Author: Burning-Ink PM
Hunter has a problem- her mother was wrongly convicted of murder. Starr has a problem- his sister's crazy ex is out to kill him. Of course, neither can leave well enough alone, and so they end up getting dragged deep into each other's problems. But they barely know each other and absolutely cannot get along. Will they survive? Please review.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Suspense - Chapters: 12 - Words: 37,054 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 11-12-12 - Published: 06-28-12 - id: 3037068
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I woke up to faint sounds in the night. I probably should have gotten up and moved, but I felt weaker than before and couldn't find the will to even move my arm out of the pond. I tried, but I just couldn't. Suddenly, staying here didn't seem like a bad idea. I could sleep, I had water, and it seemed less likely I was ever going to get out of here. It didn't take long to resign myself to the fact that I was doomed. I think I had always known it, even when I first woke up about two days from here.
I closed my eyes again and drifted off. Just before I really lost myself to sleep, the noises in the distance got louder and clearer. Through the half-sleep haze, I heard shouts. Somebody calling for something. For me, maybe? No. Nobody knew I was here. Nobody but me.
The shouts got closer still. Yes, that was somebody calling my name. I'm here! I tried to say, but my lips wouldn't move. I'm here, I'm here, I'm here!
"Starr!" A familiar voice called. Someone who knew me by that name was looking for me. Maybe I wouldn't have to stay here. I'm here!
I opened my eyes. Nothing looked different. I could hear, though, shouts and the crunch of branches and needles under someone's feet. "Starr! Where the hell are you?"
The familiar person sounded desperate. It was a girl. Her name… it started with… an 'F'? An 'A'? I couldn't- I didn't
The trees stretched up to the sky and kept going, spiraling higher and higher. Against the already black sky, a flock of black birds flew past, but they shone like stars, and were too big for birds. I felt myself slipping back into sleep.
"Starr! He's here! I've got him!"
A face leaned over me. A very familiar face.
"Whaa…" Nothing came out of my mouth. Hunter, that was her name. She leaned over me, lifting my arm out of the water.
"Dammit, Starr, you're so cold. Jesus, how long have you been out here? No- wait! Don't close your eyes! Keep them open, Starr, don't you dare close your eyes! You're not going to die out here in the cold, no way in hell. Dammit, where the hell is Gavin? Gavin! Get over here! Starr, hang on, look at me, look at me, don't close your eyes. Stay awake. Stay awake!"
I watched her. Someone else came to stand behind her. "Dammit, what happened to his head? Why isn't he moving? What the hell happened?"
A few more people surrounded us. I recognized some of them, but I couldn't put names to their faces. Somebody lifted me up and set me down on… a stretcher? Something like it, at least. Hunter and her friend kept arguing with me, but I still couldn't keep my eyes open.
Lilla, Cole, Spencer and I sat in the waiting room. Starr was still unconscious and quite a few doctors were trying to figure out why. It was pretty clear we had found him just in time. He was dying.
People who walked past stared at us. I looked at the floor or the wall or down the hall. We didn't speak. We waited for hours, sitting there. Nobody wanted to leave. I eventually leaned my head back and started to doze. Only one thought ran through my head, over and over and over- He's alright. He's going to live. We found him in time.
I don't know how long it was before Lilla nudged me awake. I sat up and opened my eyes, expecting a doctor, but instead Starr's father was coming down the hall. I felt ice form in my bones. He looked angry. Cole and Spencer looked first at me, then at Matthews, then got up and left. Smart of them.
"Miss Lexington," he said smoothly, and sat across from me. "How fortunate you're here."
I stared at him, Lilla doing exactly the same.
He sighed and frowned. "I see. Yes, well, I wanted to talk to you about the events of last night." Was it last night? What time was it? "I heard you were the one who found my son."
"It was a group effort," I said through stiff lips.
"Yes, I also heard about the search party you managed to put together not long after we spoke. But what I heard is that it was you, personally, who found my son in the forest."
I nodded slowly. "Yes. I did."
