When I reached the doors, I braced myself for the frigid air that would greet me and pushed through them. As much as I didn’t like the cold, I embraced it. It kept me rooted in the past so I didn’t waste time hoping for a future that wasn’t meant for people like me.
“And to let him back in the school, no less. It’s preposterous! What about the other students? Why isn’t he deemed a danger to them?”
“Ma’am. Keiran Masters is out on bail and has not been convicted of a crime. Therefore, he cannot be kept from schooling.”
I heard the hushed murmurs of what I assumed to be bystanders, and when I cleared the corner leading to the parking lot, my suspicions were confirmed.
Silence fell over the parking lot as soon as I was spotted. Realizing the attention of her audience had been diverted, the socialite turned her angry gaze on me. I didn’t react when she charged forward and I stood in place to watch her approach.
“You son of a bitch!”
“Mrs. Ridell, you must calm down or else we will have to restrain you,” the officer admonished with a bored tone while desperately attempting to hold back the enraged woman. I wondered if he was trying to protect the woman or me. I would have laughed if there hadn’t been such a large audience. The last thing I needed was people thinking I thought Anya and Trevor’s death was funny. Not that I gave a shit what people thought, but it wouldn’t exactly help my case to be seen openly mocking their murders. It also didn’t help that it made national fucking news, and I was front and center. Word had gotten out about Keenan’s injuries, and so the newspapers were desperately attempting to connect the two incidents.
“Restrain me?” She fought against the officer’s grip. “Who let this monster out of jail? I want him put back or so help me—”
I tamped down the fury I felt boiling up inside and bit the inside of my cheek. I refused to show emotion. It wasn’t the first time I was called a monster, but the familiarity didn’t soften the blow any.
“How could they let him free? He burned my daughter alive. What sort of animal does that?” Spit flew from her mouth as she glared at me with a murderous rage that could rival my own.
The officer shot me with a silent order to leave, and I took the opportunity without hesitation. There was nothing I could do to help the situation. No amount of pleading my case would amount to anything. The truth was I didn’t really care to. I wasn’t sorry they were dead. I was very aware of the fact I could still go to prison very soon.
“I have proof he killed my daughter! They all did! I want them jailed!”
I stopped in my tracks against my will and felt the first crack in my mask while struggling to keep my breathing even. On the outside, I was a perfect model of indifference, but inside, I was crumbling.
“You will burn in hell for what you all did to my daughter, and you will finally feel what she felt when you burned her body alive!”
The sound of her shrieking, deranged voice followed me and bounced off my back, which I kept ramrod straight as I walked away. I felt her words like a sword cutting me into tiny pieces.
I wasn’t afraid of hell.
Didn’t she know hell was where I crawled out from? She had to know. She had to see when she looked at me. They all should. Monroe always did. It was why she let me control her all these years. She wasn’t as naive as people believed she was. She had a keen sense of judgment that many people lacked because they couldn’t look past the attractive appearance, money, status, and popularity to see the real person lurking inside. The monster.
They all saw now. Unknown, overeager girls no longer brazenly pushed their breasts against my arms. Random handshakes and pats on the back were a thing of the past when I walked the hallways of Bainbridge and even the town. I was now an outcast. A murderer. A monster.
And through all the looks, the whispers, and the knowing glances, could I bring myself to care? I didn’t miss it. I couldn’t miss what I never really had. These people weren’t my friends or my family. They cared about status. They wanted only what I could offer them.
My car loomed ahead, eager to help me escape, and when I finally reached it, I tugged on the door handle, opening the door.
All I needed to do was drive away.
So why did I look up to search through the crowd?
The answer didn’t seem to matter when I spotted her immediately, leaning against the only tree near the parking lot.
I knew immediately she was a witness to what just took place, but just how much. I studied her face for an answer, but for once, it was set in an unreadable mask. Her emotions and thoughts were carefully tucked away.
The time we spent staring at each other was immeasurable. I could still faintly hear Mrs. Risdell’s shrill voice raising hell as she was being escorted away.
When it seemed none of us would back down, I decided to amp up the intensity. How quickly she forgot… I knew every button to push and when to push them.
I braced my forearms on the car, feeling my murderous instincts take over and letting the tormentor she grew up with manifest before her eyes. I waited for the recognition, the apprehension—the fear. I wanted a fucking reaction, and she didn’t keep me waiting long.
The bitch smirked.
* * *
I left school and went straight home to pack an overnight bag. Tonight would be another night spent at the hospital. I’d barely slept in my own my bed since returning home. It was a small sacrifice to pay for my brother almost losing his life because of me. I would travel from school and back until any and everything that was a threat was dead.