Claimed *Completed*

"I'm already living on borrowed time. When it comes to it, it will be my time to go."

500 years ago Cathy should have died, but she didn't. She was saved by the Devil.

"I agreed to something ... Something that cant have been important then, it seemed too far away.
I'd agreed, after five hundred years, to hand myself over to the Devil, to become his."

Now her time's up, but back in the city where it all started, things are far from over. Cathy finds out that there is more to the Devil than she ever thought. A new boy, a best friend and a deadly enemy, things are about to get complicated...

"No one's that good or bad, it's not that simple, nothing's that black and white. It's more grey."

*Hi, this is my first Movella, so I'd love some feedback and constructive critsism! Thanks :)

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18. Saturday, 15th January 2012

Saturday, 15th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

  We arrive at Jack’s apartment soaking wet, but I’m still in a state of blissful euphoria, which doesn’t seem like it’s going to wear off anytime soon.

  Jack kissed me. The same thoughts wiz through my head, Jack likes me; he likes me even though he knows what I am. What even am I? Cursed? He knows that I’ll be gone soon, but he still kissed me.

  I follow him into the kitchen, “I think you need a woman’s touch in here.”

  He catches the teasing tone in my voice, “If you find anyone, let me know.” I stick my tongue out at him; he just smiles and says, “You might want a shower, the bathrooms just across the hall, there’s a clean towel on the rail.”

  “Are you trying to say I smell?” I tease.

  “No, I’m saying you might want to get out of your wet clothes.” He has a point; my clothes are clinging uncomfortably to my skin.

  “Thanks,” I lean up and kiss him quickly, but my lips still tingle at his touch. He pulls away slightly and brushes a lock of damp hair out of my eyes. His eyes are so sad. It’s not hard to guess what he’s thinking about.

  “Please, Jack...” Please what? There’s so many things I’d like to say, please don’t leave me, please don’t make me do this on my own, please see it like I do, please see that there is no way out of the inevitable...

  None of this seems to want to make its way out of my mouth, but I know my eyes show him everything I want to say.

  He nods, “Cathy, it’s hard for me,” he backtracks, “Not that it isn’t hard for you too, but it’s like when you were falling, but in slow motion. I know at some point you are going to hit the ground and there is nothing I can do, and when you hit the ground, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s horrible Cathy, I have to just watch and wait for your birthday to come – I’d give anything for your birthday never to come.”

  There is a deep ache in my chest; he’s hurting because of me. I’m hurting him. This is why I stopped myself loving – to avoid this. Everyone I love ends up hurting, and hurting bad.

  Jack reads my mind, “I’d never take this back though. Even a few days are better than nothing. Don’t go blaming yourself for this; I knew what I was letting myself in for, I chose this.”

  I manage a small smile. I wish that, just for a few days, none of this was happening. That Jack and I could be a normal couple. He’s right, about one thing at least; a few days is better than nothing.

   And at the moment – that’s all we’ve got.

 

*

 

  I peel off the layers of wet clothes; soaked right though to my skin. I step under the hot running water and sigh contentedly. I can hear Jack clattering around in the kitchen.

  The water feels so good on my skin, but eventually I shut the shower off. I don’t want to confront the pile of wet clothes on the bathroom floor. The silence that comes in the absence of the shower’s spray is eerie. For a moment I can’t work out why, but then I realise that I can no longer here Jack. I wrap a towel around myself and pad out into the hall, my bare feet making no noise. A door at the end of the corridor stands ajar, so I cross over to it, leaving wet foot prints on the carpet. I don’t know why I’m being so silent or what’s keeping me from calling out to him, but instinct keeps me quiet.

  I peek through the crack in the door and see Jack kneeling down beside a bed. He’s got a briefcase out in front of him and he’s rifling though its contents, stopping at a particular page. He reads the paper quickly, a scowl forming on his face, deepening as he reads further down the page.

  I consider going in and asking him what he’s doing, but, again, instinct keeps me from moving.

