Raveling you, p.12
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       Raveling You, p.12

         Part #2 of Unraveling You series by Jessica Sorensen
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  “Maybe you should be.” I hand Ayden a piece of the fudge and stuff one into my mouth. “I can smell you from all the way over here.” The chocolate melts in mouth. So delicious. Aunt Lila makes the best fudge.

  He removes a bowl from the microwave, then tenses. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He exchanges another look with Uncle Ethan.

  “I can smell it on you, too,” I tell Uncle Ethan and his expression plunges, his back stiffly straightening like a bolt of lightning just zapped him. “I’m not going to nark or anything. Just thought I’d let you know.” I shovel a handful of candy from a glass dish then tug Ayden out of the room with me before anything else can be said.

  “You’ve always known how to talk your way out of things,” Ayden says as we ascend the stairway. “But I’ve never seen you make them squirm like that.”

  “If I didn’t try something then they would have pried the truth out of us with their parenting mind control skills,” I joke, pushing open my bedroom door.

  I flip on the lights, wrestle out of my jacket, and scarf down the remaining candy. Then I kick my boots off and flop down on the bed.

  “You want to talk about why you’re so quiet?” I ask with my mouth full of candy gooeyness.

  He shuts the door and slumps against it. “I’m just trying to process everything.” He lets out a shaky breath. “Why the hell was the guy in the house? A guy who clearly has to be part of that group.” He touches his side where his tattoo is hidden beneath his shirt.

  I stretch out on my stomach, pondering the possibilities. “Maybe he wasn’t part of the group,” I say, trying to remain optimistic. “Maybe he just had a tattoo that looked the same. Maybe he was just breaking in to steal stuff and Uncle Ethan scared him off before he could take anything.”

  Ayden frowns. “There seems to a lot of maybes.”

  “I know.” I sigh and bend my knees so my feet are in the air. “But I still don’t get it. Say he’s one of those people.”

  “Soulless mileas,” he mumbles as he sinks to the floor, brings his knees up, and slumps his head against the door. “That’s what they’re called.”

  Hearing the name of them makes the situation even more unsettling. “Okay, let’s say he is part of this group and he was the guy outside staring at your window. He’s obviously been watching you and the house, but then why break in when no one’s home? To just go in your room? There had to be a point.”

  “Maybe he thought I was in there and was coming after me?”

  “Maybe, but Aunt Lila and Uncle Ethan usually turn off all the lights when no one’s home.” I trace my finger across my lips. “What if he was looking for something else besides you?”

  “Like what? I don’t have anything. Nothing important anyway.”

  “What if he left something then?”

  He lifts his head and cocks a brow. “Have you been reading mystery books again?”

  “Yeah, so what?” I push up from the bed and kneel down in front of him. “It wouldn’t hurt to look around your room, would it?”

  He traces the scars on the back of his hand. “It might.”

  “I’ll go look then.” I start to get up.

  He snatches hold of my arm and pulls me back down, swiftly shaking his head. “I’m not going to risk your safety over mine.”

  “They don’t want me,” I remind him. “I’ll be okay.”

  “They want everyone.” He continues to trace the pale scars, while dazing off over my shoulder. “They came from fingernails.”

  “What did?”

  “The scars on the back of my hand. That and metal cuffs.” When our gazes weld together, his grey eyes fiercely scorch. “Still want to go over there?”

  My lips quiver as I nod, telling myself that it’s just next-door and our parents will be only a yard length away. Everything will be fine. But Ayden seems like he believes the exact opposite, as if at any moment someone is going to charge through the door and steal us both.

  “In the morning we’ll check things out,” he says with uncertainty. “I’m not taking you over there when it’s dark. And only hours after the guy was in the house. Besides, maybe the police will catch him by tomorrow.”

  “So, what do we do for the rest of the night then? Because we have to do something. Otherwise we’ll just sit around and drive ourselves crazy with worry.” I sound innocent, but my body and mind are hyper aware that we’re in my room with my bed only a few feet away.

  He straightens his legs and rises to his feet. “We really could work on a song.”

  I perk up. “You want to write one with me?”

  “We could try.” He cracks the door, leaving it open like Aunt Lila said. “I’m not sure how well it’ll go, though.”

  “I think we might rock it.” I cross the room to my bookshelf. The bottom row is lined with a collection of CDs my dad gave me. “What’s your choice of poison?” I ask as I skim the titles.

  He crouches down beside me. “Something relaxing. I don’t think I can handle any more stress tonight.”

  “Hmmm…” I thrum my finger against my lips then select a CD. Going over to my nightstand, I open the case, remove the disc, and feed the player my disc.

  “What is this?” Ayden walks up behind me, causing my skin to tingle.

