Nowhere

She is hanging below me, clinging to a loose rope. I reach out. She’s too far away. She is too afraid to let go, and I am too afraid to lean out any further.
She’s helpless.
The rope creaked ominously. I look up instinctively, and in that second I see the rope snap high above us. My head snaps down in an instant. Just quick enough to see her fall.
I hear my own screams mixed in with hers.
“Megan…!”
***

Lauren's friend, Megan, died five years ago and Lauren has never really gottten over it. Finally she decides that it's time for her to face her fears. She goes back to the place Megan died, hoping to find it in herslef to move on. What she doesn't bargin on is what she discovers about her death. What really happened? And what has it got to do with Lauren? All the while she finds herself falling for boy she'd have ben better off running far away from...

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13. Black Cat Suit And Shades

I take a sip of my tea, cradling the warm cup in my hands while surveying the shopping centre over the rim. The cafe we’re in is a small one in the centre of a precinct somewhere in the suburbs of London. I don’t know where exactly; I was too busy fretting over our meeting to pay attention to the street signs.

  As if he can read my mind, Tyler puts his hand over mine. “Stop worrying, it’s just my sister.”

  I move my hand out from under his, occupying my fingers instead by twisting them distractedly around a napkin. “But if she does like me, then she won't help us.”

  Tyler sighs and doesn’t even bother to respond. I don’t blame him, not after having this conversation five times on the drive here.

  I continue my scanning of the crowds; most of the people are either mums with young children and prams looking harassed and already wishing for the end of the summer holidays, or they’re teens, mostly girls around sixteen, casually walking in and out of shops, exclaiming over clothes they know they can’t afford, having already blown their pocket money.

  Without warning my heart lurches, and I have to bite my lip to stop a tear escaping from my now glistening eyes. I should be able to look at those girls and chuckle, remember when that was me; planning outfits I would never wear or buying things just for laugh. But I can’t. I missed all those years. I missed everyone one of those typical teenage moments, just because I was suck inside, friendless and isolated of my own choice, so I could mourn someone that I could never get back.

  I was so, so stupid, I know that now. This should have been me with my friends, laughing and messing around, not forgetting about Megan, just moving on. She would never have wanted to see me like that.

  My depressing thoughts are thankfully interrupted before any tears can spill. Tyler, who, thank God, hadn’t seen my sudden distress, sits up straight, putting down his coffee cup. “Here she is.”

  My head snaps up instantly, searching.

  I don’t know what I was expecting – black cat suit? Shades? Walkie-talkie? – but it’s definitely not the girl walking towards us.

  She’s obviously Tyler’s sister, but their resemblance is subtle; the same features, the same friendly eyes but her hair is darker than his blond, a flower crown perching on top of her long hair, her eyes a deep, dark blue and she is as petite as her brother is muscular, a bit shorter than me.

  As I take in the rest of her appearance, the first word that springs to mind is ‘quirky’; she’s wearing paisley print dungarees over a baggy white t-shit with heavy dark red Doc Martens and so much jewellery adorning her wrists and fingers, I’m surprised she can lift them to wave to us as she approaches. I immediately feel self-conscious; next to Luna I look plain, even in her clothes.

  Still, no cat suit.

  I fidget nervously as she approaches, and when Tyler squeezes my hand under the table, I don’t brush him off.

  Then she’s slid into the chair opposite me, smiling and totally ignoring her brother. “You must be Lauren,” She casts a sly look at Tyler, “You’re just as pretty as he said you were.”

  Instantly I warm to her, untrue I know her statement is - not even a super model would look pretty with the bruise covering my cheek – she still makes me feel more at ease.

  “And you’re Luna, right? It’s nice to meet you too.” I smile, reaching out to shake her hand – that’s what spies to right? – but she skips that formality and reaches across the table to give me a small hug. I guess Luna’s totally destroying the stereotypes.

  “Oh, yeah, completely ignore you brother whom you haven’t seen for month.” Tyler rolls his eyes, but laughs to show he’s joking.

  Luna laughs too, “Ah, you know I missed my little brother, but his new girlfriend is so much more interesting. You know, I work with guys all year round that don’t give a bunny’s arse about shopping. I need to shop with someone!” Luna whines theatrically, but my ace turned a tomato red at the word ‘girlfriend’. I glance at Tyler and from the slightly red tinge to his cheeks, he notice it too. Am I his girlfriend? It’s not really like we talked about it?

  Luna looks between us for a moment, then figures out what she said. “Oh, not made it official yet?” She grins, amused, “Awkward. You really need to sort that out Tyler.”

  He laughs and grins at me slightly nervously, his fingers tightening on my under the table.

  “Anyway, what are you two lovebirds doing here? I don’t appreciate being woken up by your voice in the middle of the night.”

  “I feel so loved,” He laughs.

  Luna hits him not-so-lightly on the arm and I have to stifle a laugh.

  “As much as I hate to say it, we need your help.”

