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Author's note: I hope to publish this someday, so, please, give honest and thorough opinions.
The muscles in Amelia’s legs sing in agony as she pounds up the stairs, each step echoing chaotically throughout the empty hallways. A thin blanket of sweat glues her clothes to her skin, and beads of perspiration snake down her spine. The temperature of the jailhouse’s interior is stark in contrast to that of her own body; sunlight has already faded from the small windows high on the dirty brick walls, and all of the bulbs in the place are long since burned out, dusty and dull from years of sitting unchanged in the jail’s abandoned halls.
The peak of the stairwell finally approaches her. She lunges for it, her exhausted body collapsing on the grimy floor. The rafters of the third floor creak and groan like old women, seeming painfully loud in the silence. Cells flank her on either side, extending forward in a long, straight corridor that almost immediately is impermeable in the thick and unyielding darkness.
In the almost peaceful quiet of the top floor, she dares to allow herself to think.
She wasn’t always alone. There were four of them, four restless friends desperately addicted to trouble, and trouble resides in the old jailhouse. It’s the ghoul hotspot in this one-horse town, a haunted temptation that beckons irresistibly to anyone seeking a thrill.
Of course, no one thought the place was legitimately haunted. It was all in their heads.
Those were the people who left before the sun had yet to rise.
Amelia had come with her two friends, Riley and Kristopher, and her boyfriend, Zane. Their noses were filled with the tangy, pungent odor of marijuana that was wafting from their stuffed pockets. They had gotten into the jail easily; the rusted locks had been broken a long time ago. Noon was upon them at that time, and the building was filled with a bright daytime glow that seemed out of place in the sinister hallways.
In the jail’s lobby they had rolled up, lit up, and submerged themselves into a cloud of weed-induced high spirits.
Riley was the first to disappear; her tiny, anorexic body vanished into the darkness behind her without a sound. No screams. Not even a whimper. Of course, none of the others thought too much of it—they were much too buzzed on the illegal things they brought to keep them company. Later, though, as they staggered down each sprawling hallway, high out of their wits, booming laughter and whoops of delight immediately ceased when they stumbled upon a ripped patch of black leather, on top of it a small mound of piercings, each one stained scarlet with blood that had yet to dry.
It had been Amelia and Zane who discovered Riley’s repulsive remains. Their good mood was quickly diminished, and they rushed back to warn Kristopher—he had stayed behind to finish his joint—like helpless lab rats in a maze.
Finally they arrived in the lobby, greeted by silence and the still-smoking butt of his cigarette.
Amelia and Zane had then ran with terrified and blind steps down the main corridor, the hollow pounds of their steps disorienting as they bounced against an approaching dead end.
They stuttered to a stop upon meeting an out of place brick wall.
Defiled and smudged, the wall hulked in the shadows, adorned with the etchings of past inmates who undoubtedly sat hunched under the light of the moon and scratched meaningless words into the grout.
Shallow pants seizing their chests, Amelia and Zane had turned—only to face bars. Cold iron bars wearing a coat of rust, locking them in tight like sentinels standing on rigid guard.
With terror resounding in his voice, Zane had whispered, “We’re in a cell.”
Those were the last words Amelia ever heard him say. When Zane went, there was no noise, no disappearances. His heavy body collapsed right on top of hers, eyes rolling back until they were white, one soft, strangled whimper escaping his lips. Before she could crawl out from underneath his bulky, limp form, it was dragged away, into a dark corner of the cell, pulled by no force that Amelia could see. A single ribbon of blood drooled out of his mouth as he went, mixing with the dirt on the floor to create a river of ruddy mud.
She could never muster up the courage to explore the shadowed corner.
Amelia had gotten out of the cell, but she doesn’t know how. The unyielding bars had suddenly melted away into an open walkway, identical to the path that she and her boyfriend had run down before.
Something was terribly wrong.
With hammer-like pulses throbbing in her temples, she had stood in the mouth of a caliginous corridor, one more minute morsel about to be swallowed hole.
And she ran.
She has no idea where she was headed. Up and down rickety metal stairs and through the web-like hallways, fueled by the unremitting sensation that she was being stalked. Steamy puffs of breath—whether real or simply an offspring of the terror in her mind—crept down her neck when she slowed down to ease the anguish in her failing muscles; fingers caressed the skin of her arm in a revolting sort of embrace. Every corner she turned they were right there, their putrid breath wheezing in her face.
