Well, here we are! Published even earlier than I expected! Sequel to In a woman's Eyes - which I suggest you read before reading this. Thanks for the support on the last story...and here we go! :)
And I am so pathetic when it comes to titles, haha!
"Riley! Over here!"
Riley Poole swerved around on his heel in the middle of the airport, the coffee in his Styrofoam cup in danger of spilling over the side. But he didn't even care if a beefy, traveling businessman jostled into him and spilled his coffee all over him. His girlfriend of almost three years, Andrea Morrison, was coming home from college for the entire summer. He hadn't seen her since Christmas, as she spent Easter abroad in Paris.
And there she was – blond hair let down, eyes shining brightly, and lugging her suitcase reluctantly. Andrea was nearing her twenty-first birthday, and looked practically like a different person than she was on the hunt for the Templar Treasure. During her studying sessions in Paris, she had apparently went over notes with stylish French girls, and returned home with fancier clothes, and had a new habit to apply more makeup than she had when she was seventeen. But despite her physical changes, she was still the good old Andrea inside.
"Riley!" Andrea was beaming as she flung her arms around him. "It's so good to see you again!" She glanced around cautiously at the passerby, but Riley was daring and immediately kissed her on the lips, not caring about what the passerby thought.
He pulled away from the kiss, smirking. "Good to see you too, Andy."
She smiled at her old nickname, and as he took her luggage for her, Andrea said, "So, tell me more about your book! I have my copy in my suitcase, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet."
Riley shook his head. "Trust me, you're not the only one who 'hasn't had a chance'. He bent his fingers into air quotes. "I haven't come across one person who has read it." They approached his red Ferrari in the parking lot, Andrea gleefully hopping into it.
"Riley, don't say that! You know that so much came up when the book was published…" Andrea could tell that he had said that comment sarcastically, but deep down, he was truly hurt. "I flew to Paris, Ben proposed to Abigail…"
"…And she turned the poor guy down," Riley finished, turning on the ignition. "Then…"
Andrea nodded knowingly. "…They started fighting and she kicked him out, and now he's living with Grandpa."
"Did you ever get his email asking you for the spare key to your apartment?' Riley drove out of the parking lot. "He was desperate to live there rather than old Grandpa Geezer's place."
Andrea guiltily looked away. "I might have…accidentally…deleted it?"
Riley glanced at her, an eyebrow raised. "Accidentally?"
Andrea mustered the most realistic laugh as possible. "Did I say accidentally? I meant…purposely?"
"Genius, Andy," Riley held out his fist for a pump. Instead, Andrea smiled and leaned over to kiss his cheek.
They spent the rest of the drive talking non-stop about Andrea's trip to France, Riley's book's publication, and how Ben was dealing with being single when his twenty-year-old niece had a better love life than him. But it was only until they pulled up to a Barnes & Noble that Andrea realized that they weren't heading straight towards Patrick Gates' house, like planned. "Riley?"
Her boyfriend was already out of the car, digging around in his trunk. "Yes?" He pulled a dry cleaning bag out of the car.
"What are we doing here? We were supposed to go meet up with Grandpa and Ben."
"Well…they're speaking to some history geeks about their ancestor involved with the Civil War, or the Revolutionary, or something like that," Riley rolled his eyes. "And I had a book signing scheduled for today…" He pulled a box containing of several copies of his book, Templar Treasure, out of the backseat of the Ferrari. "…And my assistant called in sick with toe fungus."
Andrea's nose wrinkled at the mention of fungus, but still kept a quizzical look on her face. "And you want me to do something that an assistant would normally do?"
"Bingo!" Riley then pulled out a life-size cardboard image of himself in full exploring gear.
Riley smiled sheepishly, and thrusted the dry cleaning bag at her. "Happy early birthday, Andrea!"
She took the bag from him, and peeked inside of it. An exploring outfit similar to the one worn by Riley in the cardboard image stared back at her. Riley reached out and placed a matching hat on her head. "Looks good on you." He patted her sympathetically on the shoulder and walked into the bookstore.
