The girl in the mirror peers back at me, her dark grey eyes popping beneath the black eyeliner and glimmering white eyeshadow. Long blonde curls fall over her shoulders in ringlets, sprawling chaotically against the fleece beige sweater clinging to her body. Ripped maroon skinny jeans expose the woolly leggings beneath through holes and jagged cuts and brown boots crawl halfway up her legs, stopping just below the knee.
I swipe the flowered necklace off the vanity and clasp it behind my neck, admiring the multicolored accessory as it settles against my chest. Stepping back, I catch my foot on a plastic trash bag and lose my balance, falling clumsily onto the lower bunkbed with an oomph. In the same moment, the dorm door swings open and in struts a girl with flowing brown hair and electric green eyes.
“Hey girlie, what are you up to?” Rhiannon questions and slams the door, kicking off her flats and flopping down beside me. I smile in greeting and scoot toward her bedside table, pulling open the bottom drawer.
“Hey, I’m looking for your earrings. You know, those cute diamond studs?” I inquire, glancing back and raising my eyebrows. Rhiannon’s face lights up and she giggles, a sudden burst of energy exploding around her.
“Oh, today’s six months, isn’t it? How exciting! Check the bottom drawer, I think I hid them under a stack of clothes to keep Layla from stealing them.” She cries excitedly, flashing an impish grin and kicking her feet above her. I chuckle and nod, digging within the drawer and pulling out a red ring box.
“This it?” I wonder, popping it open and laying eyes on my answer.
“Yep. So, where is he taking you? I’ll bet its somewhere super fancy.” Rhiannon exclaims, a dreamy look entering her eyes. “Oh, if it’s a hot air balloon ride like he did for your three month anniversary, I’m seriously going to consider casting a love charm on him and taking him away for myself.” She muses, a girlish yet earnest look of desire on her face. I laugh and roll my eyes, crossing two fingers in an X while glowering playfully.
“Back off, he’s mine.” I tease and remove the earrings from their box, haphazardly jamming them into my earlobes. “Though I don’t think he’d repeat himself.” I mutter dismally and sigh. Rhiannon rolls onto her back and drapes her legs off the edge of the bed, fingers flying up to play with the springs in my mattress.
“Probably not. So you have no idea?” Rhiannon pushes, painful desperation twisting her features. I scrunch up my eyebrows and shake my head.
“All I know is he told me to dress warm and comfortable and wear my hair down, otherwise hopelessly clueless.” I whine as Rhiannon blows out a puff of air and surges up off the bed.
“I wish I had a boyfriend to shower me with secret expensive outings. You’re so lucky.” She pouts, jutting out her lower lip and frowning. I pucker my lips and point to the boxes at her feet.
“It’s true, I am.” I agree, and she glowers. “All these boxes need to get put away, they’re a serious safety hazard.” I snap, kicking a trash bag near my feet and giving Rhiannon a desperate look. She rolls her eyes and drags one of the many boxes over by her feet, plopping back down on her bed with a thud.
“Yeah, I know. I’ll get it cleaned up and packed away soon. Jason was supposed to help but he flaked out.” She snorts, rolling big green eyes. “Just be careful when you seize.” Rhiannon adds, a snarky little quip in her playful tone.
“You suck!” I snark with an ambiguous look, tossing my hairbrush at her and feigning hurt. She giggles and deflects the flying object, sending it flailing to the floor with a loud clunk.
“Hey, hey! Roommate abuse!” She cries, covering her face with both hands and laughing. I roll my eyes and cross my arms, turning my back to her.
“Whatever, loser. How about I help you unpack this weekend.” I offer with a sigh, pulling my hair over both shoulders and meeting her gaze in the mirror. Rhiannon beams and checks her phone screen, stumbling around the box at her feet.
“Totally! Thanks girlie, hey we have to go. Orientation starts in ten minutes.” She chastises, slipping on a pair of copper shaded boots to match her azalea pink ruffled shirt, cream colored sweater, and ripped blue jeans.
