Life Blood: Cora's Choice Book 1 (Chapter Five, page 1 of 5)

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"So, remember-Spence says that school's primary value isn't to make you smart or even well-trained but to signal that you already have the qualities of intelligence that an employer is looking for," the professor said, summing up. "See you next week."

"So, basically, she's saying that what she teaches us doesn't really matter," said a guy two rows below me. His friend snorted.

I gathered my coat and shoved my notebook into my bag. I thought of the distance to my next class with a sick feeling in my stomach.

It was Thursday, six days since I had left Mr. Thorne's office bewildered and confused. Six days since the doctor told me that I had five months-maybe five months left to live.

I had tried very hard to keep all thoughts of that day out of my mind, and now that I didn't have to go in for an intravenous injection three times a week, I found that it was just possible to pretend, most of the time, that nothing was wrong.

Most of the time. As the one-week mark approached, though, I waited for news of the test with mounting anxiety. My last chance. As strange as the meeting with Mr. Thorne had been, and as much as I suspected a hidden agenda, I still believed he might be able to save me.

"Spence's job market signaling is only the first type that we will cover as applied to economics," the professor continued, raising her voice as we all clattered to our feet. "Next week, expect to cover the other applications discussed in Osborne, and don't forget to check the course site for the links to relevant online content. You will be responsible for all the material. Thank you!"

I slung my backpack over my shoulders, the weight dragging against me, just as my phone chimed, signaling that I'd missed a call during my preset no-ring for class. I pulled the phone out of my pocket and unlocked it. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the number.

It was the same one that I had dialed when I was first brought to Mr. Thorne.

I braced myself and stepped into the corridor, leaning back against the wall. Other students surged past me, laughing and joking about their plans for the weekend.

Setting my jaw, I hit the button to return the call. The phone connected, and again someone picked up on the first real ring.

"Ms. Shaw," the pleasant tenor said.

Not Mr. Thorne, but the same man who had answered the phone before.

"Yes?" My voice shook slightly, and I swallowed, trying to calm it. I closed my eyes, bracing myself for the final disappointment.

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