Leila was already in their room, or Cassie didn’t know how she would’ve coped. She threw herself on her bed in tears and after a few minutes, she felt the shift in the mattress as Leila sat beside her.
“What’s the matter? Galahad’s being mean to you, isn’t he?”
Cassie cried harder and Leila put a hand on her shoulder.
“They’re all that way, the ex-Kevorks. You have to be patient with him, like I am with David.”
“No,” Cassie said, choking and sniffling. “It’s not right for him to treat a person this way.”
“You know. Hot, cold. Love you, hate you.”
Leila nodded in sympathy and lay down beside her. “Just give him time. He really likes you. David says so.”
Cassie refused to be comforted. “Oh, what does he know?”
“He knows they all did some pretty bad things when they were with the KDS. David has nightmares even though he says he enjoyed doing all those things they did. So think what it must be like for Galahad, who never wanted to be that way at all.”
“That’s just an excuse.” Cassie swiped at her runny nose and rolled over so she could see the outline of Leila’s features in the glow of their new lantern. “He wants me when it’s convenient for him and I can rot the rest of the time for all he cares.”
Leila put a hand on her arm. “I don’t think he’s that way. I mean, I don’t know him like you do, but from the things David says, I think he’s just a guy with a good heart who got caught up in some bad things and is confused about his feelings now.”
“And he takes it out on me. Like I need it.”
Leila stood up and found Cassie a clean tissue. “You’re right about that. With what we’ve all been through and knowing we’re going to die soon, you’d think people could be a little nicer to each other.”
Cassie blew her nose. “That’s what I don’t understand,” she said. “Galahad talks like he thinks we need to make this a good world again, but he acts like he can’t make up his mind if he really believes it or not. We don’t have time for games.”
Leila agreed. “If you like someone, you should chase hard. One or the other of you might be dead tomorrow.”
Cassie had been starting to feel a little better, but this thought depressed her more than all the others. She reached for the lantern. “Do you need this any more? I’m ready to get some sleep.”
EXCERPT FROM CASSIE’S JOURNAL:
No one is listening to me about Paul. Doc gave me an expired pill and brushed me off. Galahad acted like I was making unfair accusations just to piss him off. And when I remembered, just before turning out the light tonight, that I needed to warn Leila to stay away from him, she laughed. She said Paul was a nuisance, but no way was he any danger to anyone. “Too skinny and holy,” she said. “He wouldn’t hurt a cat, even he thought it was possessed by the devil.”
Fine. So I’m the crazy one. When Paul gets back from wherever he disappeared to tonight, everyone will see what I’m talking about and know I’m right. At least I hope so.
In addition to keeping my distance from Paul, I’m going to stay away from Galahad. It’s too painful the way he makes me think he likes me and then ignores me. Haven’t we all been through enough pain without giving each other more? Besides, he won’t like me any better for being one of those girls who follows a boy around pestering him, letting him treat her any old way. I may not have a future, but I can at least have my pride.
But pride hurts. I love him so much! If I let myself remember how it felt when he touched me, I want to run down the hall to his room and—
Yeah, that would be dumb. I bet he’s not there, anyway. He’s probably on his mysterious upstairs errand again. I bet he’s got another girl hidden up there. Bastard.