Inquest Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Lurking

Banging on my door snaps me up from my bed in a jerking, terrifying jolt. Somebody found out, and Jen’s uncle is going to kick me out. I panic. I’ve been here less than twenty-four hours, but I don’t want to leave. I like it here for reasons I can’t even comprehend in my hazy state. I roll over and blink at the glowing green numbers of the alarm clock. Six o’clock. Morning or evening? The much too bright light spilling around the drawn curtains clue me in. Too bright to be morning. I must have fallen asleep watching TV. The banging comes again. I groan and bury my face in the pillow. Part of me considers not opening the door, but my body isn’t cooperating and I find myself pulling the door open before I can remember why I shouldn’t. It’s not Jen’s uncle.

“Milo?” I ask. “What are you doing here?”

Milo. He’s standing at my door. My numb brain sends a shot of relief through me, eliciting a smile. Which I instantly suppress. And then I wake up and consider the fact that I’ve been sleeping and probably look horrible. My hands fly across my clothes and hair, trying to de-wrinkle my general appearance. Milo just watches me with one eyebrow cocked.

“What are you doing here?” I repeat.

“You aren’t actually a vegetarian, are you?” he asks.

Am I still asleep? “What?”

“Are you a vegetarian?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“It has to do with the fact that I’ve been in hotels like this enough times to know that they don’t have kitchens or room service,” Milo snaps.

My arms cross my chest protectively. “What do you mean you’ve been in hotels like this a lot? Why do you spend time in seedy motels? Whatever you’re thinking…”

Milo’s expression goes completely blank, even less emotion than I usually see him display. His hands come out from behind his back and he shoves a paper bag at me. “Do you want your burger, or not?”

“Burger?” Then the tantalizing scent of greasy French fries and salty hamburger patties hit me. My stomach growls in elation. I snatch the bag from his grip eagerly. “Absolutely! I’m starving. I’ve barely eaten all day. I didn’t have any food here for breakfast and the only thing I could grab from the lunch lady was an apple because my mom emptied my lunch account. You have no idea how happy this makes me, Milo.”

Milo shrugs, but I swear I can see the hint of a smile on his lips. “Well, stop talking about eating and actually do it, then.”

Grinning so much over a burger seems mildly stupid to me, but I don’t care. I practically jump onto the bed and start dragging my meal out of the bag. Milo’s awkward shuffling draws my attention. He’s still standing by the door with his own takeout bag in his hand.

“Oh, sorry, Milo, come on in.”

He hesitates for a half second before stepping over the threshold and gently pushing the door closed. My heart leaps in fear at the sight of the door closing. In that brief moment, images speed through my mind of what a guy Milo’s size could do to me with no one around to stop him. Then reality nudges its way back into my mind. Despite my performance in the gym today, it’s pretty unlikely Milo could ever actually get his hands on me, and even if he did, my own Strength could beat him off in a heartbeat. Plus, his snarly, mildly curious interest in me is leaps and bounds away from physical attraction. Or at least it seems to be. You can never really tell with guys. But the veritable wave of anxiety rolling off him convinces me the most that I am in little danger. He is more nervous than I am. So much for not caring who I am.

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