Chapter 26 - "Don't assume you know everything."

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Maddy's giggle floated above the cafeteria tables as she chose a spot where Carter sat, slouched against the wall. Link quickly occupied the seat beside Maddy as Donovan slid in next to Carter, his arm brushing hers. The noise of the space grew, voices bouncing off the walls and colliding with each other. Carter's thoughts stayed lost in the day before, her expression stony. She glanced down at her uneaten sandwich.

"It's yours if you want it," she said.

Donovan looked at her.

"Not hungry?" he asked.

She shook her head, her eyes glazed.

Donovan studied her, his eyes narrowed. She scowled at him, defensive.

"What?" she snapped, his gaze irritating her.

"Yesterday, did you talk to her or did you badger her?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Exactly what I said. Did you talk or did you go in looking for a fight?" he asked.

Carter working to seem unconcerned.

"I went to talk," she said.

"But you ended up looking for a fight."

She clenched her fists inside her pockets.

"How could you possibly know that?"

"Because, regardless of what you think, I know you. And I know if you had talked to her, actually talked to her, you wouldn't look this way."

"Yeah? And what way is that?" she mocked. "Still pissed?"

"No. Lost."

Carter leaned close, her face tight with anger.

"I'm not lost," she hissed. "I know exactly where I'm at."

Donovan didn't back away, their faces only a few inches part.

"Do you?" he asked.

Before she could let the question bury itself in her mind, she burned it away with renewed anger.

"You are the one who doesn't know anything," she said.

Donovan shrugged and leaned back against the wall.

"You're right," he said. "I only know what you've told me and what I see. It's given me a pretty clear picture. Maybe you should find out if you are the one not seeing clearly."

Frustration raced through Carter.

"Don't assume you know everything," she snapped.

"Maybe you should listen to your own advice."

"Back off, Donovan. I don't need you. Or your help."

She snatched her blazer and bag and stormed out of the cafeteria.

*******************

Donovan's question beat against her mind, like the rain that pelted her face as she stepped off the bus in her neighborhood. His final statement darted through her head, taunting her. She walked to the deli, blind to the rain soaking her jacket. Her emotions were a muddled pool. By the time she stepped into the warm embrace of the deli, her hands were numb from cold.

Maggie paused at the sight of Carter, dripping with water. She grabbed a hand towel and hurried over to her.

"Hun," she said, "look at you."

Carter glanced down at herself, accepted the towel and wiped at the rain that clung to her sleeves and soaked her hair. She carelessly dried off her bag, with Maggie watching, concerned.

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