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Behind these Broken Bars
As far back as I remember it was just my aunt Lucie and I. She was an artist and did well by it. Many museums around the world wanted her pieces. We traveled a lot, rarely staying in one country or place for more than a month. So, from the time I was five she home schooled me. We had classes in the South American jungles, cities in Europe and villages in Asia. We traveled the world together, and it was perfect.
But, when I turned fourteen Lucie decided it would be better to settle down. It was then that I found out why my parents had disappeared and I was entrusted into the care of my mother’s sister. They were not dead like I had assumed, but in prison with a ten year sentence, staying behind bars in New York. They had thrown away their lives before I had gotten to know them well, before I could grow up. But ten years is a set amount of time, And my spell with my wonderful aunt Lucie was running out. They wanted me back.
RECORDED PHONE CALL
SEPTEMBER 8TH, 1999 2:13 AM
BETWEEN ALLISON COTONLY AND HARRY WETLY
SUSPECTS FOR CASE 567C- CHILD TRAFFICKING, KIDNAPPING, AND MURDER
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY
HARRY WETLY- ALI, THEY’RE ONTO US
ALLISON COTONLY- THEY KNOW? I THOUGHT YOU TOOK CARE OF THE KID.
HARRY WETLY- I DID, THEY CAUGHT HARVEY, WERE ALL SCREWED NOW
ALLISON COTONLY- WHAT DO WE DO? DID YOU TALK WITH THE REST?
HARRY WETLY- TAKE LANDEN AND RUN. I’LL MEET UP WITH YOU AT THE PLACE.
ALLISON COTONLY- THE PLACE WE TALKED ABOUT?
HARRY WETLY- YEAH, THAT’S THE ONE.
ALLISON COTONLY- EVERYONE WILL BE SUSPICIOUS IF WE LEAVE…
HARRY WETELY- IT’S ALL UNDER CONTROL. AS FAR AS THEY KNOW, YOUR MOTHER IS FRAIL AND WE ARE GOING TO HELP FOR A FEW WEEKS WITH THE FUNERAL ARANGMENTS.
ALLISON COTONLY- WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE KID?
HARRY WETLY- HE IS IN A BETTER PLACE. DON’T WORRY.
ALLISON COTONLY- GOD HARRY, WHAT IF LANDEN GOT TOOKEN FROM US… YOU COULD HAVE BEEN HUMAN WITH IT!
AND WHAT ABOUT THE PAPERWORK?
HARRY WETLY- IT’S ALL OVER WITH, COULDN’T LET THE KID TELL COULD WE. PUT HIM SOMEWHERE NO ONE WILL FIND. THE PAPERWORK IS BURNED, EVERYTHING IS DELT WITH. ARE YOU ON THE ROAD?
ALLISON COTONLY- ON THE ROAD NOW
HARRY WETLY- SEE YOU SOON.
ALLISON COTONLY- YOU TOO, AND LANDEN SAYS BYE.
The high ceilinged room smelled of melting wax and fresh paint. The previous owners had obviously decided on a fresh look for the bedroom and painted in white so the next inhabitant could change it however they pleased. I looked out the window onto the large front lawn, whoever had lived here before must have loved mowing because in front of the house was at least an acre of short, chemical green grass. I sighed and turned back to look at the brown boxes of my belongings piled in stacks. There weren’t many compared to the cavernous, dome roofed room but more than enough for me. A knock on the door brought me back from dreamland.
“Landen?” A familiar high pitched voice squealed from the other side of the door.
“Yes Lucie,” I replied sitting down on one of the boxes labeled “Landen’s Bedroom”.
“Dear,” she squeaked. “I have been thinking that you need some new clothes for the cold New York falls and winters, it’s going to be like Northern Europe and I didn’t save any of your clothes from when we were last there. We should go shopping, I know you don’t like to but clothes are necessities and school starts in two days.” I smiled; Lucie loved clothing, while I would be happy in a plastic bag.
“Fine,” I reasoned slipping on my favorite flats.
“Good, I heard of this really great mall nearby.” Lucie stated waiting for me in the hallway. “I want you to look perfect for your first day of school. I want people to say, who is she? Where is she from? I want to be her friend.” I opened the door and walked out the Lucie and with her down the steps to the first floor.
Outside, she jumped happily into the driver’s seat of our new Austin Martin. Sometimes, I could put up a pretty big fight about going to the mall she was obviously happy I didn’t. The wheels of the car drove smoothly along the long brick driveway to the estate’s gate. At the press of a button the large steel doors opened and Lucie swished onto the road. With one single motion she had rolled down the roof and turned on the radio, we were cruising.
