Little British Girl...

- Decide where you belong -

In a world split into two zones, north and south live separately. The sole-superpower, America in the north, and every other country lives in the south. Trespassing is punishable by death.
When Elia, a British citizen, wakes up in the northern zone she is forced to trust local cop Daniel to keep her safe. With no memory of how Elia came to the north, and no recollection of why, she and Daniel decide to try and figure it all out. But along the way secrets are uncovered, allies are made, and Elia begins to play dangerous games, with tragic costs.

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29. Chapter 29

“Xander’s rally is being held in phoenix, about 180 miles away from here, and with traffic taken into consideration, it will be at least a three hour drive.” Annabeth briefs us, we’re all gathered down in the computer room, stood around a blank whiteboard, about to scribbled all over. “We’ll want to get there early, so we can choose the best place to stand, somewhere close to the entrance to backstage, so we can run after him once the rally is over and get the two of you to meet. With that and the drive combined, we’re looking at an early get up. It starts at eleven-thirty, so we need to be there at around nine, we won’t be allowed in at that time, but at least we’ll be able to join the queue near the front, which means we need to be on the road by six at the latest, so we’ll need to up and on at five am, preparing to set off. Get it?” We all nod in mutual understanding, watching carefully as Annabeth finishes writing her notes onto the board. I smile as she does so, seeing Annabeth is full-on business mode brings back memories of the last time I was here. Annabeth may be young, but she’s fierce, and watching her blue eyes dart around as she figures out a plan in her head makes me sort of proud, things are as they should be.

“No matter how early we get there, and how good our position is, the security won’t change. Getting backstage will be near impossible.” Max argues, arising an issue none of us had thought of yet.

“Right, so...we could, um, how about-no, uh…” Annabeth trails off, unable to find a solution. I can see in her eyes that the pressure is getting to her, this isn't exactly a normal mission, I doubt we even have permission to do it, in fact, I doubt Annabeth even asked for permission. I glance to Luci, maybe she’d have a plan? She is very intelligent, and I’m sure she’d love to show off my proposing some big, bold, and amazing idea...but her face is as blank as my own. Then, from the edge of the group, Daniel looks up.

“Daniel, do you have something?” Annabeth encourages him, noticing his expression at the same time I do.

“I think so.” He steps forward slightly, holding out his hand flat for the pen. Annabeth places it in his palm, giving him control of the room. It's a simple gesture, but I can see there's more to in than that which meets the eye. They are, after all, cousins, not just colleagues. From what I knew about their family, Daniel was the shining example of what a person could be, and Annabeth was the opposite, the black sheep...the rebel. It was almost laughable how much that had changed, you could even argue that Daniel is now less favored than Annabeth, I mean, Annabeth never got put on trial. This does not however, been that any rivalry between the two has been vanquished. “Well, do you remember the trial? When Elia stood up at the end and said her name? People know that name now, especially the police. Security at the trial will know who Elia is to, how she’s his daughter, and even if they don’t, Xander certainly will. If Elia makes a scene it will put Xander in a difficult position, and he’ll have to remove her from the event. They can’t just throw her out, then she could just go and do anything she wanted. They’ll have to take her backstage, where-”

“Where she’ll meet her father.” Luci finishes for him, catching on to his idea. “I have to say, it ain’t a bad idea, I might even have it in me to call you clever.”

“Thank you.” Daniel grins, knowing it’s the closest thing to a compliment he’ll ever get from Luci.

“I agree.” Annabeth pipes up, “They won’t be expecting something like that either, it will take them completely by surprise.”

“There is one problem,” Max finds yet another issue, “We won’t be able to go with her.”

“That’s okay.” I blurt out quickly, remembering my father’s promise. If they come too he might take his anger out on them, it would be safer for them to steer clear anyway. “I, um, think I should be, uh, alone with him, it would be better that way.” They all look at me as if I’ve just grown a snout, but luckily they all seem to have bought it. Annabeth turns her attention back to the board, finishing up the notes, and drawing everyone’s eyes off me.

“Right, well then I suppose that’s it, that’s our plan.” Annabeth steps back to examine our work.

“The trials on Sunday, we have three days.” Daniel adds on.

“Three days until I meet my dad…” I find myself saying my thought out loud without meaning to.

“You okay?” Daniel checks, concern creeping into his tone.  

