Sisters of Midnight:Dark Moon
Author: Kimberly Diaz

Chapter 12
Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The beige dress I was wearing was unflattering but I knew I must wear it in order to fit in. My hair was pinned up in a style not seen for centuries. He must not be able to find me. I remained vaguely aware that I was dreaming. The scene in front of me was set up for some sort of execution, a guillotine and basket. I absentmindedly stroked my slightly-rounded stomach. “I must protect the baby,” my dream self thought. Someone wanted it dead.

“You just killed him.” The soulless voice spoke in my head. I opened my mouth to scream.

“No!” I cried. Two arms came out to hold onto me and I tried to fight the grip the owner of the arms had on me, even though it was non threatening.

“Faith.” It was a familiar voice, caring and concerned. “Wake up.” I relaxed and opened my eyes. Nick was holding me, looking slightly worried. “You were having a bad dream.” That was an understatement.

I hugged him, afraid to let go. “Nick, you’re still here.”

“I told you I wouldn’t leave you alone, not after everything that happened last night.”

Last night? The room was illuminated in a light gray haze. “The sun’s coming up. It’s morning. We slept for hours.”

I had been more exhausted then I realized. In our sleep, we had naturally found our way to a more comfortable position on the couch. He had draped his shirt over me like a blanket.

“Actually, I’d be surprised if you weren’t having nightmares after the week you’ve had.”

“I don’t want to think about it. And the last week hasn’t been all bad; We finally got together.”

He rewarded me with a tender smile. “Just for the record, this wasn’t exactly how I imagined our first night together would be.”

The last traces of my nightmare disappeared as the realization of what he said hit me and I became fully aware that I had been with Nick all night long and was still in his arms this morning. “How did you imagine it would be?”

I grew warm all over as he kissed me. “Definitely a lot more of this…” He stroked my face with the back of his hand and bent to kiss me again and I touched his back, enjoying the warmth of his skin.

“What’s going on, Faith?”

Nick and I sprang up as my mom closed and locked the front door. He slipped his shirt on as I wondered how come I didn’t hear the alarm. Her eyes went back and forth between us, confusion and anger on her face. “Why was the alarm off? Did he spend the night?”

I was in deep. Of all the times for her to turn parental on me, why now that I was with Nick? I stood up and smoothed my clothes and tried to explain. “Not the way you’re probably thinking. We, um…”

“Nothing wrong happened here Mrs. Masters. I was with Faith and her friends when you called about Tony. I didn’t think she should be alone.” I had to give him credit for not looking the slightest bit guilty after what we’d been discussing. Had she heard that?

“Don’t blame Nick.” I stepped forward, ready to accept responsibility. “I was too scared to be by myself and the others had to go. But mom, we were down here all night. We just woke up.”

That part was only kind of a lie. She raised her eyebrows “I understand that you were scared and I’m even glad Nick was here in case anything happened. There have been so many scary things going on lately.”

I turned to Nick, relief on my face. My mom continued. “But we still need to talk about this later.” So I wasn’t off the hook yet. “Now I think Nick should go home so you can get ready for school.”

“I’ll walk you out,” I told him before she could object. We didn’t speak until we were standing by his car. “I’m sorry, Nick. She must have been thinking that we…” I knew what she thought, what I had been wanting.

“I understand. She’s just trying to protect you.”

“Yes,” I wrapped my arms around him. “Only I don’t want protecting from you.”

He nuzzled my ear and whispered, “You would if you knew what I was thinking when she came in and interrupted us.”

I pressed closer to him. “You think I wasn’t thinking it too?” I stretched up to kiss him, trying to tell him with my lips just how much I wanted him.

“I think,” he said seriously, “that most people spend half their lives looking for what we have. Being with you when I woke up this morning was…amazing.”

“But we didn’t even-”

“I know,” he said, reading my thoughts. “And one day, when we do, it’ll be even more amazing. I never expected just being with you like that could be just as good.”

My pulse raced as our eyes met in an unspoken promise and I kissed him before he left. “I’ll be back in an hour to pick you up,” he promised.

Dread settled in the pit of my stomach as I re-entered my house. I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation I knew my mother wanted to have. I reminded myself that all that mattered was that Nick loved me. Knowing that, I could handle anything-exes, nightmares, even a pissed off mom.

She was sitting on the couch with the TV off, one hand resting on her forehead. “Mom?” I had never seen her like this before-tired and worried-because of me.

“Come and sit down, Faith.”

I took a deep breath and did as she said, prepared to defend my actions. We spoke at the same time. “Mom, I didn’t-”

“I’m sorry Faith.”

