Graded in Red| Chapter 10

Chapter 10

After the life shattering call from my mom this morning I knew that I had some actual work to get done for my classroom. We were only a couple of weeks away from the start of the year and I didn’t have much ready. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 10:45 am, I had 15 minutes to get to Coffee Grind to meet with Victoria. I changed into more comfy clothes, a soft v-neck from target, a pair of boyfriend shorts, and my ratty Converse. There was no need to dress up for Vic. 

As I was pulling into Coffee Grind’s parking lot I saw Vic walking in, she waved at me. My heart stopped though, because Vic wasn’t walking alone. Walking beside her was a gentleman around 5’10’’,  with jet black hair, and a slim swimmer’s body. I had the feeling that I knew who she had invited to our coffee date, and I wasn’t happy about a best friend date crasher. 

Walking into the coffee shop brought a lot of memories back from high school working here. I remembered making late night lattes and studying with Jake or Victoria after the coffee shop had closed. I was able to turn on my favorite music, drink all the coffee I wanted, and clean the tables while closing up. I didn’t always want to get up in the morning after having all of that caffeine, but twas the life of a teenager. I could survive on 3 hours of sleep. 

“Hey Mags!” Vic grabbed me into a tight hug and whispered, “Don’t be mad. I invited him because I thought that it would be good for you two to get to know each other more.”

I forced a smile after she let me go. I could feel the vein in my forehead bulging. Hopefully Mike didn’t know about that tell that I had. 

“Hi Mike, long time no see! How have you been?” I tried to sound as perky as I had felt before seeing that Vic and I’s best friend coffee date had been derailed. 

“Oh, you know, just working on my masters and getting ready for the new school year. How about you? How does it feel to be back home? Mike rubbed his hand through his wave hair, making it look even more messy than it did. I knew that this was a nervous tic of his. He had it when we were in high school too. At least somethings stay the same. 

“It’s going as well as can be expected.” I didn’t know what to say. I was actually at a loss for words. 

“Oh no! Maggie, I’m sorry that was an extremely insensitive question to ask.” His eyes burrowed in a look of concern. 

“It’s okay Mike. I promise. It’s not something that happens everyday. I can’t seem to get the image of her out of my mind, but I am bound and determined to find out who did this.” 

Victoria and Mike exchanged looks that clearly stated that I was crazy. I explained to them that the captain of BBPD wanted me to be the prime suspect because of the fact that I didn’t have an alibi and I was caught fighting with Bridgett the night before. 

Victoria interrupted me, “But, you were actually trying to help her. She was drunk or drugged out on something. Everyone in the bar can give witness to that!” 

“I know, but that was the last night that she was scene before I stumbled upon her at school. So, I am being looked at. Though, I found out something extremely interesting this morning.” Both Mike and Victories leaned in for me to tell them about Jake coming to my parents house and doing work over the past decade and how my mom snapped at me about how Jake was hurt too. 

“I don’t know what happened at prom that night. Do either of you?” I asked looked back and forth to both of them. 

“You know I don’t. I ran off after you that night and went home with you. I didn’t get much time at the dance. Plus afterwards, I was in and out of so many interviews and plays that I wasn’t at school much the last few weeks of the year.”

I glanced at Mike to see what he remembered but he was looking out the window. If I didn’t know better he was avoiding eye contact with me. 

“Do you remember anything?” I had a feeling that he did but that he was reluctant to tell me. 

His green eyes met mine and I could feel their intensity. “Listen Maggie. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with you after not seeing each other for so long, but that is not my story to tell. I’ll say this though, Jake had just as much of a reason to hate Bridgett as you did to hate him after prom.” He looked away again and cleared his throat. 

I tore my eyes away from him to question Vic with my eyes. She just shrugged her shoulders and stated that we should grab something to eat and then talk about the school year. I was glad that I wasn’t the only one out of the loop as to what happened so long ago. I wanted to push the topic, but I knew that there really was only one person who I could ask what happened. 

Vic, Mike, and I talked for a solid three hours at the coffee shop. Reminiscing about the past, talking about what we had missed out on with each other, and finally about the school year. 

Mike was extremely organized and had a ton of material that I could borrow from for my units. He had actually taught all of the different sections of history throughout his teaching career and gave me a lot of things that I could use throughout the year. Towards the end of the meeting I felt a lot better about the beginning of the year and how the year was going to flow. 

Mike said his goodbyes and told us that he would see us later this week to go over any other details that needed to be sorted out. Victoria grabbed us a couple of ice cold sweet teas from the barista. We were on caffeine high but we didn’t need the crash. 

“So babe, what do you think about this whole mess?” Victoria sat down and pushed my tea in front of me. 

“I don’t know. At first I thought it was that man from the bar that night, the one you caught me spying on Bridgett with. He had grabbed her and they were arguing. But when I met with him this morning he had an alibi and even willingly told me the reason they had been fighting. I didn’t have another clue about who it could have been until I talked to my mom this morning and she told me about Jake and prom. She wouldn’t tell me anymore, but it got me thinking. What if it was Jake?”

Victoria had been taking a drink from her tea and snorted it out. “What?! What do you mean? I know that we have some beef with Jake still, but that is all in the past, Mags. Do you really see Jake killing someone?” 

I shook my head, “I just don’t know Vic. I know that I didn’t do it. But he was there that night. He also showed up at the scrap yard this morning, when Tom had told me that the captain was actually coming to talk to him. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me.” I took a long drink from my tea.

“He came by my apartment to let me know that he wasn’t going to let me get blamed for the murder, but what if he was trying to blame Tom? But now Tom has a solid alibi and now I’m the only one left to blame it on. I have to find out what happened at prom. Was it worth killing over after ten years?” 

“Honey, nothing is worth killing over.” Victoria whispered 

“And yet, Vic, someone did die.” I retorted. 

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