Made of steel (made of s.., p.46
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.46

           Ivy Smoak
 

  Chapter 36

  Wednesday

  It seemed like yesterday was a terrible dream. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I pulled out my phone for what seemed like the millionth time. All day long I had waited for Mr. Crawford to call me back. I had called a few more times, but it always went straight to voicemail. I was starting to worry that something had happened to him.

  I had called out sick from work again. Joan had sounded worried about me on the phone. It was nice that she cared. I was starting to notice all the things I'd miss once I left New York. Her, Kins, Miles, Eli, the vigilante... I sighed. Kins had been so worried about me that she basically pulled me out of bed after I missed my first two classes. I pretended to leave, but really I had just been sitting in the common room downstairs staring at my phone. The dorm was safe. I wasn't stepping foot outside of it.

  I opened up the door to my dorm room. Kins was already getting ready for our dinner at Eli and Patrick's. I was about to tell her I wasn't up to going, when I noticed the box wasn't sitting under my bed.

  "Kins?"

  She smacked her lips together and smiled in the mirror. "Yeah?"

  "What happened to the box under my bed?"

  She turned to me. "What box?"

  "The box I got in the mail yesterday?"

  "I literally have no idea what you're talking about." She turned back to the mirror to apply more mascara.

  "Of course you do. You left it for me on my bed last night."

  "I never but a box on your bed last night. And I never saw one under it. Just your suitcase."

  What? I crouched down by my bed and pushed the suitcase aside. Where the hell was it? My heart started drumming in my chest. Had I imagined it? Maybe Don didn't need to steal my sanity. Maybe I had already lost it. "Seriously, Kins, stopping messing around." I stood up and started opening drawers, searching for the slippers. Fuck, what if she had seen them?

  "Sadie, I never saw a box, I swear. What was in it?"

  "Then how did it get in here?" I said, ignoring her. "And how did it disappear?"

  "I don't know. Are you sure it wasn't a dream? Are you feeling okay?"

  "It wasn't a dream." Was it? I remembered reliving seeing the crash site and feeling the knife in my stomach. Had I imagined it? But I wasn't crazy. The dorm isn't safe. The thought seemed to slam into my head in a rush. Shit. "We need to go."

  "But I'm not ready..."

  I grabbed her arm and pulled her to the door.

  "Sadie, what on earth has gotten into you?"

  "I need to see Eli." And I did. Even though I didn't fully trust him, he swore he'd never hurt me. He'd been taking boxing classes. For me. He could protect me from Don. He had to. God, I really was losing my mind.

  "I knew you two would work it out," she said as soon as she calmed down about being dragged out of the dorm before she had finished her makeup. "Is the plan still on for tonight?"

  "Yeah, sure." I wasn't even registering what she was saying. All I knew was that someone had broken into our dorm room. Twice. I needed to get as far away from it as possible.

  I stared at my phone the whole way over to Eli's. "Call me back," I silently pleaded to Mr. Crawford.

  "What are you doing? Put that away and stick to the plan," Kins whispered as we stopped outside Eli and Patrick's dorm building. No one was near us. She was making this way weirder than it needed to be.

  "Kins, we talked about this. I'm not doing that." My heart wasn't in this at all.

  "You just said it was still on a minute ago. It's too late to back out now. I'm too excited. Plus it's a great plan." She winked at me.

  "I'm not..."

  "But it's part of the plan."

  "There doesn't need be a plan..."

  "Stop talking." She slapped my arm, even though I had stopped talking as soon as I saw Eli through the glass door.

  He smiled and opened it up for us.

  "Hey!" Kins said, way louder than was natural.

  Stop being weird! "Hey," I said and smiled up at Eli.

  "It's about time you let her see your elusive dorm room," Kins said.

  Eli laughed. "I wouldn't say it was elusive." He put his hand on my lower back as we walked over to the elevator. "I missed you in class today."

