Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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10. BETTY

 

CHAPTER NINE - BETTY

LUCAS

The river’s edge was tantalising in the cool light of morning. Lucas had come to gaze at the river from the other side, saying goodbye to Newcastle for just a few moments.

Seagulls clattered overhead filling the early morning with sounds unpleasant yet fitting. He was leaned against the railings, his eyes on the brown blue water and his ears filled with sounds of birds, the footsteps of runners and the bells of bikers.

It was a Sunday, the market was on over in Newcastle but he wouldn’t be going to that. A suitcase was by his side, and it wouldn’t be long before he would walk to the train station to get the train to Edinburgh. He would meet his team at Central Station but for now the morning was his to view alone.

He hoped that Eva was okay although he knew that wasn’t the realistic option.

He sighed, bought a coffee to go from the café just a few paces behind him, and made his way back to Newcastle, with bridges and his thoughts of heroics as company.

In an ideal world, Eva’s parents would welcome him in with open arms and beg him to save their daughter, the Crime Ring would be easy to track and Eva would be back in his arms for the first time in a decade by the end of the two weeks.

But he was surely delusional.

Because that was not what was going to happen. Luck wasn’t on his side enough for that to happen.

His team looked skittish while they were in the train station, sitting in those metal waiting chairs with coffee in hand and suitcases at their feet.

Edward was glued to his phone, speaking to his girlfriend through the receiver. James was sitting with two coffees by his side, one on each knee, and his hands were around each of them to force the heat into his hands. Shawna was on her phone, rapidly typing something out that Lucas didn’t even bother to decipher.

“Hi Boss,” she muttered as he grew closer to the group, “Train is due in six minutes.”

How she knew that without even looking at the red watch on her wrist, or flicking her eyes up to the clock part of her phone, astounded him. He didn’t ask.

“You were nearly late Boss,” Edward carried on as he finally got off the phone with his girlfriend.

“I would never be late,” Lucas retorted and sorted out the train ticket from his pocket just to give his hands something to do. Taking a leaf out of his book his team stood and made their way to the tracks of platform four.

James looked still half asleep, draining one coffee before even boarding the train. Lucas couldn’t relate to him since he had hardly slept since he found out that Eva was missing. It just wasn’t a possibility. If he did sleep he dreamed. If he didn’t sleep he could work on finding her.

The train arrived and as it ran past him, the carriages becoming a red blur as they passed, he realised how tired he actually was. But he couldn’t dwell on it. Now was the time to get to Edinburgh and find her. There was no doubt that he was coming home until he knew where she was, even if that location wasn’t necessarily where he was.

It was the day they were leaving for their road trip. Lucas had been able to drive for nearly a year now and he; his silver car, which he had nicknamed Betty, went to pick Eva up.

She was sat outside on the stoop of her front door, her pink dotted suitcase beside her and a scowl on her lips. She was dressed in a tank top and long overalls, a cardigan over that just to fight off the British chill despite the fact it was June. He honked the horn at her and she shook herself from her stupor with a violent jolt. The scowl disappeared and she hurried herself to plonk the suitcase in the boot and scramble into the passenger seat.

“You know if you keep scowling your face will stay that way.” He quipped as he shot a glance at her, reversing out of her driveway.

And wouldn’t my mother like that,” Eva huffed, pulling the visor down to apply some chapstick to her lips.

“What she done now?” Lucas kept his eyes on the road.

“Everything. She obviously doesn’t agree with us going on this road trip, so I applied the going off to uni in September card and that we’d be back for results day in August. She objected to me spending one and a half months with you.”

“Because I’m such a bad boy,” Lucas said seriously.

“Yeah you are,” Eva stuck her feet up on the dash, her beat up red converses clean and yet Lucas still put up a fuss.

“Get your feet off of Betty,” his words were said with indignation and yet Eva just looked at him with sarcasm in her eyes.

“Betty loves me,” she gasped dramatically and pulled out a list from the front pocket of her overalls.

“What’s on the agenda first?” Lucas asked looking at her again.

“Head to Haydon Bridge in Hexham and then go along the A686 to Penrith.” She answered and that was the only item on the list. Most of the list for their road trip had been generated from either a magazine ranking the top drives in England, to personal experience to personal bucket lists.

To Penrith because that was where Eva’s Uncle's House was and they were renting it out for their road trip, they would only be in it for perhaps a week or two at most but Eva had always wanted to visit her wacky Uncle's house. He had only put it up for rent for touristy holiday goers and for the extra money, and plus it used to belong to his ex-wife so he didn’t want to live in it anymore.

