I hope that teenagers, like myself, read this entrancing novel and find themselves falling in...
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Short days went by before Alexandria faded naturally into the daily pattern of returning home late into the night, smelling like French fries and blithering excitedly about her first job. I found the routine to be adjustable but satisfying, despite my bleating disappointment at spending less time with her; contrarily, I participated in her jovial attitude merely because it caused a smile upon her face. After a solid week came and left, both of us were able to attend our jobs without struggle, as I drove her to McDonald’s and then took myself to the grocery store. Luckily, I got off work about an hour earlier than she, which gave me plenty of time to pick her up and head back to the apartment. Combining our minimum-waged income, together we summed enough weekly money to supply ourselves a bit better than previous weeks, and so I grew more relaxed—now I wouldn’t struggle stocking the fridge with enough food for two while continuously buying new clothes on such a low paycheck, and I didn’t have to bum money from Peter as often.
All in all, Alexandria’s new job was a plus in many ways.
School skimmed by in its ordinary fashion, nothing out of place and nothing had changed. Brad insisted upon inviting us to his every-other-night parties, but I refused (after asking her if she wanted to go or not), and declined any other alcohol-related events he offered. Daniel, Pete, James and I still played basketball nearly every day at the gym; receiving a progress report, Mr. Thurman praised Alexandria for maintaining perfect grades and ensured her graduation at the end of the school year, which was fast-approaching. The bitter grasp of winter slowly but surely weakened as February eased into March, losing some of its frosting cling to the bare trees and dimming gradually under the warming sun. Spring was just a couple weeks away, and the stubby reincarnation of green grass and hinting buds of flowers was proof of its coming. Children began playing on the streets during warmer days and some small animals such as squirrels, robins and other birds chattered across the town as they woke from hibernation. I enjoyed watching Alexandria gaze out the windows, sighing peacefully, the appreciation of the heating atmosphere seemingly soaking into her personality; she was becoming brighter physically and emotionally, escaping the hatred grip of winter that she so bitterly disliked.
My cheap, inexpensive cell phone vibrated within my pocket. It was a Thursday evening, the night calm and silent, endless stars twinkling in the black sky, unhindered by a single cloud; the air was cool but not overbearing, a more mellowed tint than other, colder days, but shivering enough that Alexandria was tucked beneath my leather jacket. We lay close together in the backyard of the apartment, a blanket underneath us and looking up at the wondrous galaxy. Neither of us spoke for the most part, savoring every sense around us and resting comfortably, my arm cupped under Alexandria’s neck. Several days ago, she had informed me that looking at the stars and the moon was very comforting to her, a sweet reminder of her mother. Since then, I had insisted gently that we sprawl out on the grass and enjoy the stars every night, and so we had. I smiled to myself, recalling the stranded tear of joy that rolled down her cheek once I told her how happy it’d make me to bring her further peace, and expressed how I’d gaze at the stars with her every night for as long as she wished.
I pulled out the phone reluctantly, forcing my arm to slither away from its position. “Hello?” I answered distantly, forgetting to check the caller ID.
“Bro,” Peter chimed through the speaker in delight. “How are you doing, man?”
“Hey,” I replied, less annoyed now. “What’s up, Pete?” I saw Alex’s eyes fix upon my face, deep and patiently bright. Unless my own eyes were mistaken, the lavender shade of her iris appeared to glow, even if very faintly, in the darkness.
“Do you mind if I come over for a bit?” he asked, avoiding small talk. There was an obvious eagerness lingering in his tone, a ring of excitement.
“Sure,” I accepted, confusion warped with curiosity, for I didn’t understand what he was so delighted about. “But what’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you when I get there,” he said swiftly, and I knew he was grinning through the phone. “And I’m bringing my guitar.”
I blinked once, a tiny flow of understanding coursing my brain. “Oh,” I uttered. “Alright, man, we’ll be here.”
The phone clicked before he said anything else.
