The pitter patter of rain on glass acts as the backdrop to my tale.
“So….that’s why I wouldn’t tell you anything.” I finish.
Alex and I have been sitting in the café for the past hour.
Explaining the Parker situation took longer than I had expected, but the relief I feel at telling him is greater than I could have imagined.
Alex scratches his head. “So you really did see Mr. Doubleday get killed….by Manuel….and they forced you to hang out with them and do as they say, or else your family and friends were in danger?”
“Yes.” I agree.
“OK, so what we need to do is call the police, tell them all that you just told me, and you’re done with the Parkers.”
If only it could be that easy…
“No…I can’t tell the police….I have to continue to help them.” I say. “If I don’t, they’ll hurt you, or my family….I can’t have that on my conscience…I already have a lot on my mind.”
“What? Jewel, I won’t sit around and let this happen anymore, don’t worry about me, I can handle myself, you worry about you” Alex says.
“No! Alex… They’ll kill you, trust me on this,…you aren’t safe, not safe at all.”
“How do you know they will?”
“Greyson said he would stop at nothing to get the journal. He was willing to kill me for it….Manuel killed Mr.Doubleday for being curious and reading the journal. Adam kidnapped Uriah…I was lucky to get him back….If you get involved in this who knows what they’ll do to you.”
“Julia, I’m either helping you or calling the police for you. Though I’d much rather the latter of the two…it’s your choice.”
Once Alex states something, that’s how it’s going to be.
Do I really want his help? Yes. Does it put him in danger? Yes. Do I want that? No….But will him helping me be better than him being killed for calling the police? Yep.
“OK, you can help me…but here’s the deal. No fighting with Manuel, I could feel the tension so strong tonight I thought the car would overflow with guy ego. He’s a dangerous guy, try to stay on his good side….please?”
“That’s your one rule?…Staying buddy buddy with pretty boy?”
I give Alex the look.
“FINE! I’ll hold back as much as possible, but I’ll have you know that I really want to punch him in the face.”
Yeah I noticed….
After awhile Alex finally stood saying. “Let’s get you home, we have church bright and early tomorrow.”
We wandered out to his jeep and soon we were on the road again. I was beyond happy to see my home at last.
Before climbing out of Alex’s jeep he placed his hand on my arm to stop me.
“Julia….maybe we should ask Addy and Uriah to help us, we work well as a team.”
“I don’t want to put anyone else in danger….but if you think it’s the right thing to do, then OK.” I say slipping out of his car and hurrying to the door.
I wave as he drives off once he sees I have unlocked the door and I shut the door behind me.
Clara sits on the couch, waiting for me, a worried expression on her sweet little face.
“Julia!” She cries and hugs me.
“Heyyy, what are you doing up? It’s past your bed time!” 9:30 for her, 10:00 for me on Saturday nights…
“I didn’t get to see you today, I was worried.”
I remember how I had rushed out of the door early this morning, that seemed like ages ago.
“I’m sorry Clara.” hugging her tightly I whisper in her ear, “Want a snack before bed?” I grab her hand and lead her to the kitchen.
She runs the the silverware drawer and I head to the cupboard pulling out our favorite snack.
After we’re done savoring our heaping spoonful of chocolatey-hazel-nutty goodness, we sneak upstairs past our parents door so as not to wake them.
“Julia?” Clara whispers.
“Are you OK?”
“What do you mean…’OK’?”
“You just seem different these last few days.”
Even my 10 year old sis notices….
“I’m fine Clara, don’t you worry about me.” though I’m anything but fine, actually.
I give her cheek a pat. “Now, you need to go to bed, and so do I.”
“Night.” I say and we head into our separate rooms.
I quickly change into my PJ’s and crawl under the covers sinking instantly into a deep sleep.
The next morning I’m woken by my Father’s loud singing as he gets ready for church.
He taps quietly on my door and peeks in. “Morning Sunshine, time to get up, leaving for church in 30.” He says.
