That Last Rose Was For You: Chapter 1 Her Story
The first time we met I was driving my Harley in the desert. It was sometime around noon. I was wearing a leather jacket, blue distressed skinny jeans, dark shades, and black boots. The desert sun beat on my black jacket but I paid no mind to it. He was stranded in the middle of nowhere and tried to hitchhike it back to town. He was covered in bruises and his white shirt was torn at the neck and stained with dust and his jeans didn't look any better. He seemed to be about the same age as me: 17. I felt sorry for him so I stopped along the road.
"What is someone like you doing in a place like this?"
"I am a victim of a mob act. I didn't watch my manners and was left for dead out here."
"But you look too young to be hanging around a mob."
"And you look too young to be driving that Harley."
I smiled at his comeback.
"I'll take you where you need to go. Hop on."
He didn't hesitate to jump onto the back of my seat. He clung to my waist and I revved the engine a little. It seemed like it was his first time riding a motorcycle because as soon as I started driving he hung on tighter, putting pressure on my hip bone. I cringed a little but kept on driving until we reached Little Peak; a little town in Nevada. Ironically I was heading here as well. I dropped him off at his little cottage and proceeded to drive away until he grabbed my shoulder.
"You're not leaving already, are you?"
"Sorry, but I've got things to do in this town. People I need to see."
"You can't go yet. Come on in for a drink or something. I like to show my saviors a little hospitality."
I chuckled a little, turned off the engine, and headed inside. The interior was nothing fancy, but it was comfortable. It was definitely a quaint little place that you could call home. I sat in the chair next to a fireplace that had never been used before. I relaxed a little and it felt good to relax instead of riding constantly doing as many odd jobs as I could. He came back in with a glass of water and handed it to me. Then he sat down in the chair across from me.
"This is a nice little place you have here err uh... What was your name again?"
"It's Todd. Todd Jacobs and thank you. It used to belong to my Grandma until she died last summer. Now I live here by myself. My parents died in a car accident when I was 5 and I lived with her ever since."
"That's sad. I have no family either. My parents and brother died in a car accident while we were heading to Disneyland in California when I was 4. After that I lived with my Aunt Lorraine and her abusive husband. He beat her and when I was 10, he raped me. After that fiasco Aunt Lorrie and I pressed charges for domestic violence and rape and he was locked away long enough for Aunt Lorrie to die and for me to spend 2 years on my own doing what I can to get by."
Todd looked at me with a face full of pity. I hated those looks on people and would always let them have it if I ever got one from them, but not Todd. He was different. It may have been for a short time but he understood my loneliness and pain.
"I'm sorry it wasn't my place to tell my life story."
"Hey, don't worry about it...uh..."
"Margaret. My name is Margaret J. Johnson."
"Hmm. It's a nice name but it doesn't suit you. When I think of 'Margaret' I think of a blond, and you are no blond."
"You have a better name?"
"What does the 'J' stand for?"
"Well I'd better get going now. Thanks for the glass of water and the new name, Todd. I'll see you around. Maybe."
"How about next week? We can hang out and I'll introduce you to some of my friends here in Little Peak."
"Thanks, but I'm only here for today. Sorry."
I got up and headed for the door. Behind me his chair screeched against the wooden floor and I heard rustling and scribbling. I turned around and before I knew it a piece of paper with his cell number was in my hand.
"Keep in touch. If you ever need help or just need someone to talk to, text me."
"You're persistent, aren't you?"
"I've been told."
I smiled and shoved the paper into my boot. Then I headed toward my bike and got the engine going again and drove out of his driveway leaving a dust cloud behind me. I was heading for an abandoned warehouse that rested on the outskirts of the town. I had to meet Portia, my info broker, there at precisely 9:00pm. Not a minute later, not a minute earlier. She was going to give me a new job offer and since I was low on cash, which is nothing new, I had no choice but to accept it. I work as an assassin and Portia always had clients lined up for me. I wasn't a spy or anything. I was a killer. I had the background for it and it turned into a sick hobby. I could never tell Todd this though. I arrived at the mill right on time and met Portia and a man inside.
"There's my little killer. How are we doing today, Maggie?"
"I've been better and by the way I'm using my middle name now, Jane."
"Well Jane, this is Mr. Polk. He needs someone to be taken care of."
"I'll kill whoever you want me to kill just give me the proper details and they'll be out of your life in no time."
