CHAPTER FIVE: EMPTY

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"How is that even possible?"

"I don't know. At first, I thought it was a simple mistake the system made, so I went a bit deeper and looked him up on the White Pages website," he explained. "Nothing again. It's like he doesn't exist."

I chewed on my lip for a while, processing the situation. If he was a transfer student, it should show up. "What if they haven't uploaded the information? Maybe the physical ones at school are up to date."

He grunted. "You're going to make me break into the principal's office, aren't you?"

"They keep them at the library's back storage room, actually," I said, knowing the weight of my words.

"Liv...why are you so interested in what's in that file? Why the interest in general?"

I longed to tell him, spill it all out once and for all like I had intended to do this morning, but the doorbell didn't give me a chance to try. It felt like life altogether didn't want me speaking about the subject.

"Are you expecting someone?" Jared asked, but before I could look out the window to check for myself, Mom's voice echoed through the house.

"Olivia! Honey, can you get that? Your father and I have our hands a bit tied up."

"Just a second!" I yelled back, covering the microphone. "Apparently yes," I replied. "But I had no idea we were."

"Who is it?" he asked. I was already out the door and walking through the hallway to find that out myself. The stairs creaked under my quick steps, and the smell of food became impossible to ignore. My stomach gave another growl. "Hey, are you seriously intending to get your hands on the physical files? If they find you—"

"I know," I admitted, rounding the last stair and walking all the way to the door. The stained glass allowed me to see two figures standing outside through the technicolor geometrical patterns, and I turned the doorknob with a quick pull. "They will expel me...but I have to know if there's anything in that file that can tell me something about him."

"You've been acting weird lately. Like...." I couldn't finish paying attention to whatever Jared was saying, and my mouth fell wide open as soon as I made visual contact with the visitors.

"Hey," Hunter said smoothly. I also noticed he was holding a wine bottle in his hand.

Oh boy. This is not happening right now.

"You must be Olivia," said the man beside him, reaching his hand out to me. It was the same guy from last night. His uncle? "Logan Black. It's a pleasure to meet you." Yes, his uncle.

"Hi," I said slowly. I accepted his hand and he gave it a light shake. Jared kept asking things through the phone, but none of them reached me. "I'll call you later, okay?" I didn't wait for a reply and hung up.

Mom came up behind me with the biggest smile on her face. "Oh but come on in!" she said. "You're right on time. Logan, is it?"

"Yes, indeed. Thank you for the invitation, Nora." Logan stepped inside, and Hunter followed him. Both greeted my mother with short hugs.

"That's not a problem at all," she said giddily. Hunter proceeded to give her the wine bottle with a smile. "Well, won't you look at this? California Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorites." Mom lifted her gaze from the label and met my eyes. Her enthusiasm froze, and her auburn brows, matching the coppery color of her hair, rose in a perfect arch. "Olivia, what's the matter?"

"I'm not quite sure what's going on," I murmured, hoping they wouldn't hear. Sadly, Hunter gave a faint snort in response, and I didn't have to wonder the reason why for too long. Perched on the wall behind them was Mom's favorite round mirror, baroque details surrounding it, and it was enough to make me become aware of the way I looked.

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