"Jason, they were outside my fucking bedroom door!" she yelled down the phone. "I'm not staying here myself, not another night."
"All right, all right. I get it, you're freaked out," Jason answered. "Jesus, you don't need to yell at me." He sighed. "Don't mention it to Mum, she's worried enough about Aunt Aggie and Dad. Last thing she needs is to think her house is being broken into."
"Did you hear me? That person got inside the house with me in it!"
"Yes, I heard you, Terra!"
She scowled, holding the phone away from her and glared. "So, what are you going to do about it?"
"What do you want me to do?"
Terry stayed silent.
There was another sigh. "Look, why don't I stay at the house with you? If there is a prowler, maybe another person being there will put them off a bit."
There were times she cursed her brother's hard-headed stubbornness. He refused to believe something without proof, either having seen it himself or having physical, undeniable evidence of an event. Until either of those happened, he would remain sceptical.
She bit her lip.
Fine, if it happened again, he'd have his proof and would perhaps take her concerns a bit more seriously.
"Let me know when Mum texts about dinner."
Terry tried to carry on with her day. She tidied the house, put a load of washing on and hoovered downstairs. She flopped onto the couch when finished, once more having raided her homecoming snacks. She switched the tv on, channel surfing until a knock on the window made her jump. She got up and opened the front door. Perhaps she'd missed the postman while hoovering.
No one was at the door. She turned around, cried out when she was facing the mirror in the hall and behind her, stood the man from the hospital. She turned, ready to slam the door and lock it. There was no man, only the empty street.
She slammed the door shut regardless. The neighbours were going to think she was going crazy, screaming and crying one night, now slamming doors at random.
She sighed and slid down the front door onto the floor. She felt like crying again and it came as an onslaught of tears brimming in the corners of her eyes with a very undignified sniff. She scrubbed at her eyes and got up from the floor.
The day dragged on while Terry spent most of it on edge and jumping at shadows. By the time her brother texted he was coming over, she was curled up on the couch, all of the lights in the living room switched on.
She got up from the couch, found where she'd left her suitcases and rummaged around them. She found one of her favourite sparkly tops, a shrug and her most comfortable leggings. She took the outfit, went up the stairs to the bathroom and shut the door. There was no lock on the door, not since both she and Jason got themselves locked in on several separate occasions when they were children. It was something that never bothered her, nor crossed her mind. Now, she found it made her nervous.
She changed into her outfit, combed her hair and styled it. She went to her wardrobe in her room then knelt down. She was sure she'd left a pair of boots here, for the few and far between times she stayed with her parents. She reached into the wardrobe, groping through the darkness. Her fingertips brushed against suede and she grabbed them. She pulled them on, jumped when she heard a car's horn outside.
Terry grabbed her jacket, glanced to the mirror in the hall briefly. Once more there he was, standing in the background, smiling at her. She shut her eyes tightly and tried to will him away. When she opened them again, he was gone.
She left the house, headed to the car then turned back to check she'd locked the door. She did this twice, much to her brother's annoyance and he threw up his hands while he waited in the car.
"Shut up," Terry told him, on getting into the car.
"Are you a bit less paranoid now?" he answered.
"Not that you believe me."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Terry…"
He sighed. "Mum's already at the restaurant, she invited Missy and Anna too. Well, more they insisted on coming when they found out you were back home, and Mum didn't have the heart to tell them no."
Terry snorted and let slip a smile. "Of course they would. Can never say 'no' to them. Well Anna at least, she'd beat me to a pulp."
Anna and Missy had been her best friends since secondary school, and she'd watched Anna blossom from awkward teenager to woman every guy would dream of.
In Terry's opinion at least.
Anna was blonde haired, blue-eyed, tall, thin and utterly gorgeous. Like Terry, she wore bare minimum of make-up, however whenever Anna wore it, it added to her beauty. Terry always thought she looked too much like a doll, overdone and unnatural. She left it to Anna to be the glamorous one.
Missy on the other hand was a tomboy through and through. Her full name, that she had only admitted to halfway through high school, was Mistletoe.
The story she told was that her parents flirted with each other for several years, neither doing anything about it until one Christmas. Drunk on love and booze, he'd grabbed a sprig of mistletoe, held it above her mother's head and asked her out. Her mother kept the mistletoe in a scrapbook, dried out, in amongst all the other memories. Missy's father died only a year before, to which Terry, while on another business trip to drum up new clients, flew back for the funeral and took some of her holiday leave.
Missy was forever grateful.
Both greeted her enthusiastically, Anna pulling her into a hug that crushed the life from Terry, the action betraying her bodybuilder strength. Missy on the other hand, was a lot more subdued and she messed Terry's hair. Jason deposited her with her friends and joined their mother at the bar, both holding a hushed conversation.
The group ordered their food. A movement in the mirror caught Terry's eye and she sucked in a breath when she saw it was the man again, standing behind her. She focused solely on the menu in front of her, the food when it was served.
Anna missed nothing.
She saw her friend glance at her, an eyebrow raised or a frown on her face while she watched Terry.
Terry clenched her jaw, tried to focus on Missy's latest story about her girlfriend. Her gaze was drawn to the mirror and there the man stood, waving at her.