I sighed deeply, hesitating merely to allow a few more precious seconds. “Peter is coming over,” I informed, heaving myself upright. “We should go back inside.”
“Okay,” she agreed, and rose up with me. I folded the blanket and carried it inside, tossing it on the sofa. Remnants of dinner awaited me at the sink, causing a groan to escape my lips; I shrugged it aside, promising to do them tomorrow.
Alexandria hovered behind me wherever I walked, helping me straighten up the living room and dusting the furniture, cleaning more out of need than Peter’s visit. I grabbed the thick novel I was currently reading that rested on the coffee table and brought it to my bedroom. And while I was there, made my bed. Shutting off the light, I scurried towards the couch after throwing some dirty clothes in the hamper. My girlfriend waited for me beside the couch, tapping her fingers on the soft texture while staring down the dimly lit hallway. I approached her, a smile touching my lips, and wrapped her in a tight embrace. I chuckled lightly, gazing at her clothes from over her shoulder.
“Spring is almost here,” I murmured. “Soon you’ll have no excuse to wear that jacket anymore.” I inhaled, sweet perfume and strong cologne filling my nostrils; the jacket contained my scent, but was primarily masked under the delicate fragrance.
“I can wear it whenever I want,” she argued in a hushed tone.
“That you can,” I agreed, and let out another laugh as we pulled away. “If that suits you, then be my guest.”
A light giggle filled the room, and the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen illuminated Alexandria’s countenance. “You could be a little resistant, you know; stop giving me everything I want.”
“Why would I?” I inquired. Before I let her answer, I grinned and sat on the couch. “Will you sit with me until Peter gets here?”
“Do you need to ask?” she questioned, and sat placidly beside me.
Three quick, solid raps echoed minutes later.
I opened the front door to find Peter Hernen standing in my doorway with his acoustic guitar in hand and a wide grin. He was dressed in the usual attire of a slick vest, patted hat, semi-tight ripped jeans and a white undershirt. Peter’s hair was strung partially in style and primarily nappy.
Upon opening, a blast of warm air swept into the living room, shortly before melting away. I gestured Peter inside, as he ruffled his hair and strode into the apartment. He dropped the guitar on an empty spot atop the sofa, stretched his limbs, and turned to me.
“Hey, buddy,” Peter smiled. “Hello, Alexandria. What have you guys been doing?”
“Not a lot,” I replied, plopping back onto the couch next to Alex. “What kind of exciting news do you have for us, Pete?”
Accepting the invitation with open arms, the musician sat beside me and bubbled, “Do you remember the last song I was writing?”
“The one you started weeks ago?” I inquired, running a hand through long, luscious black hair.
“Yep!” His eyes lit up dramatically. “Well, last night, after doing some serious revising…I finished it! And, personally, I think it turned out awesome!” He was beaming like a child in a candy store, almost shaking out of anxiety. His guitar flashed in his hand seconds after. “Do you wanna hear it?”
“Of course,” I said, excited. It had been months since Peter completed a song, so it was good to have another one—I believed that he would be famous for his music one day, and I was always encouraging him to push on; it was by our combined determination, but mostly his skill, that achieved Peter’s fantastic list of original songs. Alexandria fixed her eyes on him.
As Peter warped from his giddy, energetic self into calm and collected, I saw his expression twist in concentration and the cores of his mind shut down, and his fingers ran smoothly across the cords, a gentle melody vibrating purely within the dense atmosphere. His professional skill with a guitar seamlessly echoed from the simple rhythm, and Peter was entirely transfixed in the music. Moments later, he began playing and singing.
Peter had composed beautiful songs before, but I was truly astounded by what fluttered into my eardrums. The sound was soft and enchanting, profoundly impacting as the cords blossomed harmoniously; adding to the effect, Peter sang wonderfully with the tune, fusing the two sounds together perfectly. The composition was obviously a love song, and the sweet strings of the guitar danced around the lyrics like a gloriously performed sequence. The song was about an unnamed girl that Peter was describing as gorgeous and extravagant, someone whom he expressed as the love of his life; during the song, he was talking about how their love became distant and sorrowful, but grew stronger as the composition flowed to a happy ending. Peter showed such compassion and emotion as he sang, even a tear streaked down his cheek upon finishing—his passion was elegantly contagious, and towards the end, I was absorbed into the song. It was overall his best work, and I thoroughly enjoyed every note and word.
