The sound of three beating hearts leads me to believe that Sarah is still in the house. What I don’t get is why she just left the room like that.
“Sarah?” Luke asks loudly. “Where’d you go?” There isn’t an answer as Luke rises to his feet, a look of confusion written across his face.
“Listen,” I say. He looks down at me. “You hear that? It sounds like she’s upstairs.”
“Hmm,” he says, tilting his head like he’s attempting to listen. “Why’d she go up there?”
“I don’t know,” I mutter as I stand up. “Let’s go find out.” He follows me up the stairs, stopping along with me outside of her room. That’s where she is, but when I tug on the doorknob I find that it’s locked. Luke and I exchange a look.
“Sarah?” I ask, my palm resting against the door. “Sarah, is something wrong?” I tilt my ear towards her room, listening closely. I can hear the sound of her heavy breathing across the room, as if she’s freaked out about something.
“I-I want you to leave,” she stutters. “Leave! You can’t be here!”
My eyes meet Luke’s and I see the same bewilderment I feel in his expression. “What do you mean?” Luke asks, beating me to it.
“I-I saw you, Julia,” Sarah calls. “I saw you.”
My heart skips a beat. What?
“What?” I ask, echoing my thoughts. “I thought this was what you wanted, Sarah. I thought you wanted Luke and I to make up?”
“N-no! Not that,” she says. Her voice is starting to sound frantic. “I saw you. I-I know what you are.”
My eyes break away from Luke’s and I turn to the door, wanting to break in. “What are you talking about, Sarah?” The silence I get in return doesn’t answer my question. “Sarah?” I repeat.
“M-make her leave!” Sarah yelps. I flinch, taken aback from the sudden yelling. “Make it leave, Luke! Make it leave!”
It feels like the air is sucked out of me. I start jiggling the doorknob, feeling useless to help her from whatever is going on.
I need to get in. I need to get in. Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong. She needs me.
Luke’s hand on my shoulder causes me to slow to a stop and I shut my eyes, letting out a long breath. I brush away the tear running down my face.
“Maybe you should go,” he says. “Then I can talk to her and figure what’s going on. I’ll call you as soon as she calms down and maybe we can make some sense out of this.” He lets his hand fall.
I take a deep breath, nodding. “Okay. But...call me as soon as you can, alright?”
He nods. “Of course.”
I take one last look at the door before bringing myself to head back downstairs. It takes all of my willpower not to burst in tears from the frustration and hurt I feel after what happened. Frustration because I still don’t seem to know the complete story with what’s going on with Sarah, and because there’s nothing I can do to help her. Has she gotten so paranoid from these creatures following her around that she thinks I could be one of them too? The hurt comes from her to referring to me as an “it.” After all of the years we’ve been together, after all the hell we’ve been through, she still thinks so low of me? She still thinks that I’m--I’m some monster? Even if it stems from the paranoia of what’s going on, it hurts. A lot.
I throw myself into Logan’s jeep, slamming the door shut behind me when I get in. I sit there for a moment, then starting beating my hands against the steering wheel in anger and pain. When I get done, I lean back in the seat and check my watch through blurry eyes. 7:30. After everything that’s happened today, it’s only 7:30? I managed to get through my calmness and get mad at someone, I gave Luke another chance, I got worked up for a second time in one day, and Sarah locked herself in her room, and it’s still just past dawn. At least I’ve found that I can still get angry, I guess. Hasn’t happened in so long it’s become almost worrisome. Maybe I’m getting back to myself now. Maybe this calmness of mine isn’t something I need to worry about anymore, because I sure wasn’t calm today.
A knock on my window startles me and I flinch as I see the figure standing outside. A somewhat muscular looking boy, probably around my age, stands beside me. With dark hair, dark eyes, and a growing stubble of the same color on his jawline, he looks quite attractive and I’m wondering what in the world he’s doing here. I start the jeep so I can roll the window down, wiping the tears off my face the best I can.
“Yes?” I ask through a strained voice. I notice he has a small dark blue box in his hands with an even smaller light blue bow placed on top.
