She is hanging below me, clinging to a loose rope. I reach out. She’s too far away. She is too afraid to let go, and I am too afraid to lean out any further.
She’s helpless.
The rope creaked ominously. I look up instinctively, and in that second I see the rope snap high above us. My head snaps down in an instant. Just quick enough to see her fall.
I hear my own screams mixed in with hers.

Lauren's friend, Megan, died five years ago and Lauren has never really gottten over it. Finally she decides that it's time for her to face her fears. She goes back to the place Megan died, hoping to find it in herslef to move on. What she doesn't bargin on is what she discovers about her death. What really happened? And what has it got to do with Lauren? All the while she finds herself falling for boy she'd have ben better off running far away from...


11. We have to Leave. Now.

I wake up to the smell of frying bacon, making my mouth water. Unthinkingly I sit up quickly in bed and I wince in anticipation for the inevitable pain from my leg, but to my surprise it doesn’t come. The only pain is a dull throbbing. I look down and find myself tangled in new bed sheets, these ones without blood, so my leg must have stopped bleeding. I throw back the duvet to see my leg clean and bandaged and my broken arm is supported by a makeshift cast, but it doesn’t hurt anymore either. I’m wearing superman pyjamas which I guess must have been Tyler’s old ones. I blush when I think that someone must have undressed me. I hope to god it wasn’t Tyler, though knowing Alicia he would have been kept well away.

  Just then Alicia walks through the door with a full English breakfast on a tray. I smile as the smell reaches me. She returns the smile, though she looks tired. “You didn’t have to.” I tell her, feeling bad that she has to do all this for me.

  “Of course I did dear, you’re a guest.” I almost laugh at that. I must be one of the strangest guests she’s had.

  “Thank you for everything.” I motion vaguely around the room.

  She laughs lightly, “Oh it’s the least I could do.”

  I glance out of the window where I can see rolling hills and a sun high in the sky, so it must be around mid-day. “What time is it?”

  “One o’clock. You’ve been asleep for about fourteen hours.”

  My eyebrows shoot up in disbelief. “Fourteen hours?!” She nods. “Does that mean we have to leave soon?”

  She nods again, but more sadly this time. “Tyler is buying a new car and leaving the old one some where a while away so it throws them off track.”

  “I’m sorry we have to leave.” I feel bad for the woman; stuck here with no one but herself for company.

  “So am I dear, so am I.” Alicia sits still for a minute, staring out of the window. Suddenly she gets up and bustles out of the room, but pauses when she’s about to close the door she looks back at me. “When you’ve finished I’ve left you some clothes of Luna’s that might fit you. If you need any help just call me.” I nod and she smiles briefly before leaving me in peace.

  I eat my breakfast quickly, only now realising how hungry I am and then I brave getting out of the bed. I swing my legs over the side of the bed. I put my weight on my right leg first and slowly I transfer it onto the injured leg. I wince and scrunch up my eyes, forcing myself not to make a noise, but slowly my body adjusts and I can block out most of the pain. It isn’t too bad.

  I pick up the clothes Alicia left me. I sigh in relief as I see she’s put out a skirt rather than a pair of trousers – I don’t think I should have managed that one handed. The loose fitting shirt is simple too; I can easily slide my cast through it. I look in the full length mirror next to the dresser. It’s not something I would usually wear, but I have to admit that the floral skirt looks good next to the plain top. I might have looked nice if it hadn’t been for the bandage on my leg and the sling around my neck. I sigh. I can’t really cover them up because it’s a warm July and I don’t want to boil.

  I finally look at my face, but immediately wish I hadn’t.

  I look terrible. I’m sporting a huge multi-coloured bruise on the right side of my face which stands out starkly on my deathly pale skin. My hair is in knots and sticking out at all angles and my face carries a kind of haunted expression. I bite my lip as I realise Tyler must have seen me like this.

  I look at the dresser and spot a hair brush. I’m sure Alicia won't mind. I quickly brush it until it finally lies straight. Now it’s just the bruise... I rummage in the draws of the dresser until I find some foundation. I usually don’t wear much make up, and if it hadn’t been for Tyler and the fact I’m meeting his sister, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But, as it is, I use just enough to make the bruise less noticeable. There. I stand back and admire my work. Not bad for someone who was nearly killed. I can still feel the gnawing guilt eating me from the inside out. I killed Yasmin.

  She deserved it. I argue with myself. But no one deserves to be killed. That’s what Alicia said to Tyler. Would she say the same about Yasmin?

  I cut off the thoughts. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I have to stay strong. Instinctively I reach up to me throat to touch the lucky pendant that hangs there, but I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut as I remember that I lost it.

  Damn tears.

  I wipe them away quickly and turn toward the door. I limp carefully onto the landing and make my way down the stairs. It takes me longer than it should because of my leg, but I make it into the living room eventually. I can’t find Alicia so I use this as my chance to look around.

  Although I haven’t seen the outside, I know that this must be a little cottage, in the countryside judging from the view. It’s incredibly cosy inside. The living room is snug, with only a sofa positioned in front of a fire place and a bookshelf against one wall. I walk over to it instinctively. One photo draws my attention. It must have been taken abroad on a beach – France maybe? Alicia sits in the middle of the photo with her arms around two children. One is obviously Tyler when he was about five. The other is a fair haired girl with a fridge blowing in the wind who looks to be ten. She looks a lot like Alicia. I examine her; it must be Luna but she doesn’t look at all like a spy. I suppose people can change a lot in ten years. They are all laughing at some unheard joke and look so content. They look like the perfect family unit, except... their dad. He must have taken the photo, I guess.

