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AS SOON AS Joshua and I made it out the door of the Cat Shack, my stomach clenched itself into a knot. Nausea overtook me. The ground spun beneath my feet, and my head pulsed in pain. I stumbled and collapsed onto my hands and knees in the damp grass.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Joshua muttered under his breath.

I gagged once, and then a vile brownish liquid-slurry powered up my esophagus and spewed out of my mouth.

Joshua walked a few paces away, giving me space while I continued to empty the contents of my stomach onto the thorn bushes outside the bar. When I finally had no liquid left in me to expel, I coughed and spat, trying to get the bitter taste out of my mouth. My head spun. A thin trail of brownish drool clung to my mouth, illuminated and glistening in the jaundiced, yellow light seeping out of the bar. I wiped it with the back of my hand, and then I rolled back on my heels, plopping my butt down onto the ground, unable to balance. My entire body shook as I panted, trying to catch my breath. In a gust the wind picked up and I shivered. Icy rain speckled my face and clothes.

Joshua finally approached me again. He gave me his hand and pulled me to my feet, and then he handed me a mint which I put in my mouth.

"Thanks," I mumbled. The cool mint helped get rid of the taste, but it was sickeningly sweet. My stomach turned again, but thankfully the tank was empty.

"Come on, Harper." He grabbed me by the arm, gazing down at me with a dark scowl. Rain dripped from his nose and chin. He tugged, leading me to his truck.

My pulse quickened and my vision blurred. I tried to shrug away, but his grip was firm. I stumbled along behind him, trying to keep my feet planted where they were but unable to do so without falling. My mind told me to scream out for help, but no words came out, like my lungs had been frozen.

Maybe he was taking me home. Maybe everything was fine. But something didn't sit right. What was he doing showing up at the bar in the middle of the night? Why had he said he was my uncle? My breaths came short and my mind spun, unable to concentrate.

We reached the truck and he dragged me to the passenger side. "Get in." He opened the door and shoved me towards it. Shaking, I climbed into the seat. I turned back to face him, but the door slammed shut. Wind roared outside, tearing at the frame of the truck.

Joshua walked around the front of the vehicle, his eyes never leaving me. I needed to get out, but my body felt like ice. Everything was rushing around me, but I was moving in slow motion. I reached for the handle of the door and fumbled with the lock as I glanced around the empty parking lot.

Suddenly, the driver's side door swung open, and I froze. Joshua got in. With a turn of a key, the engine rumbled to life. The wipers flipped on. My vision doubled as I stared out the windshield, the rain streaks making the lights from the bar explode like star bursts. Joshua switched on the headlights, and then he backed out of the parking lot, turning onto the road.

I tried to breathe. He had to be taking me home. That had to be it.

"Can you take me to Cornwall Drive?" I asked.

No response.

I stared out the passenger side window, watching droplets of water chase each other in streaks as the truck cruised down the street.

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