"Her name is Cassie Alan. She's 35 and she really has no purpose here on this Earth so she asked me to put her out of her misery but killing is against the law and I have many things to take care of before throwing mine and her life away and getting thrown in jail. I met Portia in a coffee shop, told her my deal, and now here we are."
"Alright, now that you have your girl you'll need to head out at 6:00 am and do surveillance."
"This means you'll have to stay in Little Peak a while longer."
I nodded and headed outside and drove around aimlessly. I was thinking of somewhere to go.
'Crap, I have no place to stay...'
'If you ever need help...text me.'
I stopped my bike on the side of the road and dug for Todd's number in my boot. I pulled out my phone and started dialing as quickly as I could. It rang of couple of times and he picked up.
"Todd, it's Jane. I need a place to stay for awhile since I found out I'll be here longer than expected."
"Sure Jane I don't mind. You can stay in my guest room."
"Thanks Todd. I owe you one."
I hung up the phone and started driving back towards Todd's house. He was waiting outside for me and as soon as I got there he led me inside. The guest room was small but it was all I needed. It had been a long time since I slept in a bed anyway so that was all I could think of. I turned around to thank him but he was already gone. The moonlight shined brightly through my window which made me even more tired, so I laid down and prepared for the morning ahead of me.
Chapter 2 His Story
She was in my guest room. This mysterious girl who saved me from spending another day in that desert. Jane was in my guest room. She was an odd girl. She was hardcore and not just because she rode a motorcycle and wore shades no matter how dark it was outside. It was something else. Something that I'm pretty sure she didn't want me to know about. I walked back toward my room when I suddenly had the urge to check in on her just to see if she was alright. Before I knew it I was back at her door. I opened the door a little bit and poked my head through and looked around the room until I saw her laying down on her bed. All of a sudden she seemed like the most beautiful girl I ever saw. Her short black hair rested around her clear pale face. I couldn't help but walk up to the bed and crouch right next to her. Her sunglasses were even off her face.
'I wonder. Would she wake up if I kissed her nose? Maybe I shouldn't try it.'
But I wasn't one of those people who listened to themselves a whole lot because before I knew it I kissed her nose and her eyes fluttered open. They were deep mysterious black eyes.
She smiled softly and put her hand on my cheek and I put my hand on hers.
"This is the first time I've dreamed up a nice dream instead of a nightmare."
'This is a dream to her? Thank God...'
"You feel so real though."
"I wish it wasn't a dream Jane. I have so many things to ask you but I have to go now. Good bye Jane."
She closed her eyes and just like that she was fast asleep. I put her hand back on the bed and crept out of there as quickly as possible closing the door behind me. Morning came fast but I hardly slept thinking about what happened the night before. I went back to her room but when I got there she was gone. The bed was made and all of her stuff was gone. I felt empty and ran out to the front to look for her bike. She was definitely gone. I walked into the kitchen with my head hung low and headed straight for the fridge. There I found a note and my morning brightened up a little more.
Thank you for lending me the spare room. I'll be back by 9:00pm because my latest job has me staying in Little Peak for a little while longer. I hope you don't mind. See you at 9:00pm!
She was coming back. I felt relieved. It was lonely living in a house all by myself and even if she was only staying at night, there was someone there to keep me company. I took a shower and got dressed and started cleaning the house like there was no tomorrow. The feeling of being tired was gone when I read Jane's note and when I was done I checked the time. I was shocked when it said '10:00pm'. I searched around the house for Jane but she was nowhere to be found. I went outside and her bike wasn't there either. It started to rain. It wasn't a light drizzle. It was a heavy pour. I started to worry about Jane.
"Where are you Jane?"
Chapter 3 Earlier Today
I woke up at 5:00am. I had to be at work in an hour. I put on a skirt and a new shirt. I left a note on the fridge for Todd and left as quickly and quietly as I could. I started my Harley and headed back to the warehouse. By the time I got there it was 6:00am already. Portia gave me Cassie's schedule and I headed for the 'Liza's Place', a coffee shop that Cassie always visited every morning at 6:30am. The rest of my day went smoothly. I followed Cassie around until she reached her home at 7:30pm. I headed back to the warehouse to meet up with Portia to discuss how long it would take for me to dispose of Cassie. When I got there it was completely dark. Portia was nowhere to be found. I turned around to leave but then I heard the light switch click. I swung my head back and saw Portia in the middle of the room sprawled across the floor. She was in a small puddle of her own blood, but she was still alive. Just barely though. I ran to her side.