From Penrith it would be to Blackpool. Blackpool to Manchester. Manchester to the Peak District. The Peak District to Alnwick. Alnwick to Edinburgh. Edinburgh to the Lake District. Lake District back to Penrith. Penrith back to Newcastle.

Seven destinations.

Living in the fast lane for a month and a half.

Lucas indicated onto the A1 and they were away with Eva’s feet still on the dashboard and a book on her lap. The radio was playing some Indie band and the windows were down as the day warmed up.

Technically the ride from Haydon Bridge to Penrith was called travelling along the ‘roof of England’. The two hour drive was full of music and conversations where Eva would loll her head to face Lucas so she would talk with him.

They talked about books and school and university and never leaving each other.

They nearly ran into a sheep but it moved just in time. Panic was evaded.

Lucas navigated a road that looked like it was a crumpled strip of paper, the steep turns testing his premature driving knowledge to the fullest. Even Eva joked that her mother must have been nervous that Lucas would murder her with his driving skills.

The scenery rolled past them in dramatic whirls and curves with fences and yellow and green scenery. Eva’s phone was filled with photographs of shifting clouds and grasses, sheep in fields, and motorcyclists in cool helmets and leather jackets with wings on the backs.

They arrived at her Uncle’s house which looked semi-grand and white. Lucas stretched his legs for the first time in hours as he watched Eva jiggle the keys in the lock of the front door.

“Welcome to freedom Luc,” Eva grinned and let Lucas get their luggage as they made their way into their first house where they were all on their own.

The rolling scenery from the train window reminded Lucas of all of this and it only motivated him to find Eva. Earphones were in his ears, another Indie band serenading his motivation and in the reflection of the glass he could see his team burrowed in books or phones or in sleep, because James was one tired individual. The in train table would be host to card games between Edward and Shawna when the journey shifted into the second half. But for now a quiet atmosphere had come over his team and he let himself slip into day dreams, the face of a teenaged Eva making his thoughts trip and assume perfect balance in the space of a minute.

 

EDWARD

He was worried about his boss. The whole team was because their boss was unravelling right in front of their eyes. Eva had torn him apart from the usual composure and put him back together in jumbled pieces.

Hopefully going to Edinburgh would be the closure that Lucas needed to be normal again.

Edward spent his time gazing at his boss in concerned ways every chapter or so of his book. Lucas looked in a daze just like he had been since he had first found out about Eva. The days before the train journey he had been spending a lot of time by the river or by his computer, searching for more leads. He was ratty, snapping at the team more than he had ever done before.

He was nearly the opposite of the man who had approached Edward at a convention.

Edward had loved computers since before he could walk. He was brought up in a digital age, where everything was evolving and changing and improving. His first job was at a Curry’s at his local shopping centre and he spent the next two years in between talking to customers about the latest tech and taking the latest tech home so that he could test it.

He knew that he wanted to work for the police when that same Curry’s was burgled a month before Edward left it. The police were helpful, aiding them in navigating their worlds now that criminals had traumatised them. From that point on he knew that he wanted to help the police track criminals down using the World Wide Web and the technology that he had on hand.

But life didn’t necessarily work out that way, he had been rejected from a program and had went back to college, where he had met his girlfriend Cheryl. He was then twenty and re-evaluating his life choices in a Starbucks joint, muttering about damn police and how nothing was working out. Lucas had sidled up to his table, a hot chocolate in hand as he mentioned that he was the recent leader of a Private Investigators and would he be interested in working on the technology side of it?

Edward had stammered knowing that Lucas hadn’t even known his name at that point. That hadn’t mattered to Lucas, instead he gave him a business card and told him to contact the number about possible interviews if he wanted to. He got an agreement out of Edward that he would think about it and he was on his way.

So Edward first learned Lucas’s name from a to-go Starbucks hot chocolate and then from a shiny new business card proclaiming the revitalised Left Hand Private Investigators. Edward had talked it over with Cheryl and by the week's end he was a nervous wreck while looking at a building that didn’t have the new name on it yet, and wondering whether this was the best decision for him.

In hindsight it was the best decision he had made because he knew where his life was going. He knew that he would rather stay with the team until he died rather than wander around lost wondering what he would do.

Cheryl may not have been happy about him going to Scotland on a less than there lead but he was doing it for Lucas. If Lucas could save his life once, and then more than once in the field when he passed his training, then the least he could do was save the man’s life. If that meant going to Edinburgh to find a girl that may already be dead, then so be it. 

 

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