For the next couple of hours he seemed to be everywhere she was, and she wasn't sure if she liked it. Two hours into their new relationship, her first relationship, and she was already confused about her feelings. On one hand she had loved kissing him, on the other she didn't like being so monopolized.
He sensed something was up and whispered "What's wrong?"
She shook her head and shrugged then downed another cup of...what was she drinking now? Oh yeah, rum and coke. "I'm getting a little drunk," she supplied in answer. Actually she was hoping the alcohol might help. "I need another," she told him, her speech slightly slurred.
"Maybe you should slow down."
She scowled up at him. "What are you my dad now?" His face darkened and she pulled away from him and strode to the table where the liquor was.
After she replaced her drink she found Macey and latched onto her arm. "All done riding, errr...driving the boat?"
"Uh huh, whew Anna, are you drunk?" Macey teased.
"I think maybe so, and I pissed Austin off again. I am turning out to be a bad girlfriend already."
"Hey Austin," Macey said over her shoulder in warning.
"Hey. Can I borrow her?"
Anna turned and rolled her eyes at him, "Shouldn't you be asking me that? Macey isn't my keeper any more than you are."
"What exactly is your problem?"
"You. You are hovering. I don't like hovering." She fell back a step, her drink sloshing in her glass.
"Great. So now you're drunk and pissy."
"I am not pissy! I am merely trying to tell you that you are overbearing me. Err, you are being overbearing."
"Okay. Right." He turned and walked off and she watched him go, wincing inwardly.
"That didn't go very well," she grumbled.
Macey laughed. "I think you are messing with that poor boy's head."
"I don't mean to!" She insisted, sloshing more of her drink. “I just…I…” she froze suddenly, the words evaporating on her tongue.
They were here again, and there were half a dozen at least.
She stumbled backward a step and squeezed her eyes shut telling them to be gone. She took a deep breath and opened them back up. They were still there. Oh God. She tried again and again, but they wouldn't go away. The alcohol seemed to be screwing with her "off" button.
"Anna what's wrong, are you gonna pass out?" Macey asked anxiously.
She shook her head and backed away even more. Three of the shadows passed right in front of her and the guys they were dogging started shouting across the beach. A fight broke out and Austin, Nathan, and a few of their football buddies ran into the melee to break it up.
The entire time it was happening Anna stood watching in frozen horror. It appeared as if the shadow men were driving the kids involved, undulating and pulsating bigger and bigger. She started shaking and even when the fight broke apart she couldn’t stop. She numbly watched as Jenna ran past her down the dock and a minute later the radio was turned down. Several minutes after that Austin and the girls arranged for the problem starters to be taken home, but a few of the shadows still lingered and she could not make them disappear. Her legs finally gave way and she sank down on the dock, burying her head in her arms.
"Anna, what's wrong?" Jess hurried over. "The fight's over, they’re leaving, it's okay."
She nodded without looking up, hot tears squeezing out of the corners of her eyes. Crying was extremely rare for her, but fear and revulsion had created a pressure inside her chest that required relief. "Can you get Austin for me," she mumbled to Jess.
A minute later she felt his presence and peered up at him through blurred vision. His expression changed from unreadable to alarm and she held her arms up to him like a child, making her earlier “dad” accusation seem a bit foolish. When he lifted her up she buried her face in his neck.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what's the matter with me, I'm a mess," she sniffled.
He rubbed her back gently. "Do you want me to take you upstairs?"
She nodded and he carried her away.
When they were inside the house, she asked him to turn the lights on. "All of them," she said shakily.
When he finished he sat down on the couch with her, one eyebrow raised in question.
"Your mouth is bleeding!" She started to jump up but he stopped her, wiping the back of his sleeve across his bottom lip.
"Just a little cut, nothing to worry about.” He pinned her with a look. “Are you crying because you’re drunk, or is something else going on?"
She took in a shaky breath. "I think I'm sobering up."
He continued to look at her, waiting for an explanation.
"I'm sorry I called you overbearing,” She looked down at her hands. "You know I've never been in a relationship, and I just don't know how it's supposed to be. I think I need time to get used to it, used to us."
"No, just trying to figure you out."
She laughed shortly. "Good luck, please clue me in when you do."
His lip curved slightly. "Is that why you were crying, because of us?"
She stared at him and thought, can I tell him? Should I? What was the worst that would happen, he would think she was crazy? Well no more PDA to worry about then.
She chewed her lip and spoke quietly. "I see shadow men.”
His brows furrowed. "Huh?"
She took a fortifying breath and launched into it, telling him in vivid detail about the first time in the train station. His eyebrows were climbing higher and higher so she carefully avoided his eyes as she described the possessed guy in the airport.
“And then earlier when I was on the boat, I saw them onshore. That’s why Geordy made the comment about me seeing a ghost. And just before we came up here, those kids who started the fight had shadow men with them….”
She started crying again and he pulled her into him tightly. "You think I'm crazy, huh?"
"No. Not crazy."
She started to pull away but he held tighter and she gave him a dark look. "It's not my imagination. It would be easier to think it was, but it's not, I see them."
"I don't know. That's what I hate about it, I don't know why! But I swear I saw them and they were driving those kids who started the fight! And because of the alcohol I couldn't shut them off! And Austin, don't try and figure this out for me, okay? I will not take medication, or go to a shrink who will try and explain it away as some childhood trauma. There is nothing I can do except what I already do, which is ignore them for the most part. I told you about it because I was scared and I trust you."
He nodded taking a deep breath. "Thanks. That means a lot."
She searched his expression but found only mild concern and acceptance. She sighed and looked around, realizing the house was lit up like Christmas. "You can shut off the living room lights now."
"I want to make out with you."
He switched off the lamps and pulled her back into his lap, tipping her face and gripping the back of her head gently. His lips were warm and her fear faded into the background as she was overtaken by new sensations. She tugged him until he was lying on top of her.
He kept his hands from roaming too far this time and they made out for twenty minutes before getting interrupted by the girls.
"We just wanted to check and make sure you were okay, Jess said you were crying?" Jenna raised a brow in question.
"I'm fine, I was just drunk and upset over nothing." She leaned back against Austin who had pulled her into his lap and his hold on her tightened. She was relieved to find it comforting rather than restricting.
"Well, if you're sure you’re okay, we'll leave you two lovebirds alone." Jenna grinned and the girls giggled as they left the room.
When Anna heard the back door bang shut she stretched and yawned. "I'm wiped out, do you want to sleep with me?"
Austin’s brows shot off his forehead.
"Sleep, nothing else," she scolded.
"Yeah, sure, let's hit the hay."
They went upstairs and climbed under her covers, Austin spooning her from behind. She could feel his erection against her backside and it was a little disconcerting. Not ready for anything like that, she thought, but the cuddling is nice. She drew his arms around her more securely and drifted to sleep.