chapter one ;

DESPITE THE SLEEP medication I snuck from my mother the previous night, I had trouble sleeping. When morning came, I was exhausted, but I couldn't force myself to sleep. Eventually, I gave up.

 The threat haunted my mind. I had decided upon not telling anyone about the letter – that would have just caused trouble, and I hadn't a clue as to who the sender was. For all I knew, it could have been a prank.

 After a shower and an extremely slow hour, I dressed in a gray tank top under a black leather vest, ripped, high-waisted jeans and all black Vans. My black hair was straightened to perfection, otherwise left alone.

 The time passed by painfully slowly, and I couldn't stop trembling. In attempt to calm my nerves, I lounged in the living room and watched reruns of The Walking Dead.

 Eventually, Luke trudged downstairs, with nothing on but his boxers and his hair sticking out all over the place. Forty-five minutes remained until the bell at school would ring, signaling eight o'clock, the beginning of school.

 "You look like you lost your tan," Luke commented, his voice husky. "What time is it?"

 "Seven something, but what do you mean?"

 He shrugged, running his fingers through his messy hair as he made his way into the kitchen. "You're as pale as a ghost. Like old times. Nervous, huh?"

 I sighed deeply – I had hoped that my anxiety wasn't noticeable. When Benny came over, he would think I was stupid. It was just school, and I knew I would be all right, but I couldn't get rid of the dread that consumed me.

 "I just realized that, other than the boys, I've made no friends this summer," I called back, loud enough for him to hear me.

 "You'll make some more, trust me," he responded. I heard the sound of cereal pouring into a bowl. "Plenty of people in a school that big."

 "Plenty of opportunities to get lost and make more enemies, too. You think that Hannah girl will remember me?"

 "Definitely. There's no way she doesn't, after the way you embarrassed her at the pool."

 "She deserved it!"

 The fridge door opened and closed shortly after, and Luke didn't reply. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check the time.

 A text from Benny popped up just before I could turn off the screen, informing me that he was ready, and we could leave whenever. Of course, Luke wasn't even dressed, but I didn't want to rush anyway.

 Eventually, Luke returned to the living room, only to plop down on the love seat. I eyed him, wondering about the previous night. He had kissed Elizabeth, Benny's older sister. The surprise hadn't dimmed, although I had been distracted throughout the night.

 "So . . ." I spoke cautiously, "you and Elizabeth – "

 "It was a mistake." His voice was sharp, as if I had offended him. However, he didn't intimidate me.

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