"Portia! Portia! Can you hear me?!"
Her eyes fluttered open a little. Her hand struggled to reach my face and I grabbed it.
"Jane...you need...to run...Leave me...to die...I'm a goner...run..."
She coughed up huge amounts of blood.
"Not without you, I won't! C'mon you have to stand up!"
I helped Portia to her feet and we started for the door. Just before we got to the exit, the lights shut off again. I placed Portia down gently up against a wall and told her to keep her hand on the wound to stop the bleeding. I heard footsteps coming toward me, and I reached for the gun concealed beneath my skirt. A regular old pistol that got the job done. The footsteps came closer and as they did the gun cocked. Now they knew I was ready to shoot. The footsteps didn't stop. Then I heard a gun cock. They were ready to shoot. Now I was shaking. As they grew closer and closer. I started shooting blindly and screaming. The footsteps didn't stop and I ran out of bullets. I shoved the gun into my boot, picked up Portia, and ran out as quickly as I could. I rushed Portia to a hospital. It was 9:30pm by the time I got there.
"Margaret...I'll find you again, my little Margaret..."
Chapter 4 The Search For Jane
I was worried. Jane was missing. She wouldn't pick up her phone. I decided to go out into the storm to look for her. I ran out to the garage and started the old pick-up truck. Little Peak was a small town, so I expected to find her soon. I did find her, very quickly in fact, but the place I found her at was the Little Peak Hospital. Her Harley was parked in the Emergency Room parking lot. I ran inside dripping wet from the rain. The receptionist looked at me, confused and startled.
"Did a girl with black shades and leather jacket come in here?"
"Yes she did actually. She was covered in blood carrying..."
Covered in blood...Covered in blood...In blood...Blood...
"WHICH ROOM?! PLEASE!!"
I ran as quickly as possible could to Room 241. When I got there and put my hand on the door handle, everything stopped. How could I bare the sight of Jane wounded so badly? Was I really prepared for something like this? My hand turned the knob and there was Jane. She was sitting down next to a girl in the hospital bed. Both of them were fast asleep. I walked over to both of them but as soon as I tripped over a wire, Jane woke up and had me pinned down on the empty bed next to the girl's with a knife to my throat. Her shades were off and I could see the pain and fear in her eyes.
"Jane, where have you been? You never even called to tell me where you would be."
"Well I didn't know I had a new father to check in with. I was working that's all you have to know."
She got off me and put the knife back in her jacket pocket and sat back down.
"Her name is Portia. She got a little injury at the office so I brought her here."
"I see. Is that the reason why you haven't called?"
She walked toward me with her face to the ground and grabbed me by the collar of my jacket.
"Listen Todd... What I do is my business, and mine alone! I don't need someone trying to act all high and mighty, giving me specific times when to check in! I have a lot to deal with...!"
She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and tightened her grip on my collar.
"...AND I DON'T NEED SOMEONE TO GIVE ME MORE PROBLEMS!! Especially someone who's had it easier than I have like you, Todd!"
"Just get out of here...I've only known you for two days and you've already seen me cry. Just get out.."
She let go of my collar and turned back toward Portia. I was heading for the door but stopped when she sniffled. I couldn't do that to her. I couldn't leave her feeling alone and carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. I walked back towards her.
"You know you're really annoying if you're still here after I just blew up at you like that."
"I know. It's a trait I get from my mom. It's called 'tolerating the friend who saved my life'."
She laughed a little and I wrapped my arms around her neck. I wanted her to know that she'll never be alone anymore. She won't have to face anything alone ever again. I'll always be there for Jane.
Chapter 5 Portia
I woke up with the sun shining in my face laying down in a hospital bed. My memory was fuzzy of the events that occurred last night. I got a headache trying to remember as I sat up in the bed. I looked around the white room and a sight that I hadn't seen ever caught my eye. It was Jane on the other hospital bed laying down next to a boy that I had never seen before. He held her like he was protecting her from something, then a memory came up. I remembered Jane being afraid shooting blindly in the darkness of the warehouse. It was scary to see her of all people lose her senses. Jane was calm and collected and always had control. She wasn't scared of anything, but this was troubling. I grabbed my head again trying to ease the pain. Then Jane and the boy started to wake up in the other bed. They both opened their eyes and as soon as they both noticed what kind of position they were in moved away as quickly as possible from each other.
"Ha ha ha. Good morning Jane."
