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Chapter 3

He ran a towel over his wet, shaggy hair. Water droplets were forming on the end of the strands and fell to the floor in beads. I watched from the couch as he took the towel away from his face and folded it before him.

He turned around, smiled softly and sat down on the chair next to the sofa. We stayed quiet for a long moment, but the curiosity was killing me. So many questions were pounding my headache further into my brain. I sighed and leaned my head into my hand and curled my feet on the couch cushions.

"What's your name?"

He smiled again and sat up in the chair, leaning toward me. "Nicholas."

My eyebrows raised appreciatively. It wasn't the fact that I liked his name so much that bothered me, it was more the fact that I liked that that was his name. It suited him, and I do not need to be acknowledging that fact.

I nodded and tapped my chin. "Let's see…"

"Oh, there's more questions?"

"Of course there are!"

He smiled again, making my cheeks flare in embarrassment. "It was a joke."

I nodded again and sat back in my chair, glancing worriedly to the clock on the mantel. Still three more hours until Dad was suppose to be home. We had plenty of time to discuss our predicament. "Continue, ask me anything."

"Who are you?"

"I can't answer that."

I rolled my eyes, letting my arms fall in exasperation. "Why not? You told me to ask you anything."

Nicholas smiled. It was beginning to infuriate me the way he smiled. I think he knew it annoyed me so much. "I know. I never said I would answer anything you asked me. I'm only kidding. But, I don't think you're ready to hear who I am just yet." He confused me. I had never met someone like him who confused me.

I usually decided within the first few minutes of meeting someone whether I liked them or not. But he, this dead boy…was confusing me. I liked him enough to bring him here, after he scared me to death, but his words and smile piss me off.

I sighed and narrowed my eyes at him. "Well, answer this then. What are you?"

His smile faded rather quickly, but he sat still. His shoulders slightly tensed with his tousled dark hair hanging slightly in his eyes. I sniffed and looked over his face, resting my gaze on his eyes. They were boring into me, dark and deep. The longer I looked, the more I realized his eyes were dark blue. Fathomless.

They scared me.

I looked away, not even caring to know the answer to my question now. "I'm not sure you're ready for that either."

"Tell me what you think I'm ready for then." I said quietly, picking at the fabric of the couch.

Nicholas folded his arms over his chest and nodded, looking toward the front door as if he were waiting on someone. I hoped he wasn't. I hoped he could be trusted, because I sort of trusted him already. He hadn't killed me yet.

The word yet echoed in my head, making me shiver again.

"Fair enough. I'll start with this morning. What I can remember of this morning anyway." He tapped his long fingers against his arm and thought for a moment. "I can remember…a man." He looked at me, as if telling me not to ask who the man was. He knew, but I knew he wasn't going to tell me. "He was planning to kill me, but something went awry. This is the fuzzy part, by the way. I ran from this man, and running isn't usually a problem for me.

"But, I had been starved…for a very long time. I was to the point where I would surely die, if I didn't get somewhere…that could help me." He was dodging words, and it annoyed me. Still, I stayed quiet and listened to him. "I remember seeing the hospital, but knowing they couldn't help me. If anything, I would end up on an autopsy table with knives and scalpels in me. Well, part of that came true." He smiled and sat up, leaning his elbows on his knees.

I noticed his spine through his sweater, which looked large on his thin frame. He was tall, but starved. I gulped and looked to the kitchen. "Uhm…if you're still hungry-" He put a hand up, laughing softly. To him it was soft, to me it sounded like sandpaper over a wire brush. I winced.

"Don't offer. I can't take you up on it."

I nodded, wondering if he meant he couldn't be rude…or what. I narrowed my eyes, and sat up. "I'm still confused. Why did the doctors say you were dead. I mean, you obviously aren't since you're sitting here talking to me, and I know I'm not crazy." Wait. Maybe I hit my head or something earlier! Maybe this wasn't real…

But, something about the look in his eyes as he turned his gaze toward me told me I was very much conscious. He looked pained, as if he were torn inside about whether to answer me. He shook his head, standing suddenly in one fluid movement. One minute he was sitting, the next, he was towering above me.

"I have to go. I shouldn't have dragged you into this as much as I have."

"Wait." He paused, not looking at me as he turned toward the door. I stood from the couch, less gracefully as he arose and looked at his back. "You haven't dragged me into anything. I willingly led you out of the hospital…and…I don't know why, but I don't feel threatened by you. I'm only scared of the fact that I know nothing about what happened earlier. I'm not scared of you." Nicholas turned slightly, staring at me over his shoulder.

