Chapter 85

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January 2015

I manage to freeze on the short dash from the car to the library. My jacket seems to offer no real protection against the harsh wind and the cold slices right through me. I can feel the pink burn on my cheeks as I look up at the sky. It feels like snow. We both shiver when we get inside and try to adjust to overheated library. It takes only a minute before I feel the need to take off my coat in the stuffy space. Max cocks his head to the right and I follow him as he leads me into the back where a group of tables are lined up for studying.

I stop dead in my tracks, not believing my eyes. Jared's sitting there, tucked away at a corner table, with a girl I don't know leaning in next to him. Max smirks at me and pulls me along behind him causing my sneakers to make a horrible screeching noise against the polished floors, piercing the silence of the library. Almost everyone looks up, including him. My mouth falls open as I take in the glares and whispered "shh's" but none bothers me as much as Jared's reaction.

At first he looks stunned to see me there. I can feel him examining my face from where he sits now. Then he notices Max and it's like his whole demeanor changes. His body tightens with unreleased rage and his eyes narrow into slits as he begins to glower. Reaching out, I tug on Max's sleeve.

"Let's go find somewhere else to sit." But he just shakes me off.

"Here's fine," he states, pulling out a chair at a table far closer to Jared's then I'd like. He plops down in it and it bothers me that he seems to be gloating. I'm stuck though, so without over thinking it too much, I slink down into the seat next to him and begin taking out my books. I try not to pay attention to either Jared, who is sending daggers in my direction, or Max, who is trying to distract me with unnecessary touches. Burying my head in my notebook, I make it clear to both of them that I'm here to study and study only.

All seems okay for a bit. The room is perfectly quiet except for the occasional cough or sneeze. I can still feel Jared's eyes on me though and the tension is thick in the air. I don't have to look at him to know that he's been watching me this whole time. But that doesn't bother me, I'd be staring at him too if I felt I could get away with it.

"What's a reconstruction amendment?" Max asks, looking over my shoulder at what I've written down. I lean away from him and make a face.

"The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, they were all added to the constitution within five years after the end of the civil war. Didn't you do the readings?" I ask incredulously. He reaches into his coat pocket and takes out a box of candy. Ripping open the top, he pops one into his mouth.

"What was the civil war like Ellie?" He asks innocently, but I know what he's trying to do.

"You promised you'd stop," I remind him as I go back to my notes, not taking my eyes off my paper. I can feel him smiling down on me, ready to pounce.

"Does Jared know that you were alive during the civil war?" He casually whispers with a tease. His voice is friendly and malicious at the same time; it sends a chill through me. I shoot a glance up at him in warning, but he doesn't stop.

"Does he know your dirty little secret? Have you said anything to him yet Ellie or does he still think you're just a normal girl? Cause you're not you know? You either remember your past lives, or you're insane and think you do. Either way, you're not normal. I wonder what Mr. Morality over there would make of all that."

"Don't," I warn.

"I'll take that as a no then; Jared doesn't know anything." Leaning back, he pops another piece of candy in his mouth as a sly grin spreads across his face. He looks satisfied, happy to have something over his competition. He turns towards Jared and gives him a condescending little wave with his fingertips, smiling victoriously. It's a stupid move. I glance over and find both Jared and the girl that he's studying with looking right back at us, mumbling something under their breaths. I smack Max in the arm, getting his attention, and drawing it away from them.

"Stop it," I hiss.

"It shouldn't bother him. You guys broke up months ago. Right, Ellie?" He knows the truth; he's just punishing me in his own sadistic way.

"Did you know he'd be here tonight? Is that what your sudden interest in this project is all about? God Max," I reproach. "What's wrong with you?" I start packing up my books and shoving them into my bag.

"I'm leaving. I'll find my own way home." I stand suddenly, screeching my chair against the floor and attracting more attention than I'd like. Struggling to get my coat on, I fling my bag around my shoulder knowing that they're both watching me. I can feel their eyes. With what little dignity I have left, I lift my chin up and storm out of the place.

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