I ran my fingers through my matted hair, another letter came and I really didn't want to read it, but I knew I had to;
"Hi Charlie. How has your few weeks been? Re-watching the video over and over? Gives you some sort of comfort doesn't it? Anyway, included in this envelope is a few pictures and one of the back of one will be the rest of this letter"
I looked down at the envelope, my heart had quickened and I felt like I was going to explode. I took a deep breath and reached into the brown paper slot. I felt a glossy feeling against my fingers and I pulled out a small stack of three pictures. My eyes went right up to the ceiling, I didn't really want to know what these pictures were of, but I slowly found my eyes looking down at the pictures. I narrowed my eyes and tilted my head, it was a picture of Joshua. He was with some man wearing a black rain coat and a black hair. It was almost horror movie-like. I flipped to the next picture, and then the third. In the third the man was handing Joshua a brown paper sack, I flipped it over and the letter continued;
"On this day Joshua was given something. If you go back to his house, under his bed, you will find a box. The key for the box is inside the third drawer of his dresser from the top. Your discoveries have just begun Charlie"
I swallowed heard as I heard footsteps drawing closer to my room. I quickly put everything away and shoved the pictures under my pillow. Lucas came into the room,he had his back turned to me while waving goodbye to someone. He looked at me and stopped, his eyes narrowed. "Another letter?" he asked, I just shook my head.
"Just don't feel so well' I gave him a reassuring smile. His eyes wanted to question me, but his lips said nothing. He mumbled something under his breath and walked over to his bed. I fumbled my fingers, thoughts burned into my head. Would things get even deeper? More dangerous?
"So you got pictures of Joshua getting some thing from some guy?" Ella asked, her hands on her hips. I nodded. I had to tell them about the letter even though Lucas was upset with me for lying to him the other night. I wanted to tell Ella before Lucas found out, I trusted Ella more, but that didn't mean I didn't trust Lucas. "And now we have to go back for some stupid box?" she grumbled. I nodded again. We were already walking up to her parent's house when we began our conversation. They were out for the night and we wouldn't be there as long as we had to be. Ella unlocked the door and walked n, Lucas brushed past me without a look or even a single word. I sighed, I did hate having him mad at me, but I couldn't help how I felt. We headed up the stairs toward Joshua's room and the memories came flooding back to me as soon as Ella turned the knob to his door. She walked in with Lucas close behind her.
"Under the bed?" I heard Lucas's cold voice, Ella answered him with a yes while I leaned against the wall. I didn't want to go into his room unless I really had to. I heard them moving stuff around inside and then the sound of metal against the hardwood flooring on Joshua's room.
"Charlie" Ella called. I sighed and walked into Joshua's room. They were kneeling on the floor and in between them was a metal box. Ella held a key in her hand and she put it inside the lock and gave it a twist. Lucas was the first one to reach toward the box and open it. When he did he let out a loud groan.
"We found a key to unlock a box to find another fucking key?!" Lucas stop up and said something angrily under his breath .Ella looked at him with a sigh and then looked at me. I looked back at her with a shake of my head, hoping she would not question his sudden anger. She just narrowed her eyes at me for a few minutes and then went back to the box.
"It has to belong to something" she picked up the key from the metal box and twirled it around in her fingers. She got up and came over to me placing it in my hand. It was cold, and had a thin layer of dust on it. It must have sat in the box for a long time. "Have you seen a key like this before?" her green eyes sparkled with excitement, doing all this "detective" work must have been exciting for her. Sadly, I couldn't share the feeling, I was worried about what Joshua had gotten into.
"What if it's a key to a lock?" Lucas's voice made me jump, I had almost forgot he was even in the room with us. I shook my head gently, what would Joshua have to lock away that was so important?
"Joshua usually didn't lock anything" I nodded in agreement with Ella.
"Wait" my mind had begun to think back. "Joshua had a lock on his locker, but he always wore the key around his neck" I sighed, at least it was something. Ella shook her head and ran her fingers through her hair, tugging at a few knots.
"He always had it, this has to be for something else" she was now pacing back and forth, it helped her think I guess. I nodded and leaned against the wall, that was indeed true so why would he need another key?
