Lila could not wait to shake the dream from her head. She sat straight up in her bed, her hair sticking every which way. She checked her alarm clock.
It was three in the morning.
She groaned, relieved that it was Saturday today, though it was too early for her to get up without anyone questioning her sanity. Her bed seemed uncomfortable, suffocating her in a mass of blankets and overheating her clammy skin.
Abel had haunted her dreams, following her with a chorus of love confessions, always there when she tried to take a turn, always watching.
Lila shuddered and got up to open her window, letting the cool Spring breeze into the room, sending goosebumps all over her skin. She sat in the chair in front of her window and examined the full moon. It was high in the sky, surrounded by groups of countless shining stars. The night was chilly and clear.
She recalled what had happened the day before at lunch, but tried not to dwell on it for too long. It was something she wanted to shy away from, less she wanted to become confused and wonder about things that were sure to leave her in a puzzle she did not want to be in. Did not need to be in.
The only thing she knew was that something very bad was happening, and like it or not, she was probably going to be apart of it.
Lila tried to recall the day before, but nothing came up. She remembered being invited to lunch by Logan, but after that her mind drew a blank. She examined her head for any suspicious bumps and even asked her parents if they had seen anything weird happen, but came up with nothing. She attributed it to stress.
It was during lunch that she received a phone call from an unknown number that things started to get a little strange. She picked it up. “Hello?” She answered, pressing the small rectangle of a cellphone into her ear. She heard labored breathing on the other end. “Hello?” She called again, wondering if the person on the end had the wrong number. Candice peered at her curiously while Lila held her other hand over the unoccupied ear to block out noise. “Is anyone there?” The breathing grew louder until Lila became worried, wondering if there was something severely wrong with the unidentified caller. “Are you okay? Do you need help? Hello?” The voice that came from the small speaker in her phone was raspy and terrifying, barely ranging in human tone.
“Join us,” it said, scaring the wits out of Lila. She dropped her phone and it crashed to the floor, cracking open the back and letting the battery fall out. Lila didn’t mind. She tried to focus on steadying her breathing.
“Holy hell!” Candice cried. “Are you okay?”
“I think it was a prank call or something,” Lila said weakly, her voice shaking. Her hands trembled as she drew them up to her face. “Scared the hell out of me.”
“What was the number?” Candice asked. “I’d love to call them and give them a piece of my mind.”
“Unknown,” Lila breathed, running her hands through her hair. “I just...” She tried to control her breathing as much as she could. “I don’t feel well. Maybe I should go home.” She stood and grabbed her jacket off of the chair, donning it over herself. Although it was a light coat, it felt like a thousand tons on her weak frame. “I’ll see you Monday.”
“Are you sure you’re okay to drive home? I can take you if not.” Lila’s breathing shook and she closed her eyes for a moment, steadying herself on the chair.
“I’ll be fine. Besides, I’m not going home.”
“Oh. Where are you going? I can go with you.” Lila tried to hide her peevishness.
“I’m going to see my pastor. It’s a private matter. Besides, I just want to be alone for awhile.” Candice looked like she’d been stung.
“Oh. Okay. Do you want me to pay the bill?”
Lila put a ten on the table, letting some of her annoyance paint her features.. “See you.”
“Bye.” Lila turned on her heel as Candice called to her. She ground her teeth and turned around. “Lila...If you ever need to talk to me about anything...I’m here. I wouldn’t judge you or anything.” Lila tried to smile, but failed miserably. Her mouth was pulled into a straight line and her hands balled into fists.
“Thank you Candice. I have to go.” Candice smiled in an embarrassed way and gave a measly wave.
Lila, in fact, was not going to see her pastor.
She sucked in a deep breath as she drove down the street at no more than fifteen miles an hour, scanning houses. “It has to be around here somewhere...” She murmured. She pulled over to the side of the road and stared down the street.
All of the houses looked the same.
What did she expect anyways? A big haunted house with crows on top of gravestones in the front yard?
She had to admit how foolish this whole thing was. She slumped her head against the steering wheel and closed her eyes, gripping the seat with her fingers. This was a mess. A total mess.
Nothing was the way it should be.
Her head slipped and hit the horn, blaring into the empty space of the suburban area, making her start. She looked up.
Abel was in front of her car.
She gasped and sat up straight, feigning to be nonchalant. Her hands held the steering wheel and she looked straight ahead as if driving. Sweat poured down the back of her neck.
And yet somehow she knew that Abel knew she was looking for him. He knocked on her window, and she rolled it down, her hands shaking.
“Car troubles again?” She shook her head and fought the urge to wipe the sweat off the back of her neck. The day was nippy. Too chilly for her to be sweating. “Then what’s the problem Lila?” He was smiling in that way again. The way that sent chills down Lila’s spine and made her heart jump out of her chest. She cringed.
