Never Never: Part Two
Page 24

 Colleen Hoover

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“I’ll be back in ten minutes. I just want to check out the property.” I know he doesn’t believe a word I’ve said today, so I leave out the fact that I think this Cora girl knows something. If she’s inside that house, I’m going to force her to talk to me.
I finally make it to the top and down the other side. When my feet hit the dirt, I stand up. “Don’t leave until I get back.”
I turn and take a look at the house. It’s about two hundred yards away, hidden behind rows of Weeping Willow trees. They look like long arms, swaying toward the front door, coercing me to move forward.
I slowly make my way down the path that leads to the porch. It’s a beautiful house. I can see why Charlie missed it so much. I look up at the windows. Two of them are lit up on the top floor, but the bottom floor is completely dark.
I’m almost to the porch that extends across the entire front of the house. My heart is racing in my chest so fast that I can actually hear it. Other than the occasional insect noise and the pounding of my pulse, it’s completely quiet out here.
Until it’s not.
The bark is so loud and so close, it rumbles in my stomach and vibrates through my chest. I can’t see where it’s coming from.
I freeze in my tracks, careful not to make any sudden movements.
A deep growl rolls through the air like thunder. I slowly look over my shoulder without turning my body.
The dog is standing behind me, lips pulled back in a snarl, teeth so white and sharp they look like they’re glowing.
He rears back on his hind legs, and before I can run or look around for something to fight him off, he’s in the air, lunging toward me.
Straight for my throat.
I can feel his teeth pierce the skin on the back of my hand, and I know if I hadn’t covered my throat, those teeth would be in my jugular right now. The massive strength of this animal knocks me to the ground. I can feel the flesh give way on my hand as he thrashes his head from side to side and I try to fight him off.
But then something slams into it or on top of it—a whimper and then a thud.
And then silence.
It’s too dark to see what just happened. I take a deep breath and try to stand.
I look down at the dog, and a sharp piece of metal is protruding from his neck. Blood is pooling around his head, tinting the grass the color of midnight.
And then a strong scent of flowers…lilies…surrounds me in a rush of wind.
“It’s you.”
I recognize her voice immediately, even though it comes out in a whisper. She’s standing to the right of me, her face illuminated by the moonlight. Tears are streaking their way down her cheeks, and her hand is cupped over her mouth. She’s wide-eyed, staring at me in shock.
She’s here.
She’s alive.
I want to take her in my arms and hug her and tell her it’s okay, that we’re going to figure this out. But she more than likely has no idea who I am.
She slowly lowers her hand away from her mouth. “My name is Charlie?” she asks.
I nod. The terrified expression on her face slowly transforms into relief. She steps forward and throws her arms around my neck, pressing her face against my chest. Sobs begin to rack her body now.
“We need to leave,” she says through her tears. “We have to get out of here before they find me.”
Find her?
I wrap my arms around her long enough to hug her, and then I take her hand and we run toward the gate. When Landon sees Charlie, he rushes to the gate and begins to shake the locks. He tries to find a way to get us out so she doesn’t have to climb over, but he can’t.
“Use my car,” I tell him. “Bend the gate. We have to hurry.”
He looks back at my car and then again at me. “You want me to break open the gate? Silas, that car is your baby.”
“I don’t give a shit about the car!” I yell. “We need out!”
He acts fast, running straight to the car. As he climbs inside, he yells, “Get out of the way!” He puts the car in reverse and backs up, then slams on the gas.
The sound of iron on metal isn’t nearly as loud as the sound my heart makes seeing the car being torn to shreds. At least I wasn’t that attached to it. I’ve only known it less than two days.
He has to back up and drive forward two more times to bend the iron enough for Charlie and me to slip through. Once we’re on the other side of the gate, I open the back door to Landon’s car and help her inside.
“Just leave my car here,” I tell him. “We can worry about it later.”
When we’re all in the car and finally heading away from the house, Landon picks up his cell phone. “I’ll call Dad and tell him you found her so he can notify the police.”
I grab the cell phone from his hands. “No. No police.”
He slams his hand against the steering wheel in frustration. “Silas, you have to tell them she’s okay! This is ridiculous. You’re both being completely ridiculous with this.”
I turn in my seat and stare at him pointedly. “Landon, you have to believe me. Charlie and I are going to forget everything we know in a little over twelve hours from now. I have to get her to a hotel so I can explain everything to her, and then I need time to make notes. If we notify the police, they might split us up for questioning. I need to be with her when this happens again. I don’t care if you don’t believe me, but you’re my brother and I need you to do this for me.”