My mind wasn’t on my work at all. I was tired from staying up all night to watch movies with my best friend but even more than that the whole mystery of Vega and Michael had me wound up pretty tightly. My writing suffered the most and my article on a local baseball team making it to the Little League World Series quite honestly sucked.
“Lyra, can I talk to you for a moment?” Delia asked, poking her head through the door. Delia was an older, plump woman with light brown hair to her shoulders, caramel eyes, and golden skin. She was pretty once but the laugh lines around her mouth, and crows’ feet by her eyes sort of took away her attraction. She’d worked at the paper for a while and definitely knew what she was doing as an editor.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
She frowned, her wrinkles becoming more prominent. She held up a small stack of papers and waved them at me. “It’s about your latest story. I know that you’re still a new journalist but I’ve seen your writing much better than this.”
I bit my bottom lip. “Look, I know, Delia. I’ve just been a little out of it lately. Things have just been kinda hectic the last few days.”
“I get that people have slumps but Know Now only uses the best- that means writers that are top dollar every single day. Mr. Maddison doesn’t give second chances but I do. I want a rewrite on my desk in two hours, Lyra. I hope you didn’t have plans because you’re going to be here for a little while.”
I nodded. “I’ll get that done as soon as I can.”
Her lips pursed and she nodded. “Two hours, hon.”
By the time my two hours was up and I was done with the second draft of my article it was nearly six-thirty and my eyes were drooping from looking at a computer screen all day. I was happier with my new version but it still wasn’t as good as I would have liked. I guess Delia was okay enough with it too because she let me go home with only a slight narrowing of her eyes.
I was exhausted when I got home but some part of my brain was still on hyper-alert. I tossed my keys, phone, and purse onto the entryway table and plopped onto my overstuffed loveseat. I flipped on the TV but after a few seconds my eyes began to wonder towards the door to my study. I bit down on my bottom lip, my thoughts turning to the great mystery surrounding the creepy pictures I’d found on the internet.
“Get a grip, Lyra-Rose,” I ordered myself. “You’re being paranoid.”
I took a deep, slow breath and forced my eyes back to the stupid reality show that was emanating from my flat screen. Every few seconds I caught my gaze back on the study door and had to rip my attention away. I was seriously going crazy.
I was up and at the door of my computer room, not for the first time in the last several minutes, when there was a pounding at the front door. My heart leaped into my throat and my body froze. My legs were jelly as they carried me unsteadily to the door and my hands were shaking like leaves when I grasped the knob. If that wasn’t bad enough, I lost what little color I had when the door opened and I saw who my visitor was.
“Hello, Lyra-Rose,” Michael said politely.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I snapped more harshly than I’d anticipated.
He cocked one brow and glanced down at my sweats and T-shirt. “Well, I was hoping to pick you up so we can go get some drinks. Do you need some time to get ready?”
I slapped my forehead. I’d completely forgotten that I’d agreed to meet with him tonight. “I’m not really in the mood to go out tonight.”
He frowned and his eyes turned a stormy grey. “Is something wrong?” he asked with concern coloring his voice.
Yes. “No, of course not. I just changed my mind about going. Thank you for the invitation but I’m afraid that I have to decline.”
His eyes were silver as they stared straight into mine. “Something is wrong, Lyra. What are you not telling me?”
My own blue orbs blazed. “You know, that’s a good question, Michael. What aren’t you telling me? Who is Vega and what’s the deal with you two? How did she know me? And why am I getting the freakiest sense of déjà vu with both of you?”
He stepped back from the sharpness of my voice and his face became almost… frightened. “Lyra, I can explain but not now. Please, you have to trust me. Please?”
My heart fluttered in my chest, that annoying déjà vu sparking again. He seemed so vulnerable at that moment that I wanted to comfort him. I shot him a small, sad smile. “I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.”
He ran a hand through his dark hair and glared down at me. “Fine. I guess that nothing is just ever good enough for you, is it, Lyra?”
He turned and stormed down the porch steps while I stood gaping at him. What. The. Hell? I felt like utter crap from hurting him like that and I didn’t even know what I’d done wrong. I shook myself from my stupor and went back into the house. No sooner had the door slammed shut than I burst into a fit of tears. I wasn’t even completely sure why I was crying but I had the distinct feeling that this wasn’t the first time I’d hurt him like this and that thought completely broke my heart.
“Lyra, what’s the matter?” Randall asked for like the millionth time. “Why weren’t you at work today?”
I glanced up at him through eyes blurred with tears. His baby blue eyes shone with a kind of fear that didn’t belong in his cherubic face. He looked so young in his denim jeans and oversized USU shirt that I didn’t think he could handle my stupid problem. “Randall, have you ever had a broken heart?”
He smiled sympathetically. “I know exactly what a broken heart feels like, Lyra. I’ve felt it too many times to count and I know that it hurts. It’s the one downside to love. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. Why do you ask?”
