Sisters of Midnight:Dark Moon
Author: Kimberly Diaz

Chapter 14
Chapter 14

Chapter 14

What had I been thinking? Images of Saturday night came rushing back. He wasn’t going to help me.

I thought about Nick, looking hopeless and scared. He needed me. I knew what happened with Brock this afternoon was just the beginning. He would come after me again unless I gave him a reason not to.

Tony looked completely different than the egotistical jerk he had been the week before. He was hooked up to tons of wires and his golden tan had been replaced by a ghostly white from loss of blood. Part of his face still showed discoloration from Nick‘s punches. He looked so weak, so close to death.

I couldn’t lose focus of why I came. I closed my eyes, trying not to think about the anger and hatred that had been in his eyes the last time I had seen him awake. “Tony?”

He blinked and stared at me. I felt almost sorry for him. Nick had beaten him up to protect me, but Tony’s stabbing was a horrific tragedy. I wasn’t excusing or forgiving him for what he did to me, but I knew part of him was reacting to being lied to. After all, I went to the dance with him knowing I wanted to break up with him, while seeing Nick behind his back.

“Didn’t…expect…to see you.” His voice came slowly, like it hurt for him to talk. He groaned and looked away.

“I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come.” I couldn’t do it. The guilt I felt was too great, knowing whatever my friends and I released in the woods was responsible for Tony’s pain. I turned to leave.

“Stay,” he whispered as my hand touched the knob. “Do you hate me?” he breathed.

I answered him honestly, turning back around to face him and surprising myself with the answer. “I don’t hate you.” I chose my words carefully. “I hate what you did to me. Spiking my drink, tearing my dress and holding me down, refusing to accept the word ‘no’. I still have bruises from fighting you off. Not to mention nightmares.”

I had gone to the hospital to try and clear Nick’s name, not to rehash what happened at Homecoming. But once he asked me, it was like he opened a floodgate. I realized that I needed to confront Tony in order to get past what he did.

“You were going to force me right there in the dirt at the school, my first time ever. It would have been memorable, that’s for sure.”

His face blurred and I cursed out loud for allowing him to see what he had done to me. Was I mistaken, or did I see tears in his eyes as well?

“Hate-myself, for hurting you,” he confessed quietly. So quietly, I thought I had imagined it. “So drunk,” he stammered. “No excuse, I know. I was-pissed off.”

Is that why you want to get Nick in trouble?”

“I would have kicked my ass too.”

I was crying now and looked away, running on emotional overload. Tony never failed to surprise me. I hadn’t expected him to show any remorse for what he’d done.

He went on without acknowledging his tears. “I liked you a lot. Didn’t realize how much-till I saw you and Sullivan together.”

“I’m sorry for that, Tony. I should have told you how I felt about him instead of letting you take me to the dance. I’ve liked him for a long time, since he first moved here sophomore year. That day you followed us to the library was the first time I realized he liked me too. I had no idea how serious your feelings for me were since we never talked about being exclusive and Nick was only with Cyndi till Homecoming, because she was hoping he’d help her win.

We never wanted to hurt either of you. I just never felt anything with anyone because of the way I felt about Nick. It has nothing to do with you. Just for the record Tony, up until last week when you started acting way possessive, I thought you were a decent guy. You were the closest I ever came to having feelings for someone when I thought me and Nick would never happen.”

He did look away then.

“You must think… that I’m some kind of monster now. Did I do that to you too?” his voice cracked as he wiped at his wet face. His fingers touched the knife wound on my neck. I gasped and stepped back at the contact, realizing how close I had gotten to him so I could hear his words.

I hadn’t jumped because I was afraid of him, like he thought; I jumped because I could feel the anguish he was experiencing because of what he had done to me. “It kills me that I caused you to be so scared of me you flinch when I touch you now. I hate that I hurt you.”

I didn’t comment on his observation. “You didn’t do this. Brock did it today after lunch.”

Brock did it? Because of me?”

I nodded, trying to analyze his reaction.

“Tell him…I said…leave you alone. I was wrong to hurt you. I know that now. S-so sorry.” His speech slurred and he shivered. I realized this was probably the longest conversation he’d had since waking up and it was putting a strain on him physically. I had to hurry.

I took a deep breath. Now that I was sure where he stood, it was now or never. “He said he did it as a warning-to Nick. I know-” I said with conviction, “-that Nick didn’t put you in here. But I need to know who did or Brock is going to come after me again. Did you tell the police that Nick is the one who did this to you?”

