Raveling you, p.13
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       Raveling You, p.13

         Part #2 of Unraveling You series by Jessica Sorensen
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  While I don’t give a reason aloud as to what caused my sleepwalking and talking, I have a theory that perhaps it has something to do with the amnesia session. My therapist told me that it could cause an increase in night terrors and problems with sleeping

  “You don’t need to say anything,” Lyric says as she hauls my dresser away from the wall and peers behind it. “I just wanted to let you know what happened so you can decide if you want to tell your mom and dad.”

  “You said Lila was acting strange?” I flatten myself on the floor on my stomach to check under my bed. Having no idea what I’m searching for, the task seems pretty much pointless, though.

  “She was acting like she knew you told me stuff about your past.” Lyric purses her lips as she glances around my room. “If I was a creepy guy trying to leave something in a room, where would I put it?”

  I push to my feet. “I don’t know. I’m still not convinced that’s why he was in here, anyway.”

  “Maybe.” She flops down on my unmade bed, seemingly unsure about something. “Has Fiona ever said anything weird to you before?”

  “Like what?” I rummage around in my nightstand drawer, but the only thing in there is my lyric book.

  “I don’t know.” She shrugs. “She just said something strange to me last night, something about feeling you scream instead of hearing it.”

  “That’s strange, but she kind of marches to the beat of her own drum.” I shut the drawer. “Ever since I moved in, she’s been obsessively drawing butterflies. She says she can’t get them out of her head.”

  “What’s her story?” Lyric asks, looking under my bedspread. “I know she came here when she was seven, but that’s about it.”

  “Her mother was a drug addict like mine. She got taken away and ended up here. That’s about all I know.”

  “Strange.” Lyric contemplates something as her gaze deliberately sweeps my room. “Wait a minute… Are you sure he didn’t take anything? Like maybe something Aunt Lila and Uncle Ethan didn’t know you had?”

  “I have a couple of things…” I open the top drawer and my heart skips a beat. “My knife is gone.”

  “The one you were trying to give Rebel Tonic?”

  “Yeah, but why would he take that,” I glide the drawer shut and rub my jawline, “out of all the things in this house that have value?”

  “Maybe it wasn’t for value purposes.” Her skin suddenly pales as her eyes round.

  “What’s wrong?” I ask, sitting down on the bed beside her.

  “Don’t be mad, okay, but last night, after the incident, I couldn’t sleep, so I did some searching on the Internet about the Soulless Mileas.” She collects my laptop from the nightstand, sets it on her lap, and boots up the screen. “I think I remember something about rituals and needing an object that belongs to the person the ritual is for.”

  “Why?”

  “Hold on.” Her fingers hammer against the keys as she types something in the browser then pulls up a page. “Read here.” She taps her finger against the screen

  Leaning over her shoulder, I skim the paragraph then frown. “Where did you find this website?”

  “After like ten searches, it popped up.” She shudders. “It says they need something off you too… like a belonging you carry or fingernails—weird stuff like that. It’s so crazy. That people do this … it gives me chills.”

  I rub my eyes and reread the paragraph again. “It’s pretty vague about what the rituals are for.”

  “You talked about a ritual last night,” she says cautiously. “Do you remember anything about it?”

  A hot branding iron,

  melting the flesh.

  Forever marking you with our sins.

  Little images sear inside my brain, ironically while I’m not in therapy. My fingers graze the homemade tattoo hidden beneath my shirt and distorted memories jolt through my mind. This mark was their mark. The mark of their group… What I would give to get rid of the ink on my skin, forget it was ever put on me, what it symbolizes—pure evil. “It might have something to do with this, but that’s about all I can remember.” I lower my head into my hands as my temples throb. Between this, the guy breaking in, and still no response from Rebel Tonic, I have a headache. “We need to tell Lila and Ethan about this.”

  Lyric slams the laptop shut. “Okay, but you also need a break.” She stands up and slips a hand around my wrist, giving my arm a gentle tug. “How about we go get ready for the art show? We probably can head out there soon, too, if you’re ready?”

  “I’m not sure I’m allowed to go to that anymore. Lila said something about me staying home as much as possible.”

  “She’s going to the art show, so I’m sure it’ll be okay.”

  “How do you know that?”

  “Because I was eavesdropping on her and my mom this morning and heard them talking about it?” She frees my wrist when I finally get up from the bed. “I guess Aunt Lila is catering the event.”

  “Hear anything interesting?” I grab my blue hoodie from the closet.

  “Not really.” She frowns, disappointed. “They mostly just talked about the type of cake to serve and what wine my mom wants.”

  “I really should press her more about that letter.” I slide my arms through the sleeves of my jacket.

  “But you won’t.” She opens my bedroom door. “Because you’re too nice.”

