Layla Dixon never dreamed of being a small town girl. Living in New York City is the only life she ever wanted. Until something happened one September afternoon that only Tasha Dixon’s teddy bear knows about.
But while Layla sets her plan in motion, hiding what scant evidence she can to protect her family, a possible move to small town North Carolina is a welcome change despite all the raised eyebrows. Leaving her enemy behind is suddenly all the teen cares about.
What’s left is convincing the Dixons that moving is a matter of life or death…without actually telling them anything at all.
She could feel her heart flip-flop inside her chest as she lay in bed, waiting for sleep to come. But every time Layla’s eyes closed she could see it again. Her long brown hair pooled around her pillow as tears begged to drip down the sides of her face. Teenage emotion betrayed her as Layla attempted to push her fears away.
All that could be done had been done. The only thing left to do was wait. Wait for the pain to subside, for the fear to melt away, for her troubles to forget about her and go away. But would they?
As the final tear leaked out of the corner of her eye Layla brushed it off and turned over in bed. The shadows on the wall were different in Holly Springs, North Carolina, much different than what images danced on her bedroom wall in New York. There she saw only the moonlight from her high-rise. No formations captured her attention, begging painful memories to return. Here, in Holly Springs, even high up in her attic bedroom, she saw birds that flew overhead like in a horror movie, anticipating danger.
Trying to erase the images from her mind, the teen closed her eyes tight. Finally, Layla began to dose. Stuck between sleep and wakefulness she heard a voice. Fuzzy and from a distance, Layla could still detect the whisper as it cast threats to her. She didn’t dare open her eyes for fear that the image would return in all its glory. “See? Watch, Layla. That’s half the fun, isn’t it? You see what I’m doing?”
Deep in sleep, Layla shook her head, vehemently disagreeing with the voice. No, it wasn’t fun at all. And if her arms didn’t weigh a thousand pounds each, she might have been able to do something, she thought. “What do you think about this?” The voice asked, anticipating the next move, enjoyment dripping from the words.
Again, the teen’s head shook, punctuating her disagreement. Then, to Layla’s horror, as if magnets played a game of tug-of-war with her eye lids, they opened. In her mind’s eye the scene played out again, washing her with fresh disbelief, pain, and sheer terror. How did this happen? How could I have been so stupid? Why did I let this happen?Layla’s own voice echoed in her dreams. Get up, Layla! Get up! Her conscience ordered.
But she couldn’t. The teen was left there to do nothing but be a witness. Layla prayed her older sister would break in and save her. But she knew Linda was at the clinic, helping her father do rounds. Her mother was at the hospital, covering her shift, unable to hear her middle daughter’s silent cries. No, Layla was alone; alone in her dreams, alone in her conscious thoughts.
At the time, the teen had no idea how brave she’d been. She thought she was a coward. To hide in Holly Springs instead of tell the truth about what happened. But she couldn’t tell. The voice wouldn’t let her. Layla would have to do what she could on her own, with only Carla’s help. Carla had been her best friend since kindergarten, and Carla was the only person whom she could wholly trust.
Layla had planted the seeds to make her nightmare go away. She had done desperate, unthinkable things that she never dreamed she would do…or ask Carla to do for her. The teen didn’t know if what she did was right or wrong, but the alternative was impossible. She didn’t want to think about what could have happened had she told the truth. Part of her plan had worked, proof was that she was laying in her bed in Holly Springs, North Carolina, thousands of miles from New York, where the trouble still remained.
But would her problems follow her? Only time would tell. Her older sister Linda still had ties with Layla’s old fears, but that could be fixed with the proper measures. The teen would see to that promptly. Did her parents know? No, Layla made sure of that. Carla had been her partner in crime and hid all the evidence far away in New York, where nobody would find it. Did her little sister Tasha know? Layla prayed to God each night that she didn’t. In fact, she prayed that nobody would ever know except Carla and the voice.
But would her prayers be enough? Had she escaped successfully in Holly Springs? As Layla drifted deeper and deeper into sleep, the voice finally faded away and the teen slept peacefully. But little did she know, miles away in New York, the voice lay in bed with eyes wide open. “It was fun, wasn’t it, Layla? We’ll have to do that again some time.”