Just to say, I didn't mention it last time, but Max, Dan, Matt and Chris are the other members of You Me At Six, incase I mention them and you're like who?! ;)
'How was it?' Max asks, chewing his lip.
I produce a slightly weak smile. 'It was better than I thought it was going to be. I guess cause it was their show last time and their fans, it was a bit easier.'
He nods sympathetically. 'Yeah, I know what you mean.'
'I just need to get out of here and I'll be fine,' I shrug.
Chris glances at me. 'Shall we just head, then?'
'Yeah,' I nod, biting my lip. 'I'm sorry, guys.'
He shakes his head. 'You actually did well during the show. It looked like it hardly affected you at all.'
'Oh, that's good,' I smile. 'I guess I'm just good at pretending.'
Dan laughs. 'Maybe it is,' he smiles, as we walk out of the building.
My phone buzzes just as we hop into a car. I glance down at it and freeze. No. No, it can't be. How could that even be real?
'Pinch me,' I mutter.
Matt glances at me. 'Y'allright, Josh?'
I shake my head slowly and show him my phone. 'It's not just me that can see that, right?'
'Oh my gosh,' his eyes go wide with surprise. 'No way.'
I take my phone back and stare at the screen until it blurs.
Josh, is this still you? You might have gotten a new phone by now, I dunno. Wow, it's been months and nobody's heard a word, or seen me, including the guys. I have a lot to tell you. Please tell me you're in town?! I need to talk to you so bad. With all my love Hayley xxxxxx
I glance at Matt. 'I want to go meet her.'
'Go, then. We're in town,' he smiles.
Of course, I'd love to come and meet you. Luckily, I'm around! When and where? xxxxx
'Okay, will somebody please tell me what's happening here, cause I have no idea!' Dan complains. 'I'm super confused.'
'It's Hayley,' I explain quietly. 'She's back, and wants to meet up with me.'
He frowns. 'What even happened to her?'
I shrug. 'I dunno. I guess that's what I'm going to find out now.'
Your house, five minutes? xxx
'We're just gunna meet at mine,' I smille.
The car pulls to a stop outside my house a few minutes later, and there's a figure at the bottom of my drive way, with their hood up. I clamber out. 'Hayley?'
The figure turns round. It's Hayley all right, just a lot thinner and a lot paler. 'Hi,' she croaks.
Suddenly, I can't contain myself. I rush forwards, and hug her tightly. I gasp as I realise just how thin she is. 'What happened?'
'Can we go inside?' she mutters. 'I don't want to explain out here.'
I nod and grab her hand, but not before quickly kissing her. 'I missed you,' I say as I unlock the front door.
She smiles weakly, shutting the door behind her. 'I missed you too, Josh. I missed everyone. But I'm hungry. Do you have any food?'
'Yeah, of course I do,' I laugh lightly.
She hardly manages to crack a smile. This worries me. The Hayley I knew would laugh at that.
I put the kettle on and scan around. 'What would you like?'
'A meal,' she whispers. 'Anything. Pasta, or something.'
This surprises me. 'Hayley,' I begin slowly. 'When was the last time you ate properly?'
'I don't know,' she shrugs. 'I had a proper meal a couple of days ago, I guess.'
I gasp as I get some pasta out of the cupboard. 'A few days ago? Oh, Hayley, what on earth happened to you, hmm?'
She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. 'I... It's a long story.'
I nod as I put the pasta on and search in the fridge. I find some cheese and cut a few slices. I hand them to her. 'Here, have these.'
She smiles gratefully and devours them immediately. 'Thanks. It started when they dragged me out of the hospital. I thought we would be going back to their house, but we went somewhere different.'
'Why?' I frown.
She bites her lip. 'I don't know. My Dad just suddenly turned into a monster.'
'What did he do?' my voice is low and threatening.
She closes her eyes for a minute. 'I... I don't really know what was going on there. He... there were lots of girls there, that he'd somehow collected. We got there, and I didn't see my Mom again. I think... I think he might have killed her.'
I wince. It sounds terrible. 'He killed her?'
She shrugs. 'I don't know. It's just a guess. I saw her at the very beginning and didn't see her for three months.'
'What did he do to you?'
Hayley passes a hand over eyes. 'He sexually abused us all,' she whispers.
'His own daughter?' I ask.
She nods bitterly. 'Even his own daughter,' she sighs.
I wrap my arms around her, sensing she might want to cry. In a matter of minutes, my t-shirt is soaking, as sobs wrack her thin body.
I glance at the pasta, and notice it's ready. I don't say anything for a minute, until she stops crying. I bite my lip. 'The pasta's ready,' I say quietly.
She pulls back. 'Oh, good. I'm absolutely starving.'
I serve it onto a plate and grate cheese over it. As Hayley devours it, I put some bacon in the oven for her, knowing the pasta alone won't be enough.
'I hardly ate there,' she continues. 'He gave us food, and what we had was disgusting most of the time, with a very rare exception.'
I bite my lip. 'How did you get away from there? By the sounds of it, he would have kept you there forever.'
'He would have,' she sighs. 'But I escaped. We were allowed outside once a day. The whole time I was there, I spent my spare time trying to figure a way out. The place was fenced by large green fences that looked really hard to climb. But one time, he was inside, raping somebody and the person looking over us had his back turned. I climbed over the fence, which was easier than I originally thought.'
I smile. 'At least you escaped. What happened then?'
'I found my phone, cause Dad had it, and I ran for here. It wasn't actually all that far from here, so I got here quite easily,' she smiles weakly.
'What about your Dad?'
She bites her lip. 'I first arrived here and came to your house. When I realised you weren't in, I went to the police station and reported him.'
'You only call you Dad him,' I frown.
She sighs. 'He's not my father,' she says bitterly. 'I... The Dad I knew would never do that to anybody, let alone his own daughter.'
I nod, taking the bacon out and putting it onto the plate she virtually licked clean. I also make her some hot chocolate. 'What did the police say?'
She smiles weakly. 'Thank you. They... we went to the place and they arrested Dad and the people working with him. They took the girls with them for the night. They only let me go cause you were in town.'
I bite my lip and sit down next to her. 'Hayley. I'm so so sorry. I should have done something when they came to the hospital.'
'No, you couldn't have,' she interrupts harshly. 'You had a broken arm, okay? You couldn't have done anything, so please don't blame yourself.'
I sigh. 'Have you told the guys?'
She shakes her head. 'I haven't, not yet. I just wanted to see you first, because there's four of them and only one of you. I thought meeting them first might overwhelm me a bit.'
I smile. 'Invite them over.'
'Are you sure?' she asks.
I laugh. 'Yes, of course I'm sure. I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't, silly!'
She laughs. She actually laughs. 'Thank you, Josh,' she takes out her phone and types in a number.
I clear up her dinner and put it all in the dishwasher.
'Josh? Is that you?' she asks nervously. 'It's me, it's Hayley.'
I can hear him, even though her phone's not on speaker. 'HAYLEY!'
'Hey,' she laughs. 'Come to Josh's house.'
'Hayley!' the yell and run up the garden path towards us. They wrap her in a massive hug and all five of them burst out laughing.
'Hayley,' Zac grins. 'We all missed you so much.'
She laughs. 'I missed you guys so much too. I missed all of you,' she glances at me. 'I have to say, I was ready to let go. I was ready to give up.'
'I'm so glad you didn't,' Jeremy smiles.
Hayley nods. 'I'm so glad I didn't either.'
I glance at her and smile. 'I'm glad you didn't let go.'
'Me too,' she mumbles against my chest. 'I'd have missed you far too much.'