It had been five years since the last time I had been in the U.S. and even then it was only for a day between flights. I had forgot how good it felt to know you were staying and not moving on like a nomad, from place to place. It was only about ten minutes before a huge mall complex came into view ahead. Lucie made a small sound of joy as we rolled into the parking lot. It had been at least ten years since she had been to an American store, one that she didn’t have to convert euros, pounds, or yen to dollars.
The mall was filled with groups of teenagers giggling together and mothers with handfuls of bags and designer heels strutting with their new purchases. Rows of shops with metallic manikins in the windows lined each side of the wide hallway.
“Coach? Prada? MAC? Ralph Lauren?” Lucie asked looking every which way, taking it in 360 degrees. “Let’s go in.”
“Fine,” I sighed letting her pull me alone into the store.
By the end of the hour we had visited more than ten stores, and bought more than twelve bags of things. Lucie had picked out most of my wardrobe often quoting vogue articles when deciding. By the end of the day, we had visited every store Lucie deemed worthy and I had enough clothes to last me three months without repeating outfits. Lucie had bought herself even more.
“Do you want to drive by the school? To see what it looks like for Monday?” Lucie wondered looking right at me.
“Uhhh… sure I guess.”
Lucie pulled her blue Austin Martin in front of the school. Kids walked in pairs and globs coming from every direction. Eyes turned to the high class sports car as they passed. I patted down my outfit, a lavender cashmere sweater, white skinny jeans, black leather boots, and a new Gucci messenger bag. Lucie had picked it out after our outing to the mall two days ago. I walked cautiously through the hallways clutching my schedule like it was everything I had. The Hillman School was huge for the amount of students it accommodated, with art studios, sports fields and state of the art classrooms.
I found my advisor on the first floor of the main building and walked inside. Only a few students sat at their seats talking and giggling with neighbors. I picked a desk and mulled over the plan for the day, AP Environmental Science, Discreet Math, Government, Art, and Spanish 5.
“Hello?” A girl’s voice chirped behind me.
“Yes?” I replied looking up at a blond girl with hazel eyes and big white rimmed glasses.
“Is that Gucci?” She asked gesturing to my bag.
“Yeah,” I stated flatly trying to sound confident at this new school.
“What’s your name, you’re new,”
“Landen,” I answered. “Landen Cotonly.”
“Well, I’m Bridget,” She said pulling out her perfectly manicured hand for me to shake. “Bridget Mender, class president.” I shook her hand and pulled a string of my blonde hair off my sweater. All of a sudden I felt self-conscious realizing that this girl was important in the normal flow of things.
“Nice to meet you Bridget,”
“Nice to meet you Landen,” she copied. With a short nod of the head she flipped on her heal and turned away.
“Making friends with the royalty?” Another voice asked from my other side. “I hope it’s to overthrow not praise.”
“You are?” I responded.
“Regan, Regan Swanson,” The slim brunette said, her green eyes seeming to look into my skull.
“You don’t like Bridget?”
“Not in the least, she charms all the boys- and half of the girls, becomes president and doesn’t do anything. Typical dictator,” Regan explained.
“You seem to know a lot, are you taking Government?” I reasoned looking at my schedule.
“That’s for twelfth graders,”
“No- I have it,” I stated looking at my paper. “Says right here.”
“Ninth grade has American history,” Regan tilted her head to the side.
“I took that already,” I responded trying not to seem different than anyone else. “Most have placed me in it because of that.”
“You are taking Spanish 5?” She exclaimed looking at my classes, “I didn’t even know they offered that!”
“I guess they do,” I tucked my schedule into the outside pocket of my bag. “Since I was put in it.”
“Dude, are you like a genius?”
“Shh, don’t say it so loud!” I joked, and we both laughed.
“No, seriously,” Reagan asked, placing her own average schedule on her desk.
“I just advanced quickly,” I tried to say in a casual, normal way. But, inside my stomach was doing flips. I didn’t want people to think I was different, definitely not on the first day of school.
“Attention class,” a middle aged man with a beer belly and a bald, almost glistening head announced in the front of the room. “I am your advisor, Mr. Gray. This year I would like you to give me the respect you give your parents. This is a private school, so I expect no public school foolishness,” A few kids snickered at this, but Mr. Gray cleared his throat and went on with his lecture. “This year is going to be full of new challenges, experiences, and also a lot of fun, so don’t ruin it for yourselves.” There was a moment of silence for his words to soak in. “Well then, when the bell rings you can leave.”
Everyone quickly moved out of the classroom and into the crowded halls. Environmental Science was first on the agenda and I slowly made my way to the classroom.
