9 Chapter 9

That all came out in one long, drawn out breath, and I knew if I was actually going to answer her before she started talking again, I'd have to act quickly. "You may know more than I do," I admitted. "My parents won't tell me much." I didn't tell her about the strange man downstairs. Not yet, anyway. "Do you know what happened to Drew?"

"I know what everyone is saying. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but every single one of her friends that was with he swears it's the truth. Except for maybe your sis because she's not here. She's not there, right?"

"No, she's at my grandma's." That much I did believe, though I wasn't sure why.

"Well, I guess Drew told her parents she was going to spend the night at her friend Sidney Cox's house last night, but instead they all went out somewhere." I was positive I knew what Lucy would say next. The Eidolon Festival. But, when the next sentence came out of her mouth, I felt more confused than ever. "I guess they drove off somewhere where you can go rock climbing, and Drew fell. They said she somehow managed to slice her neck open on a rock, and before they could get her to the hospital, she bled to death. Isn't that just horrible? Can you imagine watching your friend bleed out like that? Poor Drew. She was always so pretty."

I had so many questions, I couldn't even think about the fact that Lucy couldn't think of any better adjectives than "pretty" to describe the dead girl. Not "nice" or "cheerful," but "pretty." Instead of dwelling on that, I asked, "Are you sure that's what happened, Luce?" I didn't even know where one went to rock climb around here, not to mention I knew for a fact that my sister had been planning to go to that Eidolon Festival the night before. Why would she change her mind?

"I don't know," Lucy replied. "That's just what everyone is saying. Maybe you should call your sister and ask. All of her friends are super serious that that's how Drew died. Even Jack. My brother saw him this morning."

Again, I had a ton of questions. "Where? Why would Jack be out on Thanksgiving morning after his friend died?"

"I'm not sure," Lucy admitted, "but he said he ran into him on his jog in the park."

I literally scratched my head, thinking maybe I should call Jack. The whole time my sister was dating him, we were very close. He was like a big brother to me. He had to be very upset about what had happened to Drew.

"Daniel said that he looked like he was in shock and hadn't gotten much sleep."

"I can imagine," I said. Lucy was one of my very best friends in the world, and I desperately wanted to tell her that I had some suspicions of my own, but I didn't think telling her over the phone was a good idea. She might need to see my face to know some of this stuff wasn't made up. And it was a holiday, after all, so neither one of us could stay on the phone too long.

"I called Em whallago, while I was waiting for you to call me back, and she didn't know anything. Not sure she cared either." That last part was an aside. It wasn't that Em wouldn't care that someone had died, but she had a tough time relating to other people and understanding emotions.

"Listen, Luce, I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but there are a few things I wanna talk to you about. I think it would be better if we could talk in person, though." The sound of an engine out front caught my attention, and I walked to the window as quickly as I could without shaking the floor. I expected to see Aaron leaving, but instead, another motorcycle had pulled up out front and a very large man, also dressed in black, killed the engine and swung his leg over the side. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and all I could see from my second-story window was a mass of disheveled, curly, dark hair.

"Oh, my goodness. What is it, Cassidy?" Lucy was asking. "You can't keep secrets like that from me."

"I won't for long," I promised. "It's probably nothing." The words came out of my mouth as this large man began to saunter toward my front door. It was definitely something.

I was just about to tell her I had to go when I heard her mother's voice in the background shouting that she needed to get off of the phone. Lucy made a sound like a frustrated water buffalo. "I gotta go."

"Okay. Maybe we can get together this weekend?"

"We better, or else you're spilling over Skype, girl."

"Okay," I said again. "Talk to you later."

Lucy hung up, and I stopped staring out the window at two empty motorcycles. Frustrated, I sat down at my desk. I felt like I needed to get some of this information down on paper so I could see it and start piecing a few things together. I pulled out an old notebook I sometimes used as a journal and wrote the following:

"Cadence said she was going to the Eidolon Festival at 3:00 AM the night before Thanksgiving. Who was going with her? Drew, Jack, Sidney, Taylor, Jon, and Kash. Leaving from Drew's house.

"Wednesday night, Cadence arrived home around 4:30. Heard a man in her room. Aaron? Footsteps on the roof. He went out her bedroom window in a flash. Sports car out front with purple-haired woman. Cadence is gone. My parents said she went to my grandma's house to rest because Drew was hurt.

"Thursday morning, Aaron shows up at our house. Parents say Drew has died. Cadence is at my grandma's house. Aaron used to work with my grandmaand maybe my grandpa?? Another dude is downstairs now. Tall guy, broad shoulders, unruly hair. Who is this person? Why did my mom say the word 'Transformation'? What is up with my sister?"

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I sat for a few minutes, trying to decide if I'd missed anything. Then, I remembered another snippet from the conversation downstairs and wrote, "Who is Jamie and what process does he use to do whatever he does?"

Another few moments passed by while I pondered my notes. I couldn't think of anything else, so I slipped the notebook back into a stack of books where it was very unlikely anyone would ever find it. Just as I was about to plunk myself on the bed, I heard footsteps on the stairs and prayed it was one of my parents and not a strange man dressed in black.

There was a light rapping on my door, and I knew from the familiar sound it was my mom. "Come in," I said, standing and taking a few steps toward the door.

Mom looked a little older now than she had just the day before. I wasn't sure if it was due to the events of earlier that morning or the discussion she'd just had with the fellows downstairs. But she forced a smile as she entered the room and took a seat on my bed, gesturing for me to join her. "How are you, honey?"

I sat down beside her, and my mom wrapped her arm around my shoulders. "I'm okay," I said, though my voice sounded weak. "Just confused." I realized I'd been so preoccupied with worry over my sister that I hadn't really given much thought to what had happened to poor Drew yet.

As if reading my mind, Mom said, "Cadence will be fine, honey. It's just going to take her a little while to adjust to this. Life without Drew." She added that last sentence quickly, as if there could be something else she'd need to adjust to.

I nodded but didn't say anything yet. There were so many questions swirling around in my head, but I didn't feel like my parents wanted me to know as much as they did. Why else would they have sent me out of the room so they could talk to Mr. Suspicious? I didn't understand all of the secrets. It wasn't like my parents not to tell me what was going on.

My mom's voice cut through my thoughts. "There is someone downstairs I'd like for you to meet."

I looked up at her then, thinking it must be Weird Guy Number Two. "Who?" was all I could manage.

"He's a doctor, Cassidy, and he was there last night, er, this morning when they brought Drew into the hospital. I think he can help answer some of your questions."

My eyebrows knit together. "He's a doctor?" My mom didn't know I'd seen the burly man pull up on a motorcycle. Granted, I was looking down at him from two stories above, but he didn't look like any doctor I'd ever seen before.

She nodded. "Yes. Why don't you come downstairs and have a little chat with him? He's really nice. I think you'll like him. His name is Dr. Elliott Sanderson."

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