Chapter 18

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I vaguely remember the feeling of being lifted up and carried into Harry's house. His strong arms lifting me up with ease and carrying me in like I didn't weigh anything.

I slept like baby; dreaming of nothing, which was oddly comforting compared to my fitful nightmares I usually have.

When I wake up, I find myself in a bedroom I haven't seen before. The bed is so soft and comfy that I don't want to get up. Lifting my head up, I look around the room. Log cabin walls with a poster of All Time Low and another poster of the movie ‘Harry Potter'.

I'm in Harry's room. The thought sends a shiver of excitement through me.

His room consists of a bed-which is just beckoning me to lay back down on its soft sheets and sleep- a desk, a nightstand where a picture of a man I don't recognize sits, and a closet. I sit up and notice I'm not in the same clothes I had on last night. All I have on is a sloppy t-shirt advertising for the Irish pub in town, and checked flannel pajama pants.

I stand up and stretch, making myself wake up. I need to know what Harry did with Nick's body. If he didn't hide it well, when people start to notice his disappearance we could both end up in jail.

My nose is soon overwhelmed with the smell of something wonderfully enticing and I forget what I was thinking of a moment ago.

Bacon. Mmm. My stomach responds as well and I open the door and make my way down the hallway to the main room where I hear some not so soft voices coming from. Harry, his mother, and those boys are in the tiny kitchen.  Harry and his mother stand side-by-side cooking sizzling bacon and eggs with pancakes while the boys are all arguing about who gets the most food. I come up behind Harry, wet my pinky finger with spit, and stick it in his ear.

"Ahh!" he yells and spins around.

I burst out laughing hysterically soon followed by the other boys. I clutch my side and try to calm myself down, but every time I look at Harry, trying to frown at me, I burst into uncontrollable laughter again at the sight. Pretty soon he's laughing with all of us. His mother raises her eyebrows and watches us for a few minutes, as she lifts the frying pans off the stove and begins putting mountain-like portions of food onto plates.

"Well, if you all are done giggling like a bunch of schoolgirls, you can come over here and help me finish getting breakfast on the table."

I struggle to catch my breath and manage to help set plates, napkins, and cups on the small kitchen table, stealing glances at Harry all the while.

I don't know what's gotten into me. Suddenly I'm flirting with the guy I think I'm in love with, instead of worrying about what happened to Nick. Who cares? I'm sure Harry took care of it somehow. I decide to let the thought slip from my mind as I notice the boys giving me strange looks.

“Oh, um, hi, I’m Jessie,” I say to them nervously.

The one I recall as being Louis talks first.

                “Oh don’t worry, Harry told us all about you,” he says winking.

                “LOUIS!” Harry yells embarrassed.

                Well, well, does little Harry have a secret? I’m about to tease him when the thought of it maybe having something to do with me pops into my head. Just thinking that is enough to make me blush. I think I’ll just leave that one alone…

We all sit down at the table and it's then that I notice Addie's absence.

"Where's Addie?" I ask, staring at the empty chair next to who I think is Zayn.

Harry  looks at his mom then at his plate, his face becoming somber, and I suddenly wish I hadn't asked because it seems as though I've ruined the moment. Way to go, Jess.

His mom clears her throat, her green eyes paler than Harry's, "Addie is at her father's place."

"Oh." I say, sensing that no more will be said on the subject.

My stomach growls loudly and I begin shoveling food into my mouth.

"Whoa, slow down there, Jess." I hear Harry say, "it's not like it’s your last meal or anything."

“It might be her last plate though!” Liam pipes up watching Niall stuff food into his mouth.

I laugh and continue to clean my plate, sucking down three pancakes, two scrambled eggs, and several slices of bacon, washing it down with some good ol OJ. I don't care that I'm eating in a what's most likely considered to be un-lady-like fashion. I haven't had a real meal in three days.

After breakfast Ms. Styles takes our plates off the table, puts them in the dishwasher, and comes over to me.

"Jess, come into the bathroom with me so I can inspect your wounds."

I get up and follow her into the hallway to a bathroom off to the right. She closes the door behind us and motions for me to sit on the closed toilet. I sit and she opens up a mirrored cabinet above the sink, pulling out a bag of first-aid supplies.

"Harry told me what happened. I hope you don't mind." She says, eyeing me while pulling out some hydrogen peroxide.

I shrug, "You deserve an explanation, after all you've done for me."

I pull my long brown curls back in a ponytail while she inspects my face.

"In case you were wondering, the boy's been taken care of."

Nick. That's what she means. It all comes back to me, abruptly.

"How? Do the other boys know?" I ask, wincing as she presses a cottonball to my bruised cheeks.

"There is an old factory in town," Ms. Styles says, glancing at me, "the one that used to package and prepare meat and dairy products. And no. They don’t."

I nod relieved. But I know the one she's speaking of. It hasn't been open for as long as I can remember. A deserted warehouse that sits just inside the town.

"Well," she continues, as I give her my wrist to inspect, "let's just say that the meat grinders and ovens still work and leave it at that."

Oh my god.

I nearly gag at the thought of Nick's body being cooked and thrown into the meat grinder, bits of his body being ripped and shredded.

"Ew." Is all I say, my face turning green.

Ms. Styles nods, agreeing and smiling for the first time, and says, "You can use your wrist now. What I thought was a break was really just a slight fracture. It's nearly healed and you'll just be bruised there."             

"Thank you," I say, standing, wondering how she could possibly know all of this, but deciding to ask her some other time.

As I move to exit the bathroom, I feel a gentle tug at my arm. I turn towards her.

"Jessie," she says, searching my face for something, "why do you have so many scars and bruises all over your body?"

Here it is. The moment of truth. A tear slips from the corner of my eye and runs down my cheek.

I look up at her, "Addie's not the only one with a troubled father."

Ms. Styles nods, curtly and moves towards me, wrapping me in her small arms.

Understanding me. Understanding everything.

I never knew the world could have so many kind people among so many evil.

"You'll always be welcome here," she whispers, and for a moment, I can hear the pain in her voice, the deep pain that she has endured.

But just as quickly, it vanishes.

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