Shutdown ⏳ Chapter Five
In which Matty and Lola discuss watches, and Cole is a jerk
You are reading Shutdown, a serialized YA novel by Erin Bowman. If you are new to the story, you may want to visit the Table of Contents and start at the beginning.
Copyright © 2022 by Erin Bowman
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or reprinted without the author’s written permission.
Freaking Cole. He’d said just earlier he barely found Bridget attractive and now he was going to use her the way he used them all. Have some fun. Toss aside. Repeat. And I’d actually cared about Bridget. Like, really cared about her. Which is good, I guess, since we dated for ten months. I grabbed a Solo cup in frustration and filled it.
As I took my first gulp of beer for the evening, I thought I saw her—Raincoat Girl—visible between the masses at the far end of the hall. I craned my neck around a couple grinding to the music.
It was definitely her. She was laughing at something someone was saying. It wasn’t very attractive, her laugh, but I could see her teeth. Slightly crooked, uneven. And her hair. Now that it wasn’t wet, it was the same color it had been in my prediction; softer, fairer.
I pushed my way through the crowd, trying to keep her in sight. She was talking with a girl that looked vaguely familiar and Kaylee Mayer, Travis’ on-again-off-again girlfriend. They didn’t seem like the type to be friends, Raincoat Girl and Kaylee.
Approaching her felt like moving in slow motion. Halfway down the hall I wondered if I was walking to my death, if maybe I should stop. This was the girl I was supposedly going to be with the rest of my life. Was she going to be the last girl I kissed? Slept with? That would put my grand total at two: Bridget, and her. I didn’t need Cole to tell me two was a pretty pathetic grand total. But then I pictured that Polaroid in my hand, the way we’d been together in it, the way I needed to know what that meant and how it happened. So I passed Cole and Bridget—who were two inches away from making out—and walked right up to the girls. I tapped Kaylee.
“Yeah?” she said, turning to face me
“Can you give us a minute?” I motioned to Raincoat Girl.
Kaylee shrugged, and left. The third girl I didn’t know stared at me for a long beat. I got a feeling again that I knew her, but couldn’t place from where. She leaned toward Raincoat Girl, her cheeks colored with concern, but Raincoat Girl just nudged her away, saying, “I’m fine. I’ll find you later.”
When she left, Raincoat Girl turned to face me. She was wearing a pale, baggy sweater that hung off one of her shoulders and a pair of tight blue jeans. I could make out her collarbone, framed by the drooping sweater. She had high cheekbones and a narrow nose. Her eyes were sharp, crisp green with flecks of yellow in them. She seemed so…hard.
“Hi,” I said.
“I remember you.” Raincoat Girl pushed a strand of strawberry blonde hair from her eyes and cocked her head at me. “You’re that kid from the CASP Center today.”
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