I knoowww... It's been 2 years! I'm so horrible :( I'm sorrryyy :(
My only excuse is real life really getting on me these past two years. I tried to finish this chapter, I really do, but every time I tried to write, it came out blank. And then I kinda lost interest after CeCe's revelation because that kinda put me off. And add the time leap and the whole final season. I mean, I do love twists, I tried to make good twists in this story, but those were just too.. weird for me (the twin idea was brilliant actually).
So yeah, I was too busy denying what happened to PLL that I completely had no inspiration to write this anymore. But then I rewatch the first two season and suddenly my muse is back! Not exactly on roll like how I wrote previous chapters, but it's coming back for sure. And finally, here it is!
FYI, I did some changes on the previous chapters. Some are barely noticeable, just deleting few scenes that I thought was a bit too much and replacing it with a better one (in my opinion). But the major plot is still the same, you don't have to re-read again if you don't want too :)
Sunlight peeked through the curtain, seducing him to wake up. Just like any other day, Noel Kahn would grunt at the sun and turned away. The difference was that he had a small smile plastered as he slowly gained consciousness. These past few days had been crazy and amazing for him, just like what he hoped for. All the holding back and patience did finally repay him in the end. And it was… awesome. Noel let out a content sigh as he fought back the will to wake up. His hand reached out to his side, hoping to run his finger lightly over the smooth, silky back he had showered with kisses last night. But it ended up on his wrinkled sheet.
Still refusing to sit up, his hand instead moved around wildly next to him, hoping to catch something warm and smooth. Then it moved upwards towards the pillow next to him, only to felt that there was just a pillow. Nothing else. Noel immediately opened his eyes and sat up straight. Just as his hand had found, there was no one next to him. He cursed under his breath and glanced around his room, only to have his fear confirmed. There was no red haired on sight. He craned his neck, trying to hear a tiny sound from the adjoined bath room. But there was none.
He was completely alone and that was not good. This was so, so bad.
Noel immediately grabbed his phone on the nightstand and made a call to the most recent contact. While waiting for his call to be picked up, he scrambled out of his bed, jumping over the scattered piles of last night's clothes and dashed over to his wardrobe. When his call went straight to voicemail, he let out a string of curses.
Definitely apocalyptic bad.
Once he got his pants on, he patted down on the pocket. Then he looked around the room again, his expression looked close to frustration, before he went down the bed and grabbed car keys and wallet he was trying to find. He grabbed his phone again from the bed and made another call, his foot tapping against the floor repeatedly as his phone played dial tones. And, once again, straight to the voicemail.
This was not how he pictured that morning to go. They had spent almost a week on DC and the surrounding, going from one rehab center to another. He had to pretend to be a drug addict (not that it need any effort on his mind. Eric's parties and his own were enough to provide him such inspiration), having to pee on a cup each time or got his tongue swabbed. Sure, the bailing out on classes were fun, not so much on practice though, coach would have his ass for sure today. But he had desperately wanted to sleep on his own bed, having a good time away from DC. And now this happened, just right after they got back to Rosewood.
Noel quickly got out of his room and running down the stairs. The first thing he noticed was the new maid who stared to work this month, was vacuuming the hallway. "You!" he shouted, practically scaring her. "Did you see her? Did she say where she's going?"
"Bianca! The girl who came with me last night. Did you see her leaving?"
"Oh, oh, yes," the new maid stammered. "She, she didn't say anything. Was in a bit of a hurry, it seems."
It calmed him a bit, just tiny bit. Maybe he was just overreacting. That maybe she had to stop by her house to grab some fresh clothes for the day and maybe she met the girls and they went to school together. It had been a week, after all, since she last saw her friends. Maybe. He hated if the universe decided to mess with them today, of all the days.
Jim, as his buddies usually called him, was very secretive about his side job. Well, having a job like that dud require tremendous effort to keep it hidden. But Jim always made sure only handful of selected people knew about this and he didn't intend to expand his business. As part of keeping it very secret, he never met with more than one client at the same time and made it a point to his friends to not disturb him at that time.
