Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chapter Twenty-Four, Part Two

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**See Editor's notes
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
Part Two
 
A nurse wearing a Garfield uniform stood on her tiptoes as she pointed toward the doorway. Oliver Shields shook his head vehemently side to side while Dan snapped, "Dad, I don't care what big hotshot you invited here, if they need us out of the room, they need us out."

Bekah wasn't sure she'd ever seen Dan so angry- every vein in his neck would explode if he didn't chill out soon.  His demeanor contrasted strikingly with Jacob Davies.'  The rock-star-turned-priest stood in the corner with his hands in his pockets and his lips pursed. 

Ryan's clammy palm glided up and down Bekah's arm. "Can you believe the lengths my dad will go through to gain someone's affection?" he whispered into Bekah's ear.  "He doesn't have an effing clue what Allie's been going and thinks he can make it all better by summoning one of her favorite musicians."

Bekah had thought Jacob Davies' appearance in the waiting room a complete coincidence.  That is, until Oliver had approached him with his hand held out. "I see you've found the girl and I thank you for coming."

Davies' admirers began to scatter while muttering under their breaths about some old jerk who'd broken up their meeting with an ex rock star.  Their banter slowed her thinking enough that Oilver's words hadn't fully sunk in until Ryan appeared and they made it back to Allie's room.

Oliver had zeroed in on Bekah somehow in the waiting room and had told Davies to sit with her!  Why? What the hell kind of crap was he trying to pull with Bekah?  He could have met Davies anywhere in the hospital, and yet he'd chosen to guide him toward Bekah.

Ryan might have an explanation after things died down.  Right now, Oliver coolly eyed Dan from an opposite side of Allie's bed, but Dan apparently refused to blink or back down.

The nurse sighed loudly, shoving a tray to the side of the room. "Listen, this doesn't have to be a big deal. I'll come back in fifteen minutes."

"No you won't," Dan barked without so much as peeking at the woman. "My father is stubborn as hell and needs to learn a lesson."

"Disrespectful as usual," Oliver countered.

"You think you can control everything...and bringing this guy in here?" Dan pointed backwards with his thumb and Davies blanched.  "What are you trying to prove, Dad?"

"That I care about my daughter!"  Oliver's voice steadied and he pulled his tie in the same fashion Teacher always did in class.  Clearing his throat, he again cupped his hands behind his back and turned his attention to the blonde, chunky nurse. "Pardon me, Young Lady.  I simply hoped that a song from her favorite musician would offer some comfort. Please forgive my intrusion."

Dan rolled his eyes, which Oliver appeared oblivious to as he nodded to Jacob.  The priest waited until Oliver reached his side to disappear into the hallway. 

"Sir, I believe this may not have been a good idea," Davies was saying.  "Your family doesn't seem too fond of me."

"Don't mind Daniel. My eldest and most stubborn son has morphed into a religious nut." 
Bekah rolled her eyes.  What did he think Davies had become?  Though she wouldn't have classified either man as "nuts," both Dan and Davies had turned to a life most people would shun.

Ryan's hot breath descended down her neck as he whispered, "Allison loves Jacob Davies...so it wasn't such a bad idea. I just wish I'd thought of it first.  Dan would have taken it better from me."

Dan must have heard his whispered name because he raised his gaze from the left side of Allie's bed.  "This isn't what Rebekah needs to witness, Ryan."

Ryan argued that Bekah was fine and Bekah uttered, "Unless you want me to leave.  Which I...understand."

Heat filled her face as Dan studied her.  He thumbed his chin and then sat at the end of Allie's bed, discarding his navy blue tie on a nearby chair.  "This just can't be happening."

So did that mean he wanted Bekah there or not?

Ryan tugged her hand and led her further into the room.  Allice's boots clopped a bit loudly but Dan didn't seem to mind and Allie remained sleeping with the oxygen mask over her face.  The beeping of her heart monitor made her condition feel scarier than it might have been.  Ryan caressed his sister's pale forehead.

"We don't know how it happened, Bekah." 

She heard him swallow.

"She started to look thinner, " he continued, "then suddenly...this."

"What....exactly is...'this'?"

Dan's voice sounded muffled against his fist. "Ruptured esophagus, blood loss.  She nearly died, Rose."

It was Bekah's turn to swallow.  So Allie had shoved her finger down her throat so many times that her esophagus had ruptured.  Dear God, why would anyone do that to themselves?

Should the publishers of those stupid girlie magazines be held partially responsible for crap like this?  The thought, she knew for some reason, would be playing with her head for days to come.

