christmas eve

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t w o

It was dark, and the only thing I could make out despite my beating heart was my ragged breaths. I stumbled backward until my back hit the wooden door. The door handle pressed painfully hard into my spine, but that was nothing I cared about.

A chuckle echoed through the cold air.

I shuddered and fidgeted around with my torch. I was too hectic to do anything, but I needed to see who was in front of me. Fuck, why was this just my luck?

If I died, the last thing I would have gotten to hear from my mom would be her arguing with Arthur! I couldn’t let that happen. No matter what, I would die alone-

“Did I scare you?” an awfully familiar voice chuckled.

My grip around the torch tightened, and I lifted it up until I could make out the scheme of who was in front of me. Tall and lean. I was sure that the guy seemed familiar, but I couldn’t trust myself at this moment. I moved the torch higher so that I would be able to see his eyes.

He turned to the side suddenly, his hand going over his eyes. “Fuck, there’s no need to blind me!” he exclaimed. He stumbled to the side, away from the light I was shining on him.

But I quickly followed with the torch.

I needed to figure out who he was.

“Holly!”

I let out a shuddering breath.

I knew the voice. I was sure of that, but I couldn’t assign a face to it.

Had I ever seen him before?

Hopefully, he was not one of the douchebags out of the college... I wouldn’t be able to deal with that for the next few days. Oh god, we would be locked in here together!

“Holly, stop! It’s me, Cade!”

My body stilled. Cade?

I shook my head and breathed out, feeling my heartbeat getting faster and faster. If that was even possible. “Who?”

The guy cleared his throat, lifted his hands, and turned to face me. I moved the torch so that the light was shining directly into his face, but this time, he didn’t move. He only squinted his eyes against the light. “I’m Cade Thindal. You know, the guy from maths. I’m sitting in the back, and you’re in the front.”

My brows furrowed. Maths? Why couldn’t I remember his face then?

I swallowed.

Focusing on his face, I was slowly starting to recognize him. Or more about that, his hair. I didn’t know why, but I had never really gotten a good glance at his face. His eyes seemed as dark as his hair, and I could make out the slight crook of his nose.

His face was freckled, most of the tiny brown spots on his nose.

But I needed to make sure I was right. “Who is our teacher?”

His brows furrowed. “What?”

I gritted my teeth. “If you’re in my class, then who is our teacher?”

His head ducked to the side, and a grin started to form on his face. “You really don’t know who I am, huh?” he chuckled. “Fine, it’s Mrs. Quinn. The old hag never learned my name either. You guys have that in common.”

I breathed in deeply, starting to relax. A small smile tugged at my lips. The old hag... What an asshole.

A silent second passed between us. “What are you doing here?” I asked, moving the torch a bit down.

I wasn’t trying to blind him.

He took a step forward, crossing his arms. “I was trying to see who was making all those noises. You can’t think you’d go unnoticed like that, Holly.”

I snorted, but I felt my face heat up. Maybe I had been screaming after all...

It was good that there wasn’t enough light for him to see my face. I was sure that I was bright red by now. My pale skin couldn’t hide any color. I hated it. Sadly, I hadn’t inherited my father’s tanned, slightly darker skin.

I only had photos of him and me when I was two. One of them, where he was throwing me high up in the sky, was placed on my dresser. Mom was in the background, smiling as she watched from the side. We had looked like a happy family...

And then everything had fallen apart.

“I thought I was alone,” I murmured, my left hand starting to fidget with the sleeve of my jacket. I loosened my shoulders and tried to think about something else. Just focusing on the moment was my go-to.

Cade laughed and shook his head. “So did I, Holly. Right until I heard your lovely voice screaming fuck over and over again.” He tilted his head. “What were you doing, anyway?”

I pursed my lips. “I was trying to get some food.”

One of his brows lifted. A smirk tugged at his lips. “Couldn’t get inside?”

I breathed in deeply and rolled my eyes. I just nodded.

“So, that’s what the screaming was about.”

I sighed. And then, again, I nodded.

I would call him mister oblivious from now on. “Want some help?”

I looked at the door behind me for a second. My brows furrowed. “It’s locked.”

“I know, Holly.” He started to walk towards me. With each step he took, I moved more to the side. I wanted to get some space between us. Just because we went to the same class didn’t mean that we knew each other.

For all I knew, he could be a murderer.

“They always lock them in the breaks.”

I pressed my lips together and watched as he kneeled down in front of the door. “How do you know?”

He shrugged and sent me a brief look. “Logical thinking?”

I snorted and crossed my arms. How rude.

“Can you give me some light, please?”

I quipped up and lifted the torch.

I didn’t know what exactly he was doing, but after a few seconds, a click sounded. He turned to me, sitting on his butt now. He threw me a sly smirk. “Now there’s nothing locked anymore.”

He placed his hand on the ground as he stood up, supporting him. A groan left his lips as he stretched. Cracks sounded, and I winced.

“Doesn’t that hurt?”

He ignored my question and pulled on the door. It opened with a loud creak. “And you didn’t think I could do it,” he mocked, shaking his head. The smirk never left his face, and all I wanted to do was wash it away.

He seemed so sure of himself that it hurt.

But that he was able to open the door lent to more questions.

My head tilted, and I moved the torch up again to see his face in the dark. I watched his face scrunch up and away from the light. I had to keep myself from laughing.

He looked just too stupid.

“You find that funny, huh?” he groaned. He shook his head at me.

“Very.”

He was fighting a smile too. I could see it.

I shook my head and took a step forward. “What are you doing here?”

His brows furrowed again. “You already asked that.”

I sighed, “And now, I’m asking again because you didn’t give me the answer I wanted. Shouldn’t you be home yet?”

“I could ask you the same.”

I rolled my eyes. “Cade.”

He shrugged. “I missed my bus, and then the storm hit,” he murmured. “I figure it’s the same for you too?”

“Yup,” I murmured. I wasn’t so sure if he was telling me the truth, but I honestly didn’t care at the moment. My stomach took this moment of silence as the right moment to growl again.

My ears probably turned pink as Cade chuckled.

He disappeared into the cafeteria without another word. I just waited. I didn’t know if he wanted me to follow him. The wind lashed against the windows, causing me to flinch. I was so freaking jumpy it wasn’t even funny.

I shook my head and hugged my left arm over my stomach. I really needed to get over this. At least I wasn’t as alone anymore. And I didn’t believe that Cade would do anything to me. Or maybe I just hoped so. Everything could happen... I mean, if-

“Are you just going to stand there, or will you come any time soon?” Cade asked loudly from somewhere in the cafeteria.

I straightened and jogged after him, the torch in my hand lightening my way.

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