"What if it's not his locker" Lucas's hazel eyes caught mine for a brief second until he looked away and his gaze turned toward Ella. She gave a soft smile.
"It's worth a shot. We can go back to the school Saturday" we all nodded, any lead was a good lead.
When we got back to the form I could feel the anger flood from Lucas. He was still mad at me and I did hate it, I hated the feeling that was in the room with all the anger. He hadn't spoke to me at all since we had gotten into the car and now Ella was starting to feel awkward around us. "Are you still mad at me?" He walked out of the bathroom, I heard the water running for a shower.
"Yes I am. Why would you lie to me? I thought we were friends" he finally took a breath and he stared at me. "Maybe even a little more than that" I looked at him and then looked down to the floor.
"I lied because I just don't want anything to happen to you" I knew that was a lie. I just didn't really fully trust Lucas, and that was how I felt. When I looked up at him his eyes flashed with anger as his fists tightened into a ball.
"And I want things to happen to you?! God Charlie, we've been friends for what? Almost half a year. You've told me everything and I've told you everything. I already knew stuff about Josh, why would you keep this of all thing from me?!" his voice was loud and it was filled with anger. I just stared at him, my heard was aching. I already lost one important person in my life, was I really going to lose another?
"I don't have to tell you everything" He looked at me. I could tell he was hurt when those words crossed my lips. "You are a friend, that's exactly what you are. I care about you but you are not my damn boyfriend!" It was like I could see his heart brake i those big eyes as he nodded.
"Fine, you don't want help you won't get mine" he grabbed a few things and left, slamming the door behind him. I threw my keys down on the ground and crawled into my bed, as I closed my eyes, tears swelled up.
I woke up a few seconds later with a light fog surrounding me. The sky was a dark gray and a cool breeze blew up my spine. "Really Charlie?" Joshua's voice echoed in the open space. He had his arms crossed over his chest and his foot was tapping on the ground, adding to the echo in the room.
"What?" just seeing him made me happy, but from the way he was acting, I had some something wrong.
"Why did you say those things to Lucas? You know that man likes you" his eyes narrowed as he walked toward me. I felt his hand on my shoulder. I looked at him and he gave me a soft smile. "You need to stop pushing away anyone who cares. You are even hurting Ella by keeping her out of your life"his fingers began to rub against my cheeks.
I just...I don't know okay?" I looked at him, he just held me tightly in his arms as his chin rested upon my head. His hands rubbed my back.
"Stop pushing people away Charlie, you can't do this on your own" The dream started to fade as his words echoed in my ears. I woke up in my bed. I could hear the shower running and Lucas was inside the bathroom. I got up and started to get dressed. We were going back to our high school to see if the key went to anything, hopefully a locker. I slipped on a sweater as Lucas came out of the bathroom. I didn't dare look at him and he didn't dare speak to me.
We parked in front of the school. "I'll go see if anyone's here" he got out of the car so fast I thought he was going to trip out. I sat there, watching him walk toward the metal doors I had walked through so many times.
"What the hell is going on" Ella turned around and looked at me. Her eyes were burning into me as I met her gaze.
"I just said some things alright?" I tried to avoid her line of questions. She sighed and looked back toward Lucas,she got out of the car and walked up to him. I slowly got out and followed.
"Ella! Charlie!" we heard a friendly voice. The doors unlocked and Mr. huff, the janitor, met us with a smile. His eyes shining behind the gray frames of his glasses. "Welcome back, whatcha need?" his voice was light and cheery and for a moment I was jealous of the tone of his words.
"We were wondering if you knew what this key was to. We found it in Joshua's room" I reached into my pocket and handed the key to Ella. She tuck it out in her hand for Mr. Huff to see, he picked it up and twirled d it around in his fingers. He eventually nodded his head.
"This looks like a key that goes to the old lockers in the basement" he handed the key back to Ella. She smiled.
"Would you mind if we went to see?" Mr. Huff shook his head and ushered us in.
"Come get me when you're done, I'll lock back up" he called after us as we made our way down the hallway. The memories came back to me and I took a ragged breath. We walked past the memorial that the school had put up in Joshua's honor.
