Abandoned Lives

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Chapter 9: Chris...

We’ve managed to get all the crap that Candi wanted for the house and make it back there. Now that it’s all unloaded and put together, I have a decision to make. Her parents are here, which means they may not need me to stick around. But… damn it! I can’t just leave her. I’ll never get past it if something happens to her because I took off.

I’ve been stuck in the damn friend zone for the past couple of years, watching her put up with the idiot in New York and, more recently, this weird fucker that just keeps showing up here. He was here when we got back this time, too. Just sitting on the porch, waiting. Who does that? Seriously, you show up to see a girl and she’s not home, you leave and try later. Maybe even call first. This asshole just sat there and waited.

And I know she was mad at him earlier. Now, though? She walks right up and kisses him on the cheek, leading him inside and showing him all the stuff she bought.

I know I didn’t imagine the way she’s been looking at me lately, but every single time he comes around, she suddenly acts like I don’t exist and goes straight to him. There’s something off about him too. For one thing, why does he always just show up? He never calls her. She doesn’t talk about him when he’s not around. And when he IS around, she doesn’t act like herself. She turns into this love sick, giggly little girl. That’s not Candi. That’s not the girl I know.

I guess I can’t say much about him always being around and acting funny, though. You’d think I’d be sick of standing in the background and move on. Nope. Here I am, sitting on the porch, at her new table, staring into the damn woods, being a broody bastard. Yeah, that’s not weird at all.

And has she noticed I’m not in there with the rest of them? Probably not. She’s too busy fawning over Kieran. What the fuck kind of name is Kieran, anyway?

Yeah, Cam told me about his wife. Or, at least, what he SAID happened to his wife. Guess I should feel bad for him but I googled that shit. Nothing like that has been in the news around here. It doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t be reported on. There’s ALWAYS at least a small mention of car accidents, especially if it results in a death.

But, am I telling her that? Nope. I’m sitting here like a kid, pouting over her. Playing the devoted best friend. Going above and beyond to make sure she’s protected. Even down to letting her sleep in my bed without touching her. Yeah, THAT night was pure hell. If she had even given me one little hint that she wanted more, I would have been on her faster than she could blink.

Cam walks up and sits on the other side of the table, pulling me out of my sulk… for the moment anyway. “Hey, man. What are you doing out here?”

I shrug, “Just chillin out for a minute. Candi was right about this porch. It’s a nice place to sit.”

“Yeah.” He looks around the yard, “Maybe we should grill out tonight and eat out here.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I sit up, putting my elbows on the table, “Listen, I need to know what ya’ll need me to do now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, your parents are here. You don’t really need me around. I’m good with staying. Hell, I already packed a bag. But, I can just as easily head home. It’s whatever ya’ll want.”

He shakes his head, “Stay. I don’t wanna go into it with our parents. They’ll just freak out and never leave.”

I laugh, “Yeah, ok.”

Candi and Kieran walk out to where we are, completely wrapped up in each other. I can’t deal with this shit right now, so I look at Cam and say, “I’m gonna go get my stuff unpacked.”

He nods and I walk inside. I only make it into the kitchen before he puts a hand on my arm, pulling me back, “Look… just give it time.”

When I raise my eyebrows at him, he continues, “I don’t know what the deal is with this dude, but it won’t last. Right now, she’s all about him but, if you’ll notice, when he’s not around he’s the last thing she cares about. Just let her get it out of her system.”

I shrug, “None of my business who she’s with.”

He rolls his eyes, “Dude, do you really think I don’t see how you look at her? I would have said something sooner if I thought you would do anything to hurt her. You won’t, though. You’re about the only guy I actually trust to treat her right. Like I said, give it time. She’ll be over this idiot soon and you can tell her how you feel.”

“I’ve waited around for the past couple of years. Hoping she’d notice.” Yeah, I’m giving up on my pride and admitting it, “It’s just not gonna happen. To her, I’m the sexless best friend. She’ll never see me as more. I just need a minute this time. Sometimes it’s too much and I just can’t watch her with someone else. I’ll be fine. I’ll get over it and be right back to me tomorrow. Just… I just need to be away from it for a minute.”

