Authors: Michelle Madow
Not like that was possible, since I was the only one upstairs.
Another strange, dark feeling traveled through my body. I checked the hallway for I don’t know what—a ghost, maybe—but it was clear. I didn’t even believe in ghosts, but with what I’d learned recently about reincarnation, anything was possible.
After determining that no one was lurking in any corners, I went back into my bedroom and shut the door. I had no proof, but I had a feeling that something strange was going on.
And it wasn’t something good.
Drew and I walked into AP European History together on Monday morning, only to receive death glares from Chelsea when we stepped through the door. I also noticed how dressed up Chelsea was. She normally spent a lot of time getting ready for school, but this was overkill. She had on a black mini-skirt, and even though she had tights and knee-high boots on with it, she must have frozen walking from the junior lot. Then there was her shirt—a lacy spaghetti strap piece that went so low that I thought her cleavage was going to pop out. And she was definitely wearing a push-up bra. As her best friend—
best friend—I could tell these things. Her eyes were done up all smoky, and with her bright red lipgloss, she looked like a vixen.
If she was trying to get Drew’s attention, it wasn’t going to work, at least not in the way she wanted. But Craig Woods sitting next to her had certainly noticed—he looked more awake in first period than he had all year.
“Where do you want to sit?” Drew asked me.
I looked around the U-shaped table, trying to decide which seat would make it so I didn’t have to see Chelsea during class. Not like that was possible, since the seats were arranged so everyone could see each other to generate better class discussion. Still, some areas were less in her line of sight than others.
“Over there,” I said, picking two empty seats in the back corner.
Drew took my hand as we walked to our seats. I could have sworn that Chelsea’s red lips curled into a small hiss.
I understood that she was upset—but she really seemed to hate me. Full-blown, one hundred percent hatred.
It made me feel positively awful.
Class went by slowly, especially since I had to concentrate extra hard on averting my eyes from Chelsea’s direction. When it was finally over, she left without a glance at Drew or me, adding an extra strut to her walk. I didn’t know what she was aiming for, but Drew wasn’t going to fall for Chelsea’s attempts to get his attention. Ever. Because he was meant to be with me.
But I also saw where she was coming from. She had no idea how deep my connection went with Drew, and why that was worth risking our friendship. If he were any other guy, I would have ignored my feelings for him, even after he broke up with Chelsea and wanted to be with me. I would have told him that since he’d hurt my best friend, nothing could ever happen between us.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple when said guy is your reincarnated soul mate.
I wished Chelsea could understand, but how did you explain that to someone? She didn’t believe in fate and true love—she’d told me herself when I went over her house the day after Shannon’s party. In her eyes, I was simply a terrible friend. And as much as it hurt to acknowledge, I understood why she felt that way.
Why did this have to be so complicated?
French passed quickly—now that I had my past self’s knowledge of the language, I no longer struggled through class. I used to embarrass myself by messing up the pronunciations of the words, but now the biggest challenge was lowering my ability to speak at the level I should be for AP French. I didn’t want to let my teacher know I was fluent. That would arise suspicion, which I didn’t need.
French was also my first class of the day with Jeremy, and I was glad when he didn’t act spiteful like Chelsea. He was civil, saying hi to me when he entered the classroom before making his way to his seat in the back. I still detected hurt and betrayal in his clear blue eyes, but at least he seemed to be moving on, and he didn’t seem to hate me.
I was glad when it was lunchtime, but worried about where everyone involved with the disaster last weekend was going to sit. I planned on eating with Drew, and I hoped to eat with Hannah in the commons, and maybe Keelie as well. But Keelie had been best friends with Shannon and Amber forever, and she ate with them in the cafeteria.
She’d also left Shannon’s party when I called and rushed to help me, so I had no idea if that had changed the dynamic between the three of them. Would Shannon view Keelie’s helping me as a betrayal? Keelie didn’t deserve that, but it seemed like something Shannon might do.
When Drew and I were waiting in the lunch line, I spotted Chelsea sitting with Jeremy, Shannon, Amber, and the rest of the sports crowd in the cafeteria. No surprise there. It was the same place where I sat in the beginning of the year when I was dating Jeremy, although I never felt like I belonged with them. They were only nice to me because I was dating Jeremy—not because they wanted to be friends with me.
I didn’t see Keelie sitting with them, and was happy to find her in the commons with Hannah and some of my friends I’ve known since middle school. She waved me and Drew over when we entered, motioning for us to sit in the empty couch surrounding the low table. The couch was small—there wasn’t room for two people unless they squeezed together—which was fine with me.
“After everything that happened, I thought I would sit with you all today,” Keelie said after we sat down. “Plus, Chelsea is pissed, and Shannon’s her new best friend. I didn’t feel like dealing with the two of them being all dramatic through lunch.”
“They’re that bad?” Drew chuckled and raised an eyebrow.
“You have no idea.” Keelie rolled her eyes. “They’re secretive, too, acting like they know something nobody else does. It’s super weird.”
“Shannon’s not upset at you for leaving her party when I called?” I asked.
“She’ll get over it.” Keelie shrugged it off. “This’ll blow over in a few weeks, anyway.”
This reminded me why I liked hanging out with Keelie: She was down to Earth and didn’t worry about situations that were out of her control. Maybe she was right and everything happening
be for the best. Yes, I missed Chelsea, but Chelsea was also a possessive best friend. She got mad if I did something with someone else and didn’t include her. Now I could get to know Keelie better, and spend more time with Hannah again, too.
