If I could turn back time, I would.
I would've gone back to the Petra from thirty-six hours ago, cruising back to LA in a black convertible, oblivious to the carnage she was about to cause. I would've used my futuristic powers to send a boulder crashing into her path, and then unable to avoid it, will create a giant explosion.
There goes Petra.
No-one would've linked me to Dana Blake, and that would be that.
But unfortunately I made it back in one piece.
I pulled up outside the hostel, I'd last seen from the back of a police car, and noticed two FBI agents manning the entrance since I'd gone AWOL. They thought they were being so scrupulous. Sinking down in their seats, and hoping their tinted windows would protect them.
But just to let them know I was onto them, I gave a sarcastic wave.
Before walking upstairs to my doom, and perhaps even smiling when I saw it.
My doom, came in the sign of Dana's belongings, packed away into storage boxes. On top of one of them, was a little note from Steven, greeting me. I hadn't expected to see such neat handwriting, but the cursive script was there, so...
I saw everything through my feeds. You didn't sell me out. Maybe, I've underestimated you in particular. You clearly deserve a certain level of trust, that I haven't been giving. If you make it back here, then I might as well tell you...it's not safe to remain there any longer. The FBI are watching. They're recording and analysing your every move.
Which is making me realize, that I'm no better than them, which is a bitter pill to swallow.
But if you've reached this far in my note, then it shows you're still willing to give me a chance.
How about we move in together? Call Seb. You have his number, right? From those flyers he sent out ages ago? He'll arrange everything.
I look forward to seeing you tonight.
I could've cried.
It took one lousy arrest, and me keeping my lips zipped, for Steven to even show a smidgeon of relent? And look! No mention of a sex-tape! Things were definitely freezing over in hell. Pretty soon, he'd be reading me entries from his diary, and I'd be letting him plait my hair...
Definitely the something.
I called Seb then, prepared for any tricky questions about where I'd disappeared to, after my arrest. But surprisingly, he didn't ask...
Instead, he just said, "Who's this?"
I forgot, I'd replaced my cell because I hadn't trusted the cell I'd been using before. Not after Agent Sumner took it in for "safekeeping" and could've uploaded all types of spyware on it. And then, she'd just handed it over in the morning, as I was being let go, with that smug look of someone who'd just farted and gotten away with it.
Yeah...nice try, Agent Sumner.
"It's me." I twirled a piece of hair around my finger. "Dana."
Seb appeared surprised. "Maam. You're crazy. I thought you'd be running away to the other side of the world by now. Are you a glutton for punishment?!"
"Seb. I'm not crazy."
"I mean if I was in your shoes, and I'm not because I don't wear ladies nine and a half, I would be running away and screaming."
"Like this...aarrggggghhh! You get where I'm coming from, maam?"
"No, I don't."
"So I s'ppose you want me to come round and collect you then?"
I sighed. What else could you do?
"Does Steven even know you're up this late?" I muttered to myself, even though it was only two in the afternoon. Seb and I, were like two peas in a pod. A pod I wasn't exactly comfortable sharing. Especially since I was being serious, and it was hard to be, when the person you were talking too, had suddenly broke off to do a shrill scream. Seriously. What was with that?
"Seb," I said tiredly. "I got Steven's note and I'm accepting his offer. Deal with it."
Then a stray thought entered my mind.
"Wait..." I began slowly. "You don't have a thing for him, do you?"
"Back up, maam. I'm his boy, but not in that way."
"I think I would know if I liked it up the rear, maam."
That put an end to that conversation. Thank God.
Seb told me that I needed to leave the majority of my things behind, because most of them had been tampered with. Thankfully, he'd managed to salvage most of my wardrobe and a couple of books. That meant I wouldn't be naked, after my first shower at Steven's place, with only one outfit to wear again and again.
Crossing my legs in the back of the car, I watched the world whiz by.
I still hadn't inserted in my earpiece, not having contacted Ajumma in three days. One more, and it would be a new record.
But I wasn't missing her.
