Lost Cause

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

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2. Small Town, Critical Strike

I finally stopped in the middle of Minnesota. I stopped because I had to. I was getting cold, and very hungry. I couldn't bring myself to keep running. I knew I had to take action, and I had to do it fast. This weather wasn't going to wait up for me; and neither was my stomach.

I'd spent long enough without food. In fact, about two weeks. It was okay, though. I realized early on that we as humans only need a sufficient amount of water in order to survive a lengthy period of time. Water was easy: you could stop inside of a building take a long drink at a water fountain and no one would give you so much as a second glance. I've had to ration my food and water along the way too. I didn't eat junk food; I couldn't afford to do that to my body. I needed to have enough energy to keep running for a long time. When I do stop, I'm careful not to talk to people, and isolate myself from others. I found my shelter in various places. I find that if you don't bother people, then they don't bother you. I can't do that now. I need to find a temporary shelter for the winter.

I haven't dealt with this situation before, and never really thought that I'd have to. I hadn't taken into account that winter is still a season. I admit that it is a weird thought considering that I'm from Canada.

I already had an idea of how I was going to get myself a place for the winter. I knew it'd be risky and there wasn't any guarantee that my plan would work. I immediately found a Target and went to work.

As I walked through the aisles of Target, I scanned the people that I was passing. For some reason, no one seemed good enough. I need to find a person that looks reliable and trustworthy. I wandered over to the magazine section of the store, ready to give up. There wasn't anyone that I thought could help me. I picked up a J-14 magazine because they were my favorite when I was younger. That's when I saw him.

I expected him to be reading an ESPN magazine, or (heaven forbid) Playboy with his demeanor. But, no; this boy was tall, with strong shoulders, stubble dusting his chin and his dark hair peeking out of his beanie, but he was reading Seventeen magazine.

"I thought only girls read Seventeen," I commented before I could stop myself. I bit my lip, cursing myself, hoping that I hadn't made an awkward moment.

"Usually they do," he admitted, "but I'm secure enough with my masculinity to read this in public." He turned to me, forcing me to catch my breathe. He was gorgeous. His clear blue eyes were brought out by the blue in his shirt and the gray in his jacket, and they were looking at me now. They were clear of shame and full of vivacity. My favorite combination: dark hair, blue eyes. His grin was breathtaking. The first thing I noticed about it was his sharpened canines that somehow added an adorable boyishness to his smile. He offered a hand to me. "James," he said. I felt my jaw drop open. How did he know my last name? Then it dawned on me: he was introducing himself. I quickly shut my mouth.

"Spencer," I said quickly, shaking his hand. I don't know why I lied to him. I really don't understand why I didn't tell him my real name. It didn't make any sense to me. I forced a grin at him. "It's nice to see a male who's so sure of themselves," I noted. I unconsciously tugged on the bottom of my jacket. I quickly stopped because it seemed like I was flirting.

"Thank you," James said, looking gratified. "And you have quite the name."

"Thank you," I preened, before I reminded myself that he didn't actually know my name. I don't think he'd ever learn my name. "So you are reading Seventeen magazine because...?"

"Honestly?" James looked at me with a smirk. "I have no idea why I'm reading this. I find it very interesting, and my girlfriend's got me hooked to this. I really have no clue why this habit stuck." I felt my shoulders sag in disappointment, but I don't know why. Of course he had a girlfriend. He was gorgeous. I bet she's gorgeous too. I quickly erected myself and acted as if I didn't care.

"So it's not because of the pictures of all of the women in there," I joked.

"Not at all," James said, shaking his head like a child. "I'm am much to sanguine and juvenile to even think of doing that." I could see the reason for his optimism... I blinked. What was I doing? I was on a mission! I couldn't just stop everything because of one cute guy! Granted, there haven't been many cute guys that I've seen before him, but that didn't mean anything.

"This is going to sound weird," I started slowly, the words coming out of my mouth before I could stop them, "but I need a place to stay for the winter."

"Really?" James said, raising a brow at me.

"No joke," I said, honestly. "I'm kind of a runaway." I felt embarrassed finally admitting it out loud.

"So now you need a place," James started.

"Just for the season," I pleaded with him. "I'm kind of afraid of walking through the winter," I admitted.

"I still live with my parents," James admitted. "If it was up to me, I'd be for it, but it's not my call." I looked down at the floor. Guess I'll have to look somewhere else. "But, you could come with me and ask my parents. I doubt they'll say no to a pretty girl like you."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I said, and I threw my arms around him. James chuckled and put a hand on my back. I immediately tore away from him upon making impact. "Sorry," I said, sheepish. "I just have this thing on people touching me..."

"No problem," James said, raising his hands. "No judging here." He grinned at me, causing me to swoon. "Now come on," he said. "I've got to finish grabbing some things for my mom, and then we'll head off." He offered his elbow to me. "Shall we?" he asked in a fake-British accent. I giggled at that. He was a fun guy and a gentleman.

"We shall," I said, raising my chin, haughtily. James led me down to an aisle before steering me into it. He grabbed a jar of peanut butter.

"First thing you should know about my house," he said handing me the jar, "we have distinctive taste. If you get one tiny detail wrong in the product, no one will eat it." He pointed at the jar. "See here? It has to be natural and have a touch of honey." I looked at him with a look that he quickly deciphered. "It tastes way better than normal peanut butter. You'll see: don't knock it till you try it." I giggled at him.

"Don't knock it?" I clarified.

"Hey," James said, mock sternly. "Don't knock that either," he joked. "It's an annoying habit that I can't drop." He shrugged. "Like I said, no judging." He steered me over to the tooth paste. "Here, we don't touch whitening. We'd much rather sacrifice that for quality. "

"So whitening has no quality?" I asked. James screwed up his face.

