❝ stand a little taller ❞

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(unedited)

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger,
Stand a little taller,
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone.
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter,
Footsteps even lighter,
Doesn't mean I'm over 'cause you're gone.

"What Doesn't Kill You" -Kelly Clarkson


I was starting to make a habit of skipping school, which was kind of awful.

It was Friday, three days after Jacen and I's conversation, though I had yet to ask Kaden or Raine about it. Over the past couple days I had more or less retreated into me old, pre-Elite ways. I went to the library for lunch and avoided the Elite in my classes. It wasn't hard, since Skylar was out of school for the week -despite having been released from the hospital- and Vanessa, who I had English with, was blessedly drama free.

Jenna hadn't been at school since Tuesday, though I didn't blame her since Olivia was in the hospital.

I decided to try and figure out what was going on with Jenna first, using it as a distraction. As curious as I may have been, I really didn't like nosing around my past. I couldn't forget, but I could at least pretend.

I wasn't sure what to think of what Jacen had said, I had always believed my biological parents had been normal. But if what Jacen had said was true... Why had Raine and Kaden taken me in?

I shook the thoughts from my head as I pulled into the driveway of a small, but elaborate mansion.

Jenna's house.

Yes, I may have resorted to slightly stalker-ish actions to find her address, though it hadn't been very difficult. I got out and walked to the door, then pressed the button for the doorbell.

The Tunclet's seemed pretty down to earth. No guards and gates, or shiny cars and intercom systems. They had to have enough to be able to afford all that, though. Both Jenna and Olivia went -or had gone- to Blaire Academy, and the brand of sweets they owned was pretty popular. It was their choice to opt out on the fancy stuff.

A woman opened the door. Judging from her resemblance to Jenna and Olivia, I guessed that she was their mother. Her face was line with exhaustion, her eyes red and a little swollen.

"Uh, hi, I'm here to see Jenna?"

The woman raised an eyebrow. "You are...?"

"Elena, I'm a friend of Jenna's," I replied, forcing a calm smile.

"She didn't tell you?"

I hesitated. "Tell me what?"

"Jenna left yesterday for an audition," she said, watching me with a puzzled look. "If it goes well, she's not coming back."

What? "She told me she had auditions soon, but I didn't think she'd go now..." I trailed off. I didn't need to finish, though; my assumption wasn't hard to guess. She wouldn't go now because her sister was in the hospital. Mrs. Tunclet's mouth tightened. Stupid, Lena, stupid. I had prepared a whole script, but finding out that Jenna had left, and might not be coming back threw everything off.

"I think she wanted to get away from everything," Mrs. Tunclet said softly.

Well, there's a dead end. "Sorry for wasting your time. Thank you." I moved to walk away, but her call stopped me before I could get very far.

"How do you know Jenna?"

I turned back. "We're in a lot of classes together."

"What do you know about her?" she asked, eyebrows furrowing slightly as she narrowed her eyes at me.

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