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Chapter 10 Im home! I yelled. My mom ran downstairs, Shh.

I just got your brothers to take a nap; you know how Spenser gets when hes cranky. I nodded, Do I ever. I laughed. She glanced at the bag in my hand, What did you get at the mall? She asked. You know Bryn, she goes crazy shopping. We bought stuff for the cabin next month. I lied. Thats nice. If you go upstairs, try to be quiet. I dont want the boys woken up. I nodded and slipped past her on the stairs. I closed my door quietly, threw the bag on the bed and glanced over all of the stuff. Bryn had gone a little crazy in the store and I ended up with a tape recorder, microphone, and a wig. I did not really need the wig for the cabin, but I thought it would be fun to wear. A few seconds later, my cell phone rang. I glanced down, saw Nicks number on my caller id, and picked up the phone. Hey there. Hey, what are you up to? He asked Bryn and I just got back from the mall. Now Im just putting stuff away. Why? He laughed, I want to see you. How about we go out to dinner and a movie? I knew for appearances sake I should say yes. Sure, what time? I asked. I still needed to take a shower and get ready for the date. Well, there is a showing in two hours, so Ill be by to pick you up in an hour. Ill see you in an hour then. And Nick, I cant wait. Neither can I. he said. I shut the phone and threw it on the bed. I stuffed the surveillance stuff back in the bag and stuck it under my bed. It was the one place that my mother did not look. I stripped off my clothes, let them drop to the floor and walked to the bathroom. I turned on the water and waited as the water heated up. Soon I noticed the mirror covered with steam. I got in, and jumped away as the water scalded me. Ouch! I yelled, adjusting the temperature so my skin would not peel off. I lathered up with soap, sniffing the crisp scent of vanilla in my nostrils. Shampoo in hand I washed my hair quickly, wiping the soap out of my eye as it crept down my face. I hated it when soap got into my eyes. My armpits did not needed shaved again, so I rinsed myself off and turned off the water. Towel wrapped around my body, I wiped the mirror off, starting to dry my hair. I tightened the towel and reached down to get my hair dryer. I had decided to blow dry my hair straight tonight instead of letting it dry on its on own. When I was done, I walked over to my closet to figure out what to wear. I had just bought a new skirt at the mall a few weeks ago that I had not worn yet, so I got that out and set it on the bed. I grabbed a white tank top to wear with it. After I was dressed, I glanced at the clock. It said 5oclock. For once, I was ready on time. I heard the doorbell ring and slipped on my sandals. I smiled. I heard voices downstairs and peeked over the railing. Nick was dressed nicely, and I wondered where he was taking me for dinner. I waited a few minutes and then slipped downstairs. Hey there, I stood there awkwardly with my parents. Are you ready to go? Nick asked opening the front door. I nodded. Bye. Ill be home by 10oclock. I said hugging them goodbye,. Ever since the accident earlier this summer, my parents had begun to be more protective of me. I walked outside heading to Nicks car. He stood there, door open waiting for me.

Thank you. I slipped inside the car, as he shut the door. He walked over to the other side and got in. I didnt get the chance to tell you how beautiful you looked tonight. He said squeezing my hand. Thanks. I held my purse tightly in my lap. You seem quieter than usual. He commented. How can you tell? I asked. Youve got your purse in a death grip. He replied. I laughed. Oh, I didnt even notice. I dont know whats wrong with me tonight. Yes you do. You are falling for your boyfriends killer and dont know how to deal with it. Is everything okay? He asked I nodded, Yes, dont worry about me. I smiled. Ive been worried about you since Ryan died. I still cant understand why he would break up with someone as wonderful as you He turned to me, Remind me again why we never dated before this? Let me see if I can remember your exact words. I paused, When we first met you told Ryan that I was a flighty girl who didnt think about anything but having fun. You said that I would hurt him with my cheating someday. Thats rich. Im sorry, I was wrong. He squeezed my hand. Its okay. I forgive you. I leaned over and kissed his cheek. Now Im starving, do you think we can go get dinner? I asked nicely. Lets go. He put the car the car in gear and headed towards the freeway. Where are we going? I asked. Im not telling you. its a surprise. I just want you to sit back and enjoy the ride. I rolled down the window and enjoyed the feeling of wind of my face. There, now you look like your relaxing, do you know how beautiful you are? He asked, taking his eyes away from the road. I froze. Nick, you better watch where youre going. I said quietly, the words catching in my throat. He glanced back towards the road and continued driving. Im sorry. I wasnt thinking when I did that. Are you okay? He asked concern in his voice. I shook my head. Im fine. Just please do not do it again. I dont want to lose another person I care about. He turned into an empty parking lot that seemed to have been an old movie theatre, one of the old drive-in kinds. Were here. He said shutting off the engine, turning to me. I glanced around; we were the only people here. I suddenly got scared, what if he was planning on killing me and leaving my body out here to rot? My face paled. Are you sure youre okay? Your face is pale and you look like you are about to pass out. I nodded unable to find my voice. A friend of mine used to work here when it was a working drive thru and told me that I could come here anytime I wanted to. He got out of the car and began walking over to an old beat up shack in the dirt. At least that is what it looked like to me, but it turned out to be the old control station or whatever you call it. There! He exclaimed. I looked around not knowing what he was doing, but suddenly the screen up in front turned on. I heard a few more noises, a whooshing sound of sorts and I began to see things appearing on the screen. Nick walked back to the car and got in. What do you think? He asked excitedly. I still didnt know what we were doing here, so I faked a smile.

