Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2) (3 page)

BOOK: Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2)
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After we parted ways with Nicole, Barry opened the door for me and I slipped into the passenger seat. I tried making eye contact, but his gaze drifted around the car, landing everywhere but on me.
Well, that’s strange
. His mouth drew tight as he walked around the car with a fixed, blank stare.
What was he thinking?

Barry slid into the driver’s seat and frowned before turning toward me. His jaw ticked while he ran his left hand through his hair, a nervous habit of his. After releasing a slow breath, he muttered, “You know, you’d have a good time going out Friday night.”

“To
The Gamer
?” I shrieked, too high–pitched even for my own ears.

“Well…‌yeah. That place is pretty sweet. If you gave it a chance, I think you’d like it.” He grunted and shifted back around, staring blankly out the windshield.

Was he too frustrated to look at me?

“Look,” he continued. “I admit it’s not your thing, and I get that. But once in a while, it would be nice to do something with our friends.”

A peculiar sensation crossed through my stomach. It was reminiscent of that day in the park when I had contemplated Barry breaking–up with me. I didn’t like that
feeling
then, and I didn’t particularly like it now. Perhaps I had been too selfish with him. Nicole was the only person we ever hung out with, and even that had only happened a few times. Until now, Barry had never expressed any desire to do anything different. Had I been so self–centered that I overlooked the signs of him wanting us to be more social? It was never my intention to hold him back from what he wanted.

“Barry, if you want to go to The Gamer on Friday, please don’t let me stop you,” I said quietly. “You’re free to do whatever you want.”

“No, that’s not what I…‌I want us to go
together
,” he said, slapping his hand against the steering wheel. Cringing at his temper, I shrunk in my seat. He turned toward me, and exhaled. His facial features softened and he tried to backtrack. “Hey…‌we’ll discuss it later, okay? It’s not a big deal,” he said soothingly. Barry half–smiled at the obvious lie and added, “I just thought you might be getting bored with having only me around.”

Speechless, my lips flattened at his half–hearted attempt at a joke. Barry threw the gearshift into reverse and concentrated on driving while I stared silently out my window. I couldn’t fake any enthusiasm, and the silence between us increased in awkwardness the longer we remained silent. He fiddled with the radio, balanced the bass, and adjusted the visor. My throat clenched; the discord between us felt suffocating.

This argument could be resolved easily if I would just agree to go to The Gamer. The tension would dissipate as hastily as it had come, but I was too stubborn to concede. My mouth opened, but quickly snapped shut again. I balled my hand into a fist and placed it under my chin while I stared out the window and watched the houses whiz by. I really didn’t want to go Friday, so I wasn’t relenting. But Barry’s continued muteness tightened the already nauseated knot in my stomach.

I inhaled deep when his grandma’s house came into sight. Now wasn’t the time to ponder over possible problems. The real one lurked in the not so distant future and needed to be dealt with first.

He parked the car in his grandma’s driveway. I glanced over toward home and sighed. Finally a break! I stepped out of the car, relieved that the driveway was vacant. Mom wasn’t home. She must have picked up an extra shift. I normally hated that she pushed herself too much, but tonight her ambition worked in my favor.

Before cutting across the yard to walk home, Barry walked up beside me and grabbed a hold of my hand. Comfort swelled in my chest from his touch.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to push, and I shouldn’t have gotten mad.”

I looked up at him and forced a smile. I needed to trust him more. Insecurities clouded my judgment‌—‌afraid I had made him mad‌—‌I foolishly pondered whether he’d come with me to speak with Tanner or not. I should’ve known better. There wasn’t any way he’d let me do this on my own‌—‌even if he was upset.

“It’s okay.” I paused and shook my head. “I’ll think about going to The Gamer on Friday.” It took a lot for me to say that, but the wide smile on his face made my personal anguish worth it. With a sigh, I released his hand to unlock my door.

I snuggled against Barry on the couch, nervously tapping my foot.
When was the detective coming?
The slight pressure from Barry’s hand on top of my thigh, stilled my leg, but it didn’t ease my restlessness. The familiar hum of a familiar Ford Interceptor motor became louder as Detective Tanner pulled into the driveway. I glanced out the picture window and gulped. I’d recognize that car anywhere. The memory of chasing Mr. Barton, Johnny’s killer, caused me to shudder. Barry squeezed tighter.

