Chapter Nine: Confusion

I am so sorry that it has been so long since my last update. I have had the worst case of writer's block ever and just couldn't make any progress on it. I know this one is relatively short, but I just wanted to get you guys something new out to get us started back into the updates. Hope you like it!

I spun around, my heart leaping up into my throat. I heard a laugh behind me, which allowed me to relax slightly. Tate came to my field of vision and I could see him shaking his head. My eyes darted back to the woman in front of me.

She was beautiful. Her light blonde hair was artfully pinned up in a way that was old fashioned, but also extremely classy. She was dressed in a flowing dress with a delicate shawl thrown over her shoulders. The woman was giving me a smile as she looked me up and down. I felt like I was being examined as I studied her right back. She didn't look like what I imagined a ghost would look like; she looked as alive as anyone and I felt a nagging doubt in the back of my mind in regards to Tate's story.

"Hello," I managed to choke out after a few minutes of silence, leading Tate to chuckle again.

"Oh dear, I didn't mean to frighten you," she told me, "I'm Nora. Tate has just told me so much about you and I was excited to finally meet you. I didn't mean to startle you. I seem to be rusty on my manners these days."

She stepped up to me and wrapped her arms around me into a hug. I froze for a few seconds in shock before allowing myself to hug her back. My brain was in shock. So Tate had been lying to me? Why? What was the point of his story?

When she pulled away from me, I was struggling to hide my conflicted emotions that I knew were evident on my face. Obviously if he had been telling the truth about this woman, she should not be able to touch me. I looked suspiciously towards Tate, my eyebrows knitted together in irritation. He had that signature smirk on his face like he was in on some game that I didn't know about yet.

"What's going on?" I asked, the annoyance obvious in my voice, "Why did you tell me all of that stuff? Just for a laugh?"

He opened his mouth, but then closed it again as he struggle to come up with the words. I rolled my eyes and took a step towards the stairs.

"It was nice meeting you, ma'am. I'm sorry, but I think I actually need to go," I said.

I quickly raced back up the stairs and out the front door before I took another breath. I knew under normal circumstances, my exit would have been rude, but Tate was lucky I didn't throttle him right there in front of her instead. I let the anger course through my body as I ran down the street and back to my house. The running helped to cool down my thoughts a little by the time I got home.

After all of our talks and the understanding that I felt we had shared in the past couple of days, how could he have made up something as ridiculous as that and then expect me to go along with it when it was obviously not true? How gullible did he think I was when he took me down into that basement to confront one of these "ghosts?" I couldn't wrap my head around his motives for any of it. Was this all just a game to play on the new girl? Or did he actually believe these things he had told me?

I wasn't sure what was worse. Either option hurt. I had either been betrayed or I had started to fall for someone with some serious issues. I couldn't think of any explanation that didn't end in getting my heart broken.

I thought back to our kiss. It had been so sweet, so perfect. I touched my fingers to my lips, sighing. I threw myself down onto my bed and stared up at the ceiling. My stomach twisted itself into knots as I tried to force the memory of the kiss out of my mind. I knew I shouldn't have let myself get so attached to someone, especially after such a short amount of time. I never had any luck with friends or relationships, so I should have expected this. I should never have left myself be vulnerable. The image of Tate smirking at me when I was in the basement earlier flashed before my eyes. I had fallen for his trap so easily. I bet he was laughing it up back at his house right now.

I squeezed my eyes shut tight and rolled over onto my stomach. I desperately tried to ignore the hot tears that soaked the pillow under my face as I vowed that this would be the only time I would allow myself to feel this pain before I made sure that I would never let myself be susceptible to that again.