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THE FOOD WE'D ordered lay untouched on the glass end table as we sat silently on the porch. My hands shaking, I lit a cigarette. I wanted desperately for Jeremey to roll a joint or a spliff or something—because I had a feeling just the nicotine wouldn't be enough to calm me down—but he didn't make a move. He just sat there, running his hands up and down his jeans again and again like he was trying to wipe sweat off his palms.

I finished my cigarette and put it out on the ashtray. I reached to light another one, but a shrill buzz froze me where I sat. My breath skipped, and my heart pounded in my chest. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, and the screen lit up. Just a text message. Exhaling heavily in an attempt to calm my nerves, I opened it.

Lydia: Hey Harper, do you want to come over for dinner tonight?

She knew I wasn't scheduled to work on Fridays. Before I could type anything in response, the phone buzzed again.

Lydia: My parents are out of town

At twenty-two, Lydia still lived with her mom and dad. But then again, all of the friends I'd gone to school with that were still in Millstone lived with their parents. Well, with the exception of Jeremey. He still lived in his parents' house, but both his mom and dad were dead, so I didn't count him. The house had been in his family for generations, the mortgage paid off long ago, so I didn't feel too bad about crashing there without paying anything in rent.

My hand shook as I typed my response to Lydia, the nerves still not worn off from the drive.

Me: Sure, dinner sounds good. What time?

Lydia: 7

I looked at the clock on my phone. It was already past three. I forced myself to my feet.

"Who was that?" Jeremey asked. It was the first thing either of us had said since we sped away from the farmhouse.

"Lydia." I opened the door to the house. "She wants me to come over for dinner. Says her parents are out. I think I'm going to do some laundry and grab a shower."

"Cool." His voice sounded detached, like a wind had picked it up and carried it away. I watched him for a minute as he stared off into the distance at the dogwood tree in the yard across the street before finally turning and heading inside.

• • •

The drive to Lydia's was unnaturally silent. At seven in the evening on a Friday, the town was dead. The streets were empty and dark. I stopped at a vacant corner, waiting for the light to turn green.

The wind whistled outside of the car, surrounding me as though it were closing in. I shrunk in my seat, trying to keep my eyes focused ahead of myself. I wasn't sure why, but I feared if I looked out the side window—at the woods bordering the road—something would leap out of them and attack me.

Joshua's face kept flashing through my mind. His haunting gaze absorbed everything in its presence like a sponge in an oil-slick.

As if from nowhere, light flooded my car. My breath caught in my throat, and I froze. My hands shook as I grasped the wheel tighter.

A horn blasted behind me, and I jumped in my seat. Two menacing headlights glared at me in the rear view mirror. My heart raced in my chest. It was Joshua. He had followed me. He had come for me.

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