“Don’t try to sit up. I got it.” Scott grabbed an extra pillow off the chair and then gently slid his fingers under my head, lifting slowly as he got the pillow under me. “The other driver was clipped. They’re fine.”
My head protested the movement, as did most of my body. “Your car…oh my god, I’m sorry.”
Scott settled back down, rolling his eyes as he fixed the thin hospital blanket. “I don’t care about the stupid car. It’s already taken care of. I’ll get a rental in the morning.” His eyes lifted, meeting mine. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I was in a car accident,” I said, lifting my free hand once I figured out that one wasn’t hooked up to anything. I touched my head gingerly. There was a bandage on my forehead. “How…bad is it?”
“Nothing too serious. Not like you need your brain anyway, right?”
I laughed and then groaned. “Ow.”
“You got a lot of bruises and probably will hurt for a while, but you’ll survive.”
“That’s good.” I closed my eyes, wanting to move but knowing it wouldn’t be a good idea. Something waited on the fringes of my thoughts. Something I couldn’t quite grasp. A quick peek through the window told me that night had fully fallen. “How long have I been here?”
He glanced over my shoulder, sighing. “It’s close to five in morning. You’ve slept this entire time.”
“I think I heard the doc saying he was going to keep you through today for observation after everything…else.” He smiled again, but there was an edge to it. Wariness. “So you get out of school the rest of the week. Way to go.”
I wanted to laugh and joke, but his smile nagged at me. “You’ve been here this whole time?”
Scott nodded. “Del the Dick stopped by before they ended visiting hours. So did Julie.” He paused, a real grin tugging at his lips. “And after I texted Carson, he was here in under ten minutes. Was not happy when they wouldn’t let him stay.”
“Carson,” I murmured.
“Yeah, he…was really worried, sis. He and I are going to have to talk about that.” A troubled look eroded the teasing grin. “Sam, the EMTs and police said you were talking when they arrived on the scene. Something about—”
Dad entered the room, looking every inch the poster child for country club member of the month. Not a single piece of his hair was out of place. He came right to the other side of the bed, smiling down at me.
“How are you feeling, princess?” he asked, brushing the hair off my bandaged forehead.
“Okay.” I glanced at my suddenly quiet brother. “Where’s Mom?”
Dad’s smile faltered. “She was here earlier, but she’s at home…resting.”
I blinked back the tears that sprang to my eyes. Mom hadn’t stayed. I was in the hospital, hooked up to machines, and my mom was at home resting. I hurt all over, and my mom wasn’t even here. And I wanted her—suddenly needed her—to tell me I was okay.
Maybe she couldn’t look at me anymore, believing that I’d had something to do with Cassie’s death—it all came rushing back then.
Going to the cabin, finding the lake and the cliff above the waterfalls, then the man chasing me, the note…the car—my heart started pounding, and the machine matched the beats.
I struggled again to sit up, but Scott and Dad kept me still. “You don’t understand,” I gasped, head throbbing. “There was someone in the car. He was in the backseat. Did they get him?”
Dad pushed down on my shoulders lightly, clearing his throat. “Samantha, there was no one in the car.”
My forehead ached. “No. You don’t understand. He was following me in the woods, and he put this note in my car—”
“What were you doing up at the summerhouse?” My dad’s eyes met mine.
I glanced at Scott, swallowing. Who cared why I was there? Didn’t they understand? “I thought if I went up there…I’d remember what happened.” My throat felt like paper. Each sound was like a dry whisper. “Dad, he was chasing me. And then he was in the car. That’s why I wrecked.”
“Who is he?” Scott asked.
“Scott,” my father warned.
My brother’s face darkened. “Sam, who was following you?”
“I don’t know who he was.” I pressed the palm of my hand to my brow. “I didn’t get a good look at his face, but he’s been leaving me notes.” Recognition flickered in his eyes. “I put the note in my bag—where is my bag?”
Then Scott looked at our dad, who shook his head. “What?” I demanded.
“Sweetie, you should get some rest.” Dad grabbed my hand, pulling it away from my face. “You’re getting yourself worked up.”
I pulled my arm away. Something tightened in my chest. “Is my bag still in the car?”
“No,” Scott answered, looking away. “Your bag was in your bedroom. You didn’t take it with you.”
“What?” My head swam in confusion. That made no sense. “That’s not right. I brought it with me, and I put the note in it.”
Scott shook his head, his voice sad. “Sam, we had to get your bag because you didn’t have ID on you when the police got to the scene. You didn’t take it with you.”
I felt cold as I stared at him, but I started to sweat. “But there was a guy in the car….”
“There was no one in the car.” Dad placed his hand over mine.
No. No. No. “He was in the backseat. And he was following me. I didn’t—” A sour-faced nurse came in, not saying a word as she went to the tubes hooked up to the IV. There was a needle in her hand. Panic curled around my insides. “What is she doing? Dad?”
“She’s just giving you some pain medication.” He patted my hand. “It’s okay.”
I watched her press down on the needle. Fluid bubbled in the IV. She left without looking at me or saying a word. I thought nurses were supposed to be nice. “Dad…”
“You need to rest.”
I didn’t want to rest. I wanted them to believe me. Turning my head, I met my brother’s troubled eyes. “Scott, someone was following me when I was at the cabin. And someone had been there. There were fresh cigarette butts and—”
“Honey, that was from me.” Dad thrust a hand over his head. “Sometimes I go up there to smoke. Your mother doesn’t know. I quit years ago, but with everything recently…”