Chapter Eighteen

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Zoe hadn't wanted to go back to school on Monday.

On Sunday, she and her father had travelled into town to buy some clothes and shoes, knowing that they couldn't wear borrowed pants and shirts forever. The fire chief had already called her father to let them know there was nothing left of their home. Everything inside of it was a charred mess, completely unsalvageable. The Torana was nothing but a shell.

Her father purchased one of those cheap mobile phones while they were out and called Luke to explain what had happened. Luke had been full of questions, which her father had answered with a small smile: yes, he and Zoe were both fine; the fire department suspected a gas leak; no, they had a place to stay—his brothers had recently moved into town. Zoe had spoken to the elder Maguire only long enough to promise that she would still be at work on Monday afternoon.

Luke had told her not to worry, to take all the time that she needed. Her job would always be waiting for her when she was ready.

Now she was grateful for that—there was no way that she could have gone all evening with people staring at her there, too.

Because that was all the students did when she showed up to school that morning. By the time she had climbed out of the back seat of the Mercedes, following Nate and the fully recovered Paris, it felt like half the school had gathered at the front entrance just to gawk at her. They didn't even have the sense to look away while they whispered about her.

Zoe Halsman—the girl whose house had burned down not once, but twice.

Paris threw an arm around her, and she felt that now familiar calm was over her. "Ignore them, Zo. Something else will get their attention eventually, and they'll forget all about this."

Zoe gave him a sad look. "You're not in Kansas anymore, remember? Something else could take years."

He frowned. "Well. Keep your chin up, anyway. Don't make me fill you with happy."

Nate grimaced as he locked the doors of the car. "Really don't make him. He'll overdo it and you'll be a giggling mess all day."

Paris winked at Zoe. "Don't worry. That's a special kind of torture that I reserve just for Natie. You're safe."

Nate rolled his eyes. "Shall we?"

People parted to let them pass through the double doors that led into the main building, and Zoe did her best not to meet any of their eyes. There was only one person that she really wanted to see, and his BMW had not yet been in the student lot. She hadn't realised how much she had missed Matt over the weekend until she had arrived at school and found his car absent. But that wasn't unusual; Nate and Paris had a habit of arriving before them.

Before him. Zoe frowned. It was likely that she wouldn't often be doing the ride to school with Matt now.

She missed those carefree moments already.

Nate and Paris left her to take her usual seat in English while they moved to their spots at the back of the room, across from Tommy and Steve's haunt. Both of the class delinquents were busy scribbling across the wall with black sharpies, but Sophie-Ana and her disciples had noticed the new arrivals to the room. And like the students that had been outside of the building, all of their eyes were turned on Zoe.

Zoe ignored them too, choosing instead to pull out the single, empty notebook she now had for all of her classes. Her schoolwork was one thing she was sorry to lose in the fire—because it didn't matter if they were divine beings or not. Her father still insisted on her getting a good education.

Matt slipped into the classroom a moment before the bell rang.

His eyes were wild, and he looked like he'd been running—cheeks flushed, sandy hair slightly mussed from the wind. He looked as relieved as Zoe felt when his cerulean eyes finally landed on her. He dropped into the seat beside her and immediately threw his arms around her.

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