Authors: Meaghan Rauscher
Crawling back into bed, I pulled the covers tightly around my body for protection and to imitate the feeling of being held. It didn’t work, but slowly my exhausted mind gave in and I drifted off to a peaceful sleep.
It wasn’t until I awoke the next morning that I realized the sheathed dagger had lain on top of the covers all night against my stomach. I shuddered to think it was the only reason I felt safe.
Another week passed without event and the strain of not knowing what was happening was beginning to wear on my nerves. I could see my short temper getting the better of those around me, but I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of the constant worry threatening to take hold of my every thought.
“Lissie, you aren’t playing right,” Justin said and smacked my hand lightly, his little fingers pulling me out of my thoughts. I was sitting on the floor of the living room with Kaleb in my lap, supposedly participating in the matchbox car crashes Justin created, even though he seemed to want us to watch more than play. Unfortunately for me, the game didn’t provide enough entertainment to keep my mind from getting distracted. At least Kaleb was enthralled with his older brother. The two of them seemed to have their own language when they spoke to one another in garbled English, mixed with loud squeals from the younger of the two.
“Sorry, sweetie,” I said and scooted forward on the carpet with my awkward bundle squirming in my lap. All around us was a heap of destruction, overturned toy cars of varying colors that had been run repeatedly into one another. Funny enough, the game was one Derek and Sean had introduced to me. I remembered sitting on the floor playing the same game with them when I was little.
“Are you working tonight?” Derek called from the kitchen, as he raided the fridge. He and Sean had left the docks early to help Dad with the bookkeeping, it was a task Derek found tedious, but Sean had always had a knack for math and was more diligent in his work. It was obvious to the rest of us once the twins took over the business, it would be Derek who would head the fishing side, while Sean took care of the finances and the restaurant. A perfect pair as always.
“No, but I’m going to have to head down that way to get my check,” I said and Derek laughed.
“Why didn’t Dad leave it here for you?” he asked.
I shrugged, “Habit, I guess.”
It was true, Dad could have left the check here at the house, but it had somehow gotten bundled up with the rest of the pay stubs and I would have to walk to the restaurant to get it. I could wait for my next shift, but I was happy to have an excuse to get out of the house.
My only real activity outside the home was practicing my siren voice, as I had decided to name it, at the twin’s house. Aside from pushing my throat to exhaustion, I really had no outlet as I tried to avoid hanging out with any of my old friends. There really didn’t seem to be a point to developing any relationships with them, when I knew I would soon leave this place.
For a long time now, I’d had an inkling something was about to happen. Like a glass vase sitting on the edge of a table, I was waiting for it to fall and shatter into pieces. Maybe it was my innate hope I would hear some bit of news, some scrap of information, which would allow me to know a small part of what was going on in the world I now belonged. More than anything, I wanted Zale here with me, but I knew it wouldn’t happen.
I startled out of my thoughts quickly before Justin grew angry again. The little red truck in my hand, with a wobbly hatch door, rolled forward when I pushed it and bounced off Justin’s knee. He giggled and sent the truck back toward me. Back and forth we shoved the car, much to Kaleb’s delight, and I laughed when he clapped his hands together.
Derek entered the room with a half-eaten sandwich in his hand and surveyed our little game. I couldn’t help giggling as Kaleb laughed so hard he nearly fell over on his face, and would have if it wasn’t for my hands holding his round tummy back.
“You should try and see if you can make him stop,” Derek said around the bread in his mouth, and my head jerked up quickly.
“What?” I asked and felt the truck bang against my knee. Kaleb still gurgled, hoping I would send the miniature vehicle back in Justin’s direction.
“It’s worth a shot,” Derek shrugged, “See if you can make someone stop laughing.”
His words had caught Justin’s attention and although he could never fully understand, he puckered his lips and looked up at his older brother, the little curls creating a halo around his large head.
“I won’t do that to a baby,” I pointed out, confused at how he could even suggest it. It was one thing to control my older brothers because they gave me permission, but to control someone who was unsuspecting and innocent was an appalling thought.
