The covers rustle as I pull them back and climb into bed. I pull them closer to me, all the way up to my neck and stare at the glass knob on the door praying sleep will take me, but the nerves inside of me crawl in my stomach, in a slinking way that makes me feel sick and no matter how tightly I hold the covers, I’m freezing cold. My toes especially.
I almost get up to put socks on, almost. But I can’t. A childish fear and feeling deep in my soul wants me to stay right where I am and I listen to that fear, I obey it.
Until my tired eyes burn and the darkness slips in.
Just as I close my eyes, feeling the respite of sleep flow over every inch of me, I think I hear the door open, but when I open my eyes, it’s closed. There’s no one here.
It’s only the darkness and quietness… the signs of loneliness that lie with me tonight.
The screams from Addison rip me from my dreamless sleep. My heart pounds against my ribcage as I hear her scream again.
The clock on the dresser blinks at me; hours have passed, and I must have fallen asleep.
My legs feel heavy as I fight with the covers to move fast enough, to get out and go to Addie.
Heaving in a breath I make it halfway to the door before it bursts open. Addie’s eyes are wide, her face pale and her hair a messy halo around her head.
“Aria,” she cries out my name, pulling me hard into her, so hard it knocks what little breath is in my lungs out of me, but the way she trembles, the way her nails dig into me, I know something’s wrong.
“He was here,” she whispers in a voice drenched in terror. “I felt him,” she whimpers, pulling away from me to close my bedroom door.
As she backs away from me, she almost bumps into me and startles when I carefully take her hand.
Her fear is contagious, and I struggle to remain calm but without any idea of what she’s talking about, I have to ask her, “Who? Who was here?”
“Tyler,” she tells me and then tears leak from her eyes. She doesn’t blink, she stares at me, willing me to believe her as the tears freefall and cradle her cheeks. “Tyler… it felt so real. He was there, Aria. I felt him.”
Goosebumps travel over every inch of me and the same coldness that pricked the back of my neck when I saw the king of wands lingers there once again.
“Tyler?” I question her, knowing Tyler’s the fifth Cross brother. The youngest. The one who died.
“It was so real,” she tells me as she grabs my wrists hard. Too hard. Although it hurts, I don’t pull away; I can’t. “He’s angry,” she says, and her words are hoarse and hushed. The intense look in her eyes refuses to let me feel anything but the sincerity and desperation in her words.
Rushing her words, she tells me, “At first, he only held me and I swear I felt him. I could feel him holding me so tightly.” She releases me to cover her eyes as she falls to her knees crying harder and harder, but she doesn’t stop telling me what happened.
“He held me and told me he still loves me. He said it’s okay to love Daniel. He still loves me, and he’ll stay with me. But Aria,” she finally looks back up to me, with red-rimmed eyes, “he’s angry we left. He was never mad. Tyler never got angry and he said we need to go back. He grabbed my arms. He made me promise.” She gasps for breath as she grips her own arms, still on her knees and shaking with fear.
My own legs are weak as I lower myself to her eye level. My knees hit the cold hardwood floor. Gripping her shoulders softly, I wait for her to look me in the eyes.
“It was a dream,” I tell her, and she shakes her head.
“It was so real.”
“The drug,” I try to tell her, but she shakes her head harder, her hair viciously flailing around her shoulders.
“He told me to tell you something.” Blinking away the tears, she sniffles and tells me, “He said to hold him as tight as you can, or he’ll die.” My blood turns to ice as I stare into her eyes.
I remember the terror I had. It was only a dream.
It’s only a dream. But I don’t know how to convince her.
“He told me to leave and I have to,” she tells me in a whisper of a breath. “I have to go back.” The remorse in the air between us is palpable. And my heart sinks lower.
I don’t say a word, I only grip her close to me, squeezing her until the sound of the bedroom door flinging open startles both of us.