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Chapter 4

My mind blanks and for a second all I can do is just stare at my phone screen. I breathe deeply, trying to settle my nerves.

I look around for Kaiko and Becka but again have no luck in locating them. Where the hell are they when I need them? Students and teachers clutter the dance floor. Girls and boys alike sway their bodies along to the music that blares loudly, banging on my eardrums. It’s too hot in here, really hot. The dress I wear suddenly seems too clingy and I just want claw it off. I start to choke on the air, suffocating in my own worry.

I get up and wobble towards the exit holding my head in my hands. What do I do? Carma is here, in this very hotel. Why is she here? My stomach churns with unease. Something isn’t right.

I let my body fall against a wall, my legs unable to support my body anymore. ‘Okay, get it together’ I tell myself. Carma could be anywhere, there are like a hundred and some rooms in this place. I’ll just have to knock on every single one. This girl better thank me when I find her.

I put a fake smile on and proceed to go through to where the bedrooms are located.

“Excuse me, what are you doing? You can’t go up there unless you have a key card. Do you have a key card?” The receptionist at the desk eyes me with disgust, looking me up and down as though I’m a piece of trash.

I smile brighter, trying to compensate for the sour thoughts I’m having right now. “Yes, I do.” I reply confidently.

“May I see your key card?” She asks pointedly.

“I don’t have it on me,” I lie, “My dad’s upstairs in the room. He doesn’t trust me, he thinks I’ll lose it.” I laugh trying to ease the atmosphere. It doesn’t work.

She just stares at me and says, “Your Name?”

“Sorry, can’t tell you that, you’re a stranger.” I inwardly shake my head at myself. Even I’m ashamed of that sentence.

“Well then sweetie,” she says, talking to me as if I’m a child. ” I can’t let you go upstairs.” She gives me a sour smile, before focusing her attention on her computer screen. Just as I’m about to slip through to the rooms, someone calls my name.

“Mae, Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you.” I hear Kaiko shout. I turn around and sure enough there she is with Becka and another girl.

Kaiko looks stunning in a golden floor length gown that sparkles in the light, it’s embroidered with beautiful gems that glisten under the glass chandelier, hanging above. Her hair is in a beautiful, loose bun that frames her face nicely and her make up is simple.

Becka wears a beautiful, navy , a-line skirt with a cream, lace blouse and a cute black bow around her waist. Her afro-hair is in an elegant bun and she wears no makeup.

The other girl, whom I don’t know, has two strawberry blonde pigtails and bangs that fall over her lovely mint green eyes. She wears a simple pink dress and holds a small, brown teddy in her hand. She looks adorable with cute dimples and a toothy grin. She waves at me and I can’t help but return it.

“Hey Mae.” Becka greets, ” This is Saffy, I found out that she loves Rilakkuma stationery just like me.” She shows me their matching pencils and diary’s and I can’t help but laugh. Typical Becka.

“Hi Saffy, I’m Mae.” I say waving at her. She doesn’t say anything, just gives me an infectious smile that soon appears on my face as well.

Kaiko comes up and gives me a hug. “Mae you look stunning. Your dress is gorgeous. Your gorgeous.” She says squealing. I smile, a fake smile, and say “Oh you can talk. You look like a princess.” And she does.

“Oh darling stop, please, me... a princess. Oh stop it.” She jokes, in a posh voice whilst posing. I laugh genuinely. Kaiko can always make me laugh even in the toughest of times though I can’t fully push my worries away.

“I kinda have to go. Catch you guys later?” I say, edging away from them slowly.

“What do you mean? Where are you going?” Becka asks.

“Just... to the loos. Really need to pee.” I answer.

“Oh, ok well see you aro-around,” Kaiko says. I see them all shrug before entering the hall where everyone else is.

I look at the information desk, the receptionist still there, focus solely on her computer. There is no one else in sight other than the receptionist which is good. Less witnesses. I’m not sure if what I’m going to do counts as trespassing but if no one sees, who’s gonna report me to the police.

I walk like I’m going to the toilets, hiding behind the wall. Once behind the wall I get on my knees, crawling out and keeping to the side so that the receptionist can’t see me. Her desk is too high.

My heart race increases. I’m sure this is extremely illegal and although I’m scared shîtless of the consequences, I can’t help but feel a sliver of adrenaline course through my body. The thrill of this has me high on the buzz of the whole situation and I’m sure if someone were to look in my eyes, they’d see a glint of mischievousness and excitement.

My knees burn from the continuous movement of dragging them across this beautiful red and gold carpet I’m currently on. The golden flowers and intricate designs really do compliment the cream walls and dazzling chandeliers up above. I slip past the desk easily, the haughty receptionist completely unaware, I laugh. Bitch.

