Chapter 7


I  shifted a little, trying to get comfortable.

“Good afternoon, sunshine,” Alexander said.

I flinched at the sound of his voice. I’d forgotten where I was and that I was being held against my will (even though it was nice and warm).

“W-what time is it,” I mumbled.

“About 20 after noon,” he replied.

“I need to get up,” I said.

“You need to take it easy,” he countered.

“No I-”

“You’re still traumatized. You need to rest.”

“I’m not traumatized. I’m fine.” I tried to get up, but his hold didn’t loosen. “Zander, let me go,” I said.

He didn’t say anything.

“Zander.”

He pulled me closer and held me tighter.

“I said let me go, not latch on tighter.”

“I don’t care,” he muttered.

I tried to push him away, again, and failed.

“Please. Just a little longer,” he begged.

He was too strong for me to oppose him, so I stayed still.

“Thank you,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

He got quiet. I figured out that’s what he did when he was thinking.

“Nothing,” he said. “I just want you to rest.”

“Zander-”

“I care about you. I’m worried about you.”

“Why?”

“Not yet.”

“What?”

“Not yet.”

“Not what yet?”

“I’ll tell you when you need to know.”

“Wha- I need to know now, Zander!” I yelled.

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do,” I said, trying to push him away, again.

“Stop it. I’m trying to protect you,” he said calmly.

“I don’t think I trust you enough to let you protect me!”

“You can trust me.”

“I’m not so sure I can!” When I yelled that, I felt Alexander’s arms loosen up a little. I thought he was letting me go, but when I tried to get free, he wouldn’t move anymore.

“Zander,” I said sternly.

“What?” he sighed.

“Let me go.”

“No.”

He was starting to annoy me.

“Let. Me. Go. Now.”

He didn’t respond, so I looked up at him. His eyes were closed and he still looked relaxed.

“What?” he asked, without opening his eyes.

“I said let me go.”

“I know.”

“So…”

“So?”

“Let me go.”

“No.”

“Zander!”

He opened his eyes and stared at me. “No means no.”

I glared at him. “I thought you wanted to help me.”

“I do and I will.”

“Then, let me go.”

We stared each other down for a little, then he closed his eyes.

“Zan-”

“Fine,” he said, as he opened his arms.

I rolled out of bed and looked at him.

“I let you go. Now what is it?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I said, then walked to the bathroom and closed the door.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My hair was a mess and my eyes were red.

When I washed my face, I noticed my hands smelled like Alexander.

What was wrong with him? He was being so secretive and rude. He wanted me to trust him; stay with him. I didn’t want to stay in town at all. The longer I stayed, the better chance there was for my mother to find me. Once she did…my life was over.

Everyone in town had to have seen the news report by now. Elliot too.

I could see him, sitting at his house, on his expensive couch, with his current hypnotized chew toy lying on his shoulder, agreeing with his every word. He’s shaking his head and saying, “That poor girl. She probably would have killed me too, if we were still dating. Something seemed off about her before. I think she had some kind of mental illness. I thought her parents were taking her to get help. Last I heard she was getting better. I just she just snapped.”

That jerk!…But those thoughts weren’t his. They were mine. I was almost as bad as I thought Elliot was.

I glanced at my reflection again. My eyes looked almost scary. I quickly looked away.

“I look insane,” I whispered to myself. That was probably why Alexander finally let me go.

I sat with my back against the door and pulled my knees to my chest.

I felt lonely and afraid. Afraid that I would never be safe from my mother. Afraid that no matter how hard I tried, I would always be alone. If I even stepped foot out of this hotel, I would be arrested. I was trapped and all alone.

“Hey. You okay in there?” Alexander asked.

“No,” I snapped. “No, I’m not okay and you know it. I’ll never be okay again, Zander.” I started to cry.

“Alex, open the door.”

“No, Zander! There is nothing you can say or do to make me feel any better! You can try, but nothing will help! Unless you have a time machine, so I can go back 2 days ago to stop my dad from dying?!”

He was silent.

“I didn’t think so,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

I didn’t respond.

“Alex?”

“Hm?”

“Please open the door.”

“Zander–”

“Please, Alexia?”

I slowly stood up and opened the door. Alexander was sitting next to it and Caramel was on his lap. He didn’t look at me when I sat next to him.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated.

I looked at him, but he continued staring at Caramel.

“I’m sorry, too,” I said. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that.”

He shook his head. “It’s not your fault. I was being mean and selfish.”

“It’s okay,” I said.

“No, it’s not.”

“Zander, it’s fine.”

“I’ll help you find somewhere safe to go.”

“Really?”

“Yes. You’re right. You need to be somewhere safe. Not here.”

“Thank you.”

He moved Caramel off his lap and stood. “Don’t thank me. Just because I’m helping, doesn’t mean I want you to leave.”

I looked up at him, but he still wouldn’t look at me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him.

“Nothing’s wrong,” he said. “Get ready. I’ll come get you in an hour.”

“…Zander…”

“What?”

“…If you want to talk about something…I don’t mind.”

“…There’s nothing to talk about.”

“But you–”

“I’m fine,” he snapped. He walked to the door and unlocked it. “I’ll see you in an hour.” He left out the room without ever looking back at me.

I was worried that I’d said or done something to upset him. He was the one who was smothering me…even if he was just trying to be nice.

Caramel nuzzled her head against my knee.

“Hey, Mel,” I said as I pet her. “Do you think Zander’s a nice person?”

She barked and wagged her tail excitedly.

“I’ll take that as a yes…How do you know you can trust him?”

She stared at me and whimpered.

I was being ridiculous. Asking my dog if she trusted a complete stranger was beyond crazy.

I shook my head and stood. If I was going to run away from here, the sooner I did, the better.

I glanced at the door to see if Alexander was really gone, then went back into the bathroom to get ready for our…date?

No, not a date. A planning session.

But it did kinda seem like a date…maybe.

I don’t know.

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