Stealing Hearts

Chapter 1

Riding In Cars With Boys

"This belongs to you and always will."

"That was no thimble."

"That was a hidden kiss!"

"Brace yourselves lads!"

"YES! Whoot, whoot!" I exclaimed as Peter Pan shot up into the air, his skin pink as a piggy, and shouting triumphantly. I always loved the part where Wendy kissed Peter and his spirits are lifted by her kiss enough to beat Captain Hook. I watched the screen attentively and hugged my pillow to my chest.

I cupped my hands over my mouth to mimic the famous rooster call of Peter Pan when my mother walked in and glared at me. "Can you keep it down; your father and I are sleeping as is the rest of the world."

"Actually, I'm pretty sure that people in London are awake…" I caught her 'you know what I meant' glare and didn't finish my sentence. I sighed in defeat.

"Sorry, mum, I was only watching Peter Pan beat that blasted codfish Captain Hook again." I grinned at her, using the faux British accent that is apparently good enough that she swears I was adopted. I snorted, right as if my older brother wouldn't get a kick out of that.

"Again?" She gave a disapproving look in my general direction and I sighed.

"I'm going to bed."

"Right now, young lady." She affirmed.

"Right now, mom, I swear it." I smiled half-heartedly but she didn't even notice.

"Night, Ella." She didn't wait for me to respond before she pulled her head out of my room and quickly shut the door.

"G'night, mom, love you too..." I told the door a bit forlornly. I looked back to the T.V, and sighed. Pointing the remote towards Jeremy Sumpter's smiling face as he told Wendy he would come back to hear stories about him, I shut it off. I peeled back the covers on my bed and TA-DA!—I was fully dressed. I straightened my black flowy tank top and ran a hand over the jean shorts. I pushed my arms into my worn leather hooded jacket and kicked my black high-top Converse from under the bed and shoved them on before walking over to my window. Kneeling slightly on the window seat, I looked up to the sky and searched the stars. "Where ever could you be, Peter Pan?" I whispered quietly to the second star to the right. I shook my head, forcing the memories of sleeping at the open window waiting for a certain flying boy to come and rescue me from my own personal hell.

I unlatched the lock on the window and climbed through the frame, stepping onto the roof. Careful to tip-toe, I moved across the roof to reach the drainpipe. As I passed my parent's window, I paused and looked in to see them both soundly sleeping—like always, they slept as their only eighteen-year old daughter sneaks out to party with her friends and doesn't come back 'til dawn. I sighed, like they even notice that I'm never there. I continued on to the drain pipe and used it to smoothly climb down to the grass. I landed with a muted thud and I paused to assess my surroundings. Checking both ways, I crossed the street and approached the familiar black mustang quietly. Hopping in, I reached over and kissed the driver's cheek, before closing the door.

"Hey baby, miss me that much?"

I chuckled as I looked over at him. He grinned and winked. "Oh yeah, I've just been so sexually frustrated since the last time I've seen you—yesterday in school—and now I've suddenly decided that telling you that you would never find your way into my pants, was a very bad idea." I nodded mockingly and pressed my hand onto his thigh.

He nodded his agreement and placed his hand over mine, a dirty grin plastered on his face. "You know all the right words, Ella. No wonder I'm so taken with you." he winked and started the engine.

I giggled and slapped his arm playfully. "You know, James," I reached over and pretended to wipe away non-existent drool. "You've got all this sarcasm dripping from your mouth, how do you ever get lucky?" I smirked when he peeled one hand from the wheel and made a rude hand gesture in my general direction.

I laughed and leaned back in my seat. James was, most definitely, my best friend in the whole world. He was 6'0 of tall, dark and cocky. His dark hair fell into his eyes, giving him a dangerous and sexy look, but when his gaze finds yours—you're toast. His deep, cool blue eyes always turned me into a puddle of weak knees, and yet it was never like that with me and James. We were just friends—but not the 'we're just friends but are secretly in love with each other.' James was the classic love 'em and leave 'em type of guy and honestly the only reason I had stayed friends with him was because he knew where the parties were and he knew how to make me laugh.

