Eight

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Myrtletown, California wasn't much. A small suburban city barely ten minutes out from downtown Eureka. I didn't know what I had anticipated, but I was sure the place hadn't even reached my very low expectations.

As we drove down Main I took in my surroundings. A locally owned grocery store, a rundown gas station, Bridget's Hair Studio and a restaurant named Mike's Bar-B-Que. What the hell did people do for fun here? Watch the grass grow?

"No wonder Paige is crazy," I said. "Growing up here really forces you to use your imagination."

"No kidding."

We passed an advertisement for a local café.

"I'm starved," Melissa complained. "Are you hungry?"

I forced myself to nod. "Sure."

Eventually we found the local café and agreed to eat there. The chatter of the lunch rush filled my ears as we made it inside. I wondered if we stuck out like sore thumbs amongst this crowd. It was clear we weren't from around here.

We sat as I felt Melissa's gaze on me.

"So, the church..." she started.

"We'll go after this," I stated. "We'll go and see what the hell Paige wants us to find, and figure out where to go from there."

That's when an older woman, maybe in her late thirties approached us. She was chewing on a piece of electric blue gum and had a messy bun atop her head. Her waitressing apron hung off her slim hips as she pulled out her order book.

"How are you two today?" she asked.

"Great," Melissa lied.

"Anything to drink?"

"Water."

"Coffee?" I asked.

The waitress nodded and scribbled. I noticed her name tag read Fran.

"I'll go grab your drinks and give you some time to look over the menu," Fran said before she left us.

"You should really drink some water," Melissa coaxed. "You're probably dehydrated."

"Your maternal instincts are showing," I mocked.

She tilted her head. "Alexa."

Okay, I was doing it again. I was being a bitch.

Lately, my mood was getting harder and harder to control. I blamed in on the anxiety and depression that had crept up over the past week. It caused major mood swings I had yet to cope with, although I believed I had a valid excuse.

"I'm sorry," I apologized half-heartedly. "I just... I need you to not treat me like I'm your child."

Melissa didn't protest. She just exhaled a defeated breath and nodded.

"Fine," she agreed.

And I ordered a water as a compromise.

Eventually our food was in front of us, but I had to make myself to eat. My appetite was nonexistent. I wondered if Anna was hungry as I forced myself to swallow.

"You think those two guys have any idea we're no longer in Los Angeles?" Melissa asked.

I set down my fork. "They'll figure it out soon enough. I just hope they didn't get into the attic."

"If they had they would be here," Melissa reassured.

She was right. It wouldn't have been hard to figure out. The town was blatantly written out on multiple posts. I scolded myself for leaving her attic that way before skipping town. I should've taken everything down. I should've covered our tracks better.

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