The lab was big and square, with rectangular tables forming a three sided boundary around the teacher’s desk on the side of the room. For some reason, it smelled of chlorine. A bunch of older looking pupils were already there. Seniors maybe, a few looked younger possibly juniors. I sat in a spot near the front of the room, and waited for the teacher to come in. Eventually most of the students were sitting down, though none had decided to sit in the empty spot next to me.
A younger man than my last teacher, maybe thirty or so sat down at the desk in front of the room. “Okay people; listen up for your name. Daniel Absently,”
“Here,” a boy in the back said.
“Present,” a squeaky girl replied.
“Here,” I said quietly.
“What grade are you in? This course is for the twelfth grade, it may be a mistake.”
“Ninth,” I stated, trying to keep a straight face.
“You should be in biology,” The teacher responded looking straight at me.
“I already took that course,”
“You did? Then Physics.”
“You must be special then,” He smiled and adjusted his silver glasses.
“I guess,” I replied. It was becoming my standard response. I wasn’t in the normal flow.
Science class, math and government all went smoothly. I was the oldest in them all, and the seniors tried to pretend I wasn’t there. My last class before lunch was art, in the art building which was not connected to the main school structure. I strolled down one of the paved sidewalks that led to the other parts of the campus. The lawns were green and flowers were planted in beautiful arrangements in the grass. It smelled like summer and felt like it too. The art building had murals on the outside walls done by past classes. It brought color and happiness to my otherwise plain school day.
Art had always meant something special to me since Lucie was an artist. I felt somehow connected too it. Creativity and talent in the field must have been genetic, since I was good at it too- but nothing like Lucie. I had wondered often since I had learned my mother was alive if she had such gifts too. I had also wondered what they had done to get themselves set in jail, why they hadn’t thought of me before committing a crime. I doubted that they were even good people at all.
I was the last one there when I entered the art room. The only easel left was next to a jet-black haired boy with bright green colored. I smiled, happy to see people my age for once.
“Ppppppssssssssssss!” Someone whispered to my right. I quickly looked over to see Reagan at an easel in a row behind me. I quickly waved and turned towards the front of the room.
“Hello class,” the teacher said from the front of the room. She was tall and graying- blonde with sharp blue eyes. “Today we will be painting each other as a practice for a later project, whoever is sitting next to you in your pairs of easels you will portray on your canvas. There are no directions, just be creative! Start!”
I turned to look once more at the boy sitting next to me. “Hi, I’m Landen.” The boy stared at me for a moment and then opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m Evan Landly.”
“Nice to meet you Evan,” I replied, picking up my paintbrush. I started quickly and got down his basic shape of face. I was good at painting portraits, landscapes were another story. He had got down my face also with a good amount of skill and precision. “You’re good.”
“Thanks, I do a bit of art,” He responded adding some more details to his painting. Except for the hair being a bit too blonde, it was nice.
“Excellent,” the teacher said as she came around. “You two make a good pair. Landen, you are quite good with a brush.”
“Thank you Miss.”
As soon as she walked onto the next couple, I dipped my paintbrush into the water between our easels. “So, do you like to paint?”
“Sure- I guess.”
“Okay,” I sighed, our conversation was going nowhere. “What class are you in for homeroom?”
“Mr. Gray’s, how about you?” He replied painting one of my blue eyes almost perfectly.
“Are you new this year…? I don’t remember…”
“Yeah,” I said quickly, making sure he didn’t think I was a nobody who he had just never talked to before.
“Where are you from then, New York City?” He asked.
“Well, I just moved from Paris and before that we lived in Madrid, Beijing, Tokyo, Chad, Cape Town, and Rio de Janeiro.”
“Wow, your parents like superstars or something?”
“No, my… mother is an artist; museums want her name written on a canvas or an attendance list for a fancy dinner party,” I explained, as I added my last touch to the portrait. “She also loves to travel. We moved around a lot, staying in hotels and moving on every week or so.”
“Sounds cool,” Evan stated for the first time looking at me as I spoke.
“It was for a while, but she wanted to settle down- so here I am, going to a private school and living in a huge mansion thing that is horribly big for just two people. What do your parents do?”
“Dad is a big lawyer- mom got divorced and moved to the Caribbean. Dad remarried, this girl named Margaret who is only like 5 years older than me. It’s just a crazy midlife crisis.”
“Oh.” I felt horrible that he had told me something so personal and I had lied telling him Lucie was my mom. “I have lived with my aunt, the artist I was talking about since I was five. My parents are out of the picture too.” It felt good to come clear.
“What happened?” he responded, frowning slightly- he actually looked concerned.
