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If I Fall, Page 2

Jessica Sorensen

  I can tell she wants to argue, but in the end, she just nods. “Okay, if that’s what you need to do.”

  We leave the courthouse and make our way around the block, heading toward the carport where we parked. This morning, she tried to get us to ride together, but I needed some time to mentally prepare myself, so I asked if we could meet there.

  “Do you have enough gas to get there?” Lila asks, already reaching for her wallet in her purse.

  I lift my hand, motioning for her to stop. “I’m good. I just filled it up last week, but thanks.”

  I hate when she gives me money. With everything going on, I haven’t been able to hold a steady job, though I do work for Lila’s catering business whenever I can so I don’t feel like a total charity case.

  She sighs, zipping up her purse. “Promise me you’ll let me know as soon as you get there. And call me if you need anything, even if it’s just to talk.”

  I nod. “Okay, I will.”

  She looks worried as she turns toward her car parked a few rows away from mine.

  I climb into my car and rest my head against the steering wheel, breathing in and out. The quietness surrounds me and starts to settle my anxiety as I remind myself that it’s over. I did my part at putting them behind bars.

  The dead girl appears in the passenger seat. “It’s not over yet.”

  Shaking my head, I press my back against the door. “What do you want from me?”

  Her cold eyes bore into mine. “I already told you. I want you to make things right and make up for what you did to me.”

  I swallow the lump in my throat. “But I didn’t do anything to you.”

  “You didn’t?” She leans forward, her bony fingers reaching for me. “Maybe you need to be reminded, then.”

  Panic seizes my throat as I fumble for the door handle. Pushing the door open, I fall out of the car, landing on my ass.

  “You can’t run from me!” she shouts as I scramble to my feet and run. “You can’t run from guilt, Sadie!”

  Her words slam against my back as I sprint out of the carport and back around to the front of the courthouse. I briskly jog down the sidewalk, terrified to look behind me, fearing she’ll be there. With each step, frustration and anger builds, pressing, pressing, pressing against my chest. Guilt, rage, hate, it fuels me with too much energy. I just can’t figure out what I’m guilty and angry over.

  My heart achingly hammers as my boots thud against the concrete. When I reach the curb, I veer right and sprint for the corner of the street. Stores and restaurants pass by in a blur as sunlight spills over me and sweat drenches my skin. I’m exhausted, my limbs and lungs throb, but I refuse to stop. I refuse to go backward. I worked too hard to get where I am, and I won’t let the dead girl pull me back.

  Seeing the girl … It has to be from the stress. Yeah, that’s what it is. And tomorrow, everything will go back to normal.

  I run like a mad woman for at least a couple of miles before my legs about give out on me. Then I slow to a stop in front of a corner shop and hunch over, bracing my hands on my knees. I breathe in and out, in and out, catching my breath before standing upright. I feel a tiny bit better, my mind less crammed and overworked.

  I scan the sea of faces around me, searching for the dead girl in their midst.

  “She’s gone,” I breathe in relief.

  “You really think so?” she whispers from somewhere close.

  “Why won’t you leave me alone?” I spin in a circle, desperately searching for her. “Please, leave me alone.”

  “Not yet.”

  Two very ominous words that send a deadly cold shiver up my spine.

  “Sadie?” someone says from right behind me.

  Startled, I whirl around, half-expecting the dead girl to be standing behind me. However, it’s only Sage Davis, the drummer in Ayden’s band, Alyric Bliss.

  I’ve known Sage for almost two years, ever since I moved in with the Gregorys. I know him well enough that his presence brings me comfort. Still, he makes me slightly nervous. Not a terrified, he’s-gonna-hurt-me nervous, but a holy-shit-he’s-so-stinking-gorgeous-I-can’t-stop-staring-at-him nervous.

  Tall and lean with crazy blue hair, countless facial piercings and tattoos, he drips sexiness and radiates confidence from the way he looks to how he carries himself. While he’s been nothing but nice to me, I find his confidence unnerving sometimes, mostly because I don’t know how to handle it.

