A/N: Please excuse all grammar mistakes as usual; I'm only human without a beta reader! Sorry this chapter took so insanely long to come out. Hope you all haven't forgotten about this fic!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to my mind, the plot belongs to me . . . any resemblances are entirely and purely coincidental.
We stood there for another five minutes, no one saying a word. A slight breeze blew, and it didn't help the goose bumps on my bare arms. I knew, however, that it wasn't the cold that was giving me chills; it was the fear that was being kept bottled within me.
I had to be careful. In tense moments (and I'm pretty sure being kidnapped would be considered a tense moment) people were known to snap. I couldn't let myself loose it. I had to remain calm, and keep my head clear to think of what to do.
After a few minutes passed, two other people joined us. One was a woman, and the other was a boy who looked about my age. However, I was so taken with the woman that I didn't even look at the male's face.
She had to be the single most spectacular looking woman I'd ever seen. She was Asian, of course, and her long black hair shimmered like satin even in the pale light. The strands danced across her forehead in the breeze, giving her an exotic wind-blown look. Her dark skin was smooth, having the effect only achieved by carefully placed foundation. Her mouth was glossed, but it was evident that there was no lipstick – not that she really needed it, anyway. The lips were red enough. Even though she was frowning, if one had not been looking closely, they might've suspected she was pouting sensually. Her outfit consisted of a curve-hugging yellow sundress, much shorter than my skirt. She wasn't wearing a bra, obviously, and the straps of her white sandals wrapped around her calves, stopping just below her knees.
But the most amazing thing about this woman was her eyes. They were wide, which was unusual for an Asian, but that wasn't the part that got me. It was the color. Her eyes were pale blue. Almost gray.
Of course, it could've been contacts. But the blue-gray eyes gave her the appearance of an exotic creature, one that has never been touched or scarred, and I knew that every guy who saw her immediately felt their pants tighten.
Instantly I was jealous.
"Keep staring, girl," the woman suddenly sneered, and I realized she was looking at me. "I might do a trick."
Feeling my cheeks flush, I glanced down. Maybe I wasn't so jealous. If looking like that meant I was to be a bitch, then I'd rather just stay me.
I felt that someone else was looking at me still, and suddenly remembered the other who had joined us. Looking up, I found myself staring at a very familiar face.
I vaguely felt my mouth drop open, and for a brief instant I thought, Thank God! Someone is here to save me!
But Darren looked worried, and warned me with his eyes and a brief shake of his head not to say anything.
Cold realization seeped through me as if ice water had replaced my blood. Tonight, it seemed, I was being betrayed by everyone I felt I could trust. I'd never been fond of Darren, exactly, but I would never have suspected he be in on the plot to kidnap me.
"Now we have our family, Jin Young," Garrison's voice cut into my thoughts, so abruptly I jumped slightly. I flicked my eyes towards him, and found him smiling his normal smile. "Shall we?"
I narrowed my eyes to glare at him, and then shot an angry look at Darren. He was meticulously avoiding my gaze.
Man Number Four shoved a carry-on bag in my hand, distracting me for a moment. I wondered briefly what was in it, but I supposed it didn't really matter; they wouldn't be stupid enough to put drugs or explosives in a carry-on bag and risk being arrested. It was probably stuffed with clothes or something, to make it look like it was a travel suitcase.
And so went our family (which included me, Darren, Gorgeous Bitch, Garrison, and a scrawny guy who looked about twenty and was wearing casual clothes. I had no idea who he was) into the airport. I don't know if Garrison expected to look like the father of our happy little clan, while Gorgeous Bitch was the mother, but if that was so, then it was very clear that Scrawny boy had to have been adopted when they were both five. Neither of them looked much over six years older than Scrawny.
As we stepped through the sliding doors, I frantically looked around, hoping for any means of getting help. What if I shouted at one of the security guys, who had guns, that I was being kidnapped and to shoot Garrison? That way, with him dead, he couldn't kill my family.