“In jail, for nine years now. My aunt Lucie hasn’t told me what they did; I thought they were dead until a few months ago.”
“I guess we’ve all got problems then,” Evan said with a smile. I smiled back and something clicked.
“Hey, you know what,” he asked after a moment of silence.
“What?” I replied, putting a lose strand of hair behind my ear.
“Would you like to go to New York City on Friday with me- we could visit times square since you’re new to town.”
“I’d love to,” I stated with a grin on my face.
“Then it’s a date,” He smiled back.
“It’s a date,”
“I’ll pick you up at six,” He said and got up to leave still grinning.
I gathered my things to leave as someone taped me on the shoulder.
“So, how was your day?” Regan asked from behind me.
“Good,” I said, trying to suppress the surge of emotion I was feeling. “Evan Landly just asked me out.”
“What! He is so hot, you are so lucky! What did you slip him?” She asked excitedly.
“Nothing, I guess there was just a spark.”
I walked to lunch with Regan and we sat at a square table in the middle of the outdoor cafeteria. I pulled out the lunch Lucie had packed me, pasta with feta cheese, garlic, and artichoke heart blend, chocolate milk, and animal crackers. Regan bought her lunch though- a not fully cooked hamburger, and oily French fries. She bit into it like it was cake and I giggled.
“What?” she asked. “What is so funny?”
“You!” I laughed, “You act like that hamburger is gold and you are as poor as dirt. It looks disgusting!”
“You would be eating it too if your alarm didn’t go off this morning and you had a total of five minutes to get ready for the bus!” She laughed her brown eyes glistening in the mid-day sunlight.
“There is a bus?” I wondered. Lucie had driven me.
“Yeah, but only people without rides go on it. I saw you this morning in your mom’s new 500 grand sports car.”
“Oh,” I replied blushing.
“It’s funny because you don’t act like one of those girls,” Regan stated smirking.
“What girls?” I asked back. How was I different?
“The rich girls with all the cash in the world. The girls who live on Oak Lane.”
I thought back to the road I lived on and then shot back, “Regan, I live on oak lane.”
“You do?” She tilted her head to one side. “Then that explains why the populars are headed over here.”
I turned to see Bridget and a few other pretty, designer dressed girls coming our way. I quickly turned back to Regan, “What does Oak Lane have to do with anything?” I pressed.
“Oak Lane is where the biggest, most expensive mansions are, and where the richest, most fabulous people live. You must be one of them. Oh, and by the way, Evan lives on Oak Lane,” She grinned, enjoying the fact that I didn’t know that. I took one last deep breath before Bridget and the populars got to our table. Quickly, I plastered a grin on my face.
“Hello Landen,” Bridget exclaimed when they got to us, “How is your first day so far?”
“Good, the campus is beautiful,” I responded
“Yes, the school takes much pride in its landscaping. I would be the one to know being 9th grade student body president and all,” she flipped her hair after the self-compliment and it fell in a golden wave across her back. “My friends and I wanted to know a bit more about you Landen, and we were wondering something, where did you move from?”
“Paris,” I replied taking a bite of my pasta.
“Ah… So you are Oak Lane Material. As you may know, I also live on Oak Lane. The street is known for the rich and famous that reside there. I heard that your mother is a famous artist and multi-millionaire, is that bit of gossip true?” She turned to her friends and they all waited anxiously for the answer.
“Yes, it’s true.”
“Great, you are invited to our beginning of school sleepover this Saturday night, 7:00- I can’t wait,” She eagerly handed me a pink envelope with a wax seal and waved goodbye.
I turned back to Regan and took another bite of my lunch, “Is this a good, or a bad thing?” I asked her, holding up the brightly colored invitation.
“I think that is yet to be determined,” She replied through a mouthful of hamburger.
At the end of the day Lucie picked me up from school. She dropped me off in front of our huge house and went on to get some groceries from a supermarket about fifteen minutes down the road. I pulled out my house key and walked inside. The entrance hall was huge with domed ceilings and wide entranceways to the kitchen and living room areas. I walked up the stairs to my room. The hallway on the second floor is wide with many doors on both sides. But, all of them were closed, giving me the unwelcoming feel of an abandoned first class hotel. As I walked along I could see a ray of sunlight beaming into the hallway- a stripe of light in the dullness of the walkway. A door on the right side ahead was cracked open, like someone had gone inside and when they came out they had not closed it all the way accidentally.
Because of my curiosity I opened the door. It was a guest room, about the size of a hotel suite. A painting sat on one wall, while an ordinary bed, wardrobe and nightstand stood on the other. I sat down on the fluffy quilt lying on the bed and observed. Why would anyone want to go in here? What was in here that a person wanted?