He nodded and leaned back in his chair. "I wanted to know if you reconsidered. Would you like to help me catch whoever did this?"
Lilla glared at him. "Again, what's in it for us?"
He stared at her. "I'm afraid the offer doesn't extend to you, Miss Hatter. Just to your friend."
She gaped. I fantasized about a knife in his eye. "Well, then, Mr. Matthews, I'm going to say no. You can take your offer to someone else."
I saw panic flash in his eyes for a second. "You have already proved how well you could handle this type of thing. I am convinced you are the best."
I leaned forward and smiled a little. "You have already proved that you're just taunting and bribing a couple of teenage girls into doing something dangerous. I am convinced I'm going to refuse."
He didn't outwardly react, but I saw his eyes change. I think he really hated me. Before he said anything else, however, a nurse came up to us.
"He's awake," she said softly. "He wants to see you."
Matthews stood and smoothed his pants. "Well, girls, I-."
"No, Mr. Prime Minister," the nurse said. "Not you. Miss Lexington."
Lilla and I looked at each other. "Okay," I said, standing up. "Let's go."
Matthews sat down again, shock and hurt plain on his face. He looked like a child who didn't get to play on the swing first. Stifling a smirk, I followed the nurse down the hall to Starr's room. A doctor was just leaving it.
"Miss Lexington," he said, shaking my hand. "Pleasure to meet you. Please be gentle. He's in rather a lot of pain."
I nodded and pushed open the door. It was just a one-bed room, with a big window overlooking the sea. Starr looked like he was sleeping, and I would have thought he was, if not for his clenched fists.
I sat in the chair beside the bed. "Hey."
He opened his eyes. "Hey."
I didn't know what to say to him. His head was wrapped in a white bandage and his foot was in a cast. "Are you okay?"
He laughed a little. "Am I okay? I have eight stitches in my head and a broken ankle, and they won't give me any drugs because they're scared I'll go unconscious again. Yeah, I'm fine."
"You look better than when I last saw you."
Yes, he did look better than he did when I saw him lying in the mud still bleeding with his foot bent in a way it shouldn't have been able to.
"Yeah, they said you were the one who found me."
I leaned forward a little. "You don't remember?"
He shook his head. "No, not really."
I knew it. He was so close to dead when we found him, we almost didn't find him alive.
I sat for a few minutes watching Starr watch the window. He looked different. Now you're going to say, "Of course he does, he was just kidnapped and left for dead." But he looked different in one other way. There was a rage in his eyes that wasn't there before. I only hoped it was to catch who did this to him.
"Um," I said hesitantly. "After I leave, your dad's probably going to come in. I think it would be better for the world if you didn't mention me very much."
His eyes met mine. "What did you do?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Why do you assume I did something? Why couldn't it have been him that did something?"
"Because you wouldn't bring it up if it was you mad at him. Now what was it?"
I swallowed and looked away. "Yesterday he called me into his office and asked for my help finding you and your kidnappers. I said no and then went with my own search party and found you just a few hours later. I think he's kind of annoyed."
Starr blinked at me. "He's a politician, he's always annoyed. What else happened?"
I looked kind of over his eyes. "In the waiting room a few minutes ago, he came to me while I was with Lilla and offered to let me help him, said he could give me all I ever wanted if I did. And said the offer only extended to me, not my best friend. In front of her. So I kinda said he was just bribing a couple of teenage girls into doing his dangerous dirty work."
Starr closed his eyes. "You accused the Prime Minister of bribing people to hunt down killers? Teenage girls?"
"It's what he was doing! And then, you know, you asked to see me before him. I really think he hates me."
Starr opened his eyes and looked at me. "Oh, well. You were probably right."
Did I hear him right? "You don't sound mad that I royally pissed off your dad while waiting to find out if you were going to live."
"He hasn't bothered to drive one hour to come see me in over a year. Not much of a father, anyway."
I blinked a couple of times. This didn't sound like Starr. "Are you sure they didn't give you drugs? You sound kind of… angry."
