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episode eight

Chapter Eight

aird92 (08:12:45): what the hell is going on? do u have anything to do with what happened to her?

michaela666 (08:13:08): What happened?

aird92 (08:13:22): sutherland. is he on our payroll or not?

michaela666 (08:14:02): Oh, no. Don't tell me that he did something.

aird92 (08:14:12): i thought he was under control. u said that he wouldnt mess everything up. or is this part of some plan u havent told me about?

michaela666 (08:14:37): I should have known that bastard couldn't keep his dick in his pants. Dammit! Tell me everything.

By the time Hallam got home, I was nearly frantic. Lilith had a cell phone, and she had Jason's number. We'd called it fifty times, but Jason wasn't picking up. Every time we called, it just went to voicemail. We left messages, each one more desperate, but it didn't seem to make any difference.

Once I'd told Jason what had happened with Mr. Sutherland, he'd taken Hallam's gun from me and left the house. He'd been angry. He hadn't said anything, but I could tell from the way he walked.

I'd begged him not to leave. I didn't want him trying to tangle with Mr. Sutherland. I didn't want Jason to get hurt. And I didn't like the look in Jason's eyes. It scared me. It reminded me too much of the look Mr. Sutherland had gotten in his eyes when he'd described strangling that girl named Linda. Jason had swept out of the house, fierce determination written all over his face. And . . . something else. He looked . . . I don't know. Insane.

Lilith had been frightened too. "Jason's kind of intense, isn't he?" she'd said in a small voice.

Hallam got back soon after Jason did. I feverishly filled him in on what had happened. He wasn't happy with me.

"Azazel, if I'd thought there was a chance in hell that you'd go to see that man, I would have contacted you sooner," he said. "Liam Sutherland is a wanted criminal in seven different countries. He's a rapist and murderer, and he has powerful friends. How stupid could you be?"

"I know," I said. "I'm sorry."

When I told him that Jason had gone after Mr. Sutherland, Hallam got nearly as frantic as I was. "How could you let him go?" he demanded.

"We tried to stop him," said Lilith.

"We have to find him," Hallam said.

The three of us piled into the car. We went to Mr. Sutherland's house. Hallam made us stay in the car, because he didn't have a gun. (I'd lost one in Mr. Sutherland's apartment, and Jason had the other one.) When he returned, he told us that the apartment had been broken into and searched, but that there was no sign of Jason or Mr. Sutherland.

"Mr. Sutherland probably went on the run after I left," I said. "He knew that I knew where he lived."

We checked the airport, to see if Mr. Sutherland was there. The airline personnel wouldn't disclose the names of passengers, and we weren't sure that Mr. Sutherland would even be travelling under his own name. Hallam bought a ticket for a plane, but he had to go through security to search the airport. It didn't take him too long. The Sarasota-Bradenton airport was not that large, and it didn't take too long to get through security. But they weren't there. Then we had to wait for Hallam to get a refund on his ticket.

By this time, it was getting pretty late. We checked some bus stations, but couldn't find anything.

"He might have just driven out of town, anyway," Hallam said. "Or maybe he went to Tampa to get a flight out."

"Well, Jason probably didn't find him, did he?" I asked.

Hallam didn't know. "Jason had a head start. Maybe he pulled him out of the airport. I don't know."

Finally, we went back home. It was after midnight. Hallam and Lilith were both exhausted and went to bed. Hallam told me that I should do the same. I tried. I put on my pajamas and lay awake in the dark. But I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop worrying about Jason. Just because I'd been able to get away from Mr. Sutherland didn't mean that he would. I'd mostly been lucky. A few good shots. And Mr. Sutherland had underestimated me. He'd thought I was an easy mark. I didn't know how much of a match he'd be for Jason.

And even if Jason didn't get hurt, what if he . . . ?

I didn't know why it bothered me so much. But the wild look in Jason's eyes when he'd left the apartment was just scary. I didn't know why Jason got like that. Why he felt that he had to protect me so much. Why he felt the need to punish anyone who hurt me.

The hours crawled by. It was dark outside. I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, squeezing my eyes shut every time an image of Jason broken and bleeding appeared in my head. But it didn't work, because I could see the images even with my eyes closed. Nothing worked.

At around four in the morning, I heard the door to the apartment open. I jumped out of bed and raced into the living room. Jason stood in the living room in the darkness. He dropped his keys on the floor.

