Authors: Eden Laroux
Tags: #gothic, #witch, #erotic romance, #fairy, #america, #psychic, #steamy romance, #fallen angels, #alpha, #love and sex, #fantasy and sci fi, #romance and sex
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~ ~ ~ ~
THE MISSING LINK: JANUARY MORRISON FILES
by Eden Laroux
"LORI, PLEASE DON'T do this!" January begged her
friend. "This is so not smart!"
"Oh Jan, lighten up, please," Lori retorted.
"I'll be back before you know it; definitely before anyone wakes
up," she added, after throwing a look in the direction of January's
bedroom door. Just keep the window open so I can get back in."
"Lori, if my parents find out that you sneaked
out, they're going to tell your parents," January moaned.
"Look, no one is going to hear me, and I'll be
back before dawn. There's no reason anyone will find out."
"Why are you even
this? Who is this
guy you're going to meet?"
"I can't tell you just yet, Jan. But I promise,
you'll be the first to hear all about it when I get back. You'll be
pretty surprised, I think," Lori said smugly.
"I still don't like it. You won't tell me where
you're going and who you're going to be with and that's just not
safe," January said, shaking her head. "What if something happens
"Jan, calm down. Nothing is going to happen to
Lori put her jacket on over her T-shirt and
jeans and went to January's open window. She turned around and gave
January a wide, bright smile as she hooked a leg over the window
sill. For an instant, framed by the window, Lori stood out against
the night like a white speck in a blurry photograph. For some
reason, the sight unsettled January so much that a chill ran down
Lori must have seen something on January's face,
because her mischievous expression softened. Relaxing her grip on
the frame of the open window, Lori assured her friend, saying,
"Stop worrying, Jan. I'll be back before you have time to miss me.
And with that, she slipped out the window and
vanished into the darkness.
January sighed and collapsed on the bed.
This was typical Lori. She didn't understand the
words "no" or "can't." She was always ribbing January for being too
cautious, for not "letting go" enough. She did crazy stuff like
this all the time and always seemed to land on her feet.
a big girl. She'll be back,
January thought. Still, January
would have felt better knowing where Lori was going.
She got in bed, determined to stay awake until
Lori came back, but before she knew it, her eyes were getting
heavy. She fought sleep.
But it was no use.
WHEN SHE OPENED her eyes again, the sky was
She sat up, relieved to see that Lori had kept
her promise and returned before dawn.
"Hey, you're back! Thank God!" January said.
January shot Lori a look of mild impatience when
Lori neither moved from her seat nor acknowledged Jan's relief.
Lori! Why are you still sitting in the chair? You
need to get in bed before someone comes to check on us."
Lori didn't seem to be paying attention. She
seemed to be looking through her friend. Her eyes were unfocused
vacant, as if she just wasn't seeing January or the room.
"Earth to Lori. Hello!"
Lori slowly, finally, moved her head at
January's voice, but her gaze fell just over January's shoulder.
Her eyes were searching, lost.
Something was wrong.
When Lori spoke, it was in a faint, crackly
voice that reminded January of an old phonograph record.
you were right. I should never have gone out. It's too late, now,
though. What you've got to do now is find me. You're the only one
January felt the hairs in her skin rise.
"Lori, what the hell are you talking about?
You're sitting right over there in my desk chair! I don't have to
find you because
you're right here!
But I'm glad you finally
understand what a dumb idea it was to sneak out!" she said.
Lori now seemed to be focusing on her, her eyes
getting darker, her voice firmer.
"Pay attention to what I'm saying, Jan!
You've got to find me! No one knows that I'm gone except you.
They'll all know pretty soon, but they won't know where to look.
You've got to help them find me!"
Just as January got up from her bed, Lori
vanished. It was like she had never been sitting there at all.
January stood there, stunned. How did someone
January suddenly felt cold and sick to her
stomach. She got back in bed and pulled the covers up over her
head. She could not stop shivering. It was a dream. It had to have
been a dream. All she needed to do now was go back to sleep. But
She lay there, awake, until daylight.
THERE WAS A noise outside her door.
"Jan!" Her mother was coming up the stairs.
January sat up and steeled herself for the
tongue-lashing she was about to receive.
"Honey, Lori's mother is on the phone. She'd
like to speak to her," Andrea Morrison told her daughter as she
craned her neck to look for Lori in the bed. She turned back to
January "Is she in the bathroom?"
January looked at her mother miserably and tried
to find something to say. "No, Mom, she's not in the bathroom.
Actually, she's not here at all."
Her mother frowned. "What do you mean she's not
January sighed and, wringing her hands, told her
mother the truth. "She went out the window around midnight and said
she was meeting someone. She promised to be back before dawn. I
told her not to go and tried to make her stay here, but you know
how stubborn she can be."
