Welcome to Whisper Pines Part-9

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Welcome to Whisper Pines
Part Nine

by:
Enemyoffun


After a tragedy, Charlie and his small family move from the West Coast to the East and to a small and idyllic, dairy community to start anew. Soon he starts to realize the town seems a bit odd and the things there not so right, including himself.

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Author's Note: It suddenly occurred to me that I still had another chapter of this written. Sadly this is the last one that I wrote. I suppose I could have waited to post this until I had more but I saw it sitting on my computer and said what the hell. I might still have a few people clamoring for a bit more of this story, I do hope to finish it one of these days because I had great ideas for it. I have to confess that it does end in a mysterious cliffhanger and I apologize for that. Also the picture for this chapter is supposed to be a school Earth science lab :D. Oh, also if there's any other unfinished story of mine you'd like to see more of, drop me a PM and I'll see if there's any stray chapters lying around :).

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9.

“Hmmm, that’s interesting.”

“What?”

“Did you know you have a cute little birthmark right here.”

Nurse Bright poked me in the chest, right below my right nipple. I shuddered at her touch, her hands were slightly cold. I was also awfully uncomfortable. It's not every day that a super attractive blonde woman pokes your naked chest. She moved to poke me again but I swatted her hand away then grabbed my shirt. I pulled it on over my head before she could say anything else.

“So besides the birthmark, is there anything else I should be aware of?”

She pursed her lips. “I’m sure Dr. Riley has asked but how are things going?”

I didn’t really understand the question.

“I’m good.”

“And how about You Know, down there?”

She pointed at my crotch. I blushed about three shades of red.

She was a school nurse. Why in the hell did she need to know those things?

“What does that have to do with being physically fit for school?”

“Nothing just concern,” she said then lowered her voice. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you’re not exactly the manliest man around. I also happened to take a look at your chart. I noticed that you haven’t gone through puberty yet either.”

“That’s not uncommon.”

“No but its unusual.”

“How did you see my chart anyways?”

Now I was really uncomfortable. Was she stalking me or something?

“I moonlight for Dr. Riley on the weekends. He’s getting kind of old as I’m sure you’re aware. He’s not as alert as he used to be. The beginning of the year he asked me to step in to help from time to time. I was there yesterday helping him with his charts when he passed me yours. He was a bit concerned.”

“I’m fine,” I said, maybe a little louder than I would have usually.

Honestly, I didn’t really feel fine. Not that I was still sick or anything but ever since the other day, something did feel off. Not that I was willing to discuss it with her of course. She was great, gorgeous but something about her made me cautious. It was that very same quirkiness that seemed to radiate with the rest of the town actually. It was hard to see if you didn’t know where to look for it but it was there nonetheless. Like the pastel-colored buildings or the weird Stepfordish way some of the women in town acted. Or how no matter how many times you told him, Dr. Riley still called me a “girl”. Not that Miss Bright had done those things but it was her overall perkiness and her borderline sexual innuendo way that made me a little nervous around her.

“So am I fit to go back to class?”

She nodded. “Class yes, P.E. you might want to give it another week.”

Oh, that reminded me of something I wanted to ask.

“What happened to Hunter anyway?”

“Oh, tragedy,” she said, shaking her head. “It happened right before Friday night’s game. The boys were goofing around in the parking lot, Hunter and another boy were showing off according to witnesses. He was taking a layup when a large gray cat ran out of nowhere and tripped him. Broke his ankle. He’s going to be out of commission for the rest of the year. Very tragic.”

Also very poetic.

I mean what were the odds.

He was a douche to me and Fate seemed to punish his Punk Ass for it. Not that I would have wished something like that on him but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

The weirdest thing happened surrounding it too.

