Chapter 25

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Music pounded through the gymnasium. Purple and gold balloons hung in large clumps at regular intervals across the front of the bleachers, which were pushed back to make as much room as possible for the temporary dance floor. The room wasn't lit up with fluorescent bulbs the way it was for basketball games, but it was light enough for people to take note of Blake and I arriving together.

Kayla spotted me immediately and waved me over. I abandoned Blake by the refreshment stand and darted towards her.

"What is happening here? You said you weren't coming and now you show up with King Popular?" I could barely hear her over the music, but her confusion was justified.

"I texted you."

She slipped her phone out of a sparkly silver hand purse and checked her messages like she wouldn't believe me unless she saw proof. "So, you did. Still, Blake? Yikes! Wait, did you figure out how to get Jack to, like, possess him or something? Is that really our cute, sweet, not at all an asshole, Jack? If that's the case, you should have waited for me. I want in on the whole spirit medium thing."

"They are the same person, Kayla. In theory, at least. But no, there were no seances held in your absence, I promise. Yet..." I pull her off to the side and out into the corridor leading from the gym to the locker rooms. "Something did happen. Jack and I were having our own dance, and it was beautiful and perfect. Then Blake showed up, totally oblivious as to why being at my house was making him apoplectic. He then begged me to come to the dance with him, and Jack, that traitor, told me to go before he buzzed and disappeared."

"Like, walk into the light disappeared?"

"I don't think so. He's done it before but usually I find him in the attic. This time, I searched the attic and every other room in the house, and he was just... gone. I think it was as weird for him as it was for Blake—them being in the same place together like that. Hopefully he just needs time."

"This is so strange."

"Tell me about it. Plus, I blurted out the truth to Blake, and just like I always knew would happen, he thought I was joking."

I slumped against the wall. Kayla put her arm around me. "I'm sure Jack will return."

"I hope so. I only came because he wanted me to. He says I need to watch Blake. He's worried about him."

"About Blake?" She wrinkled her nose. "Nothing's going to happen to that guy."

"Something always happens to everyone eventually. Blake's not immune. I feel like we're getting so close to figuring this all out, Kayla. Unless Jack really is gone forever. If that's the case, then I guess that's the end of it."

We stood there in our fancy dresses, backs pressed against a sign with a Muhammed Ali quote that read, "I never thought about losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right."

"So," Kayla tapped the wall with her fingernails, "Darren asked if he could kiss me. 'Not immediately, but sometime, whenever you feel up to it,' is how he phrased it."

"Oh my god. What did you say?"

"I didn't say anything. I just pulled him onto the dance floor and made him dance with me. I am considering it, though."

"Shut up!" I punched her shoulder playfully. "You and Darren, really?"

"Is that so odd? We've been friends for years. You know I find weirdness attractive."

"No, it's just... He thought you were interested in Ethan again."

She shrugged. "Even I have a weirdness attraction tolerance level. Ethan exceeded that threshold months ago."

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