Friday, February 21, 2014

Chasse Secrets Chapter 22

     It was finally that Friday night, and Carson, Meredith, and Olivia were getting ready for Cassie's party at Sophie's house. There was make-up strewn over every piece of furniture and clothes spread out all over Sophie's bed.
    So far Sophie hadn't told Carson or Meredith what she knew. She was surprised by how easy it was to trick herself into thinking they were better off not knowing. She knew the truth was she was scared of the possibility of what Olivia said being true. That people never stay friends with the messenger.
   "Can I borrow this, Sophie?" Sophie snapped her head towards Carson holding a red peplum dress. "Sure, I wasn't planning on wearing it." Carson smiled and headed for the bathroom to change.          
    "So I heard Cassie's boyfriend's brothers will be there. Apparently they're his older twin brother. They're tan, blonde, and single." Meredith informed them, winking. Sophie rolled her eyes, while Olivia raised an eyebrow flirtatiously. "Why have you heard of these boys and we haven't?" Olivia questioned. "First of all, Cassie told me. Second of all, they go to college about three hours from here at Bransfield. Which is an all boys university." Meredith said clearly proud of the knowledge she had acquired. "An all boys university?" Olivia shot back. "Yep. So you know they don't have girlfriends in college, at least not the same one." "Have you been scoping out the guest list?" Sophie gently teased Meredith. "Of course I have, why aren't you?"
    Sophie thought for a moment. If Meredith was talking about tan, college twins, how serious was she about Mr.Lars? Maybe it was just a one time thing. Maybe there was nothing to be a messenger of. But even if it was a one time thing it didn't change what Mr.Lars had done.
    "Oh, you haven't heard? Sophie and my brother are secret lovers." Olivia said. Sophie couldn't help but let out a surprised chuckle. "Olivia!" Sophie exclaimed. Olivia gave a sarcastic shrug.
   Carson bounded back into Sophie's room, donning the red peplum dress. "What are y'all making noise about?" Carson asked eagerly. "Apparently Sophie and Ian are an item." Meredith said, plopping down on Sophie's bed. "Oooohh. So are y'all finally official?" Carson teased Sophie. Sophie gingerly touched the beading on her dress that was spread over her bed. "You say 'finally' like we've been dancing around the idea forever." Sophie commented. Carson, Olivia, and Meredith all gave each other a sly glance. "You have!" they said in unison. Sophie turned to face the three of them before she spoke. "We're official , finally." she said, beaming. They all rushed into a big group hug, Sophie teetering slightly. "It's really sweet that you guys are so enthused, but it's not a big deal." Carson crossed her arms and raised her brow at Sophie. "Okay, maybe it's a big deal" Sophie admitted.
   The truth was, it was a big deal for Sophie. She liked Ian, more than she had ever allowed herself to like anyone. Being with him made her feel special, beautiful, alive, impulsive, brave, treasured, and safe, all at once. She wanted to say that right then and there, but she didn't. For part of her was afraid if she said those things out loud fate would find out, and that feeling would be gone.
    "I'm gonna go change" Sophie said, grabbing her dress from her bed. "Now all we need to do is find y'all boyfriends and we could quadruple date" Carson said once Sophie had ventured into the hall. "Did you forget about yourself?" Meredith questioned. Carson tried not to let her face show that she realized her slip of the tongue. "Well of course! That was a given." Carson covered. "In that case tonight is a great night for window shopping." Meredith said.
  "Where did you get your dress, Mere?" Olivia asked, smoothing her own pale green dress. Meredith looked down at her black, one shoulder dress. "I got it at that store in the mall. The new one, called neon. And yes, the irony is not lost on me that I got a black dress there." Olivia  nodded with a slight smirk, whereas Carson just shook her head.
   Carson grabbed her silver bag from the top of Sophie's dresser. She pulled her cell phone out. One new text message. It was from Lars. He just wanted to see if she could stop by tonight. She shoved the phone back in her bag. She still didn't have the nerve to confront him about the flirty sticky note, or the heart to pretend everything was fine. So instead of hanging at his house making out to the sound of Coppelia on his t.v. and soup simmering on the stove, she avoided him. Every time he asked what she was doing after ballet she had an excuse. Her mom was sick, she had a big test, whatever popped into her head. She hadn't told Sophie about the note yet. She just couldn't tell her knowing she would be thinking 'I told you so', even if she didn't say it. But the truth was, she knew Sophie was right.
   "Well, what do y'all think?" Sophie  asked the girls as she paraded into her room, wearing a light pink and blue beaded tank dress. "Oh, that's so cute!" Carson gushed. "Very. So you guys ready?" Olivia asked. They all nodded and collected their belongings before trailing out into the hallway. Once Sophie's foot touched the top of the stairs Ted crept out of his room.
   "Whoa, why so dressed up girls?" he teased. "A friend's party." Sophie answered, tight-lipped. "Hmmm sounds fun!" he replied. Sophie wasn't sure if he was just trying to get on her nerves, or if he was trying to appear interested in her life. "It should be!" she said, hoping her smile didn't come off too forced.
  With that they all continued down the stairs as Ted went back to his room. "You know, your brother's kind of cute" Olivia said coyly. "Oh gosh, Liv!" Sophie exclaimed in disgust as she reached for the doorknob. "Whatever, you're dating my brother."

 When the girls arrived at the party it was already dark. A slew of cars engulfed Cassie's yard, music lingered out of the windows. You could barely hear the doorbell chime as Sophie pressed it. The door finally swung open with a tall boy on the other end. Only he didn't look like a boy, he looked much older than any of the girls.
   "Hello ladies!" he greeted them suavely. "Hi, we're friends of Cassie's." Sophie spoke up. He nodded in acknowledgement, saying nothing. "And you are?" Carson questioned. "I'm Luke, the boyfriend, slash doorman for tonight." he introduced himself, charmingly. The girls were surprised to find out who he was, given his older appearance. "You're dancers?" he asked. They nodded. "Y'all have the dancer look." None of the girls were quite sure what to say to his last statement, so they didn't say anything at all.
   "Can we come in?" Meredith asked. "I guess that would be okay." he replied. Sophie rolled her at his attempt to be funny.
    The girls filed into the front of Cassie's living-room as Luke locked the door behind them. Her living-room was fairly crowded, with someone sitting on every piece of furniture in the room, with a few people standing off to the sides. "There's refreshments in the kitchen, Cassie should be here somewhere." he said. He turned to leave the room, then pivoted on his heel.
    "You look familiar, have I met you before?" he pointed directly at Olivia. "No, no, I don't believe you have." Olivia stammered. It was the first time the rest of them even noticed that Olivia hadn't made eye-contact once with Luke. "Wait a minute. You were the girl that went missing, weren't you!Wow, imagine all that panic and fuss for nothing. You look perfectly fine. Not a single scratch on that pretty head." he shot back. "I think we'll go find those refreshments." Sophie interjected as she wrapped her arms around Olivia protectively. They sauntered out of the room, leaving Luke standing there. Alone.
   "Is that what he calls appropriate small talk?" Sophie asked, astonished. Carson and Meredith leaned back against the freestanding island in Cassie's kitchen. Olivia nervously picked at a hangnail. "Who asks someone at a party about their disappearance?" Carson mused. "I'm just going to assume he has nothing else to talk about." Meredith said, grabbing a glass of punch. "I'd rather just forget about it, there's no sense to make a fuss over that, we're at a party aren't we." Olivia said with a half smile. "What else are you suppose to do?" Sophie reasoned. Carson shrugged noncommittally. "Cheez-it?" Meredith pushed the bowl towards Olivia. Olivia shook her head and ran her hand through her hair. "I'm going to find where I can put my jacket." Olivia said as she walked away. "Suit yourself!" Meredith scooped up a handful.
    Two boys along with two girls walked into the kitchen. They were too preoccupied to notice Sophie, Carson, and Meredith scattered around the island. The girls were laughing flirtatiously as the boys illustrated a story about a recent fishing trip. From what Sophie, Carson, and Meredith overheard it wasn't a very exciting story as it was a mind numbing waste of time to listen. Although the boys clearly thought differently.
    Sophie, Carson, and Meredith went their separate ways after a few minutes. Meredith headed towards the living-room, Carson towards the front porch, and Sophie slipped out onto the deck.
    The air was crisp and cool, the leaves were golden and falling, almost in slow motion. Sophie leaned forward onto the railing and stared out into space. All of a sudden she just wasn't in a party mood. She thought once she got to the party all of the stress, worries, and uncertainty of the past weeks would at least leave her alone for tonight. When would life get back to normal? Would it ever.

     Suddenly someone sneaked up behind her unannounced forcing her to jump and turn to face them.
"It's just me!" Ian said, throwing his hands up. Sophie heaved a sigh of relief, her hand clenched to her throat. She fell in him as his arms embraced her. "I didn't mean to startle you, sweetheart." he apologized. He stroked her hair gently as they stood there. She pulled back from him. "You're fine, I'm glad you're here." "What were you doing out here?" "Getting some air." "Can't you get some air inside. I don't like you being out here by yourself." "You don't have to worry about me." "Yes I do. It's my job." Sophie smiled up at him. "If it's your job how should I pay you?" "Perhaps in kisses?"
   She wrapped her arms around his neck and brought her lips to his. Maybe normal was overrated she thought. Because being with Ian felt anything but normal.
   "How was your day?" she asked. "Not bad, dying to see you tonight, but not bad. What about you?" Sophie pondered the idea of telling him about her encounter with Luke. "It was good, thanks for asking." "Let's go inside, it's getting chilly."
  "You look thirsty, let me get you something to drink, babe." Meredith rolled her eyes as she began to open her mouth and decline the pushy guy's offer when Carson swooped in. "Hey Mere, I got punch!" Carson exclaimed, showing off two cups of punch. "Opps, already have some. Thanks though!" Meredith said. The guy just shook his head and turned to a girl in a blue shirt using the same line. "Thank you, I was about to pass out from his aftershave." Meredith quipped. "What are friends for?" " Have you seen Sophie?" "The last I heard she was sucking face with Ian on the deck." "Ooohh, I see. I guess we won't see her again tonight." "Probably not. Don't worry we'll have fun. That is after I make a trip to the ladies room." "Okay, see ya!" Carson wriggled through the people towards the bathroom. Meredith heard something ringing, looked down at the coffee table and saw Carson's clutch. She picked it up, and tried to fish her phone out in time to answer it.
