AN: So sorry it has taken so long to update! I've been super busy and haven't had any time to work on this. But anyway, here's chapter 7. I hope you enjoy!
I hear my name and turn my head in the direction of the voice to see Dylan standing in the doorway to his room and Mister running towards me, wagging his tail in excitement. I reach my hand out and pat Mister on the head while he jumps around in happiness and then I stand up, facing Dylan.
"What are you doing out here?" he asks. I see a small amount of worry in his eyes as he scans the area for any strangers nearby.
"Nothing," I say, rubbing my tired eyes. "I just couldn't sleep so I came out for some fresh air."
He gives me a concerned look and folds his arms over his chest as he says, "When was the last time you slept?"
I pause for a moment, trying to remember when it was, and then say, "Um… The last time Britney knocked me out the other day I think."
"Are you serious?" he asks with a shocked and concerned face. "Zoe, why haven't you been sleeping?"
"Why do you think?" I ask defensively. He has no right to be getting upset about me not sleeping. Its none of his concern.
"Zoe, you need to sleep! If Onyx finds us again we all need to be ready! You can't do this to yourself. Its not safe or healthy!"
"Its not a big deal if I miss a day or two of sleep," I say angrily. "You have no idea what I've been through! Sleep is the most terrifying place to go right now! I've gone much longer without it, anyway! My body can take it so just back off!"
At my words, Dylan's face drops into a deep frown. His eyes fill with sadness and his voice is quiet as he asks, "How do you know? What did they do to you in there?"
For a moment, my anger dissipates at his reference to my time in that facility, but it quickly rebounds and I look away from his pitiful eyes in anger.
"That's none of your business."
For a moment we're both quiet. Dylan stares down at the ground and I watch as Mister sniffs around in the small patch of grass next to the building.
I whip my head around at his unexpected words.
He looks at me with the most apologetic look imaginable and for a moment I'm taken aback by how sincere he looks. I cross my arms in front of my chest and look away.
"Don't do that."
"Do what?" he asks.
"Act like this is your fault and apologize for something that is completely out of your control! Nothing that happened to me was your fault so just stop! Please."
I look back up at him. He looks like he wants to say something, but instead he sighs and runs a hand through his brown hair. We both stay silent for what feels like forever before he says, "I'm sorry. I'm just concerned about you is all."
"Well, I'm grateful for it," I say. "But I don't need it. What happened to me is none of your business and I would really prefer it if you just forgot about it."
Dylan is about to say something but before he can get the words out Britney walks through the door. She stops when she sees us and unsuccessfully tries to hide a smirk. I wonder why for a moment before remembering she can read emotions. She must sense the tension between me and Dylan.
Over the next hour, I avoid Dylan as much as possible, still slightly angry with him. This seems to put Britney in a happy mood and she smiles and jokes around with the others more than usual while they all get ready to leave the motel.
As soon as everyone is ready to leave, Dylan checks us out of the rooms and we all pile into the van for another long day of traveling. I sit in the very back with Jesse and Jake, as far away from Dylan as possible. The car stays quiet, with only the sound of the radio to drown out the hum of the engine.
"What are we going to do in LA?" Jake asks Jesse, in a quiet voice.
"We're going to see Zoe's family," Jesse explains.
Then in a quieter voice so that Dylan can't hear, Jesse says, "But when we finish with that, we can go explore the city."
At Jesse's words, a big grin forms on Jake's face.
"Can we go to the beach?" Jake asks in an excited voice.
"Maybe," Jesse says with a chuckle.
Soon Jake and Jesse are going on about what they will do in Los Angeles and I try my best to block them out. I know it's stupid, but its making me upset hearing them talk about my hometown and all of the things I used to do with my family. I know I will never get to do those things with my family again and it hurts to think about.
"Zoe," Jake turns to me with an excited smile. "What is your favorite thing to do in LA?"
I freeze, not wanting to get dragged into this. Jesse notices my hesitation and taps Jake on the arm, shaking his head to let him know to drop it. Jake looks back at me and looks like he's about to say something before Britney turns around and starts talking.
"Yeah Zoe," she says with a taunting smile. "What was you're favorite thing to do in Los Angeles? Did you go to the beach with your family? Did you get to swim in the ocean with your little brother?"
"Britney!" Dylan raises his voice from the front at Britney's words.
She gives me a mocking look before saying, "What? I just want to know what kind of fun things we can do in LA."
Before I can stop myself, anger takes over and I say, "What is your problem? Why do you insist on making me upset? What do you hate me so much?"
