Chapter 43 : I’ll Ask Him Tomorrow


I hadn't seen or heard from Xander in a week.

I'd spent most of that time in bed. sweating beneath three thick quilts and even thicker flannel pajamas while Heather fussed over me, making sure I was taking the antibiotics the doctor had prescribed for what he said was a severe viral infection of some kind.

All of it felt odd. The days passed in a blur, day fading into night over, and over. I didn't seem to get better, however. My body was numb and frequently chilled despite how warm Heather tried to keep me.

The worst of it was having to come clean to both of my roommates about what had actually happened in Crimson Creek one feverish night when I'd spilled hot soup on my shirt, and Heather helped me remove it.

They saw the long, jagged scars across my belly, and had screamed, then were frantic and shocked beyond belief as I told them the incredible and unbelievable story.

I'm not sure if they believed it. They probably thought it was some tall tale my fevered mind had concocted.

But something changed the night before graduation.

Viv came into my room, balancing a large, hot mug of tea in her hands. Her face was drawn in a grimace, and in a split second, I knew why. I sat straight up.

“Where did you get that?" I cried, and Viv looked at me in shock. She set the mug of murky black liquid on the beside table that seperated my bed from Heather's bed.

“Xander dropped it off. He said you liked this tea and he could only get it in Crimson Creek."

I paled, looking down into the mug and watching the sheen that had developed on top of it. Blood root. I hadn't seen him because he went back to Crimson Creek.

“Is he here?" I asked, but Viv shook her head, looking a little sheepish.

“No. He left in a hurry. He told me how to brew it and I... do you really like it? The smell is just awful. I was going to try it but-" she held her stomach, looking a little green.

“How did he know I was sick?"

“Viv went to him the night Slate assaulted you," Heather said from the doorway, unwinding her scarf from around her neck and tossing it on her bed. I hied to swallow but found it impossible.

“I told him what we thought happened. And then when you got sick I... I know his roommate Adrian; we have classes together. I told him you were sick and then didn't see him again for several days."

I brought the tea to my lips and drank deeply, watching the disgusted looks on my roommates' faces as I tilted it back and drained it.

Heather asked as she took the empty

I said, then watched as she began to put the pieces

mean... everything you told us about

on the pillow

say anything to me. He'd gone all the way to Crimson Creek and back

the deepest sleep I'd ever experienced. Heather was snoring in her bed, and pale moonlight was drifting through tire frosted windows as I stood. There was no shake, no pain my bones and joints. My skin wasn't hot to

I was healed, entirely.

into tire moonlight as a weight settled

powers, long dormant, had sent me into a fever. Blood root had made me

What did this mean?

was only one person who I could ask. And I'd see

At graduation.


body, the informal graduation ceremony for those students graduating in December had been moved from the shabby conference room in the library to the

in tire aisle near the row we'd chosen to sit in. I'd promised my parents that if they'd just let

enough time would've passed by then for my friends to get over their shock, and likely anger, at the fact I'd hidden my true identity from

anything. No, not yet. Now was

filled with floral arrangements from “Mom and Dad," and my roommates and I had our coffee with the rich smell of lilies and roses permeating the

walked arm in arm to campus, Viv chattering away about how excited she was to

before quickly turning my head away from the entrance of the theater. Xander had just walked in, and I felt his gaze on me instantly, little ripples of heat prickling

glanced at me, but I stifled my nervous expression and pretended to be reading the pamphlet in

of me, at least. He wasn't in my line of sight when Heather

lights above her head. She looked around,

were many murmurings in the crowd, all whispers about who she was, and what she was doing here. It was

graduate. Heather went up to the stage, met with applause. Viv accepted Abigail's diploma,

lights were blinding enough that they cast a glare

Mara smiled, handing me my


May, and I'd heard a rumor I was in the running for valedictorian of my graduating class as well. As I walked back to my seat, I began to wonder what people

it as I sat back down, Heather and Viv squeezing my aims in silent congratulations as the rest of

name was called, and I watched as

he narrowed his eyes at Mara, the way he leaned in to whisper into

a bit, noticing how level she kept her expression despite the sharp look on Xander's face. What had he just said

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