Ransom

Making an Entrance

Hex and Alex glanced nervously at the extravagant gate in front of them as it opened, admitting their taxi onto the grounds of the Middleton mansion.

Instinctively Hex reached for the palmtop that he held concealed in a pouch under his suit jacket. His fingers skipped across the small keys as he tried to focus on writing an email to a friend of his in Spain. It was an impulse he had fostered out of anxiety, seeking shelter from the real world by disappearing into cyberspace.

This time however, it was not working as he kept striking the wrong keys in his frantic need to distract himself.

Alex opted to look out the window, stepping back from the world in that way only he seemed to be able to achieve. The two teens excelled in the ability to withdraw into themselves and seek comfort in the peace that solitude provided. Never the less, it had not been an awkward ride to the mansion.

They both got on really well but were just two people content to hang out without feeling the need to constantly engage in conversation.

In some ways, Alex reflected with a smile, it was the sign of a close friend that you don't feel the need to always be talking.

The smile disappeared as the cab stopped in front of a mighty pair of open oak doors that led through to a massive atrium. Sharing a doubtful stare, the two friends paid the driver and made their way from the cab up the majestic marble steps.


Paulo turned mid champagne-snort to freeze in place at the familiar girl in front of him. At about the same height as him stood a golden haired teenage girl in a simple yet flattering opal dress. His eyes seemed to brush over the pretty tanned face as his gaze was drawn further down her body and across her ample curves, which were tastefully accentuated by the dress.

"Hey Camilla!" Paulo welcomed with a thousand watt grin, as he pulled the girl into a quick hug using this time to help him reset his eyes to an appropriate height for when they separated. Camilla gently pushed the boy back after a brief hug, to look him up and down before greeting him back. A smile brightened her face.

"Hi Paulo, it's great to see you again. How's the hand?"

Paulo presented his hand for her to see, as he flexed the fingers and balled them into a fist.

"Muy bien, Chica. How is your knee?"

It was lie of course, the two metacarpal he had broken were completely healed now but they still ached a little bit when it was cold. A feeling like broken glass in his knuckles occurred whenever he flexed those fingers too much.

Camilla grinned at the extravagant Argentinean and cocked her hips back slightly to reveal a smooth bronze leg that was topped with a healthy looking kneecap.

"One hundred percent." She announced happily, "The physiotherapy was a bit of a bitch, but I can run on it again now, so I've been getting back into shape."

Paulo was prevented from making a flirty comment on her already acceptable shape by the commotion of Amber entering the Ballroom.

It was very much like the arrival of a movie star, as all eyes turned to watch the girl enter and guests started flooding over in droves to exchange greetings with their gracious host. The crowd quickly enveloped Amber, as she exchanged kisses on the cheeks and friendly hugs with her adoring crowd of guests.

Camilla rolled her eyes at the extravagant entrance, but was quickly torn from her spite by the sight of a vaguely familiar girl in a red dress trying to slip away from the gathering crowd.

"Hey Li, over here." Camilla yelled across the noisy room catching the Asian girls attention.

Li's face took on a look of horror, as she realized she had been spotted by someone who knew her. In defeat Li trudged over to where the girl in blue was standing and greeted her with as much enthusiasm as she could muster in her present state. Camilla was just complementing her friend on the dress when a croaky, disbelieving voice drowned hers out.

"Li is that you?" The Spanish accented voice inquired.

The girl in red pivoted on the spot to find her handsome South American friend standing in his snazzy white suit, with a look of shock on his face. Paulo struggled to find words, as he stared at his friend like he had never seen her before.

"Wow Li.." Was all Paulo managed to choke out.

"That's quite enough of that." Li scolded sternly, meeting his gaze burning with embarrassment. Damn that Amber, she cursed internally. Turning back to an amused Camilla she delivered a death stare before stalking off to the bathroom.

The huffy girl in red obliviously stormed right past the two British boys as they apprehensively made their way into the ballroom.


Hex's eyes scanned the room, his anxiety levels growing as he saw the expensive clothes and the girls dripping in jewelry. The sparse number of teenage boys their age all wore elegant suit jackets or tuxedos that made the pair feel decidedly shabby in comparison.

The room screamed money with the heavy red velvet curtains and thick marble pillars enclosed by walls covered with gold rimmed paintings and fancy ornaments.

The pounding in his chest increased and he felt beads of sweat roll down his back.

Hex's pounding heart suddenly jumped as he saw the girl he was looking for. She stood amid a group of young people, her pale dress heavily contrasted against her dark skin. A tall dark-haired teenage boy stood beside her, a cocky drunken grin plastered over his face as he slyly slid an arm around her waist. Amber snapped up to give the teen her most withering glance, but in his inebriated state, he took no notice.

His hand started to slide down and Hex felt reality shatter in his head.

His feet had somehow guided him in front of the guy, almost by autopilot and a cold fury took over his mind. Amber jumped away with an outraged look the instant the hand had moved and her anger turned to surprise as she saw the hacker standing behind her with clenched fists; a frightening fierceness emanating from him.

The perpetrator had barely a second to mutter something about his hand slipping, before Hex laid into him with a powerful cross.

Mr. Wandering-Hands recoiled back from the blow, blood flowing freely from his nose, his hands flying to his damaged face as he staggered out of range. The pissed off hacker was not finished though and despite Amber yelling his name, he charged head on into his stunned opponent. Hex's crash tackle carried the pair straight into a table of drinks, which promptly collapsed under their combined weight in a flourish of glass and liquid.