"Everyone loved him huh?" I heard Lucas's voice echo throughout the empty hallway.I kept walking toward the door leading to the basement. Ella must of stopped, looking at the pictures of her brother.
"Everyone did" I could hear the sadness rise in her voice.
"Obviously someone didn't" Lucas stuck his hands in his jacket pocket and walked back over to me. Ella's body stiffened and I thought fora moment she was going to kill him. We walked into the cold basement. Soft noises of water dropping echoed as we walked to where the old lockers were. I started at number one and worked my way down. Hoping eventually one of these lockers would open. We got to number twenty-three and the lock popped open. We all looked at each other. Ella reached and took the lock out of the hole and pulled the latch up to open the locker. Inside the locker was a black box and it felt cold against my fingertips. I gave it a shake and a soft rattling noise came. "Open it" Lucas called from behind me, his voice echoed throughout the whole room and it was creepy.
"Not today, we'll do it tomorrow" Ella nodded and locked the locker back up.
"I am tired of this shit" Ella slammed on the brakes as we finally made it back to campus.She locked the doors and turned the car off. She turned and looked at us. "What is going on?" The way she was staring at me made me squirm.
"He doesn't want my help. That's it" Lucas's voice was lacking any emotion what so ever. He pulled the lock up and got out of the car as he slammed the door shut. He walked back toward our dorm. Ella turned to me.
"What did you say to him?" her voice sounded exhausted.
"I lied to him about the note with the key and he got mad. I told him he wasn't my boyfriend and can't tell me what to do" I watched him pull the door open to the dorms and walk in. Ella sighed.
"Why did you do that? You know that boy is in love with you" she said softly as we got out of the car. I zipped up my sweater and shut my door.
"I know...I just" I was searching for the right words but they didn't come. I rubbed the back of my neck as we walked toward my dorm.
"Joshua said not to fuck up. Don't screw this up, that man likes you" I nodded. She said goodbye and walked toward her own dorm. I walked upstairs and toward the dorm, soft music came from our room as I walked in. Lucas was laying on his bed, staring at the TV. I put the box under my bed and slipped off my sweater tossing it to the end of my bed.
"I hate having you mad at me" I was the one who broke the silence. The TV turned off.
"I am not mad at you" I turned around, he was sitting on the edge of his bed. His hands on his knees as his eyes gazed into mine.
"Then why treat me like this?" I said. He stood up, a bit of anger flashed in his eyes.
"Why do you treat me like this? Like I am not even a friend anymore? You keep pushing me away whenever I try and get close to you. You know I like you, it's pretty damn obvious to damn near everyone and yet you still act like I am nothing" his emotions poured out to me in a single wave. I could see a bit of tears working up in his eyes. I looked at the ground, staring at the gray rug beneath my feet.
"I just-" he cut me off.
"I understand that you still love Joshua, I understand that, I get that. I can wait, I'd wait for you. That doesn't mean you can act like a dick to me just because of it. I am trying to help you. You cannot do this on your own and you are pushing away the only people who are willing to fucking help you!" his anger was rising as he curled his fists into tight balls. I just nodded, I knew what he was saying was true.
"I just want these letters to stop. I want the stupid clues to stop. I just want to move on" my heart was heavy. I knew Lucas liked me, and it was true, I might of liked him. He made me happy when I was near him and I felt safe. He reminded me of Joshua in a lot of ways, and I based everything he did off Joshua.
"If you are not ready, then you're not...I will stop alright? Stop with the flirting and the cute jokes. I'll just be the friend you need" I swallowed hard, every word he said he said with hurt.
"It's not that I want you to stop..." I said that just in time for him to shut the door. He was just about to walk out on me. He walked back to me and looked down at me. I was looking at the floor, but I felt his glare. "You make me happy Lucas, you really do. I feel safe when I'm with you and I haven't felt that for a while" I felt the heat roll off his body and I could hear the faint sound of his heart beat. My words must of made his heart flutter.
