Home > On Demon Wings (Experiment in Terror #5)(2)

On Demon Wings (Experiment in Terror #5)(2)
Karina Halle

It could have been anything and anyone but my legs stopped moving and my heart slowed with a lurch. My body recognized the car before I did.

It was a little hatchback and though I couldn’t see who was in the car, I could smel the person, the cloud of pot smoke and perfume that emanated from the half-open window. The car turned off and my heart thumped anxiously at the sudden silence. The door opened and long legs clad in camel-colored breeches and black leather riding boots swung out and landed on the asphalt with a faint echo.

I stood there, red-faced, sweaty and confused, as Rebecca Sims got out of the car and gave me a shy smile.

I could only blink. So I blinked some more.

“Hiya Perry,” Rebecca said, shutting the car door, causing the cloud of smoke to dissipate in the damp air. I expected her to approach me but she just leaned against her car and looked around her at the sprawling acreages and spacious yards. “You’re almost in the country here. It’s lovely.”

I stil couldn’t say anything. Part of me wanted to throttle her, even though what happened with Dex and me wasn’t her fault. If anything, she had dropped hints that perhaps hooking up with him or tel ing him my unrequited feelings wasn’t the best idea. I’m glad now I only did the former, and not the latter. I would have never recovered my pride.

She smoothed her glossy black hair behind her ears, showcasing a row of diamond skul earrings that went surprisingly well with her elegant ensemble, and turned to me.

“I know I shouldn’t have just shown up like this,” she explained in her smooth British accent, “but I didn’t know how to get a hold of you. I tried cal ing you.”

“I changed my number,” I said, my tongue loosening.

“And I tried emailing you.”

“I got a new email.”

A small smile teased her magenta lips. “Wel , anyhow, Ems and I are here for the weekend just visiting her folks.

They live in Beaverton. I thought I’d escape from her mother and come see you. Hope that’s all right.”

I folded my arms and let out a short breath of air.

“No. It’s not all right, Rebecca,” I told her, looking her straight in the eye. “There’s a reason why I didn’t want anyone to get a hold of me.”

“I know. I figured. And I understand, I real y do. I’d do the same if Emily…wel , I just wanted to see you.”

“Wait,” I said, holding up my hand. “How did you know where I lived?”

She dropped her eyes to the ground. “A little birdie told me.”

A giant flame of anger erupted deep inside my chest.

“Is he here!?” I exclaimed, my voice shooting through the morning calm. My fists automatical y curled up into tiny, hate-fil ed bal s and I craned my neck at the car to see if anyone was sitting in the passenger side.

“No, no he’s not here,” she said, eyeing me nervously. I’d never seen her nervous before. I must have looked ready to punch her in her pretty face. “He’s at home. He’s in Seattle.

It’s just me. I promise.”

“So he sent you here?” I sneered.

“No,” she said and walked toward me. She stopped a few inches away, a sympathetic tilt of the head. “This has nothing to do with him. At all . I came here because I wanted to know if you were OK.”

“Oh, how thoughtful,” I said with a rol of my eyes.

“I was worried about you. all of us were.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Al of us? Who is ‘al of us’?”

She bit her lip, scraping off a tiny bit of lipstick from the surface, and looked at my house. “Perry, look, can we talk?

Maybe inside? You must be freezing your knickers off.”

I was only wearing my jogging tank top and pants and the sweat on me had cooled, but I’d never felt warmer. Stil , part of me did miss Rebecca’s company and did yearn to talk to someone different for a change. She also looked a bit awkward, standing on the side of the road like a jilted lover. It would have taken a lot of guts for her to just show up at my house, randomly, especial y when she knew I didn’t want anything to do with that life anymore.

I nodded reluctantly and headed up the driveway, hearing the clip clop of her boots as she fol owed.

Inside, the house was even warmer thanks to the stone- wrought fireplace in the living room that was giving off a cozy amount of heat. It was Saturday so my father was working in the study, grading papers probably, and my mother was out getting groceries. I didn’t feel like introducing Rebecca to my father though (it would have opened a can of worms), so we went upstairs to my room.