  "I missed you too." He wanted me to be honest with him. But I couldn't tell him that his touch made me feel like I was burning. Like I was back in Don's clutches. I'm running out of time. I couldn't shake the vigilante's voice running through my mind. I couldn't shake the contents of the box, whether it was my imagination or not. The combination was the only reason I was here. I was scared to be alone. I was terrified and I didn't know where else to turn. And at the same time, I wanted to figure out if Eli was hiding something. What if the vigilante was warning me about him? What if he sent the box? I shook away the thought. The vigilante would have just told me to stay away from him if that was it. I tried to force myself not to think about the vigilante. He had asked me to stop. He couldn't save me from the nightmare I was living.

  I noticed Kins fidgeting with her hands. Maybe I shouldn't have told her I was suspicious of Eli. She was acting so bizarrely. Or maybe she was just still upset about me yelling at her about a box that didn't exist.

  "You doing okay, Kins?" Eli asked, as if he could read my thoughts.

  "What? Psh. Yeah. I'm just excited to see Patrick. We've been attached at the hip recently and when his hip isn't literally next to mine I get all antsy."

  Take a breath!

  Eli laughed. "Yeah, I've noticed."

  I didn't say a word as we exited onto his floor. I was probably acting unusual too. He opened up his door.

  Kins launched herself into Patrick's arms and they started making out.

  I looked up at Eli and he shrugged his shoulders.

  He really was cute. But my mind wasn't on making out with him. I was solely focused on figuring out if he was telling the truth. I needed him right now, and if I couldn't trust him, who else could I turn to? I felt as antsy as Kins. "So...this is your room?" I looked around the space that was laid out exactly like my room. Very similar to my own decorations, there were no photos of his family. It made sense for me. For him, it just added to my suspicion. He had mentioned that he missed them, so why weren't there any pictures of them?

  "This is it." He leaned against his dresser.

  I could feel his eyes on me. Not only were there no pictures of his family, there also were barely any decorations at all. Patrick's side of the room had Rolling Stone's magazine covers, posters of bands I had never heard of, and even a few of scantily clad women. Eli's...nothing. Even his comforter was just black. There was no emotion. That was suspicious all by itself. What if he was in the witness protection program too? I knew how ridiculous that was. What would be the odds of them sending two people to the same school? "You're very organized," I said.

  "I like things simple."

  I smiled. "Are you calling me simple?"

  "You are anything but simple, Sadie."

  "I'm starving," Kins said. "Did you guys order dinner yet?"

  "No, we were waiting to see what you wanted, babe," Patrick said.

  She beamed at him. "How about something meaty."

  I tried not to roll my eyes. They really were ridiculously cute, albeit vulgar.

  Eli laughed. "So...like...kielbasa?"

  "Or hot dogs," Patrick suggested.

  "Or sausage pizza," Eli said.

  "Pigs in a blanket!" Kins shouted.

  The three of them laughed. Apparently I had missed some sort of inside joke. Did the three of them always talk about phallic shaped food? I had never felt more awkward. Eli could have invited me over whenever he had wanted to. Instead, he had formed weird rituals with Kins and Patrick and left me out. If he liked me, he would have wanted me here. What are you hiding? I was now positive there was something here he didn't want me to see. Did he actually just like Kins? I didn't expect to feel jealous, but I did. He had fun with Kins, while all he did with m
e was fight.

  "What were you thinking?" Eli said as he wrapped his arms around me.

  "Umm...cucumbers?"

  He winked at me. "Oh, I can give you that whenever you want."

  Kins giggled. "Don't be gross, you perverts."

  How were we being gross? She had started it. I looked up into Eli's eyes. When he looked at me, we were fine. It felt like he cared. It was the moments when we weren't together that were the worst. Mostly because I had no idea what he actually spent his time doing. I wanted to shove all those feelings aside and tell him I was in trouble. Maybe he'd know what to do. Instead I just bit the inside of my lip.

  "But seriously...we want Chinese food from that place down the street," Kins said.

  "Awesome, we can just get it delivered..."

  "No." She swatted Patrick's hand which had already started dialing the number. "I was hoping you could pick it up. It'll be hotter that way."

  "How about you two go get it, and we'll stay here?" Eli suggested.

  "No." Kins gave everyone an exaggerated frown. "Sadie and I need a few minutes of girl time."

  Oh my God. I had told her a million times that I wasn't going to go along with her horrible plan. "Kins," I mouthed silently at her. There had to be a better way to get them out of the room.