It was right then that I noticed the painting was crooked, hanging a bit more on one side. I walked over to the wall and slowly lifted the canvas off its nail. I gasped when I saw what was behind it. A huge metal safe was imbedded in the wall behind the painting, and someone had left it open. Whoever had been in this room had left in a hurry. I opened up the safe the rest of the way and looked inside. It was empty except for a folder and a little, rusted, bronze key. I took out the folder and the key and sat once again on the bed. The first paper in the folder was a document that looked very legal. I pulled it out and began to read.
SUMMERY OF ILLIGAL BUISNESS
TYPE- Child Trafficking Circle poised as a private adoption agency
Reported Members- Harvey Withers, Harry Wetly, Allison Cotonly, Tess Gilbert.
Head of conspiracy- Head of group has not yet been turned in. Members will not give out names of others.
Harvey Withers- Held job as a paralegal at a midtown Manhattan corporation, he had a Wife, but no children. Jennifer Withers (wife) cannot be convicted of affiliation so far. Harvey Withers created Illegal documentation for children going through the operation and dealt with any other legal matters.
6700 west 34th Street
Big Apple Condos number 35
Manhattan, New York
Harry Wetly and Allison Cotonly- engaged to be married the two lived in a Manhattan apartment. The two kidnapped children for the operation and were paid for handing them over to the ringleader. One daughter, Landen who is five years old and in custody of her aunt Lucie Cotonly.
568 Mercer Street
Third floor Apartment
Manhattan, New York
Tess Gilbert- maintained the operation’s office and met with future customers. Was close to the others and met outside of work with Allison Cotonly.
200 23rd Street
Lowly Lane Apartments number 11
Brooklyn, New York
I gasped at the paper. This folder was about my parents, Lucie knew about them. I reached for the next but a sound coming from the front yard brought me out of that thought. Lucie was back. I shoved the folder back into the safe, and hung the painting back on the wall.
The first few days of school went by slowly, and on Thursday Lucie picked me up like normal.
“We are going to go somewhere new,” She said cheerily from the driver’s seat as I hoped in.
“Where?” I asked. Lucie could sometimes decide in a few seconds that she wanted to go onto another country, and we would be off in no time at all for a plane. Sometimes it was fun, but it could get irritating.
“We are going to visit your mother, At Northman Prison and Correctional Facility. They want to meet with you, now that you’re back in America. You’re parents are getting out in October, I may have to fight them for custody.”
For the first time I realized how soon Allison and Harry were getting out. Would they really want me back? Did they love me at all? After all, they hadn’t seen me in almost ten years. And I only had the faintest of memories of them.
“How far is it to the prison?” I questioned, not wanting to travel far for the visit. My stomach felt weird, like something was moving inside of me. Did I even want to meet my parents?
“Only about twenty minutes,” Lucie answered in her chipper tone.
“Where did you and Allison grow up?” I wondered. We had never talked of Allison being Lucie’s sister, and I could tell I was wondering onto dangerous territory.
“Philadelphia, my father was a wealthy businessman and we lived in a beautiful Victorian home on the mainline.”
“Why did Allison go to jail?” I asked looking at Lucie for an effect. She knew more than she told, the hidden folder told a lot and I was only able to look at one page. When I had gone back that night to learn more, the safe had been properly closed. Was Lucie on the inside of the operation?
Lucie hesitated and then spoke slowly, “Allison chose to make some bad decisions. When I want to Columbia for college, she went to New York and worked at McDonalds using our parents allowance to stay afloat. Then she married Harry at nineteen, he had gone to College at University of Tennessee, but he was shady. Harry had a record of offences to. He was ten years her senior. She was so out of our lives that when she got arrested and put in jail we didn’t even know she had a kid. You were already five at the time. We had no invitation to a baby shower, no email saying that they were now a family. I got a call when they got their sentence- being the closest family they wanted me to take care of you. I was only thirty five with a child and budding career, but I took you because you were my sister’s child but I loved you as my own.”
I smiled. Lucie had explained a lot in her quick summary.
“But what did she do?” I pressed, wondering if I was crossing the line. Lucie waited, deciding what to say again. It was almost as though she didn’t want to tell too much.
“Allison… It turned out that she kidnapped children. She… sold them to other people, like adoption. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than that,” Lucie’s last sentence was different. I was sure she knew something; that Allison had not been as separated from her as she described.
“Oh,” I replied calmly, staying normal like I knew nothing
I sat on the other side of a bulletproof glass window. A black phone, linked to one on the other side sat on a hook on the wall in front of me. Other people, siting along the row of windows were holding conversations with orange wearing inmates.
