Lost Stars

“If you want to know, you might wanna sit down then.”
I didn’t question.
Once seated on the couch, he opened his mouth, “I murdered a man.”
I choked.

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6. CHAPTER 6

Diana’s

 

Connor Maze doesn’t exist.

The guy who framed Harry did not even exist.

Where is this even headed?

As soon as the morning light lit up the room, I woke up. “Good morning,” Harry cried from the other side of the bed. He smiled.

I was already out of bed, showered and dressed. “Morning!”

He cringed and sat up. “Where are you going? Isn’t it really early?”

I looked at the clock. 7 o’clock. “It is, actually. But it’s really urgent.”

He got out of bed, his pajama hanging on loosely on his waist. He rubbed his eyes and asked, “What about breakfast? I wanted us to have a proper meal together…”

I smiled. “We will, at lunch maybe. I’ll be here.”

He smirked. “Better be.”

 

 

“I can explain.” Felix cried.

I sat down.

Felix started. “So when you asked me to dig up on Connor, I started off with his face. It was in a couple of places but only in the present times, with Harry mainly. But I wanted the past. So I dug up police records, social security, bank accounts, family line… nothing came up. I found the normal shit like passport information, job, credit card number and all that… but everything after the year 2011. Not a spot before it.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You sure?”

Felix narrowed his eyes. “I bet Obama’s life on it.”

I shook my head. “This is crazy! You’re saying like that man was suddenly born outta thin air!”

He whispered. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was…”

I dropped my shoulders, and rubbed my face in defeat. What even-

“But, now it got me thinking… see, I’m quite excellent in what I do. A genius, really. So if there were even a speck of him before 2011, I would have found it by now. But I didn’t. So that means, either that man was really born outta thin air. Or… he has a lot to hide.”

I liked the latter.

Felix added, “And when someone has so much to hide, one tends to start fresh. Bury the past-”

“To build a present. Exactly.” I was baffled by my own words.

He rubbed his chin. “And the best way to start all over again is to get a new identity. A new name-”

I added, “A new face.”

I sighed. It finally hit me. I spoke, “So we are looking at the wrong man.”

Felix shook his head. “No, we are looking at the right man, but the wrong identity.” He explained. “Connor is the new identity of the man we want. From the apple, the tree is near. We just need to find out the old Connor.”

I stood up. “Then do it!”

Felix shrugged. “Well, you see. I can hit up his face in almost all centers of plastic surgery in the places Connor has ever been to, but there is a thing called doctor-patient privileges. The files are kept really confidential. They put up really tough firewalls for us hackers. So it’s going to be hard. It will take some time. So I’ll ring you up if I grab something.”

I nodded.

Suddenly, a new thought hit me. “Listen, I need you to access the LAPD database. Can you do that?”

Felix smirked. “Do that? I can play BINGO in there.”

I knew I had the right guy. “Great. You need to access the evidences of the Harry Styles versus Connor Maze case.” I paused, hunting my memory. “There was a gun involved. Can you find out who bought it?”

He winked. “Can? I can even make pigs fly, my lady.”

 

Back in the hotel, Harry was waiting for me with some news.

I smiled at him. “Enlighten me.”

“Well, it’s nothing really exciting. It’s just that I have a house here in LA. I was staying here till the place was all cleaned up and sorted. I just got a ring from the cleaners that it’s perfectly ready. So, I’ll be leaving the hotel to stay there. And since you have to stay with me, you just have to tag along. Unless you don’t-”

I grinned. “You kidding me? I would love to!”

He smiled.

 

 

“Mi casa es su casa,” Harry spoke.

It all started with a depressing goodbye to the lads. Niall said, “When I first saw you with the Derby hoodie, I knew we were gonna be delicious pair.”

I laughed.  

It took a gentle drive through the city to Beverly Hills, with both of us mainly riding on excitement, when we finally arrived at Harry’s home. Well, more like a massive castle.

I couldn’t even speak. “This. Is. Unreal.”