I feel as though I didn’t sleep at all but I hurry out of bed and take a quick shower before pulling on a purple dress and a pair of brown gladiator sandals.
With 10 minutes to go I brush my teeth and quickly apply a bit of mascara, eyeshadow and lip gloss.
I knock on Clara’s door and ask to borrow a purple bow and she helps me fix my hair.
“FIVE MINUTES!” My Dad calls from downstairs.
“We better go.” I say, grabbing my small brown purse and my bible from my room and we run down the stairs together.
The ride to church is short and we’re soon climbing the steps to our small baptist church.
Pastor Moore shakes our hands as we walk through the door into the auditorium.
Dad leads us to our pew.
Yes, we’re creatures of habit…we always sit in the same pew.
The rest of the Moores’ share a pew with us and they’re already there.
“Good morning Mr. & Mrs. Parker!” Says Lizzy, before taking Clara’s hand and hurrying to play with their church buddies before the service.
After our parents talk for awhile Alex and I sit down in the middle of the pew waiting for the service to start.
“How’d you sleep?” Alex asks straightening his tie.
“Could have been better…you?”
“Like a log.”
“Nice…did you see Mrs.Abernathy’s wig?” I snicker.
Looking at me in complete and utter surprise he asks, “She wears a wig??”
“Umm…yeah, haven’t you noticed how her hair is different lengths and colors like every month?” Boys…
“Hmm…yeah, I guess.”
Mrs.Abernathy is an elderly widow that has come to this church since the 20’s. Last week her hair was to her chin and brown, and this week it’s down to her shoulders and blonde….
I shake my head at Alex.Wow…talk about oblivious.
Just then Lizzy and Clara slide into the pew next to me and our parents sit down as well.
Bro.Moore stands at the pulpit and smiles out at the congregation.
“Good Morning!” He says.
“Good Morning!” Everyone sings in unison.
After a prayer and few announcements we are led in several hymns and the kids are sent off to their separate classes.
“Sorry I’m late.” Addy whispers as she slips into the pew on the other side of Alex just as Pastor Moore has us open our Bibles to Ephesians 4:25.
“The bible says, ‘Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.'”
My face instantly warms as all the falsehoods I’ve told lately swarm in my head.
“God has saved us and brought us out of the life we used to live. Lying is sin, and against our God, why would we lie to God or to each other? We’re family!” Bro. Moore’s words cut deep.
After the service I give Alex the look.
“What?! I promise, I didn’t say a word.”
I know he didn’t, he wouldn’t. God gave Bro. Moore that message just for me.
“Hey guys, sorry I didn’t sit with you today, I sat with Mrs.Fauns, her daughter was sick and couldn’t sign for her.” Uriah says as he sidles up to us.
Mrs.Fauns was a sweet deaf lady who always had a pocket full of candies. That’s just one of the reasons she’s sweet….she also makes an amazing apple pie….YUM…
“It’s cool, man. Addy, Uriah, you two wanna come out to lunch with us? Julia and I are going.” Alex says.
“Let me ask my Mom.” Addy says hurrying off.
Uriah checks his phone calendar making sure his “schedule” was free. “Yeah, lunch sounds exhilarating ” He says finally. Clearly he had nothing else planned.
Alex turns to me, “I already asked your parents.”
“Kay, lemme just say bye.” I bid farewell to my family and Addy and I climb into the back of Alex’s Jeep.
“Pizza Parlor?” Alex asks.
“YES!” the answer is unanimous.
Two cheese pizza’s and several root beers later, we sit in comfortable silence. Until Alex decides to interrupt it. Thanksss Alex….NOT.
“Guys, Julia and I have something to tell you.”
Addy clasps her hands together and she squeals. “You two are dating! I knew it!”
“NO!” We say in unison.
“Heh…nothing like that…” Alex mutters, his face is far redder than mine.
I decide to explain, seems only fair.
“Uriah, Addy, you both have met Manuel Parker…..” I tell them all, well, almost all, of what I told Alex the night before, with Alex adding bits and pieces and even Uriah added a few things here and there.
