West (Chapter Two, page 2 of 9)

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"Fourth, you can always text me," he said. "Okay? I'll answer. Always."

"I don't have your number." My phone was in my hand. I started to unlock it when he continued.

"Fifth … someone out there is trying to prevent me from changing history and saving lives." Carter's tone grew urgent. "If they succeed in thwarting you, horrible things will happen. There's a man named Taylor Hansen. He might be dangerous. I need to know what he's doing back there to figure out his role in all this. So find him and let me know what he's doing. Then find the Choctaw Indian named Running Bear. Remember whatever happens on or around September twentieth fourth is what eventually results in a million deaths."

"I understand."

"Are you taking this seriously?" he searched my gaze.

"Yeah, sure. It'll be a piece of cake. Go back, find Running Horse and Taylor and -"

"Running Bear."

"Yeah. Easy."

He offered a smile. "Thank you for volunteering."

"No problem. When I get back, we can go drinking again."

An emotion I didn't understand flickered across his features. "Sure. I'd like that." The words weren't as warm as they had been, and he averted his gaze to the screen of his iPad once more.

Sounds a little bit ominous. I studied him. Or maybe, he was being himself - awkward.

"Sixth and most importantly, whatever you do, play along and don't panic. They have to believe you're the person they think you are," he added. "Oh, and the others might know you're coming, so be careful."

"Others?" I echoed.

"People who don't think history should be changed."

"Oh, yeah. They're pretty serious?"

"Very." Carter nodded solemnly. "You don't want to get mixed up with their kind."

"I understand." I didn't, but I was overheating, a sign I would probably wake up soon.

"Close your eyes. It gets bright."

The world around me was bathed in white-blue light so intense, it hurt my eyes. I found myself obeying out of necessity.

I was too distracted by the idea that the sun was getting ready to fry me alive to consider everything Carter and I had discussed. I pressed the heels of my palms to my eyes and began panting, unable to bear the heat. Sweat dripped down my body and soaked my pajamas and my hair. It grew too hot to breathe. The insides of my nostrils burned, and I choked then buried my face into my shoulder to try to protect it from the sun.

"Carter?" I rasped.

"Don't fight it, Josie. I promise - you'll be okay." Eventually.

Did he say the last word or did my drunk, sleeping mind imagine it? The light was too blinding for me to look.

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