"Come on, you guys don't think any of it's even a little weird? People are disappearing, I can't be the only one that's noticed, right?" Waving my hands in the air as I chewed the last of my lunch.
Carter let out a sigh, "Why can't we ever have just lunch?" He asked as he crossed his arms, a grunt leaving him.
"Because Carter, what if something bad is happening to those kids? Wouldn't you want someone looking for you? You can't tell me it doesn't concern you, like what if one of us is next?" I waved my hand over the table this time, gesturing at everyone present.
"If it means I don't have to listen to this everyday, then I hope I'm next. In fact, where can I sign up?" Liam taunted from beside me. His brown hair highlighting his mischievous blue eyes.
"Shut the trap Liam. Jade is right, we should be questioning what's going on." Aerin, my beautiful blonde bestfriend always had my back.
Carter groaned dramatically, "Not you too." He scrubbed at his face, his black hair moving with the motion.
Rolling my eyes, I grabbed my bag and stood from my spot at the table. "Alone in this or not, I'm getting answers."
"Ugh, fine. Just tell me what to do and I'll help if it means you not getting yourself into another jam." Liam swung his bag over his shoulder as he stood up, nudging me with his shoulder.
Shoving him back because I knew exactly what he was meaning, "Yeah well it's not in my nature to watch someone be bullied, okay. I'd get my ass kicked again and again if it meant I spoke up." I had a tendency of voicing my opinions, maybe a little too loud. Most of the time it only got me in trouble. But who would I be if I stood on the sidelines watching Charlotte and her gang of Neanderthals bully the new kid. The black eye took forever to heal, but I carried it around like a damn trophy.
Turning the dial on my locker, opening and tossing my bag in, "You remember Hayden Gray?" I asked as Liam leaned against his locker, "Yeah, he was a year ahead of us right?"
Nodding my head as I closed the locker, "We were neighbors. We use to hang out all the time, we were pretty close. Did everything together. Junior year came and he was just gone. I've tried talking to his parents but I just end up with a door in my face and no answers." Closing my eyes with a sigh, "I just need answers Liam, it doesn't make sense."
I still remember walking up those stone steps like it was moments ago, not a year. Finding the courage to knock on that cottage door. Mr. Gray had answered the door, with a scowl pinching his features. "Go away Jade, the boy ain't comin' back." Slamming the door shut before I could get a word out. "I just need to know if he's okay." The whisper fell from my lips, drowning in the the sounds of pouring rain.
Liam pulled me in for a hug, "And we'll get answers. Just don't do it alone, okay?" The bell rang signaling us it was time to go our separate ways. Liam had weight training class, while I had Art.
Aerin came rushing to my side, a grin plastered on her perfectly painted lips, "So you and Liam?" With a wiggle of her sculpted brows.
"Ew, no. We're just friends."
"Says every girl right before they hook up."
"So not happening." I quickly supplied, shutting the idea down. Aerin pulled my arm, stopping us in the middle of the hall. "Are you still hung up on that hottie from last year? You've gotta move on babe." Her blue eyes lit up with concern.
"That guy has a name you know. And what if I am still hung up on him? It doesn't matter anymore because he just dropped off the face of the fucking earth without even saying 'Bye Jade' . "
Aerin's eyes grew large, "Woah, okay snap dragon, chill. Look, I get it. The first love is always the hardest to get over, but you said it yourself. He isn't here anymore."
I sighed, "Sorry. I just feel like I'm losing my mind. What if everyone is right, that he just left. What if I'm one of those sad girls that just cant get over a guy."
Both of us entered Art class, taking our seats next to one another. "I can't just get over it Aerin. What would you do, if someone you loved just poofed out of existence?"
Aerin's head fell lazily into her propped up arm, "I guess I'd probably burn the entire town and surrounding areas until I got answers." That earned her a few collective gasps from the tables around us. Aerin rolled her eyes, "I'm not going to actually do it, chill out guys. Not yet anyway."
A small sigh left me, "Exactly. So, until I get my answers. Whatever they may be, I won't be 'Moving on.' "
"Fine, fine. So, how do we go about getting these answers?" Her blue eyes settled on me.
Shrugging, "I guess we start out by asking around. Hayden Gray wasn't the only one."
The rest of the day was spent jotting down everything I knew about the disappearances during class activities, because let's face it no one really did anything productive on the last day of school anyway. A few kids eavesdropping from various classes had given me names of people they'd known to disappear under similar circumstances to Hayden's. Sadly, some had even been siblings.
The last bell finally rang, hoots and hollers filling the halls from us Seniors. Graduation just right around the corner now.
Grabbing my things from my locker, Liam smoothly slid in next to me, "You busy tonight?" Turning to close my locker, his bright blue eyes were dancing with excitement.