She was alone.
A mouse pinned helplessly underneath the paws of a huge, maniacal cat. For four hours she’d been running, taking blind steps that always ended up with her slamming into an out-of-place dead end.
The darkness was a thick blanket pulled over her eyes. A chilled wind, too sharp and polar to be natural in the usual mild Georgia weather, had shot through the air and refused to leave. She could no longer feel her fingers. She squinted at them; they were blue. Each of her trembling exhales escaped her in white clouds.
When lunatic, hyena-like laughter and inhuman whoops of amusement began to reverberate around her, Amelia slowly pulls herself to her feet; her joints crack painfully from sitting curled up in the cold for too long. With one last wistful glance to the nighttime sky twinkling merrily outside of the window, she turned from the wall…
Bars in front of her, caging her in.
The cell. The cell is back.
“Did you hear about the goth girl who died?”
Bethany Lancaster, startled, looks up from her vegan meal, bland bite of celery sitting half-chewed in her mouth. Her nails, chewed to jagged stubs, stop strumming on the slick green Formica table. She and her best friend sit alone in the cafeteria at a table for four that is usually unoccupied. Through the warbled choruses of laughter and boisterous conversation echoing about the lunchroom, only three words that her friend said had been intelligible: girl who died. She frantically swallows.
Livvy Frost leans over the lunch table, mahogany hair falling in perfectly arranged ringlets to her shoulders. Her emerald eyes grow wide, dramatizing what she has to say, and her flute-like voice drops to a theatric whisper.
“Yeah. She and a group of her crazy gothic friends went to stay the night in the old jailhouse. None of them made it out.”
Bethany snorts and shakes her head. “You actually believe that they were chased by demons, Livvy?”
“Of course. They were probably ticked that the goths were screwing in their resting place.”
“That’s not funny.”
“It’s true, though. There are even rumors that the girl was pregnant.”
“Who told you that?”
Livvy’s sparkling, glossed lips slip into a nefarious grin. “My dad. He wasn’t supposed to tell me. But he said that the coroner may have found a fetus.”
“You’re bullshitting me.”
“Nope. They say she was almost two months pregnant.”
“For some reason, I just don’t believe you.” Bethany’s voice is sharp and cynical, but necessarily so.
Livvy scowls. “Look. I know I’ve lied to you before. I make up rumors sometimes. But this is for real. Okay?”
Nibbling on a carrot thoughtfully, Bethany replied, “What else did they find on their bodies?”
Livvy shakes her head until the curls fly about and her chandelier earrings chime. “I don’t know. When I asked my dad got all shaky and pale. I think they were pretty messed up.”
Bethany promptly smothers a wave of nausea that made her lunch churn. “Okay. I don’t want to know.”
Which is very true. She didn’t quite care for gruesome things, much less ones that happened outside of movies. Even at seventeen, she was prone to horrific nightmares. Paul—her foster dad—said it may be the aftermath of her disastrous childhood, but she isn’t sure. Whenever it came to paranormal activities, Bethany feels peculiarly…vulnerable. As if she is closer to the barrier between their world and the real world. That’s probably why she can’t sleep. She lives in an old, settling house with her foster parents, and the building’s at least 150 years old. At night, the house’s frame makes ghostly sounds—wistful sighs—as the structure settles further into the ground. Lying in bed, staring up at her pale yellow ceiling, Bethany always tries to ignore the noises. They appear to be the melancholy last breaths of wandering spirits, and the thought of their dead lips stirring her hair as they exhale into her ear fuels her imagination until it’s burning out of control. She fears the typical things, such as ghouls beneath your bed with outstretched claws and monsters awaiting you in the closet, but her terror goes beyond that, into something much worse. Her worst phobias lie in a territory farther away than lunatic ghost hunters and cheesy films. It’s a shady place in her mind, dark and looming, that she purposely shoves into an out of reach corner. She doesn’t do anything involving haunted places—or scary anything for that matter—because it brings those demented images to the surface. She has always refused to join her friends in their endeavor to find the scariest haunted building.
Especially the old jailhouse, where ambitious high school kids have been disappearing for years.
Livvy’s eyes soften as she gazes at something beyond Bethany’s shoulder. She doesn’t have to turn around to know what had so changed her best friend’s demeanor; it was Greg Martin, her boyfriend.
“Don’t tell him what we were talking about,” Livvy whispers hurriedly.
