Chapter Eighteen

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I check my phone for any new messages from Mia, biting my lip hard enough that I can taste copper

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I check my phone for any new messages from Mia, biting my lip hard enough that I can taste copper. I push through the brass and glass doors of the hotel, I make my way into the lobby. My school would never book a five-star hotel, but the Grand looks nice enough. If you don't notice the cobwebs glittering on chandeliers, the faded velvet sofas and the scent of fresh flowers buried under the smell of cleaning products.

I glance at the signs above the reception desk. They're too busy checking in the queue of people to notice the scruffy teenager slipping into the hallway towards their ballroom. The hallway is dingy, lit by yellow lights and old-fashioned floral wallpaper.

I glance down at my phone, re-reading the messages that had dragged me away from ritual preparations. It was from Mia and it had made my blood turn cold.

Where are you??? We need you here. Zara's really freaking us all out. I think she might hulk out any second. She just threw a coffee cup at Ros because she didn't like how she was blowing up a balloon... WHAT THE HELL?! 

And then nothing. Mia hadn't responded to any of my messages or calls, and neither had Ros or Becca. I dropped what I was doing and practically ran across town to the hotel. I'd left Henry a message explaining where I was going but hadn't waited for him. My friends needed me.

Guests bustle past me, dragging suitcases on squeaky wheels, red-cheeked from a few days exploring in the sunshine. I slip through the double doors into the room under the ballroom sign, and I can't help it. I gasp. Tingles make their way up and down my skin.

I really don't want to miss this.

Whoever had decorated this knew what they were doing. The dreary and dated space - sun-bleached blush carpets, a dark wooden dance floor and more cob-web laden chandeliers, now shimmered in a confection of paper rings, lights and balloons. Cheesy yes, but everything you wanted from prom.

The scream comes from a shut door to the side of the room. I run towards the noise, barrelling into what turns out to be toilets. Bright white light burns my eyes as it bounces off the white tiles, making the droplets of red on the floor glow. My body tenses, and I instinctively rub the bloodstone pendant around my neck. As I slip deeper into the main room, I gasp.

Becca and Ros are battling hard against the cubicle door, screaming as the thing inside roars. I see its hand, the blood-dipped fingernails peeking through the gap as they use all their might to keep it in.

"Mia!" I see her curled up between two sinks, her mouth open wide and hair askew. Holding her shoulder, as blood pours from a wound. I settle beside her. She's quivering with shock, her skin milky white. "Mia! Mia, it's me. What happened?"

She turns to me slowly, blinking like she's not sure I'm really there.

"Willow?"

I nod and quickly squeeze her hand, the sounds of screaming continuing.

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