*** author’s note: And we’re back! Thanks for being so patient 🙂 The events of this chapter pick up the morning right after the last. In case you missed it, there is a recap here and some extra Sight info here. Enjoy~ ***
5:30 a.m. | Kimberly’s Room
After a few days of not being able to sleep properly, Kim finally manages to doze off only to be woken up by her alarm not long afterwards.
She reaches for her phone to silence it, does a quick sweep of her messages, and sees that aside from a few unread texts from Gus, there are none. With a sigh, she places it back down and rolls out of bed to get ready for her regular run.
Since their incident, Kimberly hasn’t spoken to or heard from Aislyn; which she figured was because she was spending time with her family as it was the holidays. Despite it having been a few days since she’s returned home, Kim couldn’t help but wonder if Aislyn was feeling the same way she was.
She was practically under house arrest since the town was still on a manhunt for their assailants, and when they did let her out, she had to be escorted by police. The worst part of it all was that despite trying to play off what happened like it was no big deal, Kim found herself quite shaken after she’d returned home with her mother. It was as if the gravity of the situation hadn’t sunken in until well after it was all over.
Speaking to Aislyn was something Kim thought might help put her at ease if she could see how she was holding up, only, she couldn’t bring herself to call her. Yes, the ordeal did bring them closer in a way, but Kim was less than kind to Aislyn prior to everything that happened, and now that they were safe and sound, she didn’t think their relationship would change overnight. With a sigh, she throws on some running clothes and hopes that the fresh air can help get some of her edge off.
“Off for a run?” Her mother asks as she makes her way downstairs.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll take Officer Ramirez with me.” Kim says, interrupting her. Her mother had decided to take a leave from work to keep a close eye on Kim, which only made her feel more smothered than safe. At this point, she wasn’t sure what it would take to get her feeling back to normal other than the two pieces of trash that got away being caught.
“I’ll be back soon.” Kim says over her shoulder as she opens the front door. Officer Ramirez, who was sitting in her patrol car on the curb, walks over, “Going for a morning run?” She asks. Kim nods. “I’ll follow from a little ways away.” “Sure, whatever.” Kim says, brushing her off.
The world has yet to wake as Kim follows her neighborhood cul-de-sac out onto the street and into the city. As she inhales the icy air into her lungs, and jogs along the empty roads, Kim feels herself over analyzing her surroundings. The moment there is a snap of a twig or movement from a scurrying animal, she feels herself start. How vulnerable and paranoid she was becoming was beginning to both anger and sadden her…
After meandering through the city until she could no longer tolerate the burn in her legs, Kim returns home. She’s just about to brew herself a cup of tea when she hears her mother’s voice ring, “Kimmie, come here.” “Coming!” Kim yells back. She walks along the corridors until she finds her mother in her favorite room of the house. “Phone for you.” Her mother says, handing over the landline, her expression was unreadable.
“Hello?” Kim says tentatively. “Hey, Kim, it’s Aislyn.” “Aislyn, hey!” Kim says, unable to hide her excitement.
“Sorry, it’s kind of early…” Aislyn says apologetically.
“No, it’s fine; I’ve been up for hours.”
“I was wondering if you’d be up for meeting me, to talk. We can go to a coffee shop or something.”
“How about the mall instead?” Kim suggests.
“That works. Is an hour too soon?”
“An hour is perfect.” Kim says. “Alright, see you then.” Aislyn says with what Kim assumes is an amused smile from the tone of her voice.
It had only been a brief moment, but Kim could already feel her stress ebb away just from hearing Aislyn’s voice. The bit of spark that was building inside of her was doused when she saw her mother’s expression, which was rather grim.
“What’s this about the mall? You aren’t planning on going with Ms. Persefoni, are you?”
“Yes, mom, I am. We’ll be followed around by Oldemerrow’s finest so I don’t see the problem.” Kim says sarcastically. Her mother presses her lips to a thin line and Kim wonders why she’s so against the idea; she did just go for a run outside after all – compared to that, the mall was infinitely safer.
Kim replays her mother’s last words in her head once more and realization sits in. “Mom… you don’t think what happened was Aislyn’s fault do you?” Her mother’s silence at the question serves as an answer. “That’s ridiculous; she’s the one who saved me, saved us.”
“I know… It’s just, I read the statement you guys gave the commissioner.”
