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Made of steel (made of s.., p.44
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.44

           Ivy Smoak
slower 1  faster

  Chapter 35


  No one was coming to walk me home today. Eli and Miles probably weren't speaking to me after last night. The vigilante had kissed me but told me stop thinking about him. He told me it wasn't always him watching. It terrified me. I had pushed everyone away, partially because my mind seemed consumed by the vigilante, and now I didn't have anyone left. It felt like he had given up on me. So, I wasn't going to walk home, I was going to run home. I was going to get stronger. I was going to figure out how to take care of myself.

  I pulled my hair into a ponytail and stared at my reflection in the mirror. For some reason, my Sagitta pendant felt heavy around my neck tonight. It almost felt like a burden instead of hope. The vigilante had asked me to forget about him. I wasn't sure I knew how. And I knew that I didn't want to. I pressed my lips together, trying to remember what his felt like against mine. If he so badly wanted me to forget, then why did he kiss me?

  I shook my head and stepped out of the restaurant bathroom. There was no reason to dwell on it. The only things I should be thinking about were how to get home safe and what the vigilante meant by telling me I was running out of time. The problem was, I thought I knew what he meant by the latter. Don was coming. I could feel it in my bones, like he was getting closer by the second.

  "No, I've got it," Joan snapped. "Just hang up your apron and I'll mail you your paycheck."

  I glanced over at the mess on the floor. A new bus boy, so new that I hadn't even learned his name, had dropped a tray of dirty dishes. He almost looked like he was going to cry as he turned around. He kept his head low as he passed by me.

  "Is everything okay?" I leaned down and helped Joan start picking up the broken dishes.

  "Fine." She already seemed a little calmer. "He just had slippery fingers. I never should have hired him."

  I thought about my first night when I had dropped a tray. Joan had been so nice to me. But it had only been one tray. The new boy had dropped one earlier tonight too. No one had even run into him, it just kind of fell out of his hands. He piled the trays too high. He really did have slippery fingers. And this tray had been piled high as well. There was broken glass everywhere. It was going to take a long time to clean up.

  "I've got the rest," Joan said. "Besides, I bet you have plans with that handsome boy of yours. What did you say his name was?"

  I definitely did not have plans with Miles. "Miles."

  "Miles. That's a good strong name."

  "Mhm," I said absentmindedly. "Tonight all I plan to do is go for a run and hang out with my roommate."

  She smiled. "Plans are plans. Really, you can get going. Your shift is way over."

  "Thanks, Joan."

  "Have a good night, hon," she said as she wiped her hands off on her apron.

  "You too." I stood up and walked toward the exit of the restaurant. Hopefully I wouldn't be dropping another tray any time soon. I glanced at the TV monitor on the way out. The subtitles scrolled across the screen. They were talking about how crime in the city was getting worse. Apparently Mr. Crawford had sent me to the city just when it was hitting a new record for homicides. There was nothing more pessimistic than the news. There was also nothing like the news to make me feel even more scared in a city I was already terrified of. I stepped down onto the sidewalk.

  "Sadie, I am so, so sorry." Eli was standing there with another bouquet of flowers.

  Yes, he had hurt me. A little. I'm pretty sure it was more in my head than anything else. But I was so glad to see him. I had been dreading stepping out into the night alone. And here he was. He wasn't late. He had shown up. He really did look sorry. I didn't really know what to say. I didn't have to say anything, though, because he started talking again.

  "Look, I know I fucked up. And I never meant to hurt you. It's started freaking out, and you wouldn't talk to me. I just kinda flipped out. But it's because I want to help. You must see that. I care about you and I don't like to see you upset."

  I had freaked out because he told me that he was falling for me. Maybe it was just because I was scared. I wanted to trust him. But there was so much doubt in my mind. "When you showed up last night, it felt like you were hiding something from me. I wanted to see your place. And for some reason, you don't want me to..."

  "I really did just want to be alone with you. But you can see my place. You can come over for dinner tomorrow night, I promise. And if Patrick and Kins are there, we can all hang out together. It'll be fun."

  I exhaled slowly. "That sounds really nice."

  He smiled.

  "Do you think maybe we could just start over? Pretend that the past few days didn't happen?" Including when you found out about my neck.

  He sighed. "God, that sounds fantastic. Hi, I'm Eli," he said and stuck out his hand.

  I laughed.

  "And obviously I'm insane because I bought you flowers before I even met you." He handed me the bouquet.

  "Thank you. And thank you for coming to walk me home." We started walking toward the dorms.

  "I want you to be able to count on me. Let's get you home safely."

  He was saying all the right things. It made me feel suspicious of him all over again. Stop it. "Can I come with you to your boxing class sometime?"


  "I just want to see what it's like."

  "It's just a bunch of guys beating the shit out of each other."

  "Right." I waited for him to say I could come anyway, but he didn't. He's hiding something. And I wanted to find out what it was. "What gym did you say it was?"

  "Um...Epitome. It's a small gym on the other side of town."

  I nodded. He seemed worried that I was just going to show up. I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. Just trust him.

  "I know we're starting over, but can I ask you a question?" Eli said.

  "Mhm." I had about a million for him.

  "Why did you freak out? Was it because I told you that I was falling for you?"

  And the fire of your touch. "I'm having a hard time getting out of my own head," I said instead. "I think you know enough about my past to understand that." We had stopped outside my dorm. "I'm not like other girls on campus. If you want're looking at the wrong person."

  "I just want you. And I'm sorry I put pressure on you. I know you weren't ready."

  "It's okay, we're starting over."

  "Right." He smiled. "One more question."

  I nodded.

  "What's going on with you and your RA?"


  "He's into you. You realize that, right?"

  I thought about last night on the roof. Miles said when he saw me, it felt like he could breathe again. He had been pining over me, just like I had been pining over him. But it didn't take away the fact that he had made me feel abandoned. I didn't even believe him when he told me he had kept writing to me. Kins said he was a player. He was probably just playing games with my head. But I understood what it felt like to not be able to breathe. I meant what I had told him. He should be looking at the stars instead of at me. Besides, it seemed like he was more into the idea of me than he actually was into me. "I don't reciprocate his feelings."

  "I don't really feel comfortable with you talking to him anymore."

  I looked up at him. I had been telling myself to stay away from Miles since I first saw him at the diner. For some reason I couldn't stay away. Maybe Eli telling me to would be the push that I needed. "Then I won't talk to him anymore."

  Eli smiled. "Let's be honest with each other from here on out, okay?"

  I nodded.

  "Sealed with a kiss?" He leaned forward before I could even respond.

  Flames. Flames everywhere.

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