  “You scared me,” I tell him once my heart has chilled out. Meanwhile, the dead girl’s words remain inside of me, stirring like an uncontrolled beast. All I want to do is pick up where I left off and run until I’m convinced she can’t find me.

  “Yeah, I can see that.” His gaze flicks up and down my body before his eyes land on my face, then he really looks at me. “Why’re you all dressed up? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s cute and everything, in that whole sexy librarian way, but it’s definitely different from how you normally dress.”

  God, I loathe when he looks at me like that, as if he can see my secrets carved on my skin. Yet, the tiniest part of me soaks up the attention.

  I spent years hating when guys paid attention to me, and then part of me suddenly likes it. It’s all very confusing, loathing, and lusting at the same time.

  “You okay?” Sage asks with a semi-amused smile on his face.

  I realize I’ve zoned off and am gawking at him. I clear my throat and smooth my hands across the plaid pencil skirt and white button shirt I’m wearing, forcing a smile. “I had to go to court today, and I didn’t think my normal cut-offs and T-shirts would be appropriate.”

  His amusement goes poof as worry replaces it. He scratches his head. “Shit, Sadie, I’m so sorry. I forgot that was today.”

  “It’s okay. It’s not like you knew it was today, unless Ayden told you, but he hardly tells anyone anything. Well, other than maybe Lyric. He tells her everything, but that’s because he loves her.” I take a deep breath, mentally cursing myself. How the hell did I go from talking about the trial to talking about Ayden and Lyric being in love?

  “Yeah, I know.” He seems amused, but for some reason, I don’t think it has anything to do with Lyric and Ayden being in love and more do to with my moronic rambling.

  Lyric Scott is Ayden’s girlfriend. The two of them are so interwoven they’re practically inseparable. Their love could never be viewed as funny. In fact, most people probably envy it. Hell, I envy it and wish I could one day find my other half. And if I ever did fall for a guy, and he did reciprocate my feelings, I can’t see myself being able to have a physical relationship with him. The trust I’d have to put in that person … to kiss … to touch … Yes, I want it, but it seems unreachable sometimes.

  “I knew it was today, though,” Sage admits, his expression laced with guilt.

  “How?” I ask, confused.

  “The papers.”

  “Oh, yeah.” Goddamn the papers. Thanks to the trial making headlines, almost everyone knows our story.

  “You could’ve told me that it was today,” Sage says, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “I meant what I said the other night.”

  The other night. Shit. Through all the chaos, I forgot about the other night. How Sage and I had a little heart-to-heart after band practice ended, something I go to often just to watch, relax, and spend a little extra time with my brother.

  Nolan, Ayden, and Lyric had wandered off somewhere, and Sage and I were hanging out on the sofa. I drank a little too much, mostly because I psyched myself out over the approaching trial and just wanted a few goddamn hours without having to worry about getting on the stand. I was babbling Sage’s ear off about God knows what—how I’m moving out of the Gregorys’ house, and how scared I am about it, how scary life is. I barely remember the specifics, only that I talked more than I normally do.

  I started to talk about the trial, but then I trailed off, stopping myself. I must have had a strange look on my face because Sage suddenly placed his hand
over mine.

  “Sadie, I know you don’t know me very well,” he said, molding his hand around mine. “But if you ever need to talk, I can be an awesome listener.”

  It felt like I should slip my hand out from under his, but the reasoning was a little hazy. “I usually only talk to Ayden about my problems. He’s been busy, though, with that … um, thing for Lyric.” I bit my tongue. “Sorry, I’m not sure I’m supposed to say anything about that.”

  He glanced down at his hand over mine, seeming surprised that it was still there, but he didn’t pull away. “You mean the proposal?”

  “Hey, how did you know about that?” I playfully swatted his arm with my free hand, then blinked when I saw three of my hands.

  “I helped him pick the ring out.” He grazed his fingers across the back of my hand, eliciting a shiver from me.

