Questa scena eliminata è posta fra il capitolo 21 e 22!
After accosting David, they all stood in the kitchen with sodas, watching the setting sun out the picture window. “Well, between Trick or Treaters, we have like four movies to choose from and my mom got a ton of candy. I don’t even know what,” Laurel said. She turned her back to the group and opened the tall cupboard. She had just started reaching for the bag when she felt David press in close behind her.
“Let me,” he said.
Laurel–sensitive about her height since David had grown so much in the last year–opened her mouth to give him a few choice words about her ability to do things for herself when she felt his fingers grab the hem of her shirt and tug it down. She snapped her mouth closed and wondered with mortification just how much of her blossom had been sticking out. She’d bound it too quickly.
David locked eyes with her for a moment as he handed her a bag of candy and turned to grab the rest. He tossed one bag to Ryan as Laurel faced Chelsea with what she hoped was a neutral expression.
“Awesome!” Ryan said as he sifted through the candy. “KitKats, M&M’s, Snickers, your folks have all the good stuff.” He helped himself to a candy bar.
“Ryan, those are for the kids!” Chelsea scolded.
“I’m so sure they’re not going to get any if I eat one.”
They continued to bicker playfully as they headed into the rec room, but from what she could hear, it sounded to Laurel like the argument ended once Ryan offered Chelsea a candy bar too.
“How much was showing?” Laurel asked quietly.
“Not much. But enough.” David glanced into the other room. “I could see the petals pretty clearly. If Chelsea paid much attention to your flower last year at the dance–and we both know she probably did–she might recognize it. It’s pretty distinct.”
“If she saw it, wouldn’t she have said something right away?”
“Usually,” David said, slowly.
“Do you think she saw?”
They both looked at Chelsea playing keep-away from Ryan with a fun-sized Snickers bar. “No,” they said in unison.
“I think you’re probably safe,” David said with a smile. “Be sure to thank Ryan someday.”
“Well,” Laurel said as the credit started to roll. “That was . . . something.” Against their better judgment, the girls had been talked into starting with a very bloody action flick. The moment Laurel caught Chelsea’s eye she could tell she wasn’t the only one who was relieved it was over. They had both insisted that there was no need to pause the movie when they got up to answer the door for trick-or-treaters.
They had also started lingering in the front foyer.
“Man, that was awesome!” Ryan said, bumping fists with David.
“Oh, yeah. And that ninja chick was totally like Kl–” He stopped. “Kill Bill meets, uh,Hannibal,” he finished lamely.
Ryan considered this. “I guess I can see that,” he agreed. “She did have a sort of ‘Uma Thurman meets Jodie Foster’ thing going on.” He stretched, then put one arm around Chelsea’s shoulders. “So what now?”
David looked at his watch. “It’s only eight-thirty. The Trick-or-Treaters are thinning out, but we have time for another movie if you want.”
“Only if it’s one of the romantic comedies,” Laurel said sardonically.
“We’re almost out of snacks though,” Ryan said woefully, staring at a half-empty bag of chips and the four completely empty bag of candy. Laurel wondered if he was really protesting the romantic comedy.
Chelsea grinned as she opened a KitKat she’d hidden about halfway through the movie and popped it into her mouth, giggling when Ryan glared at her.
Laurel laughed, but was distracted by a sound at the back door. Not a knock, but a small thump. She had just dismissed it as a trick of the wind when she heard it again. She tuned out the others and listened more carefully. It wasn’t necessary; the next thunk was much louder and drew everyone’s attention.
“What was that?” Chelsea asked.
“It sounds like someone’s throwing rocks from your backyard,” Ryan said, getting up.
Panic squeezed Laurel’s stomach. “Stop!”
Ryan and Chelsea looked at her strangely.
“It’s my house; I’ll deal with it.” A loud crack made them all flinch. Laurel tried to look confident as she strode toward the door. With a deep breath she flung it open and peered out into the night. Before her eyes could adjust to the darkness, a rock whistled past, grazing her shoulder painfully, and shattering the glass in the Alton Kelley print framed on the wall behind her. Chelsea stifled a shriek and Laurel slammed the door shut, her hands shaking as shards of glass tinkled to the floor.
“What the hell was that!” Ryan asked, scrambling over to survey the damage.
“The pitcher of the baseball team, by the looks of it,” David said slowly, with a quick glance at Laurel. His hand was hovering a little too close to the holster hidden at the small of his back.
Laurel studied the broken picture frame, dread rising in her chest. Her hand was clenched over the cut on her arm, and she could feel sticky sap starting ooze from it.
“Do we need to call the cops?” Chelsea asked, eyeing the shards of glass that littered the floor.
“On Halloween?” Laurel laughed nervously. “They’re probably out with a dozen other calls. Stupid pranksters. I shouldn’t have opened the door–bad timing.”
Chelsea and Ryan stared at her like she was crazy.
It seemed an appropriate response.
“Let me see your arm,” Chelsea said, stepping forward.
Laurel turned her shoulder away. “It’s okay. I’ll go upstairs and put a Band-aid on it. It’ll be fine.” She hoped the tremor in her voice wasn’t nearly as extreme as it sounded in her ears. She hoped Ryan and Chelsea didn’t see how badly her hands were shaking as she turned to them with a nervous smile. “I’ll be right back,” she said, fleeing up the stairs.
