Chapter 7.

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"You're not eating lunch with us today, are you?"

I slammed my locker shut and twisted the lock as I awkwardly juggled two textbooks and my homework in my arms. I was doing my best to avoid looking at Taelor, but she wasn't making it easy. She had that look on her face she got whenever she was thoroughly annoyed about something, and I happened to be one of those things she was annoyed about.

 It wasn't that I was avoiding her or that I didn't want to hang out with her or anything. I actually kind of missed her nonsensical babblings and sort of vapid air. It was just that I had a bit of a more pressing matter at hand.

 Whenever my shirt sleeve rode up and I caught sight of the making on the inside of my wrist, I was sickly reminded of just how much little time I had left. 

 I was down to 23 days now.

And to say that I had made little progress where Archer was involved was putting it lightly. In fact, I hadn't actually moved anywhere at all with him.

He still continued to be as surly and unpleasant as always and the permanent scowl etched on his ridiculously handsome face never left, either. I wasn't so sure if he was always this angry or if his rather rude attitude was just because I happened to be following him around like some sort of lost puppy. 

 I didn't expect him to take me back to his grandma's coffee house. Like, ever. I doubted I would ever get to see Regina again - who I did happen to like very much - and I probably would never get to meet his little sisters, April, May and June. 

 In all honesty, I was beginning to feel like a bit of a stalker. But it wasn't like I'd been given exact instructions or anything. Death had merely said, "Do this in 27 days or else." 

  So with that rather daunting task resting on my shoulders, I was a little more than stressed out at the moment. And now I was having best friend troubles, too? Luck was just so not on my side at the moment. 

 "Look, Tae...." I sighed, shifting my bag up on my shoulder. "It's not you or anything. It's me, actually. There's a whole lot of crap going on right now."

 Literally. 

Taelor did not look convinced at all. Her glossed lips pursed in a tight line as she straightened out her designer coat, giving me a stern look.

 "And there's something going on that you can't share with me?" she asked in a slightly offended look. "But you can share it with Archer Morales?"

 I bristled at the mention of Archer.

 For some odd reason, my guard instantly went up and I became insanely protective over Archer whenever someone mentioned him. It was a little weird, considering I didn't know him all that well and I had no right to feel that way, but I felt like it was my job to shield him from all that was said about him.

 That was stupid, of course, because Archer clearly didn't give a flying rat's ass about what people thought of him.

 Or maybe he did? I had no idea.

I filed away that certain question in the drawer in my mind I liked to call "The Questions". These were reserved mainly for Archer and at some point during the next 23 days, I planned on asking him all of them.  Whether or not that would go over too well was debatable, but I was hoping for the best.

 "Taelor, you don't even know him," I reminded her stiffly. "He's not that bad of a guy."

Taelor snorted, rolling her blue eyes up at the ceiling. "He's about as empty as a person can get, Hadley. I don't think you see that. Do you have a crush on him or something?"

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