I shook my head in disbelief. Did I hear her right? “What! Why?”

“I haven’t been the kind of parent I should be,” she stated.

“That’s ridiculous!” I argued. “You’re a great mom.”

This wasn’t how I thought our talk was going to go. I was unnerved a bit by her self blame; I had expected any yelling to be on her part, not mine. “I should be paying more attention to you and your life, not so wrapped up in mine.”

I couldn’t stand her being so hard on herself. “Mom, you work really hard and I respect that. And you always ask about my day. I know it can’t be easy to be a single mom.”

She hugged me as if she thought I would disappear the minute she let go.

“If this is about what you saw when you walked in this morning, all we did was kiss. I was so freaked out after finding-”

I almost said after finding Tony.

“-after finding out about Tony, I didn’t want to stay here alone. We fell asleep watching the news. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

I wasn’t expecting the smile she gave me. “I know, that’s why this is so hard for me to admit. You’re smart, you think things out. You’re so much more mature than I was at your age. I was always so rebellious and impulsive. I’m sure that if you and Nick decide to get serious, it’s something you’ve thought about carefully.”

Was I that transparent?

“I have thought things out mom. I’ve dated plenty of other guys and I know how to be safe and all the risks involved, but Nick and I have had feelings for each other for two years, we’re best friends. I really love him mom.”

“I know.” She stroked my hair. “I can see every time he looks at you that he feels the same way. He’d do anything for you wouldn’t he.”

I wasn’t sure where she was going with our conversation. She was still talking. “Tony’s parents are still at the hospital. Tony is alive, but unconscious. He woke up once and the only thing he said was Nick’s name.”

I looked at her blankly.

“Tony’s parents are looking for an explanation to what happened to him.”

No, no, no!

“They think that Nick might have tried to kill Tony because of what he did to you Saturday.”

I felt my face grow pale. “There’s no way he’d do that.”

“I don’t want to believe it either, Faith, but right now, it’s the only lead the police have. They were giving a statement when I left.”

“He didn’t do it, mom!”

I knew Nick was innocent. I had to warn him; I couldn’t let the police get to him first.

“Faith, wait!” My mom called to me as I ran up to my room, brushing away angry tears as I slammed the door.

It wasn’t fair! First Tony attacks me and now Nick gets blamed for coming to my rescue. I showered and dressed in record time, leaving for Nick’s before my mom could object. What was I going to do? There was no way the adults would ever believe something supernatural was responsible for what happened to Tony. How were we going to prove Nick’s innocence? I tried to pull myself together so Nick’s dad wouldn’t question me when I got to the house.

“So here’s the girl who’s been keeping my son out late.”

I opened my mouth to offer an apology only to hear his gentle laughter and realized he was teasing me. I relaxed and looked affectionately at the man who was an older version of Nick. He was handsome too, with the same dark hair that was just starting to gray at the temples.

“I really enjoy seeing Nick so happy. No other girl has made him smile the way he does whenever he talks about you. I told him he was crazy to keep quiet all this time. I could always see the two of you together; you remind me so much of Janice and I when we first fell in love.”

I smiled sadly, hearing the loneliness in his voice when he talked about Nick’s mom. At the funeral, where I had been to support Nick, you could tell that they had been the ideal picture of a loving family and it was clear that his father would always love her. “She was a wonderful woman, Mr. Sullivan.”

His eyes crinkled up with a thoughtful smile. “You remind me of her, caring and beautiful. I can see why Nick loves you.”

I blushed at his observation, hearing welcome footsteps in the next room announcing Nick’s arrival.

“Is dad filling your head with embarrassing stories about me?” he asked as he entered the kitchen.

I was filled with warmth and love as I really looked at him. How could I have been so blind? It was now obvious to me how he felt just by looking into his eyes. “He was just reminding me of how lucky I am.” My eyes shone with tears that threatened to spill at any moment. I had to protect him.

“I’m the lucky one,” he said, pulling me towards him in a hug. “You look gorgeous, as usual.” His touch reminded me of the intimate moment that had been interrupted this morning.

“I taught him everything he knows,” the older man joked. Nick had definitely inherited his dad’s charm.

Even with all the light-hearted conversation, I couldn’t fool him. “I thought I was picking you up, not that I’m complaining.” My eyes illustrated to him the seriousness of whatever was on my mind.

At my hesitation, his dad grabbed the briefcase that was nearby. “I’ve got to get going to work. Don’t forget to offer Faith some breakfast.”

When I was sure I heard the front door close, I dropped the pretense that my being there was just an impulse visit. “Nick, we’re in trouble.”