Which was why he was pretty pissed off when doorbell to his apartment suddenly rang when he had a client inside.
As he mumbled out apologies for intrusion, Jim went to his computer and opened up access to camera on his front porch. One with a side job like his had to invest in a very tight security. His scowl lessened when the live feed was finally displayed on his screen. He stared at it, completely stunned, glancing backforth between his current guest and computer screen. Until finally he moved away from the computer and turned to his guest.
"I need you to hide."
His current guest stared at him in shock. "Wait, what? Why should I?"
"Just do it," Jim quickly said, grabbing the handbag and pulled his guest to stand up at the same time. The doorbell rang again and Jim knew he had to be quick before his new guest decided to leave. "I'll give you huge cut if you cooperate and shut up," he added, pushing her to the bedroom and slammed it shut, cutting out her protest.
After making sure his apartment was presentable– there should be no trace that there was another person in the house or else his new guest would freak out and leave immediately, Jim finally opened the door and smirked at his new guest. "Well, look who decides to come back," he commented.
His new guest just rolled her eyes as response. She took a step forward to enter his apartment but he didn't budge from his spot. "Are we doing it in the front door now?" she asked impatiently when Jim still blocked her access inside.
Still smirking, Jim pushed himself away from the wall and stepped back to allow her to come inside the apartment. He watched as she looked around his new apartment before turning back to him. "You've redecorated," she commented nonchalantly.
"Obviously. It's been, what, six months since you last came?" Jim countered back as he closed the front door. "Are we doing pleasantries now? Not that I mind, of course. Drinks?" He gestured towards the drink tray between the sofa and armchair.
"No," she said sharply. "I need the same thing," then she paused for a moment, "but more."
Jim raised his eyebrow, noticing how calm she seemed. The last time he had seen her, right in this spot, she was frantic, dishelved, unfocused, and even borderline suicidal. Had he not known who she really was, he would have thought her to be one of his clients who had their supply cut and desperately needed a fix. He didn't see her for six months. But here she was, looking too calm to his taste. Jim opened his mouth before abruptly closing it right away. That was close. He almost broke his own rule, caring about his client's personal problem. That was his most upheld rule and he almost broke it for a girl he just met three times. Twice.
A small voice on the back of his mind whispered that he broke his rules already by letting her in without appointment.
"Exactly how much is more?" he asked.
"Everything you have."
His eyebrow rose even higher. "Are you having a party?" Jim blurted out before he could himself.
Her head snapped up at him, eyes narrowing slight. "Are you a therapist now?"
"Oh come on, we do have a long history," he said smoothly. "One or two small talks are not forbidden."
Instead of relaxing like he thought she would, his guest stiffened and immediately made a move to walk back to his front door. Not wanting her to leave, Jim quickly grabbed her arms to stop her. "Whoa, leaving so soon?"
"Are you selling me or not?" she snapped back.
"Okay, okay. Geez, sensitive much? No wonder Jason kept complaining about you," Jim rolled his eyes, completely missing how her stiff posture faltered slightly when he mentioned that name. When he glanced back at her, she already composed herself back to the scowling girl few seconds ago. "Fine," he said, "let me see how many I have."
Jim watched his new guest from the corner of his eyes as he unlocked his safe. She was too eerily calm. His hand paused just as he almost touched his supply. Should he really break it, for this once?
No, he decided. He couldn't care how much she wanted to buy and what it was for. As long as he got the money, that was it. No matter how weird and off she seemed to him at the moment. Or what kind of history he had with her. Or how damn curious he was with this girl. She was a client and that was it. Once he was done doing business, he didn't need to know anything else about her. Business and done. That was the most important thing right now.
Shaking his head, Jim reached in to grab everything on the safe and placed them into a plastic container. Once again, he hesitated to give them all to her. It was too risky to sell this many to one person only. What if these could be traced back to him?
Her voice snapped him from his thought and Jim then realized that he had been staring at her for a while. His guest stood up from sofa and walked over to him. She glanced down at the plastic container he had on his hand and then back to him suspiciously. "Is that all you have?" she asked.