“Your parents will be coming very soon, dinner just ended,” I overweight lady with a nametag that read “Hi I’m Lilianna” insured me.
“Okay,” I replied, a fake smile plastered on my face. What if my parents looked like criminals?
I tried to fix my attention on one object, a blue rubber bouncy ball on the ground near my foot. Some kid had probably dropped it while visiting their parents.
Then, all of a sudden I could hear exited voices coming from the phone. I looked up to see a middle aged couple staring back at me. I recognized Allison right away from her brown hair and eyes, identical to Lucie’s. She motioned for me to pick up the black handset.
“Landen?” she whispered in disbelief.
“I’m Landen,” I replied answering her question.
“You are so big!” She exclaimed. “Already a young lady, it has been nine years…” She trailed off smiling wide. I turned my attention to the man supposedly Harry. He had hair that was almost black, and jet green eyes. He looked nothing like me. “I can’t believe you are our little Landen.”
“I am,” I had nothing else to say but clarify her questions. What else would I ask?
“So Luce decided to move back after all,” Allison stated. “I thought her plan was to keep you away from us as long as possible. She is mad at me for winding up here.” Allison sighed, taking more of me in. “I wish I could have seen you grow up.”
And at that, Allison started to cry. I wasn’t sure if they were happy tears to see me again, or sad ones because she had missed my childhood.
At six o’clock I sat at the dinner table waiting for the doorbell to ring. Right when the grandfather clock in Lucie’s art studio chimed its sixth bell I heard a knock at the door. I giggled; it seemed somewhat classy to knock instead of ringing my obnoxious doorbell. I quickly jogged over to the door and waited a second to open it.
Evan Landly stood on my doorstep with a box of chocolates in his hand and his black Austin Martin in the driveway.
“So you bought the McLaren’s place? It’s a beautiful house,” Evan smiled, handing me the box of Godiva’s.
“I hear that your home is equally as fabulous,” I pointed out grinning back at him. “How did you know I loved chocolate?”
“All artists love truffles, they help the creative process,” He replied smirking. I followed him to his car and he opened the passenger side door for me. I sat in the red vintage leather seats and he turned the keys in the ignition.
“So, how can you drive? Fifteen year olds can’t get their license,” I questioned crossing my arms.
“Don’t worry though it’s not illegal, I'm sixteen. My parents waited to put me in school later than normal,” He explained pulling out of our estate.
“That’s cool,” I stated, “So what is times square like?”
“It’s crazy, tourists… regulars. Like every idea in the world converged in one spot. It’s colorful and full of life,” Evan stated smiling.
“Can’t wait,” I responded, reclining in the comfy seat.
We had small talk on the way to the city, learned small things about each other. He was unique, and except for the luxury sports car you wouldn’t have known how much money the Landly’s had. It wasn’t something Evan enjoyed talking about, I liked that.
I sat up and marveled at the New York skyline as we got a good view. I had been all over the world with Lucie, but our adventures had always had something to do with her work, never for me. It gave me a warm feeling inside to know that someone was doing something just for me.
“Wow,” I exclaimed as we neared the city.
“For a girl that has traveled the seven seas, I was not expecting such a big reaction,” Evan grinned looking over at me from his seat.
“Says the son of a millionaire with offices in different countries,” I countered smirking back.
“Most of the time he leaves me at home with my housekeeper… seems like I know her better than my own parents sometimes,” His expression still a smile but with false enthusiasm.
“I’m sorry… didn’t know…”
“Its fine,” he quickly interrupted, “You know, none of the other girls at school are quite like you. I feel like I could tell you anything right now and you wouldn’t use it against me… no one else understands,” He looked at me and I could see into his brown eyes, so warm. If he hadn’t been driving I would have hugged him, right here.
“When I found out mom parents were alive… I felt disconnected from everything, like I didn’t know where I belonged. I didn’t know if they loved me, if Lucie really loved me. All of a sudden I doubted everything, things that I thought I knew,” I replied. I took a breath and continued, “Point is that your father loves you and he wants to get to know you. Wants to know the great, unique person you are. There are just things blocking him from that, someday he will form a relationship with that person… he just has to know what he is missing.”
For a few minutes there was silence and I started thinking I had said something wrong. Had he got mad at what I said, had he took it the wrong way?
“I just wish he could have met that person already,” He whispered. After another minute he sat up straighter and filled the silence. “Um… I have an idea.”
“What?” I asked.
“I have somewhere else I want to show you. Is that alright?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“It’s a surprise.”
