Chapter 26

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T W E N T Y—S I X

BEFORE ANYONE ELSE had the chance to speak or move, Tyler was halfway to the front of the room with a grin on his face. "Oh my god," he muttered, arms wrapping tightly around her.

She laughed lightly—the sound oddly melodic—and hugged him back, dimples creasing in one of her cheeks. It reminded me of Jay's dimples, and I couldn't help relating the way the two of them smiled. No doubt they'd picked up on a few of each other's mannerisms that they never seemed to drop. "Hey, Tye."

Ryder still stood in stunned silence beside me, having walked forward some toward the door. He'd stopped when Tyler stood from his seat, and I wasn't sure he could walk any farther without his legs giving out. When I noticed no one else—not even Selena and Tyler—were paying attention, I slid my hand into his.

He jumped in surprise and glanced down at me, to which I squeezed his hand slightly. I was relieved to see his body relax as he took a deep breath, though I wasn't nearly as happy when I knew I had to pull my hand away before anyone noticed. He needed all the support he could get right now.

He stared at me a moment longer as I slid my hand from his before turning his attention back to the front. Just in time, it seemed, as Selena's gaze locked onto his almost immediately.

Ryder took a deep breath as whispers surrounded the room, starting his way to the front as the teacher looked oddly patient with the whole exchange. The two old friends continued to stare for a moment before Selena slid her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest in a delicate hug that he hesitantly returned.

I vaguely heard hushed whispers between the two as they stood, but I was too far away to actually understand a word. That didn't really matter much, it seemed, as somebody loudly clears their throat in the front of the room.

Selena and Ryder stepped part with flushed cheeks at the teachers interruption. "Now that that lovely interruption is over, am I assume you're the new student?"

Selena nodded as Tyler and Ryder made their ways back to their seats. "My name is Selena."

The teacher nodded and glanced down at a clip board to confirm Selena belonged in this class. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he looked at the paper, up at me, then back to Selena. He shrugged. "Go take a seat beside Skye."

She tensed up momentarily as her eyes searched the room, somehow making their way to mine; I didn't remember the teacher saying where I was sitting.

Selena nodded and wordlessly started for the seat to my right, which was one seat behind and to the left of where Ryder sat. There was a single desk separating him from Tyler, not that it did much to keep the two of them from communicating.

It took a bit of courage building before I decided to finally break one of my own rules—to never speak to another person. With a deep breath, I turned to Selena and smiled. "Hey, I'm Skye."

Tyler and Ryder turned round in slight surprise and curiosity, as well as a few other students.

"Selena," she said simply. I noticed she hadn't looked at me once since she'd sat down.

Ryder watched Selena with furrowed brows, and it didn't take much to assume this was most likely not her usual behavior towards others. "Selena? You okay?"

She nodded, still not looking up from her desk top. "Yeah, just a little distracted."

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