He turned around at the sound of his name and met the eyes of that CEO who Audrey was obviously reliant on. He remembered the intimate way he had been showing her off at their first meeting and he felt a sting of jealousy crawl up inside him. His name was Anthony he thought, if he remembered correctly.
“How is Audrey?” His eyes flashed with worry. They flashed with a hell of a lot more than just worry. All those lines crinkling around them, what the hell had he been doing with somebody like her?
“She’s fine.” Jared shrugged and tucked his hands into the pockets of his coat.
“I haven’t seen much of her….could you tell to call me?”
Jared just stared at him a moment before he sighed. “She really doesn’t want to call anyone right now…can I bring her a message or something?” He knew he was getting bold but the idea of this old man having more claim to her than he did drove him crazy.
He looked at Jared with a bit of shock before he settled back into himself. “Yes…tell her that the longer she takes a break from her piano lessons, the more the teacher will want to quit.”
Jared snorted at that. What an excuse. “She plays just fine, brilliantly actually. I doubt she’ll need classes.”
Anthony’s brows knitted together with confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve heard her play…”
Anthony laughed and shook his head. “Audrey has barely played a note in her life. She’s been taking classes for awhile. I thought she could use it in her music.”
It was Jared’s turn then to feel a wave of confusion as he merely stared at Anthony. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He made to walk away but Anthony reached out and harshly took hold of his arm. “What?!” He snapped.
“You tell her to come on home now. That this rendezvous of hers is over.” He gritted out, his anger heavily weighing down his brows.
Jared laughed and pulled his arm away. “Just go away, she doesn’t need you, alright?” He walked away then, leaving Anthony standing there by himself.
With heavy force he pulled open the car door and dropped in. The thought that Audrey didn’t know how to pay confused him, irritated him actually. He had seen her play, had felt those notes ring out. What the hell did Anthony mean?
With a heavy sigh Jared reached over and put the keys into the ignition. He glanced up into the rearview mirror and saw a woman sitting in the back seat. Her smile was demure, her brilliant eyes so gentle as they held his. She looked so much like Audrey and yet it wasn’t her. She was too soft, too delicate. Harshly he swallowed down the fear, the nervousness as it rose up inside of him. He hesitantly turned around expecting her to suddenly disappear just like it did in the movies but when he did she was still there.
He didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what to do. He let out a shaky breath and tried to back away from her but her hands reached out for him and clutched onto his shirt. She came close to him, her breath cold and dank. He had no ability to fight, no strength left inside of him to allow him to set himself free of her hold.
“They did it Jared….both of them….they did.” She whispered, her breath like shards of glass piercing through him.
He tried to close his eyes as a pain shot through him. Her fingers caressed over the skin of his neck, leaving marks there as she did. He could feel sweat pearl at his forehead, could feel the dampness pool along his back. He wanted to scream but nothing would come out.
“The Summer, Jared….The Summer!” Her words were a whisper but they came out more like a scream. And with those words she was gone as she had never been there at all.
He was left pressed back against the stereo. His breath heavy and ragged. His eyes blurred by fearful tears. He was shaking, he needed to calm down but nothing allowed him to. He could still feel that cold body, could still see that beautiful face. He sat up fully, looking around with panic. He managed to start up the car despite the trembling of his hand. He just needed to get home.
Emma poured herself a cup of tea and mixed in the cream gently. She was slightly dizzy from watching Shannon pace back and forth but she couldn’t find it in herself to ask him what was going on. Mostly because she knew what was going on. She knew he had gotten another call. She knew that Audrey had spent the night. She had gotten drastic proof of that.
Gently she touched her fingers to the mark on her neck before hissing and returning her attention back to the tea. She was still tired. Even though when Shannon had left she had fallen asleep throughout the night her eyes kept snapping open over every sound she heard. She could still feel the effects the sleepless night left with her.
“If you keep going back and forth you’re going to make me vomit.” Emma complained finally lifting her eyes to Shannon.
He stopped and turned his eyes to her. “Sorry.” He muttered, pushing his hand back through his hair with a frustrated sigh.
“They called again?” She let go of the spoon, watched it swirl around before it settled with a clink against the glass.
He nodded. “They’re getting insistent, Em. What are we going to do?”
“Give it to them.” She replied as if it were the most simple thing in the world.
“What? We can’t just do that. We don’t even know why they want it.”
“I just want all this to be over…” She whispered, resting her forehead against her palm.
He came over to the table, pulling out one of the chairs so he could face her. Gently he rested his hand on her back causing her to meet his eyes. “It will be and soon…I just have to figure all of this out.”
She nodded. Both of them pretending that it was enough to reassure them and resolve the issue for awhile.
“She spent the night, huh?” He nodded. “What’s the matter with him? If he can’t remember what happened why is he doing this?” Tears started to glisten in her eyes as the problem became heavier for her to bear.
“I’m not wondering about him…I’m trying to understand what she’s doing and who the hell she is.”
“Are you all talking about me?” Audrey’s voice sang out as she came into view, a mug in her hands.
They both turned to look at her, their drawn expressions enough to make almost anyone walk away but Audrey just stayed.
“Is Jared back yet?” She asked in the sweetest voice. When Shannon shook his head she shrugged her shoulders. “Well when he does get back tell him I had some things to do.” And with that she walked away.
Emma let out a long held breath and sat back in her chair. “Being around her suffocates me.”
“Look, things are going to be alright…”
“You said that already.” Emma reminded him, no longer able to let herself fall into the routinely spoken terms that were meant to make everyone feel better. They never worked. Nothing could ever work with something like this.
After they heard Audrey’s car pull out they both went their separate ways. Emma went upstairs to shower. She felt a bit better but tiredness came over her. She wanted to lie down, just sleep. But before she did her eyes caught sight of the bags of clothes Shannon had set in her room, the ones that he had gotten from the box in Jared’s closet. Nervously she approached it, kneeling down and pulled the bags towards her.
The clothes were so delicate just like she had been. Each article she pulled out caused her heart to nearly freeze inside her. She felt her breath hitch in her chest, felt a wave of fear dawn on her. There were too many memories layered up inside these clothes. She could see them together. Her so delicately beautiful and Jared so in love that no one could even recognize him. It tore her apart to remember all of it. To remember what had happened.
“Emma!” Shannon’s voice yelled out from downstairs.
Emma jumped up at the sound before standing up and rushing downstairs. Again he called out her name this time with a more fiercely defined worry in his voice. She could see him in the living room, sitting on the floor cradling Jared in his arms.
“What happened?” She demanded as she rushed to his side and looked down Jared.
Jared was just laying there, he had scratches on his neck and his skin was pasty. His eyes were almost vacant. If it hadn’t been for the weezy breath coming from between his lips and the struggled rise and fall of his chest she would have thought him dead.
“I don’t know! He stormed in, started asking what the hell was going on and then he just fell.” Shannon was in a panic. He was trying to get his phone from his pocket while holding Jared and the difficulty of it proved tremendous in his state.
Emma gently put her hand on Jared’s cold face. “Jared…” She whispered trying to get him to answer but he didn’t.
“We have to get him to the hospital.” Shannon said, letting Emma take him into her lap as he tore the phone out of his pocket.
“Wait, look.” Emma carefully took his cold hand in hers and pulled open his fingers. “I left it in my room.” She whispered as she gently took the locket out of his palm.