Y’all are definitely crafty and WAY curious, because the decision was unanimously for B.  Escort Neil to his locker and hopefully discover why he’s hating on Finn. Let’s grab a hall pass and see what we can find out!

Chapter 05: May I See Your Hall Pass?

You’re still just sitting there, totally dazed when Mr. Spearson clears his throat.

“Well, young lady?” Ok, that’s definitely a grimace, not a smile (or indigestion).

You flush crimson as Heather shoots you a triumphant look and snickers. With one last look at Finn — one that promises you’ll be right back so please, please remember those x’s and o’s and the “sweetheart” comment — you slip out of your seat and follow Neil into the hall. As the door closes, you see Heather dump your backpack on the floor and slip into your seat.

Nervous, you wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans and look up at Neil. God, he’s so tall. Suddenly, you have to put your hands in your pockets to resist the urge to run your fingers through his dark hair. What is HAPPENING to me? you wonder. Why are all these guys suddenly so interested in such a chronic dork?

As if the filter between your brain and your mouth is permanently broken, you step in front of Neil, blocking his path, and blurt out, “What’s going on? Why am I suddenly the center of attention?”

“You have no idea how special you are,” Neil replies, fingering that fugly necklace you noticed at lunch and backing you up against the lockers. “No idea. And neither does Finn, but he’s too close to finding out. Stay away from him — I’m serious. He’s trouble.”

How does he know all this? Who IS this guy, anyway, and what makes him think he can show up out of nowhere and start bossing you around? You shove past him and start to storm away, but Neil shouts after you.

“Did Kayleigh ever tell you why she stopped being your best friend?” You freeze in your tracks and turn around slowly.

“What do you know about her? WHO ARE YOU, and why do you care?”

“That’s not important. What is important is you don’t get involved with Finn or Heather or any of them. They’re messing with elements far above them that they could never control. And I’m here to stop them. I’d hoped you would help me, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Ooh, a dare. Gonna raise it to a double dog dare?” Where did this feisty self come from? you wonder. All day you’ve been tounge tied and idiotic (as usual), but suddenly out here in the hall you feel a surge of confidence.

“I don’t have time to deal with immature children. Figure out what you want, and let me know. You have until tomorrow — don’t think that means I won’t know if you go to Finn’s house this afternoon. Now, let’s get my books and get back to class.” Neil’s face is set and a stony silence fills the space between you. The conversation is definitely over, and all you’ve managed to do is piss him off. Great. You follow him to his locker.

“Um, what’s the combination?” you ask sheepishly. Neil just ignores you and opens his locker himself. Although he blocks the door so you can’t really see in, you catch a glimpse of a small wood and metal box before he slams the locker shut and walks away, back toward class. What is that? It looks like it came from the same Spencer’s Gifts or weird flea market stall his necklace did. You reach up to tug at the lock, hoping he didn’t spin the dial and reset it, but no such luck. The locker’s not going to open for you, now at least. But you do notice it feels strangely warm.

By now, Neil’s halfway back to class, and you scurry to catch up. As you walk in, Heather preens like a cat next to Finn. Totally deflated, you gather up your backpack and its spilled contents from the floor and slide into an empty seat — front and center, and Mr. Spearson spits when he talks. As you’re putting your papers back in your notebook, you notice another note from Finn.

Got a guard dog, sweetheart? What’s he, your new boyfriend? I’m still open for this afternoon — meet me by the stoner’s tree after school and we can go someplace Heather won’t find us.

xoxo, Finn.

As you’re thinking about the note, your cell phone buzzes in your pocket. As soon as the bell rings, you run to the bathroom to check it. It’s a text from Kayleigh.

sry 4 lunch i need 2 xplain come over after school

You’re suddenly voted Most Popular, apparently.

After school, do you:

A.  meet Finn at the stoner’s tree to find out what he wanted to tell you (and to maybe get some sweet revenge on that bitch Heather)?

B.  meet Neil, even if it’s just to tell him off for being such a bossy jerk?

C.  head over to Kayleigh’s house, although you’re still worried by her one-way ticket to crazytown and her new Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde fun times?

D) blow all of them off to investigate Neil’s locker on your own?

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.