I stared out the window and watched as the houses blurred together as we raced by and I snaked my hand in a weaving motion parallel to the ground as James drove. I heard James shift in his seat and when I looked over at him he caught my gaze and grinned as he reached for the volume on the radio dial. "Need a soundtrack?" I smirked as he turned the music up and Evanescence's Call me When You're Sober filled the dark car.

I watched in amusement as he reddened and hurried to change the station, but when the dials refused to cooperate, he just switched it off. I blinked at him innocently and he grunted, his eyes returning to the road. "Shut up, you didn't hear that."

I scoffed, "Who me? I didn't hear a thing." He glanced at me and I winked with a huge grin. Silence filled the car for a few long minutes and then finally, "So . . . I didn't know you secretly listen to Evanescence?"

He groaned and hit the wheel, "Ella, so I have a few secrets. Just drop it okay?"

"Fine, fine. . . It's a good song, you know."

He glanced at me, with a raised brow. "You?"

I nodded solemnly, "I'm not a die-hard fan or anything like that, but I like a few of their songs." With that, I turned the radio back on and turned the volume up.

"You never call me when you're sober; you only want it 'cause it's over." I belted out the verse and after a beat, he chimed in. We sang along to the song surprisingly in tune and on-key. I drummed my fingers on the dashboard and sighed.

James smiled at me as I looked out the window and I just had to ask, "So, where are we going tonight?"

My eyes looked out into the streets for a sign or a big house bouncing with music and with a surplus amount of cars parked in front—but there weren't any houses in sight. Actually, I couldn't see anything, it was so dark. I turned to James as the car pulled to a stop to ask him what the hell was going on when his hand clamped around my mouth. My eyes widened and he leaned into to me. He pulled me onto his lap and his free hand roamed over hips and my thighs before he snaked his fingers under the hem of my top. I recoiled from him and I closed my teeth over his open palm hard and he cursed. When he tried to pull my face to his, and I pulled away he grabbed my neck and dragged my head to his, so our eyes met and noses touched. I was sure if it was possible, my eyes would have burned a hole through his eyes and into the back of his head; I was livid and I felt betrayed by the person I trusted most.

"I didn't want to do this, Ella, but you give me no choice." He looked at me coldly with his usual warm blue eyes and it was then I knew. I knew that James was not who he said he was, and something was horribly wrong.

He rolled down the window and turned his head to the side, his eyes never leaving mine as he called out into the dark, "Mr. Smee, I do believe Ella is a fighter." My brow furrowed further when his voice reached my ears; it was different somehow. Oh god, now he had an English accent? Wow, the bastard really played me. My jaw felt sore and I realized it was because I was clenching my teeth so hard that the muscles in my face were jumping. When I heard the chortle of another man, I paled. Wait, did he say Mr. Smee? What the hell? Were these people absolutely nuts?

I watched with bugging eyes and his other hand pulled a white rag from thin air, it seemed, and he held it over my mouth and nose. I tried to protest and kick him away but he held on to my arm roughly. He stared down at me and laughed harshly. I moaned in apprehension against his hand, but I was sure he either didn't hear me or didn't care as he removed his hand and placed the chloroform against my mouth and nose until I inhaled it and my vision went black.

Something cold and wet slapped across both my cheeks a few times before my eyes fluttered open and my vision cleared. Bright blue eyes stared into mine and I fell back, and a loud gasp escaped my lips. "What the fuck, James? What's going on?" I glared at him and then let my eyes roam my surroundings. I was in what looked like a prison cell on a ship. I rubbed my eyes and stared at my hands as my memory hit me full on. Cold blue eyes, chloroform, and the gleaming curved dagger that now stood three inches before my eyes. James smiled cruelly and his brow twitched. "Now, Ella, no need for games. Come now, the show's about to begin." He grinned at me, and turned abruptly to march up the stairs. I stared in the direction he left for a moment before a pudgy, and graying old man, who I assumed to be Mr. Smee, grabbed me by the shoulder and heaved me up to my feet.

