"Where the hell have..." Freddie began as I scuttled through the house in the early morning hours. It had taken me ages to get home. I was paranoid Spencer would still be watching. I held the blanket close to my chest, trying not to laugh at Freddie's tone. He sounded exactly like his gran.
"What happened?" He asked coming over to me and encasing me in his arms. I melted into his body, his warmth transferring to my body warming not only the exterior but the interior too, my heart ached for his touch and began fluttering in happiness when it was granted.
I didn't speak. I couldn't tell him the truth but I didn't want to lie. Falling into him I let myself be carried to sofa where I fell asleep in his arms. In that moment the worries slipped away, Freddie would protect me from Spencer and all the worries of the hospital. As I lay against him in a sleepy stupor, his hand played with my hair and stroked my arm. He was so careful, it was like he was holding a precious instrument.
Freddie woke me up before everybody else and told me to go shower. I was thankful because if Lillian had caught me with blood down my face she might of had a heart attack.
I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror. With my hair practically orange from the blood and the dripping patterns I thought of Carrie. The film Spencer had liked to much. I got a dampened towel and began wiping the blood away. I checked the cut from which the blood had flown. It wasn't to bad hit the area around it was still red. It had healed in a jagged line not quite covering the scar. I wondered what had happened in the operation room but pushed it from my mind. All I wanted to do after my night of madness was move on. I was to talk down that road and not look back, besides Noah was right why did I want to look back at something that wasn't worth stumbling upon anyway.
With the blood from my face I jumped in the shower and washed quickly. I found if I did things quickly I didn't have time to think about anything. It was the way I liked it, numbing my brain until it was strong enough to forget the past once more. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and met Freddie downstairs. I busied myself making tea for the others and then starting on the produce for the bakery. Freddie shot me concern looks as I rolled out the dough for cookies. They were becoming famous in the cafe according to Lillian. I Grabbed some raisins from the cupboard and rolled them into the cookies mixture. I wanted to experiment. As I rolled out the large sheet of yellow goodness, Freddie threw something at me. My reactions were so slow it merely hit my head and rolled into the dough, giving it a nice dent. I threw Freddie a dirty look.
"Add some lemon zest and juice to the mixture. It'll give it some flavour."
With a groan I dumped the mixture into a small electric mixture. I squeezed in some juice and zest and turned it on. I watched it intently as the whisk spun, wrestling with the strong mixture.
When the cookies were baked, Lillian emerged from her room. She eyed me dangerously. I handed her a warm biscuit. She looked at it, then at me. Her hand clouted my cheek. The cookie fell from my grip as Lillian's glassy eyes locked onto mine. Freddie stood frozen, a cookie in his mouth. I looked down at the floor. “Do you have any idea how worried I was.”
“People came knocking on my door asking after you, saying they'd seen you with blood down your face. How selfish can you be to not even explain where you were. You were out all night. Vespa and Noah and Freddie were up half the night looking for you. We thought... we thought you were dead.” She spat.
“I'm sorry, I didnt think you'd care.”
“Not care. Not care. I’ve let you into my home, we welcomed you with open arms. You are like a daughter to me. I've lost my daughters to the world and I couldn’t face the thought that I might of lost you too.”
Tears poured down my face. “I'm sorry.” I breathed. My voice barely audible. I ran into her eye, burying my face in her fluffy gown. Lillian held me to her.
“You stupid girl.” She whispered, patting my head. “You silly girl.” I pulled back and Lillian wiped my tears. “I'm sorry.”
“Mmh.” Whispered Lillian, rubbing my arms. She moved out the room. I ran to Freddie, a fresh wave of tears falling down my cheeks. With his half eaten cookie in one hand he hugged me.
“These are really good.” He said, spitting crumbs down my back.
Days past. I sat in my room most of the time, either that or the bathroom. I didn’t talk to Noah and Vespa. I was too worried they would hate me. I watched them from my window, as they walked down the road, fingers entwined and caught in hazy daze of love. Freddie would join me with his guitar and he would play me songs as I read. When Noah and Vespa were out I would go downstairs and sit with Lillian. She taught me how to knit, it seemed our argument was over but I felt the need to repay her. Love didn't cost but I felt just by sitting with her I could repair the damage I had done.
The next day I got up early. The nightmare from the previous night still circled round my mind and I wanted to exorcism the spirit of my past. I ran on the beach, it wasn't for long but it helped. I started to concentrate on my surroundings. Being in the hospital had numbed my sense. The beach had opened my eyes to the colors of the world. There were no more white walls. Instead the sand glowed the color of lightly baked biscuits mixed with the fur of a lions mane. The sea was a mix of beautiful blues and greens, effortlessly drifting between its colors. The sky was a completely different picture. It wasn’t only blue, it was sometimes pink or red or purple. Then there were sounds. Dogs barking, children laughing and the music, the music. Being in the record shop I lost myself in the delicate sounds of instruments. Rock music began to grow on me. It wasn’t so much the amalgamation of instrumental sounds but the meaning of the words. I emerged from my run covered in sweat and red in the face but my eyes had been opened in more ways than one.