“He wouldn’t know the difference, and you said you do it at the restaurant.”
“That’s different,” I rebutted and it was only slightly true.
Whenever I did pick up a shift at the restaurant I casually tried to use my voice to suggest certain choices on the menu. It almost always worked, but those suggestions were different. In the restaurant, I never hummed or sang, it was merely me talking and trying to persuade.
The idea had come to me when I recalled the first time Morven had visited me in Coveside, about a month after he had changed me. During that meeting I had demanded answers of him and when he was reluctant I had asked again, trying to persuade him. His eyes had glazed over for a brief moment and he had given me a look which, at the time, I had been unable to understand. Now I knew what it meant and used the power on others as practice.
“Oh come on,” Derek said and took another bite of his sandwich, “it won’t hurt him.”
“I know,” I agreed and looked into the little blue eyes staring up at me, waiting patiently for me to begin pushing the truck again. “It just doesn’t seem right.” I shrugged and tried to ignore the looming doubt of what would happen when I met an unsuspecting foe and needed to control them without their permission. Hopefully, I would be able to put my fears aside.
“It’d just be a little ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’,” he quoted and I nearly laughed at the reference.
“You know that gets funnier every time you say it,” I mumbled and shoved the truck at Justin, its wheels wobbled against the frame until it clunked into his knee. Kaleb started laughing again.
“I know it does, that’s why I do it,” Derek said, ignoring me. “You know I was just thinking about when you’ll have to use it in the future.”
“I’m aware of that,” I snapped and he backed down and walked into Dad’s office to join his twin. I thought I saw his shoulders slump as he entered the room and hoped it was because of the tasks he needed to perform and not from what I had said.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jillian quietly making her way down the stairs as though each step was a bomb waiting to go off. Recently, Emly had been incredibly sensitive to noises inside the house. It seemed her cries were always coming from the upstairs bedroom in the afternoon.
Jillian’s shoulders relaxed when she reached the bottom step and made her way through the little maze of disarray we had created on the floor. “Do you work tonight?” She asked as she passed us and walked into the kitchen.
Maybe I had been more on edge over the past few days than I thought, as it seemed to be everyone’s hope to get me out of the house.
“No,” I said, tired of explaining myself. “But I’m going to head down there in a bit.”
“You can go now if you’d like,” she suggested, her back turned to me. “Thank you for looking after the boys while I put Emly down.” Unconsciously, she patted the mobile baby monitor which hung off the waistband of her jeans.
“Yeah, I just might,” I said and kissed the top of Kaleb’s head as I sat him down on the carpet in front of Justin. Hopefully, they would continue our little game. “Bye sweetie,” I said and ruffled the thick curls on Justin’s head. He mumbled a goodbye, but was already too busy showing Kaleb how to push the truck across the ground.
Without another word, I slipped out the door and zipped my light jacket up over my chest. Even though it was almost summer, the wind still had a bit of chill in the air, especially at this hour, with the sun beginning to touch the horizon. I caught a glimpse of the dark orange in the sky, but shrugged my shoulders and began to trudge down the hill toward Darrow’s Catch.
As I got closer, I pulled my hair back into a bun to make sure it wouldn’t attract anyone’s attention. Deciding to enter the restaurant from the front, I paced down to the pier and looped back up Main Street. Just as I stepped on the wooden planks of the front porch, I heard someone call my name.
Directly across from me, on the other side of the street, were Jonathan and Trey.
“Hey!” I called and raised my hand in their direction. I still hadn’t grown used to the way they had both filled out, their shoulders had always been wide but now there was more to them, a definition in the arms and athleticism in their builds. I realized I was staring and tried to avert my eyes as they jogged across the street to meet me near the restaurant.
“What are you guys up to?” I asked, noting they were in athletic clothes and Jonathan’s hair was damp with sweat.