  Eli and Patrick looked awkwardly back and forth between us.

  I was not going to say the line Kins wanted me to say. I refused. We had already discussed this. All we had to do was stick with the food thing.

  Kins cleared her throat. "Our periods have synced up and we've been in a mood all day."

  "Sorry, babe," Patrick said. "Do you want us to get you anything while we're out?"

  "No, I just need to lie down for a few minutes. We both do."

  I couldn't even look up at Eli. I was mortified. Maybe Kins was fine talking about her menstrual cycle in front of Patrick, but I was not there yet with Eli.

  "Yeah, we can go get the food," Patrick said. "We'll be back in a few minutes."

  "Are you sure you don't want to come?" Eli whispered to me. "Doesn't walking help with, you know...cramps and stuff?"

  Besides for the fact that what he was saying was extremely awkward, it was also suspicious. Why didn't he want me to be alone in his room? "I was really just hoping to lie down for a bit." I tried to sound as innocent as possible. I even batted my eyelashes at him, even though acting sexy was out of the question since Kins had just said we were both on our periods.

  "Okay," Eli said. Patrick was already by the door, but Eli didn't seem eager to follow him. "We'll be back as soon as we can." He glanced at his computer and then seemed to look over my shoulder at something.

  "Dude, let's go," Patrick said.

  He hesitantly let go of my waist. "I'll give you the full tour once I get back."

  All I heard was, "Don't go through my stuff." I held my breath until the door was closed behind them.

  "Geez, I thought they'd never leave," Kins said. She was sprawled out on Patrick's bed, already rummaging through his nightstand.

  "I thought we had agreed to not lie about being on our periods?"

  "No, you tried to tell me it was a bad idea, but obviously I was right that it was a fabulous idea." She gestured around the empty room. "Now what are we looking for exactly? It was a little weird that he didn't want to leave you alone in here with me, right?"

  I bit the inside of my lip. "A little."

  "Maybe he was just worried you'd bleed all over his stuff." She laughed.

  Blood. I tried to push the image of the slippers out of my mind. "Ugh. You're being disgusting." I pulled out the top drawer of his bureau. It was filled with boxers. I felt weird lifting them up to see if there was anything underneath of them. "We're looking for anything that proves he isn't who he says he is."

  Kins laughed. "He's definitely who he says he is. He's just hiding the fact that he's a super hot superhero behind all those button-up shirts he wears. Don't you think if it was him you'd be able to tell, though?"

  I pulled out the second drawer. I didn't have time to talk right now. I needed to find proof that I could trust Eli. I needed him to be who he said he was. Nothing interesting in the second or third drawers. I opened up the bottom one.

  "I mean, you've kissed both of them. The girls in those superhero movies always seem so dumb."

  "He wears a mask on his face. The hood covers his eyes. All you can really see is his lips." His perfectly kissable lips.

  "Right. So does he kiss like Eli?"

  "No, not really. It's more...raw than that."

  Kins whistled. "You found a bad boy. God, I'm so jealous."

  I froze when I found a dark blue hoodie at the bottom of the drawer. I lifted it up. "The vigilante wears a hoodie like this."

  Kins slid off the bed and crouched down next to me. "It's a really common hoodie. You can get it at any sporting goods store. I've seen tons of people around campus wearing that."

  It reminded me of the fact that I was wearing clothes right now that Mr. Crawford had picked out specifically for me to blend in. Why the hell wasn't he calling me back when he went to such meticulous planning to make me blend in? "Right." After checking the pockets, I folded it and put it back in the drawer where I had found it. "There must be something else."

  "I'll look under his bed."

  I moved to Eli's desk as Kins searched for dirty magazines under his mattress. His computer was password protected. After a few attempts at logging on, I knew I wouldn't be able to figure it out. Honestly, I barely knew anything about him other than where his family was from and that he was generally nice. Except for when his fingers dug into my skin. I shook away the thought and pulled open the top drawer of his desk.

