Chapter 3

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Over the next couple of hours, Vee tormented me with relish. She forced me to log into every account I had and post that I was a pathetic, worthless human being. She told me to call my mom and dad and apologize for being such a disappointment. Vee got a real kick out of making me say that I was no more than a cyberbullying twit that contributed nothing to society; she was even more amused when my dad agreed with me. And, when she got bored of the "low-key" punishments, she had me resume cutting out my non-existent pimples.

I thought it would never end.

And then: "Okay, Wren, I think it's time to switch things up a little bit."

My stomach flew into my throat. Switch things up a little bit? What the hell did she mean by that? What was she about to do? I didn't think it was possible, but, in that moment, my fear of her intensified. Oh god.

"What do you mean?" Charlie demanded. Her tone was low, devoid of the intense infuriation that had colored her words just moments ago. It was squelched by dread-dread that seeped into her voice and filled her eyes. When I glanced Scott's way, I found that his expression mirrored hers.

"What I mean is that Wreny Boo's dorm has served its purpose and that the rest of tonight's events require a different setting." Vee smirked. "So clean up, Wren. Wouldn't want people suspecting anything when you leave the building."

For a moment I just sat there, not fully comprehending Vee's words. Different setting? Leave the building? What? Then I swallowed, voice timid and shaky as I muttered, "But-"

"But what?"

"But if I leave-I won't have service."

"And?"

"It'll log me off." Tears burned in my eyes for what felt like the thousandth time tonight. "You said if I don't stay online-"

Oh god. She was going to force me to get offline, and then when I did, she was going to murder Charlie and Scott as punishment. That would be her final revenge.

This was sick. Sick.

"I'm going to make this one exception," Vee said, smiling brightly when she saw the anguished expression on my face. "After you lose connection to the Internet, you will have ten minutes to get here and back online before your loved ones die."

"How-how do I know you're telling the truth?" I demanded.

"You don't. But, if you don't do what I say, your loved ones will die anyway-in a much slower fashion." Vee's smile grew as I sucked in a panicked breath. "Now, why don't you make the right decision and go make yourself as presentable as possible?"

I cast a glance at Charlie and Scott. If I did this, there was a huge chance Vee would kill them the second my phone was out of range. But, if I didn't...like Vee said, she'd just kill them anyway. A tear dribbled down my cheek. Dammit.

In the end, I settled for the option that might keep my friends alive. I grabbed one of the spare water bottles from the mini refrigerator and a clean washcloth from my bathroom stuff, then began cleaning off the blood on my face and arms to the best of my ability. As I worked, I battled with the sobs trying to break their way to the surface. For the most part, I won. For the most part.

When I finished wiping the blood away, I hurried over to my closet and snatched the sweatshirt I'd purchased from the campus's store, whimpering when the fabric dragged over my injuries as I tugged it on. I pulled the hood over my head and grabbed my phone. "Where am I going?" I asked softly.

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