    "Hello!" she chirped. "Is this Carson?" the caller asked cautiously. "No, this is her friend Meredith." "Oh." Click. Meredith looked at the phone that read 'call ended'. That was rude, she thought. She decided she would look through Carson's call log to see who the tactless caller might be. Her jaw nearly hit the floor when she saw the number. It was Lars.

   Once Carson found Cassie's bathroom upstairs there was already a line of five girls waiting. She decided that she could hold it, but she still wanted to check her make-up. Maybe she could find a mirror in one of the bedrooms. There were about six doors she could see. She tried one but it was just a closet. The next door was locked, so was the one after that. Finally she found an unlocked room. She turned the knob and pushed the door open. She was startled to find someone sobbing on the bed. "Oh, I'm sorry." She quickly turned to go as the person on the bed turned as well. It was Olivia.
    "Please don't leave!" Carson slowly crept into the room. Olivia was still shaking quite a bit as Carson sat down on the bed. "What's wrong, Olivia?" "I wanna go home." "Why? We haven't been here that long." Olivia took a forceful gulp before she answered. "I know, but I still want to go home. It's just so many people." Carson hadn't seen Olivia so shaken up since the night they found her. "Well, okay. Why don't you stay here and I'll find Sophie and she'll take you home." Olivia nodded her head in compliance.
   Carson hastily left the room to find Sophie. Once she snaked her way through the ever growing line in the hall, she took a quick scan of the living-room from the stairs. No Sophie.

  "How could you say that? They haven't won a game all season!" Sophie sat next to Ian as he talked football with one of his buddies, Matt. She couldn't help but feel kinda out of the loop with all the lingo. She wondered if that's how it felt to hear her and her friends talk about dance. "Say what you will, they're still America team." Ian replied. Matt just shook his head as he took a sip of his drink. "I'm going to find Olivia." Sophie said as she got up. Ian squeezed her hand lovingly as she walked off.
  "So when are you coming back to the team?" Matt asked. "I don't know, man..." "You are planning on coming back, right?" Ian abruptly looked away. "Come on! You're gonna get rusty before too long." "Hey! I am not rusty." "Then come back to us. I know everything's been crazy with your sister, but giving up something you love won't keep her safe."

    Sophie spotted Meredith walking towards her, fuming. "Have you seen Carson?" "No, why?" "I can't even talk about it. Just let me know the minute you do." Meredith started to walk off when she saw Carson coming towards them. "Listen, Soph." Carson began. "No! You listen Carson. Why is Lars calling you?!" Meredith interrogated her. Carson's face went from concern to utter astonishment. "What?" What are you talking about?" Carson replied. "Don't play dumb with me! I know he called you tonight, I answered your phone." Meredith waved Carson's cell inches from her face. Carson tried to get Meredith to talk off to the side but she wouldn't budge. "Meredith, let's not talk so loud, we don't want Lars to get in trouble." "Yeah it might tarnish his rep a bit once people find out he's two-timer."
  The other pointe shoe had fallen. Sophie didn't know what to do. All she could do was stare at Carson's bewildered face. "Two-timer?" Carson echoed. "What did I say about playing dumb!" Meredith taunted. People were beginning to stop and look at the three girls. "Hey people are starting to stare." Sophie said, trying to calm them down. They didn't even hear her. "Are you saying you've been seeing Lars?" Carson asked. "Good for you, you put the puzzle together!" "Wait! Why are you mad at me? I should be mad with you! I knew he must have been seeing someone else, I never guessed it was you." "Is that what you think, Car? That he was cheating on you? Don't kid yourself." "I can't believe you're doing this here!" I can't believe you thought you were enough to steal him from me."
   It was then that Sophie saw something snap inside Carson. Before she knew it Carson had pushed Meredith to the floor, not an easy feat given Meredith's height. Soon there was about half of Cassie's party watching Carson and Meredith trying to knock the wind out of each other. "Stop!" Sophie cried. She tried to pull them off of each other, and failed. Ian wormed his way through the crowd to get to the girls. Sophie was finally able to pull them off of each other with Ian's help.
  It was only once the girls had calmed down for a moment that Ian noticed Olivia talking to someone in the corner. Although it appeared he was doing more of the talking. Sophie followed Ian's gaze to see what it was fixed on. Olivia, and Luke?
    Sophie let go of Meredith and hurried to Olivia's side. "Whatever you have to ask her about her disappearance, you can google!" Sophie snared at Luke as she placed herself between him and Olivia. "Sophie, Olivia, is this guy giving you any trouble?" Ian asked rhetorically, his muscular hands on his hips.
  "Oh I was just catching up with Liv! We've missed so much time." Luke replied causally, his hand hand caressing Olivia's cheek. Sophie's eyes darted from Luke to Olivia. "How are you suggesting you know my sister?" "Olivia! You mean to tell me you haven't told your brother about us?"
   Anyone who was paying attention could have clearly seen the blood draining from Ian, Sophie, and even Olivia's faces. "That's right, we were a secret! Opps." "I thought you were Cassie's boyfriend." "He doesn't know what he's talking about, he's drunk." Olivia piped up. "Hey! I may be drunk, but I do know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about truth. You should try it." Luke shot back, his hand gestures a little more absurd then he realized. Olivia shrunk off to the side. "I don't know who put you up to this, but this is a twisted joke to be playing right now. Whatever you have to talk about can wait until my sister's better." Ian set him straight. Luke cackled to himself. "Better? What is that even? Back to her old self I guess. Her lying, cheating, indecisive, naive' self."
   "Luke, what's going on?" Cassie asked suddenly. It was the first time Sophie, Carson, Meredith, and Olivia had seen their host all night. "Hey you don't need to hear all of this." Carson said as she tried to guide Cassie back into the kitchen. Cassie resisted slightly. "Carson's right." Meredith interjected. "No! I have a right to know. Luke, what is this?" Luke took one look at Cassie and his face seemed to soften.
   "I'm sorry Cassie, but there's something you all need to know." Luke said, his hands over Cassie's. "You see everyone's been talking about Olivia and Dean and the secret plan to run away together, but no one seems to know why Olivia seemed so eager to leave town." "What are you getting at exactly?" Sophie asked. "Haven't you wondered who she was with?" Luke teased them. A look of disgust passed over Cassie's face, yet no one was sure who it was meant for. "Olivia had a choice, Dean or me. Once Dean-boy bailed, well then the choice was pretty clear. At least it should have been. She had an idea in her head that she was going alone. 'Idea' being the keyword. She thought she could get rid of me."
   Before Luke could say anymore Olivia dashed out the front door. "Olivia, where are you going? The party just started." Luke teased. Ian ran after her like a madman, but he wasn't fast enough. When he was out on Cassie's yard Olivia was already in Sophie's car. "How did she get my keys?" Sophie exclaimed, a few steps behind Ian. The rest of the party that witnessed the events were starting to pile out on the porch, including Carson, Meredith, and Cassie. Olivia started the engine. "Let me talk to her." Ian warned before he walked towards Sophie's car.
   "This must have been what she was so upset about." Carson muttered to herself. "What are you talking about?" Meredith asked. "That's what I was trying to talk to you guys about. I found Olivia upstairs, crying. She kept saying she wanted to leave."
    "Olivia wait!" Ian called out as he got beside the car. He pulled on the passenger side door. Olivia hastily locked the door, backed the car up, and put it in drive. She started to pull forward but misjudged herself and slammed into the oak tree. Sophie ran to Ian's side as he smashed the driver's side window open and unlocked the door. Olivia tumbled out of the car. Sophie gasped, not prepared. "Sophie, go call 911!" Ian told her.
   Sophie ran back towards the house as everyone whispered(at least they thought they were) among themselves. "Cassie, where's your house phone?" Sophie asked. Cassie guided Sophie inside. Sophie glanced towards the living-room. No Luke. Soon she was in the kitchen. She picked up the phone and dialed. They picked up on the second ring. She quickly explained what had happened and gave them Cassie's address. They would be there as soon as they could. Sophie placed the phone back on the charger. She let her eyes shut for just a moment. "Oh my gosh!"
   Sophie shot back to reality. She could hear someone upstairs sobbing, not from sadness but from pure terror. She ran up the stairs to find Cassie curled up in the hall. "What's wrong?" Cassie pointed towards a door that was slightly open. Sophie pushed it open to find Dean. Motionless.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chasse Secrets Chapter 21

   Sophie's phone vibrated inside her purse, startling her. She was settled in the family car with her parents and Ted. She promptly extracted her phone from her purse. It was a text. From Ian. It read "Hey, I was thinking about joining you at church tonight, what time does youth group start?". Sophie smiled sheepishly at her screen. " 7pm :)" she sent back.
   "What are you smiling about, Sophie?" Carol asked, as she peered at her daughter in the visor mirror. "Ian's coming to church tonight." Sophie beamed. "Oh good! How is he doing?". Sophie instantly flashed back to Monday in the studio. "He's better, I guess." "Good. He's been through a lot lately, I'm glad you've been so kind towards him." Sophie nodded, tight lipped.
   They drove onward in silence for a few minutes. Carol searching for something in her bottomless purse. Mr.Duval focusing keenly on the road in front of him. Sophie texting Ian about how she couldn't wait to see him, and Ted, staring out the window.
   Ever since Sophie had questioned him about how he got the money for his business, the money he told his colleagues he got from an aunt, he had been ignoring Sophie all together. While Sophie had been trying to push any thoughts she had on the matter as far back into her mind as possible. If her brother didn't want to talk about it then there was no making him. He was as stubborn as they come. She only hoped and prayed he wasn't doing something that could get him in trouble.
  Soon they were nearing the church. Sophie scanned the parking lot in hopes that Ian night already be there. Nope. Although then again she was a little early, as always.
  Mr.Duval turned onto the lot, eying the spaces to ensure he would pick the best one. Once he had settled on one he swiftly swung the car into the spot. He turned the engine off and they all piled out. Mr.Duval popped the trunk. When Sophie has gathered her choir books in her arms and secured her purse on her shoulders she tried to catch Ian's gaze. But he remained shut off, re-tucking his pin-stripe shirt into his belted pants. Sophie rolled her eyes in disbelief.
  Mr.Duval handed Carol her Bible and slammed the trunk shut and locked it. When they were inside the church they were hospitably greeted by one of the ushers. He handed each of them a prayer list, smiling.
