Echoes of silence unquie.., p.6
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       Echoes of Silence (Unquiet Mind Book 1), p.6

           Anne Malcom
I had an inkling Sam and Noah’s parents were far from their friends.

  “Yeah, she is, isn’t she?” I said quietly, my mind in a hundred different places now the music had taken away the anchor.

  “I’m totally down for us rocking covers and jamming out in the garage for now,” Wyatt said, leaning against the wall. “But you also write some stuff, right, Lex?” he asked, nodding to the notebook that was never far from my person.

  I reddened at the thought of anyone actually reading the songs I wrote. I never put them there with the distinct intention of letting anyone else read them. I only wrote them because I had to. Because it was necessary.

  “Nothing good,” I said quickly.

  “I bet that’s wrong,” Wyatt argued.

  “But, if you’re not ready to share, that’s sweet,” Noah cut in, giving Wyatt a pointed look.

  Wyatt nodded. “Sure, totally. Maybe we could all write some stuff together.” He glanced at Sam. “Well, the three of us, at least. I don’t think Sam has a long enough attention span to sit and write something longer than a text to the flavor of the month,” he said with a grin.

  Sam shrugged, not looking offended in the slightest. “I’m happy with my role in the band. Best drummer and sex symbol,” he declared.

  We all laughed at this and the warm feeling of having these boys encircled me like a cocoon.

  “We better get our sex symbol home so he can get his beauty sleep,” Wyatt said, slapping Sam on the shoulder.

  They packed up their stuff. Then I got hugs good-bye, as was the boys’ way. They were overly affectionate with me, treating me like I was a beloved sibling, which, being an only child, I loved.

  “Catch you on the flipside, babe.” Sam saluted to me, meandering toward Wyatt’s beat-up car.

  Wyatt winked at me.

  Noah leaned in and kissed my cheek before he jogged to the car.

  I watched them leave with a smile.

  “Doll face! Can I turn your bedroom into a home theater or are you coming in here to sleep?” Mom yelled from the kitchen window.

  I grinned. “I’m coming,” I yelled back.

  I slowly walked back to the house, my stomach in knots. It was tonight. The tonight Killian had whispered about. Tonight. No time, no inkling of when in the multiple hours classified as night as to when this would be. Vague. I didn’t like my chances of sleep.


  I did sleep, as unbelievable as it was. Why was it always when you wanted to stay awake your eyelids turned into concrete cinderblocks?

  The buzzing of my phone jerked me out of a troubled slumber. I was immediately alert and fumbling for it, knocking various things off my dresser.

  Kill: Backyard

  I scrambled out of bed, getting caught in my blankets and falling to the floor with a bang.

  “Ouch,” I hissed in frustration; then I froze. I listened to the silent house for any sign of my mom waking up and discovering me. After a few seconds, I was happy she wasn’t going to catch me doing something I’d never done before, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. I moved.

  I really wanted to turn on the light and apply an entire face of makeup, do my hair, and change into some attractive PJs.

  I didn’t want to risk it, and I was worried my pounding heart would give out if I did. So all I could do was blindly tie my wayward curls into a haphazard knot and wipe any residual drool off my face.

  At least I wasn’t wearing anything as embarrassing as my Harry Potter PJs. I had on soft pink bottoms and a lace-trimmed cami.

  I quickly shrugged on a chunky gray cardigan and slipped my feet into flip-flops before tiptoeing out of my room.

  Every one of my nerve endings were on fire as I quietly closed the back door. I had never done anything like this. Never had the desire to do anything like this. Mom and I had an open relationship, so it was completely unnecessary for me to do things like sneak out. She’d never forbade me to do anything in my life, though I didn’t think she’d approve of meeting with a boy in the middle of the night. I felt slightly sick at the prospect of disappointing her, of doing something like this.

  Another part of me couldn’t care less about this. All that part of me wanted was to see Killian. I searched our dark and seemingly empty backyard, the trees backing onto our property looking slightly ominous. A twinge of fear crept up my spine before I felt heat at my back.

  “Freckles,” a voice tickled my ear, and my entire body tingled.

