Mom tried to talk to me as I packed my things but I knew once I stopped to tell her what happened, I’d break down in tears. I didn’t want to do that, so I just said it was time for me to head back to Riverview. I threw my suitcases in the car then went back inside to say a quick goodbye to everyone. Well, everyone but Tempest. I wished Kyle and Kenya the best of luck as new parents, and told Mom and Dad to visit sometime soon. I kissed Jacob goodbye then headed out of the house.
“Where are you going?” Orion asked as I walked past him. He turned to face me and I paused, watching him. “Mom called me,” he said with a shrug. “Said I was the only one to ever get any sense out of you.”
“Maybe that’s the problem,” I said brushing a few strands of hair from my face. “Maybe you did that too much and now I’m just… senseless.”
“Lune, what’s going on?” he asked, reaching for me.
I pulled away from him, shaking my head. “It doesn’t matter. I’m going back to Riverview. Keep a close eye on Jacob for me, okay?”
“It’s Tempest, isn’t it?” he asked and I shifted my gaze away from him. “I thought as much. You two had another fight, huh? Lune, what’s going on?”
“It doesn’t matter!” I snapped. “Tempest and I are just in two different worlds right now.” I didn’t add that I was beginning to think the same about Orion. “I just think it’s best I go back to Riverview before our fighting gets too out of hand.”
“She’s your sister,” he whispered.
“Well she treats me like public enemy number one!” I spat out. “It’s been this way for a long time and I don’t think it will change. It’s just gotten worse since I moved to Riverview. Since I got this job. And before you say anything, I love my job and I am keeping it. You know what she had the audacity to say?” I demanded, putting my hands on my hips. “She said I was like–like her. The one Dad told us about. The Redding girl. The evil one. Tempest said I sounded like her.”
“I think she’s just worried about you” he said and then winced when he saw the look on my face. “That doesn’t make it right. I’m not saying it does. But she’s been through a lot.”
I gave him a strange look. “Been through what?” I demanded.
Orion stared at me and then looked away. “Remember?” he whispered. “You were about seven or eight. When… she went missing.”
Now it was my turn to wince. I had forgotten about that. Course that was quite some time ago, and nobody ever really talked to me about it. I still had no idea what really happened. All I remembered was being taken to Uncle Aiden’s. I stayed with him and his granddaughter for a couple days–some of the best days of my young life. I hadn’t really wanted to go home and when I was brought home, I was given a big lecture on how horrible strangers were and to not go with them. I remembered replying that Uncle Aiden’s granddaughter had been a stranger to me at the time, so why had she taken care of me if strangers were not to be trusted?
“What did happen, Rion?” I asked. “Nobody ever really told me anything, just that she had run away. Was that the truth? Or was she…?” I trailed off, not wanting to say it but Orion was shaking his head.
“No. The doctors said there was no signs of anything. Just a few scrapes. And she only ever said was that she ran away…” He sighed and put his hand on my arm. “Whether she’s lying or telling the truth, the point is–something did happen to her and try to remember that when she gets all… worried about you.”
I pushed his arm away and tried not to scowl. “Just because she ran away, that’s not an excuse for her to treat me like she does,” I complained. “It doesn’t give her the right.” She had said that she was attacked. I glanced over at the bedroom window and frowned, almost wanting to run back in and demand to know what she had meant. But I knew perfectly well that would cause more arguments between us so I just turned back to Orion and bid him farewell.
He hugged me tightly and I hugged back. As I went over to the rental car and slid into the driver’s seat, I had this nagging feeling like I was doing something very wrong. I clutched the steering wheel and looked over at Rion who had a rather sad look on his face. She claimed she ran away, the doctors said she wasn’t physically attacked, just scrapes. There was something wrong. But she’d never tell me. Not after the fight we just had.
I waved at Orion and turned the car on, pulling away from the house and heading back to Riverview.
It doesn’t feel like home, I thought as I wearily unpacked my bags. Seven hours in a car was a long time–especially at night without getting a nap beforehand. I felt so tired and just wanted to sleep all day.
I curled up in my bed, exhausted and rather depressed. Being with my family hadn’t gone exactly as I hoped. I was worried there was a rift that couldn’t be fixed. Between me and Tempest. Sometimes between me and everyone else. I knew Mom and Dad were at least somewhat okay with me doing this but… I wished that once, just once, I could do something to make them proud.
“I always felt like I’d never make mine proud,” Milla said the next day as we both lay by the community pool. I had told her bits and pieces about my time back home and how I was feeling about it. She tucked some hair back and gave me a wry smile. “I think most kids feel like that at some part of their life.”
“I just wish things could be easier. That we didn’t have this complicated background…” I trailed off and Milla raised an eyebrow. I shrugged, not really wanting to say more. “My brothers and sister are–are so happy back home and it just seems like they’re pieces of a puzzle that fit together and I’m something from another box.” I shrank down in the chair and toyed with the end of my braid. “I wanted to stay home for longer but Temp and I just fought so badly and she said something horrible.”
