Adriane gasped and caught her crutches just before they hit the floor,
placing them back beside her on the couch.
"You okay there?" asked her father, instantly standing up to help.
"I'm fine Dad, really," she assured him. She picked up the untidily wrapped
box beside her and tossed it to her father. "Merry Christmas, Dad."
He beamed at her and carefully opened the package. With a slightly confused
look on his face, Mr. Cowan removed a Michael Jordan bobble-head doll.
" you, I love it," he said doubtfully.
Adriane chuckled. "There's more inside," she said.
Again, he reached into the box. But instead of a bobble-head doll, he found
three tickets to a Celtics game.
"Wow, thank you so much!" he exclaimed, leaping to his feet and dashing
over to give his daughter a rough hug. "This is amazing, thank you!"
"The tickets are for the three of us," she explained, beaming. "We can go
as a family." She glanced at Steve and gave him a warm smile. He had
recovered nicely from his concussion; there was no brain damage at all.
"You're right," Mr. Cowan declared. "We should spend more time as a family.
I'm sorry I haven't been around as often as I should. Maybe if I was,
Adriane." he trailed off with a sorrowful look at Adriane's injuries. Her
ankle was badly broken-She would be on crutches until well into the
springtime-and her shoulder had a deep scar that had taken 36 stitches to
"Dad, don't say that, it would have happened anyway. And Steve was there to
He snorted. "Some helping I did; I was lying here unconscious while you and
Carl fended off a murderer single-handedly."
"Steve! If you hadn't been here, she would have killed me right in this
very house and no one could have saved me. You were here, so she couldn't
do anything to me."
Steve smiled, allowing Adriane to praise him. "Well, I guess you're right,
I mean, I am so big and strong and intimidating."
She laughed and threw a pillow at him.
"All right, you two, we just have a few more gifts." They forgot about what
had happened only a week previous. Instead, they opened the two remaining
presents; Steve got a basketball from Adriane, and she received a picture
frame from Steve. She had to give him credit; it was a nice frame. It had
red roses surrounding the picture of her and Steve sitting on the couch
together on Thanksgiving at their aunt's house.
Just as she was thanking Steve, there was a knock at the door. Steve
frowned. "Who could that be?" he muttered.
Adriane gasped and brightened. "That would be Carl!" Instantly, despite
Steve's attempt to help her, Adriane grabbed her crutches and hobbled as
fast as she could to the door.
"Carl," she breathed as she flung the door open, almost knocking her off
Instantly, he stepped across the threshold and wrapped his arms around
Adriane. She leaned her crutches against the door and let him hold her.
"I missed you so much," he whispered in her ear. It was the first time
since that dreadful night he had seen her outside of a hospital bed.
"I missed you too," she whispered back. She removed her head from his
shoulder and kissed him.
Shifting her in his arms, Carl carried her into the living room and laid
her on the couch, grabbing her crutches on the way.
"Hi Mr. Cowan. Hey, Steve," he greeted them. "How are you?"
"We're doing okay," sighed Mr. Cowan. Then he smiled and waved his tickets.
"We're going to the game next week!"
"Awesome!" exclaimed Carl. He, Steve, and Mr. Cowan started discussing
teams and players and other pointless sports stuff only diehard fans would
be interested in.
"Geeze, it's just a game," Adriane muttered, wishing she knew more about
She watched Carl and smiled. His eyes sparkled with excitement, as they
always did. But somehow, they were different. Whenever he looked at her, a
new twinkle entered his eye. There seemed to be more love, more care, more
joy in him, just because he was with her. She couldn't believe she hadn't
seen it all along. Then again, she couldn't believe that he hadn't noticed
her falling head over heels for him for months before.
As he turned toward her, she noticed again that special glint in his eye
that revealed itself only for her.
"Dad, we're going for a walk," she said, still gazing at Carl. "We'll be
back soon." Carl grinned and helped her up.
Mr. Cowan uttered a wave of precautions, dangers, and warnings that Adriane
had never heard him say before he allowed them out the door. It must be a
part of his early New Year's Resolution to be a better father, she thought.
Finally, they were outside. Adriane shivered at the chilly air. "I'll keep
you warm," muttered Carl, putting his arm around her. She awkwardly tried
to snuggle against him and work her crutches at the same time. Eventually
they found a large, cold boulder to sit on.
"Anything new at the Raven residence?" Adriane asked, lying back and
shivering against the ice-cold rock.
Carl smiled, lying down with her. "A few ugly sweaters, a computer game,
and a cordless for my room," he responded. "And I think you got some new
stuff too. I'm guessing that the necklace I spotted on your couch wasn't
your dad's or your brother's," he said, propping himself up on one elbow
and looking at Adriane. "I'm sure it will look great on you, though."
With his finger, he traced her neckline, wishing there wasn't a sweater
Leaning down, he kissed Adriane. She reached up and ran her fingers through
his hair, wishing she could just get lost in his brown eyes.
"Did Danielle ever come and visit you?" Carl asked, playing with a lock of
Adriane's hair. He just couldn't keep his hands off her.
"Yeah, she and Phil came the day after it happened. Danielle was all
flustered and wanted to know everything and why I didn't tell her about the
calls. I told her the only people who knew were Steve and you. The two
people I trust the most." She craned her neck and kissed him lightly. "And
love the most."
He smiled. "How are Danielle and Phil doing, anyway?"
"You know how they are, getting along one minute, fighting the next.
They're in love," she chuckled.
She stared at him, and he looked back. They stared and smiled for several
minutes, basking in each other's love.
Suddenly, her smile disappeared. "Where's Liz?" she asked, lowering her
He sighed heavily. "She is in a mental hospital, far, far away." He
hesitated. "I saw her the other day."