“Let me guess, you mom forbid you to see me because of this morning?”

“I wish it were that simple.” How could I tell him our worst fears had come true? “Something else is happening that might keep us apart just the same. Look, Tony’s parents told the police they think you’re to blame for what happened to him in the woods. This morning, he regained consciousness only once, long enough for him to say your name. They think it was an accusation.”

His expression became dark and troubled with every word I spoke. “I swear to you Faith, I had nothing to do with stabbing Tony!” His voice was matter of fact. “I wasn’t the one who tried to kill him!”

“I know you didn’t. And if they come to question you, we’ll just have to expect that they’ll believe the truth, that you were with me and my mom at the hospital then you went home. And your dad was with you Sunday, so that takes care of an alibi, which we’ll need if-”

I broke off, realizing that he had turned his head away from me. “Nick, what is it?” His neck and shoulders tensed.

“When we all left the hospital, I didn’t go home, I went back to the school.”

“What are you saying? That you went looking for Tony?”

“I never found him.”

This wasn’t good. “But you wanted to, why?”

“I mostly went to the school to clear my head. I kept replaying what he did to you over and over. I thought I could handle hearing you talk to the police. But I wasn’t prepared for how angry I felt when I heard you telling them everything he’d done before I showed up and the things he said to you.”

I could hear the agony in his voice and saw in his face how tortured he was feeling, knowing what Tony had intended to do to me. “I was hoping he’d show back up and I could call the cops, keeping him there so they could come arrest the son of a bitch, but I never saw him again. Not till last night. He deserves to be in jail for what he did.”

“You won’t get an argument from me there Nick. My friends and I all know it was someone else that attacked Tony, but how are we going to prove that to Tony’s parents? I can’t-I won’t-let you get blamed for this.”

I took one of his hands between my two. For a brief second, I felt how terrified he was at being accused of something he didn’t do, and how protective he felt towards me.

“I’m innocent, Faith,” he whispered hoarsely.

I heard the unmistakable honesty in his voice. “I know.” I kissed him sweetly, wanting to take away all the fear and apprehension that was inside him. “We have to keep going like nothing is wrong because you didn’t do it. The police will have to see the truth. Tony’s parents need a scapegoat and right now you’re all they’ve got. When Tony wakes up, they’ll find out what really happened.”

He nodded, the spark in his eyes returning, masking any uncertainty he might have felt. They’ll find out the truth, they don’t put innocent people in jail. The important thing is that Tony is found and once he gets better, the police will make sure he never hurts you again.”

I met his steely resolve with what I hoped was a self-assured look of my own. “I hope it’s that easy.”

“We better go or we’ll be late.” His kiss was persuasive and sent a shockwave through my entire body.

My stomach was a swirling sea of emotions as once again, we pulled into the school after a night of unexpected events. I thought after breaking up with Cyndi and Tony and coming clean with Nick about the spells, we would be able to have a normal relationship. Instead, we faced a new set of problems.

“Hey,” he squeezed my hand gently, his sexy gaze for me alone, “Don’t worry.” His voice was mesmerizing and I couldn’t help but listen to him. He walked me to my first class without an appearance from Brock and Cyndi. So far, so good.

“I’ll be alright,” I told him as I flashed a confident smile. “Just as long as I get one of those kisses to last me until lunch.”

An affectionate smile appeared on his irresistibly handsome face. “As you wish,” he replied playfully, quoting a line from ‘The Princess Bride’, a movie he often teased me about for being one of my favorites. I melted as our lips fused together.

I jumped at the sound of someone clearing their throat. It was so easy to forget where I was when I was kissing Nick.

“Class is about to start.” Rachel looked as tired as I felt. If anyone couldn’t deal with our big secret, it would be Rachel. She barely met our eyes as she walked past us into the room. I cast a nervous glance at Nick, saying goodbye before following her in.

“Rachel, are you Ok?” I was concerned.

“I’m doing just great” she replied sarcastically. “How else do you think I’d be doing after the fun night we had last night? You seem fine.”

“Fine?” I hissed quietly. “Tony’s parents are trying to blame Nick! I’m feeling guilty as hell right now after what we did Saturday. But Rachel, this is not the time or place.”

She closed her eyes. “I know. I’m just scared. And tired.”

“I am too, Rach.” My usually confident voice was shaky, uneven. I couldn’t keep up the brave facade I had for Nick. I was frightened to my core.

***

Nick’s name was called over the intercom during third period and told to report to the administration office. Tracey, who was sitting next to me at the time, heard my indrawn breath and gave me a sympathetic look.