  "Hey Sophie!". Sophie whirled her head around to see June. "Hi June!". "Have you thought about the youth Christmas party yet?". Kurt had assigned Sophie the task of organizing the youth Christmas party this year. She had a few ideas, but nothing concrete.  To be honest she couldn't help but wish that maybe June would be given the reins. Since Sophie already organized most of the youth events.
   "Yes, I have. I don't have anything in stone as of now, but when I do, you'll be the first to know." Sophie assured June. "Oh I know! Just curious!". "Curiosity killed the cat!" "But satisfaction brought him back." Sophie cast a puzzled look at June. "It's something my aunt used to say." June explained. "Hmm I'll have to use that sometime." June smiled warmly. "So how was your day June?".
  Sophie sat down on a cushioned back pew, June joined her. "Not bad. I student taught the 4:30 class today in Olivia's place." "Why?" "She had a doctor's appointment. Probably just checking her out because of her disappearance." Sophie nodded.
   They heard the church door open. In came Ian. His hair was gently tousled and he had his hands shoved deep in his pockets. Sophie stood up and Ian immediately took notice, walking towards her. They embraced warmly. Neither of them gave a though to the fact that they'd never done that in public with each other before. For a moment they forgot about everything around them. Until something caught Sophie's eye. Dean.
   He was coming down the stairs that led to the old classrooms, and the offices. Rev.Grant was right behind him.
  It was only when they had released each other Ian noticed Sophie staring behind him. "What?" he muttered as he turned to look.
  It took him only a few seconds to reach Dean. "What are you doing here?" Ian demanded. "I could ask you the same thing." Dean shot right back. "You could. But then again I'm not the one who's being looked at as a suspect, am I?" "True. But I'm not the one who's out for blood. And I'm pretty sure the police don't have a problem with me seeing the pastor. Unless, of course you're the police now!"
  June shot an apprehensive glance at Sophie. Sophie shrugged, figuring they would soon realize they were in public.
  "So you're seeing the pastor. Guilty conscious perhaps?" Ian arrogantly said. Dean practically cackled at Ian's remark. "Guilty conscious? Nah. Not me. You wanna know why?" "Let's see, maybe it's the lack of soul." "Nope, it's because I'm not a kidnapper! But if you wanna talk about a soulless person why don't you talk to your sister."
  Ian lunged for Dean, but Dean ducked, making Ian fall into the wall. Rev.Grant finally stepped in. "If you young men can't behave in a civil manner I'll have to ask you both to leave." Rev.Grant spoke in a hushed yet firm tone. "That won't be necessary Reverend, I was just leaving." Dean replied. "It was splendid to see you Ian, just splendid!" Dean said, dripping with sarcasm as he pushed open the door with his back.
  Once the door swung back into place Rev.Grant left June, Ian, and Sophie there, smiling politely.
  "I need to make some copies of the youth calendar. I'll see y'all." June said as she strutted away. Sophie stood beside Ian and gently slipped her hand into his. "You alright?" she asked. Ian looked down at her and squeezed her hand. "Yeah, I'm fine." "It's going to be okay. You know that, right?" "I know. But it's nice having someone to remind me.". Sophie nodded. "How's Olivia?" she asked. "Fine. I guess." "What did the doctor say? Does she have any injuries they didn't know about before?". "She didn't see that kind of doctor..." Sophie furrowed her brows together. "Then what kind of doctor did she see?". "A therapist.". "Really! Why?" "The police just want to make sure she's in her right mind and that she's not giving them false information.". "Well how did it go?". "It didn't. She wouldn't even talk. Wait. How did you know about her seeing a doctor?". "June told me.". A look of understanding came to Ian's face. "By the way, I'm really glad you came tonight." she said smiling at him warmly. He brushed her hair back from her face. "Me too." Sophie could see the wall clock out of the corner of her eye. 6:58. "It's almost time for youth group." she announced. "Oh okay. We better go then, before Dean decides to join us."
  "What about Chinese?" Lars asked. Carson and Lars were nestled on Lars's sofa discussing what to have for dinner. Carson shook her head. "Nah. I was thinking about Mexican.". "I had that last night." Carson tried to think of something else. "I know. Italian. There's this sort of new place over on crest street. My parents took me there. They have the best ziti!" Lars piped up. "Perfect. I'm starving baby." she said, handing him his house phone. "I'll go get their menu." "No need. Ziti sounds great.". Lars raised his eyebrows at her. "Well good. I'll order." He took the phone for her and proceeded to dial the number.
   As he ordered their dinner Carson meticulously fluffed the mix-matched pillows on the sofa. She had just started to organize the various papers and magazines on his coffee table when he had finished. "What are you doing?" he asked slowly, his thumb still pressed to the 'end' button. "Nobody likes disorder." she singsonged. "Do you know what I do like?". He wrapped his arms around her waist. "You." he whispered in her ear. He kissed her cheek gently. "I need to go put my clothes in the dryer, but I'll be back." Carson smiled at him as he scurried to the laundry room.
  She opened one of the coffee table drawers looking for space for some of his papers, but it was chopped full of papers already. She checked the next one and found that it wasn't nearly as full. Then a vibrant blue sticky note caught her eye. She picked it up, holding it as carefully as one would hold an antique brooch. It read "meet me after class xoxo". Carson let the note flutter down to the dust-laden coffee table.
  She tried to remember if she had left that note for Lars. No, she couldn't have. She couldn't be that careless, she thought. Who could've left that note? It could be his mom? Moms left notes like that, right? It couldn't be, another girl. Could it? All of those thoughts raced through her mind before Lars came back. She abruptly hid the note under the other papers in the drawer before he could see what she was looking at.
  "They said our take-out should be ready in twenty minutes, so I think I should go now." he said, grabbing his jacket from the hook. "Okay." He stooped to kiss her goodbye. He started for the door but stopped short. "Wait, did you happen to see a coupon on the coffee table? They were giving them out when I went last." he asked. "No. I didn't." she replied hastily. "Oh. I guess I'll use it next time." He smiled sweetly at her and slipped out the door, locking it behind him.
   When she heard his car speed down the street she pulled the drawer back open. She fished the sticky note out of the sea of papers. After studying it for a few moments she stuck it inside her purse.
    The distant sounds of the 11 o'clock news traveled up the stairs of the Duval's house, as Sophie brushed her teeth forcefully.
  Youth group had gone well. Ian seemed to fit right in with the others. And best of all the Dean situation didn't have to involve the police. As far as Sophie was concerned the night was one of the most normal nights she had had in a long time.
   Ted popped his head in the bathroom as Sophie wiped her mouth. "You almost done?". "Um, yeah. I'm almost done.". Ted nodded and began to walk back to his room. "Ted." Sophie finally piped up, once he was almost to his bedroom door. Ted turned around, waiting. "What is your problem?" she asked, saying it a little more rudely than she had intended. "I don't know what you're talking about.". "You're not a very good liar." "Well, I'm not lying. So I don't have to be."
   Sophie turned around and leaned back on the counter's ledge. "The weird thing is you've never been able to be honest. That was the one thing Mom always had to punish you for. Most of the time you hadn't even done anything to lie about. You just had some bent about keeping yourself hidden I guess. I don't know from what though." Sophie swallowed hard before she went on. "An awful liar who hates honesty. That's a bad combination." A mocking expression spread over Ted's face. He brought his hand to his face as though to wipe it clean of the expression. "You can't analyze me." "I'm not trying to do that.". "Then what are you trying to, play Nancy Drew?" "Help you. I don't know. You didn't rob a bank did you?" "Listen sis. I can't tell you now what's going on. But I will. Just give me time. Trust me though, it's not as bad as you think." Sophie assessed Ted for a moment to see if she could believe him. "I really hope you're telling the truth." Ted smirked mildly. "Of course I am. I'm a bad lair."
  "Katie, do you have your ballet shoes?" It was Thursday and Sophie was student teaching just like every Thursday. And as usual one of the girls had absentmindedly left their ballet shoes. "Yes Miss Sophie!" "What about you Ellie?" Sophie asked.
   As soon as Sophie had said that Meredith popped into the studio. "Sophie, don't worry about it! Turns out they were Carly's. I just gave them to her mom." "Oh good, thanks!"
  Soon they had all of the students dismissed from the room and only a few lingering in the lobby. Most of them playing with the frayed rug while their mothers talked about when their children's recital costumed would be ordered.
  Sophie and Meredith sat in the office. Sophie placed the cds they had used for the class back in the slots of the cd rack, while Meredith tried to organize the shoes that were for sale, by size. Even though she knew they would be in disarray by the time the next class started.
  Mr.Lars entered the office  making Sophie and Meredith lift their heads up from their work. "Did y'all find out whose shoes they were?" he asked, rubbing his hands together in an anxious manner. "Yes we did! Well, Meredith did actually." Sophie answered. "Oh, good job Meredith!" He winked audaciously at Meredith as he strolled across the office to sit down on the bench. Methodically he began to slip off his ballets shoes and put on his tennis shoes.
   "Sophie, don't bother putting the circus cd or the Swan Lake cd away. I plan to go through some possible choreography at home later tonight." he mentioned. "The circus and Swan Lake? I don't usually hear those two things together." Sophie fished the two cds out of the stack she had organized and laid them on the desk. Mr.Lars chuckled softly, shaking his head. "Don't worry, it won't be a mash-up. Honestly my mom is really pushing for a circus dance. You see, she's having a fund raiser for her church and the theme is circus of course. So naturally she's been pestering me for weeks to convince some of the students to participate in a dance routine to perform there. I'm thinking of asking some of the eight year olds.". "I can help if you need me." Meredith offered. "Oh. That's okay, I have it handled." he answered abruptly. Meredith nodded and smiled halfheartedly. "I'm done! Mr.Lars is the hours books in the student's lounge?" Sophie asked, not even noticing the slight awkwardness between Mr.Lars and Meredith. Mr.Lars nodded. Sophie power-walked down the hall to the student's lounge.
   Meredith edged towards Mr.Lars, who was still seated firmly on the bench, pretending to be blissfully unaware of her concern. "What was that?!" Meredith whispered. Mr.Lars leaned forward, his hands pressed tightly on the edge of the bench. "What was what?". "When I asked if you needed help with the circus dance you said 'I have it handled'. You always need help. Did I do something wrong?" "No, you didn't. I just don't need help this time. Besides I can't have people suspecting we're together. Which they could get wise to if you all of a sudden start helping me with outside projects."
