Lost Cause

Kennedy James is trying to escape her life, and doesn't want to look back. Ever.

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3. Playing the Part

"Mom!" James said. "I'm home!"

"James!" I heard several voices call. I panicked. How were there so many voices? I took a breathe. Of course there were many voices. He had a family. It wasn't just his Mom. I saw two other kids come into view sitting along the kitchen island, alongside an older woman. There were a girl and a boy, both of them had the same color brown hair as James. The girl looked closer in age than the boy did, but the boy was taller.

"Who's this?" the woman, who I'm assuming was James' mother, asked looking at me warily.

"This is Spencer," James said. "She's a friend of mine from Eden Prairie. She needs a place to stay while her parents are gone." He looked at me and gestured towards his family. "Spencer, this is my Mom, Nora, my little sister Adriana and my little brother Luke." James looked at his mother expectantly.

"It's nice to meet you all," I said quickly, panicking on the inside because I had no idea what James's last name was, and I didn't know if his mom wanted me to call her Nora.

"I've never met Spencer before," his mom said coolly. Unlike her son's eyes, her eyes were a pretty emerald shade, and they were piercing. They were currently piercing through my soul, slowly breaking me down.

"Spencer and I met a couple of years ago at a track meet," James said. "We've been keeping in touch for a while." I noticed the look that Adriana was giving her older brother. Something told me that she knew that the whole thing was a ruse. Her skeptical gaze shifted towards me where I saw her eyes, mirroring her mother's, in their coloring and their severity.

"Okay," James' mother finally said. "She can stay."

"Thanks Mom!" James said, planting a kiss on his mother's forehead. He turned to me, his eyes bright and animated. "I'll bring you to the guest room," he said as his little brother caught their mother's attention on another subject. I also noticed that as James lead me away, Adriana followed us. James led us over to the guest room. "This is going to be your room," James said, studiously ignoring his sister.

"I know this is a lie," Adriana said closing the door behind her.

"Ade, get off my dick," James said calmly, ushering me towards the closet.

"If it's not, then why doesn't she have any bags?" Adriana said.

"I have a backpack on my back," I said defending myself. Was she blind?

"If this is a girl to cheat on Jewel with, she's not going to be too happy that she's living with you."

"I wouldn't cheat on Jewel," James said giving his sister a look of insanity. "And I doubt she'll care that Spencer's living here."

"Just know that I don't buy it for a minute," Adriana said, narrowing her eyes. "Might as well tell me now."

"Nothing's going on," James said firmly. "I'm just helping out a friend."

"Fine," Adriana said with a flamboyant shrug. "Don't tell me. Be that way." She went to the door. Before closing the door behind her, she turned back and narrowed her eyes at her brother. "Just watch your back.," she hissed before giving the door a solid swing shut.

"James," I started, but James cut me off.

"Don't worry about Adriana," He told me. "She'll come around." He sighed, first puffing out his cheeks before blowing out the puff of air in an annoyed manner. "You're just lucky that the others aren't here yet."

"'The others?'" I repeated.

"Ah, yes," James said with an easy grin. "You've already met the beauteous Adriana and Luke, then there are Diana and Max."

"There's more?" I asked, trying to hide the horror in my tone.

"Two more," James clarified. "Both older. I'm the middle child." He shrugged. "Always a nice role." Then the doorbell rang.

"Sounds like fun," I said, forcing a smile on my face.

"James!" His mother called up to him from the front door. "Theo's here!" James swore.

"I totally forgot," he said. "Theo and I were going to hang out today..." He looked up at me skeptically. "Would you mind hanging out with a couple of guys?" I shook my head, and felt like I looked like a child doing so. But I didn't have time to think about it. James was already leading me down the stairs to the front door. "Hey T," he said. Theo opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes held the question of the hour: who was I? "You remember Spencer, right?" James' tone of voice and the persistent look he was giving Theo was quite amazing. His eyes seemed to speak, saying 'I'll explain later.'

"Yea!" Theo said. "Of course I do!" I studied Theo for a moment. He had either very dark blonde hair, or very light brown hair. Either way, his eyes were an interesting shade of blue, almost violet. He was tall and slim with the body of a swimmer. He had a friendly face and adorable dimples.

"You don't mind if she hangs with us, right?" James said, raising a brow.

"Of course not!" Theo said, with way too much enthusiasm. "Yeah, she can go wherever," Theo added, fumbling over his words.