  Despite the familiar heat, the familiar voice, I jumped and turned. I couldn’t see Killian very well in the dim moonlight, and it didn’t help he was wearing all black. But the shadow on his face bathed in the dim light had me holding my breath at his dark beauty.

  “You scared me,” I whispered.

  “You don’t ever have to be scared of me,” he murmured back, standing close, but not touching me.

  I breathed heavily as we stood in silence. “What are you doing at my house in the middle of the night?” I asked finally.

  His hand moved up to my bun and yanked the ponytail out softly so my curls tumbled around my shoulders. My heart pounded at his touch. “Needed to see you,” he said simply.

  I blinked at him. “You saw me,” I pointed out softly. “This very day in fact.” I paused, thinking of the fact it was past midnight. “Or yesterday, now.”

  “I didn’t get to see nearly as much of you as I would have liked. I’ve missed my little calculus student,” he said softly.

  I gazed at him. “Yeah, well, my grades have severely suffered from your absence,” I whispered back, my eyes darting up to Mom’s dark window, half expecting her to poke her head out and yell at me for being a terrible child. “Where have you been?” I asked when I was satisfied we were safe from discovery for the moment.

  “Around,” he replied cryptically. “You’ve got a beautiful voice, Freckles. Knew you liked music, didn’t know you breathed it. That you owned it,” he murmured.

  Heat crept up my neck. People had complimented me on my voice before, many times. Not being arrogant or anything, it was a fact. But Killian saying it was somehow different; I treasured his compliment.

  “Thanks,” I whispered shyly, looking at my flip-flops.

  His hand went to my chin, tilting it up. “Seriously, Freckles, you’re destined for something great with talent like that. The world’s gonna be a much richer place when it hears that beautiful voice,” he told me in a rough voice.

  I stared at his eyes, feeling like I could see them clear as day, despite the hazy moonlight.

  “Your band, that’s Wyatt, Noah, and Sam?” he questioned.

  I nodded against the hand that was still at my chin.

  He was silent for a long moment.

  “Any of them hit on you?” he asked in a hard voice.

  I blinked and couldn’t help it; I laughed softly. “Dude, no. They’re like my brothers,” I informed him, screwing up my nose. I didn’t want to let him know that Noah was gay. Noah had most likely not even admitted that to himself yet.

  My chuckle died out at the meaning beyond his question and the hardness in his voice. The protectiveness.

  “I doubt any red-blooded boy has fraternal feelings for you, ” he informed me.

  “I think you’re so wrong on that score,” I argued. I wasn’t an ogre or anything, I knew that. But before whatever this was with Killian, I’d hardly ever had this kind of interaction with the opposite sex. Granted, Jordan was always flirting with me at school, but it was only because I was akin to a shiny new toy.

  Killian’s face lowered so I could feel his breath on my face.

  Every inch of me froze, even my breath. My unquiet mind was suddenly silent.

  “Trust me, being a red-blooded boy, I’m not wrong,” he murmured.

  We stayed like that, inches away from each other for the longest moment of my life.

  I was certain he was going to kiss me. I wanted him to kiss me, more than anything in my entire life.

  I felt
his loss like a physical thing when he slowly pulled back.

  He ran a finger through my curls. “Go back inside,” he ordered hoarsely.

  I stared at him. “I don’t want to.”

  “Shit,” he cursed under his breath. Then he was there, right there, his body taking up every inch of space around me, sucking up all the oxygen around me. His forehead rested against mine. “You need to go inside, Freckles,” he whispered. “’Cause I’m not gonna be able to control myself for much longer. And I’ll regret it. Hate myself for not being patient. For not waiting.”

  Then there was cold air where his warm body once was. I actually stumbled into the empty space.

  “I’ll see you at school on Monday,” he promised.

  Then, like a friggin’ magician, he disappeared into the darkness.

  I was guaranteed no sleep that night.


  “Bye Mom! I’m going for a run,” I called into the kitchen, putting my iPod on an armband.

  Mom leaned against the doorjamb, eating a cookie and frowning. “I don’t like you going running,” she said in between bites. “It increases the possibility of you seeing a dead body. I don’t want my baby scarred for life.”

  I looked at her. “I can’t wait to hear the logic behind this one,” I muttered. “How does me running equate to me coming into contact with a dead body?” I asked.