  Luna rolls her eyes. “Some spy you are, coming to your sister for help.”

  Tyler frowns, and suddenly, he’s serious again. I feel disappointed, because for one gleaming moment I saw the boy who messes around with his sister, who’s young and doesn’t have to worry about anything. Now it’s gone, and the normal Tyler’s back. “You know I wouldn’t come to you unless I absolutely have to. I would never have gone to Mum either. But right now, I don’t have much choice.”

  Luna’s face darkens, and I’m reminded that I’m sitting at a table with two government agents. It makes me uncomfortable to know that I’m the vulnerable one that needs protecting; however true it is, I don’t like it. “You went to Mum?”

  A guilty look passes across his face as he looks down at his coffee cup, “It was the first place I thought of.”

  “You should just have kept driving!”

  Tyler shakes his head, “No. Lauren had blacked out and she was loosing too much blood. Besides, I had to get rid of the car.”

  Luna ignores the comment about the car, her eyes flashing to mine. I blush as her blue eyes flicker from the bruise to the makeshift cast around my arm; I feel weak again.

  She fixes her gaze back on Tyler. “Right, you’d better tell me everything.”

 

*

 

    Luna’s apartment is huge. And I mean, gigantic. As soon as we step inside we’re greeted by a huge window, stretching the length of the room giving us a view over the whole of London, the iconic skyline, London Eye, Big Ben, and all – a view I’ve not seen in all my years of living here. Except on postcards. I wonder idly if they took the photos for the postcards up here, because it really does feel like I’m looking a huge picture, not out of a window. It’s surreal. So surreal that I don’t take in the rest of the apartment.

  Instead, I stare fixedly out of the window while Tyler tugs my hand along so we’re following Luna somewhere – I wasn’t exactly paying attention to what Luna was telling Tyler, even though I really should have been. It all sounded too complicated, something about how she’d modified the flat, and put in security systems because of a break in a few weeks ago. As far as I can tell it wasn’t serious. It can’t have been that important that I know about it, because neither of them involved me in the conversation. Which suited me just fine.

  Now we’re finally here, Tyler is visibly more relaxed. Before, however much he tried to hide it, he was constantly tense, like he was just waiting for someone to appear and shatter our makeshift calm. That’s exactly what it feels like now; the calm in the middle of the storm. It’s not going to last, and we all know it.

  We walk into a small room, but in stark contract to the main, open plan room we entered, there’s no window. It feels strange, after all the natural light, to have the room light with an artificial glow. Comforting, but just not the same.

  Luna sees my frown, and raps the wall with her knuckles. “Sound proof. A window would ruin the whole purpose of this room.”

  “Which is?” I ask, even though I think I can take a pretty good guess, considering the room is obviously an office. It’s not a big room, but it has the cosy feel of a living room. The room is a perfect mix of new and old; A modern desk and slick computer on a laminated floor, but although the files stacked on the bookshelves look new, the bookshelves themselves are made of an antique looking wood and dog-eared copied of books stacked between folders. The desk chair is something you’d expect to find in an old Victorian writing room. One wall is covered in an antique wallpaper, with matching cushions on a plain white sofa in the corner.

  She shrugs, “My den, if you like. This is where the spy stuff goes down.”

  I nod like I know what sort of spy stuff she’s taking about.

  She drags her chair around so she can sit by us as Tyler drops himself casually on the sofa and I lower myself more tentatively on the cushions.

  “Right. No more excuses; we’re in a soundproofed proof, so I want to know everything.”

  I glance at Tyler. A silent question passes between us. He must have heard my silent pleas, or maybe it was the look in my eyes, because he turned back to his sister. “We need to access Lauren’s files.”

  I raise my eyebrows, startled by the question. Then I release that he’s right, and it’s probably why we’re here in the first place. The only way we can find out what’s wrong with me, is through whatever the government know. And if they don’t know then I really don’t know what the hell we’re going to do.”

  Luna, however, just laughs, “You know, if you wanted to know her birthday, you could always ask.” Neither of us laughs and I assume she sees our solemn expressions because the laughter dies on her lips. “Explain. Now.”

  With another glance at me, Tyler starts explaining everything; first his story about the agency. He glances briefly at me when he reaches the story with Yasmin, but carries on, knowing I don’t want to repeat it.

  Luna curses in all the right places and promptly examines the wound on my leg, worried it hadn’t been seen by a doctor. “We have to get you checked into the hospital at the base.”

  “Lu...”

  “No. Tyler, I know you don’t trust them, but at the moment, we have to.”

  “Lu, how do we know who’s like Yasmin and who’s not?”

  Luna straightens up, looking at Tyler fiercely. When she speaks, her voice is full of authority, and not just the older-sister kind. “Tyler, you came to me for help, so you will bloody well listen to me.” She pauses, and to his credit, Tyler doesn’t look away, although he flinches slightly. “I know you won't trust any of the government anymore, but you don’t have to. But you have to trust me. I can get you her files. I can get Lauren to the hospital. I can get you a meeting with the head. I can help make some sense of this mess, but you have to trust me.”

