The Amarant

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Chapter 29

Haley Reed

The swing creaked as she went back and forth. It was refreshingly cold out here, cold enough to numb at least some things. The ground at her feet and in every direction was covered in snow, like every other day.

She stared down at the phone in her lap, watching the dark sky reflect in the screen. She opened it and dialed Crimson’s number, but then she just closed it again and put it away. Crimson wouldn’t answer. She hasn’t answered a single one of Haley’s phone calls in over a month.

Finally, Haley called Aunt Samantha last night, only to hear that Crimson hadn’t come home the night before and hadn’t called. Aunt Samantha had told Haley about Crimson’s new boyfriend, Nicholae. About how he had brought Crimson home unconscious after he found her in Madera Canyon, and how they had spent nearly every day together for the last month. And now Crimson had abandoned her friends at the mall and no one could get a hold of her, and her boyfriend hadn’t come looking for her, which made Aunt Samantha worried that Crimson ran away with him. She hoped that’s what happened.

Haley only listened as Samantha voiced her concerns. Haley felt she should tell her the truth, about who Nicholae really was, but she couldn’t bear to do that. She couldn’t bear to tell her aunt that her daughter might be dead.

“Haley,” her mom called from the door. “Dinner’s ready.”

Haley pressed her feet into the snow when the swing came back down, then hopped off and walked slowly to the house.

She could smell the food, the delicious holiday fixings, but she wasn’t in the mood to eat. She usually enjoyed Thanksgiving. No one in Illinois could eat more than her at Thanksgiving, but this year, her holiday spirit was in short supply, and it wouldn’t come back until she knew what happened to Crimson.

She stopped just outside the front door, whipped out her phone and dialed Crimson’s number before she could stop myself.

One ring, two rings, ten…

Nope, no answer, just like she expected.

Grrrr! Crimson, why can’t you just answer me?

“Haley, are you coming?” her mom asked. “Your Uncle Wayne is here and he wants to see you.”

“Yeah, I’m coming,” Haley answered.

She stepped onto the landing halfway into the door. She took one last look over the snowy, pine-tree-cluttered field that was her backyard.

Crimson, I really hope you’re okay. Happy Thanksgiving.

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