It happened right after Clara left the table on Saturday. Well actually right after I was leaving too. I ordered a few slices to go and was almost to the door when Hunter stopped me. I thought for sure he was going to continue where he left off but he surprised me. He actually apologized. He told me he’d been mistaken about things and had been an idiot. He even offered me his hand to shake. I thought for sure it was some kind of trap but he was actually sincere. I didn’t shake his hand though. He might have been ready to say he was sorry but I wasn’t ready to accept it. Hunter was still a dick and it was going to take more than some half-hearted apology before I forgave him.

I pushed past him and out the door. He tried to follow but stopped when Argos growled.

That should have been the end of it but it wasn’t. He tried calling my house Sunday, trying once again to apologize. I avoided the call. Pop answered the second time though, told him not to call again. It made me wonder why it was so important for him to apologize anyway?

“So are we done now?”

She waved me off.

I sighed in relief, jumping off her exam table as I did so. I hated the fact that it was actually tall enough off the ground that my feet dangled from it. I hated being short. I definitely couldn’t wait for puberty to kick in finally.

I didn’t wait around to be formally dismissed from the room. I nodded my thanks to her, grabbed my pack and headed out. In the hall, Mr. Norris was standing by, waiting to pounce.

“Hall pass?”

“You’re kidding right?” I asked, pointing behind me. “I literally just walked out of the nurse’s office. I’m not skipping or anything.”

He gave me a nasty look. “I could write you up you know.”

I looked at my watch. I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just didn’t want to be any later for Mrs. Gromley’s class. The woman already seemed like she hated me. I didn’t want to give her any more reason to do so. Thankfully Mr. Norris seemed to be all bark and no bite because he waved me on with another warning. I rushed down the hall, already later than I wanted to be. When I reached class and slipped inside, of course, all eyes were on me.

“Are we keeping you, Miss Kononas?”

The woman not only couldn’t get my gender right but now it seemed she couldn’t even remember my name.

“Its Mr. Kanenas,” I said, feeling particularly bold this morning.

I’m not sure where it came from actually.

“Yes well take your seat.”

I took my seat quickly. Clara looked over at me with a smirk before turning away.

The class seemed to drag on after that. Mrs. Gromley punished me for my boldness more than once though, calling on me constantly. I definitely wasn’t making any friends with her that’s for sure. When class finally ended, Clara smirked at me again:

“You just love making enemies, don’t you?”

I shrugged. “If the situation calls for it.”

She laughed.

Wow, she had a great laugh.

We parted ways after that. Second period was the only morning class she and I didn’t have together. Somehow it seemed dull without her. When we saw each other again in third period, she didn’t even look in my direction. So maybe first period was a fluke. Or maybe she only liked it when I made an ass out of myself. Thankfully no more of those opportunities presented themselves. Most of my other teachers called me by the proper gender and name. That didn’t stop things from being boring though. I’m not sure if I couldn’t concentrate or if I just didn’t care. The class work wasn’t hard or anything and I took notes, my mind just couldn’t seem to focus today.

Things only got more interesting when we got to Earth Science.

The class wasn’t arranged in desks but lab stations. Last week, I sat at one of the station’s alone. The teacher---Mrs. Ross---never even flinched. Today though she seemed to have a plan in place.

“Charlie?” she asked, not sure I guess but I nodded so she continued. “We usually assign seats based on lab partners, so why don’t you sit over there today, next to Miss Grimes.”

Oh, she was going to love that.

I was the first one in class so I took the seat I was offered. As the rest of the class filed in, no one seemed to care. That is until Clara arrived.
“What are you doing?” she asked when she dropped into the seat next to me.

“Sitting.”

“I know that dumb ass but why there?”

“Mrs. Ross told me to sit here.”

Clara groaned loudly. She looked to the front of the class, probably wondering if she could challenge the teacher. I looked up there too. Mrs. Ross was middle-aged and round. I didn’t know her all that well but she seemed pretty nice and easy going. She looked like the kind of woman who would cave under pressure. Clara, however, wasn’t the kind of person to push it. Instead, she spent the next few minutes glaring at the woman before she finally gave up.