  “Um, watch any crime show, baby doll. It’s always the jogger that discovers the body,” she told me as if I was slow for not making that connection. “Or the hiker,” she added. “That’s why we don’t hike.”

  I raised a brow. “Oh, that’s why? Not because you have the lung capacity of a ninety-year-old woman?” I asked sweetly.

  She scowled at me.

  I put my earbuds in my ear. “Good-bye, Mom.”

  “Just remember, if you see any stray body parts sticking out of bushes, do not investigate. Call the authorities,” she shouted as I turned my back.

  “Love you too,” I replied, turning on my music.

  I loved running. Exercise. Mom to this day cannot reason as to where this came from, or my preference to eat things such as fruit and vegetables. Most of the stuff Mom cooked came out of a package, and almost everything she ate was artificially flavored. I had no idea how she still looked as amazing as she did. I enjoyed exercise, no matter the fact my mom couldn’t fathom that. I had a creative mind, one that was constantly on. It was only quiet when I was playing music, reading, or more recently, with Killian.

  It was never silent while I ran, but pushing myself, feeling the burn in my limbs, somehow helped me to catalogue my wayward thoughts.

  And wayward they were. It had been an amazing, crazy, and busy week. The night Killian visited me in the backyard was the night I got no sleep. Instead, I lay on my bed for what felt like hours, my headphones in, replaying every second of the small interlude in my head. I had had butterflies the entire rest of the weekend. I didn’t tell my mom, for obvious reasons. And I felt guilty. Incredibly guilty for keeping such a big secret from her. My feelings and thoughts had taken up so much of my mind it was like they had become me. I was hiding a part of myself from my mom.

  “What are you thinking about so intently, doll?” Mom asked me on Sunday night.

  I jerked up. “Nothing,” I said quickly, hoping my face didn’t betray me. “Just homework stuff, band stuff,” I lied.

  She stared at me for long moments, as if trying to use her mom powers to read my mind. I did my best to look innocent.

  “Don’t stress too much about homework, baby doll,” she said finally. “Life is far too short for that, and you’re naturally intelligent; you get it from me. Plus, I need you here for emotional support while watching The Walking Dead,” she added seriously, her eyes moving to the opening credits.

  I let out a breath through pursed lips, feeling like I’d dodged some sort of bullet.

  It was a pretty surreal and somehow terrifying moment when I realized that this, right here, was the moment I stopped telling my mom everything. That there was a piece of news, a piece of me that I couldn’t—that I didn’t want to share with her. I suppose every teenage girl had such moments, most likely before they were my age. I guessed a lot of them didn’t think twice about keeping secrets from their mom. But it was different for me. She wasn’t just a mom; she was my best friend. I was scared that this was something my mom wasn’t a part of, somehow it was a grown up part of me, although most adults would dismiss what Killian and I had as not “real love.” I knew better. With a certainty that came from ignorance I guessed, but a certainty nonetheless.

  Monday at school, I was a wreck. Nerves chewed at my stomach and I’d gotten up at six for a run to attempt to quiet my mind. Then I spent an ungodly amount of time, even for someone raised by my mom, on my outfit choice.

  It was another first for me, dressing to impress someone. I never did that. I dressed for myself, not to follow trends or pretend to be something I wasn’t. Mom and I never had much money to spend on clothes, but that never stopped us. Mom was an expert at vintage shopping and getting bargains. I didn’t think she intended on introducing me to boho/hippy style, but she never once told me I couldn’t wear anything. She always let me be who I was.

  I had experimented with looks, what teenager hadn’t? But I’d never felt the crisis of identity that I read came with adolescence. I’d always known exactly who I was and was comfortable with that. I knew that had a lot to do with having a slightly crazy but amazingly supportive mom. She let me discover who to be and indulged my passion for music and books, even when she didn’t understand it. I knew she scrimped and saved to get my guitar lessons before I had started teaching myself.

