Identity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 5 (v.1)

Submitted: January 14, 2014

Reads: 210

Comments: 9

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Submitted: January 14, 2014

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Chapter Five

 

Mia watched as shoppers floated around the high street, some doing no more than gazing into the snowy scenes of shop windows, others marched around with their gaze locked on a single storefront as if they were on a mission of some sort. Although it was quieter now than it had been, the sun had almost disappeared and the sky looked dismal and bleak, the street still remained populated. People fascinated her, how they talked amongst themselves about all aspects of their lives, and she'd catch a fragment of their conversation and wonder what issue their mind was most at war with. She watched with wonder like a child watching ants, all whilst Ryan had hushed conversation on his phone a little way away. She heard him curse loudly and he turned to face her.

"I have to go."

"Really?" Mia frowned, disappointed that their time was being cut short. Realistically, they had spent the whole day talking and laughing together, meandering through shops and dipping into cafes. Yet it felt as if it had been minutes, not hours, that time had cheated them by moving too quickly.

"I'm so sorry, is there any way for you to get home? I don't mind paying a bus fare or something for you." Ryan offered, his hands digging in his pockets for loose change.

"No, I can walk, don't worry about it." She shook her head lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Of course." Ryan smiled with that adorable boyish grin she'd so quickly grown to love. He turned, flipping his hood over his floppy chestnut hair, disappearing into the stream of people.

 

*

 

Mia walked alone through the streets, keeping to the pathways illuminated by the golden glow of the street lights. Day had soon plummeted into night. Overhead the moon illuminated the black sky with its unearthly silver glow, the rain had coated the pavement in placid mirrors, each step sent ripples through the fabric of space. She felt herself shiver. There was no rain or wind anymore, and yet the night grew cold. Her breath crystallised into a white mist that trailed beside her.

It was a quiet night. Few cars crawled by and even fewer people. She stood on the suspension bridge connecting the two halves of the city, her hand lingering on the post it rested on, her eyes searching the darkness and the glimmering headlights. Behind her was what was known as 'Solegate', the sleek shopping district that thrived during the day time, yet as the sun set its activity dwindled. The Waterfront, which sat on the East bank of the Aedin river, bloomed into a cascade of lights reflecting onto the dark waters of the river, its bustling bars and restaurants twinkled with mid-week drinks and business plans discussed over dinner. The Waterfront was welcoming, its lights and the soft hum of conversation called out to her, inviting her to walk among its clean slate-cladded buildings. But she couldn't.

Home was a long walk away, and in the opposite direction. Amelia turned away and disappeared down a narrow alley that followed the river upstream. She lived in a pleasant suburban community on the outskirts of the West Bank, further north than Solegate, yet her journey took her through the rough side of town. An area ridden with cheap bars that reeked of tobacco, blacked out windows with neon lights advertising exotic dancers, loud nightclubs from which the music radiated from within them.

As she walked deeper into the forgotten side of the city, the more the urban night flourished. She had passed through the fashionable and pristine districts, passed the minimalistic storefronts and their silent buzz of life, and into the world of fluorescent signs and flurries of taxis parked outside of bars.

There were more people around; groups of girls a little older than herself tottering around on pin-like heels, imposing bouncers adorning every entrance and penetrating your very soul with their steel glare, and then her least favourite, the guys that hung around in packs with snarling teeth and slurred words.

She kept herself to herself. Walking by without a word when they whistled at her and masking herself in the shadows when she'd rather not be seen. The night life unnerved her. She loved the city in which she lived, yet it was this side that left a niggling doubt in her mind. But of course there is always a dark side to every city. The west side is the roughest area of town, a place for the unloved and forgotten to dwell and to hide from the sun.

Mia had been clinging to the shadows when a fight broke out across the street. Two men were squaring up to each other, fists clenched, fast and foul words shooting back and forth. A girl with bleach blonde hair ran up to them and was screaming at them both. The whole scene had captivated her attention and for a moment she couldn't tear her eyes away. She bumped into a man at least five years older than her, who radiated a foul stench of alcohol, cheap deodorant, and some bitter scent she couldn't name.

"Oh 'ello sweetheart!" He cooed, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her in close. His friends roared with laughter and gathered around. Mia shook off his grasp and looked desperately about her. There had to be at least six of them, all a head taller, and without a doubt stronger.

"Ain't she a pretty one?" A broad one with a shaven head commented.

"I bet she's rich too."  Another one added.

They had gathered in tight circle around her, poking and grinning at her, she hugged her arms around her and frantically looked for a gap to escape through.

"Come on lads, leave the poor kid alone." A strong voice boomed over the others. It hadn't come from any of the predators around her. They broke the circle to face a dark figure stood a few feet away. He wore a leather jacket over a hoodie, the hood was pulled up so that it shielded his face with a mask of shadows from the street light behind him.

"Oh yeah? You and whose army?"

The hooded man tutted and shook his head. "Now now, children, this isn't the time to test my patience. Step away from the girl unless you want to pay for my laundry."

The guy she had bumped into stepped toward him. "Pfft, like I give a fuck about what you want."

"Damn, wrong answer."

Mia saw the glint of a blade emerge from the hooded man's pocket. She didn't stay around any longer to see what happened next, she turned to find a gap behind her and dived through it, running as fast as her legs could carry her in the direction of home. From behind her she could hear swearing and feet pounding against the cement, but she didn't turn to see if they had scarpered or were chasing her.