“Brock is wrong.”

”Who tried to kill you?” I asked desperately.

“Something evil.”

A wave of nausea hit me. “What?” He said something, not someone. Just like I did when we found him in the woods. “What was it?”

“Don’t know.” He grabbed at his bandaged throat. I shuddered as I remembered all the blood, how torn up he had been that night. “Said too much, hurts to talk.”

I was losing time. “Look Tony, At first I came here for selfish reasons. There are people who want to see Nick blamed for this. Before coming, I thought you were one of them. I might never forget what you did to me, but I don’t want you dead. I feel awful that this happened to you. If we don’t find the person who did this, they might try to finish the job. Nick and I want to help find the person responsible.”

“He’ll kill you!”

“What are you talking about? Do you know who it is?”

“Going after Nick.”

Was he threatening to get revenge on Nick?

“He wants Nick dead. I heard his voice in my head. Anyone who stands in his way to get to you.”

Tony appeared to be delirious. His tired eyes were wide with fear as he struggled to talk. “…not even human, you can’t stop him.”

“Please help me understand,” I pleaded with him. “Who is he? Can the police help?”

“We’re all gonna die! He hates Nick-more than me!”

I had never seen Tony afraid of anything before and it sent a chill up my spine. I looked on frantically as the beeping coming from the machine monitoring his heart rate began to accelerate. Beads of sweat appeared on his face and chest. “What do we do? How do we stop-”

“Who let you in here?” Tony’s mother had entered the room, followed by nursed responding to the equipment.

Where was Ryan? Why didn’t he warn me she was coming back?

“Mrs. Hanson, I had to come. I want to help find the person responsible for doing this to Tony-”

She cut me off rudely. “Nick Sullivan did this. He’s the only person who had any reason too and I plan to make sure he doesn’t get away with it. I already informed the police. He’s going to be taken in as a suspect. Thanks to Cyndi’s help, we were able to place him at the scene of the crime.”

“But he didn’t do it!” I screamed. “Tony, tell her!”

I knew I was hysterical but I couldn’t let them put Nick in jail, or worse, let Brock hurt him.

There was no help coming from Tony anymore. He appeared to be slipping back into unconsciousness and was mumbling incoherently about dreams and voices from the shadows. I wiped away tears of frustration; without Tony to clarify the truth to his mom, it was all for nothing. Admitting defeat, I turned to leave.

“Faith!” Tony’s plea stopped me in my tracks.

Tony’s mom looked at me shocked, hearing his voice so focused. “Rest hon, I was just getting rid of her. You don’t need this.”

“No,” he argued. “Faith, tell Nick-I’m sorry. He’s after you both.”

I nodded. “We’re going to find who did this,” I promised.

“But Nick-” Mrs. Hanson started.

“Wants to help me,” he groaned. “He’s in danger too.”

I looked at Tony gratefully. “I’ll let you know what we find.”

Then I turned to Mrs. Hanson. “If you want to help Tony, you’ll tell the police to keep looking for the attempted murderer. While you’re busy blaming Nick, he or she could try to hurt your son again.”

I left before giving her time to absorb what I just said.

Ryan was at the end of the wing. Angrily, I strode down the hall to meet him. “Where were you?” I hissed. “You were supposed to keep me from getting caught in there!”

“It’s not my fault!” he shot back just as mad. “I had a problem. Your mom is here looking for you.”

He spoke quickly to warn me just as she came around the corner, looking angrier than I’d ever seen her before.

“I can explain.”

She wasn’t in a listening mood. “What are you doing here? I was out of my mind with worry when the police called to tell me about the latest thing that happened to you. Then I find out from him that you came here and the front desk tells me you’re visiting Tony? What were you thinking, after what he tried to do to you?”

“I had to see him and I knew he wouldn’t hurt me from a hospital bed. His parents are wrong about Nick. Tony admitted to me that Nick wasn’t the one who stabbed him.”

“Faith, you have to leave the detective work up to the police.”

“Why, so Nick can lose everything by being wrongly accused? He’s suspended mom-for protecting me. The police took his car away, all based on assumptions. Now at least they’ll know he’s innocent.”

She shook her head at my stubbornness. “I don’t want you near Tony again. In fact, as of today, you are not to leave the house unless it’s to go to work or to school.”

Grounded? I hadn’t been grounded since Emily and I got caught stealing make-up when we were twelve. “For how long?”