Andrea found herself laughing, especially when she caught a look at her reflection in the store window. Her eyes were wary-looking and bloodshot from the flight here, and her hair was growing frizzy from the sticky humidity, but she didn't care a bit. She was back home with Riley, and would see Uncle Ben and Grandpa later on. Maybe if she had time, she could even visit her parents' burial spot, or call Abigail for some girl talk. She figured that the relative her uncle and grandfather were discussing was Thomas Gates, Grandpa's great-grandfather, and Andrea's great-great-great grandfather. She recalled being told the horrific tale of his murder at a young age…Andrea shuddered right there on the hot street, and then stepped into the air-conditioned store to change into her 'uniform'.
…Where was she? Why was the familiar scent of a croissant filling her nostrils? She couldn't possibly be back in France with Camille and Pierre, could she? Oh, gosh, Pierre…
"Oh my gosh – are you Ben Gates?"
Andrea's eyes snapped right open. She was in the Barnes & Noble, dressed in a hideously embarrassing explorers' outfit, with a Indiana Jones-like hat to top it all off. Next to her, at the table holding the numerous copies of Riley's book, Riley was shoving a croissant bought from the French bakery down the street into his mouth. A girl in a tank top and shorts stood before the table, lifting a copy of the book from the table. Andrea watched as Riley quickly swallowed the croissant, and brought himself together to look charming.
"Yes, I am," he mused, taking his reading glasses off and smiling at the girl. Casually, Andrea lifted her foot and gently stomped on it underneath the table – her stomp said 'stop flirting with this random girl'.
Riley shot her a look that said, 'stop scaring away this random girl who happens to be our only interested customer.' He turned back to the girl, smiling apologetically. "You were saying?"
"You're really Ben Gates, the one who found the Templar Treasure?"
"Yes…" Riley nodded, smiling the whole time. Andrea did her best to fight back a giggle.
"Then you must be Andrea Morrison, his niece!" the girl gushed at Andrea. "Aren't you adorable in that cute little outfit!"
Andrea raised her eyebrows. Apparently, this girl still thought that she was the high school graduate who had assisted her uncle in finding the treasure while wearing overalls. "Yes, I am…I'm actually turning twenty-one at the end of the month." She smiled falsely at the girl.
"Oh," the girl blushed. "I thought you were fourteen."
Andrea felt a mental slap in the face. "Excuse me?"
"Okay," Riley held her arm down with his hand, giving her another warning look. "Let's let the nice lady talk, shall we?"
"Do you own a red Ferrari?" this girl was apparently very straightforward.
Riley chuckled lightly. "However did you know?"
"So you do," the girl nodded. "Well…" she glanced towards the store window. "…It's being towed."
Both Riley and Andrea snapped their heads towards the store window to see that the girl was correct. A tow truck was lugging Riley's car down the road, Andrea's blue suitcase blatantly visible in the front seat.
"Oh my God…" Andrea's face grew pale. "Riley, my luggage is in there! As in all of my studying materials! My clothes! My life!" She stood up suddenly from her chair, about to rush out after the truck, but Riley grabbed a hold of her arm.
"No, no, I'll go! You stay here!" he quickly pushed her aside, leaping out of the door and running down the street, yelping at the truck, "Wait! That's my car!"
Andrea sighed heavily and flopped back in her chair. The female customer who had informed Riley of his car was still standing there, with a questioning look in her eye. "…Riley?"
Andrea snarled at her. "Yes. I call my uncle Riley – got a problem with that?"
The girl scoffed and headed towards the cash register, without picking up a copy of Riley's book.
The ringing of Andrea's cell phone broke the silence that she wanted. Groaning, she yanked the phone out of her pocket and checked the Caller ID. She couldn't help but smile when seeing that it was her real uncle calling her. Pressing the TALK button, Andrea held the phone to her ear. "Ben?"
"Andrea," her uncle's firm and serious voice filled her ear. "I'm at the Civilian Heroes exhibit at the local history museum. Can you come here as soon as possible?"
"Uh, yeah, I'm at the bookstore that's not too far from there…what's going on?"
"I'll explain everything when you get here," Ben said. "Come with Riley, okay?"
