I wake up feeling far more comfortable than I should have been. Upon opening my eyes I find that I'm wrapped in a blanket and have a pillow. Fucker. I don't want to see him now or ever. I'm not the slightest bit surprised to find the window now equipped with a padlock. I go and use the connected bathroom and then plop down on the bed, snuggling into the covers. I have no intention of leaving this bed anytime soon. I drift in and out of sleep, not once leaving the bedroom. I get up to use the bathroom and drink from the faucet, that's it.
I wake up again to Jace sitting down on the bed beside me. He's about to talk when I roll over and face the other way, pulling the blankets over my face.
"Billie, please don't be difficult. You need to get out of bed and eat something, it's already seven."
When I don't move an inch he starts pulling the blankets away.
"Stop! Just leave me the fuck alone!" I yell, frustrated.
We continue in the same manner for two days. When he goes to bed I go back into the closet, facing my fear of the dark like I did as a child.
Late in the evening on the third day Jace shows me my cellphone.
"If you cooperate you can call your parents. I don't want you sulking Billie. If I let you call them you need to stop acting like this, understand?"
I nod in agreement.
"Ok, good, there will be rules. No names, no locations, nothing like that. Got it?" he asks, raising his eyebrows.
"Yes" I answer.
"Promise me Billie." Jace commands.
I do, and Jace sits beside me. He hands me my phone. Turning it on I see I have at least one hundred voicemails and text messages. After that the first thing I notice is the date, June 7.
"I've been here twenty days." I say astonished, to no one in particular.
Jace watches carefully as I start to read through my text messages. The first thirty are asking where I am or if I'm okay. As the days go on the daily amount received lessen. One of the last text messages catches my attention; it's from one of my best friends. It reads, "Billie, everyone seems to have stopped looking for you. They think you're dead. I know you're not, I can feel it. Stay strong Billie. Whatever happens, you can overcome it I know you can. I love you, and hope to see you soon." I start crying. I call my voicemail; the first message is from my mom, she's pissed. She asks me how I could leave the girls. She calls a few more times, worry getting evident in her voice. The last one I hear from her, she's crying, begging I come home. The very last voicemail is from my step-dad. He's crying, pleading for me to come home or call, anything. He talks about the girls, how much they miss me, how the cops are doing all they can but aren't getting anywhere. I dial the number to my step-dad's cellphone; he picks up on the second ring.
"Billie, is this you? Are you okay?" I can hear the worry and relief in his voice.
"Hi dad," I squeak. "I'm okay."
"Where are you? What happened? The cops think you killed someone. They think you screwed up and ran away. Is it true?" he asks.
"No, I didn't kill anyone. I saw people dump a body and they took me Dad." I explain.
"Who has you? Have they hurt you?"
"I can't tell you who has me. They haven't hurt me, I'm okay. Dad, I have to go. Please tell everyone I'm okay and I love them." I choke.
"Billie, please don't hang up on me, let me talk to them, we can work something out!" He pleads. I can hear him crying. It pains me to say goodbye, but Jace is telling me to hang up.
"I'm sorry dad, I love you! In case I don't see you again know that I love everyone. And please tell everyone I'm sorry if I hurt them. I love you daddy." I cry.
"I love you too honey. We'll find you okay? Be strong, don't let them hurt you. I love you. I love you so much, we all do." He sobs as I hang up.
Jace holds his hand out for the phone. It starts ringing as I hand it to him. My heart's broken. I want so badly to take the phone from Jace and tell my dad everything will be alright, that I'll be home soon. This all springs more tears. Jace pulls me into his chest as I'm hysterically weeping. I don't fight him, I'm actually grateful for the kindness he's showing.
We stay like that, him holding me, me sobbing until I fall asleep in his arms. When I wake up he's still cradling me. It doesn't feel like he's moved an inch. I feel awkward when I finally move away from him. I think he senses this, because he gets up soon after and walks out the door. I go in the bathroom and take a bath. I think about all that's happened in the past hour and am stuck on the tranquility I'd felt moments earlier being held by Jace. I also think about how I'd do anything for my family, now or ever. This makes it even harder for me to see Jace as the bad guy. He was just helping his brother, the only family he has left.
