The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Author: P Hana

Page 35


I thought about him lifting his shirt over his head, the way his muscles would tense beneath his skin. How he would climb into the tub first, wearing nothing but a smirk as he waited for me to join him. I closed my eyes and smiled, but when I opened them, I bit back a scream.

Noah was there, in the tub. The water was red with his blood. His veins were slashed open at the wrists.

I bolted from the bathroom, threw on clothes. I snatched Noah’s laptop from the bed and carried it with me to Jamie’s room. I pounded on the door.

“Put on some music,” I said the second he opened it, thrusting the laptop into his hands.


“Just do it, Jamie.” Thoughts roared in my brain, none of them good. I had to drown them out.

“You don’t think he’d mind?”

I shook my head without looking up.

I heard Jamie scroll through his music. “What are you in the mood for?”

I closed my eyes. “Something we can dance to.”

Five minutes later I heard the intro for “Sympathy for the Devil.” Jamie stepped up onto the bed and held out his hand. I took it and plastered a smile on my face, but it didn’t reach my eyes. He kicked off his shoes, and I kicked off mine.

When the door opened, we didn’t even hear it—we were screaming along with Mick Jagger at the top of our lungs. It felt good.

“Hate to interrupt,” Stella said, eyeing us both, “but dinner has arrived.”

“Oh, thank God.” Jamie jumped off the bed. “I’m starving.”

The smell of whatever was in the plastic bags she’d brought made my stomach growl. “Me too.” I peered into the bag Stella was holding. “What did you get?”

“Mexican,” she said.

“Perfect.” I plucked a foil-covered burrito out of the bag. We ate together with Noah’s playlist still playing. We talked and laughed about nothing, because if we didn’t, we would give up. Before she and I left Jamie’s room, Stella handed me a plastic bag. “I bought this for you,” she said as she opened the door.

“Um, thanks?”

She was already walking away, and waved at me without turning around. I looked into the bag.

It was a pregnancy test.


I LOOKED AT IT, CRADLED in the plastic bag telling me to HAVE A NICE DAY!, but I couldn’t even seem to take it out to read the instructions. I saw the scene unfold in my mind: me in the bathroom, fumbling to open the package and dropping the instructions on the sodden tile floor. Picking them up and trying to read the blurred letters. Sitting on the toilet, practically forcing myself to pee on the stick. And then, after, waiting for fate to hand down my sentence. I just couldn’t do it.

Stella and Jamie knew I hadn’t taken the test, and the atmosphere in the thousandth stolen/borrowed car was dark and uncomfortable. Every time I gagged, Stella and Jamie exchanged a knowing glance, which made me want to kill them, which made me feel even sicker. I caught my reflection in the mirrored entry to the Georgetown hotel Jamie checked us into. I looked undead. I was mildly surprised no one had tried to behead me.

“Just wait,” the girl in the mirror said back.

“Shut up.”

Jamie and Stella both turned to look at me. Guess I’d said that out loud.

As soon as I’d dropped my things in my room, Jamie knocked on my door. He brushed past me and then flung himself onto my bed. “Mara, dear, hand me that menu?”

“Make yourself comfortable,” I said, tossing it to him.

“I’m ordering room service,” Jamie said.

I dropped into an armchair. “It’s not even six.”

“I’m a growing boy. Leave me alone.” Jamie changed the TV channel. “Oh, a Tarantino marathon!”

I eyed the television. “Pulp Fiction? Not my favorite.”


“I prefer Kill Bill.”

“Hmm. Acceptable,” Jamie said with a nod. “Ugh, I can’t order what I want until seven. Bastards.” He punted the remote, and it bounced off the mattress.

“Temper, temper.”

“Pot, meet kettle. Where’s the minibar?”

I pointed to the other side of the room.

“Fetch me something?”

“Fetch yourself.”

Samuel L. Jackson was reciting the last bit of his Ezekiel 25:17 monologue on the flatscreen TV: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.”

Jamie blocked my view. “You didn’t take it, I’m guessing?”

“Take what?” I asked, watching John Travolta and Sammy empty their clips into that sad guy.

“The, uh, test.”

“The—oh.” The pregnancy test. Before I could even answer, Jamie’s focus was diverted.

“Oh, hello there.” Jamie tossed a little black cardboard box at me just as Samuel was saying, “And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

I caught it even though I wasn’t looking, and turned the box over. “What is this?”

“It’s, like, a sex kit.” Jamie ripped open a bag of Skittles and tossed a handful into his mouth.

I threw the box back at him. “You’re more likely to need this than me.”

“Since you’re incubating an alien fetus, you mean?”

“There. Is. No. Fetus. And I’m a virgin. Still. Which I believe I’ve told you already. Several times.”

“I don’t think Stella believes you,” Jamie said. “And I can’t entirely blame her. It strains credulity to imagine Noah could avoid such temptation.”

“You’re not funny.”

“Yes I am. You just have a crappy sense of humor. God, only you could manage to get pregnant without even getting to have sex first.”

“My life does seem to be uniquely shitty lately.”

“I’ll give you that,” Jamie said. “But really, though—why haven’t you done it yet?”

The best defense is a good offense. “Why haven’t you done it yet?”

“I’m saving myself for marriage,” Jamie said, chewing openmouthed.


“Yes. Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. We’re not talking about me. Did you— I mean, do you want to? Have sex with Noah? Current predicament aside?”

I noticed Jamie’s switch from past tense to present, but ignored it. “Of course,” I said quietly.