I blinked back more tears and threw my arms around his neck. “Okay, Ly, you’re starting to scare me. What’s wrong with you?”
“I-I said some things to that guy, Michael, yesterday. Randall, you should have seen the look on his face when he left. I am such a horrible human being.”
He pulled back to look directly in my face. “Lyra, are you falling for this guy?” he whispered half to himself. “I think that you are. Honey, you have to be careful. If things get serious with you…” He trailed off and I didn’t even bother to ask what he meant.
“Randall, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve never felt this terrible before. I called in sick to work because some guy is mad at me. What is happening?”
“It’s this little thing called love. You are everything good about humanity so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that you’re finally falling in love with someone; although I never in a million years would have figured that it’d be him. If I’d known it’d get this bad so quickly I never would have given him your number.”
I sniffled and rubbed my sore temples. “You’re not making any sense. I already feel like my head’s going to explode and your cryptic crap is so not helping.”
He smiled lightly at me. “Yeah, I know. All you need to know is that I’m here for you. I know a lot more about love than you think and it’s obvious that you need my help.”
I smiled gratefully at him. “Thanks, Randall.”
He ruffled my messy hair and shoved me to my feet. “Now that that’s settled, go take a shower and put on some real clothes. And for god’s sake brush your teeth ’cause your breath smells.”
Twenty minutes later I was showered and dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a thin black hoody. My strawberry-blonde hair hung in wet waves that I threw up in a quick bun and I only had a minimum amount of makeup on. I locked up my door as I followed Randall to his red ’76 Mustang. There weren’t many places to go on a Thursday night but anywhere was better than just staying at home.
“Um, where are we going?” I finally asked when his car left Logan city limits.
“Round Knoll on Salt Lake.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “Round Knoll? That’s an hour-and-a-half away. You do realize that we both have work tomorrow?”
He shrugged easily. “I drive fast. We’ll be there and back with plenty of time for work. Just chill out, will you?”
The drive to Salt Lake was long but the setting sun made the whole view pretty incredible. We spent the ride joking and listening to 80’s music. It was nice to just get away from everything and not have to feel bad for what I’d done to Michael. I loved hanging out with my best friend and everything feeling like old times with just the two of us together on a spontaneous road trip.
Randall parked at the lakeside and we sat on the hood of his car munching on some fries from the nearest Jack-In-The-Box. The stars shone brightly in the sky and reflected on the smooth black water, doubling their infinite number. I quickly became mesmerized by the spectacular view.
“Lyra? Ly, are you listening to me?”
“Wh-what? Oh, sorry. Were you saying something?”
He smirked at me. “You haven’t been yourself since you met Michael. You know that you can tell me anything, right, Lyra? What’s really bugging you?”
I winced. Was it really that obvious that my head was always a million miles away these days? “Things have just been really weird lately. I don’t know what’s going on, Randall, and it freaks me out.”
He draped his arm around me and pulled me into his side as the waterworks started. “It’s okay, Lyra. I’m right here. I’ll always be here for you,” he muttered comfortingly while he stroked back my long locks. He was such a sweetheart. Seriously, if he liked girls I might have been tempted to go out with him for real.
I must have cried myself to sleep because the next thing I knew, Randall was pulling up into my driveway. I yawned and forced my tired eyes open. My best friend was the perfect gentleman as he went around and opened my door for me. He helped me slide out of the car and walked me to my front door. I opened up the house and turned to hug him. “Thanks, Randall. I had a really amazing time.”
“Well I never would’ve known the way you balled your eyes out,” he laughed.
I smiled and pulled him tighter against me. “Let me figure this stuff out on my own and then I promise that I’ll tell you. I love you, Randall.”
“I know, honey. I love you, too.” He ruffled my hair and kissed my forehead like he used to when we were younger and I was having problems at home.
I wasn’t tired anymore once I got home. I glanced at the closed door to my office and chewed my lower lip. I’d been avoiding my computer since I’d found the article on Lyra Pearson’s death. After several minutes of fighting with myself, my computer was booting up. I was afraid of what I would find but it was like my fingers were acting of their own accord when they started typing.
“Let’s see. Birth certificates for the name Lyra… C’mon, give me something.” Dozens of pages popped up from my search. I frowned. “Damn, this is gonna take forever to sort through.”
My eyebrows furrowed together and I gnawed on my chapped lips. I narrowed it down to those people that had pictures and weeded my search out from there. My heart was pounding in my ears for thirty solid minutes from my search.
“Lyra Arnold Dies in House Fire at Age Four….Lyra Corcoran Dies at 88… Lyra Stewart Murdered in Texas… Lyra Thompson Born 1887.” I read the captions one after another under my breath. All the women were from different generations and different parts of the world. No two were alike in their lifestyles or background. The only thing that any of the Lyras had in common was the looks- the very same ones I saw whenever I looked in the mirror. “Oh, god. They’re me,” I choked out.