  I quickly scan the rest of the photos, but I can’t see any sign of him. He must have left them – Tyler said that he went to America, and my guess is that he never came back. I know I shouldn’t pry, but I can’t help but want to know more.

  “Oh, you’re up.” I jump at the sound of Alicia’s voice.

  I turn around, blushing, feeling bad that she’s been so kind and now I’m prying through her stuff. “Yeah, um, thanks for the clothes.”

  She smiles, but it looks sad, as if she knows what I was thinking about before she came in. “It’s okay dear, they look lovely on you.”

  I’m not sure what to say now, but I’m saved by sound of the front door bursting open. Tyler appears in the doorway, looking anxious. “We have to leave. Now.”

  I see Alicia’s face crumple, “Why so soon?” I can see how much she longs for company – especially that of her children. It must be terrible out here on her own.

  Tyler sees his Mum’s expression too and looks pained, knowing it will crush her for us to leave so soon, but still he answers, “I’m so sorry Mum, but they’re getting closer and I can’t risk them coming here.”

  Her forehead crinkles in worry, “How close?”

  Tyler shakes his head. “I don’t know, but Luna called me and told me that they’re in the area – whether they know you’re here or not, I don’t know, but we can’t risk it.”

  Alicia nods sadly, knowing he’s right. “Okay.” She moves into the small hallway with Tyler and takes a pair of sandals from the shoe rack, handing them to me. “Here, take these.”

  “Thank you.” I take the shoes and slip them on my feet. Then, without thinking, I envelope her in a huge hug, “Thank you so much for everything, I’m sorry we have to leave.”

  “Maybe you can come back some day?” She asks hopefully as she squeezes me tightly and pulls back to look at me. “You’re a lovely girl Lauren, Tyler needs someone like you.” I smile slightly, not able to bring myself to correct her. Alicia turns to Tyler and hugs him just as fiercely, “Stay safe Tyler, send my love to Luna.”

  Tyler nods, “Love you Mum.” I hide a smile as he blushes, realising that I’m still standing next to them.”

  “Love you too baby.”

  “Muuum.” He rolls his eyes and he tries to break the hug, but she doesn’t want to let go. “Mum, we really do have to go.”

  “I know.” Alicia sniffs and as she pulls away I can see the tears in her eyes. I instantly regret doing all this to her. None of this is her fault, it’s-

  Before I can finish the thought, Tyler grabs my hand, pulling me out of the front door towards a battered Volvo. “Tyler!” I protest as I hobble after him, trying to keep up.

  He stops abruptly at exclamation and looks down, his expression a mixture of guilt and worry. “Sorry, I forgot. Is it your leg?” I nod once and before I can say anything he picks me up in his arms, walking with me across the drive.

  “Tyler!” I repeat.

  “Yes?” He smirks down at me.

  “Put me down.” I command, but even to my own ears, I don’t sound convincing. I can feel his warm chest pressed against my side and his face only a foot above mine...

  No. I can’t think of him like that. I turn my head away from him, breaking eye contact.

  I feel Tyler’s small sigh ripple through his body, but he continues to the car, ignoring my words.

  “Ergh,” I slump in his arms, realising he wasn’t going to let me walk, besides, it’s better for my leg this way. I try to convince myself that that is my only reason for staying in his arms.

  The drive suddenly seems longer as he walks down it. When we arrive at the Volvo, the passenger door already open, and Tyler sets me carefully down on the seat before walking to the driver’s side. Without a word he starts to engine and I look back at the cottage to see a tearful Alicia waving us off. I smile as best I can and wave back at her, feeling stupid for wanting to cry along with her.

  Tyler backs down the drive and finally turns and Alicia disappears behind a high hedge, but I have a feeling she’s still standing on her doorstep. The Volvo protests as Tyler forces it quickly along narrow country lanes. We sit in silence, me clinging onto the seat as we spin around a especially fast around a tight corner. “Tyler, slow down.” I finally say. I know if I odn’t, we’ll probably end up in a hedge. He snaps out his revive and realises how fast he’s going. The car slows as Tyler eases up on the accelerator and I see the muscles in his forearms relax – why the hell am I looking at his muscles?!

  “Sorry.” It comes out in a release of breath as he un-tenses. “Sorry, I just want to get as far away from her as possible. I can’t let them find her.”

  I feel my face soften. Aw, he’s worrying about his mummy. “It’ll be alright.” I comfort, then add with a smile, “But ease up on the poor car, we’re more conspicuous if you drive like a maniac.”

  He returns my smile, if only slightly, “Okay, I think I can do that.”

  “Good,” I sink back into my chair, “I’d rather not end up in a tree.”

  I close my eyes but hear his small laugh. It puts a smile on my face and I feel the exhaustion trying to take over again. But I refuse to let it. I’ve been sleeping unnaturally frequently. Shock maybe.

  “Where are we going?” I say vaguely.

  “To London.”

  My eyes flash open, “London?”

  He nods once, his eyes not leaving the road. “We’re meeting Luna; she thinks she can help us find out what’s going on. Apparently the best place to go is the Headquarters.”

  I frown, catching onto the disapproval in his voice. “You don’t think so?”

  This time Tyler looks at me, only quickly, but I can see his worried expression. “I think it’s the first place Yasmin will go.” If she’s still alive.

  The unspoken thought hangs in the air between us. I feel my eyes finally close as the guilt overwhelms me.

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