‘W-What are you doing here?’ I spluttered, disbelief colouring my tone.
‘Well,’ he began pacing my garden, that look of sheer and utter contempt still an obvious emotion on his face. ‘I believe you have something I want.’
He nodded slowly, eyes fixed on mine.
‘Okay…’ I realised I might be dealing with a nutter and thought the only way I could do this was to humour him. ‘What’s that again?’
‘Don’t play dumb,’ his eyes flashed menacingly. ‘I know you don’t have a clue, which is what makes this more…interesting in a way, I suppose.’
I cocked an eyebrow questioningly.
‘But I’m not going to tell you just yet; that’d spoil the surprise. Although it would be fairly interesting…’ he trailed off leaving the sentence hanging in the air. As he was saying this, he began pacing the garden slowly, his hands behind his back. He left the pathway to the back door available and unguarded. I briefly wondered if I could make it there without being caught.
Only one way to find out.
As his face was turned to the side his eyes searching out something else, I ran with as much speed as I could muster praying I wouldn’t slip on the damp grass. I caught him off guard and it looked like I was actually going to make him when he moved with incredible speed, caught me by the throat and slammed me with tremendous force against the wall. My head snapped back and smashed into the brick and for a moment my vision darkened as a stabbing pain caused me to cry out loud.
‘Don’t ever attempt that again,’ he growled, his face inches from mine. I felt his warmth breath against my skin and I whimpered.
‘What do you want?’ I tried to keep my voice steady but failed miserably. My head was throbbing, making it hard to focus.
‘I’ve already said, you’re not going to find out just yet.’ His hand tightened round my throat and I started to panic. I tried pulling him off me, but he had an unnaturally strong grip.
‘Get…off…’ I choked.
Just then, something went slamming into Roman sending him flying to the floor. My throat opened up once more and I hurriedly gulped in a mouthful of air, coughing and spluttering.
‘Are you okay Tara?’ Luke was stood there looking at me with horrified eyes. ‘Come on!’ he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me through the door, locking it behind him.
I saw Roman get up and brush himself down. He glared daggers at me, chilling me through to the core, before he silently walked away.
‘What…the hell…just happened,’ I was shaking and thought I was going to collapse. Luke supported me by the shoulders and sat me down. He crouched down so he was at eye level with me.
‘Are you okay?’ his fingers brushed against my chin and gently tilted my head upwards so he could look me in the eyes.
I took a deep breath before answering. ‘I think so. He didn’t hurt me, it’s just the shock mostly. We should call the police.’
Luke shook his head. ‘No, the police won’t help.’ He was looking at me strangely, with such intensity I felt an overwhelming desire to agree with everything he said, that somehow it was true and I had no reason to question him.
‘Okay,’ I breathed, smiling ever so slightly. He smiled in response and stood up. It didn’t occur to me at the time to ask how he knew I was in trouble, I didn’t want to think about it. If only I had figured it out then…if only.
Luke stayed with me after that, until mum came home from work. He said he wanted to make sure I was safe and if I’m honest it helped a lot having him there. Part of me was still reeling from the attack Roman had carried out. I didn’t know who he was or what he wanted but Luke somehow convinced me that it was all okay and I didn’t need to worry. I honestly thought he was right. I thought now that Roman had seen I was protected by Luke and I was clueless as to what he wanted, he would realise he had got the wrong person and would leave me alone. I guessed that was the last I would see of him. How wrong could I get?
The morning air was bitter against my cheeks. I watched my breath swirl up around me in the air before turning round to yell into the house: ‘See you later Mum I’m off to school!’
Slamming the door shut, I made my way up the road.
‘Jeez it’s cold,’ I muttered under my breath, shoving my hands in my coat pockets. I turned the volume up on my ipod and let my mind wander.
