Cyril: Her voice...
“Dad? Adria?” Jade calls into the phone again and shakes her head at us, and she can’t hear anyone. Seeing her dad’s name on her phone made us all jump. We reached Chadwick’s house without being followed and used the only phone available at the house we were hiding in. Chadwick had said that this game is bigger than any of us could imagine, and I know he was right recalling Verona's threat.
“Hello, Adria, is that you?” She asks into the phone again.
“What's wrong? Are you ok?” She squeaks with worry lines forming on her forehead, and I resist the urge to take the phone away from her and talk to Jia myself.
One year, after one year, I got this near to be in contact with her.
“I’m fine. We're fine. For now anyway.”
“Yeah, he is ok. He...He's asking if it's ok for him to talk to you?” Jade says while looking at me. I shake my head to tell her that I don’t want to talk, but she holds the phone out for me.
I knew it would come this, and backing now will only create more problems. I can’t get everyone killed just because I’m not ready to talk to her yet.
“Hello, Cyril!?” Hearing her voice after one long year stops my heart for a moment, and I forget to breathe. Jade waves her hands in front of my eyes and tells me to focus for Jia doesn’t have much time. I want to ask why, but I don't.
“Yeah. HI!” I say, clearing my throat. I squeeze my eyes close, holding back what I truly felt like doing.
“I’m here, and I’m fine.” She assures me, “How are you?”
“I'll get straight to the point. What's the relation between Eric Amery and Victoria Amery? Not that I know, but I want to know about Verona.” I manage to ask through gritted teeth without shouting about the reason Jade had asked her to call.
“Jia?” When she doesn’t say anything for a few minutes, I say her name softly this time. If she had been at fault, so was I because I had been weaker and couldn’t stop her.
“Yeah, Eric’s here. You can ask him.” She retorts in an equally formal tone, and I cringe inside.
So Jade had been right. She was with Eric.
“Hello?” I hear a guy’s voice.
“You... wanted to talk to me?” He asks.
“Yeah. Actually, it's about your sister. Verona Amery?”
“Veron?” He asks sharply.
“What has she done now?” I notice all the world’s annoyance in his tone directed towards his sister. I can’t blame him for it.
“She's after Jia. Or I think that she is. She asked me to stay away from Dawson, and I hope you know who Dawson is, or you can ask Jia. Verona threatened to get rid of Jia if I don't do what she wants. On top of it, she knows Jia's real name. I would have no idea how she does unless you told her?” I imply what I suspect. But he ignores it and whispers, “My grandmother.”
“My grandmother. She's after Adria too.”
“I don’t get it.” I look at Jade, who raises her eyebrows at me. She had told me everything she knew. It didn’t make sense, but I couldn’t argue either. In her letter, Jia had mentioned golden trees, which meant Jade wasn’t lying.
“Why would they be after her?” I ask.
“I have no idea. Look, if you want to go after my sister, do it by all means, for I want that bitch behind bars for what she did to me.”
I stare into the phone and put it back to my ear, “What do you mean!?” Surely he can’t say something like that for his sister?
“It means I will help you however I can. Talking to you isn’t easy here, but listen, if you want to go after my sister, then go after things she holds dear. She has a locker in the southeast subway station; she keeps most of her important stuff there. All the documents as well and her personal diary too, I think.”
“Wait, why there?”
“Because it's unusual for a rich girl to have a locker there, and no one will think about going there. She thinks it's the safest place on earth for her stuff, and she doesn’t know that I know so, even if she guesses us about making contact, she won’t dream of you going there.”
“Do you think we will manage to get enough information through them?”
“Yep. Also, you might be able to get the documents about the company frauds done in my name. You can submit those into the court or someone trustworthy, I’ll pay you back in some way, but right now, you're the only one who can help me. Help Adria.”
“Oh! And what's the number and password for the locker?” I ask him quietly and motion Zoe to get me the paper and pen. After Eric tells me the number, we stay quiet for a few seconds, unsure what to talk about,
“Adria's asking for the phone. Good luck, dude.” He says before he hands over the phone back to Jia.
“Cyril...” She hesitates.
“We don’t have time for this!”
“No, really, I’m sorry. I got you involved and...”
“No, you didn’t. Dawson got to my mother before you left, so I’m doing this for her.” I tell her flatly and grip the paper in my hand tightly.
“He... what?” She takes a sharp intake of breath, “No, no, this can’t be happening.” She whispers.
“I don’t blame you for it. Just....just let me handle stuff here, and you get yourself out of the mess there.” I say softly. Getting angry won’t help either of us and for sure, after we are done talking, I will regret being harsh with her.
“Yeah, ok. I'll try my best to talk to you again. I don’t promise anything, but I will try.”
“Sure thing. Just be careful.” I say, worried about her like all those years.
“You too. And take care of Jade and...” She hesitates, “Bye!”
With that, she cuts the call, and I keep standing there staring at the phone.
“So?” Zoe asks. She and Adam had been reading my reactions all this time.
“We go after Verona!” I say as I look at the crumpled paper in my hand containing Verona’s safe number with possible codes.
“If we aren’t able to open the locker, I'm breaking it into bits, and I don’t care about the police,” I say and hand over the phone to Jade, a little forcefully.
“Sorry.” I apologize.
“Don’t!” She whispers without looking up at me.
“Eric has no idea what Verona is up to. Apparently, she framed him for company frauds which he claims he didn’t do, and I think that is the reason he is hiding in Baskerville towns.”
Zoe punches the cushion in her lap, cursing. Adam looks at us with tired and red eyes. He's a heavy sleeper, and we had to drag him out of bed. It's almost 2 am, and we're all tired but afraid to sleep.
The house turned out to be a one-room apartment, but it feels like heaven if we are safe here. Adam puts his head in Zoe’s lap, making her freeze, and puts his arm over his eyes, “Cyril, I trust you with the decisions you make, but I can’t stay up another minute.”
Zoe looks up at me, blushing and embarrassed, but I give her thumbs up and usher Jade out of the living room and into the bedroom.
“What?” She asks me, confused.
“You,” I point towards the cupboard, “are going to help me get bedspreads for the living room floor where I'll sleep with Adam. You and Zoe can take the bedroom.”
“No, no, no,” She waves her hands, “You guys sleep here. We can take the living room.”
I raise my eyebrow, “Are you kidding me? Adam's already knocked out on the couch.”
“Correction: On Zoe!”
I smile at her.
“He's had a crush on her for years,” I tell her as I throw open the cupboard doors.
“I can tell. So what can we do?” Jade peeks over my shoulder into the dusty cupboard. Thankfully I spot folded mattresses in the upper portion.
“Help me get down those!” I stretch and pull out a mattress that falls on her head, muffling her scream.
“Oops, sorry, sorry!” I try not to laugh out loud and remove the mattress from over her.
“Honestly, Cyril, what were you thinki....” She sneezes because of all the dust on her while I stand there smirking at her.
“Sorry?” I offer.
“You aren’t sorry!” She kicks me in the shin and snatches the mattress from me.
I watch her go, too surprised to acknowledge the pain where she'd kicked me. It's as if her kick has triggered something in me. I slump against the cupboard, resting my head against it as every emotion I'd been pushing away comes crashing down. I struggle to breathe, to get a grip on my thoughts. And then, I think about everything we've been doing and the direction in which things are headed.
I look around the room and stand up. I have to get us away from this mess. Adam has a shop to look after, and Zoe has her siblings, so this can’t go for long. Chadwick said that they'd be safe, but at the moment, nothing feels safe.
Jade knocks on the door before entering. She looks serious now. “It's Chadwick, on the phone!” She says, and I follow her out of the room.