He nods and motions to the stairs, “Go ahead. I get it.”

I head on up to the room that was designated as mine, getting my few clothes unpacked and put away. That doesn’t take long, though, and I’m not ready to go back out and watch all that shit. So, I go into the spare rooms. We brought the bed frames and everything into them but didn’t set them up. I figure that’ll give me something to do to get this frustration out. Needs to be done, anyway, if her parents are gonna have somewhere to sleep tonight.

There’s not much to it, just putting the beds together. I’m not going into making up the beds because I don’t know what she wants where. And the dressers and end tables are already assembled. She got the good stuff from an actual furniture store.

I’m about halfway through the second room when her dad walks in. “Chris, I would’ve came and helped. You didn’t have to do all this by yourself.”

“Not a big deal. I don’t mind. I needed something to do anyway.”

He walks over and grabs the other end of the box springs that I was trying to put on the bed, helping me out, before he says, “So, what do you know about this Kieran character?”

“Not much. Candi seems to like him.”

“So you haven’t talked to him?”

I sigh, “Can I be honest here?”

He gets a crinkle in his brow, “Of course.”

“Ok then. I don’t know him but I don’t like him.”

“Why’s that?”

“I don’t really have a reason. He just… I don’t know. Something is weird about him. He hasn’t done anything wrong, that I know of. He’s been nice to her. He’s been respectful, from what I can see. It’s just something in my gut that makes me not like him.”

He nods, glancing out the window, “Always trust your gut. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t live that.” He shakes his head and continues, “I think we’re done with this room. Let’s get that last one finished and go have some dinner.”

“Yes, sir. Thanks for helping.”

“Not a problem.” He hesitates in the doorway to the last bedroom, “You’re staying here for a while?”

“Yes, sir. I just wanted to make sure they got settled in good and then I’m heading back home. It’s just easier to stay here than make that drive every day. I took the next week off so I could be here.”

“Good. Her mother and I have to head back home tomorrow. I planned to stay longer, but I got a call while we were out and I need to get back to work. I’ll feel better knowing someone is going to be around that’s a bit… cautious of the new boyfriend.”

I can’t believe I was looking at Chris earlier. Now I realize it’s Kieran. He’s so sweet and attentive. And, damn, that boy is hot! We grilled steaks and ate outside tonight. Now everyone else is inside, probably watching TV, and Kieran and I are sitting out on the porch. It’s old fashioned, but actually pretty nice to be out here with him, with the parents sitting just inside. He hasn’t even really tried to kiss me again tonight. THAT’S not nice, but last time didn’t exactly go well, so I get it.

We’ve been out here for about an hour when I start yawning, so he says, “I’m gonna head home and let you get some rest.”

I yawn again, “I’m sorry. It’s just been a really long day.”

“Nothing to be sorry about. You need your rest.” He pulls me to my feet beside the table and pulls me to him, with both hands on my waist. “I don’t want you overdoing it. I’ll just come back over tomorrow and we’ll have a bit more time.”

I nod, but then stop myself, “Oh, no, wait. My parents are leaving tomorrow. I need to spend some time with them.” When he starts looking irritated, I say, “Please don’t be mad. They’re my parents and I won’t be able to see them much. They live a few states away now.”

That takes the anger away, “I’m not mad. I understand. Now, kiss me good night so you can get inside and in bed.”

I put my arms around his neck, “That I’ll gladly do.” He leans down and gently touches his lips to mine. When my eyes drift closed, his arms tighten around my waist, pulling me flush against him and he deepens the kiss. By the time he pulls back, I’m struggling for breath. I know we haven’t done that much, but every time is seriously intense. He leans down sucks on my bottom lip, before giving me a couple more closed mouth kisses. Then he turns and leaves.

I go inside and straight up to my room. Going in the bathroom for my shower, I remember the vitamins I bought earlier. Might as well go ahead and start taking those. That done, I look around but can’t find my birth control pills. Oh well. It’s not like I’m having sex anyway. I can just call in a for new prescription tomorrow.

