Raveling you, p.7
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       Raveling You, p.7

         Part #2 of Unraveling You series by Jessica Sorensen
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  The world spins around me as I get my feet under me. The blood rushes from my head, and I stagger around as I try to get my balance.

  “I’ll take another class later or find another way to learn some defensive skills.” She slips a hand around my back and steers me toward the car.

  “I didn’t hurt my legs,” I say, forcing a tone as my stomach churns. “I can walk.”

  Her grip only tightens. “I don’t care. I don’t want to risk you collapsing again.”

  Tired, I relax against her. Her warmth and scent brings comfort. Safe and cared about—that’s what I feel whenever I’m with her. I’m lucky I have her—have this. I just wish I knew my sister had someone who made her feel safe and cared for, that she is okay. That the letter to the police was just her helping with the case, nothing more.

  When we reach the passenger side of the car, Lyric moves her arm away to open the door then motions for me to get in. “I’m driving. You look too sick right now to be behind the wheel.”

  “What about your car?”

  “When my dad gets home, I’ll have my dad drive me to the school so I can up. You shouldn’t be driving right now.”

  I hand over the keys then duck inside. Lyric shuts the door and climbs into the driver’s seat. I stare at the back of my hand as she revs up the engine. A lot of people think the scars on my skin are cat scratches, but they’re from fingernails.

  Put there by blood red fingernails.

  A quiet humming builds in my skull, and my skin feels charred. I rest my head against the cool glass of the window as Lyric pulls out onto the freeway, concentrating on breathing. Breathing, I can handle. Breathing is easy. Deep breaths, in and out.

  We make the thirty-minute drive listening to Rise Against. My nerves settle the closer we get to home. But Lyric seems to grow more restless. By the time she parks the car in front of the garage, she’s practically bouncing in her seat.

  “Do you want me to come in with you so I can help you tell Lila and Ethan what happened, since you can’t remember?” she asks as she silences the engine.

  I shake my head. “I’ll be fine. This has happened a couple of times, so they sort of know the drill by now.” Only partially a lie. They know about my panic attacks, but the one I just had was more than that. It caused me to remember why tiny scars dot my legs and why two of my toes are crooked. Pins and hammers were used to inflict injuries on me.

  I’m remembering.

  Please don’t let me remember.

  I can’t.

  It hurts too much,

  Will break me more.

  And I need to be whole for the moment

  So I can take care of some stuff—

  Find my sister and make sure she’s okay.

  Nodding, Lyric extends her hand to the door handle. The pain emitting from her eyes tears my heart apart.

  I catch her arm to stop her from getting out. “Lyric, I’m so sorry.”

  She sucks in a sharp breath before peering over her shoulder at me. “For what?”

  I clutch onto her in desperation. “For being a shitty best friend, for making you sad all the time.”

  She rotates in the seat, facing me. “You don’t make me sad all the time.” She leans over the console. “You make me happy, Shy Boy. More than anyone ever has.”

  “Then why are you crying?”

  “Because you’re hurting, and I hate seeing you hurting.”

  My head slumps forward as guilt crushes my chest. “I just wish I could be a better friend to you,” I whisper, squeezing my eyes shut.

  Her forehead touches mine, her warm breath dusting my cheeks. “You’re the bestest of bestest of best friends.”

  I smile, but the movement aches. Being happy right now feels wrong and energy draining. “There you go, making up words again.”

  She chuckles. “Didn’t I tell you once that I’m that awesome?”

  “You did.” I don’t open my eyes. Just feel her breath, her heat, allow her strawberry scent to encompass me. I want to kiss her so bad. I want to press my lips to hers in a soft brush, a quick taste, before I get out of the car and deal with everything waiting for me.

  Everything about her sends my body into a mad frenzy. I’m walking a dangerous line right now, pushing myself far enough that I’m starting to remember some of the details of what happened three years ago. But fuck it. The police are already going to force me to split open my mind and let my memories out.

  Just one moment with her. That’s all I want.

  Without opening my eyes, I dip my mouth forward and brush my lips across hers. She sucks in a sharp breath then lets out a soft whimper that causes both our bodies to quiver. Her lips willingly part, and my tongue slips deep inside, swallowing the taste of her. She groans in response, her fingers finding my waist and gripping tightly.

  I gasp from the contact and instantly feel the memories scorch, bright and vivid, like hot iron on my flesh.

  “I should go inside,” I whisper breathlessly after I break the kiss.

  “Okay,” she utters raspingly.

  A moment ticks by where neither of us budge, then we simultaneously move apart. Lyric climbs out of the car and heads to her house while I hurry into mine, wishing I was going with her. Wishing I was just a normal guy who could hang out with his girlfriend without flipping out.

  But I’m not. I’m scarred, broken, cracked apart, bleeding out, and I don’t know how to make it stop, how to fix myself.

