Between Worlds (Pendant Series Book 3) (6 page)

BOOK: Between Worlds (Pendant Series Book 3)
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So why is this specific song still playing in his head?

“I was half expecting you to call my name out your window, you know?” he said tenderly.

Another lyric from the song.

I knew he was referring to the morning he must have posted bail and came back to get his car from my driveway.

“I overslept,” was all I could manage to say.

And it was true.

I would have screamed his name from the top of my lungs that morning from my window if I had gotten the chance. I would have attached myself to his body like an amoeba and never let go, begging him to stay, and if he somehow had gotten himself free, I would have jumped on the hood of his car so he couldn’t have driven out of my life.
I would have done anything to keep him there. But it was true, I had overslept. When I awakened he was gone and my hell had begun in earnest.

“The night I went to jail. I called Rene and asked her to post my bail and she refused to do it.”

I opened my mouth to remind him what a heartless bitch she was but Ray put his hand up, asking me not to interrupt him.

“Rene refused to post my bail as long as I continued to see you. She was livid about the huge mess the PR team was going to have to clean up, not to mention the team of lawyers that had to be hired to keep that clueless detective off my case.”

Even though the lid to the piano was closed, Ray’s fingers still tapped on the wood as if playing some silent tune in his head. He was processing everything. That was Ray.

He turned his head to me and I saw that those blue ocean pools were filled with tears. “They made me do what I fought so hard not to. They made me chose the music over you. Rene tried to sugar coat it by telling me it was only temporary. That once the tour was over I could contact you again. But if I tried so much as to sneak a message from my family to you, they would fire me. Communication with you would be a breach of my contract and they could legally remove me from the band.”

I was shocked.

All this time, I thought that Ray had deserted me
intentionally
. Now I was hearing our separation had been forced. These past six months had been just as hard on him as it had been for me. I didn’t know what else to do but to reach into my pocket and pull out my handy orange bottle.

Ray gripped my fingers before I could twist off the top.

“No,” he said forcefully. I raised my eyebrow in question, but he stood his ground. “You don’t need these pills, Sid. Your injuries healed months ago. There’s no reason you should still be taking these.”

Chrissy had been telling me the same thing for months but I always argued with her. I maintained the fact that my body still hurt, that I was filled entirely with the worst degree of pain imaginable, usually forcing Chrissy to relent. But as Ray said this to me, I suddenly realized he was right. The pain I had been attempting to conceal over the past six months was the pain of losing him. I no longer had to worry about that.

Ray was here with me now—this time for good.

Then he took that familiar black box out of his pocket and rested it on top of the piano. As I stared at it, he continued. “I bought this for you the morning I got out of jail. Sure I was still pissed at you. But I knew you were the one I wanted to be with forever.”

Ray paused, staring at me.

He was waiting for a response but I couldn’t speak. All I could do was gaze helplessly at that black velvet box.

He followed my eyes. “That little box was the only thing that got me through each day. That ring and the calendar. I counted down each day waiting for the tour to end so I could take that box, get down on one knee, and ask you to marry me. I never figured I might be too late.”

The last line shook me out of my stupor.

“Too late?” I questioned.

Finally feeling the severity of my mistake, I realized Ray may no longer
want
to marry me. The tables had turned. All night, I was so unsure about accepting his proposal but now it seemed I was being rebuffed here.

There was nothing more in the world I wanted more than that ring on my finger.

Ray snatched the box and it disappeared into his hand as he straddled the piano bench so his entire body was facing me. He placed it on the bench behind him and took my hands in his.

He asked nervously, “Am I too late?”

I shook my head no.

Ray could never be too late.

Time stood still when he was with me.

He reached behind him and the box reappeared. He opened it and revealed its sparkling diamond. His words matched the romantic intensity of its sparkling presence.

“I don’t care about anything that happened in either of our lives
before
this moment. Let’s only look forward. Marry me, Sidney, and we can leave this all behind. We can take Granny and move. We’ll go up to my parents’ cabin and live in the sticks where nobody cares about fortune and fame. We’ll just be Mr. and Mrs. Ryker.”

I laughed as the tears of happiness slid down my cheeks. “Okay, Ray, I’ll marry you.”

He slipped the beautiful ring on my finger and it fit so perfectly, as if this ring had always been meant for me.

I knew in my heart it was true.