"Well, some quality," he admitted. "Just not good quality." He directed me to a new aisle. I noticed the Axe body wash that filled the shelves.

"What about body wash?" I asked. "Are there specific parameters for that too?"

"My mom has some," he admitted, "but I just don't care. I just like the scent." James reached over and picked up a black bottle. "I've used this one before," he said, opening the top. The scent wafted around me. I felt my body clench and myself flinch away from the bottle. "You don't like?" James asked, noticing my reaction.

"No," I said. "In fact, I hate." I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't mean to shut down. HE used to use that scent. I recognized that scent. Axe Excite. Too familiar of a scent. Too reminding. "Is it Excite?" I asked, trying to distract myself from the strong pungent stench.

"Good nose," James commented, approvingly.

"It's a gift," I said, half-joking. I did have an acute sense of smell and hearing, but it wasn't anything I liked to brag about. I was thought to be deaf when I was younger because I would react to different sounds outside of the range of frequencies of a normal human being. The doctors all either thought that I was deaf or mentally disabled.

"Pretty nice gift to have," James joked. "Seems like it could be helpful."

"You'd think," I said dryly.

"It isn't?" James said, raising a brow.

"Unfortunately, I've found little to no use for it," I admitted. "The only thing you can do is eavesdrop on pointless conversations."

"Are they all pointless?" James asked in a joking tone. I could tell he was curious though.

"Not all," I amended. "Just most. You learn some pretty interesting things eavesdropping." James laughed at that.

"I would assume so," he said, considering it. He looked up then, scanning the shelves of the aisle. "My Mom likes this scent," he said, showing me the bottle. It was Target brand Pomegranate body wash.

"It looks like it smells nice," I said lamely. And it did; I just felt like I sounded stupid saying it.

"Oh, it smells divine," James said, putting emotion in his words and his face when he said divine. I couldn't help but laugh at the ecstatic expression on his face. "Do you think I'm joking?" James said, mock-serious with joy shining bright in his eyes. Before I could defend myself, James popped the top of the bottle open and wafted it underneath my nose. "Experience heaven," he said in a hypnotic voice as I took in a breathe of the sweet aromas. I immediately groaned in ecstasy. "Believe me now?" James asked as mischief colored his bright eyes.

"I believed you," I said defensively. I sighed a happy sight. "I just believe you even more now." James laughed at me.

"Come on," he said. "Let's go pay then go home." I nodded to him, suddenly giddy. I was excited to see where I'd be living for a month. I just hoped that they would like me.

As I was waiting for James to pay for his things and make small talk with the bubbly cashier, I glanced around the Target when I realized something; you couldn't tell where you were from the things that surrounded you. In some places, like Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, I'd immediately had been able to tell where I was. I just knew that I was in Minnesota from the state signs that were everywhere, including when I entered the state. Here, I had no idea where I was, and hadn't stopped to think twice that maybe this nice looking boy wasn't going to help me. In fact, he might be a crazy ax murder leading me to my death and I'd never be found again. I hadn't taken time to think that I didn't know anybody and nobody would help me if I got hurt or in trouble.

"Ready to go?" James asked walking towards me. His clear blue eyes looked at me, so open and innocent and incapable of doing any harm to anybody, and his grin, that grin of his that just takes my breathe away, looked sincere and loving. I nodded to him, biting my lip. He was harmless, right? As he led me to his car, he spoke to me, but I was barely listening. I was too busy doubting myself, trying to convince myself that I was wrong about James. He was good and he would help me. "Don't laugh," he was saying, "but here's my ride."  In front of us was an older Cadillac Escalade.

"Honestly, I wouldn't even consider laughing at your car," I said sincerely. "It looks pretty nice."

"I like keeping it clean," James said, stroking it. He laughed and looked at me. "Sorry I'm so weird. You're probably regretting asking if you can stay at my house." I laughed too.

"No!" I said. "I'm glad I chose someone so normal!" James laughed and unlocked his car. We both climbed in and James started to drive.

"We're going to have to get our stories straight," James said while braking at a stoplight.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I need to know you're back story," James said, turning into traffic. "Like, why you're running away, and away from what?" I took a breathe. He wasn't going to believe me.

"I don't know." James glanced at me before looking back out at the road. He was silent for a while before he spoke again.

"You don't know?" he repeated.

"I have short term memory," I said. "I remember glimpses and spots, but not full memories. I need triggers in order to remember things" I looked at him. "I just know that I'm running from someone. When you opened the Axe bottle, it triggered a memory. I know that I'm running from someone with that same exact body wash." James was quiet. "Please believe me," I pleaded with him. James sighed.

"How short is short?" he asked. My heart leaped. Maybe he believed me?

"It's not regulated," I admitted. "I remember somethings from last month, but I don't remember the last time I ate."

"You look hungry," James commented. Then he turned onto a road. "Okay, we're close to my home," he said. James looked at me quickly. "You're my friend from another school. You're parents are going to be gone and you don't want to stay alone at your house." He turned onto another road. Snowflakes were beginning to fall onto the ground. "Can you manage that Spencer?" It took me a moment to remember that I was Spencer. "Any questions?" he asked me.

"Yes," I said. "What city are we in?" James laughed while turning into a driveway, until he realized that I wasn't joking.

"We are in Shakopee, Minnesota," he told me. "Just say that you're from Eden Prairie. People won't hate you at my school, and my parents don't know many people over there." He parked his car in the garage. He turned and looked at me. "And now a question for you" I nodded eagerly. "What is your last name?"

"James," I said breezily. "Spencer James." James' brows rose, but he just nodded.

"Alright Spencer," James said. "Let's go meet my family."

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