Chapter 9
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I hadn’t thought to check my room in the apartment. It hadn’t made much sense to me before.

I heard the doorbell ring.

“Melody, let him in,” I said, not wanting to leave the hurricane I was making in my room.

“Aster! I told you to wait on me!” Malakai yelled. He appeared at the door. “Why can’t you just listen?”

“If it was up to me, you wouldn’t even know I was on the island,” I said. I strained against the mattress. Malakai came over and lifted it for me.

“What are you looking for?” he asked.

“Gideon’s notebooks,” I said.

“I doubt you’d even be able to read them if you found them.”

“They’re not here.”

He dropped the mattress. “Why are you even looking in your room?”

“For a smart guy you’re a little slow.” I put a chair on the bed to get to the top of the closet. “There’s no reason for him to put them in my room. Therefore, it’s the perfect hiding spot.”

“That’s assuming he hid them and not that he left them somewhere.” Malakai put his hands on my waist. He lifted me off the chair and set me on the floor.

“I wasn’t done yet,” I said.

“I can see on top without having to stand on a death trap.” He climbed onto the bed. “I don’t see anything up here.”

“Where would he hide them?”

“Maybe he didn’t hide them.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. It clicked in my head. “You mean that if he knew someone was after him, he would have destroyed them completely.”

“No one was after Gideon,” Malakai said. I ignored him.

“I was looking for a box of notebooks. Gideon could have digitized his copies just to make sure he’d have them. Maybe there is no box of notebooks.” I shook my head. “No. He’d never destroy them. I’m positive his notebooks are somewhere.”

“Aster—”

“Melody, did Gideon leave a message for me?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“What is it?”

“That he hopes you like your new computer. He built it himself.”

“My new what? I don’t have a new…” I grabbed my phone and dialed my home number. “Mrs. Oalde, it’s Aster. Did a package arrive for me?” Mrs. Oalde was our housekeeper back home. Her husband was an engineer, and he and Dad worked together before Mr Oalde's back started giving him trouble. They were both old but loyal so my parents hired them to watch the house now that I would no longer be staying at home.

“A package? No,” she said. I heard a beep. “Hold on. We’re entering the house now.”

I paced the room. A computer? That must be it. But why would he send it like that?

“Aster, are you still there?”

“Yes, Mrs. Oalde.”

“There’s a box here with your name on it. Do you want me to keep it for when you—”

“No. Could you collect the package and send it to Gideon’s apartment?”

“I guess that’s easier than sending it to your school. I’ll have it sent tomorrow morning.”

“Use the fastest shipping you can. I’ll send you the money.”

“Alright.”

“Thanks Mrs. Oalde,” I said. I fell backwards onto my bed. “Finally. I’m sure there would be something in his notebooks.”

“Or he could have just sent you a computer he built.”

“Do you honestly think he would go through the trouble of building a computer when he could just have it custom made?” I asked. “Don’t forget that the allowance we get from my parents is more than an average person’s salary. There is no reason to waste time when you have money.”

Malakai huffed and picked up some of the shirts that I’d thrown on the ground during my search.

“I hate it when people talk so lightly about money,” he said.

“Why? Money like everything else is just a tool. It’s not a goal, just a means to a goal,” I said.

“You’re lucky you have the ability to say things like that.”

“Don’t go projecting your biases on me like a common fool. Don’t forget that the exam I took to get into Neptune was far harder than the one you took back when you were twelve. Money can’t buy brains.”

“But they can buy opportunities.”

“Only if your parents let you out of the house other than for school.”

He looked as if he was going to say something then changed his mind. He raised up one of the brand new binders I hadn’t even taken out of the packaging yet.

“Where did you even find these things?” he asked.

I sat up. “Would you get me arrested if I told you?”

The binder fell from his hand.

“Aster, please tell me you didn’t have these imported.”

“For Gideon’s sake, I can do much more than break the importation laws.” I pushed myself off the bed and picked up the binder from the carpet. The Nevaeh government didn’t allow citizens to import goods of any kind. Most items were made in the country so it wasn’t usually necessary. Only companies with special permission were allowed to import things from other countries. “I couldn’t find something that works in the city and I couldn’t have them custom made without my parents finding out. These were very expensive to get but I don’t regret it.” I looked up at him. “Don’t think for one moment that buying these on the black market and forging government records is where I draw the line. This is by far the very least I am willing to do.”

 

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