"You got the money?" he countered back.
His guest stared at him with her eyes narrowed for a moment until she opened her handbag and took out a bulky brown paper bag. She threw it to him who caught it effortlessly. The money inside, as Jim found out, was more than enough to buy his supply.
"What now? Not enough?"
"I hope this doesn't come from parent's account."
She rolled her eyes, "don't be ridiculous. I know how to do this."
After staring at her contemplatively, Jim then shrugged his shoulder and gave her the container. He watched as she put it deep inside her bag. Just as he was about to say something, the girl turned around and walked towards his door. Jim quickly walked after her and pushed his hand against the door she was about to open. "No goodbye?" he asked, "I'm hurt."
The girl scowled at him, "goodbye. Happy?"
Jim pulled back and let her opened the door. "Always a pleasure," he purred and smirked when she just rolled her eyes at him and walked out of his apartment. He watched her leaving until he heard the bedroom door behind him opened. Jim glanced back to see his other client coming out of his bedroom. "Sorry about that," he said, smiling brightly.
"Is she… one of your regulars?"
"You know her?"
"I think so. I recognized her voice. We go to the same school," his client answered, glancing at the door. "Never pegged her as your client really. She's, like, one of the smart and popular girl in school."
He shrugged his shoulder. "You never know the real people around you. So, shall we finish our transaction?"
"But she is your regular?" she still insisted to ask. "I just want to know," his guest added defensively when he turned her with a slight frown, "we practically run in the same circle."
"She's not, but her boyfriend was," Jim answered after a while. "She's probably helping him to get these stuffs. I kinda pissed him off last time we met."
His guest raised her eyebrow. "She doesn't have a boyfriend. I know she kinda hooked up with a friend of mind and went with him to homecoming but they're not dating. Yet. Doesn't she sound weird to you?"
Jim opened his mouth but then closed it for a while before shrugging his shoulder again. "Not my business," he then said. "Can we go back to ours now?"
As he turned around and walked back to the living room, his guest quickly took out her phone and sent a text. She released a shaky breath, glanced back to the front door again, before walking after him. It was definitely not her business, just like Jim said, but it couldn't hurt to be on his good side.
She had no idea what prompt her to choose this place, of all places she could pick on this city. If anything, this place had one of the best memories she had of them together. The top five, in fact. Or maybe she just went for the irony of it.
So there she was, standing in the center of the exact room they booked that weekend to get away from their families and scrutinizing eyes of Rosewood.
The only thing that was missing from the picture was him.
Presidential Suite, Western Spire Hotel
"I already know we're going to a hotel, J. What's the point of closing my eyes now?"
"Didn't you just complain that I'm not romantic enough," Bianca heard Jason said next to her, sounding very annoyed. "Should I just cancel this and check us in a motel instead? It's way cheaper."
Bianca scowled and swatted his arm, "don't you dare! You promised me this!"
"Well, then shut up and close your eyes."
Jason nodded in satisfaction when he watched his girlfriend made a 'zipping it shut' motion in front of her lips. Honestly, he had no idea what made him agreed to do this day on the first place. Well, now that he thought about it, he knew exactly why agreed. Ever since the whole mishap on Valentine's day, it took him days of begging until Bianca finally spoke to him. Even then she still nagged and nagged about that day. So yeah, he saved up his allowance for three weeks and got them this reservation. So she could just shut. Up.
He glanced to Bianca who clutched her hand around him, smiling bright as he led her out of the car. Well, maybe it wasn't really a bad idea, seeing her so excited and clung to him openly like this, now that they were away from the prying eyes of gossipers in Rosewood. He liked the idea of her being depended on him
"I do hope you told the security about this or else they might think you're kidnapping me."
Until she opened her mouth, really.
"Bianca…" he growled.
"Fine, fine, shutting up."
Honestly, and she was the one whining all the time that he was not romantic.
