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Jail Bird.

I sped down the highway, my windows rolled down as I screamed, "Yeah!"

I pushed the limit of my car, sirens blaring behind me as I swerved along the empty highway. My black hair blew every which way, as I glanced down at the speedometer. I was officially going as fast as the car could go, and the cops were still gaining on me.

Screw Mom, and my stupid brother. I would die on this road, and I didn't care. Of course it might have had something to do with the fact that I was drunk.

Suddenly, the car caught on something, and I went spinning. A scream escaped my lips as I tried hard to get control of it again, and I went sailing through the air, but I never flipped. I hit the ground, and my body was wrenched against my seat belt. As my car slid in the grass, it tipped, just almost falling onto it's side, but at the last second, it fell back, slamming back down upright.

I gasped for breath, having had the air knocked out of me. I unbuckled my seat belt and opened the door, almost falling out of the car. Cop cars circled me, and I leaned against my poor smashed mustang, a small smile on my face.

"Get on the ground!" One of the cops yelled.

"Sir yes sir!" I yelled back, shooting him a salute and lying on the ground.

"Smartass." He muttered as he cuffed me.

I chuckled as he hoisted me up. "Be gentle, I'm only human." I said.

He sat me down in a rough manner, despite my warning, in the cop car, and closed the door.

***

"How could you be so stupid, Jane?" My mother screamed through the phone, making me pull it back from my ear and wince.

"So yeah, as I was saying I'm in jail, and my plan to die didn't work out, so..." I trailed off as Mom inturrupted me again.

"Jane Lane Harison I could strangle you! This is the second time you-"

"Okay, my call is up. Bye!" And I put the phone back on the hook.

I let out a breath, shaking my head. "Take me away officers!" I said dramatically, leaning on his shoulder.

His lips twitched. "Actually, we're to take you in for questioning, boss's orders." He said.

"What for? I freaking started a car chase, I didn't commit a robbery with a partner or some shit." I said as he took my arm and led me into the room where they questioned people.

"He'll explain everything to you." He said, chuckling.

I sat down with a bored sigh. "Hey, you got a coke, Greg?" I asked him.

"No." He said, tuckings his hands in his pockets, as turned and left.

I sighed again.

A minute later, I was sitting with my feet up on the table, studying my nails, when "the boss" walked in. I didn't expect  the man my blue eyes took in.

His dark eyes were almost golden, as they assessed me. His tan skin was hidden under a black blazer. His black slacks fit him just right, and a tie wrapped ruggedly around his neck. Even with his clothing, I could see that he was well built. His hair curled around his ears, and he looked as if he'd been running his hands through it.

He gave me a polite nod. "Hello, Jane Harington, I'm Victor Price." He said.

My drunk mind made me bolder, as I grinned up at him and exclaimed, "Man, you're sexy!"

Thicker Than Water.

 

Victor Price sat down across from me, not seeming amused. "I see you're intoxicated." He said.

"Dude, I'm wasted." I said.

"Sober enough to answer some questions, I hope."

I crossed my eyes upward and began twitching my eyebrows. As I saw that they were in operation, I nodded with a serious expression. "My eyebrows still move when I want them to. I'm good."

He narrowed his eyes at me and leaned foreward. "I'll make a deal with you. If I can get the answers I need from you, I'll cut your jail time down to two weeks." He said.

I crossed my arms. "What in the hell would you need from me that would get me out in two weeks?" I asked him.

"Well, you're the daughter of a notorious criminal, Dirk Harison." He said.

I smiled. "Dadio!"

"I want to know if he's contacted you recently." He said.

"Sure he has! You know he's very proud of me for that grand theft auto I pulled a few years back." I said thoughtfully.

"Listen to me. I want to know what he said." He said, impatient as I got off track.

I raised an eyebrow, happy that I wasn't too drunk to use them - they were my greatest sass weapons. "Blood is thicker than water."

"Listen, I know he's family but-"

"No, that's what he said." I explained.

He raised his eyebrows, so I felt the need to explain further, smiling in amusement. "It's our little code, for when he's close by. Usually he's watching us through the windows or something, but then he's gone. Off to hide out again. This time he told me that he was headed to Los Angeles, of course that's code for either Mississippi or Texas." I said.

He raised his eyebrows. "You don't think he'll be angry at you for sharing this information?"

I stared at him, my smile fading. I sobered instantly at his words.

"Blood is thicker than water." I said again, this time with emotion.

My father once told me, that if I were ever questioned like this, to tell them everything I knew. He didn't want me in trouble like him. He made me promise him, with a pinky promise and no crossed fingers or toes. It may not have seemed like much, but to us, it was a rendition of the hand on the bible. 

He stared at me for a moment, before looking down at the file he'd brought in with him. "Tell me, what else did he say?" He asked.

"I don't know, some sappy crap about how he loved me and that he'd never let anything happen to me or something." I muttered, not revealing how much those words meant to me.

"I see. Well we think we know the reason for this. Your father is not only in trouble with the law. He's in trouble with a gang. We think this is why he started robbing banks in the first place." He explained.

I shrugged. I'd already known that. "Yeah, so?" I asked.

"We think his life is in danger. He called us an hour before you started the police chase, asking us to put you and your family into protection. He pretty much told us everything, all except where he was located at the time. How long ago did he call you?" He asked.

I furrowed my eyebrows. "What did he say to you?"

"Please answer the question-"

"No you answer my question, what did he say to you?" I asked, my voice raising.

"He said that he was sorry for his crimes, and to take care of his daughter." He said, his face smooth.

My breathing started becoming shallow, and fast, and for the first time since my father left, I felt tears brim my eyes. "What did he say to me?" I demanded, slapping my hand down on the table, knowing that they were holding back.

"He said, I'm sorry." 

I closed my eyes tightly, a single tear escaping. "I'm done." I whispered.

"Can I just ask you one more-"

"I'm done!" I snapped, opening my eyes to glare at him, "Get me out of here."

He stared into my eyes for a moment, before letting out a silent breath and nodding, waving a few officers in to take me away.

I didn't notice them hoist me up. I didn't even notice them leading me back to my cell. My entire world melted away with only one thought swirling through my mind.

My father was dead.

The memory of that phone call was flitting through my head, and I closed my eyes again.

**

I was sixteen years old, and the phone began ringing. Thinking it was a bill collector, I picked it up and said in Spanish, "You're mother is a whore."

What I got was a boistering laugh. "I see the bill collectors have been nagging at you." Dad's voice said.

I squealed like a five year old on Christmas. "Dad!"

"Hey, sweetheart. Guess what? Blood is thicker than water."

"Really? Do we get to go out for icecream again?" I asked eagerly.

"No, unfortunately I just dropped in to check on you. Man, you've grown since I've last seen you!" He said.

"Yeah, but don't worry, I'll always be your little girl." I said.

He laughed softly, and then the line went silent for a few seconds. "You still there?" I asked him.

"Yeah...yeah I'm still here. Listen, I've got a new code for you, okay? I don't want you to argue with me, but I might not be able to tell you this in my own words. If I should...well if the Peter's gang should catch up with me...I want you to be able to know what happened to me, okay? So if I say "I'm sorry," that means...that means I didn't get away in time." He said seriously.

The smile slipped from my face. "Daddy, why are you telling me this?" I asked.

"I just want you to know. I love you. I have to go. You tell your brother to take care of you two, okay?"

"O-okay...Dad?" I asked after a second.

"Yeah, sweetheart."

"Promise me I'll never hear those words."

He was silent for a moment. "I love you."

And then the line went dead.

***

I watched as they shoved another delinquent in with me. He was no older than twenty. He had shaggy blue hair, and almost neon green contacts. I rolled my eyes. 

He looked at me, and gave me what he thought was a charming smile. "Hi there."

"Hi." I said in a flat voice.

"What are you in for?" He shifted his hair out of his eye, and stared down at me.

"Murder," I replied, blunt.

He blinked, and then he cleared his throat, laughing slightly. "Nice joke."

I almost, almost grabbed him by the throat.

He tilted his head, and murmured with a smug smile as if he was so badass, "I stole some vodka."

I snorted and sat back. "Nice."

We stood in silence for a minute, as he checked me out, and then blue-green goblin sat next to me, a little too close. "So I heard in jail that sometimes-"

He was cut off as I pulled back my arm and punched him dead in the face. I heard the satisfying crunch of bone, and he was out like a light, sliding to the floor. That was the last straw.

"I am not your bitch." I said to the unconscious creep, shoving him aside.

I sat against the wall, watching as Glen rushed over to see what the commotion was about. He looked up at me with a raised eyebrow. "You know you're not supposed to do that."

"Hey, he came onto me. I have the right to self defence." I said, shrugging as I studied my nails.

He sighed heavily and left, probably to go find a medic for the poor kid. A few minutes later, Victor stalked over, looking down at the kid. "Oi, Vicky! How's it going?" I asked, putting on a big fake smile.

Victor gave me a glare. "What?" I looked down at the goblin on the floor as if just noticing he was there. "Woah! How did this happen?" I exclaimed, and then leaned over him, kicking him in the side as I yelled, "Hey, goblin dude, you okay?"

He groaned and more blood gushed from his nose. I didn't think he felt all that good. I sucked in a mock sympathetic breath through my teeth, looking up at Victor.

"Doesn't look so good."

Victor sighed and opened the cell door, helping Glen drag the kid out. A few other officers took over, and Victor looked at me. "Just because he's dead doesn't mean you have to fill his shoes." He said.

Anger seered through me, and I stood up. He watched as I stalked over, reached through the bars and grabbed him by his perfect collar, tight. I pulled him close, staring him straight in the eyes without a hint of the sassy-bitch front that I usually had. This wasn't the time for that, this was the time for cold-hearted-bitch to take over.

"now you listen to me, you son of a bitch. Don't you ever talk about my father like that! He did what he did for my family! To protect us! Next time I hear you say something like that, I won't be so gentle!" I threatened, tightening my grip on his shirt and giving his body one more slam against the bars for emphasis.

I let him go, shoving him back and backing away. "That can be classified as assault on a police officer." He said, his breathing slightly heavy, and his eyes full of surprise.

"Yeah, well, I'm a risk taker." I snapped.

His eyes darkened, and he threw a glance down the hall, searching. When he was satisfied that no one was around, he pulled his keys and unlocked the door, and threw open the cell doors, stalking towards me. I let out a grunt as he threw me against the wall, pinning me there. His face was inches from mine. "I see through your tough guy act. Underneath all this shit you spew is a vulnerable girl who just lost her father. We've been watching you for years. I see it, you know, in the pictures. On the outside, you look fine. You look like you're ready to take on the world, but then I look into your eyes...and I don't see it. I see anger, and fright. What are you afraid of, Jane, hmm?" He growled.

"Fuck you." I spat.

"Hmm." He muttered under his breath, before slamming his lips onto mine. My arms were pinned to my side, so I couldn't struggle, not that I wanted to.

This guy was hot, I couldn't deny that. A jackass, yes, but the body is weird and stupid. And right now, it was in control.

What was he doing? I was a criminal, you don't kiss criminals. Especially when you're the chief of police. He pulled back, and let me go. Turning and striding from the cell, closing the door behind him, and leaving.

I was sure my hair was a mess. I was leaning all of my weight on that wall, as my breath came out in short pants, not from loss of air, I wasn't that much of a wuss, but it came as a bit of a shock, my heartrate was a little eratic, causing my chest to feel tight, and in turn, I couldn't catch my breath for a minute.

What just happened?

Code.

 

So right now, my heart was pounding ten miles a minute, and my palms were sweaty. Did I seriously just get kissed by the one dude who probably isn't allowed to kiss me? I mean, I wasn't an expert on this kind of stuff, but wasn't there like a law against this kind of stuff? If not, then there should have been.

I slid down the wall, feeling more vulnerable than I've let myself feel in a while. Maybe this was his goal, to make me feel like a freaking vulnerable damsel in distress. He wanted to know what I was afraid of. I was afraid of the one gang member that caught sight of me years ago, and hasn't given up on making me his. His name was Ike. He was a ruthless gang member, intent on taking everything I held dear. Family, friends, and my virginity, because apparently he had some creepy obsession with me.

I remembered when I saw him, too. I was eighteen, and Dad and I were talking on the phone as I walked back home. I remember the look in his eyes as he stepped out in front of me, that horridly evil grin that plastered itself on his face all the time. He introduced himself, and then pulled me into an alleyway, still on the phone with my father.

I remember my father asking what happened, and when I managed to tell him, he said to give the phone to Ike.To this day, I do not know what he said to Ike, but he stopped, giving me a glare that could kill a weaker man.

He gave the phone back to me, and said something in my ear that haunts me to this day - "You won't escape me forever, Princess. I will have you all to myself one day, and Daddy won't be able to save you."

And that's when I kneed him in the groin and ran from the alleyway.

I was snapped from my thoughts whenever Glen rounded the corner and stopped to look in at me. "Normally I wouldn't allow this, but you have a phonecall from someone who says it's an emergency." He said.

"Say who his name was?" I asked, my face smooth, studying my nails.

"Actually, she said her name was Tracy." He said.

Oh my God. Recognition flew through me at the code name.

If a girl calls and says she's Tracy, that means I'm going incognito and that you have to call me Danny.

The son of a bitch made it!

I smiled so big I think even Glen was surprised. "Let me talk to her."

He led me to the phone, and I grabbed it from where it sat, eagerly putting it to my ear.

"Tracy?"

"What is blue, green, and red, and lives with the wind, and the stars?" If my smile could grow any bigger, it would have.

"A parrot."

I heard a bit of scuffling, "Jane?"

"Danny!" I sighed in relief, my entire being relaxing.

"Jane, listen to me, I'm not going to be able to make it to the vacation spot this summer," Code for Blood is thicker than water might have to wait a while, and he changed his appearance again.

"Whoa, so what color is it this time, blue, red?" I asked, referring to his hair.

He laughed softly. "Green," Code for black.

We have codes for everything, because we usually talk on the phone, and there is this really nifty thing cops can do like listen in.

"Cool! I want pictures, you've never gone green before!" I said excitedly.

"I know." He chuckled.

"So Danny boy, when were you planning to tell me about your little joy ride?" Code for suicide mission.

"Ike challenged me to a race, and I thought I could beat him." Those words made my face pale.

"You didn't." I whispered.

"I'm afraid so."

So challenging someone to a race, usually meant that he was close by and Dad thought he could pick him off.

"So where are you now?" I asked quietly.

"Virginia." Code for California.

"Geez, Danny. Do you know where I am right now?" I hissed.

"Why in the world would I call the police station if not? I thought it was a nice touch when you flipped off the Helli-cam." He added, pride in his voice.

My laugh was boisterous. "You saw that?"

"Well it's a bit hard not to see it when they zoom in on it." He said dryly.

"Actually, I thought when I crashed was a nice touch. Did you see when I leaned against the car?" I asked him.

"Yeah, and saluted an officer." He muttered.

"Yeah." I smiled and sighed.

"Listen, though, I don't want to see you hurt, alright? Next time you get into a crash, turn the wheel the so it faces outward of where the car is tipping, it should counter it. Other than that, I think it was pretty great." He said.

"Yeah, one for the records, eh?" I would have nudged him if he was there.

"Yeah."

I sighed as the change light blinked on the pay phone. "Hey I have to go, my time's up." I said.

"Alright, hey, do me a favor and tell Victor to watch his back with you. I may not be a killing criminal, but I will kill if he plays rough with my daughter." He growled.

"Dad! What was the point of all this code talk if you were just going to blow our cover?" I whined.

He laughed on the other end. "Bye, sweetheart."

I grumbled a bye and set the phone back on the hook just as Victor barreled out of his office.

I gave him a little finger wave and he glared at me. "Get her into the conference room." He growled.

"I always wondered what you guys called it." I said thoughtfully 

Glen led me into the conference room and sat me down. Victor sat down across from me, his eyes dark. "You had to know who it was, Vic, I mean come on! Who else would it be?" I laughed.

"Where is he?" He asked me.

"Virginia." I drew out the word, my voice innocent as I traced the table top.

"Listen to me, Jane, I can lock you up in here for a long time!" He threatened, leaning forward.

I raised an eyebrow. "Who says I want to be let out?"

Surprised registered on his face, as he slowly sat back. "My offer of two weeks still stands." He muttered.

"No, I fulfilled my end of the bargain the last time I was in this hell hole of a room. You've got nothing left to bargain with." I said, a smug smile tugging at my lips.

"For Christ's sake, does he even have green hair?" Vic asked me.

I smiled knowingly.

"God-" He cut himself off, clenching his fists on the table top. He stared at his hands for a moment, before his face changed, and he looked back up. "Who is Ike?"

Great, even his name made my face pale. "He's no one." I said.

"Is Ike code name for something else?" He asked me.

"No." I snapped.

"So he's someone of importance." Victor guessed.

I pressed my lips into a thin line, crossing my arms.

Victor stared into my eyes, and his gaze softened. "Okay, I know this guy scares you. You can tell me, believe me, I can help." He said.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, a policemen's going to help the daughter of a renowned burglar. Very funny." I said.

"Dammit, Jane I'm just trying to help!"

"Dad doesn't need help!" I hardened my voice.

I watched in satisfaction as I made Victor angry. "It's fun isn't it? You thought I was going to be the cooperative little bitch my father never raised me to be!" I spat.

He clenched his fists again. "Tell me one thing." He said, looking up to stare into my eyes.

I waited.

"What was with the bird riddle?" He asked me.

At that, I laughed. "When he's incognito he hires a girl to call telling the person on the other line she's Tracy, and when I get to the phone, she asks the riddle to ensure it's me. An old trick. He uses different riddles most of the time." I muttered.

"I see." He said.

I grinned. "So have we learned our lesson? Next time we hear the name Danny, or Tracy, we know it's who?"

"Your father."

"That's right, I'm so proud of you! Now seeing as I'm not going to answer any of your questions, I'll be going now." I said, standing up.

He watched with a tired expression as Glen took me out of the room. Poor fellah, he needs to take a hint.

Candy Land.

 

Sitting in jail for two weeks is like sitting in a barred room with nothing to do.

Oh wait.

So yeah, my father is in Virginia *ahem* and I'm sitting here in a cell waiting for my two weeks to be up already. He-he, that deal was such bull.

Every once in a while, my traitor mind would go back to that stupid kiss, and I would have to figuratively beat the shit out of my brain...oh wait, no I would start beating my palm against my forehead, so it was very literal. There was nothing "figurative" about it.

I probably had a red mark on my forehead. Judging by the puzzled looks the policemen gave me when they walked by, I definitely did.

Wonderful.

I paced my cell, yelled at other inmates to annoy the hell out of them, and sang to them. You might think, well I think that's nice! Well when your voice chooses to change keys every two seconds, it's not very nice. Some inmates actually complained about it to the police, they were too busy laughing their asses off as I sang to do anything.

"twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are...something, something diamond! Something else in the sky, with a twinkle added there or something!"

So I never learned the most popular nersery rhyme in the world. Sue me.

Victor came marching into the hallway and glared at me. I stopped singing and could almost hear everyone sigh in relief.

"You're killing my inmates!"

I laughed, loud. Glen came up to the cell, wiping tears away as he gathered himself from laughing so hard. "Sh-she did that a couple years back, too, when she was in here for DUI. She got bored and sang to the whole place. That's why chief quit, actually." Glen said, thinking back.

I laughed harder, rolling off of the lumpy bed, but catching myself on my hands and the balls of my feet.

"I..I made a...chief of police...quit his job!" I clutched my stomach, almost sobbing I was laughing so hard.

"Get her a deck of cards before she kills the cats that eat the mice out there." Victor pointed to my window, glaring at me.

I cackled, I actually cackled at that. It was so hilarious that I laughed at myself after that. Man, three O clock in the morning is a really bad time to be laughing. I'm so delirious.

Victor left, and I composed myself, gasping for breath as I calmed down. "Whew! That was funny." 

I watched as Glen came back with a deck of cards and a bord game, and I took it from him with a grateful smile, still giggling a bit.

The bord game was candy land. Seriously? I can't play with anyone, I'll just cheat with myself. I'll pick a favorite gingerbread man, and then I'll forget who's turn it was, and just assume it was the blue gingerbread man's turn because everyone knows that green sucks.

And that's pretty much how it went.

"Oh! I got two blues on one card! That must mean I can jump...four blue squares up! Haha, green gingerbread dude, you suck!" I yelled at him.

Stupid green gingerbread dude got in front my main man, Blue. His stupid little happy face, all smug and shit. Now Blue can be all smug and shit as he smiles and waves back at Green who is two spaces down from Blue. Take that, bitch!

Okay, so I'm a little mean to Green. And I totally did cheat. But Green is my enemy! Ever since he sided with my evil big brother, and won that day, he's my mortal enemy. Red and yellow aren't even a part of this war.

"Come on, get a yellow, get a yellow! Red! Argh!" I angrily put Green three spaces in front of Blue.

"Okay, give me a purple, come on, luck, be on my side!" I yelled.

I picked up a card and looked at it. "Oh my God it's sugarplum land!" I screamed.

I eagerly put Blue way ahead in Sugarplum land and did a little happy dance. 

"Take that, Green, you traitorous son of a bitch!" I said.

I don't remember falling asleep, but I do remember I was ten spaces from winning. I was lying on my stomach, with the matress on the floor now, inching Blue up to the finish line, not even bothering to give stupid Green a turn. 

A loud rattle of the cell doors made me jerk awake. I looked up at Victor with an annoyed expression and a raised eyebrow, my eyes tired. "Can I help you?" I asked.

"I was told you stayed up until four last night yelling something about Green being an evil son of a bitch. I see now what they were talking about." He said, his eyes moving to my cheek.

I felt my cheek, and realized that Green was stuck to it, I took him and threw him across the room. "The traitor was going to kill me in my sleep!" I yelled, suddenly wide awake.

I looked down at Blue, who was now knocked over, just before the finish line. He was a dying gingerbread man, given up on his dreams.

"Green, you killed Blue!" I cried.

Victor looked at me like I was insane. "Green murdered Blue, and he tried to murder me! Do not be fooled by his happy appearance, he is out for blood!" I warned him.

"Okay...well your mother is here. She bailed you out." Victor said slowly, backing away.

"Oh wonderful," I groaned, "And I was having so much fun here." I said.

I picked up Blue and walked over to the cell as he opened the door. I handed him the poor gingerbread man, and said, "Keep him safe, don't let Green take his life again!"

God I was a good actor. I sounded so wounded, I think even Victor believed that I was in grief.

I changed my emotions like a switch, and I smiled brightly, smacking him a couple times on the back. "See yah later."

I skipped down the hallway, snatching my leather jacket and wallet from Glen as I passed. "Thanks for the bored game, Glen!" I called.

Mom was talking to a police officer very seriously when I walked up, slipping on my jacket. I caught part of the conversation as I came closer.

"-really think that's neccesary, Baits?" Mom asked him.

"If your husband wants you protected, then we have to protect you, ma'am. He may be a criminal, but he knows something we don't." He explained.

I snorted. "I'm not going into protective custody. Uh-uh. I cannot deal with anymore police. Count me out." I said.

Mom glowered at me. "You are going into protective services whether you want it or not!"

"No, I'm not! I'm twenty two! I'm not a little girl anymore!"

She sighed heavily. "Your father should have never brought you into this mess. He should have left our family alone!" Mom complained.

"What did you say?" I asked her, deadly calm.

She looked at me, exhasperated. "You wouldn't be in jail right now, trying to fill your father's shoes!" She said.

Anger coursed through me. "My father is the only reason we're still alive, you ungrateful- Gah!" I stopped myself from saying the very word that would get me in a world of hurt.

"Don't you take that tone of voice with me, young lady. We are living with this nice man in his summer home and you are not going to complain!" She said, her voice stern as she gestured behind me.

I turned to see who she was pointing out, and the only one standing there was Victor.

My mouth dropped open. "Y-you mean...chief of police, Victor Price?" I asked.

"That's right." Mom confirmed.

"Oh, no. I'm not going anywhere near that crazy dude's house! He hates my guts!" I hissed.

"You are going and that's final!" She said.

"No!" I said, crossing my arms.

"If you go, I'll give you all the cookies you want." She said.

Whoa, Mom was pulling out the big guns, still I valued my sanity over cookies.

"And chocolate milk, with your own personal fridge."

Fuck.

***

I can't believe I am doing this. I thought for the twentieth time as Mom drove us out to Florida to stay at Victor Price's house. And for a stupid fridge with some chocolate milk and cookies!

Mmm, but it's going to be so nice to have unlimited resources. 

Maybe I can just live on that. I thought, I'll stay in my room until the whole thing blows over, living on cookies and milk. Yes, I could feel an evil smile curl at my lips. Yes I like this plan.

Hey, what can I say? I'm a kid at heart. A really stupid kid at heart.

We pulled into the driveway, and I pouted all the way to the door of the really big, really old, beach-side house. Mom rang the doorbell, and I glowered at the door. The handle turned slowly, and the door opened, revealing Victor in khaki shorts and a black T-shirt that fit him nicely.

I needed a beer, not chocolate milk.

I grumbled something inteligable as Mom greeted Victor politely, and walked into the house. I walked into the living room and plopped down, not even noticing there was someone there until they said something.

"Hello." The word was drawn out, almost like he was singing it.

"Yeah, hi." I grumbled.

I looked up at him, and I realized that he was about as hot as Victor. His eyes were sea blue, and sparkling with amusement, and he had this amused, angelic grin on his face as he stared at me. His hair was blonde and in choppy lairs on his head. "I'm Logan, Victor's brother. And you?" He asked.

"Was your mother a fan of X-men or something?" I said instead of answering the question.

"Yes. Our sister's name is Jean." He nodded.

Interesting.

"Cool, we could get along. My name's Jane." I said.

His smile grew. "So what are you here for? My brother says it's classified." He said.

"Nope, sorry, can't tell you that. All I can say is that my favorite color is green and that I own a black Camaro." Code for I'm incognito and I'm not going to talk about it.

Logan stared at me with a weird expression. "Okay."

I smiled at him. "I can tell you that  my Dad is one of the most famous robbers in my city." I said, propping my feet up on the table.

"Jane, get your feet off of his table!" Mom scolded.

"I'm twenty two, you can't boss me around anymore!" I stuck my tongue out at her.

She glowered at me. "Hello, I'm Miranda, Dear, the regretful mother of that monster of a girl over there." She introduced herself to Logan.

That hurt. But I didn't give her the satisfaction of knowing it, as I rolled my eyes and blew a piece of hair out of my face.

"Mom, I don't want to carry all this!" My evil brother complained.

"I killed Green!" I suddenly yelled at him.

"What?" He asked, looking totally confused.

"The evil Green ginger-bread man has been defeated." I said, cracking my knuckles.

"You...killed Green?" He asked me, his eyes getting all puppy-like.

I stared at him dryly. "Uh-huh."

"W-why? Why dear sister would you kill my best friend?" He asked, dropping the bags, getting on his knees and crawling towards me.

"Well, first Green killed Blue, and then I found him stuck to my cheek, so I knew right then that he was trying - and failing - to assasinate me, so I threw him across the room." I explained.

"I will avenge Green!" He yelled, grabbing me up.

"No, Kent! Put me down you chicken-chasing bafoon!" I yelled.

Kent ran outside with me over his back, my butt in the air. I saw sand under us, and then...water.

"Kent, what are you doing, Kent? You know how I am with water- Kent!" I screamed in panic as he waded in to the ocean, and then threw me down.

I latched onto Kent as the water washed over me, wrapping my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist.

My breathing was in hyperventilation mode, and I buried my face in his chest, trying to get away from the water. Water was not my friend. Not since I almost drowned...three times...in the same day.

"Hey, whoa, Jane it's alright, it's just water!" Kent had probably forgotten about my fear.

I shook my head rapidly.

"Alright, okay. We're going out, okay? See? I'm getting out. Will you let go of me now?" He asked, sounding choked.

I realized I had my arms around his neck in a choke hold.

I let go of him, falling to the sand. I jumped up, tears of embarrassment and fear in my eyes. "You never, ever throw me in water, Kent!" I yelled.

"I-I'm sorry, I forgot-"

"How can you forget something like that, Kent? How can you forget that I can't swim?"

"You never talk to me anymore-"

"That's no excuse Kent. You knew how I was. It's no different now!" I ran past him, and into the house.

I probably looked like a drowned cat. My hair was soaked, and my white T-shirt was completely see through, showing my black lacy bra. Mom burst out laughing, and, not really caring about her tearing me a new one, I flipped her the bird, making her gasp, sobering instantly, and Logan bust out laughing.

"Can someone please just show me my damn room so I can get out of these stupid clothes?" I asked, not in a very good mood at all.

Victor lead me up the stairs. I didn't talk to him, and he didn't talk to me...much.

"So you're afraid of water."

Silence.

"Well we all have our fears, I mean, I'm afraid of jell-o...well, not really, I have heard of some people that are, though." He said.

Silence. Stone cold silence.

"So are you-"

"I don't really want to talk. Kay?" My voice was quipped and sarcastic.

He didn't answer, so I looked away. 

He led me down the hall, and to the fourth door.

The door swung open to reveal a guest room with a perfect view of the ocean. I wanted to pull the curtains over that stupid view. "Thanks." I mumbled before shutting the door.

I changed into some clean clothes, closing the blinds over the window. I didn't want to see the evil water that plagued my fears. I grabbed my black leather jacket and slipped it on, walking down stairs.

"I'm going out." I muttered.

"Don't go to jail again." Mom called, reading a magazine.

"Like you would notice." I snorted as I opened the door.

"Hey, take Logan with you, you're under protection, remember?" Victor called from the kitchen.

"No." I said bluntly.

"If you don't take someone with you, I'm taking away your cookie priveliges." Mom said.

I groaned. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to wallow in self-pity. I would probably punch Logan. I would not be responsible for when he pushed me over the edge of my proverbial-anger-cliff. 

But I knew that I couldn't argue with Mom. She would probably threaten my chocolate milk if I argued further.

"Come on, Logan." I turned on my heel, stomping out of the house.

I bounded down the stairs, hoping that I could get far enough away from Logan to lose him. He was a cool guy and all, but seriously, I didn't want to deal with anyone.

I stayed across the beach from the ocean, following a path to what looked like a crowded dock. Logan caught up with me, unfortunately, and walked with me.

"You know, black leather jackets aren't really ideal for the beach." He said, tugging on my Dad's leather jacket sleeve. I jerked my arm away from him, covering the sleeve with my hand. "I never leave home without my jacket." I snapped.

"Sorry." he held up his hands, as if in surrender.

I sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, it's just, I was forced to come here after sitting in jail for three days, and then I was forced to come here after being told that my stupid worthless life was in danger. I'm just a little cranky right now, okay?" I ended my rant with an indignant huff.

"Something tells me that you're independant." He muttered sarcastically.

"I can take care of myself." I said, crossing my arms.

He raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"

I gave him a dry look. "What is that supposed to mean? I'll have you know that my father taught me every move he could when he visited." I said confidently.

"He...visited?" Logan stopped walking, looking at me with an incredulous surprise.

"Yeah." I shrugged.

"Huh." He seemed to think about that for a while.

I looked ahead as we walked up to the dock, where hundreds of people gathered.

"Ooh!" I exclaimed, running for the cotton candy stand.

I jumped up and down excitedly as I watched the man make a blue and pink swirl. He handed it to me, giving me a charming smile.

"It's on the house, for the pretty lady." He said.

I gave him a wierd look. "Thanks."

I did not look like a lady. I was wearing a leather jacket, short-shorts, and a cut off mid-stomach stomach shirt that said Bite Me.

I skipped along the dock, humming to myself as I ate my candy. Candy was my weakness.

"You look like a little kid." Logan said, glancing at me.

"I didn't have a very...childish childhood, so I'm making up for it." I explained lamely, watching as two little kids who looked like twins joined hands and began spinning.

It made me sad, because it reminded me of my brother and I before my Dad became a known robber. I admired my dad for sacrificing so much to keep us safe, but Kent always resented him for it. He felt like he shouldn't have gotten mixed up in all this in the first place. I guess I did too, but he was trying to fix it...right?