Once I’m showered and back in bed, it takes me very little time to drift off to sleep. It really has been a long, emotional day.

I’m jerked awake by a thumping noise. Turning my head towards the window, I see someone standing there, staring at me. My heart is pounding in fear, but I have enough sense to reach behind me and turn on the lamp. I only look away for a second, but that’s all it takes for them to disappear. Son of a bitch! I’m imagining things again.

Deciding to leave the light on for the rest of the night, I start to get up and go to the bathroom. As I stand up, I glance at the wall by the windows and start screaming hysterically, shaking my head back and forth and trying to back out of the room.

Chris comes running in, grabbing me by my arms and pulling around and into him. “Hey, hey, what’s going on? What’s wrong?”

I turn and point… but there’s nothing there.

I must stand there staring for a while, because he starts shaking me, “CANDI! Snap out of it. What happened?”

I start crying, “It was JUST there.”

“What was just there? You’re not making sense, Candi. You need to talk to me.”

I take a deep breath, “My wall had blood on it. A lot of blood, Chris. And someone wrote ‘GET OUT’ with the blood. It was everywhere.”

He walks over to the wall I’m pointing at, running his hand over it. When he turns back to me, looking skeptical, I start shaking my head, “I know I didn’t imagine it. And somebody was standing in front of the window. I SAW it Chris!”

He starts walking back to me, his hands up in front of him, like I’m a crazy person he needs to calm down, “Ok, I believe you.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, I do. But… Candi… I don’t think it was real.”

“What the FUCK?!? I SAW it. I KNOW I did!”

“I’m not saying you didn’t. But, you were asleep. You probably had a nightmare and your walls are burgundy. That probably played into your dream and messed with you.”

I keep shaking my head no. I know it was there. Just a minute ago. What the hell is going on? I’m turned back, looking at the clean wall, when I feel arms wrap around my waist, startling another scream out of me.

Chris turns me into his chest, pulling me into a tight hug. “Shhhh. It’s just me. I’ve got you.” He starts rubbing my back, soothingly, when I wrap my arms around his waist and start sobbing.

“Chris, I think I’m losing it.”

He leans down and whispers, “No you’re not. You’ve just had too much happen lately and it’s giving you nightmares. Everything will settle and you’ll be fine.” He pulls my arms away, only to wrap them around his neck, and picks me up.

“Where are we going?”

“You can sleep with me. No more burgundy walls and no more nightmares.” I don’t argue with him, just nod and lay my head on his shoulder. When we get back in his room, he lays me down, tucking me under the covers, before he goes and shuts the door. As soon as he lays back down, he pulls me into his arms, my head on his chest. I can’t fall back asleep, though. I’m still too terrified.

Not just of what I’ve seen, but also because I wasn’t exaggerating. I do feel like I’m losing my mind. What if all of this is just in my head? What if I accidentally locked myself in the basement and then just freaked out? Hell, maybe the lights never even went out. I could have sent myself into a panic and imagined that, too.

If that’s what it is, lying here with Chris isn’t going to stop it. So, I move to get up and go back to my own bed. I can call a doctor tomorrow and see about getting a CAT scan. And if it’s not physical, I can go see a therapist. Maybe I need medication.

Before I can make my way completely off the bed, I’m pulled back against Chris, and onto my back. “Where are you going?”

I take a deep breath before answering him. “Back to my room.”

He leans up on one elbow, looking down at me, but I can’t meet his eyes. “Why?”

“Because… if it… all of this… is just in my mind, there’s no point in staying in here. I can escape something or someone trying to hurt me by hiding out with you. I can’t escape my own head.” My eyes start tearing up again, but he immediately starts wiping them away with his thumb.

“I never said it was all in your head. I said you might have had a nightmare. And, yes, staying here with me will help with that. I always want someone with me after I have bad dreams. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It just means you need someone. Let me be that someone.” When I open my mouth to reply, he keeps going before I can even get a word out, “Just for tonight. I know you’re seeing that dude that keeps showing up. I’m not trying to sleep with you… well… I am, but only in the literal sense of sleeping. Just relax and get some sleep. Let me chase away your demons for tonight and we’ll worry about the rest tomorrow.”