It seemed a mocking gesture, the smile on his face, now an outright grin, his teeth a gleaming white. She looked away. Missy stopped talking by this point, awaited an answer from both of her friends on the topic of discussion. Terry heard none of it and she felt guilty for letting her mind wander. How long had it been since she'd seen either of them?
"Hey, you want to head with me to the bathroom? Could do with a bodyguard," Anna said with a smile. Already she was on her feet, gesturing to the ladies' room at the other end of the room.
Terry couldn't help but snort. "Me guarding you? Please. You can kick anyone's ass."
"Indulge me then. You always used to."
Terry nodded and stood up. "You don't mind sitting here yourself?"
Missy shook her head. "I'll bug your brother for a bit, it's fine. You always gave the best make-up advice."
Terry followed Anna to the bathroom. Anna went to a cubicle, shut the door, locked it.
"So, what's up you wanted me here?" Terry said. She walked along the bathroom, pushed each door, made sure there was no one there.
"It's the way you're acting Terr, you're paranoid as shit," Anna told her. "Is everything all right at home? Your mum told us about your aunt being taken into hospital."
"I'll admit I was disappointed to come home to an empty house, but I'm fine."
"That's why you're checking every door? I can hear you doing it."
Terry stopped and moved back to her previous stance at the countertop. "I wasn't doing anything."
Anna snorted. "You think I didn't see your feet walk past?"
"Oh, give me peace, Anna." Terry shut her eyes and cursed.
The toilet flushed and the door opened a second later. "Terra, I know when something's wrong. Missy might be oblivious to it, but I'm not."
She debated whether to tell Anna what was wrong, what she had seen and heard in the house and what happened at the hospital. Her stomach sunk to somewhere in the basement, but she gathered her courage and told Anna everything.
Anna listened, her head tilted, occasionally leaning forward, arms crossed over her chest. She didn't say a word during Terry's narration of the events, though from the look on her face, Anna didn't believe her.
"How much sleep have you had?" Anna said, reaching out to put her hand on Terry's forehead.
"Anna. Don't." She batted Anna's hand away. "You don't believe me; Jason doesn't believe me. Forget I mentioned it." She turned to leave the bathroom. Anna reached out and caught her shoulder.
"It's enough that it's bothering you…"
"But you don't believe me! What the hell's the point in continuing this conversation?"
Terry stormed out of the bathroom and back to the table. Missy was over at the bar, a pint of lager in front of her that Jason had no doubt bought her. Terry shook her head. Anna appeared a moment later and took up her place at the table.
"Look. You're paranoid and I get it. You've always had an overactive imagination," Anna leaned closer to her. "What you're saying is crazy. How would someone know your aunt was in the hospital? Why would they follow you? To do what, exactly?"
Terry groaned. "I don't know! Look, I know what I saw. He was there in the hospital. He was as real as you are sitting across from me."
She held a hand up. "Can we just drop it now? Please?"
Anna sat back in the chair, a frown on her face.
The rest of the dinner was awkward, Anna and Terry exchanging glances, the former pleading with Terry to talk to her. Her family always said she was too stubborn, never once letting something drop. Now she proved it once again.
Missy returned to the table; her glass having been discarded on the bar. She sat down, glanced between Anna and Terry.
"Everything all right?" she said, leaning on the table. "You two haven't had a fight, have you?"
Anna shook her head. "She's only been back five minutes, Missy. How can I find something to pick a fight about?" She smiled, shot a look to Terry. Terry ignored it.
Missy shrugged; she knew better than to push the subject lest it did break out into an argument. Their next course was served, the wine now flowing. Terry barely listened to the conversation; eyes drawn to the mirror every so often. She could see the man in various places in the room. One moment he was waving to her from the bar, the next he was in the corner, sitting with one of the other guests. Whenever she spotted him, his smile stretched across his face to the point it became unnatural. Her stomach grew colder and she held back a whimper. Why was she the only one to see him?
There was a hand on her shoulder, and she jumped. "Hey, calm down," Jason told her.
She took a deep breath, tried to calm her pounding heart. "What's up?"
"I'm taking Mum back to the hospital, I'll be back for you soon."
Terry frowned. "Why? Has something happened to Aunt Aggie?"
He shook his head. "Mum's just worried about Dad and she didn't want to ruin your night out. You stay here, try and enjoy yourself." He ruffled her hair and waved over his shoulder.
Terry sat back down at the table, aware of Anna's eyes on her.
"Everything all right?" Missy said, her head tilted. She reached across the table and took Terry's hand.
"Jason's taking my mum back to the hospital for a bit," she told her, giving Missy's hand a quick squeeze before she let go.
"Nothing's wrong with Agatha is there?" Anna said.
Terry shook her head. "He didn't say there was, but then again, he could just not be telling me."
Anna was the one to shake her head this time. "You and Jase have always been close; he wouldn't hide something from you." She stood up from the table, looped her arm under Terry's then dragged Missy to her feet too. "Come on, you can watch me try and pull. Take your mind off your aunt." She leaned closer to Terry. "And if you do have a supernatural stalker, let's give him something to watch." She grinned and dragged them both over to the bar.