Chapter 11 : And the search begins...Mom and dad are fast asleep when I sneak out the back door. I don't even think twice about what I'm doing, they have hurt me so much. They need to pay. They are the biggest bunch of hypocrites. Only thinking about themselves. Not caring about my feelings, or Leah's for that matter. She will never know the truth if I don't find her. She could die never knowing. Her whole life would have been a lie. She would have passed, thinking she knew who she was, what her family was like.
I should have
I wonder how she'll take the news, I'm guessing that she'll cry. I know that I would if I were her.
I put my duffel bag and my sister's, I mean Leah's, back pack in the passenger seat. Start the car and back out of the driveway. Once I'm on Oak Street, I head over to the nearest gas station. I won't be able to go anywhere with an empty tank.
As it fills, I head inside to buy a snack. I walk through the double aisle and pick up a water bottle, four granola bars and a pack of mint gum.
The guy rings me up, I pass him a few one dollar bills and count out the exact change in dimes and pennies.
He thanks me as I leave. I'm probably the most entertaining thing he's seen today.
I get back inside my car, a second hand Chevrolet Silverado, that I had acquired when dad had bought his Nissan. My hands, my head, everything hurts. I rest my head against the wheel. I just fell like dying.
A sharp tap on the window startles me, I look over and see the owner who I'd seen moments ago, gazing in, a worried look plastered on his face.
I roll my window down.
“You okay son ?”
He looks like a nice guy, mid fifties, beer belly but clean. He shaves every morning and the ring on his left hand that's resting on my door proves that he's married. I bet you he met his wife in college. This is probably a second job, to earn a little more money. Maybe for a family trip with his two kids. Or his eldest's going off to college soon and needs money to pay the tuition.
“Yeah I'm fine, thanks,” I answer. But I'm not. My parents lied to me my entire life, I don't know what to believe anymore, who to trust.
“Alright, but if you get tired, pull over.”
He's concerned for my safety, the first one to be. “Do you want me to call your folks ?”
No ! Most certainly not !
“I'm driving down to see them now, don't worry.” I don't know why I lie, I could have just said no, thanks.
“Be careful son.” He still doesn't seem reassured.
“I will.” I tell him.
I roll my window back up and turn on the music station once I've left the parking lot. It's the rock station that Leah loves. It's always passing these old songs that no one listens to anymore.
We usually fought over who got control of the music. We would play rock, paper, scissors.
I leave it on though, it's the only proof Leah even existed in my life, other then being a huge lie my parents made up. She was here, not too long ago, beating the rhythms out, while singing to the lyrics.
My sister ? No.
A friend ? Yes, of course.
Maybe, if I hadn't grown up with her, she could have been a girlfriend. She's beautiful, natural, sweet, caring, smart, loving... Any guy would be lucky to have her as his own. To call her his.
I turn my head at the unholy thought. She and I were raised by the same people. We are brother and sister by everything but blood, I have to remember that.
* * *
“Leah, come on, that guy's stupid ! Don't let him ruin your day.” I try coaxing my sister out of her room and down to her own birthday party.
“Leave me alone ! I'm never coming out !” She cries back.
“Pretty please ?” I beg.
“No, I said !”
I can tell that she's crying. I can't stand it. She is my baby, it's my role to protect her. From douche-bags like Kyle McGreen. An A-hole that had the audacity to break up with her on her birthday. A day dedicated to her. He didn't even have the guts to do it to her face. No, Kyle broke up with Leah with a simple text message.
I need her to open the door. I need to put my arms around her. I need to comfort her. To brush away her tears and tell her that tomorrow will be a better day, a new beginning. With endless possibilities.
“Your cake is waiting down stairs,” I tell her.
I can hear her giggle and mumble something along the lines of “Idiot”, or maybe “I don't care.” I prefer the latter.
But she gets up and unlocks the door. I walk in. Leah has her arms open, I reach for her and pull her close to my chest.
“I love you,” She says.
“So do I, sis.”
I also add, “You shouldn't care what people think, especially Kyle.”
“Easy to say, hard to do. Everyone loves you ! ”
“Do you want me to kick his ass ?” I suggest.
She laughs then shrugs. Leah shakes her head. My sister isn't the violent type.
Finally, after a few minutes I get her to come down with me to the garden where our family is waiting.
* * *
It's early morning by the time I pull up to an old motel off the Interstate. I grab the bags and lock the doors. The clerk is fast asleep at the reception desk, his drool dripping onto a men's magazine. I shake him and startled he sits up straight and mumbles : “I wasn't asleep, boss !”
“A room please.” I ask.
“Sure, man. For how many days ?”
I think. When should I leave ? As soon as possible. I'll stay for a day, catch up on all the sleep I've missed and then head up the coast. I don't have a clue of where she is and the thought that she might be dead has crossed my mind a few times. If only I had some information on her location, I would know where to start looking.
The clerk hands me a key and directions to my room, first on the left, second floor.
I thank him and head upstairs. The hallway's narrow and dimly lit. The place smells like the sea shore with a slight odor of air freshener. My room number is 201 and the door is made of cheap wood and a keyhole, not an automatic card slide pass thingy, like in most hotels these days.
The inside of the room isn't much better. The floor, walls and furniture are also in wood. The window gives me a nice view over the parking lot. Well, at least I can check that no one steals my car.
There's a bathroom with a toilet and a shower. I refresh myself and strip until I'm only wearing boxers. The bed in nice and warm, hopefully without bed bugs... I turn off the light, waiting for the sand man to take me away and off to Sleep Land, where nothing can hurt you.
An annoying beeping wakes me up. I rub the little sleep that's left out of my eyes and look to see what's making the noise. It's my cell, that I'd left in my jean pocket, which is now on the floor.
I do a double take when I see that it's Leah.
I pick up, my heart half beating out of my chest.
There's a noise on the other line, then I hear the most beautiful voice, Leah's.
I bite my tongue, this isn't the way to tell her that we aren't related.
“Where are you, are you hurt ?” I ask urgently.
She laughs into the phone, “Don't worry, I'm fine. I was sick but Adrian took care of me. And as for where I am, I'm not sure. Somewhere between Maine and Vermont. I'm in a hotel.”
“Who's Adrian ? You're kidnapper ? The creep ! I bet you he's trying to sell you to some pimp ! Get out of there, fast ! I'll find you, I'm in South Carolina. I can get to you in four days,” I say.
“Don't, Darik.” I can tell her voice is shaking. “I want to be here, Adrian didn't kidnap me. Things have changed, I can't go home, not now, not never.” She's crying.
I feel like someone's ripping me to shreds.
“Are you pregnant sis ? Did he rape you ? I can help you, you could get an abortion. Leah you can stay with me. We don't need mom or dad.”
“Yes, I'm pregnant.” She's lying, I can tell.
“What's he done to you ?”
Why is she so scared ? Is he holding a gun to her head at this instant ?
“No, honey. I want to stay with Adrian. I just called to say goodbye. Darik, please, forget about me and comfort our parents. Take care of them. And don't come looking for me. I'm safe and happy.”
I'm about to contest when the line cuts and the only noise left is the lonesome beeping.
I get dressed, take my things and head downstairs. Leave a few bills to pay for my room and get into my car. I have my new destination, and it's somewhere between Maine and Vermont.