"I'll leave you two alone," Garrett said standing up.
As soon as he was gone I threw myself into Jason's arms. He kissed the top of my head. "Ciara, you're ok."
"I'm ok? You're the one who was supposedly dead!"
He let go of me and we sat down. "Tom sent me away, he knew I was turning on the militia."
"He wanted me to escape with him and Julia, he must have known you ran here."
"I thought that if I could get here someone could help me rescue you. I didn't know what they told you. I thought they might have turned you against me, told you I'd wanted to leave you."
"Maybe that would have worked better for them. I probably would have believed them, I thought you were dead."
"I guess that's what my dad wanted Monroe to think to. If he said I ran away, he and Julia would be accused as traitors."
"Bass didn't know you were alive." For some reason the thought made me feel better. He had told me he'd never lie to me and he seemed to have kept his promise.
"But my parents ran anyways."
I nodded. "I helped them."
"You look beautiful," Bass said when I met him that night for dinner.
"Oh, thanks," I said. I twirled my hair uncomfortably, unsure what to do with myself.
"Come in, there's food." I nodded and he held the door open for me. The scene was very similar to my first afternoon with Julia. "I didn't know what you'd like."
"You could have asked. You're as bad as Julia." I knew there must have been a look of panic on my face as I realized I'd brought up the very person I was trying to distract him from. Hopefully he would pass it off as me only feeling weird about bringing up the family of my former fiancé.
"I do have lemonade though." He smiled and grabbed the bottle. The idea of fresh lemonade did sound good.
"I haven't had any since that first week," I remembered. "I, um, poured the bottle you sent me out."
He laughed and when I didn't say anything he realized I was serious. "Why?"
"I didn't really appreciate the gift at the time. I wouldn't say I was exactly thrilled to be here."
"And what about now?" He asked.
"How do I feel about being here now? I guess I've gotten used to it." I shrugged.
"I'm sorry about-"
I cut him off. "Jason's gone. I don't want to talk about it." I didn't want to think about how quickly I'd moved on with my life. I wasn't sure if I was numb or just a terrible person. I was honestly just happy to be kept alive.
He leaned against the couch. "Do you want something to eat?"
"I'm not that hungry, I just wanted to talk to you."
"Well, you are."
I nodded and took a step towards him. "Honestly, I just want to..." I acted before I could think about it. I put my hands around his neck and pressed my lips to his. It took him a moment to respond, I'd definitely caught him off guard.
"Shut up and kiss me."
"I thought you were dead," I said quietly. He raised my face to his and kissed me lightly. I felt guilty, even though technically I hadn't done anything wrong.
"You aren't getting rid of me that easily," he said.
"I think I have to go back up there," I told him. "There has to be something I can do to stop this."
"I can't stop you can I?"
"I have to. They both listen to me."
"Promise me you won't go alone, I can't go back but Garrett can."
I nodded. "Yeah, I'll take him with me."
The next morning I woke up early, like I usually did, and went for a walk. Everyone around me walked purposefully to early strategy meetings or to get breakfast, no one stopped to notice me. I was invisible. I'd heard what some people had been saying about me behind my back, that I was a traitor or a coward or both. I couldn't blame them; from the outside it probably did look like that.
I turned down one of the alleys and heard voices at the other end. I recognized them, Jason and Tom, heated but quiet voices trying not to wake those who might still be sleeping. When I was within earshot, Tom glanced at me. He nodded once before turning and walking away. "What was that about?" I asked Jason.
"He's disappointed in me, what's new?"
"They were worried about you," I told him. "Both your parents."
"You sure it wasn't just Julia?" He asked.
"They were both upset. It was more obvious with Julia, she cried a lot. But Tom cared too; he doesn't want anything bad to happen to you. You're his son."
"I'm sure he wishes he could trade me in for you," he joked.
I laughed. "I'm a handful."
"That's true enough." He put his arm around my waist and hugged me to his side.
"You'll work things out with your dad," I assured him. "Look at me and mine, we worked out our differences, didn't we?"
Back in my tent there was a clicking noise from my bag. I had wrapped it in blankets and stuffed it in the corner and it took me a moment to dig it out. The radio was foreign to me but Monroe had showed me how to work it before I'd left. I didn't have a pendant or amplifier so I knew I wasn't the one causing the old thing to turn on. I turned the dial to tune it to the correct channel.
"Bass?" I said quietly. The soldiers outside should be busy but I couldn't risk them over hearing me.
"Ciara, can you hear me?"
I nodded. Then realized he obviously could see me. "Yeah. What's going on?"
"I wish you had gone back to Savannah," he mumbled. I wasn't sure he'd meant to say it into the mic.
"Well, I didn't."
"There are bombers closing in on your camp, if you're getting a signal they must be close. You need to get out while you still can."
"Yeah, ok," I said. My wheels were already turning, spinning an evacuation plan for as many people as I could. I stuffed the radio in my backpack and ran out of the tent. I almost ran Charlie over in my haste to reach Miles.
"Ciara, are you ok?" She asked.