“Oh, and I most definitely want a full report of your date tonight.” Rhiannon reminds with a jabbed finger and a seductively quirked eyebrow, licking her lips with a wink. A dark red blush burns my cheeks and I pinch my eyes shut, sighing in embarrassment.
“Yeah okay, just, promise me, you’ll never do that again.” I cringe, shivering as I snatch my black jacket from the desk chair and shrug it on. Rhiannon giggles and spreads a thick white shawl around her shoulders, linking her arm through mine.
“No promises, I have a wild streak.” She teases, eyes glistening slyly.
“I know.” I mutter, eyebrows rising. Rhiannon snorts and elbows my ribcage, a mock angry frown contorting her lips.
“Whatever.” She snarks in a slightly irritated tone as we embark on a cold and windy trek across campus, heading toward the theatre hall.
“Hey do you think you’ll make it to Jason’s party tomorrow?” Rhiannon questions and shields her face from the wind, a hopeful expression touching her features. I shrug and nod, shoving my hands into my pockets for warmth.
“Probably, why?” I ask, sparing her a look of curiosity. Rhiannon gives a huff of annoyance and curls pink lips back from pearly teeth.
“Because Hayden forgot to buy the decorations so I have to do it in the morning and I was hoping you’d help.” She brightens suddenly and smiles imploringly. I wrinkle my nose and stick out my tongue, gagging on the cold air.
“On second thought, tell Jason I say hi.” I mock, curling my lips in disgust. Rhiannon chuckles and nudges my side, glancing at me from the corner of her eyes.
“Oh come on, it won’t be that bad, I promise! It’s only a little shopping, not a lot, I know how much you hate it. Plus, Hayden won’t even be there until the party starts. You won’t have to spend more than three-ish hours with him, pretty please Kas?” Rhiannon pleads, her doll-like eyes becoming even larger within their sockets. Huffing, I splash through a puddle and tip my head up to the sky.
“It’s not even about the shopping, I mean that boy practically induces seizures Ri. I cannot stand him!” I retort, slightly offended by her off-handedness. She sighs and casts me a sympathetic look, plump, pink lips puckered in a pout.
“I know, I know but I need you to help me keep the boys in check. Seriously, the last time Jason, Hayden, and Laken were together the three of them ended up bungie jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.” Rhiannon whines and gives a loud groan. I laugh and cast her a helpless glance.
“See what happens when you involve Hayden Grey? Nothing ever goes right, he’s like a wrecking ball that won’t stop swinging.” I retort bitterly and grind my teeth against the sharp sting of the cold.
“Normally I would agree, but that little incident wasn’t actually his fault. It was mine.” Rhiannon sighs and wrinkles her nose. “You think your mom would let us stay in the city tonight? We could all crash at Hayden’s dad’s place.” She questions half-jokingly, I expel a loud laugh and roll my eyes.
“Ha! Yeah right!” I laugh as we push through the double doors of the theatre hall. Warm air washes over me and I curl into my coat, relieved to be out of the frozen winter air. Chatter surrounds us from all angles as students take part in boisterous conversations and rambunctious greetings.
“I know but it was worth asking.” Rhiannon admits sullenly, “Anyways, will you come? Please?” She begs, lower lip jutting out in a baby faced pout. I nod and thump my head against her shoulder.
“Fine, yes. Stop begging, it’s unattractive.” I accuse grumblingly and Rhiannon chuckles, narrowing her eyes in fictitious anger.
“Well, excuse me.” She retorts with a smirk, eyes scanning the room briskly and with purpose. Without warning she brightens and jerks on my arm, pointing toward a figure standing on the edge of the room.
“Oh my gosh! He looks so sexy! I want one!” She cries as the dark chocolate eyes of a young man with spiked brown hair and a dimpled smile spots us. Dressed in faded blue jeans, a tan t-shirt, and a pitch black vest; he waves lazily and wanders toward us.