“WOW” Addy claps her hands. “This is sooooo excitinggggg!!!”
“But it’s extremely dangerous.” I warn.
“Are you guys up to helping them look for their journal?” Alex asks them.
“I’m in!” Addy says.
“Me too!” Uriah chimes in.
I don’t know what Manuel and Sarah will say….For one thing I know it won’t be good. But I think they’ll find Uriah, Alex, and Addy’s talents quite helpful.
Just then I got a text from Sarah.
Sarah: Adam isn’t cooperating. We need your help sneaking into his house tomorrow night. Meet us at the Café at 12:00 A.M. SHARP.
I turn to my friends. “Guys, we have our first mission.”
The next night Alex pulls up in front of my house, it’s 11:23 P.M. when I sneak quietly out of the house.
“Let’s pick up Uriah then Addy.” Alex says as I slip into the front seat.
We stop at both of their houses and soon we are on our way to Addy’s Family’s Café.
When we arrive, Manuel and Sarah are already in the parking lot waiting.
I jump out of the jeep and hurry to their car. I wanted to warn them so they didn’t freak out in front of my friends….
“Manuel, Sarah….I have something to tell you.” I say.
Manuel eyes the jeep behind me.
“You asked Alex to help?”
Oh, right…he knew I was telling Alex about them…
“Well…yeah, I did. But there’s something else too.”
Manuel raises an eyebrow and Sarah rolls her eyes. “Get on with it.” She grumbles.
“I asked my friend Addy and Uriah to help too.”
“What?!” Sarah shrieks than covers her mouth. “The only reason you’re allowed to help is because Manuel wouldn’t kill you…besides, if your friends join us, you’ll just be putting them in danger.”
“Sarah is right….if your friends start helpin….”
Manuel is cut short as Alex walks up beside me. “Do we have a problem?” he asks.
Sarah blinks then shakes her head. “Nope! We were just saying what a pleasure it will be to have you guys work with us.” She says quickly.
Manuel and I look at her in surprise.
“Er….right….” Manuel looks back at Alex. “Follow me….Adam’s place isn’t to far from here.”
We turn back to the jeep no questions asked. I didn’t want to risk them changing their minds. If they wouldn’t let my friends help then I wouldn’t feel so good about doing this. It’s like riding into battle with your friends, how awesome is that!?
We pulled onto Adam’s property through the back yard, past a Tennis court, stable, and huge pool.
This dude is loaded….
“OK, here’s the deal, breaking and entering is against the law….so if the police come you better believe I’m running.” Addy announces from the back seat. “And Alex, I’m borrowing your work gloves, I don’t want my fingerprints on anything.”
As we climb out of the vehicle, Manuel and Sarah hurry over. I notice Sarah’s eyes never leave Alex.
What, does she think he’ll fall for her?….yeah right….well, I hope not.
“Alright, Adam normally has security cameras set up, but I paid his butler to shut them off for the night.” Manuel explains. “I told him we were planning a surprise for Adam….he’s like, super gullible.”
We all laugh.
“And also, he left the back door open for us….so getting in will be the easy part. The only difficulty is finding the journal, but with everyone’s help we can comb the place quickly. Any questions?”
Uriah raises his hand. “How long do you estimate this will take? I need to be home by 5:30 A.M. at least, see, I have Skype French lessons at 6:00 A.M. and I don’t want to be late, you have no idea how…..”
Manuel cuts in. “I promise you, you’ll be home before your lesson.”
Uriah sighs. “Thank goodness!”
Eye-roll….what a NERD.
“Alright, let’s go.”
Manuel opens the back door and we all walk in.
“Addy, Uriah, you two take the library, there are a whole lot of books to go through….Alex you and…”
“ME, can take the living room!” Sarah cuts in.
“Umm…ok, Sarah, Alex take the living room and Kitchen, Julia and I will check bedrooms and the Sitting rooms.” Manuel directs.
