*Geek Boy*

I felt more at peace than I had in a while.

I contemplated that fact as I pulled up in the school parking lot. I hadn't realized that just talking to someone about the accident, that just talking to Jed, that telling the truth would make me feel so...free.

So much of the weight of it had just—gone.

My gaze flickered to the centre console. Tucked beneath my phone was the piece of paper that Jed had given me. Dad's phone number.

Despite the peace, a torrent of nerves rolled through me. I hadn't called him. I didn't know what I could possibly say to him, what we could possibly talk about. It had been seven years, and he'd never attempted to contact me.

I'd always felt like he'd abandoned me.

But now...

I reached towards the console. My fingers brushed the paper. Instead, I grabbed my phone and stepped out of the car.

I frowned as my eyes flickered towards the school building. There were a crowd of students gathered in front of the door. I glanced at my watch. It was 8:30. The first bell hadn't rung yet, but students should still be going inside—why weren't they? Were the doors locked?

I felt the prickle of stares on my skin. I glanced up to see a few students looking at me. Stragglers, not part of the crowd at the door. They were whispering.

My brows furrowed, but I kept walking.

Then someone in the crowd glanced back. Their eyes widened. They nudged their neighbour. One pair of eyes shifted to me, then another, then another.

Discomfort ran through me.

Catherine slipped out of the crowd. Her eyes, glinting, were locked on me, her smirk smug.

She brushed past me. "Good luck."

I frowned. But before I could turn to ask her what she was talking about, the crowd split.

My eyes were drawn to the person who I could never stop staring at.

Ellie's blonde hair glimmered in the sunlight, her back to me, frozen as she faced something on the doors in front of her.

Slowly, I glanced up.

My heart stopped beating.

The poster was of the night that was permanently blazed into my thoughts.

In the image, the door to my hotel room was open, Ellie standing outside in her pink onesie, her hair dishevelled. My hands in the golden strands. My lips on hers.

When I'd seen her off at my hotel door.

The night I'd told her everything.

And now it was plastered in front of the school.

The crowd was staring at me, murmuring.

This wasn't happening. This wasn't—

And then, almost in slow motion, Ellie turned. Her eyes locked with mine.

And I felt as if someone had crushed my chest.

Her eyes were wide.

Horror. That was all I could see in her expression.

The crowd, which had grown larger in the space of the last few moments, to the point that it looked as if the entire student body was standing there, was watching us. Whispers flitted through them. Giggling. Snickers.

A lump grew in my throat. She was embarrassed.

She was embarrassed.

Before I could even move, a female voice spoke over the intercom.

"William Johnson and Ellie Kent, come to the principal's office immediately."

*

Hello wonderfuls :) Please don't kill me for another cliffhanger O_O I was hoping to start updating regularly in December (when I'm on holiday from uni) but I felt incredibly guilty not updating, especially after a cliffhanger, so I'm going to try to post the next chapter sooner. Please forgive me, I love you all and I really appreciate all of you for sticking with this story. You're amazinng :)

God bless

xxx

Phoebe

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