“That was…incredible!” I exclaimed. I felt my face hot and stirred, and my arms tingled. “You really are awesome, dude. That was such a good song!”
Peter grinned, proud of himself. “Thank you,” he blushed. “I’m glad you like it.
Alexandria smiled subtly, eyes bright. “It was really good, Pete.”
“You guys are great.” Peter was too humbled by our words. “I love that you liked it so much…” he spaced out in his own land.
I squeezed Alexandria’s hand tightly, smiling at her habitually. “I have an aspiring best friend,” I commented to her. “There’s no one better than him.”
“I can think of one,” she disagreed, cuddling under my chin. I smiled satisfyingly.
“I have one last piece of exciting news,” Peter enthused, nearly bouncing off the sofa, again reminding me of a jittery child. “Do you know about that huge amusement park up in the city, about an hour away from here?”
“Yes,” I answered. “Why?”
“My mom won free tickets! And she said I can bring three friends!” He was positively bursting with enthusiasm.
My eyes widened in surprise. “No way!” I practically shouted, half-jumping out of my seat. “Dude, that’s awesome! It’s been so long since I’ve been to a real theme park!”
“I know! Of course I’m going to be taking you and Alexandria, but Brad also said he’d come.”
“Wow, I can’t wait,” I mustered, erupting jovially. “When do we get to go?”
“This Sunday, and we’re staying all day.”
“Excellent,” I breathed, happiness overtaking me. I glanced over at Alexandria, who was staring at me confusingly, twisting her face in unrecognizable scrutiny. She curled her fingers around my upper arm. “Aren’t you excited?” I asked her, grinning broadly.
She lifted her shoulders and let them fall. “I don’t know,” she admitted thoughtfully. “I’ve never been to an amusement park before…or any type of place like that.”
Although I should have expected that, I gapped my jaw shockingly. “I can’t believe it,” I said, in a slightly irruptive tone. “That’s ridiculous!” I brushed my hand gently across her check, this time smiling warmly. “Hey, you’re going to love it there, okay? I’ll make sure you have lots of fun.” I felt a brief wave of sympathy for her. But it quickly vanished, for I realized I’d soon give her the time of her life.
Once the long and terribly torturous school week droned by, the four of us had decided to take my car for the trip, everyone pitching in gas money. I sat in the drivers’ seat, Alexandria beside me, while Peter and Brad sat in the back. The Mercedes was roomy enough to comfortably fit us in, but the air conditioner wasn’t working properly, so I had to crank the windows down for most of the ride. Despite the hour-long drive, the atmosphere remained eagerly tangible and left us all unfretted and ready for the park. Along the way, conversation frequently boiled, as Alexandria was getting along very easily with my friends; summing the car ride, it was enjoyable and smooth.
Peter sat on the right-hand side of the back seat, aimlessly playing with the strings of his guitar and humming quietly to himself, a pair of headphones jammed into his ears. Brad was gazing out of his window, thinking quietly to himself, sipping on a can of Root Beer—secretly, I think he was going through withdrawals, unable to consume large amounts of alcohol freely throughout the day. Fortunately for him, he had a cigarette in his mouth, allowing the pungent smoke to flutter out of the car indistinctively. Bits of ashes occasionally fell onto his baggy jeans, and he brushed them off mindlessly each time. Alexandria had her feet propped on the dashboard and fumbled with a gum wrapper from the piece she was chewing, randomly looking out the window or tapping her feet or messing with her hair. I was concentrating on the road and thinking carelessly, keeping to myself; the radio was on low, just high enough for everyone to hear it, playing one of the CDs I had bought Alex.