I blinked, glancing downward before returning his stare through my lashes. "I can handle whatever you tell me."

He blinked. Was he surprised? I couldn't tell, but he looked different than he had before. Despite the fact that I had no knowledge of this boy, only the fact that he was once dead, I knew I could definitely handle it. Whatever he had been through, whoever he was, whatever he was, it wouldn't turn me away.

I was curious. And I knew enough to know I was playing with fire…but too curious to care about the burn that I would feel from this. Nicholas turned around, putting his hands on the back of the couch. His shoulders were leaned forward, but he wasn't slouching.

He looked more like a cat ready to strike at a mouse. Tensed. "Are you positive you can handle it? You people have delusions of what is the truth, you could be in denial about how strong you really are." His words had an edge to them, and I felt as though I was being cut.

Defiantly, I stuck my chin higher in the air and stood my ground. "I'm not delusional about anything. I. Can. Handle. It." I stressed each word through my clenched teeth. The corners of his lips twisted up slightly in a smirk.

"So, you want to know what I am? How I am alive now, even though you swear that I was dead?"

I nodded, my chin still strong, my eyes still blazing with curiosity. "I only asked you a couple of hundred times." Sarcasm dripped on every word.

Nicholas stood straight, his dark eyebrow raised to an arch as his arms crossed over his chest. Without a word, without giving me any answer to my burning questions, he walked to the door. It opened swiftly, letting the sound of the pouring rain fill the empty house. My mouth was open, ready to demand where he was going, but I was cut off.

"Knowing me, knowing what I am and what I do, you'd put yourself in danger. I would put you into harms way." He crossed the threshold and held the silver doorknob loosely between his thin fingers. "Trust me. You don't want to know."

And with that, the door shut and the cold of outside was blocked off. I ran to the window and pulled the curtain back, frantically searching for Nicholas. I wanted to watch him walk away, just to know he was really here, that I wasn't hallucinating.

But, he wasn't. It was like he had disappeared and I had no proof that I had known him at all. A strange feeling pooled into the pit of my stomach, as if I were hungry, yet I wasn't. I turned toward the kitchen, my eyes prickling slightly out of frustration.

Needless to say, I filled myself full of junk food and plenty of carbonated, sugary sodas.

Noah nudged me as he dribbled the basket ball between his legs. "C'mon. You haven't said much all day." He gripped the ball and set up for a shot, but didn't. My basketball goal had been taken down nearly four years ago when Noah first came across the street. We played a round of ball, with me beating him terribly.

It was the first day of our friendship.

It was the last summer I had my basketball goal. I looked up at the space above the garage where Dad still hadn't painted over it. The spot where the nails stuck in the wood was still there, looking splintery.

Sighing, I leaned back on my front step and looked at the warming sun. For October, the day had been unusually warm. I was comfortable in my short sleeve shirt and jeans. I noticed Noah was wearing almost the same as I was.

It was eerie the way we dressed alike, even though we have very different wardrobes and styles. "I know. I'm just thinking."

Thinking about a certain, strange, alive-dead boy. It wasn't fair. He walked out of my door two weeks ago and everything he said still felt like it was fresh in my mind. 'Trust me. You don't want to know.'

But, I did want to know. I wanted to know everything about him. I rolled my eyes at myself. I sounded ridiculous, like a stupid puppy who had it's toy taken away. I was moping because I didn't get my way.

"Thinking? Such a dangerous past time, especially for such a stupid person."

This gained him a punch to the shoulder from me. I stood up, snatched the ball from him and dribbled it a ways down my driveway. "Yes, yes. I know. So dangerous. But…." I paused, holding the ball at my waist.

Noah stood, studying the look on my face. He knew it well. My lip between my teeth, my eyebrows furrowed in confusion, it was clear something was on my mind. He put his hands on his hips and raised an eyebrow. "Spill. Everything. I want to know why you barely talk to me, and why you're not acting very Emily-like."

But, I didn't tell him. Telling him the truth would leave too many loose strings, and the lie I told Mom about the people coming to get the body was getting out of hand. She had already asked me 14,000 times about it, and I could tell I was in deep shit because the body was still missing and the hospital was in an uproar about it.

Just think, if he had a family and his body had suddenly gone missing, South Barton's Hospital would be screwed up the butt. They'd be sued from every angle and eventually, all the bad publicity would force them to shut down. Meaning it would all be on my shoulders.

It was too damn horrible to think of, and I knew I couldn't tell Noah the truth although my heart was begging for someone to spill it's secrets to. Instead, I shrugged and tossed him the ball. "It's just…I'm a bit stressed." I looked up and sighed. "Look, it's getting dark. Why don't we go get something to eat, then watch some movies at my house."