  Meredith rubbed the back of her neck. "I guess you're right. I'm sorry for being all paranoid.". Mr.Lars stood up, put his hands on Meredith's shoulders, rubbing them tenderly. "It's okay, you have absolutely nothing to be paranoid about."
  Sophie walked back up the hall towards the office. She had to ask Mr.Lars a question about the hours book. She was almost to the doorway of the office when she saw Meredith and Mr.Lars, his lips pressed intimately to her neck. She hid herself cautiously by sticking herself to the wall outside of the office. "Lars, someone might see us!" Meredith murmured, giggling softly as he ran his hands over her body. "You're right." Mr.Lars admitted and withdrew his lips from her, regretfully.
   "Come by my house later. No earlier than seven." Sophie heard him whisper. Sophie couldn't believe her ears. At first she was convinced it was all part of a dream. A bizarre, shocking, gross, dream. There was no way Mr.Lars would hit on Meredith while he was dating Carson. Then she remembered he was dating his student after all. Apparently he didn't stop at one student.
   Okay! Why no earlier than seven though?" Meredith questioned. Lars casually scratched the top of his head and squinted his eyes slightly. "Oh, my parents are coming by. You know, just a little visit." Meredith smiled warmly, a sign she understood.
   Sophie still stood helplessly in the hallway, hidden from their view. She bit down hard on her tongue, thinking of the complications of the situation at hand. As soon as she could see them start to separate she crept into the office. "Mr.Lars can you look at this for me?" Sophie asked, thrusting the book towards him. "Of course, Ms.Sophie!" exclaimed, taking the book from her hands, and flashing a smile like crystal. Sophie blurted out everything she needed to ask at a break neck speed in an effort to get out of there as fast as possible. Once Mr.Lars had answered her questions she sauntered back down the hall to the student's lounge.
  "Soph, do you have any band-aids?" Meredith asked as Sophie quietly collected her things from the room. "Um, no. Sorry." Sophie answered briefly. "I guess I should check the office." Meredith said, completely oblivious.
   When Meredith left for the office Sophie hightailed it out of the studio. She made no eye contact with the mothers in the lobby, or Mrs.Emma in the parking lot. She barely even checked her mirrors as she pulled out of her parking spot, headed anywhere but there.
   When she arrived where she was headed, which turned out to be The Morning Roast, it was just beginning to turn dark.
   At first she thought of the obvious choice of home, but decided against it since she didn't want to have to deal with Ted. She knew she would have to eventually but felt like putting if off, if only for a few hours, couldn't hurt.
   Of course she though about Carson too. Someone had to tell her. Lars sure wouldn't. Or Meredith for that matter.
  Sophie wasn't sure how she felt about the Meredith part of the equation. Carson was her best friend, so naturally she was appalled by the recent development. Then again Meredith was her friend too, and she certainly didn't deserve this either.
  She kept trying to piece everything together. Who had he seduced first? Did Meredith or Carson know about the other one? Were they the only two? These thoughts, among numerous others, sprinted through her head faster than she was able to comprehend them. So she finally got out of her car and walked into The Morning Roast.
   There was only a few people inside, but enough people to make it not appear deserted. Sophie decided to do something she only did when she needed to calm herself down. She made mental commentary of everyone in the room and what they were doing. For some reason focusing on what was happening around her was like people on soap operas breathing into paper bags.
   There was a woman in a burgundy jumper, sipping green tea, knitting a hat. A group of college students, maybe from the college her father taught at, talking (rather loudly at that) about the hidden meanings in Willy Wonka. A man in a gray suit checking his Blackberry.
   Finally she spotted a girl with almost black hair, which fell just at her shoulders. Her back was turned to Sophie. Sophie could see she was lost in a rather thick book. She reached for her bookmark on the table beside her and tucked it into her book. She turned her to the left slightly. It was Olivia.
  At first Sophie thought it would be best to leave. She didn't care to talk with Olivia at that moment, on account of how evasive she had been lately. Then she remembered that not too long ago she only hoped of seeing Olivia there. Evasive and all. Who knew maybe talking to Olivia would give Sophie some perspective. As long as it wasn't perspective into Olivia.
  "Hey" she called to Olivia. Olivia jumped slightly, before she turned around to see Sophie directly behind he chair. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Sophie remorse-ed. "Oh you didn't. I just get so involved in a book that I forget where I am." Olivia replied. "I can understand that. May I sit?" Sophie asked. Olivia nodded, pursing her lips.
  Sophie took a seat in the chair across from Olivia. "So what have you been up?" Olivia questioned. "Well I just finished student teaching." "Whose class?" "Mr.Lars." Olivia smiled, almost knowingly. "What I wouldn't give for an hour with Mr.Lars." Sophie rolled her eyes.
   "You have any coffee yet?" Sophie asked. "No, I had tea." "Oh I see. I think I'll get some. Do you want anything?" "No thanks."
   Sophie got up to walk to the counter, she ordered a medium dark roast, paid, put cream and sugar in it and then sat back down with Olivia. "Could I have your advice on something?" Sophie asked. "If you really  want my opinion, sure." Sophie swallowed stiffly before she spoke. "If you found out something that could hurt not only one friend but two and could possibly ruin their friendship, and your friendship with them, forever, would you tell them?" Olivia searched Sophie's face coolly. "What's the benefit to telling them?" Olivia asked. "So they don't get hurt more in the long run I guess." "They can only get hurt if they find out. The way I see things is people are way too in love with the idea of not keeping secrets from each other. The truth has been overly romanticized since the beginning of time. The truth is great and and everything but it's not everything. If you have the choice of the ugly truth or a dressed up lie your best bet is to go with the lie. No one ever tried to protect some using the truth." "But what if it's something they shouldn't be involved in in the first place?" "That's their problem and you can't do anything about it. People make bad choices without anyone's permission. Trust me Soph, no one stays friends with the messenger."
   Sophie digested her advice like cough syrup, It was hard to take but yet she felt relieved. Hearing that it wasn't her place to intervene, whether or not it was right, made her feel just a little lighter.
  It was then that it hit her Olivia had come alone. "Meeting someone?" she asked. "No. Just thought it was time to be out by myself. I can't hide behind other people forever." "What do you mean?" "Just what I said." Olivia smiled and Sophie knew there wasn't a question she could ask her and get a straight answer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chasses Secrets Chapter 20

   The next day all the dancers, that were there, were crowded along the barre' in the back studio. Some were relating the events of their weekend, or better yet what someone else did. While others simply warmed up their ankles.
   "So my parents are making me pay for the window, and all that happens to twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum is no video games for two weeks." Carson informed Sophie, Meredith, and Olivia. "That's seems a little unequal." Merdith replied, stretching her back out. "You're telling me! At least Mrs.Emma said I could pick up some more student hours, so hopefully it won't be too long before I've paid for the window." Carson said.
   "How was your weekend Olivia?" Meredith asked. "Fine." Olivia answered. Sophie immediately thought of Dean. Where was he, Sophie thought. She wondered who else knew about the Dean revelation. Who else had Olivia told. If she had told people about that, had she told them what she saw in Ian's room? But the real question she was thinking of the most was, what was what Olivia saw in Ian's room. And what did Sophie want it to be.
   Meredith tried not to appear as though she had expected more information from Olivia, which she had. "How was your weekend Sophie?" Meredith asked. Sophie tensed up a little. "It was good." Sophie said, smiling convincingly. "Anything exciting happen?" Carson inquired, pushing the hair pins back in her bun. Sophie shook her head nonchalantly. "What's the matter Soph? Someone got your tongue?" Olivia teased, putting her hands on Sophie's shoulders. Sophie laughed nervously in response. "No, just a regular weekend.".
  "So have you worn that halter you got yet?" Carson asked Meredith. Sophie faced the barre' and started to rise onto pointe. "No, but I was thinking of wearing it at Cassie's party Friday night" Meredith replied, "Darn it! If you had worn it already I would've asked to borrow it for that" Carson whined. "Why didn't you get one if you liked it so much?" Olivia questioned. "Because, why waste my money when I can borrow from Meredith" Carson explained. "Logical point" Olivia agreed.
   "Wait! I thought she wasn't having it this year" Sophie interjected. "She wasn't, until her new boyfriend Luke mentioned that he thought she should have it" Carson informed.  They all nodded. "I love Cassie but all she does is do what her boyfriend wants" Meredith said. "I know, it's so sad when a girl completely loses herself to a guy" Olivia agreed, shifting her eyes sideways at Sophie. "Well he did talk her into having the party" Sophie said, hoping to change the subject. "You should wear your burgundy sweater dress Soph" Carson exclaimed. "Maybe, good idea".
   Mrs.Nora and Mrs.Emma entered the studio discreetly. The students didn't notice their presence until Mrs.Nora placed two fingers in her mouth, emitting a shrill whistle. They abruptly stopped whatever they were doing and turned their attention to Mrs.Emma and Mrs.Nora.
   "Thank you Mrs.Nora" Mrs.Emma said. "I assume you're all warmed up" Mrs.Emma addressed the dancers. They smiled and nodded as a sort of affirmative. While some just looked down at their pointe shoes knowing all they had done was talk. "Good, because we're diving straight into choreography tonight! Sophie I'll need you in the next studio with Ian" Mrs.Emma said. "Ian? Where's Dean?". An almost pained expression crossed Mrs.Nora's face. "He won't be back for while" Mrs.Emma answered.
   So they are considering him a suspect, Sophie thought. "I want everyone in the middle of the floor" Mrs.Nora called. The dancers scampered towards the middle of the floor.
   Sophie only had a moment to see the confused expressions on Carson's and Meredith's faces before Mrs.Emma motioned her towards the next studio. If Sophie was looking for a sign as to whether or not Olivia had told others about Dean than that was as good a sign as any.
   When Sophie and Mrs.Emma walked into the studio Ian was standing at the far end, peering in the mirror, fixing his hair. Ian noticed them from out of the corner of his eye. "Oh hi" he greeted, waving slightly. Sophie smiled shyly. "So let's get started" Mrs.Emma said as she popped a cd into the cd player.
   "Y'all are doing great!" Mrs.Emma exclaimed. "Really?" Ian said, his breathing heavy. Mrs.Emma couldn't keep herself from laughing a little. "I know Sophie's doing great, but I highly doubt I am." he explained further. "Well you are. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement, but then again you haven't been dancing since you were twelve" Mrs.Emma assured.
