tagChain StoriesDry Valley Ch. 18

Dry Valley Ch. 18


Someone is Watching

Mitch and Jessica followed Tom and Bailey to Henry's, where they were soon enjoying beers and loud country music. Many of their friends were there, and several rounds of drinks were bought for the two couples. Beer flowed heavily for several patrons and eventually there were times the brothers were hauled onto the dance floors by other the other beauties of Dry Valley, but through it all, stolen glances of heated promises were passed between each respective couple.

"Excuse me," a voice whispered against Jessica's skin, as she watched Mitch twirl Patty Reah around the floor. Jessica turned and stepped out of the stranger's way. The scent of tobacco filled her nostrils and she shuddered at the deep unfiltered smell.

"No worries," she whispered under her breath and felt the man purposely brush against her ass. She scowled, but said nothing else, only shivering inwardly.

"That was rude," Bailey muttered, just as the man walked away.

"Yeah, he looked a bit familiar. Didn't he?" Jessica asked. She couldn't shake the feeling, though she tried.

Bailey shrugged her shoulders. "Well, you've probably lost touch with a lot of faces here in the Valley. I don't know him. I come back pretty regular to visit my aunt and uncle, but I don't make Henry's a frequent stop. Just chalk it up to deja vu."

Jessica smiled, "You're right. Besides, I have more important things to discuss with you."

"Oh?" Bailey asked, with one brow arched.

"Yes. It seems like there are two brides, two grooms and that means two weddings." Jessica sipped her drink and waved to Mitch and then Tom, who were switching dancing partners.

"Are you thinking a double wedding?" Bailey asked.

Jessica sighed. "I know that is what the mom's are going to be thinking, but I'm wondering if we can do something else. I mean Mitch loves his brother, but there was a bit of tension there when we made our announcement and you made yours."

Bailey shook her head in agreement. "Well, I bet I could get Tom to elope."

Both ladies laughed, but their conversation was stalled when their fiances walked up behind them and pulled them into their arms. "What are all the giggles about?" Mitch said, pulling Jessica deeper into his embrace. He kissed her neck and slowly ran his tongue along the exposed nape, before nipping at her ear lobe. "God, I love you," he told her and turned her into his arms. They kissed without thought as to who was watching and then moved away from each other, only when Bailey chuckled.

"Need a room?" Tom asked and then winked at his brother's girl.

Jessica blushed and pulled herself away from Mitch. "Actually, as tempting as that sounds I'm going to take Bailey home with me tonight."

All three friends voiced objections. The men's voices were much louder than Bailey's, but even she was protesting. Jessica rolled her eyes and stomped her foot in mock frustration. "Look. I'm getting married and I want a Maid of Honor and that is Bailey."

Her friend grinned.

"That means I need to pour over Bridal web sites and discuss flowers, and caterers and not to mention the colors of our wedding. . .pinks, blues, pastels. . ." Jessica smirked when Mitch and Tom stepped back, with looks of horror on their flushed faces.

"You win " Mitch said. "I'm letting you handle all of that. Just promise me you'll lock up the house. Every window and every door."

"Great," Jessica said, " and you know I will. Now, I'm not drunk so I'm taking your truck," she grinned at Mitch and slid her fingers into the front pocket of his pants. She looked out of the corner of her eye and saw Bailey saying her goodbyes to Tom.

Mitch rolled his eyes. "You just rhymed. Are you sure you're not drunk?" He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her. His tongue swept along side hers and soon she was clinging to him. "Are you sure you're wanting to do this?" he asked.

"Mmm. . . no," she kissed him again. "Mmmm. . . yes," she whispered and kissed him again. "Damn, it no." She pushed him back and growled. "Mitch, no more. It's time to go Bailey," she said and left her lover's arm.

Bailey gave a pout, but winked at Mitch, kissed Tom and followed her friend out of the bar. Jessica caught the eyes of the stranger and politely nodded to him in passing, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, though she wasn't sure she could. There was just something about him, something familiar that nagged at the edge of her subconscious.

Mitch noticed her nod, looked at the man and felt his hackles rise. "Hey, do you know him?" he asked his brother. Tom turned and stared at the stranger.

"He looks a little familiar," Tom said and shrugged. "Why?"

"I don't know. I guess I'm just not sittin' easy since Jessica's break in," he answered. He ordered another beer and took a long draw from it. "I guess I'm just looking for trouble."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm kinda surprised you'd let them go back to her place alone." Tom said.

"Hell, she's not going to be alone. We're going to crash the party. I'm giving them a few hours and then we are going to do a panty raid." The two brothers laughed and resumed their drinking. Mitch's mind occasionally moved over the face of the man in the corner, and he tried to grasp at the straws that pulled at him; nothing came. When the man finally left, Mitch felt his body sigh in relief. He was overreacting, some punk kid had probably broken into Jessica's and that was all there was to it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jessica drove home with Bailey next to her. The two girls chatted and talked about the evening, touching base on the Rodeo as well as the antics of their boyfriends, before the concert. Eventually, though each settled into a quiet ride, reflecting silently on the upcoming months ahead.

When they arrived at the house, Bailey turned toward Jessica. "I'm surprised Mitch let you come home without him, after the other day."

"Yeah, me too, but I suspect he'll be here first thing in the morning or at least calling me as soon the sun rises," Jessica chuckled. "I've decided to let it go. I can't be scared in my own home, what kind of life would I live?"

Bailey smiled and the girls left the car, and headed inside the small home. "Well, I know he was worried so was Tom and myself. It just doesn't happen around here."

"Well, the way I see it is like this. . . The antics and tricks we played as kids on our neighbors were not funny to them, but they were to us. Kids these days are just playing stupid tricks on neighbors that are different than our tricks." Jessica opened the fridge and grabbed a jug of cold milk. She poured two tall glasses, while Bailey got down a package of Oreo cookies.

"We NEVER broke into anyone. . . well we never vandalized a home," Bailey said, after having cut herself off, after remembering the times they snuck into their friends bedrooms, because someone had gotten grounded or were sick and not allowed to come out and play.

Jessica smirked. "Eh, it was just a few leftovers I would have thrown out eventually."

The two women headed upstairs to Jessica's room and settled into laying on her bed and flicking through online sites full of wedding dresses as well as wedding party dresses. They clicked back and forth over caterers and party planners, but in the end, each decided that leaving Missus O and even their soon to be Mother-in-law out of the plans seemed wrong, but then they toggled back and forth with eloping. When they shut the computer off, neither one really was any closer to a decision on how to proceed with their weddings.

"Let's get some sleep. I've got spare jammies in the top drawer," Jessica told her friend. She walked over to her bedroom window to close the blind and stopped. She stared into the darkness, almost sure she saw something moving outside. Her gaze focused on her walkway and across the street, but she saw nothing. The O's house was dark as were her neighbor's, so she knew they were resting. No one was walking along the sidewalk and the small lamps the town used gave off an eerie glow, but she saw nothing that was out of the ordinary. "Damn, you," she muttered to the night, silently cursing the kid that had dared to frighten her.

"Everything okay?" Bailey asked.

Jessica turned. "Yeah, just being over cautious."

The two best friend's climbed into bed and began another round of chatting. This time they spoke of the past and when the last time they had a sleep over. This brought up Misses O's almost walking in on Mitch and Jessica and how she had declared it was good that her niece, Bailey was having a sleep over with Tom Walker. In the end, the girls' talking slowly eased into whispering and then soft, quiet snores.

As they slept one shadow crept closer, its intent dark and deadly.

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