Don't Stop Believin'

By J.C. Books All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Romance

Chapter Four

--Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people
Livin’ just to find emotion
Hidin’ somewhere in the night--

The next morning, I woke up to the sun shining through the wall of window and I hissed at it and pulled the blanket over my eyes. The sun didn’t know I was part vampire in the mornings. I groaned, the blanket did little to block the light, so I got up and puttered around the loft to wake myself up. For some reason, I have been seriously slow in my movements after I wake up.

I tripped over something and landed on it since my brain is so slow this morning. I pushed myself up and saw that I landed on an air mattress. Well, now I know where Evan slept. Good thing he wasn’t still sleeping or else I would’ve landed right on top of him.

I wandered around the loft, looking for the bathroom. I ran my hand across the wall and felt an indent, but didn’t see a door. I pushed on it and it popped open, revealing a bathroom. Those sneaky architects. While washing my face to wake up, I heard the loft door open and close.

“Mirabella! Are you in here?!” Evan called out.

“I’m in the bathroom!” I answered. After drying off my face, the bathroom door opened more ajar than when I had entered, and Evan was standing in the doorway. He looked relieved when he saw me standing there. “Is something the matter?” He didn’t answer verbally, but instead crushed me in a big bear hug.

“I thought you had left.” He said into my hair.

When he pulled away, I gave him a confused look. “What are you talking about?”

He gave me a confused look back. “Have you seen the news yet?”

I shook my head. “No. I just got up like five minutes ago.”

He grabbed my hand and pulled me out into the loft. He grabbed the remote and turned the TV on to the national news channel. “They’ve been having the story come on every fifteen minutes.” The newscasters were talking about the national debt and how it’s continuing to grow from economic issues. Soon the newscasters switched topics.

“But our big news story today is about a seventeen year old girl, Mirabella Worth, who has run away from a loving family and home.” I snorted at that. Loving family? Wrong. “Her parents and boyfriend are extremely worried for her wellbeing. So if you see her—“ A picture of my senior photo popped up on the screen. “—please call this number; (231) 789-5216 if you have any information on Mirabella’s whereabouts. Remember her parents are extremely worried about their only daughter’s safety. She’s seventeen, has strawberry-blonde hair, brown eyes, is five-foot-four, and always wears a ring on her left index finger that is silver with a heart shaped ruby placed in a holder.” Just hearing my ring’s description made me spin it on my finger.

My grandma—my mom’s mom and the only person who really loved me—gave me the ring before she died. She also left me with a butt load of money so I could travel. She knew I wasn’t happy at home. But I can’t dip into that savings account till I’m eighteen, which is in a few days. And hopefully I won’t be dragged back home, so I can leave and actually go live a better life than what I’ve had.

The full weight of the situation finally hit me then and I slumped into Evan, exhausted, and unsure of what to do next.

“Hey, are you alright?” Evan asked when I slumped into him.

“No,” Was all I said, my mind was whirring, trying to figure out what to do. What to do? What to do? I snapped out of my dazed state, an idea forming in my mind. Grabbing my backpack, I searched for my wallet and pulled it out. I counted how much I had left. “How far will thirty-nine bucks get me in America?” I asked Evan.

“Not far. Especially when your face is plastered all over the country.”

I sighed. “This is as bad as being a wanted fugitive.”

“Well,” Evan started saying, “the best way to travel without being seen is to use a private jet. But I’m guessing you don’t have one.”

I scrunched my face at him, annoyed. “Well aren’t you Captain Obvious.”

Evan mockingly bowed. “Why thank you. I try.”

I slapped him on the arm playfully. “Stop that. I’ve got to focus and think.”

“Um, actually—“ Evan started, but I cut him off.

“Not now, I’m trying to think.” But all my brain was doing was drawing a blank. Ugh! Think brain, think! But nothing would come, my brain was too hyped up on the prospect of maybe being caught and dragged back home.

Mirabella.” Evan stated sharply and my attention became focused on him. “I have a jet you can use.”

I blinked at him, astonished. “Really?” I got excited for a moment before skepticism crept in. “How?”

Evan hesitated before taking a deep breath and letting it out. “I’m not who you think I am.”

“—What?” That was not what I thought he was going to say. “What do you mean by that?” My grandma taught me to always ask that question if there was something that needed to be clarified.

He looked me in the eye. “You’ve heard of Porter Insurance before, right?”

That was also not something I thought he was going to say. “Yes. It’s the biggest insurance in the nation. You’re always seeing ads for it.” I answered. “But what has that got to do with you?”

