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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26. CONFIDENCE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE - CONFIDENCE

LUCAS

"Maybe our teenage selves are our best selves?" she said looking wistfully at the grass, if one could look wistfully at grass. 

"Have you been drinking?" Lucas retorted, looking at her weirdly, Eva looked relaxed, too relaxed if you asked him. 

They were lying on a patch of grass, a picnic basket next to them, with sandwiches and whiskey on the checked blanket.

“You know yourself that I’ve only had a shot of that whiskey,” Eva laughed as she turned her head to look at him instead of the grass.

“Then you’re a lightweight,” Lucas argued because Eva looked at him with light eyes, like there was no weight on her soul and she was made of feathers instead of bones. “Why would you say such metaphorical things? Teenagers are reckless pieces of shit.”

“You offend your own kind?” Eva said with a hand on her heart, pretending to be dramatic. It was a good look on her Lucas decided. Eva consulted the clouds for a moment then, saying the words off of her chest into the dull blueness of the Edinburgh sky.

She sighed and then began, “When you are a teenager you are reckless yes, but you believe that you have the whole world at your feet. Every city, every person, every day is yours to do with what you will. You control the world, even though everyone tells you that you don’t. That denial from adults gives you rebellion and that rebellion gives you strength. You can do anything and everything when you’re a teenager. When you cross into adulthood that belief starts to fade, the rebellion doesn’t sing as much in your head and you become awfully stingy.”

She smiled to herself, as though she had suddenly figured out the universe.

“I hope to never become an adult Lucas, they’re too boring for me to handle.”

“I’ll make sure that you don’t.”

Maybe it was then that Lucas truly knew what he felt for her, because the girl in front of him was brilliant and there was no other word that could describe her.

She was brilliantly beautiful.

The day of the ransom dawned quicker than expected and it was only the positive memories of Eva that kept the anxiety away just long enough. Farren had arrived in Edinburgh with a tired Kayleigh and a smirk on his lips. He and Lucas barely transferred words, just enough for the team to operate like the well-oiled machine that Left Hand Private Investigators was.

But Farren Bull was good at his job, excellently so, and therefore Lucas trusted him to behave while he was there. Immediately, he swept the Grey family through the right protocols and assured all of their fears in one sweeping gesture.

Then it was the day of the ransom and everyone was in a black stereotypical SUV heading towards a university car park.

Two duffel bags filled with bundles of fifty pound notes lay at their feet and an anxious Mr and Mrs Grey sat in the back seat. Their plan had changed slightly since Farren had arrived. Lucas sat in the front alongside a police officer he didn’t remember the name of, and Farren sat in the back.

It was strange. Definitely strange because Lucas had never seen Mr. Grey anxious, had never even pictured the stoic man to be anything but stoic, but here he was being anxious about a ransom that they had fifty percent under control. Definitely also strange because Farren wore a calming tone in his voice that he had never used once on Lucas, this voice was reserved only for small children and for the severely emotional.

The street lights reflected orange smudges onto the windows and Lucas shrugged off memories. They would get Eva back. They would keep the situation under control. They would do this.

Instead he used Farren’s voice as the anchor to the real world and he never thought that he would ever use Farren as his crutch. But here he was doing exactly that.

“They may already be there,” Farren was saying, “But that doesn’t really affect us since they’ll wait for the 11.30 mark like they said.”

Mrs Grey was nodding like she understood it all. No-one but Farren really knew it before.

Farren nodded towards Mr. Grey, “We will all exit the car, your wife will walk to the front of the car and we will be at the sides. You will be the only one that walks towards the car when they exit. They will exit the car and walk into sight, when they see us they might drive and park close by so they have a quick getaway. If they don't exit the vehicle, you leave the duffel bag and then they'll exit to check it.”

Mr. Grey was nodding like he understood it all.

Mrs Grey looked anxious.

“You will ask for proof that Eva is alright and only when that is shown will you hand over the cash. If they say that they have to have the duffel bag before your offer then you reveal that only half of the money is in your duffel bag and your wife will not come forward with the other half until they do. You’re wearing a bullet proof jacket so you can’t be shot.”

“What if I am stabbed?” Mr. Grey asked, worry engraving itself into the lines of his face. His wife gasped at the words and her hand grabbed onto her husband’s arm in desperation. She couldn’t lose her husband after losing her daughter. That just wasn’t a possibility and she had entrusted Lucas with both her daughters and her husband’s life.

“The Kevlar will protect you against any edged and sharp weapon, we can thank the police for their generous donation.” Farren smirked, nodding to the police officer in the front.

The team had enough Kevlar for themselves but their paychecks did not warrant getting Kevlar vests for every one of their clients during hostage and ransom situations.