She collected herself and smiled at me relieved to see that I was okay. I smiled back at her, then I stared intently at the boy behind her. Jane turned around and brought the boy toward me for introductions.
"Portia, this is Todd. I'm using his home as a place to stay while I'm in Little Peak."
"She also saved my life the other day."
"Well she learned from the best then. I found her when she was younger in an alley begging. I took her in and raised her myself."
"Um, excuse me for asking but how old are you?"
"I'm 23. I raised my best friend."
I looked at Jane and she blushed beneath her sunglasses. Then she looked at me seriously.
"Who hurt you, Portia?"
My smile faded away instantly and I looked down into my lap at the white sheets. I did my best to remember the man who shot me.
"He was looking for you, Jane. He walked into the warehouse and saw me standing there in the middle of the room."
"I'm looking for a girl named Margaret Johnson. Do you know who she is?"
"I do actually. She works for me. Is there anything we can help you with?"
"That won't be necessary. I'm going to be straight forward with you lady. I want to kill Margaret for everything she's done to me."
"I reached for the gun in my back pocket but before I could even put it in front of me, he stabbed me."
"Do you remember what he looked like or why he was looking for me?"
"He left me a message before I passed out, 'Tell Margaret her uncle said hi and I'll be with her very soon again.' Your uncle wants to kill you Jane."
I looked back up at Jane and the fear in her eyes. Fear that I had never seen before. She was shaking too. It was awful to see the strong confident girl that she was lose her cool and I guess Todd could see it too because he grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a reassuring look.
"What have you been up to these past 3 days, Jane?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well it looks to me that you've been busy finding something else besides your usual assignment."
I smiled at her and Todd. They looked comfortable with each other. I was mostly impressed with how Jane reacted to Todd's touch. She never flinched like she did with the other boys she came in contact with. For once she looked safe with a boy and I was happy for her. I was proud of Margaret. I was terrified that I wouldn't get to see that face for a very long time though.
Chapter 6 Jane on the Run
Seven days had passed since the incident with Portia. I moved out of Todd's place and headed for the next town in Washington. I was on my own again and this time I didn't have time to lounge about because this time I was wanted. Wanted by the man who gave me memories that I could not burn. He was the reason why I started working for Portia in the first place. I kept my gun handy in my pocket just in case. The road grew colder as I drove closer and closer to Washington. My life changed in the past 7 days. I rescued Todd from dying in the desert, saved Portia from bleeding to death, and found out that my uncle was looking for me. All through that though, I was surprised that Todd didn't figure out that I was a killer. I wondered about Todd. He looked so sad the day I left, and I felt sad to leave him there. I worried about his safety. I was conflicted and confused. My heart on the inside was breaking and I didn't know why. In that short week, that life changing week, did I actually fall for Todd?
My eyes started watering beneath my sunglasses thinking about how I left Todd without telling him how I felt, because I found out too late. I took my shades off and wiped away the tears on my gloves. When I could see again another motorcyclist came up next to me. I didn't pay attention to him and put my shades back on. I revved my engine and drove ahead of him. He kept following me. He had a helmet on so it was impossible to tell who he was, so I kept driving. Faster and faster ahead of him, but he kept coming at me. Who was this guy? I finally lost him when I drove in front of 10 cars on the freeway. I stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah and rented a room in a hotel. That's when I saw the biker again. He was still wearing his helmet, this time I was a little worried. What if it was my uncle? Did he finally find me? I didn't want to stick around too long to find out so I just headed upstairs to my room. I unlocked the door and threw my keys on the coffee table by the window. I sat down on the bed and took off my boots and put my phone next to me. I left it there when I went out onto the balcony. That's when I heard the door knob turn. I took the gun out of my pocket and stayed up against the brick wall. It was the man with the helmet. He had somehow gotten the key to my room. He searched around the room and found that it was occupied by me. He noticed the door to the balcony open and moved toward it. He knew my name.
His voice was deep and calming. It was as if he was luring me in just by saying my name.
"Jane, I know you're in here. I've come back for you Jane. It was awful when you left me, I've come back for you now."
I was sure of it now. This was Isaac, my uncle. He was here to kill me. He walked through the door and I stood next to him with the gun pointed at his head.
"Say hi to Satan for me."
Chapter 7 Tell Her Todd!
She fired her gun at me. I almost thought she hit me until I saw that her aim was off. She had fired out of fear.
"What?! I won't miss this time!"
