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Walls Around The Heart - Part Three


Nicole Starleigh Yeager

I was lying on the bed, watching the television on low volume when Kyle and Brett returned. I sat up as the aroma of fresh coffee filled the room.

"Ooh, bring it over here."

"Your prescription was about $20," Brett said.

"Oh, did you take money out of my wallet?" I asked.


"Okay, well, hand me my purse, I'll get it for you right now."

"Actually Kyle paid for it."

I looked at Kyle. "Oh. Well, I'll pay you back then."

Lauren handed me my purse. "I'm ready when you are," she said to Brett.

By this time it was well after midnight. The only places still open would be the local clubs. I paid Kyle and he slid the money into his pocket.

Lauren grabbed her coat. "I have my cell phone. If you need anything, we'll come back."

"Did the police come down yet?" Brett asked.

"No," she answered. "They probably won't be down until tomorrow."

"I can't wait to be able to fall asleep," I said as I popped the lid off of the pill bottle and chucked two of them in my mouth. Kyle handed me a cup of coffee. It was lukewarm, so I took a swig to down the pain medication.

"I hope this stuff works. Fast."

"All right, we're outta here," Lauren said as Brett opened up the door.

"Have fun, kids," Kyle said, starting to remove his shirts. We were all used to him stripping down to his boxers in front of everybody. It was normal to us.

"My cell phone is on," she said, following Brett out the door.

"Just go, dammit!" I yelled after her. "And you better have fun, too!" I could hear the two of them laughing as they headed down the corridor to the elevator.

There was an awkward silence in the room, even as the rain lightly pelted the sliding glass balcony door and the thunder rumbled softly around us.

"What are you watching?" he asked, slipping a pair of mesh shorts on over his boxers. He then threw on a white T-shirt.

"Oh yeah, they got our stuff mixed up. Your stuff's in my bag and mine is in yours. I'll fix it tomorrow."

"I know, I figured that out already. That's all right, I can do it."

"I said, I'll do it tomorrow. You can put yours in the dresser if you want."

"Okay," he said, sarcastically.

I felt bad. Should I have felt bad? Was he trying to be friends or was this just a sympathy thing because someone tried to bash my head in?

"Thanks for the coffee and getting my pills."

"No big deal." He was taking his clothes out of my bag and placing them neatly in the two bottom drawers.

Under my breath, I growled. Couldn't he just say, 'You're welcome'?

"How do you feel?"

"Like I got hit with a lamp."

I watched television while he finished unpacking. Then he stood up and looked around for a second, awkwardly.

"What?" I asked, annoyed.

"Nothing, I just was... looking around at the room. You need any more ice or anything?"

"No. Ahh, crud."


"I left the bag and the towel outside on the chair. It's going to be soaked."

Without a word, he crossed to the sliding door and went out into the rain to retrieve it.

Why was he doing all that stuff --  like he was trying to get on my good side? Especially after the asinine message he left on my voicemail earlier that day.

When he came back in, he re-shut the door, but looked out over the ocean.

"It's gonna stop soon, it's getting weaker. Plus there's stars out over the water, now."

"Really? Good, I can go back outside, then."

He laid the towel out to dry in the bathroom on the tub and dumped the melted ice into the sink, tossing the bag into the garbage. He emerged from the bathroom, yawning.

"Why you just go ahead and go to sleep?" I said.

"I need to stay up with you."

"I don't need a babysitter. I'm 21. I can handle myself."

"Why do you have to be so damn stubborn?"


"You can't risk going to sleep when you have a concussion, everybody knows that."

"I'm not stubborn," I snipped at him.

"I don't understand you at all."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Should I have been offended? I was.

"You. Just... you."

"Please, shut up. I don't want to deal with this."

An uneasy quiet filled the room. He came over and laid back on the bed. I sat, tense. I had all day and hadn't yet come up with a way to get him to sleep on the floor or the couch.

After a moment, he hesitantly said, "So I guess you got my voice mail."

My anger flared. "Yeah, we got it. I wish you would lay off, too."

"Wait -- What do you mean, we?"