"Great, I'll drive you home, but first were grabbing smoothies and going to the lake." He gave me his signature 'million dollar smile' as he grabbed my bag.
"Fine, I'll let mom know."
"Meet you at my car." He smiled as he stalked backwards down the hall.
Reaching to my back pocket, I pulled my phone out and called mom. After going to the filled voicemail inbox, I shot off a text.
Message Sent to Mother Dearest 2:49 P.M. : Hanging out with Liam tonight, I'll be home later. Love you.
Message Received From Mother Dearest 2:52 P.M. : Okay, working late tonight so make sure Liam gets you home safely. Love you too, baby girl.
Opening the door to Liam's jeep I hopped in, "I take it Mom is cool with you hanging out with me tonight?" Liam asked from the drivers seat as he hooked up his phone to the aux cord.
Giving him a flat look, "She's practically obsessed with you, I don't even have to ask anymore."
Liam's laughter filled the car, "Yeah, she loves me huh." Turning the music on and rolling down the windows, we made our way to the only place in our small town that served smoothies. Both of us getting our favorites and heading to the lake.
Liam parked close enough to the water so that we could open up the back of the jeep to sit in and enjoy the cool breeze as the sun set. Something we used to to do often.
The sun was beginning to set as we finished our smoothies. Oranges, pinks, and purples, blending in to the darkening sky. "Alright, come on. This party is getting a little lame."
Drawing in my brows as I set the empty cup aside, "Party? I thought we were just hang- OH FUCK! Tomorrow is your birthday! OH MY GOD! Liam I'm so sorry I forgot!" I spluttered, internally kicking my own ass for forgetting one of my closest friend's birthdays. If it had been Aerin I wouldn't be breathing right now. I had been so caught up on senior year, and what might happen after graduation, I completely spaced Liam's birthday this year. Liam laughed it off, "It's fine Jade, really. I didn't want to make it a big deal this year. I'd rather spend it with my bestfriend, out here." He gestured with his hand to the empty lake and the setting sun.
"As the birthday boy, I'd like to dance." Liam got up and ran towards the front of the jeep, cranking up the music.
For a while we laughed as both of us danced like fools with two left feet.
When a slow country song came on by an artist I didn't recognize, Liam held out his hand, "My lady, may I have this dance?"
Laughing as I rolled my eyes, I slapped my hand into his, Liam didn't hesitate to pull me close. Resting my head on his chest, I could hear his heart beat begin to slow. Both of us swayed back and forth to the slow tune. I soaked in the embrace, the warmth his friendship brought me.
"Thank you Liam, I really needed this." I whispered against his chest.
"I know." He replied as his thumb rubbed lightly across my shoulder. The gesture was strangely comforting.
Liam pulled me closer to him, "I need to tell you something Jade." His voice was just above a whisper, holding notes of hesitance. Nodding my head against his chest, "I'm listening."
Liam stopped moving and gently drew my gaze to his with gentle fingers under my chin. "I don't want you to hate me."
I pulled back slightly, "I could never. You're one of my bestfriends Liam."
Liam let out a small chuckle, "Maybe that's the problem, because you mean so much more to me than that Jade Moon." I blinked up at him, completely speechless. Gathering my bearings, I stepped out of his arms slowly. "I-I don't even know how to respond to that Liam. I'm- I can't." Wrapping my arms around myself, the slight chill in the air suddenly more noticeable now.
Liam nodded his head and gave me a small smile, nothing compared to his smiles from earlier. This one was much sadder. "Yeah, I know."
Liam closed the back of the jeep, "Come on, lets get you home. It's getting late."
The ride back was quiet. I could feel the distance between us growing with each passing minute. But what was I supposed to say? Opening the door as Liam parked the jeep in my driveway, "I'll see you around." I quietly offered as I jumped out.
Liam gave me a small smile, something about it seemed so much sadder than I've ever seen him. "Bye Jade."
Closing the front door as something cold settled inside me. Letting out a deep sigh, I made my way to my room. Plopping down on my bed, I stared at my phone screen. After a while I clicked it off and set it on the side table. Flipping over onto my pillow, pressing it tightly to my face, I let out a deep guttural groan. Fucking shoot me. What was I supposed to do now? Can we still be friends? Ugh. Of course, I refuse to let this come between years of friendship.
Pacing my room, mind made up, I decided I'd give him a few days. Some space, and then we could properly talk about what happened. But for fucks sake he could've at least texted me when he got home. He knew how I was about that. I was like a mother bear with all of my friends, something could happen to them on the way home. I just needed the reassurance that they wouldn't just- Just Disappear.
Rubbing my hands down my face harshly, "What is wrong with me."