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In the midst of my excitement, though, I bumped into someone and nearly knocked myself down. “Oh, my god, I’m sorry!” I exclaimed, but I saw it was Lily. Confusingly enough, she was coming from a class that had yet to start, and she was in a hurry. She was rubbing her eyes, red and puffy. Crying again? Why? “Lily, what’s---.”
“I’m fine!” she cried. “I’m fine…”
“Did something happen? Did Nicole do something to you?”
“Just leave me alone! I can’t take this anymore!” She ran away in tears. I wanted to run after her. I was just about to when I watched her run into Dr. Fiennes on his own way to our class.
“Lily? What in the world is the matter with you?” he asked. Lily stood there awkwardly just staring back at him. “What happened?”
“It’s nothing, Dr. Fiennes. Nothing at all.”
“Nothing? I beg to differ. Did someone hurt you?”
“…no…no one did anything to me. I just need to be alone. Would you be offended if I took a mental health day, Dr. Fiennes?”
“Of course not. Please, go rest up, Lily. Will I see you tomorrow for studio?”
“…yea, I’ll be there,” she whimpered. Lily took off again and slammed her way out of the building. As Dr. Fiennes continued to find his class, he spotted me and walked up to me quickly.
“Hey, Saige. Do you know what that was about, per chance?”
“Uh, maybe,” I answered. I had my assumptions, but there was also a list of things I couldn’t just tell him straight up. “Lily’s been going through a lot of stuff lately. I think the stress may have finally caught up with her.”
“I can imagine. Has she told you what’s been going on?”
“Yea, we met up this morning to chat about it. She asked me not to tell anyone else until she was ready. Having said that, I am really worried about her. She’s struggling to keep up with tuition and it’s running her ragged.” I had to be very careful about what I said as to not accidentally give Lily away. Dr. Fiennes didn’t seem to notice my vague wisdom.
“I bet she was glad to have someone like you around. You’re a good person, Saige. I hope you can be there for her in the coming weeks? I would hate for her to fail the semester because of stress.”
“I’ll be there for her, Dr. Fiennes. Promise.”
“Good,” he said with a gentle smile. Just as we were about to head to class together, though, Dr. Montgomery stormed his way over to us, well, specifically Dr. Fiennes.
“Robert, you have a moment?” he gruffly shouted.
“I was just about to head to class---.”
“I need to speak with you and one of your students. Where is Lily Grainger?”
“Lily? What about her?” I said.
“Lily just left,” Dr. Fiennes responded. “She wasn’t feeling well.”
“Oh, really? Does this have something to do with it?” I hadn’t noticed the phone in his hand until he brought it up and showed Dr. Fiennes something. From my angle, I still couldn’t see anything.
“Oh, my god,” he exhaled. What was going on? He turned to me immediately. “Saige, head to class. Tell everyone I’ll be there soon.”
“Sure thing?” I apprehensively agreed. He and Dr. Montgomery ran off to his office for a private chat. What was that about? What did it have to do with Lily? Doing as what I was told, I decided to head to class and give the announcement. Moreover, I needed to fill Yukio in on my progress. Hopefully, it would make him feel better.
I made it to class and walked inside to find a normal sight. All the students messing around on their phones waiting for the professor to show up. Rachel and Felicity were sitting together looking at Rachel’s phone , but they look mortified. Glancing over to Nicole and Vanessa, they were laughing hysterically while sharing Nicole’s phone. Some of the other students were just dumbfounded by whatever they were looking at.
In the corner, I saw Yukio wave me over urgently. I ran over to him and leaned down. “What’s up?” I asked him. He showed me his phone.
“Did you know about this?” Reading it, my jaw dropped. I scrolled through the page, an entire blog about Lily and her escort service. There were pictures, comments, and stories behind each captured encounter. Lily’s face, though covered in make-up, was easily recognizable. Who did this?
I heard Nicole laugh again and my head turned to see her. I was furious. How could she? I rushed over to her and didn’t hesitate to outright slap her. She hadn’t even process that I was standing next to her by the time the stinging sensation in her cheek had begun. When she managed to finally look at me, she gasped with pure offense.