"That's kind of impossible at the moment," Andrea giggled. "He just went off chasing after his towed Ferrari."
"Oh…then take the next bus…or walk…I don't know," Ben's voice was growing impatient. "Just get down here!"
After a speedy and sweltering walk down to the museum, Andrea reluctantly forked over admission after failing to convince the lady at the front desk that she was with the Gates men. Wandering around until she found herself at the Civilian Heroes exhibit, she entered an auditorium adjoined to the displays.
Inside, Ben and Patrick Gates stood with the exhibit director and an unfamiliar man with a balding head. Ben looked up with a dim look, which brightened slightly when he saw his niece. "Andrea!" he hurried over to give her a squeeze. "How was your flight?"
"Smooth," Andrea peered cautiously over at the strange-looking man. "Uncle Ben…who is that?"
"Mitch Wilkinson," the man blared, sticking his hand out at her. "At your service, little missy."
Patrick appeared at Andrea's side. "Don't listen to a word he says, honey," His face turned stiff. "He's accusing my grandfather in being a part of Abe Lincoln's assassination."
"What?" Andrea's eyes widened.
Dr. Nichols, the director, sighed. "Miss Morrison, I presume?"
"Yeah, that's me."
"You know the story of Thomas Gates' death?"
Andrea felt her insides turn cold. "Since I was a little girl."
Mitch sneered. "I present to you…" he snatched a laminated piece of parchment from a nearby table. "…One of the missing pages from the infamous diary of John Wilkes Booth."
Andrea crossed her arms firmly. "And what does that have to do with our ancestor?"
"Look closely," Mitch flashed the page in front of her, and then snatched it back towards him. "The name Thomas Gates is written on a list along with all of the other killers."
Andrea reached out and grabbed the page right out of his hands, squinting at the page. "Booth was a Latin student, correct?"
Mitch nodded. "Yes."
"'Thomas Gates…" Andrea read off of the paper. "Artifex."
"Designer…mastermind…" a smile was sneaking across Mitch's face. "Little missy, your great-great granddaddy must've planned the assassination."
"He was my great-great-great granddaddy, for your information," Andrea sniffed.
"No!" Patrick protested, stepping forward defensively. "That could mean mastermind of anything. Don't you see the little burn right there?" He began to point out a darker piece of the paper, but Mitch slapped his hand away.
"I'm sorry, gentlemen…madam…" Dr. Nichols said apologetically. "I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. Mr. Wilkinson, may I have the page? I would like to see if this one matches the Booth diary."
Mitch handed over the page, and the director walked off with it. Patrick's lips were curled, and his hand was in a tight fist. Andrea reached out and touched his arm, ready to hold him back if her grandfather felt defensive.
"This is an outrage, Wilkinson," Patrick murmured. "You're calling my grandfather and my family liars."
"Now you're calling my great-great-granddaddy a liar," Mitch scoffed.
"We'd call your entire family liars to prove that Thomas Gates was not involved in the assassination plans," Andrea shot back. Mitch glared at her roughly, and it was then Ben who stepped forward in front of his father and niece to protect them from any physical pain.
"Listen, Mitch, do not insult my father or Andrea in any way," Ben said, nostrils flaring. "They're not strong enough for that kind of talk."
Mitch's eyes were as pale as a white sheet. "Just stay away from me, Gates." And he was gone, off in the direction Dr. Nichols had gone to.
Patrick fell back onto a chair. "It can't be true."
"Dad, it's not," Ben assured. "We'll prove that guy wrong."
"Grandpa, do you seriously think that your grandfather and father would just lie to you like that?" Andrea rubbed Patrick's shoulder soothingly. "The Gates are anything but liars." She didn't believe a word that Wilkinson man said, and she wanted to prove that he was merely wrong in the head.
"But what if they had to lie?" Patrick fretted. "To save themselves and their descendants – us!"
"Grandpa…it's going to turn out fine…I promise," Andrea bent down and embraced him, thinking deeply about the situation. Ben had told her all about his great-grandfather – Thomas Gates was far from a liar…he had to be…
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