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Authors: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Until November (Until series) (18 page)

BOOK: Until November (Until series)
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He chuckles. “I got that when you screamed.”

“I didn’t scream,” I defended myself. I had become close with all of Asher’s family. His parents had taken me in as one of their own. And his brothers treated me like I was the little sister they had missed out on having. Now they made up for lost time by picking on me and torturing me on a regular basis. Sometimes Asher got annoyed with them, but most of the time, he would join in on the fun of pissing me off.

Mr. James smiled like he thought I was funny then looked down at the envelope. The smile left his face quickly and his eyes came to me. “I hope you made sure to look out the peep hole before you came outside.” His tone became serious.

“I made sure,” I mumbled, hoping that this was nothing serious. I didn’t want to start living my life looking over my shoulder.

“Let’s go in and you can show me what you got and tell me about the person who dropped them off.”

“Are you going to open that?” I ask, pointing at the letter.

“When we get inside.”

We walk into the house and I close and lock the door behind us as we turn to go into the kitchen. Mr. James is standing at the kitchen island in front of the flowers. I notice that he now has on a pair of gloves. His head is bent and he is looking at the open card.

“What does it say?” I ask.

He holds it up for me to see. On the front of the card was a picture of Manhattan at night. When he opens it, I stumble back and my stomach drops. I am looking at the words written in bright red ink. 

Coming events cast their shadows before

I had a vision in the summer light—

Sorrow was in it, and my inward sight

Ached with sad images. The touch of tears

Gushed down my cheeks he figured woes of years

Casting their shadows across sunny hours.

Oh, there was nothing sorrowful in flowers.

“Holy crap.” I cover my mouth and run to the hall bathroom to throw up the piece of toast that I had for breakfast and the coffee that I drank. I feel a cool rag on my neck and a hand rubbing my back.

“Are you okay?” Mr. James asks and I can hear the anger in his voice.

“Yeah,” I say, flushing the toilet. I take the rag off my neck and wipe my mouth with it. I look up into his eyes and can tell he is pissed off. I just hope he isn’t mad at me for bringing this kind of trouble to his son’s front door. “I'm so sorry,” I say, putting my face into my hands. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening to me. I felt him pull me in for a hug.

“We will figure it out. We won’t let anything happen to you.”

“I don’t understand why someone’s doing this to me,” I cried into his shirt. I hate it more that Asher is dealing with too. If something happened to him because of me, I don’t know what I would do. “Can you give me a minute?” I ask, pulling out of his hug and wiping my eyes.

“Sure, darling.”

I shut the bathroom door, turn around to the vanity, and look at myself. My eyes are blood shot. I tie my hair up quickly and turn on the cold water then start splashing my face. I need to brush my teeth, but I'm not ready to leave the safety of these four walls. I know once I walk out that door, I'm going to be asked more questions that I don’t have the answers to. I rinse my mouth a few times then jump up on the counter and try to think of anyone who would do this to me. I can’t think of anyone that I wronged or anyone that dislikes me enough to try and kill me, or stalk me to another state and harass me. Then I start to wonder where they have been during the last few months. Nothing has happened since a week before Thanksgiving. Not that I missed them, but why did they go away, and why are they back now?

“November!” Asher bellows from the front door. I hop off the counter and start to open the bathroom door when it is shoved open and hits me in the head.

“Shit!” I cry, my hand going to my forehead where the door hit me.

“Jesus Christ! Baby, are you okay?” I didn’t know if I was alright. I knew my head hurt a lot. Who the heck opens a door with that much force? “Let me see,” he says, pulling my hands away from my face. “Fuck!” he shouts and I know from the look on his face that I don’t want to see it. I now have a headache on top of all the other crap. “I'm sorry, baby. I'm so fucking sorry.” He looks really upset. Jeez, it hurt, but it wasn’t bleeding. How bad could it be? I turn to the mirror and want to laugh. I have a bright red and purple mark in the center of my forehead. I look like Harry Potter. I start to giggle and Asher’s eyes narrow. “This shit’s not funny. I could have really hurt you.”

“I know that,” I snap. “What the heck are you? The incredible hulk or something? Seriously, who opens a door to a bathroom like that?”

