Authors: Jordan Silver
I think I stopped breathing long before his lips touched mine and my body went up in flames.
hat the fuck was that today?” I paced my room like a caged animal. Yeah I know I’m too intense for a kid my age, or so I keep hearing, but when you have to deal with the shit I do it comes with the territory.
“Look kid, you seem to forget, we don’t work for you.” The asshole on the other end always had a hard on for me, but I wasn’t in the mood to hand him his ass. I needed to get to the bottom of this shit yesterday. Still, every once in a while it was good to remind him of a few things.
“And you seem to forget I’m smarter than you that’s why you people need me. You may think that you don’t work for me, but we both know the deal, now what the fuck happened? I asked one thing of you and you couldn’t come through?”
“How were we to know the local brass was going to come after him? They don’t have anything as far as we can tell.”
“That’s not the point. The point is I told you to give me a heads-up if there’s any movement on that end. What were you doing, jacking off at your damn desk?”
I’m pretty sure he and his partner were tired of me, and my mouth by now, but I didn’t care about them and that shit. Jace is hard headed enough to put his ass in the sling so he could get information. But I knew how easy it was to get hammed up with some shit that wasn’t your doing. I’ve seen more than one innocent get fucked under by this machine.
Jace’s family might be rolling in dough, but there was always someone else who had even more. More money, more clout, more sway. I wasn’t about to see my boy get taken down because of this slag. Though if his hardheaded ass had listened to me in the first place none of this would be happening.
“Look, I need you to make this go away.”
“We can’t do that, not if he’s guilty.”
“You don’t know that, you weren’t even there.” This asshole was really asking for it.
He was supposed to be handling me, more like my babysitter when I wasn’t squared away in a think tank somewhere. But the reality was he couldn’t keep up. My brain was always ten steps ahead of his.
“Okay, here’s the deal, either you make that shit go away or I fuck that last mission.”
“You can’t do that, that information is detrimental to what we’re doing here.”
“I know what we’re doing, and I’m telling you I will fuck everything over if he doesn’t walk. Call them the fuck off. And the next time I tell you to do something you better forget that you don’t like me and do that shit.”
I hung up the phone confident that he would do what I asked. First he was going to call the director and under the rule of full disclosure he will have no choice but to relay the whole conversation, because chances are the shit had been recorded, and if he tried to skirt the truth it might come back to bite him in the ass.
The director, because he needed me like he needed his next breath would cave, but he would come back with something hard. I had a pretty good idea what that something might be, so I needed to go see my girl. I wasn’t supposed to be back this soon anyway. That wasn’t going to make my leaving again so soon any easier. Sometimes I wish my brain wasn’t as unique as it is. I wish I could go back to being a kid and leave all this other shit behind.
“Dad is that you?” I ran to the door just as I had been doing since I was old enough to walk and mom would say ‘daddy’s home’ in the evenings. That’s when he used to come home, when he was happy.
I tried not to resent this new him, the man that he had become after she’d been taken from us. I tried as I always did to accept him, to make excuses for his behavior, but lately it’s been getting harder and harder to do.
I was his little girl once, how had that changed so drastically? At a time when I needed him most, he’d shut me out, and it seems, just never found a way to let me back in.
I wonder if he knew how much he hurt me? I guess not, I think he believes that throwing money and gifts at me was enough.
“Hey pumpkin, how’ve you been? Things look to be in order here so I’m guessing all is well.” I moved in for one of his hugs, which was about the only thing we shared from the past. I live for one of his hugs. They are so far and in between these days though, I’m almost afraid those too will be gone soon.
“I’m fine daddy, did you eat?” I started to head towards the kitchen to make him something. I never knew when he was coming home, so there was nothing prepared. I’d fired the live in housekeeper slash babysitter a long time ago, so there was only me here to take care of him, until the maid came in the morning.
“I’m fine hon don’t fuss, I had something to eat on the plane.”
“Oh, okay, no problem. Is there anything else I can get you daddy?” I was beginning to feel nonexistent the way he ignored me as he checked his phone. I bit my tongue to hold back the acidic words that were burning a hole in it.
