Chapter 8: Lights and Flights
"Holy shit! She's done it!" I jump and snag at the remote.
She swallowed the chip.
Finally. Thank God!
I've been following her around on my bike, but now she can come back to me.
I'm sick of seeing her in sporadic spurts and from too many fucking feet away.
I pace my room as I wait for the device to send the impulse to her brain.
The button's been pushed, and I'm dying to have her at my door.
I don't want him anywhere near her.
So I grab the remote, shove it in my pocket, then grab a bag and start packing.
I'll hole up in a hotel somewhere.
I'll want her all to myself. There's gonna be a lot of loud fucking involved, and I don't want him thinking she's being slaughtered when she'll really just be orgasming as many times as she can.
My hands shake and drop things as I try to hurry and ram my shit into a duffel bag.
When I'm all packed and ready to go, I simply wave at Jasper and tell him, "Later, man."
"Hey, your dad's on his way," he says.
"Good for him," I reply.
"He's pissed. You better stick around." He motions with his chin at my bag slung over my right shoulder.
"I don't give a fuck if he's shitting lightning bolts, I'm leaving." I pull the bag tighter into my body.
"He knows . . ."
"Knows what?" I groan and roll my eyes.
"He knows you've been following her."
"And?" I motion with my hand for him to hurry up and tell me whatever it is he has to say.
"And, he already told you to keep away from her; what do you think you're doing, following her all the time? I mean, shit, she's just buying groceries. What's so great about watching her shop?"
"Fuck you, and your fucking stupid big mouth. Why'd you tell him anyway? Jealous?"
"No, man. You know I don't care about your love life." He shoves his book aside he had propped open on his lap. Looks like some type of manual.
"Then why?" I drop my bag off my shoulder and into my hand.
"Because I don't have a death wish. Your dad owns me. I owe him, pure and simple. He saved my life, and now I have to repay him."
"That's bullshit," I say through my clenched teeth. "You don't owe him anymore, and he pays you anyway, so that clearly signifies he thinks you've repaid your debt."
"Look—I was half-dead when your dad took me in. I was such a druggie, stealing petty shit to pay for my habit—and nobody else would give me a job when I got out of prison; your dad was right there. Gave me a place to stay, food to eat and a job with a purpose."
"Pssst! Fucking job—that's what you call this? You're his lackey, and nothing more. He's using your ass just like he does everyone else." I drop my bag to the floor and take three steps toward him, stalking with my teeth bared. "He. Doesn't. Give. A. Shit. About. You. Or. Anyone. Else." I point at him. "You think he even cares about me? I realized after he told me to keep away from Bella, that he was heartless. No one that loves their son would do that. I'm crazy about her—she's everything to me. I'm done being a thief for him and running his little circuits. He can fuck off and find some other idiot to do his evil bidding, 'cause I'm done." I march back over to my bag and pick it back up.
Rap, rap, rap, rap.
"It's him," Jasper says.
No shit. My shoulders drop and my head falls forward.
And then an icy rake spears its way down my spine. Oh God, no!
Bella might come here.
I pressed that goddamn button, and my father's here.
"Buy me some time!" I hiss and race to my room with the remote clutched tightly in my hands.
I squeeze it tight as I try to reverse whatever I did to tell her to come here.
But I don't know how.
I never thought I'd want to send her away.
"Oh, God, oh Jesus, fuck!" I mutter, hitting buttons and hoping I'm doing something right.
"Edward . . ." Jasper calls through my door.
"A minute, please!" I shout.
Rap, rap, rap.
"Fucking give me a minute, I said!" I yell louder.
"Son, you better open this goddamn door right now or she's gonna get a bullet," Dad says.
My jaw clenches tight, my eyes slide up in my head, and I close my eyes while my head drops back.
I tuck the remote into my pocket, and pray to God she won't arrive when he's here.
My feet glide over to the door on their own, because I'll be damned if I told them to do that.
My hands follow suit, and open the door.
"Whatta ya want?" I snap.
"To see my disobedient son," he says.
"For what?" I lean into the door, keeping it open.
