Raveling you, p.16
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       Raveling You, p.16

         Part #2 of Unraveling You series by Jessica Sorensen
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  “It’s just your imagination.” I cover my hands with my ears. “You’re just remembering again. Nothing is happening… Nothing… There’s nothing out there.”

  I feel a tug on my hair, strands getting ripped out, then nothing. With a deep breath, I lift open my eyelids. Nothing but darkness and trees and I lower my hands from my ears.

  “Ayden.” A voice slams up from behind me.

  I stagger to my feet and spin around, only to find Dr. Gardingdale standing there with shock frozen on his face. “Where did you…” I reel back around. The area is silent. The trees still. As if nothing happened. “I don’t…” My mind races a million miles a minute.

  What the hell just happened?

  Did I just imagine it?

  Or was it real?

  They said they’re coming back for you, like they did when you were pulled out of that house. Is this it? Are they returning to me? But then, why taunt me instead of taking me? Why scare me, rip out a chunk of my hair, and break into my house to take my knife? Is this part of the ritual? And what is the ritual for?

  “What’s wrong?” he asks as he surveys the parking lot then the forest. “Did you see something out there?”

  I face him and shift my weight so the trees are in my peripheral vision. Then I give the doctor a recap of what I think I just saw, trying to explain to him the best that I can.

  “It could have been a homeless person or some kids messing around.” He scratches his balding head as he stares at the trees and shrubbery. “Both have caused commotions around here before.”

  “But they said my name.” I lower myself onto the curb and drop my head in my hands. “Or at least I think they did… Maybe that was just part of the surfacing memory. Maybe the amnesia therapy was delayed or something.” I grip the back of my neck. “I don’t know though.. I thought they pulled my hair. And it actually hurts right now.”

  “Pulled your hair?” A pucker forms at his brow. “I think we should at least report the incident to the police, just to be on the cautious side.” He sits down on the curb next to me. “I wish you’d have told me how bad the memories were—that you were having a hard time grasping reality while they are happening.”

  “It’s never been that bad before.” I raise my head and stare out at the cars on the road ahead of us.

  “It might be wise if I prescribe you something,” he suggests. “Just until you get a better grappling with remembering.”

  “I’m not taking drugs,” I reply in a clipped tone. But after seeing my mother turn into a monster when she was doped up, I made a vow never to use drugs of any kind.

  “It’s just a mild sedative that you can take if you have another episode.” He pushes to his feet and cautiously moves toward the trees. “You don’t have to take it all the time, only when needed.” He bends over and scoops something up before returning to me. “Let’s go inside so we can report this.” He hands me the object he picked up—my phone. “Then we’ll call Lila.”

  I follow him back inside his office, take a seat in the chair, and listen to him recount what happened to the police. Everything that “allegedly” or “possibly” happened. I agree with him to an extent. I’m not positive of what was real after I heard the scream.

  The sound could have easily triggered a nerve and sent me to the most vivid places in my mind. Places I never knew existed. But then again, it could be the same person who broke into my house.

  One thing I am sure of. I know what I heard. That scream rang familiar to my sister Sadie’s. I know her scream well. Heard it day in and day out while we were locked up.

  As I wait for Dr. Gardingdale to finish the police call, I check my email again. The screen is cracked from dropping it onto the asphalt, and I have to press each button at least five times just to get online. I open the browser and hold my breath as I scroll through the messages. My heart stops when I reach the fifth line down in my inbox. A message from Rebel Tonic. I open it, praying that he’s been able to find her.

  Sorry it took me so long to get this to you. For some reason there was no record of a Sadie Stephorson in the social service’s records. I did manage to track an address through her school records, but it took a long time since there are so many districts. The last place she was listed living at was 40499 Faring Lake Ave. Street in San Diego. Hope that helps and good luck.

  P.S. Remember to delete this message from your email when you’re finished.

  I do a map search on the Internet for the address. It’s fairly close to where I am now, on the route home if I take the long way.

  I do exactly as he instructed. After I type the address in the note section of the phone, I delete the email. Then I wait very impatiently for the doctor to finish up his call.

  After he chats with the police, he calls my parents to update them on what happened. When he hangs up, I receive a text message.

  Lila: Ayden, Dr. Gardingdale is going to walk you to your car. Lock the doors and drive straight home. And if you see anything that’s suspicious, call me.

  I’m getting ready to put the phone away when another text comes through.

  Lila: Better yet, just stay there. I’ll have Ethan come get u.

  Me: I’ll be fine. It’s a ten minute drive.