“It’ll be all right,” he said, leaning down to kiss the top of my head.

I shut my eyes and tried to erase that thought, but immediately opened them again. The rapping of the doorknocker jarred me back to the present. My gaze shifted to Barry. With his encouraging nod, I stood to answer the door.

The door had barely swung open before Detective Tanner peppered me with questions. “Heather, tell me what’s concerning you. Just start at the beginning,” he said as he walked across the threshold.

Hi detective…‌glad to see you, too
. I chuckled inwardly and moved out of his way. Tanner was definitely one to get straight to the point; apparently he didn’t waste time with greetings or chit–chat. I shut the door and filled him on the beginning of the vision as we walked toward the living room.

As we entered, I noticed Barry had moved to the recliner. Hunched over, he tried to act low–key, but he kept fidgeting while running his hand through his hair. The corners of my mouth rose slightly as Tanner and I sat on the couch. Barry was here for one reason and one reason only‌—‌to give me moral support. But that didn’t mean he was comfortable.

I hesitated for a second and then continued on with my explanation of the vision. The more I divulged into what I had seen, the further Tanner’s brows furrowed. When I gave specifics about the envelope exchange between the two, his worry lines deepened.
Could they get stuck that way?
His concern proved how important my information was and reaffirmed my decision to tell him.

“Okay, I will check into this and see what I can do. In the meantime, I don’t want you to mention this to anybody,” he demanded, glancing between Barry and me. “The less people who know you’re involved, the better. In fact, I don’t want anyone knowing you’re involved, it could potentially place you in danger.” He stood, nodded, and walked to the door. At the entryway, he turned back to face us. “If anything comes up, I’ll get a hold of you.” Without another word, he left, leaving us standing dumbfounded.

Still shocked by his hasty departure, I asked, “What now?”

With a shrug, Barry ran his fingers through his hair again and rested them on the back of his neck. “I guess we do nothing and hold off until he calls us. Let’s just get through this week of school and see what happens.”

I nodded. The seriousness clouding his eyes was inescapable, and the pang in my stomach returned. I mistakenly thought worrying about the vision would end.

~3~

Concede

“I can’t believe I’m going through with this,” I mumbled, applying mascara.

After replacing the wand back in its container, I glanced into the mirror. My hair cascaded around my shoulders in long, loose curls. I liked it.

My brain needed to decompress after that grueling week of tests, but it was hard adjusting to the slower pace. I was still too antsy. School let out three hours ago, and my tense muscles were beyond ready for relaxation. So, how was I planning to chill out? By going to The Gamer, surrounded by a herd of friends. A small groan escaped while I tidied the bathroom. This promised a horrible beginning to my week–long break, but being coerced into going didn’t leave me much choice.

I shook my head and went over to my closet in search of my black boots. At least I’ll spend time with Barry.
I missed him.
Outside of school lunches and car rides this week, we hadn’t spent any time together. And we were always together. This was the first time we had put any distance between us since we started dating. On Monday, after Tanner left, we had decided to study individually because our joint study sessions have been a little…‌distracting. I leaned forward, crawled over a pile of dirty clothes, and dragged out my boots.
Ah, perfect
. This school week had been too important, so Barry and I shifted our focus toward homework. That sucked. Driving home from school was when we actually talked. Other than that, our time was limited. Well, except for Wednesday. A Cheshire grin spread across my face as I slid the boots on. Yeah, Wednesday, I actually had witnessed Barry’s powers of persuasion.

I made my way into the living room to wait for Barry and peeked at the clock. Fifteen more minutes before he arrived. My leg bounced up and down as I searched around the room for something to do. Zilch. Nada. In a cleaning frenzy, I’d straightened the house after coming home from school to relieve the built–up tension. There wasn’t a throw pillow unturned or magazine out of place.
Why did I agree to go out with them tonight?
Oh, yeah. Barry…‌

Each day after dropping me off, he walked me to my door, gave me a kiss, and left. But when he asked to come inside on Wednesday, my pulse thumped. I knew he would ask about going to The Gamer. I’d spent the first part of the week dodging that dreaded conversation. Without wanting to rehash our earlier disagreement, I steered our conversations away from the topic of spring break, clinging to the hope that he had forgotten. Guess he hadn’t.