"I gave it to Lauren to listen to."

"You... you gave it to Lauren?"

"Yeah, and?"

"Lauren listened to it?"

"Yeah. You know, you're freakin' lucky I didn't listen to it, either,
because I don't even want to know what kind of... crap you were saying.  Now, can we drop it, please?"

"I didn't?"

"It was freakin' ignorant, Kyle. Grow up and go give your crap to somebody else. I told you a long time ago I didn't like you anymore and you keep on freaking pulling this crap with me. I'm tired of it!" I noticed the rain had stopped hitting the glass. I took my coffee, went outside onto the balcony and slammed the door behind me. I didn't even care that the cushion was wet.

I heard something hit the wall inside the hotel room. I'd pissed him off. As long as he left me alone out there, I'd be fine.

Well, he didn't. He came outside.

I huffed. "Now, what?"

"So, you don't even know what the voice mail said?" His tone was fierce and accusing.

Shocked and defensive, I said, "No, I don't. She had the decency to save me from it."

"Where's your phone?"

"She deleted it. The message is gone. Leave my phone alone."

"Then let me tell you what I said."

"No, Kyle!" I yelled, jumping to my feet. "I don't want to hear it! This is exactly why Lauren didn't want to go out and leave me here with you! She knew you'd be doing this!" 

As soon as I stopped yelling, my head throbbed in pain and I doubled over, nearly unable to breathe. I felt him reach down to try to help me stand up but I shoved his hands away. "Get off me!" I was going to cry, probably because the pain was so bad and the anger in me was so great. Yet, underneath the anger, a little of the old pain from walking away from my feelings about Kyle had resurfaced. It was too much.

I stood up and stumbled into the room, collapsing at the foot of the bed.

"At least get up on the bed," he said, grabbing my arms.

Again, I shrugged him off. "You know I thought we could get along like decent... civilized people! She didn't want to leave me here with you and now I understand why!"

It was then that he totally lost his cool and started to shout at me. "No, if Lauren didn't want to leave you and me alone it's because she heard my voicemail but it's not because she thought I was going to be an ass! If you would have listened to the stupid voice mail, you would have known that!"

"Oh, really, Kyle, then what the heck did you say that pissed her off so much?" I had to keep my hand on the back of my head... pressure on the bump seemed to relieve the pain.

"What did she tell you?" He was breathing hard and slowly calming down.


"What did she tell you after she listened to the message?"

"She said you were just being you and she would have to have a talk with you later. She said you were being an ass, I think, I don't remember. Heck, maybe I said that!"

He took a few deep breaths as he paced around the room. I babied my head. It was then that I realized my coffee was lying outside, spilled on the floor of the balcony.

"Can we just... talk this out later?" I said, quietly. "I can't do this right now."

He nodded, not saying a word. I got up and crawled over to my bag, pulling out a pair of shorts.

"What are you doing?" he asked, probably thinking that I was getting dressed to go out somewhere.

"I just need to change. The cushion was wet."

"I could have told you that."

I couldn't help but giggle.

He laughed in response.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I just... I get so defensive around you anymore."

 He just looked at me. I went into the bathroom and locked the door. I looked in the mirror. I had black streaks running down from my red eyes. I literally looked like crap. I glanced down at my new pink T-shirt, soaking in the tub, along with Kyle's T-shirt. All that was my blood. 

Mine. That came out of me. Oh, God, I feel faint.

I sat down on the toilet seat and switched my shorts to the dry pair. It was then that I realized my underwear was soaked too, and thought it better not to have any on than to wear a wet pair, which would only leak onto my dry shorts. I hung my wet clothes up over the shower curtain and turned to wash my face in the sink. I used the complimentary bar of soap and dried off with one of the hotel's dark blue hand towels. 

I stood up straight and looked into the mirror again - only, my glance never made it into the mirror, but rather got stuck looking at it. 'Be careful' was smudged into the mirror with greasy fingerprints. 

"Kyle!" I screamed and stumbled backwards against the bathroom wall, my heart pounding. I fumbled for the door but couldn't seem to get it open. I couldn't take my eyes off of the message, and couldn't seem to get the door to open, either...

