Kyle POV

Fifteen days. It had been fifteen days since we'd fled the homeland...and not a single word from my little bro. I kept trying to reassure Mandy that they were fine, but the truth was, I was just as petrified that Edward and my little homegirl didn't make it out alive. Whatever it was that was had gone down that day after he left the house, it had scared him shitless. I'd never seen his ass like that before.

Paranoid, yeah. Pissed off, tons of times. Nervous...maybe once or twice.

Never, and I mean never, had I ever seen that boy terrified. Not from anything...not until fifteen days ago when he'd burst through the apartment door.

I kept his pager with me every second of the day, just waiting for the damn thing to make a single sound. Just one.

It's been completely silent...which worried me even more. Not even his regular drug seekers had set the damn thing off, and no one back home knew a damn thing when we called.

No one had heard from or seen him since the early morning hours of the day the shit hit the fan.

The boy had straight up disappeared...just like countless numbers of Jared's street runners had before.

"Hey," Mandy whispered, climbing into my lap and I wrapped my arms around her. She turned her body and looked out across the yellowing pastures and trees from our spot in my mother's rocking chair on their front porch as I rested my chin atop her head.

"Hey, honey," I sighed, rocking us gently.

The chilled breeze was blowing in steadily soft gusts as the storm clouds on the horizon rumbled and groaned, darkened and flashed as they approached, pushing their way through the snowcapped mountain peaks.

"Still no word?" she asked, worry evident in her quiet voice as she pulled her throw blanket closer in around us.

"N..." I started to answer just as my hip began to vibrate. We both tensed and froze, her feeling it just as intensely as I did. It was like the sensation of it coming to life had sent fucking shockwaves through the pair of us.

I slowly reached down to grab a hold of it, whispering prayers in my head that the number on the screen would bring word of their safety.


"What is this shit? It's definitely not a phone number...I don't even think it's an international number..." I trailed off, flipping the thing upside down and right side up, trying to make sense of the numbers.

I ran it through my head over and over again...but couldn't come up with anything.

E...if that's you man...what the hell are you trying to say?...

trying to say...

"Shit...that stealthy ass motherfucker," I laughed when it clicked. "Babe...get me a phone...it's a fuckin' code."

"You really think it's him and not just some idiot hitting random numbers?" she asked as a smile began to spread across her face.

"No, it's him. I know it's him," I laughed as she shot up and ran to get a phone. She came back out from my parents' house a minute later with the cordless and a sheet of paper with a pen.

"Help me figure this damn thing out, babe," I grumbled, unable to find the right correlating letters.

"Call...your...what the hell is this last word?" she groaned, scratching out the letters of the last word for the fifth time.

"Voicemail! Call your voicemail!" she blurted suddenly.

"Voicemail? What the hell is he talking about? My phone would have rang if he'd called," I mumbled in confusion.

"Try the number at the old apartment? Maybe he left a message there?" she suggested. Hell, it was as good a place to start as any.

Five minutes, ten messages later, and not one of them from Edward...I was at a loss again. I got up and went into the house to check my cell phone, but there was nothing there either. I even checked Mandy's phone...nothing.

"Maybe he meant to keep checking the voicemail at the apartment...that he's going to leave a message there," I shrugged as I sat back down and she climbed back into my lap.

It was utterly silent around us, aside from the rumbling of the storm in the distance. It was the kind of silence that can only be found way out here in no man's land where your nearest neighbor is at least ten miles down the damn road...but for once in my life, it didn't bug the shit out of me the way it always had when I'd lived here. It was a nice change from all the damn city noises.

The gunshots, the drunken idiots fighting in alleys and stairwells, the dickhead neighbor throwing his wife up against the wall again, the blaring horns in the middle of the night, E's motherfucking pager and cell phone going off every five fucking...

His cell phone...

"That little prick is a goddamn genius!" I crowed suddenly, scaring the shit out of Mandy.

"What the hell, Kyle!" she screeched as she nailed me in the chest with her hand. I laughed and grabbed the cordless phone, putting it on speaker phone before dialing my old tracfone number. The one he'd been using during that last week before everything blew the fuck up in our faces.

