"Come on, Lia, sweetheart. You can't be leaving for that-" Jared pleaded.
I glared at him, daring him to finish the sentence with an insult to Theo. He shut up immediately - probably because he knew of the many things that I could do to ensure a punishment to him - and half pouted. A part of me almost forgave him immediately when he did that; he just looked so adorable.
"Yes? Well it seems like I am doesn't it? Try and do something about it." I taunted.
I unlocked the car door and climbed into the driver's seat, settling into the comfortable leather luxury and the soft beeping that urged me to close the door on him. His hand refrained me from doing so, and I glared at him, only to soften when I saw the pleading look on his face. Just like the one I constantly saw in our childhood.
"Please... We haven't seen each other for a year already, and you only come now to talk business with me. Business. With your fiance. Heck, I wonder if you even love me anymore." he sighed, leaning down to face me as he placed his hands on the roof.
"Of course I do."
"You don't seem to. What with you lodging with a boy that could hardly- Sorry, sorry. Geez, are you overly protective of him or something?"
I didn't realise I was glaring until he had apologised to me. The hurt look on his face was easily seen despite his efforts to appear as 'the cool guy with the leather jacket and rugged features'. How sweet. He had never been able to conceal his feelings well since young. I smiled at him and reached a hand out to stroke his cheek, causing him to turn bright green eyes at me that softened under my touch.
"No. Hell, why would I want to leave my wonderful, wonderful fiance?" I laughed.
Maybe because you love Theo too?
I shook that thought away from my head and frowned at myself. Did I really love Theo? Or was that just gratitude for him aiding me so much? He had gone the extra mile, that was for sure. Hell, why would anyone offer lodging to a girl they met in the bar that was also the girl framed for killing their- No... No. I wasn't going to go there again. For sure. Bullhead had done all those things to ensure that I was safe from harm, and to even think about it, felt like I was betraying him.
A soft crimson bloomed in his cheeks and he returned my smile with a small one.
"Yeah? So one day, I might just get to see you because I wanted to? Not for you to come all this way to tell me to go to Sydney to import some goods over?"
His smile was tentative now, laced with many different questions and hope that was concealed in one. I could even hear the hope in his voice. I nodded, thinking of nothing else to say to please him. The smile only grew wider, and for a second, I thought I could finally see the happy blonde kid that he was once so many years ago... Before all this happened, and when everything was alright.
"Well, maybe one day, Lia, I might call you to meet me in the little white chapel down the lane," he smiled, reaching down, he placed a hand over mine, engulfing it with warmth, "you remember the chapel?" A nod from me, "Yes, we would get married there. For real this time. Not like those make-believe ones that we used to organise."
Married. To Jayden; my childhood best friend and sweetheart. What would that be like? For one, I shall have to be called Mrs Amadeo. Ophelia Amadeo. Significant change from Jenkins, surely.
But that had elicited some sort of happiness in me when he suggested it. I guess that flutter in my heart when we used to play couples when younger wasn't only affecting me. I nodded to him again, this time, my smile was more sincere.
"Call me Jayden..." he hesitated, "like old times. Please?"
Jayden. That was the name he had abandoned after Mrs Amadeo's death; his mother's. No one had dared to call him by his real name either due to their fear of him, or the ignorance that Jared wasn't his real name.
My cellphone rang right then. Great. Perfect timing. Jayden, I was secretly rejoicing inside when I could speak his name internally, cocked up a brow at me and nodded to my phone. Shotgun. My caller ID read. Did that mean that Theo was in danger? Trying to suppress that gnawing feeling and paranoia in me, I chided myself for not leaving him when I could. Now another's blood is on my hands. I mouthed the name to Jayden and he sighed. Gone was the happy demeanor that he had before and he subconsciously tweaked the ring on his middle finger, a frown in place of his previous smiles.
"Yes?" I spoke into my phone.
Jayden had walked a few metres away from the car, lit a cigarette and puffed out several rings of smoke. I hated that he had took up smoking again, despite the countless times I had told him to quit. No, he was not an addict, he even told me once that he hated the taste and smell of it, but never did tell me the reason he smoked.
"Miss. Shrimp is sick. Fever." Shotgun's raspy tones were highlighted with fatigue. Needless to say, Theo had contracted the disease days before he had told me about it. So why was he telling me now? Was he in dire need of help?
I tried to relax my features. Jayden stared at me momentarily from afar, and I wondered if he knew what I was thinking. Those emerald eyes of his always unnerved me, seemingly able to stare into my soul, I had always avoided showing any feelings on the outer surface. He turned away and continued to walk down the gravel road, hands in his pockets, and cigarette mysteriously gone.