A rush of almost overpowering cologne floods her nose as he approaches.
“Greg!” Livvy chirps, scooting over to make room for him on her side of the table.
As he sits down Bethany has to smother a pang of jealousy. His blonde hair tumbles in soft waves across his forehead, framing a strong, square jaw and denim-colored eyes. His lips, full and ever-smiling, are a shell pink. He’s tall, standing at six feet and five inches, with a beautifully chiseled body crafted after long hours in the weight room. He isn’t a typical football plaing meat-head, either; he’s valedictorian and president of the student council. She’s watched him silently from a distance for two years as she’d cower behind her locker door, obsessing over the brilliance of his smile and his irresistable air of confidence. He’d pass her in a whirlwind of glory, surrounding by a posse of buddies and adoring girls, often sporting his worn blue football jersey, then disappear down the hallway, leaving her heart thumping. She loves him—unbeknownst to anyone—but now that he’s dating her best friend it is absolutely out of the question.
Not that she was ever courageous enough to ask him out anyway.
Bethany looks down, cheeks flaming a bright red, as Greg catches her staring and offers a platonic smile.
Eyes locked on Livvy, playfully pulling on her curls, he asks, “Why are you two sitting alone today?”
Bethany shrugs mutely. She’s never been good at spontaneous lies.
“Beth had a story to tell me. About something that happened in chemistry today,” Livvy replies with a perfectly composed smile.
His lips tug upward at the corner. “Bethany? She’s not the one for gossip around here.”
Livvy giggles knowingly as he pokes her in the side.
Bethany focuses her eyes down on the heap of vegetables still sitting uneaten on her plate.
“So, Beth,” Greg begins with a teasing lilt in his voice. Her body ripples at the sound of his rumbling voice speaking her name. “We have a new wide receiver.”
She looks up sharply at this. He waggles his eyebrows with a grin. Ignoring Livvy’s confused frown, she heaves a deep sigh.
“I hate you,” she mumbles around a gritty mouthful of carrot, gaze still locked on the table.
He laughs. “I think you have a story to tell Livvy. Liv, our girl here is now a full-blown whore. She’s out of control.”
Bethany takes two deep breaths to prepare herself. “I kissed a guy.”
Coffee streams down her chin as Livvy chokes in surprise on the drink she had just taken. Greg grins.
“You’re such a girl next door, Bethany.”
Livvy punches him hard in the arm, but he doesn’t even sway under the blow. “Be nice! I’m glad Beth finally got a kiss,” she says with a sympathetic look shot Bethay’s way.
“Alright, alright. I’m sorry. I just thought, you know, maybe you’d be interested in this new guy. He’s really cool.” Greg’s eyes sparkle as he apologizes.
“I’m not girlfriend material,” Bethany remarks.
He opens his mouth to reply but is abruptly thrown off course as the cafeteria doors swing open. He throws her a devious glance.
Without replying, Greg yells, “Andy!”
Bethany, who is sitting with her back to the doors, twists to see who he is calling to.
Her heart flutters over a beat.
Standing in the front of the cafeteria, looking lost, is a dark-skinned boy with midnight hair flopping in his eyes. Even from here, she could tell that they were huge. Wide and bottomless, like the ocean in the middle of the night. His gaze flits over the tables, and as he finds Greg his full lips quirk into a grin. His lean, tall body flawlessly moves through the cluttered cafeteria, expertly dodging the crowded tables. There is a masculine grace about him, a pattern of movement that shows brute strength underneath but an outward tenderness and delicacy. As he nears, she could see the adorable way his hair curls outward at the end, casting a shadow over his already dusky eyes. Grease-spattered jeans are slung low on his hips, and a black tee clings to his torso, highlighting sculpted muscles. As he sits down, waves of a musky, earthen smell envelope her; it wasn’t the smell of cologne but that of long days working in the woods. Trying to be subtle, Bethany inhales again, savoring the aroma. He smells of pine trees and mud freshly soaked with a heavy summer rain; the heart of a forest that sits untouched by the harsh odors of the city.
Now, in such close proximity, with him mere inches from her on the bench, her heart is racing in her chest.
“Andy, this is Livvy and Bethany. Liv, Beth, this is Andy.” Greg gestures to each person respectively.
Livvy thrusts out her hand, then pumps his up and down in an enthusiastic handshake.
