A/N: Sorry for the late update. I wanted to get an update out before I disappear again.
There were a lot of curious stares, and a few brave souls that asked Paige why her cheek was bandaged the next morning at school. If one more person asked her what happened, she'd start getting creative with her response.
Rounding on the person that was calling her name, the swimmer firmly stated with a straight face, "I'm in this club, but the first rule is that I'm not supposed to talk about it. And the second rule is that-" Paige stopped in her tirade, both embarrassed and a little disappointed that she didn't get to finish the quote. "Aria, Hi!"
The short brunette looked amused. "I just wanted to see how you were doing."
"Fine. Considering," Paige trailed off and shrugged. Considering I was attacked by a knife wielding ghost ninja. She was a little disappointed that she hadn't seen Emily yet. "It hurts now and then."
Aria gave her a sympathetic look as they fell in step, both heading for Mrs. Nelson's class. "Yeah. And I just wanted to thank you again. For what you did with Emily."
"That was. I would," The caramel skinned girl wasn't even around and she was tripping over her around. Seeing Emily getting attacked and reacting wasn't some huge heroic thing. It was instinct. Protect Emily. Keep her safe. "How is she?"
"Well, she's mostly okay. She'd be better if she was done with community service. And she still has some make up tests to do. So you know. Other than that. But I do know she is worried about you and feels guilty about what happened." The bell rang as they entered the classroom.
"I'll talk to her." Paige saw what Aria meant for her to do.
"And sorry in advance for Spencer." There was that sympathetic look again. "She can be really intense sometimes."
"More like all the times," Paige muttered.
Aria had heard her. "That's just being a Hastings. She'll probably tract you down by the end of the day."
"Ladies." Mrs. Robbins gave them a stern look. "Take your seats."
Aria gave Paige one last smile before she sat down in open desk towards the back. Paige usually sat in the front of most of her classes. She took a notebook out and tried to concentrate on what Mrs. Nelson was teaching, but her thoughts went back to Emily and what happened last night.
She made a mental list of what she learned last night. Emily and Spencer were pretending to fight to attract the attention of a dark hooded figure. That dark hooded figure had attacked Emily and hit Hanna with a car. The Hoodie dropped their phone. Spencer had referred to The Hoodie as "A". It was obvious that this wasn't the first time the girls had dealt with A. Her promise to Emily to not go looking for answers so soon was straining to be broken. She sighed in frustration.
"Ms. McCullers. Is there a problem?" Paige had forgotten she was in class. Everyone was looking at her. Aria looked concerned from the back of the class.
"Sorry, Mrs. Nelson. My face is starting to hurt." Paige lied
"Then you can get yourself to the nurse's office." Mrs. Nelson waited for her to gather up her stuff. There would be no arguing with the teacher that came off as strict but was fair to all her students. She slung her backpack over her shoulder and left the classroom without looking at the rest of her class.
Rounding the corner Paige found Spencer and Emily talking. "Offer her your lake house. She needs some serious face time with Caleb."
"My lake house?" Spencer looked at Emily curiously, waiting for her to explain further.
"Yeah, they've already made some memories on that couch in the living room." Emily was smiling but the look on Spencer's face made her smile fade quickly. "She didn't tell you?" She didn't wait for the other girl to answer, before she hurried off.
"That was my nana's couch." Spencer stated with wide eyes.
Paige couldn't help but laugh at her reaction. She had been hoping to catch up with Emily but she might as well get the evitable conversation with Spencer out of the way.
"Spencer." Paige called her name out, and hoped what Emily revealed had agitated the other girl. She knew that she wasn't the thin brunette's favorite person. Spencer was fiercely protective of her friends and God help anyone that hurt Hanna, Aria, or Emily. The swimmer had been honestly surprised that Spencer hadn't come after her once she found out about the drowning incident between her and Emily, something that always made Paige feel disgusting every time she remembered it.
"Paige." The way Spencer said her name was politely strained, but she did bother to keep the look of annoyance off her face.
"About last night-"
"What about it?"
Paige knew that if she was going to ask the other girl any questions, she'd get no answers, so she wasn't even going to bother. She just wanted to inform Spencer of what she was doing, as a courtesy, an olive branch. "Your secret is still yours to keep."
"Meaning?" Spencer cocked her eyebrow up like a razor blade. Beautifully intimidating and harsh, the girl in front of her would do well as a lawyer or interrogator.
"Meaning that the doctor that gave me stitches last night probably thinks I'm involved in some underground fighting ring." Paige wasn't very forth coming when answering the emergency department doctor's questions. He didn't prod but sent her home with pamphlets about domestic violence. "I almost got grounded. I just have to check in with my parents like every hour."
"Do you want a medal?" Spencer fumed.
Paige sighed. "I'm sorry. You probably think I'm crazy for what I did to Emily. Nothing I say or do will never make up for that in your eyes." She knew Spencer was likely to bring up her trying to scare Emily by holding her head under water every time she did something right by the other girl. "And we'll probably never be friends, but could we at least be civil to each other?"
"You're right. We'll never be friends." With that, Spencer left her standing alone in the hallway. The thin brunette was dismissive of her and that wasn't going to change anytime soon.
Paige guessed she should try to find Emily, who had a free period at the moment. She wandered over to the library. Looking through the stacks, she found Emily sitting alone at a table far from the librarian with a bookopen in front of her.