Jason nodded towards the doorman when they passed him and navigated through crowds in the lobby. Fortunately, there was not that many people at that time so the elevator ride to their floor was quick enough to spare him any more questioning and bewildered looks from other people. He already enough of those in Rosewood, thank you very much. Jason quickly opened the door to their room and ushered her in. He glanced around the room, making sure everything was set to his requests. It was embarrassing enough when he made the request, he did not want to repeat those talks today.
But everything was set perfectly. Red and white rose petals on the bed. There was champagne bottle, chilled, next to chocolate fondue tray. He had to bribe Scarlet to find what kind of champagne Bianca usually took from the cellar. Bianca's favorite flowers were already in three vases around the room. Drapes were closed and candles were lit all over the room. Good. Everything was perfect.
He walked back to his girlfriend and guided her to the center of the room so she could everything at once. "Ready?" he whispered from behind as his hands slowly made their way to her blindfold knot. When she leaned back at him and nodded, Jason slowly untied the knot and let it fall down to the floor. Then he took a step back and watched as she blinked her eyes repeatedly, adjusting to her surroundings.
Bianca blinked as the dim light finally seeped into her eyes. The first thing she noticed was a vase of irises in the coffee table in front of her. Her eyes widened and she immediately spun around to face him. "You remember my flower?" she asked with a wide, surprised smile.
"How could I not after being quizzed every day?" he teased. "Well? What do you–"
A hand wrapped around his neck and eagerly pulled him down for a kiss, cutting him off. "I love it!" Bianca leaned away for a moment, beaming up at him.
A grin plastered on his face, satisfied with the awe-stricken expression she had. It surprised him, sometimes, how he loved seeing her bright smile directed only to him, or knowing he could make her laugh so easily. Ever since she stumbled into his life, he seemed to find a reason to look forward for a new day every day. Jason wrapped his hand around her waist, trapping her close to him. "Am I forgiven then?" he asked hopefully.
"Abso-freaking-lutely," Bianca grinned back before pulling him into another breath-taking kiss.
A sob escaped her lips as she sat on the bare bed. There were no flowers, no whispers of love as they laid on the bed. Instead, on the very same coffee table in front of her, were couple of pills she had accidentally spilled out earlier when she tried to open the container in a hurry. The memories of him… of them, were too much to handle. And the pain still refused to go away even after she swallowed some.
What was that promise he spoke so often that summer? To face everything together, to be there for each other, to be happy together. Where was the happiness he promised? He kept clawing at her heart, refusing to let her heal it. Just as she managed to hold herself together with a torn heart, he ripped it again to shreds. How was she to recover from this again? She was not strong enough losing him once. But twice?
Her hand reached out the tequila bottle she also sneaked in her handbag when she came in earlier and gulped it down.
She wanted to forget everything.
Four months after Alison disappeared and two months after Dilaurentis family moved out of Rosewood, Spencer and Bianca became inseparable. There was never a Spencer without Bianca hovering nearby and same went the other way. They always knew where the others were, down to every detail. The change might not be as noticeable as Hanna and Mona's, but it was enough that it would be easier to assume they were childhood best friend rather than two girls who only had each other after their whole life were wrecked apart.
But then everything had changed since Alison's body was found. Suddenly the close relationship they had were just a fleeting imagination. There were arguments, secrets, and fights sprouting out every now and then. They were no longer as inseparable as they were before. Bianca began closing up again, refusing to talk, and Spencer were too scared to hurt Bianca again. Which was why it didn't seem such a big thing when Spencer didn't see Bianca almost for a week at school.
Until Noel Kahn walked into their class and stopped dead on his track when he saw an empty chair next to Spencer.
"What?" Spencer asked when he still frowned at her.
But instead of answering her, Noel took out his phone and started texting, still with a frown on his face. He stole a glance every now and then at her while still typing on his phone. Thinking Noel was just being weird as usual, Spencer decided not to heed his behavior and returned to her book. This wasn't the first time she caught him glancing at her like that, ever since Bianca somehow spent the night with him. Since Bianca befriended him anyway, let him be her problem.
If she ever returned back to school.
