“Would you make some coffee?”
“Yes,” he said simply.
He left me alone, rushing down stairs. I looked down to my red-stained hands, and then to the clock. It read three-thirty. Rubbing my eyes, I struggled to block out the shrieking that stil rang in my ears.
Jared returned with a steaming mug of dark, bitter caffeine. He sat beside me on the bed with renewed hope. “Okay,” he said, careful y passing the cup to me, “let’s talk about this.”
“No?” My answer caught him off guard. It took him a moment to recoup. “Nina, there has to be a reason for this.”
I took a sip and sighed. “I told you. I’m at Titan every day. I’m surrounded by Jack and memories for hours at a time. Think about it. The dreams didn’t start long after I started my internship.”
“That doesn’t add up, Nina. You should be comfortable being there by now. The dreams should lessen, not get worse.”
An attempt at rational thought proved futile. My mind was clouded by fatigue, and it didn’t take long grow frustrated and give up. “I don’t want to think about it, Jared.”
“You must be exhausted. But, let me try. Tel me about the dream.” Jared smiled when I conceded with a sigh. “Please?”
“It was different this time. I tried to control it and let it happen without me being there to watch, but it kept pul ing me back.”
“What pul ed you back?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. The dream? I would stand stil and concentrate on staying in place, and then I would get pushed to the next scene. But once…I stayed for a while. I saw something I haven’t seen before.”
“Yeah?” he asked, anxious to find answers.
“Nina,” Jared said, firmly interrupting me.
Nodding with understanding, I continued, “I stayed behind. Gabe and Jack jumped to the next building like they always do, but this time I stayed on the roof, and the Others, they surrounded me. Dozens of them, hundreds of them—I don’t know—they surged past me.”
Jared nodded, stil waiting for an epiphany.
“…and then I fel through a hole, and I landed in the al ey. I didn’t watch this time. I kept my eyes shut.”
“Did that help?”
“The noises were just as bad.”
He waited for something to come to him. Thoughts were clearly racing through his mind as he methodical y checked off each scenario, each possible explanation, and then went on to the next. Frustration scrol ed across his face and he stood, walking to the railing that ran along the edge of our bedroom. He looked down to the lower level, squeezing the metal bar so tightly it complained as he twisted his hands back and forth.
Coffee final y made its way through my body, rushing through my veins. I kicked the covers away and planted my bare feet on the cold floor.
“Movie?” I asked, but he was lost in thought. In the subdued light, I could see his mouth moving, but he made no sound. “Jared?”
His lips continued to move, and the metal stil whined under his grip.
“You’re going to break the railing,” I said, walking the few steps to reach him.
He stiffened under my touch. “They won’t answer.”
“Eli. Samuel. Anyone.”
“Maybe they’re busy.”
“Exactly,” he said, his shoulders fal ing. “I can feel how exhausted you are, Nina. I don’t know how you’re stil functioning. I can feel the way your body tenses and panics when you’re having the dreams. I don’t want to frighten you, but this is…if you want to believe it’s Titan, okay. But I need to figure this out.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m call ing Bex. I’m going to have him come in for a few days while I try to find some answers.”
“Just for a few days, Sweetheart.”
I grabbed his shirt, panic tightening my throat. We hadn’t been apart for so long, the thought of even a few days without him frightened me. I would feel naked…vulnerable.
“But you promised. You promised you’d never have to go away.”
“I did. I’m not going away,” he said, touching my cheek. “I’m a phone call away.”
“No. No…send Bex.”
“Bex doesn’t have my connections, Nina. Not yet. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, he doesn’t know the right questions to ask. I have to do this.”
I shifted my weight to one leg, trying to relax and play off my fears. “You can’t go…you can’t.”
Jared touched the thin skin under my eyes with his thumbs, silently pointing out the darkened circles. Without another word, Jared pul ed his cel phone from his back pocket and dialed.
“Bex. I need you to stay with Nina for a while.” He snapped his phone shut, keeping his eyes on mine.
“Don’t do this.”
Jared tucked my hair behind my ears. “You’re overreacting.”
“It’s only a few days.”
I frowned. “You don’t know that.”
“If I don’t find anything, I’ll just come back. Forty-eight hours, and I’m right back here. I promise.”
“You promised you’d never leave me.”
He laughed at my stubbornness. “I’m not leaving you. I’m going to work.”
One side of my mouth turned up and I sighed. Jared leaned in, kissing my forehead with his warm, soft lips.
The engine of a speeding motorcycle grew closer to the loft, stopping just outside. Within seconds of its silence, a quiet knock came from the door. My smile melted away, and Jared threw a few things in a duffel bag as Bex sprawled out on the couch downstairs.
“Mom wants you to call ,” Bex said, holding the remote in front of him, flipping on the television.
“Keep it down, Bex. Nina’s going to try to sleep.”
I crossed my arms, angry that he refused to compromise. “I can’t sleep without you. You think I’m exhausted now? Forty-eight hours from now I’m going to lapse into a coma.”
His arms encircled me, kissing me once more. “At least you’l get some sleep.”
He was trying to keep the mood of his departure light. Jared didn’t enjoy leaving me anymore than I, but he felt strongly enough about my recurring nightmares to break a promise. That realization only left me more unsettled.