Kyle forced the door open and I fell out of the bathroom into his arms. Hysterical, I scrambled away to the other side of the room, dragging him with me, clutching to his body. 

"What? Keri? What happened? Calm down, what happened?"

"The mirror!" I shrieked.

He left me by the bed, huddled up against the wall, and turned back toward the bathroom. He carefully walked toward the open door and kicked it all the way open. Cautiously, he peered inside and looked at the mirror. He stared at it for quite some time.

"Do you see it?" I whimpered. "Do you see it?"

He nodded slowly, then reached out to touch it. He smudged it with his finger, then sniffed the substance. "Get your coat," he said to me. "I'm getting you out of here."

Fear paralyzed me as I stared into the bathroom. 

"What is it?" I had started crying again.

"I don't know," he said. "Let's just go."

I grabbed a pair of jeans. "Just, turn around a minute," I said, my voice shaky. "I want to put jeans on."

"That's a good idea," he said, grabbing the shorts he had worn earlier that day.

Facing opposite directions of the room, I threw jeans on over my shorts and he put warm-up pants on. I grabbed my purse.

"Let's go," he said, grabbing the key from the table and my bottle of pills. He pocketed both and we left the room. Neither of us spoke until we reached the elevator and headed down to the lobby. Once the doors closed, my knees went weak and I let myself to the floor. 

He knelt down beside me. "What happened? Was it there when you went in?"

I shook my head. "No. I looked in the mirror, there was nothing. I washed my face and went to look again, and there it was." My face scrunched up in emotion. "Oh, god, there was something in there!"

He helped me stand up again as the elevator approached the lobby. Quivering, I let myself cling to him for support. We walked straight over to the front desk. "Excuse me," he said, startling the night receptionist.

"Room 513... is there anything you need to tell us about it?"

"I'm sorry?" she said, looking bewildered. "I don't understand?"

Kyle explained what had happened up in the room as the girl looked back and forth between him and me. I was calming down, but still hadn't let go of him. I couldn't bring myself to.

She looked at us like we were crazy when he was done. "Um, I'm sure it was nothing?"

He nodded toward me. "We both saw it with our own eyes. We want a new room."

"Why don't I send a security guard up with you to check things out. If necessary, he can let you into a new room." She turned away and got on a radio behind her. "Paul, what's your position?"

A voice cracked into the speaker. "7th floor, closing up the break-in."

"Can you meet a couple at room 513 in a few minutes? I need you to check something out for me... we might have a problem with a prankster."

"Aren't they the ones from up here?"

"I believe so... yes, we put them in 513," she said, checking a log and glancing at the gauze bandage taped up under my pony tail.

"Tell them I'll bring the rest of their things down to their new room."

"Will do, Paul. Thank you."

"Ten four."

"It's no prankster," Kyle said.

We're not a couple, I thought.

"Whatever it is, I'm sure we can take care of it."

"You do realize that we're the ones who got stuck in the room that was broken into today? She has a concussion, you know."

For a second, the girl's face was sympathetic. "I know, and I'm very sorry for the trouble--"

"Yeah, whatever. See if we ever stay here again after this weekend!" We went back to the elevator.

"I don't want to go back," I whispered.

"It's all right. You don't have to go in."

Paul, the tall, blonde-haired, chubby security guard, took a look around the room, but saw nothing. The message was gone from the bathroom mirror - the only smudge mark was the one Kyle had left.

"Have you kids, by any chance, been drinking, tonight?"

"Excuse me?" Kyle said, defiantly.

"You know, is this a romantic weekend getaway or something? Have you had a little too much to drink tonight?"

Romantic getaway? I thought. Yeah, right!

"We haven't had time to do any drinking. We were up stairs on the 7th floor, but somebody gave her a concussion; I'm sure you know the story. We spent I don't know how long  in the hospital only to find out that she's got a concussion and she can't fall asleep for the next several hours and got switched down here to this room. We may be young, but we're not stupid, sir. She's on pain medication strong enough to soothe a horse with four broken legs! 