Lilith was sleeping on the couch, and she stirred faintly, mumbling something incoherent.

I didn't want to wake her up.

I took Jason's hands to lead him out of the living room. They were wet, but not with water. It was too thick for that. Too warm.

It was blood. I knew it.

Jason was bleeding. My worst fears realized, I led him to the bathroom. I closed the door after us and flicked on the light.

Jason's hair was plastered to his forehead with blood and sweat. There were red streaks on his cheeks and chin. His clothes were spattered with it. And his hands . . .

His hands were covered in blood.

Jason looked up at me from under his stringy, matted hair. His eyes were dull. He looked through me.

I put my hand to my mouth to stifle the little cry that was threatening to escape my lips.

"Jason, what happened?" I whispered.

He didn't answer. Didn't acknowledge that I'd spoken.

What had happened to him?

Shaking, I wet a washcloth in the sink and began to gently wipe away the blood, looking for his wounds.

There weren't any.

I swallowed. This wasn't Jason's blood.

Jason wasn't hurt.

Oh God. What had he done? And if he'd done it because of me, was it my fault?

Jason picked up his hands. It was the first real movement I'd seen him make. He looked at them. I'd tried to wipe away the blood, but it gathered in the creases of his palms. Underneath his fingernails.

"So much," he murmured. "So much blood."

Oh. Oh, God.

I didn't know what to do. "We'll get rid of it," I said finally. "We'll wash it off."

But there was a lot of it. It was all over him.

I stripped off his ruined clothes and started the shower. I got him inside, but once there, he wouldn't move. He just stood unmoving under the water. I needed to help him, so I got in the shower with him.

I scrubbed him and scrubbed him. Scrubbed away every trace of blood. Washed his hair. Watched the blood wash down the drain, red and pink, swirling away from us like it had never existed.

"Azazel," Jason said suddenly, as if he'd just recognized me. He caught my head with both hands, looked deeply into my eyes like he was lost, and he didn't know how to find himself.

"I'm here," I said.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know what I . . ."

"It's okay," I said. "Whatever it is. It's okay. I love you."

"I need you," he said, and he kissed me.

His mouth was on mine insistently. I felt like he wanted to devour me, like he was pulling strength from my mouth.

I broke away. "Jason," I said breathlessly. "Jason, what happened?"

He looked at me. He looked away. "Nothing can ever happen to you," he told the shower walls. "Without you, I'm nothing."

He looked back at me, and his eyes were filled with tears.

I pulled him close, pressing my body against his. He put his lips on mine again. I felt his hands move on my skin, stroking me through the streams of water that rushed over us.

And because I didn't know what else to do, because his hands were urgent, because I felt vulnerable and frightened, I touched him back.

The water poured over us, pounding against our naked skin. And we did the best we could to comfort each other the best we knew how. Jason gave me his hurt and confusion and fear and guilt, and I took it into my body. And as we crashed into each other, I gave it all to the water. I let it wash down the drain with Jason's tears.

* * *

My alarm went off at 6:15 the next morning. Jason stirred and then sat straight up in bed. "What?" he said, his eyes searching the room.

I reached over and turned the alarm off. "It's just the alarm," I murmured to him sleepily.

Jason lay back down. He drew me into his arms. He was wide awake, even though we'd only been asleep for a little over an hour. Jason could always be alert at a moment's notice, no matter how little sleep he'd gotten. "Are you getting up?" he asked me.

"Skipping school," I mumbled. I fell asleep again almost immediately, snug and safe in Jason's embrace.

When I woke up again, it was 9:30, and Hallam was standing over my bed. His arms were folded over his chest. He wasn't saying anything. I was still in Jason's arms, and Jason was still asleep.

I looked at Hallam. He looked pissed. "Good morning?" I said.

"When did he get here?" Hallam asked. Damn. He sounded pissed too.

"Four or so," I said.

"You know I don't like it when the two of you sleep in the same bed," said Hallam.

How could he possibly be concerned about Jason and I having sex after what had happened last night? It seemed like the least important thing to focus on.

"He was . . ." I searched for a way to explain what Jason had been like last night. "He needed me," I finally settled on.

"Wake him up," said Hallam.

"We didn't get to sleep until nearly five," I said.

"Oh, spare me the details of your adolescent lust," Hallam said.

I glared at Hallam. "He needs to rest," I said.

