Chapter Four: Rules

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There were three long, thick wooden tables in the dining hall, most of which were filled up by the time Connor, Jo and I got our trays. We walked along the buffet style serving line at the right side of the room, Connor practically drooling at the selection of meats to choose from, when he sighed.

"I can't decide what to get. It all looks good."

Beside him, Jo shrugged.

"Get a little bit of everything," she paused to stab a big slab of steak with it's serving fork. "Just be sure to save room for dessert. The chocolate lava cakes here are amazing!"

She placed her steak onto her tray, then handed the serving fork to Connor. After he selected a small piece of steak he made to hand me the fork, but I shook my head.

"Aren't you going to eat?" Connor asked as we scooted down the line.

I shook my head. "Nah, I'm too distracted," I paused to grab a bottle of water. "I wasn't the only one who noticed that back there, right?"

Some of the other students mumbled as we walked by to find a seat. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I had a feeling it was about what had just happened with Aiden and Duke.

"Yeah, it was pretty weird." Jo agreed.

Weird? More like disturbing. I could still feel their eyes on me, crawling slowly up my skin like a bug. I shuddered.

"Maybe they just thought you were cute." Connor offered.

We found a clear spot at the end of the first table, near the entrance, and sat down.

"I'm not cute enough to warrant getting gawked at like that." I propped my elbows up on the table, resting my chin in my palms. "Besides, there are plenty of other girls here who are way better looking than I am."

Girls like Jo.

She was willowy, and had beautiful long, red hair. And her eyes, a brilliant shade of green, could easily catch someone off guard with their intensity and depth. Why couldn't Aiden and Duke stare a hole through her?

"That may be," Jo spoke, pulling me from my thoughts. "But, there's something about you. You just look so, I don't know..."

"Innocent?" Connor asked after swallowing a bit of steak.

Jo looked like she had an aha moment. "Yes, exactly! Innocent."

Innocent.

I crinkled my nose at the word, a little offended.

It felt the same as being called a child. Children were naive and dependent; neither of which were traits I wanted to associate myself with.

A buzzing sound suddenly cut through the quiet on our end of the table, and Connor dug into his hoodie pocket to pull out a sleek, black phone.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Jo's voice was low, her attention on the glass of milk she put to her lips.

Connor's brows came together, though his eyes never left his cellphone. "Do what?"

Just as he finished speaking, a small, dark hand reached over his shoulder to snatch his phone.

"Hey," his head whipped around, then up, to see who had robbed him.

Standing behind Connor, placing his phone in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, was a girl with round glasses and a stoic face.

"Name?"

She held a marker to the bag, looking at Connor expectantly.

"Give me my phone!"

"Look, pal, I don't have all night." The girl pushed her glasses up her nose. "Just tell me your name and grade so I can move on."

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