Its nice, what is it? I asked nervously. I thought that Id do something different for our date tonight. Instead of taking you to a crowded movie theatre, I made a few calls and set this up. Its ours for tonight. Ive even got us dinner in the back of the car. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a basket, a bottle of cider, two glasses and a blanket. I looked back at him. Is this all for me? I asked, astonished. Yeah.I thought that with everything that youve gone through this last month you deserved something special. I think Im falling in love with you. Im serious. He whispered before getting out of the car. I sat there, shocked. Nick loved me? Could he know something? Hes been so hot and cold towards me this last month that the timing of this romantic date is certainly seems convenient. He tells me he loves me the same day that Bryn and I come up with a plan to get a confession out of him so that we can go to the police. Its starting. His words jarred me from my thoughts and I settled into his arms; his arm was around my waist and Id put my head on his shoulder. Those words jarred me from my thoughts and I settled into Nicks arms, his arm around my waist my head on his shoulder. The movie began to play and I saw that hed picked my favorite movie; My Best Friends wedding starring Julia Roberts. Id probably seen it at least ten times already. This movie is my favorite, I grinned, snuggling closer. I know. He whispered. I glanced over at him. Howd you know? I pay more attention to you than you think Lauren. I felt the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Are you stalking me now? I asked sounding calmer than I felt. No. Why would you think that? You know what my favorite movie is without me telling you. He laughed. Its called Facebook. Now, just watch the movie. Alright. I turned my attention back to the screen.

Later that night, I sat in my bedroom thinking about my date with Nick. Hed been nothing but a gentleman, but something was still bothering me about the night. I just couldnt put my finger on it. I changed into a pair of pajamas and settled under the covers. Smiling to myself, I turned on my side and closed my eyes. My cell phone ringing a few minutes later jarred me awake. Hello? I answered, my voice taking on a little gruffness. Lauren, its me. I recognized Bryns voice immediately. I looked at the clock and saw that it was midnight. Whats wrong? I asked concerned. She usually never called this late. Nothing, I hope, she paused, Youre not backing out are you? She asked curtly. No Im not, why? I wondered. Why would she ask me that now? Derrick said that he saw you and Nick on another date tonight and I got worried. I thought that you were having second thoughts. Why did it seem like everyone was watching my every move? Is it a crime for me to go on a date with the guy? It is when youve got proof that he killed your ex-boyfriend. Actually I dont. You keep telling me that we have proof, but so far the only thing Ive noticed is he has a temper and stalker tendencies. Lauren, how nave can you be?

