CHAPTER 3: BROKEN PROMISES

Mid-scream, my eyes shot open and all of a sudden, I faced a new reality. Trying to make sense of where I was and what had happened took me no more than two or three deep breaths.

My body still shook with adrenaline, making it impossible to keep my arms and legs still. My heart beat hard and fast, pounding in my ears.  

To my surprise, the dark of night had traded places with a bright and sunny sky. Not able to wrap my head around the sudden change of scenery, I blinked twice to test if I wasn’t dreaming. I repeated the action once more, but the car ceiling didn’t disappear, neither did the sound of a running engine.  

Movement beneath my head caused me to jolt. Time seemed to stop when I spotted Jason behind the wheel.

Oh, please…

I all but snapped my neck twisting it to look over my shoulder. Preventing the tears from falling was not an option as I cried out in relief.

Though my nightmare was over, the nauseating feeling remained. The sight of Hunter – healthy and alive – brought on vivid images from my bone-chilling dream. I bolted for the window, barely managed to roll it down in time, and stuck my head outside while my stomach emptied itself. A car honked behind us for only god knows what reason, though I didn’t pay much attention to it. The fresh air in my face did me good and before long, I slumped back in my seat, meeting the worried glare that came from Hunter, who had his back pressed against the door at his side. No more than a second later, the car came to a full stop. Before the engine had died completely, Jason turned around in his seat, facing me. He, too, looked mortified, but that wasn’t the only expression I read on his face.

Another moment of uncomfortable stares had to pass before things seemed to click together in my head. As it finally dawned on me why my brothers kept their distance, Hunter confirmed my fears.

 “You’re inf—”

“I’m not infected!” I didn’t give Hunter a chance to finish his accusation.

With squinted eyes, he glowered at me. The pensive expression he wore reflected his struggle to decide whether he should believe me.

Long, silent moments passed, and when he couldn’t take it any longer, he all but ran from the car, leaving the door wide open in his wake.

I didn’t know what to say, or how to react. The fact that Hunter was so sure I was infected led me to question my own opinion. I only felt sick because of that nightmare. I would’ve felt it if was contaminated, and I could trust my own body to at least recognize the signs of contamination – or so I hoped.

Confused about my health, I tried to remember if by any chance I could’ve been infected. However, after going over the past twenty-four hours I came up with nothing. I hadn’t seen a single contaminated person except for my dad - and then still, I hadn’t touched him. The sick feeling must have been nothing but a reaction to my vivid nightmare.

It just had to be.

“Keara…” Jason waved a hand in front of me to snap me back from my thoughts.

“I’m sorry, Jason.” I whispered, not really sure what I was apologizing for.

He shrugged off my apology and eyed me with a thoughtful expression on his face. To avoid the awkward stare, I turned my attention to Hunter. He paced back and forth outside the car, and every so often, he paused, only to continue right after. He didn’t even look up when Jason and I exited the car.

 “How do you feel, Keara?” Jason broke the building tension, and leaned his back against the side of the car. I shrugged, not entirely sure of the right response to that question.

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