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Chapter 14

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The feeling of ominousness was lingering in the October air, the temperature dwindling down to that of winter time. I had been curled up in my duvet reading not a half-hour earlier, and I wished so desperately to climb back in bed. But I had already promised James that I would accompany him to the fair tonight, and I had to get ready.

It was the Halloween Festival which was set up each year around this time. Activities consisted of costume contests, pumpkin carving, carnival rides, haunted forests, and things of that sort. I usually find a delightful joy in these festivities, seeing that October was my favorite month. Besides the events of my birthday and Halloween, the splatters of color throughout the trees and the perfect sweater weather along with the smell of nighttime bonfires made the season wonderful.

But this year Halloween was of much less important as I was otherwise occupied, my life seeming to hold more terror than any haunted house. But it could serve as a nice break, so I figured I'd give it a try. It could be fun.

I tried to think about all of the positives that could come out of this evening in hopes of mustering up some excitement. But instead my mind was filled yet again with thoughts entirely different. Thoughts of Harry.

The hold his alluring attributes had on me seemed to grow tighter and tighter each minute I spent with him. And to think of his reaction to the chocolate bar I'd given him made my heart melt at his ethereal smile and infectious laugh. He had a hold on me and I couldn't seem to shake out of his grasp. I knew what he was doing to me, and I felt like Harry knew it, too. It may have been by accident, or maybe intentional. But there was something there.

I lusted for him, that was evident from the start. His perfect large hands and pouty lips and divine figure, not to mention the dark rasp of his sexy voice, made it almost impossible not to. Especially when he made lascivious remarks that had ignited the flush in my cheeks so many times before.

But that wasn't all. He was intelligent, possibly even more so than any of the guards or nurses. He was never caught off guard or taken by surprise, seeming to have a cynical wiseness that allowed him more knowledge than was safe for someone like him to posses. He was also confident in such a way that demanded attention and submission from others without him being cocky or arrogant.

On the contrary to his seemingly darker side, there was a certain charm and likeness to him held within his dimpled smile that stirred up something deeper than sexual fantasies. He could be so adorably charming, causing my affection for him to grow with each second.

But a thought kept picking at me like a thorn in my mind. He had done something to make James fear him more than he had before. Even though I had been lucky enough to witness this lighter side of him, there was also another part that seemed to be more dominant. The side that drew from him more of a darkness, more of a maliciousness that made people fear him. It was this side and this intelligence that led me to believe he was capable of murder. And not only the murder that he had been sent to this institution for, but the murdering of the poor women that had been skinned and then locked in the basement of Wickendale.

If it hadn't been James, then who else could it have been? Thomas? Brain? Kelsey even? Lori?

None of these options seemed to be correct, but anything was possible at this point. Harry just held the essence of trouble, and he had been founded guilty by a jury and judge of such a crime already. Yet again, though, in that option there was still some doubt. I didn't know how, but there was. Because if I truly believed Harry was the culprit, why had I stayed? Why had I willingly sat with him everyday for almost two hours if I thought he was a cold-hard killer? If I had undoubtedly believed that he had skinned three women, I wouldn't have continued to play board games and cards with him, which were often forgotten with conversation taking its place. And I had seen the looks the guards were giving me. They frowned upon my apparent liking to Harry, knowing that it was wrong of me to be laughing and associating with someone like him. But I had still come back regardless. Because there was something that drew me back to him.

Before I could decipher what exactly that was, though, there were a few knocks at the wooden door of my apartment. I shook my head to suppress my previous thoughts for now, opening to door to reveal the one person that might take my mind off things.

"James!" I greeted as he engulfed my in a warm hug. "Hey, Rose," he replied with a wide, breathtaking grin. "Are you ready?"

"Yup," I nodded. "I just have to grab my purse, come on in if you want."

As soon as he had stepped inside, I walked over to the bedroom of my lousy apartment. Once James was out of sight I ran to the mirror, fixing my hair as quickly as possible. James always arrived so early and it never gave me enough time to look my best, which wasn't much. But he didn't seem to be one to care about looks, seeing that he was so down-to-earth. I would like to look appealing anyway, though.

After I made my hair look the best I could manage in 60 seconds, I grabbed my bag and walked back out of the room to find James patiently sitting on the couch. "Sorry, I'm ready now," I told him as I slowly made my way to the door, wanting him to see my messy apartment for the least amount of time possible.

"No problem, I was early anyway," he said, opening the door for me and then following me out.

We arrived at the Halloween fair within fifteen minutes, finding a parking spot and James purchasing our tickets in about five. In the process I had once again received James' jacket in compliance to my shivering under the cool air. He had also taken hold of my hand once we were past the entrance, intertwining our fingers as we walked along the grass. Orange and purple lights were strewn throughout the whole area, weaving around rides and lining tables. There were young girls prancing around in orange poodle skirts and teenage boys with their hair greased back laughing obnoxiously amongst each other. Snack bars and refreshment booths were scattered throughout the whole festival, creating a perfect carnival scene.

"So, what do you want to do first?" James' smooth voice asked as we walked past the ferris wheel. My eyes scanned through the dozens of attractions lined up for the evening, trying to find something for us to do. Nothing really looked that interesting to me, until my eyes set upon possibly the most boring of choices. "What about pumpkin carving?"

James gave me a quizzical look, probably expecting me to have chosen something more fun or exciting. But then he nodded, going along with my choice. "Pumpkin carving it is."