Spencer frowned. Her hand reached into her bag as she debated whether to call Bianca or not. Bianca had promised to come over to her house after Jason returned home, but there was no sign of that red-haired girl or even Jason in town. They couldn't be holing up on her house the whole week, could they?
Sighing, Spencer glanced at the entrance to their class, hoping for a last minute miracle. The substitute English teacher was due to come any time soon and she had been asking about Bianca since day 1. Spencer turned slightly to Emily who sat closest to her. "Any sign of Bianca?" she asked like she always did since Monday.
Emily shook her head, like she always did every time Spencer asked, "she didn't come to PE. Maybe she's still with Jason?"
Seriously. One freaking week. Maybe she really should call her.
"What are you guys whispering about?" Hanna joined in, leaning forward towards them.
"Bianca," Emily answered since she sat closer to Hanna. "Did you see her?"
Hanna shrugged her shoulder, "Never since Monday." Then her face scrunched up in distaste. "Don't freaking tell me she's still with Jason." Her eyebrow raised when she saw Noel suddenly stood up and hurried out of the class. "I'm so used seeing him with B. He looks so pitiful right now. Do you think that's why he asked you out? To get B jealous?" she asked to Aria who sat behind Emily.
Aria looked up from her book before shrugging her shoulder. "Well, he totally failed if he wanted that."
"No but seriously, did none of us really see B since weekend? Or Jason? Even in town?" Spencer asked in disbelief.
Something didn't feel right for her.
Her three friends shared wary looks at each other. Neither of them felt comfortable realizing they hadn't seen Bianca at all.
"Maybe we should–"
Hanna's voice disappeared abruptly when simultaneous chimes rang out from their bags and Spencer's hand. An identical scarred look plastered on their face as they reached for their own phone. There was only one reason they got text at the same time lately. And it was never the text they hoped to receive anytime soon or even forever.
This one was no different.
Unknown: Only one will follow me to the grave – A.
Spencer was the first one to realize what the text meant. "Oh God," she looked up from the screen, her face ashen and pale white, "Bianca."
Without waiting for the others, Spencer quickly grabbed her bag and dashed out of the class room. Her eyes darted around the hallway wildly before she finally found who she was looking for. Noel Kahn just turned around the corner to the hallway leading to the entrance door when she came out of the class. "Noel!" Spencer shrieked, running after him. Behind her, the rest of the girls followed her suit. "Noel, wait!" she called out again when they reached the parking lot and Noel still didn't seem to hear her. "NOEL KAHN!"
This time, he finally stopped and turned around. His eyes widened when he saw four girls running towards him, "what the hell?"
"God," Hanna huffed, catching out her breath from all the running. Next time, she really needed to stop wearing high heels. Or find a way to run with high heels without hurting herself. Whichever was the easier. "Are you deaf or something?"
"What do you want?" Noel barely managed to get that sentence out when a hand grabbed his shirt and pulled him down roughly.
"Bianca. Where is she?" Spencer asked, tightening her grip on his shirt so he wouldn't run away.
Noel's eyes widened briefly before he averted his eyes to the ground. "I don't know where she is," he mumbled.
"What do you mean you don't know where she is?!" Spencer asked, getting more hysterics. All she could think of were that text and the fact that her best friend was nowhere to be found. "She told you everything!"
"Well I don't know!" Noel snapped before taking a deep breath. If he got carried away, he could end up on screaming match with her and not looking for Bianca. "Look, she was with me the whole week, okay? We got back last night and this morning she just gone. I thought she went to school earlier to talk to the teachers or catch up with you. Why do you think I'm out here?"
Spencer took a step back involuntarily, shocked. "You're with her?" Something was definitely wrong. Bianca was not supposed to be with Noel. Spencer snapped her head towards the girls behind her.
Hanna, who immediately took her phone out and called Bianca's phone, shook her head. "She's not picking up," her face matched the panicked expression on Spencer's.
"I can't reach Jason too," Emily said when her call was forwarded to Jason's voice mail again.
Scowl plastered on Noel's face when he heard that name. "She won't be with him," he scoffed.