“Wow, he does. Do you think this sweater was going too far? I look frumpy, don’t I?” I question, inexplicably hit with an onslaught of nerves that won’t calm themselves. Rhiannon snorts and looks at me funny.
“Girl, shut up. You look fabulous, even in that frumpy sweater.” She teases with a sly grin and snickers at my indignant look.
“I hate you!” I hiss, squeezing her arm with a mock outraged giggle. Rhiannon laughs and wiggles sculpted eyebrows. Huffily, I pinch her pale flesh, drawing blood to the surface, and Rhiannon elicits a sharp girlish squeal of surprise.
“Ow!” She bites as a set of warm arms slide around my waist and pull me swiftly against a firm body. Rhiannon retracts her arm from mine and I willingly give way, instead intertwining my fingers with the ones resting on my stomach.
“Hey beautiful.” Caleb whispers softly into my ear, causing a small cluster of goosebumps to arise on my neck from his hot breath. My cheeks heat up, burning a brilliant shade of cherry red.
“Hey handsome.” I reply, turning my face toward his. Warm lips smother mine for several moments before he breaks away, smiling sweetly.
“Ugh, I’m going to the bathroom.” Rhiannon announces grumpily and slips out of line, disappearing into the clustered room of students. I watch her back vanish into the crowd with a frown etched into the lines of my face.
“What’s her problem?” Caleb inquires defensively, I glance at him and shrug.
“She’s probably just jealous.” I reply, only half believing myself. Something about her had been off recently and I’m finally starting to pick up a pattern.
“Did you work today? Is the kitchen busy?” I question, redirecting the conversation to something more comfortable. Caleb nods and tucks his free hand into his pocket, a sheepish grin on his lips.
“It wasn’t any worse than usual, well until I dropped one of the pumpkin pies. Chef nearly had my ass.” He mutters, a contrite expression stirring within his gaze.
“Oh no!” I cry, giggling a bit. From our left, an obnoxiously high pitched giggle bounces off the walls and disrupts me from finishing my train of thought.
Caleb spares the sound a sharp glance and I follow his gaze uncomfortably; observing as track star, and Methadone addict, Joshua Riddell presses a girl with blonde hair and bright blue eyes against the wall. Lindsay expels another clichéd giggle, her eyes habitually darting toward us, or more specifically Caleb, and narrowing.
I shift in discomfort and attempt to draw his attention away but Caleb’s eyes are fixated on his ex and her new escort. Feeling how tense he is makes my insides shrivel up and I can’t help but wonder what’s running through his head right now; even though it scares me.
Suddenly Lindsay lays a big sloppy kiss on Josh’s mouth and Caleb twitches, eyes shifting away. I clear my throat and it brings him back to the present. He stares at me affectionately and smiles widely, sending my jolts of worry fleeing into the darkness.
“I have something for you.” Caleb whispers, freeing his arm and holding up a rectangular velvet box. I gasp at the designer name scribbled on the top and spare him a wide eyed glance. He chuckles and kisses my temple.
“Open it.” He encourages, I nod mutely and gently take the box from his hand. It feels heavy in my grasp and I give it a tentative shake. A soft jingle echoes from within and I pinch my lips together curiously. Firmly grasped, I pry the two pieces apart to expose a beautifully crafted charm bracelet on a silver chain linked cord and several small pendants dangling from it.
The letter C hangs from one end while the letter K dangles from the other. In between are figurines, each representing a different truth; the pink ballerina encrusted with my birthstone, a rainbow colored hot air balloon, the white chef’s hat with a single gemstone in the center to represent Caleb’s birth month, and two black numbers spelling out our anniversary date.
“Oh my…” I breathe, staring up into Caleb’s adoring face. “It’s beautiful! Thank you, thank you so much!” I cry, throwing my arms around his neck and pressing our lips together. Caleb chuckles into my mouth, giving freely to my embrace.