That's idiotic, Jin Young, I told myself furiously. Just because Garrison won't be able to do any harm doesn't mean his dozens of other men won't.
Garrison had me walk in front of him, behind Gorgeous Bitch. Just about every male eye was riveted towards her. Secretly, I had to give it to Garrison; having a stunning woman walk through the airport sure as hell diverted the attention from who was with her. Everyone who saw us would be so engrossed with Gorgeous Bitch they wouldn't even remember a younger Korean girl.
Good for Garrison, bad as shit for me.
Walking behind this woman was beginning to bother me. She walked like a runway model, her chin up, tossing her hair every now and then. Her strides were long, her arms swung extravagantly at her side (as her carry-on bag was a sexy little over-the-shoulder black leather number, while I was stuck with an obnoxious one that seemed to be made of purple canvas). She was milking this attention thing for everything it was worth.
I bit my lip and tried to ignore the urge to stick my foot out and trip her. The image almost had me smiling; it would be hilarious to hear her shriek and then watch her fall over her Barbie heels.
We went through baggage check, and I tried to look at the screen to see what showed up in my bag on X-ray. Unfortunately, I couldn't peer at it without anyone noticing, so I frowned and retrieved the bag, waiting for everyone else to go through.
Our terminal wasn't far from baggage check. We crossed over to it, and Garrison held out our tickets, smiling flirtingly at the woman who checked them. She smiled back and told us to have a nice flight.
I'd only been on a plane a couple of times in my life, having never really left California before. But those times I had been on one I'd been seated comfortably in first class. I was most disappointed to find we were heading back to coach.
Garrison took the liberty to shove all our fake carry-on bags up into the overhead compartments. As he did so, he spoke to me without looking at me. "Jin Young, you sit with Han Su."
Who? It took me a moment to realize he was referring to Darren.
So that's what his real Korean name was.
I glanced over at Darren, and he looked back at me this time; his face was blank. With a tiny shrug, he turned and moved to the window seat. Frowning even deeper – I'd wanted the window seat! – I sat beside him. Behind us sat Garrison and Gorgeous Bitch, and across the aisle in the other window seat sat Scrawny.
Darren and I didn't speak. Instead, I stared straight ahead at the back of the seat in front of me.
We had been sitting there only a few minutes before the pilot came over the loudspeaker, making the usual announcements. Please fasten your seatbelts when the sign comes on, please watch this video of what to do in an emergency, please let your flight attendant know if we can make your flight more comfortable . . . blah, blah, blah.
The movie on safety was brief, and the instant it ended the plane began moving. I was hoping the captain would come back on and say our destination, but he didn't.
I watched with slight envy as Darren stared out the window as the plane went down the runway. Once we rose into the air I couldn't see anything but night sky, while I'm sure he could see the brilliant lights of Los Angeles below us.
What a bastard. He didn't deserve to see that.
About ten minutes passed before the pilot came back over the loudspeaker, saying how high we were, and that the flight would be approximately eight hours. I cringed, wondering how I would survive eight hours on a plane. And better yet, how far could one go in eight hours? I still hadn't the slightest clue where we were going. We could've been going to Japan, Hawaii, Texas, or Maine for all I knew.
The in-flight movie was The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez, but no one offered to buy me a four-dollar headset to hear it, so I wasn't able to watch it.
Bored after only about a half hour, I looked around. Scrawny was asleep already, and behind me Bitch and Garrison were discussing something quietly. Even though they were directly behind me, I couldn't understand a word.
My eyes came back to Darren, who was still peering out the window.
"Han Su, huh?" I asked, and he whipped his head around to me, startled. "I think I'll call you Han Solo instead."
He smirked. "You're so witty, Jin Young. I just can't stand it."
I pressed my lips together and hardened my eyes, trying to show him I was serious. "Why, Darren?"
His eyebrows raised slightly. "Why what?"
I have him a look that clearly said, You know exactly what, and yet went on to explain anyway. "Why would you want to kidnap me? I mean, you go to my school. Only very wealthy people can afford to send their children there, so you must have plenty of money –"
"I'm there on a scholarship," Darren interrupted shortly, looking somewhat bitter.