“My name’s Olivia. But don’t call me that. Unless I’m in trouble. It’s nice to meet you.” The words fly from her mouth.
“Charmed, Livvy. My name is Andrew. But don’t call me that. Ever.” His eyes glint deep in their black depths as he teases.
Livvy gasps. “Your accent! Where are you from?”
But Andy had already turned his attention to Bethany. She could feel his tantalizing gaze, intense but not creepy. It draws her like a magnet, forcing her to look up. As soon as their stares lock she feels all of the air rush out of her lungs, as if she’s suddenly slammed into a wall. She could see the lashes fringed around his eyes; they were so long that they cast shadows across his cheekbones.
“It’s n-nice to m-m-meet you,” she stutters helplessly, still unable to tear her eyes from his.
He smiles, sending her pulse into chaos. “Enchanted, Bethany.”
Although Greg’s voice had made her shiver, the sound of Andy speaking her name makes her insides melt. There’s a foreign lilt to his voice, an almost spicy accent. Andy speaks softly, not loud or obnoxious like most boys Bethany knows, adding to his overall sultriness.
A quiet moment passes between them, one interrupted only by the clamor of the other high school students eating lunch, where they simply appraise each other. There’s an obvious undercurrent passing back and forth, charged with some emotion that Bethany can’t identify. Nothing is revealed in Andy’s hidden eyes, except for a sort of simpering charm; something that shows his apparent gentle side without hinting to anything else.
Greg clears his throat.
Andy calmly meets his impatient glare. “You didn’t tell me you have such beautiful friends.”
Livvy smiles, gracious as always, while a scarlet blush floods Bethany’s cheeks and her thoughts explode into turmoil.
Greg grins. “I do, but this one’s mine.” He slings an arm across Livvy’s shoulders.
Looking directly into Bethany’s eyes, Andy whispers, “I was really hoping you would say that.”
Greg and Livvy apparently didn’t hear his comment, because they begin to bombard him with questions about his past. Their conversation is vaguely intelligible to Bethany, but her mind is reeling out of control.
Was Andy hitting on her?
It couldn’t be. He was probably just a flirt, and it’s nothing more. She certainly isn’t pretty enough to actually mean anything to someone as unrealistically gorgeous as Andy.
Why can’t he tell he’s sent her heart into a panic?
“So, you’re from Cuba. And you guys escaped? Like refugees? That is so flipping cool! You’ve been here for five years? Right? Neat. And you’re just now coming to school because you had to help kick start your dad’s business—“
The shrill sound of the bell, ending lunch, cuts Livvy off short. Andy hadn’t said anything to Bethany after they’d introduced themselves, but occasionally she could feel his eyes flit to her and back as he answered their questions. As she mentally replays what he had revealed about his past, she realizes that he really hadn’t uncovered anything personal. Things about his family, sure, but his personality is still cloaked in mystery.
Bethany vows to herself to change that.
“Well, it was nice talking to you!” Livvy cries as she seizes Bethany’s arm. “We have a calculus test today. Real hard stuff. Gotta go, but maybe we can all grab some ice cream later? See you guys!” After a quick peck on Greg’s cheek, she tugs Bethany into the crashing currents of students fighting for the halls.
She glances back at Andy several times as she is pulled away, watching the tempting way his lips move as he talks with Greg. As if he could feel her watching, he meets her eyes.
A wink and a smile. Bethany’s heart stutters twice. In a burst of spontaneous courage, she flutters her fingers in a brief goodbye. She could see his shoulders quake as he laughs, and the small curve of his lips breaks in a full blown grin. He waves.
“You sly girl.”
Bethany turns to meet Livvy’s eyes. She’s grinning knowingly.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she mutters, dodging a group of sluggish freshman girls congesting the hallway. One of them bumps Livvy’s shoulder, and she lifts her middle finger to the girl before looking back at Bethany.
“Andy. He’s digging you, Beth. And it’s obviously mutual.” She raises her eyebrows, adopting the same devious countenance that Greg had used.
“He’s cute,” Bethany offers with a shrug.
“Cute,” Livvy scoffs. “Gorgeous. As in, angel-from-Heaven gorgeous. And he likes you.”
Bethany crouches at her locker to lug out a thick, brick-like calculus book. Three spaces down, her best friend does the same, still talking over the fragments of conversation that pass in and out of their earshot.
“We’re going to go get ice cream later, okay? And you’re going to flirt. Not too much. Don’t be a whore. But put on lip gloss.”