  Abruptly, he stuffs that papers back into the briefcase and shoves it under the bed. He walks over to the window and looks out. His hands are folded over his chest and his scowl is still in place, his stance is less than friendly. After a minute or so, he seems to clam down. I decide to show myself now, pretending not to have seen anything, rather than give myself away with a squeaky floorboard or a creaky door. Then I’d have to explain why I was spying on him outside his bedroom. I don’t even know myself; I only know that my instinct isn’t to be messed with. Even if it’s not been up to much at the moment.

  I knock on the door and let myself in, without waiting for an answer. Jack turns and eyes my up and down.

  ‘I haven’t got any dry clothes.” I explain, but it comes out as more of a whine.

  Jack smiles, but his eyes remain sad. He moves over to the wardrobe next to the bed, “Maybe I’ve got something in here that’s too small for me.”

  “Hey! I’m not that much smaller than you.” I try to fold my arms, while still holding up my towel. It doesn’t work so I settle for looking indigent.

  Jack laughs, “Here, try these on.” He throws me a red t-shirt and jeans.

  “Thanks.”

  A few minutes later I’m looking at myself in the mirror over the sink. The jeans are too big for me and keep falling down, but the top fits surprisingly well.

  I find a hair brush and try to tame my coppery hair. I like my hair - it’s about the only feature I like - but what about when I get Claimed? Will I still think the same, or will I have changed so much that even Jack won’t recognise me? Will I become someone else – even something else? Jess made the Damned sound just that - damned. Jess seems to be alright though, but she’s Saved, even if that were the same as becoming Damned, she’s distanced herself from the Saved. I can’t really compare; I don’t know what she was like before she was Claimed, so maybe she’s completely different now.

  Maybe there is a way out of it like everyone seems to think there is, but nobody seems to be able to suggest anything either.

  No, I sigh, I can’t let myself believe that there is a chance. I’ve always known this was coming so I’m prepared. Sort of.

  Who am I kidding? I’m not prepared, never was and never will be, but I’ll face it when it comes to it. Some people might say that’s the cowards way out, but it’s not them that have to face it, and when you’ve lived as long as I have, you live everything day by day. If you see the bigger picture it’ll send you running.

  Resolving to figure something out later, I pull open the door and call, “Bathroom’s free.”

  Jack comes out from the living room and smiles when he sees my borrowed clothes, “Suits you.”

  “Ergh,” I groan, pulling the jeans up again, “Have you got a belt I can borrow?”

  He laughs, “Sure.” He goes into his room, I follow him. He emerges for his wardrobe with a belt. He tosses it to me and I catch it and pull it through the belt loops. “I’m just going for a shower.” I sit on the bed and watch Jack leave. I hear the bathroom door shut.

  The case is sitting under the bed, waiting for me to reach under there and get it. It’s like leaving candy in front of a two year old and telling them they can’t eat it. It doesn’t work, they’ll eat it eventually.

  No, I can’t go routing around through Jack’s stuff. It could be private. That’s a stupid idea – of course it’s private. If I really want to know what’s in there I should just ask him. Hmm... Something tells me that if I asked Jack he wouldn’t tell me the truth.

  I get up and walk slowly around the room, tying to distract myself, but there’s only so much to look at. Out of the corner of my eye I spot something lying on the floor beside Jack’s bedside cabinet.  I bend down to look at it closely. It’s a sheet of paper, hurriedly folded in three. I pick it up and start to open it, when I realise it probably came out of the briefcase when Jack stuffed it back under the bed.  I hesitate a moment before thinking that it isn’t exactly hidden or private, just lying around for anyone to pick up, so it wouldn’t be wrong for me to read it. Would it?

  I unfold the paper.

  There is an official MI6 logo stamped across the top of the page. I scan the rest of the paper; it seems to be some sort of letter. I skip past the information at the top of the page which doesn’t make much sense to me. Mission Parameters... Mission Objective... Agent Details...