She cocked her gun again and readied her next shot. I ran back into the room and she fired again. This time she hit the lamp. Her aim was completely off. She was afraid of me. I ran back up to her and grabbed her wrist without hurting her. I pointed the gun away from me and her and tried pleading out to her.
"Jane!! Stop!! Just listen to me! I'm not your uncle!"
"Yes you are!! Don't lie to me!"
I moved her away from the window and pinned her down on her bed. She started struggling even more and pulled the trigger several times, shooting the chair by the table.
"NO NOT AGAIN!! I'M STRONGER THAN I WAS BEFORE!! I WON'T LET YOU HAVE YOUR WAY AGAIN!!"
She kicked me off and I crashed into the wall. She knocked the breath out of me. She got back up. She was in tears. The gun was on it's last shot and I had a feeling she wasn't going to miss this time.
"Burn in hell, you evil good-for-nothing monster!"
"Jane its me!!"
I took off my helmet and revealed my face to her.
"Its just me Jane."
I got back on my feet and put the helmet down next to me. I walked toward her and put my hand on the hand that was holding the gun and lowered it. She was shaking to the touch. She was more scared than I ever was a few minutes ago.
"Jane I'm sorry I scared you."
"No, its not that Todd. I...I almost shot you...at least four times too...I'm so sorry Todd."
"Don't be its okay. I'm not hurt, am I?"
I hugged her tightly and the gun dropped to the floor. She was crying hard. I felt so bad.
"Jane, the reason why I came out here is because I had something to tell you. You don't have to talk, just listen."
She kept crying.
"Jane I found this out the day I found you and Portia in the hospital. Believe it or not I was scared to tell you this too. It was too late because then you left that night. I was depressed. You made such a mark in my life in that one short week, and left me with unsaid words."
Her crying calmed down a little. She looked over my shoulder and outside the balcony door.
"Jane I want to tell you that you're a very special girl. And no one has ever made me feel more alive like you have. Jane.."
She pushed me out of the way onto the bed. By the time I realized what was going on I was too late.
Jane fell to the ground and started bleeding intensely. I was shocked. I fell to her side and grabbed her. I held her tightly and she started coughing.
"Todd, he found me. I'm sorry you...have to see me...like this Todd. I have...something...to tell...you too."
"Jane, stop talking please. Save your strength."
"Todd, it took me a long time...to realize this...but I'm glad you're here...so I can tell you...I love you Todd...I really do..."
"Jane...I love you too, Jane."
Her eyes closed and she passed out. I picked her up and carried her to the nearest hospital. I wasn't prepared to see her die. I didn't want anyone else I loved to die in front of me again.
Chapter 8 The Roses
Was I dead? I felt like I was. Everything was different. It was dark, everything was so faint. Even my appearance changed. My hair turned white and grew longer and there was a bright light in front of me. I knew I shouldn't have but I walked toward the mysterious light. When I walked through it I found a small rose garden on the other side of it. It was beautiful, but as I walked through the garden I begun to notice that these were not ordinary roses. Each rose held a person inside of it. As I continued through them I noticed that each person in these roses were people I killed. Then the roses began to show some people that I didn't recognize. They showed people that I would kill in the future. When I got to the end of the garden, I picked up the last rose and couldn't believe what I saw. Todd was in the last rose. The last rose was for Todd's death. I would kill Todd. I didn't want to believe it. I ran away from the rose and back toward the entrance but as I ran toward it the gate grew farther and farther. I stopped running and the garden swooped away into darkness. I was left standing in total darkness. It was cold and I was alone. I started walking, but where was I going to go? I died, shot by a rifle gun, all to protect Todd.
Todd... What was he doing now? How long have I been gone?
Go toward the door Jane...
"What door Todd? Where?"
I looked around for the door and it suddenly appeared in front of me. It was a white door with a rose pattern carved into it.
"Todd... I don't want to walk through this door. I might end up back in that garden."
Walk through the door Jane. Nothing bad will happen to you. I promise...
I walked toward the door and extended my hand toward the door handle. I pulled it back, but I was desperate and I opened the door. The light came back and I walked through it again. I was back in the garden, but this time I saw Todd there too.
I smiled and ran toward Todd with my arms open wide. When I hugged him, he disappeared. It was an illusion. He wasn't really there.
"C'mon Jane, use your head. You died saving Todd. He's still alive..."
I fell to my knees and leaned up against a rose bush. I picked one of the roses and started picking off the petals. Each petal fell along with a tear. I had to face facts. I lost. I was shot by m