Kaede eyes the box of tissues I’ve begun to carry around with me. Caroline pinches him when he goes to make a comment and I silently thank her for it. I don’t feel much in the mood for his jests, not yet.
For two days, Caroline has been helping me to see that Sam was deceiving me with her perfume all along. That none of these feelings I still seem to have for her occasionally are real. I’ve been dreading the moment I run into her, in the worst case scenario that my memory fails and I fall prey to her love trap again.
I wonder where she is now.
Over the past two days, I’ve been reading my notes in Kaitlyn’s empty room with Caroline, trying to remember everything we’ve had since meeting in October of last year. I find myself reading them and rereading them, over and over. It’s agonizing, because each time I read them, all the memories flood back like a typhoon, and as soon as I look away, it doesn’t seem real. It’s painful, and my nose is permanently stuffy from all my stupid crying, but at least I am beginning to remember specific memories together, without the journals now.
Kaede rubs his arm, glaring at Caroline, then turns back to me with a smile, spinning his laptop around to start his news, which he’s been holding back from me all week, apparently.
“What do you read?” he asks smugly.
“Can’t you just tell me?” I ask him, impatiently.
“No, I want you to read it first,” he insists.
I slide my eyes over the digital headline in front of me, from the New York Times. “Break in and Entry at Top Communication Company Tower Owned by W. Abernathy” I read aloud.
“And…” he presses the tab button.
The same paper, different page, “Work of Arsonist on New York morgue. Unknown corpse burned to ashes.”
“Continue,” he tabs again.
Tulsa World. “String of Arsons?” I read aloud.
“And this?” he says, clicking the tab and a new article coming up. This time it’s The Oklahoman.
“Arsons across Oklahoma. Terrorists?” Of course they’d think that.
“Ok, one more,” he says, pressing the tab again. This time an article pops up, The Oklahoman again.
“Accident on the bridge. Supposed drowning,” I raise an eyebrow. “Why are you showing me these?” I ask.
“Ok, Ok, sorry. I’ll explain. Who do we know that likes fire and hates Abernathy’s company tower?” he ticks one finger on his hand.
“Kaitlyn?” I ask, uncertain.
“Bingo! According to the recent news, about a week ago, there’s been a string of arsons across the states all the way from New York to Oklahoma, ending in Tulsa ever since she left. Also, I’ve been tracking her cell phone.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” I ask him, grabbing a tissue.
“Well, look! It’s gone and given us a clue as to her last known whereabouts! Don’t go, Bad Kaede, me, Andi. I did you a favour,” he puffs.
“What did you find?” I ask him. “Where is she?”
“Well, the signal went cold just West of Tulsa, somewhere around Mannford Water Supply Lake, where this article confirms a supposed drowning based on eyewitnesses. But they haven’t found the body. So there’s still investigations.
“However, her phone signal ended here about a week ago, so, if she got into trouble, she’s probably still around there, somewhere. Hopefully, not alone. But, that’s beside the point. We have a lead and I suggest we take it, soon,” he says proudly.
Caroline crosses her arms, her mouth pushed to one side as she thinks. I reach for another tissue and Kaede stares at me.
“What?” I ask, hovering over the box.
“Nothing, nothing,” he says, minimizing the tabs and shutting the lid of his laptop.
I grab a tissue and blow my nose.
“I don’t think Andrei’s ready yet. We still haven’t quite finished with Samantha yet,” Caroline says.
“Well, you had better get on that. I don’t think we have that much time. What if Kat’s in trouble? We gotta get her back here,” he insists.
“He’s right, Car… I gotta deal with Samantha, today,” I say reluctantly.
I stand in my room, waiting, ready. Caroline and I laid out the plan and she waits, hiding in my closet, out of sight, in case things go south. I remembered something Ceph had taught me, while I was reading the notes I had made on Camelot. He had taught me how to create a bubble to slow time and the particles within it. I am hoping to use this to prevent the perfume from having too strong of an influence on me.
It’s been nearly two hours since Caroline and I set up our own trap as my door swings open soundlessly. I hear the clack of her shoes on the floor as she enters. I pretend to be writing at my desk in my room, not aware of her entry.
She walks in and I don’t look up. It’s hard to look her in the eyes, knowing what she’s done to me and will do again.
She stands behind me and I feel my shoulders tense in anticipation. Her arms drape loving over my shoulders and I flinch. I feel her lips on my ear and I jump in knowing surprise. I turn around in my chair, surging with energy, all of a sudden. I detect a faint hint of roses and immediately invoke the time bubble around us. The dust of my room slows down exceptionally and with it, the scent of roses grows fainter.
“Stop,” I command.