   Mrs.Emma looked up at the clock on the wall as she placed her hand on the doorknob. "Why don't you two take a ten minute break seeing as I have some things to take care of. And by break I mean drinking more water and stretching out those muscles" Mrs.Ema told them. Sophie and Ian both nodded before Mrs.Emma disappeared from the room. Sophie picked up her water bottle and a took a long gulp, focusing her eyes anywhere but on Ian.
   That's what she had been doing for the last hour. Although it was nearly impossible when not only did she have to dance with him but he also had to lift her. It wasn't that she was embarrassed about that night. She just didn't quite understand what that made them now. Did Ian truly have feelings for her? Or was he just looking to forget about all of the tumult and pain of the last month.
    "How do you do it?" he asked. Sophie cocked her head in Ian's direction. "Do what?" she questioned him, her syllables slow and exact. "Pick up choreography like that, like it's nothing.". "I don't know, muscle memory I guess.". Ian smiled.
   "How come you stopped dancing?" she asked. He folded his arms. "I was getting more into basketball at the time and my teammates thought it was hilarious to give me a hard time about it.". "Oh. Do you ever miss dancing?". "Sometimes. Until I remember how much work it takes. Not that basketball isn't grueling, it's just.....different.".
   For a while they just stood there, both of them wondering who would address the elephant in the room first. Or more appropriately, elephants.
   "You're probably curious about what happened to Dean?" Ian said. Sophie edged closer to him. "Yeah, I am.". "He's being looked at as a suspect now, so his parents didn't think it would be a good idea for him to have contact with anyone from the studio.". "What do your parents think about that?". "They think he could be involved so they think it's for the best right now.". "Didn't they think I was involved at one point too". "Yeah, but only because you were the last person to see her, at least that's what we thought. So until we know of someone that saw her after Dean saw her he's suspect number one.". "What has Dean said about that night?". "He claims that when they met up he told her he was having second thoughts about leaving, she got mad, told him if he wouldn't go with her she would go by herself, then she ran off, he tried to follow her, but he lost her.". "What did he do after that?". "Went home. He figured she needed some time to cool off.". Sophie placed her thumbnail in between her teeth, not really gnawing, just there. "That's all I know. At least for now." he announced. "Good to know." she replied, nodding.
   Ian walked over to the window and separated the blinds. "Well what do you know! It's raining and the sun's out." he proclaimed, an awed tone to his voice. Sophie smiled slightly to herself, amused by his child-likeness. "You know they say when it's raining and the sun's out the devil's beating his wife." she said.
  He released the blinds from his fingers and turned to look at her. "That's a kind of morbid thing to say.". She glanced down at her feet then up at him. "Yeah, I guess it is." she said. She swiftly turned towards the mirrors and began to go on and off of pointe. He watched her for a moment, and suddenly he was aware of how petite and delicate she appears. Even when they were children she seemed taller, stronger. As though her quick wit, and logical, yet imaginative mind, made up for a few inches or so.
   "Although I must say, a little bit of morbidness works on you." he said. She laughed, more out of surprise than humor. "Is that a line?". "Why? Is it working?". "You've never struck me as a line sorta guy.". "I'm not. And for the record that's wasn't a line." "Good. But just for curiosity's sake, what did you mean?". Ian scratched the back of his head. "It's unexpected. I like that about you. You're not predictable.".
   Sophie rolled his emission over in her head like a glass marble after it's shot. "I guess there's worse things to be." she finally spoke. Ian walked closer to her. "You're terrible at taking compliments, you know that?" he said. She smiled, rolling her eyes. "Maybe I'm just not used to them coming from you.". "Maybe you should. Get used to it I mean.".
    Sophie took a deep breath. preparing herself. "Ian, what is this?". Ian smile, uncertain of her meaning. "What do you mean 'this?". "This!" she said, motioning to the space between them. Ian moves towards her, eclipsing that space. He took both of her hands in his own, lacing their fingers together. "This. Is perfect. It' what I've wanted ever since I can remember. At least since I can remember you. Oh how I remember you.".  He brushed the wisps of hair off her face, and kissed her gently.
   Suddenly they heard the door creep open. They whirled around to see Carson standing in the doorway. "Carson! Hi!" Sophie exclaimed. Ian waved at Carson awkwardly. Carson grinned. "Um, Mrs.Nora needs the two of you." Carson explained. "Okay. Thank you. We'll be right there." Sophie replied. "Don't mention it" Carson said, trying not to laugh.
   Carson exited the room, closing the door quietly. "Well that wasn't awkward." Ian quipped. Sophie erupted with uncontrollable laughter. "I have to say. We have the worse timing ever." Sophie said, picking up her water bottle. "Eh, you can't have everything." Ian replied, draping his arm around her shoulders as they left the studio and entered the desolate lobby.
   "If y'all would listen to the music you would know that it's not nearly as fast as you think!" Mrs.Emma said as she turned the music off.
   Ballet had ended almost an hour ago, and they had been going over the jazz routine for almost half an hour. So far it wasn't coming along well. "I think we all should take a few minutes to listen to the music. I mean really listen to the music. Maybe then y'all can get the tempo correct". Mrs.Emma said.
   With that she turned on the music. As the intro boomed through the speakers the dancers tried to find the tempo. Unfortunately most of them couldn't find it or were too distracted.
    Carson's mind kept wandering towards the broken window. She couldn't quite wrap her head around how long it would take to pay for the repairs. But she could assume it wouldn't be anytime soon.
   But the thing that truly perplexed her was what she saw in the studio. Sophie always behaved as though she hardly noticed Ian in that way. Like they were on different planets entirely. Then again everyone could see the way they looked at each other. If there were any two people who should be together it was them. She couldn't be happier that they finally gave in to what everyone else already knew. If only everyone else could be rooting for her and Lars.
    "You can't do this!". Everyone immediately stopped listening to the music and turned their attention to the shouting coming from the lobby. "Y'all stay here. I'll take care of that." Mrs.Emma said, the only sign of uncertainty coming from her fumbling hands.
   Once she had disappeared from their sight they all crowded themselves around the door. "Do you think that's someone we know?" Cassie whispered, more of an audible thought than a question for the group.
   Sophie scanned the group to check that they were all together. She knew the last thing they needed was for someone to intervene. She only noticed one person missing among them. Olivia. "I'll be back." Sophie told Carson. "Wait! Where are you going?" Carson frantically called after her.
   Sophie sauntered out the studio by way of the door on the opposite end. She could hear the shouting building as she got closer. Sure enough there was Olivia. And Dean. Mrs.Emma was trying in vain to get Dean to leave by his own will, while Mrs.Nora held her cellphone, ready to call 911 if necessary. Dean was yelling at not only Mrs.Nora but Olivia too. Yet he didn't appear enraged or hostile. Truth be told he looked hurt.
   "You can't keep us apart!" he yelled, his fist beating his thigh. "Dean, listen to me. You need to leave before things get worse." Mrs.Emma told him, bridging the distant between Dean and Olivia. "I don't see how it could get much worse. Not only can I no longer see my girlfriend, but everyone else thinks I'm responsible for her disappearance.". Olivia shook her head at him in disdain. "I was never your girlfriend." Olivia corrected him. "My bad Liv! I didn't know were getting all technical now.". An air of mockery crept into his voice.
   Mrs.Nora finally noticed Sophie, who was standing in the background, motionless. "Sophie! Go back in the studio! And take Olivia with you." Mrs.Nora ordered. Sophie nodded and reached for Olivia's arm to guide her back. "No, I'm fine!" Olivia exclaimed, pushing Sophie off. "You stop right now Olivia, and go with Sophie." Mrs.Nora snaps.
   Olivia gave in and reluctantly followed Sophie back. Sophie stopped at the bathroom. "Why were you out there?" Sophie asked. "I didn't know it was him. I was curious. Can you blame me?" Olivia repsonded, raising her eyebrow. "No. I can't.". Olivia turned swiftly, heading for the studio, leaving Sophie just a few feet from the door.
   Eventually Mrs.Emma and Mrs.Nora were able to coax Dean to leav without the police's help. After all of the tumult they decided it would be best to send the dancers home.
   Although they were all eager to know what was going on none of them felt brave enough to ask. They barely even talked as they taped toes, put away shoes, and threw on clothes. Even the air felt strange and unknown to them.
  Olivia was the quietest of them all. Almost as quiet as the night she was found in York Park. They weren't surprised when she left by the back door.
  "Sophie, do you need these tights for class tonight?" Carol called upstairs. "No, but thanks Mom." Sophie answered.
   It was Tuesday, just less than an hour before she was suppose to be at the studio. All last night she had tossed and turned. All she could think about was Dean. She even dreamed about him. They were in the woods, and she was bound to an oak tree. But those were the only details she could recall.
   Sophie finished pushing hair pins into her bun. Then she glided over to her dresser. She lifted the lid from her mint colored box and extracted a cream ribbon. She stood in front of her mirror , carefully the ribbon in a bow around her bun.
   Ding-dong! Sophie took one last look at herself before she bolted down the stairs. She unlocked the door and swung it open. "Carson, what a surprise!" she exclaimed, a genuine smile spread across her lips. "Yeah, well I was in the neighborhood.".
   And suddenly Sophie knew why she was there. "Why don't we go up to my room." Carson nodded. They filed up the stairs. Then once they were in Sophie's room Carson plopped down on the bed as Sophie shut the door.
  "So you want to know what that was yesterday, don't you?" Sophie assumed. "Oh, you mean you and Ian Webb kissing in the studio." Carson replied in her peppiest of tones. "Yes".
   Carson situated herself so she was resting on her stomach. "Proceed." Carson announced. Sophie pulled out the chair to her vanity and set down. "I think we're, um, together." Sophie said. "Together? Please define.". "A couple."
   Carson practically sprang off the bed towards Sophie. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! This is so exciting!" Carson squealed as she held her hands just under her chin. "I mean I think we are. We haven't actually put a label on us yet.". "Will you stop worrying and just let yourself be happy. Even if it's just a minute.". "Oh trust me, I'm happy, I'm ecstatic. I'm just....".
   Carson tilted her head as though she could understand it all that way. "Just what?". "I can't stop thinking about Dean.". An expression of shock hits Carson's face like a cold wind. "Are you seeing Dean too?" asked Carson. "No.". "Good. Because he's crazy.".