"To tell you this stops now. She's gone. She's left, and she's not coming back, and if you go after her, you're no longer my son. I'll have no control over what my men do to you. You'll be considered an enemy, and they don't take kindly to anyone against our organization."
"Jesus, Dad, you act like you're the mafia ringleader or something."
He blinks and smiles. "Call it whatever the fuck you wish—just stay here. You're not to get involved with her and her little problems."
I curse under my breath and swallow the massive lump in my throat.
"And just to make sure you realize I'm serious—she's with him." He crosses his arms over his chest and stretches his neck from side to side.
"Emmett?" My eyes narrow and my neck slants away from him as I give him a look of disgust.
"No, Emmett's to watch you, since I know he has a personal vendetta against you."
"Then who's she fucking with?" I yell, spit flying out of my mouth and spraying the air.
"Riot, that punk who's in love with her, that's who. He's been guarding her like he's her little lost puppy. It's kind of cute in a ridiculous sort of way." He chuckles and almost bounces out of the hallway.
The front door shuts, and he's gone.
I slide down to the ground, and my head pounds like I've had a knife jammed into it.
Why would she leave?
Did he do this?
What is his problem with us being together?
"He's gone," Jasper calls out.
"Yeah, thanks," I say, my tone biting.
Think, Edward . . . Where would she go?
Maybe if I leave, she'll follow like I originally thought.
Before I can dwell on how fucked up my dad is and how I hope he chokes on his meal tonight and dies, I'm on my bike, my bag stowed away, and for some strange reason, I'm headed to California.
I need to be far away from that man, and his sick regime.
The remote vibrates in my pocket, but I can't stop where I am now to see what it's doing.
I keep driving, heading out of Phoenix.
When I finally stop to get some gas and fuel up, I check the remote and there's some scrambled message I can't decipher on the small screen.
"What the hell does this mean?" I rub my jaw and squint my eyes, hoping it'll come to me, and I'll figure it out.
Nothing makes sense.
Not without her.
I drive for several hours with one single thought in my head . . . I'll find her.
She'll be there, waiting for me.
It almost blinds me, making it difficult to drive.
My eyes sting; my hands ache from gripping the handlebars for hours.
But when I arrive in San Diego, this odd peace settles over me.
She's here—I can feel it.
In my bones, in my blood—I know I'll have her again.
I pull into the parking lot of the San Diego Marriott Hotel, looking completely grimy and disheveled.
As I walk inside and start trying to check in, the desk clerk looks me over and wrinkles his nose.
"You sure you're in the right place?" he asks.
"Yeah, I'm sure," I say, my voice tight and my voice raspy from dehydration. "Just give me a room already!"
I pull out a wad of cash and shove it at him.
"A back room okay? The view's lousy, but it's the best I can do on last minute notice. We've got a few seminars here this weekend," he says.
"Like what? Mary Kay's launch of pimple pure foundation?" I snort in aggravation.
"No, nothing like that; smaller companies. But we're also damn near full to capacity because of Comic Con," he says.
"Oh, Jesus," I grunt and roll my eyes. "Yeah, it's fine. Give me the key."
He hands it to me and almost flinches like he thinks I'm gonna deck him.
I chuckle, swing my bag further back behind me and walk off.
Bella, please be here . . .
I saunter to the elevator, ride it up to the third floor, and shove my way into my door, then drop my bag on the floor.
The second I fall into bed, I'm out.
One day earlier…
"We have to go," I tell myself.
But my hands won't stop scrubbing the Formica and sink.
"I'm all done," Riot says.
He's finished detailing the coffee table I'd set my feet on last night—the one job I'd told him not to do when my feet were parked there. But I couldn't say no once he offered to clean it again.
I can barely see, my vision blurring from lack of sleep, but I keep cleaning.
"I'm almost done as well," I say, my knuckles raw from scrubbing repeatedly in the same spot.
I run the black light over it once more. It's better, but there're still germs on my Formica. I suppose it's not the end of the world since we're leaving anyway, but fuck. I don't like this.
I fight off a shiver, and it feels like tiny microscopic ants are marching across my spine.
"Go finish packing, and I'll get this done for you," he says, stepping up behind me.