"I'll see you later Mom," James called over his shoulder. "Don't wait up." And he slammed the door behind us. Theo threw looks at me over his shoulder. His face reflected his confusion, but it didn't seem to bother James. James opened the back door of Theo's car for me, taking my elbow to help me get in. I was stunned, but I accepted his help. Theo closed his door behind him and settled himself in his front seat. He sat there for a while, then he finally turned and looked at James. He opened his arms at him to signal his confusion. "Yes?" James asked, patiently.

"Do I really know Spencer?" Theo asked. James opened his mouth to speak, but Theo cut him off. "Speak truthfully, because I'm going to have a heart attack if I've seen this face before and did not remember it." James sighed. He looked over at me to see what I would say. I smirked and shrugged at him. What could he do? I felt bad that James was already lying to his family, why lie to his friend?

"You don't know Spencer," James admitted. "I don't know Spencer. No one knows Spencer. the thing is, she needs a place to stay. I wasn't sure if my Mom would let her stay if I didn't know her." Theo looked at him in disbelief.

"What I'm understanding is that you picked up a random beautiful stranger from the street-" but James interrupted him.

"Actually I met her in Target," James said. Theo looked at him like he was crazy.

"Are you seriously going to correct me right now?" Theo asked, clearly flabbergasted. James opened his mouth to answer, but Theo cut him off again. "Is this to make Jewel jealous or something?"

"Why does everyone keep suggesting that I make Jewel jealous?"  James demanded, clearly annoyed.

"Because you picked up a random hot chick that Jewel's clearly going to be jealous of!" Theo snapped.

"Why would you say that?" James yelled.

"Because you know it's true!" Theo yelled back.

"Guys," I said. "I hope you know that we're still in the driveway, and I'm still in the car."

"Right," Theo mumbled, starting up the car and backing out of the driveway. "This isn't a done conversation," Theo said, addressing James. My stomach interrupted whatever protest James had coming. It sounded like a dying walrus.

"Sorry," I apologized, embarrassed. "Just a little hungry."

"No shame in that," James said. "We'll just go and get you some food someplace."

"I should probably add that I can't have dairy or gluten," I said, feeling embarrassed. We were at a light now, and both boys turned around to stare at me in disbelief. "I didn't choose to be that way," I said defensively. "My body is what it is."

"No, that's not what we're thinking," James murmured.

"Tell me again," Theo mumbled. "Where'd you find this girl? Do you think I could find one?"

"I don't understand," I said, slowly and quietly. They were scaring me. Were they psychopathic? Did I stumble upon weirdos?

"No, that's the thing," James said. "I can't have dairy or gluten." We stared at each other for a moment, not noticing when Theo started driving again. He pulled into a gas station.

"Alright," he said. "We can pick up some food here before we keep going. Your stomach sounded like it was going to eat you alive." I smiled, grateful to him. I climbed out of the car before James could help me out (I didn't want him to do everything for me, as nice as it was. I could be useful too!). He still came to me and lead me forward with a hand on the small of my back. I cringed at the contact, but quickly ignored it. Once we were inside the little gas station store, James looked down at me.

"What do you want?" he asked me. When I hesitated, he quickly stepped in. "You can get whatever you'd like. I'm buying." I scanned the shelves before I looked back at him.

"Any suggestions?" I asked, feeling the corner of my mouth creep up in a grin.

"Might I suggest Beef Jerky, because your stomach sounded empty, and peach rings?" As he was speaking, he grabbed both things off of the shelf.

"I like it," I said, taking it from him, grinning up at him. Theo, who had grabbed himself a coffee came up to us, looking pretty disturbed.

"Heads up lovebirds," he muttered bringing his drink to his mouth. Neither James nor I had no time to react to Theo's comment.

"James!" I heard a bubbly, fake sounding girl's voice call towards us. I could hear the clack-clack of her heels on the linoleum floor of the shop. I felt his arm that was around me tense.

"Hey Jewel," James said, sounding somewhat strained, and forcibly happy. "I didn't see you there." So this was the amazing Jewel. I examined her: she was a pretty girl with strawberry blonde hair.and baby pink lips. She wore thick mascara and eyeliner and her face looked like one that took great care in her make up and hair everyday. I felt slightly self conscious about my loose side braid and total lack of make up. Jewel was wearing designer jacket and skirt with a cute pair of heeled boots, and I looked down at my comfy, warm jacket over my over-sized plaid shirt opened over a plain camisole, super comfy jeans and beat up combat boots. I refrained myself from reaching up on my head to my hat that I didn't know when the last time it'd been washed was. She even looked worthy of James.