   Carson picked up the snow-globe from Sophie's dresser, wound it, then set it down. "If you're not seeing him though, then why are you thinking about him non-stop?". "You remember what happened last night?". "Uh, of course! Why? Do you know why he's not in The Sleeping Beauty anymore?". "Yes. I wasn't seeing him, but Olivia was. That's why he was there.". "No way! You're not serious! You can't be!". "I know. I thought the same thing.". Carson sat down on the bed dejectedly.
  "I guess that explains the mall. I just can't believe it though. She used to rag on him worse than anyone.". "It's true though. Ian told me. Apparently Olivia and Dean were going to run away together the night she went missing. At least that's what she's telling people.". "If they ran away for those two weeks then how  come Dean was still here?". "That's just it, they didn't. Dean claims that he has second thoughts that night, she got mad and said she was leaving anyways.". Sophie licked her lips absentmindedly.
  "Why would she want to leave in the first place?" Carson mused. Sophie shrugged. "The only thing I know for certain is the police are looking at him as a suspect now.".
  Sophie took a peek at her clock, remembering they had class. 4:47. "Hey Car, I hate to cut this short but we have class in like thirteen minutes." Sophie said. Carson pulled herself up. "You're right. Why don't we take my car.". "Sure! Thanks!".
  Sophie grabbed her jacket from her closet, threw her dance bag over her shoulder and followed Carson out of the room. They jostled down the steps and out the front door. Once they got Carson's car Carson took her keys out of her pocket and thrust them at Sophie. "Here Soph, you drive. I don't think I've recovered from that shocking news enough to drive.".

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chasse Secrets Chapter 19

  "I'm pretty sure if it's the stalker he or she wouldn't need a GPS. That's kinda the point of being a stalker" Sophie whispered as Carson and she edged towards the bottom of the stairs. "Good point". "Go look". Sophie nudged Carson. "Why me? It's your stalker" Carson shot back. "But it's your house". Carson rolled her eyes, admitting defeat. Carson cautiously crept up the steps. Sophie pulled her phone out of her pocket. Carson rounded the corner at the top of the stairs. Sophie craned her neck forward as Carson walked down the hall.
   "Matt, Aaron! How many times have I told you not to play ball in the house!". Sophie breathed an enormous sigh of relief as she listened to Carson order her little brothers to bed.
  The final strains of "How great Thou art" flowed from the church as the Duvals along with the rest of the church members filed out.
  Sophie had left Carson's shortly after the whole stalker-turned-brothers-and-baseball fiasco. She texted her before she left for church this morning to ask if things were okay but she hadn't responded yet.
  "Wonderful sermon, Kurt. Just wonderful" Mr.Duval boomed. Kurt had given the sermon today seeing as Rev. Grant was away on vacation. He had preached on forgiveness, a subject he had previously discussed with the youth in Wednesday night Bible study.
  "I tried, sir" Kurt replied, scratching the back of his head nervously. "It really was very moving and powerful. I could feel the spirit with you" said Carol. "Thank you Carol. What about you Sophie? You didn't happen to see any of the youth falling asleep did you?". Sophie smiled. "No, you had their full attention" she assured. "Where did you brother run off to? I saw him in the congregation" he inquired. "He had to talk to Henry. Henry's helping him with his PR firm" Mr. Duval explained before Sophie could open her mouth to speak. "I remember Henry mentioning something about that" he said, excitingly waging his forefinger as he spoke. "Yes, we're all very proud of Ted" Mr. Duval boasted.
  "Well we'll let you talk to the rest of the congregation. See you Wednesday" Carol interrupted, clutching Mr.Duval's arm. Kurt nodded a brief goodbye, as the Duvals hurried out of the church, before he spoke to the next family.
  They stood just outside the church, quickly glancing around them for Ted. Sophie pulled her phone out from her purse to check the time. 11:59 A.M. Kurt had finished earlier than Rev. Grant usually did. When Rev. Grant preached they were lucky to get out of church at 12:05 P.M.
  As if on cue Ted briskly walked towards them, wriggling his keys from his pants pocket. "Hey! We should get going if we want to get anything done today" he said to Sophie, motioning to the parking lot. "I've been ready! You're the one who's been chatting away" Sophie reminded him. Ted rolled his eyes as though to say 'yeah right!'.
  "I'll see you later Mom" he said, hugging Carol goodbye. "Bye Dad" he added, giving him a wave. "Bye Mama" Sophie said, hugging her mom as well. "Make sure you're home by 6 P.M. for dinner" Carol called after her children. "I'll make sure of it Mama" Sophie replied. "Bye Dad".
  Carol and Mr. Duval watched Sophie and Ted as they hurried to the parking lot. Ted opened the passenger side door. Sophie threw her purse in first before climbing into her seat. Ted made his way around the car, opened the door, and gets in. "So you wanna just pick something up through a drive-through?" he asked as he turned the key in the ignition. "Sounds fine to me" Sophie replied.
  Three hours later. Sophie sat Indian-style in the floor of what would be Ted's office, organizing his files. Every time she finished one box he presents her with another. She's beginning to think he has a never ending supply of boxes filled with files.
  As soon as they got there Ted introduced Sophie to all of his soon-to-be co-workers. There was Anna, Craig, and Steve, all of whom were from his college days. Then there was Vick, Brandon, Angela, Andrew, and some guy whose name she couldn't pronounce or remember. They were from Delaware.
 They all seemed to be carbon copies of Ted. Intellectual, driven, and kept the same fake, over the top smile on their faces. Yet she somehow sensed them to be genuinely nice.
  The building wasn't extremely big, but wasn't by any means small. The lobby had pale blue walls. A kind of blue that reminded Sophie of a baby blanket she had as a child. One the front door of the building read 'Duval PR Firm' in crisp, white letters. Sophie couldn't get over how peculiar his name looked on the door.
  "Here's another box for ya" Andrew said as he dropped a box down beside Sophie. "Thanks" she replied, pushing her hair back with her hand. "This isn't too much for ya?" he asked. Sophie glances around at the boxes surrounding her. "Define 'too much'" she quipped.
  He chuckled slightly as he lowered himself to the floor next to her. "Let me see" he said, reaching for a box. "So how do you know my brother from Delaware exactly?". "Well, don't tell you parents but I met him at a bar" he explained. "It was right after he had graduated, he was looking for a job, so I told him to apply where I was working. Sure enough he got the job". Sophie shoved one box out of her way and pulled another towards her.
  "So did you got to college in Delaware as well?" she asked. "Yep! Born and raised there too" he informed her. "I bet you and you parents were surprised to have him back" he added, flipping through a folder. "I was the only one who didn't know actually" she replied, thinking about that day for the first time. "But we were all surprised by his new look".
 An amused expression passed over Andrew's face. "Yeah, he went all cave-man on us when he left the company". "When was that?". "He didn't tell you? It was about two or three months ago". Sophie practically halted her work, shocked by Andrew's words. "He was pretty sketchy about the whole thing. Wouldn't tell anyone what had happened. Neither would the company" he added, replacing the lid on a box. "About a week or two after he left he came to me telling me about how had has come into some money when your great Aunt Besty died, it is Aunt Besty, right?".
  At first Sophie just stared at him blankly. "Well I call her Aunt Bes, but yeah. Now that you mentioned it I do remember him saying something about all that. I must have just forgotten with all the hoopla lately" she spoke, her voice unsure of itself. He bit his lips, narrowing his eyes down at the papers in his hands. "Your brother told me about your friend, That had to be hard. Knowing she could be dead and not being able to do anything about it". "Yeah, it was".
  The door to the office abruptly swung open and they twisted their torsos around to see Ted. "Hey guys! We need some help painting!" he announced. "I'm still in my church clothes" Sophie replied, motioning to her skirt and sweater. "One step ahead of you sis! I brought smocks".
  Ted watched impatiently as Sophie and Andrew place the papers on top of the boxes. "Come on" he said. "I need y'all to help me decide between eggplant and iris".
  Carol jumped at the click the lock made as Ted turned the key. "You're home" she addressed Ted and Sophie, putting her book down on the coffee table. Sophie locked the door behind them. "Yep, finally!" Ted replied. "Dinner will be ready in an hour or so, the spaghetti sauce just needs to cook some more". "Mmmm, I love your spaghetti" Sophie said, dropping her purse on the coffee table.
  "Dad's upstairs I guess?" Ted asked, pointing to the stairs. "Yeah, he's looking for the Fall decorations.I'm pretty late with them this year" she answered, stifling a deep yawn. Ted galloped up the steps without a word.
  Sophie eyed the book on the table. "A history of the first ladies" Sophie read. "I just started reading it this afternoon , it's good. So far". "It looks good. I've always wondered about the women behind the men" Sophie said, taking the book in her hands. "I've always hated that expression" Carol replied, wrinkling her nose in disdain.
  Sophie grinned at her words. Most people would look at her mother and see a conjunction of contradictions. While when Sophie looked at her mother she saw a person who never realized she was expected to be strictly one thing.
  "Did you get to meet any of Ted's friends?" Carol inquired. "Yes, I talked to his friend Andrew some" Sophie told her, hoping she couldn't tell she was thinking about what Andrew had said. "I think Ted might have mentioned him at Christmas. "What's he like?" Carol questioned further. Sophie thought about it for a moment. "Talkative" she finally said. "In a good or bad way?" Carol asked plainly. "Good, definitely goo" replied Sophie, nodding her head rapidly.
  Bing! Sophie sat the book down, opened her purse, and fished her cellphone out. "Who's that?" Carol asked, bugging her eyes playfully? "Let me see". One new text message it read. Sophie opened her text. It was from Ian. "Hey Soph! Could you come over? It's important.'. "It's Ian, he wants to know if I can come over". "Ooohh" Carol replied knowingly. Sophie rolled her eyes. "I'll be back in time to set the table" Sophie assured. "Tell them I said hi" Carol told her, picking her book up. "I will" Sophie said, heading out the door.
  "Hey! Is everything okay?" Sophie blurted out as Ian opens the door. Ian glanced left, then right, then ushered Sophie in, shutting the door after her. "Is that a yes?" she asked anxiously. "Just wait" he said, taking her hand, leading her down the hall. "For what?" she exclaimed, her tiny feet following him reluctantly. He stopped at his bedroom door, swung it open, and guided her in.  It's cleaner than she would have expected. She takes a seat on the edge of his bed, as he shuts the door.
