Chapter 14 - "How did you know?"

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A faint voice dragged Carter from her restless sleep. She stirred, still clinging to the fog of her dreams.

"Carter, hun, it's time to get up," Maggie said, gently shaking her shoulder.

She shifted, moving out of Maggie's grasp.


Reality seeped into Carter's mind through the beeping of a monitor and the smell of cleaning solutions. The constant beep cut through her sleep. She opened her eyes, instantly awake. She jerked her head towards the bed where her father lay asleep, his head turned away from her. She let out a sigh of relief, and untucked her feet from beneath her. Every muscle protested the movement, the cramped position she had taken while sleeping, stiffening every joint.

"Come on, I'll take you home so you can shower and change," Maggie said.

Carter cautiously stretched, hiding a grimace at the pain. For a moment, she watched her father's chest raise and fall, reassuring herself that he was still okay. He hadn't left her.

"I want to stay," she whispered.

Maggie squatted beside Carter's chair.

"I know you do, hun, but he's going to need a lot of time to sleep and recover. I'll bring you back after school," she said.

Carter gripped the chair's armrests, looking at her father, seized by a fear of leaving him. Maggie put a thin, callused hand on top of Carter's.

"He's going to be okay," she said.

Carter relaxed and nodded, pulling her gaze away. Maggie stood and picked up Carter's bag.

"Let's go before we wake him," she said.

Silently, Carter stood, giving her father one last look before following Maggie out.

A shower, change of uniform and a car ride later, Carter stepped out in front of the school, feeling as battered as she had when she woke up. The air smelled of rain soaked grass. Pale sunlight coated the school, it's heat stolen by the chill breeze, stirring the blooming trees.

"I'll see you this afternoon, alright?" Maggie said.

"Okay," Carter said, her voice hoarse.

Maggie gave Carter's disheveled hair and ragged face a concerned look. Carter stepped back and closed the door, the sound ringing in the silent grounds. She turned and climbed the stairs, her body heavy and her mind even heavier with thoughts of her father and the loneliness of lunch time.

The hallways were empty, classes already in motion, the students lost in boredom or in the lesson. Carter's footsteps resounded on the tile floor as she made her way to history. She was just turning the corner when a guy stepped out of class. He smirked as he took in her rumbled state.

"Whose bed did you wake up on the wrong side of?" he asked.

Carter glanced at him taking in his flushed expression and tiny pupils, before looking away.

"Haven't you over dosed yet?" she asked, her voice toneless.

The guy's fingers flinched and Carter walked past him, not bothering to see how her words affected him. The sound of Mr. Philips's voice slipped beneath the door and filled the hallway as Carter approached her classroom. With a tired sigh, she opened the door. Mr. Philips fell silent and every head turned to look at her.

"Carter," he said, "I'm glad you could make it. Please take your seat so I can continue."

Carter made no reply, surprising the class. She moved to her seat and slid in. Link was watching her with a confused expression. Donovan looked over at her, but Carter didn't notice. Mr. Philips picked up his lesson, his voice pulling everyone's attention away from Carter. Everyone's except Link and Donovan's.

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