Over the next week, I became much more comfortable around David.
I hadn't given him any more information than before, but I was
starting to trust him.
I no longer had a mental panic attack when I figured out he was
leaving the apartment for a few hours. Now I actually found the
idea of David working for Wescott in any capacity to be
laughable. He was much too good a person to do it knowingly, and
he wasn't a bit naive the way Mark had been when he got pulled
Besides, after being with him for a week and having absolutely no
indication that Wescott even had a clue as to my location, I had
enough evidence to easily dismiss the idea that David might
I didn't even lock the bedroom door at night anymore. I forgot to
do it one night and left it open deliberately after that,
realizing I felt safer near him.
I still wasn't planning on telling him anything, but it was more
than not trusting him. I think I might be able to do that by now,
at least to an extent. Now I didn't want to tell him because I
didn't want to be that person anymore.
I despised being Abi and the nameless fugitive on the street. And
now that I had a taste of something else, I was realizing I
didn't even like being Sam that much.
Sam was awkward and lonely. Sam just accepted that life was kind
of sucky. She was never truly happy.
Wescott aimed at making me near perfect, but no one else was. So
I could never relate to other people very well. More than that, I
never saw the need to. And now I understood why.
Even with my mother, things were a little different. I would
never doubt her love for me, but I could never be sure of how
much she loved me for me and how much she loved what I could do.
I was always the kid she could brag about. Whatever her friends
could say about their kids, my mom could always top it. When some
other kid started walking, I'd done it weeks or months ago. When
they were putting sentences together, I was reading. If they
brought home good grades, my teachers were recommending that I
skip to the next grade. I was always at the top of my class and
on the President's List or winning scholarships and awards.
I'm not sure what my relationship with my parents would have been
like if I hadn't been able to do all of that. If I'd been more
average or even below average.
But I liked being Sarah. I liked the person I was when I was with
David. I was happy more than I ever remember being before. It was
actually normal for me to laugh with him rather than being the
serious, cynical person I'd been before. I swapped teasing and
actually flirted with him on a regular basis.
Oddly, this whole thing gave me a kind of freedom that I didn't
even realize I wanted. Now I had the freedom to become someone
I missed my mother and the ability to go outside at will, but for
the first time in my life I felt like I fit in somewhere.
With no scholarships or other academic achievements to earn, my
intelligence wasn't an issue. It didn't matter how well or how
quickly I could accomplish something because no one was keeping
score. I also couldn't be totally independent any longer.
Initially I thought having to depend on anyone for anything was
detestable, but now I think I just never knew how to depend on
someone else. Being forced to do that made me realize that it
might not be such a bad thing all the time.
At the moment, I was depending on David to have chosen a good
movie. After he picked Monty Python and the Holy Grail and
National Lampoon's Vacation, both of which were actually pretty
good despite my original misgivings, I was starting to trust his
judgement. Although, I wasn't all that confident with tonight's
"I can't believe you've never seen Lord of the Rings," David said
once again as he joined me on the couch after pushing the disk
into the DVD player. That had been his mantra about pretty much
every movie he asked me about. I'm not sure why he was so
surprised. I admitted quite openly that I was never into these
types of movies.
I shrugged but before I could respond, David shot me a mock
"And no wise-cracks," he said, making me grin. I hadn't actually
planned on teasing him about his love of all things fantasy this
time, but now I sort of wish I'd had something ready. Especially
since that was a wide-open invitation.
"I didn't say a word." I smiled realizing it was a win either
way. Now, even when I didn't tease him about it, he expected me
to, making anything I actually said doubly effective.
"Uh huh..." He grabbed a handful of popcorn from the big bowl on
the coffee table as he skipped through the previews.
"Although," I said, unable to resist. "After I watch it, I will
have a much broader range of ammunition. You're really equipping
me with more knowledge and just asking for further mockery."
"Just watch the movie." Sighing, he set the remote down and sat
back, throwing his arm across the back of the couch. More
importantly, a few more inches and his arm would be draped over
my shoulders. I don't think he did it purposely. He was just
getting comfortable. Still it was more intimate than we normally
Startled, I tensed for a second and glanced at him out of the
corner of my eye. He looked as though he just realized what he
did and wasn't quite sure if he ought to leave his arm there or
pull it away.
Focusing on the screen, I bit back a smile. I didn't actually
mind the closeness. It was just something new. But I was glad
that he felt relaxed enough around me that he didn't worry about
every move he made.
"You're not going to make me watch all three of these are you?" I
chose to act as though nothing were out of the ordinary. It was a
legitimate question though. I knew that these particular movies
were about three hours a piece.
"You can't start the trilogy and not finish." David relaxed
beside me. "It's practically a sin."
"We'll see..." I gave him a sidelong look. If this turned out to
be as much of a guy movie as I anticipated, we would be delving
into some serious chick flicks later.