  His lips quirked, like he was totally enjoying my reaction, yet I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, I knew Sage was a flirt, but he never flirted with me. Not ever.

  “Really? So, you got to see it? The ring, I mean?” I asked, and he nodded. “Is it pretty?”

  He chuckled. “I don’t know. I guess. Jewelry isn’t really my thing.”

  When I purposely eyed the piercings in his brows, he gave me a look.

  “These are different.” He fiddled with one of the barbells in his brows then flicked his tongue ring against his teeth. “These aren’t pretty, little diamonds.”

  “Ha! So you do think diamonds are pretty!” I pointed a finger at him accusingly.

  He leaned in and assessed my face closely. “Wait? Are you drunk?”

  I held my finger and thumb an inch apart. “Maybe just a little.”

  He looked down at his hand over mine. “Well, that explains a lot.” He sighed heavily then stood up. “How about we go get you some water?”

  I bobbed my head up and down, and then he pulled me to my feet. I stumbled to the side, tripping over my feet like a klutz.

  “Easy,” he said as he caught me in his arms.

  My eyes instantly zeroed in on the glint of metal as he slipped his tongue out to wet his lips. A shiver coiled through my body, something I’d never felt before. There was a lot of confusion, a layer of haziness, and a ton of lust. I wanted to do something. I just couldn’t figure out what that something was. I met his gaze and then … well, I freaked out, like I always do, and shut down.

  Sage waves his hand in front of my face. “Earth to Sadie. Are you still in there, or did I lose ya?”

  I blink back to reality. “Sorry, I was just trying to remember what I said the other night. I was a little out of it.” I nervously fidget with the hem of my shirt. “So, if I said or did anything weird, I’m really sorry.”

  He searches my eyes. “You don’t remember any of it?”

  “A little bit, but not much.” I wipe my sweaty palms on the side of my skirt as he continues to intently study me, looking for God knows what.

  Finally, he clears his throat. “So, how’d court go? I’m guessing not that great.”

  My brows furrow at the abrupt subject change. “Why would you think that?”

  “Because I doubt something like that could go great and …” He hesitates. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like you just ran a marathon and it damn near killed you.”

  I glance at the window of a nearby store and cringe at my reflection. My long, brown hair is disheveled, my flushed skin is damp with sweat, and mascara is smeared beneath my eyes.

  “I did run a couple of miles,” I admit, looking back at him.

  His gaze drops to my high heels then slowly drags up my body. “How the hell did you run that far in those crazy-ass shoes? They look like they’re at least a foot high.”

  “They’re only four inches,” I stupidly point out. “And I didn’t really notice. I just got out of court and … I don’t know, just felt like I needed to run.” I’m such a liar, but I’m not about to tell him about how I was running away from a dead girl. “Until I could think about something else besides my dad.”

  “And did it help you forget?” He cocks his head to the side. “Well, I’m not sure if forget is the right word.”

  Forget? Forget about the dead girl and her warning? Man, how I wish it were that easy.

  “I think forget works. And honestly, I’d love to forget, even if it was for just a few hours.” I ravel a strand of my hair around my finger. “That probably sounds crazy, doesn’t it?”

  “Nah. I do that with the drums sometimes. When I’m having a shitty day, I’ll play until I get blisters. It helps me clear my mind, and I stop thinking so much about whatever the fuck is bothering me. Plus, I love playing, so it’s a win-win.”

  “I’m jealous. I wish I had something like that I loved to do.”

  “You don’t love running?”

  “Not really. In fact, I kind of hate it. I usually take a drive to clear my head, but it’s just something I do to get quiet time. And it’s not very fun.”

  A contemplative look crosses his face. “You know, you could always try something other than driving or running. Something that you love and can have fun with.”

  “I know, but I don’t even know where to start.” The truth makes me depressed. I missed out on doing so much stuff while I was trapped in that house. Now that I’m out, I should be making up for it, doing crazy, wild, fun stuff. However, fear has held me back, like the chains that once held me to the wall. “I’m not really that fun of a person.” I shrug, feeling silly. “I think you already know that about me, though.”

