Chapter Eleven

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The Dive

The next day, just ten minutes after we're released from our English lecture, Eden, Ellie and I take a walk in Colorado's morning sun. The mountain air is fresh and a breeze plays with the back of my neck as we stroll along the twisting paths hidden beneath thick canopy trees.

To call it a path, though, is almost charitable. What it really is, is a fox trail Eden insisted was a short cut to the library. Thirty minutes later, and we're still walking what could have been a five-minute trip.

The three of us – me in the middle, Eden at the front and Ellie just behind – barely squeeze in and branches scratch against my arms like a dozen fingernails. But I don't mind. I think. Coming here allows us fresh air, and God knows we need it after the surprise Simone pulled.

My brain hurts just thinking about it. As off this morning, we all have meetings set up in the English faculty building; mine is at one, Eden's is at three and Ellie sits right in the middle at two.

By that time, we're expected to have a proposition ready for a personal project. Mine was easy, it came to me in a second, but by looking at Eden's stiff shoulders, I think I'm one of the lucky ones.

So, least to say, some space away from the whirlwind that is Woodcreek College is already doing us good – even if we're still technically on its grounds. The gravel beneath my feet is sharp and gritty, crunching every time I take a step, and shards of sunlight shoot through the branches above, illuminating our trail.

Every now and then, we come across a small landmark that would have remained undiscovered if it weren't for Eden's suggestion. So, in a way, I'm thankful for this detour.

The most noticeable landmark is a clearing next to a lake, fed by the river that followed us along our snaking trail.

We sit on the grass near the bank and watch as water shimmers against the sunlight. Every so often, small ripples extend to our feet, presumably from fishes who grab at their meals.

If I close my eyes, I can imagine I'm back at Crystal Lake, but then I shake my head and open my eyes. I don't want to be there, tangled in a mess of memories. Here, where no one knows what happened, is the best place for me. Right?

'So, hang on a second.' Eden faces me, eyes gleaming as she leans back. I blink, fingertips spread into the damp grass. 'You thought someone was breaking in?'

I shake my head. 'Do you blame me? She screamed and they smashed some glass. What was I supposed to think?'

'If it makes you feel better, I would've thought the same thing.' Ellie's eyes dart from mine to Eden's as she twists the ring on her finger. 'I mean, all things considered.'

'I guess.' Eden shrugs. A second later, a long grin grows on her lips and, when she looks at me, I already know what she's thinking. 'You gotta admit, it's hilarious.'

'Oh yeah, I'm shaking with laughter.' I release a heavy breath that rushes through my lips. The two girls giggle between themselves and I grit my teeth. 'It was awful, guys. She was so rude, acting like she's the one living there and not me.'

'Someone sounds jealous,' Eden replies with her brows raised. She looks at Ellie, who also smiles. Their grins tell me that they're joking, but the words make my fingertips tingle nonetheless. I look away, eyes cast into the lake as clouds cover the sun.

'Tell me,' Eden leans forward, 'does Wesley look as good shirtless as I imagine?' I shake my head, incredulous. When I don't reply, Eden gasps, eyes sparkling with the catch of prey. 'Oh, god. Is it that good?'

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