Noah and Vespa sat at the kitchen island, smirking over something and sipping cups of tea. I stared at them, Vespa in particular. It was easy to see how far she had come. She was always smiling and if not it would creep onto the face. She wasn't the girl with a temper from the hospital any more. She had filled out, her skin had tanned and her eyes sparkled. She wasn't that angry any more. Staring at her made me angry. I wanted to move on like she had. We had both been consumed by love, we both had a family now, but she was so much more than me. I envied her, not for looks or Noah anymore, I envied her for getting on with her life. She hadn't let the hospital sink its teeth into her mind like I had. Noah was better but not as good as Vespa. He was moody still but he had grown better. I would catch him staring at things, I watched his eyes being opened too. He was a gifted artist. Lillian would lend him pencils and from our savings he had bought a sketchbook. When he and Vespa had gone out one day I snuck into his room and had a look. The sketches were bewitching. He had sketched all of us; Vespa, me, Freddie, Lillian, Milly and the others. The eyes on them were alive, they shone and every drawing seemed to be a breath of fresh air. My fingers touched the sketch of my face. I looked half mad, my eyes were looking up, glaring at the blood that spilled from my head. A tear had been draw down my cheek. I blinked away the memory and approached the two of them. The laughing stopped and they eyed me cautiously.
“It's a beautiful day.” I murmured not knowing what else to say. They both just stared at me, worried that I might turn into a hideous angry beast at any seconds.
“Look..” I began.
“We're sorry we shouted at you.” Said Vespa.
I blinked, confused. “Wait, I was goi-”
“We understand that you want to find out what happened to you.” She said pulling my hand into hers. The whole thing felt slightly patronizing but what did I care, I had their friendship back. I pulled my hand from Vespa's when she finished her whole speech.
“I'm sorry too. This thing is as difficult for you as it is for me and dragging it up is never going to help.”
There was silence across the kitchen island. “I'm not going to think about it anymore.” I added. “I really want to move on because it all seems like dead ends.”
Noah sighed in relief. “Good.”
“Have you had any more nightmares?”
“No, I got this stuff from the herbal shop down the road, it really helps and apparently it's good for you 'cause it balances all your toxins.”
My brow furrowed, “Maybe I should have some of that.”
Another silence passed between us, whilst a war waged in my mind. I needed to tell them about Spencer but I didn't know how too. I felt really selfish because I knew that if I wasn't part of their group, he wouldn't go through all this trouble to find us. For some reason he wanted me, Vespa and Noah were just another prize.
“Spencer's here.” I blurted. Vespa spat a loud of tea back into her mug and began coughing violently. Noah patted her on the back. “What.” She said through her coughs.
“He's looking for us, Finn talked to him and I overheard him a few days ago when I was in the tree house, after our fight. The guards were all called back but he didn't leave.”
“Why?” said Noah, as Vespa wiped her mouth and the slightly damp table.
“He was going to go back but then they heard me in the tree house and then he found my shirt. He said it had to be us.”
“Wait, what does Finn have to do with this?” Said Vespa when she had regained composure.
“When I was walking pack from the party, I saw Spencer just outside the shop. I hid in a bush and Finn
walked by. Spencer asked him whether he'd seen us, and Spencer ended up punching him.”
“It's not only me who thinks he's an idiot then.” Mused Noah.
Vespa hit and Noah lightly. “If you saw him that long ago, why didn't you tell us?”
“I didn't want us to leave, I thought we'd be safe here.” I said, realizing just how deceitful I had been. A stone lodged in my throat and all of a sudden I wanted to be sick.
“Just when I thought I understood you.” Said Vespa icily. “How could you?”
I shook my head, why didn't she understand. “You guys were happy here, we all were. I didn't want to leave.”
Vespa got up from her seat, her eyes blazing in my direction. “Well what good did that do because we have to leave now anyway. All it's done is make this whole thing harder.”
I blinked, “Why do we have to leave?”
Vespa pushed her face near mine. “You're so stupid. We can't be here because he'll find us. I don't know about you but I can't go back there.”
“We've been safe all this time.”
Noah pulled Vespa back. “It's not just about us anymore Cassie, he brings danger with him. How bad would you feel if Freddie or Lillian got pulled into it.”
