"How could this happen?" I asked Sheila.
She looked at me. "I...don't know. We were doing so well, and...," she said and took a deep gulp of air. I could see tears in her eyes.
I saw Aberly run off into her room, and I looked back at Sheila.
"Wait, you are just giving up? Not even going to try?" I said, my voice getting even more hoarse.
"We've already tried," Sheila said. "We've tried for months, and we've barely managed to stay open. And now it's over. Oh well, we've been open for 16 years. I knew our time would come. We just have no more money."
"How much money do you need to stay open?" I asked, expecting something like five-hundred dollars.
"We need...two-point-five-million dollars," Sheila said.
My jaw dropped. I closed it. I had to act not surprised.
"Wait- so you could reopen...if you had 2.5 mil.?"
"Yes," Sheila said.
"And we could keep our jobs...if we had 2.5 mil.?"
"Correct. I don't believe it's worth it."
"What?! It's not worth it?! It saved my life!" I said. This was too frustrating!
I patted Tracie on the back, saying, "Good luck", and ran to my room to figure this out.
Calum came bursting into my room two hours later.
"What? What is it?" I asked, thinking that he'd figured out what to do.
"Aberly's...gone," he said.
"Gone? What do you mean gone?" I asked.
Calum held out a piece of paper.
I read it out loud, my voice getting higher and hoarser as it went on and was in tears by the end. "Dear Ginnifer/Tracie/Inder, I've left the company. Don't worry, they didn't fire me. I resigned. It's better this way, so don't cry. I don't want to be any more of a burden on your shoulders. Don't bother crying over me, I'm halfway across the country by now, and it's better this way. Trust me. Dear Luke/Calum/Ashton/Michael, take care of the girls- they'll need it. You mean a lot to them. And Calum, I'm sorry. Signed, Aberly 'Abs' Mali." A pink lipstick stain was beside her signature.
I flopped onto my bed.
Calum walked over to me. "Are you okay, Ginny?"
"No," I managed to choke out, "she's gone."
Calum took a deep breath in. "She sure is," he said, exhaling.
At dinner, there came a knock at my door.
I opened the door eagerly, hoping for Aberly.
It wasn't. It was Luke.
"I'm not in the mood, Luke," I growled.
Luke grabbed my arm.
"Let go!" I said, struggling for freedom.
"Shut up and follow me, Ginnifer," he said.
He ran, dragging me along behind him.
He didn't stop until we got into the elevator at the modeling building.
"What the #$%@ do you want?" I hissed.
"I saw an ad for something that I need to tell Sheila and Nell about, and you need to hear it too," he said.
The elevator bell dinged, and we jumped off. We ran back into the place where the press conference and the shoot was held, and Sheila and Nell were right where we left them, but they were crying.
"Sheila!" gasped Luke. "I have something you need to see!" Luke took out his phone and held it up for us to see.
I read it out loud. "Need some money? Help us raise the most money and win 3 million dollars! See your local carrier Lance Airboats for more information." I looked at Luke, surprised. "Luke, maybe you aren't as big of an idiot that I thought you were!"