“At least through the weekend.” As I opened my mouth to protest, she met my objection with, “Every time I turn around, something awful is happening to you. First the break-in while you and your friends are alone, then Tony attacks you and now this thing with his friend? You’re not in trouble, but I don’t know how else to keep you safe.”

So much for my plans with Nick tonight. “I have to drive Ryan home first, we came in my car.”

“Alright, but hurry!”

As soon as we got outside, I flipped open my cell to call Tracey. I explained the situation to her and asked her to meet us to take Ryan home.

Ryan shook his head when I hung up. “No wonder your mom wants you on lock down-you’re going to Nick’s, aren’t you.”

“Do you even have to ask?”

“So what happened in there?” he gestured up to the hospital. “I could hear yelling.”

“Do you want the good news or the bad news? Tony told me and his mom that Nick wasn’t the one who stabbed him.”

“That’s great! Now Nick can keep his scholarship.” He took in my skeptical face. “What’s wrong? What’s the bad news?”

“Tony was half delirious by the time his mom came in. He came out of it once while she was in there. I don’t know if she will take what he said seriously. That’s why I have to see Nick right now since I’ll be held hostage all weekend. Can you fill Tracey in and tell her I’ll call her later.”

***

I drove to Nick’s as fast as I could without getting a speeding ticket He studied my face as he let me in. “Why do I get the feeling you can’t stay?”

I told him everything that happened at the hospital-Tony’s heartfelt apology, his outrage at Brock and his ranting about the thing that stabbed him.

Nick didn’t buy it. “So it takes nearly getting killed to make him sorry for what he did to you? How do we even know he didn’t tell Brock to go after you?”

I understood Nick still being mistrustful of Tony, I still didn’t fully trust him, but I knew he had told the truth today. I had sensed the change in him during our brief visit, felt his sincerity. “Tony was almost as angry as you were about this.” I pointed to my neck. “At first he was upset when he thought he was the one who had done it. And he cleared your name to me and his mom. Unfortunately, she caught me in there before I could learn anything else.”

Nick ran a hand over the day old stubble on his chin, visibly bothered by the knowledge that his fate had been in Tony’s hands. “Where was Ryan during all this?”

“Being questioned by my mom who showed up. The officer who took my statement at the police station called her. She’s worried about my safety so she put me on house arrest through the weekend. I’m not even supposed to be here right now. I don’t know how I’m going to find what really tried to kill Tony.”

He was stone-faced. “You’re kidding, right?” He stared at me, hoping he’d heard wrong. “You can’t put yourself in danger again.”

“Don’t you see, Nick, I’ve never been out of danger. It’s my fault Tony got stabbed. My friends and I released that thing. I promised Tony we’d help and he did clear your name.”

“How do you even know that’s what did it?”

“Tony’s been having nightmares too, said he heard a voice in his head. He was talking about shadows, Nick. Just like Friday night when I thought something was after me.”

“But Friday was before the ceremony.”

I frowned. “I know, it doesn’t all fit. But the break-in, our book getting stolen, the premonition I had Friday in my car-”

I broke off suddenly, remembering that I never had given Nick the details of it.

“Tell me,” he insisted.

“Nick, please,” I pleaded, wanting to protect him.

“Is it that bad?”

I told him everything, even though I didn’t want to, my heart racing when I got to the part where he lay bleeding on the beach. I gave him credit for not reacting.

Then I relayed what Tony said about the thing that attacked him hating Nick and I. “He said it’s after us too, and warned us to be careful. And the look on his face… he was terrified, afraid that whatever it was would come back to kill him this time.”

“You’re not responsible for what happened to him. Tony made the choice to go psychotic, attack you and follow us. It’s his own fault he was in the woods to spy on you. I don’t like seeing you blame yourself for this. What we should be doing is making sure you’re safe at school. Even with my name being cleared of attempted murder, I am still suspended for fighting. If the police don’t arrest Brock, he might try to hurt you again.”

I trembled at the thought, recalling the feeling of the cold, hard blade on my throat.

“I’m sorry, Faith, I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Nick pulled me to him. A tear slipped off my lashes and onto my cheek as I thought about how close I was to ending up like Tony.

“It’s just that I don’t know what to do, Nick. My mom, teachers, the police-no one’s going to believe that something evil is responsible for Tony’s stabbing. I wish I could just…” I looked up into his worried face. “…just stay here with you and forget everything and everybody else.”

