The Nineteenth Chapter
When we get home, Valeria goes to our room to make a phone call. I stay right outside with Ty. He ignores me and continues to take boxes to his car.
"Hey, Ty?" I ask.
"Yes?" he sets the box in the passenger seat and walks over to me.
"Can I talk to you about something?"
"Of course, amigo. Sit down," he motions to the porch swing. I hesitate, then sit by him.
"Engaged? You? That's news. To who?"
"Uh. To... Valeria," I look down, ready for the lecture of a lifetime. Valeria is Ty's sister.
"Oh? That's it? No lecture, no yelling, no nothing?"
"Do you want me to yell at you?"
"I don't know. It's weird. I'm still kind of shaky from asking her."
"Well, since you asked nicely... Why the hell would you propose to my fucking sister?!" There's the Ty I know. Although, he hardly ever cusses.
"Ty, I love her. I'd do anything for her. You'll never know that feeling."
"You will regret that."
"What you gonna do? Kill me?"
I obviously hurt him in some way. He wouldn't kill me, right? "Don't hurt her." He takes one more box to his car and drives off.
I walk inside. There's no sign of Valeria. That's when I hear voices.
"Valeria? Who are you talking to?" I climb up the stairs.
"Just a few friends." She starts whispering, and laughter plays through the phone.
"You have friends?" I finally reach her.
"Unlike you, I didn't drop out of high school. I had my people."
"Had?" a male's voice asks.
"Sorry, Connor. I meant have," she rolls her eyes.
"Yeah, Connor. Don't criticize her. Today is a big day," another voice laughs. It's either a drunk girl, or a guy making a bad impression of a girl.
"Sorry, Jame. Most of my friends are gay or bisexual." That explains it.
"And lesbian!" A girl scolds.
"And lesbian," Valeria repeats. "Jame, I haven't seen any of these guys or girls since school." She emphasizes "or girls."
"Right. Should I go?" I step back.
"No. Jane, stay with us!" a female whines.
"It's Jame. Valeria, I'm going to see if Ty forgot anything." I walk out, her friends laughing at my back. Ty's room is empty, his walls bare, floor vacuumed. It will either be a lot quieter, or louder. Another burst of laughter comes from our room. The doorbell rings.
"I guess I'm getting it," I mumble.
"I heard that!" Valeria calls.
I walk downstairs and open the door. A young girl stands in front of me. She has a shaved head, is filled with cuts and bruises, and carries a small box.
"I don't think I ordered anything," I try to search my memory for anything helpful.
"Actually, I'm looking for Valerie," she says, shy.
"She's upstairs. I'll go get her. Do you want to come in?" I reach out my hand for hers. She takes it, so I lead her to the couch.
"Thank you," she sits down.
"Valeria! Someone wants to see you!"
"Who is it?" she comes out of the room with the phone in her hand. She drops it when she looks behind me. "Alex?"
"Valerie?" the girl gets up. That's my cue. I get out of the way. Valeria doesn't bother to grab her phone before running up to her.
"You're alive," Valeria—Valerie?—pulls the girl in to a bone crushing hug.
"I'm alive. I'm alive. And you look amazing," they pull away from each other.
"I owe it all to Jame. He's been training me and keeping me as safe as possible. And we're engaged."
"Oh, I'm so proud!" the girl pulls Valeria back to her, causing a grunt from her.
"Sorry," Alex lets go.
"You shaved your head?"
"I didn't quite fit in. I was the only one without a buzz cut."
I clear my throat.
"Oh! Right. So, you are going to be her husband?" Alex asks me.
"Yeah. Uh, do you have a place to stay? We have an extra room," I offer.
"No, actually. Thanks for letting me stay."
"Um. Jame?" Valeria comes to me.
"There's no bed."
"Right. Uh, I can take Ty's room," I suggest.
"Are you sure?" Valeria and Alex ask in unison.
"Anything for a friend of Valeria," I lie.
That night, I toss and turn on the floor of Ty's old room. Alex walks in.
"What are you doing in here?" I sit up.
"I'm looking for the kitchen because it's straight," she sounds drunk.
"What?" I stand and grab her shoulder. She's a lot shorter than Valeria. She looks more fragile, too.
"I'm looking for the kitchen because it's straight," she repeats. Ugh.
"Go back to bed," I tell her. She just looks around. As I thought. I lead her back to her bed. I hate sleepwalkers. Or as I call them, Night Walkers. If I wasn't there, I wouldn't believe how many times I've been woken up by Night Walkers.
So many nightmares.