Unlocking Lies (Keys to Love Series, Book Three)(2)

By: Kennedy Layne

“No,” Emma argued, unable to stop herself. She spun around on the second step to face Shae, who had already reached the landing. “I only got to use the car on Friday night. Remember? You went into the city all day on Saturday.”

“I’m in college, Emma. I’m not allowed a vehicle on campus, so I should get the car two nights out of the week. Those days just happen to fall on the weekends.” Shae crossed her arms like she did when she was trying to make a point and look all mature. Just because she was in college didn’t mean that she was an adult. “What’s the big deal, anyway? You can have one of your friends pick you up. It’s safe that way.”

“Brynn’s car is in the shop, and you know that Julie doesn’t have access to one.” Why should Emma have to explain why she wanted the car? “You know what? Take the car. I don’t care anymore.”

“Good, because I am taking it. It’s my turn.”

“I hate you!”

A tear ran down Emma’s right cheek, though the rain washed it away. She didn’t hate her sister. Shae was everything Emma wanted to be.

Lightning lit up the sky overhead, illuminating her surroundings.

He was gone.

He was nowhere to be seen.

Emma was finally breathing again, though her heart was beating hard against her chest. She scrambled to her feet and did a full turn to scan her immediate surroundings. She was alone in the dark, but something told her he would appear out of nowhere her if she didn’t keep moving.

She took off once again for Seventh Street, relief washing over her as she finally reached the paved road. Not once did she think of slowing down her pace, though she did veer to the right so that she could follow the road that would lead her past the cemetery and toward the back end of town. She’d take the shortcut to her house from there.

It was then she saw the silhouette standing on the other side of the road blocking her path.

It was him.

That’s why he hadn’t come upon her when she’d fallen on the leaves. He’d somehow run ahead to cut her off before she could get home.

Emma had no choice but to run back toward the woods. There was no holding back the sobs that had been trying to escape. Why was he doing this to her? What had she done to him?

It was hard to see through her tears, but she ran blindly through the trees nonetheless. She didn’t follow any path, and she certainly never expected two arms to reach out of the darkness to save her. They embraced her warmly, and she even heard the soothing words that everything would be alright.

She was safe.

Emma broke down, holding onto the strong arms so that she wouldn’t sink to the ground.

“H-he’s coming,” Emma managed to say, trying to warn whoever had saved her. Was it Billy? Lance Kendall? Chad Schaeffer? It didn’t matter. “He’s right behind me and—”

Something was wrong.

Emma furiously blinked her tears away and looked up at her savior.

Only she was mistaken.

No one was here to save her.

All hope vanished. She didn’t understand how it happened, but the man she was running from hadn’t been the one standing in the middle of Seventh Street.

He’d been waiting for her in the shadows all along.


Present day…

“I see Dad’s been by to visit.”

Jace Kendall couldn’t help but smile in sadness at the lone tea rose laying on his mother’s tombstone. Lilacs had been Mary Kendall’s favorite, but they were out of season this late in August. This particular tea rose, called Darlow’s Enigma, no doubt came from one of the bushes she’d planted years ago in the front of their family home. The fragrant blooms lasted all summer long and gave the whole front yard a wonderful aroma with each successive breeze. One of the best climbing roses on the market, his mother’s trellis had long since been overrun.

“It looks as if he’s been taking care of your gardening. Noah said Dad’s thumb is finally showing a bit of green.”

Jace’s own thumb was pricked when he examined the small sprig, only then remembering Darlow’s Enigma had one major bad attribute. Their many thousands of thorns were razor sharp. Their beauty could cut a person to the bone.

He wanted to say more to his mom, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead, he looked up from his mother’s engraved name and took in his immediate surroundings.

Blyth Lake.

His childhood hometown.

In the twelve years he’d been gone, there hadn’t been one occasion when he returned on leave where he hadn’t driven straight to his parents’ house…until now.

“You have an amazing view.” Jace was glad his father had purchased this particular plot, seeing as it was on the back edge of the graveyard and overlooking a rolling field of wildflowers. There was even a large white oak that provided shade from the hot sun. He pictured himself and his brothers chasing each other through the field as their mother and father walked hand in hand. Their sister had always remained within a few yards of their dad and never ventured too far. “Dad’s in the process of making a wooden bench that will go perfect underneath that tree.”