Okay, this was one of those scenes I hated getting rid of, but if I’d kept it, readers would probably kill me for taking so long to get to the reveal of the Vardens’ secret. In an older version, Sophie spent more time with Gil, including being invited to watch he and his band play at his friend’s garage. Sophie went because Sophie’s a sweetie and likes music. The purpose of the scene was also to give something else for Jules and Sophie to label as ‘weird’ in regards to the Vardens and their friends.
I found Tad’s garage easily enough. Gil had been right about following the music. I’d just rolled down my car window and heard the wailing of guitars the moment I got on Henley Street.
I parked on the street and got out, wondering if I’d be the only one there and then decided I didn’t care. Gil Reade was a sweet kid. If I could make him happy just by showing up, then why not?
But I realized as I got closer that the music had stopped. I walked up the driveway to see a small crowd of underclassman gathered around someone.
“What’s going on?” I asked. They all turned, scared looks on their faces.
“It’s Gil,” one of the guys, presumably a band member, “he tripped over an amp and his leg…”
I hurried to the group to see Gil on the ground, his face screwed up in pain and his leg—His leg was not lying the way a leg should. It looked like his knee bent the other way.
I immediately moved my gaze back to Gil’s face before I threw up.
“Oh man, someone needs to call an ambulance,” I said the obvious, my eyes taking in the kids. They all appeared dazed. A few of the girls were inching away, looking ill.
“No!” Gil breathed, his focus on me. I knelt down next to him. “No hospitals.”
“Gil, I don’t think this is the time to give in to a fear of doctors…” I began, “Aren’t there any parents at home?” I asked the guy who’d spoken before.
He shook his head.
“No, call Micah,” Gil said, hissing in pain. “Call him. Cell’s in my coat.”
“Okay.” Someone handed me Gil’s coat and I pulled out his cell and searched recent calls. There was ‘Mic’. I pressed send.
“What?” I heard the tell-tale voice of an older brother.
“Micah, this is Sophie.”
“Gil tripped over an amp and I think broke his leg and he won’t let me call an ambulance, but said to call you?”
“Shit!” There was a pause. “I need to you bring him to the Ezra’s house. Now.”
“Sophie, please, just bring my brother out here in Forest Hills.”
“But surely a doctor—“
“Now.” And he hung up. I stared at the phone for a few seconds, then looked down at Gil. His friends or lack thereof had all moved away, some leaving completely, some just staring.
“Gil, I’m gonna drive you to the Vardens.”
He nodded, his dark hair sticking to his forehead from sweating. I hooked my hand under his arm and slowly and trepidaciously we got up. He put his arm over my shoulders and leaned into me.
“Thanks for your help,” I told the kids, not hiding my sarcasm as we hobbled towards my car. “Honestly, they were completely incompetent.” I let Gil lean against my car as I unlocked the door. I opened the door and helped him in, lifting his leg gently. He growled.
He’d scare Slightly with that growl.
I jumped back.
“Sorry, it hurts,” he smiled weakly.
“Right.” I shut his door and hurried around to get in and start the car. I didn’t say anything until we got out of Gregory. “Gil…why am I driving away from the hospital?”
“Dad’s at the house.”
“My dad. He’s a doctor,” Gil wheezed. I bit my tongue from asking anything else. He was really hurting. “Talk about something. Distract me?”
“Okay, well, I’m sad I didn’t really get to hear you play,” I began. He smiled a little. “I heard something when I turned into the subdivision. Sounded decent.”
He nodded and then looked down at his leg. “Damn.”
“How did you do that?”
I chuckled at his admittance, driving as far over the speed limit as I could with a clear conscience. “Won’t this make your leg worse?”
“Dad can fix anything,” he said, leaning his head against the window.
I shook my head and focused on driving. I was beyond confused. Why take him all the way out to Forest Hills? Why could only his dad treat him? No health insurance? That didn’t work because his dad was a doctor.
It made no sense.