I’m finally able to get off my knees and walk normally. I approach the first room and taking a deep breath, I knock. No one answers. “Carma!” I shout but I get no reply. I bang on the door loudly, causing a small ruckus in the hall. The door unhinges and a couple with towels around their bodies open the door. Are they covered in sweat or water? Probably both by the looks of their ruffled hair and flustered faces.

“Sorry,“I say laughing nervously, “Didn’t mean to interrupt, just looking for a friend.”

They shut the door and I move on to the next door. I knock and wait patiently for it to open. A fat man that smells like a bad mix of B.O, Chessy Doritos and beer opens it. He wears a worn out t-shirt that has a lame science joke written on it reading ′Do you want to hear a joke about pottasium’ ‘K’ and he holds a big bag of Doritos in his orange-powder covered fingers. He puts a bunch of crisps in his mouth, the loud crunch making me feel uncomfortable, I cringe. I hope he isn’t the one who has taken Carma. I would die inside if I found out she had been stuck with a man like that. I would fully hate myself.

“Carma!” I call through his open door. No reply.

“What’d want kid?” He ask, shoving his grubby fingers into his mouth. How does someone like him afford a place like this. I inwardly shrug, I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“Sorry,” my nose crinkles, “Just looking for a friend. Have you seen her?” I ask, showing him a photo of Carma on my phone.

“Nah, Sorry kid, haven’t seen her.” I look at his reaction, trying to gage his response to the photograph. He genuinely seems unaffected.

“Oh, um thanks, I guess.” He slams the door shut.

This routine goes on for the next hour. No one has looked suspicious and no one has seen Carma. What are the chances that she is in the last room, on the last floor? I’m about to knock on the last door, when I hear a very familiar voice; Rolan. I put my ear to the frame.

“Dude you can’t keep her here! Her friends are right down stairs!” I swear,I’m going to murder Rolan, when I get my hands on him.

“Trust me. I tried but every time I go to move her she puts up a fight. I don’t want to hurt her again by biting her. Look at her, she can’t take it anymore.” An unfamiliar voice says.

“If she’s that weak, she won’t be able to fight you. Just pick her up...” Rolan starts but is interrupted by a weak voice.

“Don’t you dare friggin’ touch me. I swear to all that is holy I will beat the crap out of you!” The blood from my face drains, when I recognise the fragile voice; Carma. What have they done to her? Tears of frustration prick at my eyes. I can’t go in there by myself, there are two people in there. I’ll be outnumbered.

“What are you doing?” I jump and let out a little yelp. Becka and Kaiko stand behind me, staring quizzically at my position.

“Nothing.” I say. My hands wring together in nervousness.

“You’re hiding something.” Kaiko states, her hands fold over her chest defensively.

“Am not.” I reply.

“Are too.” She counters.

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“You guys are so bloody childish.” Becka says, rolling her eyes at our antics. I stick my tongue out at Kaiko and she does the same.

“Now what the hell are you doing Mae? I don’t have time for your bullshit.” Becka says. I wring my hands nervously.

“I-I found Carma.” I whisper, though I’m sure they both hear me as their eyes bulge.

“How!?” Kaiko asks.

“Find my Iphone.”

“And you didn’t say a fucking word!” Becka say, shooting daggers at me with her eyes.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to disappoint any...” I start.

“Move!” Becka orders

“What are you doing?” I ask, panicked.

“Getting my best friend back,” she answers, kicking the door violently with her leg. It smashes open, revealing a startled Rolan as well as a few other people and an exhausted looking Carma. Relief floods my senses, thank God she’s here.

Becka picks up a lamp, ready and willing to hit any attacker. I watch as one minute she is ready to defend herself and the next she is falling to the floor as she stares into the eyes of a stranger. He has gelled back black hair neatly parted on the side and has thick rimmed geek glasses on his face. He wears dress pants, as well as a white shirt with a tie and a woollen vest jumper.

Becka blacks out.

The same thing happens with Kaiko and I start to panic. A guy with shoulder length brown hair holds her limp body and stares at her with concerned features. He caresses her cheek tenderly and holds her carefully against his body.

“What’s wrong with them?!” I ask, putting my fist in front of my face defensively.

Rolan steps towards me.“Mae, I can explain,” He goes to reach for me but I quickly back away.

“Don’t fucking touch me Rolan. How could you?! How could you?!” My breathing becomes erratic and I start to choke on the surrounding air.

“Mae, Calm down. Breathe.”

“Don’t touch me!” I scream, slapping him in the face with as much ferocity as I can manage, though he seem unaffected. My body falls onto the wall beside me as I struggle to keep myself upright.

Rolan grabs my arm and I try to pull out of his grip.

“Mae, look at me.” He says. His voice is low and smooth, the sound like velvet brushing against my eardrums, and it begins to lull me to sleep. His eyes turn the colour of molten lava; mesmerising and I can feel myself being pulled into his gaze. I can’t look away, I don’t want to look away from the gold-rimmed irises.

“Sleep, Mae.”

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