“Sorry,” he starts, pointing behind him at Sarah’s house as he speaks. “I was just coming up here to introduce myself to the neighbors–we just moved in a couple days ago–and I saw you giving the steering wheel a beating and thought….well, I don’t know what I thought, I was just worried. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I say, making my voice soft so I don’t sound rude.
The guy smiles, laughing a little. “Yeah, fine as wine. But anyway, if you’re sure you don’t need me to help you beat that steering wheel up, do you know the people who live here? I was about to give them this,” he says, holding up the box for me to see, “and talk to them a bit. Do you think that’ll be fine with them?”
I sniffle, getting a better hold on myself. This is probably the worst first impression I’ve given someone of myself. “I think that you should probably wait for another time to do that. Some shit just went down in there and my friend’s parents aren’t home right now anyway. They might be back in a couple days though.”
“Hmm, okay then.” I notice how smoky his voice sounds as he lifts the box over the window toward me. “Have some chocolate.”
I glance down at the box. “You’re giving this to me? You don’t even know me.”
“Well, no, but I doubted that anyone would get mad over free chocolate, and you seem upset about something, so why not? Maybe you can show me around in exchange since I’m new here. Now, are you going to take this or not? My arm is getting tired.” He waves the box around in front of me until I reach out and take it from his hands.
“Don’t mention it. What’s your name, anyway?” he asks. Something about the way he looks kind of just makes me want to kiss him, though I remind myself it’s way too soon to be thinking about something like that.
Or is it? another part of me questions.
“Julia,” I say. “You?”
“Garrett. Is Julia short for something? Like Juliette or--”
“Just Julia,” I interrupt. I guess my full name is still a bit of a tender spot for me, even after all the years it's been since my dad died. I pause, considering whether or not I want to continue this conversation. “So, are you busy right now?”
Garrett shoves his hands in his pockets, huffing like he’s cold. It is quite cold out now that I’m thinking about it. “It depends. Are you going to give me a ride, or am I going to continue to stand out in the cold wondering how someone could be so seductive when they’re not even trying?”
I cock my head to the side, staring at him. “Are you talking about me or you?”A smile brightens his face after I say it, as well as brightening my day for one small moment.
You know, you did say you wanted a distraction. This is a better distraction than any.
“I was referring to you, but I am quite hot myself,” he says. He pauses, either admiring or studying me; maybe both. “So, how about that offer? I give you chocolate, and you give me a tour of the town.”
“Get in then,” I say, gesturing to the seat next to me. "I don't have anything better to do."
"Oh, right now? You're not gonna murder me, are you?"
"Nah, I'm a bit tired," I say. "Maybe later." He smiles, laughing at me, before jogging around the front of the jeep and hopping in next to me, while I start unwrapping the box he gave me. His laugh sends a warm feeling down my spine, and it feels kind of good. I pop a piece of chocolate in my mouth as he closes the door.
“Are you really already eating that? It’s not even eight yet,” he says, laughing a little.
I shove another piece in my mouth. “Uh, this is America,” I say, my mouth filled to the brim. “It’s never too early for chocolate.” Garrett laughs and I wind up laughing along with him, even though just a couple minutes ago I was in tears and attacking my steering wheel. I turn and take one last look at Sarah’s house, feeling another twinge of pain as I think about what she just did and said to me.
Don’t worry about that now. There’s nothing you can do. Luke will call you when he gets her out. She’ll be okay.
“You know,” I say as I shift the jeep into drive, “I’m planning on having a birthday party next Friday. You should come. Be a good way to introduce yourself to people and shit."
“You seem awful trusting,” he says, a one-sided grin on his face. “If I was a vicious killer or something you’d be in trouble.”
Yeah, I’d be in trouble, I think, almost laughing at the thought. If anything, it’s the exact opposite on both accounts: I trust almost no one and if he tried something I would likely rip his throat open within seconds.
I scoff at him. “I highly doubt that. But just so you know, if you are a killer, I’m the last person you want to mess with. Anyhow: birthday party or not? The offer is wavering.”
“I wouldn’t miss it,” he says, still smiling that charming smile of his. As I pull into the street, I feel a twinge of hope in thinking that this day may not be as depressing as it’s started out to be. And a bit of hope for the fact that I may have just found the distraction I’ve been looking for.