I definitely got to Forest Hills in record time. As I drove up the long driveway to their house, I saw that Micah, Ezra and the others were already waiting outside. I parked and Micah hurried to his brother’s side.
“Easy,” Micah said softly, reaching out to pull out his brother. Micah picked him up, carrying him like a groom carries his bride over the threshold and moved fluidly and quickly to get him in the house. I got out of my car, watching the rest of them enter the house. I looked up to the deck to see Jules up there. Her eyes sent me some message.
I guessed, ‘what the heck?’ She started down the stairs. Movement near the door caught my attention. Ezra stood there, watching me, almost like he wanted to say something.
“Ezra!” Came a call from inside the house.
“Later,” he jogged off. I stared after him, my brain feeling like it did when I got to a word problem on a test.
Jules came up to me, hands in her jean pockets, making her look even longer than she was.
“Um…” I pointed to where they’d all just been. “What the—“
“Come on,” she grabbed my hand and started dragging me towards the woods. I just followed, still running over the entire thing in my head. That and the vision of what Gil’s leg looked like.
Now that I thought about it, it reminded me of some rubber figurine that you could ben every which way.
I stopped, my stomach turning over.
“What?” Jules paused.
“Just need a moment.” I took a deep breath, fighting the nausea.
Jules waited silently, her eyes never leaving me. A few seconds passed.
She took my hand again and we started heading in the direction of our hideout.
“I think we can add another ‘weird’ thing to our list,” she said quietly.
“That they are…something different,” she looked back towards the house. “I mean, Dr. Reade was over, talking to Jonas about something and then…” She paused.
“Let’s get inside first.” She picked up pace. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the silo building through the trees. We hurried up the stairs and entered the second floor room. “Okay. Think we’re safe here.”
“Why wouldn’t we be?” I asked, noticing that there were a few blankets on the sofa and that the floor had been swept of most of the leaves. Jules had been here since Saturday.
“I just don’t want them to possibly overhear.” Jules plopped down on the sofa. “They started arguing after Micah hung up with you.”
I sat down next to her, pulling my legs up underneath me. “Arguing?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t catch all of it, but something about you and it wasn’t safe…” she shook her head. “And why the hell did they have you bring the puppy out here?”
I smiled at the ‘puppy’ reference again then sobered. “This is weird. I mean, that is just unheard of. Why just Dr. Reade? A hospital has an emergency room. With doctors.”
“I know. And they were all super tense, waiting for you to arrive.” She leaned back against the sofa. “Maybe they’re a cult. You know, like religious nuts who don’t take any medicine because God will heal them? No offense.”
“None taken. I take pills when I have a headache. And anyway, why would Dr. Reade be a doctor if they thought like that?”
We both went quiet for a few moments, pondering.
“OH!” Jules made me jump. “Sorry, I just remembered. Something totally off the wall. So I woke up in the middle of the night last night.”
“And walked down to the kitchen for a glass of water and as I did I thought I heard a dog.”
“Yeah, like some growling and whimpering.” She leaned closer to me, her eyes alight. “So I followed the noise, down to the basement, where Ezra’s room is.”
“Yeah?” I swallowed.
“His door was open and the dog noises were coming from his room. It was dark, but I could see that he was moving. You know how dogs sometimes bark when they’re dreaming?”
“Slightly does that.”
“That’s what he was doing.”
“Dead serious. I mean, again, it was dark, but I’d swear on Summer’s life that he was growling like a dog in his sleep.”
I slapped her arm lightly. “Summer’s life? That doesn’t inspire credibility.”
She laughed. “I know. First person who came to mind. But something else. I’m convinced something’s going on with them. Not just normal family drama.”
“But sometimes people talk in their sleep.” I was one of those people actually. “Maybe that’s the same thing?”
She shook her head. “Growling and whimpering like a dog.” She sighed. “So, guess you ought to stay for dinner, huh?” She got up and started to leave, then looked back. “What are you thinking?”
I didn’t mention that she whimpered in her sleep just like a dog too.
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