“You’re more beautiful.” Caleb whispers, pulling back slightly. “Here, let me put it on you.” He offers with a grin and takes the box from my hands, untwining the bracelet from the twist ties. I tug on the sleeve of my sweater and drag it up a few inches; biting down on my lower lip excitedly as he clasps the chain around my arm.
“Oh wow, it’s so pretty.” I praise, twirling my hand through the air and watching the charms sparkle in the light and shimmer against my pale skin.
“I’m glad you like it.” Caleb blushes, rubbing his hands over my arms. I giggle and kiss his chin, smiling as he crushes my back to his chest lovingly, arms circling my waist.
“So,” I whisper, twisting around and glancing up into my boyfriend’s dark brown eyes. “Where are we off to tonight?” I pry, trying out my best puppy dog face just as Rhiannon reappears beside me and rudely pushes back into the line. Caleb chortles and smiles deviously.
“You know, I’ve no idea.” He says, faking innocence. Rhiannon chuckles beside me as I smack his chest and roll my eyes.
“Loser!” I cry, Caleb smiles and kisses my forehead lovingly.
“You’ll have to wait and see.” He murmurs softly, playfully nibbling my flesh with his teeth. I giggle, feeling hot and jittery in his warm embrace. Rhiannon sharply jabs my side and I give a surprised huff, glancing over into hot emerald eyes.
“Come on you two!” She snarks, curling cool fingers around mine and digging pointed nails into my porcelain skin. Rhiannon gives a hard tug, tearing me free of Caleb’s hold and pulling me through the theatre doors.
The buzz of chatty scholars grows louder in the enclosed dome shaped room. I crane my neck, staring around at the sea of students milling about the three levels of seating making their way toward their assigned grade sectors. A neon green sign stating, SENIORS, in all capitals clings to the end of an aisle down the center seating area of the ground level. Rhiannon relentlessly grips my palm, weaving our way through rowdy students toward the front row.
“Can you believe this is our last high school orientation ever?” Rhiannon chirps, vivaciously plopping down in her seat. Caleb takes the spot next to me and twines our hands together on his leg.
“Yeah, it’s kind of intimidating. Four more months and our whole lives change.” Caleb voices and begins drawing soothing circles on my hand with his thumb. I wrinkle my nose and scowl.
“Don’t be so glum.” I pout, patting his shoulder with my free hand. He raises a scrutinizing eyebrow and flips stray brown curls from his eyes.
“Growing up isn’t all rainbows and roses, its hard work and responsibility. I’d think that you would understand that better than either of us.” Caleb remarks and I rear back in shock, wounded by his contempt. I pinch my lips together and shrug one shoulder.
“Still, change can be good.” I argue, poorly hiding my humiliation.
“Maybe so, but I’ve applied to at least ten schools and haven’t heard a single word back, the suspense is killing me.” Caleb whimpers and bites down on his lower lip, a self-conscious expression clouding over his features. Rhiannon nods and brushes brunette curls behind her ears.
“Okay that I can agree with. I spend every waking moment hoping someone will call.” She exclaims in a sharp, aggravated tone that quickly drops off into a drawled out huff of hot air. “I’ve actually dreamt about it too!” Rhiannon rolls her eyes back into her head and slumps in her seat, lips puckered in a pout.
Suddenly, the theatre lights dim and the chattering students quiet down as every eye focuses on the woman standing at center stage. Her blonde hair is curled and flows freely over slender shoulders, only held back by a nearly invisible headband. She’s clad in a black suit jacket and matching skirt with the Devereux Boarding Academy logo pin clipped to the collar of her jacket.
“Good evening and Happy New Year Devereux Academy students, it’s good to see you all again. I hope everyone has settled in after the holidays and gotten back into the school year spirit!” My mother’s cheerful, inviting voice resounds throughout the entirety of the theatre.
