7 Chapter 7

Nevertheless, I was not one for letting looks deceive me. I'd seen enough documentaries to know how people like Ted Bundy worked. I did not falter in my caution as I stood there, waiting for him to declare his intentions.

He must've been expecting my parents to open the door or something because it took him a minute to respond. "Hi," he said, injecting a cheerfulness into his voice I was sure wouldn't typically be there if it weren't a teenage girl staring at him from the doorjamb. "Are your parents around?"

As soon as he finished the sentence, a bolt of recognition struck me surer than if Zeus had tossed down a shock from heaven. I knew that voice! This was the guy from my sister's room the night before! My eyes widened, my mouth dropped open, and I felt my heart pounding in my chest. If there were words formulating in my head, they were not connecting with my mouth.

"Cassidy?" he said quietly, "are you okay?"

"Huh?" The mention of my name jerked me back to reality, though I was now even more shocked. How in the world did he know who I was?

"I didn't mean to alarm you. My name is Aaron McReynolds, and I'm a friend of your parents'."

He was still smiling at me, and I knew he was doing his best to try and set me at ease. My fingernails were beginning to etch half-moons in the wood of the door. How did he know my parents? I looked past him, curious as to whether or not that girl was here, too, or maybe the roof people. A very expensive looking motorcycle sat at the curb, but that was it. No other nefarious people seemed to linger in the shadows.

Returning my attention to the man in front of me, I suddenly found courage I hadn't previously possessed. I cleared my throat loudly. "My parents are here. I can get them."

"Great," he said with a nod that showed reliefeither that I would comply or that I hadn't passed out right in front of him.

"One moment please." He raised his eyebrows, and I thought I heard a chuckle as I closed the door in his face and locked it. He might be able to get through my sister's window, but he wasn't coming in here without my parents' permission.

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All thoughts of cautiously approaching my mom and dad had gone away the second I'd realized who was standing on my doorstep. I ran into the kitchen, practically screaming, hoping that Aaron McReynolds, if that was his real name, couldn't hear the panic in my voice. "Mom! Dad! Some creepy dude's at the door. He says he knows you!"

My dad was sitting at the table in the kitchen, reading the newspaper and sipping coffee, while my mom was at the stove, likely basting the turkey. When I came in, they both turned to look at me like they were sure I'd lost my mind.

"Calm down, Cassidy," my mom said, a questioning lilt in her voice.

"Really, Cass, it's too early in the morning to be so jumpy." My dad took another drink before putting his coffee down and standing.

"Did he tell you his name?" My mom was following my father to the door now.

I backed up. "Yeah. Aaron."

"Oh, of course," my mom muttered, and then, even though I was walking backward and trying not to run into anything as we crossed through the dining room, I saw an exchange of glances that told me they really did know this guy.

"Well, Cassidy, you could've let him in," my mom scolded once we'd reached the foyer and she realized he was still outside.

"You locked the door?" My father looked both embarrassed and confused.

"I don't know him." I didn't mention that I was afraid he was here to arrest Cadence at first, or that I knew he had been in her bedroom the night before, but as my mom opened the door revealing a patiently waiting, still mysterious, yet dreamy, stranger, I began to feel a little silly.

"Aaron! It's so nice to see you!" my mother exclaimed, gesturing widely with her arm for him to come in. She hugged him, and he kissed her on the cheek before my father proclaimed a similar greeting and they did that half-hug, half-handshake thing guys do when they're bros. I stood with my forehead crinkled, staring.

"I guess you've met Cassidy?" my mom asked.

"I have," Aaron replied, smiling at me in a way that said my teenage antics amused him. I wasn't sure what to make of him, so I said nothing, only narrowed my eyes slightly.

"Aaron used to work with your grandpargrandma," my dad said, catching himself and making a course correction. Was he going to say grandparents? As in both my grandma and grandpa? That was impossible.

My expression revealed my confusion. "I'm a little older than I look," he said with a shrug, and both of my parents chuckled like they were in on a joke I wasn't privy to. I nodded, but as far as I knew, my grandmother had been retired since before I was born and my grandfather had died years before that. Which means he either started working when he was, like, ten, or he was a lot, lot older than he looked.

"I'm sorry to come by and interrupt your holiday like this," he said, mostly talking to my parents, though I got the impression he was apologizing to me, too.

"Oh, no. It's not your fault." My mother let out a sigh that told me all of the joy she'd conjured up to greet this person she allegedly knew through her mother-in-law had been swept away as they all remembered why he was here. Of course, I still didn't know.

I opened my mouth, ready to ask where Cadence was, thinking he might know, but before I could get anything out, my dad said, "Cass, why don't you head upstairs for a bit. We need to talk about a few things in private."

Normally, I would have immediately complied. But everything was just so weird. Instead, I said, "But Dad, you guys haven't even told me how Drew is. And is Cadence okay?"

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