Britney gives me an angry look and says, "Because everything that has happened is your fault! You're the reason we had to leave Maine! You're the reason Onyx is after us again. Ever since Dylan and Jesse saved you, we've had nothing but trouble!"
"None of this would have happened in the first place if you would have just let me leave!" I raise my voice at her and everyone stares.
"Britney, shut the hell up!" Shay says in an angry voice before Britney can say anything else. "This is not her fault! She's dealing with enough problems without you being a bitch."
Britney turns her anger on Shay.
"It is her fault! You guys just can't look past her sick puppy charade to see it!"
My anger explodes at her words. My hands clench into tight fists and I glare at Britney before opening my mouth to retort but before I can say anything the van suddenly lurches and makes a horrible sound like metal banging together. We all look up to see smoke pouring out of the hood as Dylan pulls over to the side of the road.
"Andy what they hell happened," Dylan says angrily. "You said this van was in good condition."
"It was!" she responds. "I don't know what happened."
"Obviously you screwed up!" Dylan says in a frustrated voice.
"This wasn't my fault!" Andy argues back. "This van was perfectly fine when we got it!"
"Stop it!" Shay yells, interrupting Dylan and Andy's argument. "Who cares who's fault it is? Can you fix it, Andy?"
Andy and Dylan glare at each other for a couple more seconds before Andy puts her hands on the dash and closes her eyes. We all stay quiet until she opens her eyes again and sighs.
"I can't fix it," she says.
At her words, Dylan gets out of the car and slams his door in anger. We all watch as he frustratedly opens the hood of the car to look at the engine. I see Andy roll her eyes and we all pile out of the car. I'm the last one to step out and when my feet hit the ground I immediately feel horribly dizzy and tired and I fall to the ground.
"Zoe!" Andy exclaims when I fall. She gives me a worried look and Jesse and Shay rush over to help me up but I just shake my head.
"I'm fine," I say. "I just got a little dizzy."
I see Dylan peering around the corner of the van with a questioning look. Andy explains what happened and he just gives me a small glance and says, "You're probably just exhausted from lack of sleep."
"I told you," I say, angered that he's still on about that. "I'm fine. I can handle a lack of sleep."
"Obviously that's not true," he responds as he looks back down at the engine.
He's frustrated about the van and I get that, but we discussed this earlier and he told me he understood. Why is he all of the sudden angry about this?
"I said I'm fine! The car ride must have made me dizzy is all."
He gives me a skeptical glance and I roll my eyes. We're all tired and moody from being crammed in the car for so long but this is ridiculous. I can handle a couple sleepless nights. I've gone three weeks without sleep while I was in the Onyx facility. They forced me to stay awake to see how long I could go and it took three weeks before I reached my limit. Dylan needs to get it through his damn head that I'm not like the rest of them. My body can handle things like this much better than any of them can.
"You're not going to get it running again," Andy says to Dylan in an irritated voice. "The battery fried. We're lucky it didn't explode."
Dylan angrily slams the hood and asks, "Then what the hell are we supposed to do now?"
"We'll have to walk to the next town and find another car," Shay says.
"Damn it!" Dylan yells, kicking the tire of the van. "Andy, can't you do something?"
"I already told you I can't," she retorts sharply. "If I could I would have done it by now."
"Can you at least explain why you let this happen?" Dylan furiously demands.
"How is this my fault?"
"You're the one who can control technology and machines! Who else—"
"OKAY!" Jesse suddenly yells, cutting off Dylan and Andy's argument. "Why don't we just go before you two kill each other."
Dylan and Andy both give annoyed huffs but stop arguing. We all grab the stuff we need from the van and start walking. However, before we get too far, a large RV pulls over to the side of the road and stops in front of us. We all stand in silence until a couple people come out and start walking towards us.
Suddenly, Dylan turns to me, reaching into his bag and hurriedly pulling out a baseball cap.
"Keep your head down," he says as he puts the cap on my head. "Don't let them see your face."
I nod my head and look down as the couple approaches. They are older, maybe in their early sixties, with greying hair and wrinkled skin. They greet us with smiles as they stop in front of us and I can't help but be paranoid that they are somehow involved with Onyx.
"Howdy," the old man says. He looks past us to the broken-down van and smiles. "Looks like you folks are having a little car trouble. You in need of some assistance?"
"Thank you, sir, but—" Dylan starts to speak, however, Jesse cuts him off before he can finish.
"Actually, we would really appreciate a ride to the next town if it's not too much of a bother," Jesse says with a kind smile.
