Chapter Thirty-Four

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Hostage

'What the hell are they doing down there?'

I smile tightly, trying not to wince at the sound of drilling. There's a loud smashing noise and a scream that no doubt comes from Eden's lips. A weight of silence follows this, but when laughter convinces me that nobody died, I breathe a sigh of relief and look up to meet Wesley's eyes.

It's weird seeing him sat in my bedroom like this; even though he's been here for half an hour now, I'm still adjusting to his presence, to this little alliance we've formed.

He fills the space so effortlessly that I feel displaced sitting beside him, like a mouse next to an elephant, and as he shuffles to lean against the wall, I wonder if he realises that just beyond this bed is his, that the only thing separating us as we sleep is a thin piece of hardwood.

Does he think about smashing it down like I sometimes do? I grit my teeth and look away, sure my thoughts are plain on my lips.

'It sounds like she's prepping for her party,' I reply as I scroll through Oli's Instagram feed, trying to distract myself that Wesley's leg has just started resting against mine. 'Apparently it's Halloween already. Eden says it's her favourite holiday.'

Wesley chuckles and the sound shoots through me like a knife, making my stomach do all kinds of twists and flips.

'Of course, it is,' he says. 'It'll be the only night of the year that she doesn't have to actually pretend to be a normal, functioning member of society. Do you know if she's going as herself this year? Or will it be Hannibal?'

I bite the smile from my lips and click on a photo Oli posted in her senior year. It's a rare one with just her, Gabrielle and Josie; the three of them sit at a campfire, holding sticks of marshmallows against the orange light as each one of them smiles at the camera.

Oli's titled it Never Forget with a little heart emoji and, for a second, I wonder if it's Eden taking the photo or if she were even there in the first place. The four girls were practically inseparable for their five years of friendship and, no matter how hard I look, there isn't a photo without Eden in it.

'Look at this,' I say, pulling the laptop sideways so Wesley can see the screen. There's a moment of silence as he scans the image, leg burning against mine.

'What am I looking at?'

'That's Oli, Gabrielle and Josie,' I reply, pointing to each girl as I say their name. 'They were Eden's best friends in high school. I told you that this morning.'

He tilts his head, and a piece of chocolate hair flops onto his forehead as those perfectly shaped brows knit. I stare at the stray hair for a few seconds, thinking it must be annoying and digging my nails into my palms to keep myself focused.

It's taking every ounce of will power to not reach my hand out and move it away, to not touch his skin like he touched mine yesterday.

'It still feels like I'm missing something.'

I blink myself back to reality and roll my eyes. 'This is the first photo I've found with only these girls. There's not one photo without Eden in it. Whether it be Gabrielle and Eden, Oli and Eden or Josie and Eden. This is the only one with just these three.'

'And your point is?'

I grit my teeth, dozens of thoughts rolling around my mind. 'I don't know. It's just weird that they're never seen without her. It's like Eden had some kind of weird mind control over them. And look at the title – Never Forget. Why would you title it that?'

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