Chapter 20

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"Zoe!"

I turned away from the closed door and was met with an open armed Willow running full speed into me. Her long arms wrapped around my body and she rested her head on my shoulder.

"I thought he killed you!"

I brought my hand up and gently patted her shoulder reassuringly. "I'm fine, he didn't do anything."

We pulled away and I looked past her to see Matteo and the blue-haired Logan walking over to us. A thick book was in Matteo's hands and as he got closer, I could see it was in a foreign language that I could only guess was Italian.

"What happened then?" Matteo asked, looking up from the book for a quick second before returning to scan through the text.

"Um," my brows furrowed as I looked away from him and glanced at Willow. "What's going on?"

"We're in an escape room type thing," she replied. "We have to find the key that will open," Willow pointed to the other side of the room, "that door over there."

At her gesture toward the far side of the room, I finally took in our surroundings.

It looked like one large study. A desk covered in books and papers was to the right of us, a long bookcase to the left, and a clock to the left of the wooden door on the far side of the room. The room was windowless and wrapped in an older style burgundy wallpaper that added onto the brown of the wooden furniture around the room.

"Now," Willow stared straight into my eyes, a serious expression on her features, "what did he do?"

I shrugged. "He just saw that I wanted to say something so he made me stay behind to tell him what I was going to ask."

"You're lying," Logan said from where he was leaning over and rummaging through the stack of papers on the desk.

My arms crossed over my chest. "I'm not."

Willow chewed her bottom lip and glanced at Logan before looking back at me. "What did you ask him then?"

"Why we were here," I replied, still quite annoyed that they thought I was lying.

Matteo's eyes continued to skim through the book and they didn't leave as he asked, "Okay, what did the stronzo say?"

"He..." I looked down at the floor. "He said that he couldn't tell me, but I was going to find out quite soon."

Matteo's eyebrow raised. "Only you?"

"I don't know." I looked at Willow. "He said that I was most likely to survive... because I'm smart."

Matteo let out a loud laugh. "Sure he did."

I glared at him and then looked back at Willow with a pleading look. "You believe me right?"

After a moment of thought, Willow nodded her head. "Yeah.. I believe you."

Relief washed over me, even though Willow didn't seem that believable.

"Alright, Zoe," Matteo said, looking up from the book. "If you're so smart, get us out of the room. I'd rather not be the last group to escape."

I rolled my eyes at his first comment and walked over to him, my hand extended out towards the book. "What's that?"

"I don't know," he said while placing the book into my open hand. "I just picked it up and started reading it. I thought maybe there was a clue in it. I mean... it was just lying on the middle of the floor."

My finger ran down the page as I looked over the writing. "What does it say?"

Matteo scratched the back of his head before dropping his hand back down by his side. "I'm not sure... I didn't finish it, obviously, but it doesn't seem like it has any clues in it. I think they might have had it there to distract us... make this whole thing longer."

I nodded and snapped the book shut, ready to place it back down on the ground when Willow came forward with her hand facing the book.

"May I?"

"Sure." I handed her the book before looking toward Logan who had one of the papers up in the air towards the light. "What did you find?"

"A poem, I think," he replied, squinting at the text. "I can't really make it out. It's written in scribbles."

"C'mon," Matteo said with an eye roll. "I'm pretty sure you just need some glasses." Matteo walked over to Logan and snatched the paper out of his hands. He then looked down at the writing, his expression changing. "This is a bunch of gibberish."

Logan let out a laugh and lightly shoved Matteo's shoulder. "I told you."

An exasperated sigh escaped my mouth as I glared at the two of them. "We don't have time for this."

Matteo looked at me, a scowl on his face. "Then you figure out what this says."

He shoved the paper into my hands and turned around with Logan to search the bookcase. I turned the slightly crinkled paper around... and then around again. The writing was written so badly I had no idea which way it was supposed to go.

"Zoe!"

I turned to the sound of my name and saw Willow brandishing a page of the book.

"I think I found something."

Matteo and Logan rushed over just as fast as I did.

"Have a look at this." Willow handed over the book to me and took the poem paper out of my hands. "It's a code... see?" She pressed the paper to the left side of the book so they were next to each other and I could see what she meant by a code.

In the book, each letter had a corresponding scribble that matched the poem.

I could feel Matteo and Logan's warm breath on the back of my neck as they both stood behind me, looking over my shoulders and staring back and forth between the papers, trying to crack the code.

I looked up at Willow. "So we just figure out what the poem says and then it will tell us where the key is in here?"

Willow shrugged, but a large smile made its way slowly onto her face. "There's only one way to find out." Her eyes traveled over all three of ours. "Who wants to decode the poem?"

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