Peer pressure was enough to make the weaker girls crack- they certainly needed less pressure from entities run by so-called adults.

Look at all the pain this condition had caused.

Allie had almost died.  Ryan looked like he might die any minute, he was so pale and Dan had never struck Bekah as anything but strong.  When it came to facing his father, weakness took a backseat, but as soon as the old man had left the room, Teacher had collapsed in pain.

Maybe Davies' music would help things a bit? She hadn't been a huge fan of his, but he'd a few good hits, hadn't he?  If he hadn't written a song suited to this situation, then he could fish another one from the sea of choices. His voice, like Allie's, was smooth enough to cover just about any slow-moving comfort song. 

The blond nurse rounded the bed, reminding them of their need to clear the room for a few moments, and so the three of them trickled into the hallway. Vaguely, she heard Ryan mumbling something about a beer and Dan paced to the opposite wall with his hand on the back of his neck.  He shook his head at the floor.

"I just don't understand it," he said huskily.  "She was doing so much better.  Why didn't I see this coming?"

"Knock it off, Dan." Ryan sounded slightly irritated. "You always blame yourself for shi- stuff and it's not your fault."

Bekah wanted to concur but wasn't sure that her voice needed to be heard.  Instead, she folded her arms, feeling a strange draft wrapping around her bare legs.  The skirt she'd chosen to wear had been a bad idea and she hadn't even brought her coat, she'd been in such a hurry to leave with Ryan.
He'd looked and sounded as panicked and miserable as his brother appeared now.

Mussed, shiny waves stared at her from across the hall as Dan kept his head down.  His chest heaving softly, he reached to loosen the top two buttons of his dress shirt...and Bekah nearly jumped at the feel of Ryan's fingers along her back.a

When Dan finally looked up, he kept his focus on Allie's room.  He peeked at Bekah, then stared again at Allie's door as though he could knock it down with sheer mental force.  But finally he looked to Bekah again. As he frowned lightly, the redness that tinged his eyes cleared more quickly than she would have expected. So, what did that mean?   That he felt stupid showing his weakness in her presence? 

"Come on," Ryan said softly.  "Let's get a drink."

"A drink?" Dan interrupted while he remained slumped against the wall.  "Ry-"

"Don't worry, Dan.  I'm not going to get your student plastered.  We'll be in the cafeteria."



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chapter Twenty-Four, Part One A Bit of Spice :)

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

Part One


The steam rising from the cappuccino cupped between her hands eased her headache and she sensed her pores opening. But nothing could erase that image of Dan crying all over his sister.

Laughter hobbled from the television hanging above her head but none of the ER visitors chuckled along with the stupid sit-com.  They were too busy coughing, sniffing, moaning in pain or soothing distraught babies.

But the time ticked away.  Occasionally she opened her eyes.  The corridor to the ER rooms remained void of either Shields brother (and thank God their father, too), and Alice's black boots stared mournfully, seeming to beg to Bekah to seek their true owner- find out what mischief she'd gotten her scrawny butt into tonight.

Strange she hadn't even asked for the boots she'd lent Bekah a couple of months ago. In fact, few phone calls had passed between Bekah and her party-going friend during the last month and the smaller girl kept knocking on Bekah's conscience.  Aggression was Bekah's middle name when she focused on what she wanted, so why hadn't she yanked Alice away from the glittery, flame-filled fun she'd been engaging in for too long?

She certainly wasn't anything like Dan or Ryan.  They incessantly sought the best for the people they loved. Ryan had offered repeatedly to slam down a thousand dollars so she could move to an apartment far from her nasty neighborhood and finish her senior year in a better school.

But Bekah wasn't having it.  Leaving Westview meant running from her tormentors, both physical and mental, and she'd be damned if she'd give up and run like a chicken.

Someone kicked a child's ball softly toward an end table filled with magazines, one of which bore the Bimbo of the Month upon its cover.  Bekah had grown weary of girlie magazines at a young age, having been clearly aware of the publishers' scheming ways:  "Thou must look like this, thou must look like that, or you're not good enough. You're a nobody and no one will like you." Those were the words that popped into her head every time she spotted store shelves sporting  all sorts of cheerleader fodder.

Maybe Allie's problem had been fed by those idiotic magazines.

Across from her, a thick hand tugged at black dress pants and a man sat down in one of the burgundy, leather seats.  Remembering Oliver's black dress suit, Bekah held her breath.   However, spying a priest in that chair relieved her fears that Oliver had joined her.

