THREE

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Chapter 18

•Josie's POV•

Who the heck is Susan?

Emilia looks as shocked as I am, as she stands there staring at her dad, whose gaze remains fixed on me, with mixed emotions in his eyes.

I stand rooted to the spot, trying to wrap my head around the whole name thing and probably get an explanation on why this man has on a look of love and...sadness maybe?

"Dad, why are..."

"Have we met before? You look quite familiar." Mr. Drake says, cutting off his daughter before stretching out his hand towards my cheek.

Maybe it was pure reflex, but I found myself taking a large step backwards--away from him.

I don't know why I did, but I guess my body suddenly had a mind of its own. Sensing my discomfort, he immediately retreated his hand back to himself.

"Um...no sir, haven't seen you before. I guess I just have a common face." I tell him, chuckling awkwardly.

"Yeah, probably. I'm sorry dear, I'm sure you're probably afraid of me now." Her dad says, as he wipes a tear off his face before displaying a nice smile.

"Maybe just a little." I say, making the three of us laugh a bit.

"So Josie, are you staying for dinner?" Mr. Drake asks, as he walks towards the kitchen.

"Oh no sir, thank you for the invite though."

"Alright then, well you girls have fun."

"I was just going to drop Josie off at her place Dad, I'll be back in like thirty minutes." Emilia tells her dad, before running up the stairs to grab her keys.

"Okay hun, just be back on time for dinner." He replies her.

"I'm just gonna go wait outside for Em, it was nice meeting you sir." I say to Emilia's dad, before walking towards the front door.

"You too Josie, say hi to your parents for me!" He replies loudly, causing me to flinch.

My hands remain on the door knob, and my body frozen on the spot.

I'm suddenly reminded that I have no parents, no one. No mom to cry to when I'm scared or to talk to when I need advice, and certainly no dad to call me his little girl.

Sometimes I try to forget, cause forgetting is the only way I can avoid the ache in my chest every single day of my life.

That I'll never get someone to walk me down the aisle and that I'll never have someone that tries to organize my wedding herself.

But who cares right?

What I've got is a psychopath foster parent who wants me dead by when, tomorrow?

What if I'm even shot the minute I step out of here?

I feel a touch on my shoulder, making me turn swiftly in fright.

"Josie? Are you okay?"

My mind calms down a bit on realizing it's just Emilia.

"Yeah, I'm fine." I tell her, ignoring my feelings and pushing them aside; as always, cause that's the only way I can get through my days.

"Are you sure?" Em asks.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Let's just go." I say quietly, before heading for her car parked outside.

I'm sure she didn't believe me though, cause I can even feel a worried look on my face. But I'm glad she didn't push any further.

"So, what are you doing for thanksgiving?" Emilia asks out of the blue, five minutes into the drive to my apartment.

"Oh, well my friend Hunter invited me over." I tell her, looking out the window.

"Hunter? You haven't told me about some friend named Hunter. Is he hot? Sounds like a bad boy name if you ask me." She says.

"Emilia, don't even go there. He and I were best friends when we were little, end of story. Don't start thinking otherwise."

I know she's only trying to make me feel better, even though she doesn't know why I'm down, and I appreciate it but I'm just not in for it right now.

"I didn't say anything, did I?" Em says and I simply turn back to the window, ignoring her.

"I can't take this anymore..." I hear Emilia say to herself.

Before I could say a word, she makes a swift U-turn without even signifying to the other drivers; earning a lot of angry horns and me shouting in her face as I hold onto my seatbelt for my dear life.

"What the hell Emilia?! Are you trying to kill me or something! Why the heck are you even turning?!!"

"Glad that got you to speak up." She says, keeping her eyes on the road.

"Emilia!" I shout.

"Do you have a dress for thanksgiving yet?" She asks.

"I could wear some random dress I have, that shouldn't cost me my life!"

"So that's a no I'm guessing? Great, neither do I, so we're going SHOPPING!!" She says, squealing in my ears.

"Really Emilia?"

I could murder this girl right here, right now. Risking our lives for what, shopping?

"What?! You were just sitting there like some statue and draining all the energy out of my car with your moodiness. And so I thought, the best way to bring a girl's soul back to life is by shopping!" She says, squealing at her last word again.

"But..."

"No buts Josie, we're going. I've been dragging you for weeks now. You're not escaping this time." Emilia says, looking at me with her side eye.

I'd promised her severally we'd go shopping though. And I don't really think I have something to wear to Hunter's place tomorrow, his parents are gonna be there after all so I should look nice at least.

"Fine, you win." I say to Em.

She scoffs before replying, "like you had a choice."

"You're a kidnapper, you know that right?" I tell her, with a real smile on my face.

"Hey, that's what girl friends are for." She says, making the both of us laugh.

I might not have parents but at least I have friends who are willing to kidnap me, just to make me feel better; and for that I'm grateful.

