“I think I could manage without a roommate, Brooke.”
“No dice,” she said, her eyes flicking to my wrists. “I’m sorry. Guys, are you sure none of you would be willing to switch? I think it would help things out a lot . . .”
No one raised their hand. I tried to catch Stella’s eye, but she completely avoided my gaze and gave me the stare ahead in response to my visual pleading.
It was like being picked last for dodgeball, only so much worse.
Suddenly, there was a crash of ceramic hitting stone behind us.
I turned. Phoebe was standing near a toppled pedestal; a vase had shattered on the floor. Her face was red and her damp hair stuck in sweaty tendrils to her cheeks. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone was absolutely silent as Phoebe gulped in a few breaths, then reached for one of the shards.
“Phoebe!” an adult voice shouted. Soon, there were more adults in the room than I ever remembered seeing at Horizons individually.
“No one’s listening to me,” she wailed, but before she could grab one of the pieces of the smashed vase, Wayne had managed to get hold of her. He lifted her up and away.
“Page Kells, then get her journal,” I heard Brooke whisper to him. Phoebe was thrashing wildly but then Barney showed up and stood in front of her, blocking my view. Phoebe’s cries died away. When I saw her next, she was rag-doll limp in Wayne’s arms. He carried her out.
Jamie and I made eye contact.
“Weirdo,” Jamie said.
“Understatement,” I replied.
Jamie leaned in and whispered, “How’s your ass?”
“Saw that coming a mile away.”
“Me too. But that roommate thing? Worst. Ever.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“I’m the creepy girl. In a mental hospital.”
He grinned. “Nobody’s perfect.”
THERE WAS A DEFINITE ADVANTAGE TO PHOEBE’S sedation: For the rest of the day, I wouldn’t have to listen to her talk. And tonight?
I wouldn’t have to worry that she would wake up.
I passed Noah a note, mimicking his from yesterday:
Tonight at one by the music studio? Make it happen?
When I caught his eye during dinner, he nodded yes. Each second fell away as the clock slipped forward. I wished, I needed, everyone to sleep. I conjured mental images of empty hallways. Of Barney in the common room, asleep in front of the television with his headphones on. Of Brooke in bed. No one needed to use the bathroom. No one felt like they had to monitor the halls. I imagined I could hear the sounds of everyone else turning over in their beds, rustling in their sheets, breathing quietly into their pillows.
And then it was time. I slipped off my blanket and slipped on my hoodie. I pulled it over my head and zipped it up to quiet the sound of my ferociously beating heart. When I shifted to stand, the mattress groaned and my eyes darted to the other side of the room.
Phoebe was sleeping.
I tiptoed to the door and opened it as softly as I could. The second I did, someone somewhere coughed and my heart leapt into my throat. I waited there in the doorway for what felt like hours.
I left the room. I walked down the hallway. And each time I passed another doorway, my heart stopped. When I rounded the corner by the common room, directly in front of the counselor’s desk, I mentally prepared myself to be directed back to bed.
But no one was there.
I practically ran the rest of the way to the studio. Where was everyone? The bathroom? Sleeping?
It didn’t really matter and I didn’t really care, because Noah stood in the silent corridor waiting for me, and I wanted nothing more than to fly into his arms.
I didn’t. I stopped.
“You made it,” he said with a smile.
I returned it. “You too.” I reached for the door to the music room, but I noticed the keypad.
“Are you serious?” I whispered through gritted teeth.
Noah hushed me, then pressed a series of numbers on the pad. I looked up at him incredulously.
“Everyone has a price,” he said, as the door in front of us clicked open. He held the door open for me, and I walked through.
The dark was impenetrable. Noah’s fingers twined around mine as he led me forward, and then down to the carpeted floor.
My eyes began to adjust somewhat to the darkness in the room. There was a small window at the far corner, letting in a sliver of moonlight that illuminated the planes and angles in his expressionless face.
He sat with his back against the wall, statue-still and cold. He withdrew his hand from mine.
I reached out to take it back, but he said, “Don’t.” His voice was laced with contempt. Poisonous.
“Don’t what?” I asked flatly.
His jaw locked, and he stared at me with empty eyes.
“I don’t—” he started. “I don’t know what to—” He glanced down.
At my wrists.
So that’s what this was about. Noah wasn’t furious with me. He was furious with himself. It was hard to recognize still, because I was the opposite. I turned outward with anger. Noah turned in.
I put my hands on either side of his face, not gentle and not soft. “Stop it,” I said, my voice harsh. “You aren’t the one who hurt me. Stop torturing yourself.“
Noah’s expression didn’t change. “I wasn’t there.”
“You were trying to help,” I said. “You were trying to find answers—”
His slate blue eyes looked like iron in the darkness. “I swore I would be there for you and I wasn’t. I swore you would be safe, and you weren’t.”
“You were terrified,” he said, cutting me off. “When you called me, I’ll never forget your voice.”
“You told me about the notebook you didn’t remember writing in and I had never heard you—I’d never heard you sound like that.” His voice grew distant. “I scrambled to get to Boston to make the other flight the second we hung up. I did, and I was trapped on that fucking plane while he forced you—”
Noah didn’t finish his sentence. He nearly vibrated with rage, with the effort it took not to scream. “I felt you dying beneath my skin,” he said, his tone hollow. “I called Daniel from the plane—I dialed again and again until he woke up.” Noah met my eyes. “I told him you were going to kill yourself, Mara. I didn’t know how else to explain—what I saw.” His face was drawn in fury.