Devil's Breath

Chapter 8: Return the Favor*

The next morning, I woke up with bags under my eyes. Sighing, I stood up and pulled on a simple white t-shirt with a jeans underneath. I then tied my hair together in a ponytail, heading to the kitchen where Faye sat with a toast. Smiling, she took a plate, pushing it to my side of the table.

"You didn't sleep well?" she questioned, though it sounded more like a statement.

"Bad night."

Last evening, I couldn't let go of the memories. Mia haunted my dreams all the time, and I even saw Logan chasing me. Often, I woke up and had to drink from my bottle of water on the nightstand to relax. I knew deep down that I couldn't live like this forever.

I wanted a normal life-one without constantly looking over my shoulder; hoping Mia would show up out of the blue or Logan spilling the beans. I just wanted to be a normal woman my age without the worries that now surrounded me.

"How comes?" Faye gave me the jar with jam. "Something with Juno?"

I frowned. "You've heard our conversation?"

Nodding, Faye said, "It was rather loud. I couldn't ignore it."

"Juno knows how to touch my buttons."

"Ignore her. She's not worth your time if she makes you feel sad."

Faye stood up, took the plate, and put them in the dishwasher. She then excused herself, walking to her room. I munched on the toast, but it wasn't quite my taste now. After a second bite, I threw it in the bin. Swinging my foot back and forth, Luca crossed my mind.

With the exception of sleeping around, he seemed like a nice enough guy, and I perhaps needed to befriend Luca. All this wasn't something that could go on; one day I'd lose myself if I didn't figure out a solution soon enough-and Logan never deserved my pain.

As I didn't catch any sleep last night, I had plenty of time to come up with something. I only didn't know if it was a good plan: befriending Luca looked easy enough, but then I wanted to win Logan's trust too and figure out where he had Mia locked.

My heart pounded in my throat. I pushed my chair backward, pacing around the kitchen. I didn't want to use Luca, yet it seemed like the only possibility to twirl Logan around my finger as well. Right now, I noticed one problem: my behavior from the last couple of days-Logan didn't seem stupid to not notice my sudden change.

Of course, I refused to risk my life because it wouldn't help Mia at all either. If Logan understood what I was up to, I'd find Mia in a different way than I wanted to-we both would be a lost cause.

Groaning, I sat back on the chair and leaned with my elbows on the table. I, however, had to take action as the last couple of days wasn't exactly wonderful. Before I came to Queens Rock, I promised to act my age and put it all in the past; I didn't want to have quarrels with my roommates, and yet here I was.

I didn't even know if I was able to lose control and pretend to become friends with Luca. My friends often said I was an open book, but it had changed when Mia disappeared-which now plays in my favor. I, however, hadn't had a clue if I could handle the stress of always watching my words, and I didn't know either if Luca would accept my apologizes for being distant.

Snatching my phone out of my pocket, I laid it on the top of the table, staring at it. I still had Luca's number, but perhaps he had blocked mine, and then I was playing a losing battle. Sighing, I tapped on the screen; it lightened up, a photo of Mia and me showed on the screen.

Without a single doubt, Mia would leap and try everything in her power to rescue me if I was the one who was lost; my stomach turned. I had to return the favor-Mia was still alive, I could feel it, she didn't deserve a life in the shadows.

Enough of the overwhelming thoughts, I opened a new message and composed one to send Luca. After three tries, I erased all the words, starting over again to search for the right excuses. As I was then busy with my five attempt, Faye came out of her room. She tilted her head, pulling her earbuds out of her ears.

"You're still here," she announced. "I believed you had a class."

"I had one," I said, looking up. "But I have to take matters into my own hands; time to move on and become a better version of myself."

Faye patted me on the back. "I'm proud of your decision. I don't know what brought you to it, but I'll support you."

"No questions?"

"No." Faye shook her head. "It's rather obvious something horrible happened in your past, and I hope you'll manage to move on. I'll stand by your side without pestering you about it."

I smiled. "Thank you. I'm sending Luca a text."

Immediately, Faye pulled a chair backward and sat down on it. "I'm glad you want to have a chat with him; he seems nice enough."

"I haven't given him a fair chance," I said, staring at my phone again. "I'm not great at it, though."

Peeking over my shoulder, Faye chuckled when she noticed the text that I was writing, and she shook her head. She took my phone, deleted this message, writing a new one instead. Once she finished with it, Faye turned the screen, and I read what she had came up with.

"Simple, yet effective," said Faye when I didn't answer straight away. "You're apologizing and asking for a talk in one text."

"Isn't it over the top?" I wondered. "What if I push him away?"

"You didn't push him away. He asked for your number when he was leaving."

"Right." I rolled my eyes. "He had s.εメ with Juno too."

Faye raised her eyebrows, shook her head and then burst out in laughter. For minutes, she couldn't come up with anything to explain her laughs. Once she was done, she pointed to the corridor.