Noah smiled and rolled the ball into the open garage where it crashed against a few paint cans, spun and settled beside the wheel of my dad's truck. "Yes to the first, but I can't watch movies. Jordan's having her friends over and Mom thinks it's my responsibility to watch them while she and dad go to a movie. Like they're suppose to have a life, and I have to baby sit my bratty sister and her dorky friends."

He rolled his eyes and we separated to get in either side of his Explorer. Before I even asked, I knew he was thinking somewhere fast food, somewhere greasy where you regret eating thirty minutes after finishing your meal.

I looked at him, my eyebrow raises and my mouth open, ready to ask before he gave me a glare. As if I should read his mind. Of course, I had…but still.

"Alright, Lee's it is." The small restaurant was owned by one of the oldest people in our town. Lee was nearly 97 years old, but he still sat in the store every day from opening to closing, watching people eat the food he helped create. He freaked the hell out of me.

I never sat by him, but there were people who always crowded around the guy, talking to him like he actually cared about more than just their money. Seriously, what could a person almost a century old want with the piles of money he has?

I bet he still has the first penny he ever made. Cheap old bastard.

Noah hopped out as soon as he parked beside the red brick building. The front door had a poster with the week special on it, and someone had painted Lee's in bright neon Orange on the front windows. Over time and through storms, some of the paint had chipped off.

The apostrophe in his name was barely visible now.

I followed Noah into the smoky restaurant, through the crowd talking to Lee, and up to the Cashier's. "Two double cheese burgers, a large fry and chocolate shake." He said giddily, looking to me to order. "Just a vanilla milkshake and some fries." The girl behind the counter went to school with us, and I could tell she was having the time of her life. Not.

She punched the order into the computer and hit enter without giving us the cost. I handed Noah some dollars and waited for our food, busying myself with staring out the window.

Cars were zooming past on the highway and across the street a few people were gathered around their cars in the darkened parking lot. Except, one of those people were secluded. He was leaning against the hood of a car, staring straight at Lee's…straight at me.

My heart skipped a beat as I pressed myself to the window, my nose hitting the cold glass with a gasp. "Nicholas?!" I said incredulously. Without even thinking about Noah, I ran to the door and almost made it to the highway before I stopped dead in my tracks.

He was getting into the car, and so was a girl. She was a goth, with black hair and a ridiculous looking outfit on. I watched her get into the passenger seat of the car, smiling and waiting for Nicholas to get in. He was staring at me, the door of the car opened with one of his legs already in the car.

He wasn't going to even acknowledge me. With a roar the engine on the car revved to life and he sped out of the parking lot, leaving the other parking lot ghouls choking in their dust. I stared at the black car as it reflected the street lights it passed under until it was out of sight. "What…a…bastard!"

I stomped back inside, ignoring Noah's confusion and grabbed my tray of food. We sat down at the table and ate in silence. I chomped my fries picking them apart angrily. While a pile of broken fries accumulated on the table, I discovered that my appetite was gone.

Noah finished and we drove home. I barely mumbled a goodbye before I slammed the door and traipsed up to my house. Mom was in the living room, watching something on Home and Garden's while Dad was occupying the phone. "Have a good day honey?" Mom called, smiling at me from over her shoulder.

I felt horrible for lying to her so much lately. Mostly because she believed me. But, I couldn't tell her the truth. She would disown me for sure. "It was ok. Kind of boring." Kind of heartbreaking.

I smiled to reassure her before waving to Dad. He returned it and I walked up to my room. It was the only room on the second floor and for that, I was eternally grateful. It was upstairs, on the opposite side of my parent's bedroom, and I could turn my music up to annoying volumes without bothering them.

Which is exactly what I did. Heavy rock music was exactly what I needed. How dare he ignore me like that? It was him, I was so sure, yet he looked at me like he didn't know me, like I hadn't helped him escape the morgue two weeks prior. It was as if he had forgotten about me entirely…which was just perfect since I was still haunted by him.

It wasn't fair. I kicked my computer chair and flung myself onto my mattress, suddenly grateful that tomorrow was Sunday and there would be no school to annoy me. I sighed into my pillow and focused solely on the heavy guitar pounding out of my stereo.

"Do not think about Nicholas. Do not think about Nicholas. DO NOT THINK ABOUT-"

"I kind of prefer just Nick."

I couldn't help the scream that pierced the room beyond the rock music.

An- Well, here's chapter 3! Thanks to EVERYONE for reviewing! I don't have time to thank you individually….It's past midnight…and I have school at 9! . ! Don't forget to review!