• • •

"Nope, I think I prefer the black one."

"We've been on this for nearly an hour Emilia! You said you preferred the blue and now it's the black?" I say to her, standing in a maroon off-shoulder dress.

"But I'm sure now, I just needed to see other dresses too before deciding you know? Go change to the black again and let's decide if it's the one. Last time I promise!" She says, staring at me with her puppy dog eyes.

"Fine." I say to her cute face before going back into the dressing room.

That girl keeps making me change from one dress to the other. I'm really tired now. Ugh, shopping with a girl can be really stressful!

Finally putting on the black dress again, I walk out to show Emilia.

"What do you think now?" I ask her, feeling pretty myself as I admire the dress in the mirror.

"It's...it's Skylar?" Emilia says, making me look up in confusion.

"What?"

"Skylar, she's over there with one of her minions. You know, I still can't believe she has like three of them already." Emilia says, looking at the shoes section.

"Just ignore her, I don't need her bitchy attitude right now please." I tell Em, turning back to the mirror to admire the dress.

"It might be a little too late for that cause I think she caught me looking as she's walking over here right now. Sorry.."

"Emilia!"

"I'm sorry okay. But hey, I see you've found the dress."

Sigh. Just breathe Josie, don't let her get into your head.

Last time I saw her she was crying to Dylan though. But no, I can't feel sympathy for that queen of mean right now.

I hear her heels and that of her minion, clinking against the floor as they approach us.

"Well Josie Alien—it is Alien, isn't it? What on earth are you doing in a mall? Or have you finally gained your senses and changed that terrible wardrobe of yours?" The bitch laughs at herself, but I don't join her. Well not until she snorts anyway.

Dressed in a dark mini-skirt, tight-fitting blouse, and tall spiky heels, she moves closer to me with her quiet flunkey standing beside her.

"If you're done with your snorty laugh, the name's Allen not Alien. Oh and why I'm here, is definitely none of your concern...stalker." I say to her dolled up face, earning some chuckles from her minion and Emilia.

"Shut up Luisa!" Skylar shouts at the girl beside her.

"And you, how dare you call me a stalker? Do you have any idea of what I'm capable of?" She says, moving even closer to my face.

"Well I'm sure having bad breath is totally one of them. But I'd be happy to hear more, please, enlighten me."

I hear a harrumph from her as she steps back. I'm practically feeling like the queen of mean right now.

Before I can stop myself, I look closely at her and say, "What's wrong? Cat's got your tongue?"

Her eyelids flutter and she gives a mean look to Emilia who's currently laughing.

"You know what? I don't have time for your silly talk. My Jakie is coming over for thanksgiving and a girl's got to look her best for her man. You know what I mean right?" She says with confidence, flipping her stupid blonde hair.

Jake is really spending his thanksgiving with her? He didn't even ask me. I mean I would have said I'm going to Hunter's, but still!

"Oh who am I kidding, you obviously don't know what it feels like to have a man. You're looking so confused already darling. I'll spare you the deets." She says, knocking the wind out of my lungs in one blow.

"You shut your mouth you fake blondie! Don't you dare talk that way to Josie!" Emilia blurts out, shocking the both of us.

"Skylar is a real blonde so you back off!" Luisa says to Em, trying to defend her queen bee.

"Oh be quiet Luisa, I didn't ask for your help!" Skylar says, shutting her up.

"But I was only trying to—"

"I said be quiet!" Skylar says, cutting her short again.

Me and Emilia just stand there, laughing at them; I still can't believe she defended me like that.

"You watch your back Josie, you're so going to regret this." Skylar says, before turning around dragging Luisa along with her.

But my best girl Emilia didn't let her have the last words at all, "Now that's no way to talk to someone who's actually had her lips on Alfresco's, is it?"

"Emilia!" I say out of surprise. Did she really just say that?

Skylar hesitates for a moment and I hear her scoff before storming away in anger, dragging her minion along. Poor Luisa.

Emilia turns towards me and we both burst out in laughter, attracting stares from some shoppers beside us. I don't even care because that shit just actually happened people!

"Emilia, did you really just do that?"

"What can I say? I've been saving it all for a rainy day." She says, making me laugh again.

I hold her hands before saying, "Thank you really Em. And about earlier, I just got reminded of the fact that I have no parents. I felt I had no one and that I was alone with all my struggles and pretty dramatic life you know?" We both chuckle a bit about my drama-filled life.

"But now, I realize I'm not alone anymore...you're my family Em, and I love you so much." I finish my heartfelt speech and Emilia pulls me into a tight hug.

"I love you too Josie, you're like the sister I never had."

"Aww, don't make me cry right now Emilia." She goes on and hugs me even tighter.

"Hey I think we're good now, let's not ruin the dress before it's even paid for." She squeezes me one last time before letting go.

