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CHAPTER 3

Damsels in Distress

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Ivory and Viper were sitting on a few stairs next to a wall somewhere in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It had been almost two days, and because they didn't have working papers, no business would hire them. They didn't think this through, but being in and out of foster homes may be the cause.

"Let's just walk around. We can't sit and pout forever," Ivory suggested, craving something to eat.

"Yeah, you're right," Viper agreed.

The two best friends got up and started to walk in the city they wanted to be in.

"We should look for jobs at a bakery. I've always wanted to learn to cook. Plus, we can eat delicious food, for once," Viper said.

"Would we be old enough?" Ivory asked her. "I mean, the only experience we have is at the foster home, and I wouldn't technically call that work. That was pressure on little kids. Plus, none of the other places we tried would hire us because we don't have working papers."

Viper's face twisted as she began to think. "You know, now that I think about it, I don't know. Probably not. We should find where they give out working papers first. That'll do the job."

"I don't know, Viper. Maybe we didn't think all of this through."

"It's too late now. We're already here; Ms. Campbell won't allow us to come back."

The two looked around in awe. Manhattan was magnificent, but busy. Buildings were all over, and there were a ton of food stands, making Ivory's mouth water. Not to mention that a lot of people carried large shopping bags in their hands or were just walking and looking around like Viper and Ivory. Some of the girls gave them looks because they weren't wearing nice-looking clothing—because what else do girls do? Ivory didn't mind, but Viper did.

"If you're going to give me looks about my outfit, make sure yours looks better than mine," she sassed one lady.

The lady snarled at her but said nothing. The lady wore an expensive dress, high heels, twenty pounds of makeup that made her look like a drag queen, and a ton of horrible perfume.

"Viper, who cares? Most of them look horrible in dresses anyway, especially that one. You can't look nice if you aren't decently attractive," Ivory nodded her head toward the lady that insulted her friend. Viper snickered as the lady stomped off, mumbling.

Then the two of them giggled, but not loudly because they didn't want to attract attention. The two continued to walk around and came across an alleyway with houses. That's when they saw two young men. One was in black jeans and a black tank top, holding a sign. The other boy wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a ball cap, stood behind an older man who was engaging in conversation with the boy holding up a sign.

"Ivory, look! Look at those guys," she pointed at the two.

"So? What about them?" Ivory asked, carelessly.

"They look like they're up to something."

Ivory groaned, knowing what she's up too. "Don't you dare, Viper! Remember what I told you."

"Oh, come on! Let's just see what they're up too."

"What if they aren't up to anything?"

"Ivory, look at the way they're looking around and eyeing that man. They are up to something, and whatever it is that they're up too, isn't going to do them good."

"You can go if you'd like. I'm going to mind my own business as a regular person would do." Ivory crossed her arms and looked back at the two teen boys."

"Have some fun!"

"This isn't fun! Just mind your own business, Viper. This is what gets you into trouble."

"Oh, Ivory—"

"Fine!" The blonde gave up and followed distantly by Viper to get a closer look.

Viper was right, something seemed wrong. The two boys were up to something. Ivory usually had an eagle's eye, but not in crowds like the one they were in. In crowds, there were so many people around and so much to do. She got a closer look at the guy—muscles and tattoos all over their arms. Tons of people had tattoos, but something was off about these boys.

That's when it happened. The guy in the white shirt reached into the older man's pocket, took out his wallet and held it behind him. When the man checked his phone, the other boy took it and put it in his inside his own pocket. Thieves! Ivory's eyes got wide. She turned and looked at Viper, who was staring at the two boys in shock. Neither of them said anything.

Viper was right; the guys were up to something. What Ivory didn't understand was how no one noticed, even the people around them. She then remembered what Mr. Lancaster told her a couple of days ago and knew that she and Viper needed to leave. The two criminals started to walk towards the two girls, talking to each other.

Ivory quickly grabbed Viper's arm, "Viper, come on. Let's go!"

"No, we need to get that wallet back."

"Fine. If you want to be caught, then go right ahead. I'm leaving."

It was too late. The two boys stopped and looked at the terrified girls. They froze in place; not knowing what to do next from the shock of being noticed by criminals; scammers.

