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Chapter 20

Sue stopped at a crosswalk, a group of students lugging backpacks strolling by as if they had all the time in the world. A few looked questioningly at the Cruiser with its dents and rust patches, as if asking, “How is that broken down wreck still moving?” She felt uncomfortable with what she was about to say. Would Shelly believe her?

Shelly was waiting. She sensed Sue was holding back. “Please tell me what you saw. You don’t have to worry. After what I’ve been through, I’ll believe anything.”

Sue nodded. “The thing is…well, I saw you. I screamed from the window the bus was going to hit you, but there was no way you coulda heard me. But I saw it. There was no way it could miss…but it did. Thank God it missed.” She pulled up her shades, her eyes now pinpointed on Shelly’s eyes. “But I know it’s impossible…Girl, there was no way in hell that you could have gotten away from being creamed by that bus! No way. How…I know there is some explanation?”

“What did you see exactly?” Shelly asked. “Please tell me? I need to know.” Sue pulled the car into the Student Union parking lot. “You don’t know?”

“I guess the accident made me block it out.”

Susan leaned closer. “I saw you fall in front of the bus and suddenly….”

“Did you see who saved me?” Shelly hoped Sue had seen someone real, a real human being, pull her away from the bus just in the nick of time and then for whatever reason, run off before she could thank him. That would make Allen a liar, and she would be able to free herself from him and all this trouble once and for all. “I didn’t see him, and he was gone when I came to. Please, tell me what you saw? It will really help me.”

Sue stared into Shelly’s face. “You really don’t know?” She gazed out the car window. “ Okay, I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it’s what I saw. I mean it was from a distance. I was up in my room and you were…you know where you were.” She felt confused. Was Shelly playing some kind of joke on her? But how could she have? “Shelly, I know you won’t believe

me, but it was like you were pulled up from in front of the bus and tossed in the air…but I swear it looked like nobody was holding you. I swear it. I was screaming so maybe I saw wrong? I don’t know?” She stared into Shelly’s eyes. “Did you do it yourself somehow? Did you get up by yourself?”

Shelly felt frustrated. This can’t be happening, she thought. “Nobody was there? Are you sure?” Shelly didn’t want to believe Allen had saved her a second time in two days. She didn’t want to believe in ghosts, and definitely not one to whom she owed her life, not once, but twice. But now Sue had seen it…or not seen it…nobody was there who could have saved her.

Sue shook her head. “Uh uh. I looked and looked, but only a guy with long brown hair was anywhere close, and he was just standing and watching. There was nobody else close enough. I mean I looked really hard.”

Shelly fell back into the bucket seat. “I was really hoping you saw something different.”

“I swear to God, Shelly, I didn’t see anybody near you, yet you were being carried away.

It lasted only a split second, and I thought you were really still under the tires…but when I ran downstairs…thinking you were dead…some boy was helping you up…the guy with the brown hair.”

“That must have been Dodd,” Shelly said, thinking aloud.

“I was sure you were dead,” Sue repeated, as if she thought Shelly was a ghost herself. “I don’t understand?”

“I don’t either,” Shelly said softly. “Sue, would you do me a small favor?” “You really don’t know who saved you?” Sue asked.

Shelly shook her head. “Like you said, nobody was there.”

Sue bit her lip. “Does this have something to do with what you were trying to show me this morning…in the shower stall?”

Shelly had forgotten about showing Sue, a perfect stranger, the writing only she could see on the shower wall. “Yes. At least I think so.”

“What do you want me to do?” Sue asked, her hand resting lightly on Shelly’s hand. “I know you don’t know me, but I want to help.”

Shelly wanted to trust her. She had to trust someone. But was Sue the right one? I have to chance it, she thought. “Can you drive me to the other side of the campus? I know it’s out of your way ....”

“Your wish is my command,” Sue said, and immediately the Cruiser pulled out of the lot.

Shelly felt the seat belts tighten around her. As Sue drove, now at a thirty mile per hour pace, Shelly found herself looking expectantly around every corner and into every side street for anything suspicious.

“You’re quite a backseat driver,” Sue joked, uneasy after their conversation. She couldn’t get over that Shelly didn’t seem to know how she had escaped the bus…didn’t know, or didn’t want anyone else to know. Maybe she doesn’t me yet, Susan thought. I can’t say I blame her after that narrow escape.

Shelly let her think what she wanted. Only she knew the truth -- she now firmly believed someone or something was deliberately trying to stop her from meeting Dr. Lasker. And whoever, or whatever it was, was willing to kill her to accomplish its goal. But who had the motive, the opportunity and the ability to stop her?

Shelly stifled a gasp when she realized there was only one person she knew who could have caused that bus to careen toward her, one person who would do anything to stop her from seeing Dr. Lasker and freeing herself from this situation. She closed her eyes and heard his voice. It was a soft voice, gentle, yet somehow attractive, masculine. It was soothing her, reassuring her. “I would never hurt you,” he said.

Hadn’t Jeff said that too? “I would never hurt you, but we need our space. We both do.” It wouldn’t have hurt that much if they had not made love just a few minutes before. And what about my father? Hadn’t he promised not to hurt Mom…and me…. She couldn’t finish. She heard someone echo, “I would never hurt you.”

It was coming from the face of a demon, a demon she had named Allen.

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