He looked right at me. "I just had a near death experience and realized that I don't want to spend the rest of my life on bullshit. So yeah, I'm angry at my dad."
O-kay then. I stood up and stepped closer to the door. "I should probably go before he finds another reason to hate me."
Starr looked back out the window. "What would this one be?"
"Taking up all the time we have to see you before visiting hours end. I have no clue what time it is anymore. Or what day."
"Well, stay safe."
Brilliant advice coming from the kidnapped one with eight stiches and a cast. "You too."
I heard the door click behind her. She was right, I was angry. At my attackers, for obvious reasons, at my dad, for not bothering to care until I got in the paper again, at Hunter, for not finding me sooner. I knew that last one was irrational, that it took days until she was able to get away from people to find me. She did as soon as she could. I guess I was also a little mad at myself, for not just walking the last four hours before I got to my backyard. That was it- four more hours after two days of limping and I gave up and nearly died.
Yes, I was angry.
It looked like the ocean was angry, too, but maybe it always looked like that at this time. What time was it? I usually looked at sunset.
The door opened again. My father came around and sat in the chair my friend had just moments ago. Friend, father, they seemed so different. Which one was right?
"I don't want you to see that girl again."
I looked up at him and laughed. "She saved my life after I was drugged and dragged off into the woods, and you want me to stay away? You're just mad that you weren't involved, that she found me without taking your bribe."
He puffed up like an overgrown and ugly peacock. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, I'm sorry. What else would you like to talk about? How Mom walks out so you throw yourself into your work and leave Becka and I to raise ourselves? How I haven't heard from you in months, how on the first night in a year I see you, and you yell at me? How I nearly died out there and you sat behind your desk instead of coming to find me?"
He puffed up more. "I am not just your father. I have a responsibility not just to you but to this entire island."
I rolled my eyes. "So instead of doing something about it, like a normal father, you treat me how you would any other person who went missing?"
"Any other person who went missing would have had to wait two days before officially becoming missing. I pressed every button I could to make sure you were found."
"And yet, it wasn't you who found me, or any of the people you get to order around. It was a girl who nobody knows very well, including you and me. It was someone who had the least responsibility to find me who actually did, just hours after you practically told her she's never be able to."
"I know you!" I cried out. "You have nearly indispensable resources. The only reason you would go to a teenage girl, and you were sure she could do it, would be if you were really and truly desperate. Which I know you weren't. She's not dumb, and neither am I. I wasn't even there, and I can tell what you were thinking. You told her you would give her something invaluable if she helped me, which you knew she couldn't, and then she turned you down and proved you wrong! That's the only reason you're pissed!"
He glared at me. "Watch yourself, boy."
I glared back. "Why? You aren't there, you can't take anything away from me. I'm nineteen, I already do whatever the hell I want, and nothing you say is going to change anything!"
He shoved himself up from the chair. "Do you really care that little?"
We stared at each other for a few seconds. "Is that all you wanted to say to me?" I asked. "Just came in to warn me away from Hunter?"
He puffed up even more and slammed the door on his way out. I slammed my head back into my not-very-soft pillow, which of course made my head hurt like hell. Why the hell wouldn't they give me medication? I knew, of course. They weren't sure what would work and not get me addicted or what wouldn't send me back into a coma. That's what they said happened to me, just after Hunter found me- I went into a coma. At least this time it would be controlled by the meds, so they would be able to revive me. I just needed to get rid of the pain.
I watched the ocean for what felt like hours. A couple of times a nurse came in and asked if I needed anything. Of course, I needed the medicine they wouldn't give me, but I didn't say that. She gave me the time, the first time she came, and it was already six o'clock. I sat there all night and watched the moon cross the sky, and didn't fall asleep until dawn.
I woke up at dawn to find my uncle sitting on the side of my bed. He just looked down at me sadly and didn't seem to realize I was awake. It was pretty dark in here. He sat there for a few more minutes and then got up to leave. I didn't want him to.