The children's parents had to stop them from running into others, and I had to stop as we neared them, as they accidentally spun into a group of girls. The little girl stumbled into me, and almost fell onto the ground. I caught her arms, and helped her gained her balance.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes. Thank you!" Her voice was so small and squeaky, it reminded me of the little girl from All Dogs Go To Heaven. She had long blonde hair and brown eyes, and her smile was bright.

"I'm so sorry." Her mother came up to me, "She and her brother ate too much suger today."

I smiled at her and waved it off. "Don't worry about it, my brother and I used to do the same thing." I said.

"Well, thank you for being so patient. Wait, Linsey, don't do that, we have to pay for that!" Her Mother got destracted when the little girl took some candy from the counter.

I smiled and shook my head.

"You're a good person." Logan said, as if he had a revelation.

I looked at him and snorted. "What? No! I have sympathy for little hyper kids."

"Oh no. You are a good person. I've been watching you, Jane. I saw how your eyes softened with kindness when you spoke to the little girl and her mother, and just now, when you looked at the little girl, I saw that same look, and you smiled." He said.

I scoffed, but didn't say anything, unable to make a comback.

We walked for a while, and I was lost in my own thoughts, as Logan rambled on about the scenery, and how the Bay came to be.

And this was why I wanted to be alone.

I wanted to think about my problems, and work them out, but it was hard with Mr. History Book over there. Ike was getting closer, and this was the second time we've moved to another city. I didn't want to have to live here until Ike was found, but I was beginning to think I had no choice. I sighed heavily, making Logan pause. In the corner of my eye, I saw him look at me.

"I have the feeling you aren't listening to a word I'm saying." Logan said softly.

We stopped on the end of the dock, and I stared out at the sea. I shook my head, unable to deny it.

"Do you want to tell me why you look like someone died?" He asked me.

I smiled a bit. "He told you it was classified, eh?"

"Yep."

"Well I'll tell you just to piss him off." I said, my smile widening a bit.

He chuckled.

"I'm basically being stalked by one of the gang members that my Dad was trying to pay off. He's paid them off now...but it's not about money anymore. It's about me. Ike is one of the most powerful members in Colleyville, where I used to live. I remember, before my Dad disappeared, he would pace the living room, fighing with my Mom about how unsafe Ike was. My Dad would teach me self defence a lot, when I was thirteen, and then he disappeared soon after that. Ike must have seen me in my pictures with Dad, because a few weeks after my eighteenth birthday, he attacked me. Luckily I had my Dad on the phone, and talked him out of it. He promised me that he would find me again, and I hear from him every once in a while." I shrugged, looking down at my hands as I leaned on the railing.

"You hear from him? You mean he calls you?" He asked.

"Yeah. I change my number, but he always got a hold of it. Usually it's just to remind me that I'm his, and that no one can have me but him," I paused to roll my eyes, "He's a real hard-ass about me dating."

I acted very calm, and very casual about this, but inside I was shaking. I was afraid of what Ike could do to my family, if I didn't comply to his wishes. He wanted me, and he would do anything in his power to get me.

"You act like this is just an annoyance." Logan said, puzzled.

"It is. This jackass comes into my life and pretends to have a claim over me. He hurts my family, and pretends to care about me. He's a sick, arrogant, and he thinks he owns everything he touches." I growled.

"Whoa, I don't feel so good." I turned at the sound of Lindsey's voice.

She looked green, as he stumbled around. I looked around for her Mom, and found her quite a ways down the dock, scolding Lindsey's brother.

I pulled off my jacket, setting it aside as I leaned down in front of her. "Have you been spinning a lot?" I asked her.

She nodded.

I smiled. "You need to stop spinning."

My smile dropped as she began gagging. Uh-oh.

And that's how I got candy chunks and bad smell all over me. I didn't pay much attention to it, as I pulled her hair back and she vomited again.

"Give me my jacket, she's shivering." I told Logan.

Logan handed me my jacket, and I pulled it over her shoulders. "It's okay. I'm going to get your Mom." I said softly.

I had Logan hold her hair back, and I stood up, waving frantically to the two that were now searching for Lindsey. "Hey! Over here!" I yelled.

They jogged toward us, and her Mom breathed a sigh of relief, that quickly turned to worry as she saw Lindsey vomiting.

"Too much sugar, and I think she has a bit of a fever." I said.

"Oh gosh, I'll take her home. Come on, Harry, we have to go!" The little boy had leaned down beside his sister, his face creased in worry.

The mother turned to me. "I'm so sorry about that! She just got away from me! She told me her stomach was hurting, but I just thought it was from all that spinning. Is there anything I can do?" She asked me, gesturing to my shirt.

I shook my head, waving my hands in front of me. "Don't worry about it. It's fine." I assured her.

"Are you sure?" She seemed extremely apologetic.

"I'm very sure." I insisted.

She sighed in relief. "Thank you, I can't imagine what I would have done if you hadn't found her."

We watched as they helped her up, and she replaced my leather jacket with her sweater, giving it back to me with a grateful smile.

We walked back home, and I got fed up with the smell and ripped my shirt off. Before Logan's mouth could drop at my exposed bra, I pulled on my jacket and zipped it closed.

"This will be the third time today I've changed clothes." I said thoughtfully as I dropped my soiled shirt in the trash.

Logan chuckled. "Well the first time was your own fault, you shouldn't have killed Green." He pointed at me.

I shrugged. "Green is evil and deserves to die for killing Blue."

"I have no idea what we're talking about." He said.

"I know." I smiled sweetly.

"You know, being as catastrophic as this was, this could be considered a date." He pointed out.

I paused for a moment in the middle of the beach, staring at him. "This was not a date." I said, beginning to walk again.

"Well how about we have an official one, then? Friday?" He offered.

I raised my eyebrows. "No."

"Oh, come on, Jane! You know I'm hot." He teased, slinging an arm around my shoulder.

"I'm not dating you." I said flatly.

"You will, though. You will fall for my charms." He laughed maniacally.

I looked at him like he was crazy. "Okay." The word was drawn out, as I picked up his wrist and took his arm off of my shoulder.

We reached the house in about ten minutes, bickering about our taste in music. When we arrived, Kent was sitting on the porch, he frowned at Logan's arm slung casually over my shoulder. I hadn't even noticed he'd put it back. Logan had more of a brotherly feel to him.

"Nicki Manaj sucks." I said, taking his arm off my shoulder again.

"No, she doesn't. She's the shit." He said.

I rolled my eyes. "Etta James is the shit, Nicki Manaj is more like the shit on the bottom of my shoe." I said.

He glared at me as we walked into the house, ignoring Kent. "What, were you born in the fifties or something?" He asked me.

"Yes." I said, skipping over to the stairs.

"Yeah, right." He grumbled.

"Where'd you guys go?" Victor asked, coming in from the kitchen.

"Went to the Bay, got thrown up on by hyper kid, came home." I said.

"Eventful." Vic muttered.

"Very." I agreed, walking up the stairs.

Swimming Lessons, Followed by...Exploration.

 

Sitting in my room, I munched on cookies as I watched TV, having settled on an infomercial on the Magic Bullet when I couldn't find anything else. At first I thought it was one of those bullets from the cartoons, which would find it's target, even if he was behind a wall or in a house or something, but then I find out it's a stupid mini blender.

"Come on, two payments of twenty nine ninety nine? Are you nuts?" I yelled at the screen through a mouthful of cookies, "That thing's not even worth one payment of twenty nine ninety nine!" I complained, a cookie crumb flying out of my mouth.

A knock on the door frame made me look up. "Hey, ah, can I talk to you?" Kent asked, looking like he was in pain.

"What, did you start your period or something?" I asked him, swallowing my cookie.

He glowered at me. "I'm a man, Jane." He said.

"Really? You could have fooled me, what with that long hair and all." I said, gesturing to his chin length, tousled hair.

He snickered at that. "Yeah, I have to get it cut soon. Anyway, I wanted to apologize, you know, about the water incident. You know I never would have done it if I knew that you had aqua-phobia." He said.

I gave him a dry look. "Dude, blood is thicker than water, literally," I laughed at my joke, he didn't. Fine then, at least I think I'm funny! "I forgave you, like, hours ago." I said.

"Hours ago? It's been three days since it happened!" He was joking, and we both knew it.

"Well I have to hold a grudge at least three days before I can let it go." I informed.

We both laughed. "Well, I'll leave you to your important infomercial. I heard the Magic Bullet is pretty cool." He said.

I snorted. "Yeah right. sixty bucks plus tax and shipping and handling, it better be phenomenal."

He laughed as he went down the hall. I grabbed another cookie, shoving it in my mouth. Mmm, cookies. I wished that infomercial with Mr. T was on. I loved that one. 

"I pity the fool who don't like chocolate cake!" I said, in my best impression of Mr. T.

Which was horrible. I sounded like Yoda on steroids. 

A chuckle came from the doorway, and I looked up. Oh God, I had the worst timing with my stupid Yoda/Mr.T impressions. Victor stood in the doorway, leaning on the frame.

"Should I be worried that Yoda was the padawan of Mr. T?" He joked.

"Can I help you?" I asked, my cheeks flushing.

"Get your bathing suit on, we're going to the Bay." He said.

I raised my eyebrows. "Um, I'm busy watching how I can get a second Magic Bullet container absolutely free, so..." I gestured to the screen.

He rolled his eyes. "Just get your bathing suit on."

I watching him turn and leave, glaring. What a jerk. I should just sit here eating cookies, just to piss him off. 

Of course, if I went with him and the rest to the Bay, I could see him shirtless.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth, I suppose. I thought as I jumped up from the bed, closing my door so I could change into my yellow and white vintage style bikini. The top was a giant yellow and white polka-dotted bow, while the bottom was black and white polka dots. I tied the strap around my neck and slipped on some shorts. I grabbed my sunglasses from the faded blue nightstand beside the bed, glancing out the window at the ocean. I shuddered. No way was I getting into that water.

I put on my black sandals with the yellow straps, and skipped down the stairs. I looked in confusion at Logan, Mom and Kent, who all sat at the couch, Mom reading a magazine, Kent and Logan watching TV.

Weren't they going to the Bay?

Victor walked downstairs, wearing a white shirt and swim shorts. He stopped short when he saw me, standing at the bottom of the stairs.

I felt my cheeks warm as his eyes raked over my body, and I glanced at the others, sure enough, they didn't even notice our presence.

"Let's ah...let's go." Victor muttered.

Without a word, I followed him out the door, my puzzlement growing as we walked down the stairs. "Why aren't Mom, Kent and Logan going?" I asked.

"Because...they didn't want to." He said, glancing at me.

I raised my eyebrows, and then shrugged. "Okay."

He took my hand, and I felt my pulse quicken, as he led me down the beach. God, what was I, a love-struck teenager?

As if reading my mind, I heard a song playing from the little Diner up at the Bay. It was 'Why Must I Be a Teenager In Love?' By Dion and The Belmonts. A classic. I hummed along, as we neared the Bay, smiling to myself as I remembered my Dad playing this on the radio.

I was surprised when Victor stopped me in the middle of the beach, pulling me close to him. "What are you doing?" I asked, alarmed.

"I'm dancing with you." He said, taking my hand.

I raised my eyebrows, watching as he lifted my hand to his shoulder, putting his other hand on my waist. We swayed to the music, and I found that he was actually a pretty good dancer. It was a bit corny to dance in the middle of the beach, but...it was nice. I found myself relaxing, and actually laughing as he spun me around and pulled me back into him.

I can't remember how I ended up like this, lying my head on his chest, with my arms wrapped around his neck, and his own wrapped around my waist, but...I didn't seem to care. For the first time since I came here, I was relaxed, and genuinely having a good time.

I sighed softly in content, my eyes closed.

As the song ended, we slowly stopped swaying. I was surprised at myself, as I was reluctant to let go of him. I knew if I didn't, though, it would be a bit awkward for the both of us. So I lifted my head, released my hold on his neck, and took a step back from him, making him release his hold on my waist as well. I smiled, a bit awkwardly, as we stood there, staring at each other, not sure what to say.

"Um...would you like to go get some cotton candy?" He asked.

"Would I!" I exclaimed suddenly, my smile growing as I jumped up and down like a small child.

He chuckled and took my hand, leading me to the cotton candy stand. I watched as he got me blue and pink swirled, my favorite. I was amazed. No one had ever gotten me my favorite before!

"I hope you don't mind," He said as he handed me the cotton candy, "I wasn't sure what to get, so I just got both." He shrugged.

I smiled. "It's awesome, thank you." I said genuinely.

He smiled back. "You're welcome."

We walked up to the dock, leaning on the railing as we ate our cotton candy in content silence. I watched as people splashed each other in the ocean, laughing, while others were content to anchor themselves in the sand and tan until they looked like fake'n'bake. 

"Do you want to swim with me?" He asked, making me look at him.

I shook my head. "No."

"Come on, Jane. I'll never let go of you, I promise." He begged.

"No." I insisted again.

He sighed, throwing his cotton candy stick in the trash and turning to me, his golden-brown eyes holding mine. "I won't let go of you." His voice held a seal of promise, as he took my hands.

"Victor..." I paused to sigh, "I can't. The last time I tried to swim I almost drowned...three times." I said, looking away as a blush rose to my cheeks.

He lifted my chin with his finger. "I won't let you drown. If you want to get out, then I won't force you. Just try with me." He took my hands again, tugging me toward the stairs that lead to the beach.

I bit my lip as he lead me down, looking nervously at the water. I didn't allow myself to back out, however, as he pulled off his shirt and set it down. Actually, I didn't think about backing out, as his abs came into view. In fact, I wanted to freaking do a canonball into the water just so I could be close to him!

I cleared my throat as I dropped my shorts, setting them by his shirt. He let his eyes roam my body, before grabbing my hand, and after a long look into my eyes, leading me to the water. I stopped short, digging my feet into the sand as the water rushed over my toes, my joints locking in fear.

Victor stood close to me, lowering his head so it was inches from mine, on the same level. "Hey, I'm right here." He whispered, his hand carressing my cheek, and brushing the hair behind my ear.

I swallowed thickly, and nodded. He took a step back, and I forced myself to mirror his movements. His eyes never left mine, as he eased me slowly into the water. I could feel panic creeping up, as the water began to get waist deep, and I bit my lip hard to keep from whimpering.

Before I knew what was happening, Victor's arms encircled me, and he pulled me close to him, his hands making patterns on my back under the now mid-back water. "I won't let go." He assured as I clutched his arm with force.

I looked at him in panic. I'd never been this deep before. What if a wave crashed over us, sending us both into the water? What would I do? Would I drown? How would I get out? What would I-

My thoughts were silence at the look in his eyes. Determined. Protective, and something else I couldn't put my finger on. I knew immediately that he would keep a hold of me, even if we were sent into the water. He was a man to keep his promises.

So I let him lead me out, until we were about shoulder deep. Still, as small waves hit us, I would bury my face in his neck, and whimper, but each time, he would stroke my hair, and comfort me enough to lift my head.

Finally, I began to realize that I wasn't about to die. I was enjoying myself. despite my nerves, I was actually glad I was out here, with Victor. 

As I began to relax, I could tell Victor was relaxing too, as he began to tease me.

"See? Now what did I tell you? Water isn't going to kill you! Now it's the sharks you have to worry about," He said, thoughtful.

My mouth dropped open. "Shut up!" I splashed him in the face.

He laughed loudly. "I'm just teasing you, Jaws was overeacting." He assured, and then he added with a grin, "They only attack when they smell fear."

I let out a yelp and jumped into his arms, burying my face in his neck. "You are the meanest person alive!" I complained.

"Relax, Jane. I'm only teasing." He chuckled, although I could have sworn I felt his arms tighten around me.

"Yeah, I-I knew that." I said, pulling back from him.

Psh, I was practically shaking. Who was I kidding? I was completely and utterly frightened of the ocean. The water may have been clear and beautiful today, but that didn't take away my fear.

I slowly eased myself down from his arms, keeping my own around his neck and swallowing thickly as my feet touched the sand underneath.

"You need to stop biting that lip of yours." He said, sounding pained.

I looked up at him, a puzzled expression on my face. "What fo- oh." I felt the breath leave my lungs as I looked into his eyes, full of hunger.

I swallowed thickly again.

"Yeah. Oh." He muttered, looking away.

I wanted to take a step back, but I didn't trust myself to move away when I was shoulder deep in water. We stood there awkwardly for a moment, not really sure what to do.

"Um...was I going to learn how to swim?" I asked, looking up at him through my lashes.

He seemed to force a smile, as he met my eyes. "Yeah. Come on, I'll help you." He said.

"Oh really? I was thinking I'd just, you know, wing it." I said, my voice playfully sarcastic, as I pushed him on the shoulder.

He grinned playfully. "Okay, first we practice going under."

"What?" My yelp was cut off as we went under.

Panic panged in my stomach, as I clutched onto Victor tightly, wrapping my arms and legs around him like a lifeline. He reached back, unclasping my hands from each other, and pulling me back slightly from him. His hands clasped my face, and I slowly peeked open my eyes. I blinked a few times, my panic slowly subsiding as I saw Victor's smile. I was doing it? I was doing it! I was under water!

I smiled brightly at him, waving almost in slow motion as the water slowed my movement. 

He waved back, keeping one hand on my face. I went up for breath, pushing my hair out of my face as I gave Victor an award winning smile.

"I did it!"

"You did it!" He exclaimed back.

"I didn't panic and die!" I said, clapping my hands together like a five year old.

Victor laughed and pulled me into a hug, surprising me. "You did it." He murmured, his voice low in my ear.

Why did I have to be so affected by him? Why in that moment, did this one man have to shut down my defenses so easily?

I kept away from men. I didn't want Ike getting angry at me and hurting those I loved, though in this moment, I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to hug Victor back. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted him to comfort me, to tell me it was going to be okay. I wanted everything. And why couldn't I have it? Ike didn't know where I was. He didn't have a claim on my life. He wouldn't find me.

So I wrapped my arms around him, splaying my hands across his wide back.

I didn't expect him to drop back into the water. Bubbles floated up, and with them was the sound of my muffled laughter.

The day pretty much went like that. He helped me learn the basics of swimming, never giving any looks of judgement when I shamefully admitted just how little I knew. He was very patient, although he did like to tease me. He found out I was ticklish by accident, when he grabbed me to shield me from an upcoming wave, I let out a loud laugh and accidentally jerked slightly away from him.

So now that was his ultimate weapon against me.

Any time I made a snarky comment, or even gave him a dry or sarcastic look, he'd grab me around the waist, making peals of laughter escape.

So I couldn't even give him attitude when he teased me. It was no fair! I needed to find something weak about him, too. I already tried to tickle him, but he just stood there with a grin as I poked his sides, brushed his neck with the tips of my fingers, and even tried between the shoulder-blades. Nothing.

He had no weaknesses!

Impossible! My mind growled at me. Everyone has one weakness!

Logan and I got out of the ocean, a little pruny from being in so long, and he handed me a towel he'd thought to bring. We sat on the sand, watching the tide roll in. The sun was now half-way down in the sky, and I guessed it was about three to four now. I laid my head back on the towel, slipping my sunglasses on and closing my eyes as the warm breeze dried my hair.

"This is the most at ease I've been near water since before I almost drowned." I murmured.

He hesitated for a moment, before asking softly. "What happened?"

I chuckled. "I tried to learn how to swim by myself. Dad had gone to help Kent get the cooler from the back of the truck, and I was impatient. I'd been swimming with these little floats on my arms. I think I was six at the time. I took them off, set them aside and...jumped in. I didn't realize swimming was so hard, at the time. I tried my best to reach the top but...It was like I was being weighed down. Dad, realizing I wasn't standing by the pool where he'd left me, jumped in after me. I was still the hard-headed idiot that I am now, so I thought that I could do it.

"I jumped in again, and the same result. This time Dad had been watching me like a halk, as I sulked by the pool, but he had to go to the bathroom, and left me with Kent. Kent, being a very distractable kid, was ah...shall we say, bribed by someone to go and hang out with his friends. And when I say someone, I mean I bribed him with some rock candy my Dad gave me. When I jumped in, I was determined to reach the surface. I could feel the triumph in my gut when air filled my lungs, and I could see my brother...but I started sinking again. Luckily Dad had been coming back from the bathroom when he saw me come up for air. The third time was pure accident, actually." I stopped, laughing to myself.

"Accident?" Victor inquired softly.

"Yeah. Completely given up on the notion of swimming, I was walking back from the snack bar with a chocolate bar in my hands, and this kid, a huge bully in my neighborhood, walked up to me and tried to take it. My dad had taught me self defense by then, and you know how I'm protective of my candy, so when he wrapped his grubby little fingers around my candy bar, I grabbed his wrist, twisted it, and flipped him. Of course, I was flipping him straight into the pool. He grabbed my wrist in an attempt to stay out of the water, making us both tumble in. The kid was more of a spazz than me, because he was flailing, and making a complete fool of himself," I paused to roll my eyes.

"This is what actually gave me aqua-phobia." I continued, "He was holding onto me, pretty much using me as a life boat in his panicked state. It was actually his dad and my dad that saved me. Turns out the kid's dad was one of my dad's best friends, who saw us take a tumble. The kid acted like a three year old, crying and blubbering that he would have died. Of course, my dad defended me, saying that the kid could have killed me and all that shit. I never wanted to get into a body of water again." I finished, glancing at Victor from behind my sunglasses.

Victor was smiling slightly at me, with a strangely awed expression on his face. "You flipped this kid?"

I shrugged. "Yeah."

"How old was he?" He asked me.

"Eh, I don't know, eight maybe? Way too old to act like such a baby. I mean, seriously, I was the one who panicked when near water, and I didn't even shed a tear when they pulled us out!" I threw my hands up.

"You, a six year old girl, flipped an eight year old fat kid?" He asked me incredulously.

I grinned. "Hey, you don't mess with my candy." I said.

"Momma, look! it's the nice lady!" I sat up slightly, taking my sunglasses off as I watched Lindsey point me out to her Mom, and rush over.

I smiled at her, my expression softening immediately. "Hey, kiddo." I sat up, curling my knees underneath me, "You're not eating too much candy again, right?" I pointed at her.

She shook her head quickly. sitting on her knees in front of me. "Momma said I can only have three pieces of candy a day. We're making sand castles!" She pointed to where Harry sat with his Mom, making a really cool looking castle.

"Jesus." I muttered under my breath, too low for Lindsey to hear. "That is one awesome castle." I said, louder.

She smiled brightly, pride on her face. "I helped make it!"

I smiled and ruffled her hair. "Good job, kiddo. How's your Mom doing?" I asked.

"Good, she told me that if I see you again, that I had to apologize for throwing up on you. I'm sorry." She said, her big brown eyes turning sad and puppy-dogish.

How could I be mad at a face like that?

"Don't worry about it. I remember when I threw up on my brother." I whispered conspiratorily to her. "He didn't speak to me for a whole week!"

Her eyes grew wider. "Really? I hope I never throw up on Harry!" She exclaimed.

I laughed. I liked this kid. She was like a version of me. I bet she even sneaked a few more pieces of candy when her mom wasn't looking. 

"Lindsey! Go help your brother, he's going swimming!" Her mom called, coming toward us.

We watched as she ran to her brother, calling bye to me.

"Hi, again. I hope she wasn't bothering you." She smiled warmly at me.

"She was no trouble. Just talking about her addiction to candy." I chuckled.

She laughed softly. "I'm Malissa Fair by the way." She stuck her hand out.

I shook it warmly. "I'm Jane Harison. It's nice to meet you." I said.

"Honey! No! His head goes above water!" She called, getting destracted once again, as her daughter flipped him, butt in the air.

I laughed softly.

"Wow." I was destracted from the scene by Victor, who was staring at me with a strange expression.

"What?"

"I knew it was an act." He said, crossing his arms with a smirk.

"Knew what was an act?" I asked, my defensive walls building back up.

"Don't play dumb with me. I saw that. Your face completely softened when that kid ran up." He accused.

I looked away out at the ocean. "So I have a soft spot for kids, sue me." I deadpanned.

He laughed softly and absently laid his hand on top of mine, making warmth fly through me, and my entire body tense.

You do not like Victor Price!

Yes I do.

I like him like no other. The feeling I got when he touched me was enough to prove that. Damn me for being so matter-of-fact with everything!

I looked at him, meeting his golden eyes. Why did I find that eye color so sexy? It's definitely not natural...but it was so good looking on him! My eyes drifted down to his soft, slightly plump lips that had met mine in a brief, hot, demanding kiss. Damn it! Stop! I noticed his small smile had disappeared, and looked back up at him, only to let out a quiet gasp at the intense look in his eyes.

This wasn't good. I needed to get out of here!

"We should head back." I said, my voice not as strong as I would have liked it to be.

"Yeah...sure." He cleared his throat.

We stood up, gathering our towels. He watched as I folded my towel, a strangely conflicted look on his face. I looked at him and gave him a small smile as I finished. He took my hand, making me hitch a breath once again, and lead me down the beach.

We were about halfway home, when he slowed to a stop. He stared ahead for the longest time, as I looked at him in confusion. He finally looked at me, his eyebrows furrowed.

"If I were to kiss you right now, would you slap me?" Victor asked, his voice quick, and rough.

My heart picked up double time.

"Probably." I answered, eyes wide.

He let out a long breath. "I'll take the risk."

And then, without much warning, he took a step forward, grabbed my face between his hands, and crushed his lips to mine. I didn't struggle. As soon as his lips met mine my will crumbled to pieces. I melted into his arms, my own wrapping around his torso, to grip his shoulder blades. I was so glad he didn't put his shirt back on, as his hard body fit perfectly with mine.

In that moment, I wasn't aware of my own strength, as I pushed harder against him to deepen the kiss. We pulled away from each other, a yelp coming from me as we went tumbling to the ground, Victor below me. Our laughs died down after a few seconds, as we stared at each other, our intense gaze communicating so much more than words could. My hands, having a mind of their own, trailed his chest, roaming his perfect body, but never taking my eyes from his.

His golden eyes were like nothing I'd ever seen before, piercing mine with a constant gaze. He could see into my soul, of that I had no doubt. I wondered what he saw there. Apparently something good, because he gripped the back of my neck tightly, and pulled me down to kiss me. He didn't kiss me with the hot, demanding kisses that he usually delivered. This kiss was tender, slow, and utterly sexy. His other hand, the one that didn't have my neck in a vise-like grip, slipped into my hair, gripping it so he could deepen the kiss even more.

He pulled back after a few seconds, getting a whimper of complaint from me. I didn't expect him to take hold of my bottom lip with his teeth and bite down, not too hard, but enough to cause pleasure to radiate like blood through my veins, as I moaned. 

He flipped us over, my back meeting hot sand as his weight came down on top of me. He slowly tipped my head back with his grip on my hair, trailing soft kisses down my neck. When he found precisely the spot that would make me arch beneath him, I could feel his sly smile curve at his lips.

"V-Victor...we need to get...oh!" I gasped as his tongue circled my collar bone, writhing underneath him.

"We need to get what, Baby?" He asked, his voice deep and husky.

Normally, when people called me Babe or Baby, I'd slap them in the face. But with Victor...it sounded so sexy!

"W-we need to get home." It was almost a moan in of itself, as his fingertips trailed my sides.

"You're right, we need to get home...but do we want to get home?" He asked, trailing kisses back up my neck.

"Y-yes." That was a lie.

"Liar." He chuckled, nibbling at my ear.

"Mom will-" Mom will what? Mom will what? I couldn't think, my mind was in overdrive. 

"Hmm?" He asked, his expert fingers trailing my collar bone.

"She'll be...worried!" I finally remembered.

"No, she knows you're fine when you're with me." He whispered, grasping my ear between his teeth and pulling slightly.

I wouldn't say that.

"We can't do this...in a public place!" I said breathlessly.

"You're right, let's continue this in my room." His warm breath tickled my ear, making a shiver wrack down my spine.

Suddenly my entire body felt cold, as he stood up. His eyes were full of desire as he took me in, and he reached down to grab my outstretched hand, helping me up. I felt utterly lost in my desire, as he lead me the rest of the way down the beach. The five minutes it took to get there wasn't nearly enough time to tape back together my shredded thoughts, and realize why this was wrong.

I noticed that the car was gone, and realized with a sinking feeling that Mom and Kent were out somewhere...and possibly Logan...

We were alone. All alone. No one to stop us from doing something really stupid...not even myself.

So as he lead me into the empty house, I felt nurves and anticipation curl and clench my stomach. I swear I'd have abs by the time we got to the bedroom. He picked me up bridle style, and threw me on the bed, making an involentary giggle escape my lips. He crawled on top of me, his eyes taking in my body with an intense look. I began to feel nervous as he leaned down to kiss me again, taking his time to run his hands along my body. His lips moved to my neck, nibbling at my sweet spot.

"Wait...Victor-"

He put his finger to my lips, pulling back to look into my eyes. "I won't make love to you tonight, Jane. I just want to feel you." He whispered.

I felt goosebumps rise on my arms, as a blush colored my cheeks, and I began to feel a bit self-conscious. What if he saw something he didn't like? What if he decided he didn't want me? What if-

My thoughts were cut off abruptly as he kissed my sweet spot yet again. 'What if' nothing! I didn't care what he found, this felt good!

***

Someone clearing their throat awoke me from a deep, comfortable slumber. I opened my eyes groggily, glaring at the person who dare inturrupt my sleep. Why was Logan in my room this early? Better question, why did I have a strong arm wrapped around my waist?

Wait a minute...this wasn't my room!

My God! I slept in his room last night! Victor's arm was wrapped around my waist! I gasped, sitting up and pulling the covers around me. "L-Logan!" I said, running a hand through my messy hair, "This isn't what it looks like, I mean...it kind of is but...not really, I mean-"

"Relax, cupcake. Your mom doesn't know." He rolled his eyes, still grinning.

I sighed in relief. She'd kill me. "This still isn't what it looks like." I insisted.

He raised his eyebrows. "Then what is it really?"

I opened my mouth to answer, holding up a finger, but all that came out was a big breath of air and my hand went limp, falling to my side. I had nothing. Victor and I had showered (seperately, get your mind out of the gutter people!) and changed into pajamas, and then he held me close to him like a teddybear as we fell asleep. He'd explored my body, but he hadn't made love to me, just as he promised. I couldn't very well tell Logan that!

"Just get out." I sighed heavily.

He left with a laugh, closing the door behind him. I rolled my eyes, lying back down and cuddling into the still-sleeping Victor's arms. He mumbled something in his sleep and held me tighter to his chest, nuzzling my neck.

I sighed happily, pressing a kiss to the top of his messy head.

"Best, night, ever." I whispered.

The Flight.

 

I was sitting in the kitchen, eating cereal, when my phone rudely interrupted me. I sighed heavily and answered it without looking at the ID.

"Hello."

"Jane, it's me. Listen, I don't want you to listen to a word he says, alright? Don't listen to him-!"

"Dad?" I asked, hearing a lot of shuffling, "Dad!" I yelled when he didn't answer.

"Hello, Jane. Your father can't come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the beep."

My blood ran cold, and I gripped my spoon so tight I think I bent it. "Where is he?" I snarled.

Ike's insane chuckle made shivers of revulsion wrack down my spine. "He's...what's that code word? Ah, yes, he's in Virginia. He'll be twenty thousand feet under the ocean if you don't find us, and soon. I'm sure you can figure out where we are, can't you, Love? All I'm going to give you is a clue. Bronchi Summers."

I knew that name. Wasn't he the owner of a chain of restaurants that went south after someone poisoned his food? He landed a lot of people in a hospital, and had to give up his restaurant chain to pay for all of the lawsuits. They were in one of his abandoned buildings. They couldn't tear it down because it was right over the ocean, and no one wanted it because of the danger hazards. I remember his slogan, "Our Food's So Good, We'll Run Mc. Donald's Out Of Business!"

