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ʻʻClaire?ʼʼLuke sounded from my phone. I was surprised that he had answered only on the first ring, but dismissed it as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

ʻʻYeah, um hi.ʼʼ I awkwardly greeted, as the darkness of the outside consumed me.

ʻʻWhatʼs up?ʼʼ His voice was much more different on my cell phone then it appeared at the bar last week. But then again, he was completely wasted.

ʻʻI...well...uh...how far away do you live from the city?ʼʼ I started, tapping my fingers nervously in a rhythmical fashion against the black cover of my steering wheel.

ʻʻWhat? Um, Iʼm pretty far...about four, maybe five hours? Yeah, about five hours.ʼʼ After a moment he added, ʻʻwhy?ʼʼ

ʻʻI know that, oh my god, this is going to sound...amazingly crazy, but...ʼʼ I debated silently to myself if I should inform him of all the crazy shit thatʼs happening to me and Mandy. No, if...he finds out, Iʼm afraid of what he might do to Luke.

ʻʻBut...ʼʼ He dragged out expectantly when I failed to finish my request.

ʻʻI, um, need a place to stay.ʼʼ I managed to squeak into the phone.

I expected an immediate response, but the phone line turned quiet. I could only hear breath. Then he inquired with a deep, worried voice. ʻʻIs something wrong?ʼʼ

ʻʻNo.ʼʼ I said too quickly to be natural. I added some finesse to my next sentence. ʻʻWhy do you ask?ʼʼ

ʻʻBecause weʼve only talked once at a bar, after your eighth shot of tequila.ʼʼ

I forced a laugh at this. ʻʻNo, I just...somethingʼs come up and I...ʼʼ I was awful at last minute excuses. Finally an idea arrived. ʻʻI have a show scheduled over by where you last said you're living,ʼʼ

ʻʻWhy canʼt your manager just get you a hotel or something?ʼʼ

ʻʻWell, to be blunt we're on a tight budget. I put every penny into the tour last month, I must of forgot real life exists and is very expensive. ʼʼ I lied, not allowing him a moment to inquire further into any more details. ʻʻI told them that I knew someone out there.ʼʼ

ʻʻOh, wow...yeah, um sure.ʼʼ He cleared his throat very dryly. ʻʻIʼm sure my brother Jasper will love to hear the news. Heʼs a big fan of yourʼs.ʼʼ

ʻʻAwesome! Thanks so much.ʼʼ I smiled weakly, tugging a strand of hair behind my ear. ʻʻWhen can I come over?ʼʼ

ʻʻAny time youʼd like.ʼʼ

ʻʻTomorrow morning?ʼʼ

ʻʻSounds like a plan. Iʼll have to clean up the house a bit.ʼʼ He chuckled loosely which I found an invitation to do the same. ʻʻNeed me to text you the address or do you remember it from our drunk discussion?ʼʼ

ʻʻTexting it will be the safest.ʼʼ I laughed quietly, and after a few short comments I hung up.

I felt my back contract as I adjusted myself slightly in my seat. Ouch. I groaned quietly as I managed to stretch my soar muscles out a bit in the small capacity of the car. It was a good thing I declined the offer from my manager to have someone drive me in a limo. I didnʼt need another innocent personʼs life to be in danger. I made sure the first thing I did was call Angela, my manager, and explain my sudden disappearance. I told her family issues came up, and despite her disapproval of missing the charity show this month, she accepted the lie.

Nearly seven hours later, after managing the lengthy journey upstate and stopping in town to purchase a convincing last minute wardrobe, I was pulling into a long, narrow driveway. As the leather tires slowly rotated, carrying me down the smooth terrain of the cement drive, I allowed myself to feel something. The whole drive here was suffocatingly calm; my eyes remained dry, my throat avoiding soreness from lack of therapeutic screams, and my senses had seemed to return to me. Until I recieved further instructions from this...stalker, or whatever he was, I was to act as if this were all normal.

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