"You make me happy Charlie. I've never really been this happy, you make me smile and you're so adorable. You are strong and independent, I like that about you. You care a lot about everyone that is near you and you only let a few people in. I want to help you Charlie and if you want to wait to pursue anything between us, I will" his voice was sending a tingle down my spine as I swallowed hard. His hand brushed up against mine and his fingers ran down my palm and finally slipped between mine. "But that doesn't mean I won't at least try to make advances" that made me smile and he chuckled. A knock at the door made him pull away from me.
Me, Lucas and Ella were sitting in the middle of my dorm room. The box we had found in the locker was sitting in the middle of us. I was a bit nervous. Ella passed around a can of soda to each of us and I took a deep breath.
"Ready?" Ella nodded as she opened her can of soda, and Lucas followed the same. I opened it, looked down and inside was a ring with a symbol on it and a white index card. I took out of the ring and ran my finger over the symbol. It was a snake wrapped around a pole. "Have you seen a symbol like this?" I handed the ring to Ella. She shook her head as she studied the ring and then gave it to Lucas. I picked up the index card, on it was an address with the last name "Jenkins"
"I've never seen this address either" Ella said as I handed her the card. Lucas put the ring back the box and took the index card Ella handed to him. A spark lit in his eyes.
"I know this address. It's near my brother's house, I think in the next town over" he looked at me. Our gaze locked and he smiled, I looked away with a stupid grin. "I think it's an apartment building he handed me the note card but before pulling away he ran his finger across the back of my hand. I couldn't help but smile and shake my head.
"Well, tomorrow is the start of Christmas Break" Ella gave a yawn and that made me realize how tired I actually was.
"I can ask my brother if we can use his house. He leaves for Florida with his wife during the winter" Lucas offered. I nodded as they began to talking about the details of our new trip. I looked down at the card. This person knew Joshua, this person had information I needed to know what the hell was going on.
We were now headed to the town where Lucas thought this address was from. He had his brother's permission to use his house for a few days. They were talking in the front seats while I was thinking in the back. Would this person help us? Hurt us? Did they have any information about Joshua? His killer? Would it be a waste to come here? "Charlie" I heard my name. I blinked and looked toward Ella. She was looking at me in her rear-view mirror and looked back at the road. "You okay?" I nodded.
"Just worried" I was more than worried, I was terrified.
"About this person?" Lucas had turned and was now looking at me. I looked back and nodded.
"What if they have information I don't want to hear? Or any at all? What if it's a waste?" I felt Lucas's hand grab mine. His hands were warm to the touch and he laced his fingers through mine.
"It'll be fine. Whatever happens, you have us here with you" he smiled sweetly at me.
We walked into a large, brick apartment building.It was gray with tons of windows. The two glass doors swung open as Ella pushed them. We walked down the long corridor and finally came up to a dark wooden desk with a women behind it typing away on her computer. She looked up at us, her lips cured into a pretty smile as she took a pencil out from behind her ear. "How may I help you?" her voice was uplifting.
"Yes, we are here to see a Jenkins. We have a business meeting, would you mind telling us what room he is in?" Ella was a great liar, if I didn't know any better I'd believe anything she told me. The women typed on her computer.
"Third floor, room 40D" she said with a smile. We thanked her and headed toward the elevator. As the doors closed my heart wanted to bust out of my chest. What would happen? Would I want to know what this person had to say?I felt Lucas's hand grab mine again and he gave it a tight squeeze. The door dinged and we walked out. Ella counted to herself until we got to the room that read 40D. I started at the dark wooden door.
"Ready?" We all nodded and she knocked upon the door. We heard a few noises come from inside the room and a few minutes later the door opened. All three of us stood in awe, the man that opened the door was very attractive. He had dark brown hair, bright blue eyes and such a banging body. He was not wearing a shirt, and everything was exposed. He smiled and his eyes went to each of us.
"Gunna just stare or ask me somethin'?" his voice was deep and smooth as silk, a bit of a southern accent came out too. Ella shook her head with a nervous smile and chuckled.
"Yes, we have some questions" he looked around us and leaned against the door frame, crossing his muscular arms over his chest.
"Well who are ya?" his eyes were glowing with interest as his eyes scanned us all once again.