Ugh…what is Sarah up to?
Addy and Uriah head to the library and Alex is dragged away by Sarah.
“We’ll check the sitting rooms first, I don’t think Adam would hide it any bedroom but his own…we’ll check his last.” Manuel says as we hurry down the hall.
“But…what if he wakes up?”
“I doubt he will, he’s literally a rock when he sleeps.”
Ugh…He’s ‘Literally’ a rock?….like wow….
“He sleeps like a rock…he’s not a rock…” I grumble.
“That’s what I said.” Manuel shakes his head and laughs.
Yeah, uh huh…Whatever…
Searching the first sitting room, we come up with nothing, besides a pair of sunglasses that Manuel says Adam stole from him when they were golfing last summer.
Being paired with Sarah would be any guys dream come true….that is, any guy besides me.
Not only was her perfume nauseating, but her chirpy voice seemed to hit every last nerve in my head.
“I don’t see it anywhere in here.” Sarah pouts, sitting on the sofa, her arms crossed.
“Yeah, cuz you sure looked a whole lot.” I mutter.
“What was that?”
Oh bother… “Erm, nothing.”
After a half hour of through searching, not a single sign of that journal can be found.
“Guess we’re on to the kitchen….do you think he would put it there?” I ask.
“I don’t know, doubtful though.”
The kitchen is the biggest and most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen, it’s probably as big as my kitchen, dining room and living room combined. I am completely speechless.
“Wow.” I gaze up at the beautiful chandeliers that dangle, twinkling from the ceiling.
“Oh this is nothing!” Sarah giggles.
I don’t normally cringe when someone giggles….this is one of those rare moments.
I turn to her and ask, “What do you mean?”
“The kitchen at the Parker Manor is twice this size!” She waves her hand as if this kitchen were nothing but a junk yard.
I ignore her and begin looking in all the cupboards.
“I’m so glad Manuel coupled us together.” Sarah sighs.
I say nothing. 15 more cupboards.
“That Julia, she’s quite annoying, don’t you think?” She asks.
Wow, you should be talking… “Actually, no, I don’t think so at all.”
“No?…Alex, can I tell you something?”
“Uh, sure…” 10 more cupboards.
“I,…I think you’re really cute, and I think we should hang out some time.”
9 more cupboa….Wait, what?!
“Uh….Thanks, but I don’t think so.” my head is deep in the 9th cupboard as I search through pots and pans.
“Why not?!” I grit my teeth as her whiny tone pierces my eardrum.
“Look, Sarah, I am not interested in you, or your family’s business, I’m only helping out for Julias’ sake.” I say shutting the cupboard door lightly.
“Oh, Alex, I understand that you’re not ready, but you’ll see soon how much you need me.” She says and flounces out of the kitchen.
What. Was. That?…..
Sarah is a nutcase. And I have a migraine.
Better go find Julia, see if she’s made any progress….especially with that Manuel creep with her.
The Journal isn’t in any of the sitting rooms or guest rooms so far, Manuel says that leaves Adam’s room.
“Are we going to go in there? Maybe we should just wait until tomorrow to check it out.” I say hopefully. I really don’t want to go sneaking into some guys bedroom while he’s sleeping, hoping to steal something he already stole from us that we stole from the library.
“Nah, we’ll do it now, it’s no biggie, if he wakes up we’ll think of something.” Manuel says as we walk to the bedroom door.
Manuel eases the door open and we creep inside.
How are we supposed to find anything in the pitch black room?
“Check his side table, I’ll check his desk.” Manuel whispers in my ear.
I sneak quietly to the side of Adam’s bed and feel around the table carefully.
Adam rolls over in bed and I stand as still as possible.
“See anything?” Manuel hisses.
Before I can finish a hand clasps around my wrist and I scream like the siren on a fire truck.
A light switches on and I feel a cold metal blade being pressed lightly to my neck.
Oh Lord, help me.
Chapter seven folks! Hope you enjoy it! More next week!