"Well, I just came in here, and there you were," she said, giving him a forced chuckle and  the most forced smile I'd ever seen before in my life. She turned her head towards me and her icy blue eyes bored into my hazel ones. "Who's this?"

"Um," James said, completely caught off guard. "This is my friend Spencer, from Eden Prairie."

"Eden Prairie, huh," Jewel said, giving me a pointed up-down look, examining my clothing, down to my old mud crusted boots. Her eyes zeroed into James's arm around my mid-riff. "Nice to know you're all so comfy with each other." James immediately tore his arm off my shoulders as if I'd shocked him. I don't know if it was the lack of contact or lack of heat, but I immediately felt naked when his arm was off me.

"Well, we've kind of known each other for a while," James mumbled, putting his hands into his back pockets.

"Have you now?" Jewel said, narrowing her eyes at me. "I've never heard of Spencer before."

"Well, I already have a girlfriend, what would I talk about another girl for?" James said, chuckling nervously. Jewel smiled at that.

"So, what are you guys doing?" She asked. She was malicious and cunning, like a snake.

"Well, Spencer got hungry, so..." James trailed off, seeing Jewel's shift to me. "Then we were going to hangout."

"Were you now?" Jewel asked, feigning interest.

"That's why we were all in Theo's car," I said with a shrug, pointing towards Theo's car. Jewel glared at me. She whipped her head back at James.

"Do you mind if I tag along?" she asked, innocently.

"Yeah, it was just going to be us and a couple of guys," James said. "Kind of a guys day." I closed my eyes. Bad argument James!

"So Spencer's cool enough to hang out with you guys, but you don't want to hang out with your girlfriend?" Jewel demanded.

"No, it's not that! It's just-" but James was cut off.

"I can't believe you!" Jewel said, acing outraged. "You think that I don't know what you're doing?"

"Sorry honey," Theo said. "I don't think he knows what he's doing."

"Theo," James said, glaring at him, "shut up." He turned back to Jewel. "Jewel, you know nothing's going on," he said.

"I know? I know?" Jewel was going to blow up. She put a hand on his chest and pushed him. "Call me when you get your shit figured out." And she stormed away.

"Well," Theo said once Jewel was out of the room. "That was an interesting display of affection."

"Shut up," James said, glaring at him.

"That was Jewel?" I asked in disbelief. "That was your girlfriend?"

"Amazing, isn't it?" Theo chuckled. "This guys a total softie, and she's a total bitch. A slut at the least."

"She's not a slut," James said, sounding tired.

"Maybe not, but she's mean!" I admonished. "Why are you going out with her? How did this even start?"

"I asked her out," James said, taking my things back from me. "And she said yes-"

"Of course she said yes," I snapped, annoyed. Theo raised a brow at me, but I narrowed my eyes at him.

"I think it was just the thrill of having a cheerleader girlfriend," James admitted. "It's gotten old, but it adds to my name."

"And that is...?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"James Bradley, captain of the football team, hockey team and track and field team," James said, with an almost satisfied smile on his face.

"And Mr. Captain is dating a mega-bitch cheerleader?"I asked, nonchalantly. James burst out laughing. "So Bradley is your last name?"

"Yeah," James said with a nod while paying for my food. "My middle name's Timothy."

"She never asked," Theo said with a bored voice, sipping his drink, his eyes glued to his screen. He looked up. "Are we going to my place or not? I left five guys at my house, alone, and I'm not to exactly happy to see how that turned out."

"You left five guys in your house?" James asked, looking at him cynically. "Man, are you crazy?"

"No, I thought it'd be a quick stop," Theo said. He raised his chin to us. "This was clearly not quick. I thought the only thing that would maybe delay us is me picking up a pizza. Seeing as we're not doing that either, we've wasted a ton of time."

"You can always order in," I suggested. "Make it easier on everyone."

"Might as well, you know," Theo said with a shrug. "Now come on, we've got to go save my house." We followed Theo back to his car and climbed in. I settled into the backseat, just thinking to myself.

I'm really going to like it here.

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