  I start to read again;

 

 Agent Holden,

  A brief, last minute reminder of your mission objectives (for full details see your briefing material);

Maintain your alibi; remember it is of the upmost importance that you remain at all times Jack Smith. He will be your life for the next few weeks, as far as you are concerned, Daniel Holden no longer exists. Memorise Jack’s story, know it better than your own. The details of how the set up works is unimportant, all you need to know is that the school have accepted you as if you are a normal student there and know nothing of what is going on. They believe you are often home alone because your dad is away on business. Cathy Jenks; you are there for one purpose and one purpose only, it overrules all other priorities – gather information on the suspect. You have been given her story; get as close to her as you can, but under no circumstances should you arose suspicion. We have no idea what she is capable of, or what scale of operation she is part of. Communications; do not contact MI6 or any other member of the team outside the designated times, unless it is absolutely necessary.

Good luck.

 

Maya Adams

Head of the Department of SNAU, MI6

 

  I re-read the letter again and again, and then I just stare at it blankly, as if the words will change if I look at them long enough. Please don’t say this is what it looks like. It’s a mistake, it has to be. But a mistake with both mine and Jack’s names in it...

  But, Jack isn’t really Jack – according to this he’s called Daniel? So, Jack’s not his real name? He’s been lying to me. And my name – what have I got to do with this? Am I the suspect they’re taking about? No idea what scale of operation I am part of? What are they expecting? The Mafia?

  Actually, I do have connections in the Mafia, but that’s besides the point – there is no way they could know about them, there is no way they could be traced back to me.

  No... No, no, no no-no-no-no.

  Forgetting what I’d said about privacy, I pull out the briefcase and pull it open, not even noticing that Jack forgot to put the lock back on the case. I flip open the lid and the first piece of paper screams at me; Top Secret Government Files MI6.

  I flick though the rest of the papers with a sinking heart. Stacks of paper, letters, briefings, transcripts of telephone calls, photos-

  I stop. There, in the middle of the page is a photo of me.

  I recognise it as my passport photo. I stare at myself, looking out from the page, not realising that this photo would end up in top secret MI6 files. I look scared by the unknown in my new life. I flick through the next few pages; all photos of me: in my car, at school, outside my apartment, in the airport. Underneath all of them are details of the time and place the picture was taken and a caption like;

  ‘Suspect on the way home from Tesco’s on Kenneth Road, Toritos, taking the A898 home to her base of operations (Seventh Floor, 20 Memorage Lane, Toritos) not seen  to be doing anything to arise suspicion.’

  Suspect? Base of operations? Not seen to be doing anything to arise suspicion? Uh-oh.

  At the very back there are photocopies of my driving licence, birth certificate and passport – when did they get these? The copies come with notes on them; ‘No other record of this driving licence’, ‘Where has this driving licence come from?’, ‘The hospital has no record of the birth’, ‘No records before this date.’

  I drop the paper like it’s burnt me.

  This is really, really bad.

  The government are on to me, and I never even knew it. And Jack... oh, god, Jack’s a spy. He was sent to spy on me.

    Everything is falling apart in front of my eyes. All these years I’ve stayed secret. I had connections everywhere, but it didn’t matter because nobody ever suspected me, even if they did they didn’t have the means to find the evidence they needed. But now... with all the technology I would hate to see what they can find out about me.

  My mind reels back round to the same theory it just can’t grasp.

  Jack is a spy. But he’s not even Jack.

  I like him, but who do I like, Jack or Daniel? But it’s the same person?

  It suddenly occurs to me; Jack doesn’t like me. He kissed me to ‘get close to the suspect’. He doesn’t like me, he’s using me.

  No, I can’t believe it - that kiss hadn’t felt like acting.

  Well, of course it wouldn’t, he’s a spy - he’s good at his job.

  Oh god, no. This isn’t happening, it can’t be happening...

  I drop my head into my hands. I’m close to tears.

  I hear the door open. Slowly I look up.

  Jack is standing in the doorway with only a towel around his waist. His face is a picture of shock and his emotions are even more confusing than ever.

  Neither of us moves; we just stare at each other. I look down at all the paper in front of me and my resolve hardens.

  Painfully slowly I stand up. I look at Jack (or is it Daniel? I don‘t even know anymore) and I ask, “What’s your name?”

  “Jack Smith.”

  “Is that your real name?”

  There is a pause, the conflicting emotions clear on his face, then, “No.”

