This is an unedited excerpt from an unpublished novel.
I shut off the car and we got out. Laura leaned against the hood, staring over the bay. “You can’t see the portals from here.”
“As far as we know,” Dominic said. I glared at him and he shrugged. “There could be other portals we don’t know about.”
“I don’t think this is a good time to talk about them,” I snapped.
“They’re there, though, even if we don’t talk about them.” Laura paused. “I can’t do this anymore.”
She sounded completely defeated. I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling. Three years earlier, when I’d seen Stacy taken by the force of darkness, it had been hard for me. But that was nothing like losing my entire family. And I knew Laura believed it was her fault her family was gone.
“Laura, you can’t give up now,” Dominic said. “You and Zeke defeated the force of darkness. We’re close to getting rid of it completely, at least for a while. We need you.”
“No.” Laura spoke quietly, but all her pain was in that one word.
Dominic reached out to her. “It wasn’t your fault,” he said.
Laura stepped out of Dom’s reach and turned to me, her eyes searching my face, though I wasn’t sure for what. “What do you think, Phil? My brother’s gone because I helped him fight the force of darkness. My parents are gone because the force of darkness wanted revenge on me. It’s all because I had to get involved in this stupid light versus darkness stuff. So who’s right, Dom or me?”
I held out my arms and after a moment she came into them, though she held herself stiff. “Dom’s right, Laura,” I said. “It wasn’t your fault. None of it.”
“Then whose was it?” Neither of us had an answer for her. She pulled away from me. “That’s what I thought. You have what you wanted, Dom. You’re free. I’m not staying here.” She took a breath. “Tomorrow we’re going to Boston for the funeral. I finally got everyone to listen to me. I won’t be coming back. I’m going home with my dad’s brother instead. He and his wife have plenty of room. Maybe I’ll even go to college there.”
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. “You’re moving to New York?”
“Where else could I go?”
“Your grandparents’. Or you could stay with me.”
Laura managed a small smile. “I love you, Phil, and I appreciate the thought. But I can’t stay here. Being here, seeing you and Dom all the time, it would just remind me of everything. And you’d both still be working against the forces of darkness. I’d be too scared that something would happen to you.” She kissed me. “I’ll miss you. I don’t really want it to end this way between us. But I think it has to. For now, at least.”
“I love you.” It was all I could say without choking on the lump in my throat.
“I love you too.” She turned to Dominic and hugged him. “I’ll miss you too, Dom. Have faith. Everything will work out.”
“Take care, kid.” Dominic kissed her cheek before he let her go.
“You too. Both of you.” Laura hesitated. “You don’t have to take me back to my grandparents’. I need to walk. I–” She broke off. After a moment she turned and walked away.
I couldn’t watch her go.