"Cap'n wants you up on deck. Can't make him wait, y'know. Don't want the Cap'n to get angry." He babbled on like that until we had made it to the top of the stairs and he pulled along behind him. I looked around and nearly choked; dozens of men in rags and had ragged beards looked like they had stepped right out of the Peter Pan movie. I laughed, it was just too rich. Who gets kidnapped by crazed pirate-obsessed captors who insist on being called by Peter Pan characters?I wiped a tear from my eye with my free hand when suddenly I was standing in front of James again and he smiled cruelly at me once again. My eyes travelled over his body with a strange look on my face. He was wearing old-fashioned pirate garb, right down to the hip-length coat and hat. His flowing pirate shirt was a dark maroon and the feather in his hat matched.

"Like what you see, do you?" James' voice asked. I kept my gaze on his ugly cloths for a little longer as I answered.

"No, actually, I thinking that you look like shit." I watched in satisfaction as anger and embarrassment flashed in his eyes. What happened to the care-free nineteen year-old heartbreaker that was my best friend? I looked at him, and hope flared in my chest. "What happened to you, James? Where did my best friend go?"

He smiled that predictable cruel smile and his eyes found mine. "James E. Huck never was, I'm afraid. Small misdemeanor though, as it served a purpose in the end." He rubbed the back of his knuckles over my cheek and I fought not to recoil from his cold touch. "I do regret it having to be you though, I dare say I grew quite fond of you and your . . ." his eyes trailed down my body and up again slowly, ". . . attributes." He finished. I stared up at him and as I looked into his eyes, I realized my friend James never really existed and that it had been a game for his sick and twisted mind. My stomach turned as his blue gaze held mine.

"Now, Ella, I'm sure you have lots of questions, but quite frankly I just don't give a bloody damn." The crew laughed along with him in an eerie mockery of the movie. He turned back to me suddenly, his face sober and stony, "We're going to play a game, see? You're going to play Wendy and when Peter Pan comes to save you, I'll shoot him through his noble intentions." He looked down at the pistol in his hand, and then his eyes shot to me.

Cold and hard and heartless. "Would you be a darling and walk off that plank for me, Wendy?" He nodded behind me and my face hardened and my jaw clenched, but I kept my mouth clamped shut. I knew he had the upper hand—what with all the weapons at his disposal—and so I had to be smart and bide my time.

I stared up at him, "Ella."

"Excuse me?" He watched me with a daring glint in his eye, as if saying, 'I dare you to go further with this.' My eyes narrowed into a cold stare and I felt my face harden into the death glare that kept perverted boys at parties too scared to approach me.

I arched a blond brow, keeping the glare firmly in place, "Can you not hear? My. Name. Is. Ella." I spoke slowly enough, wonder if he heard me that time. I stared at him, daring him to call me 'Wendy,' one more fucking time.

"Now Wendy," he laughed loudly, emphasizing the false name and giving a death glare of his own. He continued to laugh, but he looked around suspiciously as the silence stretched. Immediately the other pirates followed behind with obnoxious cackles and snorts. "Enough of these childish stories of yours." His cruel eyes found mine and twisted his dagger into my dark top and pulled my face up level with his and he spoke to me, his voice low, "You will die, and when Pan won't be able to save you, he will either die by my pistol or by his guilt." He placed a hand over his heart and pouted mockingly.

"Pan will not save his dear Wendy this time!" he shouted to the crew and laughter and cheers rose between the crowd of dirty men, James turned me around and pushed me in the direction of the plank. I looked over the side and upon seeing the dark blue waves crash up against the ship, I immediately took two steps back. Something sharp poked into my back, halting me and when I looked over my shoulder, I saw James standing two feet away with the long dagger in his hand and using it to usher me forward. I made a scared sound in the back of my throat, sounding suspiciously like a whimper.

I slowly took three steps forward until my toes curled around the edge of the wooden plank. I stared down into the ocean and shuddered. I didn't know how deep it was, or what was hidden in its watery depths. I took a hasty step back but the wooden plank shook violently as James stomped trying to make me fall. My arms flew out to gain some of my balance back but he stomped a second and third time, making me lose my balance and my body fell away from the plank. A scream ripped its way from my throat and I knew the exact moment I was plunged into the water because it encompassed me like a cold and sharp fist. It squeezed the breath from my lungs and when I struggled to swim back to the surface, it seemed as if the harder I tried to swim to the surface, the quicker it seemed to fall away.