  I close my eyes, “What’s your real name?”

  Another pause, even longer this time, “Daniel Holden.”

  The last shreds of hope shatter. It’s not a mistake; Jack or Daniel, whoever, is spying on me and has told them everything...

  “How could you do that to me?” I say quietly.

  “Cathy, I-”

  My eyes flash open and suddenly I’m angry. “No. No, don’t you say you’re sorry, because you’re not. You used me. You’ve been a spy all this time. You’ve told them everything. I trusted you. You know I trusted you. And this is what you give me in return?”

  Jack tries again, “Cathy, I swear-”

  “I like you, Jack, I do – but are you even Jack anymore? I don’t know who you are. I told you things I’ve never told anyone before, but look at this,” I gesture towards the briefcase, “After everything I’ve told you – you didn’t tell me you were sent here to spy on me. You kissed me to get information out of me - as if you haven’t already taken enough from me!”

  Tears fill my eyes; I can feel the first one making its way out of the corner of my eye.

  Jack looks pained, like I’ve just told him his dad died all over again – but maybe he didn’t even die. How can I believe a word he’s said, when all he says is a lie? “Cathy, it’s not like that, I-”

  “No. No, no, no. You’re not lying to me again! Go and tell your lies to somebody who’ll believe them, because I’m not sticking around to hear your excuses.”

  I stride to the door and push past Jack, not looking him in the eye. He grabs my wrist.

  “I love you, Cathy, please.”

  I freeze at the word ‘love’. I look up at him; I can’t find any trace of doubt on his face. What if, just what if, he meant it...?

  “No.” I snap myself out of it; I’m not being taken in by him again. I give a harsh laugh, “Love? No, it’s just one big lie. There are no lies in love.” I jerk my hand free, but Jack doesn’t resist. He looks like I’ve just cut his heart in two with a blunt kitchen knife.

  I run to the door before I can talk myself out of it, but as I’m about to leave, I look back and see Jack, still standing in the doorway with his towel around his waist. Through the open bedroom door I can still see the briefcase lying open on the bed.

  “Good bye Jack.”

  With that, I slam the door.

 

*

 

  As soon as I close the door of my car, I start crying. I cry and I cry and I don’t stop until I have no more tears left.

  People say that you feel better after crying, letting it all out, but I don’t, I just feel hollow and empty. Crying would be better; at least it’s an emotion, now I just feel drained. I’ve not even got the energy to cry.

  I just sit there a while longer. Eventually I start the engine and head back to my apartment.

  I traipse up the stairs, my feet heavy, and I stop outside my door. If I go in now I’ll have to face Chrissie, Jess and Will, tell them what’s happened. Chrissie knows me too well for me to just shrug it off and Jess can get the gist of it just from my thoughts, so there is no point in lying.

  Maybe I should turn around now and run. I need to get away from here anyway; the governments onto me now too. No matter what Jess says, everyone knows I’m here now, so why stay?

  But where can I run to? Even if nobody could find me, time will always catch up with me, wherever I am.

  Chrissie puts a stop to my idea of running, “Cathy, is that you?”

  I take a deep breath and open the door, “Yeah.” My tone must give something away because Chrissie frowns.

  “What happened?” I look over Chrissie’s shoulder at Jess, she’s frowning too. I can’t see Will.

  “What happened, Cathy?” Jess echoes Chrissie.

  I sit at the kitchen counter and say, slowly, “I was sick of sitting here, so I went to the bridge.” I don’t elaborate, but they seem to understand, maybe Jack told them about why he thought I’d be there. The thought makes me wince. “It started raining, and Jack came. We went back to his apartment... I...”

  How do I put it? How can I explain that the boy I’ve finally learnt to trust was just using me?

  Jess gasps, “Oh god.” I look up at Jess’ shocked face. My thoughts must be projecting loud and clear what my voice won’t.

  Chrissie looks between the two of us, “What? What’s the matter?”

  Jess ignores her, “Are you sure?”

  I nod, “Definitely – I saw the paperwork.”

  “Hello? Anybody listening to me?” Nobody is.

  “What types of paperwork?”

   I shake my head, “Letters, pictures, all sorts.”