“Just out for a run,” he huffed heavily and placed his hands on his hips. Trey mirrored his stance, but kept his eyes carefully away from my face. He had yet to forget the night I had turned him down, it had been a lot colder then and unfortunately for him, his timing couldn’t have been more terrible. Not that I would have ever considered it, but asking me out when I was trying to recover from what had happened to Patrick, was a rough stroke of luck on his part.
“Good weather for it,” I said and squinted up at Jonathan. He had always been my favorite of the group. He never asked a lot of questions and when you needed a laugh, he was there to give you one. Part of me wondered, what would have happened if Morven had never changed me. At the time I knew I wasn’t interested, but I hadn’t been concerned with anyone last year. For a long time, I had thought myself incapable of finding anyone worthwhile in a town this small and I had looked forward to college. Little had I known what was waiting for me.
“Yeah, we thought we might as well take advantage of it while we still could.” He shrugged and pointed at my left arm, “I see you’re all healed.”
For the first few weeks I was home, my left arm had been in a sling across my chest. Although the wound had been fully healed, it hurt to make the slightest of movements and I found it easier to put it in a sling, rather than answer questions all day about why it hurt to move it. Even now, the wound smarted when I moved too fast, sending a sharp pain down the left side of my arm. Bolrock had left his mark on me, and as much as I wanted to take my jacket off on warmer days, I couldn’t for fear of what people would see. Honestly, I hadn’t come to terms with the horrid scar myself.
“Yep,” I said and shrugged, internally cursing myself when the movement sent a jolt of pain down my arm. “I almost have full rotation now.”
“That’s good,” Jonathan said and glanced at Trey, who was looking out toward the pier where I had just come from. “What are you up to?”
“Just picking up my check, fun stuff,” I laughed a little awkwardly and he joined in.
“Are you doing anything tomorrow night?” He asked suddenly. Trey glanced at him. Whether or not it was with disapproval, I couldn’t tell.
“Not that I know of,” I said, unsure of why I was agreeing to something like this, even though I had committed myself to not building up relationships here. But would it really hurt to have one night out of the house? “Do you have something in mind?” I asked, knowing Jonathan was still dating Brittany.
“Some of us are going to have a bonfire out on the beach tomorrow night if you want to join us. You know, hotdogs, s’mores, all that good stuff.”
“Sure,” I agreed, a little more quickly than I probably should have. “Can I bring anything?”
“Nah,” he said and scratched the back of his head with a large hand, “I think we’ve got it all covered.”
“Well great,” I bit my lip, and slowly retreated toward the steps of the restaurant. “I guess I’ll see you guys there.”
“Guess so,” he said and added, “see ya’.”
“Bye,” I called and hopped up the stairs lighter on my feet than I had been in the past month. The simple prospect of doing something was filling me with a feeling of expectation that I reveled in for a moment. I peered over my shoulder at the two retreating boys and almost laughed out loud at the annoyed gestures Jonathan was making toward Trey. Maybe he could get him to at least say a word in front of me tomorrow night.
The front doorbell jingled as I opened it and stepped into the chattering buzz of the dinnertime atmosphere inside Darrow’s Catch. There was a thrum of energy in the air that I could feel, but only just. As with all things here in Coveside, I felt distanced from the events and sights which used to be all I knew. They were no longer a part of me and the feeling was both exciting and daunting at the same time.
Laura stood at the hostess stand, as usual she was smacking her gum between her lips and I wondered if things around here would ever change. “Lissie!” she called, much louder than necessary and I smiled.
“Hey, just here to pick up my check,” I waved as I passed by her and saw her pout, an irritating habit she had. Luckily, the door jingled again and she turned to greet the guests, spinning her dark hair between her fingers.
Shaking my head, I dodged a few of the customers and stopped only once or twice when the locals called out to me. Being the daughter of the owner put a sign on my back which encouraged people to talk to me. After awkwardly brushing past a few of the comments about my healed arm, I ducked into the kitchen while cursing myself for thinking coming through the front door was a good idea.