  Lila: Just check the backseat, okay? Sometimes people can hide back there.

  Me: You’ve been watching too many horror movies.

  Lila: Maybe so, but u still need to.

  Me: Okay.

  I close up my phone then the doctor walks me to my car, telling me that the police will probably be in touch with me sometime tomorrow after they’ve done some investigating around the area. He waits near the curb as I check the backseat, climb in, and turn on the engine. Then he starts for the door as I drive out of the parking lot and onto the nearly vacant street.

  My fingers thrum restlessly as I steer past stores, houses, and gas stations. The closer I get to the address the more jittery I become.

  Ten minutes later, I near the location of the address. I’m not positive what I’m even going to do when I arrive. Knock on the door? I wasn’t even supposed to take the detour let alone leave the vehicle. And it feels wrong to put myself into danger by getting out of the car at night in some strange area. I should just drive by then maybe return during daylight. Perhaps bring Lyric with me.

  Just a quick peek then it’s home for me.

  Faring Lake Ave. Street is in a subdivision near a shopping mart and a park. When I turn down the road, the first thing I notice is that a lot of the single story homes are abandoned. A lot of the structures appear old and outdated, paint peeling off the siding, mailboxes knocked down. I don’t think too much of it until I pull up to the house with the numbers 40499 next to the door. Like the other homes, this one appears vacant. Shingles are missing from the roof, the porch is collapsing, and the windows are all covered with plywood.

  I start to choke up, the wind getting knocked out of me as I turn around and the headlights beam across the home. Painted across the wood, in various colors are circular marks.

  Marks that resemble my tattoo.

  Chapter 16

  Lyric

  “You seem really happy,” my dad remarks as he stuffs half a roll into his mouth. “Like extra happy.”

  “You really do,” my mother agrees as she adds a glob of butter to her potatoes. “I wonder why.” Her tone insinuates something. What, I’m not sure.

  Either she’s speculating that I might be bipolar, or she’s trying to get me to fess up as to why I’ve been almost stupidly happy over the last couple of weeks.

  I shovel a spoonful of corn into my mouth. “I’m a normal happy, you guys, so don’t start.”

  “We weren’t starting.” My mother works with a knife to slice her steak. “And I’m sorry for ever bringing that up. I’m really sorry about that, Lyric. I should have never said anything.”

  “Okay, good.” I smile at her and she returns it.

  At the moment, all feels right in the world.
r />   Despite all the drama, life has been good, something I ponder as I eat my mashed potatoes.

  Things really have been great.

  And calm.

  As if the world is attempting to prove my thoughts wrong, all hell suddenly breaks loose as the back door flies open and bashes against the doorstopper.

  Aunt Lila comes barreling into the kitchen, her eyes massive and jam-packed with terror. “I need you to watch the kids,” she sputters to my mother as she winds a scarf around her neck. “Something happened with Ayden at therapy, and he was supposed to come straight home, but it’s been over an hour since he left. Ethan’s already out looking for him, but I’m going to go check a few places, too.”

  Fear pulsates through my body. I quickly check my phone to see if there are any messages from Ayden, but I have no new texts.

  My mother shoves back from the table, the chair legs making a godawful scratching noise against the hardwood floor. “Let me just grab my coat and I’ll be over.”

  I stand up so abruptly I damn near tip the chair over. “I’m going with you,” I say to Lila.

  “Okay, that’s fine.” Aunt Lila is distracted as she glides her finger across the screen of her phone, checking for messages. “I don’t know why he’s not answering my calls or texts… he never does stuff like this.”

  “I’ll drive around with Lyric, and we can check some places, too,” my dad adds as he hurries for the stairs. “Just let me grab my phone and wallet.

  I send Ayden a text.

  Me: Where the hell r u? Everyone’s freaking out.

  Then I head to grab my jacket from the coat rack when the back door opens up behind me.

  “I found her house,” Ayden says to me as he enters the foyer and closes the door.

  “You’re okay!” I throw my arms around him, unaware until now how worried I was. “Everyone’s freaking out.” I pull back. “Wait, found who?”

  “The last address my sister lived at.” His hair is disheveled, there are dark circles are under his eyes, and his shoulders are hunched, as if the weight of the world is crushing him.

  “Rebel Tonic got back to you?”

  He nods. “With an address.”

  “And?”

  His throat muscles work as he swallows hard and fights back tears. “It was a vacant house with this,” he lifts up the bottom of his shirt and taps his finger on the rough tattoo on his side, “painted all over the boarded up windows.”

  I gulp. “Why… I don’t understand.”