“Yeah, I just...think I’ll go make myself a cup of tea.” I quickly think up an excuse, rushing out the door and up the stairs before any more questions can be asked. Why am I acting like this? Why do I suddenly feel so nervous and overwhelmed? Xander Moore isn’t my father, not really, so why do I suddenly feel all these emotions linked to him being so? Why do I care how Sunday pans out? It’s more than just anxiety over what will happen to my friends, I actually care about what Xander will think of me...and I hate feeling that way. Him and I, we’re north and south, yes and no, fire and ice, we couldn’t be more different if we tried, but it feels like there’s a part of me unwilling to accept that. I want that part gone.

“...Elia? Elia the kettle's boiled.” Max comes up behind me, drawing me apart from my thoughts.

“Oh, um, thank you.” I fumble around, clumsily pouring the hot water into my mug, causing a small splash to rise up and collide with my hand. I quickly put the kettle down and rush to the sink, drenching it in cold water as it stings and stings my skin. “I’m fine,” I assure Max, “It’s just a small burn.”

“It may be a small burn but you’re certainly not fine.” He shakes his head, pulling out to chairs so we can sit down together. I reluctantly take a seat, knowing there is no good way to get out of this. “What’s going on with you?” He gets to the point, looking me dead in the eye.

“Nothing,” I give a small, light laugh, “I’m fine, why wouldn’t I be?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that you’re going to meet your birth father face-to-face for the first time in three days.” Max rolls his eyes, not convinced by my careless act.

“Why should I care about that? Xander is no father to me. He doesn’t care about me, and I don’t care about him. Simple.” I half-lie, trying to seem firm.

“He’s still you dad, that has to mean something to you. I’d be more surprised if it didn’t than if it did.” He shakes his head, seeing right through me. I sigh, giving in. Unable to stop myself, I bury my head in my hands, feeling my fingers dampen with my cool tears and my palms heat up from my red cheeks. I let it all out, feeling Max’s hand against my back as he tries to comfort me. Once done, I look up drying my eyes with a flimsy piece of kitchen roll so that shreds of the paper stick to my face.

“Why do I feel like this?” I ask him, even though a part of me knows only I can answer the question correctly.

“I guess it’s because he’s your parent.” Max shrugs, “Parents are weird like that. You can be polar opposites, and yet, you still want to impress them. You seek their acceptance like it’s the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  You know you’ll never truly have it, but your innocent mind wants to you try anyway.” Something lingers in his tone that intrigues me, his understanding of what I’m going through seems to be too good to be true. Then I remember what Zacharia told me back in the south, about Beverly being Max’s mother, and how he did something she still hasn’t forgiven him for. Without really thinking, I let a rather insensitive question blurt out of my mouth.

“What happened between you and Beverly?” I cover my mouth as soon as I realise what I’ve said, I worded that all wrong, and Max still doesn’t know that Zacharia told me about his true parenthood. “Sorry, I just-uh...Zacharia told me.” I wince, judging his expression, he doesn’t seem mad...just a little, I don’t know, down? His face has sunk.

“I told you the first time you were here that I stormed a meeting without permission, and got arrested. I just left out the key details. For instance, the meeting was between the president and his most pristeem advisors, including Xander Moore.” Max tells me, opening up at last.

“You said the meeting was local…” I recall, confusion clouding my mind.

“Technically, it was. It was important though, very important.” Max looks down at the floor, “Obviously the security there was unbeatable, but I was so young and confident, and eager to prove myself to my mother...I tried, I even got a few mates to tag along with me. We were arrested, but played dumb. We claimed to have done it under the influence of alcohol, and my mum bailed us all out. Then she sent us all away from the head office in Washington, including me. The only time we’ve spoken since is through a screen during a meeting of some sort.”

“Max, I’m so sorry- I had no clue…”

“It’s cool, it was so long ago that it feels like a memory now.” Max manages to give me a smile, “But even after she turned her back on me, even though I know she’ll never truly forget what I did that day, and even though I know deep down that I haven’t finished learning from my mistakes...I still try to impress her. She’s my mum, and just how you want Xander to accept you, I want to make her proud.” Now it is Max’s turn to cry. I rest my finger against his cheek, collecting one tiny tear as it rolls down onto my fingertip, and wiping it away.

“After we go to that rally, and I get under Xander’s skin, she’d have to be an idiot not to be proud.” I encourage him.

“And Xander would have to be an ignorant fool not to accept you for the wonderful person you are.” Max grins back at me. I can't believe I'm thinking this, but just for a moment, I feel like I have finally found my home.

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