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So did Molly.

She reached up just in time to snag the plane between her slick black-painted fingernails, but Luce was not going to let her win this one. She snatched the plane back from Molly's grip, ripping its wing loudly down the middle. Luce had exactly enough time to pocket the torn note before Miss Sophia whipped around.

"Lucinda and Molly," she said, pursing her lips and steadying her hands on the podium. "I would hope whatever you two feel the need to discuss in a disrespectful passing of notes could be said before the entire class."

Luce's mind raced. If she didn't come up with something fast, Molly would, and there was no telling how embarrassing that could be.

"M-Molly was just saying," Luce stammered, "that she disagrees with your view of how Hell is broken down. She has her own ideas."

"Well, Molly, if you have an alternate schema of the underworld, I'd certainly like to hear of it."

"What the hell," Molly muttered under her breath. She cleared her throat and stood up. "Well, you've described Lucifer's mouth as the lowest place in the inferno, which is why all the traitors end up there.

But for me," she said, like she'd rehearsed the lines, "I think the most tortured place in Hell" - she took a long, sweeping look back at Luce - "should be reserved not for traitors, but for cowards. The weakest, most spineless losers. Because it seems to me that traitors? At least they made a choice. But cowards?

They just run around biting their fingernails, totally afraid to do anything. Which is totally worse." She coughed out, "Lucinda!" and cleared her throat. "But that's just my opinion." She sat down.

"Thank you, Molly," Miss Sophia said carefully, "I'm sure we all feel very enlightened."

Luce didn't. She had stopped listening in the middle of Molly's rant, when she felt an eerie, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

The shadows. She sensed them before she saw them, bubbling up like tar from the ground. A tentacle of darkness curled around her wrist, and Luce looked down in terror. It was trying to weasel its way into her pocket. It was going for Arriane's paper plane. She hadn't even read it yet! She stuffed her fist deep into her pocket and used two fingers and all her willpower to pinch the shadow out as hard as she could.

An amazing thing happened: The shadow recoiled, rearing back like an injured dog. It was the first time Luce had ever been able to do that.

Across the room, she met Arriane's eye. Arriane's head was cocked to the side and her mouth was hanging open.

The note - she must still be waiting for Luce to read the note.

Miss Sophia flicked off the light box. "I think my arthritis has had enough Hell for one night." She chuckled, encouraging the brain-numbed students to chuckle with her. "If you'll all reread the seven critical essays I've assigned on Paradise Lost, I think you'll be more than prepared for tomorrow's exam."

As the other students rushed to pack up their bags and peel out of the room, Luce unfolded Arriane's note: Tell me he didn't give you that lame "I've been burned before" bit.

Ouch. She definitely needed to talk to Arriane and find out exactly what she knew about Daniel. But first He was standing before her. His silver belt buckle shone at eye level. She took a deep breath and looked up at his face.

Daniel's violet-flecked gray eyes looked rested. She hadn't spoken to him in two days, since he'd left her at the lake. It was as if the time he'd spent away from her had rejuvenated him.

Luce realized she still had Arriane's revealing note spread open on her desk. She swallowed hard and tucked it back into her pocket.

"I wanted to apologize for leaving so suddenly the other day," Daniel said, sounding oddly formal. Luce didn't know if she was supposed to accept his apology, but he didn't give her time to respond. "I take it you made it back to dry land okay?"

She tried a smile. It crossed her mind to tell Daniel about the dream she'd had, but luckily she realized that would be totally weird.

"What did you think of the review session?" Daniel seemed withdrawn, stiff, like they'd never spoken before. Maybe he was joking.

"It was torture," Luce answered. It had always annoyed Luce when smart girls pretended they weren't into something just because they assumed that was what a guy would want to hear. But Luce was not pretending; it really had been torture.

"Good," Daniel said, seeming pleased.

"You hated it, too?"

"No," he said cryptically, and Luce now wished she'd lied to sound more interested than she actually was.

"So ... you liked it," she said, wanting to say something, anything to keep him there next to her, talking.

"What did you like about it exactly?"

"Maybe 'like' isn't the right word." After a long pause, he said, "It's in my family ... studying these things.

I guess I can't help feeling a connection."

It took a moment for his words to fully register with Luce. Her mind traveled into the fusty old storage basement where she'd glimpsed Daniel's single-page file. The file that claimed that Daniel Grigori had spent most of his life in a Los Angeles County Orphanage.

"I didn't know you had any family," she said.

"Why would you?" Daniel scoffed.

"I don't know... So, I mean, you do?"

"The question is why you presume you know anything about my family - or me - at all?"

Luce felt her stomach plummet. She saw the Warning: Stalker Alert flash in Daniel's alarmed eyes. And she knew she'd botched things with him yet again.

"D." Roland came up from behind them and put his hand on Daniel's T-shirt-clad shoulder. "You want to stick around to see if there's another yearlong lecture, or are we going to roll?"