“Uh . . . I’m going to make sure she’s okay,” David said, his footsteps close behind her.
Laurel let him into her room and swung the door shut, removing her hand from her shoulder. The gash was shallow and a scant two inches across, but it stung like crazy.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to your blood not being red,” David said, peering at the cut with interest.
Laurel grabbed a shirt out of her laundry basket and pressed it against the wound. “Can you hold this there?” she asked David, her head spinning just a little. David wrapped his warm hands around her upper arm and held the fabric firmly against the cut. With her free hand Laurel dug into her drawer for the rudimentary first aid kit she’d brought back from Avalon, grateful faeries were ambidextrous. Straining to remember how Tamani had bandaged her last year and trying to tap into her thus far non-existent intuition, Laurel pulled out some light green, webbed binding strips and laid them over the wound like tape. As she smoothed them into place she felt the material grow warm, reacting with her sap, and shrink, ever so lightly, pulling the wound closed.
“How does that look?” Laurel asked, holding her arm out to David.
He nodded soberly. “It looks good. You’re not bleeding . . . or whatever, anymore.” He hesitated and licked his lips. “It wasn’t really a kid playing a prank, was it?”
Laurel shook her head. “I only got a glimpse, but it was definitely a troll.”
“Are Chelsea and Ryan safe downstairs?”
“I think so. Something was tackling the troll right as I slammed the door.”
“Do we need to send them home?”
“No,” Laurel said firmly. “My sentries are out there. They’re taking care of it. The house is warded and you have your . . . your gun. This is the best place for them right now.”
“Do you think we should call Klea?”
“No. Absolutely not. She’s not a faerie, they don’t know her; they’d just consider her another threat. The last thing we need to do is confuse them.” No need to mention that Laurel still wasn’t sure they should trust her. “What we need to do is go downstairs and try to convince Ryan and Chelsea that everything is fine and that they should stay.”
David nodded. “You’ll need something to cover that,” he said, pointing to the binding on her arm.
“Oh, yeah,” Laurel said, stepping away from the door. David studied the door as Laurel walked to her closet, snatched up a shirt and pulling it over her tank top in one quick movement. “Am I showing?” Laurel asked, turning her back so David could check the tail of her shirt.
He shook his head wordlessly.
She double checked her three-quarter-length sleeves and reached for the doorknob again.
“Wait,” David said.
She looked up at him questioningly and he reached out and pulled her to him. Laurel wanted to melt into his embrace, but after a few short seconds, she pushed back. “I can’t right now,” she said. “If I think about this too hard I’m going to be an emotional wreck and I can’t do that right now.” She forced a smile, choking back tears. “As far as they know, I’m fine. Just fine.”
David’s jaw was tight but he nodded and pulled her door open. They came down the stairs to find Chelsea in front of the picture window in the kitchen, staring out into the back yard.
Laurel pushed David toward the rec room and came to stand beside Chelsea, a smile plastered on her face. “It looked worse than it was,” she said cheerily. “Just a scratch.” She pulled on Chelsea’s arm, trying not to show how desperate she was to get her away from the window. “Don’t let it wreck our night. Come into the other room.”
Chelsea shrugged her away. “Just a sec.”
“There’s someone out there.”
“I’m sure they left,” Laurel said. “They wouldn’t hang around to get caught.”
“No. There’s someone out there,” Chelsea repeated. She didn’t raise her voice, but her tone was insistent.
With fear making a lump in her throat, Laurel stood beside Chelsea and peered out with her, pretending she didn’t know what she might see. It didn’t take long to see what Chelsea was looking at. Something, barely illuminated by the house lights, was moving through the trees. Laurel couldn’t make out any shapes, but there was definitely someone out there–several someones, in fact.
“Who is it, Laurel?”
“I don’t know,” Laurel lied.
Chelsea didn’t turn to Laurel; her gaze was fixed on the shadows darting through the trees. But somehow that was worse than if she’d been staring Laurel in the face. Laurel said nothing. There was nothing to say.
Chelsea didn’t move.
After a moment, Laurel forced herself to speak. “Come on. Come watch the movie.”
Now Chelsea turned to her silently.
“Please?” Laurel said.
Chelsea took one more look out the window and followed after Laurel.
In the rec room Ryan and David were debating the virtues of the two chick flicks Laurel had picked out earlier–though their argument basically boiled down to which movie was more likely to have zombies. All the blinds were down and even though she knew the thin layer of fabric was no match for a rock with the strength of a troll behind it, Laurel felt better knowing they couldn’t be seen. The couples separated onto different ends of the sectional, the guys with their arms protectively around their girlfriends. Ryan seemed to sense that something was wrong, but he didn’t say anything. And neither did Chelsea. But at least they didn’t insist of going home.
Everyone watched the movie in silence, or at least kept their eyes turned toward the television. Laurel doubted David was paying any attention; she certainly wasn’t. There really was no way she could tell David about the festival in Avalon now. She’d been on the verge of telling him earlier this week–she hated lying to him–but now she couldn’t. He’d be too worried; he’d insist that she skip it. She’d tell her parents she was studying with Chelsea. She hadn’t come up with a good excuse for Chelsea, so she wouldn’t tell Chelsea anything at all. With luck, David would never miss her. She’d leave the festival early if she had to. And not just to get back before David got off work; she didn’t want to be anywhere but safe in her house when night fell.