She pulls away, standing there, on arm on her hip. She wears her black dress pants and red dress shirt today, her lipstick as red as ever. She looks around, uncertain of what I’ve just done. I didn’t know of this trick when we were together before.
“What’s wrong, Andrei? Is something bothering you today?” she asks with a pout.
“I’ve had enough of your games, Samantha,” I say sternly, glaring at her.
Her eyebrows pinch and I see her lip twitch with annoyance. She smiles, suddenly and leans closer. “Don’t be like that, love. I’ve been busy, I’ve missed you,” she hums. Her arm is on my shoulder, pulling me to her as her other arm snakes around my back and holds me close, preventing me from pulling away. She makes her move, forcing a kiss on me. I try to evade, but she’s got me in a death grip and I can’t pull back.
I feel the pressure in my lungs from holding my breath. I know that her close proximity will negate the purpose of the time bubble eventually. I expect the perfume to become stronger. Com’on Car, help me out here!
I can’t hold my breath any longer and open my mouth to gasp when suddenly, a ball of water slowly enters my time bubble and floats past my shoulder, hitting Samantha square in the face. She pulls back like a cobra, face dripping with water. It’s hard to hold back a laugh.
“What’s wrong with you!” she shrieks, thinking it came from me.
“Sorry,” I say. “Allergies.”
She gives me a death look, picking up one of my shirts to wipe her face. Caroline is awesome.
“I mean it, Sam. It’s over,” I repeat.
“You have no idea what that even means,” she sneers.
“Sam, I admit, we once had something special. High school was fun. I loved you once, but, I’m over that now. It’s all in the past,” I say.
She looks up, face now dry. She looks at me intently, steel grey eyes studying me. She smiles lustfully and her brows twitch. “You don’t mean that,” she hums.
“Yes, Sam. I do. We’re done.”
She grins and whips her hand up, a cloud of black smoke filling the room. I look around wildly, wondering how to handle this. I back up and feel my legs against the edge of the desk. I can’t run.
“Andrei,” she says stepping towards me out of the smoke and smiling at me. I feel her hot gaze on me and I feel a faint urge to go to her. I know these aren’t my feelings though, so I try to resist.
“You can’t resist me,” she says.
“We are in the past. What’s done is done. No more of this,” I wave my hand, drawing a line between us as I grit my teeth with the effort to repel her spell.
“Haha, you think you can deny me?” she asks, gesturing to her figure. I admit, it’s alluring, but I already have someone I love, more than her appealing body can replace.
“Yes, I can and I will. You aren’t for me,” I insist. I finger the small glass bottle in my hand. Caroline and I managed to find where she was staying and found her little perfume bottle. I hold it now, with distaste in my mouth. I hold it up between us, showing her the bottle. She freezes, glaring at the bottle.
“You’ve messed with my memories long enough. Making me forget about Kaitlyn? That’s pretty low of you. I can’t believe you stooped so low as to use a common love potion on me.”
She smiles smugly, laughing. “You fell for it, hook line and sinker. Tell me, how did you find out?” she asks, crossing her arms across her chest.
“You can’t erase all of my memories. I keep journals of all my experiences. Did you forget? I reread the pages of her, I remembered, Samantha,” I tell her.
She eyes the shelf behind me, glaring daggers at the journals. Then she smiles, knowingly, like she’s thought of something. I cock my head slightly to the side, wondering.
“You have no idea what you’ve brought upon yourself,” I threaten, putting the bottle down and pulling out my keychain sword. I pull the sheath off and let it enlarge in the space between us. I hold it up, with assurance. I will not let her touch me again.
She laughs a throaty laugh. When she’s done she looks at me, wantingly. “You only know the half of it, Andrei,” she leers at me, and the sword. “We’re not done. We’ll never be done. You are going to be mine, you’ll come to see this. Just you wait,” she smiles smugly, dropping my shirt on the floor and stepping over it. “I’ve got what I came for, I’ll be seeing you around, Andrei. You can count on that.”
With that, she walks out, the smoke dissipates. It was a scare tactic, but I didn’t flinch.
My heart suddenly bursts with the held back fear that this would all go sour. I did it! I really told her off! She looked so angry. I finally admitted that she’s no longer the relationship I’ve wanted. I watch after her, knowing she could be trouble later. What was it she came for? I wish I had all of my memories. This could get troublesome.
I heave a sigh of relief, clutching my hand over my heart as my closet door opens. Caroline’s eyes are wide and full of tears, but her face is smiling and she runs across the room and hugs me, nearly knocking me into the desk.
“Oh, Andrei, I’m so proud of you! You did it!” she says, holding me around the shoulders tightly.
“No, we did it. We did it together. Thank you.”
She pulls out of her hug and smiles up at me. I hand her a tissue and smile back.
By Kayla West