"What are you–"
A loud chime from near her distracted Spencer from interrogating him. At first, she thought it was hers, that A sent them another text, but then Noel took out his phone. She watched as his eyebrow scrunched up in confusion when he stared at his phone. "Is it B?" she asked, fingers itching to grab that phone and read it himself. "Is she–" The way color rapidly drained from his face was enough to stop Spencer from talking more and cause her mind to go wild again. "What? What's going on? Did something happen to B?"
Noel went around his car and unlocked it. "Get in!" he ordered.
"We need to get to Philly!"
Noel Kahn, the girls found out, was a crazy driver. He managed to get them to Philadelphia in barely over an hour, breaking every law there was in highway. It was just their luck that no cops were patrolling at that time or they would have ended up getting pulled over every few miles. Or that he managed not to crash into another car. They were literally hanging on the edge of their seats as he maneuvered the car right to left so suddenly. But even though they got here fast, they still had one big problem.
They had no idea where Bianca was.
"This is freaking great! How are we supposed to know where she is in this huge city?!" Hanna screamed out of frustration, drawing attention from passersby.
"Her dad's apartment?" Aria suggested, remembering Bianca's father kept an apartment for when he had to spend the night in the city. The girls usually used it whenever they went out for a weekend trip. That way they wouldn't have to go home, stink with alcohol, to their furious parents. They almost got caught by Bianca's dad once, but Bianca managed to get him out of the apartment before he realized what they had been doing.
Spencer shook her head vehemently, "she wouldn't go there. He has experiments this week."
"Are you sure we shouldn't try Jason again?" Emily suggested. "Maybe she really went to see him?"
The rest of the girls immediately glared at her, causing her to quiet down. Emily remembered the time when Bianca took her home after Homecoming. She remembered Bianca's expression when they saw how devastated Jenna was seeing Toby's wrecked tour. When she went down to her kitchen since Bianca took too long to prepare for tea, she eavesdropped her conversation with Jason on the phone. If what Noel told was true, and she had no problem believing it judging from his panicked expression since they left Rosewood, she had a hunch Bianca would confront Jason.
Well that, or rain down her ultimate revenge on him.
Even if Spencer and Noel was vehement that Bianca would be in Philadelphia, she still believed it wouldn't hurt to try for Jason again. So, Emily silently took out her phone and texted Jason, asking if he knew or had any idea where Bianca was.
"Are you sure the text is true? Maybe they were just messing up with you?"
Emily's heart skipped a beat when Noel glanced at her. Why would he glance at her like that? Like she had anything to do with the text, or whoever it was sending it to Noel. But he averted his gaze down to the ground as quick as he was to glance at her.
"She won't mess up with me like this," he answered. "If she said she saw Bianca here, then Bianca's here."
The first thing that jumped into her mind was Alison. No one could deny that Alison and Noel seemed to have a secret understanding. But Emily immediately stomped it away from her thought. It couldn't be Alison. Alison was dead.
Her heart ached at the reminder. Even until now she still had problem grasping the fact that Alison had gone forever.
"Well, where did she see Bianca?" Hanna asked, starting to look more frustrated every second.
Noel took out his phone, frowning as he tried to figure out the location mentioned in text. He quickly walked towards the next block with the girls struggling to match up with his strides. His eyes light up when he saw the exact street name with the one in text. "Here!" he called out to the girls who were still walking few paces behind him. "She saw Bianca coming out of a house on this…" his voice trailed off when he realized how familiar this street was. "Shit."
"Why? What happened?"
Noel turned around. "I know this street," he admitted. "It's where I got my stash."
Spencer was the first one to realize what he meant. She quickly took out her phone and called for Bianca once again. Still her call was connected to the voicemail instead, causing Spencer wanting to scratch her head out of frustration. There was only one other time Bianca bought those things. Her grip on her phone tightened as Spencer was bombarded with flashes of memories from that day again. She couldn't let that happen again. She couldn't lose Bianca.
