The car stopped, and Ethan’s hand slipped from mine. I turned to him, blinking against the fluorescent lights of the gas station.
“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I just needed to get some gas and a few things from the convenience store. There’s no food at the cottage. I thought I’d grab some crackers and soda. Stuff like that. I’ll even see if they have black licorice for you. I know you love it.”
I nodded and started for my seat belt.
“No. You stay.” Ethan opened his door and stepped outside. I let my hair fall across my shoulders, trying to warm myself against the night air. “I’ll be right back.”
The trunk opened, and a moment later, Ethan opened my door, handing me one of his sweatshirts. “Here, you look cold.”
I smiled. “Thanks.” He knew me so well. I watched him walk inside the store and heard the soft click of the car locking again. He wasn’t taking any chances with me. I knew he’d protect me from anything. He’d already protected me from death. He was my every- thing now. I would never see my family or friends again. I had to start over. The thought terrified me, but at least I had Ethan by my side.
I hugged the sweatshirt to my body. I was too tired to actually put it on, and, this way I could breathe in Ethan’s scent while I kept warm. I inhaled deeply at first, and then my breaths became shallow, which was weird considering how tired I felt. I yawned. Exhaustion overwhelmed me. Apparently it took a lot of energy to return from the dead.
I leaned my head on the window, hoping the cool glass would keep me awake, but my head spun, making me dizzy. My arms and legs tingled with the sensation of pins and needles. I felt like I had a million spiders crawling all over me. I threw the sweatshirt off me and onto the floor. My arms were bare. No spiders. But the feeling didn’t go away. I panicked. The walls of the car were caving in on me. The air around me was tight, strangling me.
I searched the convenience store windows for Ethan, but all I saw was a guy in a cowboy hat, and a woman taking her little boy to the bathroom. Where was Ethan? The lightheadedness was getting worse—more intense. My breathing was labored. In a panic, I reached for the door handle. It took me a moment to remember it was locked, but when I finally got it open, I stumbled out of the car into the fresh air. I gulped oxygen into my lungs, hoping it would make me feel better, but it didn’t.
I was suffocating. Life was draining out of me. I collapsed to my knees, skinning them against the pavement. Wheezing, I crawled forward, trying to reach the convenience store door. Trying to reach Ethan. I needed help. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but it felt like I was dying…again.
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