  “Neither do I.” He grips ahold of my hand. “But we’re going to go find out.” He marches across the room toward the kitchen.

  “Where are we going?” I ask as I shuffle to keep up with him.

  “To my house. I need to talk to Lila to find out what that letter was about.”

  “Lila’s here, in the kitchen. She was about to go look for you,” I tell him, which only makes him quicken his pace.

  When we enter the kitchen and Aunt Lila sees Ayden, a choking sob wrenches from her lungs.

  “Oh, my God, we were so worried about you.” She crosses the kitchen and wraps her arms around Ayden.

  He stands with his listless arms to his sides, still holding my hand. “I need you to tell me what that letter was about.” He doesn’t have to explain what letter he’s speaking of. The reluctant expression on Aunt Lila’s face reveals she already knows.

  “Ayden, Ethan and I already explained that there’s some things you aren’t ready for yet,” she reminds him sympathetically.

  “I tracked her last address down,” he states bluntly, firmly holding her gaze. “It was about ten miles away from here. The house is boarded up and has these marks spray painted on it, ones that match my tattoo.”

  “Ayden…” Her face contorts with emotional agony.

  He tugs me closer to his side. “Just tell me.”

  Aunt Lila seals her quivering lips together as tears fill the corners of her eyes. Ayden’s fingers clench around my hand as he watches her unravel in front of us.

  “Your sister was kidnapped again not too long after you guys were … found in that house.” She lowers herself into a chair. “She’s been with those people for the last two and a half years. The police honestly thought she was dead until they received a note from her over a year ago on the day we brought you home.”

  “What did the letter say?” he chokes out hoarsely and I feel him sway, his legs about to buckle.

  “I don’t know,” she replies as tears stream down her cheeks. “The police won’t release that information.”

  “Is that what happened to my brother, too?” he whispers in horror. “Was he kidnapped? Did they kill him?”

  “All I know about your brother is what you do. He vanished out of the system a couple of years ago. Social services assumed he’d ran away. The next time he was found…” She reaches out to touch his shoulder, but he moves away. More tears bubble in her eyes. “I’m so sorry.”

  “Why didn’t anyone tell me this?” Ayden starts to sit down even though there’s no chair around. I quickly usher him to a nearby barstool before he ends up falling on the floor.

  “Because we wanted you to have a normal life.” She fights back a sob, her chest heaving as she verges toward hysteria. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry you have to go through this.”

  She runs over, wraps her arms around him, and squeezes him tightly. Ayden stares like he sees a ghost in the space in front of him, those dark eyes of his completely haunted with his past.

  “You’re going to be okay,” she promises him, smoothing her hand over his head. “We’ll get through this. The police are looking for her.”

  Still clutching onto my hand, my arm ends up getting crushed between their bodies. I wiggle it, but Ayden refuses to let go. Finally, I relax and let him hold on.

  “I want to try to remember,” he croaks. “Do whatever it takes to find those people… Doctor Gardingdale… he said there were other methods…”

  “Yeah, the detective mentioned those to me, too,” Lila’s tone is uneven. “And they’re too risky.”

  “Leaving my sister with those people, hoping she’ll make it out alive is too risky…” His fingers enfold around the back of his neck and grip tight. “I swear I heard her scream in the parking lot tonight… She was there…”

  “Oh, honey.” She pulls him nearer, like she has no clue what else to do but hang onto him.

  I want to stop the pain in his life and make him feel safe, but I don’t have that power.

  Right now, everything relies on what the people after Ayden want. Until we find out exactly what that is, no one’s going to feel safe again.

  Awakening You (Raveling You, #3) Coming March 2015

  About the Author

  Jessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author that lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

  Other books by Jessica Sorensen:

  The Coincidence Series:

  The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden

  The Redemption of Callie and Kayden

  The Destiny of Violet and Luke

  The Probabilty of Violet and Luke

  The Certainty of Violet and Luke

  The Resolution of Callie and Kayden

  Seth & Grayson (Coming Soon)

  The Secret Series:

  The Prelude of Ella and Micha

  The Secret of Ella and Micha

  The Forever of Ella and Micha

  The Temptation of Lila and Ethan

  The Ever After of Ella and Micha

  Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always

  Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always

  The Shattered Promises Series:

  Shattered Promises

  Fractured Souls

  Unbroken

  Broken Visions

  Scattered Ashes (Coming Soon)

  Breaking Nova Series:

  Breaking Nova

  Saving Q
uinton

  Delilah: The Making of Red

  Nova and Quinton: No Regrets

  Tristan: Finding Hope

 
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