“And you’ve heard about how the eldest son has gone ‘AWOL’ of some sort?” He asked in a quiet voice, afraid of my answer.

“Yes…” I said slowly. “But still, what has that got to do with you?” I repeated.

He hung his head in shame. “I am that son.”

I took a step away from him, shocked. “What?!” I practically shrieked. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?!” I slapped him upside the head.

“Ow!” He rubbed his head and gave me a “really?” look. “I didn’t tell you earlier because when I first entered the compartment I thought you had recognized me. But when you hadn’t, I decided not to tell you who I really was because I didn’t want you to treat me differently.”

“Oh,” I just blinked at him, my mind not really knowing what to think about the information I just heard.

“I’ll completely understand if you hate my guts now.” He looked away from me.

I shook my head. “No. I don’t hate you.”

Evan snapped his head towards me and looked confused. “Why?”

“Because,” I said carefully. “I can understand your point of view on your predicament. You have this person who doesn’t recognize you, so you don’t have any expectations to hold up to. Which is very understandable because I would to the exact same thing.” I explained.

It was Evan’s turn to blink at me astonished. “Really?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Because I was the same way at school.”

“Really?” He smirked at me, bringing back his old demeanor. “I can’t see you as the outgoing student body president.”

I punched him in the arm.

“Ow!” He rubbed that spot where I hit him. “Why are you so violent with me?”

I thinned my lips, not answering. And I wasn’t going to answer him. Not ever.

I knew that what I was doing was my way of saying “I like you” or sometimes it meant I was comfortable around you. But for this instance, I knew I liked Evan, which is a bad, bad idea.

A thought dawned on me after I didn’t answer, and I ended up punching him in the arm again. “Is that why James doesn’t like me? Because he thinks the only reason I’m with you is because you’re rich?”

He rubbed his arm. “Yes. But I did try to explain to him that you had no idea who I was. He thought you were faking it. So this morning I went to talk to him and he showed me the news report. So I didn’t get a chance to convince him because I rushed back here.”

A wickedly awful idea came into my mind and I smiled mischievously at Evan.

“I don’t like that look on your face.” Evan looked about to pee his pants from how much I was scaring him.

My smile just grew. “I have an idea.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Evan whisper-asked into my ear.

“Yes.” I answered with a fierceness that surprised myself since I was freaking out on the inside.

“Alright then.” Evan pushed me harshly into James’ office. “You were right, James. She was just playing me.” He shoved me down into one of the chairs in front of James’ desk. James was sitting behind it, glaring at me. I visibly gulped, afraid for my life, even though I knew Evan wouldn’t let me die.

James stood up and came around his desk and circled me, scrutinizing me under his blue eyes. “I knew she was trouble, Evan.” He came and leaned against his desk nonchalantly in front of me. Evan joined him and they both peered down at me with disgusted gazes. “What do you want to do with her?”

Evan tapped his chin, thinking. “What do we usually do to girls who play me?”

James smiled devilishly.

Evan had told me what they did, but seeing that smile, made my blood chill to the bone and my heart stopped in my chest, preparing to beat no more.

“Let’s do it.” James walked around his desk and reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a glass bottle.

“What’s that?” I squeaked out, even though I knew what it was.

“A 1957 bottle of authentic Russian vodka.” James patted it lovingly. “Once you start drinking this stuff, there’s nothing we won’t know.”

I bit my lip, keeping myself from smiling, but it probably made me look timid, which is a bonus. James didn’t know that vodka had no effect on me. It’s a strange phenomenon, really. And it’s not like I’m a regular drinker, it was only a one-time thing.

My ex-boyfriend, Nigel, had taken me to a party—which I had not wanted to go, but I went since we were just starting to date—and it had alcohol. I wasn’t okay with that at all. I knew what alcohol did to people and it made me nervous. I had asked Nigel to get me a glass of water and he did. Later I found out that he had spiked it with some vodka. I mean, I noticed the water tasted funny, but I just thought it was a faulty pipe or something that made it taste funny.

I had drunk about five glasses before Nigel told me he had spiked it on the first and then gave me straight up vodka. Then Nigel wanted to drive me to the ER, but I did it since he was too drunk to drive. Now this should’ve been my first incentive that this was going to be a horrible relationship, but I wasn’t thinking correctly. And not because of the vodka.

So we went to the ER and he got it billed to his parents insurance because I knew mine would have a cow. And besides, Nigel was one the richest kids in town, so it wouldn’t really matter and apparently he went to the ER a lot, so his parents wouldn’t question another ER bill.