The priest nodded as he rested his right ankle atop his left knee.  A single, dark curl fell over his forehead in a very Superman-like fashion and he owned marble blue eyes that raised the similarities between him and the man of steel.

But he was different. Bekah squinted, realizing his familiarity aside from the Supes resemblance.

"Hey there," he said. "You look like you need a friend."

Was he serious?  Yes, of course he was.  He was a priest. It was his job to act like he gave a crap and maybe, like Dan, he actually did.  So the two of them could strike up a club called, "Professional, GQ-ish Guys Who Really Give a Crap."

She mentally sighed.  Never would she completely lose her cynicism.  It seemed to be etched into her personality just like good ole Tammy Faye's tattooed eyebrows.  God rest her soul.

Realizing Father Superman was still awaiting her reply, she cleared her throat. "I'm OK.  Do you work or volunteer here?"

"No... I'm.... here because of a friend." He cocked his head. "You looked rather lonely and depressed, so I thought I'd join you."

"I'm fine." She took a long swig of her sweet, warm drink and lowered it to her lap.  "And no offense, but I'm not Catholic."

Something about the way he smirked and shrugged seemed funny to her.  "That's fine by me."

He sniffed and pushed the curl off of his forehead as he glanced over his shoulder, and then leaned forward. "I'm surprised.  Usually people recognize me by now."

"Recognize....?"  She set her Styrofoam cup on the table beside her.

The whispers circulating around them partnered with his hint that she'd missed an important detail.

"I wouldn't have said so if the others hadn't begun talking." He blew out a steady breath. "But not much I can do about it, short of plastic surgery."

Bekah felt as though she'd just been raised on one of those high-rides at an amusement park and then dropped on her freakin' head.  Yes, that was it!  She should have recognized him, he'd been on TV and Youtube so much that any girl her age would be an idiot not to recognize him.

However, he'd vanished from the scene suddenly over five years ago and...and she'd been too stressed mentally to place him, but soon enough others were flocking to him for autographs. He sat back with a resigned smile, signing various magazines, casts, other paraphernalia.  One woman even had him sign the back of her prescription!

Within five minutes, he'd been completely surrounded and Bekah, the rockhead, sat there with lyrics to one of his songs popping along inside of her:

Mad Night…
We must have met a thousand years ago
You took my hand
I followed sure
Had it been planned?

Coincidence or destiny?
I crossed into eternity…

Bekah held back laughter.  No wonder he'd switched professions.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chapter Twenty-Three, Part 2

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Here you go.  Just to prove I'm up and rolling again...here is a new part to the chapter. :)