Bethany sighs. “Do I have any other options?”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Time is up. Please put your tests on my desk, face down.”
Bethany shuffles to the front of the room and surrenders her paper. Finally. The test had been easy and taken only twenty minutes, but to refrain from looking like a complete nerd, she’d pretended to be slaving over a problem for the past forty minutes. The final bell rings, and she clings to the wall to dodge the stampeding students. Livvy’s one of the last to reach the door, and when she does she shoots her an exasperated look.
“That test is going to ruin me.”
“Liv, you’re already ruined. You’ve failed every calculus test this year.”
Livvy rolls her eyes and whips out a compact mirror. She applies a fresh coat of cherry lip gloss, and puckers her lips at her reflection.
“I don’t care. I’m going to be a model someday.”
“Mhmm,” Bethany mumbles. Her eyes continually scan the now hectic hallways, looking for a flash of caramel-colored skin. Her ears strain constantly, listening for a whisper of a Latino accent.
“Ready, ladies?” booms Greg from behind.
Livvy spins to give him an eager kiss. Bethany attempts to look very preoccupied with zipping up her bag.
“I was thinking about chocolate ice cream all last period. Let’s go.”
Bethany looks around. The hallways are nearly empty now. It’s Friday; students typically clear out fast. A janitor trudges by, pushing a large broom across the floor. The last of the people gather their things and hurry out of the building.
As if he could read her thoughts, Greg says, “Andy left school early. A guy out at his dad’s business got sick, so they needed an extra hand. We gotta go get him.”
“What does his dad do, exactly?”
A soft rain had begun to fall, and Greg stares up at the sky as they cross the parking lot.
“They’re loggers or something. Lumberjacks. They cut down trees.”
A wad of paper cartwheels across the pavement, pulled by the wind. Bethany can sense a storm brewing on the horizon.
They begin the drive out to the small sliver of woods just outside of town. Bethany slumps in the backseat, staring out the window. A frigid chill slithers down her spine as they pass the old jailhouse. It’s a squat building that sprawls over a whole city block, low and hunched from years of abandonment. The brick is a dull, faded red. There are only two windows on the front side of the building, and to her rapidly budding imagination they look like small, beady eyes.
Shivering, she slides lower into her seat.
By the time that they pull into the clearing, rain is pouring down in sheets. Greg honks twice, and within minutes there’s an outline of a person standing outside of the car.
Andy opens the door and climbs in quickly, but even in that short time a small puddle of water pools on the mat.
“Dude. Towel,” Greg says as he peals out of the lot.
Andy grins and unearths a towel from under the seat. He runs it down his face, then shakes out his hair. Raindrops fly from his head and spatter on the leather.
Bethany breathes in his aroma. Storms and pine trees.
“Where are we headed?” he asks. Bethany inhales sharply as he sheds his shirt, which is soaked with water. His stomach is chiseled and sculpted; his shoulders are broad and strong. Ribbons of water stream down his flawless bronze skin and absorb into the waistband of his jeans.
“Liv’s been set on ice cream all day.”
“Exciting,” Andy remarks. His tone is mutual.
“Or,” Livvy declares with an evil glint in her eyes, “we could go to jail.”
Andy watches her with unfathomable eyes.
“She wants to go to the old jailhouse,” Greg explains. “It’s been unused for years.”
Andy’s lips slowly grow into a smile.
“Let’s do it!” Livvy squeals.
Andy slides Bethany a look. “What do you think?”
She stares at him mutely. He arches an eyebrow.
Livvy pipes up, “She’ll do it.”
In the review mirror, she gives Bethany a stare that says, You’ll thank me later.
“Well,” Andy says with a warm smile, “Let’s do it.”
Bethany takes two deep breaths to dissolve her exasperation, watching Livvy twirl around and around in front of the mirror.
“For God’s sake, you don’t look fat,” she repeats. Those words have left her mouth at least a hundred times in the past five minutes.
Livvy pauses to appraise her backside, which is barely concealed under a frilly piece of pink cloth that apparently passes as underwear.
“There’s so much flab here!” she cries as she delivers a slap to her rear.
Bethany rolls her eyes and flops back on the bed. “You’d better get dressed. They’re going to be here soon.”
Livvy giggles and does a provocative little dance in front of the mirror. “Why get dressed if I’ll be naked later?” she sings.
Bethany groans. “Ugh. Please don’t disclose that side of your relationship.”
