After a long and sleepless night I pull the blankets off and slip from my bed, wishing the floor would swallow me up, along with all of my problems.
I check my phone for the 5 millionth time since I was dropped off by the Parkers. Still not a word.
I shrug into some comfy clothes and pin my waves back out of my face.
“Julia? Why are you up so early?” My Father asks as I reach the bottom step.
He sits on the couch, tying his work boots on. “Oh, I couldn’t sleep…and I was kinda hungry” I say, the last part a big fib, I couldn’t eat a thing right now, not even chocolate could entice me. And that’s saying a lot.
My Dad ushers me into the kitchen and offers to get me a bowl of cereal. “Thanks dad, but I think I’ll just eat an apple” I say, he nods, kisses my head then grabs his lunch out of the fridge, preparing to leave.
“Dad?…” I need to talk to him, ask him what I should do about all this.
“Uh…h…have a good day”
I can’t ask him.
He smiles. “You too sweetie.”
After an hour or so of sitting and staring out the kitchen window I get a text message.
Alex: Do you know where Uriah is?!! His mom is frantic, I told her you were with him Yesterday.
Great….I hurry to my room and pull my shoes on, I tell my mom I’m heading out for the day to hang with friends and I hurry out the door, hopping onto my bike and peddling as fast as I can toward town. I call Sarah but she doesn’t answer so I leave a message.
“Sarah, I don’t know what to tell Alex, I don’t want anyone else getting in trouble, please call me back”
Moments later I get a call from Manuel.
“Hey Julia, sorry about that, Sarah was sleeping so I listened to your message. Meet me at the café as soon as you can.” he says. “We need to stradegize”
“Ok, see you there.”
After another 15 minutes of peddling I pull into the café parking lot and park my bike near the door. I hurry inside.
Manuel isn’t there when I arrive, but after a few minutes I see him pull up in a 1960 Corvette convertible.
“Sweet ride, man!” I say as he comes to sit across from me.
He grins. “Yeah, thanks, cost a ton.”
I can totally see that.
“We need to talk, we need to make a plan.” Manuel says.
“Last night I did some digging. I found out that my cousin isn’t the only one after the journal.”
Well duhh, so are youuu I think.
“A man by the name of Greyson Fallows is also looking for it.”
“Why would he be looking for it too?” I ask.
“I wasn’t sure, but I remembered early this morning that my Grandfather had a very close friend. He called him Grey…I think Grey must be Greyson.”
“Interesting…” I nod my head and try to piece together what this means.
“Hey Julia! Can I get you anything to drink? And who’s your friend?” Comes a voice beside me. Addy Wright.
“Heh..heh Addy! What are you doing here?!” I ask nervously.
“Um..Julia…My family owns the café…I work here?”
I bite my lip. Oh yeah…
Manuel sticks out his hand to shake hers. “I’m Manuel Parker, nice to meet you…”
“Addy, My name is Addy, and nice to meet you too” Addy raises an eyebrow at me and I shrink into my chair.
“Get us two Cappuccinos and two glazed donuts please.” Manuel says and Addy hurries off.
“She your friend?” He asks me.
“Yep, my best gal friend.”
“You seemed uncomfortable around her..?”
“I don’t want her or any of my other friends getting involved in this…I’m keeping them at a distance.” I explain, Addy comes back with our order.
“Julia, are you still meeting Alex and I at the pizza parlor tonight?..You can bring your friend!”
I hesitate and look to Manuel, to, I don’t know, say we have plans?
“Of course she’ll be there! And I’d be glad to come…that is if Julia doesn’t mind..”
WHAT IS HE DOING!?!?!
“Uh..no..I mean yeah sure, we’ll be there..” I shake my head at Manuel and Addy hurries off to help another customer, but not before adding cheerfully “See you tonight guys!”
“What was THAT!?!” I hiss.
“What do you mean?!” Manuel asks innocently.
“I JUST told you I want to stay away from them! So far wherever I am there’s been trouble. I don’t want anymore trouble for my friends!” I slide my uneaten doughnut across the table to him. “Now, what is the plan? “Julia, look. You and I haven’t exactly had much time to get to know each other, but I already think of you as a sister, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you..”
Yeah, says the guy with the gun…
He sighs, running his fingers through his hair. “But I need you to trust me when I say I will do my utmost to get your friend back.”
I shrug and prop my chin on my hand. “What can I do?”
“You can come with me to my house, we’ll pick up Sarah and go give our cousin a visit.” He says leaving the money for the bill on the table, plus a generous tip.
“You can put your bike in the back seat for now.”
OK, guys, don’t get me wrong I am worried and frustrated and stressed about everything that has been going on. But when a girl gets to ride in a car as sweet as that Corvette, sometimes all those thoughts drift away and you can’t help but enjoy yourself. I know I couldn’t.
We arrive at the Parker Manor and I still can’t get over the vastness. Sarah is ready and comes out of the house followed by the Butler.