Surprised, I forgot to show him my "tough face" and lifted an eyebrow. "Huh?"
"You heard me," he answered. "At my old middle school I was one of the smartest there. The smartest, in fact. I scored a 1550 on my SAT in seventh grade. Somehow several rich, well to do high schools that I never knew existed heard about me; offered me scholarships. Our school seemed like the best, so I chose to go there."
1550? I tried not to look impressed. I didn't know Darren was that intelligent. He always seemed like an idiot to me.
He suddenly leaned close to me, a sober expression on his face. "Kirsten, I swear to God I didn't know they were kidnapping you. I swear. I just thought they were kidnapping . . . someone else."
That didn't comfort me any. "But the fact is you knew they were kidnapping someone," I hissed back. "I never liked you much, Darren, but I never thought you were the type to break the law."
He looked pained for a minute, and briefly glanced back outside the window. After a moment, he returned his gaze to mine, but he didn't say anything else.
"Tell me, Darren," I ordered as sternly as I could. "Tell me all you know. I have a right to know what's going on, especially since it concerns my life."
He sighed, and seemed almost sad. "Fine, I'll tell you. But be quiet; we can't let them hear." He jerked his head back, indicating them as Garrison and Gorgeous Bitch.
"All right," I agreed, and brought my head close to his.
It was odd being so close to him – we were nearly forehead to forehead. But I tried to put it out of my mind and concentrate on what he was going to say.
"That girl sitting behind us," he began, "she's my sister. Kim Ji."
"Newsflash, Darren: she's a bitch," I cut in.
He gave a shadow of his old grin. "I know. That's the entire reason I'm in on this, though – her being a bitch. I don't understand how I'm related to her; sometimes I think she's just plain evil."
"And I'm sure kidnapping me makes you a saint," I snapped.
"Will you just listen? Christ, Kirsten, I'm trying to explain it to you."
"Sorry." I wasn't sorry at all. "Go ahead."
"Kim Ji started dating this fellow," Darren continued. I sneered at the his use of the word "fellow" but he didn't notice. "He won't tell me his real name; I'm just supposed to call him Garrison," he added. "She started dating him, and after two weeks or so, she – out of the blue – comes home with this master plan of getting rich."
He paused, as if expecting me to interrupt. I didn't.
"She was really excited about it," he went on. "She told me all about it, as if she had just won the lottery and wasn't planning on doing something illegal. She kept going, 'The best part is, Darren, that we'll be getting money from people who don't need it. They'll still have plenty left once they give some of it to us, to us when we deserve it.' As if somebody's hard earned salary was something we deserved."
"Yet you went along with it anyway," I said with a smirkish twist of my lips.
"I didn't have a choice!" he cried vehemently, startling me. He seemed to notice he was being loud and lowered his voice, then avoided my eyes, looking down at his hands on the armrest between us. "Listen, Kirsten, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry it was you they kidnapped. But I can't do anything about it. Nothing. So you have no reason to hate me."
No reason? I almost laughed in his face. I had every reason to hate him! Every reason in the world. If he had shown some guts, maybe told the police about it all before it got out of hand, then maybe I would be at home right now. Maybe Eddie would still be alive, and I would only have the problem of studying for a test hovering on my mind. I wouldn't have fought with my Dad, and life would be normal. Like it was only this morning.
Instead of throwing something like that in his face, I narrowed my eyes. "Tell me what your sister said to you, Darren. Tell me about the 'plan' she had for getting money."
Darren reluctantly met my gaze. He drew in a shaky breath, and then began to explain. "She started off by saying how wonderful Garrison was, and how he was going to change our life." He hesitated, clearly searching for the right words to say. He was afraid of giving too much away, I realized, but said nothing. "For the couple of weeks she dated him, she would come home after seeing him and exclaim how soon we would be living in some mansion in Beverly Hills. I assumed she meant that she would marry him, and I ignored her. She was always claiming she would marry someone, a new guy every week."