Class went by pretty normally after that.

Well right up until the last ten minutes or so when Mrs. Ross dropped a bomb on us.

Well as defined by the rest of the class I’m guessing.

“Its come to my attention that most of you have lived in this town all your young lives?” she announced, the class murmured in response.

All except for me of course.

“Its also come to my attention that most of you don’t know this town at all” she continued. “I put a few questions about local landmarks on the test last week, places you should know but none of you actually did. Which brings me to the topic of our next lab project.”

There were a lot of groans.

Mrs. Ross was on a roll though.

“I want each of you, with your lab partner, to set out into this town and create a map. It can be as detailed as you want or as crude as you want. The better the map, the better the grade though.”

There was a lot of bitching from my classmates, including from the one sitting next to me.

Me, I thought it was a great idea.

I wanted to know more about the town actually. More importantly, I wanted to see more of it too. Sure I’d seen the town proper but there was a great deal more of it out there. Besides the farms, there was a large forest with a giant lake. My grandparents had a house on said lake. I also remember my mother talking fondly about the forest from time to time. It was one of the things she missed about living where we did. There were no good places to go hiking without having to drive for miles to get there.

So color me excited.

“Why are you smiling?”

“Because this is going to be fun.”

“And they call me the freak.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Class ended after that.

I filed out of the room with everyone else, Clara not too far behind. When we got into the hall, she grabbed my arm, pulling aside.

“I want to get this over with as fast as possible,” she said with a grunt. “I’ll meet you at your locker after school so we can get started?”

“Sure, looking forward to it.”

I was too.

Clara gave me an odd look before disappearing down the hall into the mass exodus toward the cafeteria.

I shook my head before following suit.

################

The rest of the day went by slowly.

Slower than usual I think because I was anticipating the end of it.

It didn’t help though that everything seemed to bore me.

I finally decided to sit with Rex and his friends at lunch. Though I had to promise Connie I would alternate days with her and Rex. Rex’s friends though were sadly no better than hers. After they got over the initial shock of having a “chick” sit with them, they only got worse from there. One, no matter how many times I told them I was a guy they didn’t seem to hear me. And two, they were bigger nerds than me. Sure I kinda saw that coming when I saw them last week but I thought for sure they weren’t as bad as I imagined. I was dead wrong. I liked all things sci-fi, video games, and comic books just like any other red-blooded geek but these guys took it to an all new level. At one point I thought there might actually be a fist fight after a Star Trek/Star Wars debate went sour.

Rex stayed out of it too I noticed.

So my earlier assumption about these guys was probably right.

He only sat with them because he had no one else.

After lunch, things only got worse. Hunter tried again to apologize to me but I was able to outrun him. Hey, it's easy when one of us has crutches. It worked too until we got to gym class of course. What with me not being allowed to play because of my recovery, guess who I had to share the bleachers with. Fortunately for me, they were big bleachers and he had a hard time navigating them all the way to the top. Plus the Coach wanted him to stay as far from me as he could.

I dodged him the rest of the day too.

That is until now.

I thought I was in the clear after leaving ninth period. Everything was pretty great too. I finally finished my first full day of school here at Whisper Pines High and I was going to be spending the afternoon with Clara, things were finally looking up.

Sadly it wasn't her waiting for me at my locker.

“Coach said to stay away from me.”

I tried to push him aside but he was bigger than me. He was also standing right in front of my locker, using those damn crutches of his to anchor him in place. I suppose I could be an ass and kick one of them away but who does something like that. Well maybe besides the person currently on the crutches.

“Will you talk to me now?”

“There’s nothing to say. You said your piece on Saturday. You apologized for being a dick and I told you to go fuck yourself. So apology not accepted.”

Hunter looked flustered. I flinched, waiting for the whatever was to come.

I even closed my eyes.

When nothing happened, I reopened them to find him looking almost sad.

I sighed. “Why is it so damn important that I apologize anyway?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Usually, when someone apologizes, the other person accepts it. It's just the way things are.”