“Dad pointed out that you were in here. I didn’t even think. I just had to make sure you were okay.”

Now I feel bad. “Sorry, it just hurts,” I say softly, feeling like a total bitch. He always worries. Even when I'm safe, he worries, so now that I'm in danger I might as well handcuff myself to him.

He kisses the mark. “So, why were you laughing?” he asks, wrapping me in hug.

“I was laughing because I look like Harry Potter.” His eyes come back to my face and his lips twitch. I glare at him. “Now I’m going to have to give myself bangs to hide it so I don’t have to listen to your stupid brothers and the jokes they’ll make about it,” I say, pointing to my forehead.

“They love you.” They did, I knew they did. We had become great friends. I knew if Asher wasn’t around, I could count on any of them to help me out with whatever was wrong. And they were not perverted, just brotherly. For that, I was thankful. Now Sven, he was a different story. He made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was handsome, or if it was just him as a person. Sometimes the way he looks at me or the words he uses makes it seem like he is coming onto me. But I saw him in action when me and Asher met him and the guys at the bar. I know that when he comes on to a girl, he doesn’t hold anything back. He is over-the-top aggressive and women still swarm him like a hive to honey. One day, when he meets a girl he’s serious about, she’s going to have to be really strong in order to deal with his personality.  

“I know they love me,” I grumble.

“Is everything okay?” Mr. James asks from outside the door. I step away from Asher and open the door and Mr. James looks down at me. “What the fuck?” he asks, looking up at Asher.

“It’s fine. I just need to put some ice on it and take some aspirin,” I say, stepping around him.

“How did it happen?”

“It’s either because your son is the incredible hulk or he has a thing for Harry Potter,” I say over my shoulder. I laugh when I hear Asher groan.

“It’s my fault,” Asher says, picking me up and setting me on the counter, removing me from where I was standing in front of the fridge. “The door hit her when I shoved it open to get to her.” I watch him go the drawer and grab a baggie then back to the fridge. He fills it with ice then wraps it in a kitchen towel and brings it to me and presses it to my head.

“Thanks, honey,” I mumble.

“You’re welcome, baby. I'm sorry your day sucks.”

“Me too.” He kisses my temple then looks over to his dad, but his eyes stop on the roses that are sitting on the counter.

“Some guy delivered those?” he asks. I swallow and look at Asher’s dad. He hadn’t told him about the card. Mr. James looked at me then at Asher. “What aren’t you telling me?” Asher asks his dad.

“When I pulled up, November came outside and found a card.”

“Where is it?” Asher asks and I can see his body expanding, muscles bunching under his shirt. Mr. James hands Asher the card that is now inside of a gallon zipper bag. The card is open so you can see the inside and outside of it. Asher looks at the front for the second and sees that it’s a picture of New York then he flips the bag over and I can tell that he’s using all of his control to not rip the thing in half. “What does this mean?” Asher grunts out. He sounds wild and nothing like himself.

I pull my phone out and Google the words that are written in the card. “The poet who wrote on my living room wall also wrote this poem,” I tell Asher and Mr. James. 

“We know the other poem is called November. What is this one called?” Asher asks.

“Anticipation,” I tell them and get a shiver down my spine when I read them the poem.

'Coming events cast their shadow before.'
I had a vision in the summer light—
Sorrow was in it, and my inward sight
Ached with sad images. The touch of tears
Gushed down my cheeks:—the figured woes of years
Casting their shadows across sunny hours.
Oh, there was nothing sorrowful in flowers
Wooing the glances of an April sun,
Or apple blossoms opening one by one
Their crimson bosoms—or the twittered words
And warbled sentences of merry birds;—
Or the small glitter and the humming wings
Of golden flies and many colored things—
Oh, these were nothing sad—nor to see Her,
Sitting beneath the comfortable stir
Of early leaves—casting the playful grace
Of moving shadows in so fair a face—
Nor in her brow serene—nor in the love
Of her mild eyes drinking the light above
With a long thirst—nor in her gentle smile—
Nor in her hand that shone blood-red the while
She raised it in the sun. All these were dear
To heart and eye—but an invisible fear
Shook in the trees and chilled upon the air,
And if one spot was laughing brightest—there
My soul most sank and darkened in despair!—
As if the shadows of a curtained room
Haunted me in the sun—as if the bloom
Of early flow'rets had no sweets for me,
Nor apple blossoms any blush to see—
As if the hour had brought too bright a day—
And little birds were all too gay!—too gay!—
As if the beauty of that Lovely One
Were all a fable.—Full before the sun
Stood Death and cast a shadow long before,
Like a dark pall enshrouding her all o'er,
Till eyes, and lips, and smiles, were all no more!