Dylan turns to glare at Jesse for accepting their help and Shay elbows him in the ribs, but Jesse just ignores them and explains how the car broke down and all of our phones are out of service in this area. Britney puts her head in her hands at Jesse's lie.
"Of course, we'll help ya'll," the woman says with a sympathetic smile. "You can't walk all the way to the next town in this cold weather!"
"My name's Steve and this is my wife, Ellen," the man says with a kind smile. "We'll be happy to drop you off at the next town so you can get some help with your vehicle."
"We would really appreciate that," Jesse says happily and Steve and Ellen direct us to their RV.
I look up at Dylan to see a tense and angry look on his face as we all start walking. We all climb into the RV and I take a seat next to Dylan on the couch while everyone else shuffles to find various other places to sit. Steve climbs into the driver's seat and Ellen into the passenger's.
As soon as we're all settled in, Steve pulls the RV onto the road. Everyone is quiet for a while as we all take in the situation. Dylan told me to keep my face hidden but I don't see that being easy as Ellen smiles at each of us.
"So where are ya'll headed?" Ellen asks in a thick southern accent.
"We're going to a family gathering in Iowa. We're cousins," Dylan lies. I can hear the tension in his voice, however, Ellen doesn't seem to notice.
"Oh, does that mean you were adopted then sweetie?" Ellen asks with an innocent look towards Shay, who clearly is not related to the rest of us.
"Actually, she's Peter's… girlfriend," Dylan says, gesturing towards Jesse.
Andy snorts as she tries to hold in her laughter at Dylan's words. Jesse glares at Dylan and Shay looks like she's ready to murder someone while Dylan gives them a small smirk.
"How sweet!" Ellen exclaims. "Oh Steve, I wish our boys would invite their girlfriends to dinner with us more."
"Why? It's not like they can keep them for longer than a month anyways," Steve responds in a bored voice.
Ellen turns back towards the front for a moment just as we pass a large billboard that makes my eyes widen. My face stares back at us with the word 'MISSING' in large letters next to it. I see a phone number but before I can continue reading we pass the board and it is out of view.
"That poor family," Ellen says in a sad voice as we pass the billboard. "I can't imagine losing my children like that. They must be so distraught. It's wonderful that they still have hope of finding her after she's been gone for so long but I'm sure its useless now. It would be a miracle she's still alive after being gone for so long."
I can't help but give a small squeak of anguish at her words and I drop my head in my hands to hide the tears that well up in my eyes. Hearing her say that makes me feel horrible guilt about everything. My family lost me and Sebastian and yet they still have hope that I will come back. If only I had been quicker that night, Sebastian wouldn't be dead and I might have never ended up in that Onyx facility.
"Are you alright honey?" I look up to see Ellen looking back at me and I quickly look away, praying that she didn't get a good look at my face.
"She just gets motion sickness is all," Dylan says, trying to divert her attention away from me.
"Oh no!" Ellen exclaims, giving me a pitying look. She then proceeds to reach into her purse, pull something out and comes over to sit next to me. For a second, I panic and don't know what to do as she pours out a couple pills of medication from the bottle she got out of her purse and looks up at me.
For a second, we lock eyes and I see a sudden wave of recognition flash in her eyes. The corners of her mouth fall into a sad frown before she says in a quiet, sad voice, "Oh honey, I thought I recognized you…"
"No I—!" I try denying it but she cuts me off.
"I'm happy to see that you are ok," she says with a sad smile. "But why haven't you gone home to your family?"
Everyone stays frozen, panic clearly in their eyes. I screwed up. I should have tried harder to avoid her recognizing me. If she reports me being here, then Onyx will be one step closer to finding us.
"What's going on back there?" Steve says from the front as he pulls the RV into town.
"This girl is Zoe Blackwell, Steve. The one that's been missing for so long," Ellen explains, not taking her eyes off of me.
"What?" Steve takes a glance back at Ellen's words and I put my face in my hands in shame. I don't know what to do or say.
Steve pulls the RV into a gas station parking lot and turns around to look at us.
"Should we call someone?" he asks me with kind, worried eyes.
I sit there, my mouth hanging open as I try desperately to think of what to say. These people know who I am and if they do call someone then Onyx will find us. I can't let that happen but I can't bring myself to say anything.
"Please don't call anyone," Dylan says in a rush, coming to my rescue.
"And why not?" Steve asks, giving Dylan a suspicious look.
"Zoe wants to get home as quietly as possible," Dylan explains. "No cameras or police involved until she can see her family. She wants to talk to them privately about everything that has happened."
I look up at Dylan, grateful to him for intervening when I couldn't bring myself to answer.