  The sensation is insignificant to what I felt earlier today on Sage’s couch. My very first orgasm, and it was better than any scenario I’d ever conjured up in my very creative mind.

  I skip through the songs and land on one of my favorites. “‘Civilian’ by Wye Oak.”

  “Do I get a mark against me because I don’t know them?” He tangles his fingers through my hair and sweeps the strands aside. Then he does something unexpected but amazing. He rests his chin on my shoulder. A gesture so small and plain an outsider wouldn’t think twice about it.

  Me, I think a lot about it.

  So much my mind sparks like a hot-wired car.

  “This is nice.” I rest against his chest and his arms enclose around my waist. His nerves are still evident with the fumbling movement of his hands and his heart pounding against his chest and my back.

  He places delicate kisses on my shoulder, savoring the taste of my flesh. My head uncontrollably falls back, my neck arched and exposed, seeking more of his gentle touches.

  “Lyric,” he whispers, his mouth moving against the arch of my neck. “I need you to promise me one thing.”

  I bob my head up and down, my eyes rolling into the back of my head as my eyelashes flutter. I would promise him anything right now.

  “Promise me that if this gets to be too much—if at any point you feel like I’m bringing you down—you’ll walk away.”

  “That will never happen.”

  “Just promise me, okay. I need to know that I’ll never ruin the amazing person that you are.”

  Shaking my head, I spin around and loop my arms around the back of his neck. “You’ll never ruin me. You add to my amazingness, not hinder it.” His lips part in protest but I talk over him, “But if you really need me to promise then I will. Just know that I’ll never feel that way.”

  He seems somewhat satisfied by my answer.

  “Now, no more stress.” I grab his hand, push him back, then raise our arms and spin around like a ballerina. “Let’s write beautiful lyrics together.”

  He laughs and twirls me around again. My dress spins around my waist, dancing with me, and my hair flows behind me like a flag in the wind.

  After a few more twists, we hop on my bed and get situated with some pillows, a notebook, and a pen.

  “I’ll write the lyrics with you, but it’s up to you to sing them.” He fluffs a pillow then lies down beside me.

  I prop up on my elbow. “For right now, I will. But one day in the future, I will get to hear you sing, Shy Boy.”

  “And what if I suck?”

  “Then you suck, but at least I’ll have gotten the chance to hear you.”

  “All right, just know that you’ve bee
n warned.”

  I salute him. “You’ve done your duty, my dear friend. Now, what should we write about?”

  He shrugs, rotating on his side and propping up on his elbow. “I don’t know. What do you want to write about?”

  We ponder our options while the song plays through and changes to the next.

  “I never knew it could be like this,” Ayden finally says, his lips quirking.

  I’m not sure if he’s talking to me or mumbling a lyric, but I write it down anyway.

  His eyes drift to the ceiling as he ponders the next line. “Kissing the air from her lungs.”

  “Her, huh?” I pen what he said down. “Guess I’m a lesbian in this one.”

  He chuckles and I grin.

  “And the heavens rain stars down on us.” I scribble across the paper.

  “Pieces of shimmering gold around us.”

  “Pouring warmth all over us.”

  “Kiss me until I can no longer breathe.”

  “Raveling me up with you until I can hardly think.”

  That’s how far we make it before we start making out on my bed. We stick to kissing and getting tangled in the sheets, but we break our lip lock the moment Ayden starts having trouble breathing.

  I can tell he’s upset that he has to force us to stop. I talk around the subject and eventually manage to sidetrack his thoughts.

  A little past two o’clock, Aunt Lila pokes her head into the room and tells us we should go to sleep. She doesn’t make Ayden leave, but she does open the door all the way.

  We start to drift off a while later, lying face to face while Ayden strokes my cheek and stares deeply into my eyes.

  That’s the last thing I remember before the screaming starts.

  Chapter 12

  Lyric

  Screaming.

  Screaming.

  Screaming.

  At first, I think I’m dreaming.

  But when my eyes shoot open, I realize I’m not.

  I search frantically for where the noise is coming from. But the lights are off and nightfall is heavy and thick against my vision. The yelling is coming from somewhere close. Somewhere in my room. But I have no idea where.

  I sit up in my bed and fumble around in the dark until I feel my lamp. I tug on the cord, clicking it on. Light flows around my room and I realize Ayden is gone from my bed. The screaming has stopped, though.

  I hold my breath, waiting anxiously for someone to run into my room, because someone had to have heard it. But my house is fairly big and the walls are fairly soundproof and sometimes sounds get muffled.

  When no one shows up, I stumble out of bed and peek under my bed, then head for my closet, the only other place he could be in my room. When I open the door, Ayden is huddled in the corner with his arms wrapped around his knees. He’s rocking back and forth, staring at the wall. His eyes are huge, glossy, dazed, and out of touch with reality.