“Hun, if you were uncomfortable there is no reason to pressure yourself to stay longer,” Milla said, leaning over and patting my arm. “It would just make you feel worse, and the worse you feel the more likely you are to be grouchy and the fighting would just get worse.”
I nodded at that. “You’re right. I hope they don’t feel like I just… abandoned them.”
“I’m sure they understand,” she replied. “From everything you’ve said, it does sound like they care a lot about you.” Before I could agree to that, a smile spread on her face. “And speaking of caring about someone, how’s Mr. Wright doing?”
I felt my cheeks flushing and I pouted at her. “We talked the other night. I haven’t been able to talk to him since I’ve gotten back into town. I think his phone’s been off. But–oh stop smirking at me! He’s just my friend.”
“Mm-hmm.” Milla gave me a look then stood up, brushing her fingers through her hair. “Let’s swim. I’m aching to jump in that water!”
The water did feel really nice as I climbed down in and Milla just did a cannonball, splashing water everywhere. We laughed and began splashing each other, having a pretty good time. It felt nice to be able to enjoy the company of another person. Milla was… well, she was pretty much my first friend who was around my own age. Kellen was another one. I smiled to myself as Milla started seeing how far she could swim with one breath. I hope to see him soon, I realized, wiping water from my face. I kinda missed him.
Unfortunately over the next couple of days, I didn’t get to talk to him. His phone was always off and I eventually left a voicemail letting him know I was back in town. But before I could hear back from him, I saw him.
He was sitting by himself in the small park across from the theater, staring at nothing. There were a couple bags at his feet and I figured he had gone shopping or something. When I walked towards him, he didn’t hear me. He just kept staring at nothing.
“Hey,” I said when I got closer.
He jumped slightly and looked up at me, a guilty sort of smile playing on his lips. “Luna! Hey. I got your voicemail but I–I haven’t had time to return your call. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I promised and motioned the seat next to him. He didn’t say anything so I just sat down. Something is wrong. “You okay?” I asked, smiling at him.
“Um, yeah,” he said very unconvincingly. He tucked his hands under the bottom of his sweatshirt and looked extremely nervous. I didn’t like this.
“What have you been up to?” I inquired. “Read anything interesting?”
“Um, no,” he mumbled. “I haven’t really had–had the time to read. I’ve b-been pretty busy with work.” He looked at me again and I noticed slight smudges under his eyes like he hadn’t slept well. Plus he was wrapping the bottom of his sweatshirt around his hands like he was hiding something that he was holding.
“How’s work going?” I asked and he jumped as if I had poked him with something sharp.
“Work?” he whispered. “Oh. Um, it’s going okay. Busy. You know. Um, I’m sorry but now’s not really a good time to talk. I–I’m waiting for someone… my co-worker, he’s picking me up. And–and he’ll be here any minute. I w-was… I’m sorry.”
I had the feeling I knew exactly what was going on. “Oh,” I said. “I see. It’s okay. I understand. I understand completely.”
“Luna–please don’t sound like that, I’m sorry!” he exclaimed, starting to wave his hands but they were tangled in his sweatshirt. He went slightly pale and stared down at the spot. “It’s just work.”
“Work. Yeah, sure,” I said, trying to keep the hurt out of my voice. “I’m sure she’s very lovely.”
“Sh-she?” Kellen asked, eyes huge. “No! Luna, no–it’s not like that. It’s work. Really, it is. Things have been really busy with–with some experiment that went wrong and… everything’s been so busy…” He looked and sounded on the verge of tears and he began clutching his sweatshirt tightly. “I’ll call you tonight, okay?”
I almost snapped that I did not want him to call me because I was sure he had a girlfriend. But then I noticed a stain on his sweatshirt. Where his hands were. It almost looked like blood. I then noticed a few stains like blood on his jeans. I cast a quick glance down at the bags by his feet and saw what looked like blood around the handles. His hands were bleeding. Or else he had someone else’s blood on his hands.
“Picking up stuff for work?” I asked and he pulled back, going even whiter.
“Yes,” he said and sort of kicked the bags behind his feet but it was too late. I had seen part of what was in them. “You… believe me?”
“Yeah,” I mumbled. I felt extremely terrified. What the heck was going on?
“I’ll call you tonight,” he said, a very nervous smile on his face. “If that’s okay.”
“That’s great,” I promised. “See ya later, Kellen.” I noticed the look of relief on his face as I started to walk off. I felt kinda sick to my stomach. That was blood, I was sure it was blood. Why would he have blood on his hands? Why was he acting so strange? If it wasn’t another girl, or work–well no. Why would it be work? Why would he be bloodied up from work?
But if wasn’t work, then why did he have all those scalpels, syringes, and other medical tools in his bag?