At lunchtime, there was no sign of him. I could feel the inquiring stares and hear the interested whispers in the hallway. By now, people were starting to gossip. Cyndi had been doing her part to fuel the fire. When the girls and I returned to campus after lunch, we found her the center of a crowd that had gathered by the fountain in front of the school.

“…always so jealous of other guys, especially when he was with me,” she was saying. “It’s such a relief I moved on before he went nuts and decided to stab someone. I mean, I had to protect myself by telling the police what I knew.”

I knew at that moment what it felt like to hate someone. I marched up to where she was, eyes blazing with anger. So, she was trying to get Nick blamed for Tony’s attack?

People looked back and forth between us expectantly. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Cyndi! Nick had nothing to do with what happened to Tony.”

She looked at me with perverse pleasure on her face. “That’s not what the police are saying. Why else do you think they asked for my help, to tell them what he’s really like?”

“Are you that jealous? Nick doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. He’s not dangerous!”

A new voice spoke up. “That wasn’t the case at the dance. We all heard him threaten to kill Tony,” Brock reminded everyone. A murmur went through the crowd, people nodding as they said yes, they remembered. “Nick showed us he had a violent side to him.”

“Yeah,” Emily fired back, “To protect Faith from that monster you call a friend!” To the group around us, she said, “Come on guys, are you saying that if the person you loved was being hurt, you wouldn’t protect them? That’s all Nick did. It’s no secret. He kicked Tony’s ass in front of all of us, he didn’t need to hurt him later. And I think we all agree Tony deserved what he got.”

My friends and I turned to leave until Cyndi, unwilling to let us have the last word, shouted “The police know Nick was in the woods recently. They found tire tracks from his car.”

How could she know that? A hush fell over the crowd. Cyndi was well aware of her audience, turning to look at each of them slowly, a look of triumph on her cold face. She dared me to contradict her statement, smirking at the defeat in my eyes, then drove the last nail in. “When the scholarship committee gave Nick that scholarship, I don’t think they realized they were awarding it to a murderer. I don’t think he’ll be needing it now, if they even let him keep it.”

Don’t cry. Don’t let Cyndi have any power over you.

“I wouldn’t want to be the next one to get on his bad side,” she told them.

“You’re all as bad as she is if you listen to her.” Ryan spoke with authority as he appeared next to Tracey. “She’s making a lot of assumptions. Does being questioned automatically mean you’re guilty? Because they’re talking to Mr. Nichols now. And then they want to see Brock. They’re questioning everyone, hoping to find an explanation. There is no proof. Nick hasn’t been arrested, just suspended.”

“Suspended, Ryan, are you sure?” A stab of guilt went through my chest.

“I’m afraid so, Faith,” he whispered so no one could hear. Then out loud, he said, “So has Tony, both of them for fighting at the dance and Tony an extra week for being drunk and attacking Faith. He got kicked off the team as well.”

I was still reeling. Nick suspended. I was acutely aware of just how much I’d started depending on him for comfort and support. The bell rang for class to resume and the group, now doubting Cyndi, had begun to dissipate. Still, she had planted the seed for suspicion of Nick, a satisfied look on her face as she stalked away.

Numbly, I walked towards the lockers with Ryan and my friends. Suspension was better than being arrested for attempted murder. I bit on my lip, wondering why they had waited until today to suspend him. Why not yesterday? The answer was clear.

Because they found Tony last night, and they think Nick did it.

I whirled around on Ryan. “How did you find out about Nick’s suspension?”

“He told me.”

My eyes widened. “When did you see him?”

“After fourth period, before lunch. He was being escorted off campus by the cop who questioned him. His dad was with him to take him home.” He looked at me apologetically. “They have his car, Faith. What Cyndi said about it was true.”

“Oh god!” At least Nick was safe at home, not at the police station. I couldn’t shake the image of Nick laying on the beach covered in blood.

“Faith, where are you going?” one of my friends called to me as I took off for the parking lot, relieved that we had taken my car this morning.

“To the hospital, to see if I can get an update on Tony. If anyone asks, tell them I got sick and went home.”

This was going to be either the bravest thing or the stupidest thing I had ever done. I was going to find a way to talk to Tony. I had to prove to everyone that Nick was innocent and this was the only way I could think of to do it. I shivered and headed for my car, feeling an ominous presence surrounding me.

I heard a footstep behind me as I fumbled to put my key in the lock. “Guys, you’re not going to talk me out of this,” I spoke, thinking they had followed me to try and change my mind. I gasped as a meaty hand came out to stop my door from opening and I whirled around.

 

 

 

 

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