I was running. I could barely comprehend what just happened or who I was running from; I just knew that I needed to get away. My thick, long straight light brown hair rode the wind behind me as if it longed to stay back and let me leave it behind. I wished I could; I wished I could just leave everything behind and forget about everything. I didn't want to see anybody; nobody meant anything to me. I'd lost all hope for my life and all of the people in it a few months ago. My wide blue eyes darted back and forth for a place to hide; I needed to rest. My legs that I've used for running all my life were failing me. I was slowing down reluctantly. I felt as if my heart was going to beat out of my chest. My face was moist with sweat, which dried easily against the chilled wind blowing more delicately on my skin now that I was slowed down. It felt good. But only for a few moments before I felt a stinging pain in the back of my head. Someone jerked me back by my hair.
"I finally caught you, little girl," a sleazy voice said from behind me.
I pulled away from him and turned to face him, holding up my fist, although it was useless. I couldn't speak due to my burning lungs. I panted, my eyelids feeling heavy. No, I wouldn't pass out now; not here. "Leave me alone!" I said once I could finally speak, "I'm done working for you. I've paid off all my debt; I'm done being your little slave."
"Oh, no you're not," he said, smirking. He chuckled, studying my tired and angry expression. His breath smelled of meat and alcohol. His expression became twisted, the longer he gazed at me. "I don't know where you got the idea that you had choices," he spat, "Now just come back and you won't get hurt." He pulled me into his arms and I struggled away from him. He became even angrier to the point where he lifted his hand. It fell quickly and I suddenly felt a sting in my cheek. I staggered backwards a bit, gazing at him, frightened. It wasn't the first time that he's slapped me but it still shocked me whenever he did. I saw someone approached him from behind and tap him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, sir," a surely male but soft voice said to him. Once he turned around, the guy lifted a fist and hit him so hard, he fell to the floor. My eyes went wide, as I gazed at the bold guy. He had a wool hat on his head, covering his hair but the tips of it stuck out from under the hat. He had a serious look on his face and a half-zipped hoody over a t-shirt. He had on skinny jeans and sneakers on his feet. Physically, he didn't look like the kind of guy who could hit so hard. When my ex-boss on the floor attempted to sit up, looking infuriated, the guy kicked him back to the floor. This time my ex-boss groaned and crawled to a safe distance where he got to his feet and ran. I gazed up at the guy. He watched him run before his light colored eyes fell on me. I couldn't tell what color they were; the night sky was too dark upon us. "Are you cold?" he said, unzipping his hoody, "It's late, do you need me to walk you home?" He reached out to put the hoody over my shoulders and I pushed his hands away, stepping back.
"No, thanks," I said, sharply, "I'm fully capable of walking home alone."
His brow furrowed, but he said no more, drawing his hands clenching his hoody to his chest. I put my hands on my hips and turned. He didn't need to play knight; I'm my own knight. It wasn't like I was a damsel in distress waiting for my chivalrous prince charming to come and save me. I'm no little girl. I began walking before stopping in my tracks. I had no place to go now. I'd run away from my boss, who was taking me in. A gust of wind pushed past me and I shivered, my teeth chattering loudly. My back began to feel warm and in my peripheral vision, I could see two hands pulling that familiar gray hoody over my shoulders.
"You're shivering," he said, "And you look lost. I can't just leave you out here."
I sighed, knowing what he said was true, although I wasn't necessarily lost; I just didn't know where to go. I turned to face him, leaving the hoody hanging over my shoulders instead of putting my arms through the sleeves.
"Where do you live?" he said, "I know this city well. I can walk you home."
I nibbled on my lip. What was I to tell him? The truth was unacceptable, right? I needed to stay somewhere. I just couldn't think of anywhere. Nobody wanted me around; not even my very family. He seemed to notice the expression on my face and smiled. He had a cute smile.
"Are you not sure of where you live?" he said. It was a teasing, rhetorical question but I automatically took offense to it. I cast a cold glare at him and his smile faded. "I'm trying to help you, you know," he said, becoming irritated.
"I told you I didn't want your help," I said.
"What do you expect me to do?" he said, "Leave a teenaged girl outside in the cold this late at night? I can't do that, especially not after what just happened to you."
"Why?" I said, "It's not like we know each other."
"Would you rather me leave you here?" he said, "It's dangerous in this part of the city and I'm sure a girl like you would get in some kind of trouble easily."
I took offense to that, too. "A girl like me?" I said, "What's that supposed to mean?"
He shook his head, rolling his eyes. "Never mind," he said, "I can't leave you here. So just tell me where you live, I'll walk you home, and then we never have to see each other again. Unless you do want to stay here."
"I have to stay here," I snapped, "I don't need your help."
"What do you mean you have to?" he said.
"I'm an orphan," I admitted, a resentful look still shadowing over my face.
"Oh," he said, "So you were living with that scumbag?" I nodded. He sighed deeply. "Look," he said, "You're probably not going to like this, but I have an extra room at my house. You can stay there."