There have been a lot of people that suspect the CEO of Mc. Donald's for poisoning the food in the first place, but there was no evidence to link him to the poisoning.

"I'll be there." I said.

"Good." And then the line went dead.

Cereal forgotten, I ran upstairs, dialing the number for the airport. Chills were running down my spine, as I thought about what Ike could be doing to my father. I shuddered at the thought, as I was reserving a ticket.  My happiness was shattered by a simple phone call, but I couldn't dwell on it now, as I stuffed clothes in my backpack, throwing on my leather jacket. I grabbed a box of cookies, stuffing them in my back for later, and a smaller bottle of chocolate milk to drink on the way. Hey, I needed my energy food.

I froze in the middle of packing my Toiletry bag, as a familiar voice cut through my panicked thoughts like a machete in a jungle.

"Going somewhere?"

I slowly looked up, meeting his golden eyes. "Yes."

He raised an eyebrow, leaning against the door frame. "I see, and where exactly do you think you're going?"

I glowered at him. I was so not in the mood for an interrogation. "Far away from here." I said, forcing my voice to sound rebellious.

"I see." He repeated, his eyes briefly flashing down to my backpack, stuffed with clothing.

I sighed heavily, knowing I was going to have to hurt him to get out of here. "Look. This whole...thing between us, it would never work. I'm still the rebellious teenage girl that I was when I was sixteen, and you're the person that throws the rebellious teenage girls in jail. Last night was...fun," I forced myself to spit out the word that didn't even come close to describing what last night was, wincing, "But it would never work out in the long run." I said.

He crossed his arms, unfazed. His eyes moved upward slightly, and a small, sarcastic smile tugged at his lips. "You know, when I first interrogated you, I thought you had no tells, you had perfected the poker face...until I saw your eyebrow twitch upward, just a tiny bit." He said.

Ah shit. My father had told me to look in the mirror, and lie to myself. Watch for any tells, and stop them cold. I must have developed the eyebrow thing. I glared at him, keeping my cool. "My eyebrow twitches upward. Oh, what a convincing tell! Have you ever thought that maybe it only does that in annoyance because you're around?"

He didn't bat an eyelid. "You did it when your mother called you worthless. You tried to play it off, but I could see how it affected you. Face it, Jane, I'm trained to find these things, I know your mannerisms better than you do." A condescending grin formed on his perfect lips.

I glared at him. "Fine. Think what you want. You don't know me. I don't do relationships, alright? I'm leaving, and you can't stop me." I grabbed my backpack, and my toiletry bag, shoving past him.

He caught my wrist in a vise-like grip, pulling me back into him with one hard jerk. I glowered up at him with the intensity of a lioness about to pounce, but his eyes just darkened. He grabbed my chin in his rough grasp, kissing me, rough, demanding, and so, so sexy. I felt like I was in one of those eighties movies, where the saxaphone would play that awkward romance music, and then Victor would hitch my leg up on his hip, and I would have really big hair, and bad clothes, and have a gun on my hip and-

Whoa! Too many eighties movies with my Dad.

He bit down on my lip, causing a moan to escape me, despite my hands pushing against his chest. I was idly aware of his hand sliding into my back pocket, but I didn't pay much attention to it, trying to get away from him before I gave into his sexy body.

I shoved away from him, before his lips could shred my last bit of conscious thought. I wiped my mouth, looking up at him with anger, refusing to be dominated. 

"Bye, bye now." I waved, my voice dripping with sarcasm.

He watched with anger in his eyes as I started down the stairs, his arms crossed over his chest. I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much leaving scared, and hurt me. I was going out alone, to face my personal devil. If he was going to kill me father, he might as well kill me too.

I ran past the three that were making breakfast, ignoring my mother's calls, asking me where I was going. I ran out the door, slamming it behind me. Hmm...maybe I should steal a car. It'd have to be one that not many people cared about, and I'd have to be on the plane before the police could find it...or it could be that beautiful cherry red Mustang Shelby sitting in that driveway.

A sly smile formed on my lips. I want that one. I made sure I was out of sight of the summer home, and pulled the handle of the door. Locked. Not a problem. I grabbed my folded up hanger from my backpack, always on hand for those rebellious moments, and shimmied the lock. 

I learned to hot-wire a car when I was fifteen. It's no big deal. I just hoped this beauty worked as good as it looked. 

I sparked the wires a few times, and bingo! The car roared to life. I was so lucky no one was home to see this. I backed out of the driveway, relazing into the new leather seating. This baby had it all. I grinned, waving to Victor, who ran outside at the sound of the roaring engine. He looked furious, but I didn't pay much attention to it, as I sped off, the tires squealing. I turned on the radio, letting Led Zeppelin fill the car. My favorite song, Rock and Roll.

"It's been a long time since I've rock and rolled!" I sang along. "It's been a long time since I did the stroll! Oh let me get it back, let me get it back, let me get it back, baby where I come from!"

I drummed along on the steering wheel, bobbing my head to the music and dancing in my seat. 

I got my mind off of the fact that I could be Ike's prisoner for a while, by letting Rock and Roll fill my ears, turning the radio up loud and rolling down the windows for others to hear the awesomeness that is Led Zeppelin. I stopped at a red light, banging my head and air guitaring. 

Some people looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care, this was my last moments of freedom. I was spending them happily. 

The light turned green, and I sped off, not-so-carefully following the signs to the airport. I was lucky I didn't see any cops, because I was weaving in and out of lanes. The radio station I was on pretty much loved me, because they were having a Zeppelin countdown, and the next song was Communication Breakdown. Yes!

I drove with me knees, air guitaring. I knew I probably looked drunk, swerving all over the road, but I just didn't seem to care. 

"Communication Breakdown, it's always the same!" I sang, "Havin' a nervous breakdown, drives me insaaa-aane!"

I turned down my music as I got to the toll booth, slowing to a stop. The ticket slid out of the little slot, and I gave the guy a two-fingered salute, speeding through the gate. I wasn't going ti be the one to drive this car out of here. I turned my music back up, drumming on the wheel. I weaved through cars, getting a lot of honks, and not really caring. I parked in a one hour parking zone, leaving the car unlocked, and the keys in the cup holder. I grabbed a pen from the middle console, and wrote 'Have a nice day bitches.' On the back of the admissions card, with a smiley face for extra sass. I got out of the car, sliding the card under the windshield wiper and grabbing my bags from the back.

I strolled into the airport, standing in line for my ticket. When I finally got up to the lady, I gave her an award winning smile. "Hi, I called someone earlier about a ticket to California? My name is Helen Siggs?" I pulled out my fake ID, showing it to her.

She examined the ID, and then put my name into the data-base. She nodded to herself, handing me a ticket. "Have a nice flight, Ms. Siggs."

"And you have a nice day." I said, my smile turning smug as I got the ticket from her.

I went through security, rolling my eyes as I took off my jacket, and my belt. I set my backpack on the conveyer belt, and watched as they rifled through my toiletries, letting me keep most of it, but throwing away the rest. They rifled through my bag, searching for any weapons or something I could be hiding from them. The whole process took too much time, as I looked around for the police. No one noticed my anxiousness, as they went slower than mollasses. Finally, I got my bags, and my shoes, back. I slipped on my jacket and put my belt back on, heading for the gate to wait for my plane to arrive.

I tapped my foot, my eyes searching for any signs that the police had caught up. That could not happen. Hell, I didn't even know if Victor reported his neighbors car being stolen. My phone ringing caught my attention.

"Hello."

"Hello, Love. What are you doing?"

"I'm in the airport. And please stop calling me Love, it's creeping me out." I said, leaning back in my chair. "Where's Dad?"

"He's...out of commission." He chuckled darkly.

"You evil son of a bitch. What did you do to him?" I hissed.

"Ah, ah, ah, bad language, I don't like it when you speak to me that way. I guess I'll have to punish you." He sighed, as if I'd dissapointed him.

"I'm hours away, in a public place, how do you plan on-"

I was cut off by a loud smack, and then a familiar voice cried out. "Dad? No, please don't hurt him I-"

Another smack, followed by a grunt. "I'm sorry!" I cried frantically into the phone. "I didn't mean it, I-I'm sorry! Don't hurt him!"

"Get here, ASAP, or your father get's much worse." He growled, and then the line went dead.

I set the phone down, noticing that everyone stared at me with raised eyebrows, alarmed looks on their faces. I smiled sheepishly. "It's a drama play. I was, ah, acting out my lines." I lied smoothly.

Everyone relaxed. Gullible idiots. I scanned the crowds again, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. My eyes did settle on a man with sunglasses, sitting in the corner. He was reading a magazine. Something just seemed a little off about him. Maybe he looked a little familiar. I shrugged it off, pawning the feeling off as being paranoid.

"Gate Forty Three, ready to board, repeat, Gate Forty Three, ready to board." The smooth voice called over the intercom, making me stand immediately.

My heart was pounding, as I rushed to the gate agent, pushing past people to get a good spot in line. I watched as she slowly scanned every ticket, sending each person through with award winning reluctance. I swear, I would punch her.

When we finally got up there, I was behind a family, arguing with her about the seating arangements. I looked at the ceiling, letting out a loud sigh as they complained to the gate agent about every single little problem.

"I'm sorry, the ticket says what the ticket says." The gate agent said.

"I am not sitting next to him!" The woman pointed to a man, who was grinning.

Getting fed up, I tapped the woman on the shoulder. "Okay, lady, there are other people in the world besides yourself. I had to endure a five hour car ride with a family who hates me, I'm sure if I didn't go insane, then you can stand four to five hours of him! Now if you just can't accept that, then give your goddamn ticket to someone else, because you are wasting time arguing with the one person who can't help the situation!" I yelled.

The woman put her hand to her heart, and the gate agent covered her smile with her mouth. She huffed and stormed past the gate agent, who gave me the most grateful smile anyone has ever seen. She scanned my ticket, and sent me through, her big smile never leaving her face. "Have a nice flight!" She called.

***

I had the worst flight ever.

Guess who I got to sit by on the plane? Ms. The World Revolves Around Me! I swear, she made subtle remarks about me all through the plane ride. I closed my eyes, leaning my head back and counting backwards from one thousand, praying that when I was done, we would be landing. 

Near the nine hundred and fifteen mark, I got the feeling of being watched, but I tried to ignore it. It was probably just Crazy Lady over there judging me. This didn't feel like a judging gaze, as weird as that sounded, it felt...intense. I slowly opened my eyes and looked around, only to settle my eyes on Sunglasses Dude again, who had his head leaned back, and looked to be sleeping.

I shook my head slowly, shrugging the feeling off again. I was probably just paranoid. 

The rest of the flight was uneasy. Crazy Lady and the man she hated had fallen asleep, but I just felt...weird. I didn't understand the feeling, so I just ignored it. By the time we landed, I was tired, my ass was numb, and I didn't even care about who might have been following me, I just wanted off this plane.

I grabbed my backpack, stumbling through the line and mumbling something close to a "thanks" to the pilot, who bid us good evening on our way out. 

I caught a glimpse of Sunglasses Dude in the crowd of people exiting the plane, and I could swear he was watching me, but I shrugged it off, I was just looking for someone to pin this weird feeling on. When I looked back where he was standing, he was gone.

I grabbed a cab, throwing two twenties at him. "Take me to the old Bronchi's place." I said.

He looked at me with a weird look, but complied. 

I leaned my head back, closing my eyes.

Well here we go.

The Promise.

I was running down the sidewalk of an unknown street, my breathing ragged as I clutched my backpack in my hand. The stupid short dress I was forced to wear was tattered, and the makeup What's-Her-Face put on me was smeared with tears. The gun in my hands shook, as I stopped to lean against a tree. I was in a park somewhere, although I was completely lost. I knew he had a tracking device on me, and I took comfort in that. He would be able to find me, even if I was in the middle of a park, with no idea where I was. I listened for something, anything. The sound of anyone approaching, but I heard nothing.

The sun was setting, making it darker, and the trees casting shadow were of no help. I didn't know where I was, and I couldn't see a street sign anywhere.

I was so busy that I almost didn't hear the sound of a branch breaking a few feet off from where I stood. Almost. My breathing hitched...could it be him?

Okay, so you're probably confused. Allow me to recap.

***

An hour before.

I gave the Taxi an extra tip, and got out of the car, pulling my backpack with me. I stood in front of the abandoned building, hanging out over the ocean, and gulped. I wanted nothing more than to die right here on the spot, but that wouldn't help. I took a deep breath, slinging my backpack over my shoulder and forcing myself to relax. I wasn't going to be scared of him. I was going to be...myself. Rebellious, cocky, stupid, but most of all...fearless.

I tried the old glass doors, which were clouded with dirty paw prints of stray dogs and rust, and found that the left one was unlocked. I set my backpack aside before  I pushed it open, going through the waiting area, and into the broken down dining area. A few wooden tables were left, and they were now old and warped from rain that had dripped through the ceiling.The place was dark, the rotted wood floors looking a bit dangerous to step on, and the ceiling looking like it would cave in any second. In the middle of the room, sat Dad, hunched over, his head hanging low, tied to a chair.

I gasped and rushed to his side, lifting his face to examine the damage. I grimaced. "You look like you just got hit with a sledge hammer."

He gave me a wry look, but was unable to answer. He glanced behind me, and his eyes widened. He opened his mouth, but all that came out was a shaky breath, as his pupils dilated. "Dad?" I asked in confusion.

I stood and turned around, only to freeze as I saw what he was looking at. Ike stood against the wall, watching me with a dark, evil gaze. I forced my muscles to relax. "I'm here, so let him go." I said in a hard voice.

"Not yet. I want him to see this." A sly grin pulled at the corners of his lips.

"See what?" I spat, my stomach churning as a chill crept down my spine.

"I'll tell you in a second, first, I need you to change." He said.

"Change? For what purpose?"

"Just. Do. It." He growled, his temper rising.

I refused to be afraid. "Fine. What am I changing into?" I spat.

His mood switched on a dime, and he grinned. "Rosella!"

A short, slender girl with cropped blond hair and brown eyes came into the room. Her arms were covered in tattoos, and she was wearing the sluttiest outfit I've ever seen. Seriously? What are you, the girl from Saxobeat?

For being so short, and petite looking, she had a strong grip. She tugged my arm, pulling me roughly to the old, beat up bathroom. They'd set up a mirror, and a stool by the old, dirty, rusted sinks. The girl threw a dress at me that looked like it would barely cover my ass, and I raised my eyebrows at her.

"I don't make the rules, Hon." She shrugged, looking at me through thick black eyeliner.

Huh. She was from New Jersey. "Black Crow." I muttered.

That was my own code word for Slut Bag. "Huh?" She asked, smacking on a piece of gum.

"Nothing." I said louder.

Feeling a bit uncomfortable under her gaze as I changed, I pulled down my pants, and as I grabbed the backs, I felt a lump in my back pocket. Pausing for only a split second, I descreetly pulled it out, slipping on the dress and pretending to pull up the chest, but catching a glance at the tracking device that Victor had planted on me. That's what he slipped into my pocket. He really did know me. I carefully slipped the device into my bra, hoping he would find me, and find me soon. 

As soon as I was done changing, she forced me to sit on the stool, and started doing my makeup. I resisted groaning. I was going to look just like her.

I'm just going to skip over the details and just say that I feel like a Geisha. It wasn't as bad as hers, but it was still pretty bad. The eyeliner was thick, and the lip stick was bright red. Seriously?

Ugh.

She shoved me into the open, where Dad assessed my slutish outfit with rage in his eyes. I crossed my arms over my low cut chest, feeling very uncomfortable under his gaze. Ike walked up to me, and I stood my ground, my back straight as a pin as he assessed me, watching him with cold eyes.

"Beautiful. Just like the day we met." He said.

I narrowed my eyes at him, jerking my arm away as he touched it. His eyes darkened, and he reached up, grabbing the back of my head and curling his hand into a fist, gripping my hair tightly. I cried out as he jerked my head back, my knees buckling. He leaned down in front of me, his rage-filled eyes holding mine. "You never, ever refuse me!" He snarled.

I showed my first sign of fear, whimpering like I child. "Shut up!" He boomed in my face, making me flinch and force myself to quiet down.

He forced me to stand, releasing my hair and pushing me forcefully against the wall, making dust fall around us. "You are mine!"

And then his lips forced themselves onto mine, as I struggled beneath him. I kicked, and pushed my fists against his chest, tears starting to form in my eyes. I felt so hopeless. So helpless!

On instinct, I bit down hard on his bottom lip, making him grunt and push away from me. I knew almost immediately that this was a mistake, as his eyes filled with rage. His hand raised, and in a flash, my head was knocked against the wall. I only heard my ears ringing at first, and then my left cheek stung terribly.

He leaned down, his rough breath hitting my ear. "I think I need to teach you a lesson, Baby. Who should I kill first, your mother? How about your brother?" he growled in my ear.

Okay, that was crossing the line.

The thought of him laying one finger on any one of my family members brought white hot rage flooding inside me. It made me braver. I gripped his hair in my fist, roughly pulling him back to look at me, my face suddenly deadly calm as I smiled seductively at him.

"You know, Ike, I've changed my mind. I was thinking about it, and you aren't such a bad guy." He seemed surprised, as I let go of his hair to put my hand on his cheek.

Even Dad was surprised, as I shot a glance at him. "But...as much as I like you...I just can't see myself by your side." I tweaked the side of my mouth up and shrugged.

And then, with his surprised state, I went into action. I gripped his shoulders, used the wall as support, and jumped up, kicking his stomach. Hard. He stumbled back, doubling over. I walked over to where he was, grabbing his hair and pulling his face up to look at me. "You know, I can't believe how weak you really think I am!" I yelled, pulling my fist back and punching him. "I put up with your shit. I feared you for years! You son of a bitch! I put up with everything! But not. Any. More!" With each word, I punched him.

But as I raised my fist to punch him again, I was pulled back, my arms bound behind me as two men dragged me away from him. I struggled futily against their hold, I wasn't done bashing his face in!

Ike stood, fury in his eyes as he wiped his bleeding nose. He brandished a knife from his pocket, and I gulped. Aw, shit. In the corner of my eye, I saw my Dad start to struggle, desperately trying to get out of his ropes so he could get me out of here.

I watched with fearful eyes as he stepped closer, running the tip of the knive along my side. "Such pretty skin. It would be a shame to damage it." He said, his eyes resting on my breasts.

I wanted to be brave again, but my rage was slowly subsiding, and now fear was taking it's place. "Let's play a game, yes? Every time you struggle, I cut the dress" He said, an evil grin covering his disgusting features.

I swallowed thickly. "Let's see...counting the times you struggled earlier, and how you're struggling now, I'd say that's worth...ten cuts."

He roughly took the hem of the already-too-short dress and reached his hand under the skirt, the knife grazing my leg. I closed my eyes tightly, trying hard not to give into his stupid game. Don't struggle. Don't struggle. He stuck the knife through my dress, and the tearing sound echoed through the room, as his knife tore through the frabric. He repeated this halfway around the hem, emphasizing each cut with a word of hatred. "You bitch! You think you can just come in here and act like I don't own you? I own everything about you! And I will have what's rightfully mine!" The last rip echoed in my mind, as my arms instinctually pulled against their hands, and I shut my eyes tighter.

Shit.

"Uh-oh boys, I saw a bit of a struggle. Didn't you?" He asked them, seeming overjoyed by that fact, "you know what that means."

I expected the knife to go under the hem, what I didn't expect was for him to stick it into the middle of my breasts, causing me to jerk back a bit with a gasp as my eyes flew open.

Double shit.

He only ripped the dress a bit at the top, thanks to my struggle, but of course, that meant more torture for me. He leaned down, skimming his nose down my chest, and closing his eyes. "Beautiful." He whispered again.

I pressed my lips together, pretending I didn't have tears running down my face as I looked away from him. "Oh, I almost forgot, that was another struggle, wasn't it?" He moved his mouth to my ear, and revulsion rolled my stomach.

"Ike...please..." The raspy voice of my father was completely ignored.

He'd set his eyes on me, and there was no going back now. He looked down at the hem of my dress again. "You know what I always hated about these dresses? They were way too hard to get off. Sometimes, I think a slit in the side is better, because you can just reach up there." He growled, his knife slightly cutting into me as he dragged it up my side, creating a ragged looking slit in the side, I cried out at the pain.

"That's it Baby, cry out for me. Struggle for me." he whispered in my ear.

Well, I thought dryly, as another tear fell, at least I got to beat the shit out of him before I died

I wanted my headstone to read "Here lies one Baddass Mofo. She beat the holy hell out of a gang member."

Yeah. That'd be nice.

I looked at Dad with a small "I tried." Smile, but realized he wasn't looking at me, he was looking towards the entrance. Thankful Ike wasn't paying much attention to my face anymore, I followed Dad's gaze. 

Sunglasses Dude?

What?

He put his finger to his lips, and I gave him a sarcastic look. Because I was so stupid that I was going to scream "Sunglasses Dude!" In joy and do a little happy dance.

This wasn't my first rodeo, cowboy. He gave a small, amused smile at that, and at that moment, I could swear I knew who it was. But that was impossible, he had greying brown hair atop his head, not black.

My attention was returned to Ike, as he ran his knife down the length of my arm, causing chills to run down my spine. "When I saw you, that first time, I knew you were the one. We fit each other, you know. You and your...stubborn personality, and me, with my sexy, rugged good looks."

This caused an involuntary snort to leave my mouth, and the words, "Yeah right." Popped from my lips before I could stop them.

Call me a cynic, but this guy looked like the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. He was U.G.L.Y.

Instead of getting angry, like I expected, he smiled a condescending smile, tapping the tip of the knife against my nose. "See? stubborn personality."

I shrugged, pushing my luck. "Yeah, well if I had to rate you from one to ten, one being...eh, the Orc from LOTR, and ten being...Brad Pitt...I'd say...yeah, you're a zero." I said.

Okay, so this made him angry. But I was trying to make myself angry again, too. This fear was too crippling, making me too weak.

"You little bitch! Maybe I should kill your father right here, teach you a lesson!" He growled.

I smirked. That was all I needed. The rush of adreniline pumped through my veins, as I tore my arms from the two dumbo's grasp, knocking the knife from Ike's hand in one foul swoop. I skipped out of the way as he tried to grab me, running for the entrance of the restaurant. 

That's when Sunglasses Dude stepped in. He pointed a gun at the three stooges, making them freeze. I took the opportunity to untie my father, pulling his arm over my shoulder and standing him up. 

"You're okay." I whispered, more to myself than anyone else.

I set him by the door, leaning down to examine his swollen face. This was all my fault. If I wasn't such a sass mouth all the time, this wouldn't have happened. I looked at his throat. A bruise was forming. It wasn't in the shape of fingerprints, it looked like he straight up punched him in the throat. I should take advice from Minnie. No Sass 'Mouthin.

I froze my examination at the sound of an oh-so familiar voice. "Jane, I want you to get out of here. I'll take care of your father. Just run as fast as you can in any direction. I'll find you." He promised.

"Victor?"

"Go!" He ordered, throwing me another gun.

I gave one last glance at my Dad, before standing, and rushing back outside the way I came. I grabbed my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder, and running to the right.

***

So here I was, my head resting against a tree in the park, as I listened for more footsteps. My entire body was tensed to run again, at one sign of danger. Another footstep, closer this time. I wanted to look behind me and see, but I didn't want to give up my location. 

"Jane?" The voice sent a thrill of relief through me, and I felt my heart-rate speed for another reason, as I dropped the gun to the ground.

I stepped around the tree, taking in the most beautiful sight I've seen all day. Victor had been wearing a wig, and sunglasses because his eyes were a dead give away. He was always there. Right there with me. Even when I thought I was alone.

I threw myself into his arms, wrapping my own around his neck as I buried my face in his chest. He pulled me tighter into him, burying his face in my hair. "It's okay, Jane. I'm here." He whispered.

And for the first time since I was young, I burst into tears, weeping into his shirt. I'd thought I was dead. I was probably smearing all kinds of makeup onto his shirt, but he didn't seem to care, and I couldn't bring myself to, either. 

"Let's get you home." He said softly.

"Where is Dad? Ike? What happened?" I asked through hiccuping breaths.

Victor scooped me up, turning to carry me to the car parked on the curb. "Your father is in the car."

I sniffed, wiping my eyes. "And...Ike?"

Victor sighed softly, his eyes hardening. "His "Hench" men distracted me long enough for Ike to get away." He muttered.

"Oh," I whispered, too tired to care as I played with his shirt.

He opened the front door, sitting me in the front seat. "I grabbed this from the bathroom, though." He said with a small smile, handing me my jacket.

This made a happy smile tug at my lips, as I slipped it on. "Thank you."

A small smile tugged at his lips, before he shut the door and walked began his walk around to the other side. "S'there something going on between you two?" I leaned around the seat of the car, looking at Dad.

"What? Psh, no...well...it depends on what you mean by "going on." Because if you mean "going on," as in-"

"My God." Dad groaned, cutting me off, and slapping his hand to his face.

I bit my lip as Victor got in the car, sinking down lower in my seat. He glanced at me, raising a questioning eyebrow at my red cheeks. I just looked out the window. He started the engine, the simple rental car purring to life. I missed the Shelby.

"Oh! By the way, what happened to the Shelby?" I asked him.

He gave me a dry look. "It was returned to the neighbors home before he could find it missing. You're lucky the guys down at the station like me." He said.

I smiled at him. "Damn, so I'm not going to jail?"

He gave me an amused smile. "No. You're not going to jail." He said.

"And...what about..." I trailed off, pointing behind me.

Victor sighed heavily. "Unless he somehow escapes, he's going to jail. But I don't think I could somehow lose him in a crowded airport while trying to keep track of you." He said, giving me a wink.

I beamed at him. "Oh, no, how ever could you do that?"

Dad grumbled something about complicated relationships and crossed his arms.

When we arrived at the airport, I excused myself to the bathroom to clean up and change, seeing as everyone was looking at me like a prostitute. So I left Victor to "watch" Dad. I scrubbed off all of the makeup, and brushed my teeth, ignoring the strange looks of others. I stepped into a stall and changed into a comfy T-shirt and some sweats. I was not going to ride in a plane in skinny jeans and a nice shirt. No way Jose. I looked for Victor and my Dad, to see them sitting in silence together. Victor was reading a magazine, and Dad was staring off in the distance. There was a seat open between them. I rolled my eyes as I sat down. 

"What time is the plane leaving?" I asked Victor.

He looked at his watched. "At eight. So in about an hour."

I nodded, settling myself in and pulling out my cookies. Victor raised his eyebrows at me, and laughed. "What? Cookies are a great pastime. Here, have some." I said, handing him a cookie.

He chuckled, but took the cookie from me. Dad's eyes widened as he looked at me. I'd never shared my cookies or any candy with anyone. I smiled slightly and looked away. 

"So Dad I...I swam yesterday." It seemed like ages ago. Could it really have only been yesterday?

He looked at me in surprise. "Really? Wow, I tried to get you to swim for years, and you wouldn't go near the water." He said.

"Yeah, uh, I had a convincing teacher." I said, glancing at Victor.

He smiled affectionately at me.

"I see. Well, I'm proud of you, Jane. You conquered your fear." He said.

"Thanks Dad." I said, beaming at him.

Having time to kill before Dad was able to get lost in the crowd of people, we caught up on what we've been doing, talking in code on some things. I mean come on, I liked Victor, but there were some things we couldn't share with him. He was still a cop. I told him about Mom's addiction to cleanliness, and he told me about a brief job he got in Toronto. 

The only time we got serious, was when he told me how Ike captured him.

"I got too complacent." He explained, as I stared at him with worried eyes, "I dropped by a cheap motel a short while after talking to you. I thought it was safe, but they had tracked my phone call, and traced it to the hotel phone. They chloroformed me while I was sleeping. That's some of the reason why my voice is so weak. I have a bit of an allergy to anaesthetics, my throat closed up a bit. And then of course he punched me in the throat for calling him an SOB." He shrugged.

I shook my head, lifting his chin to examine his throat again. "We are so alike." I said, exhasperated, probing it for the point of impact.

He chuckled, his adams apple bobbing. "It's all part of the Harison Jean. Everyone in my family is hard-headed and fiercely protective of the other. I swear, your grandmother was willing to murder every single one who dared talk bad about me." He winced as I touched a sore spot. Bingo.

I sighed, and stood up. Victor and Dad watched in confusion as I strolled over to the Mc. Donald's. "Hey, can you give me some ice in a plastic ziplock bag or something?"

"Uh...we don't have plastic bags." The kid behind the counter said, scratching the back of his head.

I sighed heavily and pulled out my wallet. "Those apple bags are resealable right?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, give me one of those. empty out the apples, and put ice in it." I instructed, handing him a five dollar bill.

He gave me the most confused look, but complied, grabbing a bag of apples from the fridge and opening it, dumping out the apples, and sticking it under the ice fountain or whatever that thing it called, letting ice pour into it.

I gave him an award winning smile as he came back. "Thanks, keep the change."

I turned, my ice in hand, and headed back to where they sat. I turned to Dad when I sat down, lifting his chin and sticking the cold pack to his neck. "I want you to keep this there until the swelling goes down, and then put fresh ice in it and hold it to your eye, got it?" I asked him.

He gave me an amused grin. "Clever."

"Yeah, I'm a genius." I said smugly. 

Victor took my hand, giving me an approving smile.

We were cut from our little exchange by the announcements. 

"Gate thirty four, ready to board, repeat, gate thirty four, ready to board."

This was it. Victor and I stood up with Dad. I turned to him, saddness filling my heart at the thought of not seeing him again for a while. He smiled sadly and tweaked my chin. "Nice fighting out there, by the way." He said softly.

I smiled at him. "Thanks Dad."

We stared at each other for a second longer, before I pulled him into a tight hug. "You take care of yourself. Don't let Ike find you again. Promise me I won't hear I'm Sorry again." My tone was almost pleading.

"You know I can't promise that." He sighed, "I love you, you take care of yourself too. Remember, he tries anything, you kick him where it hurts." Dad whispered lower.

I pulled back laughing. "I love you too Dad, and don't worry, I know."

He took a deep breath, smiled, and then melted into the crowd. I bit my lip against the tears that threatened to fall.

"Let's go home, Jane." Victor said softly.

I turned to him, smiling through the sadness. "Okay."

He sighed softly, carressing my cheek. His eyes softened into molten gold, and he leaned down, pressing his lips to mine. "It's going to be okay." He whispered against my lips.

I nodded, leaning up on my tip toes to deepen the kiss, if only briefly. "I know."

And with that, we went to stand in line for the gate agent.

He promised he'd find me. And he did. I knew I was going to be okay, as long as Victor was here.

Confessions, Good and Bad.

 

I was vaguely aware of being carried into the house, strong arms holding me closely to a muscular chest. The knick on my side was aching, but I didn't pay much attention to it, as I snuggled deeper into his embrace. I was so exhausted from flying back and forth, that I wanted to just curl up anywhere soft and cool, and fall asleep. I was lulled in and out of consciousness by the constant rocking movements of his arms, while he carried me upstairs.

"Oh good, you're home." I heard Logan's voice from down the hall, coming closer as he spoke. 

Victor jumped. "Jesus, Logan, it's three in the morning!"

"You said to keep an eye on the family-" He paused to yawn, "So I kept an eye on the family. She alright?"

"Yeah, for the most part. I got to her just before the bastard..." He didn't finish, as his voice faltered on the last word, and his arms tightened around me.

"Jesus." Logan whispered.

"But she's just tired now." He went on, his voice a little less strained, "Jet lag's taking it's toll on her. I mean she flew almost twelve hours round trip." Victor said.

"Did you get him?"

"Who?"

"Ike. Did you get him?"

"No." He said, his voice extremely upset.

I wanted to make him happier again. I didn't want to hear the dissapointment in himself...the hurt that he couldn't get to me sooner. So I did the best I could, curling myself into a tighter little ball in his arms and burying my face in his chest.

The men were silent for a few moments, before I felt Victor begin to move again. "I need to get her in bed." He muttered.

