Monday, 6 March 2017

Paradise Lost Chap 2

Sunday morning, the sky was the perfect shade of gray. The kind that wouldn't bring the joy of snow,
but would hang around all day, reminding everyone to be cold, down, depressed. It was freezing
inside the chapel. We all pulled our coats tighter as we stepped through the arched doorway and
under the vaulted ceiling. The atmosphere was hushed. Whispers skittered along the cold stone floor
and up the walls. We may as well have been attending a funeral in the austere old church. The girls of
Pemberly gathered in their pews, hugging one another and resting their heads on each other's
shoulders. Gage trudged in, head down, hands in the pockets of his heather gray coat. That was when I
knew for sure that he was seriously depressed--the boy never wore outerwear. Thought he was too
cool for bundling. But today his head was clearly somewhere else--room 4007.
"Students, let's all take our seats," Headmaster Cromwell said, stepping up to the podium. I glanced at
Diana Waters, my friend from Pemberly. Cromwell had never greeted us so informally before. As we
sat down next to each other, I noticed that even his appearance had changed. He wore a burgundy
wool sweater under his suit jacket and no tie. No American flag tie tack. It was Casual Crom.
"Freaky," Diana whispered as everyone settled in around us.
"No doubt," I replied.
"I'll make this short," Headmaster Cromwell began, his pale hands gripping either side of the podium.
"First, as of today, I will be relinquishing my post as headmaster of Easton Academy."
Surprised murmurs filled the room.
"No more Crom?" Lorna Gross said from the pew behind mine. She actually sounded upset. I,
however, felt a huge sense of relief, though it was tinged by irritation. I detested the Crom. He had put
us all through the wringer this semester. But that also was part of the reason I was irritated. All those
hoops I had jumped through for him . . . and now, next semester, there was going to be some new
headmaster to suck up to.
Cromwell held up a hand to silence the crowd. "But I do have a few announcements to make before I
go," he said. "First, due to the events of last night, the school will be breaking early for the holiday.
Which means you are all excused from your finals." This announcement was met with stunned silence.
I was sure that a few of my classmates wanted to celebrate--I could practically feel the strain as they
held back whoops of joy like a hundred overfilled helium balloons--but no one uttered a sound.
Considering that Ivy was in the hospital, that yet another of our classmates had turned out to be a
murderer, celebrating just didn't seem appropriate.
"The Board of Directors has discussed the situation, and we all believe that it would be best for you
students to take this time to be with your families while the Board discusses how we might better
ensure the security of the student body."
"He sounds like he's issuing a statement to the press," Diana whispered, tucking her hands under her
"He's practicing," Missy Thurber said, leaning in from behind us. "Did you see the vultures parked
outside the gates this morning? The press smells blood in the water, and they're about to chow down."
"You're mixing your metaphors again, Missy," I scolded through my teeth. When I glanced over my
shoulder, I found myself staring into those yawning nostrils of hers. Ick.
"Whatever. I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down this place," Missy replied, sitting back again.
"Parents have been calling all night. People are freaked out. I'm freaked out. I mean, I lived down the
hall from the girl."
Yeah, and I'm the one who had a gun pointed at her head last night. Boo-freaking-hoo, Nostril Girl.
"Thank you for your time and attention," Mr. Cromwell said awkwardly. "You're all dismissed." The
room filled with chatter and exhausted-yet-exhilarated students jammed the aisles. I found Noelle as
quickly as I could. She was on her way out the door with Amberly Garmichael and Tiffany
Goulbourne, her long black coat contrasting sharply with Tiff's pristine white jacket. Amberly wore a
light-blue coat with white gloves and a white hat and looked like a little American Girl doll. I felt a
rush of anger at the sight of her--at the girl who'd taken my place in Billings and had ransacked my
Pemberly single-but I did my best to push it back down.
"Noelle, wait!" I called, jogging to catch up.
They paused just outside the door and waited. Each had her cell phone out and ready, probably to
spread the news that we'd been freed.
"Hey," Noelle said, pushing her dark hair over her shoulder. "Crazy stuff."
"I know," I replied, catching my breath. "Missy said they might close the school for good."
"Close Easton?" Amberly gasped, her blue eyes wide. "Can they do that?" Noelle snorted a laugh and
adjusted her cashmere scarf. "No. Please. The school hasn't done anything wrong."
"Although they do keep admitting the crazies," Tiffany said, covering her short black curls with a red
cabbie hat. "And we keep inviting them into Billings."
"We didn't invite Sabine," I pointed out, shoving my hands into my pockets as a stiff wind blew by.
