The Twelfth Keeper(5)

By: Belle Malory


Kennedy took a deep breath, trying to keep in mind that it was almost over. The physician hovered the last one over her arm. Slowly lowering it. And lowering it. Until…

Ouch.

Kennedy winced, squeezing her eyes shut as the needle worked it’s way into her flesh. Cold serum pumped into her arm, sending chills down her spine.

“Okay, sweetie,” said the nurse in a sugary voice. “All done.”

Kennedy opened her eyes and saw the needle was no longer embedded in her skin. The nurse smiled at her and disposed of the syringe in a metal wastebasket. Weakly, Kennedy returned her smile.

“You can leave now.”

Best. News. Ever.

It was over. No more stupid shots to worry about. No more vaccinations, not until college anyway. Thank God.

Shakily, Kennedy stood up, remembering that Hunter was waiting for her in the hallway. She walked towards the door, heading his way, but stopped short. Rooms weren’t supposed to spin like this one was.

She looked down at her feet. They were…swaying?

Weird.

It felt like they weren’t connected to the rest of her body. Kennedy ignored the strange feeling and rounded the corner into the hallway.

“Kenn, are you okay?” asked Hunter. His voice sounded miles away, but he was standing right there. Looking extremely freaked out. Wait, why was he freaked out?

“Whoa,” Hunter said, jumping in front of her. He shouted for the nurse.

Confused, Kennedy looked up, realizing she’d fallen into Hunter’s arms. How had that happened?

Within seconds, the nurse was also there at Kennedy’s side. “Pale as a ghost,” Hunter said, his voice edged with alarm. His arms trembled around her.

Did he just say I’m as pale as a ghost? Okay, officially time to panic.

“Let’s bring her back inside.” The nurse held the door open for them.

Gently, Hunter guided Kennedy towards the nearest chair and lowered her into it. The nurse held some sort of flashlight with the tiniest beam of white light in front of her eyes, inspecting each iris.

“She’s fine.” The flashlight clicked off. “A bit woozy, but fine. Probably a result of the blood sample we took. Some people don’t have the stomach for it.”

Hunter looked back at Kennedy. “You okay, Kenn?” He needed some kind of reassurance.

She managed a slow nod. Now that she thought about it, some of the disconnect she had been feeling before had faded away. “I-I think I’m better now.”

The nurse dampened a paper towel in the office’s sink and handed it to her. “Put this on your forehead, sweetie. In a few minutes you’ll feel as good as new.”

The nurse’s words held true. After a few minutes had passed, Kennedy felt better, as if nothing had happened.

Except now she was really, really embarrassed. She couldn’t believe she let herself get so worked up, worse than a two-year-old. Lollipops and princess Band-Aids were out of the question—she hadn’t even shown that much grit.

Hunter sat across from Kennedy, lounging on the patient’s table. Something glinted in his eyes that looked suspiciously like humor.

Wonderful.

“Don’t you dare laugh,” Kennedy warned him.

Careening his expression into a serious one, Hunter said, “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“I mean it.” She stood, pointing her finger at him. “Months from now, and I do mean months, you’re allowed to laugh and make fun of me till your heart’s content. But not today. Not right now. Do you understand me, Hunter Thompson?”

Hunter nodded, a sharp, severe nod. “No jokes,” he promised.





Two





Out in the parking lot, Jake Thompson, Hunter's dad, pulled up beside them in a rusty, old truck. “Hey, kids,” he said. “What took so long?”

Hunter shuffled his feet against the cement. “Sorry about the wait, Dad. Kenn had a little trouble…finding the door.”

Kennedy caught traces of a smile forming at his lips. What a little traitor. “Hun-ter,” she growled. One more word, and she swore she would sock him upside his stupid, grinning head.

Hunter wouldn’t look her in the eye. Tilting his head skywards, he avoided her gaze while his body shook with laughter that he was not doing such a great job of containing.

Kennedy rolled her eyes and turned back to Jake. “Mind if I catch a ride with you guys?”

Ashley had called to let her know she was running late—shocking news there—something about Reagan’s graduation pictures taking a long time.

Kennedy felt bad for asking; she bummed rides off of Jake all the time. Then again, he never seemed to mind.

“Sure. Hop in,” he said. “Oh, and uh, mind the mess.”

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