"So, is this the one?" Emilia asks, as I turn towards the nearby mirror to admire the dress again.

"What do you think?"

She walks closer and stops right behind me, resting her head on my shoulder. Looking at me in the mirror she says, "I think you look beautiful Josie, this is definitely the dress."

I feel like a bride who just found the perfect wedding dress, but alas I have no groom; what I have right now is way better—family.

I turn around to face Em, smiling at her wholeheartedly, "Let's find your dress then."

"Oh I already have mine. Wanna see a picture on my phone?" She says, stepping aside to get her phone from her purse.

"Did you lie to make me come here Emilia?!" She literally said she didn't have a dress yet!

"Technically, I told you the truth you needed to hear. So, you wanna see the dress or not?" She replies with a shrug.

This little liar. She's so not getting away with this, but that's for later. Cause honestly, I really want to see her dress.

She waves the phone at me and I finally give in, walking over to see her obviously-flowery-dress.



"I just knew it'd have flowers. It's beautiful Em, it literally screams you."

"I know right, I totally look cute in it! I'll send you pictures tomorrow!"

"Sure."

She goes on and on about how flowers bring out cuteness till we finally reach her car parked outside, having paid for my pretty black dress. Despite all my pleading, she was still adamant on paying. It's nice to have people who truly care about you but I would really like it if she could shut up for a minute.

"Especially roses you know, they're like my—"

"Emilia, I'm not getting into this car with you if I'm gonna have to listen to more theories about flowers for the next 30 minutes." I say, cutting off her never-ending flower lecture.

"Fine. But you'll thank me later for my theories you know." She says before getting into the driver's seat.

"Yeah, sure I will." I say sarcastically, before getting into the car as well.

• • •

I admire the pretty blue flowers by the side walk as I continue walking towards my apartment.

Emilia's place is totally off mine and her Dad called already, asking why her thirty minutes had turned into hours.

I'm glad he called though, it helped in convincing her to drop me within a safe distance from my place. Cause I'm really not sure I want her anywhere near my apartment, for now at least.

Holding the shopping bag tightly, my pace becomes slower as I get closer to the place I call home.

"Josie, are you really gonna do this?" I ask myself for the hundredth time.

I already know my answer though, just need a little bit of convincing.

Grabbing my phone from my pocket, I decide to send a text message to Owen that I'm staying at my apartment and he's gotta take care of my little Star for the night.

Less than a second after hitting send, my phone starts ringing.

"So you're staying at your house tonight then? That's quite brave you know?" Owen says, immediately I answered the call.

"More like stupid you mean. I'm only staying here cause it'll be rude of me to stay at your place then go to someone else's for thanksgiving. Your parents are too nice for me to do that without feeling guilty."

I know I'm not being totally honest, but he doesn't really have to know if he's not gonna support my decision anyway.

I'm just tired of running and hiding from my past. I really just wanna face this once and for all.

Staying over at Owen's could put their whole family in danger. Like what if the psychopath knows I'm there and then attacks the house? I would never forgive myself if that actually happened.

I've made up my mind to do this so if anything goes wrong, none of the people I love will get hurt—just me I guess.

"My mom won't really mind Josie, you can still come over you know?" Owen says.

"You're not gonna change my mind. I'm doing this." I tell him, trying to convince myself even more than him.

"Sigh, alrighty then. You there already?"

"Almost, Emilia dropped me off about ten blocks away. Her dad called asking where she was." I explain to him.

My heart starts beating a bit faster as I see my apartment only few blocks away.

"Why does my life have to be so complicated?" I say out loud.

"You okay Josie? You don't have to stay there alone if you don't want to." Owen says, as he's probably still concerned.

"It's fine, I'll be okay. Just trying to imagine what it'd be like if I had a normal life." No running away from the bad guy, just normal.

"Well no one would want to read that, normal is boring these days." He says, and I chuckle a bit.

"Then can't I be some damsel that gets married to a Prince and her whole life changes?" I ask, as I bring out the keys to my apartment from my back pocket.

"So you're telling me, if some random so-called prince or at least rich and prominent guy asked you to marry him, just a few days after meeting him, you'd actually say yes?" Owen asks jokingly, while I unlock my door on getting to my apartment.

At least no strange letter or flowers, thank goodness.

"Who knows? At this point, I might even consider it." I say, laughing a bit before reaching to open my front door.

"Pfft, you're anything but adventurous Josie." Owen says over the phone, yet I remain silent.

I should be arguing about how he's so wrong about me not being adventurous, but I'm left speechless by the sight in front of me, the moment I open my door—it's Hunter, down on one knee with what looks like a ring in his hand.

"Um Owen...I'm gonna have to call you back."

****

A/N:- Yes, an update at last! You've all been asking for it so we hope it was worth the wait.

Word Count—3026 words(minus the A/N) 😉

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