63. And Then The Storm

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TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ABUSE

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TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ABUSE

Buck's front door was wide open, but that wasn't unusual, they kept it like that to air the place out after their parties. Jiggling the screen door back into place, I stepped into the house.

It was a wreck, overturned furniture and trash everywhere.

Sighing, I straightened up a toppled bottle of Cutty and called out for my mom. She'd texted and asked me to come by but hadn't replied when I'd asked her why.

"Brandy?" I called out again. "Buck? Amber? Anybody home?"

The muffled sound of the stereo blasting heavy metal drifted down the stairs. Not wanting to walk in on anything I didn't want to see, I grabbed a Hefty bag and a bucket from the kitchen and started the process of emptying out the gazillion half-filled Solo cups and trashing them.

This is so nasty, food and cigarette ash all over the carpet and the furniture. How can they live like this?

Mom's phone dinged from the coffee table. It was Buck, letting her know that he'd meet her at home in ten minutes.

Oh, so they're not upstairs together. Wait a minute, did they have bad news? Something they both needed to be here to tell me about?

Suddenly anxious, I set the trash bag aside and started up the stairs. "Amber?"

God, I hope nothing bad had happened to her.

I took the stairs two at a time. "Amber! Are you home?"

Her room was empty.

Stop overreacting. She's probably fine.

Footsteps echoed from the master bath. "Brandy?"

The master bedroom was a wreck, and if I hadn't known my mom better, I would've thought it had been ransacked. I went straight to the dresser and shut the stereo off. Even then, my skull pounded from the after effects of the bass.

The bathroom door was closed, but there was no sound of running water.

"Brandy?" I pushed the door open.

Empty.

That's funny, I could've sworn I'd heard footsteps.

Unease prickled up my spine, goose flesh painting over my skin. Something was wrong, I sensed it on a primal level.

Why is the shower curtain drawn? They usually leave it open, don't they?

Holding my breath, I drew them, rusted metal rings scraping against the rod.

Empty.

I shifted the curtain back into place. "No more horror movies for you," I mumbled as I turned.

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