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The Wrong Turn

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There’s nothing like the feeling you get on the last day of exams. All the tension and worry that knotted up over the last few days of cramming vanish, blown away on a breeze of good grades and the promise of a nice long break. Even if you failed miserably, there’s a sense of relief that the whole thing is over, for better or worse. The sense of levity in the air is almost palpable.

I shift my bag full of books and nod to Hanson and Carter as they’re swept away in the crowd. The throng of students flooding out from the university grounds is thinning out as we all separate off, everyone eager to get the summer started.

I, personally, am looking forward to some relaxation. Even for a Lucian, college can be stressful, and all I want is to spend the next week in a heavenly bubble of peace and quiet.

My cell phone rings and Natalie’s number appears on the screen, jabbing me back to reality. My sister probably has a million parties planned, and if she gets what she wants (as she usually does), my rest will have to wait. I turn on my Bluetooth.

“What is it, Natalie?” I ask, irritated.

“Hello, nice to talk to you too,” she replies caustically. “How were exams?”

“Fine. Why did you call?”

She sighs. “I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t made any plans for your break yet.”

I stifle a groan. Here it comes. “Actually, Natalie, I was just going to—“

“Because we’re going to have company,” she interrupts. “Important company that you can’t blow off. And I promised you’d be there.”

I rub the bridge of my nose as my head begins to pound. “I don’t suppose you can reschedule?”

She snorts. “How long will it take you to get here?”

Twenty minutes, if I head straight there.

“An hour or so,” I lie, pressing the Bluetooth to my ear as a rush of city traffic makes it hard to hear.

“You have one hour. Don’t be late.”

She hangs up the phone without another word.

Just as well. An hour will give me time to get a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a scone, and check my email. I’ve been incredibly lax this last week. Hopefully nothing important has happened.

I head towards the Starbucks, head bent over my phone as I pull up the email program. Two hundred and seventy three messages; wonderful.

Suddenly, I feel a painful jolt as something hard connects with my chin and a slender body slams into me. I drop my phone, which elicits a curse, and stagger backwards slightly. The girl who so rudely slammed into me is on the ground, desperately wiping at a book that now has coffee-stained pages. Her long auburn hair hangs down over her face like a curtain, so I can’t make out her features, except that she’s extremely pale, but in a natural, vibrant way. Her lemon yellow dress is cute, almost girlish, knee-length satin in a straight line that hides her curves.

“It’s ruined,” she says morosely, rubbing her fingers over the soggy paper.

“Yes, well maybe you should look where you’re going.” I bend over to pick up my phone. The battery’s popped out, but the screen is all right, and it powers on when I put the battery back in. Thank goodness.

“I should look where I’m going?” she growls, still rubbing furiously at the stain, which only seems to make it worse. “I wasn’t the one with my head buried in my phone.”

No, she was the one with her head buried in her book. Plus, ran into me, but I decide it’s no use arguing with her.

“My apologies.” I try to sound sorry, but really it just comes out indifferent. I dig in my pocket and pull out a twenty pound note and offer it to her. “That should take care of it, I hope?”

“Keep your money,” she snaps, waving it away and standing. “I’ve got enough of—“

Her sentence dies in her mouth as her eyes, fiery with annoyance, lock on my face. Her expression goes slack, and I have to admit I gape back rather foolishly.

“Ian?” she whispers.

I swallow. “Amy.”