“And, there were so many actions she took that you went along with that could’ve ended up costing you your life. It seems like that Aislyn is a reckless girl.”
“So am I.” Kim says defensively. She found it slightly amusing that she was defending Aislyn, someone she was so jealous of and mean to for so long, to her own mother. “You don’t know a thing about her.”
“Neither do you. You’ve never mentioned her before. I didn’t even know who she was until this whole fiasco.” Her mother says sternly. “Yeah, because I tell you everything.” Kim says with an eye roll. “It’s just the mall, mother; the worst thing that can happen is she’ll coax me into shoplifting an overpriced scarf.” Despite her attempts to remain grave, her mother cracks a smile. She sighs and Kim knows her resolve has broken, “Be back soon.” She says, and Kimberly gives a small smile of her own in return.
8:07 a.m. | Centennial Mall
Aislyn remains silent in the passenger seat of the police cruiser as they pull into the parking garage of the mall. She had no idea where she and Kim’s kidnappers were, but had a feeling they wouldn’t be interested in purchasing expensive garments in the early morning. The fact that she still had to be watched so closely was beginning to irk her; she had to be extra cautious to not speak to J.D. while the officers were lurking around close by.
She makes no effort to hide her irritated expression as she closes the passenger door, and Officer Turner appears to pick up on it. “Look, Aislyn, I know this seems like it’s unnecessary, but you know the police commissioner wants to be safe and not sorry.”
“I’ll tell you what, I’ll radio in Officer Ramirez, and we’ll hang back down here so you and Ms. Scott can have a more relaxed time.” Officer Turner says, patting his walkie-talkie as he does so.
“I’d appreciate that.” Aislyn says with a smile. She was worried about how she was going to say what she wanted to, to Kim, with cop ears close by, but now it appears she wouldn’t have to. “In return though, you’ve got to call me the second you think you see something suspicious, deal?”
Aislyn makes her way out of the parking structure and walks towards the entrance, gazing into the shop windows that were still springing to life, with workers flicking on lights and stacking clothes as it hadn’t been long since the mall opened.
The building is fairly empty when she enters which is what she was hoping and expecting by inviting Kimberly to meet up so early. The less ears around, the better. J.D. appears beside her and smirks. “Ditched your arm candy?” He asks.
“Now, I talk to Kim. Let’s go.” Aislyn says as she turns to make her way up the stairs.
“Wait.” J.D. says, halting her. “Your friend may have taken well to the news of your ability at the time, but she may freak out now, so maybe it’s best we don’t push it. I’ll give you some space.”
“I guess…” Aislyn says, eyeing him suspiciously. “I could also just pretend you aren’t there, though.”
“Yeah, but I figured… since I kind of wanted to kill time anyway. I’d just leave you to it.”
“Ahh so that’s it.” Aislyn says with a grin.
“You want to spend time with Maddie.”
“I never said that.”
“You didn’t have to.” Aislyn says with an even bigger smile. She knew J.D. had halted seeing Maddie since it was only a matter of time before she’d have to ‘move onwards’ and he didn’t want to get too attached. Perhaps his feelings had grown in the time he had spent away and he could no longer do so; whether that was the case or not, Aislyn was pleased she’d managed to pick up on something about J.D. for a change since he was an expert at reading her. “Go ahead, Romeo. Tell Maddie I say hi.”
“Oh, shut up.” J.D. says with a smirk before disappearing.
When Aislyn reaches the top of the stairs, she is able to see Kimberly at a café on the end of the floor. As she approaches, she notices Kimberly’s rather solemn expression and wonders what’s on her mind.
“Long time, no see.” Aislyn says when she gets near.
Kimberly’s face lights up when she turns and meets Aislyn’s gaze, which makes her smile. “Morning.” Kim says, reaching out for a hug. “You cut you hair! It looks great.” She exclaims. “Thanks.” Aislyn says shyly; she wasn’t good at receiving compliments. “By the way, did you say something?” Kim asks, “Because my escorting officer disappeared a few minutes ago without a word.”
“Sort of…” Aislyn says as she glances at the barista making coffee; she’d become overly cautious of people listening in on her conversations in the few days she’s been living with the constant police presence. “How’ve you been holding up?” Kim asks, and the tone of her voice makes Aislyn turn back to look at her; despite having a face full of impeccable makeup, per usual, there was a weariness in Kim’s expression that made Aislyn concerned.
