Twenty-SeventhMature

TWENTY-SEVENTH

Something was making a buzzing noise later that night, when they were curled up with each other on the sofa in her house. Tessa groaned, reached over Alex’s arm, and grabbed her cell phone. She flipped it open and looked at the screen.

Then she shoved Alex off the couch.

“Fuck,” he mumbled when he hit the carpet. He lifted his head, green eyes groggy, and blinked at her. “Did you have a nightmare or something?”

“They need us back at Ridgewood,” Tessa said, her voice strange. “It’s urgent.”

“What happened?” he asked, standing up and yawning. “Did Bridget fall down again?” He smiled.

Tessa narrowed her eyes at him and bit the inside of her cheek and pushed him toward the front door.

___

Ava had been confined to her room. She didn’t know why. Outside there were so many footsteps thundering down the hall she thought there was a stampede of raging animals coming in her direction.

She wondered if Tessa was among them.

“What are you worried about?” Ian asked, settling back against the pillows on her bed. “It’s not like they’re after you.”

“But something happened,” Ava said. She was holding her grey stuffed elephant and squeezing it tightly. “It would have been one of the other girls.”

“Why do you care?” he asked, tilting his head. “It’s not like they mean much to you. There’re just insecure little girls with insignificant issues.”

Ava glared at him. “What am I then?”

He glanced at her, his lips twitching. He held his arms out to her and she came to him, folding herself into his warm body.

“You’re very important to me.”

Ava grinned, yawned, and closed her eyes. She didn’t fall asleep, however, because there was a sudden pounding on her door. It opened and someone stepped inside. They looked around.

“Ava, what are you doing, trying to sleep sitting up?”

It was Marty and she sounded out of breath.

“What are you—” Ava felt around in the darkness for Ian before light filled the room. She frowned at the empty space next to her. “What’s going on?”

At her question, Marty burst into tears.

Ava stood and put her hands on the other girl’s shoulders. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Ari,” Marty said, her voice weak, “she’s in the infirmary. Someone beat the hell out of her. She’s in a coma.”

The End

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