CHAPTER FOURTEEN (draft)

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“Gracie!” I exclaim, and drop my pizza. Fortunately it lands on the plate and not my chest.

Everyone at my table stares as my sister turns at her name being called and kind of freezes. Then she and her friends stop and look in our direction.

They approach. In addition to Logan and Gracie and Daniel, there are several other Reds I’ve not seen before, and there’s Mia Weston, the petite girl from Gracie’s dorm.

“Gracie!” I continue to speak. “What are you doing here? We thought you weren’t going to eat dinner and take a nap instead.”

“Oh, hi!” Gracie has a slightly nervous, sheepish expression, and I notice she has let go of Daniel’s arm. “Yeah, well, I changed my mind. Everyone was going to see this Arena place!”

“Okay. . . .”

“Hi, Yellow Candy,” Logan says, looking at me with a light smile. His gorgeous warm hazel eyes are trained on me directly. I feel a sudden pang in my chest as my lungs kind of collapse and lose their ability to expand. . . . Just for a single dumb moment.

“Hi,” I mutter. “I’m Gwen.”

“I know.” His smile grows. “We’ve met yesterday, remember? We’re from the same school. You’re Grace’s big sister.”

“Hey, wait, I know you, man,” my brother George says. “You’re Logan, right? Mapleroad Jackson High, varsity track team? Mr. Borster’s AP History class?”

“Yup, that’s me—Logan Sangre. You’re George Lark?”

Logan leans in and they shake hands over a heaping plate of Gordie’s burgers.

Introductions happen all around.

“Want to join us?” Laronda says after a meaningful glance in my direction. “We can make room on the table and ‘de-tray.’ Go grab your food and come back here.”

Gracie looks up at Daniel, and the other Reds glance at each other. “Well,” she says. “There’s sort of this unwritten rule, we’re all supposed to stick together with people of our own Quadrant and build up allegiance or something. So maybe we should just go find a different table—”

“Says who? What rule? No one told us. . . . Oh, come on!” Laronda snorts. “What’s this, some kind of freaky Atlantis segregation? Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Just set your butt down here, Gracie,” I say. “This is silly.”

“It’s not so much a rule as a guideline,” Daniel says diplomatically. The Reds exchange more glances and then look at our table and all our multi-color tokens. Among us we’ve got three yellows, a blue and a green.

“I’m sure we can safely mingle tonight,” Logan says, glancing at me with a wink. “I’ll be right back.” And he heads for the food court service.

“Okay, I guess. . . .” Gracie nods at me then goes after him. The other Reds follow.

“That’s right. You all come back now, we don’t have color cooties, jeez!” And Laronda rolls her eyes and picks up her burger.

* * *

Five minutes later, our table is overcrowded with the Red Quadrant newcomers, and everyone’s trays have been removed and stacked on the floor in order to make room for our individual plates. We’ve pulled up additional chairs, and it’s a tight human pack all around.

“So wait,” Logan says to us, as he picks up one of his burgers. “You’re the Four Gees, right? I remember that meme going around school.”

“That’s us, we’re a meme,” Gordie says with a minor cringe, still speaking with his mouth full.

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