  But that morning, I had tried on every item in my wardrobe with Killian in mind. In the end, I put on khaki green, tight combat pants. They were way low slung, and I had to lie on the bed holding my breath to do them up. I had paired them with a white racerback tank, knotted at the front to show off a teeny bit of midriff. Not enough to raise school eyebrows or my mom’s—I doubted that would be possible anyway. Then I slung multiple necklaces around my neck and tamed my wild curls so they tumbled down past my bra strap. I wanted to look effortless, but still hot.

  I frowned at the freckles dusting my nose, then remembered Killian’s name for them. I decided against covering them up with any makeup and just went for glossy pink lips and a swipe of mascara.

  Of course, the no-makeup look took way longer than it was meant to, so I was subjected to Mom pounding on my door threatening murder and dismemberment if I made her miss Shelly coffee. We had discovered it the first day we arrived in Amber and Mom had proposed to Shelly, the maker of said coffee, that very day; it was that good.

  Since I’d been up for hours, I’d already had two cups. Coffee was serious for Mom and me; we needed it.

  I hustled out. “Sorry, sorry,” I chanted, stuffing books in my embroidered backpack.

  “Wow,” Mom exclaimed, her eyes glancing down my body. “Oh to be young again and pull off things like belly-baring outfits and pants like that,” she mused, her eyes dreamy.

  See? No judgment. I would have to be wearing hot pants and a sequined bra to cause any disapproval.

  I rolled my eyes. “You borrowed these pants last month,” I reminded her.

  She tilted her head, remembering. “Oh yeah. I did look good in them too.”

  “Don’t ask me how you’re the same size as me with the eating habits of a prize bull, but you are. I guess it bodes well for my future,” I said, grabbing my lunch from the fridge.

  Mom hustled me out of the house. “It will bode even better for your future if you hurry up so your mother can get caffeine into her ageless body before she expires.”

  I was not joking about the coffee.

  She dropped me off and I spent the first few periods barely listening, barely taking anything in; my thoughts were on seeing Killian again. So I had wandered aimlessly into the cafeteria, trying to casually scan i
t for him.

  “Hey, Freckles,” a voice sounded from behind me.

  I swallowed and turned slowly, my eyes meeting Killian’s for a split second before his traveled down my body. I watched in amazement as they darkened. My belly fluttered at the way his gaze was a physical touch.

  “Hey,” I breathed.

  I was totally happy about every moment spent over my outfit today. Killian returned his gaze to my face and his muscled arm moved up to lightly tug on my curl.

  “Like your hair down,” he murmured quietly.

  The flutter in my stomach intensified so much I could almost feel it in my throat. The way he touched me, so casually, was intoxicating. I wanted more. I wanted to kiss him, almost more than my next breath.

  “Lex!” a voice shouted.

  I jumped as the roar of the cafeteria returned. I moved my gaze to see Sam waving me over to a table with him, Noah, and Wyatt. I chewed my lip.

  Killian glanced in their direction, his eyes blank.

  “We don’t have to sit with them,” I said quickly, though my heart dropped at the thought of my boys and my... whatever Killian was, not being able to coexist. I wanted deeply for them to get along.

  I felt his hand on the small of my back and the area tingled. “No, Freckles. They’re your friends. I’m not taking you away from them.” He glanced at me as we walked over. “As much as I want you all to myself,” he added darkly.

  I swallowed visibly and blinked at him, trusting him not to guide me into any tables, considering I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

  “Hey, Kill,” Sam greeted enthusiastically, standing to do some weird boy-fist-handshake thing.

  Killian obliged. “Sam,” he muttered back.

  He lifted his head to Noah and Wyatt. Wyatt grinned at him. Noah regarded him more levelly but responded to the greeting.

  We all sat and I was afraid of a yawing silence as the boys had some sort of stare down. I didn’t know why I was afraid when Sam was around; he launched into an epic conversation the moment we sat down. Killian was friendly, engaging with all of them, and I spent most of the time soaking it all in. I had watched Killian at school. He seemed like a loner and didn’t even register the existence of most people at school, though I’d seen him glare at Jordan a couple of times. He was distant, almost broody with everyone but me. And even with me, he liked it when I did most of the talking. But he showed another side of himself, making an effort with all of the boys, even Noah, who was bordering on downright rude. I especially liked the way he sat so close to me, close enough our thighs touched, and every now and then he’d brush a curl out of my face.

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