Friday, April 18, 2008
“What would I do without you, Josh?” Beth Gallagher glanced over the top of her brother’s car before ducking inside. He slipped behind the wheel while she fastened her seatbelt. “I can’t believe my roommate talked me into going to that stupid party. ‘This is a clean party,’ she said. Yeah, right!”
“So, why’d you go?”
“Besides being gullible and believing her? She thought she had to go to at least one college party before graduation, but she didn’t want to go by herself.” She shook her head. “I should have at least insisted on driving. Sorry for interrupting your sleep.”
“That’s okay. I’m just glad I was in town. Dad would have not been happy if you'd called him. " He flipped on his right blinker, looked to his left and then pulled onto the highway.
He’ll have a fit when he finds out, anyway.” She swiveled her head to take in his profile. “You’re the best, you know that?”
He glanced at her, eyes dancing. “Of course.” He reached over to poke her in the ribs.
She pulled away from his touch, her squeal ending in a giggle. “Hey! Eyes on the road, bro.”
He chuckled, returning both hands to the wheel. Beth relaxed against the seat, a comforting silence falling between them. The swish of the tires against the wet pavement and hum of the engine mesmerized her, lulling her to sleep.
“So what was Heinrich doing there?”
“Huh? Kyle?” She rubbed her burning eyes. “He said a buddy invited him.”
“He spoke to you?” Josh’s jaw ticked.
She groaned. “Yes. He spoke to me. What’s the big deal, anyway? We grew up with the guy. His dad’s on several church committees. His mom heads up the ladies’ care committee. Besides, he’s never been anything but nice to me.”
His expression pensive, he said nothing for a long moment as the rhythmic wiper blades filled the silence.  “Did you forget what happened with his ex-girlfriend?”
Her stomach knotted. “You can’t believe everything you hear. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.”
“Charm is deceitful and good looks are vain if there's no devotion to God. That goes for guys as well as girls.” He glanced over at her and his face softened. “I know you think I’m overreacting. And, yes, we don’t know exactly what happened to Andrea. I just know there’s something about Kyle that isn’t quite right. I love you, Sis, and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
Her heart turned over and she reached to squeeze his hand. “I know. And I love you, too.”
Lights flashed in her eyes, drawing her gaze to his window. “Josh? What are they--”
Glass shattered and flew through the air. Metal scraped against metal in a deafening screech as sparks flew, illumining the blood trickling down his face.
She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. Her purse tumbled, its contents raining around her feet. She reached for Josh, hand swatting at air, but the locked seat belt held her back.
Josh! Oh, God, help us!
They lurched to a stop and her head snapped. Warmth spread through her neck and down her spine. Silence, more deafening than the collision, wrapped her in a chilling grip.
“Josh.” His name ended on a hiccup. She reached for him again. “God, please let him be okay. Oh, God! Don’t take him from me. Please!” She shifted her body, ignoring the pain tearing through her. If she could just reach his hand… She stretched her fingers as far as she could and snagged his wrist. She searched frantically. If she could just find his pulse…
Her heart raced. She squeezed her eyes against the swimming of her head. Oh God! Please!
Everything went black.