Chapter 30 - "How badly did I screw up?"

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Carter jogged up the steps of the school, her shoes beating out an even rhythm on the stone. The weather had turned and the day was edging on being warm. The number of cars in the drive had dwindled and those who arrived, had the look of oversleeping their alarms. The last trickle of students were making their way inside as she walked through the wide double door entrance.

All around her she saw the after effects and regrets of the weekend written on student's faces and their posture. The sound that bounced around the walls was subdued, the upper class-men wincing at the slightest noise and glaring at the freshmen who hadn't taken up their past times yet or been hooked by their vices.

Carter made her way to her first period, but stopped when she spotted Maddy. She was surrounded by her friends, brow wrinkled in worry. Her black eyed gaze meet Carter's through her barricade of companions. Instantly, she pushed passed them and moved over to Carter.

"Do you know what's going on?" she asked.

Carter glanced at the friends, who had been helpless to assist, then looked back at Maddy.

"Link?" she guessed.

Maddy nodded, the well of emotion in her eyes returning.

"What happened?" Carter asked.

"That's what I don't know. I said hi to him when he arrived but he was all distant. Even yesterday when I called him he didn't answer and he didn't respond to any of my texts." A look of concern crossed her face. "You don't think he's mad at me, do you? I don't know if I said something at the party that made him mad at me. He didn't seem mad. I thought he had fun. But maybe he didn't and it's all my fault. Maybe we shouldn't have gone. I just thought he would-"

Carter held up a hand, cutting off Maddy's tsunami of words. Maddy closed her mouth, swallowing back her worries. The bell rang sending everyone moving to their perspective classes.

"Look, I'll see what's going on with him," Carter said.

Relief washed over Maddy and she managed a weak smile.

"Thanks," she said. She took a step back towards her friends. "I'll see you both in history."

Carter nodded and Maddy turned away, joining her group and walking off. With thoughts buzzing over Maddy's state and the description of Link's, Carter moved through the thronged hallways and ducked into her classroom. Sunlight fell into the room, clashing with the florescent lights. The tables were mostly full and Link sat alone at theirs. His gaze was trained on his open notebook, but he didn't see it. A crease seemed to be permanently fixed in between his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth sagged. At the troubling sight, Carter looked from him to Donovan for answers. He met her gaze and she gave a single nod to Link. He shook his head, his expression hard.

The second bell rang and Carter moved over to her seat. She settled in but Link didn't look over at her. Mr. Miller cleared his throat, about to talk when Mason stepped into the doorway. He walked to his desk, tailed by Smith. Link looked over and his hands automatically clenched in reaction, his jaw flexing.

A spark of understanding jumped at Carter and her heart tightened with sympathy. Mr. Miller cleared his throat again and conversations died off in pieces. Carter shifted her focus to him. She let out a small growl of annoyance. The sound caught Link's attention and he glanced at her frowning.

"Pop quiz," Mr. Miller said, just as Carter was mouthing it.

She smiled at Link but he didn't return the look. His eyes held a note of sadness. He turned back to the front as Mr. Miller walked down the rows handing out tests. When Mr. Miller passed them, Link accepted the tests and gave one to Carter. His eyes never strayed to her. With a quick glance at their teacher, Carter leaned towards him, her arms resting on the table.

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