"Wake him up," said Hallam. "And then get dressed and meet me in the kitchen."

"Hallam," I protested.

But Hallam was already going out the door to my bedroom.

I sighed. I looked at Jason, sleeping next to me. His face looked so peaceful. I didn't want to wake him. Lying next to him like this, I could hear his heart beating, steady and warm against my ear. If we just stayed like this, I could pretend that everything was normal and safe. I could pretend that Jason hadn't come home covered in blood last night. We could just be . . .

What could we be? There was nothing normal about Jason and me. Normal kids didn't live together with a twenty-two-year-old ex-member of a secret society. Normal kids didn't deal with death and danger as much as we did. And normal kids didn't feel the way about each other that we felt about each other.

I stroked his cheek. He stirred slightly, his lips parting. I kissed his temple, his forehead. His eyes fluttered open.

"Azazel," he whispered.

"Hey," I replied, kissing his lips.

He held me close. "This is nice. Waking up with you."

"Mmm," I agreed.

He gazed into my eyes, a small contented smile on his lips. I smiled back. Was there any reason that we had to move? Couldn't we just stay here, this close?

Hallam pounded on my door. "I mean it, Azazel!" he said. "Both of you get out here."

I sighed. "Hallam wants to talk to us."

"Yeah," said Jason. "Sounds like it." He started to push the covers aside, then stopped. "Can you get me some clothes from my room?"

I laughed. "Sure," I said. I shrugged into my pajamas and opened the door to my bedroom. Hallam was standing outside my door.

"I'm getting some clothes for Jason," I told him.

Hallam pushed past me into my bedroom. As I ducked into Jason's room to grab him a t-shirt and some pants, I heard Hallam yelling at Jason.

"This is the second time this week I've caught the two of you in the same bed," he was saying.

I sighed, rushing back with the clothes as quickly as I could. Just when I thought Hallam was starting to be kind of cool, he turned into the same prudish, overbearing jerk he'd always been.

"Jesus, Hallam," Jason was saying as I reentered the room, "can you give me a second to put on some pants?"

"Don't act like that," Hallam said. "You were off doing God knows what last night, and we were all quite concerned. Beside ourselves, really. Just because Azazel's forgiven you doesn't mean that I have. So, don't pretend for a second that this isn't serious."

I handed Jason his clothes and sat down on the bed. Hesitantly, I said, "What did happen last night, Jason?"

"Oh," said Hallam sarcastically, "so you didn't ask him that before the two of you started screwing then?"

Screwing? That wasn't a word I'd heard Hallam use before. He must be pretty angry.

"It wasn't like that," I said, studying my hands. "I had to . . ." It wasn't any of Hallam's business.

Jason was holding his clothes. "Can you give me a second, Hallam?" he asked.

"A second?"

"Yeah. To get dressed. Or are you jealous that Azazel got to see my penis, and you didn't?"

I stood up, throwing a confused look at Jason. He didn't sound like himself. He usually wasn't so flip.

Hallam rolled his eyes. "Oh, by all means, if you need your privacy." He stalked out of the room, leaving the door open.

"Jason," I said.

"What?" he said, yanking his pants over his feet.

"Where were you?"

He shook his head.

"You have to tell me," I said. "I washed all that blood off of you. Why did"

"Not yet," Jason interrupted me. "I don't want to talk about it. Yet."

I watched him for a minute. He wasn't looking at me. Then I followed Hallam out of the bedroom.

I found Hallam in the kitchen. He was sitting at the table with his head in his hands. I stopped in the doorway, feeling a little like I was intruding. "Where's Lilith?" I asked.

Hallam dropped his hands and looked up at me. "I sent her out for a few hours when I realized Jason was back."

"But is that safe?" I asked.

"I assume whatever threat Mr. Sutherland presented is neutralized," said Hallam. "Isn't that right, Jason?"

I looked over my shoulder. Jason was standing behind me. His hands were shoved in his pockets. He was staring at the floor.

"Well?" Hallam prompted. "Isn't that right?"

Jason raised his eyes to meet Hallam's. "Look," he said, "do we really have to do this right now? I mean, I'm kind of hungry. Maybe we should get breakfast or something."

Hallam snorted. "Breakfast," he repeated. He gestured to the other chairs at the table. "Both of you come in here and sit down."