He shifted me expertly to one arm, as if I were lighter than a feather, and I could hear the rustle of fabric as he pulled the covers back on my bed. He laid me down as gently as if I were a brittle piece of china, ready to break at any moment. He only pulled the thin sheet over my hips, of that I was grateful. The sheet was cool, and the bed was comfortable. I shifted onto my stomach, cuddling into my pillow. Victor carefully grabbed the opening of my jacket, and I tried hard not to shiver as his knuckles grazed my arms. No such luck. My breath came out shaky, as a subtle shiver ran down my spine. I prayed he wouldn't figure out I was still awake.

Thankfully, he didn't seem to think anything of it, as he pulled my jacket completely off my arms and set it aside somewhere.

"You really care about her, don't you?" Logan asked softly.

"Yeah, so?" Victor asked gruffly, but softly, as not to wake me.

"It's just...usually you don't care for girls like her."

Victor sighed, and I felt a finger run down my jaw. For the life of me, I couldn't suppress the small smile that graced my lips. Dangit!

He only traced the smile with his fingertip, before his hand disappeared, and I heard him move. "Let's go, before we wake her up."

Ha! Too late.

I heard them shuffling out the door, closing it softly behind them. Well, might as well get some shut-eye. I relaxed into my pillow, closing my eyes and drifting to sleep.

 

I awoke the next morning to someone jumping on me in the bed. "Ouch!" I exclaimed.

"Jane! Don't you ever worry me like that again, do you hear me? I don't want you to ever just leave the state like that!" Kent ranted, pinning me down.

"Kent! Get the hell off me!" I yelled.

"You have to swear you won't do anything like that again!" He said.

I rolled my eyes at him. I took hold of his arms, flipping him off of me. "I'll do what I want, Kent. I can take care of myself." I said, sitting up.

"Oh no you don't!" He grabbed my arm and pushed me against the wall, pinning me there. "Promise me you won't do something like that again!"

"Kent!" I complained.

"Say it!"

I huffed, rolling my eyes again. "Fine, I promise I'll try not to do something so brave and heroic again." I deadpanned.

He glared at me. "Dad made his choice. He chose to get mixed up in that gang. It's not up to you to clean up his messes."

My glower would probably kill a lesser man. "Don't talk about Dad that way! He did what he did for us!" I pushed him away from me, storming out of the room.

Kent always resented Dad for breaking up our family the way he did, but I respected him. I knew he wouldn't have done it if it wasn't for a reason. Kent was always a Momma's boy, and I was always a Daddy's girl. I always took Dad's side.

I walked down the stairs, running a hand through my rat's nest of hair. I proabably looked really bad right now, but I couldn't care less. Kent had irritated the knick in my side by jumping on me like a maniac, and I grimaced as my cheek ached from where Ike had slapped me. My knuckles were bruised from smashing Ike's face in, and i wasn't in a very good mood.

I was glad to see that the kitchen was empty. Victor didn't know I'd been cut. And he really didn't need to know. I lifted my shirt, sucking in a sharp breath through my teeth as I pulled back the patch that I'd put on it last night, and looked at the damage. Well, it could have been worse, I suppose. A jagged, crusted scar graced my side, and I shook my head slowly. It wasn't swollen or anything, but it hurt to touch it. 

"What is that?" I dropped my shirt at the sound of Logan's voice.

"What is what? Do I have something on my face?" I played dumb.

Logan entered the room fully, his eyes on my now covered hip. "Hey, Victor!" He called.

"No, please, it'll only make him angrier!" I begged softly.

"He needs to know about this!" He argued.

"What? What happened?" Victor asked, coming into the room.

I pouted, taking a step back to lean on the counter. Logan would do what he wanted to do. He was stubborn like that. "I reccomend you look at her hip." He said.

Victor raised a confused eyebrow at his brother, but Logan just crossed his arms, leaning on the island across from me.

"It's really not that bad," I said, my voice almost pleading, as he took a step toward me.

"What is not that bad?" He asked me.

I bit my lip, looking away from him.

He stood in front of me, gently grasping my shirt and pulling it up. His knuckles grazed my side accidentally, and I shivered. Damn it, I really needed to stop reacting how I did to him.

He sucked in a breath, touching the scar with his finger, but quickly retracting it when I flinched in pain. "Jane...why didn't you tell me?" He asked, his eyes hardening.

"It's not that bad!" I answered, crossing my arms, "Besides, I can take care of myself."

"It's not that bad? This is not that bad?" His voice rose as he repeated what I said in disbelief. "Jane, it could be infected! Do you realize how stupid that is? You didn't tell me about a wound that he...that bastard..." He couldn't finish. His hand that had lifted my shirt was now tightened into a fist, as his chest heaved with anger.

I gave Logan a see what you did? Look and sighed heavily. "Look. I don't appreciate getting yelled at by the baby-sitting bregade, alright? I took care of it. It's no big deal. This isn't my first rodeo." I rolled my eyes.

Victor suddenly gripped my shoulders, shaking me with each word he spat, "You could have died! Do you not understand the danger you put yourself in when you go to a completely different state five hours away from any help? Do you not have any sense of self preservation?"

"I understood it completely dickwad!" I yelled back, jerking from his hold. "I understood that I would most likely die yesterday, and I accepted it! Self preservation doesn't even matter when your own family is threatened! I couldn't think about the consequences of going alone because I had no choice!"

He took a step away from me, shock taking hold of his features. I'd just admitted that I went to California to die. I didn't care that I'd hurt him. I didn't care that my entire family just heard my confession, I was livid. I didn't like being man-handled, and I didn't like being yelled at. My only defense against that kind of thing was anger and, you guessed it, rebellion.

I ran my hands through my hair, storming past them both. It's not that I wanted to die, it's just that...I accepted the outcome. I had to get out of there before I said something really stupid. 

Oh wait.

Okay, I had to get out of there before I said something else stupid.

Arguments, with me, it was always fight, and then flight. I would dramatically sweep out of the house, not to be seen again except on TV, in a highspeed chase or footage of me stealing candy from a convenience store. The stealing thing was only when I was really upset, though. Today, I was only upset at myself. I jogged down the beach, tears filling my eyes at the hurt, and pained look on Victor's face. I didn't want to feel like this, but as my anger at them subsided, my anger at myself grew. How could I just...say that? Was my Don't-Say-This-Filter completely gone?

Better yet, what the hell was I thinking when I said it? Was I trying to prove something? Ha! I've proved something alright. I've proved that I'm still the reckless, non-thinking teenager I was.

You'd think I would have grown up by now.

I got to the Bay in five minutes, due to the speed in which I was running. The crowded dock helped me clear my thoughts, as I walked amongst hundreds of people. There was a surfing event going on, I could tell, since the Bay was covered in shirtless guys carrying around surf-boards.

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, plopping myself down on a bench next to an old guy who looked to be people watching, and  had cotton candy in his hand. "'sup?" I asked him casually.

He shrugged, taking a bite of his candy. "Life."

This was my kind of dude. He wasn't creeperish, and he was happy.

"Yeah, life's pretty good." I muttered, not really believing myself.

We watched people pass in silence for a few moments.

"I'm guessing life isn't very up for you, is it?" He asked.

I gave a sarcastic smile. "Nah. Life sucks right now."

He chuckled. "It always does at some point."

"Man, you got that right." I held out my hand, and he gave me a low five.

I could get along with this guy.

"I'm Jane Harison by the way."

"Ronnie Pace." He nodded at me.

***

Ten minutes later, we were in a deep, philasophical discussion.

"Have you even tried the swirled cotton candy? It's so much better than regular." I argued.

He shook his head in disagreement. "It clashes too much. The two flavors don't mix." He said.

I crossed my arms. "I still think you're wrong, but I'm going to let you have your own opinion." I said.

He chuckled. "Thanks."

"So, onto our next subject of discussion, why aren't you, like, some baddass mambajamba dude that everyone loves?" I asked.

He laughed boisterously. "Because I'm old, and old people are automatically seen as either really grumpy people who wear diapers, or overly happy people who sing your praises when you hold the door open for them. No one wants to get to know the grumpy old man who sits on a bench every day." He said.

I furrowed my eyebrows. "Dude, you are the coolest of the cool, though. You share my beliefs that candy is a God that we must worship!" I exclaimed.

He smiled. "Yeah, well you're not so bad yourself, kid. Why aren't you the baddass mambajamba girl that everyone loves?"

I grimaced. "Most people don't want to know me. Mostly because I've been in jail more times than most young girls. Don't get me wrong, I haven't killed, or done drugs or anything like that. It's mostly drunk driving, thievery, and..." I grimaced, "Grand theft auto."

To my surprise, he laughed. "I knew there was something different about you. You have that "I do what I want," vibe."

"Yeah. It's something I got from my Dad."

"He must be a real charmer." He nudged me.

I laughed out loud at this. "Yeah, he's a real hoot."

Ronnie was about to say something else, when he was cut off.

"Jane, there you are." I looked up, finding Victor's relieved face.

"Oh...hi, Victor." I said.

Silence fell over all of us, as Ronnie seemed to realize Victor meant something to me. He gave me a knowing smile.

"Can we talk for a minute?" Victor asked finally.

I nodded. "Excuse me Ronnie." I said.

He gave me a small, encouraging smile.

I stood up, letting Victor take my hand and lead me away. He lead me toward the railing twenty feet away. When he stopped, we stood there awkwardly for a second. He opened his mouth, sucking in  a breath to say something, before closing it again. I sighed, leaning against the railing.

"Just spit it out, Victor. I'm a bitch, I'm stupid, I'm reckless, I'm immature-"

"I'm in love with you."

Mine.

 

"W-what?" I squeaked.

He ran a hand through his hair. "I mean...with what happened with Ike...almost losing you...having you in my arms became the best feeling in the world. I knew you were safe, I could feel your warmth, and the way you smiled at me...I realized it while we were on the plane, actually." He mused, smiling slightly...nervously. "When you fell asleep. I held your hand, and you whispered my name. As soon as my name left your unconscious lips...it clicked. My frustration at you, my fighting with you...it all fell into place. You don't just hate someone, Jane. Hate is the first step to love." He smiled sheepishly at his corny referance.

But it made sense. I knew what he meant...but how could I tell him I feel the same way?

I'd be putting him in danger. Ike is still out there. He's still waiting for me. I can't just forget about why I'm in Florida in the first place!

"Victor I..." I trailed off, unsure how to start.

"Yeah?" He asked, his eyes hopeful.

How could I put him in danger? If I really loved him, then I would let him go.

"I don't love you, Victor." I said, watching as his face fell. "I don't love you because I can't love you. I can't love you because...I just can't."

With that, I stalked past him, my fists clenched at my sides as I resisted turning and running back to where he stood. I wasn't going to put him in danger. I wasn't dragging another person into my messed up world. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I walked down the beach, and I desperately wiped them away. They kept coming, though. An endless stream, one tear after the other. 

The ten minutes it took to get to the summer home were spent in misery, and I didn't even go inside. I walked past it, down the beach. I didn't want to face my brother, and his betrayed, hurt eyes at my confession. I walked quite a ways, before my legs gave out, and I sat down hard on my knees.

Life sucks sometimes. Ha! Life sucks all the time.

I stared off at the ocean, having to blink the tears away. I knew I was going to get sunburned, but I couldn't seem to care. His face...so...humiliated, vulnerable...hurt. 

I couldn't get it out of my mind.

For fifteen minutes, the ocean did it's thing. rising up in a small wave, breaking upon the sand, and then flowing back to repeat the cycle. I think I got to one hundred times before I lost count.

"Why?"

I was startled by Victor's hard voice. I stood abruptly, turning to look at him.

"What?"

"Why are you lying to me?"

I raised my eyebrows in surprise. "What?" I repeated.

How did he know I was lying? Better yet, why did he look so angry?

"Your eyebrow twitched upward, Jane. Why are you lying to me? Do you want to hurt me? Is that your plan in life? Do you have a little checklist that you read everyday? One: try to get myself killed. Two: Rip Victor's heart out and stomp on it." He was more than angry, he was livid.

I furrowed my eyebrows. "Victor, I-"

"No, just don't, Jane! I get it, you're ashamed to love the guy that threw you in jail. You're afraid it will tarnish your "bad girl" reputation." He yelled.

I took a step back, as if his words had pushed me. "Are you kidding me?" I asked, laughing without humor, an edge of disbelief in my voice.

"What else could it be, Jane?"

Okay, now I was more than livid. I was absolutely, bone deep, blood boiling, pissed. "I'm so glad I know how you think of me, Victor! I didn't just rush off on a five hour trip to die for my father!" I screamed, resisting the urge to choke him. "You're so jaded that you can't even see this for what it really is! Yes, I did lie. I did it to protect you, Dickhead! If Ike caught us together he'll cut off your head and wave it in the air like a victory flag!"

Victor was stunned into silence.

"So before you go off accusing me of being so selfish as to refuse your love for publicity reasons, you might want to think!" My voice faltered, as hurt panged at my heart.

I couldn't believe he thought of me that way. It was humiliating, and degrading. I wanted to smack him. 

So, I walked right up to him, and before he could blink, I placed a red mark on his cheek. "Fuck you." I spat.

He caught my wrists as I tried to do it again, and pulled me close to him. I struggled, trying to twist my wrists out of his grasp, but I always felt so weak when I was near him.

"If you even try to kiss me I swear-" I my threat was cut off abruptly by his lips on mine.

Well, there goes that.

I made quite the effort to keep his lips from shredding every thought I had like a hungry paper-shredder, and I was proud of myself for keeping sane...for at least a few seconds.

And then instinct took over.

With his hands still wound around my wrists, I slid my hands up, gripping the back of his neck and deepening the kiss. My hair was let out of it's ponytail, as he tangled his fingers into it. This was not a soft and slow kiss, this was a hot, demanding, frustrated kiss. He communicated everything to me through this kiss. He wasn't letting me go. This was a kiss of dominance. Fierce, demanding dominance.

He pulled back, freeing my wrists as he leaned down to growl into my ear, "You're mine, Jane."

I shoved away from him, wiping the back of my hand across my lips. "Like hell I am."

I stormed past him before he could see the goofy smile that took over my face.

Like hell I wasn't his. I was head over heals for the jerk-wad.

"Oh Jane." He sang, his melodous voice doing strange things to my balance.

I worked to make my goofy smile turn to a frown, as I turned to him. "What?" I snapped.

He grinned. "Your eyebrow twitched."

Damn it!

Decisions.

 

I lie on my bed, staring up at the ceiling as frustration muddled my thoughts. I wasn't going to give into Victor. I was doing this for his own protection. Ike was still out there, and if he saw us together...

I couldn't risk it.

Ike was dangerous. He had connections that the police weren't aware of. He could kill Victor without even having to lift a finger. I wouldn't let that happen. Victor meant so much to me. Enough for me to let him go.

But he'd been fighting me tooth and nail!

I growled in frustration, running a hand through my hair as I remembered his recent act of "persuasion."

It had been a week since I'd confessed about my plan to die, and Kent still wouldn't talk to me. He knew I was serious about what I said, instead of drunk off my ass and incoherent. We'd sit in the kitchen in a stony silence, both ignoring each other's presence. We'd gone out to eat under Mother's orders.

***

One hour ago.

Sitting in my room, I was watching a random cartoon I found, when Mom came bursting into my room.

"Jane Lane Harison I have been calling you for an hour, turn that blasted thing down!" She yelled over the TV.

I grinned. I'd turned it up after she called me the first time. "Oops." I said innocently.

She let out a breath as I turned down the TV. "Thank you. Now get dressed, we're going out." She ordered.

"Wait, what?"

"We're going out to eat. I'm tired of all this tension over something that didn't even happen. You didn't die. You're fine. So we're going out to eat and you and your brother are going to talk this out like responsible adults."

I gaped at her. "Do you even know who we are?"

"Yes, and that's why you are not going to be who you are, we are going to pretend to be a normal family, with normal problems like a disliked co-worker. You are going to smile and be polite to each other or so help me I will throttle you both!" Her eyes blazed and I knew that she wasn't bluffing.

I held up my hands in surrender. "Fine! Jeez, it's not that big a deal!"

So we went out.

Victor, Logan, Mom, Kent and I went to this little restaurant called Sue's Kitchen. Most would probably think of it as a Diner, but it was so much bigger and fancier than that. It had Diner food, but the location was gorgeous, right on the beach with an open patio, and the indoor dining room was so beautiful, with a beach theme. Seashells hung on the walls, and seashell-shaped napkin holders sat in the middle of the round tables, covered in soft-coral colored cloth. It was dimly lit, with candles on each table, and small, round lights above. 

Mother asked for a patio table. The patio was even prettier. Round wooden tables sat off to the right, with white, fluttery curtains separating us from the beach. Tiki torches sat in the middle of each table, and a large chandelier lit the night up brilliantly.

What I loved, and hated, most about this place, however, was the dance floor. To the left, there was music playing, with a few couples dancing together to the slow song.

I gulped. I actually gulped at that.

We took our seats, and our waitress came out, smiling warmly at us all. "Hi, my name's Minnie, and I'll be your waiter today. Can I start you guys off with anything, an appetizer?" She suggested.

Mom glanced at the menu. "We'll have the fried pickles."

I grinned. Mom knew Kent and I so well.

"Okay. And what to drink?"

"I'll have Dr. Pepper." Kent and I said at the same time.

We went silent. The waiter gave us confused looks. "I'm sorry...I'm not familiar with that."

I furrowed my eyebrows and looked up at her. "What?"

Victor cleared his throat, chuckling. "We'll just have some sweet tea. Extra sweet." He said, glancing at me.

"All of you?"

"Yes. Thank you." He said.

I gave Mom a wide eyed stare when the waiter rushed off to give our order. "You took me to a place where Dr. Pepper isn't heard of?" I hissed.

She rolled her eyes. "Oh Jane. The world does not revolve around Dr. Pepper."

"For me it does!" Yet again, Kent and I were like the creepy identical twins.

This time, we smiled slightly at each other.

I'd gone a week and three days without Dr. Pepper. I was dying for one, and I find out that I can't have them? I wasn't going to survive.

"You're both being such drama queens." She rolled her eyes.

After a few minutes in silence, looking at our menus, the waitress came back, giving us our drinks, and our appetizer. Kent almost mauled her hand before she could get the plate down, but I smacked the back of his head, giving Minnie an apologetic smile. She quickly took our order, afraid of Kent's intent to kill her, and then scurried away. I rolled my eyes, smacking the back of Kent's head again for good measure.

He rubbed his head, glaring at me.

"Jane." Victor said, grabbing my attention immediately.

His voice was like honey. It sent shivers flowing down my spine.

"Yeah?" I asked, a little breathless.

He didn't speak for a second, glancing around the table at the others. Mom got the hint. "Kent, Logan, let's take a walk down the beach, eh? I'd like to see the sunset." She said.

It was true, the sun was dipping lower and lower in the sky, and soon the moon would replace it.

"But what about the food?" Kent complained.

"I'm sure Victor and Jane will tell us when it's ready, won't you?"

I hadn't taken my eyes from Victors. His golden gazed had trapped mine, and it wasn't letting go. I hardly even glanced up at Mom. "Sure...yeah."

They all shuffled off of the porch, leaving Victor and I alone, staring at each other. Finally, after a few moments, I got uncomfortable, and tore my gaze from him. "So...you wanted to ask me something?" I guessed, looking down at his chest. His chest was an easy option, something that wasn't gold and soft and held no  underlying emotions. Like love.

"Dance with me." It wasn't a question.

I looked up at him in surprise. Bad idea. His eyes were smoldering, underneath long black lashes. God-damn it I was going to have to say yes.

"Victor..." I sighed, desperately trying to say no.

"Please, Jane. Just this once." He pleaded softly, taking my hand in his.

Oh no. He was pulling out the big guns. His pleas were like icing on an already too sweet cake. I couldn't resist.

"Fine." I gave in, standing up.

He looked like the kid who got the piece of candy he begged his mother for. He lead the way to the dance floor, me reluctantly trailing after him. The couples that had been dancing before had cleared after the first song, their food having arrived. So it was only Victor and I. He pulled me close to him, chest to chest, and laid his hand on my hip. I hesitantly put my hand in his, lying the other on his shoulder.

He chuckled at my reluctance, leaning down so his lips were at my ear. "Don't fight this, Jane. You want me, just as I want you."

I shivered but forced myself to deny it. "You can't fight what you don't feel."

He pulled back, his eyes searching mine, before he grinned, and spun me out. I let out a yelp at the sudden movement, and then he twirled me back into him. "I can't say I agree with those words." He whispered.

I glared at him, my breathing labored. "And why... is that?"

"Because I happen to remember a certain someone yelling that they lied about not loving me. Funny thing, eh?" He said, twirling me around a little more gently this time.

My cheeks burned. "I happen to remember being angry and thinking I'd do anything to get you to shut up." I lied.

He grinned, letting go of my hand to smooth my eyebrow, I cursed to myself, realizing it had quirked upward.

"I'm sure." He chuckled softly.

We swayed together in silence, staring each other down.  Finally, he looked away, searching the room with a musing look on his face. "You know, the last time we danced, on the beach, it felt like nothing I've ever felt before, having you in my arms. Now? It feels so much better." He said.

I furrowed my eyebrows."Why's that?"

He sighed softly, looking down at me with loving, yet hungry eyes. "Because I can do this."

He let go of my hand and my hip, taking my face in both his hands, and leaning down to press his lips against mine. It was a brief, but intimate kiss, and it still left me breathless when he pulled back.

When he settled back into his former position, hand on hip, other hand grasping mine tightly, I spoke.

"You couldn't do that before?" it definitely wasn't what I wanted to say, but I just blurted it out.

He chuckled, seeming happy with my reaction. "Yes, but I didn't know if you would slap me or not." He said.

I smacked him on the back of the head, making him duck and grimace. "Ouch."

"You're a jerk." I muttered sullenly.

He raised his eyebrows in question. "How am I a jerk?"

"I'm trying to protect you, okay? Ike sees us and that's it, you're on his list. To him, I'm his property, and he doesn't like anyone touching or even encroaching on his property. I just wish you'd let me go and make my job a whole lot easier." I grumbled.

He sighed heavily. "Jane, I'm not afraid of Ike. I've got eyes everywhere, twenty four seven, watching out for even a sign of him. Most likely, since he wants you so badly, and he doesn't like anyone else touching you, he's going to head in himself, and try to take you. I won't let that happen. I'm going to stay close to you, every second of every day until we catch him." He promised, tightening his grip on my hip.

I pushed him away. "You don't know Ike, Victor. He has connections that not even my father knows about! I can't just...risk your life like that! I'm sorry, but it won't happen." He caught my arm as I turned to leave.

"Jane, I'm never going to give up. I don't care about Ike, I love you, and that's how it's going to stay." He growled.

So you can see how this would turn out from here. The entire table was in an awkward silence for the next hour. Kent and I, being mind readers, didn't even have to talk our problems out. Once we were forced into a family situation together, we were alright. Victor took my mother's seat beside me, and I gave up pushing his hand off of my leg after the tenth try. My mother seemed pleased with the seating arrangement, not noticing the stony silent treatment I was giving him. Logan was oblivious, eating his food like it was made by Gods.

By the time we headed home, everyone was full, and only half happy. I was happy that Kent was speaking to me again. He knew I regretted what I did, and I knew he loves me too much to ignore me forever. But the other half of me was frustrated and ready to pounce. Mom made up a pretense that there was no room in her car because the leftovers had to take up a seat, so I was to ride with Victor. I loved my mother, but sometimes I wanted to throttle her.

But I rode with Victor non the less. It was silent, except for the radio playing classic rock. Damn, he even liked my kind of music. The Eagles, Those Shoes came on, and I smiled reaching over to turn it up. 

"Tell us what you're gonna do tonight, mama!" I sang.

"There must be some place you can go!" Victor sang, his melodic voice making shivers run down my spine.

Well maybe Victor wasn't such a jerk. I mean, he liked the Eagles, no man is a bad guy when he likes The Eagles.

We passed by Mom, Kent and Logan, and I noticed them looking at us as we sang to each other. I was laughing so hard, but I tried to contain myself as we sang my favorite part.

"They're lookin' at you, leanin' on you, tell you everything you want to hear."

"They give you tablets of love." He grinned at me.

"They're waiting for you, got to score you, handy with a shovel and so sincere." I hardly contained my laughter, smiling hugely.

"Ooh, they got the kid glove."

He pulled into the driveway, and we waited for the song to end before turning the car off. We laughed as we got out. I was laughing so much, that I tripped on a rock in the driveway, making me yelp. He caught me as I stumbled, and I laughed harder, pressing my face in his chest.

Victor, chuckling, leaned down to whisper, "This is why I love you."

And all my happiness flew right out the window. Frustration back in full force. God, I was practically leading him on! He pressed a kiss to my temple, before letting me go, turning, and entering the house with a wink in my direction.

***

So here I was. Lying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling in frustration. He knew exactly how to ease me into a good mood. He also knew exactly how to get under my skin. I couldn't understand what the hell it was about Victor that I absolutely loved, and hated. He was my complete opposite. He was mature, and a clear thinker, and the chief of police. I was an immature jail bird, daughter of a man who's robbed more banks than Bonnie and Clyde, and I most certainly did not think clearly. Especially when I was around him.

Ugh.

I couldn't think straight. I needed to get out of here for a while.

In fact...

I needed to leave. For good. Victor obviously wasn't going to give up. I would leave some kind of note to make sure they knew I wasn't going on another suicide mission. I was a grown woman. I should start acting like it.

With my mind made up, I stood up, and grabbed my backpack. 

Falling Apart.

 

crept down stairs, my backpack over my shoulder. I crept up to Victors door, opening it slightly and peeking in. He slept soundly, but he didn't snore. His shirtless form was stretched out on his stomach, forearms by his head. He looked almost boyish. I read through the letter one more time before setting it on the door.

Victor.

Yes, I'm in love with you. That's the problem. I'm madly in love with you. So in love with you that I can't think straight when you touch my hand. My hand for christ sake!

That's why I have to leave you. If Ike found out about this...he'd be livid. He wants to take everything I love to show me dominence. He likes to scare his prey before he consumes it. He wants my complete, roll on my back, and show my stomach submission. Of course, that won't work because I'm not a bitch. Well...not that kind of bitch.

Listen, I'm sorry. I want to protect you, and I want to be with you at the same time, it's a maddening war in my own head. But if you died because of my selfishness, I couldn't live with myself. I love you. I'll say it a thousand times while I'm away, but it won't change the fact that I can't be with you.

It'll just replay a thousand times in my head. I love you...I love you...I love you...

And with each time, I'll go crazier and crazier. 

I'm sorry. I really am. Please don't try to find me, because that would kind of defeat the purpose of this entire thing.

With love pouring from my heart and all that sappy crap, Jane.

I sighed. He was going to kill me. Literally track me down, and murder me.

Love sucks.

I bit my lip for a moment, before walking over to Victor and leaning down, pressing my lips to his. He didn't stir, just as I assumed he wouldn't. I put my hands on the bed to stand, and my hand hit something cold, smooth, and plastic. I lifted the little figurine with confusion. Blue Gingerbread man? He...kept him? Why did that break my heart even more? I noticed the bottom of it, and more tears escaped. 

There was a small piece of paper, taped to the platform, and he wrote:

Keep her safe.

I stood with haste, rushing from the room before I could burst into tears. I composed myself as quickly as I could, but pain still radiated from my heart. I pulled out my note for the others.

I took it out and stuck it on the door. I was apologizing for leaving, and explaining the other reason why I left.

Dear Mom, and Kent.

I'm sorry I left, but I had to. Ike has threatened both of you too much. Don't worry, this isn't another suicide mission, I promised I wouldn't go on one of those again. This is, however, a goodbye. For as long as it takes to find Ike and make you all safe, I'm going into my own form of hiding. I hope you understand, and I'm sorry if this upsets you. My only intention is to protect you - all of you.

Kent, take care of yourself. I'm taking Green with me for protection, we're good friends now. I hope you understand that I love you, no matter how little we talk these days. I understand why you resent Dad, but I also understand Dad's struggle. I promise to call. Remember, blood is always thicker than water. I love you.

Mom. No matter how much you insult me, or how much we fight, I know you love me. I love you, and I hope you can somehow get over what Dad did and love someone else. Not every man is going to turn to robbing banks for a living. I know you can't understand why I left, and are probably taking it out on Kent, and probably won't even read this letter until weeks later, but if you somehow change in the next ten minutes, I just want you to know that I'm sorry. I'm a child most of the time, and I don't think things through. I know you were just trying to protect me all those years ago, when our family was torn apart, but I'm like you. I won't listen. I'm stubborn. Yadda yadda yadda. Although you probably won't want to talk to me, I'll ask for you, every time. I love you, and I hope you can forgive me.

Love, Jane.

It was a long note,stained with tears, and with a lot of mistakes, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. I opened the door, stepping into the night air. I took a deep breath. Well, here we go.

My rental sat at the curb, and I sighed a breath of relief. Finally. I was afraid it wouldn't get here. I threw  my bag in the back, and opened the front. The keys sat on the dash, and I sighed heavily. Was I really going to do this?

I picked up the keys. Yes, yes I was. I started the car. Letting it purr to life underneath me. Pulling away from the curb, I said my last goodbye to the summer home, before turning around, and heading out.

A single tear rolled down my cheek. Just one of the million to come.

***

Victor's POV.

I cracked my eyes open, looking over at the clock. Five. Just like every night that I don't have her in my arms. I sat up, rubbing my face in my hands tiredly. I checked my phone for any messages, to see it completely massage free. Damn. No Ike.

I sighed. The overhead air conditioner kicked on, and I heard the rustle of paper.

"Huh?" I mumbled to myself, looking up to find where the noise came from.

A note.

Somehow, this one little piece of paper taped to the door sent dread zinging through me. I jumped up, yawning and stretching as I walked over. I grabbed the note from the door, scratching the back of my head. Reading it, I could feel my blood run cold. My entire frame froze. I was no longer tired. No longer hungry. No longer anything but angry. No, furious.

I stormed out of the room, rushing up the stairs and slamming into her room. Her bed was empty. Her backpack was gone. She was gone.

How could she I do this? How could she leave me without even considering that I could keep her safe? Did she ever think? Does she even know how dangerous it is to be out there alone?

Like hell I wasn't going to track her down!

I slammed her door closed, cursing to myself as I rushed down the stairs. I grabbed my phone, angrily dialing her number and waiting as it rang.

"Hello." Her groggy voice sighed, and I momentarily forgot I was angry.

Her sweet voice, so beautiful, even when tired and slightly annoyed. I snapped myself out of it, my anger pulling back up to the serface before it could drown in my stupid love sick puppy sindrome.

"What do you think you're doing?" I growled.

I heard her long breath. "I was hoping you'd just understand and leave me be." She said.

I opened my laptop, bringing up the tracking moniter. She didn't really think I wouldn't put a tracker in her backpack and leather jacket, did she?

"If you don't come back here, I swear-"

"Listen, I'm running on an hour of sleep right now, okay? Can we finish this conversation when I'm not dead on my feet?" She asked, cutting off my threat with uninterest in her tone.

I snapped.

"God dammit woman! I'm going to call Ike and give myself up to him right now if you don't come home!" I threatened.

"You wouldn't." Her voice was small, and I could just see her face blanche.

"Try me." I growled.

"Victor...just let me go." She pleaded softly.

"No. If you loved me as much as you say you do, than you would stay here, and make me happy. I don't care how selfish you feel, I will not live a life without you in it!"

"Victor..." Her voice was pained.

"You have ten minutes to make up your mind." I said, and then I ended the call.

Got'cha. She was in a hotel hours from here. I would wait for her to decide, and then I was heading out.

"She's...gone?" Kent's pained voice made me whip my head around.

He clutched a note in his hand, his eyes scanning the contents. I watched him as his eyes grew angrier and more resentful, and  he crumbled the note, angrily throwing it down. "I don't care how much she loves him, or how much she understands his fucking struggle, he made his choice! God dammit, she shouldn't have to be the one to clean up his God damn messes!" He enforced the last word with a hard punch to the wall, cracking it nicely.