What stood before me was a massive palace, prettier than any other structure made of bricks and cement I had ever seen. Ever. It was the most beautiful house in existence. It was so incontestably majestic that if I had a house like this, I would kiss the floors everyday.

Harry and I carried our stuff into the house/castle. But I had the surplus luggage to carry my mouth along, ‘coz it kept dropping.

Once inside, Harry asked, “I don’t wanna seem like a show-off but,” he looked down at his feet and added, “do you want me to show you around?”

I laughed. “Big houses come with big responsibilities, I guess.”

He smiled, showing all his teeth. He took my hand and said, “C’mon then!”

 

To begin with, my mind was blown. We began with the garden outside, with flowers blooming so bright, as if they were trying to match with the sun itself. Beside it, was the pool. Inside, there were numerous rooms, each more exquisite than the previous. Heading upstairs were the bedrooms. And further up were more bedrooms and a wicked terrace with a heart-stopping view of the city.

In the end, we headed to the swimming pool outside. Beauty of the blue. We dipped our legs in there for sometime, with a serene little conversation. “It must be so nice for you, Harry. It a breathtaking house you have.”

He frowned a little. “Yeah, it beautiful. I just bought it to stay here. And with a profile like mine, I wasn’t allowed to buy that 80 grand roadside home the lady in the coffee shop owned.”

I was astounded. “Really? You wouldn’t mind living in a cheap place?”

He looked me in the eye, as if trying to sneak into my soul. “You really think I am that kind of a guy? Who just runs after expensive stuff, throws around money in the air, drives about like he owns the streets?”

The line had been crossed. I apologized, “No… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I just- you know, once you have a life like this, I assumed everything changes. Your choices, your likes, you clothing sense, everything.”

He shrugged, looking into the water. “If you want to, it does. But not me. Or the lads. We’re still the same trashy little idiots, no matter what people think.” He lifted up his had, looking at the front door. “And I know it’s a beautiful house, but that’s just about it. A house. It’s not…”

I completed him, “Home.”

He whispered mildly, “Indeed.”

 

Lunch was a Chinese take-out. To much of my shock, it was all for free. All the deliveryman needed was a picture of Harry with him.

And they blame them that the rich keep getting richer…

It wasn’t until after lunch did Harry and I had the time to head to head to our rooms.

Rooms… the plural kind of stung, somehow.

After clearing out the dishes, Harry spoke, “So, I guess we should head for our rooms, get settled in and all that.”

There was a question in his tone.

I nodded. “Yeah sure."

"There are five bedrooms here, so pick whichever you want.”

I fidgeted. “Which one are you picking?”

I wanted him to choose first. He spoke, “The left one on the first floor, maybe. You?”

“The right one on the first floor,” I smiled. Shamelessly, I picked the adjacent room.

What the hell is wrong with you, Diana?

But he simply gave a smirk. “Alright alright alright!”

 

The rest of the day disappeared in a blur. I dug myself in the paperwork of the case, while Harry lay five feet and a wall away. The silence was like a curse. Should I go to his room and talk? Will that be awkward? I wish I knew better. 

When I had told Harry that I’d be working on the case, I hadn’t really disclosed to him how clueless I’d be. I was as pale as a 6-year-old kid would be if he was given to do trigonometry.

And please, DO NOT give up on him, Diana. Please.

For the last time, I promised to myself: I won’t, Anne. I won’t.

Knock knock!

There could only be one person at the door. “Who’s there?” I asked playfully.

He answered. “Boo.”

I played along. “Boo who?”

He spoke, opening the door. “Don't cry! It's only a knock-knock joke.” 

We both laughed. He said, “I know it was pretty lame. You won’t believe it, but it’s the best knock- knock joke I have said in decades!”

I smiled, and suddenly, I eyed the massive the packets Harry held in his hand. A rough patch from underneath his hand said ‘Chanel’. I believed whatever the packages held were more expensive than my entire existence.

He followed my gaze, and hid the packets behind his back. He sat down on the bed beside me and asked, “So, how is the case going?”

I gulped. “Umm… good enough, I guess.” I looked at him, his eyes hoping for some honesty. I added, “Ok fine. It’s going worse than I had imagined. If you promise me you won’t lose your shit, I’ll tell you.”

