The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.

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17. Cards

The voice on the other end of the line wasn’t one that I recognized. When he spoke, it was only two words.

“Hello, Cari.”

I gripped the phone tightly, shooting Clay a look. He asked me who it was and I shook my head. Then I said what I was thinking.

“Who is this?” I asked. “Listen, if this is one of Lena’s friends, this isn’t fucking funny.”

“Such language for a little girl,” the voice murmured. “Maybe I ought to cut that pretty tongue out of your mouth, hm?”

My stomach twisted and I felt like I was going to throw up. “Who the fuck are you?” I hissed, my voice coming out in a squeak.

Clay looked alarmed and reached for the phone. He put it on speaker. Then he called the guy an asshole.

A sharp intake of breath, then a laugh and the man said, “Ah, Clayton. I was wondering when you were going to make your presence known.”

“Fucking prick.” Clay ran a hand through his hair. He hit END and looked at me. “Are you okay?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. A sensation rippled through me and I shut my eyes. I gripped the counter so hard my nails scraped against it.

“Shit,” Clay said. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close so that I could smell his cologne. “Focus on me, Cari. Don’t think about the attack. Fight it.”

I hugged him back, and feeling warmth spread through me, I was able to relax. I exhaled and he let me go.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s okay.” Clay rubbed his chin, staring at the forgotten cell phone. “I wonder who the hell that was. If it was a joke, it wasn’t funny. You were really freaked out. What did he say?”

“He said he should cut out my tongue so I didn’t curse.” I laughed nervously. “Do people pull pranks like this all the time?”

“Only on Halloween,” answered Clay.

I put my head in my hands and sighed. “Lena’s going to get an earful tomorrow.”

“I don’t think it was her,” he said. He slipped out of his chair and walked to the fridge and opened it. While he searched for something he continued, “She doesn’t like you, that’s a given. But I don’t think she’d go as far as to be that fucked up.”

He had a point.

So who would?

An hour later, my phone rang again. I didn’t look at it, just hit the speaker button and then:

“Do what I tell you. I hold the cards to the rest of your life. Choose wisely and I might let you keep breathing, Miss. Delgard.”

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