"I'm sure it's that blow to the head that's got her seeing things... and you're probably just so stressed out you thought you saw it too. It could have looked like some kind of message, but I assure you, there is nothing to be afraid of. And if this is some kind of trick to get yourself a few free nights, well, let me warn you - it ain't gonna work. Why don't you two just try to enjoy the rest of your weekend together."

I gasped in disgust.

With that, he walked off down the corridor and radioed back to the main desk that all was fine... and we were a bunch of nuts.

"What are we going to do?" I asked him.

"Stay here, I'll go in and check it out." He left me standing in the hall as he entered the room. Some minutes later, he came back out and shrugged. "It's gone."

"But, it was there, you saw it."

"Yeah. I saw it."

"What do you think it was?"

"I don't know. But we're stuck in this room, so we might as well just deal with it for now."

"I don't know... I don't know if I can..."

"Come on," he said, taking my arm gently. "It's not like you're alone."

We were lying together on the bed, watching television. I let him lie close to me for the sake of feeling a little bit more safe, even though it was a little uncomfortable after both the girl at the front desk and the security guard spoke as though Kyle and I were there as a couple. I had hoped it was only because I was clinging to him so tightly. But then again, I found it had a nice ring to it... but struck that thought from my mind as soon as I realized what I was thinking.

Sleeping was no longer an issue anyway - every little noise sent the both of us on alert. In fact I welcomed the idea of sharing the bed, as it offered a little security after the latest incident. I felt safe with him. It wasn't about him, though, I would have felt safe with anyone who'd stayed in the bed with me.

We were jumpy all night. By four in the morning, when nothing major had happened, I had begun to calm down. I was dozing off, and he kept nudging me to wake me up. "Only a few more hours," he kept saying. "You're almost there."

"I'm just so tired... and they're not back, yet."

"They must be having fun."

"Did they take my car or your truck?"

"They took the truck."

"Oh, I hope they aren't you-know-what."

"Oh, gross," he said, and we chuckled. "Hey! Wake up."

Unknowingly, I had started to doze again, but I snapped out of it. "It's just lying here, I can't help but fall asleep."

"Want to go for a walk?"

"Right now?"

"Yeah. Get some fresh air. The sun will be up soon, anyway."

"Okay, if you think it'll help. But, I'm warning you, I don't know if I'll be up for a whole lot of walking."

"If I have to, I'll carry you."

"I hope all this crap ends," I said. "I was really hoping for a relaxing weekend."

Outside in the early morning, I inhaled the rich, lively, salty air. "I could never get enough of the ocean."

"You like it that much, huh?"

"I'm going to live on the coast, someday."


"Yeah. It's a dream I have always had." I yawned. "God, I hope I never get a concussion again." I heard my cell phone ringing, but I was confused, because I didn't think I had brought it. I looked around, then at Kyle, who was reaching into his pocket. "You bring it?"

"Yeah." He looked at the caller ID. "It's them, they must be back." He answered the phone. "Hello?"

As we walked, I listened. We were making our way out onto the beach and the sound of the waves caressing the shore was so beautiful.

"She's right here... No, she's been awake the whole time. Where are you?"

He cleared his throat and tightened his arm around my shoulders as a chilly morning breeze picked up. "So, when will you guys be back?... Oh.... Okay... Well, we came outside for a walk... Well, no, she was falling asleep in the room...Well...Anyway, I have to talk to you when you get back..."

"No," I whispered, "please?" Oh, Kyle, don't go there...

He just looked at me, disapprovingly, then said, "Well, something happened in the room tonight, and we think you guys should know about it."

Lauren suddenly raised her voice against him.

"What the heck do you think I am?" He scolded back. "It has nothing to do with anything like that! But, we'll have that discussion later." With that, he hung up the phone. He was suddenly enraged.

"What's going on? Why are you so angry?" I asked.

"Because something got really screwed up, and I know who to thank for it, now," he answered, looking straight ahead. "But, don't worry about it, all right?"

I just nodded. Wow. One day and... how many fights have already gone underway? "Where are they?"

