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The Problems with Orlando
The second I saw the car, I knew I was in trouble. It was red, Toyota, and following me. I was on the bus, trying to stay inconspicuous, which is kind of hard when you look like a fugitive.
Oh, wait. I forgot, I am one. Har, har, har.
Really, these guys would not give me a break. They had been following me since Paris, even when I thought I lost them in the airport. I had tried to get the big ugly one locked up in a supply closet, but obviously that didn’t work.
I was on my third bus, trying my hardest to shake them. Yet they were still there. I nervously glanced up from my magazine (I wasn’t really reading it, it was the kind full of celebs that I neither knew, nor cared about) to look out the back window.
Yep. Still right behind me.
I knew I was going to have to confront them sometime. Then I could run again.
Running. I was certainly good at that now. Six months ago, I would have flunked the gym running test. Funny how my life had changed in just six months.
The hot muggy air made it hard to concentrate. I hated humidity. It made me feel like I was being suffocated. I was definitely more of a high altitude person. Orlando totally didn’t meet my standards. I stared around the bus, trying to act casual, but I was sweating and shaking. From nerves or heat I couldn’t tell. I regularly glanced back at the car.
I studied my fellow passengers. The bus wasn’t too full, which was odd at rush hour. An older guy in a suit, typing on his laptop. A standing woman in jogging clothes, plugged into her iPod. There was a family who didn’t look like they were from Orlando. Believe me, I’ve seen the ‘family on vacation look’. Strollers, screaming children, hats and sunglasses.
Any of them could be working for X. Even the family. I couldn’t let my guard down.
I looked out the back window again, but this time, there was a person blocking my view. A teenage boy with black hair staring out of the back window, just like me. I did a double take.
How did I not notice him before?
And what was he doing here?
I waited for the next stop, and then slid into the vacant seat next to him.
“Hey, Rachel,” he said without turning around. He must have seen me coming. I crossed my arms and frowned at him.
“What are you doing here, Grant?”
He turned around and smiled. “I could ask you the same thing.”
“So why don’t you?”
He laughed softly.
“Because I already know why you’re here.” He pointed with his thumb to the car. “They’re awfully close, don’t you think?”
“I’ve been trying to lose them since Paris!” I growled.
He let out a low whistle. “They’re good.”
“Thank you, Captain Obvious!”
“You’re welcome Lieutenant Sarcasm.”
We sat in silence for a couple of minutes. A woman in a business suit got on. The family got off.
“So how do you plan to lose them?” asked Grant.
“I don’t know,” I said, pounding my head with my palms, “I’ve been thinking about it for the whole, stupid bus ride!”
He looked thoughtful. “You could stop the bus and walk off, but they would follow you. You could climb up through the service hatch in the top, take a running leap off of the bus and try and hit their car.”
“Unlikely. A, I would break every bone in my body. B, they definitely have guns. C-”
“Okay, I get it. No.”
“I could wait for them to make their move, then try and fight my way out. That worked last time.”
“Rachel, last time you ended up in Juvie overnight.”
“Okay, so it sort of worked out. I didn’t end up meeting X, did I?”
The bus stopped again. The old guy and the jogging lady got off.
We were getting off the freeway and into neighborhoods now. The car was still right behind us. Then suddenly, it turned left at a light and drove out of view.
“Whoa. Why did they turn?” I whispered. It was easier to be overheard now and I didn’t want to risk it. I glanced at Business Suit Woman. She was rummaging through her briefcase, looking for something.
“I don’t know,” Grant said, “It’s not like X to let people go. Something’s not right.”
But I didn’t need him to tell me. Right now I was busy staring down the barrel of a gun. From my experience, gun equals bad. Very bad.
Grant turned around and saw what I saw. Business Suit Woman was aiming a sleek black handgun at me and smiling. He grabbed my arm and held on tight.
“How sweet,” she said, smirking at him. She had a French accent. Maybe she was friends with the French dudes. Didn’t know, didn’t care. “I guess you can come too.”
I saw my chance. While she was looking at Grant, I launched myself at her, tackling her and taking her totally by surprise. She didn’t stay that way long, unfortunately. She threw me off of her with surprising strength. I went flying along the bus and skidded down the aisle. My long skid ended painfully with me smashing headlong into the chairs with a crash.
“Ow,” I moaned.
I heard a scuffle by Grant and sat up, head throbbing. Grant had Business Suit Woman in a tight hold. He was pinning her right arm behind her back and putting her in a headlock with his other arm. Not easy to break out of, I can tell you.
“Good job,” I said, still holding my head
“Yes indeed,” said a male voice behind me. He too had a French accent. These people were determined alright. I turned around and saw the bus driver was right behind me, gun drawn. I realized just then that in the melee the driver had pulled over and waited for his moment.
“You, release her,” the driver said to Grant, “Or I shoot your little girlfriend!”
Grant let go immediately. Business Suit Woman picked up her gun and pointed it at me. The bus driver covered Grant.
Business Suit Woman smiled at her accomplice. “Well done! They will be most pleased.”
When she turned to me and glared with eyes of steel, I shivered. Then she spoke, “As for you, Rachel Vance, X has been waiting to speak with you for a long time. Let’s go.”