Unable to stand still and let the memories haunted her again, Spencer walked briskly away from her friends. She needed to clear her head. If she wanted to find Bianca, she had to be able to use her brain and getting panicked was not a good way to do so. Finding an empty bench on the street corner, Spencer sat down and closed her eyes. Since that day last year, she had spent almost every waking hours with Bianca, including occasional weekend trip to this city. When Bianca was on her mood, usually she would talk about Jason– ones she never shared with the others before. Spencer understood why Bianca tended not to share anything about Jason, what with Alison sneering off her brother.
Then a particular conversation sprung into her mind and Spencer immediately stood up.
Somewhere in Philadelphia
"There it is," Bianca said as they stopped in front of a particularly high-end hotel.
Spencer only stared at the building in confusion. That morning, Bianca had practically dragged her out of bed and declared that she wanted to take a walk and grab these amazing bagels few blocks away from the apartment. The other girl was a bit cheery, which was weird, since she had spent last night crying for Jason. Of course, Spencer understood why her mood suddenly mellowed. It was Valentine's Day after all. With the couple's thing going on around them, not to mention Bianca's parents were the epitome of love sick couple, she wasn't surprise when Bianca wanted to hole up in her dad's apartment.
Yet still she had no idea why Bianca would take her here, of all places. There was no bagels shop that she promised on sight. Or were they supposed to get it from this hotel?
"Jason took me here last year," Bianca said.
Spencer raised her eyebrow and glanced back skeptically at the hotel in front of them. "Jason? Really? He chose this hotel?"
For the first time that week, Bianca let out an honest-to-God laugh as she leaned towards her best friend. "Okay fine, I might have mentioned it to him once or twice before."
Once or twice for Bianca definitely meant constant nagging for days. It would be a wonder indeed, if Jason didn't give in and book a room here. Spencer shook her head in amusement before linking her hand around Bianca's. "Must be a fortune spending a night here on Valentine's," she commented, eyeing various couple coming in and out the hotel.
"Must be, especially for the Presidential Suite."
Bianca nodded with a grin.
"Wow. I didn't know their parents were quite generous with their spending."
"Well, he said he didn't go partying for three weeks and did some part-timing," Bianca said with a shrug.
Had she not known with her very own eyes, Spencer would have doubted that Bianca actually went out with Alison's brother. Alison had always made her brother to be some kind of space wasting, useless drunk. Sometimes– when she was highly annoyed with him– a creepy drunk. But Jason Dilaurentis who went out with Bianca, and later dating her, was a complete different person, especially after that day. Jason was always with Bianca since that day, ready to protect her from any whispers or curious stares. "He must have really loved you so much," she said wistfully. A small part of her wondered if she could have had her own Jason someday.
Spencer realized it a second too late what she just said. "Oh God, I'm sorry," she turned to Bianca who looked stiff compared to few moments before. "I didn't mean to–"
Bianca shook her head, "it's fine," she said softly. "I'm not that fragile anymore, Spence."
Still… "Sorry," Spencer muttered.
"I love Jason. It's enough for now … I guess."
Spencer stared at her best friend, still feeling a bit guilty. She glanced back at the hotel entrance again, watching the happy and satisfied expressions on each couple coming out from there. "Did you have a good time there?"
"The best of all."
Her eyes glanced up towards the big white letters spelling out the name of the hotel….
"Western Spire Hotel!" Spencer suddenly shouted, turning towards the others who were still arguing on where Bianca must have been. "Bianca went there with Jason last year!"
"Are you sure?" Hanna asked, still didn't look convinced.
It took a lot of self-restrain not to strangle Hanna for questioning her at this kind of situation. "Yes!" she settled on glaring her instead. "Jason took her there after messing up their Valentine's date. She had to be there!"
Oh God, she hoped she was right.
"I'm sorry, but there is no guest under the name Bianca Lexington in here."
They almost let out a frustrating scream hearing the answer, especially Spencer. She was positive Bianca would be in this hotel. There was nowhere else memorable enough for Bianca and Jason. This was the place Bianca always spoke so fondly of whenever she talked about Jason. If what Noel told them was right– if Jason really left Bianca for CeCe– they had to find her quick. Or…. the memories of last year intruded her mind again and Spencer quickly shook it away. It wouldn't happen again. Bianca wouldn't do that again.
