Fable Page 10

She fingered the pages and traced the faint outlines of the pictures drawn on the paper. There was a lifelike drawing of Claire and Grey Tail, the Chicago Bears football players, and others. Her hand started to shake when she saw the scared faces of the innocents trapped within as well. For a Reaper, a killer that hunts down Grimms, had gotten ahold of the Grimoire and was using it to trap innocent Fae within its pages. There was her teacher Mrs. Porter, a UPS worker, a young girl. Quickly, she flipped the pages and saw Diedre and the Reaper locked in a death grip frozen on the page. She turned one more page, and her heart felt like it was being ripped out. The picture was of Brody kissing Nan, and in the background was the hospital on fire. It was a Snow White and Sleeping Beauty tale wrapped into one, complete with fiery dragon and glass hospital.

She couldn’t tear her gaze away from the picture. Why would Jared give this to her? It was hard enough for her to accept her responsibility at the lack of fairy-tale quests solved over the last two months and her brother’s death in the fire. She wasn’t sure what would happen to her if she lost her mom.

She was about to flip the notebook closed when a shadow fell across the page. Mina quickly covered up the drawing with her arms and looked up into the smiling face of—Brody.

“Hey, Mina, looks like we have home room together.”

Please, she thought, let that be it for the questions. As much as she wanted to speak to Brody, to hug him, to kiss him, to tell him she had feelings for him, and to please explain the kiss at the end of last year, she couldn’t. Not without falling apart like a blubbering baby.

The teacher, Mr. Ames, began going over the morning’s announcements, club activities, and sports tryouts. Brody took the desk right in front of her and didn’t turn back for more conversation. Nan never walked through the door, probably meaning she was in a different home room, since this year they’d organized the students by alphabet. And Taylor was at the end. Luckily for her, she had the most laid-back class of the day with Brody, but unluckily for her, she also sat in the seat farthest from the door.

When the announcements were over, they had free time since it was the first day of school and there wasn’t any homework or tests to study for. But Mr. Ames made his way over to the back of the room and straight for Mina’s desk.

He knelt down to be at eye level with her and took a deep breath. “We heard about the fire and the death of your brother. The school faculty and I know that this is a difficult time for you. If you need anything, please speak up and let one of us or the school counselor know.”

He had been trying to speak quietly, but it was obvious by the stiffening of Brody’s shoulders and the audible intake of breath in front of her that he’d overheard their teacher. Well, that was one less awkward conversation she would have to have.

Brody turned and whispered quietly to Mr. Ames, “If the school and faculty wanted to support Mina and her family, why didn’t any of you come to the funeral?”

The question had taken the teacher aback, and Mina mentally cheered on Brody.

When Mr. Ames went back to the front of the room, Brody spun around in his chair with pity in his eyes.

“That wasn’t sincere. They should have been there to show support. I should have been there for you more.”

Her heart felt like it was being stabbed repeatedly over and over with a knife. “Why? You’re not responsible for me. You’re not my boyfriend.” She could tell the words hurt him a little, because his cheeks reddened and then his eyes dropped down to stare at her lips. She knew he was remembering their shared kiss at the hospital. There was no denying the attraction…or the fact that an hour later he was kissing her best friend.

Mina sucked in her breath when she saw where his eyes lingered. She, too, began to remember their kiss, but she remembered a different kiss, their first kiss on the school stage, a kiss that he would never remember. Her heart began to pound, and her lungs screamed for air at the intensity that was building to a crescendo.

He reached out and touched the top of her hand, and Mina jumped in her seat, causing her notebook to fall off the desk and onto the floor. He moved his hand from hers and bent to pick up her notebook. She felt a loss as soon as he moved his hand, and he didn’t put it back when he handed her the notebook.

“Well, I thought at least we were close enough—” he began.

“No, Brody…we’re not. We won’t ever be close, because my best friend means the world to me.” Her emphasis on the word “friend” left him no room to argue.

The spell was definitely broken, and she needed to get her heart under control. This was no longer her boyfriend.

“Does Nan know that we…?” Brody gestured between the two of them, referring to their kiss.

“That night at the hospital? No way…not if I can help it. You’re not going to tell her, either…right?” She gave him a pleading look.

“Uh, no,” he said quickly. He seemed tense, like he was upset that she hadn’t told Nan.

It took every ounce of Mina’s willpower not to do a face plant into the table. That wasn’t exactly what she was hoping for, and now she was dying for the bell to ring.

Thankfully, he turned around and began talking to one of his water polo friends. When the bell did ring, she was up and out the door first, despite being in the corner. She was surprised to see that Jared was already outside the door, waiting for her, and put his hand on the small of her back to lead her to the side of the door.

“How was it? Think you can survive five more periods?” he asked softly.

Brody walked out the door behind Mina and saw the placement of Jared’s hands on her. He scowled.

A squeal could be heard down the hall, followed by the pattering of running feet. Mina was bombarded by blonde hair, strawberry perfume, and the blubbering crying form of Nan Taylor, who clamped onto her neck. Nan’s long blonde hair was in a side ponytail, and she wore a teal lacy shirt and denim shorts, a zillion colored bangles on her wrists. Her cute nose and eyes were red from crying.

“I-I-I can’t believe it. He can’t be gone.” She started to cry loud and hard, and Brody looked uncomfortable and unsure of how to comfort his girlfriend, since she was wrapped around Mina’s neck.

No one understood Charlie like Nan. The two were the best of friends and had a dynamic brother-sister relationship, teasing and name-calling included, that Mina envied. Nan was an only child and treated Charlie like her own brother. Mina was feeling really guilty now for not finding a way to get hold of Nan when she was in New York at drama camp.

Mina felt her eyes start to tear up, but she held them back and comforted Nan. Students stopped and stared, and quite a few made rude comments, but Jared’s and Brody’s stern looks kept them at bay, giving the girls time to confer.

There were a few girls who didn’t take the hint. Savannah White and Pricilla Rose—both girls stopped and rolled their eyes. Savannah used to date Brody at the beginning of last year, and now she had it out for anyone who stood between her and him. She looked killer in her designer skirt, lace tank top, and bejeweled flats. Her white-blonde hair was in its signature high ponytail, and her lips had enough gloss you could almost see your reflection in them. Pri wore a similar but toned-down version of Savannah’s outfit.

“So I heard on the news that the Tard died and your house burnt down. I bet secretly you’re relieved you don’t have to live with him anymore in that dump.”

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