Veronica’s first instinct was to run downstairs and tell her brute of a father that there was a strange boy outside her window. But when she stopped and then realized the strange boy was Adam Longo, she went to the window and stared out at him through the relative safety of the glass. He looked cold, hungry, and like he was hurting somehow. She unlocked the window and forced it up. A cool wind rolled in and touched her face. “What are you doing here?” she asked him.
He looked at her for a spare moment, turned his head toward the dips and rolls of the town, some dark, some lit up, and then back to her. He admired her face. She had a girl face, a caring face, but he was worried that would change. “I didn’t know where else to go,” he said in a soft almost strangled voice.
Veronica gave him a serious look, and then her eyes went beyond him and into the pinkish-green and gray darkness. “You’re not going to hurt me, are you?” she wanted to know.
His eyes widened and he shook his head. “No. I would never… Not you.”
“It’s cold outside. You should come in.”
“Are you just going to stay outside my window all night? That would be weird.”
Adam Longo was hurt by the remark. He was sick of people calling him weird. “Maybe I should just go.” He started to turn away from her.
“No,” she quickly said. “Just come inside before someone sees you or hears you and calls the coppers.”
She stepped back. “Come on,” she motioned. “I’m not going to bite you,” and she thought about what she had just said. “No one’s going to hurt you, but you must be quiet… But then again, you’re always quiet.”
“Why is that always a thing with people,” Adam said as he now stood before her in her room that smelled like a mall clothing store and perfume. He was barely an inch taller than her. He brushed the dark hair away from his eyes and blinked.
“What do you mean?” the girl asked.
“Why do people always have to point out when someone is a quiet person. No one ever says, you’re so loud. Why is it such a negative thing? Maybe I like to be quiet. Maybe I’m just thinking about things. Maybe I like to be alone with my thoughts.”
Veronica Genesis was somewhat stunned, and she almost laughed. “I don’t think I have ever heard you say so many words at one time.”
“See. Why is that so horrible?”
“I didn’t say it was horrible… It’s just uncharacteristic for you, that’s all I meant.” She plopped down on the edge of her flowery bed.
He looked at her and realized he may have said too much. But he had never said too much before. Ever. Not in his entire 13, nearly 14, years of life. It was an awkward situation for him. Maybe all that extra talking, and to a girl, nonetheless, had something to do with the new way he was. He was confused and disoriented. He sat down on the bed beside her. Their knees touched. He would have never allowed that before… Before what?
She wanted to bring the obvious up, but she wasn’t sure how. After a short struggle with her own thoughts, Veronica just let the words spill from her mouth. “I saw what you did to Andy… Why did you do that?”
He didn’t look at her when he answered. “I thought he was going to hurt you,” he said. “I wanted to protect you.”
“Why? You barely know who I am? You’ve never really talked to me unless you had to. And then you go kill a kid because of me?”
“I didn’t mean to. Something inside me just got away… Like a runaway truck on the downside of a mountain pass.” He turned to look at her, his expression loaded with fear and worry. “Are you going to tell anyone? Have you already?”
She shook her head. “No. Not about that. But I did tell Rudy that you were alive. I thought it was only fair since he was the one who had the bright idea of locking you in that refrigerator.”
Adam Longo released a sigh. “I hate that kid… And I hate that you’re going with him.”
“I’m not anymore.”
He turned to look at her. His otherworldly eyes bounced across her face. His hollow heart jumped. “You’re not?”
“No. How could I after what he did to you. It’s awful… Why did they close you in that horrible old refrigerator?”
He looked down at his dirty shoes. “Because I’m the new kid, I guess. Not that that’s any reason to try and kill someone. I don’t get it. I never did anything to Rudy or his stupid friends. And now my life has totally changed.”
She reached over and took hold of his hand and he felt like chilled electricity. “You’re cold,” she said sympathetically.
And then there came a light knocking on the door and her father’s sharp voice penetrated through it. “Veronica? Are you still up? Come on, it’s getting late. Lights out.”
She looked up at the ceiling in frustration. “Yes, dad!” She got up off the bed and touched the light switch by the door. The room was dark except a greenish-blue glow from her laptop screen and the damp pink shimmer of night coming in through the window, the glossy moon chipping in with a glow of its own. She peered at him through the low-level light. “I’m going to crawl into bed now. You can get in the bed too if you want to warm up, but you have to stay over on your side. Okay?”
He looked at her without answering. He didn’t move when she pulled back the mass of blankets and crawled down in under them. She propped herself up on an elbow and stared back at him. “Well?”
“Well, what?” Adam muttered.
“Are you afraid of girls? Are you afraid of me?”
“No. I’m not afraid of girls. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.”
“You probably want to kiss me.”
He sloppily protested. “No, I don’t.”
She suddenly changed the subject. “Are you afraid of going back home?” Veronica wanted to know.
He hesitated. “No. They don’t care about me.”
“They won’t be wondering what the hell happened to you?”
“Are you kidding? My mom takes off for days at a time and no one knows where she goes or who’s she with. Not even my dad knows, or cares, because he’s too busy messing around, too. I don’t know why they ever even got together.” His frustration forcefully bloomed, and it scared her. “I don’t know why they even bothered keeping me… I wish we never moved to this stupid town.” He stood up, turned around and looked down at her in the bed and even though it was mostly dark, he could clearly see her. His breathing picked up pace and his nerves ignited deep within him, set to blast off with little to no control. That was something new for him, too.
Veronica’s heart thumped a little faster and she was suddenly fearful of him. “What are you going to do?”
He put his arms out in front of himself, closed his eyes, and he was suddenly thrust backward, like a bird of prey in reverse flight, and his body was silently sucked out her bedroom window. Veronica jumped out from under the covers and ran to the sill and peered out. He had settled on a thick branch in an old tree in the yard. He was perched directly across from her, several feet away, and he looked into the girl with a ghostly glow in his pupils as she looked out at him in shock and wonder.
“Go to sleep,” he whispered across the wind. “I’ll watch over you.”
MORE TO FOLLOW
You can read the previous part of this story HERE.