When I finally get out of the bath an hour has passed. I go out to the living room to find Jace sitting on the couch, his face buried in his hands. I slowly over and sit next to him. When he looks at me I can see his eyes are rimmed with tears.
"I can't take it anymore. All the press! The newspapers, the news on television, even the fucking radio! I can't keep you here. It's not right. Your dad has already tried calling you back five times since you hung up, as have six other people. We're going to figure out a way to get you home. I promise. Sometime in the next week you'll be home again."
I can't speak. I'm feeling mixed emotions. I'm extremely excited to go home, but I don't think Jace should lose his freedom either.
"Really," I ask, tears now gliding down my cheeks. "What about you?"
"I don't know. I'll figure something out."
"Thank you!" I say, throwing my arms around him.
We hug, and then he ushers me to bed. He doesn't come though; I can only assume he's going to his office. I grab a blanket and pillow and sleep on the couch in the bedroom. I'm so excited I don't fall asleep for hours. All the while Jace still doesn't come in.
When I wake up Jace is still sleeping on the bed. I don't know if I should get up or not, or if the door's locked since he's always been awake when I've gotten up. I lie around on the couch for a while, but get incredibly bored. I sneak over and try the door; it's unlocked! I creep out and try the front door. It's locked. My stomach grumbles, bringing my attention momentarily to food. I go and pour myself a bowl of cereal and a cup of orange juice and sit at the table. I'm just drinking the rest of my juice when Jace comes out of the bedroom.
Looking at him I can't help but grin. He sends a smile back and makes some coffee.
"I know you're excited, but this will take at least a few days to figure out. You'll need to be patient." He cautions, pulling a coffee cup out of a cupboard.
I nod, trying to hide the excitement.
"I'm going to be in my office, so do whatever you want. There's food in the fridge."
"Okay." I say, setting my dishes in the sink.
I see Jace a few times, we make small talk and he returns to the office. I sit around and watch a few movies, mainly thinking of what I'll do different, what I'll say to my family and friends.
I make myself grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner and then do the dishes. I watch one more movie and then retire to the bedroom couch. I hear Jace sneak in sometime in the early morning.
I wake up before Jace again this morning and immediately go out to the living room. I sit around for a while and then decide to make coffee for Jace and get a bowl of cereal for myself. There's no reason for me to be mean to Jace anymore. He's going to bring me back. I just wish I knew what was in his office and what he's doing. I know he can't be sitting in there just making plans all day and night. I mean, how hard is it to plan a drop off?
Jace doesn't come out for another hour or so but when he does he gratefully thanks me for making the coffee. Knowing he's not going to say much I decide to go take a bath. I take my time and shave my legs, mainly just lying there soaking my body in the hot water. When I finally get out I realize I'd been in there for an hour. I go and dig around in the kitchen and find exactly what I was looking for, peppermint tea. I never would have pinned Jace for a tea kind of guy, but I'm happy nonetheless. I heat up a cup of water and start dunking the teabag. Once it's cooled I go into the living room, pop in a movie, and sip my tea. I'm so relaxed that it doesn't take long before I'm sleeping again.
"Billie. Billie!" Jace calls, shaking me out of my slumber.
"Huh? What?" I grumble.
"Let's go." He says, pulling me up and leading me out the door and into that same black car that took me here.
I'm taken aback at the suddenness of it all. When we pull out from the garage I notice it's just getting dark out. He drives down the long driveway and then unlocks the gate when we reach it.
I try talking to him, even asking him where we're going but it's as if I'm not even here. He ignores me completely.
I still can't recognize any roads. Jace makes so many turns it's hard to remember what's left and what's right. We drive for at least two hours before he parks at a rest stop. All there is are two outhouses, a water pump and a sign that reads "Rest Stop". Jace gets out, walks quickly to my door and pulls me out. He then hands me a small flashlight, my cell phone and a sweatshirt. Everything's happening so fast I don't know what to make of it. Jace then pulls me close, planting a light kiss on my forehead. I watch in shock as he returns to the car and then drives away.