  His iPod was sitting in it. I lifted it up and turned it on. The screen lit up, showing that Eli truly had fixed it. I shouldn't have been concerned about what music he liked to listen to, but there was something drawing me to it. I placed one of the earbuds into my ear. Nothing. I scrolled through the songs, looking for one I recognized, but I hadn't heard of any of them. I clicked on one. Static blasted into my ear. What the hell? I picked another song. Static. Every song was static.

  I pulled the earbud out of my ear. "That's weird."

  "The fact that neither of them have any hidden pictures of naked women?" Kins said. "It's all too perfect if you ask me. Or maybe they've just discovered internet pornography and aren't stuck in the early 90s..."

  "No." I laughed. "His iPod. I don't recognize any of the songs, and if you try to play them, static bursts through the earbuds."

  "Weird." Kins walked over and picked it up. "Maybe they're like super old songs." She scrolled through his playlist. "All I can think of is that I recognize a few of the titles as street names." She shrugged her shoulders.

  "Streets in New York?"

  "Yeah." She pointed to one of the songs named Sussex. "Sussex street is really close to the Corner Diner actually. It's probably pretty old, maybe someone wrote a song about it."

  "Which other ones do you recognize as street names?"

  "Umm...Canal, Bowery, Broadway..."

  "I feel like that's not a coincidence." I pulled my phone out and snapped pictures of his playlist.

  "You think he like channels the radio frequencies on those streets in order to see what calls the cops are getting?"

  "Maybe." I didn't know enough about technology to know the answer. But I knew someone who would. I needed to text Liza as soon as I was out of this room. I put the iPod back exactly where I had found it.

  Kins was already rummaging through the other drawers.

  "Do you think you know his computer password?" I asked.

  She shrugged. "You probably have a better guess than I do."

  "Maybe it's some kind of phallic symbol."

  "I thought you might have felt weirded out by that. It's just this thing we do when we're hungry."

  "I got that." I opened Eli's closet. I didn't want to talk about the fact that Kins was closer to
Eli than I was. "Don't you find it weird that he doesn't having any boxing gear?"

  "That is a little odd. But maybe he rents it or borrows it from the gym or something."

  "Yeah, maybe." I took a deep breath. Nothing smelled like the expensive cologne of the vigilante. And there weren't any Converses anywhere that I could see. "I looked up the gym he said he goes to and it didn't even have boxing listed."

  "Well, maybe it's just not a popular draw so they don't advertise it. Do you want a drink? It might help you relax a bit. They're going to be back any second and you look frantic." She pulled a bottle of vodka off of Eli's dresser. For some reason I hadn't noticed that both Eli and Patrick's dressers were covered in alcohol bottles.

  "How do they have so much alcohol?"

  "Eli has a fake ID. He knows a guy who makes awesome ones."

  A fake identity. What if his real identity was on that fake ID? "Do you know where he keeps it?"

  "His wallet, I assume."

  Just then the door opened.

  Shit. Eli's closet door was open. The bottom drawer of his desk was still ajar. Shit!

  "What are you two doing?" There was hint of anger in his tone, but no one else seemed to notice. I shrunk at his words.

  "We were just looking for something for my stomach," Kins said. "I'm...I'm going to vom." She put her hand over her mouth. Her eyes seemed to grow twice the size.

  "Baby, tell me what you need." Patrick put his arm around her shoulders.

  I tuned out the rest of their conversation, because I couldn't pull my attention away from Eli. He was staring at his desk, complete horror written all over his face. He slammed the desk drawer shut and closed his closet door. He seemed completely entranced as he put his finger down on the touchpad of his computer. His shoulders relaxed when he saw the request for a password pop up.

  I had found something that he didn't want me to. But whatever he was really hiding was on that computer.

  "Are you okay?" I lightly touched his arm.

  He seemed to jump. "Yeah, yeah." He ran his fingers through his hair. "Everything is fine. Unless...you're not feeling well either?"

  "I'm okay." It felt like I was playing with fire. I had thought Eli was a smart sensible choice. But everything about him was screaming danger now. I didn't want a bad boy. I wanted a gentleman.

  He glanced once more at his desk and then back at me. "Let's eat." There was a smile on his face, but I knew it was hiding a frown.

  I didn't feel safe here either.

 
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