“Why should I accept it, you were a dick to me?”

Hunter sighed, rubbing the back of his head.

“I said I was sorry about that. You confused me. I don’t like that. I see you and my mind tells me one thing and I know its wrong and I don’t...” He cursed. “Even now. I mean are you sure you’re a dude?”

I rolled my eyes. “Pretty sure.”

“Shit, look forget it ok. I’m sorry about what happened. You don’t need to say anything in reply.”

With that, he finally moved away from my locker then started to hobble down the hall.

A small part of me actually felt a bit sorry for him.

A very very small part though.

“What did your Stalker Boyfriend want?” asked Clara, appearing a second or two later.

I groaned. Of course, she saw all that.

“Apparently he wants me to accept his apology.”

“Did you?”

“Hell no,” I said defiantly.

Clara smiled. “Well, maybe you have some redeeming qualities after all.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at that.

Who knew Clara could be funny.

“So what’s the plan?” I asked as I started putting books away and getting others.

“I thought maybe we could start the project, maybe over at my house. It should be fairly quiet right now.”

At her house, possibly alone?

Someone pinch me now.

“Sure, let me call my grandma first.”

I put the rest of my stuff away, making sure I had everything I needed. After closing my locker and getting my coat and pack, I pulled out my new cell. It was a gift from my grandmother. She did a little shopping for me yesterday. Besides some more clothes, she presented me with a new cell. It was a fancy smartphone like hers, tied in with her payment plan. She said she noticed the one I was using was pretty old and thought I needed an upgrade. I didn’t complain. Especially because that tool from the convenient store kept texting me on my old phone, trying to ask for a date. I tried ignoring him until I finally got fed up and told him I was only into girls. That stopped him but it still freaked me out that he had my number.

The new cell changed all that.

I made a quick call home. Grandma answered quickly and I got permission to go to Clara’s. I just had to promise to be home before dinner.
“Arrangements all made,” I said, putting the phone away.

“You live with your grandparents?”

“For now,” I said with a groan. “The movers got lost.”

Ok so not lost. After fixing the broken truck, they actually got our address all messed up. The truck that was supposed to be here this week actually ended up going to Florida. Now I have no idea where any of our stuff is. Dad is furious though. Not that I blamed him. Thankfully I didn’t really mind. I kinda liked living with my grandparents. The only true complaint I had was not having my large comic collection to read and re-read.

“That kinda sucks.”

I shrugged. “I’ll survive.”

I would too.

“C’mon, my ride is this way.”

I followed her through the hall, wondering what was going on. Clara was fourteen like me so there’s no way she was old enough to drive. She didn’t look like someone who had a parent drive them to school either. So I was a bit surprised when we finally got outside. It was the back parking lot and there was a black BMW waiting for us. It was a newer model and the man standing next to it was wearing a crisp black suit, his head shaved bald. For a second I thought he was Jason Statham, the two of them could have been twins.

“Joe, this is Charlie,” she said, pointing to me. “He’s coming home with me today.”

The driver---Joe---nodded. “As you say, Miss Grimes.”

He opened the back door, Clara slipped inside so I quickly followed.

“You have your own driver?” I asked, amazed as Joe shut the door behind us.

“I have nothing,” she said with a grimace. “My Step Dad does. He insists I use his driver to go to and from school.”

I could see that she didn’t like it. I also could see why she had him park back here.

There was no one else around.

She didn’t want anyone to know she got this kind of treatment.

We started driving. Joe took it nice and slow in the parking lot but picked up a bit of speed as we hit the road. I quickly noticed that we weren’t going to the town proper though. We were following the very same road that led away from town, going toward Edgerton.

“Is your Dad rich or something?”

“Step Dad” she clarified “and sorta I guess. He’s the Mayor.”

I nodded. I think I understood.

“And why doesn’t the Mayor live in town with the rest of the people?”