I looked around the darkened room, puzzled at where I was. It
only took a moment for my confusion to turn to horror when I
realized I was back in that terrible room and that I could barely
My sluggish brain worked to figure out how I got here and how
long ago, but in an instant none of that seemed as pressing once
I managed to lift my head enough to see the figure standing at
the foot of the bed.
I instinctively knew that I had been drugged and that this was
the realization of the nightmare I tried so hard to avoid.
The man quickly crawled on top of me and I struggled to push him
away, but my hands were useless.
"No, please!" I cried, helpless to do anything else.
He acted as though I hadn't spoken and grabbed at me.
Indecipherable in the darkness, his face lowered to my neck.
"No! Don't!" I screamed, managing to lift my arms a fraction.
"Sarah." He clutched my shoulders pulling back, and I flailed
furiously, trying to free myself.
"Sarah." As he shook me slightly, I was able to make out David's
features. No, not him! It couldn't be him!
"No!" I began crying pitifully, understanding that I had no
chance of fighting, and heartbroken thinking of who I would be
fighting against if I could.
"Sarah, wake up!"
A firm shake made the horrifying scene fall away and all at once
I was back on the couch with the Lord of the Rings playing on the
television and David watching my face anxiously as he clutched my
Overwhelmed with relief that the dream wasn't real, I wrapped my
arms around David, pressing my face into his chest without
thinking. His arms came around me a second later and he held me
until my ragged breathing had a chance to normalize.
Suddenly embarrassed, I pushed away from him wiping my damp
cheeks with still shaking hands.
"What was it?" I couldn't help jumping a little at his question.
I hoped that he might let the whole thing pass as he had with so
much of my strange behavior already, but when I met his eyes, I
knew that wasn't his plan this time.
"It was..." How did you put that into words? How could I tell him
he had the staring role in my nightmare?
I shook my head and tried to appear nonchalant about the whole
thing, forcing a strained smile.
"It was nothing. The movie," I lied lamely. "I must have dreamed
I was in it..." I gave up trying to remember what happened before
I dozed off, when I saw that David wasn't even close to buying
"And has the movie given you nightmares practically every night
you've been here?" he asked with narrowed eyes.
I glanced away, surprised that he knew about that. After that
first blissful, dreamless night, the nightmares had returned and
they seemed to be getting a little worse every time. At first it
was that I was running from that man with the briefcase, then it
had been getting caught. After a few nights it morphed into a
glimpse into the future after having been caught. Now apparently
I was on the more traumatic dreams. Last night I woke up from a
similar dream, unable to get back to sleep for several hours,
which is probably why I fell asleep just now.
But maybe I did have these types of dreams before and just didn't
remember. It did feel somewhat familiar. Only the element of
David appearing seemed new. And apparently I'd been pretty vocal
for David to not only hear through the closed door, but to
presumably be awoken by me.
"Tell me," he tried.
"I..." I couldn't look at him yet.
"What did they do to you?" He was almost pleading now.
I stared at the wall, not really seeing it, and shook my head.
"I'm not them," he said, making me meet his eyes. "You can trust
"I know that." And I did. It wasn't that I didn't want to trust
him with the information anymore. Now it was that I didn't want
to vocalize it and have it become a reality again.
Most of the time I could pretend that everything was just a bad
dream. Safely tucked away in this apartment I could imagine that
none of it had happened and that I wasn't still being hunted. I
could be carefree for a change, where my biggest worry was if I'd
be bored watching David's choice of movie or how long my clothes
might take to dry in that darn machine I'd only been able to
partially fix. But saying the words David wanted to hear would
make all those horrible things come true again. He wouldn't be
able to forget once he knew. And how would he see me then? I
wasn't even sure how I saw myself. I mean, what was I?
My parents had been Italian and Russian but I wasn't. I wasn't
even American. You have to actually be born somewhere to be a
citizen and I was never born. I had no heritage at all.
Everything I ever thought about myself was borrowed from someone
else. I had all the characteristics of being human, but was I
really? I wasn't born from humans. And didn't all of Wescott's
meddling with my genes make me something different altogether?
"I'm sorry." I couldn't hold his gaze, knowing that he deserved
what I wasn't ready to give. "I just..."
He let out a loud breath, clearly frustrated.
"It's okay," he said. "You'll tell me when you're ready, I
I nodded, unable to disagree even though I knew I would probably
never be ready.
After a few unbearable minutes of silence, which was only
interrupted by the fighting on the movie, I couldn't take it
"So, I guess I missed some stuff?" I awkwardly gestured at the TV
and risked a peek at David.
He gave me a tired smile before nodding. "There's still plenty
left to go, not to mention two more movies. I'll fill you in."
I forced a groan but I couldn't make myself appear very
inconvenienced by the idea. I was too grateful that he was
willing to put up with me.
By this time, we were sitting much closer than we had been at the
beginning of the movie. David merely shifted and put his arm
around my shoulders. He didn't seem unsure this time.
Not minding a bit, I snuggled into a more comfortable position as
he began to divulge the details I slept through.