* * *
When Ruby entered the classroom, everyone turned toward Steven. He was already in his corner and stiffened when he saw her. Was she going to repeat yesterday’s actions?
Ruby walked forward and, as she drew near Robert, he hopped up and pulled out the chair next to his. “Come sit at your regular computer, Ruby.” His cheerfulness was forced. Ruby smiled and waved him off. With all eyes watching, Ruby walked to Steven and sat next to him.
Steven stared as she began to talk to him. He couldn’t help but find the situation insane. Steven answered her queries through his shock. She seemed as if he was an old friend. Why was she doing this? Was it some sort of sick joke?
The more Steven considered the dilemma, the less he thought that that was the case. If it was a joke, why was everyone shocked at her actions? Surely, they couldn’t all be acting; could they?
They’re all acting, it’s all a little play. They’ll get you soon. Do it first!
Steven startled at the sound of the voice. It woke him up at the same time every night, but even after all this time, he still wasn’t used to it.
“Are you OK? You kind of jumped all of a sudden,” Ruby asked, compassion in her voice. Steven nodded without saying anything, unsure of her display of kindness.
I want to believe it’s a joke, he thought, but how can I with the way she is acting?
He tried to ignore her and concentrate on his work, but she made that difficult. She jabbered next to him like a typical teenage girl, sometimes laughing at her own jokes, other times poking him in the side with her elbow to get him to laugh too. A couple of times it almost worked, but it was difficult for him to forget the way she treated him after Robert told her what he’d been accused of, so he fell back into frowning silence every time.
* * *
At the end of the torturously long class, Steven rushed for the door. He seemed desperate to escape her and her friendliness. Ruby tried to give chase, but Robert caught up to her before she could.
“Do you know what people are saying?” he demanded, his eyes narrow slits and face red.
Ruby pulled back and crossed her arms over her chest. She scowled at him. “No, but you’re probably gonna tell me.”
“People are saying that you’re Steven’s accomplice. Like you had something to do with Lindsay’s death.”
Ruby opened her mouth to reply, but Robert stopped her. “Obviously, I know you didn’t, because you moved here afterward, but that’s what people are saying, and it gets worse!” he said, his red face somehow getting darker. “Some people are considering the possibility that Steven may be innocent!”