The hotel was a bit seedy, the neighborhood the hotel was in wasn't exactly the safest place to be, and Gemma Harrison was almost certain that there was some sort of drug bust going on in the room next door, but none of those things mattered. She had attempted to escape from home, and this time, she succeeded! Not only that, but her best friend in the whole world had offered to tag along as well, so at least she wasn't completely alone. Although, now that Gemma thought about it, nobody was really going to be intimidated by two twenty-year-old women. And even if she did have some background in self-defense — thanks to that overprotective mother of hers — it wouldn't really matter because druggies usually had guns, didn't they? Gemma stifled a moan, frustrated with herself. She should know these statistics; her father was in charge of some super-secret department in the CIA, for chrissake. Then again, her mother was quite adamant that her father not bring up work at dinner, and technically, he wasn't allowed to talk about it in the first place.
Brent Harrison, Gemma's father, would normally be called in early or be required to stay late, even though, technically, he set his own hours. Gemma rarely heard about things concerning his job, not only because everything was confidential, but because she and her father rarely talked one-on-one. Now that she thought about it, she felt disappointed. She and her father had a strong relationship, if absolute silence counted. Of course, Brent often reminded her to protect herself and insisted she carry some mace. He would also bring her with him to Family Day at the department, but other than that, the two didn't see much of each other. While her father was busy with work, Gemma herself was balancing having a social life at community college while studying her ass off. Because her mother, Carlene, was a sociology professor there, she got to see her mother more often. Carlene always had dinner ready before Gemma got back from her afternoon class, and usually waited for Gemma's appearance in the living room while watching telenovellas and grading papers.
The Harrison family lived in Virginia in a typical suburban house; two stories with four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and a large, green backyard. It was the home Gemma had grown up in, and she cherished it because of all the memories it held.
Gemma let a sigh escape from her lips and she ran her fingers through her hair. A familiar sense of regret was bubbling inside of her, but as usual, she suppressed such feelings. Honestly, she had only been gone for two days and one night. And, technically, this was just the second night. The first night was spent at Gillian's house where the two best friends got shitfaced and Gemma let it slip that she wanted to run away. She couldn't take the protection her father had forced upon her. He had given two highly trained agents the job of following her around, and she had had enough. Gillian suggested they run away to Los Angeles because she was obsessed with Dana Carvey and he was doing some comeback tour at local comedy clubs, and Gemma loved the idea.
But now, she was no longer drunk. She was quite sober, in fact, and quite surprised she and Gillian had actually gone through with this plan. They didn't bring much. All Gemma had was a couple of pairs of jeans, a few T-shirts, and her purse that held her wallet and other personal items. Gillian herself had only brought along an old Dana Carvey biography "to get her through the days," as she liked to say.
"I'm going to take a shower!" Gillian said from the foot of the small bed and headed into the bathroom.
Gemma turned off the small television and plopped on the mattress, staring up at the yellow-stained ceiling. She had never seen a living space so... small. She would be the first to admit that she had a very secluded childhood. But really, this motel combined the living room and bedroom, and the bathroom was so small, she could touch the opposite wall of the shower. She really should write the motel corporation and complain. This was practically uncivilized!
When she heard the shower flicker on, Gemma decided to change into her pajamas, which were comprised of plain, grey sweatpants that were one size too big for her and a loose American Psycho shirt. They weren't very fashionable by any means, but they kept her warm and comfortable, which was quite important to the young woman.
As she slipped on her shirt, her eyes narrowed on the open window. Shit. She walked over to the window and glanced outside, hoping nobody had seen her change. Maybe her dad was right; she really did need to pay more attention to her surroundings. It would have been embarrassing to be caught topless, especially if people knew who she was. However, as her eyes darted around the dark exterior, she sighed with relief. No one. She was just about to close the curtains when she paused. Her eyes caught the silhouette of a man who appeared to be a few inches taller than six feet. And he had very familiar incredible dark blue eyes. Double shit. Quickly, Gemma tried to duck out of view and nearly banged her head on the windowpane. He hadn't seen her, had he?
Oh yes, he most certainly had.
