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Chapter 9

"Aurelia?" A voice whispers.

I mumble something incoherent.


I jerk up, my head hitting the wall. "Ouch," I groan, massaging my head. "What do you want?"

"I don't know. You looked peaceful. I wanted to ruin that," Asher shrugs innocently.

"How old are you?" I question, realizing I won't get any sleep.

"Seventeen. But I'm going to be eighteen in a few weeks or something. Nah, I lied. I'm actually a seven year old." Asher replies. "You?"

"I just turned nineteen a few weeks back," I respond, yawning widely. "Really? You're so immature for a nearly-eighteen year old."

He laughs. "Well, I guess. Lucky that I'm not eighteen, otherwise I wouldn't have been reported."

"Lucky?" I ask, incredulously. "Right. No one wants to get eliminated."

"I guess," Asher mutters. "So, what happens if an adult gets out of hand?"

I tilt my head. "Well, I actually don't know. It's never happened. I guess everyone who could cause problems are eliminated before they can get that far in life."

Asher just leaned back into his granite bed. "Well. Interesting talk. What time is it? I could do with some jail food."

I glance at my phone. "It's only 3:00 AM. Weird."

Asher sighs dramatically. "Well, that sucks. I was looking forward to hard, inedible food."

"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit," I retort, still looking at my phone. I had a number of texts from Bianca.

Biaaancaaa: Oh my gods, Aurelia, are you okay?

Biaaancaaa: I don't know what Madison was thinking, putting you on guard with someone like him

Biaaancaaa: He beat somebody up! He must have so much negativity! Are you fine?

Biaaancaaa: Answer? Please?

"Someone like me?" Asher snorts. "What does that - "

I interrupt him quickly. I didn't even realize he had come over and was reading my messages through the bars, over my shoulder. "She's an amazing person. And why are you reading my messages?" I move the phone away from him.

"I'm bored," he whines. "The trial was boring, and I hated everyone there."

"Right. The trial," I wince, once again wondering what I got into.

"Mhm. Are going to talk about ways to keep me alive?" Asher asks casually.

"How do you even know about that?" I demand, quickly texting Bianca. "You shouldn't know."

Asher suddenly becomes serious. "I just do," he says harshly, his eyes becoming dark and bitter.

I watch him in fascination as he breathes in deeply, trying to compose himself. His jaw is clenched, and his face is flushed.

I take the opportunity to study him up close. I've never seen someone angry before, and it's a surreal experience, combined with the fact that if someone walks in on us right now, they could eliminate both of us.

"Enjoying the view?" Asher asks through a tight-lipped smile.

I look down, embarrassed. "I've just never seen someone, well, angry."

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