When we were finally able to go back, and when the doctor had arrived, asking what the problem was, I told him straight-faced, “I drank five glasses of vodka and I’m not drunk.” The doctor laughed at my straight-forwardness but then he took me to get tested. And apparently I have a very, very, very high alcohol intolerance, that it doesn’t affect me. But that didn’t mean I was going to drink it. Nigel thought otherwise. So, long story short, alcohol doesn’t affect me.

James pulled out a shot glass and poured me some vodka, then pushed it toward me. I caught it between my hands and held it. “Bottoms up.” He said sweetly with a smile.

I brought the shot glass up to my mouth slowly, timid. Then I downed it, burning my throat and I coughed.

James and Evan both laughed at me, but not in a mean way.

Once I stopped coughing, I said, “Why don’t we bet on a drinking contest to see who can down the most vodka?”

“Hmmm…” James contemplated my question.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Evan said.

“No, no,” James waved Evan off. “Let the little lady speak.”

I took in a deep breath, then let it out. Here comes the hard part. “If I win the contest, I want you to believe that I really didn’t know who Evan was when I met him. And to not call my parents and not to let them take me back home.”

“Alright,” He nodded. “Anything else?”

I hesitated, not sure if it was proper to ask or not, but I went for it anyways, probably going to shoot myself in the foot for it. “I want a proper kiss from Evan.” I jerked my thumb back at him.

James glowered at me, not liking my last request. I couldn’t see Evan’s face, but when James glanced at him, he sighed, defeated, and said, “Fine,” in a huff. His eyes narrowed at me then. “But if I win, I get to call your parents and you go home, and you never contact Evan again.” He held his hand out. “Deal?”

I looked at him with determination and shook his hand. “Deal.”

James brought out another shot glass and poured vodka into it. Then he downed it with ease. He filled both the glasses up and I went again, it burned my throat still, but I coughed less. This went back and forth for several hours, and I watched as James became drunker and drunker. Some of the stuff he was spewing out of his mouth made Evan and I laugh. Our places had been switched and I was glad for it. I wasn’t ready for telling any of my deep dark secrets to them or anyone else for that matter. If I was drunk or not.

The bottle was finished before James finally passed out and I could relax back in the chair. Only for a few seconds before I felt the urge to throw up everything I had eaten today. Which isn’t much anyways actually.

“Where’s the bathroom?” I could barely get the words out without throwing up.

“Oh!” Evan had a look of alarm on his face before he grabbed my hand and led me over to a portion of the wall, pushed a button, and it opened, showing a hidden bathroom. Again. Those sneaky architects.

I lifted the seat lids and held my hair back with one hand while the other one held onto the toilet as I hurled into it. It didn’t end for like two minutes, wearing me out and sweat starting to form on my forehead. I leaned back, panting, and looked over and found Evan looking at me with concern.

“Are you okay?” He said quietly, afraid to set me off with any loud noise.

I shook my head and regretted it immediately, a giant headache was starting to form in my frontal lobe. “Don’t ever make me do that again.”

Evan chuckled at that and I glowered at him. “Alright.” He flushed the toilet for me and then wet down a washcloth, wiping down my flushed face.

“I feel awful.” I said as he wiped my forehead. “James is going to be dead in the morning.” I groaned. Partly because I felt bad for James, the other part because I really do feel awful inside my body. I could feel my body lagging from the vodka, but I knew I wasn’t drunk because I could think clearly. “I won, right?”

Evan held the washcloth to my face and said, “I’d say so. I mean, James is passed out in the next room and you’re still awake.”

“You’re sure James will be alright?” I asked, worried.

“Yeah, he’ll be fine. He’s part Russian anyways.”

“Does that make a difference?”

“Actually it does.”

I gave him a skeptical look. He chuckled. “I don’t believe you, but I’ll just roll with it for now.” I went limp against the wall, exhausted.

“Here,” Evan put my hand on the washcloth to hold it on my forehead, before he scooped me into his arms and started to carry me back upstairs to our room.

When he opened the door, he walked over to the couch and laid me gently down on it. He laid the blanket over me and then asked, “Do you want anything to eat or drink?”

“No. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat for a week.” I rubbed my stomach. It was still sore from throwing up. “I think I’ll just rest and maybe feel better when I wake up.”

“Alright,” He took the washcloth off my forehead and then kissed me there sweetly. “Just rest. You’ll feel better later.”

“Can you check on James?” I asked before I went to sleep.

“I will.” Evan answered.

That was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep, exhausted.

I woke up to someone shaking me awake. “Five more minutes,” I grumbled.

“Bella, you have to get up now. Your boyfriend’s here and we need to leave.” Evan sounded urgent. But I ignored it.