   "Olivia remembers" he said, as he sits beside her. "Remembers? As in everything?" she asked. "Maybe I should start from the beginning" he replied. "Yes, please".
  "The evidence, it was a pocket knife, Olivia's actually. My parents gave it to her for her birthday, weird I know, but that's what she wanted. Well they found it in the woods. It had some of her blood dried on it. That's when she came clean".
  "About what?" "Well to begin with, there was never a cult". Sophie knited her brows together in confusion. "Do you mean it wasn't truly a cult?". "I mean there was never a cult or even a nature group". "How did you find out?". "The police were questioning her again, and they told her someone had told them she was involved in a cult. She told them that it was something she had made up to get to me, to fool me. She was tired of me being so overprotective and nosy". "Who told you about that?". "Olivia". "All those papers?". "She made those up too". "All that to get to you". "Yeah, she made them months ago, figuring I would be snooping in her room, and that it would be funny to watch me fall for her hoax".
  "What else does she remember?". "The night she went missing, the guy she was meeting, it was Dean". "Oh my gosh! Seriously?". Ian nodded, clenching his jaw. "She had brought the pocket knife with her that night. She said she always kept it in her purse". "So what did she do? Slit her wrist and left the knife in the woods?". "She doesn't remember that far".
  "So is that all?". Ian shook his head. "She was running away". "Are you serious?". "Yeah, she and Dean had been planning it for weeks. They were just so in love. At least that's what she claims". "That just doesn't sound like her. She seemed content, she seemed focused, she seemed....happy". "Well she was also blinded by that Dean kid".
  Sophie exhaled slowly, letting it all sink in. Then she remembered.
  "Do you remember me mentioning how upset she got when we questioned her about Dean yesterday?". "Yes, now that you brought it up". "I saw Olivia and Dean at the mall yesterday". "What were they doing?". "Fighting". "Like physically?". "Oh no, no. Just verbally". "Could you tell who was madder of the two?".
  Sophie tried to picture the scene in her mind. Most of the scene is a blur, except for one thing. Olivia's eyes. There was almost a pleading desperation on Olivia's as she watched Dean walk away. Something Sophie had never seen in Olivia's eyes.
  "Dean". Ian practically jumped off the bed. "If that guy thinks he's going to get away with it he's got another thing coming" he says, trying not to lose his temper. Sophie sprung up and placed her hands on his arms in an effort to calm him. "Stop it! Let's not jump to conclusions. We don't even know that the police are looking into him as a suspect yet". "Oh please! It's pretty clear that he's responsible for Olivia's disappearance and everything. If they're not looking into him as a suspect they should be". "Look, I don't want to say anything bad about Olivia, but how do we know she's telling the truth. She lied about the cult, who's to say she couldn't be lying now too".
  Ian nodded in agreement although it was hard to admit that he could be fooled by his sister once again. "I guess I just figured she wouldn't lie to the police too, I want to believe her. I don't want to believe that could do something so unfeeling and destructive  as involve someone's who's innocent".
  Sophie bit her lip, unsure of what to do or say. "I know" she simply said. She gently ran her hands up and down his arms, she could sense him relaxing. "Ian, even if she is lying that doesn't necessarily mean it's for destructive reasons. She could be scared or even protecting someone". "That's what scares me the most. If Dean is responsible at least I know. At least I can protect her from him. If it's someone else I wouldn't know who so I could protect her". "That's nice that you want to protect her but you're not always going to be able to do that, no matter how much you do or try". Ian laughed sarcastically. "Geez, thanks Soph. I feel a lot better". "Yeah, I'll admit it, that's kind of depressing to realize. But don't forget that Olivia has more people willing to protect her rather than harm her. And anyone that would try to harm her now either has a death wish or is insane".
  "Thank you". "For what?". "For helping me to keep my sanity". Sophie smiled at him winsomely. "Of course. I couldn't let the boy next door been sent away in a straight jacket. What would the neighbors think?". He placed his hand under her chin and guided it carefully upward. He leaned down letting his lips meet hers. He kissed her.
  At first she just stood there. Then she started to kiss him back, wrapping her arms around his neck. A flood of emotions swept over her and she was overwhelmed. Unable to rationalize the moment, put it into words, or even care to do so. He leaned into her more, accidentally causing her to stumble backwards. She couldn't help but giggle lightly as she tried to regain her balance. "Whoa! Don't get all weak in the knees on me". "I can't help it, you just have that effect on me".
  He started to kiss her again but was interrupted by the door swinging open. They are shocked to see Olivia in the doorway, propping herself up by the door-frame. "Hi" Olivia finally speaks. "Hi Liv" Sophie replies numbly. "We just got home. We thought we might go out for dinner. Would you like to join us Sophie?" Olivia explains. "Thanks, but my mom is expecting me for dinner. She says hi by the way. I really should be leaving. Nice to see you Live". "You too".
  Olivia stepped back out of the doorway letting Sophie dart out. "Bye" Ian called out after her. Olivia kept her eyes fixed on Sophie until she had completely disappeared from the hall. Then she turned back to her brother, who was standing in his room awkwardly with his arms folded. "What?" he asked, breaking the silence. "Nothing". "We were just..." he tried to explain. Olivia shifted her weigh, preparing to hear his explanation. "She had something in her eye" he fibbed. "Sure". "I'm starving. I feel like Mexican tonight".
  When Sophie got home she smelled spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove. She hears her mother humming softly. She looks towards the mantle and sees the fall decorations displayed tastefully. She falls back on the front door and pushed her hair back from her face. Contemplating what had happened. Then she decides her room would be a more conducive environment to think everything over.
  So she dozily ascends the stairs, headed for her room. But she is stopped by the sight of Ted, in his room, the door open.
  "Hey brother!" she said, knocking on the door-frame. "Hey sis" he replied, his voice conveying how busy he was at the moment. "Can I come in?". "I guess". Ted laughed as thought she were stupid to ask.
  He opened his top drawer and started to rifle through it's contents. "What are you doing?" she asked, "Putting my clothes out for tomorrow". Sophie takes a seat on the carpeted floor. She leaned back on her hands and looked up at her brother as he pulled more clothes out of the drawer.
  Looking at him from this angle makes her feel like a child again. Short and insignificant.
  "I do that too. We must get it from mom" she remarked. Ted nodded, holding an olive colored tie up against a tan shirt. "How did you like helping out today?" he asked. She shrugged noncommittally. "It was okay. Lots of files". "You're telling me". Sophie picked at a piece from of the carpet. "I talked to Andrew some today" she said. "Oh yeah? What about?". "You leaving the company two or three month ago".
  Ted finally looked up. His face was a mix between caution and anger. "What exactly did he say?". "I think the questions is what's the truth Ted?". Ted crossed his arms and squares himself to his towards his sister. "I haven't lied about anything". "I never said that". "But that's what you're implying". "I just want to know what happened in Delaware". "It was time to leave". "And the money?". "What money?". "The money that you started the company with. From Aunt Besty. It's funny how I've never met or even heard of Aunt Besty". "Frankly, I don't have to tell you, nor do I care to" he replied, almost yelling. "You're right But that doesn't help your case". "I didn't know I was on trial". "That's not what I meant".
  Ted stared her down. "You know what, I don't care. Ge out, now!". Sophie jumped up at the sharp yell of Ted's voice. "Listen, I'm sorry" she apologized. "Just leave" he said, pointing to the door. Sophie walked carefully out of his room, just in time for him to slam the door behind her.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chasse Secrets Chapter 18

  Sophie was reclined on her bed, a book in her hand. She had been re-reading the same line for quite some now. She just couldn't seem to concentrate. What could the evidence be, she thought. A scarf? A shoe? A knife? She shook her head, trying to clear her mind of those thoughts.
  "Dinner!". Sophie sprang to her feet at the sound of her mother's voice. The aroma of homemade chili and cornbread wafting under her nose as she entered the kitchen. "Can you set the table?" Mrs. Duvall asked Sophie. Sophie nodded, grabbing the bowls off the counter along with some utensils from the drawer.
  Once she had meticulously place every bowl, spoon, and knife on the cheery stained table they sat down, said grace, and dug in.
  The usual discussion ensued, things like "how was your day?", "did you hear about Walter?". But Sophie was miles away. Which wasn't abnormal for her since Olivia's disappearance and re-appearance.
 "And then I went down to the courthouse to change my name to purple toenail" Ted sarcastically announced. Sophie jerked her head up from her bowl. "Sophie, what's up?! You've been completely zoned out ever since we sat down" Ted asked. "I'm just pretty tired, I didn't sleep well last night" she lied. "It was probably something you ate" he replied.
  "So how's the business coming along?" Mrs.Duvall asked, taking a heaping spoonful of chili. "Not bad, not bad" Teddy answered. "Who will be working with you?" Mrs. Duvall inquired. "Let's see, some friends from Delaware, a few from college, Henry from church, that's about it so far" he told them, counting them off on his right hand. "I was wondering if you'd be interested in helping your big brother" he said, addressing Sophie. "Um, sure. How exactly?" she answered, leery of what her brother had in mind."Well I have a ton of papers and stuff to organize tomorrow after church" he explained. " Okay, I don't have anything to do tomorrow anyways" she said as she took a swig of water. "Great! We'll pick lunch up on the way" he replied. Sophie smiled cordially. She could see her mom beaming down at her bowl.
  Carol had been in unusually high spirits since her son's return. Sure, she was happy that he had been flourishing in his PR firm in Delaware, but the fact that she rarely got to see him really ached at her. Not that she ever let anyone see that, particularly her children. Over the years she had become quite adept at keeping her emotions in check, for the sake of those around her.
 "So how's your classes going dad?" Sophie asked, hoping that would rouse him to discussion. "Let's just say, there are those who who come my class prepared and those that expect me to force-feed the scriptures to them. My classes consist of mostly the latter". Sophie nodded.
  That was her father's biggest complaint every semester. He would whine, grumble, and be generally amazed at how unprepared most of his students were. One year he even had a student, who wasn't doing well by any standards, say that the only reason he wanted to become a minster was because he thought it was an easy job. To which Mr.Duvall responded by laughing exuberantly.