He went on ranting, as his mother came down the stairs. She leaned down, uncrumbling the note. Reading through it, her tired eyes slowly came more into focus, and tears filled them. Falling down on the bottom step, she let out a cry of pain as she threw the note down. Their family was crumbling once again.

"No! No! I won't lose another one, not again!" She cried, her hands knotted into her hair.

Kent dropped down beside her, his face stone cold, but pain lying underneath it all. He held onto his mother as she wept into his chest.

All of this because of the choice of one man.

I glanced back at the laptop to see that nothing had changed. She was still there, Was I going to have to drag her out by force?

I growled and grabbed my jacket, passing a confused and tired Logan. "What's going on?" he groaned.

"I want you to watch that screen, and if she moves, I want you to call me." I ordered.

He furrowed his eyebrows, but nodded. "Okay."

I walked outside, jumping in my car and speeding off. I wasn't going to lose her again.

Guilt.

 

Three hours out, I got a call.

"She's at some diner, a couple minutes from the hotel. I looked it up, it's called Sam's Place." Logan explained when I answered.

"Thanks. I'm about ten minutes away." I said.

I disconnected, speeding the car up to nintey. She wasn't going to get away this time.

***

Pulling up to the curb, I watched through the window of the diner as she spoke to the waitress. Jane's smile was small, but I could see the tense way she held her shoulders, and the way that smile didn't reach her eyes. She was depressed.

I got out of the car, and the waitress noticed. She said something, making Jane turn her head. Her eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. I leaned against my car, staring straight at her.

It took a second, but she finally got up, stumbling once as she excused herself from the table. I watched her rush to the doors, throwing them open and walking out. She gave me a dry, annoyed look. "I told you not to come looking for me."

I didn't answer, I pushed off from my car and grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her slightly as I growled, "Don't you ever, ever leave me again. Do you know how stupid you can be? You beautiful, stupid, immature, lovely, stubborn woman."

I pulled her into a bone crushing hug, burying my face in her hair and inhaling her scent. She smelled like sea salt and coconuts. A very enticing scent.

"Victor...I can't breathe." She gasped, pushing against my chest.

I loosened my grip, pulling back so I could see her. "Jane, I could kill you. You wouldn't be protecting anyone by leaving. Don't you understand that? Ike already knows about us. He could find your family and lure you out any time! You aren't protecting anyone!"

She pushed my hands away, her face stubborn, but I could see in her eyes that she knew I was right. Her jaw clenched and she looked up at me. "If you died because of me, Victor, I would kill myself. I wouldn't be able to live with it." She said.

I grabbed her face in both my hands, staring straight into her eyes. "I will not die by Ike's hands. We're going to catch him, and he's going to jail for a very, very long time."

Tears reddened her eyes. "But...what if you don't? What if he catches us together? What if-"

I cut her off, smashing my lips to hers. I wasn't losing her again. She struggled, pushing against my chest as hard as she could, breaking us apart.

"No, Victor. Don't-don't do that!" She stuttered, backing away from me.

"Jane, I'm not losing you." I insisted, catching her hand.

A tear ran down her cheek, as she nodded. "Yes. Yes you are."

She ripped her hand from mine and turned, taking off. I stood shocked and hurt as she got in her car.

As the engine started, I forced myself to move, but I was too late. She pressed down on the gas, and sped off.

Shit.

***

As I drove, tears marred my vision. That had to be the hardest thing I'd ever done. He was so determined, so hurt that I'd tried to leave him. And he was also right. I wasn't saving anyone. Ike probably already knew about Victor and I, but Ike didn't know where I was, and I threw out my cellphone. He has no way of contacting me, and no way of tracking me down. Obviously Victor tracked me down Via phonecall. There was no other way except...but Victor wouldn't do that...would he?

No. Victor loves me. He trusts me. Doesn't he?

I snorted through my tears. That man wouldn't trust me with a ten foot pole. But still, I didn't think he would put a tracker on me.

Well why wouldn't he? The smartass part of my brain argued. He loves you, and he's one of the most protective, possessive guys you've ever met - second to Ike. Why wouldn't he put a tracker on you?

Unfortunately, the smartass part of my brain was right. I needed to check my bag. I sighed heavily.

God dammit.

I was a bitch. A stupid, fast-acting, immature bitch. Victor was right. I wasn't protecting anyone by leaving. Not even myself. Why couldn't I just accept the truth for once? Why couldn't I stop being so stubborn? I needed to stop this. That was the whole reason I left, right? To be responsible? Everything he said was right. Ike probably already knew about us, he would find out anyway, whether I stayed away or not. So why was I running?

I slammed on my breaks, unbuckling my seat belt and jumping out of the car. I ran down the street. "Victor!" I yelled, hoping to stop him before he left.

He paused in the action of opening his door, looking up in confusion. "Wait!"

He stood for a second, before starting toward me. He met me in the middle of the parking lot, and I threw myself into his arms, wrapping my legs around his waist. He stumbled back a bit, but other than that, he was able to hold onto me. I pressed my lips to his, tangling my hands in his hair.

This time, though, I took control. I tightened my hands into fists, deepening the kiss. He moaned into my mouth, making triumph ring through me. He tangled his hands in my hair, as the kiss became more demanding.

He pulled back, gasping for breath. I opened my eyes to see his own golden ones staring at mine questioningly.

"Why did you come back?" He asked.

I let myself down from his waist, dropping nimbly on my feet in front of him. "I just...couldn't leave like that. You're right. Everything you said is...right. And even though it pains my ego to admit it, it's the truth." I looked away from him, ashamed of my actions. "Look, if you want to leave, I'll understand. I wouldn't like me very much either. It's just...I was so worried about Ike that I didn't want to involve anyone else in my life. He's a jealous guy and he tries to rule my life like some-"

"Jane." Victor put his hand over my mouth, stopping me. "I would never leave you. Your selflessness, although sometimes unthinking and too selfless, is one of the many things I love about you. How could I leave you, when all I've ever wanted to do was love you?" He said softly, leaving me breathless with his tender gaze.

I reached up, running the tip of my finger along his strong jaw, and watching the process. "So you're not mad at me?" I asked.

He snorted, but I could see him relax under my touch. "I'm livid, Jane. But I'm not mad at you."

I looked up with a confused expression. "You're livid, but you're not mad at me." I repeated blankly.

He chuckled and kissed my forehead. "Yes. I'm livid at Ike. Every time I think about what you've sacrificed, I see red. You're not immature, Jane, at least not in the way you think. You've had to make choices that no twenty two year old should ever have to make. It makes me so angry that he made you make those choices!" He growled, his eyes darkening.

I set my hand on his cheek, relaxing him instantly. "It's okay. I'm okay. Ike hasn't gotten what he wants from me, and he never will." I said.

Victor pulled me tighter to him. "No. He won't."

I looked up at him with a small smile. "I love-"

My next words were drowned out by a gunshot.

Victor let out a loud cry, as he jerked forward. I had to hold him up, as he seethed in pain.

"Victor? Victor!" I shrieked as he fell to his knees.

Horror filled me. What if they shot him through the heart? What if they hit an artery?

He clutched his shoulder with a horrible grimace, grinding his teeth as blood soaked his sleeve. I looked around to see who'd shot him, and I saw the waitress I'd been talking to earlier, dropping the gun and fleeing. My blood ran cold. Hadn't she just told me that she was brand new here? That her boss was really demanding, when in all reality her manager seemed really sweet?

She wasn't talking about her manager.

Oh my God. I'd been talking to one of Ike's.

I knew my face had turned sheet white as I stared into Victor's pained eyes. I didn't even notice the sirens far off, as panic overloaded me.

"You're going to be okay." My voice was high and hysterical with panic, as I gripped his face in my shaking hands.

"Jane...don't...don't leave..." He groaned, as he gripped his shoulder tighter.

"No, no I promise, I'm right here! I won't leave you, I promise!" I gasped as sobs started to escape.

He gripped my hand, tightly in his, before he passed out. I let out a shriek as hands gripped my arms, struggling.

"No, I have to be with him! Let me go!" I screamed.

"Don't worry, ma'am, we're taking him to the hospital where you can meet us!" The man grunted as I struggled.

"No, no! I promised I wouldn't leave him! I have to go with you!" I cried.

"Hey, Bert, let her go, she can ride in the back." A woman called in an authoritive voice.

Ignoring the growing croud as Bert let me go, I ran to the EMT, rushing back to Victor's side. They were wrapping his shoulder up, getting him ready for transport. 

What would have happened if I left? Would they have shot him? Would he be lying there alone, bleeding on the street?

I followed them as they rolled him into the truck, biting back a sob as I looked at his pale, sweaty face. 

"Poor dear." I heard an old lady say softly.

"She looks like she saw a ghost."

"Bless her heart."

I ignored the whispers, climbing into the truck and grabbing his hand, watching as they strapped him in. I was shell-shocked. I couldn't speak. As soon as I sat down, I was locked in that position, staring at his face, his hand held tightly in both of mine.

The ride to the hospital was a blur. I vaguely remember the woman from before talking to me, but I wasn't able to answer.

"Ma'am!" I blinked a few times, looking up at the woman. "We're here." She said.

I watched as they rushed Victor out of the truck. I had to let him go because they were taking him into surgery to get the bullet out of his shoulder. 

I watched them rush him off, sinking to my knees in the middle of the hall. I knew he'd live, but...it was all my fault he was here in the first place. I couldn't live with myself if they'd actually killed him.

"Ma'am?" I looked up at the woman, my eyebrows raising slightly.

She looked sympathetic, and it brought back my old self a little bit. I didn't like sympathy.

"I don't know if you heard me earlier. I'm Valley Sails, the chief of the police station down this way. You're Jane Harison, correct?" She asked.

"Yeah. That's me." I said, standing up.

"Your father is the notorious Bank Snatcher, right?" She led me into the waiting room, sitting me down.

I sighed heavily. "I own a black Camaro."

"Huh?" She asked, confused.

A small smiled curved at my lips. "Nothing."

She gave me a crazy look. "Okay. Anyway, I just wanted to ask you a few questions, about that man in there." She said.

"Victor Price. Chief of police in the city of Waco in Texas." I said.

She seemed surprised. "And you...know this man well?"

"Yes. Actually we're in a close relationship." I said.

"A close relationship. I see. And he knows about your relations with-"

"Being related to a criminal doesn't make me one too." I snapped.

She held up her hands, as if in surrender. "Okay, okay, I was just asking. Anyway, do you know why someone would want to harm Mr. Price?"

I snorted. "He's a police officer. He arrests scum every day. But other than that, yes, there is Ike." I said.

"Ike?" Valley inquired.

"Yes. Ike is pretty much the scum of the earth. A part of a gang that my Dad has been trying to pay off. Ike laid his claim on me a long time ago. He wanted to take my virginity, and has been trying to since he caught me when I was eighteen. Listen to me. Ike is very jealous. I want you to keep watch over Victor, you got that? You search anyone who goes in that room, make sure they are really who they say they are. I couldn't live with myself if Victor got hurt." I told her seriously.

"And you're not concerned with your own safety?" Valley asked, concerned.

I snorted. "I haven't been concerned with my own safety in a long time." I muttered.

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean, my life isn't very important right now. I have a brother, a mother, a father, and now the love of my life to take care of. I put those things before anything else. Including my own life."

Valley looked sorrowful. "That's a very selfless thing to say. And I'm very sorry that you had to say it." She said.

"Yeah, my life's a real peach." I said sarcastically.

She frowned. "I'll go and call a couple of men to watch over Victor for you." She said.

"Thank you." I said, watching as she stood.

I watched as she left the room, and then pulled my phone from my pocket, dialing Logan.

"Hello." His deep voice brought back my guilt, and panic.

My throat suddenly felt tight. I couldn't speak. How could I tell him that his brother was in the hospital because of me?

"Hello?" He sounded confused now.

"Uh...L-Logan. I have to tell you something." I said hesitantly.

"Jane? What is it? What's wrong?" He asked.

I took a deep breath, and then broke down. "He got shot." I blubbered out, almost incoherent.

"Jane, who got shot? What are you talking about?" He asked in alarm.

"He tracked me down and we were talking and an employee of Ike shot him and I'm so sorry Logan!" I cried.

"Jane, calm down, it's not your fault." He said soothingly.

"It is all my fault!" I sobbed pathetically, "If I hadn't left none of this would have happened, I'm so stupid!"

"Okay, Jane, wait there, I'm on my way." He said.

"O-okay." I sniffed.

 

So for the next three hours, I paced. The doctor came out and told me he was out of surgery after an hour, but I couldn't see him while he was recovering. When Logan got there, I began rambling.

"I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have left, this is all my fault I don't know what I was-"

He didn't say anything, he just pulled me into a tight hug. He held me close, rubbing my back. 

"It's okay, Jane. He's fine. I caught the doctor on my way in, he said that Victor was fine." He assured softly.

Soft sobs escaped my lips as I buried my face deeper into his chest. "I-I couldn't believe it! I was so afraid that she'd hit something vital! And th-then he passed out a-and-and-"

"Shh, Jane, it's okay. It's not your fault. I promise you I'm not angry at you." He said, cutting off my blubbering.

He just held me while I cried, rocking me side to side while occasionally murmuring assurances. 

We pulled away from each other when the doctor came in. "He's completely stable now. He lost quite a bit of blood from the wound, but will be fine with some rest. I recomend he stay here for at least a few days, just to moniter the wound." He said.

"Thank you. Can we see him?" I asked hopefully.

"Are you family?" He asked, glancing at Logan,

I bit my lip, but Logan chimed in.

"Yes, she's my sister in law." He said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder.

I looked up in surprise, and he gave me a small smile.

"Well then he's in room two sixteen." The doctor said, smiling warmly.

I smiled back, letting Logan lead me from the room. We walked down the hall, both of us silent. We got into the elevator, and I hugged myself to keep from breaking down again. It was hard to imagine Victor without a smile, pale and injured. It was going to be hard to see him like that.

"Where is Mom and Kent?" I asked, realizing they weren't with us.

"I dropped them off at a hotel to check us in. They'll be visiting us a little later." He explained.

I nodded, watching as the doors slid open. Logan led me down the hall, stopping at number two sixteen. I swallowed thickly and looked at Logan. 

"I don't think I can do this. How can I look at him when he got shot because of me? What if he hates me? What if-"

"Hey. This is Victor we're talking about. He'd take a bullet for you any day." Logan said softly, and then nudged me toward the door.

I gulped yet again, and hesitantly set my hand on the knob.

I pushed the door open, and a tight gasp escaped my lips at the sight of him.

Girlfriend.

 

"V-Victor?" I asked, close to sobbing as I watched him weakly turn his head.

"Jane." He croaked, a small smile turning up his dry lips.

Logan put a hand on the small of my back, encouraging my frozen body to stumble forward. I rushed to take his outstretched hand, my eyes wide. Being shot in the shoulder really takes it out of you, apparently.

His skin was pale, and his forehead was sweaty. He would occasionally wince when his shoulder shifted. He gripped my hand tightly in his, despite his appearance.

"Jane, I-I asked f-for you but th-they said that I-I needed to re-rest." He rasped.

Logan handed me a cool paper towel, and I went into protective mode, softly shushing him as I dabbed the sweat from his forehead. He closed his eyes, letting out a soft sigh.

"Thank you."

I bit my lip, fighting back the tears that were building in my eyes. He looked so terrible. 

"Does it hurt?" I forced out, my voice cracking.

He let out a long breath, before nodding.

I couldn't help it, a strangled sob escaped my lips. "I'm so sorry, Victor."

He gave my hand a squeeze, his eyes opening to reveal his golden eyes. "Don't be. s'not you're fault." He slurred, his eyes drooping.

I watched as the drugs he'd been given took him under yet again, dropping down into the seat beside his bed. Logan quietly dragged a seat up beside me, putting a hand on my shoulder as I silently cried, guilt overwhelming me.

I was glad that he was here with me. I needed him at this moment. Maybe I wasn't his sister in law, but he felt like a true brother right then. Of course he'd never replace Kent, but...Kent wasn't here right now, and Logan knew how I felt about Victor. Logan understood so much more about what was going on than Kent ever could.

He loved Victor just as much, if not more, as I did. He knew my pain because he was feeling it too. It made it easy to turn in the armless chair, and bury my face in his chest, curling my legs into myself. He wrapped an arm around me, rubbing my shoulder gently as he buried his face in my hair.

We sat like that, for maybe thirty minutes, and I was dozing off, as someone cleared their throat. We sluggishly pulled away from each other, both almost asleep.

I looked up to find Valley, looking between us. "I have my men downstairs, and waiting at the elevator. Who is this?" She asked.

"This is Logan Price, Victor's brother. Logan, this is Valley Sails, chief of police." I introduced, yawning tiredly.

Logan gave a polite smile, taking her outstretched hand for him to shake. "Jane, I'm going to get something from the vending machine, you want anything?" He asked.

For the first time, I didn't feel like eating anything. Not even those mini chocolate chip cookies. I shook my head, making Logan sigh heavily.

"You haven't eaten anything all day, Jane. You have to eat sometime." He said.

I looked away at Victor. "I'm not hungry right now." I said softly.

"I'll get you something in case you change your mind." He muttered.

I gave him a small smile and shook my head. "You shouldn't worry about me, Logan. I'm okay." I said.

He gave me a dubious look, but left the room. I sighed softly. dabbing Victor's forehead again.

"We caught the woman that the witnesses pointed out. She was waiting for a bus to the airport. I questioned her, but she wouldn't talk. Said her boss didn't like squealers." She said, her voice almost bitter.

I nodded. "My father has questioned hundreds of his employees. All of them don't talk, and all of them are dead within the week." I muttered, reaching over to stroke Victor's face as it creased in pain, making him relax.

"Your father questions Ike's employees?" She asked.

"Yeah. He tries to take care of Ike himself, since the police have no luck. He's gotten a few close calls in the past but...Ike is too powerful." I muttered.

She was silent, and I took the sweaty paper towel and threw it in the trash, getting up and wetting a new one. Valley watched as I went back over, lying the cool cloth on his forehead, pressing down on it gently.

"You care a lot for Mr. Price and his brother, don't you?" She asked after a moment.

I looked down at Victor's pale face, laying my hand on his cheek. "They're like family." I said.

She nodded once. "I can understand that."

We sat in silence a little longer, before Valley spoke again. "I'm going to go and instruct one of my men to be at this door at all times. I hope he gets well soon, Ms. Harison." She nodded, and left the room.

I gripped his hand, rubbing it in mine to warm it. His peaceful face looked almost boyish, as he slept. He also looked ragged. I sighed, lying my head down, eye-level with his hand, watching as I rubbed it with my thumb. I drifted off to sleep, listening to his soft breath. 

***

"-She looks ragged." I awoke to Victor, his voice sounding stronger than before.

"You're one to talk." I muttered, lifting my head to rub my eyes.

He chuckled, but winced as his shoulder shifted.

"How are you feeling?" I asked in concern, running a hand through my hair as I felt his forehead.

He was sitting up now, and he patiently waited for me to check him for fever. "I'm feeling fine, Jane. No need to fuss." He chuckled as I straightened his blanket.

I bit my lip. I wanted to cry at his feet and beg him to forgive me. This was all my fault. If I hadn't left, then he wouldn't be here. 

"Hey, I don't want to see that look, Jane. It wasn't your fault, do you hear me?" 

"It is my fault." I insisted in a whisper.

Logan sighed heavily beside me. "You see what I mean?"

I looked up at him with a confused expression. "What? What are you talking about?"

"For the first time since I've met her, she refused to eat. She's apologized more than she has since I met her, and for as long as I've been here, she's been crying." 

As if my cheeks couldn't get any redder, my stomach growled.

"She won't eat?" Victor asked.

"Nope." Logan confirmed.

Victor gave me a dissaproving look. "You're not starving yourself because of me." It sounded like an order.

I crossed my arms. "And who says I'm hungry in the first place?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.

Why, oh why did my stomach have to growl again?

Victor pointed to the tray of food that Logan had brought in. "Eat."

Wrong move. The thing about me was, I didn't like taking orders. I had this really rebellious and stubborn side that didn't let me take orders from anyone, even if it was good for me.

"No."

He glowered at me, and I glared right back. We gazed at each other, both of us waiting for the other to crack. Unfortunately we were both too hardheaded to give in.

Logan groaned, and intervened. "Jane," I tore my eyes away from Victor's, looking at Logan with a raised eyebrow. "Will you please eat?" He pleaded.

I thought for a minute. If I gave into Logan, then Victor will have won. On the other hand, Victor would be angry that Logan got me to say yes, but he didn't. Then again, I liked pissing both of them off so...

"Hmm...no." I said, an innocent smile curving my lips upward.

Logan groaned. "Vic, if you would have just asked her nicely, she wouldn't have said no." He complained.

Victor ignored Logan, taking my hand in his. I looked into his eyes in surprise as his expression turned tender, loving. His eyes, which were angry and cold, were now molten gold.

"Jane. Will you please, please eat? I'm only worried about you." He pleaded, his puppy dog eyes staring deep into mine.

Shit. How could I say no to that?

I sighed heavily. "Fine, give me the stupid food. Guilt tripper." I muttered, looking away with a sour expression.

In the corner of my eye, I saw him smile hugely. Logan handed me the tray of food, and I picked out the bag of chocolate chip mini cookies with an eager smile.

"Jane," Victor complained, "Real food."

I pointed at him with a cookie. "You asked me to eat. Don't push it." I warned.

He sighed heavily, but didn't complain further. Smart man.

I enjoyed my cookies, watching as the doctor came in and checked Victor out, asking questions. Victor patiently answered his questions, and while he was preocupied, I took the time to study him.

He didn't look as pale as last night. His skin had returned some of it's tan complexion. He looked tired, but strangely alert at the same time. His strong jaw was slightly clenched as the doctor helped a nurse change the dressing on his wound. I bit my lip in guilt, as I squeazed his hand that still held mine.

I pressed a kiss to his knuckles, making him look at me. His eyes met mine, and he smiled slightly, the smile was marred by pain. I felt immensely guilty for what I did, and he knew that. He gave a sigh as the doctors left. 

"Logan, why don't you go get us some water?" Victor suggested.

Logan nodded without a word, and got up, leaving the room. Victor opened his good arm. "Come here."

I complied, carefully climbing in next to him and snuggling into his side. He pressed a kiss to my forehead. 

"Jane, I want you to stop blaming yourself." He said softly.

"How can I do that, Victor? If I hadn't left, this never would have happened!" I said, slightly exhasperated.

"Jane, it would have happened eventually. I'm just glad it wasn't you she shot. I could care less about being shot. I didn't die. I'm fine. I'll heal up with nothing but a scar and a memory. If you had been shot, I would be out for blood." He rumbled, tightening his arm around me.

I sighed, resting my cheek on his chest. "So you're not mad at me?" I asked.

He lifted my chin, looking at me with a dry expression. "Babe, I could be completely boiling with rage, and it wouldn't change the fact that I'm shot. Plus, it's not possible to be angry with you." He muttered.

I let out a chuckle. "I am very lovable." I joked with a teasing smile.

He laughed with me. "You are in my book."

I cuddled closer to him, lying my head on his shoulder and closing my eyes.

"Hey...Jane." He said hesitantly.

"Yeah." I said quietly, sighing in content.

"Do you...remember when I asked you not to leave me?" He asked.

I nodded, rubbing his arm.

"I didn't just mean...then. I meant always. I don't want to go through that kind of...stress and hurt again. Will you stay with me?" He asked softly, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear.

I opened my eyes, looking into his. They were hesitant, and I could have sworn I saw his cheeks turn pink.

"What are you saying, Victor?" I asked.

"I'm saying...will you officially be my girlfriend?" He asked, ducking his head as if he was embarrassed.

I lifted his chin. "No, I didn't come back and make out with you to be your girlfriend." I said sarcastically.

His eyebrows creased and I laughed. "Of course I'll be your girlfriend." I gently smacked his arm, burying my face in his neck. "And I promise, I'm not leaving again." I said, softer this time.

He let out a breath I didn't know he was holding. "Thank you."

"Well you did tell me you loved me. I thought that automatically made me your girlfriend." I said.

He chuckled. "I guess you're right."

"I'm always right." I sighed.

This made a loud laugh shake the bed. I smiled, enjoying the sound of it. He didn't laugh like that often. "You know...there's a TV right there, and I bet there is a football game on today." I suggested.

"Ooh!" He poked me in the side, making me gasp and jerk away.

"You are so mean!" I cried, playfully swatting his arm.

He tried not to move too much as he laughed, but it felt good to see him happy. I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, settling back in next to him. We serfed until we found a football station, and we watched for a while.

"Boy, it sure is taking Logan a long time to get water." I rolled my eyes.

Victor chuckled. "Yeah. Must be getting it straight from the mountain spring." He nudged me.

I burst out laughing.

Cookie Privileges.

 

Standing hands on hips, I watched, biting my lip, as the doctor checked Victors charts. Victor was calm and collected, but I was a wreck. I wanted to bite my nails, a nervous habit I chucked out the window ages ago. What if he had an infection and he couldn't go home? What if, on the way home, he got a fever, or got really sick? What would I do?

"Well Victor-"

"He's okay, right?" I asked, inturrupting him.

The doctor chuckled, settling his hands in his pocket. "Yes. He's fine. He'll need to keep from doing anything to hurt or strain his shoulder for at least a month, but other than that, he's well enough to go home."

I sighed in relief, a big smile pulling at my lips as I settled my eyes on Victor. He smiled, shaking his head. He knew how nervous I was. 

"She's convinced that I'm made of glass." Victor teased.

The doctor chuckled. "Well I'm sure-" He paused as a nurse entered the room.

"Excuse me, Doctor, but we have an emergency." She said.

He pursed his lips, nodding at the two of us. "Excuse me."

Victor and I watched him go, and I fiddled with my hands nervously.

Victor sighed, opening his arm. "Come here."

Without protest, I started for him, only to pause mid-step as someone knocked on the door. Victor groaned, and I looked at him in alarm, only to roll my eyes as I realized why. He had been looking at me with a withering, tortured look.

"Come in!" I called.

The door opened, revealing Kent and Logan. I sighed sadly. Mom was still refusing to see me. Kent...was working on it. He was still angry, but that was understandable. He knew I was doing it for stupid reasons. He yelled at me for it.

That night was terrible. Kent came walking into the room, grabbed my arm, and dragged me out, despite my protests. He finally told me what he thought of what I did, after a day of ignoring me. He told me I was stupid, and that Dad should have to clean up his own messes, and that he didn't care how much danger it put him in, he was going to keep me by his side like a five year old in a crouded street. In other words, he wasn't going to let go.

I had cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks while he scolded me, asked me if I was insane, and gave me the treatment I deserved. Before he finally pulled me into a tight hug.

I gave Kent a hopeful, questioning look, maybe she was getting coffee. He shook his head, and my face fell. My mother was never going to forgive me. I sank down in the seat by the window, crossing my arms as sadness weighed down my heart.

Logan sat beside me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder and squeezing me into his side. No words were spoken as I curled my knees into my chest and cuddled closer to him.

Finally, after a moment of silence, Kent cleared his throat. "So, are you leaving today, or what? Because I'm tired of sleeping on a lumpy pullout bed." He complained, and I shot him a dissaproving look, making him glance at Victor as his face flushed. "Sorry dude."

Victor smiled, but it seemed a bit forced. "Yeah, don't worry about it." He said, his gaze moving to me. "I'm leaving today." He confirmed.

Logan let out a breath of relief, and I smiled softly at Victor as his eyes met mine again. Again, he forced a smile. My own smile faded to confusion, and I mouthed, "What's wrong?"

He just shook his head, glancing at his brother before looking away. Okay.

I stood up, making Logan drop his arm from around me. "I'll go get your stuff." I said.

"Okay, be careful." He cautioned, and I rolled my eyes.

"You worry too much. I'll be fine. I'm in a hospital full of sick and pregnant people, what's the worst that could happen?" I said.

Victor glared at me. "Don't say that. Something bad always happens when people say that." He said.

"Well since you said something bad will happen, it won't." I say, smirking.

"Now that you say something bad won't happen, something will happen." He argued.

"But now that you say something bad will happen, it most likely won't."

"But-"

"Alright, shut up! Nothing bad will happen!" Logan inturrupted us, annoyed.

I threw a smirk in Victor's direction, blowing him a smartass kiss before skipping out the door. I went down the hall to the different numbered lockers that held his clothes that I packed, pulling out my key and sticking it in the correct number. The duffle I narrowly stuffed into it tumbled out onto the floor, dumping clothes everywhere. I cursed under my breath, gaining a dirty look from a pregnant woman doing her breathing routine and walking around. I gave a 'Sorry' as I grimaced in her direction, leaning down to pick up my clothes.

"Oh, let me help you with that." A voice says from above me.

"That's okay, I got it." I say, not looking up.

The man leans down anyway, picking up a T-shirt and handing it to me. His other hand grips the back of my neck, and I freeze. My eyes slowly move upward to the man in scrubs, widening as I realize that I'm looking straight into the eyes of Ike. I quickly cover my shock with an empty look.

"Posing as a doctor is a federal offence." I informed, going back to packing the duffle bag.

"Baby, the only law I care about is my own." He says in my ear, making me shiver in disgust, "And you've broken it." He whispers.

"Oh?" I ask with an amused smirk.

"Yeah. You been whoring around with that dick in there. I saw you in his bed, Sweetheart, and on the beach, when he touched your body. My body." He snarles the last part, making me clench my jaw. "I told you I was going to make you mine, and only mine. You broke my law, Babe, and now..." He paused to chuckle sadistically, "You're going to pay the price." He growled.

A chill runs up my spine, as I think of my mother, all alone at the motel. Please don't know she's there, please don't know she's there.

"Oh, and by the way, your mother's a screamer." And that's when I snapped.

Whirling on him, breaking his hold on my neck, I lunge at him, wanting to wrap my hands around his neck so bad that I can taste the bittersweet hate in the back of my throat.

But I'm pulled back, by two of his men, also desguised as Doctors. I watched him walk away, struggling fiercely against Thing#1 and Thing#2. As soon as Ike is out of sight, they let me go, dropping me to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I spring to my feet, sprinting down the hall to the nearest phone. I dial Mom's number, praying that she answers.

"Hello." She says, her voice bored.

"Mom, Mom are you okay, I mean are you safe?" I desperately ask.

"Jane, I'm fine. I'm watching a soap opera." She muttered.

I let out a long breath of relief, leaning against the wall and running my hand through my hair. "Mom, I need you to get to the hospital, now, alright? I'm having Logan go and pick you up. Pack your things." I order, resting a hand to my heart to slow it's rythem.

"Okay..." She mutters, her voice questioning.

Not saying anything else, I end the call, walking back over to where the duffle sat. I grabbed it, jogging back to Victor's room. I walked in, and I must look like a wreck, as everyone stares at me a second. "Logan, don't ask questions, just go pick up Mom and bring her straight here." I order, my voice firm.

He does as I say, getting up and leaving the room immediately. I sink down on the couch with shaking hands, running one of them through my hair.

"I told you something bad would happen." Victor says softly, opening his arm for me.

I immediately stand, walking over to him and making myself comfortable beside him. Kent doesn't say anything, he just turns his gaze on the TV. 

"Tell me what happened, Jane." Victor demands, his voice soft, but firm.

I explained the whole thing to him. And he was so tense when I finished, that the vein in his neck was throbbing. I rubbed his chest, trying to calm him down. "You're going to pop a blood vessel." I mutter, running my other hand through his hair.

Slowly, he relaxes under my touch, but I can still see the anger in his eyes. He's pissed at Ike. I was too. We all were.

"Jane, help me up." He grunted as he lifted up on his elbows.

I rushed to help him, putting his good arm over my shoulder and my arm around his waist. He swung his legs over the bed, one by one. The pain medication they gave him had side-affects. He was too weak to stand on his own until they wore off, and he'd just taken a dose not long ago. 