“The second half of the semester officially begins January twenty-fifth, this coming Monday, and I am so happy to announce that the academy has received sufficient funding to begin a new senior program!” She exclaims, her sharp voice puncturing every eardrum in the building.
“But before I get into that, I’d like to take a few moments of your time…” Mom drones on, a dullness in her voice as she reads the words scribbled on the sheet of paper held out before her. My attention quickly starts to waver, eyes drifting around the room in a lazy arc that efficiently blocks out the sound of her voice. But amidst the blathering, Rhiannon bumps my arm and I tear myself from my thoughts to focus on her dimly lit features.
“So do you think you’ll do the dirty tonight?” Rhiannon inquires, her frosty lips pressed close to my ear. I give an embarrassed huff and shake my head.
“Rhiannon, stop pushing.” I snap, grinding my teeth together. Big green eyes slit and a hurt expression crosses her face.
“Well then, I’m just trying to help you keep him.” Rhiannon retorts, crossing her arms against her chest and falling back into her seat angrily. A flare of shock and rage ignite beneath my skin and I expel a disgusted huff.
“I can keep him just fine, thanks.” I growl and roll my eyes, a sharp tsk escaping my lips. Rhiannon chuckles lowly.
“I’m sure.” She mock agrees. I clench my jaw, fighting down the urge to slap her and refocusing on my mom just in time to hear the end of her speech.
“As a closing, I’d like to recognize our seniors; the class of 2016!” Mom says, eyes turned to face the crowd seated directly in front of her. “We’ve adored having you here these past years and I hope you enjoy your final semester as Devereux Academy students!” A cacophony of whoops and hollers erupt from the senior class. My mother claps along to allow us all a moment of celebration before asking for calm.
“Now, this semester the senior class will be partaking in a new course that I have personally designed to ready individuals for the harrowing task of successfully navigating the tricky waters of marriage and childcare. The program is called Saying “I Do” and will begin this coming Monday; lasting until the end of the school year.” Mom explains, igniting a subdued flame of mutterings and scoffs among the seniors. Rhiannon gasps and takes hold of my wrist in a vice-like grip, our mini-fight completely forgotten.
“I heard rumors about this!” She exclaims. “But I didn’t think it was true! I’m picking Matty for my partner.” Rhiannon announces, proudly laying claim to the school’s quarterback with a satisfied huff.
“It’s not going to last, the program will fail after a month or so when half of the senior class ends up raped and pregnant.” Caleb mutters flatly and rolls his eyes, disturbingly unconcerned. I rear back, both in disgust and shock.
“Caleb! Don’t say that!” I shriek, drawing unwanted attention from the students seated around us. “Wait, did you know about this?” I suddenly question, regarding him curiously. Caleb quirks an eyebrow and smirks half-heartedly.
“Laken was whining about it the other day on the court.” He answers. “We lost the scrimmage because he couldn’t make the hoop and babble at the same time.” Caleb grumbles bitterly and clenches his jaw.
“But how did he know? I mean…” I drop off and gesture to my mother on stage. “I didn’t even know about this.” Caleb shrugs.
“Laken’s dad is on the school board.” He replies as if that explains it all. I shake my head and roll my eyes, giving him a skeptical look.
“Hey, hey guys, shut up. I’m trying to listen.” Rhiannon snaps sharply and jabs a pointed nail into my forearm. I yelp and glower at her, neglectfully tuning in to the words spewing from my mother’s mouth.
“Couples will attend mandatory marriage counseling sessions once every week where a guidance counselor will make notes based on how the couples are getting along and participating in the program. Saturday nights will be a special dinner for couples in the cafeteria from nine until eleven. More details and information will be provided in the pamphlets currently being passed around.” She rambles and clears her throat, eyes scanning the room attentively as students resentfully pass along a colorful stack of booklets.