After a good night’s sleep, I came to realise that I should tell someone about Roman. No matter what Luke said it was obvious he was a threat, what would stop him doing the same to someone else and killing them? I could prevent that. Nevertheless, I didn’t tell my mum about it, part of me didn’t want to worry her and the other part of me was scared. What if she didn’t believe me? Sure, of course she should believe her daughter over a complete stranger, but who’s to say she would? I mean, maybe she thought I was attention seeking. Roman had seemed like a genuinely nice guy to her and I didn’t know how persuasive he could be; he could have everyone fooled. Then he’d be really mad at me and let’s be honest, Luke wouldn’t be with me 24/7, I could be killed.
I was nearly at school, when I looked up to see Rose stood right in front of me. I nearly screamed out loud, partly because I was on edge from the previous day and partly because she had scared the living daylights out of me.
I took my headphones out of my ears and glared at her.
‘You scared me! You shouldn’t sneak up on people you know.’
Her face was impassive as she whispered, ‘You haven’t got away with this.’
‘What? Haven’t got away with what?’
‘He’s coming to get you, Tara. There’s nothing you can do to stop him, he’s too powerful.’ Her expression turned to worry and horror, but her eyes remained emotionless, almost like she was…a puppet. Her skin had also paled slightly and her breathing had become jagged.
‘Rose?’ I took a timid step towards her, my hand outstretched when she whispered something, so quiet I had to strain to hear her.
‘Roman’s behind you.’
It took me half a second for her words to sink in before I gasped and whirled round to find Roman standing there, his head tilted to one side, his eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
‘Hello Tara,’ Roman smiled, seemingly friendly for once.
I backed away to find myself bump into Rose. Roman’s gaze shifted from me to her and he clicked his fingers. Rose blinked a few times before looking around.
‘Tara? What are we doing?’ the colour had been restored to her cheeks and she looked at me puzzled. Life had returned to her eyes and her breathing had returned to normal. She glanced at Roman questioningly.
‘What did you do to her?’ I demanded.
‘Does that give you some idea as to how powerful I am? Now, you’d better come with me or I can do a lot worse.’
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I whispered, grabbing Rose by the arm and leading her towards the school. I didn’t look back as I broke into a run and entered the school gates.
‘What’s going on?’ Rose panted beside me. I didn’t stop until we were safely inside the school. Glancing around to make sure we were alone, I pulled her to one side and decided to tell her the complete truth.
‘Right, you have to promise not to tell anyone okay?’ I looked at her earnestly and she reflected the seriousness I felt in her own expression. She could tell I wasn’t messing around.
‘The other night I got the strangest phone call from someone, saying that they could see me and that they were coming for me. Seconds later the doorbell rings and the guy you just saw outside is standing there with the most furious expression on his face… It was like, I don’t know, it honestly looked like he wanted to kill me. He probably would have if mum hadn’t shown up; he changed instantly and she fell for it right away.
Then the next day he was stood there in my garden and when I tried to get away he grabbed me by the throat. If Luke hadn’t shown up…’ I shuddered. ‘I don’t know who the hell he is and I’m not even sure what he wants, he just keeps saying that I’ll “find out soon”, whatever that means.’ As soon as I said this I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, it felt good to finally tell someone.
That all changed however when I caught a glimpse of her expression. Her eyebrow was raised and she was looking at me like I was crazy. She tried to compose herself quickly but not before I saw.
‘You don’t believe me?’ I whispered, unable to believe what I was seeing.
‘No, no, I do believe you,’ she tried protesting but her voice lacked conviction. ‘But I just think that…well, are you sure you’re not, well…exaggerating?’ I stared at her.
‘I wouldn’t lie about this,’ I replied, through gritted teeth. How could she not believe me? ‘You know what? Whatever. It took a lot of courage to tell you this and if you don’t want to know then I won’t force you to listen. I just thought you were better than that.’ Just as I was about to walk off, I noticed Roman stood in exactly the same spot as before, but this time his eyes were narrowed and he wore a secretive smile, before he turned and disappeared from my sight.