  Jess bites her lip, “Shit.” I nod again. I wonder if she can tell from my thoughts how much Jack meant to me, or whether she’s just getting surface things.

  “What? Will somebody please tell me what’s going on?” Chrissie raises her voice so it’s almost a shout.

  Jess turns to face Chrissie, “Well, Cathy found out something,” Jess starts, but looks for me for permission to carry on. I’d prefer her to tell the story than me. If I wasn’t so drained I’d be relieved that I don’t have to relive it.

  ‘What?” Chrissie’s eyes widen, “What did she find?”

  “Some... some papers: MI6 documents, they didn’t exactly show Cathy in a good light. It looks like they’ve started to get suspicious, they don’t know any specifics, but they know enough that they’re worried. That’s why the sent Daniel.” I can tell Jess is being deliberately cryptic.

  “Err... Daniel?”

  I look up from the counter, “Jack. Jack is Daniel.”

  It takes a minute for it to compute and for all the puzzle pieces together and then, “What?! The lying stinking, good for nothing-” Chrissie calls Jack a lot of thing even I don’t think I could call him. Rather than pacing, she storms up and down the room, “Wait until I get hold of him, he won’t last two seconds. I knew there was something strange about him, the first time I saw him I said we should keep clear of him, didn’t I Cathy? Cathy?” She looks over at me and sees my pained expression, “Oh, Cathy, what’s wrong? No, stupid question.”

  Chrissie puts an arm around my shoulder. I’d probably be crying again if I had any tears left.

  “Chrissie, what am I meant to do now? What am I meant to do?”

  “No.” Chrissie takes me my both shoulders and gives me a little shake, “No, however bad things get, and I have to admit, they look pretty bad, you can’t loose hope. Ever. You will find a way out of this.” Her voice softens, “No boy is worth this, because, at the end of the day, he is just another boy.”

  I nod, but I can’t convince myself he’s just a boy. He’s the boy who made me open up, love again, say things I’ve never said...

  I slip out of Chrissie’s grip and cross silently to my bedroom. I leave them sitting in my kitchen, casting worried looks at each other behind my back. I know Chrissie’s just trying to help, but I need some alone time.

  For a minute I just sit on the edge of my bed, replaying everything in my head. I can hear Chrissie and Jess talking in hushed whispers on the other side of the door, but I don’t want to know what they’re saying.

  I look down at myself and realise that I’ve still got my borrowed clothes on. I stare at them for a moment, afraid that if I take them off it really will all be over. It’s stupid, I know. I peel off the t-shirt and jeans and quickly climb into my own clothes.

  Jess arrives outside my door to tell me she’s going home, not long after Chrissie leaves too; I feel a pang of guilt at driving her out with my cold front – she’s only trying to help, and she’s stuck by me all this time. I don’t think this was what Chrissie was expecting when Mr Charleston asked her to show me around. I quickly walk over to the door and tug it open to say sorry, but Chrissie’s already left.

  Poor Chrissie, she deserves better than me. But I know better than to tell her that.

  As soon as I’m alone in my apartment I pick up the borrowed clothes and walk through to the kitchen. I dump the jeans in the bin and I’m about to do the same with the t-shirt, but I hesitate. After what Jack is done to me, putting it in the bin seems too good.

  I close the lid of the bin again and turn away. I open the door to my room. The box is still lying on the desk as it was when I left it, and the chair is lying upturned on the floor. I haven’t been back since...

  No, that is in the past. I have to live in the present.

  I fold up the t-shirt carefully, open one of the desk draws and neatly place it next to the box, which I put back in its rightful place. Looking down at the top, I remember what Jack said to me, just before I left, the look in his eyes. I could have sworn he was telling the truth, you can’t lie about something like that. But he can, I remind myself. He lied to me about everything else.

  I make a decision; Jack is as good as dead to me. So that’s how I’m going to treat him.

  I close the draw with a final clunk. I quickly turn on my heel and march out of the door, slamming it behind me.

  It’s not a nice gesture to leave to t-shirt in there – it’s the opposite.

  That room is my past, now Jack is too.

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