Blood Flesh Bone Trilogoy(7)

By: Juliet Vane

“No.” Her eyes welled with tears again. “It’s just—it was my grandmother’s, and she died five years ago.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“It was the same accident that did this to me.” She gestured to her legs. “She wouldn’t have wanted me to mope about anything—not my legs, not a necklace. She would have wanted me to get on with things. But sometimes I just want to wallow, you know?”

“I really do,” I said, my heart clenching about the loss she’d suffered, as I remembered my own loss. “My best friend died. It was about a year ago.”

Kirsten reached out and took my hand. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, screw cancer, right?”

She nodded. “Screw cancer.”

“I wasted a lot of time after she died, doing stupid stuff. I’m trying to turn things around now.”

She squeezed my hand. “You’ll do amazing. I know you’re nervous, being here, but other than the south wing classrooms at night, there’s not much to hold us back. Oh, and don’t eat all the blueberry yogurts. Mariella wouldn’t be happy.”

I grinned. “Yogurt is disgusting, so no danger there.”

“She also has a crush on Tyler.”

My grin turned into a wince.

“She doesn’t have any claim on him, though,” Kirsten said with a smile. “So, you know, feel free.”

“Why do you take it for granted that I’d act on any of this?”

She looked at me seriously. “Everyone hooks up at these music festivals. It’s a given.”

Not for me, I thought. My parents, and Chloe’s, were counting on me to focus and make the most of my time here.

Chapter Four

First Day Jitters

Tyler, Karl, Mariella, and Harrison all came into the dining room. Mariella went straight for the mini fridge sitting on the counter and took out a yogurt. Blueberry. Kirsten caught my eye and smirked.

Mariella shuffled over to us and sat down, yawning. “Morning.”

“Morning,” Kirsten and I said.

Tyler followed her over. “Ladies. Everyone sleep okay? No ghostly specters of an old headmaster standing over you?”

“Not exactly,” I said, looking to Kirsten to see if she minded. She shrugged, giving me silent permission, so I continued, “But someone stole Kirsten’s necklace last night.”

“Really?” Karl said, coming up to us. “You sure you didn’t misplace it?”

“Pretty sure,” Kirsten said, her voice hard. “Since there was a vial of blood sitting where I’d left it on my dresser.”

“What?” Harrison said, a cup of coffee in his hand. “I’ll go talk to Natalie.”

“She knows,” Kirsten said, her voice miserable.

“Annnnd?” Tyler prompted. “Is she going to file a report with the police?”

“That seems kind of extreme,” I said. “This looks like a practical joke to me. A stupid practical joke, because it’s not funny at all. But the blood, and that whole story you guys were telling me last night? Seems like too much of a coincidence.”

“So, wait,” Karl said. “You’re accusing one of us?”

Crap. That hadn’t been where I wanted to go with this idea, at all. “That wasn’t my thought, no.”

“What,” Mariella said, “just say it. If the shoe fits, right?”

“No—I don’t think any of us would do that, although I don’t really know you yet. But I’m wondering who else was here last night, and who else could have gotten into the building without us knowing. You said you heard that story from some locals, right, Tyler?”

He nodded.

“Someone could have broken in,” I said. “We were all on the other side of the building, and we wouldn’t have heard a thing.”

“Good point,” Mariella said. “All right, maybe you’re not all bad.” She looked at her phone on the table next to her. “We should hustle over to the parlor for orientation.”

I stood up and tossed the remains of my bagel, and we all headed to a large room next door. Mariella kept her arm linked with mine, and I breathed an inward sigh of relief that she wasn’t acting hateful toward me.