“What is the first thing you’re going to ride when we get there?” Brad asked me curiously, an attempt to start a longer conversation.
“I don’t know yet,” I shrugged, contemplating. “I want to ride the first roller coaster I see that looks high and fun.”
“Roller coaster fan, huh? I like any ride that goes upside down, coaster or not. And I want to stuff myself with the amazing park food—I brought a bit of spare cigarette money I can waste.” He puffed on the nicotine.
“Aren’t you proud?” I cracked. “I might pick up a few souvenirs if the mood hits me, but I mostly want to spend all my time on every single ride—and with her, of course,” I added, smiling at the perfect girl close to my side.
I saw Brad shake his head from my review mirror, and he let out a soft chuckle. “You’re love struck, bro, and totally whipped.”
I merely snorted at his statement, knowing he didn’t have the slightest clue what he was talking about. “How long has it been since you were at a theme park?” I asked, changing the subject.
“A few years,” he replied distantly, distracted by the cigarette now. “I had a blast from what I remember, though; I’m glad Pete was nice enough to bring us along. Are we meeting his parents up there?” Peter’s music was too loud, so he couldn’t hear a word of our discussion. Alexandria was casually staying out of our talk.
“Yes, but they won’t stay with us,” I confirmed. “We’re not little kids, Beck.” My tone was humorous. “Have some common sense.”
“Shut up, Moss,” he retorted quietly, and soon he returned back to his private thoughts.
Alexandria fell asleep a little over halfway through the ride, and Peter was still deeply immersed in music and his guitar. I was beginning to feel drowsy myself, for a strange and unknowable reason, until the stunning sight of the massive amusement park exploded before us.
This park wasn’t huge, but monumental. The tallest, most impressive Ferris Wheel I had ever seen in my life immediately came into view, stretching far higher than three billboard signs. Dozens of trees made the park less discerning, but that wasn’t enough to block out towering roller coasters, skyscraper drop rides, attractions involving wild twists and drops and spins, and wonderful displays of jet-screaming sounds and thriving life. Excited shrieks could be heard everywhere, music was blasting, and the smell of cotton candy was already recognizable in the endless parking lot. Colossal swarms of people buzzed in every direction, equaling five times the size of my entire school population, flooding the lot into the large gates leading inside the park. The temperature was warm and the sun was bright, giving off the perfect day for just such an event; after much maneuvering, turning, and careful driving, I managed to find a decent parking space. As a group, the four of us eagerly got out and fought the crowd impatiently to the entrance, my heart racing as anxiety pounded within me.
The waiting line to get in took longer than finding a spot to park the car. Peter and Brad slugged behind, complaining lightly that there was too many people, but Alexandria grasped my hand and stood calmly without a hint of boredom. I lazily scanned my eyes across the lot, taking in random faces and watching families walk together, and couples held hands and children laughed carelessly. Strollers carried infants, teenagers chattered, elderly followed their grandchildren, and I saw a little boy cry about dropping his ice cream cone. I overheard two adults griping loudly about how troublesome teenagers were and how awfully hot it was outside.
Eventually, we reached the front of the line. Peter handed the kind lady our tickets, and she let us through after checking our bags and stamping the top of our hands with some invisible ink. My joy only intensified once I took in the several food shacks, candy stands, arcade rooms, gaming booths, gift shops, interactive rooms, and other various locations that looked fun. Now that we were in the park, all of the rides were free and Peter had a thirty-percent discount on all purchasable food items within the amusement park. After a brief visit with his parents, the four of us dashed off into the park.
I observed everything around me, enjoying the decorative fountains and greenery used to give the park a friendlier, cheerful vibe. Several entertainers and magicians covered the grounds, amusing the people as they waited in line or looked for something else to do. Brad was cracking jokes and messing with others while we walked, which we all thought was hilarious. Peter had left his guitar in the locked car, and was joining in our conversations, uninterrupted by music. Together we approached the first, irresistibly wild roller coaster in the park, steel black tracks and a sleek, durable cart for riders.