I hand him the cleaning supplies and head back to my room.
The bag's open. I toss in the cuffs, the ropes Edward's left behind, along with a blindfold and gag I've purchased. I may need to use these on Riot if he becomes difficult and tries to stay with me once we get there.
I pack up my laptop along with a few of my inventions I'm working on I don't want to lose track of.
My face scrunches as I place the chip I'd puked up, in my pocket and head out.
A pang of longing hits me, almost crippling me. My body bends forward at the waist, and I set my hands on the edge of the bed as I gasp for air.
I should implant it in my body.
I like the idea of Edward being able to read my body's signals somehow. Jesus, that's insanely hot.
I grab my remote I've created over the last few weeks. The antidote to what Edward took from me.
Retrieve this, my love . . .
I hit the button, and gloat to myself.
He'll have no idea what's hit him.
"Okay, I'm ready," I shout to Riot.
When I walk out to the kitchen, he smiles, puts away the cleaning supplies, and like I've shown him, he goes through the kitchen, shutting everything down that has to be manually handled.
"Power down," I tell the chip inside me, and the house does as I ask.
"I'm ready now, too." He grabs a soda, raises it to me and pops it open, taking a healthy swig then joins me at my side as I head out to the garage.
"You're gonna take this one?" he asks me as I set my bag in my car Edward had stolen over two months ago.
"I have my reasons."
His brow creases, and he offers a half shrug, stuffs his bag in the back next to mine and gets in.
"You sure you've got everything you need?" he asks.
"I'm sure. I won't ever have to come back to this place if I don't want to," I reply.
I start the engine, open the garage door and we drive off.
And I don't care if anybody sees Riot's with me.
Let them know.
I'll have Riot in hiding again in a few hours, and then I'll cease to exist.
I won't matter, so neither will he.
"You seem awfully calm, considering we're executing our own public death," he tells me.
"We're not faking our deaths—we're just morphing into new identities, that's all."
"That's all?" His voice breaks. "Really? We're gonna part ways, I won't have any clue what you're changing your name to, and you'll forget all about me." His hand smacks on his thigh and he stares out the side window.
"I won't forget about you. I'll be keeping tabs," I say, my voice sounding more irritated than I want it to.
He's hurting, and I sound like he's a burden. That's not what he is to me; I just don't know how to do this—to let him know I care without sounding like I'm leading him on.
"Goodie." He huffs.
"You're my best friend, and you have been for a long time now. I don't have anyone else but you that I confide in. Of course I won't ever forget about you," I say, my voice softer. I reach out and touch his hand.
He startles and when he turns his head to look at me, there's a melding of emotions swimming in his eyes: sorrow, regret, love, hope, and friendship.
"It hurts and heals to hear that, and I don't know what to say." His eyes go soft and then heavy.
"I'm sorry." I take a breath then hold his hand. "I wanna be there for you, since you've meant so much to me, but I don't want to hurt you any more than I already have."
He smiles in an understanding way. "You're not. This does help."
"Good. I'm glad." I pull onto the freeway on-ramp, and divert my attention for a moment. "Let's talk about how we're going to handle this when we get there." I suck my lips in as a car behind me gets closer than I'm comfortable with.
Is this person tailing me?
I swallow the scruffy, dry lump in my throat and a second later, it's back when the lights on the car behind flash at me.
The car speeds around me, and I'm flipped off.
"Jeez," I groan. "Impatient prick."
"What a jerk," he agrees.
I shake my head and go back to my original thoughts. "Okay, so at the hotel. We'll probably be on separate floors, but it should be fine."
My phone vibrates in my pocket. I'm sure it's a text.
About time. I contacted him yesterday . . .
"We'll meet up at the Walking Dead panel at Comic Con."
He chuckles. "I still can't believe you were able to get tickets at the last minute."
I sigh. "Oh, Riot, Riot, Riot . . . Lest you forget, I have connections and a fuck-load of money I don't do anything with other than amass it and put it right back into my company for research on my inventions. It wasn't hard."
"Nothing's ever hard for you," he says and squeezes my hand.
