Chapter 18

That night I slept well and the next day I was feeling better and more relaxed than I had felt in a while. My nose was still sore and Laila and I didn't miss an opportunity to glare at Molly whenever we saw her but the day went by quickly and classes were easy. Pax didn't visit me but I really would have liked to talk with her.

Meet me same place at lunch. Something important, Nicholas said during my P.E. period. I was frowned because I felt that he was concerned. Something was wrong.

Okay, I said and he left me alone. I turned my attention back to the class. Mark was glaring at me from across the room and I remembered what Nicholas had said about him. I shuddered. After class I told Laila and Kelsey I was going to sleep again but instead I made my way to the gate. Nicholas was waiting.

First thing he did was kiss me and I stepped back a few moments later. "You said it was important," I said. He nodded solemnly.

"Mark is up to something," he said.

"Something? What does that mean, something?"

"I'm not sure, Mark won't tell me and I think he might suspect us," Nicholas said and I gasped sharply. That would not be good not just because I didn't want anyone to know about us yet but because Nicholas used to be Mark's friend and I was his supposed enemy. Mark would not like our relationship at all.

"Shoot," I murmured, pushing my hair out of my face. I stepped away and leaned against a tree. Why could things never stay good for more than a day?

"I'm worried about you," Nicholas said, still standing in the middles of the clearing. I felt my stomach drop.

"Do you think he might try to hurt me," I asked softly. Nicholas just nodded. Shoot, I thought to myself. "Hmmm," I said aloud. "Well Pax has been teaching me to defend myself with this cool bubble thing. Can you do that?" Nicholas nodded again. "Mine always seems to be pink instead of invisible which is so weird. I mean I like pink but I'm not trying to make it pink. It just does that all on its own." I was nervous and I was rambling and I knew it so I shut my mouth with an audible snap.

It was silent for a long moment as I tried to think. I wished there was some kind of manual like: What to Do When Your Evil Nemesis Is Planning an Attack on You. Hmm, maybe I could write it after this year. "I guess I'll just have to extra careful not to go anywhere alone," I murmured quietly, unaware of anything else I could do. Suddenly my phone in my pocket vibrated and I jumped about a mile high. After recovering any amounts of dignity I had left, I pulled it out of my pocket and flipped it open. I looked at Nicholas one last time before checking the message. He still hadn't said anything and was gazing somewhere over my left shoulder.

I sighed and looked at the text. "It's from Ethan," I announced. "He wants to know where I am." Nicholas still didn't say anything. I began to wonder if maybe Caveo had taken him away from me. "I should probably go," I said, pushing myself away from the tree. Finally Nicholas snapped back to reality with a visible jolt.

"I'm sorry Grace," he said quietly, sounding tired like he had just woken up.

"It's okay," I said with a small smile. I suddenly felt like I really needed a hug so I walked up to Nicholas and wrapped my arms around his waist. If he was surprised I couldn't tell; he just hugged me back.

"Nothing is going to happen to you," he said softly and I nodded against his chest, trying to believe it.

We walked back to the gate together and I headed to the cafeteria to meet up with my friends before class.

"Wow Grace, all you do is sleep these days," Kelsey complained when I took my seat across from her. I just smiled and shrugged. "You know, too much sleep is bad for you."

"Kelsey, get off of Grace's case," Laila said. "If she wants to sleep she can sleep." Kelsey huffed at being dismissed so easily and crossed her arms over her chest. Even I knew that Laila had been a little harsh. As we walked to English I confronted her about it.

"She has just been annoying me all day. I mean like, how is it even possible for someone to talk that much?" I knew Laila wanted to vent by the heated tone of her voice but I still felt bad about talking about Kelsey behind her back. Laila continued though. "She just goes on and on and I'm so sick of it. She acts like all of her problems are the biggest problems in the world but really they are just petty and foolish. The worst part about it is that she doesn't even realize how pointless all her drama is!" Laila finished a little breathlessly just as we turned down the hallway toward the English room.

I didn't say anything as we continued walking, afraid to set Laila off again, but I was forced to think about what she had just said. Everything that had seemed so life-changing, so important last year just didn't matter anymore. With the stuff I had to deal with now, developing powers and people wanting to hurt me, I wanted to slap my old self for being so stupid.

"I'm sorry I put that all on you," Laila said finally. She grabbed my arm and forced me to stand outside the English room with her.

"It's okay," I reassured her. "I totally understand the need to get things off your chest." I had the sudden and forceful urge to tell her about Nicholas and get everything out in the air. Oh, how nice that would feel.

"Don't get me wrong, I love Kelsey to pieces it's just that sometimes she is a bit much, ya know?" I nodded, I did know. Laila walked into class then and my moment to tell her vanished.