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE 
Part Two

Ah, the familiar smell of mashed potatoes mixed with medicine. Always, the Hospital smelled like a mixture of medicine and mashed potatoes- depended on how close one stood to the cafeteria, she guessed, but the aroma often overcame the scent of bleach as her father cleaned throughout the building.
Even now, it followed her.
Flanked by meal and medical carts, the floor tiles reflected the overhead lights.  Bekah stepped carefully into each square, fearing that one misstep meant bad luck for Allie.  Sort of like "step on a crack, break your mama's back."  Maybe a bit illogical, but perhaps the Shields family needed all the luck they could get.
Ryan swallowed her hand inside of his, pulling her to a stop.  She hadn't expected their journey to Allie's room to end so quickly and found herself gazing at the doorway a few feet diagonal from where she and Ryan stood.  Loud, husky whispers drifted into the hallway, then quite clearly came the words, "She doesn't need you here!"
"I'll be the judge of that, Daniel," came a gruffer voice.
Bekah's stomach sank and Ryan's face paled as a group of clip-board-toting hospital staff glided past them.  Intermittent beeping sounds heightened the state of alarm she found in Ryan's eyes, just as the growing sent of mashed potatoes heightened Bekah's nausea.  As a child, that smell had always urged her toward the cafeteria.
"Ryan, what's going on?" she whispered. He'd been quiet and dazed during the entire drive here and now...apparently an unwelcomed guest had intruded on Allie's...whatever.  "Does she have another infection?  What is it?  Please tell me before-"
A black-suited man exited Allie's room.  Neatly combed, white hair gleamed under the lights- white hair which suggested this man had reached Senior Citizen status, yet barely a wrinkle etched his clear-complected face.  Only the gentle creases at the corners of his eyes lent to the appearance of an older man.
He reminded her of someone but she couldn't place him.
Cupping his hands behind his back, he blinked at Bekah before smoldering Ryan with deep brown eyes.  The younger man snapped to attention, mimicking General White Hair's stance with his hands behind his back.
"None of this would have happened, Ryan, if you'd answered your mother's calls."
Calls? What calls?
"Dad-" Ryan released Bekah's hand.
"Don't go on about it here." He waved his thick hand and nodded down the hall.  "Cafeteria, Son." He glanced at Bekah.  "Alone. " 
Bekah stammered, remembering the commander-in-chief image that Ryan had painted of Oliver in the past.  Always barking orders, rarely heeding the opinions of anyone below his status.  Everything went Oliver Shields' way or no one would get away.  Somehow his children had managed to escape- at least, they'd thought so.  But here he stood, the infamous, greedy old troll whom Bekah had never hoped to meet. 
Standing opposite Brian at her kitchen window seemed much more inviting than facing this power-monger.
"No offense, young lady." Oliver granted Bekah one more glance.
She felt the words, "None taken," on the tip of her tongue but that would have been a lie.  Besides, being Ryan's girlfriend made no difference.  Being cordial with Oliver was almost akin to having tea with Freddy Kruger.  They both habitually shredded others' lives for their own thrills.
"Rebekah..." Only a slight tremor could be heard in Ryan's voice. "This is my father....Oliver Shields.  In case you didn't notice, Dad, this is my girlfriend.  Whatever you have to say-"
"Must be said in private.  I'm here to deal with my children and Allie's interest is my main concern. You brother, as usual, is stubborn as hell."
"He should be." The tension in Ryan's voice seemed to be held on a chain like a growling dog.  The veins bulging at his temples suggested a rise in blood pressure.  "This isn't our fault, Dad.  You're the one who-"
"Not here," Oliver's voice raised just enough to draw a few stares and send a shiver down Bekah's spine.
The sound of Ryan's breath competed with the squeal of metallic wheels and the beeping of various machines.
A few stomach rolls later, Bekah found herself standing alone in the hall, hugging herself and rubbing her arms as she watched her boyfriend stroll away with a man equal in height but broader like Dan.
Ryan hadn't left without rubbing her back and whispering in her ear, "Relax.  This won't take long."  What wouldn't take long?  What did he plan to do and what exactly had happened to Allie?
She tilted backwards and dared a peek into the young woman's room.  There, covered by long, white sheets and blankets, Allie lay hooked to a myriad of tubes and wires, an oxygen mask over her face and her brother's thick fingers weaving gently through her straw-like hair.
Dan bent over her, one hand pressed against his forehead and tears raining onto his sister's pillow.
Bekah's arms dropped to her sides. 
Dan had undoubtedly leapt tall buildings to protect his sister from their controlling father. He'd spent hours nursing her and encouraging her and searching the internet for anything that might help the ailing woman.
Bekah mostly knew these things because of what Ryan had told her, but she'd also witnessed first hand Dan's care and concern for Allie.
And there he was- hunched over as though he'd reached the end of his line, quiet words pouring from his lips.  "Please God," came the loudest of his pleas.  After a moment of grieving into his fist, he dried his eyes and stared at the wall opposite him.   Completely unaware of Bekah's presence.
She took a step but halted.  Running to him might not have been the brightest idea and besides, what would she say to him?  The typical mumbo-jumbo about how he'd done everything he could and there was no sense beating himself?  Should she tell him everything would work out fine?
Morbid laughter rolled through her soul. Life was known for its lack of fairness and no amount of money or prayer could change that.  Her English teacher, no matter how religious, must have been keenly aware of this fact.  Or there wouldn't have been any tears.
Had she ever witnessed him crying?  Seeing him so broken was like watching a fallen hero and Allie was completely unaware of his brokenness over her condition.
How had this happened so quickly, though?  She'd seen Allie just a couple of weeks ago, during one of her rare visits to the Shields house (Ryan had stopped taking her there so frequently and she suspected it was Dan's request. But who knew?).  Allie had looked OK- maybe a little tired.  A little pale.  But the hair- the hair was now an absolute mess and her jaws were sunken so badly that she resembled the living dead.
Poor Allie.
Slowly, she became aware of Teacher frowning in her direction. She stammered.  Her lips parted at the same time as his but the lump in her throat forbade even the slightest comment.
He wants to be alone. This isn't your business.

