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Within minutes, we were back on campus and pulling into the parking lot of my dorm. I had officially spent two nights away; I was certain I would be hearing about it from the Hall Director at some point. Then again, I saved a student from death just last night. I’m pretty sure she would understand my need to get away from it all for a little while, albeit one night.
Yukio helped me off the seat, catching me as I tried to regain my balance. God, that was an adrenaline rush, and my mind was still trying to catch up with me. He assisted me as he removed my helmet. Then, because of course he would, he pecked my nose. When I stepped back from surprise, he snickered.
“You are so cute,” he said. Not that I didn’t appreciate the follow-up kiss, I think we were at a point where he needed to earn it from me first. “How was your first ride?”
“As terrifying as I thought it would be.”
“In a good way?”
“I mean, I guess. Did you just want an excuse for me to hold onto you? Is that it?”
“Not that you were against it yourself, Saige. Admit it, you enjoyed it.” I could lie and say that it was the worst experience of my life just so he wouldn’t pull that stunt on me again. Or I could be a good person and tell him that I was glad he pushed my limits just a bit, and I enjoyed it for the time. Definitely gave me a good view for future projects.
“Alright, fine, you win. But you owe me dinner for making me freak out this early in the morning.”
“Yes, my lady. Maybe you can use your fear as inspiration for your next art project.” I was starting to think that the Ono family had this weird mind-reading ability that I was just not aware of. I would be very appreciative if they would just stop that shenanigans right quick.
“Maybe. Now, will the gentleman escort me to my room?” I held out my hand to him and he took it.
“It would be my honor.” Thankfully, very few people were around and it made walking inside that much easier. One turn and a few doors down, Yukio and I arrived at my door with no one stopping us. My Private Chat Box was empty and there was nothing stopping me. But right before I stepped inside, Rachel came bursting out of her room.
“Saige! Thank god, you’re back.”
“What?” She ran up to me in a violent charge and crashed into me.
“You need to come to my room right now!”
“Why? What’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, but Nicole isn’t.” Oh, geez, I did not care if Nicole was alright or not. She was probably just going to complain about how Dr. Fiennes pulled her out of the competition and how she’s the true victim in all of this. I was not in the mood to hear this.
“Rachel, I’m more than certain Nicole will be fine after a good day’s worth of classes. Now, I need to get changed.”
“No, Saige, you don’t get it!” she exclaimed. “Felicity and I came back to the dorms late last night and we saw Nicole sleeping outside her room.”
“Wait, what?” I said with sudden urgency. Outside her dorm room? That sounded familiar.
“Yea, she was out cold, wouldn’t respond to me or Felicity. Felicity spared her bed for the night and we’ve kept Nicole there, but she won’t talk to me. Maybe you could find out what happened with her.”
“Yea, definitely,” I immediately agreed. This might be the breakthrough we’ve been looking for. We finally had someone who had just come off a kidnapping, if that’s actually what happened, of course. There was a slight chance Nicole remembered a few more details about last night than any of the other people we’ve talked to.
I turned to Yukio for confirmation. I wanted him to be beside me if we were going to go through with this plan. He didn’t hesitate to nod in agreement. With Yukio on my side, I looked back to Rachel.
“Alright, we can take it from here, Rachel. Is your door unlocked?”
“Yea, it is. Take as much time as you need, please. I’ll give you all the space you need.”
“I really appreciate it, Rachel. Thank you.” Brushing past Rachel, Yukio and I entered her room to find Nicole sitting up in Felicity’s bed staring out the window. She was rocking back and forth like she was nervous about something. When she glanced over to me, she gasped.
“Nicole, hey.” I walked over to her and took a seat on the bed. As much as I still wanted to slap her upside the head, I also knew that she didn’t need that right now. I had to keep my cool if I was going to figure out what was going on. I placed a gentle hand on her trembling shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “I don’t know! I don’t even know what happened!” Oh, no, that wasn’t a good start.