Into the Hollow
I bit my lip. “Well, I feel different. Not in a bad way, but I do. I don’t know what Roman did to me.”
“You went somewhere…”
I examined her face carefully. Had I talked to her about Pippa, about what I saw in the Thin Veil? I didn’t think so. At least, I didn’t remember.
“Somewhere?” I asked.
“I know about our grandmother,” she said deliberately. “Pippa. I know what happened to her.”
My eyes widened, the breath leaving me. “How…did I tell you?”
She smiled, lips tight and closed. “Sort of. I don’t know what’s going on Perry but…OK, this is going to sound really freaking weird but from time to time, I’m, like…hearing your thoughts.”
That threw me for a loop. I almost laughed then I remembered her bizarre question in the car. But…that was impossible.
I looked at her even closer, wondering if she was fucking with me. Not that she would, but there was no explanation that I could grasp. What, I suddenly became telepathic? How come I couldn’t hear anyone else’s thoughts?
She watched me for a few beats and I asked, “All righty, if that’s true, did you hear what I was thinking just now.”
She shook her head.
How about now? I asked internally, projecting my thoughts onto her with all the concentration my poor brain could muster.
“Yeah, I heard that one,” she exclaimed quietly, her smile broadening with wonder.
I matched her smile in wattage. This…I couldn’t even begin to fathom this discovery. It was like waking up and finding out you had super powers.
“Oh my God, OK, how about now…OK wait,” I said excitedly.
Is Maximus still in the house? I thought with power behind it.
Her expression was open, watching me.
“Well?” I asked.
“I didn’t hear anything,” she said.
I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, my insides straining, like I was pushing through a massive headache.
Is the ginger still here? Or has he left? I asked.
I heard nothing so I opened my eyes to see Ada with her eyes closed.
“Still nothing?” I prodded her.
She opened her eyes. “No, I was trying to project my thoughts onto you. The assfart left right after you took your nap. He said he was going back home and he’d call you later.”
“Oh freaking joy,” I snarled. “Well, I can’t hear you. Try again.”
We tried back and forth for a while. Sometimes Ada heard me but only when it felt like I was busting a nut. Otherwise, it didn’t work and I never heard her.
“Maybe it’s a one-way street,” I mulled it over. One-way street was better than no way, providing I had the choice of whether she heard it or not. I didn’t want my sister to hear everything I thought, no matter how close we had become.
“Maybe,” she said. “Do you think Pippa passed something on to you?”
I shook my head. “Wouldn’t she have said something?”
“I don’t know. Perry, I’m scared.”
It was a stupid question.
She sighed and started picking at the blanket. “About everything she told you. How could mom do something like that to her? What if she does the same thing to you? To me?”
I grabbed Ada’s hand and squeezed it. “You’re going to be OK. You’re the favorite here. You’ve never given mom any sign that you’re about to go loco. Keep it like that.”
“You never did either until you were my age.” Her voice trembled.
“Ada,” I said determinedly. “You have the advantage. You now know about everything. You know the stakes. Just keep being yourself and if you ever see anything that doesn’t make sense to you, ignore it. Ignore it and talk to me. We’ll keep it just between us. No one ever has to know or suspect anything.”
“And what about you? You know mom is going to be watching you like a hawk. You don’t see the way she looks at you when you’re not looking. She has that same fucking look on her face as the doctor.”
“She’s still our mom,” I told her. Though I thought the same thing, I felt strangely defensive. “We can’t jump to conclusions and we can’t start hating her. I mean, fuck, she is our mother. We have to believe she would never do that to us. She’s not a monster. And if she wants to spend the rest of her life worrying about me…well…then she can do it from afar.”
I swallowed hard and looked around my familiar room. For the last few weeks it was a circus of horrors. Now it meant nothing to me at all.
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately,” I told her honestly. “It’s time for me to leave. To move out. I’m fucking nearing spinsterhood anyway, it’s getting pretty sad that I’m still here.”
“No…don’t go,” she pleaded with those round blue spheres. Her plea was weak though and I knew she was on board with the idea.
“If I stay here, I’ll just get worse. How can I function being paranoid as hell at each turn? I couldn’t. I can’t live here, with her, worrying about the next time I fuck up. I might be fine now, but am I ever really all there, especially now that I’m, what, a bloody telepath? This shit isn’t leaving me anytime soon and we both know it. I might not have a demon on my back but I can guarantee I’m not getting rid of my ghosts anytime soon.”
She grew quiet and squeezed my hand back, her eyes dropping to the bed. We sat in silence for a minute, both in our own heads. She gave me no indication that I was in hers.
