would need to already be fired.
Tara decides she has to end it for his sake, so she goes to his classroom the next day and calls him Mr. Stewart and tells him he really is too old for her, bringing her to fuddy-duddy movies and restaurants. She implies it was an experiment dating a teacher, and Nick turns crimson with anger. She leaves and cries, but knows she will find the real Mr. Perfect eventually.
Other notes and quotes
- Continuity error – on one page it says the group is at Pizza Palace, and on the next it says Tara is leaving Kenny’s, whatever that is.
- Olivia dramatically asks Red what should she get to drink – Red says “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” playing along with his name even though he hates it.
Author: Ann E. Steinke
Next time on Cheerleaders… When you are truly in love, is there only one answer? Read Cheerleaders #30, SAYING YES.