Noah cut Vespa off. “We're going to pack, we'll leave in twenty minutes.” Noah tore Vespa away from me and pulled her up the stairs. I stood near the island but my legs collapsed under me. I hit the floor, a giant thud echoing through the kitchen. I lay on the floor curled up like a dying animal trying not to cry. I didn't want to leave. I couldn't. Freddie and Lillian were my family.
When Noah and Vespa and returned to the downstairs. They were practically weighed down by their new belongings. I stood up, my cheeks dry of tears. I wasn't going with them. Vespa chucked a bag at me before rushing to the cupboards and pulling out food. I kicked the bag to get their attention.
“I'm not going with you.” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Shut up.” Said Vespa, what I thought was progress from the anger teenager disappeared quickly. She angrily stuffed a packet of biscuits in her bag.
“I'm not going.” I repeated. “And you can't make me.”
“Don't be childish.” Said Noah, picking up my back and throwing it at me. I stumbled back and let it hit the floor.
“I'm not going and I don't think you should either.”
Vespa slammed the cupboard doors shut and stormed over to me. She picked up my bag and flung it over her own shoulder. “Come on.”
“No.” I pulled my bag from her and the contents spilled out over the floor. No matter what they said or did I wasn't leaving. They would have to kill me before I stepped foot out of this village.
“Noah help me.” Vespa gathered my things and Noah lunged for me. I dove out of his grip.
“If you make me go, you're are as bad as the people in that hospital.” I shouted. Noah stared at me.
Vespa sighed and rolled her eyes. “Fine, stay here. Come on Noah.”
“We can't leave without her.” Said Noah.
Vespa turned to stare at Noah. “Why not?”
Noah grabbed my arm forcefully, “Because she's part of our family.” I tried to pull my arm from his grip but he was too strong. “Ow.” I shouted.
“Well if you want her to come hurry up. We have to get out of here.”
“Noah.” I warned. If her forced me to go anywhere I would never forgive him. He shot me a look of apology before grabbing my waist. I jumped out of his grip and over the sofa. As quickly as I could I maneuvered through the living room furniture and darted up the stairs. Noah was right behind me and pulled my legs out from under me. I hit the stairs. Hard. My temple catching the wood. I tried to shake the pain away but everything hurt all of a sudden. I flung my arms out at the multiple Noah's, not connecting with anything. He pulled me from the stairs and swung me over his shoulder.
“No.” I screamed. “Noah put me down... Right now.”
“I'm sorry but we can't leave you.” He said walked to the door.
“Freddie... Freddie!”I screamed. Lillian hobbled in from the cafe, her face ashen with worry.
“What's going on?”
“We have to leave. It's not safe for us here.”
Lillian stared at us, as Freddie hurtled down the stairs in only pajama bottoms. “What's going on?”
“We have to leave.” Said Vespa plainly. With Noah suddenly off guard I kicked him roughly and dropped to the floor. I scrambled over to Freddie who put an arm over my shoulder reassuringly. I felt like a sniveling kid but I didn't want to leave, I didn't want them too either. Amongst the madness there was a knock at the door. Lillian brushed past us to answer it, uttering a number of inaudible words under her breath.
“Hi, is Cassie here?” Said Flynn.
My eyes widened in shock, what was he doing here. Lillian ushered him in and he stood before the five of us, an awkward smile across his face.
“Can I speak to you?” He asked looking around at all of us. “Privately.” I nodded, confused to as what he wanted. I took him up to my room.
“What?” I demanded, closing the door.
Finn sat on the bed and pulled one of Becca's toys from the bed. He flipped through the books on the bedside table and made a few comments on the decor. I had no time for his flirtatious games. I needed answers.
“Finn.” He didn't reply, just kept looking through my things, Becca's things. I picked up a small glass candle from the dressing table and flung it at Finn. He ducked just in time, it shattered against the walls. I admired my handy work as Finn turned to me. I cocked my head to the side and widened my eyes. I wanted an answer.
“Oh.” He said jokingly. “I..
“This isn't a joke ok?”
“You cant just come in here and keep something from me.”
“Would you tell me already.” I shouted.
“If you'd let me finish.” He laughed. I stayed quiet. “I say that guy.” My heart skipped a beat. “He asked me if I’d seen you and I said Freddie had taken you to Dover to get a ferry. He's gone looking for you.”
I stared at him. “You've got to be joking right?”
“No.” He laughed. “He's gone.” I blinked and just stared at Finn in wonder. Behind the idiotic behavior he was actually nice.
“Oh my God.” I muttered. “Oh my God.” I ran over to him and wrapped my hands around his neck. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I practically sang. His hands lingered on my waist but I moved away from him. With a smile on my face I ran down the stairs.
“He's gone.” I shouted at Vespa and Noah. The both shot me a look or warning. It was then I remembered Freddie and Lillian. “Who's gone?”