“Listen, what do you know about these girls that were attacked from your school, are you close with any of them?” I was more than a little surprised that he knew of any of it, since he never showed much interest in my school or anything that went on there.
I’d once given him the idea of hiring a personal tutor so that I could go on the road with him when he went away on his many trips, but he’d shot that down. Which was good anyway because I met Track not long after and the two of us were a team ever since.
“I know one of them we just became friends actually, and the other one I know of, but not personally. Why?” He fidgeted around with something in his overnight case before bringing his attention back to me.
“I’m not sure I want you that close, not until we know what we’re dealing with here anyway. I mean are these girls involved in something illegal do you know?”
“Like what dad, you think they’re working for the cartel or something?”
“Don’t be facetious. I’m just saying with the way things are today you never know. Until we know for sure what’s going on I’d just as soon you didn’t keep company with either of them.”
“Too late, I already invited them over for a sleepover.”
“Dad, chill. You’re never here anyway so what’s the big deal?
“That’s not the point, the point is that you’re my daughter and I don’t want you putting yourself in any danger. Now until I have vetted these people I don’t think that you should…”
“She’s friends with Track.”
“Oh I see.” I found it slightly weird that my dad seemed a tiny bit intimidated by my teenage boyfriend. I could never quite put my finger on it. I’d never seen Track so much as raise his voice to my dad, but somehow I got the feeling that my dad, if not feared him, had some sort of strange respect for him.
“Well, if Track approves I guess it’s okay. Speaking of which where is he?”
“He’s at home I guess. He said he had some things to take care of but he should be by later.”
I was never really comfortable having this conversation with him. I mean I know it’s Hollywood and things are different here, but it just struck me as odd that my dad knew my boyfriend slept over.
My hand went to the ring I wore on a chain beneath my shirt, close to my heart. No one else knew the fact that he was more than that. That he had refused to touch me before he put his ring on my finger. That was Track, always looking out for me.
I wasn’t sure that dad would mind, but I’d asked for some time to tell him, to break the news. Just in the off chance that he gave a damn and would raise a stink. Track had done something, I still don’t know what, to get parental consent for us to marry. I knew dad hadn’t signed anything, so it was a mystery just what had gone down. That happens a lot with Track.
We exchanged small talk until I saw the signs that it was time for me to go, and I headed back to my room. Now that he’d mentioned it, what was really up with those attacks anyway? I hadn’t paid them too much attention because I didn’t hang with that crowd and it seemed centered around them somehow.
As one of the few people of color who attended Eden High, I honestly didn’t feel like it had anything to do with me, nothing ever does. But what if they were targeting students period? My phone rang just as I was about to have a meltdown.
“You okay?” He always knows, how is that possible? Just the sound of his voice has the power to bring me back from the edge, like it did now.
“Now I am. Dad’s home he said something about the attacks on Sian and that other girl and it got me thinking that’s all.” “You’re not in any danger baby so don’t start worrying. I’m almost done here, I’ll be there soon, you know where all your inhalers are in case you need them right.”
My eyes automatically went around the room to the many places where he’d stashed my asthma inhalers in case I had an attack while I was alone. “Yeah I know.”
“Good girl, I’ll see you in a little bit, I’ll bring you a surprise.” He hung up and I felt better already.
hings are getting entirely too weird in my life. Ever since the cops came to the school, Jace’s dad has us literally under armed guard. Jace is taking it all in stride, but I’m beginning to freak out. Jace on the other hand, thinks that all he has to do is say ‘I’ve got you’ and the worry would just fade away.
I think it’s finally setting in that I was attacked, and that the culprit was still out there somewhere unknown. It didn’t escape my notice that the reason I was only now acknowledging the severity of the situation, is because Jace had pretty much insulated me from the moment I left the hospital until now. I guess seeing him that close to being carted off in handcuffs had finally put things in perspective for me.
The school is in an uproar, because Mr. Sanders made good on his threat to oust the principal and things were pretty much helter-skelter at the moment. If I weren’t the one stuck in the middle of this mess I guess I would find it hard to believe.
Mom and dad seemed a little shell shocked by all this as well, though I can tell they appreciated the extra support and security from Jace’s dad. Personally though, I thought it was a bit much. But that’s Jace for you. I knew his dad was doing it as much for him as he was for me. The man adores his son. Two peas in a pod!
