28 | Mary

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Mary wasn't expecting much when she walked through the upstairs door on the left.

Sure, she had done some things in her life that she wasn't proud of. She had done things that other girls her age probably hadn't had to deal with. But she had always accepted it as the price of her beauty and popularity: some things were simply too magnificent to come for free.

There was nothing this stalker could have on her that would make Mary crack in any way. She wouldn't be forced to do someone else's bidding—she was the one who ordered others to do her own.

She walked into the room and locked the door behind her, obeying the orders found in the letter. As she turned back around after locking the door, she found herself standing in front of a wall with just three pictures taped to it: one of her and Parker, holding hands in her skybox at one of the football games.

They looked younger than they were now, so she must have been cheering wildly for Eddie instead of Michael on the field. Her hair was up in a high ponytail with carefully selected strands framing the sides of her face in gentle curls. Parker looked like the tall drink of water that he was: a football jersey on and his hair gelled just right. They looked like the perfect couple. The absolute perfect couple.

Which, to everyone beside the two of them, they most certainly were.

The second photo was of her and Neil, sitting on a park bench in the dead of night, their faces illuminated only by a streetlamp. Mary knew the exact night that this picture had been taken: the night before Neil died. They had gotten into an argument sitting on that park bench, an argument about her not having broken up with Parker yet. She remembered promising to do it the next week, once the graduation hype had died down and she was ready to deal with something else.

In the picture, Mary was wearing dark gray sweatpants and her hair was tucked behind her ears, stick-straight and in desperate need of a shampoo. Neil was wearing a dark purple flannel and black jeans, his high -top sneakers just barely visible in the picture. His hands were holding Mary's in her lap as they looked at each other, Mary's head tilted bac ever so slightly, so she could meet his eyes.

They looked like a typical high school couple. Dysfunctional. Slightly pissed at each other at all times. There was a stark contrast between the two pictures, and Mary found it fascinating: she had that picture-perfect relationship with Parker on the outside, but she felt empty when she was with him. She hadn't looked perfect with Neil on the outside, but on the inside? Their relationship brought a fire to her stomach that nothing ever had before.

Mary wasn't quite sure about the relevance of the third picture. It was just her, a grainy shot clearly taken on an iPhone 5 or prior, with a drink in her hand. Her mouth was open in laughter and she was surrounded by people on all sides, but she wasn't speaking with any of them. She was simply there, laughing with a red solo cup in her right hand.

"I know about your cheating on Parker. And Neil."

It took a second for Mary to get over the shock of hearing the robotic voice seemingly coming out of the walls, but she hardly jumped. She was sure there were cameras, and the last thing she wanted was to appear weak.

So, Mary turned slowly around in a circle, unsure of exactly where she should be focusing, until she ended up facing exactly where she had been before.

"Excuse me?"

"I know about your cheating on Parker. And Neil." The voice repeated.

"So?" Mary asked, crossing her arms and cocking her head to the side. "So does everyone else. All thanks to you, I'm assuming."

There was a terrible silence for a moment before the voice spoke again.

"Turn around."

Mary turned around slowly, her eyes finding the wall behind her and a single light bulb that shone down on it, illuminating one last photograph. One last photograph that sent chills down Mary's spine.

It was a tall picture that took up almost the entire length of the wall and half of the width. Mary stepped backward slowly, backing up until she hit the wall with the three pictures that hadn't made her feel like her stomach was going to fall through her feet.

It was Mary. It was Mary, in a hospital bed, almost a year previous. She was lying there, her eyes closed, with gauze wrapped around a wound on the right side of her stomach. She had been sleeping when this picture was taken.

Mary instinctively put her hand on her side, feeling the scar from where the wound had been sewn up. She was fine now, completely healed, able to do whatever she wanted. But the scar was still there. The scar would always be there.

The scar from the knife that had stabbed her in the side.

"Do I have your attention now?" The voice asked.

Mary nodded silently, her throat dry. No words could come out even if she wanted them to.

"Covering up an attempted murder wouldn't look too good to anyone else, would it? How about the rest of it? The man that went away because you lied to the cops about what happened? The man who will never see his family again because you put him behind bars for something he never did?"

Mary shook her head, tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.

"Don't act like you care about that now." The voice ordered, some emotion coming through its regular monotone. "Now that you're aware of what I know, I just need one more thing from you, Mary Hadden."

Mary nodded slowly, her eyes glued to the blown-up photograph on the wall in front of her.

"What's that?" She asked, remembering the face of the man she had blamed for it all, the man who had taken to fall so that someone else could walk the rest of their lives freely.

"When it comes down to it, would you betray your friends to save this secret from reaching the ears of those who could put you away for life?"

Mary nodded without hesitation, unable to blink, eyes stuck on the wound in the picture: the blood was already seeping through the gauze as she slept in the hospital bed, peaceful, knowing full well the horror she had just committed.

The horror he had just tried to commit.

"I need an answer." The voice ordered.

Mary swallowed loudly before finally yanking her eyes away from the picture.

"Yes."


A/N: Hey guys and happy Wednesday! I'm sorry for the two missing updates, but I was moving across the country to go back to school and let me tell you, moving in by yourself and flying by yourself and doing everything alone for the first time is SCARY. And hard. And super time-consuming.

But here's Mary's cabin chapter! Let me know what you think of her threat, and be ready for the next one--it's Jordan and it's major.

-Katherine

-Katherine

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