"There are bombers coming, we need to get everyone out."
"How much time do we have?" She asked.
"We can get to the watch tower and put up the warning flag." We both took off running towards the tower. I didn't say it but I think we both knew we wouldn't make it in time. The bomb hit before we even made it up the first flight of stairs.
"Ciara!" A voice called. "Ciara, wake up!"
I tried to speak but the ringing in my ears drowned my voice out, if I had even spoken at all.
"Ciara, if you don't wake up we're both going to die."
That got my attention and I struggled to pry my eyes open. "Charlie?"
She sighed. "I thought you were dead already."
"The bomb hit, not close enough to kill us but close enough for the tower to be damaged. The east wall fell in and you hit your head on the rail and passed out."
"So much for warning the others." I mumbled. I tried to move but there wasn't much place to move too. The rail, which I'd hit, had kept the walls from crushing us but we'd been trapped in a small space. There was just enough light for me to see Charlie a few feet away and my backpack wedged under part of the wall.
"I yelled for help, if there's anyone around they aren't coming or they're already dead." Her eyes landed on my backpack. "Anything in there that will help?" I shrugged. She twisted her shoulders to reach for it. "Its stuck but I think I can get it open." She untied the top and my water rolled out. She knocked it over to me. "Drink it, you need it more than I do."
"Thanks," I mumbled.
"What's this?" She asked pulling on the radio. I reached for it but she pulled it free before I could get to her. "Is this a radio?"
"Why do you have it?"
"I found it," I lied.
There was enough light that I could see her roll her eyes. "He gave it to you, didn't he. Do you have an amplifier too?"
"No, but those guys out there with the bombs? They do."
"That's how you knew they were coming. You were running when you found me, weren't you. God, you're as bad as everyone says. You don't care about anyone but yourself, not that I'm surprised. You've been treated like a princess your whole life, why should anyone else matter to you?"
"You don't know anything about me," I told her calmly. "And for your information, I was looking for Miles. Unlike you, your uncle actually knows what he's doing."
She messed with the radio until the light flickered on. She started hitting buttons, calling different channels. "Hello? Is anyone out there? We need help."
"It's not working," I told her. "There isn't anyone listening to you."
"There's someone on the other end of this thing!" She snapped.
"There was a brick on top of it, Charlie. It's probably broken."
"It has to work otherwise we're both going to die!"
She kept calling over the radio or yelling to anyone outside. I tolerated it until I thought I was going to scream. "Shut up!" I yelled finally. "Just let me die in peace." After a few more weak tries Charlie finally stopped.
I tried to roll over and when I did my foot connected with a brick behind me. It slid away exposing my ankle to the outside air. I shuffled a little more and another one pushed. "Charlie, come here."
"I thought you wanted to die in peace," she said.
"The bricks are loose over here, if you can help me I might be able to push this big block out of the way and get out."
"Or you could upset the whole pile and we'll be crushed."
"Would you rather slowly starve to death?" I asked. She shook her head and slid into the space beside me. "There's a brick right there, can you feel it?" I asked pushing her leg to the right. She nodded. "If you can push that one out I should be able to get enough leverage to kick the bigger one off and then we can slide out the back."
"Ok, yeah, I think it's loose enough."
"On the count of three, ok?" I got ready pushing my legs as far out of the hole as I could against the diagonal slab. "One, two, three!"
There was a scraping noise and then I could feel the air on my legs. "Did it work?"
"Yeah, hold on." I slid out and then pushed another block out of her way so she could do the same.
"Thanks," she said. "You could have just left me there, I wouldn't have blamed you."
"You don't know me as well as you think you do."
I looked between Jason and Garrett waiting for one of them to laugh and tell me they were kidding. "Are you crazy?" I asked finally.
"It isn't safe for you here anymore," Garrett said.
"There are boats leaving from Savannah every day," Jason reminded me. "Georgia is allies with England, you'll be safe there until this blows over."
"I'm not running away!"
"Ciara, you were almost killed today."
"Really? I wouldn't know. It isn't like I had to fight my way out of a collapsed building or anything."
"I understand why you're upset-" Garrett started.
"I am not upset. I am offended that either of you think that I would actually consider leaving my people when they need me the most," I told them. "I've heard the talk. A traitor? I might be, under some definitions. But a coward? That's something I'll never be."
"You're going to get yourself killed," he said.
"It isn't safe for me here, I know that. But you haven't mentioned the other option."
"You want to go back to Philadelphia," Jason realized.
"No, absolutely not," Garrett interjected. "You've escaped that maniac more than enough times. You don't have nine lives Ciara, how many more times do you think he's going to give you the benefit of the doubt?"
"You don't know him!" I snapped.
"Neither do you."
"Both of you stop," Jason said. "Ciara is right. Its safer for her up north."
I crossed my arms. "See?"
"But, you're not going alone," Jason said. "Since I can't go back, you'll have to take Garrett, we talked about that."
I sighed. "Fine, if he'll go with me, I'll take him."
Garrett nodded. "If that's the only option, then I guess it'll have to do."