21. Diva

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21. Diva

Emily woke up at nine a.m. I’d spent the entire night trying to think of a way to tell her I needed to get back to Kingwood—that being let back into Kingwood High School meant a lot. That, and wishing she’d slide down onto the floor with me.

That was confusing, of course, because Nora would be at KHS. But this was probably another of Emily’s traps. She wanted to give me a choice between herself and Nora, see which one I’d pick.

I wasn’t sure. In every practical way, Emily was the worse choice. But she was so damn exciting.

I wondered how much of a role she really had in freeing me from my detention. I might’ve been able to return anyway, though I’d never thought to try—my initial punishment didn’t have a length attached. Maybe I only needed to be humble and ask.

However, the minute I opened my mouth to talk to Emily, she’d guess I’d started planning my return. What was I supposed to do? Was this my life with Emily, now?

“You’ve gotta be starving,” I intoned, staring up at the ceiling from my spot on the floor.

“I’m a little hungry, yeah,” Emily said, “but I need a shower more.” She yawned and stretched her arms out in front of her. We were still wearing the same clothes from the night before.

“I saw some fast food places across the street. I can go get us something while you’re getting cleaned up,” I said. “I don’t think you want me here while you shower anyway, right?”

“Why? You’re not a peeping Tom, are you?” the dark-haired teen asked, grinning.

The scowl I gave her answered the question without words.

“All right, all right. Do whatever you want. Get me something with eggs in it.”

I stood and stretched my aching neck, trying desperately to figure some way to escape Emily and get back to Kingwood. Could I possibly take the car, leave her stranded, and drive myself back home?

Well, she wanted an adventure, I figured. As I left the room, the saturnine diva admired her reflection, running fingers gently through her hair.

The morning air was lukewarm and the surface of my car was covered in tiny beads of dew like fake gems on an eight-year-old girl’s tiara. I reached into my pocket and retrieved the keys I’d been sleeping on all night, pulling them out of their place embedded in my thigh.

The car door opened at the same moment the door to Room 26 did and Emily stepped out, wrapped in nothing but a towel; I gulped, momentarily considering jumping into the car and peeling out.

I froze there with my hand on the keys and the keys in the door. She spoke before I made up my mind to do anything crazy. “Don’t you need some money?”

I sighed. “Yeah. My bad.”

Emily stood and looked at me sideways for a moment then shrugged, handing me a five-dollar bill with one hand, the other clenched on the towel behind her back, holding it in place. She turned and walked back into the motel room, bare feet padding across cracked asphalt of the parking lot.

I sat down in my car and surveyed the situation. Shit. Almost out of gas; the needle was a centimeter from the big orange E. I hadn’t bothered to refill the night before because I hadn’t known Emily would do something as bat-shit crazy—though, granted, kinda nice—as getting me back into high school.

There was no way to run now, and it had more to do with my gas tank than my conscience. Emily and the stolen credit card were my one chance at refueling the car.

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