“That sounds a lot more threatening than the last poem he left,” Asher says, looking at his dad. I look toward Mr. James and notice that his face is blank. “What do we do?”

“I need November to tell me about the delivery and anything that she can remember from when she was attacked in New York. I also need to know if either of you have noticed anyone out of place or someone who made you uncomfortable.” I look from Asher’s dad to him and see that his body is still ready for attack. I lean forward on the counter and grab his shirt at the back and drag him toward me. Once he’s close, I wrap my arms around his middle and lay my head on his back. I feel his hands rest on top of mine then he takes a deep breath and his body relaxes.

“I need to go out to the car and get my note book. When I come back in, we can talk.”

Asher turns, facing me and pulls me closer to him. “I'm really sorry about this,” I mumble into his chest, letting his smell relax me.

“Don’t apologize about this. It isn’t your fault.”

“Maybe I should lea—”

The words are not even out of my mouth before he cuts me off. “Don’t even fucking think about leaving me.” His arms go super tight around me like he is expecting me to vanish into thin air. “I will track your ass down and drag you back here. I want you to listen to me.” His hands hold my face, and his lips come closer to mine. “Dad is on this. I'm on this and now I'm putting Kenton on this. We will find out what’s going on and who is doing this. And while we’re doing that, you will be safe.”

“I would die if something happened to you because of me,” I whisper my biggest fear and then do a face plant into his shirt.

“Baby,” he says, running his hand down my back. “The worst thing that could happen is if you left me and I had no way of knowing that you were okay. I won’t let anything happen to you and I will make sure that nothing happens to me either. Do you think that I would let something happen to myself, knowing that there are about six guys that I know waiting to take my place?”

“You know you’re crazy, right?” I ask in all seriousness. Only he would say one of the reasons he was staying safe is so random, non-existing guys don’t try to take me away.

“No, I'm selfish. I know what sleeps next to me every night. You are mine, November. Until the day you leave this earth, you are mine. And I take my responsibility very seriously.” What could I say to that? Before I say anything, his dad comes in the front door carrying a notebook and a file.

“Alright, let’s get started,” Mr. James says, setting his stuff down on the island and pulling out the stool to take a seat. Asher kisses my forehead then jumps up next to me on the counter, grabbing my hand. 

I tell them about the delivery then about the attack. Then I remember the roses that had been outside the apartment door when I got home from the hospital. I had never gotten flowers, and my mom would get them all the time from whatever man she was seeing, so I assumed they were for her. I took them into the apartment and left them on the counter. I never even thought about them again until that moment.

“White roses,” I whisper to myself.

“Pardon?” Mr. James asks.

“White roses were left outside my apartment door after I was attacked. But I don’t think they were for my mom.”

“Why do you say that?” Mr. James asks, and I remember my mom’s shocked face when she opened the card.

“The card said, ‘I'm sorry.’ We both assumed they were from the guy she was seeing, the one that took me to the hospital. That he was sorry for what happened to me. But I remember she seemed shocked by the apology. Like, I don’t know, that he wouldn’t do that, you know? Like he wouldn’t apologize. When I was packing my car later that evening, the same boyfriend who I thought the flowers were from stopped by to drop off Beast. He had kept him while I was in the hospital. He didn’t want him to end up at the shelter. He made me pinky promise him that if I was going to give Beast away, he got first dibs. I remember thinking that he was a really good guy and hoping that it would work out for him and my mom. He hugged me then got in his car and left. I thought that maybe he was busy. I left a few minutes after he did, so I'm not sure what happened with him and my mom.”

BOOK: Until November (Until series)
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