My apologies for the first chapter being so short. Will be sure to make the next few much longer.
Merril was holding Bo tightly in his arms and standing next to me. All of our eyes were on the ground, looking on in horror and confusion. What could have put circles in the ground like that? How could someone have done that?
My head felt like it was spinning with all of my questions. I felt Bo put her hand on my shoulder. I clasp my hand over hers and look at Merril. "No one could have done that without us knowing, right Mer?" I ask him.
He hesitates before he answers. "I don't know, kiddo. I don't think so."
Bo leans her head on his shoulder. She whispers in his ear, "She hates it when you call her that."
"I'm a light sleeper. I would have heard it." says Merril.
Morgan speaks up, "The dogs have been going nuts the whole time. Maybe they saw who did it? Or what did it."
We start walking back up to the house and Graham stops on the porch. "Morgan, Bo-- why don't you two go inside and feed the dog and get some breakfast." He turns to me and his eyes awkwardly drop to the ground.
Merril puts Bo down and she goes inside. I look at both of them. "What?"
"You know what." Merril responds, with a slight chuckle.
Graham sighs and rubs his forehead with frustration. "Merril, you're not helping. Just give us a minute."
Merril shakes his head. "No, I want to hear this. Because if there's any chance that they did it, I'm going over there to kick their scrawny asses. Every last one of them. That's just how it's gonna be. I don't care who their father is."
I roll my eyes. "Are you-- don't tell me you think Jake did this?"
"I may even bring my bat along. I'm not feeling very generous at the moment." Merril adds.
Graham eyes his Merril for the comment about the bat. No one had talked about that in weeks and it was better left that way. All I needed was another incident with Merril, a bat, and the Wolfington brothers. Graham turns his attention back to me. "Were you with him last night or not? That's all I'm asking. It's not an accusation, Maggie."
"Yeah, I was with Jake." I explain, "But Tommy and Hank weren't anywhere around. They were probably at the movies with their girlfriend or riding their dirt bikes or something."
Merril raises an eyebrow. "They have actual, living, breathing girlfriends?"
I nod, "As hard as that is to believe, yes. Jake doesn't even hang out with them. He can't stand either of them."
"So maybe Loverboy wasn't involved, but who else would have done it Graham? It was them and you know it. No one else has that much time on their hands. Lionel probably put them up to it. Jackass."
"No, I don't know, and neither do you. I'll call Lee and let him know what's going on. Maybe he can talk to them, find out where they were last night."
I follow Graham inside. "Dad! Dad, don't call Mr. Wolfington! That's so embarrassing."
He picks up the cordless phone and starts dialing. "No one's embarrassing anybody. I'm just asking him to talk to his sons."
I cross my arms over my chest, and stare him down. "Okay, your name won't be mentioned. How's that?"
"Oh, like he doesn't know we're related. That's great, Dad. Thanks alot."
I turn around to leave the house, but stop when I see Morgan and Bo staring down at something in the kitchen. There was pee on the floor and Houdini was sitting in the corner slouched over. That was wierd. He never had accidents in the house. Not since they first got him. I continue outside and take my bike out of the shed. The last thing I wanted was the be anywhere near my house today.
I stop in the familiar driveway and walk my bike up the dirt road. The Wolfington farmhouse was the only house I'd ever seen with a half-white, half-green front door. Jake claimed it was because his Dad never got around to finishing the paint job and his brothers were too lazy.
There he was next to the shed slumped over the hood of a car. I smile and lean on the porch railing. "Tell me something. Why are guy's always fixing things? Does it make you feel superior or what? You're always fixing something."
He turns around and quickly spins me around in his arms. I laugh and hold on to him tightly. "Jake, stop! I'm gonna fall and break my legs!" He stops and kisses me. "Hey you."
I could feel the heat rushing to my face. All he had to do was look at me. I'd never admit this, of course. "Hi."
"I can't stop thinking about last night."
I nod. "Yeah, it was-- really great." I take a breath, not even wanting to mention what was coming next. But I had to tell him. "But that's not why I'm here. I wanted to talk to you about something."
He looks at me strangely, backing up against the car. He rubs his forehead. "You got in trouble for getting in late again, right? Look, I can talk to you Dad and Merril and explain."
