Emily had no word from Pierce, and Amina could not locate him. Latasha was home and healing rapidly. Lisa was all but healed, and it looked like she would be scar free. It also looked like Maria’s hair was going to grow back after all. It had only been shaved. And Jessica was down to a simple cast on her arm while Mindy was able to take a long, hot, soak in the tub. She still felt the sting in a few places from the soap, but she was determined.
Melissa was back home in Vermont. They told her parents that the cult kidnapped her, but the police shut them down so they would no longer be a threat. They said Melissa would be perfectly safe at the school for summer classes. Detective Lisa gave her personal guarantee. And still there was no word from Pierce.
It was Thursday late afternoon when Jessica sat on the library steps and looked out on the world. Emily sat on the same library steps but she pouted in her own mind and had no room in her thoughts for the world. She could not concentrate on her school work, either. What started out as a straight A semester was rapidly becoming Bs and Cs. She might even end up having to take a summer class herself if that Earth Science whacko messed with her grade.
“At least I’m doing well in Modern European History, thanks to Amina,” Emily said.
“I’m getting Bs,” Jessica said. “My father is happy.”
“Business major,” Emily said grumpily.
“Yeah.” Jessica did not sound much happier about it. “Amina is studying history and philosophy. Maria is going to be a doctor. Mindy is into antiquities, all those folktales, myths and legends, and languages. Melissa is the real geek. She wants to study physics.”
“I want to be a nurse,” Emily said a bit defensively.
Jessica frowned. “I’m studying business because my father wants me to study business.”
Emily nodded, but had to ask. “What would you study if you could pick whatever you wanted?”
Jessica sat in silence for a long time before she answered softly. “Business,” she said. “But I think at this point I might join you in ROTC. Is that weird or what?”
Emily never thought of Jessica that way. It was weird, but she did not say it.
Jessica continued. “It was never like this before. I had dreams of modeling and marrying some rich guy and doing lots of rich things. You have ruined me. Holly, my new roommate and I have sworn off boys for a while. I never did that before.”
“No more Larry?”
“Please. That was three boyfriends ago. No, I mean with all that happened last semester, and now with the gang, the tribe as Amina insists, and with all that working out and learning self-defense.” Jessica stopped in mid sentence.
“What?” Emily had to prompt her.
“I honestly never felt better in my whole life. I never felt better about myself, either. I think I had a low opinion of myself and low expectations without realizing it. Now I feel like I can conquer the world. I don’t need to marry a rich guy. I can get rich all by myself, thank you very much.”
“I’m happy for you, I think.”
“Maybe I should change to a psychology major. I should fit right in with all those crazy people at this point, don’t you think?”
Emily was thinking. She was wondering what happened to the girl with the French nails who never opened a book and wanted to date the football team. This was a different woman. “But ROTC?”
“I think I would be good at it. What do you think?”
“I think you would too,” Emily admitted. “Of course, I wouldn’t be able to go easy on you.”
Emily was ready to try to talk Jessica out of it when her phone buzzed. She had a text message. It was from Pierce. It said she should meet him on the roof of the science building. He had something important to tell her, but she had to come alone or she would never find him.
“I have to go,” Emily said. Her hand touched her knife without any conscious thought about it, and she took off running across the green at top speed. At the same time, Amina ran up, yelling.
“Emily! Emily!” Emily did not hear or she did not answer, and Amina had to drop her hands to her knees at that point to breathe.
“What is it?” Jessica stood, a worried look on her face.
“He is going to kill her,” Amina gasped for air. “He is going to try, and if he does we are all dead.”
“Explain,” Jessica said as she spied Maria and Mindy catching up.
Amina waved off Jessica’s questions and concerns. She had her phone out and was dialing furiously.