  “I just don’t want to come off sounding ungrateful.” I follow her out of the room and down the hallway. “Especially with everything that’s been going on. They have to be stressed out and I’m the one causing that stress.”

  “I’m sure they don’t look at it like that.” She slips her fingers through mine as we head downstairs to the kitchen. “I mean, my parents have put up with a lot of shit from me over the years and I know for a fact they still love and want me. It comes with being a parent. Unconditional love no matter how much of a pain in the ass your kids are. And besides, this thing going on isn’t your fault. It’s completely out of your control.”

  “I still brought it into their lives.”

  “Yeah, but like I heard Aunt Lila say that night, they knew it was a possibility that this could happen and they still chose to adopt you.” She gives my hand a comforting squeeze. “That’s how special you are.”

  Even though I don’t entirely agree with her, I brush my lips against hers. “Thank you.”

  “Thank you,” she says, then she grabs the back of my head and fiercely kisses me back.

  Her tongue slips out and parts my lips, causing a shudder to ripple through my body. A good shudder. One that makes me excruciatingly ache inside, long for more.

  Suddenly, the door bangs shut. Lyric and I jump apart, breathless and gasping for air. Lila strolls into the kitchen with grocery bags in her hands.

  “Oh good, I was just about to go look for you two,” she says, dropping the bags on the countertop. “I need your help.”

  “With what?” Lyric asks, still holding my hand as she roams over the counter.

  Lila undoes the buttons on her coat and shucks it off. “With my event tonight. I had a few waitresses cancel and I need fill ins.”

  “You want us to mingle with my mother’s pretentious clients.” Lyric scrunches up her nose.

  “They’re not pretentious.” Lila digs around in the bag and starts pulling out cans of condensed milk and stacking them on the counter. “They’re artists, like you.”

  Lyric sits down on a barstool. “And I’m very pretentious.”

  Lila shakes her head, but smiles. “Oh Lyric, you remind me so much of your father sometimes. Always so full of sarcasm.”

  “Why thank you,” Lyric replies, beaming with pride. “Because of your compliment, I’ll give you a free night of my ever-so-awesome waitressing skills.”

  A laugh slips from my lips as I sit down beside her. “Guess that means you get mine, too,” I tell Lila. “But mine aren’t so awesome.”

  “That’s okay.” She throws th
e empty bag into the drawer. “At this point I’ll take whatever I can get.”

  We start opening the cans of milk while Lila whisks eggs in a bowl, giving us directions on how to cheese fondue. After a few minutes, Lyric whispers for me to tell Lila about the knife.

  I loathe giving her more bad news, knowing she’s only going to get more stressed than she already is. I still recap the details, and Lila rushes out of the kitchen to call the detective and tell him.

  “She seems upset.” I open the fridge to grab a stick of butter.

  “Of course she’s upset.” Lyric takes the butter from me and drops the stick into a small plastic bowl. “You’re her son and some creepy dude snuck into your room and stole a knife from you because he believes in some icky ritual.”

  “We don’t know that for sure,” I tell her as she places the bowl into the microwave and presses the timer.

  “I’m betting that’s what the detective will say to her. They’re investigating this group, right? They have to know about their rituals.”

  I hate that she’s probably right about the group and the rituals. That she knows so much about this. That stuff like this exists in our lives.

  When Lila returns to the kitchen a minute later, her eyes are bloodshot and her cheeks are streaked with the remnants of tears.

  “Ayden, you need to make sure that you have someone with you at all times for the next few days.” She goes right back to mixing.

  Lyric and I trade a look from across the kitchen island.

  “How come?” Lyric aligns the lid of the can with the opener and opens the top. “Because the man still hasn’t been caught?”

  “Yes. It’s just a safety measure until they can track down the guy and find out if he’s part of this group—get a positive ID on him. They dusted for fingerprints but nothing came up.” Lila taps an egg against the side of the bowl and separates the shell. “The detective brought up the therapy sessions and wants to have another visit to discuss how they’re going. He said we could do it when you guys go down to look through some photos”

  “I don’t know why he wants to visit about that. Nothing’s changed. I still can’t remember,” I mumble as the microwave dings.

  “Honey, that’s not your fault.” Lila retrieves the bowl of melted butter from the microwave. “You’re doing everything you can by trying.”

  I nod, unable to speak. I feel like such a failure over the fact that I’ve gotten nowhere with my memories because my fear of remembering is hindering the progress.

  “Ethan’s going to have to go to the concert with you guys,” Lila adds as she pours the butter in with the eggs. “I mean, we were going to go already, but he’s going to have to be backstage with you, to keep an eye on things.”

  “Are you sure this is just for safety measures?” Lyric questions as she pries the top of another can open, trading a suspicious glance with me.

  “Of course. What else would it be for?” she asks, wiping her hands on a towel.

  Excellent question. If they’re not even positive who this man is or why he broke into the house? I think of my brother and how his body was found by that house.