"Let's just go check her dad's apartment," Aria said. "She might be there, Spence."
Still Spencer shrugged it off. "She had to be here! In Presidential Suite!" She turned around, glaring at the receptionist. "Just give us the damn key!"
The receptionist instinctively leaned away from Spencer when she slammed her hand on the counter. "I'm sorry, Miss," the receptionist said, her calm voice slightly waiver. "But I can't give you the key, especially if you don't know the name of the guest."
"This is a matter of life or death! If my best friend is dead because you're too scared to help us, I will–"
Noel placed a hand on her shoulder and pulled her away still fuming out of anger. "Look, I understand the policy here," he said with his usual smooth tone, "but our friend needs help. She…."
Spencer tuned out the rest of Noel's conversation with the receptionist. She glared at the sight of elevator not far from where they were standing. Had it not been for that stupid security system they had to only allow guest with valid card to operate the elevator and even then, they were only allowed to enter their assigned floor, she would've dragged the others there without wasting time arguing with the receptionist. They were so close now– she knew Bianca was on this hotel.
But how could she find her? Spencer bit her lips, trying to remember any past conversation she had with Bianca. She knew how obsessed Bianca was with detective novels. So if Bianca was trying to pull this off, to disappear, she must have learned it from those novels. But what? How could she possibly check into the room but not as herself? Did she bribe a worker here? Spencer glanced at the receptionist suspiciously. Did Bianca bribe her?
Spencer slapped her hand. How could she be so stupid!? "Alexa Denningham!" she turned around and stalked back to the receptionist desk, cutting down Noel's effort to negotiate the receptionist's assistance. "That's the name who booked the suite right? Alexa Denningham."
The receptionist glanced down at her screen. "Yes, it's Ms. Denningham," she answered.
"Please, the key," Noel quickly said before Spencer made that woman changed her mind.
The receptionist seemed to be very, very reluctant to assign them a new key, but Spencer quickly snatched it away from her hand and walked towards the elevator at once.
"Alexa Denningham?" Aria asked just after they all got into the elevator.
Spencer shrugged her shoulder as she pressed the button of the highest floor. "It's her fake name," she simply said.
"With a real fake ID?" Hanna added, staring at Spencer incredulously. "To book her a hotel room?"
"Trust me. You don't even know half of what Bianca had in her detective shrine." Spencer answered distractedly as she impatiently watched their current floor light indicator moved slowly to the right. In her mind, she let out a loud shout of relief when the elevator finally stopped and opened its door to let them out.
Glancing at the room direction plastered near the elevators, Spencer led them towards the corridor on their right. She walked towards the door at the end of the corridor and swiped the card. Just as her hand reached out for the door handle, red flooded her vision. Instinctively Spencer snatched her hand away– her chest felt so heavy, like something squeezed her insides too hard and she barely able to breathe.
A large hand wormed its way around her and opened the door for her.
The door barely made a noise as it was pushed to the wall and Spencer took a step inside the room as if she was in a daze. The memories she desperately tried to bury away was now unleashed inside her mind and they were overlapped with the present. It was just like this, a year ago, in a messy room with pills and empty bottles scattered about. Spencer gingerly touched one of the empty bottle– Bianca's favorite, same as before.
And Bianca was nowhere to be found in that room. Neither did she respond to their calls.
Just like last year, there were dripping sounds barely heard from behind the closed door of bathroom. She barely registered someone opening that door and turned her head. The bathroom was only few steps away from her yet she felt it was stretched for miles. There was someone screaming, more than one, just like last year. Then there was splashes of waters and more panicked screaming. But they were not her screams. Not this time. Spencer didn't have to scream. She could practically see it in her mind.
It would the same thing she saw in her memories, in the nightmares she would have from time to time when that day was still fresh in her mind.
Bianca was lying inside the large oval bath tub overflowed with red water. And she was not breathing.
is anyone still reading this story?
Please leave me a review, as always. It does help my writing. I got few words in every time I read your reviews. So the more the better!