"Still at the club. They said they were leaving in a few minutes to head back to the hotel."

"Do you think we should head back?"

"In a bit."

"You're not... upset over the voicemail thing, are you?"

"You were."

"I know I was, but why are you? I don't understand."

He stopped and turned, letting go of me. Looking over my head and out to the ocean at first, he took a deep breath. Then he shifted his glance to my eyes. "I guess it's only fair."

I was curious. Fair? What did he mean by that? "What?" 

"Remember, back in the beginning..."

I turned my eyes away, not wanting to remember something that brought back the memory of crushed feelings and shattered happiness.

"No, just listen."

I nodded, but refused to look up.

He took a deep breath.

I thought about leaving him there and walking back to the hotel by myself. I didn't want to hear this. It was so awkward, so uncomfortable. It didn't feel right.

"I was scared. Just as scared as you, I think. I couldn't comprehend any of it and I couldn't figure out what it was..."


"No. I acted like an jerk... my one true nature. And I'm sorry. I wanted to be friends with you but I... I was sort of vengeful, you know, after we broke up."

I sighed and clenched my jaw.

"And when we got into that fight, I realized I was hurting you. I thought maybe you were just saying you didn't love me anymore so I would think that. I tried to get you to slip up, I tried to catch you in it, somehow, whether talking to Lauren about me or getting jealous when I talked about other girls. But you never did. None of that seemed to phase you. I tried to get in your face to piss you off, to break you down and make you admit it. But you never did."

"I wasn't lying."

"And the past few months... I've seen you with other guys and watched how happy you were. How happy they were. And how much... how much Bruno likes you. I didn't tell you that, though."

My mind reeled. Bruno? As in Adam Bruno? Brett's friend that hung out with us every once in awhile? The really cute one?

He took a deep breath, as if gathering his thoughts to finish a speech. "Well, the voice mail... uh, I wasn't being a jerk, believe it or not, I know it's tough to believe."

I continued to stare. Then what were you doing? I wanted to know. 

He took another deep breath. "I realized that I didn't know what I was missing. But, I do, now. And, I guess I was hoping that... maybe I could convince you to be with me again before the weekend was over, before you got back and saw Adam."

Had I just imagined what came out of his mouth? "Ex-excuse me?" I asked.

He just looked at me and nodded.

"Oh, wow." All I could say was oh, wow? How lame. I felt so bad. But what could I do? The damage was done and the fate of anything that could have come of us was sealed. I no longer had those feelings. If anything, they had been replaced by resentment and bitterness. They were, I'm serious. There was nothing left. I wasn't going to let him hurt me again.

"Oh." I couldn't think of anything to say, and he knew it.

He turned away from me and took yet another deep breath. He seemed to do that a lot when he was tense. "That's what the voice mail was about, basically. I guess Lauren... I'm not even going to worry about that right now. But, can't you see that she's the reason you and I can't get along? She doesn't want us to."

"Not completely. You try to piss me off on purpose. You can't blame it all on her."

"I'm serious. She's been trying to keep me away from you. You wouldn't believe the things she told me back when you liked me. She tried everything."

"Stop, please," I said. "It doesn't matter. That's in the past."

We stood, quietly, for a good five minutes before he spoke again.

"So, I guess there's nothing anymore, huh?" he asked, genuinely sincere, looking right into my eyes.

I couldn't think of how to say it. To buy some time to think of a good answer, I said, "Kyle, I . . . I just can't answer you right now. I... I don't know . . . I need to think about it, first."

He shook his head. "Understandable."

I shivered in the cool morning wind. "Can we head back, now?"

"Sure. You still have a couple of hours to go, though."

"I know. But I can stick one of those coffees in the microwave."

He was a little reluctant about the way he took my arm to walk me back. I knew it must have been awkward for him. It was a little awkward for me, too. 

"How are you feeling?"

"Pretty good, actually," I answered, yawning. "No pain right now. Just... Kinda tired."

"Ah. The pills kicked in, then."

"Yeah, awhile ago. In fact, if it holds out at least for the next hour, then I can take another one, I think."