When we took our place in line, forty-five minutes until we reached the front, Alexandria was starting to get nervous.
“What’s wrong?” I whispered in her ear, so she could hear me over the deafening noise and so that we couldn’t be overheard.
She stood on her tip-toes in order to whisper back; her breath tickled, and it sent shivers down my neck. “I’m really nervous,” she breathed. “This place is so cool, but I’ve never been on any rides, and it’s kind of intimidating for me.”
I adored her cuteness. I wrapped my arm around her waist and pulled her closer, Brad and Peter talking casually in front of us. “I’ll be sitting right beside you,” I murmured. “Don’t be nervous—but I will force you to ride.” I allowed myself a smirk. “Because if I don’t, you’ll never get on by yourself, and I know you’ll love it.”
“Don’t let go of my hand when we get on, okay?”
After about fifteen minutes, we were beginning to feel agitated. I kept shifting my weight from one foot to the other, crossing my arms, hearing a sound of thunder whenever the coaster screeched by swiftly overhead. Beads of sweat started forming on my brow; it wasn’t sickly hot, but standing directly below the sun for too long made it feel much more uncomfortable than it really was. Minutes ticked by, and we drew closer and closer to the front. I scratched the back of my head, squinting my eyes, trying to get a better look ahead, but there were too many turns and loops to see the coaster. We had to climb a series of stairs, go through cooling tunnels, down stairs and multiple turn-offs during the unending line. We inched closer, moving a few relieving steps every two minutes or so. My mind drifted in and out throughout the wait, my eyes straining against the stunning illumination of the sun. I narrowed my sharp gaze, deflecting strands of lights, cupping my hand above my eyebrows to provide shade.
For what seemed much longer than forty-five minutes, we approached the sleek coaster. Alexandria had her hand locked so tightly around mine, the blood flow was cutting off from the rest of my body. She let out an edgy giggle, saying, “This is so scary, but so awesome at the same time.” Peter and Brad were as anticipated and exuberant as they could possibly be.
“We’re getting front!” Brad chimed.
Alexandria and I clambered onto the third seat from the front, squeezing into the confound space. Thick metal bars clamped over us, sealing us to the seat solidly.
“Take a deep breath,” I told her, noting her short, rapid inhales and the way her foot tapped a thousand miles per hour. “You’ll be fine.” I twined our hands together, just like I promised. “I won’t let go.” Despite myself, I grinned widely.
The pit of my stomach lifted completely to my throat and leaped out of my mouth as the coaster took its first drop. My hair whipped against my skull as the pounding wind roared at the speed, and I let out startled yell that was drowned out by dozens more screams. Alexandria was the loudest of them all. The utter adrenaline that pulsed through me in one flashing instant was so overwhelming, it had me laughing and smiling the entire two-minute ride. The coaster flipped and dashed and twisted and curved all around the area, throwing my stomach in all directions; at times, it looked as though the cart was bound to smack right into a wall or structure, causing my eyes to nearly clamp shut, before the coaster continued and swerved unexpectedly in another direction. My throat ached from continuously shouting, and by the time the coaster slowed to a jerky stop, every nerve in my body was vibrating powerfully from the thrilling sensation. I was more than satisfied by the ride, and happily breathless.
One look at Alexandria made me laugh again. Her hair was wilder than a lion’s mane, her eyes were wide and dried out, and her bony hands paled under the strain of gripping the bar so tightly. She was also out of breathing, seeming to be in a daze, and I had to pry her off the ride and help her up the step.
“That was…the most fun thing I have ever done,” she said in a shaky tone.
“I told you,” I boasted. “I knew you’d love it!”
After a short pause, she smiled, exasperate. “You were right,” she agreed. “That was awesome.”
Peter and Brad joined us moments afterward, grinning like idiots and commenting on how fun the ride was. We discussed it very briefly before walking again, scurrying to the next ride, Alexandria keeping up with me, an extra leap of excitement in her steps.