"Juno tried," said Faye. "I was in the storage room when it happened, but Luca politely refused and dashed out before Juno could blink."

My mouth fell open. "For real?"

"Yes." Faye nodded. "She likes to play with you, Eden. As mentioned before, ignore her."

"I'll send the message," I said and I tapped the button without giving it a second thought. "Here we go."

Sweat dripped over my back, thinking about Luca and him seeing the text. I just wanted to have a conversation with him; it gave me the opportunity to earn a place in his heart and to perhaps discover Mia.

My gaze lingered on the screen. I didn't even hear Faye standing on her feet and leaving the dorm for one of her classes. When ten minutes passed, I huffed and tapped on the screen again-Luca still hadn't bothered to leave me a message; he hadn't even given me a sign of life.

Shutting it off, I tucked my phone in my pocket. There was a chance that I had waited to long, and perhaps Luca had given up; it wouldn't surprise me if he had messaged Juno after her flirt and headed to bed with her.

Once seven minutes had passed, I grabbed the phone again and ticked on the messages to check if something went wrong. When I noticed that it was delivered, my stomach turned. I, however, relaxed once I saw that Luca hadn't read it yet.

Opening my Facebook, I scrolled to Luca's profile and hovered over the button to request a friendship; I didn't want to look like a desperate girl who wanted his attention. Eventually, Luca was a star player, and people could gossip that I was only out for the fame.

After a minute or two, I closed Facebook-without requesting a friendship. Luca first had to reply on my message before I took the next step; I first needed to know if he liked a second chance. Breathing in and out, I squeezed my eyes shut.

Moments later, I opened them again-Luca had seen my message, yet hadn't answered it. I hovered over his contact to give him a call; I refused to back down now. Without thinking twice, I touched the button, and it rang.

One time.

Two times.

Three-

"Luca's phone."

Startled, I nearly dropped my phone. I swiftly caught it, composed myself, and stared at the screen. Of course, I had pushed Luca's name and not Logan's, but now his voice sounded through the speaker, and I didn't have a single clue why.

"Logan, hi," I said. "Is Luca there?"

"Let me see." Pause. A second later, "No."

I pointed out, "Much of effort."

Sucking on the inside of my cheek, I nearly facepalmed myself-my sarcastic comments wouldn't help to build a friendship with Logan, on the contrary, he'd dislike me even more.

"I'm sorry he can't come to the phone right now."

"Why do you even have his phone?" I asked out of curiosity and not to pester Logan.

"He's in the shower, I've heard it ringing, and I answered it. You done with the questions?"

It seemed like a plausible explanation, though I couldn't help myself and wonder if something happened with Luca. Then again, Luca had enough capabilities to defend himself; I didn't buy it either Logan would kidnap Luca.

Searching for the words to tell Logan and hoping that he'd pass them to Luca, a silence lingered between us. Logan wasn't even bothered to end the call; I doubted that he was still listening, though. It sounded like he had laid it somewhere and was watching television at the same time.

I now hoped he'd forget about Luca's phone still being on, and that he'd accept a call himself to have a conversation about Mia. Rolling my eyes, I fidgeted with the hem of my shirt-Logan wasn't stupid to forget it, and he had managed to stay under the radars for a long time before; he wouldn't simply blow up his cover in a blink of an eye. Clearing my throat, I opened my mouth to say something, though Logan was first.

"Still there," he said. "I thought you were long gone."

"No. I want you to pass a message."

Silence.

"Okay," I muttered. "Ask Luca to call me back or to meet me at the track we've walked before."

"No." Logan didn't beat around the bush. "I'm not an owl."

"Please."

He snapped, "No. By the way, you don't deserve Luca's attention. He deserves better than a rude bitch, leave him alone."

Within a second, Logan ended the call, and I hadn't had time to progress all his words. Once they finally seeped in, my mouth fell open, I pressed the button again-it went straight to voicemail. Scratching the back of my neck, I wondered what Luca had shared with Logan.

Yes, I had asked a lot of questions about Logan and ignored him on our dinner with the others, but I hadn't been rude-or so I believed. Digging in my memories, I hoped to find a clue somewhere, but nothing pointed to something I had said or done. Once more, I rang Luca and left a voicemail.

I then shut off my phone completely-I wasn't in the mood to have a discussion, and if Luca wanted to play hard to get, I could easily return the favor. Heading to the sink, I splashed water on my face and then stuffed my books in my backpack; I still could make it to my next lecture.

Luca was the first step to start my normal life, but I could also go to the second one and start student life simply by attending the classes. Lecture were the best way to find new friends, and to pretend I hadn't had shadows that covered every move I made.

When I was ready to leave, I locked the door and rushed over campus to the building of psychology. Dark clouds colored the sky; drops of rain splashed on the sidewalks. I pulled out my umbrella, quickening my pace to have a cover up soon enough. Once the building was in sight, I pushed every bad memory in a corner of my brain and focused on a brand new start.Devil