Mr. Sanders for his part has been treating me about as well as my own dad. He and his wife never once complained about the uproar I’d brought into their sons life, in fact neither of them blamed me for what was going on, or the fact that their home was pretty much surrounded by strangers with guns, and their son was being accused of who knows what.
I still can’t remember who attacked me, but more and more I’ve been beginning to think it was just some random act by a stranger, and not the whole big conspiracy Jace seems to think it is.
I mean, if Mandy had attacked me, or had anything to do with my attack, why would she end up in the hospital herself? It just didn’t make sense. The kids at school, when Jace would let them within five feet of me, were very nice, nicer than I’d expected. And even some of the other girls from the squad who had avoided me like the plague before, were friendlier. I guess when the cat’s away the mice would play.
It was hard to believe that we’d just moved here and all this had happened already; only in Hollywood I guess. Back home the closest I ever came to danger was a paper cut.
“How’s your head babe?” His arm came around my shoulders as he walked me to my first class. “It’ll be okay stop worrying.” I’d slept home last night in my own bed and felt out of my depth this morning. I almost couldn’t get to sleep without him there until I took some of the pills the doctor had prescribed.
Now this morning I felt like a wet dishrag and my head was pounding away. I had an appointment later this afternoon for a follow up with the doctor to make sure I was healing okay, but other than that and the stinging stab wounds, I was almost back to normal.
Now that some of the hoopla was beginning to die down, I was able to concentrate on other things. Like in the back of my mind there was something about a phone call. I wasn’t sure as yet what the significance of that was, but I knew it meant something.
The cops still hadn’t been able to find out anything, and I was starting to wonder if they ever would. “Buzz me if you need me. Don’t forget we have to leave early to get you to the doctor’s.” He’s so sweet, the way he keeps hovering. I can tell he doesn’t want to leave me and go to his own class. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we’d only just met, or that he was a seventeen-year old, sheesh.
“Go Jace I’ll be fine.” He had a death grip on my shoulder and looked like he was giving serious thought to dragging me back home. “Fine.” I saw him nod to someone over my shoulder and had a pretty good idea what he was up to. He’s in the habit of having his friends and their friends be on the lookout for me. I’m not quite sure what’s the point at which they’re supposed to alert him though. Knowing him, it could be something as simple as if I sneeze too hard.
I don’t know if it was because I was going to see the doctor again for the first time, or what it was, but that nagging memory kept playing at the edges of my mind all day. I wish there was some way they could drag it out of me, maybe hypnosis or something like that. Maybe I could bring it up with the doctor and see what he says.
“Cassie, just the girl I wanna see. We’re going over to Valerie’s this weekend for a sleepover, you’re coming right?” Lately she’s been avoiding me, or so it seems. I wasn’t sure if it was because she was freaked out by the attack, or if she was afraid that if she hung out with me she might be next.
“Um, sure, I guess, if mom and dad don’t need me for something.”
“How’s your mom doing by the way?”
“Oh you know; she’s getting better. Her and dad are getting along a lot better these days.” I bet, with Mandy out of the way no more midnight trysts for him. That is so not nice Sian.
It had been some time since I thought of that night. With everything else that had been going on with me, I’d pretty much blocked it out of my mind. Now with the cobwebs clearing I was pretty sure of what I’d seen that night, there was no longer any doubt.
Right on the heels of that thought was the nagging memory of the phone call again, and I wondered how they were connected. I tried to keep Cassie close as the others straggled into the cafeteria for lunch but she slipped away under some pretense.
If Jace wouldn’t have my head I would go after her, but I wasn’t about to bring his wrath down on me. I made a note to have a serious talk with her at the sleepover. I didn’t want her going back into that shell I’d only just dragged her out of.
I noticed that Belle and my brother kept giving each other secret smiles when they thought no one was looking and made a note to find out what that was about. It seems I’d been missing a lot since my time as an invalid.
I’d made it to the cafeteria on my own because Jace had to go see coach about something which he texted me about before sending my brother to get me. I wish he would lighten up before he gave himself a coronary, but there was no talking to him.