"Don't go," I whispered. He started and came back to sit with me.
"I didn't know you were awake."
"I'm not, really."
He smiled, but he still looked sad.
"What's wrong?" I asked him. He shrugged.
"It's just- after what you did… two days ago now? It's just that you didn't come home and I thought you were really gone this time, not just mad at us. And then your picture was on the news along with the boy's and everyone was saying you found him. You seemed so much like you mother when you came home that I just didn't really think anything. I'm still not really thinking anything."
I felt my eyes grow. "You don't talk about her like she did what people say she did."
He looked right at me. "That's because it's just what people say she did. The evidence was circumstantial at best, and they just needed someone to pin it to. I miss my brother, but I also miss Sarah. She was a strong woman. She never gave up, and I don't think she has even now, where she is."
I snuggled down into my pillow. "You haven't seen her in years. Nobody has."
"But I knew her before that. I know what she would do in a situation like that."
I felt myself getting sleepy again. Uncle Nick caught it.
"Go back to sleep. We'll talk more later."
I closed my eyes and felt him get up and leave.
In the morning, I realized I had fallen asleep in my clothes. My jeans were stiff with mud and a little blood. My shirt wasn't as bad, but it was still dirty. At least I had managed to get out of my jacket and shoes before hitting the pillow.
I got up and showered before I could think of anything else to get me dirty. After that I had no desire to go anywhere, so I found some soft pajamas and wrapped myself in a fluffy robe. It had been a while since I spent a day in the house doing nothing, and it felt good. Even though I was barely fifteen minutes into it.
"Morning," Uncle Nick said when I walked into the kitchen. "Or well, afternoon now."
I glanced at the clock in surprise. It was actually ten after twelve. I should go to bed tonight early to get my hours straight again. "Afternoon. How long did I sleep?"
He shrugged and didn't look up from his paper. "About ten hours. You're lucky you got in after Danielle was in bed. She'd have a cow if she saw you in all your blood and mud."
I pulled out a chair and sat at the table. Last night I went to Lilla's and ended up sleeping there until her mom reminded me that I'd already been away from home for a night. "Yeah, she would have. Does she know?"
He nodded and took a sip of his coffee. I wanted one. "She knows. She's not very pleased."
"Oh, but think of the popularity. We saved the Prime Minister's freaking son. There'll be reporters at the door of everyone involved for week."
He shrugged again. "Maybe. Maybe not."
He folded up his paper and slid it to me. The first thing I saw was a picture of me helping carry Starr into the hospital on his stretcher. The second was the headline. ROYAL GIRL SAVES PRIME MINISTER'S SON.
I groaned and dropped my head into my hands. "It wasn't me. It was the group."
"The group that you put together. And it actually was you who found him out there."
"Yeah," I mumbled. "But I didn't think anybody would care. He was found, it doesn't matter whether or not it was me that did the finding."
"It matters quite a bit. I'm surprised James Matthews hasn't offered you a reward."
I chuckled. "I'm not. The guy hates me."
"Now, I'm upset about your mother too, but-."
I looked up at him. "No, he really hates me. I talked to him over the last couple of days and we didn't exactly get along."
"You saved his son-."
"That didn't help at all. I mean, he's glad and all, but he hates that it was me that found him after I turned down his offer."
"What offer?" Uncle Nick demanded. I swallowed.
"A couple of days ago, our delightful Prime Minister called me into his office to bribe me into finding Starr for him. And then I said no, which made him think I couldn't do it, and then I went and did it without taking his offer."
He frowned and shook his head. "What were you thinking?"
"What was I thinking?" I asked. "I was thinking I would do my best to find Starr even if I didn't have a reward dangling over my head, and I didn't particularly like the idea of working for that man."
Uncle Nick's head hit the table. "Did you think maybe he's just jealous that you care enough to do that?"
I hadn't actually. "I don't think that he gets jealous. And I don't care that much."
"Of course you don't."