She scoffed. “Because he’s an ass.”

I didn’t ask any more questions.

It didn’t take us long to get to our destination. As we got closer, I grew a little excited. I knew where we were going. I knew because I’d seen many pictures of the place: Pine Acres. I knew it so well because it was the very same gated community development that my day bought a house in. Clara and I were going to be living in the same development. I didn’t realize it was so tight with security though. When we approached the development, we actually had to go through this huge electronic gate. There was a guard house and everything. At the sight of the car though, we were buzzed inside. I watched with interest. Even my old development back home wasn’t this high tech.

I watched as we drove on.

On either side of road were large McMansions. Not quite the same but pretty close. Though some had car ports, some had two car garages and things like that. Most, if not all of them had For Sale signs in their lawns though. I wasn’t expecting that. The way Dad talked about this place, it would be teeming with people. Unfortunately, he was probably just trying to make Sara and I excited. I hated this place for months though. Ever since I learned we were moving. Even when Dad showed us pictures. The house was bigger than our current home, there was a large yard and an even larger pool. Sara and I were able to pick out our own rooms and everything. It still didn’t make me like this place any better though.

That kind of changed when I got to town though.

Not that I hate living with my grandparents, I loved it actually. It was nice to have home cooked meals and a motherly presence again. It just didn’t feel like home. Sure it was home like but it wasn’t our own place. I wanted my own place again. My own room, my own privacy.

As we were driving along, I saw it.

My place.

Our place.

It looked like all the other houses around but it was the only one on the street that had a Sold sign. That wasn't why I recognized it though. I knew it was our house because of the blue door. It was just one of those weird things. It was something Mom always did. She told me once that it had been a dream of hers to live in a giant white house with a blue door. We used to have a blue door at home. It was one of the things that Dad made sure this new house had. He said it was a “way to have Mom still with us.”

“That’s my house,” I said excitedly as we passed.

“What?” asked Clara, apparently lost in her own thoughts.

“That house back there, the one with the blue door,” I said, pointing but the car was already past it. “That’s my house. Or it will be, once the movers finally get unlost.”

Clara looked but we were already way past it.

“I’ve seen it. Only place with some color.”

“Mom’s idea.”

I let it rest at that. I wasn’t ready to tell this girl my whole life story after all.

She didn’t ask either so I was glad for that.

The rest of the trip didn’t last much longer. I noticed the development seemed to go around in a circle and our particular path was leading us to a large house on a small hill. I say large house because it seemed much larger than the others. There were also trees in the yard with some topiaries and what looked like several small flower gardens. It was a place that had been landscaped and had been there for a while. It didn’t surprise me one bit when the BMW pulled into the long driveway. The car went into a large garage, the door closing slowly behind us. I noticed a navy blue SUV in there as well.

A moment later, Joe got out of the car and opened the door for us again.

“Thanks, Joe,” said Clara with a small smile.

Joe remained expressionless.

I followed Clara out of the car and through a door she opened.

It led into the rest of the house proper. Well actually into a small laundry type room. Clara kicked off her boots so I did the same. I looked around, seeing a washer and dryer that looked practically brand new. I tried not to think about it as Clara led me through another door and into a very large kitchen. In fact, you could almost fit the whole of my grandparents’ first floor into this kitchen. Ok so maybe it wasn’t that big but it was still pretty massive. It was one of those open arrangement ones too, leading directly into the dining room. There was a lot of lighting, an island and the dining room had one of those large walls with tall windows that looked onto a very spacious backyard. I could even see a pool.

It was actually very similar to the layout of the house Dad bought.

Only much much bigger.

“You want a drink?” asked Clara as she went to the fridge.

“Sure, just anything but milk.”

I’d had my fair share of it over the last week or so. Not that I had anything against it or anything but when you live on a dairy farm, you get tired of it pretty quick.

Clara seemed to read my mind. She handed me a can of Diet Sprite.