The guy that held up the sign outfit consisted of all black with tattoos on his arms and black sneakers. He tickled the blonde's fancy. The light-haired guy was average compared to his friend. They both looked around Ivory and Viper's age, maybe a bit older.

The two girls glanced at each other, then turned their attention back to the men, paralyzed, not knowing what to do or say. The two boys looked at each other and then at the two girls. They came closer, giving them both cold smirks. They realized why the two girls were staring at them.

"Uh—" Viper began.

The two men, whatever their names were, walked closer. Ivory turned around and saw that she and Viper getting closer to a wall of some old building. The two boys looked like they were going to corner them. Ivory looked up the street to see people quickly walking in all directions, not paying any attention.

Ivory was visibly annoyed, looking at her friend to see what she had in mind to get them into more trouble.

"Where are you two from?" The taller guy asked. "You don't seem like you're from here."

"Queens," Ivory answered.

"Ah — we know some people over there," the dark-haired boy said. He had crystal blue eyes.

Viper grabbed Ivory's arm, signaling something as the girl felt two taps. She knew what the code meant.

"Oh, do you?" Ivory kept the conversation going. "Queens is okay."

"Yeah, nothing special about it," the taller guy said.

Ivory had the feeling that the guys were a couple of years older because they had mature voices.

Ivory felt Viper tap her wrist twice again: they were ready to escape.

"Run!" Viper cried, and before the two guys could do anything, they took off in opposite directions. Ivory ran right while Viper ran left.

Running wasn't the smartest idea because that meant that she'd be chased, but Ivory didn't care, and to be frank, she was too scared to look back. She ran past everything standing in her way; the stands, the cars, and everyone else around her trying her best to get away and somehow find Viper in Manhattan, which felt like one big maze. Ivory finally got the courage to look behind her and turned her head, seeing the boy in all black, right behind her. She wanted to scream but couldn't. Some bystanders saw her running and gave her funny looks, but she didn't care. All she thought about was locating Viper and getting out of this part of the city.

She turned and ran into an old, vandalized alleyway between two old buildings—garbage all over and the smell of vomit fumed the air; her chest aching, lungs feeling as hot as fire, but she paid no mind to it, not wanting those two guys to catch her. She turned the corner, but to her disadvantage, saw the taller guy. He quickly ran to her, but she retaliated by turning around to run back, but to her dismay, she saw the guy with the crystal blue eyes.

Shit! She panicked.

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Meanwhile, Viper ran past a neighborhood and found herself surrounded by an empty, alleyway with graffiti on the walls, panting and trying to catch her breath. She then stopped gasping for air, remembering that the boy with light hair was chasing her, so she turned around and saw that the guy was nowhere to be found. She looked around and realized that she is behind the buildings of stores and ten to twenty-feet high apartment buildings. The alleyway was filled with garbage and foul odors. She kept walking, desperately trying to find her best friend, intuition saying that something is wrong.

"VIPER, HELP ME!" She heard a small scream not too far from her. It was quiet and bland, but loud enough to be heard.

Her heart sank and began to beat out of her chest. Ivory!

"Ivory?" she searched. "Ivory, Ivory! Where are you?" She kept running, but couldn't find her friend.

"Get off me!" She heard her friend clearer now. She wasn't far away, but when she ran to where she heard Ivory's voice, she wasn't to be found.

Viper couldn't believe it, she began to panic — her heart raced. Those two guys abducted her best friend, and Viper worries that she wouldn't see them.

Then, she remembered that those young men saw her also and that they will have no choice but to come back for her. But a part of her is in-denial, thinking that Ivory had escaped and that maybe they didn't catch her. She undeniably believed that her friend had escaped the clutches of those two boys, which caused her to doubtfully keep searching. Viper devised a plan, one that will help her find her best friend. If she can somehow contact the police and get those two boys in a trap somehow, the police will look for Ivory, which will force the boys to let her go. It was a bulletproof plan—it had to work.

Viper ran off, setting herself up to be a hostage by sitting by a building where the kidnapping took place. She would get the police and bring them to where Ivory was captured, and those guys will come back to find her. She had the idea of them trying to kidnap her with the police witnessing her distress, and figured that the police would discover Ivory and save her.

She waited, and waited—hoping that her plan worked.