  I blink, frozen to the spot. As lovely as Luna is, I think I’ve just discovered why she’s an agent; she’s totally kick-ass.

  Tyler sighs, throwing himself back against the sofa. “Fine, I know. Look, I haven’t slept properly in 48 hours, we don’t know what’s going on, and I’m worried about Mum.”

  “Mum? What’s wrong with Mum?” Luna snaps, her face darkening with worry.

  He shrugs, “She hasn’t called yet. I’m afraid that they’ll look for us there – it’s near to the camp.”

  Luna bites her lip and curses, pulling her phone out of her pocket. I frown, “I thought they didn’t know about where Alic- your mum lives?” I instantly feel stupid for saying it.

  Tyler answers patiently. “As far as we know they don’t know about it, but that doesn’t mean much. They can always find out.”

  “Oh.”

  After tapping a few things on her phone, Luna looks up. “You two look exhausted. You can get some sleep, and I’ll check on Mum. I’ll find your file too.” She adds, looking at me.

  “Thank you.” I sigh.

  Luna takes us back through the apartment, which I notice, through heavy eyes, is the same perfect mixture of modern and antique. Through another door and we enter, well, I suppose it’s a guest room.

  “It’s a double.” Luna smirks, winking at me, before leaving the room and closing the door behind her.

  For some reason, I feel nervous. Sleeping with Tyler? Well, not sleeping with him, but sleeping in the same bed... we’d only just kissed! I’m not completely sure I’m over the Megan thing.

  But, I don’t mention any of this, and I’m far too tired to think about any more. So I collapse onto the bed, face first, not bothering to change or pull the duvet over me. My eyes close as soon as my head hits the pillow, and I hear Tyler chuckle.

  “At least take your jacket off.” He suggest quietly. I grunt in response. In my semi-conscious state I feel his warm hands on my arms as he gentle slips the jacket off – only one arm, because I can’t put the one in a cast through the sleeve - and I shove, involuntarily. Not because I’m cold - it’s still the middle of freakin’ August – but because just his touch gives me Goosebumps. I temporarily ignore my body’s demand for sleep and strain my ears, listening intently to Tyler. In the quiet I can hear Luna playing music somewhere and the faint sound of traffic in the distance. Tyler’s feet barely make a noise on the carpet as he moves around to the other side of the bed. There’s a rustle of material and the bed creaks and sinks as Tyler sits on the edge of the bed.

  I shift my head to the side. I’d be lying if I said it was only to breathe.

  Tyler’s pulling his t-shit over his head at the exact same moment I look at him.

  I can feel my cheeks burn as I try to bury my face in the pillow, but the image of him is etched into my brain - which is no bad thing.

  He laughs quietly and I can’t help but chuckle a bit too, stifling the sound with the material. I can feel the bed dip as he slips into the bed beside me, wrapping one arm around my waist. The warmth of his touch sending mini shock waves over my skin, but I bite my lip to stop myself saying anything I might regret.

  In truth, this new Tyler unnerves me. It’s not that I don’t like his romantic side – I’ve practically been dreaming of this side of him since I met him – but it’s strange not to have him angry at me. I don’t know what to do; I feel like I’m lost. Sure, I didn’t like his hot-cold attitude, and I was never totally certain where I stood, but now... now I think the situation has reversed. My old feelings are still there, but mingled with the new ones, tainted by Megan and his previous mission to kill me. It just leaves me so confused.

  And with everything else going on, I really don’t to feel confused about Tyler as well. I want – no, need - to know where I stand with him, at least.

  After a moment of silence, I whisper into the darkness. “Tyler?”

  “Lauren?”

  Because it’s dark, and I know he can’t see me, I let the grin spread across my face when he says my name.

  “Am I your girlfriend?”

  He chuckles and his breath tickles my ear as he tightens his arm around my waist, pressing my back against his chest. “I don’t know. Am I your boyfriend?”

  I try to shrug, but lying on my side, I can’t manage it, so I let out a breath. “I don’t know.”

  After a pause, in which I’m sure he can feel my heart beating frantically in my chest, he says, in a voice so low, I quiver, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

  “Yes.” My reply is more like a quiet breath in the night; so quiet I’m surprised he hears it.

  “Well then, what are we going to do about that?”

  I stay silent, not trusting myself to come up with a coherent answer. The silence seems to stretch forever, and I’m almost certain he’s fallen asleep, when his low voice answers his own question, sending shivers down my spine, “Will you be my girlfriend, Lauren?”

   I take a deep breath and find the air full with his smell of pine tree, making me think of the woods again, where I long to be. Maybe this isn’t the time to be getting my first serious boyfriend. Maybe now isn’t right with everything else going on. Maybe I should be more certain of my feelings before I give my answer. But despite all this, I still find myself answering, in a voice barely a whisper, “Yes.”

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