  I need to try, though. I have to try to get my life together and fix myself. Starting with my sister. If I can find her and know she’s out of harm’s way, then maybe I can have some peace of mind. Maybe I’ll have hope that getting better is possible. Maybe seeing the images of my past can be just that—my past.

  Maybe I can be fixed.

  Chapter 7

  Lyric

  I have never been so scared in all my life as when Ayden fell to the ground. Then he looked up at me with tears in his eyes, and I just about died. My beautiful, sweet friend was crying and in pain. Seeing him like that was heartbreaking.

  After we part ways at our houses, I start to wonder what caused the meltdown. Could it have been stress from the police visit, the stress of them insisting he has to try to remember his past? I don’t know for sure, since he still hasn’t told me much about his past. With Ayden, everything is in the present, which is fine—I’m all about seizing the moment—but it makes me wonder exactly what kind of terrible things happened in his past.

  Needing to take my mind off stuff, I track down my father in his office to bug him some more about his club opening.

  “Knock, knock, knock,” I say, rapping my knuckles on the doorframe as I enter his office. The usually tidy room is a mess. Papers are scattered on his desk, records are strewn carelessly on the floor, and empty energy drinks overflow the trashcan. “Whoa, did a tornado blow through here or something? Or is this just what happens when you hit stress mode?”

  “What?” He closes his laptop then blinks around at the room as if he’s just noticing the mess. “Oh, that. Yeah, I haven’t had time to clean up in a few days.”

  I raise my brows at the mess that is clearly from more than a few days. “Want me to clean up?”

  He shakes his head as he stands up, rubbing his eyes and yawning. “Nah, I need to get up anyway. I’ve been sitting at the desk all day.” He stretches out his legs and arms. “What are you up to? I thought you were supposed to be at a self-defense class or something.”

  “That didn’t work out.” I plop down in a chair in front of his desk.

  He starts stacking some papers. “Why? What happened?”

  I shrug, spinning around in the chair. “I’m not sure.”

  He pauses. “You’re not sure, or you don’t want to tell me?”

  “Both,” I say, and he looks at me funny.

  “Lyric, you need to go to those classes. With everything going on with Ayden and what happened with William,” his jaw tightens, “you need to know how to
protect yourself.”

  “Technically, I did protect myself from William. I’m the one who got myself out of that room after kicking the crap out of his balls.”

  “I’d still feel better if you took the classes. Ayden needs to take them, too.”

  “I was planning on it—we both were—but … I think Ayden had a panic attack or something, and we had to come home.”

  “Really?” He doesn’t seem all that shocked.

  “Did you know he has them?”

  “No, but I’m not surprised with the stressful life he’s had.” He picks up the stack of papers and sets them in the desk drawer. “Your mother used to have them when she was younger.”

  I stop spinning in the chair. “Really? Why have I never heard about this?”

  He glides the drawer shut then moves to the trash bin to clean up the cans. “Because she hasn’t had them in a long time. And she doesn’t really like to talk about it too much.”

  “Is that why you guys worry about my mental stability?”

  He drops the can he’s holding. “Why do you think we worry about that?”

  I push up from the chair and scoop up the can he dropped. “Because I heard you guys talking about it once. That I was too happy.” I chuck the can in the trash bin. “You guys seemed pretty convinced that was a bad thing.”

  He collects another can from the floor and crunches the metal. “You misunderstood us.” He tosses the can into the trash. “Your mom … she just worries.”

  I start gathering the records on the floor. “Over what?”

  He sighs, scratching the side of his head. “You know about your grandmother, right? Your mom’s mom?”

  “I know she committed suicide, if that’s what you’re getting at. But only because Grandpa let it slip out in one of his stories, not because you two told me.”

  “Well, she was bipolar.”

  “And…?”

  He sighs again then takes the records from me and stacks them on the shelf. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes, your grandmother would get in these moods. These really, upbeat, happy moods that almost seemed unnatural.”

  I study his uneasy demeanor and a theory develops. “Wait a minute. Do you guys think I’m bipolar?”

  “No,” he says quickly, tense and guilty. “That’s not what I’m saying at all.”

  “Then why do you look so guilty?”

  His stiff posture loosens. “Lyric Scott, we don’t think you’re bipolar. Yes, we had to worry since it can be hereditary, but that’s it.”

  “Well, to stop your worry, I’ll just be blunt with you. I’m overly happy because I’ve had a super good life and I’m happy. That’s it.” I head for the door to leave. “And just so you know, I do get sad sometimes. I just choose not to be mopey for very long because life’s too short to waste my energy on being sad.”

  I exit the room, even though I haven’t discussed our band playing for his opening yet. But I’d wanted to cheer up, not sink farther into a bummer mood.

