“Where are we going?” Jake asks as we walk down the road next to the freeway. We’ve been walking for the past twenty minutes but it feels like eternity to me. The sound of all the cars passing fills my head and makes me sleepy. The only thing keeping me standing is Jakes arm around my shoulders.
“Mmmm,” I half groan against him as I keep limping. “Motel 6?” I suggest, my vision filing with black momentarily.
“No.” He says firmly. “We’re not going back there. You promised.” I flinch as I remember what he’s talking about. “Besides I don’t think you can even make it that far.”
“Okay then, where Jake?” I sigh, feeling myself getting heavier and heavier as my head begins to spin again. Suddenly, a red 1968 mustang pulls over.
“Hey Jake!” I hear a voice call.
“Hang on,” Jake whispers to me as he lets go and sets our bags down next to us. He turns slightly to address the driver meanwhile my knees wobble, threatening to give out. I close my eyes to breathe.
“Hey man what’s up?”
“Where you going? You need a ride?”
“Not exactly,” Jakes voice comes out strained and I open my eyes. The first thing I see is James Sullivan. My eyes widen with horror.
“You okay?” he asks Jake, but then sees me and cocks an eyebrow at Jake. Jake looks at me with a weird look and steps forward to talk to James privately. Slowly, I begin to lose feeling in my legs and fingers. The sensation somewhat stuns me into relaxation just as I begin to panic.
“Jake,” I choke, my eyes slowly but victoriously shutting on me. “I don’t feel too good.” The last thing I see is Jake lunge for me in panic as the world tips sideways and the dark sky fills my vision.
I wake to the sound of laughter and a metal bang, sending me springing up off my back. Little pings of pain devour my body, causing me to moan weirdly. Tears sting my eyes as I search around and find my leg wrapped in gauze. I try to stand. As soon as I’m up though, a pain tears through the back of my leg and a yelp escapes me as I stumble into a table up against a wall.
“Addie?” I hear Jake call me from another room. My eyes search for him desperately, and a wave of relief washes over me as he runs out of a room, searching for me. I feel myself relax a little as he rolls his eyes and scoops me up out of nowhere to set me back on the bed.
“We have to talk.” He says nervously as he sits on another bed across from mine.
“Where are we?” I ask, my hands roaming smoothly over a navy blue silk blanket, a small smile forming on my lips.
“You’re at my place.” A voice says mildly. My eyes snap up and immediately my smile is gone. His blue eyes bore into mine, guarded and cautious. “Well, the guest house anyway.”
“What’re we doing here?” I snap at Jake. He shrinks away from me, his eyes looking at the floor.
“He offered us a place to stay,” Jake says quietly. His eyes flash to mine, full of hope. But this is too much to ask. And not even really in the question.
“No.” I say quietly, trying to control my tone. “We’re not staying here another five minutes.” I manage to get up.
“Why?” he protests, following me.
“Jake you’ve involved him enough.” I say stiffly as my voice falters with anger. I send him a warning glance saying he doesn’t need to know the situation.
“He already knows everything.” He murmurs and looks away.
“What?!” I finally snap. “Jake. Why the hell did you even tell him anything?!”
“I didn’t know what to do! You passed out from blood loss and we had nowhere to go, I panicked, and he was there.”
“That doesn’t mean you tell him everything Jake!”
“I didn’t tell him everything,” he gives me a narrowed look.
“Hey.” I warn, taking a step closer to him with my finger pointed, my anger slowly rising to its peak.
“It’s no problem if you guys stay.” James cuts in for once. I throw him my darkest look.
“Yes it is, and we’re not.” I say quietly.
“Addie there’s nowhere to go and it’s late.” Jake half whispers, his face showing the most exhaustion I’ve ever seen before. “Please?” his eyes brim with tears a little and I know I have to give in because those are real. Jake would never pull fake tears on me like that. Still, I regard him cautiously, my head pounding.
“Fine.” His eyes fill with hope again. “But we’re not staying long. Just tonight.” I warn the both of them.
Jake grabs me in a bear hug and I cry out in pain.
“Sorry!” he says pushing away from me.
“Can I have an ice pack?” I sit on the bed as Jake goes back into the room he came from, leaving me alone with James whose eyes scan me slowly and I do the same, but eventually I give up and rub the blanket as I curl into a ball on the bed. His eyes never leave my body.
Do I really look that bad?
“They’re silk.” He says awkwardly after a minute, obviously cautious of the way we should act with each other right now.
“They’re nice.” I say softly, not looking at him, calling truce for one night. An awkward silence fills the air as we stop talking. Not soon enough, Jake comes back with an ice pack for me. Immediately I put it to my head.
“I think you’re going to have to take a week off.” Jake says. I can feel his eyes on me but I don’t look at him. I keep my eyes closed, trying to figure this out.
“Or I don’t have to miss any school.” I say stiffly.
“And what would you tell everyone? I think ‘fell down the stairs’ isn’t going to cut it this time, Addie.” He says cautiously.
I sigh. “Nothing ever does cut it Jake.”
The room grows silent and I debate getting up for a minute.
“Where’s the bathroom?” I ask, my eyes opening to see James still leaning in the doorway. I try not to flinch.
He points to a door right next to him which I would’ve assumed was a closet.
“May I use it?” I ask frigidly. He grows stiff for a second and his eyes widen slightly before he can compose himself and nod nonchalantly. The bed makes creaking noises as I slowly get up. Jake gets up too to help me but I brush him off as soon as I grow dizzy. Blood rushes to my head and I try ignoring it but I stumble into the nightstand.
“I don’t think you should be walking.” I hear Jake say nervously. The next thing I feel is my back on the bed and my eyebrows knit together furiously as I try to concentrate on something not moving.
“Stop moving me.” I grumble at him.
“Stop moving me,” he mocks and sticks his tongue out at me. “If you stopped moving I wouldn’t have to help you.”
“I don’t need help.” I narrow my eyes at him.
“Right,” he says flatly and sits back down on the other bed. I sigh.
“I won’t go to school tomorrow so I can go see if I can find a job.” I glance at him just in time to see him tense, but then slowly he relaxes.
“Okay.” He grumbles this time.
“Okay,” I mock him, now. He gives me a pointed look and I crack a grin, ignoring the pain in my lip.
“Go to sleep.” He snaps.
“Bite me.” I say as my eyes travel around the room again and come across James again. I flinch.
“Thank you.” I say once he finds me looking at him. His face goes on guard for a second.
“It’s no problem.” He says softly, his eyes softening somewhat too. I can’t help but stare at him for a second longer. But then I look away, not wanting to get used to the sight.
“How long has your dad been doing this to you guys?” James asks, snapping me back in a defensive mode as I turn back to him.
“Since mom died.” Jake says casually, but I wince.
Mom. James settles his eyes on me, I turn away. No matter what, he is still James Sullivan and I will show him no weakness.
“How long ago was that?” He continues after a moment of silence.
“None of your business.” I interrupt the interrogation. “Look.” I sit up very slowly to face him and thread my hands together as I stare him down. He straightens his posture and his face and eyes harden as he waits for me to continue. “I am very appreciative of you helping Jake,” I pause to try to cover up my effort on the next two words. “and I, but we will be out of here in no time and I will pay you back for letting us borrow…the…um, room.” I say harshly, my voice softening in the end. “So let’s not get too comfortable with the situation at hand okay?” I look at Jake now. “Okay?” Jake’s eyes grow a little dull as he nods slowly. “Good.”
“So how’s this going to work at school?” James asks abruptly, a mischievous look in his eye and a smug smile on his face as he tests me.
Good God help me.
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