“Man, I can’t believe you’ve never been to a theme park!” Brad exclaimed to Alexandria. “What town did you live in before here?”
A twist of anguish grappled in my chest, as it did any time pieces of Alexandria’s past was mentioned. For a short second, I wanted to snap at Brad and tell him to keep his mouth shut, but thought better of it after glancing at Alex; she didn’t appear offended at all.
“I lived in a smaller town just a few miles away from here,” she replied in an even tone. “A town called Oran.”
“I used to live there,” I recalled suddenly, faint understanding lighting my brain. “I know all about that town…have you lived there your whole life?” Now I was the one curiously asking questions.
“Yeah,” she confirmed, striding beside me, a look of astonishment on her countenance. “Did you really used to live there? How come I’ve never seen you or heard about you? I went to school for several years…”
“I moved away to this town when I was pretty young,” I mused, staring ahead. “But I used to visit almost every weekend to see my old friends…I know pretty much everything about Oran.”
“That’s so weird,” she said, her eyebrows furrowed in thought. “It’s strange to know that we lived in the same town at the same time like that, and never even knew each other.”
“Very,” I chortled.
“Which street did you live on?” Brad asked, jumping back into the topic.
“I don’t remember, but I lived in the house right beside the park,” she explained. “The house with the old red door and brick chimney. There was always a wooden swing set sitting in the yard.”
“I know that house!” I nearly shouted, my memory sprinting faster than a cheetah. “That old park with the shaking bridge…I used to go down there all the time with my buddies, and I know exactly which house you’re talking about. Did you ever play in that park?”
“My parents never let me.”
I was dumbfounded by the discovery, although it should have been at least a little obvious. As we continued walking, the thoughts of how incredibly close I was to such a predetermined fate were miraculously outstanding and mysteriously haunting to me.
We spent the next several hours riding every ride we could find, stuffing our faces with large pretzels and funnel cakes, wasting money on expensive game booths and even blew our quarters at the arcades. The sun spiraled from the east to the west as our fun continued, screaming and laughing all day until the last precious minutes before closing time.
Stepping off of a drop-down type of ride, Alexandria stumbled down the steps and clutched her head and stomach. “Ugghh,” she groaned painfully.
“What is it?” I asked, grabbing her arm tenderly and guiding her to a bench; I felt a singe of concern.
“My head is pounding,” she mumbled. “And that last ride gave me a bad stomach ache…I think I can feel that funnel cake coming back up.” Brad and Peter watched her with worried glances.
“Here, let’s get you back to the car,” I suggested. “The park is closing in a few minutes anyway.”
“But—” she began.
I cut her off and lifted her from the bench before she could protest, cradling her in my arms delicately, again taken off guard by how light she was. Brad muffled a chuckle upon me carrying her all across the park, but neither of them argued; they were just as exhausted and burnt out as I was. We flitted through the thinning crowd with ease, nodding towards the greeters and making our way to my car. Once there, I carefully placed Alexandria in the passengers’ seat, kissing the top of her head quickly before closing the door.
The ride back home felt ten times longer than on the way up here, but we finally made it.
“Thanks for taking us to the theme park, Pete,” I said, clasping his arm.
“Not a problem, dude,” he grinned. “Thank you for all the support with my music. Let me know if Alexandria gets to feel any better, alright?”
“See you later, bro,” Brad said to me, and he, too, clasped my arm. “It was great fun. Pete and I are gonna take his car back home.”
“Okay. You guys have a good night.”
I watched them drive off for a moment, and then picked up my sleeping Alexandria from her seat. She stirred in my arms, but otherwise remained silent.
Indescribably exhausted, the last thing I remembered was placing Alex on my bed, changing into night clothes and collapsing onto soft blankets, and the rest was a blur.
The next day at school was too uneventful. After waking up, Alexandria realized that her head still ached, so I let her stay on my bed and skip out. I dragged through the day, still wiry and tired, mechanically finishing homework and using all my strength to stay awake during free time. I didn’t even eat my lunch, for I was beginning to feel too anxious to return home. The miserable seven hours soon came to a close, and I drove home desperately, my mind always preoccupied.