As we did so, I was oddly reminded of sitting down with my parents in October. They'd found out that Jason and I had snuck out to a party and that Jason had beaten someone up. I'd been so certain they were going to punish me, but instead, Jason had turned their own words against them. I remembered how I'd realized in that moment that Jason was different. He wasn't like other guys. He was more serious, more intelligent, more sure of himself. I looked at him now, and I still saw all of that. I reached for his hand. He squeezed my fingers briefly and then dropped my hand.

"You two are too young to be having the kind of sexual relationship that you seem to want to have," said Hallam.

Oh God. Not this again. "What's the big deal?" I said. "Most kids our age are having sex."

"Most kids your age are not living together," said Hallam.

"If they are," I said, "I bet they're sleeping in the same bed."

"Besides," said Jason, "we might be young, but we've been through a lot together. You can't tell me that we behave like normal seventeen year olds."

Hallam shrugged. "I believe that Sunday morning, you were telling me that the reason that Azazel was drinking so much was because you were normal seventeen-year-olds."

I rolled my eyes. "I don't understand why this bugs you so much, Hallam," I said. "I know that you were part of the Sons, and that they were all celibate or whatever, but why do you care so much what we do?"

"I'm your guardian," said Hallam.

"But you aren't our parent," I said. "And we'll both be eighteen in a few months."

"We were together before you were even part of our lives," said Jason. "We don't need this kind of interference."

Hallam shook his head. "You don't understand. It's not about the sex. I couldn't care less what the two of you are doing. It's about how close the two of you are. It's not healthy."

What? I tried to look at Jason and see his reaction that statement, but Jason was still staring at the table. "We're in love," I said to Hallam. "Of course we're close."

"No," said Hallam. "You two aren't in love. You're obsessed with each other. When I look at you, it's like seeing two parts of one entity or something. It's disturbing."

Disturbing?! "You know, I don't think you're really qualified to talk much about love," I said to Hallam. "When have you ever witnessed it?"

"I know that the way Jason reacts to threats to your safety is very, very frightening. It's not normal. It's dangerous. For all of us."

I didn't say anything. Jason didn't either.

"Look at me, Jason," said Hallam.

Jason didn't.

"Jason," said Hallam.

Jason looked up. "What?" he asked.

"I need you to tell me what you did last night."

Jason shook his head. "I don't want to talk about this."

"I don't care," said Hallam. "We have to talk about this. Incidentally, where is my gun? Did you leave it somewhere with your fingerprints all over it?"

"I lost it," Jason said again.

"Lost it?" said Hallam.

"Jason," I said softly, "you do need to tell us what happened. I can't handle you running off like that."

Jason buried his face in his hands.

"Did you find Sutherland?" asked Hallam.

"Yes," said Jason.

"Where was he?"

"In his apartment," said Jason. "He didn't even try to run."

"And then what happened?" asked Hallam.

"I don't �" Jason said. "Does it really matter?"

"Fine," said Hallam. "Then tell me this. What did you do with it?"

The gun? What did Hallam mean, "it"?

"Hallam, it's confusing," Jason said, dragging his fingers over his face. "It's all blurry, okay?"

Hallam stood up. He leaned across the table. "I need to know. I need to know, because I need to know if anyone's going to find it. You forget, Jason, that we don't have the Sons to clean up our messes anymore. If you're going to run off all half-cocked, and you don't clean up after yourself, then we're all going to have problems. All of us. Azazel included, you understand that?"

Jason ran a hand through his hair. "Hallam, please don't"

"Jason," Hallam interrupted, his voice even and low, "what did you do with the body?"

I gasped, sitting back in my chair. Body?

Jason got out of his chair. He walked out of the kitchen.

Hallam went after him. I didn't move. I couldn't move.

"Answer me, Jason," he said.

Jason came back into the kitchen. He sat down next to me. He took both of my hands in his.

"Is it true?" I asked him. "Did you . . ."

"No," said Jason. "No, I didn't."

"Don't lie to her," said Hallam, clapping a hand onto Jason's shoulder.

Jason dropped my hands. He didn't look at Hallam. He didn't look at me.

"You saying you didn't kill him?" asked Hallam. "Then where is he? If he's alive, he's more of a problem than if he's dead."

Jason shook his head, still staring into space. "I remember that he had a gun, and that I kicked it out of his hands. I remember that I hit him. I hit him a lot. I remember that he was bleeding. He was bleeding everywhere. I just kept hitting him."

