If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected, decide what to be and GO BE IT
-The Avett brothers
Recommend Reading Introduction to Unproven
DEFINITELY READ Prologue
Chapter Ninety Seven
"Hello?" Came the sleepy voice of Dori.
"My house is on fire,” she whispered anxiously into the phone, “and I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be in it...Come and get me, I'm at the park on Cedar."
"What?” Dori asked sharply. “Ary? Did you say fire?”
She repeated herself with a bit more volume.
“Oh my god, okay, yeah, I'm coming, I’ll be right there!"
The phone disconnected and she sank down on her butt, wrapping her arms around her legs. She wanted to call Grayson, but knew it was a bad idea. He'd come. And they'd be screwed. No, she'd wait for Dori.
You don't know this has anything to do with James Teller, it could be a freakish coincidence, she told herself. On the heels of that were the words of Grayson’s text, his cautionary words from the past, and she wasn't taking any chances.
Dori got there in record time and she climbed in the car.
"It’s your house that’s on fire?” Dori clarified, her eyes wide.
"Look at this," Ary said, shoving her phone into Dori's hand.
Grayson's text was on the screen and she watched Dori read it, then read it again, then turn slowly toward her. "You don't think...?”
Ary's eyes filled with tears, "I don't know what to think. Just drive, get us away from here."
Dori obliged, "Your grandma?"
"Away. Not there. Thank God."
"Have you called him?"
"Not yet, if his father did this...Jesus Dori, I don't know what to do! But after that text and then discovering my house on fire… I was at the park because he was going to try and meet me, if it weren’t for that I would have been in my bed sleeping!” She shook her head in disbelief and kept on shaking it.
“If I call him he’ll come, he’ll race out of where he is, and that's not what we need. I should have listened to him before spring break, we should have left then." She put her head in her lap and started crying in earnest.
"It's okay," Dori said as she drove, her hands locked on the wheel to keep them from shaking. "Don't cry, it's okay, it'll be fine. I'll call him, tell him to find a way to my house tonight even if it's four a.m. I’ll tell him to grab what he thinks he needs and get to the road and catch a cab… We'll get you out of here, both of you."
She pulled into a gas station and took her phone from the cupholder, dialing Grayson's number.
Ary shook her head, "No," she whispered. "He'll get caught.”
Dori shook her own head, mouthing, "Don't worry." She put it on speaker.
"Hey, what's up? Kind of late for you, isn't it?" Grayson teased.
"Yeah...Where are you right now?"
Grayson made a noise, "Just leaving an event, why?"
"Is anyone with you?"
"Um, no, Jason's been a hemorrhoid all night, but thankfully he came in his own car… Again, why?"
"Okay. I don't want you to panic. But you've got to get your stuff together, whatever money you haven't given to me, whatever you think you need, and find a way to my house. But you've got to wait until you're certain no one's watching. I'm serious, even if it's four am, you have to wait."
"What's going on?" He demanded. "You can't tell me not to panic then say all that without an explanation! Is it Ary?" His tone changed, fear seeping in.
Ary took a breath and reached her hand out for the phone.
"My house is on fire," she told him, forcing herself to speak calmly so she wouldn't spook him. "They’re trying to put it out as we speak, but it doesn't look good...And your text...Gray, please don't do anything foolish. Please be careful, be so careful, because if I was supposed to be in that house,” she swallowed, her grip on the phone tightening. “They might not know that I wasn’t until tomorrow, until they can sift through it. So please do what Dori said," her voice broke and she took the phone off speaker, handing it back to Dori as the tears slid down her face.
"It’s me,” Dori said. “No, she’s fine, just…,” Dori listened for several seconds, as she turned onto the road to her house. “Okay good, we’ll be waiting." Dori ended the call and glanced at Ary. "It's gonna be fine. He'll text me when he's on his way, and he promised he'd be careful."
Ary nodded, wiping at her eyes, "What about Nanna? She's gonna think...Oh my God Dori, I hope they don't find out where she is before they realize no one was in there, I don't want her to think I died... But then I'm going to be gone, what then? She'll think I died and they didn't find me!"
"I'll take care of it," Dori said reassuringly, "I'll find a way to tell her that you're fine. I promise Ary, I swear it to you. Okay? Don’t worry." She pulled into her driveway and turned off the ignition. “Okay?” She repeated, turning in her seat to face her.
Ary stared at her for a moment before nodding, then put her head back in her lap.
"Go ahead and cry," Dori told her, "but get it out of your system. Because Grayson's going to need your strength, as much as you need his. It's just a house Ary, full of things that you were going to leave behind. Your grandma's fine, safe, and undoubtedly has excellent insurance, which means she'll be fine. And I will let her know that you're okay. So get those tears out, then buck up Sally, because you've got a rocky road ahead of you. You always did, from the moment you and Grayson came up with this plan, you've just been making the most of it, and that's what you have to do now. It's only a month before you were supposed to go, the only thing that's changed is that you won't stand beside a podium to receive a certificate, and your grandma won't get to watch you do it. And I know those things were important to you, but life has a way of throwing curveballs and testing you before you’re ready. So get ready Ary, because this is it. Grayson needs you, needs that Ary optimism, especially now when the thing he'll want to do most in this world is murder his own father for what he might have just tried to do to the girl he loves."
Ary nodded, fighting back her remaining tears. She wiped her face on her sleeve and took a deep breath. "Okay. You're right. I'm okay. I'm ready." She took another breath and steadied her voice. "I’m ready," she repeated.
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