I had never been in New York City, but I was almost certain we were in the southern part of Manhattan. Evan drove down endless small streets and crowded boulevards until pulling into a parking garage.
“I am afraid the rest is by foot,” Evan announced as he handed his car keys to the valet. “Is that okay miss?”
“Just fine sir,” I replied stepping out of his Austin Martin and onto the pavement. “Where are we?”
“Can’t you just smell it?” He asked mysteriously. I loudly sniffed the air.
“I smell Italian,” I responded crossing my arms. “Where are we?”
“Where else, Little Italy!” Evan announced. “Come with me.”
He held me hand and the warmth radiated up my arm. I quickly tried to keep up with his fast pace. We went a few blocks and Evan stopped with a halt in front of a small corner restaurant. He opened the door and we walked up to the hostess.
“Can I help you?” The middle aged brunette asked. Evan quickly whispered her something and she smiled, “Right this way.”
I followed her to a wide staircase in the back of the room and up five flights until they leveled off and we stepped off onto a roof deck with seven small tables all but one occupied by a different couple. Flower scented tall wax candles sat on the fence surrounding the area giving it a light glow. And you could see out onto the rest of the city. We sat at a small table in the far corner, Evan pushed in my chair as I sat down and I smiled as he reclined into his own.
“It’s beautiful,” I declared, “Thank you.”
“My pleasure,” Evan grinned. He touched my cheek, his finger warm against my face. And then sometime after that I found him kissing me. And electricity shot down my spine through my limbs. At that moment everything in the world was okay, and the city seemed to stop and look. We pulled away right as the waitress came with our drinks. But I was still smiling.
“You know something; you are the only girl I have ever taken here. When I was little, my parents took me here one day that we were in the city and it was so charming that I always wanted to come back… but I had to wait for the right person. That was you,” He explained as I took a sip of my water. I couldn’t help but blush. But, I was saved by the waitress coming for our orders.
“Do you know what you would like to eat tonight?” She asked. I quickly decided on the first think I saw.
“I’ll have shrimp ravioli with marinara sauce,” I stated handing her my menu.
“And I will have chicken parmesan,” Evan added handing his to.
“Once the waitress left I turned back to Evan, “So, what other girls have you dated?”
Evan took a particularly long sip of his water and then wiped his mouth with a napkin, “Well, in the eighth grade I was with this girl Aubrey Davis who moved away… and Bridget Mender. She actually has been on my case to get back together a lot lately, not cause she likes me but because it would be good for her alpha status,” He explained slowly looking at me to make sure I understood.
“Cool…” I replied sarcastically, “Everyone needs an ultra-possessive Barbie doll girl chasing after them all the time,” I giggled sarcastically. He laughed to; at least I knew she wasn’t competition.
Dinner was great and we drove home safely and happily with full stomachs. He parked in my driveway and I smiled at him again. He leaned in and we kissed for the second time. Again it was fireworks. Finally I pulled away and opened the door. I waved goodbye and he didn’t leave until I was safely inside. What a gentleman, I thought for the second time that night.
I arrived at Bridget’s house at seven o’clock sharp. The other girls were arriving, her main followers. Lucie waved goodbye with a sly grin, she was happy that I had made some new friends. When she got her hands on the pink invitation the day I was invited to the get together, she giggled with delight and put it on the refrigerator.
A butler stood at the door holding it open for me to go inside. As soon as I stepped over the thresh hold I was being embraced by a girl in fuzzy pink pajamas and bunny slippers. Finally she pulled away and I saw that it was none other than Bridget Mender.
“I am so excited to have you as a new face tonight!” She chirped pulling me with her up the stairs and into a large mostly pink bedroom obviously hers. Four other girls sat on big pink beanbags on the floor in a circle. Two others sat empty for Bridget and I. “Sit and make yourself comfy.”
I sat in the beanbag and plopped my bag behind me on the floor.
“As you all know, we have none other than Landen Cotonly with us tonight,” Bridget announced once I sat down. “And, as tradition goes that means that Landen is first up for truth or dare. Does anyone want to ask Landen a question?”
“I do,” A tall blonde a few beanbags from me replied eagerly. “Truth or dare?”
“Truth,” I answered. What could they possibly ask me, I don’t even know their first names!
The blonde repositioned herself on her beanbag and then opened her mouth to speak. “Is it true that you are going out with none other than Evan Landly, the president of the art club and the captain of the soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams?” There were many small gasps and the brunette sitting on the right of the tall blonde whispered something to her neighbor.
“Evan Landly asked you out? When?” Bridget pressed, her face crunched up in a fake smile.
“The first day of school, we sat next to each other in art class, chatted and there was a spark,” I replied.