Several things went through my mind at this point. Where did Darren live, exactly? In a house? An apartment? Why did his sister seem to loath their lifestyle? And why did she think it was up to her to change it? Was she Darren's guardian? No parents?
Confused, I chewed on the inside of my cheek and listened with a bit more attentiveness, hoping to catch something in his tone that would help answer my questions.
"Finally, one night she came home nearly bursting with happiness. She's very rarely happy," he said quickly, and then broke our gaze, as if he shouldn't have said anything at all. His hands became his main focal point once more. "She told me to sit down with her, 'have a nice chat' she referred to it as, and began to explain this master plan Garrison had about getting rich.
"I'd only met Garrison one or two times, and I liked him. I thought he was a nice guy. Not really my sister's type, but a good guy. When I heard this plan he'd concocted, I sort of had trouble believing it."
"What was the plan?" I injected, wishing he would say it already.
"Kidnap someone," he replied. "Some hot-shot's youngest and only girl. At first Kim Ji didn't give me details. Just said something like, 'We'll snatch the girl on her way home from school, keep her locked in a bedroom for a little while, get the money, return her, and then change our names and disappear so the police won't find us.' That's all I could really get out of her, until the next morning – after I'd had all night to think on it and decide that if Garrison had come up with an idea like kidnapping, he was only kidding and would never go through with it – Garrison came over along with about twenty hefty Asian guys. Kim Ji gave me twenty bucks and said to go see a movie, and locked the door the minute I'd stepped out of the room. It was then I started to think that maybe it was a bit more serious then I'd thought.
"Of course, a month went by, and I was able to pick up on what was going to happen. Nearly every day Garrison and his portion of the Asian Mafia would come over to our place and plot what they were going to do. I never heard names," he added, glancing at me to see my reaction, "so there wasn't anything I could really do. I just tried to seem like I was staying out of their way while really trying to hear everything so I could understand exactly what was to happen. All the while I was praying that somehow, they would get bored and decide not to go through with The Plan." That's just the way he said it, as if it needed to be capitalized.
"But they did," I said. "And you lived in the same place where they were making this Plan and you didn't hear my name mentioned once." My tone was thick with doubt.
"No," he answered a bit coldly. "I didn't hear anything about you. I didn't hear anything about anybody. They always referred to you as 'her' or 'she'."
I huffed, but didn't reply to his comment. There was something he had just said that had caught my attention, but I couldn't remember . . .
Oh yeah. "You said they were trying to kidnap some girl who was an only child. Or at least the youngest girl. I'm the oldest and first girl," I told him. "Why me, of all people?"
He blinked, as if he wasn't quite sure what I was trying to say. It took him so long to answer I almost repeated my point.
"You have little sisters?" he asked finally.
I nodded and held up a finger, indicating I only had one.
His brows furrowed together in a look of confusion. "That's weird," he muttered. "I was pretty sure they were kidnapping an only girl. Better chance of getting high ransom, I thought."
His confusion was making me even more lost. So did that mean they'd meant to kidnap Alina, not me, just as Dad had feared? But no, that wouldn't make any sense. They had called me by my name. They knew they were kidnapping me. And their warning letter had indicated they very obviously knew that there were two of us. Garrison knew about Alina. Why kidnap me?
It made no sense. None whatsoever.
I shook my head, trying to clear my mind. Jin Young, focus, I told myself. Why you specifically were kidnapped is not the issue right now.
Darren was the issue.
"Up until about two hours ago," he started to say, as if hurrying to get back on the track of telling his story, "I didn't know I was to have a part in this. Kim Ji just burst into my room and announced we were going to the airport, and proceeded to explain on the way there that we were to pretend we were a family."