"Is he dead?"

"I don't . . ." Jason started shaking, all over.

I looked up at Hallam. "Don't make him"

Hallam silenced me with a look. "Pull yourself together. I taught you better than this."

Jason stood up abruptly, knocking over his chair. He advanced on Hallam. Hallam backed up. "That's right, you did, didn't you?" said Jason. "You taught me how to do this. You showed me." As he talked, he kept moving forward. Hallam kept backing away from him until he was against the counter over the kitchen sink. Jason just kept talking, angrily spitting his words into Hallam's face. "That's why you're so angry with me now, isn't it? Because you think it's your fault. You think that if you hadn't ever showed me what to do, I'd never have done any of this."

"I'm not responsible for your actions, Jason," Hallam said quietly, but he looked alarmed. "You're the only one who's responsible for what you've done."

"What I've done, huh? Because whatever it is that I've done is so dangerous to all of us?"

"Yes," said Hallam.

"Three things, Hallam," said Jason. "First of all, Sutherland's not a problem anymore. He's taken care of."

I felt a little chill run through my body. What did that mean?

"Second," Jason continued, "while you're going on about how horrible it is that I'm behaving the way I am, you seem to be forgetting one important thing. I saved your life. You remember that?"

"Jason" Hallam sounded a little nervous.

"Remember that?"

"Yes."

"And you promised me that you'd always have my back too. Remember that?"

"Yes."

"Good," said Jason. "Third, you can't tell me where to sleep."

Jason didn't look at me as he swept out of the kitchen. I heard the door to our apartment slam. I winced.

Hallam was still standing against the counter. His face was white. I swallowed, looking at him.

"Well," I said. "That went well."

* * *

Hallam left the house pretty quickly after Jason did. He didn't say much. He just gathered his things and took off. Jason hadn't taken the car when he left, so I didn't think that he'd gone far. I was worried, but not as worried as I had been the night before. I didn't have a cell phone, so I couldn't call Jason. I ate some cereal in the kitchen, wandered around the house. I didn't know what to do. It felt like lately, all I did was worry about things. I was exhausted. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before either.

I lay back down, finally. And within a few minutes, I went back to sleep. My sleep was dreamless. I felt like I'd been pulled into a black hole. When I woke up, I could hear voices floating down the hall from the living room. It was Lilith and Jason.

I stirred. Opened my eyes. Jason was home. I should go to him.

Then I heard my name.

"I don't know what to do about Azazel," Jason was saying. "I love her so much, but I don't know if she loves me as much as I love her."

What? I froze on my bed, unable to believe he doubted my feelings for him.

"Why don't you know?" Lilith asked.

"I don't feel like she really had a choice," Jason said. "Her entire world got destroyed. I was all she had. I don't know if she really loves me or if she's just clinging to anything she can cling to."

"You think she's clingy?"

"No," said Jason. "No, just the opposite, really. She's very independent. She wants to party all the time. She wants to protect herself. Wanting to go shooting and all of that. It's like she's trying to make sure she doesn't need me. Like she's preparing to leave or something."

No! It wasn't that at all. It was that I didn't want to slow Jason down. I didn't want him to become hurt because he had to protect me. Why did Jason doubt me? Had I ever given him cause?

"The partying bothers you, huh?" asked Lilith.

"No, not really," said Jason. "I understand that she wants to have fun."

"I always felt like Zaza was a powderkeg," said Lilith. "Back in Bramford, I got the impression that the only thing holding her back was Toby and her family. If she could have let loose then, I think she would have. Big time."

That wasn't true. I wasn't a powderkeg.

"So, it's good that she's doing it now, then," said Jason. "She's free."

"Is it good?" Lilith asked.

"Yeah," said Jason. "It's fine. I just worry about her, you know. I worry about her a lot. She's very important to me."

"You don't worry that she might explode?" Lilith asked.

"Explode?"

Explode?!

"That it might end up being too much. That she'll go overboard with the partying and drinking. She'll self-destruct," said Lilith.

I wasn't anywhere close to self-destructing.

"Why?" said Jason, sounding concerned. "Do you think she might?"

"I haven't really been able to talk to her," said Lilith. "But she is sneaking around a lot, isn't she? To the shooting range, and then to Mr. Sutherland's?"

"That's true," said Jason.

