else wear what sheâs got. Sheâs in leggings and knee-high boots, with a wide belt and fitted top. A thin girl with blonde hair trots behind her, dressed in a pencil skirt and an identical top.
âOlivia is the youngest in the Galloway family,â Cora tells me. âSheâs the redhead and a first year cadet, like us. Only a low-level TP esper. Nothing too flash. Tina is the blonde. I donât know what she does, other than being Oliviaâs doormat.â Cora pauses. âThis should be interesting.â
âWhy?â I watch Olivia march towards Archer and Cooper. Other cadets have sat at their table now, and I recognise Dutch and Jasmine with them, talking and laughing among themselves. Nobody notices Olivia until she stops behind Archer.
âApparently, Archer and Olivia were an item nearly all through secondary school,â Cora explains, âthen he broke up with her a month ago. The rumour is, Archer was fooling around behind her back and she had no idea until Tina told her. Pretty sure thatâs the first time someone tried to make a Galloway look stupid.â
I glance back over my shoulder just in time to see Olivia say something to Archer. He doesnât acknowledge her presence, but says something to Cooper, who breaks up in gales of laughter. Oliviaâs back stiffens. Her head whips around, realising people are watching her. Anger ripples across her face, then smooths to nothing.
âAwkward,â Darsh mutters.
Olivia might come from a powerful family, but I canât help but feel a little sorry for her. Itâs obvious Archer doesnât care that heâs humiliating a fancy-pants Galloway family member. But instead of fireworks, Olivia turns and stalks off. Her friend Tina follows, throwing Archer a dirty look over her shoulder.
âI wouldnât like to be in Archerâs shoes.â Darsh tugs absently at one of his ears. âYou donât screw around with the Galloways, without it coming back to bite you.â
Turning away from Olivia, my eyes snag on a figure. Blake sits at a table by himself at the back of the room. Heâs watching his sister leave, his brow furrowed. As if sensing me, his gaze zeros in on mine. I glance down quickly, busy myself with poking my congealing pasta.
âWhat?â Cora catches my expression and looks around before spying Blake. âI wonder why heâs in here,â she says. âHe usually has lunch outside, by himself, nose stuffed in a dusty paper book or something. I mean, I love retro as much as the next person, but honestly. What a pretentious jerk. I mean, he shouldnât even be eating in here, this is for cadets, not faculty.â
âMaybe he doesnât feel he fits in with them,â I say absently, then wonder where that thought came from. âWhat does he read?â I ask, remembering the books he bought from Bobby.
âWho cares?â Cora says. âI hate it when he takes the slider tutorials. Iâm not very good and he makes me so nervous.â
âIâm sure youâre not that bad,â I say.
Cora snorts. âI donât slide fast enough, so I canât travel very far and heâs really mean about it.â
âShadow sliding sounds like a pretty amazing skill,â I say.
âI guess.â Cora doesnât sound convinced. âI hate it though. You always need deep shadow to step into the slipstream. I donât relish the idea of living half my life bumbling around in the dark.â Her eyebrows rise. âDo you remember much about your slide with Blake?â
âHow do you know about that?â I ask, frowning. Was it public knowledge how Iâd arrived at Helios? I wasnât sure I liked that.
Cora flushes. âI might have taken a little peek of your file and read what happened with him.â
I shrug, sipping my cola. âI had no idea what Iâd done, or where I was. I felt like I was falling â¦