“Do you want the limo Master Manuel?” Louis asks.
“No thanks Louis, I’ll take my car.”
Sarah huffs. “Why would we take this junk heap when we have a perfectly good limo!?”
“Shut up Sarah, get in the back.” Manuel snaps at his sister.
She grumbles and climbs in, complaining about having to sit next to my bike.
Manuel rolls his eyes dramatically and I giggle.
“Louis, please be so kind and take Julia’s bike to her home? Tell her Mother we’ll drop her off in awhile.”
Louis nods and takes the bike. We drive off, our hair blowing in the wind.
After about an hour of driving we come to a long narrow road with large houses on both sides, set back far from the road edge.
“Here we are!” Manuel states as he pulls down a long drive way, through a wrought iron gate and past the tall green hedges.
“I know right?! This place is awesome, we were here last week for a BBQ, they have an awesome backyard.” Manuel says, parking the car.
We climb out and as we walk to the door it opens, revealing Adam Parker, their cousin.
“Manny! Sarah! How are you!?” He says giving them each a hug. “I got Sarah’s text bout ya’ll stopping by! Come right on in!” He says holding the door open for us.
“We’re good Adam, and you?” Sarah asks, smiling sweetly.
“Fine, fine! And who is this?” He stops and looks in my direction, noticing me for the first time.
“This is Julia Fritz, Julia this is our cousin Adam.” Manuel says.
Adam smiles and I shake his offered hand awkwardly.
“Nice to meet you pretty lady.” He says and winks.
I roll my eyes.
“What brings you to my humble abode?” Adam asks, offering a chair to us all.
“We’re here on behalf of Uriah, the boy you took captive last night.” Manuel says as he takes a chair next to mine.
“Oh, I see…Well you know what I asked for if you wanted him returned.”
“Look, Adam, Uriah knows nothing about this situation, I promise! He was just trying to help me find the book…and I was helping…because..if I didn’t…well…”
“If she didn’t we would have had to dispose of her.” Sarah interrupts and smiles smugly.
“I’m sorry Julia…but you see, us Parkers are stubborn, and if I say I won’t let him go until I get what I want…well, that’s exactly what I mean.” I can’t help but admire his cool evilness…He’s so calm and laid back, if he weren’t evil he would make an awesome companion.
“Can we at least see him, Adam?” Manuel asks, rising from his chair and towering over his cousin by at least a foot.
Adam taps his cheek with his finger and smiles slightly. “Alright, you can see him…but no funny business Manny, I know you.” He raises an eyebrow, then turns on his heel motioning with his hand to follow him.
He takes us down the hall and opens a door leading into a vast and beautiful library. I gasp in delight.
“I know right!? Isn’t it rad?” Adam asks noticing my reaction.
Before I can answer him I see Uriah.
“Uriah!” I exclaim and hurry to his side.
There he sits in an overstuffed chair with a large book in his hands.
“Julia! It’s a library for heavens sake! Keep it down!” He grumbles.
Ok…for being held against his will he seems pretty normal…I would so totally be freaking out.
Manuel looks at Uriah with a confused expression. “Adam, if we promise to help you out, will you let him go?” Manuel asks.
“Manny.” Adam shakes his head and laughs. “That is not how I work and you know it! You can either help me now and take your friend, or help me never and never see your friend again.” He crosses his arms and watches Manuel with a smile playing on his face.
Manuel sighs. Just help him!! Let’s take Uriah and go! I want to say.
Sarah comes and hooks her arm in Adams. “Dear cousin, I was wondering if I could see your new stallion! When we came last week I was to ill to be near the smelly barn.” She pouts.
Adam smiles, and his eyes flash with excitement. “Yes! You must see my beautiful white stallion! All of you!” he says.
Manuel gives me a hard stare and I know exactly what he’s saying.
“I..Uh…I’m allergic to horses Adam…” I say.
“Oh..how sad. Guess you’ll have to stay here. Manny, keep Julia and Uriah company, Sarah and I will be back shortly.” They hurry out of the room and I’m left alone with Uriah and Manuel.
“Come on, we don’t have much time!” Manuel grabs mine and Uriah’s hands and pulls us after him.
“What if he catches us?!” I ask as he yanks us toward the car.
“He won’t! Get in!” he demands jumping in without even opening the door.
Uriah and I scramble into the back seat just as Manuel slams his foot on the gas throwing us backwards. “Get your seat belts on!” He shouts and he whips the steering wheel around heading toward the back of the house.
We can see Sarah and Adam heading to the barn and I wonder what in the world Manuel has planned.
But apparently Sarah knows. She sees us coming, kicks Adam in the shin then takes off running towards the car. Manuel slows just enough for her to dive head first into the front seat before he takes off again, straight through the enormous backyard property.
“Wow Sarah, that was amazing!” I yell over the wind.