I chew on my lip for a minute, trying to think. I can’t come up with a single reason that I should leave. So, I just nod and turn over, putting my back to him. He mutters, “thank fuck” and curls up against me, his arm around my waist, tucking me further into his body. With his breath in my hair, I finally manage to drift back into a decent sleep.

I wake up to sunlight streaming in the window. I’m still tucked against Chris in the exact position as when I fell asleep. No more nightmares last night. I got to finish out my night in comfort and warmth.

It didn’t hit me last night, but this morning I’m feeling the attraction to him, too. It takes everything I have not to grind back against the erection pressed into my ass. I can’t get involved with anyone until I know for sure what’s going on with me. I can’t pull anyone else into my craziness right now. That includes Kieran. I’ll just have to explain it to him when I see him again. I’m sure he’ll show up today at some point.

I start easing my way out from under Chris’ arm, trying not to wake him. I make it out of bed and into my own room, with no one waking up and seeing me creeping around the hallway. I feel like a teenager, trying to sneak around and not let my parents know I spent the night with a boy.

As soon as I’m dressed… jeans and a T-shirt seem fine for today… I head downstairs and start breakfast for everyone. While it’s all cooking, I get online and look up doctors in the area. My parents are supposed to be leaving today, so I’m trying to get an appointment as soon as possible.

I don’t want them to know about it, though, because they’ll worry. So, I finish up breakfast, set it all out on the table, and take my laptop and phone outside to my new table.

I call around to a few different doctor offices, explaining the situation more times than I ever wanted to. I get a few rude receptionists telling me that I need a psychiatrist, not a medical doctor. There are some that are really nice, just unable to get me an appointment any sooner than a month away. I can’t wait that long.

Finally, I get through to an office that puts me on hold so that they can check with the doctor himself. He comes on the line, asks me to tell him exactly what happened again.

“And is there any chance you hit your head when you fell in the basement? Or even when you were trying to get out?” He sounds really young, not at all what you think of when you imagine a private practice doctor.

“It’s possible, I guess. I don’t remember, honestly. Something has to be wrong, though, right? I mean, I’m seeing things and freaking out over everything.”

“And this is completely different to how you were before the basement?”


“Ok.” He blows out a breath, “Let’s do this. Come into the office this afternoon. I’d like to look you over. Then, we’ll see about getting you out to the hospital for some tests.”

It feels like a ton of bricks has just lifted off my chest and I can finally breathe again. “Thank you.”

“Of course. Now, with the possibility that there was some damage done to your head, you really shouldn’t be driving. Is there someone that can drive you down here?”

I nod, then realize he can’t see me. “Yes. I’ll figure it out.”

“Great. I’m going to give you back to Mary and she can set you up with an appointment. Try to get here about 15 minutes early so that you can get the paperwork filled out.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome. Hang on just a sec.”

He transfers me back to the receptionist and I get the appointment set up for 6pm. She says that there’s not really any openings but he told her it was vital that I get in there today and to make it after the office closed if she had to.

I’m so thankful to them that I’m smiling and humming when I walk back inside and see everyone sitting at the table, eating breakfast.

My parents leave around noon, with promises of future visits and phone calls. I’ve never been so happy to see them leave. They’re barely out of the driveway when Cam pulls me aside and asks, “Why were you sleeping with Chris last night?”


“Don’t ‘huh’ me. I went to make sure he didn’t need to call anyone about work this morning and saw you all wrapped up with him. What’s going on, Candace? It was just yesterday that you were giggling and hanging all over Kieran.”

“You need to sit down.” I walk away from him and back into the living room, relieved to see Chris already sitting there. That saves me the trouble of yelling for him.

Cam comes in, taking a seat on the couch, and with a worried crinkle in his brow, he asks, “Ok I’m sitting. What’s going on?”

