Ben approached me the moment Vincent took off, but he wasn’t exactly biting at the bits to break the silence. So while we both stewed in our thoughts a little longer, we walked back to his house. As we stepped over the threshold and into the living room, I realized that for the first time since I’d stepped foot in it, it didn’t feel like a sanctuary. It felt like the foyer to hell - like I was in some twisted waiting room while I helplessly anticipated the bullet that would end it all.

We stood in silence in the living room, neither of us sure where to begin. Vincent had clued me in where to begin my inquiry, but I wasn’t sure whether I was ready to hear the answers to the questions that had been percolating in my mind.

 Those thoughts quickly shifted to Alaina. He’d said she was safe, but his word, as much as I wanted to take at face value, was not enough and I called her to ease my worry.

Every ring of Alaina’s cell phone increased my anxiety tenfold. I was working my way into a fit of hysterics when she finally picked up.

“Adrienne?” she mumbled sleepily, “what’s the matter?”

I smiled into the phone as relief flooded my body, grateful that I’d given her the cell phone for my emergency calls. The fact that she automatically knew it was me, told me she hadn’t broken the rule by giving her number to anyone else.

“Nothing kiddo. I just had a bad dream and had to hear your voice to make sure you were alright.”

She breathed into the phone and cleared her throat. “What time is it?” she asked lieu of a response.

“The time is. Four. Forty. Five. A. M” an automated voice announced.

“Nevermind,” she mumbled, “my watch told me.”

I smiled even wider at the thought of her using the watch I’d bought for her. Well “bought” was a poor choice of words… “acquired” was infinitely more apt.

“Why are you really calling?” she asked, the sleep no longer heavy in her voice.

“What makes you think there’s something wrong?” I returned.

“Adri, I’m blind not deaf. That means there’s nothing at all wrong with my hearing, if anything it means I can pick things out even better than you. I’ll admit the fact that it is you helps tremendously.”

I thought back to what Vincent said. He told me that the decisions I made would affect who lived and died. If he really was serious, which I had no doubt in my mind that he was, I wasn’t about to tempt fate into including my little sister in the mix. The less she knew, the better.

“Things are just really crazy and I flipped and needed to hear your voice.”

It was the closest thing to the truth and I hoped that her aptitude for figuring out my moods would work in my favor.

“Alright,” she said indulgently. I could tell she only half believed me, but she didn’t push the subject any further.

“Go back to sleep Lanie,” I urged. “I’ll call you later.”

“Okay,” she yawned into the phone, “good morning or night Sis, whatever works. Call me if you need me.”

“Okay,” I chuckled into the phone.

I hung up and sighed to myself. My sister was so old for her age, though it made me smile just a little because she reminded me a lot of our grandmother.

I snuck a peek at Ben from the corner of my eye. He looked so tired and sometime during my little chat with my sister he had sat down on the couch. His head was in his hands and he massaged at his temples with his thumbs.

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