“I wish you could too.”

I looked past him into the kitchen, just noticing the table with two place settings complete with candles. I looked at him lovingly. “You cooked dinner for me? Now I really feel rotten.”

“I had it delivered. If I cooked, you would feel rotten.”

He was doing it again, making me smile when things were feeling hopeless. I closed my eyes and hugged him tightly. “I love you.”

He chuckled. “And I thought the saying was, ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’.” Then his voice changed to low and serious. “Thank you.”

Seeing my confused look. He explained. “I know going to see Tony today wasn’t easy for you. But you did it to help me. You’re the most selfless person I’ve ever met.”

I tilted my face up for the kiss I knew I’d receive. He didn’t disappoint.

“I have to go,” I said sadly when our lips parted. “I’ll find out if they arrested Brock. If not, maybe my mom will let me stay home, at least till Tony gives him the message to lay off or till you come back.”

“I hate that Tony can stop Brock from hurting you but I can’t. I guess I should probably be glad Tony promised to leave you alone.”

“I don’t think he’ll be hurting anyone, he looked pretty pathetic at the hospital. I’ll never forget about what he did Saturday, but I don’t think Tony is a threat anymore.”

***

The next day at school, there was an unsettling quiet on campus with Brock, Tony and Nick all gone. Brock was being held by the police for questioning; he too, was suspended.

I walked around from class to class in an automatic state, still on edge from being threatened numerous times during the last week. All around me, my classmates couldn’t help but speculate about the suspensions. Cyndi was doing her best to see me blamed for the best players on the team having to miss Friday’s game. The local paper had run a story on the suspensions and to my horror, there was a story on Nick and the possibility of him being a suspect in Tony’s case.

The girls and I had lunch together to discuss what should be done about the events of the last few days. Ryan was going to go by Nick’s, to take him some work he needed. As much as I ached to see him, I thought they needed some guy time. I didn’t want to start being one of those suffocating girlfriends that has to spend every minute with her boyfriend. I told Ryan to tell Nick I’d call or see him after school, and to reassure him that I was staying on campus for the duration of the day, no repeats of yesterday.

“We all have matching luggage,” Tracey observed as we sat down. She was referring to the bags under our eyes from lack of sleep. I’d had another nightmare like the one before. This time I’d dreamed I was a gypsy girl, being taken from my family by some horrible monster. There was an evil male presence in the dream but I never saw a face.

“Are you guys having nightmares too?”

“Nightmares? I can’t stop thinking about that thing from the fire, or Tony covered in all that blood.” Rachel was clearly having the hardest time dealing out of the four of us.

I looked to the others. “Any ideas?” They answered me with blank stares so I told them about my visit with Tony word for word. “We need to find this thing and put it back where it came from,” I said, “before it tries to kill again.”

“But how are we going to do that?” Emily asked.

“You need to be careful Faith,” Tracey’s voice was full of warning. “Tony said things to you that remind me of what my grandma said. Someone is after you and Nick.”

She was right! “After what happened with Tony Saturday, I assumed she was talking about Tony hurting me. But now…” I shook my head. “…I was hoping he had just been delirious. I know I saw something in the shadows too after Jana‘s party. Something dangerous. And the premonitions while I’m awake started last week too.”

“Around the time you and Nick started to get closer,” Rachel pointed out. “It almost seems like something doesn’t want you with him.”

“What if the evil was already here, but the summoning spell we did just gave it the power it needed to physically hurt people?” Emily had a good point.

“We need to do a divination.” We looked at Rachel surprised. She was the last one of us I expected would want to do anything magick related. I was seriously rethinking ever using magick again.

She explained her decision. “The power I felt scared me so much, I was terrified of it. But, I understand it. It can be channeled for good, tamed. We must have these powers for a reason. Watch this.”

She cupped a hand around the unlit candle on our table. I felt her push out and send fourth power with her mind and the flame burst to life.

I gasped and looked at her astonished.

“I practiced using the power all last night. I know how it works. Together, I bet we’re even stronger. We can stop this evil if we learn how to use it.”

Inspired by Rachel’s bravery, I pushed out with my mind in the same way, seeing in my head what I wanted to happen. Candles lit up on every table in the restaurant. I stared into one slender flame.

“Amazing,” Tracey breathed.

“This isn’t normal,” Emily thought out loud.

I think we bypassed normal last Saturday,” I told them.

 

 

 

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