Chapter Seven

A/N: Thanks so much to Ama-sk8, SomethingNifty, ween4eveer, katmarie, horror stories and DreamBuggyFlyAwayHome for the reviews so far! You guys are the best! :D

I'm SO sorry I've taken this long to update… my newest story, Secrets of Andover, has kind of taken over my life right now. If you haven't read it, then I strongly suggest you do! I've come to realize that, compared to my newest story, this one is kind of, well… not as good. So if you like this one (or even if you don't, and are looking for something better), then I suggest you take a look at my other one. All my attention is devoted to Andover these days, but I'm trying to discipline myself into writing one chapter for this story for every two chapters I write for Andover. So they'll keep coming, don't worry.

I've mapped out the rest of this story—there should be about six more chapters, including a prologue. And I've left room for a sequel (yay) in case I decide to do that. So, anyway, I'm still yearning for comments! Let me know what you like, don't like, and what you'd like to see in the last six chapters!

Oh, and p.s.—I'm sorry it's so short! This is a pretty intense chapter, though…

Chapter Seven

I had been at the Masons' house for over two hours, and Chad still hadn't shown up. Jackie leant me a pair of boxer shorts and an old t-shirt to sleep in, and we were upstairs in her room, talking.

"Adam officially asked me out tonight." Jackie pulled her hair back into its usual braid. "We're going to the beach on Saturday."

"That's great!" I said, trying to look as happy for her as I could. "Adam seems like a great guy."

She nodded, and I yawned. Jackie looked at the clock.

"Oh my god! It's 2:30!" she exclaimed, yawning as well. "D'you want to sleep on the couches downstairs?"

I remembered how comfortable the leather couches had looked, and nodded. We each brought down a blanket and pillow, and set them on the couches. Jackie immediately snuggled in. "God, I'm tired…" she murmured, and soon her eyes closed.

I, on the other hand, couldn't sleep for the life of me. I stared at the Native American tapestry facing me for a while—it was an eagle. I tried everything to get to sleep—counting sheep, trying to remember the table of elements, listing all of my family members, and even trying to recall every single person I had ever met in my life. None of it worked. The only other thing I could think of was to drink a glass of warm milk.

Deciding to try that, I got up quietly and tiptoed across the front hall to the kitchen, making sure that I didn't step on any creaky floorboards. The house was a bit scary in the dark—those tapestries were everywhere, and museum-quality lamps and vases sat everywhere. Everything was still; it was almost creepy.

I made my way to the kitchen and flicked on the light, hoping I wasn't waking anyone up. I'd been to the Masons' enough times in the past few days that I knew where everything was, and I got out a small glass of milk, trying to be as quiet as I could. After washing out the glass and setting it out to dry, I was ready to make my way back to the couches when I heard the front door open. Chad. I froze.

"Clara," whispered Chad softly, his words slurring together a little bit. He wasn't walking like he was drunk, and I couldn't smell the beer on him anymore. He just looked really tired. "Clara," he said again.

"Hmm?" I wasn't sure if he was actually talking to me, or just acknowledging that I was standing in front of him.

He put his hands in the pockets of his jacket. "Listen—I'm… I'm really sorry."

"For what?"

"For being a total dick," whispered Chad, his words still slurring together so it came out more like "Furbeinatotldick."

It was about time he apologized! But I still wasn't sure if he was in his right mind—he wasn't completely drunk anymore, but he wasn't acting normal yet, either.

"It's…okay," I murmured. No, it wasn't okay, but what else was I supposed to say? I just wanted this whole childish ordeal to be over so that we could finally be friends. He didn't say anything for about a minute, and I started to turn back to the couches, when Chad caught me by the arm.

"Wait," he said. I instinctively took a step closer to him. My pulse went wild—just being this close to Chad made me go crazy. Before I knew it, his face was nearing mine, and our lips were inches apart. I could see every detail of his face, his thick, black eyelashes, surrounding those bright blue eyes that gazed straight into mine… and I shivered.

All of the sudden, a strange smell, almost like burning rubber, came to my nose. I sniffed again. I didn't want to break the moment, but I had to ask. "Do you smell that?"

Chad sniffed, and let go of me. He walked to the other side of the hall, past the kitchen, following his nose. I followed, the burning smell getting stronger. And before we could reach the other side of the house, I could see a red glow coming from a far room. Shit. Chad and I looked at each other for a split second, and then at the exact same time, yelled, "FIRE!" as loud as we could at the top of our lungs. I raced for the front door, stopping only to make sure that everyone had heard us.

Jackie had run into the front hall. "What's going on?" she asked, frantic.

"There's a fire!" yelled Chad, as alert as he could be, considering how drunk he had been. Zeke was standing at the top of the stairs, and ran down, closely followed by Alec and Gary.

"Get out!" Gary had grabbed his phone, and was shouting at the 911 operator as he bounded down the stairs. Jackie and I rushed out to wait at the end of the driveway, and the rest of the Masons weren't far behind us. They were all consumed with fear; nobody said a word. A minute hadn't passed when a fire truck came roaring down the drive, and firemen jumped out of the truck with their hoses and whatnot.

"Is everyone out?" one fireman asked Gary before running to join the others.


Jackie, Chad, Alec, Zeke, Gary and I all watched wide-eyed as the firefighters sprayed their house with water. Soon, the fire was out; it hadn't spread past that corner of the house. Gary walked up to the fire chief, the rest of us trailing behind him to listen.

"Do you know what caused it?" asked the chief.

"No idea," said Gary, looking at his house, now partly destroyed. "I was asleep when the kids yelled to me. Have you found anything?"

"No," answered the fireman. "There's no evidence as to how it got started. It could have been anything. These things happen." Gary nodded. As soon as he said that, though, Jackie and I exchanged a glance. Too many of "these things" had been happening lately. Something definitely wasn't right.

A/N: So, thanks again for reading… but I do have to say, the amount of hits this story gets compared to the amount of reviews is very depressing. Four hundred hits, and only fourteen reviews? It's sort of disappointing. So if you've read it, please, please drop me a review! You don't have to write much, I just want to know that you've read it! I will be forever grateful… and of course, I'll review back :D