Bryn its late. Can we talk about this in the morning? No, Im worried that youre going to get hurt. Falling in love isnt part of the plan. Whoever said that I was falling in love with him? This is Nick Majors were talking about, my worst enemy. You keep saying that, but since Ryan died you two have seemed to have gotten closer and it seems like the relationship is changing between the two of you. I could tell at the mall that you liked him, but didnt want to admit it. I sighed, Okay, fine. You have caught me. Im falling for him. There was silence on the other end of the phone. Bryn, are you still there? I whispered. Yes, Im here. Im just trying to figure this whole thing out. I tell you that Nick killed Ryan and instead of going and confronting him, you end up dating him. If Ryan were here, what do you think he would say to this? I dont know. Hed probably say he was happy for me that Ive found someone who I cared about who feels the same about me. Are you saying he loves you? She asked an astonished tone in her voice. How could that be? Oh, thanks a lot. Are you saying that nobody but Ryan could ever love me? I asked gripping the phone harder. You forget that Nick is not just some random person I met off the streets here. Ive known Nick as long as Ive known Ryan and hes not as bad as everyone says. Except that hes killed his best friend, your boyfriend. Or did that fact slip your mind as soon as he showed interest in you? No. I know what Im supposed to do, but Im starting to wonder if its the right thing to do? Sometimes I just forget we found out about Ryan at all. I said. Do you really want to do that? She asked. I bit my lip, I dont know anymore. I just know that I didnt expect this. Expect what? Bryn asked That Id fall in love with Nick. My voice cracked at the last word. I hung up the phone without saying goodbye. I thought about the date. It had been everything I could have asked for, but I couldnt shake this nagging feeling that everyone was right about him. Hed said a few things tonight that raised a red flag with me. I curled back under the covers and closed my eyes, exhausted. I awoke the next morning, sunlight streaming through the windows. Why did my room have to be the one that got the most sun in the mornings? I groaned, throwing the pillow back over my head hoping it would help. It didnt. I threw the covers off and walked to the bathroom. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Come in. I yelled through a mouthful of toothpaste. In walked my mother, I hope you said come in, I couldnt understand you through the mouthful of toothpaste. I glared at her over the sink. I spit. Yes, what do you need I asked. I was hoping youd be able to watch your little brothers for awhile. I need to do some errands and its so much easier without them around. I sighed. I guess so. I have plans with Bryn later though. Thank you, thank you. She exited the room and I followed going to check on my brothers. I found them downstairs watching cartoons. Morning. I mumbled. Neither one of them moved. This should be an easy babysitting job; they didnt seem to want to get away from the television. Wandering over to the coffee maker, I glanced up at the clock shocked it was already 10oclock. Why did you let me sleep so late? Its after 10oclock. Bryn and I were supposed to go to the mall at noon I whined pouring coffee into an empty mug on the counter.

I thought Id let you sleep, you were up late it seems. I blushed. I guess my parents had heard my cell phone ring last night. Bryn was having another one of her major crises and she needed my help. Tell her not to call so late next time. My mother scolded. Well, Im going to sneak out of here before they know Im gone, you know how they get. Tell them to go get dressed and take them to play at the park or something. I looked over at the living room and saw them glued to the television and didnt think that they would care either way if my mother left, but I wasnt going to tell her that. I nodded, taking a sip of my coffee. I waved goodbye to my mother and finished my coffee. I set my empty mug in the sink and called to my brothers, Hey, who wants to get on their bathing suits and play on the slip-slide in the backyard? I yelled into the living room. I was met with a chorus of I dos. I shuttled them upstairs, hearing them giggle the whole way. For the next hour, the only sounds that I could hear were giggles, and shouts of joy as brothers continuously played around the backyard. I heard the jingle of keys on the lock and told my brothers to go give my mom a big, wet hug. She would love it. You two look like youve been having lots of fun. Lauren let you on the slip n slide did she? My mother raised her eyebrows at me over my brothers heads. I grinned. What? I thought theyd have fun, but now that youre home Im going to head over to Bryns house for awhile. Youve been spending a lot of time with Bryn lately, are you and Elisabeth still not talking? She asked. I shrugged. I dont know. The last time I saw her was on the 4th... Bryn had invited her along also without telling me. We didnt talk much though because Nick dragged me away. You know why I dont want you hanging around him Lauren. Are you trying to be his next victim? she asked. No! I exclaimed. Im trying to save anyone else from becoming one. Im going to go to get Bryn now. Ill be back later. I grabbed the keys off the front table and slammed the door behind me. I stood in front of Bryns house ready to knock when the door suddenly opened. She stood in front of me wiping flour on her pants. What were you just doing? I asked coming into the house. She closed the door behind me. I was in the kitchen helping my mom make some cookies. Is everything okay? She asked. I stood in the doorway glancing around. To my left was the room that Bryns dad used as an office and to my right was the dining room. We cut through the dining room to get to the kitchen. Mom, Laurens here. Were going to go up to my room for awhile. Bryn walked over to her mother. She was a older version of Bryn; heavy set with medium length brown hair and brown eyes. Thats fine. She answered while putting cookie dough on a cookie sheet. Bryn took a spoonful of raw dough and stuck it in her mouth. Yummy. She said walking out of the kitchen and up the stairs. When we got to her bedroom she closed the door before saying anything. I sat down on Bryns bed and faced her. Is everything alright? she asked. Yeah, I just needed out of the house. I spent the last hour watching my little brothers while my Mom did errands. Bryn grinned. Thats why Im glad that Im the youngest and the rest of my siblings are older than me.