  “You can be fun, Sadie, when you’re relaxed.”

  “You mean, like the other night? Because I don’t want to have to get wasted to be a fun person.”

  “I’m not just talking about the other night. You’re fun to be around. You’re just quiet and shy, but that doesn’t make you boring. In fact, I think it kind of makes you interesting and mysterious.” He rubs his jawline thoughtfully. “However, if you’re feeling brave, I have an idea for something you could do.” He hitches his thumb over his shoulder, pointing at his car parked in the lot just across the street. “I’m heading to this place right now to do something that you could end up falling in love with.” The corner of his lips pull into a sexy half-smile. “Or, you could end up hating it. But you’ll never know until you try it, right?”

  Hold on. Back the hell up. Is he asking me to hang out with him? We’ve never done that, except during crazy-drunk-girl night, and I can’t remember enough to know how the night went. Hell, I barely started being able to talk to him without stuttering.

  “Wait, you want me to come with you somewhere?” I gape at him. “Just you and me, and no one else?”

  He smashes his lips together, battling back his amusement. “Well, I was hoping for a bit more enthusiasm about it, but yeah, that’s what I’m getting at.”

  The idea of going out with Sage, making small talk with him, freaks me out. Yet, I do like the idea of trying something new. My therapist always encourages me to try new things when I feel comfortable enough. I feel mildly comfortable right now, and spending some time with Sage seems … mildly doable, I guess.

  If you can sit in front of your father and testify against him, then you should be able to handle this.

  “What kind of a place?” I ask.

  He wavers. “It might make the whole experience more exciting if I don’t tell you. Plus, I don’t want you to psych yourself out.” When I hesitate, he adds, “I promise you can trust me, Sadie.”

  “I know I can.” Ayden would’ve never introduced me to him if he wasn’t trustworthy.

  “So, you’ll go, then?” He sighs when I remain hesitant. “Okay, what if I also promise that we won’t be completely alone. There won’t be too many people around. Just enough that we won’t be, like, alone, alone. Well, except for the car ride there.” He winks. “I promise to be on my best behavior.”

  A trace of a smile touches my lips. His answers settle my doubts more than he probably
knows. I find myself wanting to go with him, wanting to take a break from this mentally draining day. And hey, maybe I’ll be able to discover a hidden passion.

  “Do you really think this is a good idea?” The dead girl abruptly materializes behind Sage, shaking her head at me. “Is that what you think you deserve, Sadie? To go out with him and have fun while forgetting about me?”

  My mood plummets. I want to tell her yes. That I deserve to live the second chance I’ve been given. But her second chance was stolen away, and I think I might have helped steal it.

  Sage slants to the side and unknowingly blocks the dead girl from my view. “I’m sorry if I’m being pushy. You don’t have to go with me if you don’t want to. I just thought I’d asked because you look like you need to have some fun today.”

  The dead girl’s words echo in my head: Is that what you think you deserve, Sadie? To go out with him and have fun?

  Disappointment sinks into my skin. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I can go.”

  Sage frowns in his own disappointment. “Are you sure? Because, I swear it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

  God, I want to so, so badly. But the dead girl appears again, reminding me of what I did, reminding me why I can’t have what I want.

  “I-I’m sorry,” I sputter, then turn around and run.

  Run away like I always do.

  I don’t want to be like this anymore.

  Chapter 4


  The most depressing song is playing from the stereo, putting a damper on what should be a good, huge step forward day.

  Today is moving day. I’ll officially be living on my own for the first time since I escaped from my father and the cult. Okay, technically, I won’t be living alone all the time. I’m sharing a condo with Ayden and Lyric. However, since their band has become extremely popular, they’ll be on the road, touring more than they’ll be here.

  I don’t mind too much, though. I like that I’ll be trying to take care of myself. At nineteen years old, I should already, yet I am terrified I won’t be able to handle being alone so much.