Something’s not right.
I don’t know what, or why, but the twisted and tangled knot in the pit of my stomach is telling me that something bad has happened to Tessa.
The last that I saw of her was her and Ian getting dragged away by the Coast Guard commander right after we landed. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
Where is she now?
Here I am, eating a gourmet meal in the White House with my parents (aka the President and First Lady of the United States of America), while Tessa could be sitting in a jail cell for all I know. This thought makes me sick with guilt.
“Tristan, are you okay?”
I quickly look up, broken out of my thoughts. My parents are both looking at me from across the table with concerned looks on their faces.
“Yeah, I’m just not that hungry,” I say, twirling my fork absent-mindedly.
My parents glance at each other for a moment, then turn back to me.
“Look, I know this is hard Tristan; coming back to a home and parents that you have no memory of. So we want you to know that we completely understand what you are going through,” my mother says softly, her crystalline blue eyes searching mine.
I force a smile onto my face, then lie,
“Thanks. And don’t worry, I’m fine.”
I don’t want my parents to worry about me. I can tell that they are trying extremely hard to make me feel at home, and I don’t want them to think that I’m not appreciative of all that they are doing.
My mother smiles, obviously relieved. Suddenly, a phone begins to ring, its loud, blaring ringtone breaking the silence. My father reaches into his pocket and pulls out his cellphone, flipping it open and putting it to his ear.
“Hello? Yes. Yes. Of course, Sarah and I will get ready and come at once.”
He hangs up, then says,
“Tristan, I’m sorry but your mother and I have to attend a press conference right now. Wish we could skip it, but this one is going on live television so we have to be there.”
“Okay, no problem,” I reply, forcing another smile onto my face.
My parents stand up.
“Ernie can show you to your bedroom,” my father says, pointing to someone behind me.
I turn around to see a man step out from the shadows. He is tall and lean, with dark, cropped hair and wearing a polished suit.
“Ernie, would you please take Tristan to his bedroom?” my father asks.
“Of course, sir.”
If there’s one thing I really don’t like so far, it’s how poised and formal everyone is in the White House.
I stand up abruptly and walk towards Ernie, leaving my untouched plate of chicken francese on the table. Right before we leave, my mother calls out,
“Goodnight Tristan, we’ll see you in the morning! And don’t forget, tomorrow we will take you on an official tour of Washington DC!”
Again, I plaster yet another smile on my face.
“Goodnight,” I reply.
I then follow Ernie out of the dining room. We walk down the lavishly decorated hallways, twisting and turning around corners. And as I walk, I cannot stop thinking about one person.
No matter how hard I try to, I cannot shake my thoughts of her away. Her beautiful, freckled face keeps resurfacing in my mind like a buoy that won’t sink. And the thought that I probably will never see her again makes me feel sick.
Why am I the one who is at home and safe now? She doesn’t deserve to be punished. Ian, yes. But Tessa, no. Ian killed an innocent person, but Tessa killed Hal, a wicked, vile man who deserved to die.
I am so absorbed in my swirling thoughts that I completely don’t notice where I am until now.
Blinking in confusion, I look around at my surroundings. I am standing outside in a long driveway on the side of the white house. A soft breeze blows through the air, ruffling the dead leaves on the ground. The full moon in the night sky illuminates a sleek, black Escalade that is parked a few feet away in the driveway.
But there is no sign of Ernie.
“Um, Ernie?” I ask, spinning around in a slow circle.
Okay, this is weird. Where did he go?
“Ernie?” I call out again.
Still no Ernie.
I walk towards the one of the White House entrance doors and pull on it, only to find that it is locked.
What the hell is going on right now?
Just then, I jump as I hear a car door open. I whip around to see someone getting out of the Escalade.
At first, it is too dark to see who it is. With my heart beginning to pump in my chest, I take a shaky step backwards.
“Wh...wh...who is it?” I stutter.
The person continues to quickly advance towards me, holding something in their hands.
“What’s going on?!” I shout, my voice quaking with fear.
I want to run, but it’s too late. The man reaches towards me, and before I can move a muscle, he presses a wet rag to my face.
The last thing that I hear are seven words that instantly turn my blood to ice.
“You thought you were safe, didn’t you?”
And then, there is only blackness.