"Cromwell put her there."
"True," Tiffany said as her phone trilled. "It's my dad. I have to take this." She moved away a few
steps as Noelle, Amberly, and I started to walk across the quad. Noelle wisely maneuvered her way
between Amberly and me, acting as a human buffer.
"Speaking of invitations to Billings, Reed, I'm sure you know we want you back next semester,"
Noelle said.
An instant thrill ran through me. "Seriously?"
"What?" Amberly blurted at the same moment.
Noelle paused and gave me a look that was half condescension, half apology. It would have been hard
for anyone other than her to pull it off.
"Of course. Now that we know Sabine was behind everything, I'm sure everyone will agree," she
said. "I plan to take a vote on it this afternoon, but I can't imagine who might vote nay."
At this, she turned to the side to give Amberly a pointed look. Amberly inspected her nails.
"You will accept the invitation, of course," Noelle said to me.
"Of course," I said, even though there was a twinge of trepidation inside my chest. "I mean, it will be
a little strange after living there with Sabine for so long...." I took a deep breath and looked across the
quad toward Billings House. My fists clenched inside my pockets.
"I can't believe I trusted her," I said, as humiliation and fury bubbled in my veins-something I clearly
was going to have to get used to. I had a feeling that my relationship with Sabine would haunt me for
the rest of my life. "How could I have been so stupid?"
"Hey. We all thought she was a sweet, innocent little thing," Noelle said.
"Not you. You never liked her," I pointed out.
Noelle smiled wryly and cocked her head. "Yes, but I rarely like anyone." I actually cracked a smile
at that one. Then I heard shouts in the distance and knew that reporters were firing questions at some
poor soul who had just driven up to the gates.
"They're going to be all over us," I said.
"No doubt," Noelle said, staring off in the direction of the dorms and the driveway beyond. Then,
slowly, she looked at me and smiled, her brown eyes bright. "Unless we're not here." I blinked. "What
do you mean?" I asked, as Tiffany finished her phone call and rejoined us.
Noelle grabbed Gage as he skulked by. He glared down at her hand, but he paused.
"What? "He looked pale, and there was a crease across his left cheek from his pillowcase. Not the
coiffed Gage I knew and didn't love.
"Everyone's still going to St. Barths, right?" Noelle asked.
"That's the plan," Amberly said.
"No doubt," Gage replied, looking off into the distance. "I plan on being hammered and stupid for at
least two weeks."
"So the usual, then?" Noelle joked.
"You should have a stand-up routine, Lange," Gage snapped. Noelle turned to Tiffany. "Tiff? You in?"
"Oh, I'm so there," Tiffany replied. "Dad has a Vogue shoot a couple days before Christmas. I'm going
to assist." Her father, Tassos, was a world-renowned fashion and entertainment photographer.
"Actually, Kiran is one of the models." Gage visibly brightened at this news. "Oh, tell me it's a
swimsuit thing," he begged.
"It's a swimsuit thing," Tiffany confirmed grudgingly.
"Yes!" Gage cheered. "Hammered, stupid, and laid." I rolled my eyes. Boy bounced back quickly.
Noelle focused her brown eyes on me. "Reed, you're coming with." She lifted her iPhone and hit the
screen. "I'm going to call Donnie right now and let him know we'll be one more."
"Who's Donnie?" I asked.
"Our pilot," Noelle replied.
I laughed and placed my hand over her hand on the phone. "Wait, wait. I can't go to St. Barths. My
parents will want me home for Christmas. Especially after all this." Noelle looked at me as if I were
a puppy who'd just peed on the floor. "Reed. Think about it. Thomas was your boyfriend. Ariana tried
to kill you. Now Ariana's sister has tried to kill you. You go home, and the entire news media is going
to take over West Wackadoodle, PA, and, while it might be fabu business for the local IHOP, they will
camp out on your front lawn and spend the entire break tearing into your every secret. Do you really
want to put your family and friends through that?"
My heart pretty much stood still. I could just see the headline now: STALKED SCHOLARSHIP
"It's settled, then. You're coming with us," Noelle said, accurately reading my silence. " For the next
two weeks it's nothing but sun, sand, and mojitos for us." There were more shouts from the distance.
The zoom of a rushing engine. I wondered if one of the news vans was getting ready to ram through
the front gate. "We can deal with whether or not we'll have a school to come back to later," she added
under her breath.
So she wasn't that confident in Easton's staying power after all. I swallowed hard and looked around
the quad at the familiar buildings and faces as Noelle made her phone call. A world without Easton?
After everything I had been through, that was one blow I wasn't sure I could survive.

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Terima kasih sebab sudi menerjah ke ruangan saya kali ini.
Anda diwajibkan untuk komen. Amaran keras!
*ceh tipu je HAHA =P*