yelled at the top of my lungs. I moved away from Minty to approach the fire. “Run!” I repeated.
“Ridley, your back,” Minty said from behind me.
I turned toward him and that’s when I heard the frightened screams erupt from several girls that were standing around.
“What?” I asked, twisting my arm to reach behind me. When I drew my fingers away, they were bloody.
I looked up at Minty. He was staring at my sticky red hand.
“Minty, we’ve got to get everyone out of the woods.”
It wasn’t hard to convince the already-scared girls to stick together and get the heck out of dodge, and I found that the more reluctant partiers were easier to motivate once I showed them my back. I saw Minty pointing to me a couple of times and realized that he was using the same tactic. No one wanted to be shredded for the sake of a party.
When everyone was heading quickly back to the road, to their cars, Minty crossed behind the fire, over to me.
“Let’s go, Ridley. We need to get you to the hospital.”
Minty paled visibly. “He- he—”
“He went to take a leak right after you left.”
Minty was afraid Drew might be in danger. After learning that Drew had disappeared into the woods shortly after I had, I was even more afraid that Drew might be the danger.
“Minty, we’ve got to get out of here.”
“I can’t leave—”
“Minty, there’s nothing we can do for him now. We’ll never find him in the dark.”
I saw the indecision on Minty’s face as he warred between self preservation and loyalty to his friend.
“Minty, he wouldn’t want you to die looking for him.”
I hated to be the one encouraging someone else to leave a friend behind, but Minty had no idea what Drew might have become, what he could be capable of.
And unfortunately, he would never know that I wasn’t intentionally sacrificing Drew’s life for his, that I wasn’t a coward. He would just have to think poorly of me. It was the only way.
Finally, after a few more seconds of hesitation, Minty nodded and we quickly hurried after the crowd.
As we walked, neither of us said a word. We were both lost in thought, though I doubted the same thoughts. He was feeling guilty for leaving his friend, yet afraid for his own safety. I was wondering how in the world I could’ve missed that Drew was a vampire.
It took some fancy talking to get Minty to forego taking me to the hospital himself. I knew he felt indebted to me, like I’d saved his life and he needed to return the favor. But I finally got him to see that I would get into huge trouble if I left my car abandoned by the side of the road.
Reluctantly, he dropped me off at my Civic. He wanted to follow me to the hospital, but I deterred him, telling him he needed to make sure that as many people as he could find got out of the woods without harm. I could tell by the determined look on his face that he would take that mission seriously. I almost expected him to salute me or say “Aye, aye, Cap’n.”
Once I was alone, I hopped in the car, jerked out my cell and started speed dialing. I tried Summer’s phone and got no answer. I tried Aisha’s phone and got no answer. Then I tried them both again. And again. And again.
When it became glaringly obvious that redial wasn’t going to magically make them pick up the phone, I started the car and headed home. On the way, more than ever, I wished that I had some way of reaching Bo. I had questions, concerns, doubts. I needed to feel that amazing buzz of his closeness, to let it drown out everything but Bo and the overwhelming feelings that I had for him.
I drove to the house, hoping that Mom and Dad would be asleep. And, much to my relief, they were. Dad would be tired from his flight and Mom would be fighting an addiction. Both led very fatiguing lives, but in two totally different ways.
The next morning I woke with my cell phone plastered to my face where I’d slept on it.