“I’ll take your silence as a no, Hardin. My guess is, if she doesn’t want to be found, she’s at the one place where she knows you won’t go.”
“Her mother’s,” I groan, punching my thigh for not thinking of that earlier.
“Oh, now I’ve done it . . . Are you going there?”
“Yeah.” But would Zed really drive her two hours to take her to her mum’s?
“Do you know how to get there?”
“Not exactly, but I can go by the apartment and get the address.”
“I think I have something here that has it written on it . . . she left some transfer paperwork here a while ago. Let me look and call you right back.”
“Thanks.” I wait impatiently and turn my car around in the nearest empty parking lot. I stare out the window, taking in the darkness, fighting not to let it take me over. I have to focus on seeing Tess, on making sure she’s okay.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Landon asks moments later when he calls back.
“Steph . . . you know, the redhead? She drugged Tessa.”
Landon gasps. “Wait, what?”
“Yeah, it’s a fucked-up situation and I wasn’t there to help her so she’s with Zed,” I tell him.
“Is she okay?” He sounds like he’s panicking.
“I don’t have a fucking clue.”
I wipe my nose on my shirt, and Landon gives me directions to Tessa’s childhood home.
Her mum is going to lose her shit when I show up, especially given the situation, but I don’t care. I don’t have a clue as to what the hell I’m going to do when I arrive, but I have to see her and make sure she’s okay.
What happened? Tell me the entire story!” my mother cries out as Zed lifts me out of his truck. His arms around me jar me back into consciousness, and a blooming sense of embarrassment.
“Tessa’s old roommate slipped something into her drink, and Tessa asked me to bring her here,” Zed tells her half truthfully. I’m relieved that he kept some of the details from her.
“Oh my God! Why would that girl do such a thing?”
“I don’t know, Mrs. Young . . . Tessa can explain when she wakes up.”
I am awake! I want to scream, but I can’t. It’s an odd feeling, hearing everything that’s going on around me but not being able to participate in the conversation. I can’t move or speak, my mind is foggy, and my thoughts are twisted—but I’m strangely aware of everything that is happening. What’s happening, though, changes every few minutes: sometimes Zed’s voice turns into Hardin’s, and I swear I hear Hardin’s laughter and see his face when I try to open my eyes. I’m losing it. This drug is making me crazy, and I want it to stop.
Some time passes—I have no idea how much—and I’m placed on what I can tell is the sofa. Slowly, maybe even reluctantly, Zed’s arms slide out from underneath me.
“Well, thank you for bringing her here,” my mother says. “This is just dreadful. When will she wake up?” Her voice is piercing. My head is spinning slowly.
“I don’t know. I think the effects last twelve hours at most. It’s been about three already.”
“How could she be so stupid?” my mother snaps at Zed, and the word “stupid” echoes in my mind until it fades out.
“Who, Steph?” he asks.
“No, Theresa. How could she be that stupid to associate with those people.”
“It wasn’t her fault,” Zed answers, defending me. “It was supposed to be a going-away party. Tessa thought the girl was her friend.”
“Friend? Please! Tessa should know better than to try to be friends with that girl, or any of you, for that matter.”
“No disrespect or anything, but you don’t know me. I did just drive for two hours to bring your daughter here,” Zed politely responds.
My mother sighs, and I focus on the sound of her heels clicking on the tile of the kitchen floor.
“Do you need anything else?” he asks her. The couch, I notice, is much softer than Zed’s arms. Hardin’s arms are soft but hard at the same time; the way his muscles strain under his skin is something I always loved to watch. My thoughts are blurring again. I hate this constant shift back and forth between clarity and confusion.
From a distance I hear my mother’s voice say, “No. Thank you for bringing her. I was rude a moment ago, and I apologize for it.”
“I’ll get her clothes and stuff from my car real quick, then be on my way.”
“Okay.” I hear the clicking of her high heels from across the room.
I wait to hear the roar of Zed’s truck. It doesn’t come, or maybe it did already and I missed it. I’m confused. My head is heavy. I don’t know how long I’ve been lying here, but I’m thirsty. Did Zed leave yet?
“What the hell are you doing here?” my mother screams, bringing a sharp edge of clarity to the haze. Though I still don’t know what’s happening.
“Is she okay?” a panting, ragged voice asks. Hardin.
He’s here. Hardin.
Unless it’s Zed’s voice deceiving me again. No, I know it’s Hardin. I can feel him here somehow.
“You aren’t coming into this house!” my mother yells. “Did you not hear me! Don’t walk past me like you didn’t hear me!”
I hear the screen door slam shut, and my mother continues to yell.
And then I think I feel his hand on my cheek.