“Fine.” Aislyn answers, “How about you?” “Same here.” Kim says with another smile, but Aislyn is not convinced. “Why don’t we have a seat, there are some things I’d like to tell you.” Aislyn says.
“You’re leaving Oldmerrow?” Kim asks after Aislyn had filled her in on her past few days. The sincerity of the sadness in her voice made Aislyn feel touched.
“Yeah, but only temporarily.”
“Will you be staying for Mai and Chad’s holiday party?”
“I’ll be leaving a few days afterwards.”
“Do you have anything to wear?” Kim asks.
“No, I hadn’t really gotten around to thinking about that yet.”
“Great, because part of the reason I wanted to meet here was to prepare for it… If you’d like that is.”
“Great.” Kim says with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Aislyn couldn’t help but feel like something was… off, with Kimberly. Like she was being overly cautious with her words or trying hard to appear cheerful. Then again, Aislyn had never really gotten to know her when she wasn’t being hostile, so her current behavior could also just be how she acted usually. Aislyn had no way of telling for sure.
“What about our MIA assailants?” Kim asks. “Don’t worry, I have no intention of leaving until they are caught, and I don’t think the police will be able to do so without my help.” Aislyn says, full of determination to hold true to that. “But how–” “Don’t worry, I’ll think of something.”
“Do you have more abilities I should know about?” Kim asks with a small laugh. “Nope, just the one.” Aislyn says, giving a smile. Kimberly appeared to have no trouble accepting the things Aislyn could see, something she never would’ve imagined. Despite that, she still had no desire to tell anyone else. “Let’s hope it’s enough to help again this time…” She adds.
After finishing their breakfast, Aislyn and Kim begin popping in from store to store, scanning through racks of clothes, shoes, and accessories, searching for the right outfit. While walking past an electronic store, Aislyn halts, realizing she had yet to purchase her own phone after her other one was taken from her. “What is it?” Kim asks when she stops. “I probably should get a new phone. I’m currently borrowing my dad’s.” “It’s been three days, how have you managed without one?” Kim asks walking towards the door. Aislyn shrugs, and follows her inside.
After wrapping up the transaction on her new cell, Aislyn and Kim return to yet another clothing store with everything from prom dresses to bridal gowns. Kimberly had found a few outfits she wanted to try on, and Aislyn went to sit on a chair outside the fitting rooms to give her some feedback. As she waits, a tuxedo-clad mannequin in the corner of the store catches her eye and her mind immediately goes to Cailean, making some heat rise to her face.
They had spoken on the phone for hours the night before; just like every other time they got lost in discussion with one another, they talked about everything. Well, everything except their moment in the kitchen. Aislyn really wanted to know what he’d thought of it, and her… and how she pulled away; Cailean didn’t appear to be upset, but he was also incredibly hard to read, so Aislyn had no way of knowing for sure. She’d talked to him until she fell asleep; her dad had to come pry the phone from her hands in the morning to make a call.
“What do you think?” Kim asks; twirling in a mini sequined dress, snapping Aislyn’s thoughts back from Cailean. “Oh, um… it’s nice.” Aislyn says, still venturing back from where her mind had gone.
“That wasn’t very convincing.” Kim says with a giggle. “Are you bored?” She asks.
“Great, because I found a dress that I think will suit you. I put it in the dressing room; after I change back you can try it on.” “Sure.” Aislyn says. “Please, Aislyn, try to contain your enthusiasm.” Kimberly says with an eye roll. Aislyn lets out an involuntary laugh. “Sorry, I got distracted for a second.” “You don’t say.” Kim says over her shoulder as she makes her way back to change. Aislyn had noticed that the longer they hung out, the more relaxed Kim had become, making her wonder what had caused her to be so strained at the start of their day.
When Kim returns, Aislyn makes her way into the dressing room she occupied, and runs her finger along the fabric of the dress Kim had selected for her. Despite having an interest in fashion, she was never super into the idea of going on shopping sprees or doing super feminine activities; partially because after her mother had left and she’d lost her friends, she had no one to go with and subconsciously dreaded the activity altogether. The thought of her mother for the second time in the span of a month, after years of never thinking of her once, filled Aislyn with a sort of sadness. She turns to close the curtains of the dressing room, and attempts to shove the thought of her mother from her mind.
