Aria was the first at my side, her arms wrapped around me. The other girl was staring at me with a weird expression.
“Is she alright?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Aria said, shaking her head. “Tate!”
Her voice was panicked, fading into the background of the noise inside my head. I couldn’t shut out the voice, it was screaming at me, telling me what I already knew. I needed to get out. I needed air. I needed him.
I looked at Aria through blurred vision as she helped me up. The other girl, whose name was Lisa, kept hold of my other arm. Aria said something about getting me to the nurse and I weakly shook my head.
“I’m okay,” I muttered, blinking so I could focus. “Please let me go.”
“You’re not,” Aria said. “I saw your face when Caleb touched you. You were terrified of him.”
“It was just a weird dream I had,” I said as they finally got me out into the hall. I stepped away from them and looked around. “I’m okay, really.”
“You’re crying,” Lisa said uncomfortably. She was twisting her blonde hair between her fingers. “Is it…is it because you know who died?”
Aria’s eyes narrowed and I watched her staring at the girl. She looked like she wanted to slap her. “Why the fuck would you ask her that?”
Lisa shrugged. “Sorry. It was just a thought.” She turned to me. “So, do you?”
I placed both of my hands against the wall and leaned back against it. I didn’t want to answer her. I didn’t want to even think it, because if I did then it would be true. It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be.
He said that he always knew something was wrong with him, that he was running out of time.
“Caleb.” I shut my eyes, my mouth moving on its own, the word falling. “Caleb drugged me.”
No one spoke. I opened my eyes to look at them, to see if they heard me, to see their reaction. When I did, he was standing there, his eyes dark. Aria and Lisa were gone.
“Why would you say that?” Caleb asked, tilting his head. He didn’t look mad. He looked pleased. “You’re lying.”
“I’m not,” I said, staring at him.
“No one is around to hear you,” he said, smirking. “So what makes your accusation true?”
“Where are they?”
“I told them I’d take care of you,” he said.
“No,” I replied, glaring at him. “You obviously have some issues.”
“That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” He laughed. “Do you know how hypocritical you sound, Tate?”
“You don’t understand.”
Caleb ran his hands through his hair and growled. “Do you even know what it’s like to not get what you want? You bitch and moan a lot and what are you doing? You’re letting some sick fuck take advantage of you just because you know you can make any idiot fall for you.”
“It’s not like that,” I said, biting my lip. I wanted to hit him. “Elias and I aren’t--”
“Did you exchange names before or after you got out of his bed?”
“Fuck you,” I hissed. “I want to know why you drugged me.”
Luckily for us, the halls had cleared.
“I needed you to listen to me about Elias,” he said, his voice soft. “I was protecting you.”
“So you chloroformed me?” I said. “How is that protecting me?”
“You’re missing the point again,” he said. He reached out and gripped my arm. “You’re letting people walk all over you; first Elias, then Hunter, and now me.”
“Do you know where Hunter is?” I asked. I didn’t pull away. “Did you…did you hurt him?”
“No.” He frowned at me. “Please come with me.”
I allowed him to take me to an abandoned closet. I stared at it, then at him. “This is making things so much better. It’s not creepy at all.”
“I’m not trying to scare you,” Caleb said. “I just need you to trust me.”
“You have a weird way of helping people. Why didn’t you just tell me about Elias in the first place?”
“Would you have listened?”
“Probably not.” I shrugged. “I’m not going in there with you.”
He smiled and I wasn’t afraid of him then.
“We wanted to help you,” he said.
I thought about what he said for a second. “You and Hunter? I thought you hated each other.”
He grinned. “Don’t you ever pay attention? It was a smokescreen. I needed someone who didn’t like Elias as much as I did, someone who knew what was going on.”
“Hunter was trying to protect me,” I muttered. “Was it true what you told me about his time being up?”
Caleb nodded. “He told you to promise him that if anything happened to get yourself out. Are you willing to keep that promise?”
His eyes held mine for moment before he spoke.
“Then it’s time to end it.”