We walked over to the large table towards the side where there was a women wearing an orange vest, her skin pale and her light hair in a ponytail. "Hello," she greeted. "Hi," James replied as I gave the women a small smile.

"Welcome to the carving station. Just choose any pumpkin you like, and then start carving! We have a book of designs here if you need any inspiration. Just make sure that none of the carving tools leave the station and to use the trash can for the insides of your pumpkin." She told us. "Thanks," James nodded as the women moved to the other side of the table to clean up from a previous partaker.

James and I were the only ones here at the moment, this activity seeming not one of the most popular. "What should I make?" James asked me.

"I dunno. Try something easy like a simple face. Or a bat."

"Why?" He asked, seeming offended. "You don't think I could take on something more challenging?"

"I dunno," I said, cracking a smile. "I wouldn't really peg you for an artistic type of person."

"Rose, are you doubting my skills? I happen to be an extremely talented pumpkin carver."

"Oh really?" I challenged.

"Mm hmm. I'll show you," he told me, grabbing the book of jack-o'-lantern designs and flipping through the pages. "Ah ha!" He suddenly exclaimed. "I'll carve this."

He showed me the page, the shape of a goblin's face complicatedly drawn out onto the paper. It looked had to draw, let alone carve.

"Okay, I'll do that one too," I said.

James pretended to be taken back, shocked even, by my words. "Is that a challenge?"

"Maybe," I grinned.

"Alright, we'll just see who can make the better goblin then, huh?" He said.

"You're on," I replied, and then we went to work. We were able to carve a hole off the top to start, but then came the dreaded removing of the glop on the inside. I hated the stuff, finding it slimy and gross. "This stuff is disgusting," I commented.

"What, you mean this stuff?" James asked. I turned, but before I could spot him a piece of an orange stringy substance came flying at me, landing in my dark hair.

"EW!" I yelled, yanking the pumpkin piece off of me and chucking it at him. He chuckled, picking it off and then going back to carving. But the messing around didn't end there. Because as we were creating our monstrous goblins, we pushed each others pumpkins and pulled each others arms in attempts to ruin the other's creation. James made me laugh and seemed to make the stress in my life fade away while I was with him. Especially in moments like this when he teased me or giggled with me at meaningless things.

"Done," he said, taking a step back to admire his work.

"Me too, I just have one last part," I said, concentrating as I etched one more line into the orange canvas.

"Alright, I'm finished. Let's show each other on three." I suggested as I set down the kid-friendly carver.

"Okay, ready?" James wondered, a cute grin forming upon his lips.

I nodded as we counted down together.

"One . . . two . . . three!" Both of us turned around the heavy fruit, eager to see each other's masterpieces. As soon as my eyes set upon his pumpkin, his eyes on mine, we both burst out laughing.

The two carvings were awful, looking like nothing more than random squiggly lines and what might have been a smile here, maybe an ear there. Neither of us showed any talents in this particular activity. "I guess we both lost," I giggled.

"We tried," he shrugged. After we had stopped chuckling and laughing, the pumpkins were discarded so that nobody else had the displeasure of seeing them. We left the pumpkin carving station and joined hands again, back to walking along the grass and trying to find our next activity.

"Your turn to choose," I said. James bit his bottom lip in concentration, looking around for a minute at his options. "How about the ferris wheel?"

I wasn't too crazy about heights, but James had been so great tonight and had paid for my ticket. So I just told myself to suck it up and nodded in agreement.

We boarded the ride and sat close enough so that our knees were touching, still not separating our hands. The cart lifted off the ground and into the air as it took James and I with it. The sound of light wind could be heard as the noises from the fair were left below, the cool air whipping around us.

"Thanks for coming tonight," James said, breaking the sound of the wind.

"No, thank you for inviting me," I replied. "I'm having a great time."

"Good, me too."

And then there was silence. In the absence of conversation I knew this was time to ask, even though I was afraid to hear the answer. But I sucked in a sharp breath anyway and straightened up, forcing the words out of my mouth. "James, did Harry hurt you the other day? I mean has he ever done anything to you or threatened you? Anything like that?"

James didn't answer at first, going through his response before he spoke. "Well, he made it very clear that he wanted me to stay away from you. But that obviously isn't a rule I'm going to follow," James grinned. I sighed, glad that he felt light-hearted about the subject. That meant nothing too serious happened between them, right? And if Harry did something to James he would tell me, wouldn't he?

"Harry's kind of an intimidating guy, though."

"Yeah," I chuckled. "He kind of is."

"But he can't make me stay away from you. I like you too much."

An immediate smile formed at his words, my heart skipping a beat. "Thanks," I said. "You're not too bad yourself."

James nudged me and I playfully pushed him back, not being able to suppress my idiotic smile. "But really, thank you for inviting me tonight," I said.

"Of course," he replied. "Its been a lot of fun."

I nodded in agreement. I turned my head to the side to realize that we were now at the top of the ride, the height situation not as bad as I thought. With night settling in the festive light illuminated the scene. "This is why I love October. The weather's perfect, and the trees are so pretty."

"I know," James said, nodding in agreement.

"I mean just look at this view," I continued. "It's absolutely beautiful."

"You're beautiful," he said, voice barely above a whisper. I wasn't even sure if he meant to say it out loud, but he had. And as I turned to him, a slight blush visible on his cheeks even in the dark night, I felt the overwhelming desire to kiss him. So I did.

But for some reason when our lips met, I pictured Harry's face in my mind.

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