"Oh," I said, almost breezily. "And you just went right along with it. You didn't think that there was anything wrong with going along with a plan of kidnapping someone, and I don't care if you didn't know it was me –"
"I don't have a choice, Jin Young!" Darren hissed at me so ferociously I nearly jumped. His voice was harsh, though unusually quiet. "You think I do? You think I'm such a bad person that I want to kidnap some girl, much less you? I don't. But I'm forced to."
I stared at him, stunned into silence. What was he getting at?
His eyes were glittering with anger, and it scared me. I had made him royally pissed. Something I had done had made him upset, when I was the only one who had the right to be.
"Look, Jin Young, you sit there and whine to me how terrible I am for kidnapping you," he snapped, "as if I don't know. I do know that what I'm doing is wrong, and that I should shout for help this very instant. But it won't do you any good, and I'll probably be killed."
"Saving your own skin, Darren?" I whispered snidely.
His blazing eyes darkened even more. "And your goddamn family's," he retorted. "If I 'saved' you right now, Garrison would have your dad and whoever else is in your family murdered in two seconds flat. Hasn't Garrison told you about that part already?"
I didn't reply, but he knew that Garrison had.
"So you see, it doesn't matter if you call for help, or if I call for help," Darren said. "Either way your family is dead. If I could get you to safety and risk only my own life, I would do it."
"My hero," I said harshly and softly.
"God you're spoiled," he accused sharply. "Get over the fact there's nothing I can do, nothing I could do, and nothing I can do. All right?"
Furiously, I shifted in my seat so my legs were sprawled in the aisle. I knew there was a reason I couldn't stand Darren. That had to be it.
He had no right to accuse me of being spoiled when my reaction was perfectly normal. This was his fault! His fault! Not mine, not Dad's, not Alina's . . .
But he didn't have a choice, I thought sarcastically, smirking to myself. It was then I thought more deeply about what "not having a choice" meant exactly.
Did it mean that he was forced to go along with this plan solely because he wanted to save my family? That would make absolutely zero sense – just because he wasn't there didn't mean The Plan couldn't proceed without suspicion. Everything would've been just as smooth; we still would've looked like a family in the airport. It had nothing to do with saving my family.
Maybe he would have a bigger role to play in this Plan later on. How would I know? I wouldn't until it actually happened.
Frustration began bubbling inside me. I wasn't angry as much as aggravated. How would I get out of this? I couldn't do it on my own. The only way I'd get home safely is if Dad paid the money.
But would he?
That's ridiculous, I told myself. Of course he would. I might not've been his favorite daughter, but he certainly didn't want me held forever captive by Korean terrorists. He'll pay, I assured my exhausted mind confidently.
So all I had to do was play along, go with these people . . . and wait to be rescued. They wouldn't do anything severe to me – or anything at all to me – if they expected the money from my father.
But there was one thing that I needed to know. I swung back around in my seat and snapped in Darren's ear, "Where are we going?"
"New York," he said distantly without turning his head from the window.
"City?" I asked without really thinking.
Stunned, I sat forward in my seat, my brain working furiously. New York City . . . I'd just been there recently, actually. It was true; I never really left California, but for my sixteenth birthday my dad, Alina, and Georgiana and I had flown to NYC to Dad's penthouse (which was on Fifth Avenue – nothing but the best for us Heos) to celebrate. I remember this not only because it happened only a month ago, but because Dad had presented me with my first credit card with a limit of ten thousand dollars. I left it there, in the penthouse, because I knew I'd never use it. It was too much money and made me nervous to even hold it. I had plenty of cash to buy what I wanted.
But I wasn't happy about going there now. It was so far from California. Why would anyone think of looking for me there? Even if Dad did tell the police, they wouldn't even think of contacting the New York Police Department.
It doesn't matter, I thought quickly. Dad's going to pay the money. He won't need to search for me; I'll be brought home.
I wondered fiercely why I wasn't comforted in the slightest by that thought.
A/N: Go on and review . . . you know you want to. Reviews = encouragement=inspiration=ideas=fast chapters.
Thanks to those who did review:
Elek Devlin (Thanks so much! I'm glad you like my story; it makes me really happy!)
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