“Nice little room,” she said as she gazed at the posters on the wal s. I grabbed my robe from behind the door and told her to stay put while I had my shower. I didn’t need to impress Rebecca but I didn’t want to smel like a dirty gym sock either.

When I was done, feeling refreshed and more able to handle my unexpected visitor, I emerged from the steamy bathroom to hear a few strange squeals and giggles. I walked down the hal to Ada’s room and pushed her door open.

Rebecca was sitting on Ada’s fluffy bed, watching her bring out various amounts of clothes from her closet, an impromptu fashion show.

Ada swirled on the spot, the fringy dress she was holding swaying with her movement.

“Hey!” she said to me with an excited grin. “I was just showing your friend here my closet.”

I tightened my robe and leaned again the doorframe.

“Your entire closet? She’s not staying for a week, Ada.”

“Perry’s right, I just popped by to say hel o,” Rebecca put in.

Ada placed the dress in Rebecca’s hands, who in turn played with the silky fringes.

“Popped by to say hel o and check up on her,” Ada said knowingly.

Rebecca and I exchanged a look. Had Ada been listening to our conversation outside?

Ada shrugged, swung her bleached hair over her shoulder and went back to peering at her overflowing walk- in. “What? Rebecca’s your friend, right Perry? If I were your friend and I heard what...” she lowered her voice “...happened to you, I’d come check up on you too.”

“You’re not my friend?” I asked wryly.

She stuck her tongue out at me. “Only because I have to be. Bound by blood and all that.”

I couldn’t help but smile.

“So, thank you for showing me your clothes,” Rebecca said as she got up and handed the dress back to Ada. “But Perry and I have got some catching up to do and I real y can’t stay long. And I am checking up on her, natural y. But I just had to come visit her famous fashionista sister as well .”

She sure knew the right things to say because a pink flush appeared on the apples of Ada’s cheeks and she waved at Rebecca bashful y. Rebecca nervous, Ada bashful; what was going on with people today?

We went back to my room and I shut the door behind us.

I sat on the chair at my desk, feeling a little too exposed, while Rebecca perched graceful y at the edge of my bed.

My bedroom seemed incredibly juvenile with her presence in it.

She drummed her magenta nails across her knees.

“Your sister seems lovely.”

“She can be.”

“You told me you guys weren’t all that close, no?”

I cleared my throat, wanting Rebecca to get to the point, why she was real y here.

“No, we weren’t. But we’re getting better.”

She got the hint and sat up straighter.

“I know you think I’m here because of ulterior motives,”

she began, “like Dex hired me to come here or something ridiculous, but just know it’s not true. Natural y he knows I am here, or that I was going to try and see you, but it was all my idea. I’ve been real y worried-”

“You’ve said that. And you obviously don’t need to be.

Look at me, I’m fine.”

She nodded. “I know. You look…good.”

I could have sworn there was a slight hesitation before “good.”

“Wel , I just got out the shower,” I protested.

“You look fine, Perry.”

Ah, downgraded from Category Good to Category Fine.

What was next? Category OK?

“I wanted to see how you were handling things.”

I opened my mouth to say something but she continued.

“Come on, we both know what Dex did was a terrible, terrible thing. When I found out, I was livid for weeks. I knew how he felt about you-”

The anger built up in my abdomen again and caught the edges of my chest.

“Felt about me?”

“Yes. I mean, he didn’t mean to hurt you. He meant to hurt himself.”

I sprang to my feet, knocking the chair backward.

“I hope he fu**ing did hurt himself! Look, I don’t care about what Dex did and why he did it. OK? That’s in the past here. We were both to blame. I shouldn’t have been so stupid and I shouldn’t have believed for one minute that he thought of me more as more than a friend.”

“But he does.”

“Bul shit! Friends don’t f*ck each other over. Or f*ck each other and then f*ck each other over!”

“I know, I know, but he’s a messed-up little bugger and he made a terrible mistake.”

I took a step closer to her and wagged my finger in her face. “Are you defending him? Did you think you could come here, to my house, to my life, and start defending him? Fuck you, too.”

She reached for my hand but I snatched it out of her way and glared at her. She gave me a steady look.

“I am not defending him,” she said with forced calm.

“Dex is an idiot and he has his issues. I just thought you‘d like to know that he lost the most out of this.”