On contrary, it actually felt nice not having to worry about listening out for her. I felt normal, for once. Like a girl, just taking an innocent chauffeured ride, up to see her rich boyfriend.
Not that I was giggling. Cracks had started to appear in my foundation (not the make-up kind), because I'd started to question who Ajumma was as a person, which in turn was making me feel shaky and unsure about myself, as a person.
But at Yusuf's side back in NY, I'd put a brave face on.
And now to Steven...well, he wouldn't get an inkling.
"Is this it?" I gawked, from the window as we pulled into a massive, circular driveway. Steven lived in a condo, all steel and glass, and kind of intimidating. There was a lot of land, before reaching the next neighbor.
At that moment, I felt a pang of regret.
I'd left, without saying goodbye to Will. The only temporary friend, if I can call him that, I'd made whilst at the hostel. We'd only met, like two times, but it felt rude to skip out without notice.
Especially after making a play for him.
God, how embarrassing.
I think I would've actually blushed if I hadn't been playing a part.
"He's not currently at home, maam," Seb supplied. "But I've been left instructions to let you in. There's food in the kitchen. It'll be good if you fed the fish too. And then the rest of time you can spend exploring. It'll give you something to chat about when Steven comes back."
"You're giving me free reign of the house?" I asked incredulously. "What? No hidden rooms? Secret trapdoors?"
"Maam." He stressed irrevocably. "He's giving you the keys to the house, sure. He might even be showing you a basic level of trust. But if you step out of line, or start digging around too deeply, then don't be surprised if he snatches those keys away."
"Okay. So I'll play nice," I pouted, leaning forward and hugging the back of the passenger seat.
Seb snorted, and got out.
He came round to open the door.
Cue cheesy, thematic music as the princess steps out of her carriage, and sets eyes on the palace of the prince.
If you're wondering if there was any shrubbery around to be sick in, then I might as well describe it to you. The driveway, was made of fine, pastel cream gravel and in the centre, there was a statue of a naked cherub. I kid you not. Made out of topaz marble...it certainly stood out.
On Steven's porch, there were hanging baskets at regular intervals, spouting magnolia's, and an eidetic mix of wild grass and bluebells. Nicely maintained, with a polished deck and wooden door made out of varnished Ash.
Inside, there was a grand hallway, with a spiral staircase leading up to the upper floor, and an open plan kitchen.
The kitchen island was a marvel in itself.
It was a giant fish tank, something you might find in an aquarium, with mood lighting set by java lamps.
But totally impractical to be working on.
Seriously. What if your knife slipped, and you accidentally chipped the glass worktop?
Next thing, you'd know there'd be a tidal wave of gasping fish and kitchen utensils.
Not a good thing to mention when ringing insurance, surely.
But the entire downstairs was immaculate. Styled, but not homely. I wandered out of the open plan kitchen, Seb having just left minutes before, and into the living room with a sixty-inch plasma.
I sat down on the red leather armchair and waited.
By eight, I was bored. I wanted to explore every nook, but didn't want to arouse Steven's suspicions, if I start shining a flash-light under the floorboards. No. I had to make my appraisal generic as I went room to room. Because it was the only way I'd appear innocent in the CCTV he'd installed around his own house.
How do I know?
Well, I flipping opened a door and saw a security room, with every inch of the grounds monitored on various screens. All that was missing was a guard, smoking a cigarette and picking his nose.
"Oh, Steven." I mumbled. "I made a vow never to dance again unless I wanted to. And now, I really...badly want to. Watch me, Steven."
And I danced around his house for a good hour before deciding to take that shower.
Not because I was happy.
It was to show him I was comfortable. Mind games at the core.
A/N: Guest review! I'm glad you like Anemone. That was a story I wrote two, or three years ago on a whim. Since I have no plans of updating that story, I thought I might as well respond here...sorry, it's not with good news :( But you are ace, for reviewing both this and that! Mwah.
We're reaching the climax of this story. Or beginning to, at least.