Page 40 of Don't Look Back

I stared at him. “But…but someone was in the car. He scared me and that’s why I lost control.”

Scott’s eyes cast down. “Sam, the car doors were locked when the police got there.” He said his next words slowly, carefully. “He couldn’t have locked the car doors after he left the car. The computer in the car was fried. They had to cut the car door open to get you out.”

Oh man, his car.

“The insurance company is already—”

I cut my dad off. “There was someone in the car.” My voice rose, cracking. All of it had been too real to be a hallucination. And I had a vision—a memory of crawling. How could I have a vision inside of a hallucination? “I didn’t imagine it! I’m not making it up.”

Dad sat back, looking helpless. “I know you’re not making it up, sweetie. I don’t doubt that you believe someone was in the car.”

I sucked in a sharp breath, understanding what he wasn’t saying. “I’m not crazy.”

He made a strange noise, and he looked like he was about to crack—like he was about to crumble into a thousand pieces. “I know, baby. You’re not crazy.”

And I knew right then, when he looked away and a muscle popped in his jaw, that he didn’t believe what he was saying.

The doctors let me out of the hospital that evening with a prescription for pain meds and orders to take it easy over the next couple of days. If it hadn’t been for what had put me in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, they probably wouldn’t have even kept me that long.

Red roses from Del had been placed on my desk in my bedroom, filling the room with the crisp, fresh scent. A smaller basket of bright pink peonies peeked out from behind the vase. They were from Veronica and the girls.

My purse was on the chair in front of my desk: house keys, wallet, and phone tucked inside. I dumped everything out on the seat. No note.

I felt sick.

How could I have hallucinated all of that? My skin felt numb, thoughts muted. The painkillers were still kicking around in my system. Dragging my feet, I went into the bathroom. Bandage off, the purplish bruise seeped out from my hairline, spreading over my left temple. There were tiny scratches on my arms from the glass. Nothing as bad as what I’d done to myself earlier on Wednesday.

A lump rose in my throat, and I swallowed it down. My palms were raw. Changing slowly into a tank top and sleep shorts, I saw that my knees hadn’t fared much better. At least the whole falling-down part was real.

In a daze, I brushed my teeth twice and then crawled into bed. There I stayed, forcing my eyes closed. Mom visited me once. She didn’t say much, but her manicured nails were chewed down to their beds.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” she said, moving to the door.

I said nothing.

“I…I love you, honey.”

There was nothing for me to say. The words were on the tip of my tongue. Fighting or not, memories or no memories, I still loved her, but nothing came out. She stared at me with weary, sad eyes and then left.

She thought I was capable of killing someone. No leaps of imagination were required to assume she also thought I was crazy.

Scott stopped in just before ten, but I didn’t speak to him, either. I pretended to sleep, and then I did sleep. Sleeping didn’t require thinking. Thinking led to questioning my mental state.

Sometime later, something soft caressed my nose. The scent reminded me of spring and early summer. I pried my eyes open. One of Del’s roses was right in my face, but the tan fingers around the glistening stem didn’t belong to my boyfriend.

Carson’s cocky grin went up a notch. “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey.”

“Are you really here?”

He lowered the rose. “Yeah, I’m here. Why would you ask that?”

Explaining that I was experiencing vivid hallucinations probably wasn’t the route to go. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes, and once my brain caught up with the fact that he was really here, there was a fluttering in my chest. I decided to go with, “What are you doing here?”

He leaned against the headboard, stretching out his long legs. Shoes were off, revealing plaid socks. “I wanted to see you. You gave us all a scare, Sam. Again.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled, sitting up. A wave of dizziness rolled through me as I clutched the comforter to my neck. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was only a little past ten in the morning. “Skipping school?”

“Yep.” He laid the rose on his thigh and then folded his arms behind his head.

“How did you get in here?”

The cocky grin was back, and I had trouble keeping my eyes on anything other than his totally kissable lips. “Dad is working in the game room, installing new floors. I waited until your mom left and snuck in.”

I stared at him.

A bit of indecision crawled into his deep azure eyes. “Scott knows I’m here.”

I didn’t have any words for the rush that was building in me, swelling with each breath I took. Emotions swirled and whipped like soaring birds, thrilling, hopeful, and so, so confusing.

“I…can leave if you want me to.”

“No,” I said quickly. “No. You don’t have to leave. I’m just surprised.”

His eyes met and held mine. “Your parents wouldn’t let anyone see you.” He paused, looking away. Some of the casualness leaked out of his posture, tightening his biceps. “Scott’s worried.”

My fist dug into the comforter with disappointment. “So that’s why you’re here? Because my brother’s worried?”

Carson’s head snapped in my direction. His brows were low, expression serious. “Sam, I’m here because I was worried.”

“Oh.” My cheeks flushed as I lowered my gaze to his lips—damn it. “I’m okay.”

“Are you?” The serious look was still there as he searched my face intently.

I nodded.

Slowly, he lowered his arms and reached out, carefully running his fingers over the nasty bruise on my forehead. “What happened?”

The brief butterfly touch sent shivers over my skin. “I had a car accident.”

His look turned droll as he placed his arms back behind his head. “I got that much.”

I bit my dry lip as I glanced at the seat. The contents of my purse were still there. No note. No guy in the backseat. And there was a good chance there had been no man in the woods.

Throat dry, I peeked at him. “Stay?”

Carson arched a brow. “Not going anywhere.”