Except Edward . . .
"Shhh . . ." A soft hand covers my mouth.
I jerk awake, and as I try to kick away whoever's next to me, their body follows along with me.
And the next thing I know, I'm cuffed to the headboard, a gag's around my mouth and I'm blindfolded.
I couldn't see who it was, since it was dark.
But they're breathing hard.
I yank at my wrists, but I'm not going anywhere.
"Listen," they whisper.
I'm not even sure if this is a guy or not; they're dressed all in black and my vision was blurry.
I kick my legs, bang my back into the wall, thrash and try to be as noisy as possible.
They grab my legs one at a time, and ropes now surround my ankles and stretch me out so I can no longer be loud with my body, flailing around.
I choke on my anger, and scream as loud as I can, but it's muffled and comes out a garbled mess of gibberish.
My head slams back and forth.
"Shhhh . . ." They touch me. It's light and seems hesitant even though they're wearing gloves.
I go rigid and stop moving around so violently.
The hand checks my cuffs, but for what I'm not sure.
It seems like they're ensuring they're not biting into my flesh and doing damage.
"It's for your own good," they whisper.
I whimper a dying moan.
Is it her?
I can't tell.
And then click . . .
A door closes, and fuck! I'm alone. Left like this until who knows when?
Until the cleaning crew finds me?
The remote's still in my pocket. I can feel it up against me.
If it was Bella, wouldn't she have taken it with her?
Christ! I'm so fucked.
For an interminable amount of time, I drift in and out of sleep since I can't do anything else.
My arms are numb, and my feet try to move every few seconds to keep me aware, but what's the point?
The door opens, and I'm shaking now.
What if this is one of Dad's men, messing with me?
What if they tied me up to make me piss myself before they off me?
And what if they go after Bella since I disobeyed him?
My cuffs are released, and before I punch a fucker in the face, or try to, since I can't see, my wrists are bound together with some kind of rope.
My ankles are released next and I'm heaved over some big guy's shoulder.
"Fuck, he's heavy," the guy groans.
"Shhh . . ." the same voice from before says.
I go limp and desperately try to see out of the bottom of the blindfold, but they've used one that's thick and solid—I can't see a fucking thing.
"Where do you want him?" the guy's voice asks.
He shifts his weight, turns, and the ambient temperature of the room changes.
I think I'm in the hallway now, but I can't tell.
There's a metallic scratching sound, and then another door opens.
A few steps, and I'm dropped onto another bed.
I'm spread out on the mattress again, and as I fight and kick, hands try to soothe me before securing me into place.
Only this time, I'm face down.
I whimper as my hair's pulled and something cool and metal is poked into the back of my neck.
Cliiiick, cliiiick, cllliiiiick!
Shit! Is it a gun they're cocking?
Then they do the same thing to my inner arm.
Why would they do this?
Something sharp slices into my arm; I grunt and sob at the pain.
A second later, something warm and stinging, is placed over the wound.
Sticky oozy, crud, rolls down my arm.
My legs tense and my spine turns into a rod.
I close my eyes and tears leak out.
I can't even beg for my life since I'm gagged.
Oh, please, don't hurt Bella . . .
My heart pounds and feels wrenched open when suddenly, they release my hair and the metallic object disappears.
The next thing I know . . . The remote's slipped out of my pocket.
Oh fuck! A door shuts.
They'll find her.
Why did I come here?
The center of my body flops around like a speared fish.
I choke on the racking sobs I emit, until something sharp pinches the back of my neck, and I slip into unconsciousness, where maybe I can find her once more.
Each year I wish I could go to Comic Con. Someday, when my kids are all grown, I'll be the nerdy lady in her fifties, drooling over the Walking Dead cast if the show's still going by then. Hee hee! Love me some Daryl Dixon.
Sorry this chapter is shorter than usual, but I figured it was tense enough, we don't need to drag that out, do we? No one wants thiefward to bite it, I hope . . .
Also, Slick as Ides is over on the Lemonade Stand. You can vote for it to be fic of the week if you feel so inclined… I put the link in my profile if you want to check it out. There are 2 days left to vote…