"Kent, can you go get us some food?" I ask.

He jumped to his feet, always willing to help. "Sure." He says, heading for the door.

As soon as he leaves, Victor shoots me a grateful look. "I'm going to need your help." He cautions.

"I know." I nod.

I sit him down on the couch, opening the duffel bag and pulling out the easiest thing to put on first - the shirt. I undo his gown, pushing it down so it covers his waist, and carefully helping him into it, being careful not to hurt his shoulder.

Next was the hard part, underwear and pants. "Logan didn't know what you needed, so he brought shorts and jeans. Your pick." I hold up the choices.

"Jeans." He decides easily, and I roll my eyes.

"Of course, I shouldn't have even asked." I say, a teasing smile on my lips.

I carefully slide his underwear on, and help him up so he can pull them completely on. I blush as his gown falls, and all he's wearing are boxers. 

"Hey, you've seen it before." He shrugs, smiling as my blush reddens even more.

"You're not helping." I snap.

He chuckles, helping me pull on his jeans. He looks down at his zipper and then back up at me. "Suddenly I feel so weak." He says, leaning back against the couch.

I scoff, rolling my eyes. "Pervert." I mutter, getting up.

"Where do you think you're going?" He askes, grabbing me with his good arm and pulling me back down beside him.

"Oh, so you're just strong enough to do that, but you can't zip your own pants?" I tease, knowing I had him.

To my dismay, he only smiles. "For you, I'll find the strength." He murmurs, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

"Oh?" I ask, smiling and pecking him on the lips.

"Yes. I'll always find the strength." He promises, his eyes staring deep into mine.

I sigh. "How about this, we find the strength together, like we did just now? We help each other." I suggest, running my fingers through his hair.

He chuckles, nuzzling my neck. "I like the sound of that."

"Okay, I didn't know what to get, so I got...everything." Kent says as he struggles through the door with three trays stacked up.

"Thanks, Kent." I say with a genuine smile.

He notices Victor's clothes, and his eyebrows raise in confusion. "Hey, how did you- oh gross!" He exclaims, dropping the trays on the table. "You saw him naked!" He pointed at me, and I rolled my eyes.

"Yes, Kent, I saw every single inch of his muscular-" My sarcastic remark was cut off.

"I can't hear you, lalalalala!" He sings loudly, throwing his hands over his ears as he scrunches his eyes closed.

I smile evily, and Victor pokes me in the side, laughing as I yelp and jerk away from him. 

Kent shudders, still caught up in his realization. I huffed, rolling my eyes once again. "You moron, I didn't see him naked, He was covered." I say.

Victor grins as he buries his face in my neck. "Wouldn't be the first time, anyway." He muttered, making me smack him on the chest.

Kent goes pale, and looks at me. My cheeks flamed, and I wanted to punch Victor. Too bad I felt guilty for getting him shot. "what?"

"Okay, I'm here, what is the big deal?" Mom saves my life, entering the room.

"Mom! Look Kent, Mom's here. Mom it's so nice to see you alive and well." I gush out, hoping to destract Kent.

No such luck.

Oh please don't yell at me in front of our mother, oh please don't yell at me in front of our mother. I chant in my head, wincing.

"You've seen him naked...outside of the hospital?" He yelled.

Victor, who still has his head buried in my neck, is shaking with laughter, as I open and close my mouth over and over. 

"Well we didn't do anything!" I sputter, as if that would justify it.

Victor laughs harder, and I don't feel guilty enough to hold back pinching him. 

"Jane Lane Harison!" Mom scolds, and my face is beet red, as I bury it in Victor's chest in embarrassment.

"I'm twenty two years old!" I complain, my voice muffled.

"That's no excuse!" Mom yells.

I look up at Victor with a dissaproving gaze. This was all his fault. He just smiles down at me all innocent. I'll show him innocent when I knee him in the-

"That's it, I'm taking away your cookies and your chocolate milk." Mom snapped.

I gasped, and Victor stopped laughing, growing serious. He knew my love for cookies. I stood up, my mouth dropping open as I yelled, "What?"

"You heard me, young lady!" She yelled.

The room became deadly silent, as they waited for my reaction. If I didn't feel so bad for getting Victor shot, I would have killed him myself. Instead, I gave him a scathing look, before storming out of the room.

Unthinkable.

 

It had been a week, and I still had not spoken to Kent, Mom, or even Victor. Logan was the only one I would speak to, because he did nothing wrong. I lost my cookies, and my milk! I was cookie and milk-less! I was going to die! 

Mom wouldn't even let me buy some. I'm twenty two for God's sake and I can't even buy my own damn cookies! 

I groaned as I watched TV in my room. I was so done with this. If I couldn't have cookies, I was going to have beer. A lot of beer. I hadn't gotten drunk in a while. I grabbed my jacket, brushing out my hair. I changed into a black sundress that was still sexy and form-fitting, along with black flats. I threw my jacket on over it, and skipped down the stairs. I didn't bother answering questions as I opened the door, I just slammed it behind me. They didn't need to know my every move.

I was a grown damn woman, and I was going to get drunk like one. I raced down the street before Victor could chase me out, retracing my steps to a pub I saw by the Bay. It took about ten minutes to get there, but when I did, I smiled brightly. Tonight was going to be awesome.

I showed my ID, stepped into the bar, and I realized it wasn't just a bar, it was a club. People danced and grinded together, while others made out or just talked at the round tables. I raised my eyebrows as I looked up at the different colored lights. I could tell I was going to be dancing by the end of the night.

Grinning at the thought, I rolled my eyes as I made my way to the bar, plopping down on a tall stool.

"Give me beer." I said.

The bartender gave me a weird look, "Specifications?"

"Dude, I just want beer." I snapped.

He held up his hands, and handed me a beer. I smiled in thanks as he popped the cap, taking a swig.

Someone slid into the seat beside me, as I was slipping off my jacket. "Hello, beautiful." The man purred.

I looked him up and down. Unnatractive. His greasy brown hair was in desperate need of a brush...or a blowtorch to get potential spiders out of it. His hooded eyes had this uncomfortable creeper look to them, and I knew that he'd been dared to come over here.

"No." I said bluntly, taking another swig of my beer.

Immediately, he left, his ego bruised. 

I swiveled in my seat, smiling like a child at the butterflies it gave my stomach at doing so. I leaned my elbows on the counter, beer in hand. I examined the large room, and noticed a game of pool going on in the corner of the room.

I grinned and jumped off of my chair, noticing that they weren't doing so well.

"Excuse me." I said in my best seductive voice, touching the buff man's arm.

They had just been starting up a new game, gathering all the balls together. The man looked up, and his eyes widened as he straightened. "Yes?"

I gave him an innocent smile. "I was wondering...I've never played pool before, and I'd really like to." I said, keeping my lips in a pout.

He stuttered for a moment, before finally handing me a que stick. I blew him a thankful kiss, and recalled the skills my Dad taught me.

I leaned over the table, acting confused. "Am I doing this right?" I asked.

The buff man leaned against the wall, his eyes roaming my body. "Perfect. Hey, how about we make a bet? However many balls you get in the hole, I'll pay you ten bucks."

I looked up with innocent eyes. "I-I'll try." I said softly.

I grinned as I hit the white ball, sending it flying into the others. They went into their assigned holes, every single one. I whiped my hands together, shooting the man a wink. "How many tens is that?" I asked innocently.

I leaned on the pool table as he pushed himself off the wall in outrage. "You played me!" He said furiously.

I cocked my head to the side. "You said a ten for every ball, did you not?"

He spluttered in outrage, grabbing my arm in a tight grasp. "Now you listen here you bit-"

"Ah, ah, ah, I don't like language." I said, smiling sweetly as I grabbed his wrist and twisted.

He grunted as he let go of me. Obediantly, he pulled out his wallet, and gave me eighty.

"Thank you." I said, my smile turning into a grin.

I laughed as I walked back to my seat, taking a huge, and last, swig of my beer. I stuck my cookie money into my wallet, setting the empty beer bottle on the table, and ordering another.

I had just taken a swig of my new beer, when someone slid into the seat next to mine. I glanced over to see a rather handsome man. He had dirty blonde hair, and dark brown eyes. He was also well built, but he couldn't compare to he-who-shall-not-be-named. That jerk got my cookies taken from me. And my milk! Ugh.

"Hello." He said, his voice polite, but with an edge of something.

I gave him a look. "Yeah, hi."

He chuckled as he gestured for the bartender to give him a drink. "I saw that little stunt you pulled with Willis. He's not very happy with you." He said.

"Who? Oh, the dude with his brain so far down in his ass that he can't see he's being played?"

He almost spit out his drink, as he busted out laughing. I took a swig of my beer, glancing at Willis, who was still sitting there, glaring at me. I gave a cheeky smile and waved.

"Yeah, that guy. Says he's going to kick your ass when you leave." He said.

I snorted. "He can try." I muttered dubiously.

"Listen, Willis is dangerous when he's drunk. You don't know who you're messing with." He warned, suddenly serious.

I rolled my eyes. "Listen, whoever you are, thanks for the warning, but I can take care of myself." I said.

"My name's Dan." He introduced himself.

"It's a pleasure." I said sarcastically, taking a long drink of my beer. It was gonna take a lot of these to get me drunk.

"Hey, bartender dude, whatever your name is. I'm just going to call you Fred. Fred, get me a shot of tequila." I ordered.

WIthout questioning his new name, he gave me a shot. I downed it in a few seconds, sighing and sitting back in my chair. That's what I needed.

***

"So I said to him, no, that's your father not my mother!" I yelled.

The group roared with laughter, and I downed another shot. Dan had his arm around my shoulder. How it ended up that way, I had no idea. He did it sometime after...ten shots.

"Tell the one about the Baker!" Someone shouted.

I drunkenly nodded. "Sooo there was this Baker who walked into a funeral home-"

I was cut off when someone grabbed my arm and hauled me out of my seat. I looked up to find Logan.

"Logie!" I squealed, wrapping my arms around him and hugging him like a teddy-bear.

"Jesus, Jane, how much did you drink?" He asked.

I thought for a long moment. "Uuumm...t-two...beers." I held up four fingers.

He glanced behind me at the shot glass, and his expression hardened. "How many shots?"

That I had to think about longer. I shrugged. "I loossst count affter fifteen." I slurred, reaching up to poke his nose.

He rolled his eyes. "Okay, party's over. Do you know how worried Victor is?" He asked.

"Ssscrew Victor. Hhhee made me lossse my Coookie Privileges." I pouted.

He sighed heavily. "Let's go."

I shook my head. "Nnnno. I'm telling a joke." I pulled away from him, but he pulled me back, a smile pulling at his lips.

"I think the joke can wait. Come on, I've got cookies!" He sang.

I gasped. "For me?"

He grasped my face in both of his hands to hold me still. "Just for you." He promised.

My drunk mind was controlling me, as I jumped on him and gave him a big hug. "You are so awesome!"

I grabbed my jacket, stumbling as I said bye to the others and let Logan lead me out to the car. When he got me settled, he got into the driver seat and took the cookies out from his glove compartment, handing them to me. 

"You got drunk over cookies." He rolled his eyes.

"No. I got drunk over boredom." I muttered through my food.

He laughed, pulling out of the parking lot. We got home in half the time it took me to get here, and he got out, opening the door for me, and letting me stumble out. He caught me as I almost fell, and I was a giggling mess. His face was nothing but intense, and I realized, slowly, the position we were in. I was face to face with him, our noses touching. my hands gripping his biceps to keep him steady. His arms were around my waist, holding me there.

And then he did the unthinkable. He kissed me.

Family Problems.

 

Waves crashed against the shoreline, horns honked way in the distance. Even the wind could be heard with all the silence in the air. Logan stared at me with utter seriousness, while my mouth hung open.

"Why...did you just do that?" I forced out, my voice strangled.

He let out a silent laugh, though no humor showed in his features. "Because I'm in love with you, Jane."

My entire being was frozen, as I stared at Logan in utter horror, and earnest confusion. He couldn't love me! That wasn't right! Not when I didn't love him back! Victor wasn't hard to accept because I loved him! I don't love Logan!

"I have to go!" I pushed away from him, but he caught my arms.

"No, wait, Jane. Don't do this. Let me explain myself!" He begged.

I shook my head. "Logan, you just told me you love me! How could you...say something like that when you know I love your brother?" I exclaimed.

"Maybe because it's the truth! Maybe because every time I saw you with Victor I felt like punching something! You deserve to know my feelings, just as I have the right to tell you!" He yelled back.

I jerked out of his hold, tears building in my eyes. "Well just because you have the right doesn't mean it's the right thing to do! Victor and I-"

"Don't tell me the right thing to do, Jane! I know you love Victor! I'm reminded of it every single day when you two are in the same room! I fell in love with you, I'm so sorry!" His voice was dripping with sarcasm as he said the last words.

I was exasperated, and confused. When did he figure this out? When did he realize that he was in love with me?

"I-I'm sorry but...I have to go." My voice shook as I spun on my heel and started down the street.

"Jane!" He growled, grabbing onto my hand and pulling me roughly back into him.

"No!" I protested, but I was too late.

His lips pressed against mine, as he kissed me once again. I struggled against him, but he only deepened the kiss. His lips were soft, and despite his rough hold on my arms, the kiss was sweet, and slow. My mind struggled against my body, which was demanding I let myself react. This was wrong! I couldn't...I couldn't respond to this warm...soft...tantalizing kiss.

I had no idea what my body was doing anymore. I felt my arms wrap around his neck, unable to stop them. Triumphant, he splayed his hand across my back, using the other hand to tangle in my hair.

I was powerless, as a warm feeling pooled in my stomach. Not love, no I could never love Logan the way I loved Victor, but it was close to love. It scared me that I cared so much for him.

Logan ran his tongue along my bottom lip, pulling me deeper into his trap, as my body responded, opening for him. My mind, muddled from his touch, desperately struggled for control again. His tongue met mine, just as the door opened, and Victor's voice broke through the trap Logan had me in like wire cutters. With all the strength I had, I broke away from Logan, so glad that we were hidden in darkness as I wiped my mouth.

"Jane? Logan?" He called.

Logan, gasping for breath as he stared at me, expressionless, replied, "Yeah, we're over here!"

I suddenly felt very hurt, and guilty as I realized what I'd done. I'd betrayed Victor's trust. And I knew I couldn't lie to him. Logan's eyebrows raised slightly at my expression, as Victor ran to where we were.

"There you are. What are you two doing over here?" He asked.

I turned my eyes from Logan, to meet Victors, and they filled with tears, as I bit my trembling, swollen lip.

"Victor...Logan kissed me and...I kissed him back." My words were only a whisper, but Victor heard them loud and clear, as his relieved expression turned first to confusion, and then to anger.

"What?" His voice cut through the air like the crack of a whip.

I pressed my lips into a thin line to keep the sob from escaping, as my heart broke. "I'm so sorry." I whispered.

I then pushed past both men before they could see my tears fall, running back to the house. I pushed through the front door, ignoring my family as I ran upstairs. I ran into my room, slamming the door closed, and letting the sobs go. I curled up on the floor in the corner of the room, leaning my forehead on the wall as I let the sobs escape. 

Well that was it. Victor was going to hate me. He was going to leave me. I was never going to be able to talk to Logan again. I suddenly felt furious at Logan. How could he do that? When he knew how much it would hurt me in the process? How could he be so selfish? He loves me, yeah okay, I'm also in a relationship with his brother!

Not anymore.

The thought was like twisting the knife that was lodged in my heart. I couldn't imagine what Victor was feeling right now.

I cried for probably an hour, before I fell asleep, there, sitting on the uncomfortable floor against the cold wall. Not that I didn't deserve any worse.

I vaguely remembered someone knocking on the door, but I was so exhausted, that I didn't even open my eyes.

***

I awoke tangled in my sheets, breathing in the clean, fresh smell. I rolled over, stretching my arms high above my head, as I pointed my toes. I let out a sigh as my joints cracked, and then I froze, realizing that I was in bed. And it wasn't my bed I was in.

I sat up, looking around the familiar room. I jumped as I noticed Victor sitting on the end, staring across the room at the wall.

"Jesus." I muttered, putting a hand to my heart as it restarted.

How drunk did I get last night? My head hurt like a mofo, and my eyes burned as the light hit them.

Victor didn't look back at me, he only stared at the wall ahead. "What happened last night? Man I haven't been that wasted since three years ago when I got arrested for dancing in nothing but a bra and underwear on top of my car," I muttered.

Victor ignored that part, turning to me. "You don't remember anything?" He asked.

I furrowed my eyebrows, trying to remember. "I remember...telling a joke. Logan came to get me...man my head hurts." The memory abruptly halted as my head throbbed.

Victor handed me a glass of water and two advil. "Drink the whole thing." He ordered.

I downed the pills, chugging the entire glass of water down. I laid back down, resting my arm over my eyes to ease the pain. I felt him move, and the bed dipped beside me, as he laid down. He pulled me into his chest. I removed my arm from my eyes, turning to face him.

"I probably smell like beer." I muttered.

"You smell like hard alcahol." He rolled his eyes.

I buried my face in his chest. "So why are you cuddling me if I smell so bad?" I asked.

"Because, smell or not, I've missed having you in my arms. I'm sorry for getting your cookies taken away." He apologized.

I got a flash of memory.

I have cookies.

For me?

I opened my eyes. "Cookies."

He raised his eyebrows. "He lured me into the car with cookies." I recalled.

Victor seemed troubled. "I see."

"I remember that I was telling a joke to a group of guys when he-"

"A group of men? Drunk men?" Victor asked, tightening his arm around me.

I rolled my eyes, but winced as it hurt my head. "Even drunk, I can take care of myself, Victor. Anyway, I was telling a joke, and I didn't want to leave, so Logan told me he had cookies in his car. Naturally, I couldn't just turn down the offer of cookies. We drove home and...I was getting out of the car...but I stumbled. Man I was wasted." I paused to roll my eyes again, but continued, "Logan caught me and then...," 

I pushed away from Victor, horror washing over me. "Oh God."

I sat up, running a hand through my messy hair. Victor sat up with me. "H-he kissed me. I-I ran away from him but he caught me and...we argued and...he kissed me again, only that time I...oh God." My voice shook.

"Jane-"

"Oh God, I kissed him! I-I kissed him! I'm such a slut! I'm such a...a...whore!" 

"Jane!" Victor caught me as I tried to get out of bed, sliding in front of me. "You told me as soon as it happened, didn't you? You cried yourself to sleep in the corner of your room because of that. Didn't you?" He caught my face as I tried to look away, making me look into those golden eyes.

My lip trembled. "Y-yes."

"Jane," He let out a laugh, pulling me into his chest. "I'm not angry at you. Just the fact that you told me right away, makes me trust you even more. Just the fact that you felt so much guilt for doing it, lets me know that you love me. As for being a slut and a whore, it was a kiss, that he instigated. I don't like the idea, nor do I appreciate it, but it's not your fault that you have feelings for him." He said.

I sniffled. "B-but...I don't have feelings for him. I care about him, but...I-I don't...at least I think I don't...I-I-"

"Jane, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you love me, and that you're choosing to stay true to me." Victor said, brushing the hair from my face.

I let out a tired sigh. "Why can't you just yell at me and tell me I'm stupid?" I asked.

"Would that make you feel better?" He asked.

"Yes." I lied.

He chuckled, kissing my forehead. "But it certainly won't make me feel better. Actually it'll make me feel like the biggest jackass to ever walk the earth." 

"I don't deserve you." I informed him as I snuggled into his chest.

"Jane, you have no idea how much more you deserve than all of this, me included." He sighed.

I shook my head. "I don't believe that."

"Well that makes you all the more deserving." 

I grumbled something unintelligable,snuggling deeper into his chest. "You didn't kill him did you?" 

A loud laugh came from him, shaking the bed beneath us. "No, I didn't kill him. But he does have a nice shiner." He said, his voice almost thoughtful.

I pulled back, laughing despite the guilt I felt. "Victor!" I scolded.

"What? He kissed you!" He laughed as I hit him on the arm.

"Well I already slapped him!" I defended.

I yelped as he caught me around the waist, pulling me down onto the bed and shifting so he hovered over me. My giggles died down, as I stared into his intense golden eyes. I reached up, brushing his hair from his face.

"I love you."

His eyes drifted closed, as if those three words sent him into total bliss. "I love you too, Jane, so much." He whispered, leaning down to press his lips to mine.

Butterflies took flight in my stomach, and I ran my hands up his chest, and around to the back of his neck, playing with the hair there.

He pressed himself close to me, and I wound my fingers through his hair, deepening the kiss. 

We pulled abruptly apart when a bang issued on the door. "Jane Lane Harison if you're not out of his room in two minutes I'm going in there!" Mom yelled.

I rolled my eyes. "Twenty two years old and my mother still rules my life." I muttered thoughtfully.

Victor groaned, placing another kiss on my lips. "I can have her arrested for breaking into my home." He suggested, moving down to place soft kisses along my neck.

I laughed breathlessly. "But she didn't break in."

"They don't have to know that." He whispered.

I rolled my eyes, pushing him off me. "No thanks, Robo-Cop. I have to get up anyway."

He plopped on the bed beside me, and groaned again. I giggled as I sat up, stretching. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, and pushed myself up to stand. I walked over to the door, reaching for the handle, but let out a yelp as he pulled me back into him.

He leaned down and crashed his mouth to mine, kissing me more passionately this time. I was just about to relax and wrap my arms around his neck, when another bang came from the door.

"Jane!"

I pulled away, rolling my eyes. "I'm coming!"

With a soft giggle, I leaned up and pressed my lips to his cheek. "We can continue this later." I whispered.

A low growl issued in his chest, and I jumped away before he could grab me, letting out peals of laughter as I threw open the door and ran out. I stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed everyone standing in the living room.

My cheeks flushed, and my smile faded as I looked at Logan. He did, indeed have a nice bruise on his face. I grimaced. Ouch.

He gave a weak smile, and before I could return it, my arm was pulled, and I turned to meet my mother's furious eyes. "You slept with him? Again?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yes mother because I'm such a slut." I said sweetly.

She let out a frustrated growl, and stomped away. Well then.

I walked past Kent, and Logan, walking up the stairs to take a shower. I walked into my room to find that it was a mess.

"Man! Did I move the party up here or something?" I cried, picking up the random pieces of clothing that were thrown about.

How was I just noticing how messy this place was?

I found my towel amongst a used plate and a few dirty socks and shook it out. Good enough.

I walked into the bathroom, closing the door and turning the shower on cool, because a hot shower in Florida was suicide. I stepped into the stream, letting the luke-warm water beat down on me from above.

My mind went back to the conversation I had with Logan. How could he love me? How could that be? It just didn't make sense. After I told him I wouldn't date him, he backed off. How could he be in love with me?

And what was that stirring feeling I felt when he kissed me? Surely I couldn't have feelings for him, too! No. I couldn't. He's the brother of the man I love. That's it, end of story!

My thoughts were cut off when I got soap in my eye. "Ouch, ouch!" I frantically rinsed my eye in the stream of water, roughly rubbing out the sting. The shower monsters might get me if I close my eyes too long!

Finally able to open my eyes, I rinsed my hair completely, and got out. I scowled at my blood-shot eye in the mirror. "Great, I look like the lady in the lake!" I complained, refferring to the makeup that had run all down my face.

I seriously didn't know what Victor saw in me. I rolled my eyes and turned on the sink, scrubbing the makeup off. 

I stepped back into my room, walking over to my dresser and pulling out some shorts and a black top

After dressing, I stepped out of my room, and was surprised to hear a knock on the front door downstairs.

I peeked down as Victor answered, and a woman smiled brightly at him. "Vicky, deary!" She exclaimed enthusiastically.

"Mom?" He asked, surprised.

My body siezed all movement, and I stared openmouthed down the stairs. His Mom was here? Oh God, does she know about...us?

"What are you doing here?" Logan asked.

"Well I came to meet the girl that stole my son's heart of course! I brought Jean, she's out getting her things."

Well that answered that question.

"Mom..."

"Oh, honey, I'm sure she won't mind." Her mother scoffed at Victor's apprehensive voice.

I gulped, and took that as my que to head down. I was suddenly a little conscious of the clothes I'd chosen to wear. What would his mother think of me? What would his sister think of me?

I gulped once again.

"Oh, is this the one? Oh she's gorgeous, absolutely beautiful!" His mother gushed, and I was momentarily stunned. Not only by her reaction to me, but by how much she looked like her sons.

Logan had her vivid blue eyes, and face structure. Victor had her lips and her nose, along with her silky black hair. I suppose the golden eyes Victor inherited from his father. Logan's blond hair, too, must have been from his father.

"Hello, I'm Jane Harison. You're Mrs. Price?" I asked, holding out my hand for her to shake.

"Yes! But Honey, call me Laury. Being called Mrs. Price make's me feel like my mother." She scoffed, and I giggled, but nodded.

"Mom, did you eat my last piece of gum?" Called a girl, walking up the stairs with a few bags in hand.

"No, Honey. Don't you remember? You ate it on the way here." She said back.

"Oh, right." She said thoughtfully.

She looked up, and met my eyes. I was struck with recognition. She looked just like Victor.

They could pass off as twins, with their black hair, golden eyes and face structure. "Jean, this is Jane. Isn't she beautiful?" Her mother gushed, but Jean didn't look too impressed.

"Yeah, sure. Where am I staying?" She asked, turning to her mom.

I held back a grimace, looking at Victor. He pulled me into his side, a reassuring gesture that gave me confidence.

"Well I don't know...Victor?" She asked, turning to him.

"Um...well if I had known you were coming I would have prepared...." He grimaced.

"She can take my room. I'll just sleep on the couch. I'll have to clean it up a bit, though." I cut in.

"Oh thank you, Jane. You really don't mind?" Laury asked, worried.

"No, no! Not at all! I'll just go clean it up." I pulled out of Victor's grasp, eager to get some space from the glare of disdain Jean was sending me.

"I'll be up in a minute." Victor called, stopping me for a second.

I gave him a small smile, and then turned, fleeing up the stairs. I walked into my room, grimacing at the mess. Shaking my head, I gathered my clothes and stuffed them into my bag, throwing on my leather jacket because I had nothing else I could do with it. I took the plate I'd seen earlier and set it on my back to take down to the kitchen. I took my secret stash of emergency cookies from my hiding place, and stuffed one in my mouth for some extra courage.

I was just about to pull the sheets off the bed, when a voice stopped me.

"Leave them, I'll deal with it." I turned around to meet his golden eyes.

"Victor, is there a reason why your sister was trying to kill me with her eyes?" I asked in a whisper.

He chuckled, pulling me into him. "She's a tad protective of me. She doesn't trust women I'm dating. Plus she'd heard how much of a "baddass" you were." He rolled his eyes.

I laughed. "Hey! I can be a baddass if I want to be!" I claimed, setting my hands on his chest.

"Oh really? What did you do a couple of days ago when I tried to kill a spider in the bathtub?" He asked.

I flushed, and mumbled, "I tackled you to the ground and let the spider go outside."

"That's right. You couldn't even let me kill a spider." He rolled his eyes again.

I pulled away from him, leaning down and slinging my bag over my shoulder. "Still, how can I make her like me?" I asked.

He sighed sotly, brushing my hair away from my face. "Just be you. Not the baddass you try to be, but the beautiful, kind, and loving Jane that I've gotten to know. She'll warm up to you." He promised, pressing a kiss to my cheek.

I sighed. "Well you know her better than I do. I'll take your word for it." I shrugged.

He chuckled and pushed me to the stairs. "I'll do the rest."

I gave him a grateful smile and headed downstairs, turning into the kitchen and washing off the plate. I set it in the washer and turned around to find Logan leaning on the counter across the kitchen from me.

"Are you just going to forget about last night, then?" He asked me.

"Logan...I care about you, I really do, and I don't want to hurt you, but I just don't love you like that. I'm in love with your brother. I wish you could understand that." I started for the living room, but he caught my wrist.

"Please, Jane, just think about it. I've seen how you are. You're a stubborn, haughty girl one minute, and you're tender, loving, kind, vulnerable one the next. I've loved everything about you, Jane. Everything." He whispered.

"And I'm with Victor! Even if I did love you more than just family, I wouldn't leave him." I said, gently pulling my hand from his grasp.

He leaned back against the counter, hanging his head. "I know."

I sighed heavily, and stood in front of him. I took both of his hands in mine. "I care about you, Logan, a lot. I just can't love you." I whispered.

He nodded, looking up to meet my eyes. "I know. I'm sorry to have thrown that truth on you so abruptly I just...I wanted you to know." He let out a long sigh.

I gave a dry look. "Thanks, it's a great thing to put on my shoulders." I muttered sarcastically.

He ignored that comment, pushing off from the counter. "I'm going to go and spend some time with the family." He said.

"Okay. I'll be in there uno momento." I said.

He chuckled, but headed into the living room. I lifted my bag over my shoulder, taking a deep breath, and entering the room. I wasn't prepared for Laury to be arguing heatedly with Jean. She stopped immediately when I entered the room. I walked over and sat my bag down on the couch.

"I think I'm going to take a walk down to the bay." I said.

I noticed Jean jump as Laury elbowed her, and she plastered a smile to her face. "I'll go with you." She said through her teeth.

I swallowed thickly, but gave a kind smile and nodded. "Okay."

We walked together to the door, and I let her go out first, following her after an assuring smile from Logan and Laury.

I gulped as I caught up with her, crossing my arms and looking away as we walked down the beach. We walked in silence, the ten minutes it took to get there. I stopped at the cotton candy, smiling at Dan.

"Hey, Jane! The usual, I guess?" He asked with a friendly smile.

"You got it." I nodded.

He swirled me up my favorite kind of cotton candy, and handed it to me. "It's on the house." He said.

I gave a grateful smile. "Thanks Danny!"

Jean and I walked up the stairs, and I noticed Ronnie sitting on his usual bench, and waved. "Hey Ron-man!" I called.

He chuckled at his nickname, and waved at me with his blue cotton-candy. "Hey, Jane!"

"So...you're well known here, I guess?" Jean asked me.

I chuckled softly. "Yeah. I spend a lot of time here." I shrugged.

"I see. Well you're well liked by my brothers, I have to admit but...I just don't see it." She muttered.

That stung, and I think she knew it. "Look if you don't like me-"

"I don't trust you, Jane. Plain and simple. I've heard of how much trouble you got in back home. I know who your father is, and I don't like how attatched my brother has grown of you. You may have fooled him into believing you're sweet and innocent, but I don't buy it." She finished her rant, never taking her hard eyes from mine.

I was floored. I'd never felt so hurt and speechless as I did now. Those golden eyes, so similar to her brother's, it felt like it was him saying these things to me, as silly as that sounded. 

"I'm sorry...I didn't know you felt so strongly about it." I had to get out of here, my eyes were filling with tears. A weakness I didn't want her to see. "E-excuse me." I wanted to slap myself as the words escaped in a sob.

I pushed past her surprised form, running as if my life depended on it down from the bay. I ran on the sand as fast as my feet could take me, a feeling of deja vu washing over me. Hadn't that been where I ran from Victor when he expressed his love for me?

This was entirely different, however. This time I felt utterly heartbroken. It was silly, because I knew that she wasn't Victor, and that Victor knew me for who I was, and he wouldn't leave me over his sister's accusations, but she would never accept me. She'd probably do everything in her power to keep me away from her brother.

I reached the house in record time, my legs burning from trying to run in the sand. I ran past the house, however, and hid myself in the trees, and lying down on a rather new-looking hammock.

I stared out at the ocean, wanting to slap myself. I'd never been so weak in my life. I felt ashamed. It's just that she looked so much like her brother! And the way that she said her words. She let it all out without a single thing held back. I felt like a kid again, being teased and bullied because my father was a criminal.

The wind rocked my hammock, and I hugged my arms, wishing my Dad were here on one of his visits. I hadn't gotten a call from him in a while. In fact, it had been quite a while since he'd been able to say Blood Is Thicker Than Water, and actually spend time with me. Life had been different since that night when I was eighteen. He'd always been more careful.