"Hey," Paige greeted. Emily jumped a little in her seat. "Didn't mean to scare you. Can I sit?"
"Sure." Emily smiled as she marked her place in and shifted her stuff to make room for her.
"How did the make up test go?" Paige asked. The caramel skinned girl looked up at her questioningly. "Aria told me."
"I haven't taken it yet. Mrs. Montgomery is letting me take the test after I read the last chapters." Emily showed her the cover of the book she had been reading, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.
"Oh. I should let you study then." Paige made a move to stand up. "Mrs. Nelson thinks I'm in the nurse's office anyway."
"No. Stay." Emily reached for her hand. "I mean, if you don't have to be in class right now. Please?" At her pleading, Paige stayed in her seat. "Does it hurt?"
"Not with the pain meds the doctor prescribed." The swimmer smiled crookedly, feeling the pull of the Transpore tape holding the gauze in place.
"Why didn't you stay home?"
"I couldn't take my mother hovering." Paige admitted. "She wants to know what happened. I really don't know what to tell her."
"I'm sorry. I got you hurt. And now you're lying to your parents." Emily frowned and Paige's heart ached for her. "This is why you shouldn't be involved."
"Emily. It's okay. Its just skin. It'll heal. And my mom is just being a mom." Paige soothed. Emily looked away from her. Paige decided to bring up another subject. "Do we still need to get your car after school?"
"No need. When I told Spencer about my car, she picked me up early this morning and we went ahead and picked it up." Emily ran her finger along the cover of the book.
"Oh." She had been looking forward to spending more time with Emily. The disappointment in Paige's was all too evident. The other girl must have picked up on it.
"I have community service later too. At the crisis hotline center." Emily cocked her head to the side. "We can hang out afterwards though. Or this weekend?"
"Don't feel like you have to." Paige frowned. Maybe this was mistake, trying to come back into Emily's life.
"Paige, I want to." Emily admitted. Her eyes locked with Paige's. The look on her face was sincere, something endless.
That instantly put a smile on Paige's face. "Okay. We'll hang out. Just let me know when."
After school, Paige agreed to meet up with Toby at Lucky Leon's. Toby was already sitting at a table when she arrived. "Hey, let me grab a brewed coffee and a cupcake. The coconut ones here are excellent. Do you want anything?"
Toby looked at her cheek curiously, but choose not to ask about it. "No, I'm good."
When Paige came back to the table with her cupcake and coffee. She sat down, and took a sip of her brewed coffee. Toby waited patiently. "You can go ahead and ask."
"What happened?" Toby's voice was concerned. Paige hated lying to him about the real reason for getting hurt, but she couldn't tell him everything. Not yet.
"I fell off my bike. I went to the hospital last night and didn't get a chance to talk to Emily." That last part was true. She still hadn't talked to Emily about this whole situation. "But I think the girls are good now. I saw Spencer and Emily talking to each other at school today. They weren't at each other's throats. They were actually smiling at each other."
"Well, I talked to Spencer last night. And she did say things would be okay after last night. But I guess not between us. It's been more of the same. That it's not safe for me to be with her." Toby ran his finger along the edge of the table.
Paige hated to admit it but Spencer was right. It wasn't safe. Looking in the mirror would always remind her that Emily and her friends were in danger. "What do you think is going on?"
"Spencer is afraid of something. Someone. Same with Hanna, Aria, and Emily. They're all hiding something. I think it goes back to Alison's death." Toby looked at Paige. "I know that much. But I have to know more."
Alison's death, another thing to add to the list. Everything came back to the dead girl. Was Alison's killer the one antagonizing them? Toby knew a little bit more than she did. If they could work together… "Well I want answers too."
Paige was in the middle of putting her books away. "Emily, hey. How did your community service go?"
"It was good. I was nervous about it. Still am. Can I really help the people that call in?"
"You helped me." Paige smiled at the girl shyly. There it was again, Emily's smile that made her stomach do back flips.
"I just wanted to invite you to Spencer's lake house."
Paige's voice caught in her throat. Was Emily inviting her to make their own memories at the lake house? Why did she torture herself like this.
"Hanna is throwing Caleb a surprise party there tonight. Can you come?"
Of course that was the reason. "Yeah! Sure."
"Good. I'll see you there! I can pick you up after I finish up at the crisis center. Bye Paige." Emily said before leaving. Paige watched her walk away down the hall.
Paige was glad to be back in Emily's life. But there was still the confusion. They had to be at least friends. Even if she wanted more with Emily, she was just content to be around the other girl. She would just let Emily take the lead.
She made her way to class, already planning for the party. What would she wear? It had to be perfect. Did she have to bring something? She didn't really know Caleb that much. He was dating Hanna and he had some skill at hacking. It was possible he was helping the girls with the cell phone the hoodie had dropped that night. Maybe she could see what he knew. But she would only do so after asking Emily about the phone. She trusted Emily but she didn't know how long she could be left in the dark.
It was getting late and Emily still hadn't showed up to give Paige a ride to Spencer's. She was between worried and dejected. Either something having to do with The Hoodie came up or Emily had forgotten. It had to be the former. There was excitement in Emily's voice when she had extended the invitation. She decided to try Emily's phone again and got her voice mail.
This time she left a message. She had hoped things were changing between them. "Hey. I hope everything's fine. And that you're okay. Call me when you get this. Please?"