“Ok,” I take a deep breath. “You misconstrued what you saw. I had a nightmare…. A really vivid nightmare… and Chris was trying to help me get back to sleep.” When I see the storm clouds start forming on his face, I hold a hand up and continue, “Just SLEEP, Cam. Nothing else. But it’s not the first time that something’s happened like that and you know it.”

He nods, so I keep going. “I’m going to see a doctor this afternoon.”

“A doctor?” He sits forward, elbows going to his knees, “What kind of doctor?”

“Just a regular MD. I called this morning and set up an appointment. He thinks I may have hit my head in the basement, so he wants to do an exam and send me for some tests.”

Chris speaks up, “If you it your head, you can’t drive. What time is the appointment and I’ll take you.”

“It’s at 6 and no, I can’t drive. I was gonna ask if one of you would take me.”

Cam nods. “I can drive you, if you want.”

Chris says, “How about we all go?” He turns to Cam, “I know you don’t want to stay here and wait for news, any more than I do. We’ll all go and we can find out what’s up.” He looks back at me. “I still think you’re just having some nightmares. We both think someone was in the house when you got locked in the basement. You were locked down there in the dark all night. That’s enough to give anyone nightmares. But, if it makes you feel better to do this, I’m all for it.”

“Thank you.” I motion to Cam, as well, “Both of you. I don’t know what I’d do if ya’ll weren’t here with me.”

Before anything else can be said, there’s a knock on the door. I go over and answer it, to find Kieran standing there. Fuck… Now what do I do? I don’t want him to go away because I’m starting to have feelings for him, but I really need to put off anything else happening until I find out if I’m insane.

I motion towards the table on the porch, “Can we sit and talk?”

He nods and we walk over to sit down. Of course, he’s a gentleman, so pulls out my chair for me, before sitting down beside me and taking my hand, “Everything ok?”

“No, not really. Um… ok, here’s the thing. You know about me getting locked in the basement and all that.” At his nod, I continue, “Ever since then I’ve been having nightmares, really vivid ones… so bad that at times I’ve thought I was awake. At least… I’m hoping that’s all it is.”

He starts looking really angry and he squeezes my hand a little too hard, prompting me to pull it loose, shaking it out. He mutters “Sorry, I didn’t mean to” and motions for me to continue.

“Well, just in case, I’m going to see a doctor today. They want to run some tests and make sure I’m ok. If they give the all clear, I’ll probably just chalk it up to nightmares and move on.”

“Can you tell me what they’re about?”

“The nightmares?”

“Yeah, if you can remember them.”

Oh I remember every single detail, even down to each drop of blood that ran down my wall last night. I recount everything for him… minus the part about sleeping in Chris’ bed because THAT needs to just stay between us… watching as he first gets angry and then quickly blanks his face. No idea what that’s about, but I don’t have the energy right now to deal with his issues on top of my own.

When I’m done, he says, “I agree with your friend. I think you’re just having some nightmares. But, I completely understand not wanting to take risks with your health. In fact, I prefer you NOT take risks. The thought of something happening to you makes me a little crazy.”

Ahhhh, so THAT’S why he was looking so upset. I smile and lean forward, kissing him softly, before I lean back and say, “Thank you.”

He shakes his head, “Nothing to thank me for. I care about you and want you around for a while.”

He leans forward, pulling me onto his lap. I melt into him as he kisses me. He still acts the gentleman, not trying to touch any of the pertinent areas. He reaches up and wraps his hand around my hair and slowly pulls back from me, twirling and untwirling one of my dreads around his fingers.

“You know… you’re sexy as hell with your hair like this. I love it. You know that, right?”

“Ok, random. What’s your point?”

He lets go of my hair and pulls me in for another kiss, then starts kissing his way down my neck. Once he hits my collar bone, he reverses up to my ear and whispers, “I’d give just about anything to see your hair loose and flowing free. To be able to put my hands it and pull you to me.” He makes his way back to my mouth, sucking my bottom lip into his mouth. “I bet it’s soft and gorgeous. Just like you. Every…” another kiss… “single…” and another… “inch of you.” That’s when he goes all in, his tongue massaging mine, hand wrapping back into my hair.