As the shock of the sudden attack and the debris of table cleared, Amber could see Hex throw his weight on top of his opponent and sit up to start striking him. The whole room was now watching the commotion with interest.

Hex only got in one decent punch before Alex and Paulo hooked their friend under his arms and dragged him struggling from his cowering opponent.

Hex fought Alex and Paulo's grip while the creep he had punched woozily tried to find his feet.

"Cool it Hombre." Paulo urged his friend, tensing his strong arms to maintain a grip.

"You got him Hex, it's over." Alex insisted, his wiry muscles straining as he restrained one side of the enraged teen.

Hex froze in place as a single familiar voice called his name in an icy tone.

"Hex!"

His gaze turned from his opponent, who was getting up with the help of the wall, he felt a wave of fear as Amber came into view instead.

Her face was darkened in a flush and her eyes danced menacingly, Hex had never seen her like this before and it honestly chilled him to his bones.

"Outside. Now." Amber whispered the order in a barely contained voice, before opening a side door that revealed a marble patio area surrounded by garden.


Hex sighed in resignation of his fate before looking at first Alex then Paulo in turn; they wore identical shocked expressions, but released him when he gave them a small nod.

His body free of restraint Hex walked straight out into the cold peace of the garden. To his surprise, Amber immediately followed behind him walking out the door and closing it behind her. Adrenaline still caused his breathing and heart to run rapid as he turned away to face into the garden, trying to compose himself and quell the sympathetic nervous response.

"Hex.." A low voice summoned, the London teen stoically remained where he was.

"Hex..?" Amber called again, softer this time with more of a plea in her voice.

Hex kept his silence as he stared straight ahead, still trying to calm himself and ignore the small voice calling his name.

Expecting his name to be called again, he was surprised when a soft hand came down on his shoulder instead and guided him to turn back towards the door.

Amber stood waiting for him, an unusual expression held on her face; it was a mix between her usual annoyance and something else.

"You can't just…" She started in a firm voice only to be startled into shock as he snapped back at her angrily.

"I can't just what Amber?" He met her hard stare with one of his own and jerked his shoulder from her grip. Hex's nostrils flared and his broad shoulders rose and fell with each rapid breath.

Amber felt something in her waver under his heated look and a small part of her was afraid seeing her friend so wound up. Amber looked at the angry young man in front of her, his suit was ripped the length of his shoulders and she saw the clenched white knuckles at his side speckled with blood. If it belonged to him or his opponent she didn't know.

She took a steadying breath and tried again,

"You can't just jump into things like that, I was going to handle it okay?"

"Goddamn it Amber, you expect me to just stand by when some guy grabs your.." He snarled before cutting himself off, too furious to form full sentences and instead glaring back at the building as if it were the culprit.

"I had things under control, you might have seriously hurt that guy." She insisted, struggling desperately against the mix of emotions that battled inside her.

"Good" Hex grunted back viciously, his anger starting to give way to a sullen emptiness as he once more began to shut himself off.

Amber noticed the flip in his personality as the teen began to introvert himself from her rebuke. It caused a different feeling inside her to win the battle and she closed the distance to take up one of his hands.

"It was extremely sweet of you to stick up for me like that though." Amber admitted her voice softening.

Hex was taken back by the change he felt in the girl and he finally felt the cold seep over him as the adrenaline finally left his system. His hand quickly began to throb with pain and he became aware of the glass that was gouged into his knees. He suddenly became aware of his surroundings, the well kept flowering vines and ornate rose bushes that bordered the outdoor area.

"Nice garden." He commented weakly, gazing around him, trying to break the awkward tension that had grown and let her know that he was calm now.

"New Gardener, he does a pretty good job." Amber explained offhandedly with a small grin, as she saw him start to unwind and she chanced a step closer.

Amber was finally able to pull him into her embrace. Her eyes closed as a feeling of completeness and safety washed over. His heart beat right up against hers and they stood together in silence for a full minute before Amber whispered in his ear.

"I've missed you. What took you so long to get here?"

The words echoed in Hex's head as the only the sweetest melody could and he took another breath of her tropical scent before answering.

"I'm here now aren't I?"

The pair leaned apart keeping their torsos pressed together as they took in each other's face. Slowly they began to slip closer and their mutual grips became tighter on each other.

A shrill beeping whine tore the still night air as Amber's cellphone rang. Reluctantly releasing a hand from the hacker Amber slipped a hand down the front of her top to retrieve the small phone. Seeing what she was doing Hex quickly averted his gaze with much regret, as another moment was stolen from them. Amber opened the pink phone to her ear and impatiently answered it.

"Hello?"

An indistinct mummer of words issued from the speaker in front of Hex as he watched the girls face shift in confusion.

"No he hasn't, I haven't heard from him."

A second round of conversation rung in Amber's ear causing the look of confusion to stretch further.

"Okay, Thanks Percy." She finished before snapping the flip-top closed.

"Problems?" Hex asked straight away.

"That was Uncle's driver, he was saying that my uncle hasn't turned up for his ride home from the office." Amber answered, biting her lip in agitation.

"He might have just had to work late or something." Hex suggested, trying to reassure the girl.

"Yeah maybe, it's just not like him to forget to call if he's going to be late. Tonight especially." Amber mumbled in disappointment as she slipped the phone back down her top and led Hex back to the door.

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