chapter 3

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Everyone was up in their kitchens today, getting familiar with all the supplies and layout. While they were doing so Michael talked about a party he was partially hosting Friday night.

"Who's all going?" Ashton asked, looking in the squeaky cupboards at all the pots and pans.

"You guys, of course," Michael replied, looking over to Emma to make sure she was listening. "Most chill sophmores and juniors, and seniors that know hook-ups for booze and other things."

"Are you inviting Calum and his gaggle of gays?" Ashton asked, smirking.

"Shut up Ashton, they're cool." Oliver rolled his eyes, looking over to Michael.

"Can you come Emma?" Michael asked, holding the checklist in his hand. She didn't look at him.

     "I-uh I don't know," she replied quickly, looking to Oliver for help. He just had a big shit-eating grin on his face. "I'm not much of a partier."

     "Oh, ignore her," Oliver chimed in as he started taking out all of the eating utensils to see how many of each they had. "She will definitely be there."

     Emma glared at him for the rest of class.

    After school she continued to ignore him, even when she got in his car. He greeted her but she didn't respond, just looked out the window.

     "Are you mad at me for saying you were gonna go to the party?" he asked, turning left off the road that the school was on. She nodded and he groaned.

     "Look, you don't have to go if you really don't want to. But I just want you to have fun, you feel? I think stress has been killing you lately and you need something to forget about it." He kept his eyes scanning the road as they drove into downtown.

     "I don't know, Oliver," she sighed, resting her head on her arm that was propped up against the window. "I wouldn't know anyone there and I would be too awkward to make conversation with random people."

     "You can hang around me and Michael, we don't mind. More specifically, I bet he won't mind." He glanced over to her, his eyebrows raised suggestively.

     "You mean Michael and I?" she replied, smirking.

     "Yeah whatever, you won't make any new friends if you call the grammar police the whole time," he chuckled, pulling into the drive for the nursing home. He stopped in front and unlocked the car doors. "Just think about it, okay?"

     Emma nodded and hopped out.

     "Brian will pick you up after work." He called after her before driving off. She dreaded the days that Brian, Olivers dad, got her. He always blamed her for what happened and said she was thieving his family from their money and happiness.

   Emma sat in a chair next to her moms bed, occasionally glancing from her homework, to her mom, then to the TV. She worked like this for awhile, occasionally taking breaks to check her phone.

     Around suppertime a nurse walked in for her daily checkup. She smiled when she saw Emma.

     "Hey Emma," Darcy greeted, walking to the other side of the bed, where all of the tubes and IV's connected to her mother's body were hooked up to the machine. "How was your day?"

     "Just fine," she murmured, glancing up to the older woman. She had shoulder length chocolate hair and a round figure. "How was yours?"

     "About the same," she wrote something down on her clipboard before turning to Emma. "You know how Betty can be." They chuckled.

     Once Darcy was finished, she walked over to Emma and sat in a chair next to her.

     "I know it's rough, but you're gonna have to start thinking about the future for her," she sighed, and Emma looked over to her mother. "Coma patients can't stay like this forever. In two months she'll have been here for a year, and that's as long as we can keep her."

     Emma looked to the woman. Her body language was warm and inviting like a family member, but her gray eyes were cold and heartless. She couldn't tell if Darcy was acting sincere or fake.

     "You're one of the only people who visit relatives here almost daily. We try to deter that as much as possible so they don't get too attached, but... looks like we're past that point for you—" she gave Emma a quick smile and a pat on her knee "—So, my point is, if she doesn't wake up by December, you might want to arrange plans with the same home that held your fathers funeral."

     Fake.

     As soon as Darcy left the room, Emma broke down in tears.

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