Finally she pointed out, “But you don’t have a job. You don’t have any money. How are you going to move out?”
I let out a deep breath. “I don’t know. But I have to leave. And soon.”
“You could move in with Maximus,” she suggested innocently.
I shot her a dirty look. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
She threw up her hands in surrender. “OK, well before you bite my head off just hear me out.”
I didn’t want to but she continued on, “Look, we’re both not a fan of his. I know I wouldn’t mind shoving my curling iron up his ass and turning it to eleven. But aside from that, he did do you a favor today.”
I opened my mouth to protest but she shushed me. “And I know it was a weak favor and that most of this is his fault and that he never had your back and yadda yadda yadda and OK, I really hate him too. But I wouldn’t suggest going with him if I didn’t think it would be better than you staying here. Move in with him, get a job and move out.”
“No way,” I said, crossing my arms. “Not happening. Not ever fucking happening. And also, who the hell says he’d want me crashing his stupid apartment?”
She gave me a wry smile. “Perry, it’s pretty obvious he still has a hard-on for you.”
“Oh Ada,” I smacked her arm. “Don’t say things like ‘hard-on’ it grosses me out to hear it from you.”
“Fine,” she said, taking her arm away from me. “I guess you do have one other option.”
I had a queer tightening in my chest and could barely eke out the word, “What?”
She didn’t say anything. She fished her phone out of her pocket and started to text something.
“Ada!” I cried out. “What is the other option?”
She put the phone down and smiled at me. She gestured to my window with her head.
My legs felt like they were encased in cement. I stared at her, bewildered, my mind racing on about something I both did and did not want to think about.
“Go on,” she said more urgently.
I slowly got off my bed and eased my way over to the window. My heart thumped hard against my chest and the blood filtered out of my head.
Outside, across the street, a black Highlander was running, its exhaust floating in the night.
“How the…” I said, barely find the words.
She got up and joined me by the window. “Maximus went to bail him out earlier. He’s still a twat, of course, but at least Dex isn’t jail anymore. It’s not like the charges were going to stick anyway.”
I took my eyes off of the sight of Dex’s car, my heart awkwardly tumbling over itself at the thought of him outside, and looked at her incredulously.
“How did you know? Did you plan for this to happen?”
She grinned. “Remember that whole sometimes hearing your thoughts thing we were just trying out? I already knew you were thinking of making a run for it. Dex doesn’t know, I just told him to come here right after Maximus got out. I have a feeling though, let’s call it a hunch, that he’s got a hard,” she paused, catching my eyes flashing, “er, soft spot for you too.”
I didn’t know what to think about that. Looking out at Dex’s car, and the answer she had given me, all I did know is that my life was – yet again - about to change in an incredibly messy way.
“Well?” prodded Ada as I stood at the window. “Go say hello.”
“Where’s mom and dad?” I asked, not taking my eyes off of the running vehicle, feeling like my chest was being torn in two different directions.
“I think dad’s still downstairs watching Law & Order. I don’t think he’d be too thrilled to see you going out the door right now.”
I nodded. “The window it is.”
I put my hands underneath the edge and pushed it open. A cold blast of late February wind coated me in seconds and I felt Ada jamming a retro Kyuss hoodie into my hands.
“Thanks,” I mumbled and quickly slipped it on along with my Chucks. I was half-way out the window, ready to put my feet on the sloping roof below when Ada called out, “Hey do you think I can take over your room when you’re gone?”
I shot her a look.
She shrugged. “What if I meet a guy and have to sneak out too? It’s only fair you know.”
I sighed and couldn’t help but smile. “Sure.”
“Awesome. Well, don’t be too long…you never know if they’ll want to check on you,” she warned, heading toward my door.
I nodded and stepped onto the roof. I was lucky that it was such an easy escape route. When I was younger I used to sneak out all the time. In the past few weeks the route had been used twice; once when a demon had led me up there, the other when Dex came in through my window to rescue me. You know, the usual stuff.
Now he was back. And I wasn’t sure if I was going to let him rescue me again. I wasn’t sure what the hell I was going to do about anything. I had two options and neither looked very promising.
I made it to the tree at the end of the roof and shimmied clumsily down it, my body still a bit sore from the trauma of the last few weeks. The minute I felt the ground beneath my feet, a trembling started around my heart and radiated outward. I was nervous. I was damn nervous. I couldn’t find the strength to walk away from the tree and onto the street.
It’s just Dex, I told myself. He’s not worth having a panic attack over.