And even though I didn’t want to believe it was Seth, I couldn’t shake my suspicions. Who else would do such a thing to Jackson? Seth had motive—a motive that made me feel ill. If he’d done it, it’d been because of what Jackson had done to me in class. But how could he do something so… violent, so unstable? That question haunted me.
The one good thing was that the weird funk that had settled over me like an itchy blanket faded. A tiny part of me missed Seth’s company in the evenings and the way he always managed to turn me into a human body pillow during the night, but there was another part of me that was sort of relieved. Like there wasn’t anything additional expected from me.
Even though no one tried to drug or kill me, Linard and Aiden still followed me around. And when they were busy, it was Leon’s massive shadow that lurked behind me. I’d taken to hanging around the training rooms even on the days Seth and I wouldn’t practice. I knew that Aiden would eventually find me there. We didn’t talk about being afraid again, but we sort of just… hung out… in the training room.
It sounded lame, but it was like the old times, before everything got so incredibly screwed up. Sometimes Leon popped in on us. He never seemed surprised or suspicious. Not even the last time, when we’d been sitting with our backs against the wall, arguing about whether or not ghosts existed.
I didn’t believe in them.
Leon had thought we were both idiots.
But damn, I looked forward to it. Just sitting there and talking. No training. No trying to tap in and use akasha. Those moments with Aiden, even when Leon decided to join us, were my favorite part of the day.
I hadn’t choked Olivia again, but things were super-awkward when I did see her—no big surprise there. But I did start eating my lunch in the cafeteria with Seth. After the second day, Luke joined us, then Elena, and finally Olivia. We didn’t talk, but we also didn’t yell anything at each other.
Some things didn’t change, though. The mortal holidays of Christmas and New Year came and went, along with most of January. Most of the pures still seemed to expect every half to turn into an evil-aether-sucking creature and jump them. Deacon, Aiden’s brother, was one of the few who braved sitting next to us in class or talking to us around campus. Another thing that hadn’t changed was my inability to write a letter to my father. What was I supposed to say? I had no idea. Each night that I’d been alone, I’d started a letter, and then stopped. Paper balls littered my floor.
“Just write what you’re feeling, Alex. You’re overthinking it,” Aiden had said after I’d complained. “You’ve known that he’s been alive for two months now. You need to just write without thinking.”
Two months? It hadn’t felt that long. And that meant I had a little over a month before I Awakened. Maybe I was trying to slow time down. Either way, my feelings were all over the place, and if my father was as competent as I believed him to be, I didn’t want him to think I had issues.
So after practice with Seth, I gathered up my notebook and headed over to one of the less crowded rec rooms. Curling up in the corner of a bright red sofa, I stared at a blank page and chewed on the end of my pen.
Linard took up position at the door, looking bored. When he caught me watching him, I made a face and returned to gazing at the blue lines on the paper. Luke interrupted a few times, trying to lure me into a game of air hockey.
When his shadow fell across my notebook again, I groaned. “I don’t want to…”
Olivia stood in front of me, wearing a thick cashmere sweater I immediately started lusting after. Her brown eyes were wide.
“Uh… sorry,” I said. “I thought you were Luke.”
She smoothed a hand over her curly hair. “He’s trying to get you to play skee ball?”
“No. He moved on to air hockey.”
Her laugh was nervous as she glanced over at the group by the arcade games. Then she squared her shoulders as she gestured at the spot beside me. “Can I sit?”
My stomach turned over. “Yeah, if you want.”
Olivia sat, running her hands over her jean-clad legs. Several moments passed without either of us speaking. She was the first to break the silence. “So, how… how have you been?”
It was a loaded question, and my laugh came out choked and harsh. I brought the notepad to my chest as I glanced over at Luke. He was pretending not to have noticed us together.
She let out a little breath and started to rise. “Okay. I guess—”
“I’m sorry.” My voice was low, words hoarse. I felt my cheeks burn, but I forced myself to keep going. “I’m sorry for everything, especially the thing in the hallway.”
Olivia squeezed her thighs. “Alex—”
“I know you loved Caleb and all I’ve been thinking about is my own hurt.” I closed my eyes and swallowed down the lump in my throat. “I really do wish I could go back and change everything that night. I’ve thought a million times about all the things we could’ve done differently.”
“You shouldn’t… do that to yourself,” she said quietly. “At first, I didn’t want to know what really happened, you know? Like the details. I just couldn’t… deal with knowing for awhile, but I finally got Lea to tell me everything about a week ago.”
I bit my lip, unsure of what to say. She hadn’t accepted my apology, but we were talking.
She drew in a shallow breath, eyes gleaming. “She told me that Caleb saved her. That you were fighting another daimon, and if he hadn’t grabbed her, she would’ve died.”