Steve nods and then turns to me again and asks, "But why have you been gone so long? You seem to be unharmed. What happened?"
"I had a hard time coming to terms with what happened to my brother," I lie, fighting back tears. "When I woke up in the hospital, I couldn't bare to face my family. I snuck out and ran away. It took me a long time to work up the courage to go home."
Ellen and Steve look at me with pitying eyes at my lie.
"What about all of you then?" Steve says looking around at the others. "How do ya'll play a role in this?"
"They took me in when I didn't know where to go," I say in a rush to try and explain. "And now they agreed to help me get home."
They both nod and for a moment, I'm amazed that they actually believe all of that. Why are they so willing to accept that a girl that has been missing for the past six months was just too sad to face her family?
"You kids are all too kind," Ellen says with tears in her eyes. "If it would help we could offer to take you the rest of the way home."
"We can't possibly accept that!" Dylan says in a rush. "I think it would be best if we went on our own."
I can see Dylan thinking, trying desperately to stop these people from learning anything else. We couldn't possibly stay with them. Not with Onyx after us. It would put them in too much danger.
"Then why don't you take this?"
Steve reaches into the glove box of the RV and pulls out a large wad of money, holding it out towards me.
"Take it," he says. "You obviously need it after your car broke down."
I shake my head not sure what to say. These people have no reason to help us at all and yet they offer such a generous gift. Why are they doing this? Why have they not seen past our lies? What is making them want to help us at all?
"Take it," Steve repeats as he puts the money in my hands. I look down at it in disbelief. There has to be at least five hundred dollars here! There's no way I can accept this.
I go to hand the money back to him but before I can do or say anything Britney interrupts.
"That's very kind of you," she says, giving me a warning glance. "Thank you so much!"
Steve and Ellen smile at us all and Dylan quickly stands up to thank them too. I look up at him in utter shock, wondering why in the world he would accept such a large amount of money like this, but he just gives me a sheepish look like he'll tell me later.
For a moment I sit there not sure if I should follow everyone else as they thank Steve and Ellen or if I should just give the money back to them and leave but then I see Shay give me a look and I decide to follow everyone else's lead and accept the money.
Ellen goes to give me a hug and I instinctively flinch away, scared of the contact. Dylan notices my fear and intervenes.
"If you don't mind," he says, bringing her attention to him. "Could I ask you not to tell anyone that you saw any of us? We just don't want anyone to find out where Zoe is until she gets home to her family."
"Of course, dear," Ellen says with a kind smile.
Again, Ellen agrees to a suspicious statement so easily and I am left staring at her in confusion with creased eyebrows. Why has it been so easy to convince them? They seem so kind but that's not the only reason they are so willing to help us.
Dylan grabs my hand and puts himself between me and Ellen as she makes to give me a hug again and for a moment I'm grateful until I realize he's still holding my hand and I pull my hand out of his, not comfortable with the contact, yet not afraid like I usually am.
We all exit the RV as we say our goodbyes to Steve and Ellen.
"Stay safe!" Ellen says as I step into the cold November air. Her and Steve wave and wish us luck as they close the door. We all watch as the engine starts back up and Mister barks and wags his tail as the RV slowly pulls out of the parking lot.
For a moment I'm grateful to Steve and Ellen for their generosity but then I start to feel guilty again. We lied to them and accepted a lot of money from them. What if they actually needed that money?
"Thanks Britney," Dylan says beside me and I turn to look at him in confusion.
"I wouldn't have had to do that if Jesse wouldn't have accepted their help in the first place," Britney says in an annoyed voice as she glares at a sheepish Jesse.
"What are you talking about?" I ask.
"Britney used her powers on Steve and Ellen when Ellen recognized you so that they didn't call the police," Dylan explains. "She also convinced them to give us that money."
I look down at the money in my hand and finally realize why they were so willing to give it to us. Britney manipulated them into giving it to us and I had no idea. This is basically stolen money.
"So, you're saying they didn't give this to us willingly," I ask in anger. "What if they needed this?"
"They didn't," Britney retorts with an angry look. "They were rich. I got that much just by looking at them. I made sure I wasn't convincing them to give us any more then they can spare, so stop your worrying."
I don't know what to say. I still feel bad knowing that Britney messed with their minds like that but it is helpful to us to have this money. However, I still feel like I played a part in something dirty and for that I silently apologize to Steve and Ellen for playing a part in them losing something they never intended to lose.
AN: Thanks for reading! I'll try to get the next chapter up as soon as possible but I can't make any promises on when that will be. Let me know what you thought of this chapter in a review!