The phone broke into our conversation, making me jump a little. Nick got up to answer it and an obedient look came over his face. I hoped I never ever wore that expression. Never ever ever.
"I have to go," he said, setting the phone down. "Some urgent meeting or something." Even though he made most of his money as a carpenter, Nick still held a position in the government as a royal and had to attend their meetings. "Take it easy today. It feels like it's been months since I last saw you relax."
It probably had. He said goodbye and was out the door before I was out of my chair. Taking it easy sounded good. I felt like I could sleep for days.
I nearly did, too. I went right upstairs and back to bed and slept until I heard my phone beep. Groaning, I rolled over and saw my clock. It was quarter after five. I'd slept for nearly five hours.
I grabbed my phone from the table beside my bed. I had a text. As I clicked on it, I realized I didn't know the number. And when the message flipped up, it made no sense.
You got lucky last time. I'm coming for you.
I felt too tired to deal with something like that right now. I typed a quick piss off and went back to sleep.
I woke up to pale light streaming in my window. As I got up, I noticed it was actually dawn. I had finally gotten up at a decent hour, even though I slept all of yesterday. Actually, that was all I did. I didn't have anything to eat. I was pretty damn hungry.
I took another shower first and went downstairs. What day was it now? Tuesday? Wednesday? What day was it when I was in the hospital? How long had it been since I'd last eaten?
I made my way downstairs and threw a few pieces of bread in the toaster. While that, well, toasted, I ate a banana and a kiwi and a slice of bread with nothing on it. I felt like I could eat the entire house.
I choked and spun around. Of course. Danielle sat at the table, watching me stuff my face. Perfect. "What do you want?" I said after swallowing.
"I find it very convenient that you know just where to look for that boy just after you fought with his father, very convenient that you found a reason to stay away from home for so long after that. Are you hiding something, Hunter? Do you have some dirty little secret you don't want known? Tell me now, and you could avoid federal prison, just like your precious little mother."
A/N: Hi guys. Happy holiday! I don't actually know if you had the day off today because I know I have a lot of readers not from Canada, and if you did have the day off I have no idea what you call it because I know that in Alberta it's like the Union holiday or something like that and in BC (where I live now) it's actually called BC day. Personally, I like the Union holiday better because it's not like it's only BC that got the day off but anyway that is not the point.
Thank you M. T. Christen, for pointing out that I have not in any way explained about the situation with Hunter's mom and just the whole royal thing in general. Basically, this story takes place on an island called Erea in the middle of the Atlantic which in reality does not exist. Please don't ask about languages and accents and stuff because in my head they all speak Canadian with a Canadian accent (yes there is a difference between English and American and Canadian). There are ten royal families. If you have the royal name, most of the time you're treated like a celebrity, except in the cases of the Lexingtons and Matthews, because they are like, the IT families. If you are technically in a royal family but you don't actually carry the name, then boo hoo for you but nobody really gives a crap other than that one weird fan who loves you no matter what.
There is an election every six years, and the prime minister (because I am Canadian they do not have a president) is voted out of the ten royal families. The Lexingtons were the ruling family, then the Matthews, and after James Matthews term is over it is expected to be another Lexington on the power seat.
Royals marry royals and have royal babies. That is how this world works and is also partly the reason Hunter's dad died.
Hunter's dad was a royal and her mom was a "commoner". People were outraged and shocked and a few people complained openly about it but it blew over and nobody gave a crap until Hunter's dad was murdered in his bed and the very little evidence (explained later in the trilogy) pointed to his wife. So she went to jail for life, leaving Hunter in the hands of her aunt and uncle. That, and the fact that she did have the name, contributed to Hunter having so much attention from the press over her life.
If you are still around now and reading this sentence, I love you so much. If I bored the hell out of you with this, I am sorry but it had to be done.
And one last thing- on a scale of one to ten, how much do you like Lilla? I've kinda tried to show it from both angles, cuz she's Hunter's best friend and Starr just doesn't get along with her at all so...
Please review and I hope you enjoyed it!