"She's lying. She's trying to hide her behavior, because she knows it's erratic," said Lilith.

Bull. Lilith was full of crap.

"Maybe you're right," said Jason.

God. I should get up right now and let them know that I was listening to their conversation. I wanted to shut Lilith up. But for some reason, I was driven to keep listening. Some kind of morbid curiosity, maybe.

"And have you noticed that both of those times, she ended up alone with Jude?" Lilith asked.

What was she doing? Was she trying to make Jason jealous of me? Was this why he was acting the way he was? Was Lilith poisoning him?

"You met him," Jason said. "Do you think he's gay?"

"No way," said Lilith. "That boy's eyes settled on my tits for like five whole seconds. He's not gay."

Jason laughed. "Well, I don't know if that's conclusive, Lil."

Lil?! He was calling her by a nickname?

"Gay guys don't like tits," she said.

"Maybe not," he said, "but I think it's tough for anyone not to . . . stare at you."

"Stare at me?" Lilith giggled.

"You're kind of . . . well-endowed," Jason said.

Oh. My. God. Jason was talking to Lilith about her breasts? Now I couldn't move. I was beginning to feel very, very sick.

"Maybe," said Lilith, "but the look that Jude gave me was a very ungay look."

"I know what you mean," said Jason. "I really don't like the way he looks at Azazel."

"Do you really think that Azazel would do that to you, though? Do you think she'd cheat on you and not break up with you?"

"Where would she go? If she didn't want to be with me, she'd probably feel trapped here. She has to live here."

I did not. Was everyone forgetting the fact that I had a very rich grandmother? I stayed with Jason by choice. And I couldn't believe that after last night, he could possibly still be questioning my fidelity. If I didn't want to be with him, he should realize that showing up covered in blood would have probably sealed the deal.

Besides, when we'd made love last night, it had felt, to me anyway, like something very, very real. Like Jason and I had connected on a level we'd never connected with. Like it wasn't just our bodies touching, but our souls . . .

Clearly, he hadn't felt that.

"Wow," said Lilith, "that's true."

"But," said Jason, "she cares about me. I just think she realizes that I'm holding her back. That being with me makes her life dangerous. I think she wishes she could have a boyfriend like Jude. Someone fun. Someone who she can just go crazy with."

Why was Jason so jealous of Jude?

"Someone normal," said Lilith.

"Yeah."

Augh. She couldn't have picked a worse word to say.

"So," said Lilith, "when you found them on her bed yesterday, you don't think anything was going on?"

Jason hesitated. "I don't think she thinks anything was going on. I think she thinks Jude is really gay. But I think Jude was loving every second of it. When he walked past me in the hall, he gave me this look." There was a long pause. "But, she couldn't be. Last night, when she took care of me when I came back, she was so . . . I can't believe that I could have been so close to her, that she could make me feel the way she made me feel, and be doing anything behind my back."

So, he had felt something then?

"Can't believe, or don't want to believe?"

"She couldn't have faked that," said Jason.

"Girls can fake all kinds of things, Jason." Lilith's voice dropped. It sounded sultry. Suggestive. "For instance, are you sure that she's completely, well, satisfied?"

She wasn't asking this, was she? She couldn't be.

"What do you mean?" Jason asked.

"You know what I mean."

"I . . ."

"You know," said Lilith in her seductive voice, "I used to be very, um, frustrated myself. I guess I thought that guys would know how to please me without me telling them anything."

"And they didn't?" Jason sounded concerned.

"The female body is a mysterious thing to men," Lilith said, her voice going breathy. "There's no way they could have fully understood what it was I needed."

"Oh."

"You think you understand what women need?"

"I . . . well . . ."

"It's okay. It's not your fault. Someone needs to show you."

Show him?

And then it was quiet.

My heart raced. What was going on? Why weren't they talking? What was Lilith doing? And why couldn't I move?

I fought with myself. Fought against the images that were flashing through my mind. Images of Lilith and Jason, just a few rooms away. They were sitting on the couch, probably. Was she close? How close was she? What could she possibly be showing him?

I could think of several possibilities. All of them made me sick to my stomach.

I needed to get up. Throw aside the covers on my bed. Jam my feet into slippers. Tear into the living room. Scream at them to stop.

But try as I might, I couldn�t will my body to move.

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Copyright (c) 2009 Valerie Chambers