“I’m also trained in first aid, so if anything does happen to occur, everyone will be fine,” Lucas chimed in from the front, catching Mrs. Grey’s eyes to assure her that he was worthy of having her families lives in his hands. He was capable and this would go smoothly, even if Lucas had to go to hell for it. “Plus we all have police issued guns, everyone will be perfectly safe.”

Ever since the high spike in terrorist attacks from London and beyond the public of Britain voted for all police to have guns to keep their cities safe. Terrorists wouldn’t win with a bullet lodged in their skin and they couldn’t win the war on terror. Instead the public had voted for the government to pose a war of terror against the terrorists and Lucas didn’t blame them for it.

He gave a wan smile through the mirror. This would go fine.

He trusted himself and Farren enough for this to go fine.

The first hostage situation that Lucas ever saw Farren in was his fifth case at the private investigators. They were looking for a missing teenager who had ran off with her boyfriend. They found them driving through the country roads, supplied with enough booze and cash to last them for a long while. The boyfriend had stolen the cash in a heist with his friends, and he and his girlfriend were living the high life with the rewards. That’s how they caught them. But when they were pulled over by Lucas and Farren the boyfriend pulled out a knife and positioned it at his girlfriend’s neck.

He needed that cash and nothing was coming in between him and it.

“I’ll slit her throat right here, right now,” the boy threatened, barely in his twenties with steel hard determination in his bones.

“I don’t doubt that lad,” Farren had said trying to be calm with his palms outstretched. The pair of them didn’t have guns, or weapons to defend themselves with, only a pair of cuffs and their fists.

Lucas was slowly melting on the inside with raw panic. It would take nothing for that boy to throw that knife at them. He didn’t want to deal with himself or Farren bleeding, no matter how much he and Farren didn’t get along.

“But if you kill her and get in that car, a murder charge will be on your head. Even if you do get away there will be a warrant out for your arrest. Any police officer that sees your face in any town, in any country, will know to arrest you. You will not be able to run forever, spending every day looking over your shoulder, running to avoid arrest.”

Farren was as calm as a songbird, calm and collected. At least that was what it looked like from Lucas’s point of view.

“Lad you don’t really want to kill her, you love her, I know because you have a padlock with your names on locked onto a bridge. Look at her Harry, she’s trembling under your fists, she’s terrified of you, do you really want Sarah to have her last moments terrified of the man she loves, knowing that you never really loved her because you were willing to kill her?”

“I do love her,” Harry was adamant and his voice did not shake with a lie.

“Then let her go, you do not want her blood on your hands do you? When you slit her throat the blood will coat your hands, they will stain them and every time you look at yourself you will know that you killed the woman you claim to love. Harry let her go.”

In paragraphs and sentences Farren persuaded Harry to let his girlfriend go who dropped to the ground and crawled away as soon as the knife was lifted. Harry ran, an apology thrown over his shoulder.

Lucas did what he did best, he became heroically reckless with a strategic edge and he ran after the boy, tackling him before he could get into the car.

He and Farren didn’t get along and maybe they never would but Lucas didn’t doubt that the older man was good at his job, good enough to save lives.

Later when he asked how Farren had done it, while remaining calm, the answer was quite simple: Farren was terrified but he never let it show, PTSD didn’t allow that to happen, and he only played on the boys empathy because even criminals had some shard of empathy.

Lucas came back to himself in smears of streetlights and glossy roads. The police officer turned into the car park of Edinburgh Napier University, the bays empty except for a few cars, one of which flared its headlights as their car entered.

This had to go well. This had to go well.

They stopped in an empty bay, turning their headlights off in resolution.

The other car drove closer to them, stopping half way between a streetlight and their car. Their headlights turned off.

This had to go well. They had to be fine.

“We will be right behind you,” Farren whispered into the darkness of the car, “Be confident and think of your daughter, think of her coming back to you and God will light the way to safety.”

Farren was a man of assurances and confidence.

He had to be after everything he had been through.

“We can do this,” Mrs. Grey whispered taking a duffel bag from the floor, “We do this for Eva.”

She opened her door and there was no going back from there. “We do this for Eva,” Mr. Grey said and took his own duffel bag and together as a team plus a police man they exited the car.

From his periphery Lucas could see that three people exited the other car, all males. That left a potential two others in the car, waiting to see that everything went according to plan. That was two unknowns that they had to factor into their plans. 

They stopped under the glare of the streetlight. They all wore black hoods and were stood in a triangular formation, one of them more at the front compared to the other two.

“Remember,” Farren was saying to Mr Grey, “Walk up to them, stand just outside the circle of light the streetlight provides, about ten paces away from them. You will do a good job, you will guarantee your daughter’s safety.” The words were whispered and Mr Grey nodded, shy confidence rattled around in his skull.

He had to do this for Eva.

Mr Grey started to walk out into the darkness.

Lucas put his hand on the gun around his waist. He would use it if he had to. He had shot someone before, he hadn’t liked it, but he would do it again if he had to.

 

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