Heart of Darkness // Part Three

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When we finally got back home, I immediately removed the black dress from my figure and pulled on a hoodie and shorts

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When we finally got back home, I immediately removed the black dress from my figure and pulled on a hoodie and shorts. I wanted nothing more than to eat some ice cream and watch TV before going to bed. I walked back out into the kitchen to grab said ice cream but got distracted by my mom and Ronnie talking.

"There's not a lot of love lost between your dad and Clifford. Or me and Penelope, for that matter. Still that family, to lose a child that young...that way." Mom trailed off as I entered the room. Ronnie was sitting on the floor against the armchair while Mom sat on the couch.

My sister recognized my presence first and gave me a small smile. Mom turned to see me as well and patted the spot next to her. I hopped over the back of the couch, earning a chuckle from Ronnie and a sigh from Mom.

"How are you feeling, missy?" Mom poked my cheek as I curled into her side.

I shrugged, "No different. Just kinda...numb. Like I feel like the past 24 hours didn't happen."

Veronica spoke up again, "I just spent the last 24 hours in the gothic horror story that is Cheryl Blossom's life. And it just reminded me how lucky I am. To have a mom who protects me, a sister that annoys the shit out of me," I kicked Ronnie in the boob for that one, "But still has my back more than anyone."

Mom smiled at Ronnie and reached forward to grab her hand. Her other one rested on my shoulder as she rubbed it softly. She sighed, "Then I need to tell you about something that happened last night at Pop's."

Veronica's head tilted slightly at the sentence. I could already tell this story, and many more, were coming and this was going to be, a long night.

--

The Blue and Gold office was quiet when I arrived. Both Betty and Jughead were staring at the murder board. Neither of them moved as I closed the door gently.

"Guys? Everything okay?" I walked forward and placed my hand on Betty's shoulder. She turned and grabbed it with her own, a sad smile on her face.

"Yeah, I think so. Just talking." She twisted a piece of paper in her hand as she turned back to the board.

I watched with wide eyes as she shared a look with Jughead before reaching and pinning the paper on the board. When her hands dropped, my jaw did as well. A yellow index card, invaded by Jughead's handwriting, now sat dead center with the words, The Coopers written in sharpie.

"We need to talk to Polly," Jughead broke the silence. Betty took a step back but didn't say anything.

Peering over their shoulders, I scanned the board again but nothing could tear my eyes away from Betty's family's name in the dead center. Kevin wasn't kidding when he said everyone was a suspect. Anyone, including those we were closest to, could be Jason Blossom's murderer.

After making agreements on plans about finding Polly, I made my way towards Pop's to see Archie. We had talking about getting together soon and today just seemed like the perfect fit. I found him in the usual group booth with a chocolate milkshake in front of him.

"Hey, Arch." I slid in on the other side and tossed my bag next to me. "What's up?"

Archie smiled at me. "The usual, Vanna. Another day, another disappointment."

I shook my head, "You're not a disappointment, Double A."

He chuckled at the nickname. "Funny. My dad seemed pretty upset with me, I almost ruined my relationship with Jughead again, and it's just a mess. I didn't think it would ever turn into this, you know?"

"Give yourself a break, Archie. Whether it was wrong or not, you still had an emotional attachment to her. That's going to leave a mark," I replied. I knew he had been tearing himself apart since Grundy left and it was really upsetting. At the end of the day, he made a mistake as all teenagers do. Grundy was just a nasty pedophile who Archie didn't need anything to do with.

"Yeah, whatever. I'll get over it soon. But forget that, let's talk about you. What happened the other day with Jughead?" Archie moved his empty shake cup to the edge of the table.

I sighed, "It's a long story."

The redhead shrugged, "I've got time."

"I really like Jughead, Archie. It's the first time I've felt anything like this towards a guy and I just can't picture anybody but him," I ran my hand through my hair. "I kissed him at the drive-in."

Archie's eyes widened and he slammed his hand on the table, "No way."

"Yes way," I nodded. "I tried to confront him on it that day but he ran out on me. I felt so leet down. I was so upset and then when he tried to stop me from leaving, I snapped. There's so many emotions that I'm going through right now and I couldn't handle being around him."

Archie took in all the information. He opened his mouth to respond but was distracted by someone walking in. I turned around to see Jughead pushing his way through the door with his laptop tucked under his arm. I immediately twisted back around as all my words slipped from my brain.

"Please tell me he's not coming over here," I begged.

Archie gave me a forced smile, "If I say no, will it make you feel better?"

"Hey guys. What's up?"

I sighed and clenched my eyes closed tightly as Jughead sat down next to Archie. I opened them back up to see him and gave him a half-assed smile. Regardless of the fact that Archie was there, I wasn't talking to Jughead. After he left me like he did, I deserved an apology, I knew that.

"Uh, I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"

I shook my head as Archie denied it, "No, not at all. Need something?"

Jughead eyed me suspiciously as I looked everywhere but him. "Okay..."

"I'm leaving." I pushed myself out of the booth and yanked my bag with me. "See you tomorrow, Archie."

My redheaded friend nodded in understanding. Jughead didn't make a move to stop me which for some reason, only angered me further. I wanted to scream until my voice broke at this point. So many emotions were filling me up. Anger, sadness, frustration. I couldn't handle it anymore.

I practically sprinted back home and locked myself in my room for the rest of the night. I calmed myself down by taking a hot bath and lighting a candle before turning on my slow playlist which consisted of a bunch of artists including Ed Sheeran, Little Mix, and Shawn Mendes.

I was humming along with Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer when my phone vibrated next to me. I set down my book and unlocked the screen. A text from Archie was at the top of my list.

I think Jughead realizes what he did wrong. Good luck :)

As excited as I should've been, nothing but nervousness and fright ran through me. Whatever happened in Pop's after I left would either make or break my last hopes with Jughead. All I could do was trust that Archie did his job and helped me out this time.

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