Two years later…
I groan and roll over. My phone is buzzing on my nightstand. Ugh. I feel Tom wake up next to me.
“Who is it, babe?” he asks groggily.
I squint at my phone with one eye and let out a frustrated sigh and flop back onto the bed. “Guess.”
“Again?” He looks at his watch. “It’s three in the morning.”
“Mmmhmmm…” I let it buzz until it stops. Then it starts again.
“Might as well answer. You know he’s just going to keep calling until you do,” Tom says. “Unless you want to block his number…”
“You know I could never do that to him.” He nods. I love how understanding he is of my friend’s stupidity.
I pick up the phone after a few rings. “It’s three in the morning, Toby.”
I hear booming bass in the background, and he yells over the music. “Eyyyy! You picked up!” He sounds drunk. Again. “Look, I know ’slate, but I just had to call you. And… I forget why I called. Umm… Oh! Can you give me a ride? My parents took my car away. Also, can I crash at your place? My parents also kicked me out.”
I glance over at Tom. He sighs and gets out of bed to get dressed. I mouth ‘sorry’ at him. He just shrugs. “The things I do for you,” he says with a small smile.
“Fine. But never again. Got it?” I tell Toby.
“Course! I’ll text you the place. Bye!”
I slip on some sweat pants and a t-shirt, then look at the name of the place he texted me. The Veil. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“What?” Tom asks, grabbing the car keys.
“This place is like an hour away!” I groan. “I’m going to kill him!” I sit back down on the bed, suddenly overwhelmed.
Tom come over and sits next to me, putting his arms around me and kissing the side of my head. “It’s going to be okay. He just needs time. And maybe a little help from someone other than his friends.”
I know he means a counselor. I agree. Toby has gone off the deep end. Everything that happened just put him over the edge. It nearly put me over the edge. But then I met Tom. He kept me from falling. He keeps me from falling. Time and time again, he pulls me back from that edge, and each time he does, he pulls me a little bit further away from it.
I let him hold me for a minute longer, then take a deep breath and smile. “Okay. I’m okay.”
He smiles back warmly. “Good. Because I’m not picking up that drunk asshole by myself.”
An hour later, we pull into the parking lot of what appears to be a run-down bar. The neon sign above the door flickers lazily. ‘ he V il’ it reads
“Are you sure this is the place?” Tom asks warily.
“Yeah. Trust me, the inside is very different.” I pull out my phone and text Toby that we’re here. Moments later, the door opens, letting out a brief flash of colored lights and a short blast of music. And then it’s gone. It’s enough to remind me of the first time I came here. Jude used to come here all the time.
I shake my head to keep from falling into that memory. I don’t want to remember. I just want to forget everything.
Tom flashes the headlights and Toby stumbles toward us, waving like a moron. He obviously didn’t stop drinking after calling me. He stops when he sees that Tom is driving and glares at him.
“Get in the car before I run you over, asshole,” Tom mutters under his breath. Toby continues to glare but gets in the passenger side back seat. “Hey, bud!”
“Hazel! So good to see you!” Toby slurs, pretending like Tom didn’t just say something to him.
“Oh, I don’t exist again? Ok, well the invisible person that doesn’t exist will drive you back to the apartment that the invisible person that doesn’t exist pays for,” Tom says sarcastically.
“Thanks, invisible person that doesn’t exist!” Toby says, just as sarcastically.
“Knock it off, Toby. You’re lucky we didn’t just let you sleep on the streets,” I say.
“Whatever,” Toby mutters.
The car ride home is awkwardly silent, until Toby finally passes out.
“I’m so sorry, Tom,” I whisper. “I swear, it’s one night and then he’s gone. I’m done babying him.”
“It’s okay. I get it. Really. If it were one of my friends, I would do the same.” I give him a disbelieving look. “Okay, maybe I’d be a little tougher on them. But still.”
I’ve been with Tom for over a year now, and I haven’t told him the whole truth of what happened to Maria and Jude. He knows that they died, but how do you explain to someone that a god took over your friends’ body after a group of witches sacrificed your other friend?
Besides, me and Toby agreed to keep it a secret. If we admit that we were involved in any way, our lives are ruined. At best we would be suspects, at worst we would go to prison. We didn’t even tell Maria’s parents the truth. I think that’s what broke Toby. Seeing Maria’s mom break down at the funeral and having to lie to her face… It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
The worst thing was that they didn’t find her body for months, and we had to say we didn’t know where she was.
I don’t even realize that my hands are shaking until Tom grabs my hand and holds it firmly in his. Sometimes I wonder if he’s an empath like me. He always seems to know what I’m feeling.
I smile at him and he smiles back. And then Toby throws up all over the back seat.