"I'm Ella" she then pointed to Lucas "This is Lucas, and that is Charlie" she then pointed to me. He nodded his head gently, still leaning on the door frame and still eyeing us. He chuckled and walked back into his apartment as he waved us in. We walked into the apartment as he went to grab a shirt.
"Guess our show is over" Ella whispered low into my ear. I elbowed her into the side as we both began to laugh.
"And what do you want from me?" his voice came from his bedroom down the hall.
"We came to ask you about this ring" Ella had taken the ring out of her pocket. The man came back into the room and over to us. He took the ring in his hand and his eyes seemed to dark as the cold metal of the ring touched his fingers. He ran his fingers over the symbol.
"How'd you get this?" his voice was now dark and not as nice as it had been. He offered us to sit down and we took it. He sat down across from us in an arm chair.
"My brother, Joshua, had it locked away in a locker along with your address" A smile came across the man's face as Ella told him that.
"Joshua huh?" Ella smiled and nodded.
"My twin brother" he smiled at her and nodded.
"I knew you were about him as soon as I saw you" he handed her back the ring and leaned in the chair. "So, what is wrong?"
"Joshua's dead" the darkness and sharp of Lucas's tone got me by surprise. The man's eyes saddened as she sighed.
"I'm sorry" Ella just shook her head at his apology.
"It was murder. Charlie here" she pointed to me again "Was his boyfriend. He's been getting letters from the killer, along with clues" she began to explain everything to this man that we didn't even know, but he knew Joshua, he knew more than we did about the secrets he was keeping.
"Do you know who did it?" my voice sounded weird to me, it was the first time I had talked since we got there. He sighed and shook his head.
"Sadly I don't. He was into some deep shit though" his voice was now low.
"What kind of shit?" Lucas pressed. The man smiled and leaned back in his chair once more.
"Are you sure you want to know what I have to say?" We all nodded quickly. He leaned forward and nodded. "I knew Joshua, very well actually. I met him when he was a Sophomore in high school. I had just graduated at the time. In words, we were basically fuck buddies. It didn't mean anything to me, but it meant something to him" I cringed at the words, but it was before me and Joshua dated, so it shouldn't hurt. "He thought we were more and didn't want to take no for an answer. He got involved with the people I was involved with. Basically it was a prostitution ring. We made great money and got great sex. Not much I can say about that" he rubbed the back of his neck and took a bit of a pause.
"Please continue" There was a sort of begging tone in Ella's voice.
"It was about a year and a half later when he came to us telling he wanted out. He made a lot of money and knew a lot of bad people. He told us he was in love and I am guessing that was with you" he pointed to me. I nodded and he smiled. "I knew it, he told me about you. He was head over heels in love with you. Well, when he wanted to leave the bosses didn't want him to. He was racking in some great profit and they didn't want to lose that"
"So someone killed him for that?" Lucas asked. The man shrugged his shoulders as he leaned back in his chair.
"Possible or maybe not. Before he left the bosses asked him if he would tell them about you Charlie. He refused, he didn't want you to be involved in any way possible with the shit he was in" he said this with a dark tone. I felt like I was going to throw up, but I tried my best to keep my cool.
"What about the ring?" Ella was now on the edge of the couch.
"The ring was pretty much a stamp for people who belong to the bosses. Like, a thing that said they owned them" he said as he rubbed his chin and leaned forward once more.
"Can you tell us the bosses?" Lucas was now sitting on the edge of the couch, the same as Ella. The man narrowed his eyes at us and shook his head.
"You will be messing with the wrong people" he said. Ella's hands balled up as she looked at the man.
"Please tell us" she wanted to know who killed her brother just as much as I wanted to know who killed him.I wasn't sure I wanted to hear who the possible killers of Joshua were. The man looked at us and stood up, he got a piece of paper and a pen from the counter. He wrote a few names down, folded the paper up and held it in his hand.
"If I give you this, you will never tell anyone I did. Understand?" his voice was dark and low. Ella nodded, he handed it to her and stood up. We thanked him and walked out of his apartment. He shut the door behind us and we stated at each other. Ella held the paper tightly in her hand, Joshua's killer's name could be on that piece of paper.