“He’s not my boyfriend.” I grumbled again.

“Boyfriend or not, he’s here to take you home.”

The meaning of his words finally crashed down onto me and I sat up fast, regretting it, since I clutched my head between my hands to help it stop spinning so much. “Nigel’s here?” I said frightened, looking into Evan’s light green eyes for confirmation. They ran true as when the British came by sea to march on Lexington and Concord. “How did he find me?”

Evan shook his head. “I don’t know. Someone could’ve seen you in the club coming in or when I carried you up the stairs. Or he has other crafty ways to find you.” He shrugged, unsure.

I swung my legs over and stood up, heading for my bag and suitcase, grabbing them and facing Evan. “I’m ready.”

Evan laughed at me. “You’ve got no shoes on. And there’s drool on your face.” He pointed out.

I opened the suitcase, pulled a hoodie out, put it on, flipped up the hood to hide my face, and then slammed my feet into my shoes by the suitcase. “Now, I’m ready.”

Evan chuckled again. “Alright, Miss Hood.” He grabbed his suitcase, then my hand, and led me out of the loft like a ninja in stealth-mode. He led me up a few more flights of stairs to the top floor and into another loft.

“What are we doing here?” I whispered. I heard a cupboard slam and I jumped. “Who’s that?”

“James,” Evan called out.

“Don’t yell.” He responded. “That girl of yours gave me a migraine.” I could hear the pout in his voice.

That statement irked me a bit and I gritted my teeth. I was about to let him have it, but Evan put an arm in front of me, stopping my havoc I was about to rain down on James.

Evan dove right in, not even bothering about the comment James had made. “Her ex is here and we need to leave.”

James walked over to the hallway we were standing in. “I didn’t call that number. I kept that end of our bargain.” He said defensively, sunglasses on his face to block the light.

“We know that,” Evan started out. “But do you have a way for us to get out without being noticed?”

James lifted the sunglasses off his face, squinting and cringing at us. “Of course I do. Out the back entrance. You’ll have to figure out your own transportation though.”

“That’s okay. We’ll figure it out.”

James placed the sunglasses back on his face before walking past us and saying, “Follow me.”

We followed James back downstairs and through a secret doorway—those architects and hidden doors!—which led us to the back alleyway. I was glad to have worn my sweater because the sun had set and the temperature had dropped even if it is the summer, cold nights are never too far away.

“Thanks for the help, James.” Evan said and clasped his arm again.

“What are friends for?” James asked rhetorically and flashed a smile. James turned to me next. “You hurt him, you’ll be answering to me.” His voice was deadly, intimidating.

I just laughed. “I won’t.” I patted his arm. “Best wishes for you and your club.”

“Thanks.” He grumbled. “You’d better leave now before you guys get caught.” He then turned and left, going back into his club.

“Let’s go,” Evan grabbed my hand and then led me out of the alleyway, into the unknown.

Evan and I bought tickets for a bus back to Michigan, but to Detroit instead. I was a bit hesitant to buy the tickets, but Evan reassured me that it was so we could go to the airport there where his family’s private jet was at.

Evan bought me a pair of sunglasses to better hide my face. Now I only needed a pair of baggy pants to get the whole gangster feel because that is what I felt like with the sunglasses on and having the hoodie sweater pulled over my head.

Evan and I sat in silence, holding hands. I felt safe next to him. Which is a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time.

A few hours into the trip, the bus took a pit stop, so we could walk around or get something to snack on at the gas station the bus parked by.

Evan stood up. “Do you want to walk around?” He asked me.

“Sure,” I stood up next to him and followed him off the bus. It was about one in the afternoon, the sun was shining high in the sky, and I was grateful for the sunglasses because I still had a bit of a headache.

The sun beating down on me, made me hot that I took off my sunglasses so I could take off my sweater. I placed the sunglasses back on and wrapped my sweater around my waist.

Evan and I walked into the cool gas station, looking for something to snack on. I wandered around and pulled a bottle or orange juice from the cold fridge and a bag of pretzels off the shelf before going up to the counter to pay for them. Evan had gone off on his own to buy snacks, so I was alone as I waited to pay for my yum-yums.

The cashier was a bored-looking, thirty-something-year-old guy, that looked as if he wanted to be somewhere else than here. I rolled my eyes behind the sunglasses as the people in front of me moved out of the way so I could pay next.

I stepped up to the counter and placed my items down for the cashier to scan. The total rang up and I pulled out my wallet to pay for it. I slapped down a ten to be exchanged. I got my change back and grabbed my items before going outside to wait for Evan.

