Life Blood: Cora's Choice Book 1 (Chapter Four, page 2 of 4)


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Abruptly, I opened my eyes and started the engine, the car coughing to life in the cold.

What the hell was I going to tell Lisette?

***

At the door of our campus apartment, I stopped and tried to rub some color into my cheeks, dredging up my last reserves of strength before I went in. Lisette was already worried sick about me, and I didn't have much good news to give her. She didn't deserve to be burdened more.

I unlocked the door and pushed it open in the same movement.

"I'm back!" I called as I headed down the short hall to the living area.

Lisette looked up instantly from her laptop. "Hey, Cora's here," she said to the faces on the screen. "Gotta go."

"Hi, Cora!" the faces chorused, waving with forced cheer. "Bye, Cora!" Hannah and Sarah hung up.

Lisette opened her mouth-to scold me for my strange texts, no doubt-but taking a look at my face, she seemed to change her mind and treated me to a brittle smile instead.

I never was very good at fooling her.

"I grabbed some extra dinner for you at the dining hall," she said, patting the foam takeout box. "Eat. Chelsea and Christina are already gone."

For our senior year, Lisette, Chelsea, Christina, and I had ditched the dorms, which were dominated by underclassmen, for an on-campus pre-furnished apartment. There were four tiny bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a common kitchen and living area.

I felt a stab of guilt. Chelsea and Christina were probably already out drinking, but Lisette had put her own plans on hold to wait for me to come back.

"You don't have to stay in because of me," I said. "It's Friday. Sarah and Hannah will probably have a dozen people in their apartment by now."

"Maybe we'll go later." She shrugged and tossed her blonde hair over one shoulder. "So, what did the doctor say? Your texts didn't tell me anything."

I flopped onto the couch, kicking my feet up on the coffee table. I buried my chin in my jacket. "It didn't work."

"What?" Lisette's smile froze on her face.

"The alemtuzumab. It didn't work," I said. Saying it aloud seemed to make it more real. More hopeless. "The cancer's getting worse."

"Oh, Cora," Lisette said, her face crumpling. "What's she going to try now?"

I shook my head.

"Cora?"

Dammit. I blinked hard. I hadn't cried the whole trip from Baltimore to College Park. I wasn't about to start now. "She told me to call hospice."

"Hospice?" Lisette's voice rose. "But you're not-"

"Right," I said, cutting her off, not wanting to hear the word. "But she gave me another number. To a..." I hesitated, not sure how to describe it. "…a clinic."

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