Twenty Five

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I took a deep breath and told Leo about all that had happened. He didn't say much, just sighed and tried to keep his composure as I detailed every frightening event that I had been experiencing. After I told him about that afternoon's shattered mirror, I met his eyes. His face was hard to read; a mixture of emotions showing across his bronze face. I bit my lip and looked away.

"I'm glad you told me," he said finally. "I wish you had told me sooner, but...now that I know, maybe I can help."

"How?" I asked him. "I'm not even sure what I'm dealing with. This just doesn't seem like Ari. She wasn't some terrible, spiteful person who would do something like this to me."

"I know you want to believe that. And maybe that's how she was when she was alive. But this? This is how she is now. I don't know why, but this is who she is," he softly spoke.

I shook my head. "You didn't know her, Leo. I did. She's my best friend."

"Don't get defensive," he urged. "I'm just saying-"

"I know what you're saying," I spat, instantly regretting my tone.

Leo didn't say anything after that. He just stared at me intensely and I sighed.

"Sorry," I told him. "This is just a lot to take in."

He nodded.

"She wants me to join her," I said weakly.

His head snapped forward. "What do you mean she wants you to join her? She's dead."

I couldn't respond. I shouldn't have said anything at all. When I didn't answer him, I saw him grit his teeth.

"And when you told her no?" he asked.

I shrugged. "I don't know if I have a choice. If I don't go...I'm afraid of what might happen. Who knows what she'll do. Look at today. Your mom's store. My bathroom. I have no idea what she's capable of. What if she hurts someone? My mom or dad? You? Maggie? I can't risk that."

"You're kidding, right?" he raised his voice. "You want to voluntarily go...to her?! No! No way, Everly. That's not even an option!"

"It's not really your decision," I whispered.

"I can't believe you." His eyes narrowed. "Did you even consider what that would do? Did you think of your parents? All of your family? Your friends? Me?!"

"Of course!" I yelled back. "That's why I'm doing it."

"No, you're not." He shook his head. "You're not thinking of other people. You're thinking of yourself."

"How could you even say that?" I cried.

"Because it's true," he said. "From what you've told me about your friendship with Ariana? It sounds like whatever she asked, you did. And you were happy to do it. You let her lead the show! Call the shots! Even now...she wants you to die! And you're actually considering it."

I stood up and faced him. "That is not how it was at all! I wasn't some puppy dog following her around with no mind of my own. You make it sound like I was her puppet! I do think for myself and make my own decisions!"

He folded his arms across his chest and looked away.

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