  I go up to my room and rock out on the violin for a while, seeking comfort from music. The soft tunes and channeled energy soothe my restless soul. By the time I put the bow down, I feel content enough to jot some lyrics down.

  I grab a pen and notebook then flop down on my bed.

  Look at the stars, staring upon the souls.

  Watching them wander. Little pieces of their own.

  Lost in a sea of others. Drowning in pain.

  But there are too many to hear all the silent cries.

  So we keep drifting, drifting, drifting

  As the stars keep shining, shining, shining.

  Watching, watching, watching us all fade away.

  I withdraw the pen from the paper. “Okay, I’m not sure if I love what I’m writing or am terrified of it.”

  I decide to give my hand a break from my head. I hide the pen and notebook under my pillow then sit up. Outside my window, the sunset paints the greying sky with hues of pink and golden orange. I still have a few hours until band practice. I could work on my homework, but I want to check up on Ayden first to make sure he’s okay.

  Grabbing my phone from my nightstand, I pad over to the window and send him a text.

  Me: How r u feeling?

  While I’m waiting for a response, the Gregory’s sedan backs out of the garage and down the driveway. I can’t tell who’s in there, but I wonder if Ayden is.

  Ayden: Yeah, I’m fine. Just resting now.

  Me: At your house?

  Ayden: Yeah.

  Me: By yourself?

  Ayden: I’m with Kale. Lila and Ethan just took Fiona and Everson to soccer practice.

  Me: Want some company? I’m super bored.

  Ayden: Lila actually told me I couldn’t have anyone over.

  Me: But I’m not just anyone. I’m your best friend.

  Ayden: Sorry.

  Sorry? What is that? A brush off or something?

  Before I can think about it too deeply, Ayden walks out of his house and hurries down the driveway toward the sidewalk. His hood is down, and he keeps peering around as if he’s nervous. When his eyes land on my window, I duck for cover and peer over the windowsill.

  He lied to me again, snuck out of the house again.

  “That little liar,” I mutter as he veers right toward the end of the block, the same direction he wandered up from the other night when he snuck out.

  Even though it might be wrong, I make the choice to tail him, worried he might be in trouble. Worried he’ll blackout again like he did earlier. More than that, I’m just generally worried about him.

  I snatch my leather jacket from my bedpost then run downstairs and out the door. I slip on my jacket as I jog across my lawn and turn right when I reach the sidewalk. I can’t see him anywhere, so I pick up the pace, sprinting to the end of the street. Glancing left then right, I finally spot him crossing the street in a hurry.

  Hunching down, I race after him, zigzagging behind trees and parked cars, trying to stay out of sight as much as I can. I check left and right before I dash across the street and hunker down behind a chain link fence near the park as Ayden slips through the gate.

  I count to five under my breath then stand up and peek over the fence, crossing my fingers, hoping he hasn’t spotted me.

  He’s striding across the grass toward the playground. No one is around, except a guy perched in the middle of the merry-go-round. As Ayden approaches him, the guy hops to the ground. They meet under an oak tree and start talking about something, their lips moving as they huddle together. Then Ayden sticks his hand into his pocket and retrieves a silver object out that looks like a knife.

  Something snaps inside me. Worry, fear, anger—perhaps a mixture of all three. Without any forethought, I leave my hiding spot, march through the gates and toward Ayden and his friend.

  The guy spots me first. He says something, and Ayden reels around. Shock crosses his face, and he quickly shoves the object back into his pocket.

  “Oh, don’t stop whatever you’re doing on my account,” I say to Ayden as I reach the two of them. Up close, I get a better look at the guy. Lanky and on the younger side, with squared framed glasses and a pen tucked in the front pocket of his plaid shirt, he looks kind of nerdy. “What’s going on?” My gaze travels back and forth between the two of them

  “That’s none of your damn business, little girl,” the scrawny guy states, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes at me.

  “Little girl?” I mimic his move, folding my arms. Then I arch a brow and stare him down until he squirms. “Look, I think we both know I could kick your ass, so there’s no use trying to be all badass.” I turn to Ayden who’s all squirrely himself. “What’s going on?” The only thing keeping me calm is that maybe he has a good reason for lying to me. “Why are you sneaking off,” I nod my head at the other guy, “to meet him?”

  Ayden gulps. “Lyric, you need to go home. You shouldn’t be here.”

  “Ouch. That stings.” I pre
ss my hand to my chest, noting that it actually does ache.

  “I’m sorry, but you do.” His eyes narrow. “Wait. How did you even find me?”

  “I followed you here when I saw you leaving the house after you texted me, telling me you had to stay in,” I say coldly, shocking both him and myself. I hardly ever get angry, but right now, frustration simmers under my skin. “I’m sorry for getting snippy, but I’m worried about you, and until I’m not worried about you, I’m not leaving.”

 
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