I pushed the sunglasses off my eyes, so I could rub them to hopefully help me wake up, as I waited for Evan to finish buying his stuff. After I finished rubbing my eyes, I found a little boy staring up at me. I crouched down to become level with him. “Can I help you?”

His dark brown eyes stared back at me. “Are you the lady everyone is looking for?” He asked simply.

Looking around, making sure no one had heard him, I put my finger up to my lips and went, “Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.”

He gave me a confused look. “Why not?”

I hesitated, unsure if I should lie to the kid or not, but I really didn’t want to go back home, so I just thought of it as telling him a story. “Because I’m undercover right now and am hiding from an evil, evil man.”

“Really?” He said in wonder. “Are you a real spy?” He smiled, showing dimples.

“Yes.” I told him. “But don’t tell anyone. I’m entrusting you enough with this special task.”

“What’s en-tre-trusting mean?”

Wow, this kid is smart. “It means that I trust you enough to keep my secret.”

“Oooohhh.” He elongated the sound, understanding. “Do you save the world?” He asked excitedly.

“Every day, kid.” I tapped his nose. “And so can you.”

“How? I’m not big enough.” He pouted.

I chuckled. This kid is cute. “By staying in school and learning how to better the world.”

“But I want to save the world like you do.” He whined and continued to pout.

“Listen, sweetie,” I started, “not everyone is cut out for the job I have, so people have to save the world in their own little ways. Whether it’s saving the world from a bad guy or getting a good grade on homework. The smarter you are, the better off the world will be.” He sniffled, whether it be from him almost crying or allergies, I wouldn’t know. I stood up and looked down at the kid. “So, where are your parents at?” He shook his head. “You don’t know?”

He hung his head in shame. “I ran away from the orphanage I’m from.”

My heart went out for the little boy. I didn’t know what to do about this situation. My brain warred with my heart that I was overwrought on what to do.

“Bella, what are you doing?”

I spun around and found Evan standing over me, creating a shadow over me and the boy. “Hey, Evan.”

He noticed the boy. “Who’s the kid?”

I grabbed his shirt and brought him down to my level to whisper in his ear, “He’s an orphan and I don’t know what to do.”

Evan moved away from me and saw the look in my eyes. “No, no way. We couldn’t possibly take care of him. Especially not with your face plastered on the TV everywhere.”

I gave him my best version of my puppy dog eyes, trying to plead with him not to leave the cute little boy with dark brown eyes, cute dimples, and curling, light blonde hair. “Evaaaan.” I pleaded. “Plllleeaaaaaassssseeeeee.”

He sighed, defeated. “Fine, but he’s your responsibility.”

“Yay!” I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him enthusiastically. Then I kissed his cheek. “Thank you!” Once I let go of Evan, I spun around and scooped up the little boy into my arms. “You can come with us!”

The little boy and Evan laughed at how enthusiastic I was.

“So, what’s your name, kid?” Evan asked him as I held him while we walked back to the bus.

“They call me Declan at the orphanage.” He replied.

“Alright then,” Evan walked ahead of us and got on the bus before we did.

“Is he your spy partner?” Declan whispered to me.

“In one way.” I answered before getting on the bus and going back to our spots. Evan had taken the window seat this time. I sat down and Declan sat on my lap as we waited for the bus to leave again.

When everyone was coming back on the bus, a mother with a little girl, stopped by our seats and said, “My, what a cute little boy.” She pinched his cheeks and he squirmed against me. “You and your husband must be proud to have a cute one like this.”

“Ummm…” I didn’t know how to respond.

“Yes, we very much are,” Evan leaned over me and Declan. “But if you wouldn’t mind, could you stop pinching my son’s cheeks. He doesn’t seem to care for it one bit.” Evan gave her a stern look and she backed off.

“Oh my…” Her face reddened and she waved her hand to cool herself off. She leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Your husband is quite the looker. You make sure he doesn’t run off with some ninny.” I nodded my head as she straightened herself. “C’mon, Stacey, let’s go.” She pushed her daughter forward and then they were gone.

Evan huffed in annoyance as he leaned back in his seat. “Why can’t people ever keep to their own business?” He mumbled to himself, but I still heard it.

I laid my hand on his arm in comfort.

Soon the bus continued its journey and Declan snuggled against me, preparing for the long ride and took a nap. My eyes started to droop, exhausted from the day’s activities. I struggled to keep my eyes open. Having a warm body on me made me even more tired.

“Just go to sleep, Bella.” Evan said tiredly as he laid his head on my shoulder and fell asleep.

Having two sleeping bodies surround me, I succumbed to the feeling, and fell asleep also for the rest of the ride.

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