My head shook as I remembered him grabbing my hand, dragging me to the couch, and pulling me on top of him. My mouth opened in protest, but his lips landed gently on mine, silencing me with light kisses. Tingles shot down my back as his hand cradled my head, warming me with his deepening kiss. After a few moments, he paused. He examined my face, and my lips parted from the intensity of his stare. He shifted his gaze downward as he ran his thumb along the contour of my jaw, sending shivers through my body. My eyes closed, it felt so good.

He whispered, “Have you given any thought to going out Friday night? We don’t have to go, but I think you’d enjoy yourself once you got there.”

Mmm…‌he didn’t play fair
.

My eyes popped open, connecting with his widened soft hazels. I intended to argue, but my reasons became jumbled from the hopefulness displayed in his eyes. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I also didn’t want to go to The Gamer. My throat tightened and a wave of nausea overpowered me by the simple thought of hanging–out with my classmates. I muttered, “I don’t know. The idea of going makes me sick, honestly.”

“Listen,” he said, tucking my bangs behind my ear. He cupped my face. “We’re a team. We arrive together, and we leave together. I’ll be by your side the entire time.” He released me and drew in a breath. “Friday night will be like it always is. Just, you and me.” He was waving his fingers back and forth between us. “Except with other people around,” he emphasized with a wink. “You have nothing to worry about.”

I relented after glancing into his green–speckled, expectant eyes. “Okay, I’ll go,” I sighed.

I swallowed hard, immediately regretting my decision, but the elation spreading across Barry’s face was worth the discomfort. His mouth drew into a sexy grin before leaning forward, drawing me in. Our lips collided, and the familiar warmth spread through me. His hands caressed my back, leaving a line of goosebumps as he trailed along my backside. My heart pounded. The kiss heightened and I reached up, running my fingers through his hair, as his fingers wandered back down, resting around my waist.

With a slight squeeze of my midriff, he pulled me closer, thrusting his tongue deeper into my mouth. Sparks shot through my body, stimulating places deep inside me. A low moan escaped his mouth before breaking away. In between breaths, he panted, “You have no idea what you do to me.”

He definitely didn’t play fair.

My lips curved into a half–smirk as I leaned onto my knees to kiss him on the forehead.
Yes, Barry. I knew exactly what I did to you because you did the same to me.

His palms wandered lower toward my hips and I rose, trying my best to ignore the sensations zinging along every nerve. We needed to slow down before we got too carried away. It took all my will power to back away because the touch of his fingers felt unbelievable. How could they elicit such a response? Each time we were together, the line kept getting harder to draw. When will we quit marking the boundary?

“You need to leave, Barry. At this rate, we’ll never get any studying done,” I said, trying to reason.

“Fine.” He practically moaned. His nose scrunched as he grabbed my hands to pull himself up. “If you insist.”

“It’s not that I want you to leave, but Mrs. Pickard’s test tomorrow is going to be a killer,” I said, leading him to the entryway.

“I know…‌I know.”

He tried pulling me into another kiss, but I reached for the door handle. A gush of fresh air blew in as the door swung open, dousing any remaining flames smoldering between us. Angling down, he planted a quick kiss on my cheek and nuzzled close to my ear.

“I love you,” he murmured as our hands detached, falling by our sides. He stepped backwards, turned, and walked away.

I bit my lower lip and stared until he reached his grandma’s house. He glanced at me and waved before going inside. Grinning to myself, I shut the door and leaned against it. I’d yet to tell him those words back. Something was there, I felt it, but was it
love…‌
? I wasn’t sure. Afraid of voicing those words aloud, I feared he’d disappear just like the other man in my life did. My father…‌

My palms began to sweat. I rubbed my hands on my pants and closed my eyes, trying hard not to think of the man who had fathered me. It was pointless.
Barry would be here any minute to pick me up. Why was I thinking of my dad?

BOOK: Deceptions (The Mystical Encounter Series Book 2)
3.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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