“We don’t have any milk around here actually. Well its non-dairy, I’m lactose intolerant. Its soy milk I think or something. I never really pay attention.”

I nodded.

She led me over to the island where she sat on one of the stools there.

I couldn’t help but stare at her legs again but only for a moment. She was wearing a skirt again today. Another short black one, her legs encased in fishnets. Clara followed my eyes with her own but didn’t really say anything this time.

“Clara, is that you?” shouted a voice from some other part of the house.

Clara groaned. “Shit.”

A moment later, a young woman appeared. Ok not young young, maybe mid to late twenties. She was blonde and well endowed. She was also dressed in running clothes: sports bra and tiny shorts. She was glistening with sweat but I knew she couldn’t have been running around here. It was still pretty cold outside, forties or something. Though most of the snow was melting these days, there was still that late winter chill in the air. Spring was, taking its merry time around here.

The woman looked at me, surprised I was here.

“Oh we have a guest,” she said, the surprise was in her voice too.

“Julia, this is Charlie, my lab partner.”

There was disdain in her voice. I’m not sure if it was for me or for this woman though.

“Is that short for Charlotte or something?”

I rolled my eyes. Clara spoke for me.

“Its short for Charlie. He’s a boy.”

Julia looked me over, from head to toe. It was nice to have such an attractive woman show me such interest. Though from the look Clara was giving her, I could tell it was unwanted attention.

“We’re going to my room.”

Clara jumped off the stool, clearly annoyed.

I quickly followed.

She led me out of the kitchen and around the corner where a flight of stairs was waiting. Clara pounded up them, I had to run to keep up.

“Keep your door open!”

Clara huffed down the hall.

Her room was at the end of it. As we walked I looked at the other rooms. Only two had names on them I noticed. One said Kristina and the other Clarissa. If I had to guess I’d say there were Clara’s younger siblings. Not only because the door script was very girly but because each of the doors had little hearts and ballerinas decorating them. I tried not to think about them though. I couldn’t help but smirk thinking about Sara having something like that on her door though.

Not a chance in Hell though.

“In here.”

Clara pushed open her door. As soon as I stepped inside, she made a big show of closing it too.

Clara’s room was pretty big too.

It was nothing like I expected either.

It wasn’t overly girly but it wasn’t dark and depressing either. You could tell that a teenage girl lived here though. There was a vanity table and a couple of dressers. A computer desk sat in front of a large window that faced the back and there was a drum set. I wasn’t expecting that. On the walls were several posters from punk bands though. I found myself standing awkwardly near the door, staring at the one of the dressers and the large queen size bed dominating the center of the room.

Clara threw her bag on the bed then dropped into the computer desk chair.

“Your mother seems young and ummm nice,” I said, trying to find something to say.

Clara scoffed. “Stepmother and don’t let her fool you, she’s thirty-two.”

Wow, behold the wonders of modern surgery.

“So they’re both your step-parents?”

I was confused. How did that work?

Clara rolled her eyes. “Greg is my stepdad. He and Mom were married like a year before she died. I was six. He remarried the bimbo a few years later. Then she had the little brats.”

The Brats I assume were her sisters.

I nodded.

I guess that kind of sucked. I could only imagine what I would have done if both Mom and Dad were gone. I suppose she was lucky she had her stepfather, even if she didn’t think so.

“Don’t just stand there, you’re freaking me out.”

I walked further into her room. I decided that I would take a look around without really looking. I scanned the room with my eyes as I walked further into it. One of her dressers caught my attention because it seemed out of place. For one thing, it didn’t match the rest of the décor. Most of the rest of the furniture---including her bedspread---were a dull gray. This dresser was bright pink and it was covered in flower decals. The top of it was also cluttered with trophies and framed photos. The trophies were mainly for riding. There was a picture or two of a brunette and a chestnut horse.

“You ride horses?” I asked, pretty impressed.

“Not anymore.”