He looked at me, nervously. “Ok hit me.”

I breathed in deeply. “Ok. I did a massive search, and Connor Maze doesn’t exist. At least not till 2011…”

He lost his shit. He jumped up and cried, “WHAT?! How can this be!”

He didn’t want an answer. He wanted hope.

“Harry, I’m trying to catch hold of something. I know it seems hopeless, but just hold on. Please.” I was already standing up, clutching his shoulders.

He shook his head in refusal. “I just can’t…” In a blink, he was down laughing. “You know, I can actually see myself in jail, rocking that orange jumpsuit, breathing in the smell of pee-”

I cupped his face, even though it was too high for me. “Harry, I am not giving up. Not now. Not ever. You shouldn’t either.”

He put his hands on mine and brought them down. He gave them a little press and asked, “Why? Why are you even doing all this? You don’t even know me… then why?”

I knew he would ask this eventually. I motioned him to sit down, and so did I. I spoke, “My mum died when I was young. Like, young as in the age when your brain can’t even remember who your mum is. Then my dad died later when I was about 5, and I was put in foster care. Since then, I spent my school life along with three different families. Then, some stupid government scheme said that if a foster family provided for the child’s university and tuitions and stuff, the government would pay them twice as much. So I went to law school, passed out, thrown out. Of home, of course. I’ve been homeless ever since.” 

I was staring at the sofa in front of me. But gradually, my vision was getting blurry. Wetness filled my hand on my lap, and I realized my tears were falling on it. “No job, no money, no home, no food. But after about six months or so, your mum Anne finds me under some bridge. She took me home, brushed me clean, made me spent a day or two with her. She supported some charity, so she put in a good word for me and I got a small job there. I couldn’t stay in her home forever, so when I wished to leave, she bought me a small single-bedroom flat and insisted to pay the rent for a year, if I promised to keep working hard.”

Harry’s hand came up to my cheeks, wiping my tears with a single stride of his big fingers. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” he spoke. He opened his arms, and pulled me in. He held me tightly, the jasmine soap smell of his skin pacifying me. I was a puddle of tears and mess, but our squished up encirclement made it feel like it was really okay. For once, it was all okay.

“Well, in case you’re interested, I have a gift for you,” Harry spoke after some time, trying to lift up the mood.

I sat straight and smiled. “I don’t have one for you though…”

He held my shoulder. “You trying to work out my case is a gift enough for me.” He moved his hands to his back, brought those Chanel packets up front, and said, “Here you go!”

I smiled, working out my way to see the contents of the packets. Inside one, were two full sets of office type dresses, for me. One was black, the other being a dark shade of peacock blue. The other packet held two pairs of stilettos. I looked up at him. “Harry…”

He bit his lip. “I guessed from your clothes that you might not have enough to dress up to the court-level for my trial. So I bought them… just in case.”

I smiled up wide. “Thank you. They are really beautiful. Thanks a lot.”

He shook his head. “No, thank you.”

 

Harry and me had a little conversation where upon I updated him on all that I was working on for the case. There were parts I couldn’t disclose to him, but most of it was an open book. The bottom line was: we had nothing to grip on, for now.

Dinner was home made. Both of us made quite a team and cooked what can be called lasagna, of sorts. We put in ground beef, onions which managed to get burnt, mozzarella, Ricotta, and Parmesan. It tasted quite better than it looked, but the ice cream for dessert was what filled most of our stomachs. After we had dinner, we both parted ways and headed to our rooms. Unknowingly, I didn’t wish to say goodnight. But I’d just be in the next room, so I smiled to that.

Half an hour later, I lay on my bed thinking. Harry’s trial was tomorrow, at noon. I had planned out a witness list, but nothing with solid evidence of sorts. Because there were none. What am I going to do?

My phone rang. Felix.

I begged. “Tell me you have something good.”

“Well, I hope so it is…” he spoke nervously.

“What?”

“I got who Connor was before. Chris Maybell.”

I winced. “Chris who?”

“Exactly.”

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