"Yeah," Daniel said softly, giving Luce a final sideways glance. "Let's get out of here."

Of course - obviously - she should have bolted several minutes ago. Like, at the first instinct to pulge any details of Daniel's file. A smart, normal person would have dodged the conversation, or changed the subject to something much less freakish, or at the very least, kept her big mouth shut.

Chapter Ten

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE

"What are you waiting for?" Penn asked barely a second after Daniel had left with Roland. "Let's go."

She tugged on Luce's hand.

"Go where?" Luce asked. Her heart was still pounding from the conversation with Daniel - and from the view of him leaving. The shape his sculpted shoulders cut out in the hall seemed to be bigger than Daniel himself.

Penn rapped lightly on the side of Luce's head. "Hello? The library, like I said in my note ..." She took in Luce's blank expression. "You didn't get either one of my notes?" She slapped her leg, frustrated. "But I handed them to Todd to pass to Cam to pass to you."

"Pony Express." Cam wedged his way in front of Penn and presented Luce with two folded scraps of paper held between his index and middle finger.

"Give me a break. Did your horse die of exhaustion on the road?" Penn huffed, snagging the notes. "I gave you those like an hour ago. What took so long? You didn't read them - "

"Of course not." Cam pressed a hand to his broad chest, offended. He wore a thick black ring on his middle finger. "If you remember, Luce got in trouble for passing notes with Molly - "

"I was not passing notes with Molly - "

"Regardless," Cam said, lifting the notes back out of Penn's hand and delivering them, finally, to Luce. "I was only looking out for your best interests. Waiting for the right opportunity."

"Well, thank you." Luce tucked the notes into her pocket and gave Penn a what-are-ya-gonna-do shrug.

"Speaking of waiting for the right time," he said, "I was out the other day and saw this." He produced a small red velvet jewelry box and held it open for Luce to see.

Penn nudged around Luce's shoulder so she could get a look.

Inside, a thin gold chain held a small circular pendant with a carved line down its middle and a small serpent's head at the tip.

Luce looked up at him. Was he making fun of her?

He touched the pendant. "I thought, after the other day ... I wanted to help you face your fear," he said, sounding almost nervous, afraid that she might not accept. Should she accept? "Only kidding. I just liked it. It's unique, it reminded me of you."

It was unique. And very beautiful, and it made Luce feel strangely unworthy.

"You went shopping?" she found herself asking, because it was easier to discuss how Cam had left campus than it would have been to ask Why me? "I thought the point of reform school is that we're all stuck here."

Cam lifted his chin slightly and smiled with his eyes. "There are ways," he said quietly. "I'll show you sometime. I could show you - tonight?"

"Cam, honey," a voice said behind him. It was Gabbe, tapping his shoulder. A thin section at the front of her hair was French-braided and pinned behind her ear, like a perfect little headband. Luce stared at it jealously.

"I need your help setting up," Gabbe purred.

Luce looked around and realized they were the only four people left in the classroom.

"Having a little party in my room later," Gabbe said, pressing her chin into Cam's shoulder to address Luce and Penn. "Y'all are coming, right?"

Gabbe, whose mouth always looked sticky with lip gloss, and whose blond hair never failed to swoosh right in the second a guy started talking to Luce. Even though Daniel had said there was nothing going on between them, Luce knew she was never going to be friends with this girl.

Then again, you didn't have to like someone to go to her party, especially when certain other people you did like would probably be there...

Or should she take Cam up on his offer? Was he really suggesting they sneak out? Only yesterday, a rumor had flown around the classroom when Jules and Phillip, the tongue-pierced couple, didn't show up for Miss Sophia's class. Apparently, they'd tried to leave campus in the middle of the night, a secret tryst gone wrong - and now they were in some type of solitary confinement whose location even Penn didn't know about.

The weirdest part was, Miss Sophia - who usually had no tolerance for whispering - hadn't shut the madly gossiping students up during her lesson. It was almost like the faculty wanted the students to imagine the worst possible punishment for breaking any of their dictatorial rules.

Luce swallowed, looking up at Cam. He offered his elbow, ignoring Gabbe and Penn entirely. "How about it, kid?" he asked, sounding so charmingly classic Hollywood that Luce forgot all about what had happened to Jules and Phillip.

"Sorry." Penn butted in, answering for both of them and steering Luce away by the elbow. "But we have other plans."

Cam looked at Penn like he was trying to figure out where she'd come from all of a sudden. He had a way of making Luce feel like a better, cooler version of herself. And she had a way of crossing his path right after Daniel had made her feel exactly the opposite. But Gabbe was still hovering beside him, and Penn's tug was growing stronger, so finally Luce just waved the hand still clutching Cam's gift. "Um, maybe next time! Thanks for the necklace!"

Leaving Cam and Gabbe confused in the classroom behind them, Penn and Luce booked it out of Augustine. It felt creepy to be alone in the dark building so late, and Luce could tell from the hurried slap of Penn's sandals on the stairs in front of her that she felt it, too.

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