"I see," Andrea said, her frown deepening. "So
who was she meeting?"
"I don't know. She wouldn't tell me. She said
that she would give me all the details once she got back."
"So you have no idea where she went or whom she
"No, Mom. I'm so sorry! I know I should have
come and got you but I didn't want her mad at me and now she's not
here. I'm so scared!" January wailed.
"Oh, honey..." her mother said as she hugged
her. "This isn't your fault. I'll be right back, okay? I've got to
go talk to her mother."
The rest of the day was a nightmare that January
wished she could wake from. The police came. She spent hours
answering the same questions over and over. In the end, the only
explanation she could offer them was that Lori had gone out the
window to meet someone.
That night, after the police finally left, she
fell into bed. Still, she was too exhausted to sleep. The window
was open, like it had been last night when Lori had climbed out of
it. The last image she had of her friend flashed into her mind
again-Lori, smiling, framed against the swallowing blackness.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
Her eyes flew open.
Lori was sitting on the edge of her bed.
January sprang up. There was no question now.
This was no dream. All of this was terribly, terribly real.
"Oh God..."she sank to her knees by the bed.
"What is happening?" she whispered.
Lori said again.
You're the only one who can hear me. You have to help."
"Lori, what is going on?" January cried. "The
police were here all day. The whole town is looking for you."
"You have to tell them where I am. You have
to find me. Can you do that for me, Jan? Please. There's nobody
For a second, it looked to January like she was
shimmering, like a heat haze billowing over pavement in the
"I don't know what you mean," January wailed. "I
don't know what you want me to..."
But it was too late. Lori was gone again.
January collapsed on the bed, weeping miserably.
It was horrible enough that her friend was gone, and that she was
partially to blame, and now there was this...
Was she going insane? Was it nerves? Guilt?
Lori was so insistent that January could help
her, that there was something she could do... but what?
She cried herself to sleep, and didn't get up
THE INVESTIGATION DRAGGED on for weeks with no
results. The police questioned January again and again, but she
could not tell them anything new.
Lori kept appearing to her in flashes, usually
in her room, where they had spent the most time together. Once, she
came to her on the bench by the lake where they used to go after
school, back when they were in junior high.
Each time was the same-sad, garbled pleas to
come find her, that January was the only one who could help- but
nothing else. Lori was always gone before January could find out
how she was supposed to find her.
January stopped sleeping at night. She lived in
constant fear of another visit from Lori. Her grades fell. She
stopped going to meetings of the school newspaper and avoided her
friends. They were understanding for a while; she had lost her best
friend, after all. Then most of them moved on.
She was at a table at the library one day after
school when someone plopped down beside her. She leaped out of her
chair and looked around wildly.
"Geez," Aaron said. "Are you okay?"
"I ... yeah, I'm fine," she stammered, and sat
back down, trying to hide the fact that her heart was pounding in
her chest like a kettle drum. "I thought you were ...you just
startled me a little, that's all."
"Sorry." Aaron looked at her quizzically. They
had trig and history together. Actually they had been in school
together since the sixth grade, but it was only recently that
January began to notice that he was tall and graceful, that his
hazel eyes were bright and friendly, and that they watched her more
and more often.
Lori used to tease her about him, calling him
"the future Mr. January Morrison" and casting the two of them in
hilarious, overblown stories of erotic adventure that made January
laugh and cringe at the same time.
The thought of Lori made her stomach clench, and
any pleasure at Aaron's company withered away.
"What's going on?" she asked, a little
"Nothing much. I just thought you might need the
trig homework," he said.
"Why would I...? I thought I wrote it down..."
She leafed through her notes, quickly realizing she had no
recollection of writing down the homework assignment.
Come to think of it, she had no recollection of
being in trig class at all.
Aaron watched her, amused. "Yeah, you were
pretty busy staring out the window when Mr. Belmonte was assigning
Jan sighed and rubbed her eyes. This was
happening to her a lot lately. She took the slip of paper he held
out for her.
"Thanks. What were you doing staring at me in
class, anyway, creepy?"
"You had a booger in your nose. It was totally
disgusting. I couldn't look away."
She stared at him. Then she started laughing.
She just couldn't help it. It was so unexpected that she looked at
him in surprise as she giggled.
Aaron's face lit up and, for a minute, he looked
like he was about to say something else but stopped himself. "I'll
see you around," he said, and got up to leave.
January sat at the table for a few minutes after
he was gone. On any other day, the conversation would have made her
flush with excitement, but today it broke her heart. Because the
first thing she would have done, of course, was to find Lori and
tell her all about it.