CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT
I open my pack once more, making sure that everything is in it. Dad hovers around me asking random things such as, "First aid kit?" and "Cell phone charger?"
I turn to look at him, "Dad, I have everything."
"Credit cards? Spare money?"
"What about the keys?"
"To my car?"
"No, to mine." He pulls out the keys to his SUV and hands them to me.
"Dad, I can't take your car."
"Baby, as much as you may love your car, I don't want you taking a road trip in it. I'd much rather you take mine."
"Are you sure?"
He take my keys from my hand and loops them around his finger, "I have no qualms in driving a vintage yellow Volkswagen for a while."
"Dad, you don't have to do this. I know you're sorry."
"I want to, Emma."
I smile at him, closing up my pack and turning to head out.
"What about a change of clothes!?"
"Dad! I have everything!"
"And—" But he's cut off before he can continue by the ring of the doorbell.
As I run to the door, I can't help but hope that maybe he's come back. But what I find Janice leaning against the door frame with her keys in hand.
"Jan? How did you...?"
"Your mum called." She says with a smile.
"You're coming with me?"
She rolls her eyes, "Obviously, Ems."
I smile, leaping forward and hugging her to me, "Alright. But..."
I take the keys out of my pocket and wave them in front of her, "We're taking dad's car."
It felt as if it had been forever since I had been by my best friends side. It was almost an instant calm that washed over me as she drove down the familiar road to Niall's house.
"Should we be even checking his house? If you say he's gone don't you think he'd have gone to a place no one would find him?" And then that calm washed away as soon as she spoke.
"Maybe he wants us to find him." I reply, staring straight ahead and counting the moments til we would finally reach his house.
"I think you're giving him a little too much credit."
"Ems, I know you think this is some terribly cliched, romantic coming of age novel you're living in, but to be honest, I think he's just laying low for a while and was planning to return when everything settled down."
"Janice, you do realize that Niall is the cliche of all romantic cliches. You want to figure out where he is? He is most likely where we would never find him."
"Alright, well, if we can't find him...then what's this whole trip for?"
"He has to have left us a clue...."
"A clue?" She says in disbelief, "A bloody clue? Really?"
"Look, I didn't ask you to come along..."
She grumbles, "Fine, we'll stop by his house first. But if we don't find any clues, what's your plan?"
"There will be clues."
"I mean it Jan, there will be clues."
"How do you even know that?"
"He was just waiting til I was ready. That's why he left."
"Ready for what?"
I smile to myself, "Ready to run."
We arrive at Niall's house to find the gate locked and his car gone. Janice simply turns to look at me with a condescending look, "Was this a part of his plan too?"
"Don't start Janice."
"Ems, we can't just spend days on end, hoping he left some clues for us to find him. Be real, Emma. Where do you think he'd have gone?"
I try to think of all the places we went together, all the places that I could ever associate with him. And the only one that seemed to be plausible at the moment was "Ireland."
"Now we're talking." Janice says sticking the key in the ignition and smiling at me.
"We're going to drive all the way to Ireland? On a hunch?"
"We drove here on a hunch." She says sarcastically.
I sigh, before saying, "Can we at least get out of the car and check around the gate?"
"Ems, what could he have possibly left around the gate?"
"Can I please just check?" I whine.
She turns the car off again, "Fine! Go!"
I get out of the car, my legs already shaking nervously. I grab onto the paper plane charm that rests upon my collarbone, hoping it would calm me. Either I know Niall like the palm of my hand, or I truly know nothing about him. He wouldn't have left without knowing that I could find my way back to him when I was ready, would he?
I approach the gate, my eyes looking around the premises before seeing that there was of course the bloody mailbox.
"No way." I whisper to myself, already imagining it.
As I approach it and open the iron box upon the brick wall, I feel a light paper in the slot. I pull it out to see a map of England with Manchester circled and the numbers 218 next to it.
The horn honks loudly as Janice yells, "Let's go."
I jump from the sudden sound, but find myself more shaken by the fact that I had been right.
Our room in the little inn right outside of Manchester.
I walk back to the car, Janice looking at the map in my hands, "No fucking way..." she mutters, lowering her sunglasses and looking at me. I hand her the thin map and she looks at it for a few seconds before turning to look at me, "What should we name it?"
"Your terribly cliched romantic novel."
We both laugh out loud.
"Well little miss." Janice says turning the key in the ignition. "Where are we going?"
"Five hour drive or so?"
She flips her sunglasses on once more before pulling out from the gate, "Let's get to it then."