"He left a message on the phone of the SIM card we threw in the wood burning stove our first night here," I chuckled as I entered the PIN to access the voicemail.

I leaned back as the automated voice robotically informed us of having one new message and pulled her in closer...and then, just like I knew it would, our little bro's voice began flowing from the speaker.

"Hey fucker...bet you never thought you'd be hearing the voice of a would be ghost," he chuckled. My God it was so relieving to hear that stupid idiotic chuckle of his.

"Hey Mandy...How you doin' sweetness? I'm sure you're sitting right there with the dipshit. Probably had to decode my message for him too," he laughed as I scowled at the phone and Mandy shook with silent laughter. Know it all little shit.

"Sooo...my bad that this took so fucking long, but yeah...some major shit went down after we parted ways. To make a long story short, the forces of good and evil had a fucking showdown over our asses. Like fucking bullets blazing past our heads, apocalyptic type fucking shit. Lucky for us it was the boys in blue that won out. There's a lot to be said for having a fucking distant cousin or uncle or some shit that you weren't aware you had on the force...much less a fucking department Captain and shit.

"Anyways, I'm not fuckin' stupid enough to tell you where we ended up over this goddamn thing, but I just wanted to let you know that we're all alive and breathing and shit so stop shitting your pants up there in cow country...or is it horse country? What the fuck ever. I know you hate it up there, so if you're itchin' to drag your ass back to the city...it's safe now."

The pause in his words made my brow furrow. If I knew E at all, even a fuckin' little...he was trying to tell me something. There was something more to his saying it was safe to go back...I needed find a computer with internet access the next time I went into town so I could hit up the Seattle news sites. Goddamn no man's land.

"My time's almost up, so I need to end this shit. Before I forget, Bella wanted me to tell you both she says hi and she misses you. She says you guys better come visit when we get outta here...I'll explain that shit later too. Bro...I don't know what the fuck I'd do without that girl. I swear to fucking Christ I'm gonna marry her ass one day."

I laughed when Mandy gasped and started to tear up like the emotional girlie girl she is. His words didn't surprise me one fucking bit. It only took one glance at them to know that they were in so deep with each other that neither of them would ever be able to look at a single other person the way they looked at each other.

"She's like the goddamn glue that keeps my ass from falling apart. You both better be there for that shit too...cause I'm gonna need my brother from another mother and my future sis-in-law to make sure I don't pass the fuck out the second she says I do and shit. You fuckers better not say a word of that crap to her either. It's bad enough she's got me wrapped around her little fingers like I'm a goddamn marionette or some shit. She doesn't need to know how much power she's got over my ass just yet."

"He's such an ass. How the hell does she put up with him?" Mandy chuckled as I shook with laughter.

"I have no clue," I laughed, shaking my head as his voice continued to flow from the speaker.

"Alright, I really need to shut the fuck up and get off here. Just one more thing before I end this...I owe you more than I can ever fuckin' repay. You both put your entire lives and everything in them on the line for me. For us. I know we agreed that if I made it out of this shit alive, we'd swap rides again and I'd get Lola back, but I'm rescinding that shit. I don't want her, dude. I've been given my fresh start...I want her to give you yours. Sell her, Kyle, and don't take less than fuckin' twenty eight for her either. With as many times as you told me I deserved a better life...so do the two of you. Use her to build it."

I'll admit it, I fuckin' teared up with what he was doing...what he was giving us. We'd done what we did for him because he was a good kid with so much goddamn potential it was unreal. He was loyal and trustworthy, and as reliable as they can come when you were in a pinch. Being on the streets and pushing drugs was never where he was meant to be. There was nothing in our lives to lose that couldn't be replaced. Not our material belongings or our jobs...nothing, but when it came to those two kids...it was the world itself that had something to lose.

Edward and Bella were one of a kind. They were meant to shine in life, not be tarnished and broken by the streets they walked in this world. And, as his final parting words floated into the air around us, I hoped and prayed that they'd figure that out about themselves on whatever road they'd just begun to travel.

"Pave your way to the flipside, bro. We'll meet you there."