I sighed heavily, wishing against everything that I had a normal life, with normal, happy parents. Why couldn't my father have just...stayed away from those gangs? It took a lot of thinking to realize, I'd never gotten a straight answer on how he got involved with them. I'd always been told the same thing; It's complicated.

I sighed heavily. Everything was complicated. I'd chosen to stay with my mother after they got divorced, instead of moving out. It was so hard, because just the memory of Dad would send Mom over the edge, and she would go off on a rant of what a bastard he was. I'd sit in my closet, covering my ears as she screamed at him over the phone. Afterwards I'd always press the redial and talk to him. I was often his comfort in hard times.

I sighed heavily. I wasn't that far from the house, and I had a perfect view of Victor's window. I could see his silhouette pacing as he ran his hands through his hair. His arms moved in angry gestures as he spoke to a shorter, more feminine silhouette.

I idly wondered who he was arguing with, but I shrugged it off, looking back out at the ocean. I curled closer to my jacket, the ache in my heart dulling ever so slightly as I imagined Victor's smile, closing my eyes. But of course, my heart just had to betray me, and it thought of Jean's hard expression, replacing her face with Victor's. He had listened to his sister.

"You're disgusting!" He would say, "And I don't love you anymore!"

And I would fall to the ground, my heart in pieces in front of me as Jean laughed maniacally.

But of course, my mind was being over dramatic. Victor wouldn't do that to me...would he?

"Jane! Jane where are you?" Speak of the devil.

I opened my eyes at the sound of his voice, quickly wiping away my tears and sniffing. I plastered on a fake smile, and called, "I'm over here, Victor!"

I heard soft footsteps in the sand, and he appeared through the trees. His face creased in worry as he rushed over to where I lie. I sat up, letting him pull me from the hammock and into his arms. "I'm so sorry, Jane. If I had known how she felt I...I don't know what I would have done, but I wouldn't have let her talk to you that way. Oh I'm so sorry." He whispered into my hair.

I held him close to me. "It's okay...I'm okay." I promised.

"No you're not. Your eyes are bloodshot and your cheeks are puffy." He muttered, combing his hand through my hair.

I bit my lip, and stayed silent. "What did she say, Jane? How did she hurt you?" He asked.

Again, I didn't say a word. If this was going to come between them, I wasn't going to tell him. I was his girlfriend, yes, but that was his sister. His own flesh and blood. For years, Kent and I didn't talk because of Dad. I didn't want that to happen to Victor and Jean. Not because of me.

"Jane?" He pulled back to look at me, running his fingers through my hair to clear it from my face.

I looked away from him. "She didn't say anything." I muttered.

"Jane, your eyebrow twitched upward. What did she say?" He repeated, his eyes hardening.

"I told you she didn't say anything! I just needed to think!" I pulled away from him, walking past him.

He caught my arm as I walked out into the open, spinning me around. "Jane, if you're trying to protect her-"

"So what if I am? She's your sister! And even though you'll probably deny it, being you, she means so much more to you than I do! I know this because Kent and I love each other, and I would give up everything to protect him, just as you would your sister. I don't want to get in between you both like my father got in between my brother and I. I won't do it, Victor! I love you too much to-"

I was cut off when he pulled me into his chest, smashing his mouth to mine. I was so shocked that I froze for a moment. He eventually coaxed me into responding. I slid my hand up to his neck, gently placing it on the side. He pulled me flush against him with one arm, lifting me up so my face was a bit higher than his, making me tilt my head down slightly.

I slid my other hand into his silky black hair, deepening the kiss. 

He pulled away, slowly lowering me to the ground as we gasped for breath. "Jane, why are you so selfless?" He asked.

I let out a soft giggle. "I'm not, I just don't want you to be angry at your sister for trying to protect you." I whispered.

"Jane, I'm a grown man, I don't need protection. Especially from you. You're no more of a danger to me than a piece of fluff in the wind" He chuckled, poking my nose with his fingertip.

My cheeks flushed, and I smacked his arm playfully. But as I looked to the right, I realized that we had an audience.

Watching through Victor's window, was a crowd of five people. 

I flushed scarlet and looked up at Victor. "Apparently there weren't any soap operas good enough on TV, so they decided to watch us instead." I said, inclining my head pointedly to the side.

He looked at his window, and let out a loud laugh. I followed his gaze to see that everyone was scrambling to leave the room, having been caught red-handed. I rolled my eyes, laughing along with Victor.

He let go of me, keeping a hold of my hand as he lead me back to the house, still chuckling. I started to get nervous at the sight of the front door, biting my lip and praying that Jean just left me be.

He stopped when we reached the porch, leaning down, and pressing an assuring kiss to my forehead. "It'll be alright, Jane." He whispered, his lips brushing my skin as he spoke.

I let my eyes drift closed at his warm presence, a soft smile lifting my lips.

"I know."

Lies.

 

Three days.

Three days and all I've gotten from Jean was accusing stares and hateful glares. Ha, ha. I'm a poet.

But seriously, I was one more glare away from punching her and telling her how I really felt about her. I'd been nothing but sweet to her. I mean really, who did she think she was? She had no idea who I was, or what I'd been through! I mean, for God sakes,  She wasn't Shurlock!

I sat on the beach, watching Kent swim with crossed arms. Show off. I still wasn't confident enough to swim without Victor. I mean, hell, he hadn't let go of me the last time. Not once.

Currently, Victor got some news on the whereabouts of Ike, and was locked in his room, tracking him down. He forced me to sit outside, knowing that if I knew where Ike was, I'd be gone within minutes, on the hunt.

Logan plopped down beside me, giving me a sideways glance. "Still sulking, eh?" He nudged me.

I smiled slightly, pushing his arm. Things had gotten a little more comfortable between Logan and I. There were those rare moments of awkward silence between us when he would say the wrong thing, but we were mostly back to our old ways. His bruise was yellowing, and his eye had stopped swelling ages ago. He and Victor didn't speak, though. That was one difference. The air became tense when they entered the same room.

I was immensely glad that I didn't tell Victor that Logan had claimed his love for me. I wasn't so sure Logan wouldn't be in the hospital right now if I had mentioned that.

"I'm not sulking, Logan, I'm...contemplating the meaning of...," I couldn't think of anything witty to say.

"You're sulking." He accused, chuckling at my small vocabulary.

I sighed in defeat. "Yes, I'm sulking. Shut up and sulk with me before my knee ends up in your face." I threatened lightly, scooting closer to him and using him as my chair, leaning my back against his arm.

"Yes Ma'am." He shot me a salute with the arm he was able to use.

"Excellent, soldier." I said in my best "Drill Sergeant" voice.

We sat in silence after our laughter died down, me staring out at the Bay in the distance, and Logan staring out at the ocean. 

"Logan, come help us with this cooler!" Jean called, and we looked over to see her struggling with he mother.

I pushed up from my position on his arm, giving him a small smile as he nodded to me and got up.

With a groan, I fell back in the sand, letting the sun warm my body. I was in no mood to deal with Jean's glare, or her constant, yet subtle, remarks towards me. One more word from her mouth directed towards me and I was going to snap.

"I guess Victor got tired of her." I heard her mutter, thinking I didn't hear.

I heard her mother admonish her as my eyes snapped open. Oh hell no.

I sat up, my head snapping in their direction, ready to tell off the little bitch, when Victor stepped out onto the beach.

"Jane!" He called, totally oblivious of just how close I was to strangling his sister.

I got up, dusting myself off and strolling over to where he stood. "Yeah?" I asked him.

He pulled me into a tight hug, burying his face in my hair and breathing deeply. "Victor? Is everything okay?" I asked softly, encircling my arms around him.

"Just give me a minute to calm down." He muttered.

I waited, letting him rub his hands along my arms. Finally, after about five minutes of him just holding me, as I traced little circles over his muscular back, knowing it calmed him down, he broke away from me. He ran his knuckles along my jawline, and sighed once again.

"Ike got away. But he...gave you a message. I guess that's what made me so angry. I just needed to remind myself that you were here, safe, with me." He muttered, running a hand through my hair, a habit he seems to have developed.

I frowned up at him, reaching up to put my hand on his cheek. "Victor, what did Ike say?" I asked.

He leaned into my touch, and sighed. "He said...that you were his...bitch. And that he would have you...God I hate repeating this." He muttered, anger building in his eyes.

I rubbed his arms, making him relax slightly. "What did he say, Victor?" I asked again.

His jaw clenched. "That he would have you screaming his name in his bed before long." He growled.

My face paled, but I tried to play it cool. "It's alright. I'm safe. I'm not going anywhere without you, okay?" I stepped forward and hugged him around the waist, mostly trying to comfort myself more than him.

He pulled me tighter into him. "I know. I love you." He murmured.

"Victor, you have no idea how much I love you. With my whole heart and soul." I said.

After a few seconds, he pulled back, a smile lighting up his face. "Now how about we go swimming?" He asked me.

I clapped my hands together once, trying to be casual as I turned towards the house, "Actually I'm just gonna go-"

I let out a shriek as he unexpectedly slung me over his shoulder, jogging out to the sea.

"Victor! You're wearing a shirt!" I cried, laughing.

He paused, and set me down. I sighed in relief, but the sigh immediately hitched as he tore his shirt off. I let out a scream as he went to grab me again, jumping away.

"Oh Jane!" He sang as I ran away from him.

"No!" I yelled through my laughter.

"Come'ere!" He grunted, and I squealed as he caught me around the waist, carrying me like a limp doll into the ocean.

I crossed my arms, but quickly shrieked as he dropped me into the freezing water, jumping onto him in an unexpected movement, making us both fall in.

He held onto me, giving me no sense of danger as we went underwater.

We came up for air laughing. Victor wrapped his arms more securely around my waist, placing a soft kiss on my wet lips.

"Eww! Get a room!" Kent called childishly, shielding his eyes.

I rolled my eyes and turned to him, splashing him in the face a few times.

Kent joined in, and it became a splashing war. Eventually I decided that splashing wasn't enough, so I lunged at him and caught him off guard, pushing him back into the water and dunking him.

I was busy laughing my ass off, when my foot was grabbed and I was pulled under. I let out a shriek just as I was going under. Before I could panic, not having the safety of Victor near me, I felt his arms wrap around me and he pulled me up with him.

I gasped for air, but I was laughing, feeling more at ease since Victor was with me.

"Are you okay?" He asked, despite my laughter.

I nodded, and a smile broke out on his face. "Good."

And he grabbed me around the waist, spinning us until we fell in again. I was laughing so hard when we came up for air that I almost fell back in the water. "You're a dork." I said when I calmed down.

"Yes but I'm your dork," He pressed the tip of his finger to my nose, "And I'm too sexy to leave." He said.

I burst out laughing and reached up to ruffle his messy wet hair. 

"Victor, someone on the phone for you!" His mother called.

He looked up and his smile faded. "I'll be there in a second!" He replied.

He looked back at me and led me out of the water. He pressed his lips to my forehead briefly before jogging over to where his mother stood, he took the phone inside. With a grimace, I grabbed my towel and dried myself off. 

I decided to go and change. Walking up to the house, I wondered if I should bother Victor. I shrugged. He probably went into his room. Opening the door, I closed it quietly behind me, not wanting to disturb him.

I went upstairs and jumped into a quick shower, rinsing my hair in about five minutes. I jumped out and changed into some sweats and a comfortable T-shirt.

I walked quietly down the stairs, meaning to just slip out the door and sit on the porch, but Victor's angry voice from his room stopped me. I bit my lip.

Just leave him, Jane. You know Victor would be angry at you for listening. I reasoned.

"No, I'm not doing it...because she trusts me! Not to mention- no, I know. I understand that but Jane will not accept this!" His voice carried...or maybe it was because I was slowly creeping toward the door.

I pressed my back against the wall, right beside his door. Accept what?

"Don't make me do this." He begged.

There was a moment of silence, and I took that brief moment to think. Who was he talking to? What was he being forced to do?

I was about to open the door and demand answers, when his next words stopped me cold.

"Of course not. She means nothing to me." His voice was gruff, and insistent.

Maybe he was talking about someone else. I silently hoped.

"Jane is only helping me find a criminal. That's it." Again, his voice was cold, emotionless.

If my heart was glass, his words would be a sledge hammer, smashing it into tiny pieces in the ground. His other words were lost on me, as my jaw clenched to keep a sob at bay. I wouldn't cry. Not for him. Not again.

Wiping a stray tear harshly from my cheek, I replaced my heartbroken feelings with anger. Boiling, seething, throat-ripping anger.

He finished his conversation briefly after that, disconnecting the phone.

The door beside me opened, and out walked Victor, the man I once thought loved me with all his heart. 

Not noticing me, he headed for the front door.

"So that's all I am to you, huh?" I asked, my voice cold and steely.

He froze in place, and then whipped around to face me. "Jane!" He said, his voice breathless, his eyes tightening.

"No it's fucking Santa Clause." I snapped acerbically.

"Jane, listen to me-"

"No, Victor, I heard enough in there. I trusted you, Victor! I-I...slept with you! I let you...touch me! You took advantage of me, Victor! I-I can't believe I fell for that shit!" I was hurt, and angry, and confused.

Victor took a step forward, but I stepped back, making him pause. "Jane, what I said in there...I didn't mean it!" I let out a snort and rolled my eyes, chuckling without humor.

"Mhm, sure. Anything to get me back to your side, helping you find your precious criminal!" I spat.

"Jane I'm not lying to you!" He said, his voice pleading.

He took another step forward and reached for my face, but I smacked his hand away. "How could you do this to me? Make me feel so happy only for me to find out that...it was all fake! I feel...I feel..." I felt like punching him.

"Jane, please. Please hear me out." He pleaded.

 I shook my head, pushing past him. "I can't look at you right now, Victor."

I might have kicked his face in if I did.

I threw the door open, storming out of the house and catching the gaze of everyone at my sudden mood change.

"Jane, what's going on, why are you crying?" Logan asked, catching my shoulders as I tried to storm past him.

I hadn't noticed tears were streaming down my cheeks and let out an unceremonious curse. I wiped my eyes. "Can you just get me out of here?" I pleaded, my voice hitching.

He looked into my eyes for a few concerned seconds, before nodding and leading me to the car. Victor just watched from the door as I got in the car, and I met his dark gaze, before turning away to look out the window.

We sped down the street, Logan driving more recklessly than I did. I didn't care, however, focusing on stopping the constant stream of tears.

"So where to, since I'm your driver for the day?" Logan inquired after a few seconds, trying to lighten the mood.

It worked, I smiled slightly. "I don't care. Where is your favorite place to go when you're upset?" I asked, sniffling.

For a few seconds, his eyebrows furrowed as he looked at me, utterly broken in the seat beside him.

And then, with his jaw clenched, he looked out at the road again. "Hold on. I know something that will definitely cheer you up."

***

"Bowling?" I asked incredulously.

We were now sitting in front of a rundown-looking bowling alley, after he'd stopped at a fair to get my favorite swirled cotton candy. He'd stopped at the grocery store and asked my shoe size, before telling me to stay put. After he came out with two large shopping bags, I started asking questions, but he refused to give anything away.

He laughed and shook his head. "It's not a bowling alley anymore. An old friend of mine, very much stuck in the seventies, was very insulted that all these roller-rinks were shutting down, so he bought a bowling alley and completely wiped the inside. He uses it for dance classes mostly, but sometimes he let's the kids roller-blade. The floor is completely concrete, so it works well." He gave me a wink, and I felt an unsettling flutter in my stomach.

Stop it! You can't have feelings for him!

A smile pulled at my lips despite my negative thoughts, and I jumped from the car. I wasn't going to let myself cry anymore. It seemed to trouble Logan, and I didn't want to see him when he wasn't his normal smiling self.

"You do realize this is completely childish, right?" I inquired.

He let out a loud laugh. "Yes, which is why we're doing it."

He grabbed my hand eagerly and pulled me, making a giggle erupt from me. He stopped me at the front doors and ran back to the car and grabbed the two bags from the back, which I now knew were roller blades, and ran back to me. He took an extra set of keys from his pocket and picked out one he wanted, which was painted neon green. He unlocked the doors, grinned at me, and then opened one of them for me, ushering me in.

I looked around the room with wide eyes. Mirrors covered the wall across from us, from one end to the other. Bright lights shined down, but I could see other lights set up for strobe and other cool settings. What surprised me the most, was that the room was huge. So much bigger than I'd originally thought from looking at it on the outside. The mirrors were easily twenty to thirty feet away from where I stood.

He sat us down on the floor and selected my roller blades that he'd bought for me. I was having some trouble lacing them up, so Logan helped me, leaning down in front of me and concentrating on my laces. I studied him with a small smile, watching his brow crease in concentration, his muscular arms flexing with each tug of my laces. He really was handsome. 

What? Jane, stop it! I scolded myself, throwing in a mental smack for good measure.

"What are you thinking about?" Logan asked softly.

I looked up, and my breath hitched as I found my face inches away from his. I was hypnotized by those eyes. So beautiful. So...stop it!

I swallowed thickly, and the words escaped before I could shove them back down, "I'm checking you out."

I desperately hoped that I sounded sarcastic, or even a little joking. No such luck. His breath caught, and he looked choked for a moment. His eyes blazed as they stared into mine, and I feared for a moment I ruined everything. Finally, he let out a breathless, nervous laugh. I let out a breath of my own and laughed along with him.

He grabbed my hands, making me yelp as he pulled me up. I slid uneasily on my skates, and held onto him for dear life. "Um...I haven't ice skated since I was six...and I've never roller bladed before." I admitted.

He let out a more easy laugh as he steadied me. "Don't worry, I'll show you. Just hold onto the bars for a second while I set something up." He instructed, rolling me over to the wall.

I held on for dear life as he expertly rolled his way to the far corner on the left. He pulled something out of his pocket that I couldn't see, and plugged it in. Briefly, he disappeared into a closet-looking space, and the lights shut off. I let out a squeak, and my heart stopped.

"Logan?" I called nervously.

Suddenly, the lights came back on, but it wasn't the same. Soft pink, purple, and blue swirled around me, circling patterns hitting the mirror and reflecting back onto the floor, the wall, and sometimes on the ceiling at the right angle.

Logan came out with a grin on his face, and turned to the thing he'd plugged in. He messed with it for a few seconds, and suddenly, music began playing throughout the room.

I laughed out loud at the choice as he skated back over to me.

He rolled right into me, stopping himself by the wall on either side of my head.

"Seriously?" I exclaimed despite the close proximity, still laughing, "I thought you hated fifties music! And now you pull my favorite song!"

He chuckled, leaning down to press a kiss to my cheek. "I happen to like Shout." He said.

I let out a yelp as he caught my hands, jerking me out into the open. He held me to him as I lost my balance, keeping us perfectly up, despite only being held up by three wheels on each foot.

Patiently, he began instructing me, and we glided across the floor after a while with little to no incidence.

The song had changed a few times, switching from fifties songs that I recognized, to newer, poppy songs that I recognized, but didn't exactly appreciate.

Never the less, I had tons of fun, laughing as I slipped and slid across the floor with him. Logan seemed to have just as much fun, catching me before I could fall, and teasing me about being the world's clumsiest skater.

Not once did he ask me what happened with Victor. For that I would be eternally grateful.

"So," He started as a slower song came on, pulling me close to him and taking my hand, "What really happened with my sister that hurt you so much?" He asked me, his forehead creasing in concern.

I let out a soft laugh, full of sadness. "She basically told me that my "act" might fool you two, but it wasn't fooling her. She saw how I knew everyone down at the Bay and vice versa, and she said...she said she didn't see why." I looked down at his chest for a moment, biting my lip. When I looked back up at him, my eyes were probably glistening with tears, "Am I really that...unlikable? Does the way I act on the outside really make me seem like a grade A manipulative bitch?" I asked.

At first I thought that dancing in skates was impossible, but Logan easily glided us around the room, slightly lifting me off the ground with one arm.

"Jane, you and I both know the answer to that. No. I've seen who you are under that tough, I-do-what-I-want exterior. You're kind. Sweet as hell. In a lot of ways, you're tough as nails, but in others, you're as soft as a feather pillow. That's what Victor and I love about you, Jane. You're innocent, almost vulnerable when it comes to relationships. You can kick a guy's ass even when he towers three feet above you and has a fifty pound weight advantage. You care about your family more than your own life...and, dare I say it, you're sexy as sin." He grinned charmingly at the last part, and I let out a laugh, hitting him lightly on the chest.

"Thank you, Logan. You have no idea how much better...all of this has made me feel." I gestured around us with the hand that wasn't captured in his, smiling softly at him.

"Anytime, sweetheart." He chuckled.

I wanted to lie my head on his chest. To forget that Victor practically ripped my heart from it's precious crystal throne of happiness, and shattered it with a sledge hammer.

But I couldn't...could I? It wasn't right because...I didn't have feeling for him...right?

Oh no. Don't you dare do this, Jane! I scolded in my mind. You do not have feelings for this man!

......do you? Another, shyer, less listened to part of my brain spoke up. Do you really think that? After feeling butterflies erupt at his simple touch, what you're feeling now? Can you really deny that you're starting to feel something more than just companionship from this man?

I gulped. It was true. His beautiful eyes bored into mine, giving my shoulders and arms goosebumps. His arm was wrapped securely around my waist, and I fit snugly against his muscular form. Butterflies had gathered for a circus performance in my stomach, complete with somersaults. 

No, this was wrong. This was very wrong.

I cleared my throat softly, suddenly terrified of hurting this man. He paused in his intent study of my face, his eyes looking back into mine. "Is there a bathroom somewhere?" I asked him.

Oblivious to the turmoil I was feeling, he smiled slightly and nodded. "Right over there. Here, take off your skates first." He instructed, lowering me to the ground.

He lowered with me, helping me untie the laces and gently slipping them off my feet. He looked up and met my gaze once again. His eyes darted to my lips for a split second, and I barely had time to react as they met mine. It was a very brief, but very, very sweet kiss.

He then lifted us back up, nudging me toward where he gestured to earlier.

I entered the multi-stall bathroom, looking in the mirror at my flushed face.

"You do not have intimate feelings for Logan!" I told myself sternly.

And I watched in horror as my eyebrow twitched upward.

Does it Matter?

 

I awoke to someone brushing the hair from my face, and opened my eyes to meet my mother's. She sat back on the chair she'd pulled up, giving me a small smile. "You two look like a caring family." She murmured.

I looked down at the child in my arms, and then at Victor. Somehow my head had ended up on his shoulder, and his on top of mine. I carefully lifted my head up, letting his head loll back onto the seat.

"He sick?" Mom asked softly.

"Yes." I confirmed, letting her take Harry from me and set him in the recliner across from us.

"Poor dear."

I took his cold, clammy hand in both of mine, warming it. "Yeah. He was miserable last night." I murmured.

She was silent for a moment, watching me take care of Victor. "You know, I have no doubt that Victor is going to ask you to marry him." She murmured.

I sighed heavily, dread weighing my heart down. "I know."

"Are you going to tell him?" She asked me.

I bit my lip, tears pricking at my eyes. "I don't know."

She leaned forward, lying her hand on my knee. "I know you're afraid, honey, but if he really love's you, he won't care." Mom whispered.

"He won't mind in the beginning. But what about years, maybe even months after we're married? He's going to want a family, Mom. He can't have that with me."

Mom sighed heavily. "Honey, you can't condemn yourself for being infertile. That isn't your fault. besides, if you wanted kids that badly, you could adopt." She shrugged.

I looked at Victor. His handsome, but ragged face relaxed with sleep. I had no doubt about how good he was to me, and he'd always surprised me with how tender he was. Every time I expected - wanted him to yell at me, or shake some sense into me, he would pull me into his arms and comfort me with soothing words. What if I lost that, when he found out?

"I can't tell him. Not now." I whispered.

Mom sighed softly and nodded. "I'll go get the soup on."

I gave a smile of thanks to her, shifting out of Victor's grip and standing up. I walked into the kitchen after her, stretching my arms and rubbing my tired eyes.

"Will you keep an eye on the three? I seriously need a shower. I mean it's reaching bio-hazard range." I said.

She let out a laugh and nodded, setting a pot of water of the stove. "Of course."

"Thanks, Mom." I said.

She gave me a wink, and shooed me back into the living room. I grabbed some clothes from the duffel bag, stepping into Victor's room to shower.

I had just finished brushing my teeth and was pulling a brush through my tangled hair, when someone knocked on the door.

I cracked it open, coming face to face with Logan. "Hi. I need to use the bathroom...badly. Ms. Priss has taken a hold of the one upstairs, and she's not going to come out anytime soon."

I laughed and opened the door wider, stepping out so he could step in. I waited a few minutes, lying back on the bed, crossing my legs, and closing my eyes. 

When the door opened, I opened my eyes and turned my head to see Logan, leaning in the doorway. I pushed myself up into a sitting position, and Logan pushed off of the door, coming to stand in front of me.

He helped me up, and grinned down at me. "Thanks."

I smiled back, but was unable to reply as his lips came down on mine. On instinct, my eyes closed. I was stunned, as my arms involuntarily going up to wrap around his neck.

This kiss was urgent, and demanding. Feelings that I'd put to the back of my mind burst through the weak wall with fervor, relishing in his touch. He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me up so I was flush against his chest. All thoughts were gone.

What was more surprising was he was the one to break the kiss. His chest heaved with silent breaths, as he pressed one more kiss to my lips, as if he couldn't get enough.

He let me go, and I dropped to my feet nimbly, despite my surprised state. With one more grin in my direction, he turned, and left the room.

What the actual hell?

Shaking my head, my mouth hanging open, I proceeded to the shower, stumbling over my own feet. As I took off my clothes, I found an involuntary smile on my swollen lips when I looked into the mirror, and I forced it to vacate. This was wrong. This was all wrong.

Hadn't I just made amends with Victor? Granted, he was sick as a dog and probably delusional, but can't a man be honest when he's practically passing out due to fever?

The answer was, probably not. I mean, Linsey thought I was her mother for God's sake.

I sighed heavily, jumping in the shower, and sighing as the warm water beat down on my back. It had felt like ages since I'd actually stepped under a stream of water, and that didn't count the rain.

The kiss flooded my mind yet again, the way his strong arms pulled me firmly against him. His soft lips moved in perfect sync with mine.

I hadn't thought about the time in the bathroom at the skating rink. I'd put it out of my mind as soon as it happened, refusing to believe it. If it was true, could I be in love with Logan? Could I feel more than brotherly friendship for him?

Well, judging by what I felt when he kissed me earlier, that was a definite possibility.

I groaned, shutting off the shower. Jumping out, I dried myself off, and rung out my hair. I dressed myself quickly, resolving that as soon as Victor got better, I'd talk it out with him.

After what he said, I just couldn't find it in myself to trust him as fully as I did before.

I walked into the living room, noticing Victor was watching TV with Linsey, both of them sitting on the couch and sipping their mugs of broth.

"Good morning." I leaned down in front of Linsey, reaching out to press the back of my hand to her forehead. 

"Morning." She mumbled.

"You don't have a fever. Did you take anything this morning?" I asked her.

She shook her head, making me smile. "That's good! You're getting better!" I ruffled her already messy hair gently. "How are you feeling?" I questioned.

"A little weak." She admitted, and I noticed her hands shaking slightly as she lifted her mug.

"Yeah, that's gonna be a problem for a few days. The good news is it looks like last night was the worst of it," I sighed, shifting my gaze to Victor. I got up and perched myself on the edge of the couch beside him.

He watched carefully as I gently pressed the back of my hand to his forehead. "You, however, are hot as a firecracker." I murmured.

He cleared his throat to speak, coughing slightly. "Yeah. Your mother gave me a fever reducer a few minutes ago." He murmured.

I gave a sympathetic smile, brushing the hair from his tired eyes. "Did you get much sleep last night?" I asked.

He nodded, "I slept fine. There were a few times I woke up, other than that I was okay." He assured.

He took my hand in his, squeezing it. I smiled hesitantly, before looking up at the sound of the doorbell.

I got up, patting Linsey's head as I walked over to the door. Harry peeked in from the kitchen, his face covered in syrup. I laughed indulgently at the little boy as I unlocked the door. I swung it open, a bright smile taking over my face.

"Ronnie!" I greeted happily.

"Hey, Jane." He pulled me into a big hug.

"What brings you here so early?" I asked as I let him in.

"Well I got a call from the hospital. Lissa get's out today. I hired a nanny to help her with the kids while she heals, and her brother just arrived from Omaha to help as well. I came to pick them up and take them over." He said.

"Momma's home, Momma's home!" Harry celebrated.

I laughed, picking him up. "Let me get him cleaned up. Mom just gave him pancakes." I told Ronnie.

He nodded, sitting down on the recliner.

I walked into the kitchen, setting Harry on the counter and wetting a paper towel with warm water. I wiped his face down, and he waited patiently for me to finish.

"Do you think Momma lost her superhero powers?" Harry asked me as I cleaned his sticky hands.

Mom paused while drying one of the dishes she was washing.

"No, sweetheart, but for a few days, her powers are gonna be a little weak. I need you to promise me you'll help her out, okay?" I asked seriously.

He nodded, his eyes wide and determined. "I'll help Momma get better, like you helped Linsey." He promised.

I smiled. "That's a great idea, Harry. Are you excited to see your Momma?" I asked.

He nodded frantically. "Uh-huh! I'm gonna draw her 'Get Better' cards and tell her all about the story you told!" He rambled.

I laughed. A few nights ago I'd made up a story for Linsey, about a princess who rode a dragon across the sea to find her prince. Linsey and Harry were enthralled. In fact, I think everyone was enthralled, the whole house sat down to listen.

"Well go on and see Uncle Ronnie." I said, setting him on the ground.

"Okay!"

I turned to watch him go, and noticed Victor standing in the doorway. "What are you doing up?" I asked, walking over.

He gave me a faint smile, his eyes filled with an unidentifiable emotion, and a bit of longing. "I'm not crippled." He chuckled, although his voice was rough with emotion.

I gave him a concerned look. "Are you alright?"

"Yes, it's just...you were born to be a mother, you know that?" He asked.

Pain stabbed at my heart. Pain and longing. Apparently I wasn't born to be a mother.

Victor's eyes turned concerned at the change in my expression. "What's wrong?" He reached up to touch my cheek.

"Jane," Mom interrupted.

I'd forgotten she was here. But I was so grateful she was. "Yeah, Mom?" I asked her.

She pressed her hands on my shoulders, looking sternly into my eyes. "Do you want me to tell him? I know how painful it is for you to talk about." She murmured.

I bit my lip, glancing at Victor. "No...he deserves to hear it from me. I just...need some time." I almost pleaded with her.

"Hear what from you? What are you saying?" Victor asked me.

I bit my lip, and Mom nudged me toward him.

"Mom, don't make me do this." I pleaded softly.

"He deserves to know, Jane." Mom said firmly.

Her eyes stared into mine, and it communicated more than words could. I knew she was right. I sighed heavily, bringing my gaze up to meet an extremely confused Victor's.

"Here, sit down before you collapse." I fretted, leading him over to the table.

"I'll leave you two to talk." Mom murmured.

I waited for a while to speak, after she left, staring down at my hands under the table.

"Jane." I looked up at Victor, staring at me with concern. "What is it you're keeping fro me?"

I bit down on my lip, hard. I knew I couldn't lie. That damn tick would give me away.

"Victor...there's something I never told you. Something about myself that might throw a wrench in our relationship. Now, before you jump to conclusions, I don't have a secret kid, I'm not a transvestite, and I don't have Aids." As I said all this, I stared straight at him.

He smiled in faint amusement, but mostly he just looked worried. "Then what is it?" He asked.

"Well...I can't...Victor I..." Why was this so hard to say?

He waited patiently while I took deep breaths, looking away from him and out the window. "I can't...have children." I whispered.

For a full minute, there was nothing but silence. Before he finally asked, "What...did you say?"

I bit my lip against the tears that threatened to fall, still unable to shift my gaze to his. "I'd rather not repeat it, thank you." I muttered.