"How is he?" From the fear that I failed to suppress in my voice, I knew that Jayden could see through my lies. Damn.
"Uh... Miss, he woke up yesterday. Been up and running, but the fever's still burning. Sorry Miss, should've kept a closer eye on him."
"Not your fault. No, don't apologise. Listen, I am coming home right now with Bullhead. Jay- Jared has agreed to go to Sydney. Bring out the other orders and we can go through it again when I return."
"Miss, don't you need any rest?"
"Not tired," I noticed now that Jayden had no intention of walking back to me; his lone figure only a black smudge that was heading further and further away from me. "Shotgun, take care of him, I shall be back in at most, three hours."
"Yes, Miss. See you soon."
A click and the voice was gone. The fear that was slowly building in me subsided slowly. Well, he was alive wasn't he? Up and running, Shotgun had said. Great, now Jayden thinks that I am abandoning him for Theo. I motioned to Bullhead who was standing in what I could suppose was 'on guard' a few metres short of the car. He nodded to me and came striding across.
"We are going home." I told him when he bent down to face me.
A curt nod.
Bullhead casted a glance up the black dot in the distance, then nodded once more, getting into the passenger seat next to me without a second word. I had always liked that about him. He knew when to speak and when not to; giving you time to explain to him if need be. That was why he was one of my closest associates, to the point that father and I thought of him as family; the brother he never had, and the uncle that I was missing.
I started the car, when I hit the acceleration, Bullhead glanced at me briefly, his eyebrow arched a little. So I was speeding, who was going to kill me for that? But I didn't know who I was speeding for. Theo? To get home to see him, and apologise once more? He would put me on the spot and ask me about Serah's death again, but it was good to see him again. For Jayden? To see his accusing and hurt look and to realise that he would never ever revert back to the sweet boy that he was again? Who was I speeding for?
As I turned a bend, supposedly the way where Jayden had went, I found no one. A tiny trail led from the main road, where I was driving on, and I could only assume that he had taken that turn. He was right to be hurt and annoyed at me. What kind of fiancee was I? Profess my love for him, and turn around and am suddenly living with a guy?
I still couldn't hate him for snatching that phone from me and causing Theo to 'hyperventilate' as Shotgun had so merrily informed me three days ago. It was his right. I ended up hating myself when he turned and left me without a second glance, smoking away as he did so.
Next time, I told myself, next time, when I meet him again, it would not be for business purposes. Purely time for us both to reconnect. Hell, that sounded corny even to my own ears. Even Bullhead was chuckling at me. Was my expression that funny? Tomato red, he said, explaining himself when I glared at him for a while before turning back to the road.
Then there was a flash of blinding white.
A shout. Bullhead's I suppose, because it sounded so foreign to be my own voice. But I had never heard him shout. No.
Someone was shaking me. Or was that the earth that was spinning around me?
What was that? It felt like we had crashed into something remarkably solid and hard. Where was I? In the car, that's right. In the car with Bullhead. Did that mean that we had crashed?
Another shout. In fact, this lasted for several minutes. Or for eternity, really I couldn't make sense of time. Never could, in fact. Just a bunch of numbers and two sticks that went round and round and round forever.
There it was again, another mind-blowing contact with that solid thing. In fact, there was a continuation of this crashing thing. Like we were tumbling. And the world continued to spin. Someone was hugging me now, pulling me against something warm. My head was hurting madly, and my throat was burning with suppressed screams, or maybe I had hollered so much that I could not speak.
Something warm dripped down my head, down my neck, down my arms, everywhere. Vaguely, part of my mind told me it was blood. Blood? Where from?
There was a sudden creaking sound amongst the chaos, somehow, even though it was silent, I registered it.
Those blocky things around me tensed and then fell to my sides. Arms? Bullhead's? It had to be. It took me a while to realise that the vehicle had stopped. Finally. I had never enjoyed the rollercoaster. Ever since I heard that mum had died in a car crash, and furthermore, I was in it too. In fact, she had died because of me. For protecting me. I had never forgave myself for that. I wondered why dad did. Such a selfish person I was.
If I could still think, did that mean I was still alive? What about Bullhead? Hell. Did he protect me too? Was that why there was warmth? I could still feel it. That must be a good sign... right?
The second car crash in my life. Please do not kill Bullhead, not the last family I have left. God, please no. Protect him. Kill me instead.
Then there was darkness, and this time, I welcomed it.