Home > Asylum (Asylum #1)(4)

Asylum (Asylum #1)(4)
Madeleine Roux

Dan pointed to the students running around on the grass. “You into sports much?”

“Me?” Abby laughed, playing with one of the feathers in her hair. “Not really. At our school games I’m usually in the stands. I play the piccolo in the marching band. It’s not my favorite thing, but Pops says it’ll make me look ‘well-rounded’ to colleges.”

“I’ve never been one for sports either.” They lingered at the top of the steps, watching the game. “My dad’s a little disappointed. . . . He was big into baseball as a kid.”

That was an understatement. His adoptive father, Paul, had gone to college on a baseball scholarship, and he’d pressured Dan into T-ball and then junior leagues before Dan finally broke down and told him he’d rather go to science camp.

“Well, if you’re here, then he can’t be that disappointed. You’ve got to have brain power just to make it in—” She broke off and started waving vigorously at a guy who was walking toward them. The guy strolled blithely through the Frisbee game, ignoring the players’ shouts for him to get out of the way. Dan looked between Abby and her friend, feeling his stomach sink. Not that he had any claim on her—he’d known her for all of ten minutes—but he had to admit he’d been pretty psyched thinking he’d met another person who’d come here alone, like him. Now he couldn’t help looking at stranger boy, with his broody hair and broody face and cool, broody clothes, and thinking, Well, I can’t compete with that.

“What’s up, nerds?”

“Jordan, be nice,” Abby said, rolling her eyes. “This is Dan. Dan, this is Jordan, and I promise he’s not a jerk.”

“Nope,” Jordan said. “Just an asshole. So how’s it going, Dan? Settling into geek camp all right?” He wore slim, trendy glasses and a shredded green scarf looped loosely around his neck. Dan envied the kid’s perfect five o’clock shadow, something Dan could never emulate given the way his facial hair grew in patches.

“Seriously, Jordan. Who are you trying to impress? I’m sorry, Dan, he’s just showing off. I met him totally by chance on the bus coming here, and he’s really a nice person once you get to know him.” Abby squeaked as Jordan pulled her into a one-armed side hug. Dan felt a strong urge to look away. He didn’t need their canoodling rubbed in his face.

“Fine, fine, wipe the slate.” Jordan stepped back, swept his palms together, and then adjusted his glasses. “I’m Jordan, pleased to meet you. Now stop glaring at me. Abby’s really not my type, all right?”

“God, Jordan, that was not an improvement!” Huffing, Abby hugged herself, turning to hide the flush sweeping up to her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, Abbadabadoo, you’re just too easy to tease.”

Dan must have missed something, because then the two of them were laughing hysterically and somehow he’d been knocked sixty miles out of the loop. His confusion must have shown on his face because Abby raised her eyebrows at Jordan, and Jordan, rolling his eyes, explained in a patient voice that made Dan feel like he was about five years old, “I’m gay. That’s why Abby’s not my type.”

“Oh. Right. Yeah.”

Dan didn’t care that Jordan was gay, but he knew anything he might try to say in his defense now would only make him sound like more of a dork. Already Abby and Jordan had moved on to happy, relaxed banter, and just like that, Dan was an outsider looking in. If they could become such close friends over a single bus ride, surely they’d have no problem making other new friends. Friends who weren’t as stiff and clueless as Dan.

“So there’s a creepy old office on the first floor of our dorm,” Dan blurted. His cheeks were glowing, he just knew it. Tiny pinpricks of heat spread across his face as Jordan and Abby quit talking abruptly. They turned to face him in unison.

“Come again?” Jordan prompted, frowning.

“In Brookline? Near the lobby?” He didn’t want to look too eager, but Abby at least seemed interested, tilting her head to the side and chewing her lip thoughtfully.

“I think I walked by that. It looked locked up though. Quarantined or something,” she said.

“My roommate, Felix, managed to get inside. He said it was totally open. It sounded like something cool to check out, you know, maybe after hours.” It wasn’t until that last bit came out of his mouth that he realized how strange the proposition sounded. Inviting them to creep around after dark when he hardly knew them . . .

Jordan seemed to read his mind, shaking his head and playing idly with the fringy end of his scarf. The bravado he’d shown just moments ago was gone. “Sounds against the rules. I don’t mean to be lame, but I’m not looking to get kicked out, not on the first day. Well, not ever, but definitely not on the first day.”

“He said it was unlocked, Jordan. That hardly sounds off-limits,” Abby put in. She offered Dan a bright smile. “I think it sounds interesting . . . and I’m always looking for inspiration. I bet there are all sorts of vintage goodies hidden in there.”

“There are photographs,” Dan said, before Jordan could rain on the parade again. “Felix said there were lots of photographs.”

“Photos! Even better. I love old black and whites.” She was elbowing Jordan, who still didn’t look keen to give in just yet.

“It was just open? Are you sure?” he asked.

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