Well, they couldn't stay there any longer. Gemma hastily rapped on the door of the bathroom. "We have a Code Blue!" she exclaimed, and then tried to stuff both her and Gillian's things in their bags, which had been left carelessly on the dark brown carpet. She really needed to put more effort into being neat.
Gillian stepped out of the bathroom approximately fifteen seconds later with soap still running down the side of her face. "Him again?"
Gemma nodded. "Yeah," she replied, and then tossed Gillian her stuff. "We gotta go."
Once Gillian was dressed and everything was packed, the two women exited the motel door. They tried to use as much stealth as their frames would allow as they headed down the stairs of the motel in the direction of Gillian's car. Gemma knew better than to use hers; her father had a tracking device in it that he had no problem reminding her about on a rather consistent basis.
Their eyes got used to the darkness after a while, and just before they emerged from the stairway, they paused, taking extra precaution to ensure he was gone. When they felt it was safe, they began power-walking, hustling as silently as they could — save for Gemma's heavy breathing — until a group of men in black suits suddenly blocked their way. Gemma recognized a couple of them. This was one aspect that definitely sucked about having a father who happened to be the head of a mysterious department in the CIA.
The chase wasn't exactly over though, was it? All they head to do was turn and run.
And then she saw him.
He was back, blocking her only escape path.
Code Blue and his blue eyes.
Okay, Gemma, think.
And before she fully processed it, she took a step forward and punched him square in the nose. He blinked, completely taken aback, and then felt his nose. Yes, he was bleeding. Gemma and Gillian were as shocked as he was, so they didn't even think to run when the men came up behind them. They grabbed them with ease, preventing their escape.
"...absolutely ridiculous... and he told me he found you there... of all the places you could go, Gemma; there?"
Gemma was currently in her father's office, sitting down in a chair. Two agents were waiting at the entrance of the room, standing stoically and staring in front of them. One of the agents happened to be Code Blue, who had since wiped any trace of blood from his nose. She was quite tempted to see if she could make them smile, like the royal guards in England. But the looks on her parents' faces nipped that idea in the bud. She was in so much trouble. Her mother was staring at her pointedly from her usual corner of 'Lecture Hall,' as Gemma had dubbed the place, while her father was doing his usual pacing up and down the room, his face tomato-red. Instead, she focused her eyes on the dark oak bookcase that rested against the wall behind her father's desk, filled with titles such as Huckleberry Finn and 101 Ways to Kill Someone Using Just Your Hands.
"...no reason why... you could've told us you wanted to go to LA... summer is much more dangerous than winter..."
Gemma wasn't really listening, to be honest. In fact, she was beginning to plan her weekend. She was thinking her copy of Public Enemies needed to be reacquainted with her Blu-ray player. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale? Talk about a fantasy come true... One was the roguish bank robber while the other was a sexy FBI agent. Hmm. She couldn't choose a side.
"...we have no other choice... will be your bodyguard... don't want others to know... since you've had stalkers before... will be your husband."
"What?" Gemma asked sharply, her eyes going wide. Maybe she should have been paying attention.
Her father sighed his usual frustrated sigh through his nose. "I said, Gemma, that you've had trouble with stalkers before, and you know this. As head of my department, I have lots of enemies, and I can't have my only child running away into the hands of those enemies. They could use you against me, you know? As such, I've decided to assign you a bodyguard of sorts."
Gemma didn't have the strength to argue quite yet. She could've sworn...
"...but, of course, we wouldn't want anyone to know," Brent continued, "that you have a bodyguard. We still want you to be normal, of course; as normal as a girl in your position can get. As normal as you can get, really. So we're just going to disguise him as your husband. Your mother and I have discussed it already, and we think it's the best idea. We're going to have a ceremony and everything. Anyways, would you like to meet him? Dixon!" he called, staring at the door. "Come in, would you?"
Tons of questions and arguments flooded Gemma's mind, but they stayed perched on the tip of her tongue. Her eyes were focused on this Dixon fellow, and she couldn't quite believe it.
Thank you so much for reading this chapter! I hope you enjoyed it!