  But every once in a while there was a student that surprised him. For example Kurt Henderson, a native of Iowa. Mr.Duvall was so impressed with his zeal and understanding of the Bible that he took him under his wing, helping him acquire the position of youth pastor at the Duvall's own church last year. Truthfully Sophie and her brothers were a bit resentful of their father's close relationship with Kurt. But Sophie had warmed up to him as she got to know him more. She couldn't really blame her father knowing he had always wanted to have one of his children go into some form of the ministry.
  "Why don't you just go ahead and retire? You've been talking about it for months" Carol interjected. "Because, what would I do? Garden? Besides I still have one child to put through college" he said, through a mouthful of cornbread. "That's true" she replied, reminded that her youngest would soon be gone.
  "How's Olivia?" Ted questioned. Sophie swallowed and then proceeded with her answer. "Good, I guess. They found some possible evidence".
  "Something tells me you're not very interested in the movie" said Meredith, rolling her eyes playfully at Lars as he nibbled at her neck. They were thirty minutes into the movie and Lars had barely glanced at the t.v. screen. It was an indy film. Boy goes to college, meets a girl from London, she moves back, he goes after her, he falls in love with her London roommate. Sub-par acting, but breath-taking scenery.
  "What can I say? Everything seems so boring in comparison to you" he gushed, letting his forefinger trace the line of her jaw. "I can't agree with you there" she replied, faking a modest tone. "So what did you do today?" she asked. "I sat here, cried my heart out that you weren't here, and ate potato chips" he teased. "You're so funny". "Actually I had classes to teach until about twelve-ish, but later I did eat potato chips" he informed her. She laughed amusingly. "What about you?" he asked, resting his chin on his hand. "I went shopping with Sophie, Carson, and Olivia". "Oh really? How is Olivia?".
  Meredith pondered his question thoroughly. The truth was she hadn't the slightest clue how to answer. One minute she behaved as though nothing had happened. The next, she was dodging questions and being defensive  like they were putting her on the witness stand. But then again she had always been elusive. Why would they expect things to be different now? Especially with such a delicate subject.
  "She's Olivia". Lars didn't seem very satisfied with that answer. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by his phone chiming. With an annoyed look on his face he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket. He quickly glanced down at the caller I.D. on the screen, and hung up. "Who was that?" Meredith questioned. "My mom". Meredith raised her eyebrow at him. "You hung up on your mom?". "It's no big deal. I'll call her back later". Lars reached across Meredith for the remote, turning the volume up. "Now let's get back to the movie" he announced, grinning warmly. Meredith smiled in return, and laid her head down on his chest.
  She tried to focus on the movie but she just couldn't. What kind of guy hangs up on his own mother, she thought.
   Sophie turned the shower knob off, hearing the last drops of water drip rhythmically. She stepped out and wrapped the tangerine towel around herself. Dinner had ended roughly two hours ago. Her dad and mom were studying their Sunday school books for tomorrow, and Ted was out catching up with friends, so the house was quiet.
  She tip-toed to her room, her parents' voices coming from downstairs. Once she was in her room she shut the door. She strolled towards her drawers, searching for some comfortable clothes. When she found what she was looking for she pushed the drawer back into place. She flung her towel onto her bed her and slipped her sweats onto her cold body.
  He mind kept drifting back to Olivia. It took all her energy to not let herself call over there and ask about what they found. They didn't need her prying into to their personal affairs. If she wants me to know she'll tell me, she told herself.
  She walked out into the hallway, grabbed a towel from the linen closet and proceeded to towel dry her hair. As she scrunched her hair in the fluffy towel she slowly opened her blinds. She eyed the Webbs' gravel driveway. Ian's car was there. She speculated as to how long they had been back. One hour? Two hours?
  She snapped her attention back to her room. He eyes fell upon her ballet vocabulary book. That should get my mind off of things, she thought. She picked it up along with a ball point pen and a notebook. She leaned back on her bed and flipped to a fresh piece of paper. She read. She wrote. But it was purely mechanical. She couldn't even try to absorb the words. It was like a rubber-ball being thrown at a wall. It made contact, but it didn't stick.
  After about an hour she just gave up. She drowsily slid off her bed, hoping a little exercise would help. She laid back on her pink rug, her legs to the window. She sucked in her abdomen and crunched upwards. One, two, three, she counted in her head. She steadied her breathing to the timing of her crunches.
  Forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty. She rolled over and stretched her stomach muscles out. She leaned back into child's pose, inching her finger-tips forward. A glass of milk would be great right now, she thought. She sprang to her feet to close her blinds, rolling her neck in a circle. When she peered out the window she was startled to see someone standing at her mailbox, staring, directly at her.
  "How could you? I trusted you!". Carson was sitting on the living room sofa eating popcorn and watching absolutely predictable soap operas. Her parents were out on their  weekly date night, and her brothers were upstairs glued to their video games. She had called Lars earlier, hoping his parents had left already. But he didn't answer. She guessed they must have a lot of catching up to do. Besides who would she get to watch her brothers. It would be pretty hard to explain to her parents why she wasn't there when they got back.
  She went into the kitchen to re-fresh her popcorn supply when the doorbell rang. She backtracked to the front door. She peaked out of the peep-hole. Sophie. She unlocked the door and swung it open. She watched Sophie strode into her living room, her eyes pointed straight forward.
  "Hello?" Carson mumbled, waiting for some sort of explanation. Sophie squared herself towards Carson."Hi" she spoke. "Is that all? You just came by to say hi". Sophie shook her head. "Sit" Carson motioned to the sofa. They sat down on the sofa. "I think someone was watching me" Sophie blurted out. Carson's eyes grew big. "What? Where? When?" Carson asked. "I was in my room doing some crunches just before I came over here and I got up to close my blinds and I saw someone at my mailbox" Sophie answered. "That's all?" Carson asked. "Pretty much, except for the fact that he or she was staring up at my window" Sophie replied. "Well, that is sorta creepy. But I doubt that it's anything to worry about" Carson assured her. "Says you! You don't have some creep lurking around your house". Carson rolled her eyes. "How do you know it wasn't just someone passing by? Maybe it's not what you think". I just know". Carson rested her hands on Sophie's shoulders. "Soph, it's not uncommon for people to see things after a traumatic event. You have been a little jumpy".
  Sophie shrugged Carson's hands off of her shoulders. "I'm not delusional" she protested. "Listen, I haven't told anyone but I think I know what might have happened to Olivia" she said, startled at the words flowing from her own mouth. "Are you serious? How?". "Ian. He said that Olivia had been involved in a cult, he told her to leave it but he's not sure if she did. Some of the members had become involved in witchcraft as well. That's the real reason we were in the woods the night we found her, we thought we might be able to find exactly where they met, we thought maybe it would help us find Olivia" Sophie explained.
  "Do the police know?" Carson asked. "Yes and no" Sophie answered evasively. "What does that mean?". Carson folded her arms securely. "Ian, told them about the cult, but he left out that he might know who's in the cult". "And that is?" Carson waited for her response. "I don't know yet". "Why didn't one of you tell the police that part". "I have no idea! It seemed like a good idea at the time? Plus we don't have any hardcore evidence".
  Carson gnawed impatiently at her thumbnail. "So you think someone from the cult is stalking you" Carson added. "Well it sounds a little insane when you say it" Sophie said, pushing her hair back. "I don't think you're insane" Carson assured. Sophie smiled sheepishly. "Thanks. I'm glad someone thinks so". "Who thinks you're insane?". "Me" Sophie admitted.
  "Does Olivia remember anything about the cult?". Sophie shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I haven't asked" she admitted. Carson let out a deep slow breath.
   "Would you like some ice cream?" Carson asked abruptly. She was already heading towards the kitchen when Sophie nodded yes. Sophie tagged along behind her. Carson brought a carton of cookies 'n' cream out of the freezer. Then she got two blue bowls and a pair of spoons.
  "Do you think Olivia remembers things and she just doesn't want to tell anyone. Like maybe she's scared to tell" Sophie mused. Carson glanced up from her scooping to see Sophie leaning on the counter. "Whatever happened the police are bound to uncover it soon, with, or without Olivia's memory to vouch. As for whether she remembers anything, I can't say. She's always been hard to read". Carson went back to scooping.
  Sophie pursed her chap-sticked lips together, a sign that she was either satisfied with Carson's response, or lost in a completely implausible scenario regarding Olivia. Carson shoved one of the bowls at Sophie before she walked back into the living room. Sophie picked the bowl up, cradling it in her hands, and followed her back.
   "So what were you up to before I barged in?" Sophie asked, plopping down on the end of the sofa. "Eating popcorn, watching soap operas, missing you-know-who". "Why aren't you with him now?". "His parents are over. I'll see him tomorrow". Sophie nodded, shoveling a cold lump of ice cream into her mouth."What were you up to before you barged in on me?" Carson asked. "I actually went over to Olivia's house to see how she was after the scene at the mall. That's what I forgot to tell you". Carson gave her a puzzled look. Sophie swallowed another spoonful. "They found some possible evidence" she announced. "Like what?". "I don't know. I haven't talked to her since this afternoon".
  Carson bit her tongue, preparing to speak. "How come you haven't told Olivia you know about the cult?" she asked. "I'm not really sure. I guess I thought it might cause more harm than good if she didn't remember about the cult". "What do think now?" Carson returned. Sophie clanged her spoon around in her bowl, listening to it's out of rhythm chime. "That maybe, it's worth the risk". Carson shot up from her place, taking both empty bowls into her hands. "Well whatever you do, I'd plan what I'd say to her extremely carefully" Carson advised, her voice trailing slightly as she walked into the kitchen. "Thanks, but I don't think I'll tell her too soon. Maybe if we're lucky the police have everything figured out by now" Sophie hoped, cracking her neck. "Amen to that" Carson interjected.
  "You know what I think" Carson added, as more of a statement than a question. Carson took her place next to Sophie once again. "I think we need to get our minds off of Olivia, cults, and potential stalkers. And do you know how we do that?" Sophie shook her head cautiously, a slight smile spreading across her lips. "We watch completely over the top soap operas" Carson turned the volume up. "Yes! Something more dramatic than our own lives" Sophie replied, her fist in the air as though it were a triumph.
  They let their minds become involved in the intertwining plot of the show. The maid had just stolen the lady of the house's diamond ring, when it happened. Crash! They jolted at the sharp shattering noise coming from upstairs. "What was that?" Sophie exclaimed. Carson swallowed hard before before she spoke. "Something tells me your stalker has gps".