Youre lucky; I get stuck with babysitting duty all the time. I cannot wait to be away from all of this, at college this fall. Im sure that youre mom will miss you though. Shell have a partial empty nest without you. Are you going to miss Nick when you leave? She asked changing the subject. Of course Im going to miss Nick. Are you going to come back to visit him in jail? I was taken aback to hear that come from her mouth. I bit my lip, not sure how to answer her. I dont know. Im not sure how willing he is going to be to see me after I turn him into the police. I responded Im glad to hear that. I thought that you were chickening out on me. She smiled showing her slightly crooked teeth. No. Im still planning it. I still cant believe any of this is real. Ryans dead and were going after Nick for murder. I paused. Dont you feel bad that were wrecking everyones last summer together though? No. The summer was already wrecked the night of the accident. Bryn stated. I stayed silent. It had been a month since the accident and I hadnt really cried. I had been too busy finding out tidbits of my former boyfriends life; his drinking problem and that he cheated on me with Elisabeth I guess you could say that. Im just finding it easier to be numb over the whole thing than actually let it get to me. I cant quite explain it. I dont want you to take this wrong, but Elisabeth and I have been talking the last few days and she seems to think that you didnt really love Ryan, considering how quickly you moved on. She stated. Of course she would say that Bryn, she was sleeping with Ryan! I exclaimed, gritting my teeth, How stupid can you be? I quickly realized what Id said. Oh, Im so sorry Bryn. I didnt mean it to come out like that at all; I guess I am still bitter about the whole thing. I said. I really think you need to rethink this relationship with Nick and get out now. Hes dangerous and I dont want anything to happen to you. She set her hand on my arm. I patted her hand. Dont worry, Im being careful. You know that I dont have the best track record with guys. I always tend to fall for the wrong ones. Stop blaming yourself, Ryan cheating on you isnt your fault. She leaned over, squeezed my shoulder. I wasnt talking about Ryan. I paused. Do you remember the summer before eighth grade when I went to visit my aunt in New Jersey for a month? She nodded. Well, what I didnt tell you about that trip is I met someone. His name was Nathan and he was fifteen. He turned out to be the grandson of my aunts property owner. We hung out the entire summer; going to the beach, hanging out at the pier, he even taught me to ride a jet ski. The memory seemed to flood back, my arms around his waist, almost squeezing him to death with fear but he didnt say anything, and how he went slowly for me because he knew I didnt like it. Well, there was one week left and we were supposed to go to the end of summer barbeque together. He told me that he would wait for me at the pier and he never showed. I ended up going by myself because I was too humiliated to go back to my aunts and there he was with another girl. He had a girlfriend and didnt tell me. We never talked again. I dont understand, what does that have to do with Ryan? She asked, confused. I sighed.

Listen, you talk about Ryan like he was the only guy that I have ever loved and thats not true. All summer the only things Ive heard about are how my actions are going to affect Ryans memory or what would Ryan think about this or that and Im sick of it. I took a deep breath, Ryan died. I didnt. And Im trying to move on with my life, but thats a little hard to do when nobody will let me. Im just worried about you, thats all. Ill be fine, I always am. I smiled, to show her I wasnt angry at her. I knew that Bryn was just trying to help me by giving me advice, but I already had a mother for that kind of stuff. Well, I better get home, my mother is probably going absolutely bonkers with the boys right now and could use some help. I turned to go. Wait, I thought you came to hang out. She glanced at the clock. It said twelve thirty. Youve only been here an half an hour. Do you really want to leave? Yeah, I dont feel like hanging out anymore. I said getting up off the bed. Ill see you later. See you later.