She looks back at me and smiles. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get whats rightfully mine.” Her disheveled hair blowing about like crazy.
Gulp…yeah…even shoot people.
After awhile of driving we get to a back road and Manuel slows down, and heads back towards town.
“Manuel…How was that so easy?” I ask.
Manuel laughs and shakes his head. “Adam is smart…sometimes…but he works better when someone is doing the work for him. It was easy then, but it won’t be easy now that his temper has flared.”
“That was a splendid experience!” Uriah says grinning.
Ughh If only he know what I’ve gone through emotionally these last 24 hours.
We drop of Uriah after giving him an excuse for not showing up last night. He lost his phone and spent the night at a friends house. I just hope his mom is so happy to see him she doesn’t notice what a lame cover story that is.
“Ready for pizza?!” Manuel asks me, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
I totally forgot.
“Ewww Pizza?! Yuck.” Sarah’s face shows disgust and she crosses her arms.
“We’re dropping you off at home, party pooper.” Manuel says and I laugh. Who doesn’t like pizza!?! That’s like saying you don’t like chocolate. It’s not normal!
After dropping Sarah off we head to the pizza parlor in silence. Well, not complete silence, Manuel and I share a common love for piano music, he has some awesome Philip Wesley CDs. So we drive in happy, dreamy, piano-y silence…
“Here we are!” Manuel says shutting off the engine then coming to open my door for me.
“Thanks!…And you’re going to love this place, they have awesome pizza!” I say as he hold the door for me yet again.
Alex and Addy are already sitting at a table and Addy waves excitedly when she sees me.
“Julia! Manuel! So glad to see you!” She says and hugs me.
I smile and sit down next to Addy, forcing Manuel to sit next to Alex. I introduce them.
“Alex, this is Manuel, Manuel, Alex.” They shake hands and we sit down. I can’t help but feel a weird tension in the air.
“What pizza are we going to try?” Manuel asks the table.
“It’s up to you guys I just want to eat!” Addy exclaims patting her stomach to indicate its emptiness.
After a moment of pizza topping options and then a moment of crust flavor arguing, we finally decide what we want.
Bacon, pepperoni and mushroom, extra cheese with sesame seed crust.
“This is delicious!” Manuel says, his mouth full of food.
“Yeah, after we should head to Diana’s Dairy, they have the best homemade ice cream in town!” Alex states, taking a swig of his pop.
I’m glad they seem to be getting along, but I notice how Alex keeps looking at me, I really hope he doesn’t still suspect something is up…He seemed a little upset about me ignoring his text all day…but still, he seems weird.
After we finish the last piece of pizza we just chill and talk while our food settles. Addy and I are facing the door, Alex and Manuel have their backs to it. So I’m the only one who notices Adam marching towards the parlor door.
“Um…Manuel…” I point behind him.
He turns. “Uh…excuse..me guys, be right back. heh.” He laughs nervously, sets a $20 on the table and hurries away before his cousin comes in.
“What was that all about?” Alex asks, turning to watch Manuel through the door.
“Nothing, nothing…Soooo…Addy, how was work today?” I ask her.
“You know, just the normal Friday business, busy at some points and dull at others. How was your day Julia?”
“It was good Addy.” I kidnapped a hostage and rode in the back of an antique corvette nearing 100 MPH…Could have been better…but at least Uriah is safe.
I watch as Manuel and Adam yell at each other, getting all into each others faces and shoving each other around.
“Julia!” Alex says my name loudly. “I’ve been calling your name but you can’t seem to take your eyes off of…Him.” He jabs his thumb behind him.
“oh..I’m sorry..what did you want to ask me?” I ask, still watching out the door.
“I was just going to ask…”
Just then Adam slams his fist into Manuel’s face, sending him sprawling to the ground.
“Alex! Look!” I point and we all run out to see what we can do.
Adam sees me and marches up to me, his face inches from mine. “Where is your friend, princess?”
“Hey! Back off!” Alex tries to shove him, but Adam just bats him away.
“It’s ok Alex.” I say.
“It’s ok Alex.” Adam mocks. “Now where is your friend Missy, you have 5 seconds to tell me.”
“I’m not telling you a thing…except that your breath smells like a port-a-potty”
Adam’s eyes turn to slits. “How dare you!” he whines. “Does anyone have a mint?” He asks.
When no one answers he turns back to me. “Julia, so help me…”
Just then we hear police sirens.
“I called the police!” Addy says.
Adam’s face fills with panic and he turns to Manuel. He helps him up and they both climb into their cars.
“Julia, get a ride with your friends, I’ll call you later!” Manuel shouts and they drive off.
Neither of them are willing to get caught. They need each other.
Alex hurries to my side and holds his finger in front of my face.
“You have a whole lot of explaining to do. And I mean now.” He demands.
Sorry for the delay, my creativity and inspiration was at an extreme low yesterday. Hope this chapter makes up for it being a day late!