This time, we would be happy forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

Turn it Off

 

I still had to go to work but Ray couldn’t wait to begin our new lives as Mr. and Mrs. Ryker. We agreed I would finally give Bob my two-week notice.

Ray was going to the hospital to get all of the paperwork done in order to have Granny transported to the cabin and away from the haunting memories our little town continuously seemed to inflict on all of us.

I thought with more than a little elation,
I’m finally leaving this place once and for all.

I kissed Ray goodbye as we stood in the doorframe of Granny’s home.

“Have a nice day, soon-to-be Mrs. Ryker. See you at dinner,” he said softly as he refused to loosen his grip on me.

I smiled at my new name, clutching onto him just as tightly. “Be sure to keep your lips sealed until I get home. I want to be with you when we tell your parents.”

Ray nodded with a smile plastered across his face. “Remember to give Bob your notice. Two weeks and then we’re gone. We’re never coming back here, Sid.”

I never thought those words could make me so happy. I was finally going to escape this place of torment. Sneaking one more kiss, I reluctantly let go of my handsome fiancé and headed toward the truck.

Four more hours and then I’ll get to see him again
, I thought with a perma-grin melded on my face.

Work was a breeze as I skipped around the store, happy to show off my ring to anyone who seemed the slightest bit interested. The magnificent piece of jewelry overwhelmed my finger and seemed to generate conversation all on its own.

I thought telling Bob I was quitting was going to be difficult, but it actually proved to be just the opposite.

It felt liberating.

I think we both knew this was a long time coming. He even offered to put in a transfer request to a different store further north but I politely declined the offer. I knew Ray and I would have limited time to ourselves before he would have to go back out on the road, and I wanted to ensure that every second leading up to that point would be spent with my future husband.

Of course thoughts of Adrian still danced around my brain. At first the tiny movements were like a subtle ballerina, barely scratching the surface with her tiny delicate feet. But as the day progressed, the thoughts grew stronger until they were like an intense tap dancer pounding forcefully on my brain. Despite my orders, my mind refused to forget him.

I did my best to ignore them. I had moved on.

But my dreams continued to replay in my brain. They continued to haunt me with their vividness. There had to be some logical explanation for it all; beginning with the Garden. Perhaps Granny did read that distorted bible story to me as a child and somehow in the back of my subconscious, it seemed to resurface when I slept. But that still didn’t explain why Adrian had that book. He also didn’t deny it when I accused him of being Samael. That was not part of my dream. That was real.

I shook the thoughts out of my head and continued with my tasks at work. It no longer mattered who Adrian was or how he had become associated with Lilly. I was leaving this town behind and in it, I was leaving Adrian. Ray had forgiven me for my mistake and now it was time to focus on him and us.

Adrian had Lilly now and they could both try to swallow the bullshit they fed to each other. They could both choke on it for all I cared. Lilly was a masochistic bitch and if that’s the kind of company he kept, then I wanted nothing more to do with him. I couldn’t believe that all this time I had felt sorry for Adrian’s sad feelings of lost love only to find out it was over
her
. It made me sick with anger. As I prepared to leave the store that evening, I banished the unpleasant thoughts from my brain. I said goodbye to Bob and headed out, eager to spend the night with my fiancé.

 

***

 

The first thing I noticed when I arrived home from work that evening was the broken glass. Tiny shards of crystal littered the front porch.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

What the hell?

It sounded like I was walking across hard, frozen snow as my shoes crushed the glass below. Following the path of destruction with my eyes, I saw the big picture window had been shattered and the front door was ajar. I could feel my blood turn to ice as I realized what may have happened. I had defied the killers’ order to stay away from Ray and…

Had they returned?

Immediately, I pushed through the door and sprinted to Granny’s bedroom. I collapsed in relief upon seeing my dear relative lying in her bed. She was alive, her chest slowly rising before falling back down into her stomach.

“Oh Granny,” I breathed, as I tried to calm myself down and think of a rational explanation for the broken window. Maybe Ray had accidently locked himself out and he had no choice but to break the window in order to regain entry into the house?

Scratching my head, I slowly climbed to my feet, not convinced. My work was less than a mile down the road. If Ray needed to get into the house, he could have just stopped by the store and asked for the key.

Walking over to inspect my Granny a bit more thoroughly, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen the first time around.

As her chest rose up, so did a piece of paper.

Its edge was curled up, flapping like the delicate wing of a sparrow with the motions of Granny’s breathing.

It was a note addressed to me.

