Chapter 18 -"Play nice."

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Carter rested against a wall of lockers, hands tucked into her pockets, her eyes closed. The sound of the school in motion rang in her ears. Locker doors slammed, shouts of laughter bounced off the walls and conversations tangled. Her fellow students ignored her, too caught up in their own worlds. A set of steady footsteps approached her, a smile sliding onto her face as she caught a whiff of a familiar cologne.

"Where's Link?" Carter asked, without opening her eyes.

A flirty laugh rose above the waves of conversations. The sound was followed to by a bashful chuckle.

"Never mind," she said. "I have my answer."

She looked up at Donovan, pushing aside the tension from the night before. He rested against the locker beside her, his arms crossed, his eyes trained on the ever changing flow of students.

"That's why Link doesn't wear cologne," she said.

Donovan gave a single nod.

"Keeps attention on you," Carter said. She gave a low chuckle. "Makes sense. He smells just normal. Another way to keep him inconspicuous."

She rested her head back on the lockers, staring at the far wall. After a long moment, where the conversations around them captured their interest, Carter spoke.

"How have you lived being surrounded by so much mediocrity for so long?"

She glanced up to find Donovan's blue eyes looking back at her. He shrugged.

"Because I have to," he said.

"I would have gone mad by now." She rubbed her face. "I'm glad I'm almost out of this pit of low intellect."

"Where do you plan to go after this?" Donovan asked.

"I've haven't decided yet," Carter shrugged. "Every college accepted me. I just haven't figured out how far away I want to go. What follows this for you?"

Donovan shifted closer to Carter, eyeing a passing group of boys before dropping his voice.

"When Douglas's term ends in two years I will no longer be required to be Link's friend. We'll go our separate ways."

Carter pivoted to face him, curious.

"Where will you go? What will you do?"

Donovan opened his mouth to elaborate as the bell rang.

"An explanation for another time," he said.

"I'll hold you to it," Carter said.

A small smile appeared in the corner of his mouth, which she easily returned. The hallways become a chaotic scene as groups broke apart and headed into classrooms. Donovan and Carter walked to where Link stood with Maddy. Link looked as if he was being pulled up from underwater, when Donovan tapped his shoulder. Link smiled sheepishly, suddenly noticing the hallway was emptying.

"I'll see you after class," Maddy said, kissing Link on the cheek before dropping his hand and walking away. Link blushed. 

"Shut up," he said, and moved into the classroom.

Donovan and Carter exchanged a look, fighting back laughter. Carter tossed her bag onto the table and took the spot beside Link as Mr. Miller waved the class into silence.

"Today we're doing an in class group project," he said. "I will be splitting you up into groups." He met everyone's gaze with a hard look. "No, you can not change groups. You will just have to get along with who I assign you to."

Carter let out a low moan and slumped in her chair. Link glanced at her and smiled.

"You smile," she whispered. "But I'm going to be stuck with a group of nitwits and end up doing the project alone."

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