Pulling into the driveway, my eyes rested on Jeff sitting at his porch and smoking a cigarette. I groaned aloud, knowing I’d have to stop and chat before going inside. If only Alex had a cell phone.
I shrugged across the yard in three quick strides, covering the distance between me and the apartment. I stopped, not wanting to appear rude, and smiled at Jeff. “Hi, there,” I greeted, waving at him.
“How’s it going, Blake?” he asked, blowing an array of smoke from his mouth. “How was school?”
“It was just fine,” I replied. “How was your day, Jeff?” I hoped he didn’t notice how impatient I was being, speaking quickly and constantly glancing towards my door.
“Fine, fine,” he mused. “Is that girl of yours—Alexandria—doing all right?”
“Yes,” I said, and I felt my heart stop in my chest. “Why do you ask?” Had he heard her in pain while I was away? What was he talking about?
“Er, well, I saw some strange man carry her out of your apartment, and she was fast asleep in his arms.”
My blood froze completely, cold as stone. “Wh-what are you talking about?” I stammered, utterly confused. My jaw tightened.
Jeff shrugged. “I don’t know, I just saw a black car pull up in the driveway—I was sitting right here—and some buff guy got out and walked up to your apartment. I didn’t say anything to him, but I figured he knew you, since he must’ve had the key to your apartment…couple minutes later he came out with that girl, and she was passed out. I—”
Never have I ran so fast in my life. I glided up the stairs, flying to the door and reaching it in record-time, before my hand clamped around the doorknob. What was Jeff talking about? Who in God’s name came here? And where did he take Alexandria?
I threw the door open, my heart thundering so hard in my chest, I felt like it was about to explode and splatter all over the walls. The door slammed against the wall, and what I saw horrified me beyond belief.
The coffee table had been knocked over, the blankets strewn all over the floor, and the couch was practically upturned. It looked like two tigers had wrestled in the middle of my living room; broken glass, scattered CD cases, ruffled sheets and the sofa had chunks of leather pulled from its surface.
Three powerful, incomprehensible emotions struck me, then, like lightning: absolute terror, unbearable grief, and overwhelming shock. I must have stood there for a lifetime, until I finally summed enough blood in my legs to fling myself back to Jeff. My mind was totally blank, but my adrenaline pulse a thousand times stronger than the roller coaster.
I jumped and grabbed Jeff by the collar of his shirt, knocking the cigarette from his hand. “WHERE DID HE TAKE HER?!” I literally shouted, having an idea of who it was and already plotting swiftly in my brain. “WHERE DID THEY GO?!” I couldn’t yell loud enough, every muscle in my body flexing and struggling under my rippling, stressed and bulging arms. I had never felt more determined about anything in my entire existence.
“Hey!” Jeff cried, bewildered and stunned. “Take it easy! He turned left—Blake, what’s going on?”
There was no time to think. I nearly tossed Jeff against his chair and flung myself in the car, revving the engine and kicking out of the driveway faster than I thought possible.
I’m coming, Alexandria, I repeated over and over again in my head, ultimately focusing purely on what I was doing, understanding what the possibilities were and leaving no room for second thoughts. I was more terrified and scared than ever before, but I had never been so angry and thrived with such sheer, absolute certainty. It was her father. I know it was.
I sped down the road, my tires squealing across the pavement, heading quickly in one direction particularly. I stared straight ahead, concentrated, fighting for what was happening. Images of Alexandria flashed before my eyes, my feelings for her warped in the jumble, and my fiery determination smoldering upon every corner of my being. I reached into my pocket, grabbed the old cell phone, and furiously began dialing. My fingers couldn’6t move fast enough and the car couldn’t drive swiftly enough.
“Peter,” I snarled into the phone the moment he picked up, almost roaring through the speaker murderously. “We have a problem.”
This book will continue and end in Unbroken, the sequel and powerful conclusion of Alexandria.