I want to be your friend, I was thinking. I want to be able to look at you and say, thank you for always being there, for being like a brother to me; but I knew that I was even lying to myself. There was suddenly something so different about the way he walked with me. There was no pride to protect, now. He had no reason to be big and mighty, or dominating.

Something so... whoa. My heart skipped a beat as it swelled and warmed. Back up, Keri. Don't go there. You're only going to get hurt again.

"Can I ask you something?" I said as we got closer to the hotel.


"Did you really say that stuff about Alex?"

"What stuff?"

"That you don't trust him and you don't get a good impression from him or whatever."

"Actually, yeah, I did."


"Partly because I was jealous, partly because it's true. I don't get a good feeling about the guy."

"I'm sure Lauren told you I was upset with you, then."

"Yeah, she came down to dinner and basically was like, 'I hope you're happy, you've gone and gotten her all worked up again.'"

"Which is why you felt bad about it at the hospital when I told the cop I was blowing off some steam."

"How did you know?"

"You're not the only one who can pick up on subtle hints. You looked at the floor after I said that."

"Oh. Yeah."

"It's not your fault. It was mine. I have a problem with my temper... Tot says I'm a fighter, that it's in my blood."

He just chuckled at the comment.

By the time we got back to the room, I was getting really tired. I stuck one of the coffees in the microwave and leaned against the wall to wait for it to 'ding.' Kyle had gone out onto the balcony; the sun was soon starting to come up. We were going to go outside to watch it. I felt a fringe of guilt as I discovered I looked forward to this moment alone with him... 

A wave of fatigue suddenly overwhelmed me and I swayed a little. I decided to push myself away from the wall, thinking that maybe this was God's way of warning me not to think about Kyle like that. I put my hand out on the counter to stabilize myself. I grew nauseous and was starting to pass out. I could feel it coming. Problem was, it had already advanced to the point where I could no longer control what my body did... 

I was alert but couldn't speak or move. I felt the warm rush followed by a cold chill over my skin. I couldn't even relax my muscles at this point, to make some kind of movement. My heart began to pound and my breaths grew short and quick.

My whole head grew cold. The white static clouds began to close in on my view. I vaguely heard the microwave go off as I felt myself teetering to and fro.

Black again.

I came to on the bed, with Kyle sitting next to me with a cold, damp rag across my forehead. He sat on the edge of the bed, his arm on the other side of me, propping himself up as he waited and watched. About five minutes had passed, I figured, the longest I had ever been passed out. I took a deep breath and looked at him.

"You all right?" he asked, flushed and panicky.

"Yeah... I just got a little faint, that's all."

"That's all? You're lucky you didn't hit your head again."

I smiled. "Wow, that hasn't happened in awhile."

He laughed. "It's not funny. You hit your head again, and we may have to stick you in a padded room."

"No, that's not what I meant, I meant I haven't passed out in awhile."

"Oh. What do you think it was? The prescription?"

"No, it would have happened hours ago."

"Maybe it was your bump."

"No, my head feels fine."

He thought for a minute. Then, "When's the last time you ate?" 

I just stared. When was the last time I had eaten? I realized we had never eaten lunch because of the incident at the beach, and I never ate dinner, either. Had I eaten breakfast that day before the trip? No, I had decided I would try to avoid over-eating, expecting to go out to dinner last night. 

"Two days ago, I guess," I said.

"You're skin is warm again," he said. "So, you've passed out before?" he asked as he got up and went over to the little refrigerator. He dug around inside to find something for me to eat.

"Yeah, like 3 times."

"Same reason?"

"No, twice it was because I had just given blood."

"And the third time?"

"I have no idea. It just happened, out of the blue."

"Have you gone to a doctor?"

"They're just going to tell me I need to eat right."

"Did you?"


"The third time. Was it because you didn't eat?"

"No, I had breakfast and lunch that day. I don't know what happened there."

"Want a sandwich?"

"All right."

"Ham, cheese . . . you want mustard or mayonnaise?"

"Mustard. Do we have tomatoes in there? I think Lauren was supposed to bring some."