She ran for as long as she could but she had never been much of runner and had to slow down eventually. She slowed and turned into a small car park just off the street to catch her breath. There weren't many cars parked there, only a handful of estates and transit vans. Each tiny droplet of water resting on the bonnets had captured a tiny piece of a star, she found herself admiring the beauty of the glimmering collection.

"I think I'm owed a thank you." A voice came from behind her.

Mia whirled around to face her hooded saviour. She was too exhausted and shocked to speak, her throat felt like it had sealed up and left her speechless.

Sensing her surprise and lack of words, he took a small step forward and cleared his throat to speak again. "Isn't it a little late for you to be out alone? Anything could have happened and no one would know about it."

"Who are you?" She said at last.

He pulled his hood down and ran a pale hand through his thick black hair. It was dark in the car park with the only source of light being a flickering advertisement for cocktails, yet she could just about make out the shining blue eyes that watched her intently.

"Jake." He offered his hand. She didn't take it.

He took another step forward, closing the distance between them, so close that they were almost touching. "You don't remember me?" He whispered, his breath tingling against her skin, it reeked of alcohol and tobacco.

"You're the guy from the coffee shop." Her eyes lingered on his face warily. He was a good looking guy, even in the darkness she found it hard to look away, but there was something else begging for her attention. "I threw my hot chocolate over you."

Those daring blue eyes glimmered in the lowlight, Jake's lips curled into a wry smile, he knew more than he was letting on and he was boasting.

Mia turned her head away, shivering against his closeness. She didn't know this man and she certainly didn't want him near her. Even though he had saved her from the pack of wolves, she knew that she couldn't trust him, he was a stranger wearing a known mask. A stranger that so happened to be at the right place and at the right time.

At that moment, he lowered himself so that they were at eye level, and he murmured: "Where are you going, little girl?"

"None of your business." She pushed away from him, remembering the blade he'd used to threaten those thugs, she tried not to think about what had happened to them. Hastily, she turned toward the street, wanting to put some much needed distance between herself and this stranger.

Behind her, Jacob clawed out at his own consciousness, he surfaced and gulped at the air around him thirstily. His eyes found the girl from the coffee shop at the mouth of the car park, she looked small and delicate in the dark, he felt his instinct to protect wash over him.

"Wait," He called after her. She stopped and glanced over her shoulder at him. "I can't let you go back out there. Not on your own. Let me drive you home."

"I don't think so. I'd rather risk it." Mia grimaced.

"Please," Jacob pulled out his car keys, stroked the plastic fob with his thumb. "I don't think I could live with myself knowing I let a 17 year old walk home in the dark. I have a little sister around your age. It doesn't even have to be all the way to your house, just out of town so I know that you're safe."

Mia hesitated then. She had no desire to climb into a car with a man she knew nothing about, she had far more sense than that. Yet she could see the desperation on his face, his concern was visible on his features even in the dark. "I-I don't think so. Not with an armed stranger. I'm sorry but I just don't trust you."

Armed? Jacob thought. He dug his hands into his pockets, patting himself down in search of a weapon, and then he felt it. Tucked into his waistband, he found a switchblade wet with warm fresh blood, he silently cursed Jake. Knowing that there wasn't a chance in hell he'd be able to drive her home personally, his hand fled to his wallet. "A taxi then?"

Even the ever-cautious Amelia couldn't find a reason to argue with him. He escorted her out on to the busy street where they found a fleet of taxis waiting patiently for a customer. Jacob slid a few notes from his wallet and pressed it into the girl's palm as she climbed into a the nearest taxi. Before she had closed the door, Jacob caught it with his hand and leaned down to whisper in her ear:

"Be safe."

It was only when the taxi had pulled out to join the stream of night time traffic, leaving the flurries of drunks and the statue of a complex young man behind, that Amelia noticed the scrap of paper hidden between the notes. She unfolded it and found herself smiling down at the phone number scrawled in black marker pen.

 

*

 

The lock of her front door clicked, almost inaudible over the sounds of yelling and the rumble of the taxi's engine. She rolled her eyes at her parents as she stepped over the threshold. Shouts and high-pitched screams sent vibrations through the walls, the kitchen door slammed shut, there was a sharp clatter of china being thrown against a wall. Mia quietly clicked the door shut behind her and tiptoed up the stairs to her room.

The arguing didn't surprise her. They did the same thing every week, sometimes more often. Plates and glasses get smashed, chairs flipped over, doors yanked off their hinges, but the anger soon faded and they'd cling to each other in a mess of tears stuttering apologies. It was a vicious cycle that seemed to intensify with each blow. Mia was growing tired of waking up late in the night and having to sweep up after them. She was tired of the constant stream of complaints of domestic disturbances.

Even in the safety of her own room their voices were still audible. She slipped under the cool blankets of her bed without undressing, her feet ached from all the walking she'd been doing, her eyelids were heavy from such a long day.

Despite her exhaustion, she struggled to slip into the comfort of sleep. Instead, she lay awake, listening. In her hand she clasped the piece of paper, squeezing it so tight that the words could almost be branded on her skin. Her mind reeled over his words, those two words that instantly put her at ease. Be safe..

 

***Note***

I didn't think I'd be posting today as I hadn't even written a single sentence until two hours ago. It's rushed, it's probably unintelligible, but its finished.

Thank you for reading.

Oh and what did you think of Jake's brief appearance? First impressions?


© Copyright 2019 Emma Richards. All rights reserved.

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