My mouth dropped open and I let out a gasp.

“Let me finish!” she raised her hands. “Let me finish before you kick my bottom. I didn’t come here to tel you about Dex or try to make you feel sorry for him. I’m just tel ing you the truth, even if it’s the truth you don’t want to hear or want to believe. What happened, even though it was his fault, destroyed him total y. He was so far gone-”

“Rebecca!” I howled at her, the madness fil ing my face with heat. “I said I don’t care! I know Dex is stil your friend and that’s fine, but it’s all over. The show. Whatever thing we had going on. Even you and me. I have a new life now. I have a new job, I have new friends and I have new dreams.

You say you were worried about me; well all I can say is that I’m fine. I wasn’t fine for a while there, but I am now. It’s over. OK?”

She looked down at her immaculately manicured nails. I was breathing hard and starting to feel faint again. I felt bad for blowing up at her but she should have known just what she was walking into when she showed up here.

“OK,” she said, then sighed. She looked around the room again, avoiding my eyes. “I’l get going.”

She got up and made her way for the door. A small part of me wanted her to stay, to tel me more about how miserable Dex was and about how far he’d fal en. But that was the part of me that stil cried over love songs sung by a bug-eyed pianist and I was pretty good at burying her needs and wants.

She opened the door and was about to step out when I cal ed out after her. Something had been bugging me for the past few months, something I had no way of finding out.

She paused, her hand on the door, and looked at me with hopeful, glittering eyes.

“What?”

“Did Dex ever say anything to you about the EVP tapes?”

“EVP tapes?” She shook her head, her bob swinging back and forth. “No. What are those?”

I sighed, disappointed. “We record sounds of what’s going on around us when we do our shoots. I…I had listened to one of the tapes and there was some pretty important stuff on it. But Dex wouldn’t have had a chance to listen to it until after I…left.”

“Oh. Sorry. Dex hasn’t mentioned anything about it to me.”

I sucked on my lip and thought things over. “Do you know who Declan O’Shea is?”

“No. Is that Dex?”

“I’m not too sure,” I said honestly. In the recording that Creepy Clown Lady (or Pippa, as she introduced herself as) had left, she had told me to ask my parents who Declan O’Shea was. I did about a week after I arrived home, when I finally calmed down enough to talk without sobbing or punching things. I asked my father, anyway, since he has a greater memory and he’s a lot smarter than my mom. He seemed surprised that I asked but he said he had no idea.

Then of course he wanted to know why I was asking. I couldn’t very well say “well there’s this old lady who looks like a clown. I think she’s dead. Anyway, she said you’d know,” so I just said I had heard the name mentioned once and wasn’t sure if he was a friend of the family’s or not.

Regardless, Declan O’Shea was definitely not a friend of the family.

“I could ask Dex for you, if you want,” she said in a small voice.

The thought of that made my heart race and a strange heat creep up the back of my neck.

“No, that’s OK. I’m sure it wasn’t important anyway. You know how ghosts are.”

“Sure…” she said uncertainly. Then she smiled. “I’m glad you’re doing OK, Perry. I real y am. I hope we’l meet again one day.”

I nodded absently as she gave me a short wave with her dainty fingers and left my room. I heard her go down the stairs and shut the front door behind her. Then the car started up noisily and seconds later, Rebecca was gone and out of my life again. Perhaps forever.

I sank to my knees and felt tiny prickles of moisture stinging the corners of my eyes.

I didn’t know how I felt, but I felt…alone.

“You need a friend?” Ada asked. I looked up. She was standing at the doorway, looking down at me with pity, or maybe it was affection. “And not a forced friend either.”

I smiled grateful y as Ada sat down on the ground beside me and enveloped me in a much-needed hug.

CHAPTER TWO

“Death! Death! It’s all about death! Satan inside, ripping out of my skin!” screamed the eyebrow-less lead singer for this metal band cal ed Eat the Goat or something like that.

I was standing in the far back of a gritty, jam-packed club with Ash, watching the band perform. It was the first act of the lineup and if it was any indication of the talent that was to fol ow, I needed to drink a lot more beer. I was only on my first one and it wasn’t making them sound any better.

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