I scowled. "Of course I couldn't do that," I said, "Don't you have parents? Siblings, maybe? I'd be intruding. Just because you think it's okay, it doesn't mean your family will."
"It [i]is[/i] okay," he said, "I know it is. Just come with me." He began walking and I stayed behind, hoping he wouldn't notice. I hated to steal his hoody, but I was sure he had more and I could use it as a blanket when I slept on the concrete. He turned and grabbed my hand, catching me off guard and began pulling me after him.
"Let go of me!" I said roughly.
"No," he said, "Then you'll sneak off."
"Why do you care so much?" I said, "Why does it matter to you where I'm staying? We don't even know each other."
"Because I just can't," he said, "I wasn't raised to be so inconsiderate." I sighed, letting him pull me along. Eventually, I gave in and walked at his side but he didn't let go of my hand.
"If you're going to kidnap me," I said, "Could you at least tell me your name?"
"Jade," he said.
"Jade," I repeated.
"What's your name?" he asked.
I considered giving him an alias. I wasn't planning on getting close to him and I knew I would push him away at all costs. Being close to me was dangerous for anybody. Was there even a point in giving him my real name? I lifted my gaze to him when I felt his gaze on me.
"Do you not have a name either?" he said, teasingly.
"Lucy," I said, quietly, "My name is Lucy."
He nodded once. The rest of the walk was silent although tons of questions were popping into my head. I wouldn't dare ask, though. Asking questions meant we were getting to know each other. I didn't want him to get close to me. Never; he couldn't or else I would never forgive myself. His hand was warm in mine, the friction just from our palms rubbing together seemed to warm my entire body. He led me on to the front porch of a house and the second he let go of my hand, shivers took over my body. He took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door, holding it open for me. I reluctantly brushed past him, coming inside. He closed the door, turning on the light. It was a living room, and a fine one at that. The furniture all looked expensive, not to mention the size of the room.
"Mom," he called, "I'm home."
"Do you need something?" a feminine voice replied, "Go to bed."
"Yes, I do," he said, "I found us a pet."
"A pet?" his mother said before appearing down the hallway. She looked fairly young and had elegantly curly blonde hair that reached her chest. Her eyes were big and turquoise and very bright in the light. "Who's this?" she said.
"I found her in down town while I was going to get some sweets to eat," he gazed down at his hands, "Which I completely forgot about."
"What?" she said, "I'm confused. Why did you bring her here?"
He explained the whole scenario with my boss and the fact that I was a homeless orphan now and I needed somewhere to stay. He was a step ahead of me, so he couldn't see my facial expression. I took it as a free ticket to glare at him as hard as I could, for he was making it seem like I was some charity case. I didn't ask him to help me, he did it of his own accord.
"Oh, honey," his mother said, approaching me and taking me by the shoulders, "You can be my daughter, okay? I've always wanted one." My gaze wandered up to Jade, whose gaze was on me curiously. His eyes were just as bright and turquoise as his mother. I could see in the light now that the tips of his hair that came out of his wool hat were green. "Do you go to school?" his mother asked, interrupting my thoughts. I shook my head slowly.
"That explains things," Jade muttered, pulling off his hat to reveal a full head of messy green hair.
"Okay, honey," she said, "I'll enroll you in the same high school as Jade, first thing tomorrow."
"No," I said quickly, "I appreciate your kindness, but if you're going to enroll me in any high school at all, can it be one that he [i]doesn't[/i] go to?"
She looked confused. "Why?" she said, "I'm sure you two will be great friends once you get to know each other."
"No," I said, "Just trust me, you have to put me in a different school."
"Oh," she said, "Well, okay. You can go to Sweet Amoris, then, since that's the only other public high school in this city."
I nodded. "That will be great, thanks," I said.
She smiled again. "Okay, first thing tomorrow," she said, "What's your name, sweety?"
"Lucy," I told her.
"Alright," she said cheerfully, "Jade, show her to the guest room; that'll be her room from now on."
He looked reluctant, but I could see that there was another expression hidden under the one he showed; his eyes gave it away. Was it disappointment? I couldn't tell, but I knew it wasn't there a few moments ago. He led me up the stairs and down a hall to a room at the end. I opened the door to reveal a room with light blue wallpaper and floral bed sheets, with a light green dresser and a pink carpet. It was very… colorful. I turned to see that Jade wasn't behind me anymore. I sighed, entering the room. I closed the door, gazing at my new bed. How long would I have to stay here? I knew I needed to leave eventually; staying here too long was dangerous. I took off Jade's hoody upon realizing I was still wearing it and I left my new room, knocking gently on the door to the room next door.
"Do you need something?" Jade asked.
"Um," I said slowly, "I still have your hoody."
"Keep it," he said.
"Oh," I said, "Are you sure?"
"Yes," he responded. I nodded once although he couldn't see me before I returned to my room. I wiggled out of my clothing and curled up under my new blanket, comfortably. Just because I wasn't going to stay here for long, that didn't mean I would be losing sleep; especially not on a bed as comfortable as this.