Yeah, but- I'm...I'm....someone important in their lives, aren't I?  To some degree?
She backed up a little more.  Dan watched.  And then she turned and began clip-clopping down the hall in Alice's boots.  Why would Dan want to see her? He'd enough on his plate.  How could Bekah possibly offer him any comfort, the girl who'd brought him nothing but confusion and drama? The girl who'd been too forward and snotty at times to deserve even a speck of his concern.
As she slowly made her way down the hall, she glanced over her shoulder.
No one followed. 
Dan must have continued to sit alone, emotionally exhausted in Allie's room, while Ryan sat lonely with his overbearing father.
And Bekah?  Well, lonely was the least of her worries.  She'd felt it for so long that it seemed fitting.






Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chapter 23 reposted and edited

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REPOSTING ONLY PART OF CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE. I CAN'T RECALL WHY I REMOVED IT TO BEGIN WITH. BUT THERE ARE SOME CHANGES, MOSTLY GRAMMATICAL...JUST SOME SMOOTHING OUT OF BEKAH'S THOUGHTS, TOO.  
THIS IS A GOOD SIGN. SEE, I'VE READ EVERYTHING AND AM PREPARING TO BEGIN A NEW CHAPTER.  YAY!

Correction:  I didn't remove it.  My iPad lied to me! lol  But this is the official chapter 23. 
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
Bekah ducked behind the refrigerator, her heart pounding like a fuzzy, little rabbit's as she hopped away from a pursuing cat. She'd been washing the dishes only moments before- and any girl in her right mind would have lunged for the phone when she'd seen the guy snooping around her carport. Instead, Bekah had scurried into the windowless dining room and then snuck back to the kitchen to peek outside a second time.

The weirdo stood there with his back to Bekah and his hands in his pockets. As though sensing her presence, he began to turn his head as she hid herself again.

What now? If she ran for the phone, God only knew what the lunatic might do to keep her from calling the cops. Closing her eyes, she etched his image firmly onto her brain so that she'd know how to describe him later. Blond, tall, black baseball cap, black coat. That's all she remembered. Blond, tall, black and black.

Did she know any tall, blond guys personally? Did she... her jaw set and she eyed the frying pan about eight feet away. Rapunzel's weapon of choice might be a great idea.

Brian Cruise. The only tall blond guy who might have been snooping around her house was Brian Cruise. Just what the heck was he up to?

She sank to her knees and crawled across the floor until she reached the spot beneath the wall phone. With the window bare of any glaring, green eyes, she tugged the cord and caught the receiver as it tumbled. Since Brian could have seen that, she scampered back to her spot in front of the fridge, because the possibility remained that someone far more wacked out than Brian Cruise had wandered up her driveway for no other reason than to terrorize- and who knew how Freddy Kruger-ish he might become in the heat of a battle?

If only she'd found a friggin job and gotten those self-defense classes, maybe she'd feel a bit bolder.  Learning to kick butt was in the best interest of any girl, especially those interested in joining the police force.

But no, she’d stuck to the typical teenage lifestyle while imagining herself a cut above the everyday school girl.



Talk about being snobby with no reason to boast.

Because she’d failed, here she sat with a phone trembling in her hand and her mind seeking a God she’d been ignoring. 

God, please protect me, please. I know I don't deserve protection, but please help me!

If she’d been certain that Brian now stood outside her kitchen window, she would have confronted him.  Ever since the Halloween dance, he’d been acting like a harmless, starry-eyed puppy, not that she completely bought the act. For all she knew, he’d been trying to reel her in the same way she’d attempted to reel him in a couple of months ago.

Swallowing, she could smell the bucket of bleach water nearby as she turned the receiver over and placed her finger on the number 9.

Wait…if that’s Brian, then calling 911 is idiotic! You may as well join Dweebs R Us.

Then again, Brian’s deviousness may have been pumped up a few notches.  He may have come to collect payment for that humiliating pop in the nose.

Too bad Shields wasn't here to break things up.  He hadn't liked the idea of her being in this position- alone in this neighborhood with creeps lurking around every corner.

No doubt her butt was toast if she didn't fling Teacher out of her head.  Ryan had been right- Shields would never cave to a student and he’d been nicely distracted by Grace, anyway. 

Never mind the painful roll in her chest- should she call Ryan or the police?

Should she call Alice?

Should she peek to see if that dude had left?

Knock, knock, knock.

Bekah felt what she believed every ounce of color draining from her face.  The shiny window looked so serene from where she sat, it seemed odd to think what nightmares awaited if she drew closer to the portal.

Dang, what should she do?

If she fled the house, she might not make it to the car and if she bolted out the back door to the park, she’d most likely run into some other thugs there.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Still stuck in Hotel California.  This neighborhood, her thoughts, her emotions.  There was no escape, so why not feed herself to the monster outside?