“It took six months for him to go out with Bridget,” the tall blonde added happily, “Bridget; didn’t he break up with you?”
That blonde must really be dumb.
“I’m over him now,” Bridget snapped. “I was going to break it off anyway.”
“I thought you still had feelings for him… on Tuesday you said you were going to get him back,” The blonde added again.
Oh so dumb.
“I said I am over him. Drop it!” Bridget hissed. There was a moment of silence and then Bridget asked, “So, has he… kissed you?”
“Yeah, more than once. We went out last night.”
“Wow, it took Evan a month to kiss Bridget,” the blonde added.
“Allison!” Bridget shouted, “Are you retarded, just shut up!” With that Bridget stomped out of the room and I could hear a door down the hallway slam.
“Wow, she is so not over him,” the brunette next to the Allison stated once she was gone. “I’m Mackenzie by the way.”
“Were the two of them… serious?” I asked. That was what I was wondering, Evan admitted he didn’t like Bridget very much, how close could they have been.
“Oh yeah, a relatively quiet redhead on the left of Mackenzie spoke up. “Bridget gets what Bridget wants. She was… in love. It was almost a different Bridget back then. She was… nice. Now she can be such a bitch.”
“True,” the Allison agreed.
“Definitely true,” added Mackenzie.
“Sorry, I didn’t get your name,” I asked the redhead.
“Oh, I’m Emma.”
“And you?” I asked another brunette sitting next to Emma.
“I’m Katharine,” She answered. “And I… have wanted to say this for the longest time… She is the bitchiest bitch I know.”
Mackenzie high fived Katharine.
“A bitch?” Bridget yelled from the doorway. We all jumped backwards in surprise. “You think I’m a bitch?”
The room filled with silence. “Go home then, leave!” And Bridget stormed out of the room for the second time that night.
“I have an idea,” I announced, standing up on my beanbag once Bridget was gone.
“What?” Mackenzie asked.
“The party must live on,” I replied.
“But how, we just basically got ejected from Bridget’s house?” Allison asked.
“We don’t need Bridget, you all just agreed on that,” I stated.
“True,” Katharine responded.
“Let’s move the party to my house. It’s just down the road, we can walk there.”
“Awesome! And we can walk out as a group united, Bridget won’t know what hit her!” Emma exclaimed.
“Cool, let’s go!” Everyone grabbed their bags and we marched downstairs. I opened the door and we all walked outside into the autumn air.
“Where are you going?” Bridget shouted from the doorway once we were outside.
“Going to Landen’s house,” Allison stated.
“Were moving on the party!” Emma exclaimed.
Somehow, in one week of living on oak lane I had made six friends: Reagan, Evan, Emma, Allison, Mackenzie, and Katharine. I had seen a lot of friendship, and somehow I had started a revolution. On Monday when I came to school, people stopped and watched me walk down the hallway.
When I got to homeroom, a short girl with pigtails and ugly corduroy overalls stood waiting for me at my desk.
“Who are you?” I asked her.
“Mary Daniels, from the school newspaper. I just wanted to ask a few questions for an article on you in the paper,” she chirped in a very high pitched almost annoying voice.
“Sure, what do you need?” I replied sitting down.
“Is it true that you moved here a week ago from Paris?”
“Is it true that your mother is world renowned modern artist Lucie Cotonly and you are following in her footsteps with your own artistic talents?”
“Sure…” I sighed. Why do people want to know so much freaking stuff about me?
“And is it true that Evan Landly is going out with you?”
“Is there a point to this question?” I asked.
“It’s true,” Evan said coming up behind her. I got up and hugged him and he embraced me back.
I saw a flash and turned around; Mary had a camera and was taking pictures of me and Evan.
“Dude, as much as I like paparazzi I don’t think people reading a newspaper need pictures if they see me every day,” I explained.
“It adds to the reader’s experience!” Mary protested.
“Hay,” Evan butted, “I’ll pick up a newspaper if it has your face on it, and I’m pretty sure that would apply to most of the student population.”
“Aw, thanks,” I grinned as he sat down next to me.
“Here,” I straitened his glasses.
“Thanks, so how about getting together on Wednesday after school. You could come over to my place, we could do homework or something… have dinner,” He asked, putting his hand over mine.
“Sounds great,” I replied.
“So, what do you have first period?”
“Science,” I responded.
“Me too, are you in my class?”
“Not unless you have AP Genetics…”
“I have biology. Well, I’ll see you fourth period,” Evan smiled, “Art.”
“Bye,” I stated standing up for first period.
“Wait,” Evan said from behind me as I turned to leave.
I turned around and he surprised me with a kiss.