A brand new chapter...
Emily was outside waiting on her porch, dancing around anxiously on the balls of her sock-clad feet, when Travis pulled his crap-car up in front of the Fields' house. She immediately flew down the front steps as Travis shut off the engine. He looked over at Hanna. She was murmuring something unintelligible. Her eyes were deeply hooded, her face pale. She was pressed against the steamed up glass.
"Hanna," he said, his voice tremoring a bit, "we're-we're here. At your friend, Emily's. She's going to help you, okay? If you're sure that a hospital really isn't the place for you…" Deep down, he believed that it was. She had horrifying injuries and who knew what she'd really been through tonight. While he had been sitting around ordering drink after drink at a restaurant, she was being hurt.
The thought made him want to puke but he managed not to vomit.
He simply stared at her for a moment. He then reached over and thumbed the rip in her sleeve. "Who did this to you – why would they do this to you?" He wondered, not actually expecting an answer and not getting one either. She was too out of it for that.
He sighed and hopped out of the car. He ran around to the other side where Emily was standing. She said nothing at first as they pulled open the rusted door. They caught a weaving Hanna in their arms.
"I'll bring her in," Travis offered.
Emily nodded. "T-thanks," she murmured. "I can't believe all of this."
"God, me either," Travis said. He effortlessly scooped Hanna up into his arms once more and followed Emily to the front steps. They walked into her living room but he didn't see any of the décor – he couldn't see anything but the darkening bruise on Hanna's cheek.
"Where should I put her?" He asked, tearing his eyes away from that taunting gash and staring questioningly at Emily.
"Upstairs. Can you get her upstairs? I have a first aid kit up there."
"Do you really think a first aid kid is going to fix this?" He asked dubiously. "I think a hospital is the place for her right now."
"She doesn't want that," Emily pointed out. "You said so yourself."
"Still…" Travis shook his head. "What about the police? Should I call them?"
Emily shook her head firmly. "No, don't. At least not until we know exactly what happened to Hanna."
"It seems obvious that –" Travis broke off. He didn't actually want to finish that sentence and guessed that Emily didn't actually want him to either.
"Just come on," Emily said, waving him to the foot of the staircase.
Travis held in a breath as he carried Hanna up the stairs. Emily led him down the hall to a room with a big picture window. For a moment, Travis forced his eyes off Hanna to look out into the darkness. What a cruel world it is out there, he mused. What a fucking cruel place.
"Set her on the bed," Emily said, cutting into his thoughts. Travis obediently brought Hanna to the princess bed and placed her gingerly upon it. He got a good look at her legs then. They were scratched and there was a trail of caked blood on her knee caps. He cringed and looked at Emily. She had seen it too and she looked as sick as he felt.
"What can I do?" Travis asked.
"Uh… Well, why don't you go home and we'll call you when Hanna is a little more... lucid?"
Travis arched an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
"Well…" She was dancing awkwardly on the balls of her feet again. "You did the right thing but the girls and I can take it from here."
"I want to stay," Travis said. "No, I am staying. Just until I know … If she will be alright." He knew she might not be alright – how could she after this? - but he just wanted to be here, just in case … Just in case she needed him, even if that seemed an improbable thought right now.
"Fine," Emily said with a long, shuddery sigh. "Just – well, can you stay downstairs while we try to make sense of this? She will need help cleaning up and I know Hanna – she will never forgive us if she let you see her looking like that." She laughed bitterly. "Oh god, Han, oh Han," she whispered.
"Yeah, fine," Travis agreed. He looked at Hanna one more time, whispered, "Please be okay", and then hurried out.
His steps only slowed when he reached the top of the staircase and he sagged against the railing for a long moment. He felt sick and angry and confused and … out of sorts. This had been the night from hell. And he wondered… What if things just got worse? He had an odd feeling that they just might - if that were even possible.
Emily was holding fast to Hanna's hand when Aria and Spencer came crashing into her bedroom. Hanna was asleep for the moment – or passed out – but she looked sickly pale and broken as she lay curled up in a ball on the plush mattress. Emily hated this; she hated the whole thing.
"Ohmigod," Spencer and Aria gasped in time as they took in the sight of Hanna's cuts and the blood crusted on her knees.
"What the hell happened?" Aria asked. Emily saw tears swimming in the depths of her eyes.
"She was attacked," Spencer said tersely. "Obviously, very badly." She moved to Hanna and lightly took her by the other hand.
"Is she going to be okay?" Aria asked, nibbling her plump bottom lip.
"Would you be okay, Aria?" Emily asked. "I mean, if this happened to you?" Her voice sounded high to her own ears. She also sounded angry and she realized that she was. Incredibly so. How could someone hurt her dear friend like this?
Spencer brushed an errant lock of Hanna's blonde hair off her face. "She looks awful," she said. "When she wakes up and sees what this monster did to her…"
"But who did it?" Emily asked. "Do you think –"
"That it was A?" Spencer said. "There's a good possibility that it was." She sighed and then her eyes flooded with tears too. "But if A did this that means - God, they are just getting worse and worse. This is a new low, even for them."
"And if it wasn't 'A'?" Aria piped up. Emily and Spencer immediately turned questioning eyes on her. "What if it was just horrible, random thing or maybe … Maybe…" Her voice trailed off.
"What?" Emily asked. "What are you thinking?"
"Never mind," she said, crossing her arms.
"Now is not the time to be coy, Aria," Spencer said. "What are you thinking?"
Aria shrugged helplessly. "I hate to even think it but what – what if it was Travis?"
Emily felt her eyes bug out and Spencer stared disbelievingly at Aria as well. "Why would he do that?" Spencer asked.
"Well, sadly, you hear about these kinds of things happening on all the time. What if he got … handsy and Hanna …"
Spencer shook her head. "No. He was the one to bring Hanna here, right Em?" She looked at Emily for confirmation. Emily simply nodded. "So if he attacked her, he wouldn't bring her around. He would want to be as far away from this as possible."
"It was just a suggestion," Aria said, looking at her hands. "I mean, what do we know about him - really? He happened into Hanna's life just when she was at her most fragile…"
"No," Emily said, finally finding her voice. "No way. He couldn't have done this. I saw his face when he pulled up with Hanna. He looked … like I feel."
"No buts, Aria," Emily said resolutely, "he didn't do it. He might have even saved her life."
"Okay, okay," Aria said. "I just want an explanation for this horrible thing. I want to make sense of it."
"We all do," Spencer said.
"But if it was A, that just means they are getting more terrifying. Who knows what horrible thing they will do next. Who knows what horrible thing they already did to Hanna," Aria whispered.
Spencer nodded. "We won't know anything until she wakes up."
"I am afraid what she will tell us," Aria said quietly as she crawled onto the bed and leaned heavily against Spencer.
"Me too," Emily admitted.
"Me three," Spencer said.