Livvy and Greg have been dating for three years, and they’ve been sleeping together for two.
Fortunately, that’s all Bethany knows about that.
Although she’s been crushing on Greg for years, she can see how he’s better off with her best friend. Livvy is very open, a friend to everyone, while Bethany is always much more reserved. Also, his all-American, blonde-haired and blue-eyed look seems to work well with Livvy’s tight brown curls, sparkling green eyes, and sun-kissed skin. She was tall, too, standing at five feet and eleven inches, giving her a powerful air over everyone else.
No wonder she is the most coveted girl in school.
A honk sounds from outside. Livvy quickly tugs on a pair of jeans.
“So, our parents think we’re at Miranda’s house, right? Bethany confirms.
They hurry down the stairs, overnight bags thumping at their sides.
“Yep. And if, for whatever reason, they get suspicious, Miranda has a cover all set up for when they call. But we won’t need that, since we’ll only be out there for one night.”
They throw open the ornate oak door and pound down Livvy’s front steps. The rain has stopped, and the night sits cloaked under a heavy curtain of post-storm mist. Greg’s battered green Nova awaits them in the roundabout driveway.
Livvy and Bethany fling their things into the trunk, then take their rightful places in the car. Livvy in the passenger seat, hand linked with one of Greg’s, and Bethany in the back.
Next to Andy.
He’s once again donned a black tee-shirt, void of any logos or pictures that would reveal anything about him, and stone-washed jeans. As she slides into the Nova next to him, he flashes a smile, brilliantly white teeth glinting in the darkness.
“Are you ready?” His voice is barely above a whisper.
She nods, then, after a moment’s consideration, shakes her head.
He chuckles, and she can hear the laughter rumbling deep in his chest. Those bottomless eyes, so brown they’re black, pierce hers.
“Don’t worry, Bethany. You’re safe.”
Safe? What does he expect is going to happen?
“I hope so,” she breathes. Tendrils of fear begin to squeeze her stomach.
Andy leans over, eliminating the space between them until she could have easily kissed him.
“Bethany,” he murmurs. His breath smells of spearmint. “You are safe.”
His coffee eyes, sharp jawline, and full, perfect lips are all that she can see. Her heart beats out an erratic, staccato rhythm.
Some kind of light dawns in that unfathomable stare. “Bethany—“
“Alright group. We’re here. Collect all your crap. Whoever leaves their trash in my car is walking home.”
Andy jerks his gaze from hers, and it feels as if she is released from a trance. She draws in two shaky breaths, then pushes open the door.
The jailhouse is not a tall building; rather, it stretches on and on from side to side, but Bethany can’t see much beyond the front doors due to the fog. She doesn’t know much about the jail’s history, but vaguely she recalls hearing that it was built in the late 1800s. It had been Georgia’s most esteemed prison until, without warning, the warden slammed and locked the doors to any incoming prisoners somewhere around the 1980s. What had ever happened to the inmates inside the jail at the time, she wasn’t sure. It was probably inscribed in some history textbook that she’d avoided reading.
Just beyond the old jailhouse, red lights blink in the sky. Towers. They surround the newer prison, which, of course, has much more intense security. A rusty barbed wire fence runs the borders of the original building, but the chain links had been pried apart in several places to allow a body to wriggle in. That is useless now, since last summer the front gate had been torn away altogether, so anyone could drive in if they wanted to.
Livvy suddenly appears at Bethany’s side. “Come on, before I change my mind.”
She looks up in shock at the fear blooming in her best friend’s voice.
“I thought you were the one who wanted to do this.”
Livvy’s skin is now a pasty white, as if there is a sickness brewing within her. “I feel sick to my stomach,” she whispers, clutching at her thin shirt.
Bethany presses a hand to her forehead. “You feel a little warm. Want some Pepto?”
She digs in her purse and produces a pink bottle.
Livvy smiles, but her lips are trembling. “Thanks, Beth. I appreciate it.”
She throws back a mouthful of the medicine and grimaces. “Eck.”
Bethany pats her shoulder. “It’s horrible, but it works. Now, let’s go. I just want to get inside before this fog makes my hair go poof.”
As they clamber up the steps, following the boys who had already disappeared eagerly inside, Livvy laughs. “What is suddenly making you all concerned about your hair.”
Bethany looks at Andy, who is waiting in the lobby, and flushes a deep red.