SIXTEEN

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As I was getting ready to eat lunch, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

     "Hey, you're the person who sent out that email right?" A soft voice asked and I turned around, unsure of what they were asking. She was pretty – tan skin, dark hair and brown eyes – but I couldn't put a name to the face. I saw her face flush a deep red around the cheeks. "I mean the email about the girls' nudes. Like, from the newspaper."

     "Yeah, that was me," I said. "I'm Eden."

     "Yes, okay!" she responded, looking relieved. "Can I talk to you for a second?"

     Jeremy looked at me curiously, but I redirected my attention to the girl. "Sure."

     She started walking toward another table, making the decision of where we were going to go an easy one. I stood up and followed her, sitting down on a bench in front of a table.

     "I'm Violeta, by the way. Violeta Ordóñez." I recognized the name almost immediately – she played in the marching band and was one of the best flute players at St. Joe's. Someone on staff last year had done a profile on her for the arts and culture section.

     She pulled out her phone and started scrolling through something. "So, after the whole email thing I've been a little cautious about actually sending anything remotely private over email. I can pretty much guarantee that the school servers are being watched."

     I nodded, unsure of if she wanted me to respond. I hadn't really thought about it that way – that the school was probably keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. I wouldn't be surprised if Principal Yanick had known when I sent out the email to the girls involved. It felt Big Brother-y in a sense, something that made me uncomfortable to think about.

     "And I'm sorry about this being kind of delayed. I just didn't know if I actually wanted to, like, go for it, you know? Which is stupid, but the truth. Like, what good reason do I have to keep someone's name private after they didn't even have the compassion to keep people's nudes private?" The question was asked almost good-humoredly but I could sense the anger underneath. "Anyway, here he is."

     I looked down at the phone and to my surprise, saw none other than Louis Sanford.

     "Okay," I responded, hoping she'd elaborate. It was just a picture of her and Louis, faces pressed together looking friendly enough. I knew she probably had a good reason for bringing him up, but I would need more than a blurry picture taken at a party to justify tracking him down. After seeing Alice so broken up, I wasn't sure I was keen on seeing him for any remotely minor reason.

     "So, Alice Huey," she started, "you know Alice? Yeah, she was like, talking to me about everything that had happened with Louis lately. I knew her pretty well, but we had never been close enough to where I would've actually met Louis. We were just class friends, you know? But one day I saw her phone background and thought to myself 'wow I totally know that guy but I don't know where.' I didn't put it together until we had been talking about the whole Nudegate thing. She was saying how she would never cheat and she swore she had only ever sent pictures to Louis and whatever else, and I genuinely believed her because she's my friend and I get it. You also saw me in that email, like, Nudegate sucks enough already and then to have him treat her like that. It's unreal."

     I couldn't remember the last time I'd met someone so talkative and bubbly, even when talking about something like Nudegate. I was almost physically tired trying to keep up with the story she was telling.

     "But I didn't realize until last night, after she'd told me about everything with Louis, where I knew him from," she said and pointed at the picture on her phone again. "This is how I know him. This was like, a while ago, but he looks pretty much the same. We'd been messing around a little and we jokingly had like, a whole photoshoot thing. I don't know, it's embarrassing to talk about it now that I'm sober and, like, a year has passed. But the photo of mine that was leaked was from that photoshoot."

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