I shake my head, "No, no. I mean, yeah he mentioned that too, but no. Someone did something to our crops last night, and for some reason they, well Merril, accused you and your brothers. I told them that we were together, but they still think that your brothers and that idiot Lionel had something to do with it."
He looks at me for a moment and turns his baseball cap around. "He's never gonna trust me is he?"
"Jay, this isn't about that."
His voice gets louder. "Yeah it is. It's always the same with your Dad. I don't know-- I guess I don't blame him. Either of them."
I walk over to him and hold one of his hands. I hated doing this. "I don't think you had anything to do with it, okay? I know you don't even hang around with any of them. I just needed to hear it from you."
"Okay, no." He answers, "I didn't have anything to do with it. And as far as I know, Tommy and Hank were out with Leanne and Ronna all night. Actually, Tommy hasn't even come home yet. So I can't say whether or not they did anything. Lionel either. I know I didn't know anything about it. Trust me, if I would have, it wouldn't have happend."
I wrap my arms around myself. He runs his hands up and down. "You cold?"
I don't answer. "I just have this feeling-- like something really horrible is about to happen. I've been feeling that alot lately. This thing with the crops-- I don't know. It's just really strange. It's really creeping me out."
He looks at me confused. "What are you talking about?"
"I didn't say anything to my Dad or Merril, but I don't understand how your brothers, Lionel, or anyone else could have been able to do that without someone hearing it from inside the house. They would have had to use a machine or something." I continue with caution. I didn't even know if I believed what I was saying. "Jake, I don't think someone did it. I think something did it."
He cups my face in his hands and notices that my whole body is shaking. He wraps me in a hug. "You're shaking, Mags. Come here. Look, there's a logical explanation, alright? There always is. There's nothing to be scared of. I promise. And even if something is going on, which it isn't, do you actually think that your Dad or your crazy Uncle would let anything happen to you? Plus you have me as a backup, and we all know I'm the man of steel himself. Ask anyone."
I laugh. He could always make me laugh when I was feeling like this. I hated to admit it, but he made me feel safe. Unfortunately, that wasn't a feeling I had often since my Mother died. I always felt like someone was going to leave me like she did. "I'm sorry I even asked you about it. My Dad and Uncle are complete idiots when it comes to you. They just really don't like your brothers."
He chuckles, "I also fall into that catagory. And they're just looking out for you. But yeah, Merril um-- he kind of freaks me out. Well, no. Terrifies me's more like it. I still haven't gotten over the bat thing."
My eyes shut briefly. I had been trying to supress that memory. "Can we not rehash that, please?" I look up at him seriously. "It's not important to me that they like you. I know that sounds horrible, but you're like the only person I can really talk to. And you just happen to be my boyfriend so they'll just have to get used to you."
He tucks a piece of hair behind my ear. "Boyfriend?" He asks, surprised.
"I think that's what the kids call them these days, yes." I joke.
"You've never said that."
"What?" I ask.
"Boyfriend. You've never called me that. Is that what I am?" He looks down nervously. "You're boyfriend?"
"Depends. Is that what you want to be?"
He looks up at me. "More than anything. I-- Mags, I've liked you for so long. I can't even remember when I didn't like you. But I care what you're Dad and Uncle think of me. I wish I didn't, but I do. It would make things alot easier if I didn't. I'm just not that guy."
I press my forehead against his. "I know you're not. That's one of the reasons I want you to be my boyfriend. I've never actually liked someone back who's liked me, so this is a big deal for me too."
"Hey, I'm done with my Dad's car. Did you want to go to the lake or something? We could take some food out, skinny dip, pick grass-- whatever."
I laugh. "Pick grass? It's like nine in the morning, anyway."
"So, what? I haven't had breakfast yet. Come on, we can take breakfast and lunch and stay out there all day. You said you didn't want to be around your place today. I sure as hell don't want to be around here."
I nod. "Yeah, okay. Sounds good."
He takes my hand and leads me up the porch steps. "You know you're gonna feel really dumb for being so scared when the crops thing turns out to be nothing."
"That's what I'm hoping."