It also surprised me she was a brunette once. Looking at her now you could never tell. Though if you squinted, you could almost make out the freckles hidden underneath all her facial piercings and dark makeup.

The rest of the pictures were her and a few girls, one of them I recognized immediately.

A younger version though.

“You and Connie were friends?”

She laughed. “Like an eternity ago.”

But it wasn’t. The picture looked recent. Maybe a year or two old.

I started to turn away when I noticed a very familiar pendant sitting there.

“Wait, you’re in the Heart Club!”

I reached for the pendant but she was there at my side in a split second.

She smacked my hand away.

“That’s enough prying into my life thank you very much!”

It all made a certain kind of sense now. Why Connie hated her so much? Why Tracy started to mention another member? Also why Connie was quick to dismiss her. Clara had been in the Heart Club. They must have had some kind of falling out and now they all hated one another. It, however, didn’t explain who the other pendant belonged too. Clara clearly still had hers, so who was missing?

“Connie really hates you.”

“And I really really hate her,” said Clara, walking over to her bed and dropping down on the corner of it. “But we’re not here to talk about that, remember?”

So we weren’t.

I took a seat in the recently abandoned computer chair and the two of us got to work. We quickly worked out a game plan for our project. It was pretty straightforward. We would continue to meet like this for the next few days, at my house though. I guess Clara didn’t like my prying which was fine. We also decided to start the map there too. Clara had a program on her phone, some kind of GPS. We were going to use it to start mapping out the town. The core chunk of it would be done over the weekend though. It was all fine by me to be honest. I just liked the idea of spending more time with her. She wasn’t exactly Fiona but she was pretty close, even if Clara would never admit it.

We planned and talked about it for an hour before we called it quits.

“Tomorrow, after school, your place.”

I nodded.

“You don’t mind riding the bus, right?”

Clara groaned. “I’ll get Joe to drive us.”

With that settled, she made arrangements for Joe to take me home too. It was a little weird driving in the backseat though. Especially with no conversation. It did give me time to think though. I was fixated on the pendant. Connie said there were only five members of her precious club. Clara made six even if she was no longer a member. The way Tracy made it sound, there was only one other. So it really bothered me that there was someone else out there with a pendant. Also the initials on the back. Now that I knew Clara had a pendant, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that she was C.

So that meant there had to be an A out there somewhere.

So where was she?

Why did she leave her clothes and necklace?

And why didn’t the other girls mention her?

When the car finally got to the farm, I thanked Joe before getting out on my own. He nodded then slowly drove off. I watched the car drive off. I started toward the house when I noticed some commotion coming from the pens. There was a truck there and Lucas. He wasn’t alone though. He was with two others and they were currently trying to wrestle a new cow into the pen. I’d seen this before. They were bringing in a new cow the other day actually. I’m not sure why this one caught my attention so much though. I found myself intrigued though so I wandered over, stopping at the fence.

“Another new one?”

Lucas came over. “Yeah, your grandfather acquired some of the stock from a farm upstate. They’ve been bringing them in readily over the last few weeks or so. That stray you saw, for instance, she came from there.”

I nodded. I’d actually forgotten about her. Ok so not exactly forgotten. I’d been a bit busy, what with being sick and all. I found myself looking into the field of cows, trying to spot her but of course, they all looked the same now. There wasn’t even a spec of blue on any of their hooves. I shrugged it off before turning my attention back to this new cow. She was out of the truck and down the ramp, the two men pulling and pushing her into the pen. I started to turn away when I noticed something odd on her leg.

Ok not odd just weird.

It was a mark, almost like a tattoo but not.

It looked almost like a rose.

“Lucas, do they usually put brands down there?” I asked, pointing.

He looked too and shook his head. “There’s been a lot of oddities like that from that place. Your grandfather will get it taken care of though. In a few days, you won’t even notice. Then we’ll put our mark on her and that will be that.”

I nodded and started back to the house.

There was something about that mark though.

Something familiar.

Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF



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