  Maybe that’s what this is about.

  Maybe Lila knows the real reason the man was in the house.

  Maybe he was coming after me.

  Chapter 14

  Lyric

  The next week passes rather quickly, but that might just be because I’m stressed out. We all are. Even at my mother’s slamming art show, we were all a wreck. Fiona kept saying she had a feeling someone was watching us, or more specifically Ayden. After what she said that night, the girl has utterly creeped out.

  Most days, everyone just kind of hangs out at the house, waiting for news that never gets delivered. Ayden and I are only allowed to be by ourselves when we’re at band practice, a place that’s quickly becoming our sanctuary through all of this, even though we work our butts off to learn one of the songs I wrote. Actually, the one Ayden and I wrote together.

  After a lot of contemplating and Ayden refusing to let us sing one of his songs, I decide we should do the one we wrote. We had to complete it first, though, which took us an entire night, a six-pack of Dr. Pepper, and an endless amount of gummy worms.

  But we did it.

  Saturday night the tension in our lives briefly lifts like thinning fog. Because Saturday night is club opening night and our band’s first gig. I’m ecstatic the entire day until we’re actually at the club. Then reality kicks me in the face.

  “Oh, my God, I think I’m going to puke,” I whisper as I peek out onto the stage. “There are so many people out there.”

  “You’ll be fine.” Ayden rubs my back. “And just remember, only you and I are in the room.”

  Easier said than done when there are two hundred plus people buzzing with energy all crammed into one room. We’re the first band up, too, something I sarcastically thanked my dad for.

  “I’m suddenly wondering why I begged to do this so much.” My eyes remain fixed on the floor. In the midst of the madness, near the bar, I spot my mom and Aunt Lila throwing back shots. Awesome. Guess Ayden and I are going to be DD since they were our ride here.

  Uncle Ethan and my dad are around, shuffling people here and there, dictating what to do. The last time I saw my dad, he looked like a wreck, his bedhead/fauxhawk look in full form. I’d feel bad for him, but he’s always said opening a club has been a dream of his for the last ten years, so I figure all the stress has to be worth it.

  Most dreams are, right?

  “Because it’s your dream,” Ayden reminds me as his hands travel up to my shoulders. His fingers work their magic, unwinding the knots in my muscles. “You can do this, Lyric. I know you can. You’re the bravest person I know.”

  “Then you clearly don’t know yourself.”

  “I’m not brave at all,” he utters quietly. “I couldn’t even make it through the start of my amnesia therapy without freaking out.”

  I embrace his touch as his arms circle my waist. “You’ll get there. It’ll just take some time.”

  “Tell that to Detective Rannali. He’s getting super pushy about doing more sessions, like the entire case is riding on it. I don’t get it, though. Even my therapist says the therapy isn’t a guarantee, that there’s a chance it won’t work.”

  “Fuck Detective Rannali. It’s easy for him to be pushy and expectant when he’s not the one lying in that chair, facing what you are.”

  “But I don’t even know what I’m facing.” He rests his forehead against the back of my head and his erratic breathing tickles the back of my neck. “I’m scared of what I’ll see.”

  It’s the first time he’s flat-out admitted he is afraid. I wish I could take away his fear, wish I could free him from his pain.

  “I’m here for you if you ever need to talk.” It’s all I can offer him, but I hope it’s enough.

  “I know.” He grazes his lips across the back of my head. “Can we talk about something else now? Before I get all riled up.”

  I nod. “Um, did you see all the freaking musicians when we walked in? I seriously about died.”

  “Yeah, your dad’s got mad connections.”

  “Sage is totally working it, too. He went right for the first girl he saw. I think she plays drums for one of the bands. I’ll give it to him. She’s pretty hot.”

  Ayden chuckles under his breath. “I love how you can openly say stuff like that, but just so you know, you look hot,” he whispers in my ear, his breath hot on my skin.

  I shiver from the caress of his breath and glance down at my boots, netted tights, and plaid dress that hugs my body. My hair is down, black liner frames my eyes, and my lips shine with gloss.

  “So do you.” I whirl around to face him. His black hair hangs in his eyes, he’s wearing the leather collar because I suggested it would be fun to wear for one night, and he has on a red shirt and black jeans held up by a studded belt. “My gothically adorable friend.”

  “You kn
ow, I think we should create a Lyric Scott dictionary and sell it online.”

  “We’ll definitely have to look into that,” I agree, fiddling with the collar on his neck. “I have so many more words sloshing around in my head.”

  I angle my head up towards his face. When our gazes fasten, our mouths magnetize toward each other. My breathing quickens and so does his. His dark eyes smolder with passion, and my skin hums with nearly unbearable heat. God, I want to kiss him all the time. It’s crazy how much I want to kiss him.

 
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