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Twenty-Three

Ava

 For some reason, Alex was acting… weird. He’d set up a two-room tent in the backyard, and he wouldn’t talk to me.

           The silence was slowly killing me. I mean, I’d just gotten my best friend back, and he didn’t talk to me? What the ****?

           He came out of the car with a few Shop Rite bags, tossing one at me. I raised my eyebrows expectantly. “Sleeping bag,” he told me. I nodded and pulled the green bundle out, unrolling it on the ground and falling down. It was after eight, which meant it was already dark outside.

           “Should we go to sleep now?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

           “Yeah. It’ll get light early-ish tomorrow. We have to find some way to keep those guys from finding you.” But I couldn’t help feeling like I might want to be found.

            What was the point of all this if I’m just never going to see them again. What if I’m just running from the inevitable? They’ll find me eventually, won’t they? I mean, they’re, like, immortal superhumans!

Roman

That’s it, I thought, slamming my hand down on the Yellow Pages book. He has ********* family. I called over to Joseph, who was in the room over. “Joseph, do a background check on Alex… What the **** is that kid’s last name?” I demanded, wanting complete clarification.

           Joseph screamed, “Not a clue.”

           “Where’s Jace?” I asked. Just then, he strolled in casually. “Where the **** have you been?”

           “Oh, you know. Around.” My frustration boiled into anger.

           “Jace, you are thinning my patience.”

           “I thought you had it under control.”

           “What’s Alex’s last name? Alex…?”

           “I dunno. He’s, like, Mexican or something.”

           “Perez. I got it. He has family in the area. Perez is the last name of some guy- Thomas? Some ****** area,” I said, glancing once more at the computer screen. “Time to move in.”

Ava

 “Come back to me, Ava,” called Roman from across the lavender field, which we were standing on. I spun in circled until I felt his secure arms around me. I giggled, bubbly feelings filling me up inside. Roman’s request echoed through the valley. “Ava! Ava, come back to me, Ava. Come back to me.”

            I was jolted into complete and utter blackness for a millisecond before… “Ava? Where are you? Come back to me!” I sat up, adrenaline pumping through my body. It was obviously morning. My surroundings, however, were unfamiliar. Unfamiliar, that is, until I remembered.

           I sighed. The tent was blowing with the wind. I rolled over in my sleeping bag so that my stomach was pressed against Alex’s. I didn’t want to get up just yet. So… tired….

           The voice called once more. Just a dream, I thought, allowing myself to drift away into the world between sleep and awake.

Roman

            I slammed my fist down on the door, causing it to swing open. The stench of smoke and alcohol hit me instantly. My sophisticated sense of smell did not help. I took a step inside, searching for the house’s inhabitants. No life seemed to be there. I glanced at the couch. A large man was sprawled out on it, beer bottles piled on top of him with a cigarette barely in his hand. He seemed to have passed out.

           I called, “Ava? Where are you?”

           

           After searching the house, I headed outside to search out back. A tent- which I’d somehow missed- was set up. I zipped open the door and strolled inside.

           “Ava, come back to me,” I whispered, looking at the mess on the ground. Discarded blankets, a large lump in the corner. Now, is that her or the boy? Must’ve put on some weight, whoever it is, I thought.

           I trudged over to them, my large motorcycle boots leaving tracks of mud everywhere. I kneeled next to the swell in the blankets, finding Ava and… the boy. Together. Too close together.

           My heart tore itself into small pieces inside. I fell to my knees next to her and let my lips graze her perfect cheeks, then her forehead, her nose, and… her lips. She makes you weak, Roman. 

           Yet I was falling in love with her. The more time we spent apart, the more my heart ached for her beautiful smile, her wide blue eyes, and her snappy, yet startling, comebacks.

           Her eyes fluttered opened, and she gasped. “What are-“

           “Come now. It’s an emergency,” I told her. The boy was stirring in his sleep.

           “Ava… W-what…?” mumbled the boy.

          I shook my head. “Leave a note. He can follow in his…” I began, unsure what to call the thing sitting in the driveway, “car.”

           “Roman, what the **** are you doing here?” she demanded. She was sitting up now, her face inches from mine.

           “You have to come with me. There’s no time to explain. Wake the boy if you deem such necessary.” I could see her weighing her options in her head. Does she really think there’s a chance I’ll let her go? Immediately, she leaned over and shook the boy awake, whispering to him. See, she’s smart. She knows.

He stood up and glared at me. “Fine. I guess I don’t have much of a choice.”

           “Oh, you do,” I assured him, “but she doesn’t. Unless she’d rather be murdered than treated like a princess.”

           “Princess, what are you-“

           “I said ‘like.’ Calm down, boy. We must go. Our ship leaves at nine-thirty a.m.” I said, checking my watch. We were cutting it close. It’s quarter to eight already. Best to be going. 

           I took her head. Reluctantly, she followed. Her skin was hot, and I knew she was angry. But, really, what choice did she have?

           I handed her the extra helmet and nodded at my bike. She raised her eyebrows. “A motorcycle? After the way I saw Jace drive? I don’t-“

           “Get on,” I growled.

           She rolled her eyes, but obeyed hesitantly. I climbed onto the bike, and she sat behind me. Slowly, the put her arms around my waist, but I could feel her body tense. I said, “You might want to hold on more tightly than that.” We were speeding away in seconds.

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