I was about to agree that Keelie was right about it blowing over in a few weeks, until I remembered what my mom had told me last night.
“If I tell you something, will you promise to keep it between us?” I asked Keelie. I’d already told Drew about the Thanksgiving dinner situation in the car this morning, and I knew he wouldn’t tell everyone about it. I had a gut instinct I could trust Keelie, too—but I wanted her to verify it first.
“Sure,” she said. “What’s up?”
Before speaking, I made sure no one else in the group was listening to us. They were all talking about a concert they went to Saturday night, and weren’t paying attention to what Keelie, Drew, and I were discussing in the corner.
“My mom and Chelsea’s dad are dating.” I spoke quietly, so no one could overhear. “We’re going to Thanksgiving dinner with them Thursday night. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but Chelsea’s so mad at me that she won’t talk to me, and I doubt she’ll be ‘over it’ in less than a week.”
“Hm,” Keelie said. “That does sound rough. But your parents will be there, so she can’t say anything too nasty with them around, right?”
“Right,” I agreed, even though you never knew with Chelsea.
“It sounds like you’re stuck going, so the best you can do is not worry about it.” Keelie shrugged. “Anyway, it’ll be winter break soon enough. By the time we get back in January, this will be last year’s news.”
“If dinner is awful, just remind yourself that you can spend the rest of the weekend with me,” Drew said, pressing his leg gently against mine, as if he was reassuring me he was there for me.
“We can go to the mall on Saturday, too,” Keelie said. “I’m going to the Caribbean with my family over winter break, and I need a new bathing suit. A strapless one, so my tan’s even when I get back.”
“So I’m not going to worry about Thursday,” I repeated Keelie’s advice, as if saying it aloud would make it true.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop me from worrying about all the ways Thanksgiving dinner could go wrong.
Despite a few nasty glares from Chelsea during Trig, the rest of the day went fine. I kept reminding myself about what Keelie had said—how it was getting closer to winter break, and once January started this drama will have blown over.
Hopefully she was right. I hated drama, especially being in the center of it.
At the end of the day, Drew and I walked together to his car. I pulled my jacket tighter around myself as we made our way up the hill, looking forward to next year when we could park in the senior spots in front of the school. The walk to the junior lot wasn’t terrible in the fall, but now that winter was coming, it was annoying to deal with the weather. My cheeks were flushed from the cold once we made it to his black BMW.
“Let’s go to your house first and get your car so we can bring it to the shop,” Drew said, opening the door for me. “You can’t be driving around with your windshield smashed up.”
“Okay,” I agreed, although my mind was somewhere else. I couldn’t stop thinking about the bird in the fireplace, and the three crows colliding with the glass when I was driving last night.
It felt important, but what could it
Drew shut my door and walked around to get into the driver’s seat. Then, out of nowhere, a crow landed on the hood of his car. Right in front of the windshield. It was followed by another, and one more after that.
What was going on? They were acting like the hood of his car was covered in bird food.
I tapped the glass to scare them, but they stayed put, staring at me, threatening me with their dark beady eyes that peered deep inside of my soul.
But that was a ridiculous idea. They were crows … they didn’t
“What on Earth …” Drew said as he slid into the driver’s seat. He turned the car on, and the engine revved to life. I thought that would scare the birds away, but they remained where they were.
Then they started to peck on the glass.
“Get them off!” I said, pounding my fists on the inside of the windshield. Instead of flying away, they pecked harder. Then three more landed on Drew’s side and pecked there as well. It was like something out of a horror movie. They wouldn’t stop. It was like they were out to get me.
But how was that possible?
I pressed my hands over my ears, trying to block out the echoing tap-tapping that was ingraining itself into my skull. Their black eyes looked angry now, and they stared at me, pecking harder with each second, like they were trying to get inside.
How much longer could Drew’s car take this?
Two more birds flew up to the window next to me, and I couldn’t help it—I screamed. They pecked harder now, and cracks spread across the windshield.
Drew peeled out of the parking spot, not checking if any cars were in the way, the tires squealing against the pavement. The moment the car moved, the birds flew away.
“Don’t tell me that was a coincidence, too,” I said, looking behind me to watch the group of birds fly away, a clump of darkness against the overcast sky. At least they weren’t following us.
He shook his head, his lips pressed firmly together. “I wasn’t going to.”
“Ever since last night, I’ve had this strange, spooky feeling,” I said, taking a few breaths to calm down. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking, though. “I feel like something’s following me. Something … evil.”
I ran my fingers through my curls, realizing how crazy that sounded. Why would anything evil be after me? I was a good person for the most part. Yes, I’d made mistakes, like not breaking up with Jeremy when I should have and not being honest with Chelsea about my feelings for Drew from the beginning, but I was only human. People messed up sometimes. What mattered was that we learned from our mistakes and didn’t allow them to happen again.
It didn’t seem fair that I was being punished for a few little mistakes—if that’s what was happening. Maybe I was being delusional … but I doubted it. These strange things that were happening to me had to mean something.
Drew turned right out of school. The way to my house, where we had to go to get my car, was left.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“The mall,” he said. “We’re going to Alistair’s. Because as much as I wish I had answers about what’s going on, I don’t, and he might.”
With that, we headed towards the mall, Drew’s hand not leaving mine for the entire drive.