“That color really suits you.” Kim states when Aislyn walks out in the orange dress. “I can hardly breathe in this.” Aislyn says as she runs her hand along her side where the fabric clinged tightly to her body. “You don’t need to breathe, you just need to look hot.” Kim says. “Come on, let’s go try a few more stores.”
6:27 p.m. | Merrow Rose Hotel, Suite 210
Aislyn and Kim had differing opinions on the final dress Aislyn should choose, and in the end compromised on a pale blue and white crop top and skirt that they both agreed was cute. Nearly everything Kim had tried on suited her so it wasn’t as hard to come to a decision on her outfit.
Aislyn had initially set out to let Kim know she’d make sure to do whatever it took to make sure the crooks were caught, but ended up having a rather pleasant day. “I’m back.” She says as she reenters the hotel suite after being dropped off by Officer Turner.
“Hey, kiddo.” Her father says quietly, due to Nicole sleeping soundlessly on his shoulder. “Did you have a nice time?”
“We were waiting for you to return so we could all eat together. There’s a restaurant we found out about online that is a little ways away from here called Crimson. Have you ever been there?” Her father asks. Aislyn shakes her head no, having never heard of the place. “Great, you can freshen up, and I’ll wake Nicole so we can head out.” “Alright.” Aislyn says.
8:19 p.m. | Crimson Restaurant & Bar
Aislyn didn’t consider herself much of a foodie, and therefore, wasn’t surprised that there were eateries in Oldmerrow she’d never been to. She hadn’t even been to the restaurant Gus had taken her to on their first date, and that had been much closer to home than the place they were currently at was.
Upon entering, they are led to a table by a petite female server in a crimson garment to match the restaurant’s theme. As her father and Nicole take their seats, another server walking by with a tray of beverages halts to speak to them. “The kitchen is kind of backed up at the moment.” He says. “Can I interest you in some hot drinks while you wait since it’ll be a little while before we can get your orders out?”
Aislyn, who had her hand on the back of her chair to pull it out, drops it to her side when she hears his voice.
“Drinks would be lovely.” Nicole says. The server walks over to set the tray down and says something Aislyn doesn’t hear. Her heartbeat had begun to race, and a chill that had nothing to do with any ghosts ran up her spine.
Though her assailants didn’t speak much, Aislyn had heard enough to recall that, even for brothers, they both sounded eerily alike – with the same gravely tone. Much like the one she was hearing now. She tries to bring the few features she could see beneath their masks to the forefront of her brain.
It feels as though time slows in the seconds before the server turns and they lock eyes. The cold, dark, gaze that meets hers makes her break out in a cold sweat. It was hard to be 100% sure, but Aislyn was certain enough that she was standing before one of the two that had taken her and Kimberly.
If the man recognizes her, he does a good job of remaining unfazed. “Coffee?” He asks, holding out a mug. “I’m fine.” Aislyn says, doing her best to mirror his poker face. She didn’t want to make a scene, and it appeared neither did he.
“Alright then, your server will be out shortly.” “You aren’t our server?” Aislyn asks, determined to act as if she wasn’t panicking internally. “No, my shift has just ended. So I’ll be heading out shortly. You guys enjoy your dinner, though.” He says with a ghost of a smile, his eyes now fixed on the scar on Aislyn’s cheek. Aislyn takes a moment to glance at his chest, but sees he isn’t wearing a name-tag.
“Okay, thank you.” Aislyn’s father says; his voice sounding as though it’s coming from miles away as Aislyn is hyper-focused on the man before her. He sets the cup back down on the tray and picks it up, walking away from the table without another glance Aislyn’s way.
“Aislyn, sweetie, why haven’t you sat down yet?” Nicole asks. “Oh, right.” Aislyn says, her voice barely coming out above a whisper. She places her hand back onto the chair, and pulls it out, nearly falling into it, having lost feeing in her body from the waist down.
The chatter her father and Nicole break into, the sounds of silverware scraping plates, the voices of the other guests, all become drowned out by the blood pumping in her ears. Aislyn had given Kimberly her word that she wouldn’t be leaving town until those guys were caught, and it appeared she’d soon get the chance to deliver on her promise.
Thanks for reading! Look at me, managing to post on time, as promised. I can’t tell you how good it feels to get back into writing. I really appreciate all of you being here and following this story. ❤ I’m determined to see it through to the end *fingers crossed* and hope I’m able to do so. Feel free to let me know what you thought below. I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your weekend!