Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson Read Free Book Online

Book: Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lauren Henderson
shouldn’t be all about me.” I yawn, deeply now. “Tomorrow we’ll talk about you … who you like … if you like anyone.… Oh God, I started talking about you and now I’m going to sleep.… I’m sorry.…”
    But Taylor’s already snoring heavily. I just have time to think No! That’s going to keep me awake all— before I fall asleep myself as if someone hit me over the head with a brick.

    My heart is pounding with excitement, because I’m about to meet Jase. I’m running down Lime Walk, the wide avenue lined on either side with tall linden trees that runs along the Great Lawn at Wakefield Hall and leads to the bottom of the stepped stone terraces rising to the old house. Where Jase is waiting for me.
    My feet tangle in vines, and I kick them free. My trainer laces are working loose, but I keep running. I cut down across the Great Lawn to avoid the vines, but the grass is surprisingly high—why hasn’t Jase cut it? It’s at my ankles, but it’s growing so fast I’m having to leap higher and higher to move through it—now it’s almost up to my knees, slowing me down as if I’m wading through water. And the school bell’s ringing, calling me back to the next lesson, which means I’ll have no time with Jase at all.
    But I might not even get to school. I might never see Jase. Because the grass is rising higher, up to my chest, my neck—I’ve got my hands up now, desperately pushing it away, trying not to choke, and the bell’s ringing louder and louder—I’m going to be in such trouble if I miss class—
    I’m thrashing my head from side to side. I wake up gasping, the blankets and sheets caught in a tight twist around me as if someone tried to mummify me in my sleep. And that wasn’t the only part of my dream that was real; the room is actually vibrating with the reverberations from the bell, which is pounding out in a long scream of emergency—
    Emergency. Alarm bell.
    “Taylor!” I scream, throwing the bedclothes off.
    She’s stirring, moaning in her sleep, and I dash over, grab her shoulders, and pull her up and out of bed.
    “Fire alarm!” I yell. “Fire alarm!”
    I hear voices outside the room now, footsteps pounding down the corridor. I know that sometimes you’re not supposed to open the door when there’s a fire, but I think that’s when it’s hot to the touch: I jam my palm against the wood and it feels okay. Plus, the door handle isn’t burning. I drag the door open and turn to see Taylor stumbling out of bed, still half asleep.
    “Come on !” I say, and then I do something I never thought I’d be reckless, or desperate, enough to do: I slap Taylor hard on the cheek, so hard that my palm stings.
    “Aah!” Her eyes snap fully open and she shakes her head like a boxer recovering from a punch.
    Sensibly, I nip behind her so that she can’t hit me back, and start pushing her through the door. The corridor is full of smoke, and as we exit the room, it suddenly intensifies into a thick, blinding cloud. I cough. People are calling from the left, and we turn that way; I think I hear Miss Carter scream:
    “Girls! Girls! Over here!”
    We start down the corridor, feeling our way, trying not to stumble and trying not to panic; I can’t believe how thick the billows of smoke are, settling around us like a heavy gray pall.
    And then I hear it.
    “Scarlett!” calls a faint voice behind me. “Scarlett! Help!”
    I twist around, stopping in my tracks, squinting in a vain effort to see anything, anything at all. But I can’t.
    “Scarlett! Help! ” comes the voice again.
    There are rooms beyond ours down the corridor, at least four or five before the back staircase. Someone could still be in her room—someone who turned an ankle or something, getting out of bed in a panic. And—my brain flashes back to earlier this evening—the St. Tabby’s girls are in the corridor above ours. One of them could have come down the stairs, running for the front door, tripped and

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