Unexpected Ties

Meeting Daniel

Who could it be? Lucas wondered for what felt like the millionth time. The mysterious person Daniel was going to introduce him to tonight remained unknown to him. A new girlfriend, perhaps? Maybe. He had to warn her, if it was so. His father might seem like a nice guy, but Lucas had seen his true colors more times than he could count.

But in his room, getting ready to go out to dinner with him- as much as he despised going anywhere with his father, if he didn't go tonight, who knew what Daniel might do to him?- he couldn't push away the nagging feeling that it wasn't a new girlfriend at all- just a certain older half-sister who had been avoiding him the past two weeks.

He didn't even blame her for being mad at him, even if he hadn't done anything wrong by choice. Without meaning to, he'd stolen her father away from her- although Daniel wasn't really the kind of father she needed in her life. Putting himself in her shoes, Lucas could imagine how she felt about all of this. And he couldn't help but blame himself.

Lucas sat down on the edge of his bed and sighed, praying that Maya wouldn't be the mysterious person. But he knew her, and given the chance, she would go after her father in a heartbeat.

He had made some bad choices, back in Texas, there was no denying that. Part of him thought he deserved the beatings his father gave him. But Maya, she deserved a father better than Daniel- he didn't want her to get hurt, and with someone like him, hurt was inevitable. As much as he wanted to believe everything was going to be alright, he knew it wasn't.

Something bad was about to happen. That was the only thing he was sure of. He just had to make sure he didn't get hurt.

"D-Dad?" She stammered. "Is that you?"

He turned around, and Maya suddenly felt even more nauseous than she had been before, the ground lurching beneath her feet, her heart punching at her chest. Seeing him for the first time since she was four, before she met Lucas, the resemblance was noticeable. They had some of the same features- angular jawline, deep-set eyes, dark dirty blonde-brown hair- but the similarities stopped there.

His eyes were the creepiest thing.

For Maya found herself staring into steely blue eyes that mirrored her own.

"... Maya..." his deep voice was familiar, and Maya had to fight herself, prevent herself from becoming four-years-old again. "...my baby girl... you've grown so much..."

Baby girl? The words stung as if he'd hit her, making her stomach lurch. If I'm your baby girl, why would you have left me for so long? Daniel reached out to hug her, but before she could shrug away, she was already pulled into the tight embrace, squeezing the breath out of her.

"... Dad... I can't... breathe..." she wheezed, and Daniel instantly jerked away. Maya's stomach lurched. He seems nice... really nice... she met Riley' eyes and frowned. We can't fall for it.

"I can't believe it's you," he grinned, then finally seemed to notice Riley, his eyes slightly widening. "Who's this?"

You know who that is, Maya bit back the sharp reply. "This is Riley," she told him. "My best friend. Mom did tell you I was bringing her, right?"

The color had drained from Daniel's face. "Well, yeah," he said gruffly. "I just didn't think your best friend would be..."

"My half-brother's girlfriend?" she raised an eyebrow, placing her hands on her hips.

Daniel stared at her incredulously. "H-how did you know about Lucas?!" he cried.

How am I supposed to explain this? She couldn't tell him that Lucas told her- who knew what he'd do to him the next time he got his hands on him? It made Maya's stomach lurch just thinking about it. She was supposed to be the best on-the-spot liar ever, but now she didn't know what to say.

"I-I told her," Riley said softly. Daniel smiled sort of creepily, and placed his arm around her.

"Well, at any rate, Riley, it's good to see you again!"

Riley stared at Maya with a 'help me' look on her face. Maya bit her lip, sighing and shrugging. They were in the middle of a busy subway station. Daniel wouldn't be stupid enough to hurt them here, would he?

The restaurant was busy- bustling people, eating and laughing and having a good time. Watching them from a small booth in the corner, Lucas was jealous.

His father and sister (he was sure she was the one) weren't there yet, and he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He was sitting alone at the booth Daniel had reserved, sipping at his water and hoping things would go well tonight, when an angelic voice he hadn't expected to hear that night reached his ears.

"Lucas!?" he looked up and into the chocolate brown eyes of Riley Matthews, her eyes wide and filled with fear. She was panting heavily, as if she'd sprinted the entire way there.

"Riley?" he cried, his eyes widening. "W-what are you doing here? My father's coming here, and who knows what he'll do if he thinks I invited you here?!"

Riley shook her head, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder as she slid into the booth next to him. "Maya's the one who invited me, he... he already knows. He knows that Maya knows you're brother and sister, he knows that I'm here. They're right outside, they'll be here in a second or two."

What?! NO! Lucas had had the suspicion that Maya was coming, and now Riley, his Riley, was in danger too. His heart pounded, and he wanted nothing more than to run away with both girls, keep them as far away from Daniel as he could until he decided to go back to Texas. But he couldn't change this. Maya had gotten herself into this.

He would just have to get her out of it.

"Riley... you know how Daniel is," he said in a hushed whisper in case his father were to get there. "Why... how could you let Maya do this?"

Riley stared at her feet. "I know... she just... I'm stupid... I hated seeing Maya hurting so much over her father, so I didn't think, and now I'm risking getting her hurt even more..."

Lucas opened his mouth to protest- how could she believe this was her fault? Maya was just about as stubborn as her father; she would have gone after him no matter what Riley had said. But a voice interrupted him.

"Yo Ranger Rick, guess who?" Maya slid into the booth across from him, grinning. Wait- Lucas paused- grinning? But why?! It didn't make sense; he thought she would hate him for taking her father from her. That's why she'd been avoiding him, right?

But as Lucas scanned her over, it didn't seem so, at least not anymore. Despite the smile on her face, his older sister was definitely not okay. Dark circles surrounded her eyes, and her skin was pale. Her clothes seemed a few sizes too big for her.

He tried to open his mouth to greet her, maybe ask how she was doing. But a new voice entered the picture- a voice that sent chills of fear through his spine and anger through his mind.

"Lucas, my boy!" Daniel called, taking a seat next to Maya, whose eyes nearly popped out of her head. Lucas felt a surge of pity for his sister- being stuck next to Daniel wasn't anyone at this table's cup of tea. "I see you two have... already met?"

Maya nodded, and Lucas could see her throat tightening. she was scared, and she had every right to be. "Yeah," she said, obviously trying to sound like she wasn't half-scared-to-death. "I guess you could say that."

To Be Continued...

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