"I don't see any. Oh wait, I think these are it, she's already got them sliced up. Yeah. You want one of those?"


"You want your coffee?"

"Do we have any juice?"

"Pineapple and cranberry. Take your pick."

"I'll take the pineapple, I guess."

He fixed me a quick sandwich as I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

After a minute, he came over and helped me sit up. "You had me worried for a minute. I didn't know if you were going to wake up, and I was getting ready to call 911."

I just smiled. "I don't ever want to have to go anywhere in an ambulance."

"Well, then, I guess it's a good thing you woke up. Here." He handed me the sandwich and the juice. It was then that I realized just how hungry I was.


He went over and turned on the television, then made himself a sandwich. By the time he had everything put away, I was working on the last bite of my sandwich. As he flopped onto the bed to eat with me, butterflies invaded my stomach.

"What time is it?" I asked, swallowing a bite.

"Just about five," he answered, double-checking his watch. "Yeah."

"Are they coming back?"

He shrugged. Just then, we heard a keycard slide in the door. We started laughing as it opened and Lauren and Brett stumbled in.

"Speak of the devil," Kyle said, shrewdly.

"Oh, what a night," Lauren said. "That club was awesome! We have to go there tomorrow night! How are you doing?"

I laughed at her - she couldn't even stand straight. "I'm fine. How about you?"

"Oh, I'm good, I'm good. Just great!" She glanced at Kyle. "What's your problem?"

I looked at him and noticed that he was clenching his jaw. I spoke up before he did. "He's just tired. That's all."

"Oh," she said and flopped onto her bed. Brett lay facedown next to her.

"So, you're feeling okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine," I said.

"She passed out just a little bit ago," Kyle said, with a harsh tone in his voice.

"You what?" Lauren asked me. "What happened?"

"I just forgot to eat. But I'm fine now. In a little bit I can go to sleep. In fact, you know what? I'm going out to the balcony to watch the sun rise the rest of the way." With that, I set my now half-full glass of juice on the bedside table and walked out onto the balcony. I leaned on the railing, letting the morning breeze run its fingers through my hair and caress my face. The ocean was a grayish blue, with highlights of orange and pink as the sun rose from the edge of the horizon. The waves were rolling peacefully below us. I took a deep breath, glad I was awake to see it. I hadn't seen a sunrise in years.

Minutes later, Kyle, Lauren and Brett were all outside with me.

"Wow, it's pretty," Lauren said.

Kyle leaned against the railing next to me, and Brett slouched down into the chair. Lauren rested against the railing on the other side of me.

"That cushion is probably wet," Kyle said to him.

Brett just shrugged, too tired to care.

"Hey guys," I said, as we all watched the sun pull the last, bottom tip out of the water. "I promise the rest of this weekend will be normal."

"If the mirror doesn't talk again," Kyle said.

I had forgotten about the mirror.

"What do you mean, if the mirror doesn't talk again?" Brett asked.

"Yeah, what exactly are you talking about?" Lauren questioned.

"We have something to tell you," I said. "And now that the sun is up, I think it's time."

Brett got up from the chair and stood on the other side of Lauren. They were both waiting for one of us to talk. I looked at Kyle, and he looked at me.

"I was in the bathroom," I said, "Changing my clothes, when a message showed up on the mirror, out of nowhere. It said, 'Be careful'."

Kyle took over. "I saw it, too. We went down to the desk to ask if there was anything wrong with our room and they looked at us like we were idiots. The security guard thought we were trying to trick a few free nights out of the deal. They basically laughed at us."

"Did they see anything?" Brett asked.

"No, the security guard asked us if we were drinking, because it wasn't there anymore."

"Keri, leave your stupid ghosts at home," Lauren said, laughing, obviously too tipsy to be scared. These kinds of things normally freaked her out.

I just smiled. Still feeling a bit washed out from fainting, I turned and went inside, drinking down the rest of the pineapple juice. I sat on the bed and stared at the bathroom door. Come on, come out and do something scary, I thought. But nothing happened. Was it in my head? But if it was in my head, then how did Kyle see it, too?

Part 4

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