Kevin and Danielle left the library right as it was closing. Night had fallen quickly and the air was crisp. Danielle slipped on her sweatshirt as they reached the bottom step outside the library. She watched a few cars drive by, their tires kicking up road spit from a rain that had fallen while the two teens were tucked away in the safety of the library. She felt a chill in her bones.
“So. You’re just headed home?”
Danielle looked at Kevin in response, but saw he was not looking at her. He was staring off to their right. In the direction of Danielle’s home. The opposite direction of his own.
“I’m going to walk with you.”
“But then it will take you twice as long to get home. Isn’t it almost curfew?”
Kevin nodded, but kept watching the dark streets. “It’s dark. I think your mom wouldn’t like you walking home by yourself tonight. I’ll just call mine. She’ll understand.”
He finally looked at her. A shiver ran down her spine as she saw a strange look on her face. Something didn’t feel right in the autumn night, and she knew he felt it too.
Kevin pulled his cell phone out and had a quick conversation with his mom. Danielle watched him explain the situation, while still keeping his eyes on the dark roads. The street lights had come on, but they only served to cast foreboding shadows over the rain-soaked pavement.
“Alright. Mom said it’s safer if I just walk you home. But she’s going to drive over and pick me up from your house. She said there have been some stories on the news tonight that have her worried.” He tucked his cell phone back into his jacket pocket, took Danielle’s hand, and they walked away from the bright light of the library entrance.
All Danielle could think about now, was the fact that Kevin had never held her hand before. It felt strange. But it also felt safe. Despite the electricity of danger in the air, she felt safe with him.
As they walked, Kevin kept his attention at their surroundings. When a car was coming from behind them, he turned to watch it pass. A rustle in the bushes was given a stare-down until he seemed to conclude it had merely been the wind. A tall man in a jogging suit ran by them, and Danielle felt Kevin’s hand tighten around hers.
“You said your mom was worried about some stories on the news tonight. Did she say anything about them?”
“Oh. Yeah. Not much, but apparently a few teens have been abducted in the last 12 hours. All the news stations are talking about it. And not just local. She said it’s on a national level.”
Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked and Danielle felt the wind nip at her through her sweatshirt. She clung to Kevin’s warm hand.
Soon, they were in front of Danielle’s house. The porch light was on, and she saw her mother standing at the living room window. Danielle waved. Her mother smiled and stepped away from the window.
“Elle. I’d like to walk with you to school tomorrow.” Kevin hadn’t let go of her hand.
“Oh. Okay. Yeah, that’s good.” She didn’t know what to say. Her house was between Kevin’s and the school, but they had never walked to school together before. Kevin usually had to be there before her anyway, to help in the tutoring lab.
“I’ll be here at 7. Is that okay?”
She nodded and watched Kevin’s mom pull her Subaru into the driveway. Kevin waved to his mother and then turned back to Danielle.
“I’m going to look into the stories more. Something isn’t right. But it’s got me worried about you. So, just be safe. Okay? Stay in the house. Don’t wait for me outside in the morning.”
Kevin gently squeezed her hand as she looked at him, speechless. She felt the strange in the air, but was it just due to the news stories and the weather? Or was something else happening?
“Promise me. You’ll stay inside.”
After a hesitation, Kevin let her hand go and went to his mother’s car. He stood at the passenger door until he saw that Danielle had gone inside. Then he got into the car and his mother drove them away.
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