As the heat starts building in my core, his words start sinking in. It’s distracting me and making me cool off a bit. He notices and pulls back, asking, “What’s wrong?”

“You want me to change my hair?” There’s no inflection in my voice. There can’t be. I haven’t decided yet if I’m upset about it or not.

He nods, “I do. But, only if you want to. I’m ok with it like it is. I just want to be able to feel it… the way it’s SUPPOSED to feel.”

It’s really not that big of a deal. I mean, I didn’t plan to have it like this forever. I would have eventually changed it back… probably. I’m sure I would have.

He tugs on the end of one of my dreads, “Hey… if it’s gonna upset you that much, then leave it alone. I don’t want you mad at me.”

“No,” I shake my head, “It’s fine. Really. I was already thinking about it anyway.”

“Are you sure?” Another kiss… “I don’t want to make you unhappy. I care too much about you for that.”

“I’m positive. Whatever you want.” And right now… I WOULD give him anything. I can feel how blinding my smile is. This must be what love feels like. This absolute euphoria. It’s like I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to be with him.

“Let me go in and make an appointment. I can probably get it done before my appointment with the doctor this evening.”

He nods and I get up to walk inside. He stops me to say, “Hey, I’m gonna head home. I didn’t have a whole lot of time today, but I really wanted to see you.”


He leans in and kisses me again, “I’ll stop back by tomorrow and check on you.”

I nod and smile as he turns to leave. I immediately go inside and start searching for salons on my laptop. Once I get ahold of one that can get me in today, I go and tell the boys we need to leave now. I’ve only got a little over 4 hours before I have to be at the doctor and the salon said this was going to take a while. It damn well better, considering what they’re charging me to do it.

When we get there, the boys sit down in the front as I’m shown to the back. I’m the only customer in here right now.

Looking around at all the empty seats, I ask, “Why do ya’ll not have any other customers?”

A cute redhead speaks up, “Oh, we’re normally closed today. When you called earlier, I was just here doing the books. I called Samantha, Julie, Monica, and Jessica in for this. Oh… and I’m Michelle.”

“Wow. Thank you.”

She shrugs, “It’s not a problem. We’ve done this before. I’m sorry we had to charge so much but this takes a while, even with all of us, and I’m paying them overtime. It’s also going to take a LOT of product.”

“No, I understand. I figured it would be difficult. I appreciate it very much.”

Michelle thoroughly washes my hair, followed by a massive amount of conditioner, which she doesn’t rinse out. Each one of them pulls up one of the dreads at a time, spraying it even more with water and conditioner. They start at the bottom of each one, using a small toothed comb to untangle from the bottom up. Every couple of minutes, they spray more of the conditioner/water solution. They spend the entire time talking about boyfriends and husbands… who is inconsiderate and who is the “best husband ever”. THAT particular one came from Julie. Apparently, she’s a newlywed and just back from her honeymoon.

When they finally get all my hair loose, everyone leaves, except Michelle. She stays behind and washes my hair three times in a row, followed by once again thoroughly conditioning it. When she rinses it the final time and wraps a towel around my head, she motions for me to sit in one of the chairs to get it blow dried and styled.

As she rubs the towel through it, she meets my eyes in the mirror. “Ok, here’s the thing. There’s quite a bit of damage. I suggest cutting it, probably up to your shoulders. That will get it evened out and make it easier to take care of.”

My eyes tear up. Once she lets it out of the towel, my hair reaches almost to the floor while I’m sitting down, so it’s a bit heartbreaking to think of it all being gone. I nod, though. There’s not much choice. Hell, even I can see the breaks in my hair, where they would hit a snag and not be able to stop it from happening.

Once my hair is shoulder length, my head almost feels like it’s floating, with all of that weight gone. She blow dries and brushes it out, before turning me around to look in the mirror. And I’m amazed! It actually looks good like that. The white is in streaks. It’s weird because it looks like only the parts of my hair that was on the outside was what turned colors, now leaving random streaks all over my head. The rest is still the same dirty blonde that it was before.