“I was just...driving around...” She whispered, avoiding his eyes.
“Well then maybe I can join you?”
“I...uh...” She bit down on her lip. “I don’t think...that’s a good idea...”
“Because last time we were alone, it didn’t go so well.” Her stomach clenched. ‘You may think this is over, but it’s only just begun.’
“And I’m sorry about that. But maybe you just need to get to know me better, and then you can understand what I mean when I say what I do. But this whole time, you’ve been so busy being scared of my sister and myself that you don’t understand why we talk like we do. You never even bother to ask. You just assume things.” Lila looked away. She hated to admit that all of this was true. She unlocked the door and gestured him inside, although she still felt unsure.
He sat down and relaxed, but Lila’s hands remained rigid on the steering wheel. “Where to?” She asked.
“How about dinner?” He asked with a glint in his eye. “My treat.”
“Lila, you’re shaking.” She slowly unclenched her fist from the steering wheel and mopped at the sweat on her forehead with the back of her arm.
“Maybe I’m coming down with something.”
“Perhaps I should drive?”
“No, no.” She held up her hands. “I’m fine.” She hit the gas and rolled the car slowly down the street. If Abel knew what she had actually been doing, he didn’t say anything. “Are we going anywhere special?”
“Is there somewhere you would like to go?”
“Not particularly.” She tried to control her shaking to no avail. She couldn’t. Not when he was so close to her. He smiled at her.
“You have lovely skin, you know.”
“Why do you say things like that?” She asked in mild annoyance. “Those are the things that creep me out. Normal guys wouldn’t say stuff like that.”
“Are you hinting that I’m something other than a normal guy?”
“I don’t know what you are,” she said, staring straight ahead. “But you creep me out.”
“Aren’t you going to eat something?” Lila asked, irritated.
“I’m not hungry.”
“You invited me to dinner and you weren’t even hungry?”
“No, I suppose I wasn’t. I’m still not.” Lila sipped from her soda and glared at him.
“I guess now you’re going to explain this to me?”
“Why you would invite someone to a dinner where you weren’t going to eat?”
“Nope. No explanation for that one.”
“Than explain something else to me.”
“The parking lot.”
“What about it?”
“You don’t think you said anything in the parking lot that would’ve creeped me out?” He mulled it over.
“No?” He shook his head.
“No. I don’t think I said anything that would’ve creeped you out.”
“Well you’re wrong.”
“Oh!” Understanding crossed his features. “Was is the part about the oil change? How it could kill your whole engine? That does seem scary that you might have to buy a whole new engine, doesn’t it?” He smirked.
“Stop pulling my chain. You know what I’m really talking about.”
“So explain it then.” He cupped his chin in his hands and stared at me.
“To put things simply: I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. You can’t get rid of me.”
“What do you want with me?”
“I just want to be your friend Lila. You’re a lot more special than you think.”
“So you sta--”
“It’s not stalking. Sure, I watch you from time to time. It may seem creepy, but how else am I supposed to approach you? You’re the most popular girl in school.”
“I intimidate you?”
“You see? The story is different from my point of view.”
“But I what?”
“Well you didn’t let me finish,” she said, rolling her eyes. “But you’re not normal. That much is clear.”
“What are you saying? I’m supernatural or something?” His smile grew amused.
“Is this funny to you?” She asked as the waitress appeared with a tray and placed it in front of Lila. She turned to Abel.
“Have you decided on anything?”
“No, I’ll have nothing. Thank you though.” The waitress shrugged and meandered away. “Yes,” he said, leaning in. “This is funny to me.”
“Do you honestly think you’ll figure it out Lila?”
“I do,” she said stubbornly.
“Maybe you shouldn’t try.”
“You still haven’t told me why it’s funny.”
“It’s funny because you think you can figure it out.” Lila took a deep breath. She wasn’t used to talking so rapidly. So angrily. She never had to.
“I’ll figure it out,” she said smugly.
“And then what will you do?”
“You can’t expose the power you wish to possess,” he said.
“You said you wanted to have dinner with me to explain yourself, but you’re just making me pose more questions. What was really the whole purpose of this?” A chill ran down Lila’s spine, and she shivered.
“Are you cold?”
“A little,” she admitted. He handed her his jacket, and she took it greedily.
“Stop trying to run away from me Lila. Let’s just...be friends.”
“I don’t know anything about you. How am I supposed to be your friend?”
“We’re doing things friends do, right? Dinner? Isn’t that what friends do?” She shrugged. “You can’t honestly tell me I’m that bad Lila.”
“You’re not. Just frustrating. And scary.”
“So be my friend.” She held up a finger.
“Under one condition. Stop speaking in riddles. You either tell me everything or you shut your mouth.”
“Alright,” she nodded. “And stop watching me.”