Inquest Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Embrace

Not that it was surprising that my mom drained my lunch account, but a little warning would have been nice. I have my own money. I didn’t even think about it last night, though, and all I could get to eat today was an apple. The lunch lady here is a real gem. The thunk of my meager lunch hitting the only empty desk draws the attention of the people seated around me in my Perception class. I pointedly ignore their hateful glares.

Until I dig through my bag to find a pencil and realize I must have lost my only one when Angus and Marvin knocked me into a row of lockers and accidentally kicked my bag halfway down the hall. They, and the other members of Lance’s pack, have worked hard to make sure everyone knows about last night. They’ve been as bad as the stupid school Guardian following me around all day.

I expected the nasty reaction people would have to me when they found out, but I’m still sick of it, regardless. If those idiot football players touch me again, I’m going to have a hard time not letting my Strength show. Right on their jaws. Irritation sweeps through me deeply, and I turn away from my bag in search of a pencil. As soon as I look up every set of eyes is suddenly keenly interested in what the teacher is saying. All but one.

Seeing anything past his much too long, unbrushed brown hair is tricky. One raised eyebrow and the fact that he is still looking at me says one of two things. He’s either spent the entire day with the ear phones I can see trailing out from under his hair firmly stuck in his ears, and he has no idea why everyone else looks ready to murder me where I sit, or he doesn’t care. I’m pretty sure it’s the first one. Either way, I need a pencil, and he is the only one available to ask.

“Hey, um…” I don’t think I’ve ever seen this guy before. I have no idea what his name is. Great way to start off asking for a favor.

Noticing my helplessness, he goes from curious to mildly amused. “Milo,” he says. His deep voice resonates despite its low volume. The contrast of his voice and unkempt appearance is striking.

I force myself to ignore it and get on with my request before the hawk-faced teacher at the front snaps at me. “Milo, can I borrow a pencil? I lost mine.”

“Sure,” he says with a shrug. Taking the pencil off his still closed notebook, he hands it over to me.

“Don’t you need that one?” I ask.

“Not likely.” Then he closes his slate grey eyes and slumps down in his chair even further.

Great. The one person still willing to talk to me—except maybe Jen, if I could find her anywhere—and he happens to be a hopeless, grungy slacker. Although he does have a surprisingly clear skin and masculine features for being so sloppy. I really wish Jen was a junior like me, instead of a sophomore. Maybe I’d actually see her if we were in the same grade. At least this Milo character is in my grade since he’s the only one willing to talk to me. All I’ve got is this guy. Beggars can’t be choosers.

“Thanks,” I whisper.

His nod is barely perceptible, but he does deign himself to open one eye and glance at me again before falling back into a stupor. Done making friends for the day, I turn back to the teacher and try very hard to concentrate on what she is telling everyone. Unfortunately for me, she’s blathering on about the basics of what having a talent for Perception means, just as all of my other talent teachers have felt the need to do today. That might be as much of a reason for all the hostile looks I’ve been getting as for being the Destroyer. Sitting through a lecture you have to hear every time another student goes through their Inquest can easily be a fate worse than death.

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