Matt passed the girl a towel and sat heavily down on the couch. “Are you sure you don’t wanna go to the cops?” he asked her. “There’s one right outside I can grab if you want.”
“I’m positive,” she hollered through the closed door.
“Look, I get that you’re scared, but I really think you should. Any man that can beat a person the way he did you should be in jail.” He looked up at the ceiling thinking about Alana. What would she do if she came downstairs in the morning and saw the shape this girl was in?
“Jail won’t hold this guy,” she said opening the door. She stepped into the room drying the ends of her blond hair with a hand towel. “He’d slip out before they could take the first head count.”
“A shelter then? At least let me take you there. I hear they’re pretty good at protecting victims.”
She sighed, tossing the hand towel on the bathroom counter. “Would you trust you sister in one?”
“Okay. You got me there.”
“What happened to her anyway?”
Matt rubbed his neck, debating whether or not he should tell this girl anything. He didn’t know squat about her. Or the people she hung out with. She didn’t seem too terribly upset about what had happened to her. For all he knew this happened on a regular basis. There’s all kinds of people out there.
“Maybe we should start with your name first,” he suggested. “You don’t know me from Adam and I sure as hell don’t know you.”
“Protective,” she said moving closer to him. “I like that.”
“Cautious,” he corrected. “Your name?”
“Carly,” she said. “My name’s Carly.”
“I’m Matt.” He grabbed his bag and dug out one of his t-shirts. “Put this one on for now. I think there’s a pair of Lana’s shorts in the dryer she won’t miss.” He gestured toward the kitchen. “Just go back the way we came in and hang a left.”
“You sure you want me roaming around all by myself? I might end up going the wrong way. This whole situation with your sister and the cop outside has me intrigued.”
“You even think about walking up those stairs and I’ll haul you out to the cop myself.”
“Easy there,” she giggled. “I was just joking.” She slipped the shirt over her head and tossed the towel she had around her slender body at him. “You are far too serious.”
“How can you not be? You just got the crap beat out of you and you act like it’s nothing.”
“Because I realized something while I was in the shower.”
“What’s that?” Matt asked, practically jumping off the couch. “That you’re crazy?”
“You wanna listen or yell?” Carly asked. Her fuzzy memory had cleared considerably in the few minutes she’d stood under the water and one of those things involved his sister.
“I’m listening,” he said coolly.
She motioned him to follow her so she could get the shorts he’d promised her. That and she’d be further out of earshot of any ears that could be listening. If she was right one of them had taken up nightly residence here. Most likely upstairs, locked away with her.
While she dug through the dryer, Matt took a couple of cokes out of the fridge and sat down at the kitchen table. Never before had he wished for a beer more in his life than at this moment. The more they talked the more convinced he became that inviting Carly inside had been a royal screw up.
“What I have to say is gonna sound crazy,” she said, scooting her chair in. “Thanks for the shorts, by the way. Anyway, I promise you though every word of it is true.”
“So spit it out.”
“I’m just a ploy,” she said, lowering her voice to a mere whisper. “Your sister is in danger, but it’s not cause of some stalker. There are two men. One who I really think has honest to God feelings for her and another who’s using whatever means possible to play some game to win her over.”
“What does that have to do with you and how the hell do you know all this?”
“I’m sensitive,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “The guy who did this never counted on me being able to read his thoughts. Most like him never really do.”
“What do you mean read his thoughts?”
“I can’t do it all the time. But this guy, the one that beat me tried to get into my head; change my memories. Make me believe I’d been brutalized by the second man so I’d freak when he showed up here looking for your sister.” She could see he was trying to wrap his head around what she’d just told him, but unfortunately she had a lot more to say. “Only he didn’t know what I was. The false memories only lasted a short time. I’ve seen his plan and it’s not good.”
“How did he? Like *who* never do?”
“They’re vampires, Matt and they’re playing with your sister’s life.”