They get finished just in time for me to make my doctor’s appointment. Neither Chris, nor Cam have said anything to me since I walked out and they saw my hair. Chris has kept his face completely blank, but Cam looks pissed. I’m still not completely happy about it, myself. So, I don’t bother to try and make them talk. That leaves a silent car ride to the appointment where they, once again, are relegated to sitting in a waiting room.

I’m called back to a small exam room and, once my vitals are taken, I’m left to wait for the doctor. Apparently, he had another appointment to finish up first.

After roughly 20 minutes, the door opens and a guy that looks barely older than me walks in. He has short brown hair and is probably around 6 feet tall. Maybe a bit shorter. He’s wearing khaki pants, a blue button down shirt, and is carrying a clipboard.

He looks up at me, smiling a million-dollar smile, “Hello, Candace. I’m Dr. Jamison.” Once I shake the hand he’s holding out to me, he continues, “Why don’t you tell me exactly what’s going on with you so we can see if we can figure it out.”

I nod, “Of course.” I blow out a breath, “Not real sure where to start.”

“Well, you told my receptionist you were trapped in the basement and it’s possible you hit your head? Let’s go from there.”

“Okay. Ummm…. Yeah. I moved into a new house and the basement is full of crap. So, I went down there one night to clean it up. I heard someone upstairs but I was home alone. My brother had gone back to New York to get his stuff. Anyway, the lights went out and someone was trying to get in. I’m not a fan of the dark, so I freaked out. There’s no external exit from the basement, just that door. After a bit, everything got quiet and I figured they left, so I tried to go out. The door was locked from the outside. I panicked and was slamming my whole body against the door, trying to get out.”

He nods, “Okay, it’s possible you hit your head during that. We can run some tests. But, first, tell me what else has happened. What has you thinking something is wrong?”

I clear my throat, looking out the window. I can’t look him in the face while I confess my crazy. “I’ve been seeing things. Stuff that’s not possible. If this were a horror movie, instead of my life, I’d be the first one screaming at the dumb girl to move out of the house immediately. But, that stuff’s not real. So, obviously, it’s all in my head.”

“And no one else has seen it? Just you?” When I nod, he continues, “Can you give me an example?”

“Sure,” I shrug, finally turning to look at him, “How about words written in blood on my walls?”

He’s got a great poker face. He doesn’t show even the slightest bit of shock to my confession. He just nods and writes something down on the clipboard. Finally, he looks back up at me, “Alright. Here’s what we’re going to do. To start with, I want to get a CT scan. I’ll meet you over at the hospital for that. Once we get those results, we can go from there and see what we can do. Sound good?”

I nod and stand up, making my way out to the waiting room. The receptionist takes my payment and tells me where to go at the hospital and we’re off to another waiting room.

Chris and Cam have still barely spoken a word and we’ve been out together for a few hours now. It’s bothering me, of course, but on some level, I’m actually grateful for their silence. I don’t know that I could actually concentrate on any type of normal conversation right now.

Once we’re done with the tests, Dr. Jamison comes over and tells me that he didn’t see anything out of the normal, but he’s going to go over the tests a bit more, just to be sure he was completely thorough. With that, we’re heading back home.

As we pull out of the hospital parking lot, Chris speaks up for the first time in hours, “So, this has been a long day. What do ya’ll say we get some take out, instead of anyone cooking tonight?”

I clear my throat, “Sure, that works. Any ideas?”

“Yeah, how about Chinese?”

“K, I’m fine with whatever ya’ll want.” I’m sitting in the back seat, staring out the window at the passing scenery as Chris drives and Cam calls in our order for pick up. This really is such a beautiful place to live. So peaceful. I just hope I get to stay here. But, if there’s something seriously wrong with me, I can’t force my brother to take care of me. So, I may have to give up my house and move back in with my parents.

We pick up the food and go back home. As soon as I’m done eating, I head to bed. I’m exhausted from all the crap I’ve went through today. Hell, I could barely even eat and Cam got me my favorite beef and broccoli.

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