christmas eve

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t h r e e

“Why is everything locked?” I whispered to myself, shaking my head as I looked around the cafeteria. My hands were propped up on my hips and I was frustrated. The door to the kitchens was closed too.

The cafeteria was a large room with high walls and huge windows. I had always adored this place. It was so different from the one in my high school, and there was so much more space and comfort.

During the lunch break, my friends and I would come here and eat together if there was time. One of the tables had somehow become ours over time. It was one that stood near the doors we had just walked into.

I looked over at it and smiled.

If only they were here.

I could imagine that it would have been so much fun to be here alone with them. We would have rummaged through the halls, told each other scary stories in the night, and might’ve even drunk the night away... As if that wasn’t something we always did.

But it would’ve been even more fun because there would be no one that could stop us. Some teachers, like Mrs. Quinn, would be very pissed if they found us intoxicated.

It had only really happened to me once, but I had heard some horror stories from other classmates. They had even involved some parents. I would’ve thought that they wouldn’t care because we were all over eighteen, but that wasn’t the case.

A smirk blossomed on my lips.

My friend Neela had been so timid when she had told me about the talk she had with her parents afterward.

And only two days later, she had already drunk again. Maybe she hadn’t learned her lesson after all...

“What are you smirking about?”

My head snapped to the side, to Cade, who was watching me. He was leaning against the wall next to the kitchen. His hair looked disheveled.

I shook my head and turned towards him again. He had been waiting. “It’s nothing.”

He tilted his head and looked down at me. Our eyes met for a brief second before he turned. “I can’t pick this lock,” he told me.

He pulled at the door handle, but nothing moved. “They replaced the old one with this advanced one after they had noticed that someone had been stealing food.”

I snorted. “Was it you?”

A silent second passed, and then he looked over at me with lifted brows. “Do you really think so lowly of me?”

I stayed silent and fought a smile.

He sighed and shook his head, turning away from me again. “At least I wasn’t the one that got caught,” he murmured.

Laughter erupted from me. I hadn’t thought that he would admit this. It didn’t seem like he cared what others said or thought about him, and that was clearly showing. I didn’t know why, but I liked that.

He wouldn’t be one of those guys that lied about everything to keep their reputation upright.

“So what are we going to do?” I asked, crossing my arms. I was starting to get cold. Maybe I should have put on a hoodie under my jacket before leaving my room. But, now it was too late.

Cade looked around. His eyes stayed stuck on the small window on the kitchen wall, right next to where the food was given out. “I bet you could get through,” he muttered, turning to look at me.

My eyes widened. “What?”

“I can’t open the blinds where the lunch ladies give out the food. But I bet I could open the window.”

He sent me a grin. “And I bet you’re small enough to get through.”

My heartbeat started to speed up.

Was he kidding me?

I opened my mouth. “Aren’t there any alarms somewhere in there?”

Cade was already walking to the window.

“Cade?”

He started to fuss with the window. Really looking at it, you could see that it wasn’t made out of glass, but of thick plastic. I knew that the window was made to slide from side to side. There was only a small lock on its side.

“Do you really think they would waste their money on alarms?”

My brows furrowed, and I nodded. I moved my arms, so they were hugged over my stomach, the torch pressed against my hip. “I do, Cade. Why would I have asked if I didn’t?”

I heard him sigh. “Do you have a pin or something? What is that stuff called that girls put in their hair?”

“Bobby-pins,” I answered as I lifted my hand to my bun. I pulled out one of the little pins and walked up to him. “Here,” I held it out for him to take. I wasn’t even sure why I was still helping him at this point.

I didn’t want to get in there and possibly set off an alarm.

“Thanks.” He twisted the bobby-pin and started to fidget around with it in the lock. I watched closely, trying to figure out what he was doing. I had seen this in movies but never even tried it myself.

I lifted my hand to my face and started to bite on my nail. I just couldn’t help myself. “Do you really think-”

“Give me a second,” he interrupted me, moving his face nearer to the lock. He slowly turned the bobby-pin inside the lock, and a few seconds later, it clicked. A sound of triumph left his lips, and I just stared as he pulled the lock open and let it fall to the floor.

“Told you I could do it,” he smiled. I took a step back when he turned to me with a sly look in his eyes.

“No.”

A grin blossomed on his face. “Now comes your part, Holly.”

“Cade, I-”

He took my left hand and pulled me forward until I stood in front of the window. “It’s not that hard, Holly. Just get inside and open the door. I’ll wait for you.”

I pulled my hand back to my side. “Have I told you that I’m afraid of the dark? Because if not, let me tell you-”

Cade shook his head. “I’ll take my phone and light the room, Holly. I promise nothing will happen.”

We looked into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. My hand clenched at my side. “Is there really nothing else we could do?” I asked reluctantly. I would only be willing to do it if there was nothing else we could do.

“No, there isn’t.”

I swallowed down the fear. There was a lump in my throat. “Alright,” I sighed and nodded my head. I was already regretting this.

I was just hungry at this point. The hunger was probably driving me insane already.

“How are we going to do this?”

A sly smirk appeared on his face. “I could-”

I quickly pressed my hand against his mouth, lifting my torch. “Not with this look, Mister. I’ll hit you if you continue this sentence.”

One of his brows lifted as his grin widened under my hand.

I shook my head at him and looked over my shoulder.

There were all of the tables and chairs. It took me a second, but then came the idea. “I’ll use a chair.”

I let go of him and pressed the torch into his hands. I turned and walked to the nearest table, taking a chair that stood on top of it. I tottered back to the window, sending Cade a glare.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he laughed.

I practically growled at him. “I’ll look all I want. You’re probably just lying to me. If there’s another way, I’ll murder you.”

I placed the chair down in front of the window and got on top of it. My hands were shaking as I lifted them up to the wall to keep me steady. I looked over my shoulder.

Cade quickly lifted his eyes to mine as he noticed my glance. I sent him a sneer, “Where’s my light?”

He made his way towards me and held the torch into the kitchen so that I could at least see something. I shook my head and breathed in deeply, closing my eyes. I was really doing this.

And if anything happened, I wanted it to be known that Cade was responsible for all of it.

“Fuck this shit.”

I went in feet first, squeezing my upper body inside as I was halfway through. I huffed, and for a second, there was no ground under my feet right when I fell. I screamed, landing on my hands and knees with a bang.

“Holly?!”

I groaned. “Fuck!”

“Are you fine?” Cade asked loudly.

I rolled my eyes. Obviously, I wasn’t. Pain radiated from my knees and hands, tying me to the ground. I would need a few minutes after this. “Sure, Cade. I’m clearly fine. Never felt better.”

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