“Now I realize some of you do not wish to participate. But let me make myself very clear; this is a mandatory course and without it you will not graduate.” She punctuates the sentence with a sharp T sound that adds an air of finality.
“Parental approval has been acquired for each senior in attendance; they are well informed about the requirements of this course and have given their consent to allow co-ed living in the dormitories and possession of the robotic child. Thus, refusal to take part in this program will not be tolerated.” Mom states clearly, Rhiannon gasps and leans toward me.
“Rooming with boys? Bring on the bubble baths and champagne in bed!” She whisper shouts, voice squealing a bit. I shake my head amusedly and shush her, both intrigued and disturbed to learn what else my mother has to say.
“Now, the school board has preassigned all the couples based on how each individual might challenge and compliment their partner. Switching partners to say, be with a significant other, will not be allowed. So, before I dismiss you, I will quickly announce the couplings in order of the boy’s last names.” She finishes and digs out a folded sheet of paper from her pocket, both sides splattered with writing. Clearing her throat, my mother pinches her lips and starts down the list. I flop my head back against the seat, a frenzy of shock whirling around in my skull as I attempt to process everything.
How had I not known about this? When had she found the time to create such a program and why? Did she honestly think it would end well, that the student body would act appropriately in private dorms? What on earth was the school board thinking? This didn’t make any sense.
“Aw dammit, no Matt for me.” Rhiannon pouts against my mother’s rambling, her angered shriek pulling me free of my thoughts. “I wonder who I’ll get then, maybe Josh Riddell. Or Connor Gagnon. Cole Richardson perhaps? Oh! What if I get Laken?” She whisper squeals and wrinkles her nose in excitement, lips stretching into a Cheshire grin.
“Laken? Really, he’s your final choice?” I snark, more than a bit perturbed with her despicable taste in men. Rhiannon huffs and rolls her eyes in a wide arc.
“Laken happens to have a sexy body and a gorgeous smile, attitude is beside the point. Looks are everything.” She muses with a careless shrug that makes me want to smack a sea worth of sense into her.
“I wouldn’t mind waking up to your smile every morning.” Caleb flirts, a smirk pulling at his mouth as he presses his lips to mine momentarily. I giggle and burrow my face into his neck, smiling as gallons of blood fill my cheeks and redden my skin.
“Ew!” Rhiannon chimes obnoxiously, face full of revulsion. I sigh and pull back, resting my head on Caleb’s shoulder.
“I wouldn’t mind either.” I say sweetly, completely ignoring Rhiannon’s huff of disgusted irritation. Abruptly, a collective gasp runs through the entirety of the senior class and a sharp pain thumps through my palm. I tune into my surroundings just quickly enough to hear my mother seal my fate.
“Hayden Grey and Kayci Devereux.” The air is sucked from my lungs, mimicking what I imagine it would feel like to be sucker punched in the gut. My hand flies to my rolling stomach, feeling it flip sickeningly. Down the row Hayden lunges to his feet, sapphire eyes spotting me only a few seats away and zeroing in like a lion stalking its next meal.
“Like hell!” He seethes, hands fisted at his sides. The pain in my hand intensifies and I glance down numbly to find Caleb’s grip cutting off the blood supply to my fingers. I yelp, snapping out of my shocked trance and grasping futilely at his arm.
“Caleb, let go. Now!” I squeal as the tingling becomes unbearable. He jerks and releases my hand; allowing me to pull it to my chest and hug it protectively as it rushes to regain blood flow.
With no time to react, I watch helplessly as Caleb lurches to his feet and nails Hayden in the jaw. The blonde haired boy’s head whips to the left and he stumbles, shock radiating from him. But in one reactive instant a blindingly fast fist flies through the air and collides with Caleb’s stomach, forcing him onto his knees with a pained grunt.
“Caleb!” I shriek as my heart plunges into my stomach. I fling myself from my seat, crashing against the floor beside my boyfriend’s curled up form. Hayden advances, dark green eyes alight with flame.