"You...you can't have-"

"And I'd rather you didn't repeat it, either." I said sharply, finally meeting his gaze.

He closed his mouth, his intense eyes burning into mine. "When were you planning on telling me?" He asked.

My lip trembled. "I-I don't know."

"Don't you think I would have wanted to know that little bit of information?" He asked me, leaning forward.

"What, was I just supposed to bring it up? 'Oh by the way, just so you know I'm infertile.' Is that what you wanted to hear? I don't know about you, Victor, but I think that's a little bit of an awkward discussion for a first date." I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm to hide the hurt I felt at repeating the cursed words out loud.

"Jane, there were plenty more times that you could have told me!" He hissed, keeping his voice low.

Tears pricked at my eyes, and I looked away from him. "Would it have mattered?" I whispered.

"What?" He asked, sounding confused.

"Maybe I should rephrase. Does it matter?" I questioned.

He leaned back in his chair, his mouth pressing into a thin line. Hurt hit me hard, and I nodded, a tear slipping down my cheek. "I see."

"Jane..." He gave a shaky sigh, hesitating.

"No, you've already said enough, Victor. Of all the times you've understood me, of all the times I trusted you...I thought I could trust you to understand this. Congratulations, you proved me wrong, and you proved one thing right. You never loved me. All I was, was a criminal's daughter. A tool." 

He leaned forward, his face incredulous. "Jane, that's not-"

"Don't you dare deny it, Victor Price. Don't you dare." I stood up, tears streaming down my cheeks. "Don't you think I want a family, Victor? Don't you think I would do anything to get a family of my own? I hate myself every day for what I am - what my body can't do. Think about that. I hate myself." I then turned, and walking into the living room.

Mom stood, her eyes widening at my tear stained cheeks and red eyes. "Oh honey." She rushed over to me, catching me in a warm hug.

"What's wrong with Aunt Jane?" I heard Linsey ask.

"I don't know." Ronnie whispered back.

Mom led me outside, sitting me down beside her on the porch swing. I put my head in my hands, and sobbed softly, taking comfort as she stroked my back. "It's alright, honey. I know it's hard." She whispered.

"Hey, what's going on?" I heard Jean ask.

"Is it alright if I tell her, sweetheart?" Mom asked.

I gave a small nod, unable to lift my hands.

"She and Victor had a fight. She told Victor that she couldn't have children." She explained.

At the mention of my impairment, I began crying harder, burying my face deeper in my hands.

For a moment, Jean was silent, and then when she did speak, she was sitting across from us. "My brother's a jackass." She muttered.

I let out a wet laugh, but it sounded more hysterical. Lifting my head from my hands, I wiped my eyes, thanking Jean as she handed me a tissue.

"I-I thought you h-hated me." I sniffled after a few seconds.

"Honey, I never hated you. I was jealous. My brothers adore you. My mother adores you. I saw what they saw in you the minute I walked into the house. You were beautiful, and kind. I guess bitter jealousy that I couldn't be as happy as you seemed kind of got in the way of getting to know you. The truth is, I admire how strong you are. I admire the way you take charge, and can be yourself all the time. I admire how much you care about a family that you've only known for a few weeks." She took a deep breath, giving me a sorrowful glance.

I was surprised, to say the least. Jean, beautiful, independent, protective Jean is jealous of me? I could only stare at her as I sniffled. "I-I don't think Victor adores me." I hiccuped.

It was the only thing I could come up with at the moment. I couldn't think of anything else to say.

She laughed softly. "Jane, you have no idea how he looks at you. You should have seen his face just now. He looked like he was a dying fish."

I had to laugh with her, although it was weak and not very believable.

"Even if you two break up, which I highly doubt, I don't want you to just disappear, Jane. Even if I don't admit it, you've become dear to my heart. Mom's as well. You're an awesome girl, with a heart of gold. If Victor can't see what he's ultimately losing by being a pompous ass, than he's even more blind than I thought." Her eyes hardened at the last part, as she took my hand firmly in hers.

I sniffled, wiping my eyes once again with my free hand. "Thank you, Jean...that means a lot to me."

She winked, and stood up. "I have to go kick my brother's ass now."

I smiled slightly up at her, still a little surprised at the change.

***

I can't remember how many times I'd walked the beach. I knew my skin had gone darker than before, and I probably had some pretty bad tan lines. I stood at the end of the Bay, over the ocean. My mind was reeling with hurt. Even after all the times we'd fought, this seemed worse. Somehow, all those other times I'd left, I always knew I'd come back. This time...I didn't know if I could face him. Not after that look of anger, pity, and betrayal had been thrown at me. I could understand the betrayal - sort of - but the anger? The pity? First off, I hated pity. Second, he had no right to be angry with me. It wasn't something I could control. Something I could just turn off and on. It was practically a disease! 

I groaned, setting my face in my hands as I leaned on the railing. Then there was the issue with Ike. He was on the hunt, and it wouldn't be long until I'd have to move again, maybe even change my name. I didn't want to, but it seemed to be my only option.

I lifted my head as my phone rang, pulling it out of my back pocket, I didn't recognize the number.

"Hello?" I asked in a guarded voice.

"Blood is thicker than water."

My breath hitched, not only because of what he said, but because the voice came from right behind me. A grin spread across my face and I spun around. "Daddy!" I squealed.

He caught me as I almost tackled him in a hug, burying my face in his chest. He chuckled, and I held him close. "I missed you so much." I mumbled.

Tears leaked out of my eyes and into his shirt, but they weren't sad. I'd missed his occasional visits.

"I missed you too, sweetheart."

I pulled back to look at him, smiling. "So what brings you to Florida?" I asked him.

He'd dyed his hair deep Burgundy, and he was wearing chocolate brown contacts.

"I just came to check up on you." He said.

"Let's go get some cotton candy!" I gushed, grabbing his hand and leading the way.

He laughed, following me down the dock. We jogged down the stairs, bouncing like two teenagers as we ordered our candy. We were always partners in crime when I was young. Before he was really a criminal and I really became sort of his partner in crime. We were best friends, running around town all day, fishing at five O clock in the morning to sunset. We told each other everything. 

We walked back up the stairs, enjoying our cotton candy. I told him all about Lissa - how she was robbed and I took care of her two children. We sat down on a bench as I explained. He was serious, his eyes studying mine intently as I spoke. I began to wonder why he was looking at me like that, and my voice faded into silence.

"Are you and Victor together?" Dad asked abruptly.

"Not anymore." I answered honestly.

He raised an eyebrow, as if not expecting the answer. "So you were together?"

"Yes. We had a fight a few days ago, but it wasn't really a done deal. Today we had a big fight, and now...we're over."

"What was it about?" He asked, turning so his forearm laid on top of the bench, and he was facing me.

I looked down at my hands. "I told him...about my...inability to have children." I shrugged.

"And he couldn't understand." Dad guessed.

Tears began pricking at my eyes. "That's the problem. He understood completely. He was betrayed that I didn't tell him before, and angry at me for some reason. I mean, you understand, right? It wasn't something I could just bring up mid-conversation." I said, looking up at him for his understanding.

Dad, being the one I always went to for these problems, nodded. "Of course I understand. It wasn't your fault in the first place. I have one question though, Jane." He looked at me seriously.

"Yeah?" I urged.

"Do you love him?"

I stared into Dad's eyes, knowing that behind those contacts, were the same bright blue eyes that I'd always known. "Yes. I love him so much, Dad. I'm just afraid that...well that he doesn't love me after all. That he was just using me." I expressed my fear, something that I hadn't even thought about until that conversation I'd overheard.

It just made so much sense! Get close to the girl, gain her trust, and she'll tell you everything. 

"Jane...I hate to encourage this relationship, because you are my daughter and it's my number one self-appointed duty to protect you. But...I don't think he's using you. His number one priority the night you were captured was to keep you safe. He hardly even cared that Ike got away, all he did was track you down as fast as possible. Plus, I saw the way he held you that night, and the way he looked at you. You were like his greatest prize, and most delicate china. That's how I felt about your mother when we first met. I saw her, and...I couldn't look away. I suspected you two had something going on the minute you heard his voice. You should have seen yourself. I don't even think you realized how awed and adoring you looked. Like he was your knight in shining armor." Dad sighed heavily, running a hand through his hair.

I was stunned, staring at Dad with wide eyes. Finally, I asked in disbelief, "Really? I had Love-Struck-Puppy-Face going on?" I questioned.

He laughed loudly. "You have no idea."

"Yeesh." I said in disgust.

He ruffled my hair, and then something occurred to him, and he became serious again. "There is something I'm concerned - and a little angry - about, though." He said.

"What's that?" I questioned, my stomach turning uneasily for some reason.

He rummaged through his bag, grabbing a large yellow envelope. "Somebody better be really good at photoshop, and was trying to mess with me, or else Victor is dead." he pulled out what looked like large photos, handing them to me.

My eyes widened in surprise, and mortification, as I realized what I was looking at. The sun was setting behind the ocean, and in high definition, was Victor and I. My wet hair was splayed across the sand, and my hands were in fists on his back. His lips were at my ear, a tiny smile playing on his lips as he whispered something, bracing on his forearms as his body hovered above me.

The next was of his lips on mine. Another of us kissing, and then some still shots of us falling on the ground. Some had been taken through the window, of Victor putting me in bed. This was the night after we'd gone swimming.

"Oh shit." I whispered.

"I'm guessing these are not photo shopped." Dad said.

I bit my lip, shaking my head.

"God dammit." He muttered under his breath.

Shit, shit, shit. If Kent saw these, Victor would be six feet under by now. He already knew I'd seen him naked.

God bless it.

"Can I just burn these?" I groaned.

"No. I'm going to use them as the reason I murdered him." He growled.

I rolled my eyes. "I'm twenty two, Dad. Legal adult, remember?" I pointed to myself.

He narrowed his eyes. "I can still ground you and take away your cookie privileges." He threatened.

I smiled. "Already been done."

"I hope you know I'm disappointed in you." He said.

I rolled my eyes. "Dad, it's not like we had sex."

He raised his eyebrows and shoved the picture of Victor putting me in his bed as if it were incriminating evidence. I winced. "Okay, so it looks bad. But we didn't do anything like that. We just...slept together." I said.

He narrowed his eyes. "If you're lying to me-"

"The soul of a liar is black like poop." I recited.

He let out a bark of laughter at that, but soon quieted down, his face growing sober. "Jane...I don't want you hurt." He said.

I rolled my eyes. "It's a little late for that."

"I mean I don't want you to get your hopes up, only to have them torn down."

I stared at him, not understanding. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying...don't get close to Victor, Jane. Leave him, if you have to. If Ike got to him you'd never forgive yourself."

Diabolical.

 

I stared at Dad, my confusion gone, and replaced with absolute understanding.

"I know. But Dad... Ike already knows how I feel about Victor. Do you really think that leaving him will help?" I question.

Dad nodded. "If you convince Ike that it was just an act to lure him out, he'd back off. But that means...Victor has to believe it." He said, seeming pained as the last part came out of his mouth.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I mean...you have to tell him that it was an act. That you faked it to get Ike out in the open. He has to believe it." Dad said.

I swallowed thickly. "I-I don't know if I can-"

"Do it for Victor, Jane. It's for his own safety, and yours." Dad stared straight at me, his eyes emotionless.

Something was wrong. I'd never seen him like this before. He was always calm, always collected, but never emotionless.

"Dad...what's wrong?" I asked.

That snapped him out of it, as he quickly got defensive. "Nothing's wrong! I'm just trying to protect you!" There was a meaning behind his words, one that only I could catch.

"Who got you that black convertible?" Code for what are you not telling me?

"Uncle Jacob." I raised my eyebrows, that was code for danger.

"Uncle Jacob? You mean my Uncle Jacob?" I pointed to myself and widened my eyes slightly to convey the real question.

He nodded, bringing his hand up pointedly to itch behind his ear. I noticed an almost invisible ear piece as he nonchalantly moved his ear forward.

I swallowed thickly.

"What ever happened to Grace?" Code for what the hell is that?

He gave me a look for language, but continued speaking, "She divorced him." My face paled.

Divorce, in simple terms, meant threatened.

The entire code meant I've been threatened.

"And you weren't planning on telling me this?" I asked, forcing an amused smile on my lips.

He rolled his eyes for affect. "I thought it would upset you. You seemed close to her."

"Dad, I'm a big girl. You can't protect me forever." I said.

At this, his eyes were hard. "Well I can protect you as long as I can, at least."

I bit my lip against blowing our cover, and instead asked as I began to stand, "What's the latest on Ike?"

"Haven't gotten a lead on him lately. But I'm still looking. I promise I'll find him, Jane."

I nodded, swallowing thickly. "I guess I should go tell victor, eh?" I asked, letting nervousness and sorrow cloud my voice as I stood.

He nodded back, his eyes telling me what his voice couldn't - to be careful about this.

I gave a small, weak smile in acknowledgement of his look and turned, heading for the beach.

As I walked, I scanned the beach, trying to be casual about it. I noticed a man standing at the shore. His back was turned to me, and his head was bent to look at the sand. He had his hand to his ear as if he were talking on his phone. I gave him a casual smile as he looked up at me.

He gave a polite smile back, his eyes assessing me.

I kicked sand as I walked, pressing my lips together as I thought about how I was going to tell him this without giving away that I knew what Ike was up to. I ran my hands through my hair.

Perhaps I could tell him to act as if I were breaking up with him - leaving him. And as we were "fighting" I would tell him about what my father had said. Of course I could just drag him into the bathroom and just drop the idea of acting. But that took away all the fun. I wanted to put my acting skills to good use.

It took a few minutes more to reach the house, and I froze as I saw the flashing lights of cop cars. I noticed one of the policemen push off from where he leaned defensively on the car. 

I furrowed my eyebrows, my heart rate accelerating. I began to jog over to where he stood. "What's wrong? What happened? Is everyone alright?" I called as I was halfway there.

He met me, and suddenly grabbed my arm. I was pushed to my knees, as he pinned my other arm behind my back. "Ms. Harington, you're under arrest for assisting the criminal, Mr. Dirk Harington. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be held against you. You have the right to an attorney-"

"What? What are you talking about? Let me go!" I struggled as he slapped his cuffs on my wrists.

He ignored me as he continued his speech, pulling me to my feet. I looked around for some help, and found Victor standing in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest as he stared at us.

"Victor! What are you doing?" I cried, struggling in the cop's grasp.

He only stared at me, his eyes emotionless.

I was shoved into a cop car, staring at Victor in utter confusion - and hurt.

***

I sat in the holding cell, staring at the ground with emotionless eyes. Apparently Victor had gotten an anonymous call that told him I was with my father at the Bay. The police had also gotten the call. Seeing as Victor couldn't very well admit that he was working with Dad...he gave me up.

I was back to my old, cocky, sarcastic, uncaring self. And I was enjoying it.

I was hurt, and ashamed, and utterly annoyed with Victor. If I saw him again, I'd probably take my fist and show him just how bruised my knuckles could get. So I did what I always did. I hid my feelings behind a powerful, solid concrete wall of cocky, uncaring smiles and Jail-Bird attitudes. I even corrected the eyebrow thing in the mirror today.

I looked up from my thoughts as someone approached the cell door. Kent stared in at me, and I smirked at him.

"Hey, big bro! What's up?"

His look was disgusted. His eyes squinted as he stared at me. "Who are you?"

"What are you talking about? Obviously you've never met me before." I rolled my eyes.

Kent shook his head, wrapping his hands around the bars. "Jane...this isn't you. I know you. What happened?" He asked.

I gave him a weird look. "Kent, seriously, I'm fine. I'm happy! I'm finally back to my old self. I was tired of being a freaking pushover." I scoffed.

He opened his mouth to argue, but was stopped when the one person I didn't want to see appeared beside him.

"Ah, Vicky! Or maybe I should call you Lucifer. That's a better term for the devil in disguise. I could call you Lucy for short." I snickered.

His eyes were full of regret.

"Jane...I didn't mean for this."

I became serious, all traces of my joking self gone. I shifted my eyes to Kent. "Could you give us a minute?"

He didn't argue. He turned, smacked Victor on the back of the head, and left.

I looked back at Victor. "Didn't mean for what? Hmm? Let's see...not only were you using me to get to my father, but you were also using me to get to Ike. What better way to get rid of me after my usefulness then to throw me in jail?" I stood up and shrugged, leaning back against the wall.

"Jane, it wasn't like that at all!" He growled.

"I'm over it, Victor." I said, carelessly picking at my nails.

He was silent for a full minute. "You...y-your what?"

I looked up at him, grinning easily. "I'm over it. Over us. Over what happened. Over. It. You didn't want me. You wanted to use me. Fine, it's in the past." I shrugged again.

It was a total, and complete lie. But Victor couldn't have known that. Pain scratched at the wall that kept my fragile heart from ripping, as Victor stared at me in hurt. But I pushed it back, reinforcing the wall with Crazy Glue.

"How...can you say that, Jane? How can you just be...over it?" He asked me.

"Because, Victor. You rejected me. I gave you my last and greatest secret and...you tossed it on the ground like a weed. I'm no fool, Victor. You had no right to be angry with me. That was something that no one knew but my father, mother, and Kent. No one knew that. No one. I hated myself for this secret I kept locked away, for this curse that plagued my body. And you didn't even have the courtesy of showing a little kindness to me." For once, I let every single emotion show on my face - Every raw, tortured feeling that passed through my system communicated to him. "You hurt me too much, Victor. And I can't come back from it."

He stepped back as if someone had swung a burning torch at him, his hands in fists. He looked as if someone had knocked the air out of his lungs, as he struggled to breathe. 

He opened his mouth to speak, his eyebrows furrowed, but the chief appeared before he could get a word out.

"Victor, I'd like you to be present when we question her. I've got a few questions I think you'd like to answer as well." He said.

Victor seemed surprised. "Okay."

He opened the door, staring in at me. "Ms. Harington."

I felt a grin curve at my lips. "Hey, Bossman!" I greeted.

He gave me a look that said he was not amused. Opening the door, he stepped aside so I could walk out. They followed me down the hall. I gave calm, but deadly stares to the inmates who cat-called to me, and then I smiled sweetly and flipped the bird.

We stepped into the conference room and Bossman sat me down. He and Victor sat down across from me, and I examined my nails with a bored expression.

A woman came in and sat in the corner with a notebook, her pen poised to write.

"Ms. Harison, I've been told you were speaking with your father, is that right?" He asked me.

I looked at him with a sarcastic expression. "No, the anonymous caller was just a big joke I played. Ha-ha!" I smiled briefly, before my face went blank again.

He stared at me with a humorless stare for a moment, "Alright. What did he say to you?"

I thought for a moment, tapping my chin with my finger in a condescending manner. "He said "fuck the po-lice." I then fell over laughing, clutching my stomach.

"Alright, Jane. I'll cut you a deal. If you answer the questions I need answered, You'll get out in half a month." He said.

I raised my eyebrows at him. "Okay. He said he got his black convertible from Uncle Jacob, and that Aunt Grace divorced him." I said.

Victor shot me a knowing glare, and Bossman just stared at me as if he couldn't believe he was wasting time on this.

"Jane, tell us what that means." Victor ordered tersly.

Bossman looked at Victor with a raised eyebrow, but I sighed heavily. "It means that I'm in danger, and that he was threatened."

"By who?" Victor asked.

"Who do you think? Ike's got him more wired than Robo-Cop. He wants me in here, Victor. The anonymous call you got confirms that. He's got a plan. He wouldn't send Dad to talk to me, even if he threatened him. He knows we'd communicate somehow, that our little "Language" is easy to slip by even the careful listeners. He wants me here." I repeated, letting it sink in.

Rage boiled in Victor's eyes, and he clenched his fists on the table top.

"Why in the world would be want you in jail? He can't get to you here." Victor said.

Victor was right, of course. It had to be something more. He was planning something, and I was a key component. But what was it? My gut told me it was something big. Something I wouldn't like. If I were Ike, why would I put the girl I was stalking in jail? Certainly not to protect her. So why? He wanted me out of the way? For what? He makes my father talk to me, and then calls in to the police for it? He had to be...wait.

I sat back, my mind beginning to calculate faster and faster. This was the perfect place to kidnap me.

No one would think that I was in danger because, honestly, who would be stupid enough to kidnap a girl in a building full of able bodied people who were legally obligated to beat the shit out of you?

Ike, apparently.

"Victor, this is a trap. He's planning something that we don't-"

"Ah, Jane? You've got a call." A police officer poked his head in the doorway with an apologetic expression.

Quizzical, I stood up and followed him. He led me to the pay-phone, where the phone sat idly on top of the box. I picked it up, sucking in a deep breath before pressing it to my ear. "Yeah?"

"Hi, is this Jane?" It was an average voice, with a slight New Jersey accent.

"Depends on who's asking."

There was a click, and the line went dead.

I pulled the phone away from my ear, staring at it with furrowed eyebrows. "The hel-?"

Suddenly, I was pulled into a hallway, my mouth covered to muffle my yelp. I was now out of site of the two still in the conference room.

"Hello, my love." 

My face went pale at the familiar voice. "Ike." I whispered.

A dark chuckle rumbled up his chest, reverberating through me. "Okay, so here's the deal. I'm going to put these handcuffs on you, and this cap, and we're going to walk out of here. If you try to tip anyone off, I'll press this button I've got here on my belt, that will paige my assistant, and he'll pull the trigger on your dearest brother. Do I make myself clear?" He growled.

I gave a small nod, to which I recieved a chuckle. "Good girl."

He slapped the cuffs on my wrists, stuffing a cap on my head, and pulling my ponytail through the hole in the back.

He pushed me forward. "One more thing - keep your head down."

He took my silence as agreement, and took my arm roughly, pushing me forward in front of him. I kept my head tilted down, but gave a glance to the conference room. They were in there, conversing - almost arguing - amongst themselves. To my horror, I realized they couldn't see me.

It was obvious that Ike had some of his men in the police force. They didn't question, or even scan him as he passed through. I felt tears cloud my vision, but I blinked them back. I had to be strong for Kent.

I let out a breath as soon as we left the building, looking up at Ike. "Where is my brother?" I rasped.

"Oh, him? You'll see him soon enough."

We walked toward a white, windowless van. Two men got out of the front and went around to the back. When the doors opened, Ike shoved me in. 

"Kent!" I cried.

He laid in the corner against the wall, his face bruised. He reached out for me, and I felt the binds on my hands release.

I crawled over to him, pulling him into my arms. I cradled his head to my neck, patting down his matted hair. "I'm here. They're not going to hurt you anymore." I promised.

"J-Jane..." He looked up at me. "Dad set us up. H-he said you were in danger...th-that I needed to help him find you. H-he punched me a-and kicked me in the stomach."

I stared at Kent with wide eyes, filling with tears. "Oh, Kent. I'm so sorry." I whispered.

I didn't understand. Was this some plan he had? Was he really betraying his own family? But he always promised me we would never get hurt. He was always there for me.

How could he do this to Kent? To Mom...to me?

 

Scavenger Hunt.

We were pulled roughly from the back seat, and I tried my best to keep Kent out of harms way, ripping one of my arms out of the man's grasp so I could hold onto my injured brother.

They didn't pull me away, staying close to my side as we walked through the empty streets of this deserted area of town. Ike pulled out a set of keys from his pocket and unlocked the door to a rundown-looking building. They shoved Kent and I in, and Ike smiled wickedly at me.

"No, my love, as I recall, we have some unfinished bussiness." He grabbed me up, pulling me against him.

I let out a disgusted noise in the back of my throat as he pressed his lips to my neck, but didn't struggle. I had a feeling the punishment would be something directed at Kent.

"No!" Kent struggled to stand, being held down by the two brutes.

"Don't, Kent. Please." I pleaded.

Ignoring me, he struggled still, watching as Ike's hand traveled lower and lower on my side. 

Suddenly, he jerked me to the side, and began dragging me to a different area. He pulled me into a room, and I realized that this was a temporary living space. A bed, and a few bags were scattered here and there. I gulped.

He threw me on the bed, and I struggled against his hold as he climbed on top of me.

"I told them I'd have you screaming my name, didn't I? I told you that you couldn't run forever. You're mine!" He snarled, taking my shirt and ripping the bottom.

I refused to let the tears blurring my vision fall, as I looked around for an escape. I noticed a pocket knife on top of one of the bags closest to the bed, and quickly formulated a plan.

I looked up at Ike, catching his shoulders in my hands.

He paused halfway through rippng my shirt, and looked up at me. I used all of the strength I had to flip us over, so I was on top of him. I swallowed the bile in the back of my throat at the horrible thing I was getting ready to do.

I leaned down, and smashed his lips to mine, capturing his attention to the fullest.

With one hand grudgingly running through his hair, the other reached out to the side, fumbling for the knife that I knew was there. As soon as my hand brushed the cool, metalic handle, I grasped it, slowly pulling my arm back to my side and flipping it open.

Ike's hungry kissing stopped as we both heard the sound of metal scraping against metal. I inwardly cringed, knowing I'd been caught.

In a flurry of movement, I pulled back, and pressed the knife to his neck before he could move.

To my surprise, he only grinned. "Are you really going to kill me?"

I swallowed thickly, pressing the knife harder. "I'm going to damn well try!"

He laughed. "You couldn't kill me, Jane. You wouldn't be able to."

I hated the fact that he was right. The fact that he knew my weaknesses - my faults. A new anger took over. He didn't know everything, however. I couldn't kill him, but I could damn well hurt him.

"I won't kill you, but I will do this!" I brought the knife up, and stabbed through his shoulder, making a sickening snarl/gurgle escape from him.

I rolled off of him, scrambling on my hands and knees to get to the door as he roughly pulled the knife out. I crawled over the duffels blocking my way, trying my damndest to reach the door.

A hand grabbed my ankle, and I cried out in fear, kicking feverishly at him. My foot came in contact with his face, and he growled, letting me go.

I scrambled to my feet, finally grabbing hold of the doornob, but a body collided with mine, sending me crashing into the weak door, causing it to fall through.

We tumbled to the ground, and I struggled violently for the upper hand, punching, scratching, and kicking. I was covered in his blood from his wound, as he pinned me down, his shoulder shaking from the efforts.

I reached out for a piece of glass that had fallen from one of the windows, grasping it tightly in my hand until it drew blood. I took it and stabbed it into his side, making another gurgled snarl escape.

He rolled away from me, and I scrambled to my feet, holding the glass out as a weapon as the two brutes approached with guns drawn.

I pointed my weapon frantically at both of them, as they pointed their guns at me. As Ike lay coughing, and they stood ready for attack, none of them noticed Kent stand. He carefully walked over to the two of them, and then with a grunt, he grabbed their heads, slamming them together.

"Geez, I've wanted to do that for forever!" He exclaimed as they dropped.

I dropped my weapon, letting out a laugh as I picked up their guns and handed one to Kent. He took my hand, and we ran from the building.

We ran until we were out of breath, both of us panting as we rested in the shade under a large tree.

"Kent," I swallowed thickly, gasping for air, "I need you to go into that building and ask for a phone."

"Huh?"

"So you can call the police. It's a gas station. Tell him it's an emergency and ask to use the phone." I said.

"Don't you want to come with me?" He questioned, his eyebrows furrowing.

"I'm covered in blood. I'll wait out here for you." I lied.

He studied me for a fleeting moment, before nodding. "Alright."

Pushing himself up, he tiredly made his way to the gas station. I waited until he was out of sight, before pushing myself up as well. 

I made my way down the street quickly, figuring I'd only have about fifteen minutes. Picking a nondescript car, I pulled the handle, finding a stroke of luck, as it was unlocked. After all, who would steal this piece of crap?

If I hadn't been so sober by what I was going to do, I would have laughed at the irony.

I leaned down and began hotwiring the car. I sparked the wires a few times, and it roared to life beneath me, before settling into a light purr. She was in good shape.

Taking a deep breath, I settled myself into the front seat. I was going to hunt my Dad down, and I was going to get the answers I deserve.

I had questions.

Why was he in the gang in the first place? Who got him involved? And, more importantly, if he had any last words before I killed his ass for hurting Kent.

Of course I wasn't really going to kill him, I was just going to do much worse to him than he did to Kent.

Revving the engine, I sped off, heading God-knows-where to find the man I knew was out there.

***

Two weeks later.

Lifting my head from my desk, I stared up at my deputy in groggy confusion. "Yeah, Glen?"

"Vic, we're locking up the station." He informed.

I sighed heavily and rubbed my neck, glancing at the clock to see it was nearing twelve. "Leave it. I'll lock up when I leave." I replied.

"You sure, Boss?" Glen asked.

I nodded, waving him off.

"Alright then. See you tomorrow."

"Yeah, see you then, Glen." I gave his hand one firm shake, before he left.

It had been two weeks since the day she dissapeared, and I was beginning to think I was never going to find her. She knocked herself off the grid, with no cellphone, no phonecalls to any close family, not even a letter.

I couldn't help but wonder why. Was it because of me? Because of Ike?

Frustration filled me, not only because I couldn't find her, but because Ike was gone again. I'd been told she stabbed him twice, but the bastard wasn't dead when they left. He was still out there, waiting for his chance to take the only girl I'd ever loved.

Sighing heavily, and realizing there wasn't much I could do here, I closed my laptop, standing up.

I flipped off lights as I went through the building, nodding to the policeman behind the desk. He nodded back, standing to lock up after me.

I headed outside, walking down the street to where my car was parked across from a bus stop. I noticed that a girl, by the looks of her small figure, sat on the bench, as if waiting for the bus. I couldn't see her clearly from the darkness, with only the dim streetlamp above her, but I could tell she had long, dark hair pulled over one shoulder, and she held something in her hands. I had the urge to go over there, and I wondered why. Maybe it was because it was late, and dangerous at night.

I was destracted, however, as the bus pulled up. The woman got up, and leaned down to set the thing she was holding deliberately on the bench.

She stood up straight, and surprising me, turned to look straight at me. From across the street, I saw her face with full clarity in the glare of the bus' headlights. She raised her hand, and gave me a fluttering finger wave, which confirmed my suspitions.

"Jane." I whispered, rooted in place with shock.

I watched, unable to move as she turned, and dissapeared behind the bus. And then, just as the doors were closing, and I could see her in the window,  I burst into a run.

"Jane!" I yelled, desperately needing to see her, to hug her, to kiss her.

But I was too late. The bus pulled away from the curb, taking my beloved Jane with it. I saw her turn to look at me from the back of the bus, as I got close enough to see her. She gave me a playful smile, one that I'd missed seeing over the last two weeks, and made a phone with her hand, pressing it to her ear.

'Call me'?

She was really telling me to call her? 

I growled in frustration as I slowed to a stop, my desperation to see her growing as the bus dissapeared out of sight.

Dropping to my knees in the middle of the deserted road, I let out a frustrated shout, not caring who heard me. 

I stared after her, my lips pressed into a thin line. "God dammit, Jane. God dammit!" I bit out.

Suddenly, I remembered the thin object she had set on the bench, and jumped up, jogging over and picking it up. It was a thick, orange envelope. Tearing it open, I was surprised to find a letter, along with a cellphone.

It read; 

Wanna play a game, Victor? I heard you've been looking for me. I got a little bored and decided to entertain myself. Think of this as sort of a scavenger hunt. Also, I need your help, but I don't want to ask for it that easily.

Find each one of my clues, and put them together. Each clue is a piece to a puzzle. The phone you're holding is programmed with the location of the first clue.

PS: I love you. Don't be angry with me for leaving, I have my reasons which I'll explain to you when you find me.

PSS: Blue gingerbread man says hi.

For the first time in weeks, I laughed. Long and hard. Of course Jane would do this.

This is who she is. 

And I loved it.

***

End Of Jail Bird.

Imprint

Text: This Story belongs to Emily Zimmerman. Anyone to use this story or to claim this story as their own in any way will be reported and dealt with.
Editing/Proofreading: Myself.
Publication Date: 03-11-2015

All Rights Reserved

Dedication:
To my readers for supporting me so much. Couldn't do this without you guys. (well...I could...but I probably wouldn't be NEARLY as motivated. cX) Z

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