  I cautiously approach him, worried I might spook him if I move too quickly. The closer I get, the more I realize he’s not awake. Sleep walking. Everson used to do it when he first arrived at the Gregory’s. He actually walked over to our house one night and tried to get inside. My mother thought it was an intruder and almost called the police. Thankfully, Aunt Lila found him before that happened. She gently guided him home, telling my mother that, if it ever happened again, to not wake him up; he’d get hysterical if she did.

  Deciding I need to find Aunt Lila, I turn around.

  “Where are you going?” Ayden mumbles. “You can’t leave here.”

  I freeze and peer over my shoulder. He still seems in the same condition, spaced off in dreamland.

  “I’m just going to get your mom,” I say quietly, turning to leave again.

  “Your mom’s dead,” he utters. “She’s dead, and she left you here to rot with us.”

  An eerie chill slithers up my spine, like a bolt of electricity zapped me in the back.

  “Ayden, my mom’s fine. She’s just asleep like everyone else.”

  “There’s no sleeping in this house.” His eyes are fastened on the spot of carpet in front of his feet. “We don’t sleep, not until the ritual.”

  A massive lump wedges in my throat. Absolutely terrified and with no clue what to do, I leave him there and race down the hallway to my parents’ room, hoping he doesn’t go anywhere. I give my mother a shake to wake her up then tell her what’s happening. She immediately stumbles out of bed and runs into the guest room to wake up Aunt Lila.

  “Where is he?” Aunt Lila asks, hopping out of bed and throwing on her robe.

  I point down the hallway. “In the closet in my room.”

  She races into my room with my mother and me following. She sticks her head inside the closet, and her shoulders relax.

  I relax, too, but only a little because I can still remember what Ayden said to me. His words are an echo in my head. His mother was dead while he was with those people. He wasn’t allowed to sleep until the ritual.

  What the hell?

  “Come on, sweetie,” Aunt Lila speaks tenderly as she holds onto Ayden’s arm and guides him out of the closet. Ayden is still asleep and can hardly stay on his feet as they make a winding path to my bed.

  Once he’s lying down on the mattress, Lila turns to me. “Lyric, would you mind if I slept on the floor?” she asks in a hushed tone. “I want to keep an eye on him, but I’m worried that, if I try to get him into the guest room, I might wake him up.”

  “Lyric can sleep on the sofa.” My mom pets my head like she used to do when I was child.

  “Yeah, of course.” I grab a folded up quilt from the trunk at the foot of the bed.

  “Thank you.” Aunt Lila draws the comforters over Ayden.

  “I’ll go get a sleeping bag for you,” my mother tells Aunt Lila then hurries out of the room.

  I start to follow her but Aunt Lila calls me back.

  “What exactly happened?” She momentarily stares out the window then tugs the chord and closes the blinds.

  I shrug, hugging the quilt to my chest. “I was woken up by a scream and found him in the closet.”

  “Did he … say anything to you?” Her question is casual as well as her demeanor, but it almost looks forced.

  “He was muttering some stuff.” I omit the details, figuring I’ll tell Ayden in the morning and let him decide if he wants to tell her.

  “Are you sure you couldn’t understand what he was saying?” She studies me from across the room.

  I shake my head. Something feels off. It’s like she already knows the answer to her question and only wants me to confirm it. “I’m going to get set up on the sofa.”

  I leave the room, feeling strange and really uncomfortable in my own home. The feelings amplify when I realize I’ll be sharing the living room with Kale, Everson, and Fiona.

  The three of them are sprawled out on the floor, fast asleep in their sleeping bags. It’s like a maze to get through them to the sofa.

  “Is he going to be okay?” Fiona suddenly asks while I’m making a bed on the couch near the fireplace.

  I jump from the sound of her voice. “I thought you were asleep.”

  “I was, but then Ayden woke me up.” She rolls over in her sleeping bag and stares at me. A fire is crackling, my parents’ heat source during the mild winters in California. Fiona’s eyes glow orange, the flame reflecting in her pupils. Dark strands of hair poke out of her braided hair at every angle.

  “You heard his screaming?” I ask.

  She shakes her head. “No, I felt it.”

  My brows knit. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

  “Most people don’t.” She turns over like nothing about the conversation is strange.

  Although, it is.

  The entire night has been strange.

  I just cross my fingers, hoping that, by morning, things will have returned to normal.

  Chapter 13

  Ayden

  “I don’t know what to say,”
I mumble to Lyric the next day after the break-in.

  It’s late in the evening and the pale pink glow of the sunset streams though my window. We’re in my bedroom, searching for something the guy might have left, but so far, we have come up empty-handed. For the last five minutes, Lyric has been explaining to me what happened last night, how I talked to her in my sleep. The things I said to her … I feel so embarrassed. She has to be afraid of me now, right?

 
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