Adriane's head snapped up. "What?" she asked sharply. "You saw her?"
"I wanted to tell her myself that I didn't love her. That I wanted nothing
to do with her. That I would never forgive her. And that I love you." He
looked up again and took Adriane's hand.
"How is she?" Adriane whispered hoarsely. Even after all Liz had done to
her, she still hoped Liz was somewhat okay.
"Actually, she doesn't look too good. Not only is she in horrible mental
condition, but you put up quite a fight. She has a lot of internal bruises,
and she even sprained her wrist," he said, almost proudly.
Adriane cringed, remembering that awful night. The fear, the knives, her
Looking down at her shoulder, she frowned at the two-and-a-half inch white
scar that stood out drastically against her olive skin. Liz had not only
stabbed her, but also dragged the knife through her skin, creating a bigger
gash that equaled more blood loss. Adriane had lost so much blood she had
fainted, and she had to get more blood at the hospital. She had been in the
hospital for five days.
"What about her brothers?" she asked. Adriane had never liked Liz's family,
except for Ryan. He was the only normal one in a family of mental cases.
"They're being appointed a guardian," he answered. "Wouldn't that suck?
You're dad abuses you, then he dies, your sister tries to kill someone, and
then all of a sudden someone comes into your house and tries to take care
Adriane giggled. "But I would feel sorrier for the guardian."
Carl laughed with her. It felt so good, talking, laughing, kissing and not
having to hold back his feelings. But he just wanted to know.
"Why didn't you ever tell me you loved me?" he asked softly, tracing random
designs on the back of Adriane's hand.
"Well, I didn't always love you," she said, smiling. "I just thought of you
as a best friend, crushing on you off and on, until just under a year ago.
Then, at the beginning of the school year, I fell in love with you."
"But why didn't you tell me?"
"Shouldn't I be asking you the same thing?" she teased. Then she said
seriously, "I didn't want to ruin the great friendship we have had since we
were six. But mostly, I was scared."
Carl had been scared too, but he couldn't admit that to his girlfriend.
"Scared? Why?" he asked innocently.
"I was scared that you wouldn't love me. I was scared that it would change
our friendship. I was scared that what I was feeling really was love, and I
didn't know how to handle that."
Carl gaped, his mouth slightly open. She had felt the same things he had.
"Don't be scared now," he said. "I love you. We're still best
with benefits." she elbowed him and laughed.
He laughed too and kissed her, then sat back and closed his eyes. He wished
he were indoors where it was warm, lying in his Adriane.
He felt her shiver and opened his eyes. Her teeth were chattering. "Do you
want to go back?" he asked, sitting up.
She nodded. "I'm freezing. Do you have family stuff to do today?"
He made a face. "Yes, sadly. I have to see my 50-year-old aunt again. I'd
much rather be with you." She sat up and he handed her crutches to her.
"I'll drop you off at your house, but do you want to do something
"Yes, of course. I hate being away from you. It hurts more than these
things do," she said, nodding to her shoulder and ankle.
He grinned wickedly. "You can come over tomorrow, if you want. My parents
will be gone, visiting some friends."
Adriane smiled and kissed him, long and deep.
"You're on, Raven," she said, "and that's when I'll bring you a Christmas
gift. I didn't really have time to go shopping lately, with all that's been
Carl shrugged. "Don't get me a present. I got more than I wished for this
year." He put his arms around her. "You."
She smiled and closed her eyes, resting her head on his shoulder.
Suddenly, he let go. "That reminds me," he said, jumping to his feet and
rummaging through his pocket. "I can't believe I almost forgot, I've been
planning on this, why didn't I remember," he scolded himself.
He sat back down and handed Adriane a little black velvet box. With a
curious look at Carl's beaming face, she opened it and gasped.
Inside the box was a shining gold band with an emerald stone and two
smaller emeralds on either side of it. The beauty of the sparkling jewels
took Adriane's breath away.
"Carl," she breathed. "It's... I can't believe 's."
"It's the exact shade of your eyes," he finished for her.
Excitedly, he took it out of the box and went to put it on her ring finger,
imagining putting a diamond ring on this very finger one day.
"Wait," Adriane stopped him. She took the ring from his fingers and
examined the band. Something had caught her eye.
Then she saw it.
On the inside of the band, the part that touched her skin, there was an
CR heart AC
"Carl," she gasped, and looked into his eyes. She slipped it on and held
him tight, as if she would never let go.
"Thank you, I love it. I love you," she whispered.
"I love you too," he uttered. He pulled back and helped Adriane to her
feet, looking extremely proud and happy.
"Come on," he said. "We have to get you home." Adriane stood shakily on her
crutches, but leaned over and kissed Carl anyway.
"Forgive me if my gift isn't nearly as good as that," she teased.
He laughed. "As long as I always have you, I don't care what I get for the
rest of my life."
Adriane hobbled after him on her crutches. She looked down at her hand
every once in a while to admire her emeralds, hoping that one day she would
again be looking down at a ring from Carl. Only she wished that then, it
would be a diamond ring.
A/N: Yes! You made it! Thanks so much for reading the whole thing, I hope
you liked it! Now, regardless of whether you liked it or not, I want you to
review or email me and tell me what you thought. And I also kinda wanna
know if you noticed any change in my writing style from beginning to end.
Just wondering. So...you think you're done with "Deadly Rhymes," but ur
not! Yes, that's right. I have TONS more editing and rewriting I have to
do. Maybe you didn't notice it, but some things don't make sense, and some
things just suck and need to be rewritten. I am already starting another
draft, so beware! It's coming soon! And there are actually a lot of
changes and a lot of parts are REALLY different, so read that one when I
post it and tell me what you think. Gotta go, it's 3am but I was just so
excited I had to post it immediately. Happy reading!