He put two fingers under my chin and tilts my face up towards his. And then I really do stumble. My legs just give out underneath me, and he scoops one arm behind my back to keep me upright.
"What's happening, Sam?" He brushes a tear away from the corner of my eye with his thumb, his eyes searching my face, doing the thing where I feel like he's turning me inside out and looking straight into my heart. "Are you in trouble?"
I shake my head, unable to speak, and he rushes on, "You can tell me. Whatever it is you can trust me."
And I know, at that moment, right then and there that I have to trust him. Because he's it. He's always been it and now he deserves it more than ever. I start to pull away, knowing what I'm about to say will make him come after me and I must grasp my precious, though nonexistent, time.
"You trust me?" I ask. He nods. I increase the distance between us, ready to bolt.
"I'm going to die tonight, Kent. I'm going to die."
And then I run for it.
I could see her in the distance, the wind whipping her hair around her, making her look like an angel. A broken angel. Juliet. I tried to call out but I couldn't, as my throat choked up, bringing tears to my eyes. A part of me just wanted to wait there, to just sit it out and watch her. To watch her die and remain dead and not float around in some crazed up universe where she had to relive it and actually remember reliving it. But, it wouldn't make a difference. Because, I could watch her die right now and tomorrow would still be February 12th, Cupid Day. I wanted to laugh, to scream, to cry. I looked up at heaven, or whatever, and I wanted to shout. "What do I have to do to make it stop? Why can't you just tell me since I'm obviously doing it wrong?"
The horns blared past me, humming in my ears, as I tried to run forward, my feet feeling like lead.
"Sam! Sam!" they screamed behind me, but I couldn't hear. I couldn't listen. Ally. Lindsay. Elody. Kent. I didn't hear a single voice, except the silent determination as Juliet Sykes stepped forward.
"Juliet, no!" I shouted, somehow finding my voice. She turned to me, a little startled. What did she see? Some girl who'd made her life hell running towards her to mock her? Or did she really see me, the dying girl who was just begging her to set her free from this hellish oblivion where time had no meaning? What did she see?
Juliet. Even her name fit her actions.
"Sam? What the hell are you doing?" she shouted back, over the chilling wind. Bone cold, yet burning hot.
"What do you think?" I asked, finally coming up to her. She didn't even shiver a bit in the biting cold. "I'm here to stop you. You can't do this, Juliet."
She rolled her eyes and scoffed, trudging forward. I grasped her arm, but she shook it off. Her thing shirt clung to her like a new skin.
"Leave me alone. Why do you care? You're just a –"
"Bitch! I know!" I screamed, tears falling over my eyes and I could taste the salt through my parted lips. "I know I'm a bitch. I know I made your life hell. And Lindsay and Ally and Elody. I know."
"You don't know anything, Kingston."
"Don't I?" I asked, noticing how we were slowly moving towards the centre of the road. I wanted to pull her back before her death came barreling along in lightening speed.
"No, you don't. You don't know anything. You never will," she said and the moment the last words left her mouth, her eyes bore into mine, chilling me deeper than the cold which I'd run through for the past week.
It was too late.
She opened her mouth, flailing her arms as if to get me to leave her alone. Her foot skidded and the minivan rushing towards us screeched. Our heads whipped in the direction of the noise.
"Sam!" somebody shouted, and it was followed by a loud shriek. I don't know who it belonged to.
The van was still coming at us, but the tires remained still and I knew the brakes were in place and there was nothing more to do. I did the only thing I could, the only thing I had come here to do for the past few days. I pushed her. I didn't even bother in which direction. She gasped, as the van clipped her in the hip and she toppled over the divider, hitting her head on it. The van, screeched towards me, out of control and I closed my eyes.
Please, let this be the end. I felt the heat around me waist and closed my eyes. I was falling. I was falling into a dark abyss.
Maybe it was over. Maybe, I'd finally got it right. I almost smiled.
I was falling and - I was being caught?
My eyes opened and I shrieked in surprise as the van slammed into the side rails, trapping my leg effectively. How did that happen?
I didn't even have time to think of an answer as the sickening snap was heard and the burning pain shot up my leg. I cried out, in horror as I watched the blood seeping. I had never felt such pain, I'm sure.
What was happening? This was never supposed to happen. I doubled over, gasping.
"Sam!" somebody screamed and I felt warm hands supporting me. I felt black spots in my vision and a strong, warm grip around my waist holding me in place.
"Sam,"a voice whispered in my ear. Kent.
My head fell back, onto the pavement. My body gave up. The last thing I noticed was the fact that, Juliet Sykes was unconscious across the road, but breathing. She was also 10 feet off from the vantage point I'd had when I'd knocked her out of the way.
My mind shut down, my eyes closed of their own accord and I was floating. Not falling. Floating. And for the first time I was not confused because tonight, I knew who'd been my hero.
The soft beeping reached my ears. Too soft to hear, yet somehow loud enough to pierce my slumber. I cracked open an eye and shut it tight again. Too bright, I thought. My head throbbed and I couldn't feel the lower half off my body. My tongue automatically traced my parched lips and I grunted, too tired for any other response. I waited for Izzy to bound into my room, ordering me to get up.
"Oh, you're up," came a soft voice from above my head. I turned, squinting. It was a nurse. Where the bloody hell was I? I should be in my room. I should be waking up. I –
"I'll call the doctor."
"Wait," I said, so softly, I doubt she heard it. But she waited all the same.
"Where am -?" It hurt to speak.
"You're in the hospital. That was one nasty accident you had."
I remembered, of course I did, but nothing happening now made any sense. My eyes tried to take in my surrounding, ignoring the pain growing behind my eyebrows. It was white, too white. My leg was in a scarily huge plaster and there was another bed on my side where Juliet Sykes lay. And there were – Juliet. My eyes turned to her and my breath caught. She was asleep, I think, yet for a second I thought she was dead. And so was I. But, no. She was bruised and bandaged, but the heart monitor next to her had a steady rhythm. The nurse seemed to have noticed my line of vision.
"She'll live. That was very brave of you to push her out of the way like that."
Silence thickened in the room, pressing down on me. I felt like I was choking. Why wasn't I free yet? Why was I still trapped on this planet, in this life? What was happening?
My eyes, panicky, I'm sure, turned to the nurse and she leaned forward frowning. There was a flash of red. My eyes landed on the tiny pin attached to her collar. She looked down, blushing.
"What –" I started, my curiosity getting the better of me. You know, what I mean. You know about the hope I mentioned earlier. It inflated in me.
"Sorry. My boyfriend gave that to me yesterday, for Valentine's Day."
I blinked, almost choking. But, I was too scared to allow the relief to spread through me.
"You've been out for a few days, miss. Yesterday was the fourteenth. Today's the fifteenth of February."
I could breathe again.