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A Summer To Die For ch. 2
Brooksville, South Carolina was a small town on the coast. Well, from what I’d been looking up on the flight it was. Small, sunny, and simply unforgettable: their motto. Wow, just wow. I was just scanning over headlines when one caught my eye, LOCAL GIRL MISSING. Hmm, strange for this small town, I must have the wrong state. But, I found out after I started reading the article, I didn’t. Melissa Rawlins, 19 years-old, brown chin length hair, 120 lbs., blue eyes, five foot eight inches, and a scar by her left eyebrow. She’d been missing since May 30th, was last seen at the local Food Giant buying milk. Had been dating Matt Young, but was currently unlisted as a suspect. If today was June 6th, Melissa had been missing for seven days, one week. She had just graduated as class valedictorian and was going to Yale and become a pharmacist.
I pictured a girl on my head. I knew it probably looked nothing like her, but I just had this feeling she was still alive. And she was fine, for now.
“All passengers, please prepare for landing. Thank you.” The too-cheery flight attendant announced over the speaker system. My mind was still too busy thinking about Melissa Rawlins to make some kind of joke about her alliteration with the letter ‘P’ to the person next to me. I was so going to have to find out some more from Aunt Sadie. I shuddered thinking about it. Well, because, I knew it could probably happen to me.
“Leslie!” I heard (and saw) my Aunt Sadie yell, “Leslie Peak!” I ran over to her. “Hey! It has been so long since I saw you last.” She was kind of loud and exuberant, it wasn’t always a bad thing though. “How was your flight?”
“It went fine.” I smiled, then added, “Even the landing was good.”
“Must’ve had a better pilot than I’ve ever had.” I laughed, because that is what you do when older people try and make jokes.
“Hey Leslie,” My Uncle Mike came up beside me and gave me a hug, “Do you think that you’re going to like Brookville?
“Yeah, I do.” I paused, “Um, I have something to ask you about.”
“What is it, baby?” My aunt looked genuinely concerned.
“Melissa Rawlins.” They both went kind of silent.
“In the car.” We were at the luggage pickup station waiting. Bad move Leslie, bad move. We were all silent until we were in the car and it was in motion.
“So, what is it?” My aunt somehow made this not sound rude. I don’t know how, but she did.
I decided to start from the beginning. “While I was on the plane, I googled Brookville, South Carolina and got a few articles about it. So what is the real story?”
“What did you read about it?”
“All I saw was that she’s been missing for a week, brown hair, blue eyes, and she was 19. Was last seen at the grocery store.” I paused, “What really happened?”
“What you read. Melissa was a nice girl that was in town for her last summer before college. Everyone says that her and Matt were still dating, but I have my doubts. He’d been away at college on the west coast, Matt always had been a ladies man. Her parents sent her out for milk and she never came home. Her car was found about 10 miles out of town, no sign of struggle, kind of like she had left her car and met someone else. It was a week ago, that’s all we know. That’s all anyone knows. There are no suspects at this time.” She paused, “Her boyfriend, Matt,” She added the ‘Matt’ as if I didn’t know who she could possibly be talking about, “has an alibi. He was working back-to-back 12 hour shifts. He got some sleep there then worked another 12, it was then that someone finally told him. Matt spent the first two days she had been missing working. There was no way he did it, he couldn’t do anything like that anyway.” Aunt Sadie really looked like she believed that and there was no doubt that it wasn’t true. But I knew, from past experiences, that the person with the most rock-solid alibi was usually the one with the most rock-solid guilt. I could be wrong, I should learn to be less judgmental and actually give people a chance. The past just sticks with you though, and if you forget it, you’re going to repeat it.
“Oh,” What was I supposed to say now? “Okay.”
“Just terrible,” I heard my aunt mumble, “such a good girl.”
“Does stuff like this happen a lot?”
“Oh, gosh no! This is the first of it’s kind.” Same for Vermont.
I take that back, something like this had happened once. Anna Bellium was a year ahead of me, a senior. She left for Fall Break, going where ever. She didn’t come back though. Anna just kind of disappeared. Her car was found in Las Vegas a week later. After a while, everyone just thought she was gone, her parents were even starting to accept it. 3 months later she come back, looking very pregnant. No one had knew, she hadn’t even told her boyfriend or her best friend; she knew they would’ve said something when she left. I don’t know if she thought she would have the baby then come home or what, but she was eventually forgiven. It turned out she’d been working in Vegas. She had been on the verge of suicide and went to talk to a priest. He was the one who recommended she come home, saying she would never be able to face herself if she didn’t. “If you can’t tell your parents things, then who can you tell? God already knows it all, and he created your parents to help guide you in the direction you need to go. And how can they guide you if you can’t tell them. They will forgive you, they’re parents.” It all came out okay. She ended up failing so she was in our senior class, but my Mom told me to just tell her if I was pregnant, not run away. Maybe Melissa was like Anna? It was a possibility, and a good one at that.
“What do you think happened to Melissa Rawlins?”
“I don’t know,” My Aunt Sadie replied, “but I’d give anything to find out.”
Aunt Sadie’s house was a cute, little house right on the beach. It wasn’t overly extravagant like some, it was just good enough for a couple, it could hold three though. Two bedroom, two bath, very decent. And the décor was phenomenal.
“Here is your room and there is your bathroom. Mike and I have our own.” My aunt explained.
“Okay,” She started to leave, “and Aunt Sadie?”
“Thanks for letting me visit you this summer, I really needed to get away from there.”
“I know, honey. And I’m glad you came, I always have like having you around.” She smiled, “You remind me of myself at 17.” Then she left me standing in my room to unpack.
After about half of my stuff was unpacked, I saw a wasp buzzing around. Then I started swinging at it with the shirt that I was (supposed) to be putting away. The wasp got trapped inside and I panicked and threw the shirt out the window where it landed on the neighbors property. Great, I was going to have to and get it, talk about awkward. It was only awkward if someone saw me though. I just had to be stealth. This was going to blow up so bad because I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to be stealth.
when I reached the neighbors yard and crawled through the hedge, there was a younger guy waiting for me, shirt (mine, his was on the ground) in hand.
“This yours?” He asked, holding the shirt out.
“Yes.” A pause just long enough to be awkward, “I’m Leslie, Leslie Peak.”
“Matt Young.” We shook hands.
“Do you live here, Matt?”
“Yeah, with my Mom, Heidi.” Wait, Matt Young was the name of Melissa Rawlins’ boyfriend, or ex as Aunt Sadie thought. That was just a little too creepy. “I have to, uh, go.” We both kind of looked at each other for a few seconds, “Lots of packing to finish.”
“Of course, that’s it.” He smiled and walked away.
This was the missing girl’s boyfriend, or ex. Did he know anything? Was he the last person she saw? Did he do it? No. He looked too all-American-blonde-hair-blue-eye boy to do anything like that. He was so hot though. His shaggy kind of dark-blond hair and teal eyes were stealers. His smile was toxic, as well as the six-pack he had. (His biceps were also toxic.) Six feet and six inches of irresistible tall, muscular, and hot man candy. How was anyone supposed to resist him? He probably had a new girlfriend though. Melissa just went missing a week ago, he was a bad name if he already had another girl, a very bad name. He probably didn’t though, the more I think about it. Heck, he’s probably not even interested in me; he’s probably still worried about Melissa.
This guy was bad news. I just had a feeling. That was final and I had to remember it. Matt Young was bad news, no matter how hot he was.