“Son of a gun! Stay down!” Hayden roars and turns his back, body taut with tension. He hovers like a falcon would its prey; sharp eyes alert and alight with anticipation. A trail of blood trickles down the side of his lips and the skin begins to turn a vibrant red. He touches a hand to his face and wipes at the blood, cringing slightly and licking his lips to clear the rest. A nicely sized cut splits the side of his mouth and Hayden clenches his jaw.
“Touch me again and I will break your arm.” He growls, frothing with rage. Laken is suddenly there, watchful and worried as he stands beside his best friend. He takes Hayden’s arm and diverts his attention and the blue eyed boy turns partway to meet his best friend’s gaze. Laken’s lips move and Hayden seems to calm, nodding as if reminding himself of a forgotten truth.
Then Caleb flops with a choked grunt, uncurling himself from the fetal position and straightening halfway. His face is screwed into a grimace and scarlet red with adrenaline and anger. I grab his cheeks in my hands, forcing those vengeful brown eyes to meet mine.
“Hey, are you okay?” I cry, on the verge of tears but he barely registers the sound of my voice. Orbs of brown peer through me, as if I weren’t there at all. Rage swirls within them at an unquenchable level and he whips himself free. As Hayden turns to leave, Caleb climbs to his feet and lurches forward. Laken curses, throwing himself in Caleb’s way.
“Back off!” He yells but Caleb refuses, nailing Laken in the throat with his elbow. Laken coughs and falls back, bending over breathlessly. Hayden turns and the deadly calm look that enters his face sends a chill down my spine; if looks could kill we’d all be dead.
“Don’t walk away from me!” Caleb seethes, throwing himself into a fight with both fists up to defend and deflect. But all too quick Hayden surges and blurs into something untamed, twisting and trapping Caleb’s arm behind his back and pressing his mouth against his ear.
Caleb expels a quick yelp of pain, his face all tied up in agony as he remains perfectly still in the stronger boy’s hold. Only then does Laken stir and stumble to his feet, but by then there’s nothing for him to prevent. The damage has already been done and the two boys have locked themselves into a test of wills. Then suddenly someone grabs my arm and pulls me back from the chaos.
“Kayci sit down!” A deep voice rumbles and I glance up into the dark gaze of Professor Hammond as he shoves past us all and pries the two apart. Hayden backs away without a fight, palms up in surrender and a stony mask over his emotions. Caleb stumbles back, spewing insults and flailing his arms like a fish trapped on land.
Professor Wilhelm is abruptly there as well. He presses the crowd of students back and hauls Hayden from the room by his ear. Professor Hammond escorts Caleb through the opposite doorway, his large thick hand secured around my boyfriend’s bicep. Amongst the ruckus, Laken shakes his head and locks eyes with me, a distraught look filling his face. I almost imagine that he mouths I’m sorry but there’s no way to be sure because in the next blink he’s gone.
Then Rhiannon’s bright eyes swim across my vision and two frail arms encircle me. Her obnoxious voice buzzes in my ear and my mother’s voice rages through the microphone. Noise fills every corner of the theatre hall and I stagger backwards, flopping down in an empty seat. A resounding sense of shock echoes through my skull and the tension within me climaxes to a dangerous point.
Sudden disorientation hits me and everything slows to a creeping crawl. Colors distort themselves into undiscovered shades and I press my palms into my eye sockets. A piercing headache blossoms behind my eyeballs and I cringe.
The sharp taste of metal overpowers my tongue and I scrape it between my teeth, grimacing in trepidation. My arms start to tingle and the feeling travels quickly down into my hands, becoming extremely uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. Rhiannon touches my arm and I glance over at her blurry face, blinking rapidly as I lean back and steel myself for the worst.
“What else could possibly go wrong?” Rhiannon mutters dismally as the lights swirl out of focus and I blackout.