“Kiss me!” Adam shouts on the tape, I look up and everyone’s concentration is zeroed in on the conversation. I sit there, reliving the moments as they happen on the tape. Almost like it’s happening right now.
Finally, the audio file ends and Mason, Adrian, and Maddie all look at me with terrified expressions on their faces.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that Lukas Maddie gets up from her seat and hugs me tightly.
“It’s fine, he’s just a dick.”
“No, that guy isn’t a dick, he’s more than a dick, he’s... he’s Satan reincarnated,” Maddie’s clearly angry about what he did but it’s done now and we got the information we wanted.
“So the names,” I change the subject and look at Mason.
“Right, the names sound oddly familiar,” He types ‘Nicole Alvarez’ into the search on the database. Nothing pops up except one document. A document that has been encrypted to all hell, as Mason likes to say, “I’m gonna try and crack this, so stay tuned folks.”
I lay back on his bed and tuck my arms behind my head. The fresh memories of Adam pointing a gun at my face makes me shudder. I can still feel the cold metal against my hot forehead; it’s hard to forget. Maddie takes my hand in hers and I’m immediately distracted by her brown eyes.
I could kiss her right now. Should I kiss her? I’ll never see her as anything more than a friend. Like she’s able to read my mind, she brings her other hand up to my face, to caress it.
My eyes instinctively close and I can feel her breath hitch as she scoots closer. Just as her lips were about to touch mine, Mason claps his hands together to get our attention.
“Guys! I got in. I can’t believe I got in, I should be a hacker for the dark web,” Maddie and I sit up to see what he opened, “Alright the file is of a driver’s license. This was made two years ago when Nicole was at the age of 16 but of course, it had to be kept top secret and hidden from the public eye and obviously the FBI’s eyes,” He fully opens the document and her picture shows up, the girl who looks incredibly like Bo.
“There’s nothing here that would help us, other than the address but I don’t think it’d be real if she’s been kept under the radar.” He tries to pinpoint the location and when he does he just shrugs, “It’s an abandoned shack on the 41.”
“Do you think anything could be there?” Adrian asks, taking a picture of the map.
“We won’t know unless someone goes to check it out,” I stand up but Adrian stops me.
“You’ve done enough, let me do this.” I roll my eyes and lay back down on the bed. If he wants to drive down Route 41 to find a shack then I’ll let him do it. Adrian picks up the keys to his truck and leaves the room.
“So, since he’s gone and we have almost nothing to do, let me tell you about Bo’s Mom.” Mason begins typing away at his computer and doing whatever he did yesterday, “I found a whole lot about Bo’s Mom. Like I said I was going to do, I ran her photo through a face recognition software and got ten hits. Most weren’t her but then I saw three women who looked the exact same but with different names and addresses. The only consistent thing was the birthday, July 20, 1971.”
“That has to be her then, right?” I sit up to take a good look at her. She doesn’t even look that old, they were right when they say ‘black doesn’t crack.’ She couldn’t be any older than 28 back in 1999. So now, she’s 46.
“If I’m not wrong, then yeah, that’s her. One of these licenses is recent from 2016. If you want, we can go and check out this address?”
“That license says New York, Mason,” Madeline raises a sharp eyebrow at her twin, all the while looking at him like he’s crazy.
“We have two weeks left of break and a week to spend in New York!” I stifle a laugh at his ridiculous plan but I don’t object it, “When Adrian gets back we can head to the airport because the tickets are already purchased.” He says as he clicks the final button for four first class tickets to Albany, New York.
“You’re an idiot, you know that?” Madeline rubs her temples, “I can’t believe you’d only give me a few hours to pack for New York! I need longer than that!” She gets up and practically runs to her room.
“I have to go home and pack then,” I say, standing up and throwing a peace sign before leaving his room. I walk down the staircase and am greeted by Mrs. Parisi, smiling, happy as can be.
“How are you, Lukas? It’s been a long time!” Mrs. Parisi gives me a long, tight hug and when she pulls away, gives me a once over, “You’re as handsome as ever.” Her delicate hands squish my cheeks and she smiles happily, “Are you staying for dinner?”
“Uh, no, not tonight. Madeline, Mason, Adrian and I are all going somewhere but I’ll be sure to come back for your dinner another time,” I smile awkwardly and rock back and forth on my heels, “I have to go and have a chat with my mom but I’ll see you later Mrs. Parisi, tell your husband I said hello.”
“And tell your mother I said hello!” She tells me as I close the front door.
I open the van and drive back home where my mother is sitting at the dining table, reading her bible.
“Lukas, you’re home,” She smiles, her eyes light up with excitement and I chuckle at her silliness.
“I just saw you this morning.”
“I don’t care, I’ll always light up when I see you. Even if you’re gone for three seconds to take out the trash,” My mother stands up from her seat and gives me a motherly hug.
“Well, the boys and I are heading to New York for a week to go see Times Square and do all that touristy stuff,” My Mom lets me go and her eyes are wide, like ‘are you stupid?’ Wide.
“Are you crazy Lukas? New York?” She grabs my face and examines my eyes, “Are you high?”
I pull her hands away from my face,“No! What? No, mom, I’m not high.”
She sighs and turns her back to me, “I guess I can’t tell you no; you are eighteen now.”
“I’ll text you when we leave the airport, I’ll text you when we arrive at our hotel, I’ll text you when we go out and do things, alright? I’ll make sure it feels like you’re right there with me Mom,” She nods and goes back to sit down in front of her bible. As I pack in my room, I hear her praying. Saying over and over that she prays I’ll be safe, that God will put his security blanket over my friends and I as we venture through New York.
I can’t help but smile at my mom’s instincts. To pray for my protection. It makes me feel happy that she believes I’ll be properly taken care of.