Chapter One

76 3 3

Tap. Tap. Tap. I turn my head towards the sound to find Riley knocking on my window. Her lips were pursed, eyebrows furrowed, and face twisted in fear. My stomach flips as my heart hammers uncontrollably within my chest.

The wind whips her hair into her face. But I watch as her mouth opens wide and she closes her eyes. Simultaneously, her shrieks fill my ears. Though I couldn't hear myself, I could feel my own screams escaping through my throat.

I grasp at the leather seat beneath me. My nails raking over the smooth fabric. I squeeze my eyes closed and breathe in deeply. One. I exhale and take another deep breath. Two. I breathe out and inhale deeply once more. Three.

My heart is no longer hammering, only pounding, and I no longer feel the need to scream. As my body begins to relax, I notice pressure on my hand. Jordan has clasped my hand in his and is rubbing circles along my thumb.

I open my eyes. Riley is gone and Jordan has pulled over. The car is now sitting in the back of a church parking lot.

"I know you're not okay, so I won't bother asking. Did you see anything that can help us?" Jordan asks shakily. His voice is small and unsure.

"I didn't. But, Jordan, thank you so much for picking me up. I know you have your own problems to worry about and I don't want to cause any other problems for you," I tell him. I consider his own situation and wonder aloud, "Are you going to stay with me?" My chest tightens at the possibility that he may leave me here. Alone.

I watch Jordan's intense, brown eyes glance downwards, as he reaches his hand into the center console. The movement causes his black hair to fall across his forehead. His hair has grown out since I first met him. It almost appears wild and unkempt. The first snowfall is just around the corner, but Jordan's sunkissed skin is as tan as ever.

Clink. Click. Clink. I listen to objects knock against the walls of the compartment as Jordan rummages through it. After a moment, I hear a shaky sound. As Jordan pulls an orange bottle from the compartment, I realize that the sound was his pills.

"I'll be fine Ash, this is my backup supply. I have another bottle in my duffle bag in the trunk," he says every word with his eyes glued to mine. Then he promises, "I will stay by your side as long as it is the place you want me to be."

My breath catches in my throat. Heat spreads from my stomach to my cheeks. I find myself in a trance gazing into his deep brown eyes and counting each golden fleck within them. Instead of answering I smile at him and place my other hand atop of his.

My trance is broken when a flash of light towards the entrance of the parking lot catches my attention. Twisting my head to uncover the source of the light, I spot a small car pulling into the parking lot. I watch as a young couple pulls their little one out of the car and inside the church doors.

Then, a small red headed child, around the age of four, and her mother appear in the middle of the parking lot. I glance around, trying to find the car they rode in. Then I hear the girl. The sound of her voice sends shivers down my spine.

Mommy, I don't want to go inside. It's nice out here, let's play.

Riley, it's Sunday, we always go to Church on Sundays. We can play later. I promise.

The child sighs loudly but allows her mother to guide her into the Church. I stare at the Church doors, realizing that I've just seen a memory of Riley's.

"Jordan," I start, "Riley went to this Church. I'm exhausted now, but we have to come back here. There may be someone here that remembers her."

He nods, "Of course. There's an inn on Route 6. Let's settle in and get some sleep. We can come back first thing tomorrow."

The engine roars to life. Jordan maneuvers the car around and we pull onto the street. As we drive through the town, I gaze out the window. Longing for another clue. My heart, aching to remember some sentimental place or memory. Riley is a part of who I am and I'm desperate to learn more about her.

Caught In A MysteryWhere stories live. Discover now