She sensed an invisible ladder hanging over her head and her mind drifted back to the Narnia book she’d begun to read a couple of weeks ago.  Always a way of escape in fantasy, but not in real life. 

Why had Shields wanted her to read those stories so badly?

Keep reading, dingbat, and you might find out!

How could she be thinking about that at a time like this?

Knock, knock, knock.

Vaguely, she heard, "Rebekah!"

Definitely sounds like Brian.

"Rebekah, I want to talk to you!"

But why was he sneaking around her carport instead of knocking on the door?

Holding her breath, she became aware of how violently her heart had begun to pound.  Thankfully she hadn't emptied her breakfast all over the linoleum.  As she stood, her legs wobbled and the phone dropped to the floor.

Brian may have tried to harm her while he was drunk, but she seriously doubted he’d try it sober.

She shuffled to her former position in front of the sink and rested shaky hands on her hips as she glared at the smiling face on the other side of the glass. Brian motioned for her to slide the window open and she rolled her eyes.  Dare she open that window, or should she wait until she felt more sure of herself?  She'd rather jump off the roof than allow this jerkly jockly to hear her unsteady voice or witness her hands trembling..

OK, screw this. She wasn't a kid. She was Wonder Woman.  As stupid as the thought might have been, it forced her to straighten shoulders and reach toward the glass.  Slowly, she slid the window open to her smirking ‘friend,’ who’d removed his hat to allow the wind to ruffle his hair.

"What are you doing snooping around my carport?" she asked as the cold air slapped her and he plopped his baseball cap back on his head.

"I was trying to conjure the nerve to go to the door."

"Yeah, right. You've never struck me as the nervous type, Brian."

"Well, I gotta have guts to ask you this."

"Ask me what?"

"If you'll go to the holiday dance with me." He wiggled his brows.

"You've got to be kidding."

"Come on, Rebekah," he pleaded. "I know I've been a jerk, but can't you give me a chance? I think I’ve just…misunderstood you, you know?”

“If you think I’m buying this act, you’re wrong.  What are you up to?”

He glanced down. “You won’t know unless you give me a chance."



Bekah squinted. How familiar those words sounded.



"Maybe I just want to see how easy you are or maybe I want to get to know you better.”

“Or maybe you want to kick my butt!”

“Maybe.” He shrugged.  “But there will be plenty of people at the dance, so it’s not like we’d have to be alone.”

“Brian…are you aware that I’m dating someone?  Or that I only went to the Halloween dance because my boyfriend talked me into it?  Dances are not my thing, get it?  Much less a Christmas dance."

“Party pooper.” He turned his lower lip under and almost looked sort of cute.  “Dating the same guy from the Halloween dance, huh?”

“That would be a yes.”  So far, she’d kept most of her struggles with Brian to herself, so it would be interesting to see Ryan’s reaction if she shared this one.  Would he turn into macho man or laugh it off? 

“You’re dating Shields’ brother?”

“Yes again, not that it’s your business.” But this was amusing. Apparently he'd no violent intentions today.  Just game-playing.  Maybe she should accept his invitation if only to find out what sort of games Brian was into these days.

He looked away and the fact that his persona failed to emanate any anger or ire made her feel as though she’d never met this dude in her life. 

“Hey, who the hell are you?”

Bekah shuddered and Brian stood erect.  She’d recognized Ryan’s voice immediately- speak of the ‘devil’- and wondered if relief or nausea were in order. His out of character testiness suggested he'd gotten the wrong impression.

Guess you’re finding out how he’d respond to Brian’s antics.

No sooner had Ryan marched into view than a car horn sounded out front and Brian took a few steps back. Waving his hands, he stuttered as he struggled to explain himself to Shields’ younger brother. “I-I’m just talking to her, relax, man.”

Bekah could hear Ryan’s breathing over the rushing wind and before any other nasty exchanges could ensue, Brian started down the drive. “See you, Rebekah,” he called over his shoulder, but she had the feeling he’d be back.



Ryan turned to her, eyes blazing. “What was that about?”

“I-“

“Never mind, I need you to come with me.”

Bekah stammered, suddenly aware of the redness around those angry eyes and the completely disheveled state of his growing, brown waves.  He hadn’t cut his hair in over a month and she’d been teasing him about trying to look like a rock star.

“Please, Bekah,” he said. “Allie’s bad…real bad.”

Chapter Twenty-Three, Part 2