Class was stressful as I felt Mark's eyes on me the entire time. I didn't even pay attention to class; I was so sure I could feel the skin on the back of my neck burning under his hateful glare. My shoulders were tense and I was sure I looked like I was expecting to get hit at any moment. I knew it was ridiculous to worry he would suddenly leap from his seat and attack me in front of the entire class but the fear still sat in my stomach like a rock.

I heard a loud sound from behind me and everyone in the class turned to look back at Nicholas and Mark. Nicholas looked like he was asleep, which he always did in class anyways, but Mark was glaring at him.

The class continued with no explanation about the disturbance. I turned back around nervously. Laila made surprised noises every once in a while so I figured the class was interesting, as any class with talking books and prophecies promised to be, but I couldn't bring myself to care at the moment. I needed a protection plan, I decided.

The rest of the day was a blur of nerves and frustration, a polar opposite of how it had started. Why did things always turn sour just as my life was starting to gain an ounce of normalcy? I didn't go anywhere by myself and if anyone noticed I was being especially clingy, they didn't say anything.

I was walking to dinner with Laila and Kelsey when Nicholas wormed his way into my mind. How are you, he asked.

Walking to the cafeteria, I told him, knowing that didn't answer his question and he already knew that. Even though I could sense his frustration he didn't push the issue.

See you there, he said and I was left alone I my own mind. What a nifty way to communicate, I realized. A few months ago I would have thought the notion of talking to my boyfriend through our thoughts was romantic but impossible. Now it was simply utilitarian and efficient.

Mark was absent from the cafeteria that night and his absence did not go unnoticed by neither Nicholas nor me. We shared a brief but meaningful glance. I'm going to look for him, Nicholas told me and before I could even respond and tell him not to, he was gone. Dang it, I thought to myself. As worried as I was about myself, which was a lot, I was twice as worried about Nicholas. If my once best friend and person I looked up to suddenly went against everything we had ever been taught, I would be pretty mad too. I hoped Mark knew not to do anything stupid and that Nicholas was safe. Twice I stood up to go look for them but I sat back down. Nicholas would be upset if I went out by myself and it turned out he was taking care of himself just fine.

Laila gave me a weird look in response to my antsy behavior and Molly sent me a knowing and somewhat mocking look. I glared at her and she turned away quickly. What was her problem anyways?

"I think I'm going to go back to the dorms," Laila said. Kelsey quickly agreed to go with her and I was about to do the same when Claire grabbed my arm. I was surprised because she normally ignored me completely, especially after she revealed her secret to me.

"Can you explain something from class to me," Claire asked but her eyes said something different, something that was a secret.

"Um yeah," I said and quickly followed Claire out of the cafeteria. Confused, I just let her lead me all the way to the gate, my belief that this had nothing to do with homework confirmed. When Claire stopped and turned towards me, I realized that maybe this had been a bad idea. Going out in the dark with someone I barely knew when I was trying to play it safe seemed like one of the dumbest things I could have done.

"I had another vision about you," Claire said, her voice hushed.

"Really," I whispered back. "What was it?"

"I can't say exactly, it was so chaotic and terrifying." I gulped. "I think you should be careful for the next few days. Never go anywhere alone and always lock your door to your room. Not everyone can be trusted." I nodded dumbly, unsure of how to respond when suddenly Claire took off running back towards the dorms. I gaped after her, wondering why she had just warned me not to be alone and then left me. Just as she disappeared around a corner the gate creaked open and I couldn't bite back a sharp gasp.

"Grace!" Nicholas exclaimed. "I thought you weren't going to go anywhere by yourself."

"I wasn't. I was with Claire but then she just took off running." Nicholas frowned when I said Claire's name.

"Did she have a vision about you," he asked.

"Yes- wait! You know about her ability too?" I asked.

"I should hope so," Nichols replied. "She is my half-sister."

"Half-sister!" I took a moment for this to register. "But she is-."

"Only half Angelus. It's the half she prefers and she likes to keep the other half a secret. But it' still there," Nicholas said. "So what did she see?"

"Um," I was still processing. "She couldn't really make a lot of details out but she told me not to be alone, to lock my door and not to trust everyone." Nicholas nodded, still not looking happy. "Your half-sister? Really?"

"Yeah," Nicholas said. "It's a long story. I'll tell you about it later but for now we should probably head back before we get in trouble." Nicholas walked me most of the way to the girl's dorms and with a quick kiss we separated. As I walked into my room, I realized I forgot to be mad at him for leaving and making me worry, not to mention ask him what he had been doing in the forest.

A/N: I'm a horrible person and I'm sorry. Personally I think you should blame my teachers and the insane amount of work they expect us to get done however I'm still sorry this took a ridiculous amount of time to post. Unfortunately, as a result of my neglect of this story, I may have mixed up some details so if you catch any inconsistencies let me know please.