I took a few steps closer as the warning bells began blaring in my ears. The handwriting was familiar. I had seen it before, when I lay in the hospital bed the day after the attack in my backyard. Detective Albright had given me the note which had the same recognizable penmanship. It had been written by the
same
person who killed Nouri.

I gingerly picked the note up off Granny’s chest and began to read it. In the two seconds it took to piece together the words so eloquently scrawled across the paper, my perfect world collapsed.

 

Why take old when you can have new? Granny’s safe, but Ray may be singing a different tune. I’d rather take him underground than dear old Granny anyway.

 

Take Ray underground? What could that possibly mean other than to kill him?

I stuffed the note into my back pocket and rushed out of Granny’s room in a mad dash to get help.

“Chrissy!” My voice echoed through the silent house.

No answer.

I ran back into the living room, my feet feeling like heavy blocks of sludge.

“Chrissy!” I yelled again.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs, I could see a yellow light protruding from the crack in the bathroom door. She must be taking a shower.

I spun around to retrieve my phone to call Detective Albright. I had to save Ray before it was too late. But as I turned around my eyes met those familiar green eyes that still possessed the ability to take my breath away. Even in the midst of disaster.

Adrian stood in the open entrance of the house. Confusion and worry lined his face. “What happened?” he asked.

“They took Ray,” I cried as I rushed toward Adrian, reaching into my back pocket to retrieve the note.

Resilient to my hysterics, Adrian focused only on one thought, “Ray was
here
?”

I shoved the note into Adrian’s hand, forcing him to read it. After a long pause, he finally realized he wouldn’t get any more details from me until he began to cooperate. Tearing his eyes away from mine, he looked down at the note.

And then his expression changed. It darkened, in the same way it did when he visited me in the hospital after my attack. He focused so hard on the note that I had to nudge him to break his concentration and help me devise a plan.

“What do you think it means?” I asked frantically.

Adrian only stared at the fading scar that graced my hairline as his mouth twisted into a grotesque frown. He held up the note. “Do you think the same person who wrote this note hit you on the head?”

I nodded in response. “Of course they did. Whoever wrote that note murdered Nouri!”

“Lil.” He breathed the name so quietly I wasn’t even sure I heard him correctly.

I stood still, waiting for Adrian to repeat himself, but he remained frozen, staring at the note. Finally, he looked up at me and I saw a side of him I had never witnessed before.

Adrian was seething. “She’s my sister, Sidney. I never told you about her because I haven’t seen her in years. She may as well be dead to me.”

I was immediately confused. Lilly was Adrian’s
sister
?

Isn’t that what the man in my dream told me?

I refused to believe it and now the truth was smacking me in the face. I had rationalized to myself that the dreams hadn’t been real, that my mind was still groggy with sleep when I accused Adrian of being Samael. But now, the truth was confronting me with cold, hard facts. At that point, I started to silently freak out again, but at the same time, I was a little relieved to hear that Lilly was his sister and not his long lost lover; as I had initially suspected.

“How?” I asked him. It was not a specific question but it was soon to be followed by more detailed ones as they poured out of me. How are my dreams real, how is Lilly your sister? How did she find you? How everything? “I mean, her last name is Lavelle.”

Adrian tersely explained the surname. “It’s an alias. I had no idea my sister was the one Ray was sleeping with in LA.” He put his hands in the air, palms up. “I swear.”

I believed him.

“She told me all the gory details after you ran out of the house this morning. I’m really sorry, Sidney. I never meant for you to be hurt by all this.”

I shook my head, not ready to get into this. “It doesn’t matter right now. All that matters is that I find Ray.”

I knew that every time I mentioned Ray’s name it was a punch to Adrian’s gut, but I had to focus on what was important here. Wherever Ray was, I knew he was running out of time. I had to save him.

“Tell me what you remember,” Adrian persisted.

I shot him a look of confusion, laced with impatience.

He clarified his question. “You called me Samael this morning. What do you remember?”

I shook my head, becoming angry with the time we were losing to find Ray. “It was just a dream I’ve been having. You reminded me of him. That’s all. Please help me,” I begged.

I could see Adrian struggling with himself, deciding whether he wanted to help or not. After a few more seconds of indecision he finally let out a sigh of defeat, and reluctantly agreed to help me. “Okay, I think I know where they might be.”

 

BOOK: Between Worlds (Pendant Series Book 3)
5.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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