Youth

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Chapter 54

Sunday
Lukas

We all sit at a hole-in-the-wall diner, waiting for our breakfast to be brought to us. All night last night and even right now, we’re discussing Veronica.

“She disappeared for three years, they had to be doing something other than fucking the whole time. I think she’s hiding some details,” Adrian sips on his lemonade, “I mean she said that they loved each other.”

“No, she said she thought he loved her so he did something to make it seem like he didn’t,” Madeline crosses her legs and tucks her arms under her chest.

“Leaving her in the basement for four months and then forcing her to have a baby in an alleyway? I think that’s enough to prove he really didn’t love her,” My sentence dies out once Mason hits my arm to show me that the waitress is coming our way. She lays out our food and goes to get us refills.

“No, something else. There’s no way she just left it at that when she had Bo in the hospital. She probably went back to Joseph and he kicked her to the curb,” Mason infers, scratching his chin that’s now covered in rough stubble. It compliments his face, he likes to have it shaved cause it’s “itchy” but everyone always wants him to keep it.

“She had a clear case of Stockholm, he bought her and she fell in love with him. Veronica doesn’t even care that Joseph thought of her as property and not a person,” Madeline sips on her coffee and starts cutting up her pancakes.

“Not all of us are feminists,” Mason mumbles which causes all of us to look at him like he’s insane, “What?”

“You seriously just said that Mason? What’s your problem?” The room’s atmosphere turned from calm to tense in seconds.

“That wasn’t cool man,” Adrian sides with Madeline and Mason narrows his eyes at him.

“You think I don’t know you’re screwing my sister? I’ve known since the start so don’t think anything gets past me, Adrian. The only reason I haven’t kicked your teeth in is because of her,” Mason stands up and slams his napkin that was previously in his lap onto the table, “I’ll see you guys back at the hotel.”

“That was... wow,” Madeline sighs, rubbing her temples, “Uh, I think I should go and talk to him,” She gets up to go but Adrian grabs her hand to stop her, “Look, he’s my brother, my twin. I know when he needs someone to talk to.”

“I guess it’s just you and me,” I say, standing up and throwing down enough to pay for our meals.

“That was pretty dramatic,” Adrian says once we get into a cab.

“I know,” I lean back in my seat when Adrian tells the driver the address, “I don’t get his problem. He started acting weird last night after we left Veronica’s but I didn’t think he’d act like this.”

A breath escapes his lips, “Me either.”

-

We knock on Veronica’s door around 12 PM and she answers it with the same look on her face she had yesterday when we left.

“You’re back,” She says, her tone making her sound defeated when she shuts the door behind us, Veronica sits down, “Where are the others?”

“Not here, now, do you have anything to tell us before we start asking more questions?”

“I just want to tell you that the second you got involved with me, you got involved with Joseph. Turns out Todd wasn’t here for the reason I thought he was, he was a rat for Joseph to see if I would talk about him to anyone and I guess he overheard us talking yesterday and told him everything. Even about Bo, so Joseph’s going to be furious.”

“You’re saying that word has gotten to the leader of one of the biggest Mexican cartels in the world and you’re just sitting here?” My hands take a hard grip on the chair, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, Veronica!”

“Before someone comes you need to answer our questions,” Adrian rushes, scooting to the edge of his seat to intimidate her a little bit, “Did you leave it at that after you had Bo in the hospital?”

“Well, I knew I would never get my baby back so yes, I left her there.”

I roll my eyes at her answer, “We’re talking about Joseph, did you leave him alone afterward or try to go back?”

She takes a deep breath, preparing herself to speak,“I tried to go back and couple times but then he told me that if I ever came back ever again, he would send his people to ‘take care of me’ which he’s done twice already. They come, offer me tons of hush money or that they’d kill me if I didn’t accept it.”

Adrian’s eyes flicker over to the little girl who’s visible from the dining room,“Is Vivian Bo’s full or half-sister?”

Veronica hesitates before answering, “Full. Joseph doesn’t know about her either. Look, the last time I saw him was almost three months ago, he had me taken out and shot after we made love,” Veronica grips her necklace, “But one of the men who were there, he shot his partner and told me to run. That he had a cover story for me.”

“What about that necklace huh? You’ve seemed to be hanging on it the entire we’ve been here, even yesterday,” I stand up and yank the necklace off her neck, the metal flimsily breaks and the locket pops open on its own.

On the inside is engraved ′Never wait for me, my love, for you have given me everything I need. -J.A.'

“I’m assuming Joseph have this to you?” I hand the necklace over to Adrian so he can look at it, “You’re still in love with him no matter what he does to you. He views you as property, I mean he literally bought you from someone,” I start counting on my fingers everything he’s done to her that we know of and I can see her the sweat that’s beginning to drip down her forehead, “Where does he live Veronica? We can take him down but not without your help.”

“He moves around a lot but he never leaves Illinois, last I heard, he’s living in this abandoned candy factory house; Brach’s I think.”

“Veronica, he’s probably sending people to come after you again. If you’d like, we can take you back to Chicago; the place he least expects you to go, and stay there while we figure things out.”

“Do you have somewhere safe for Vivian and me? I’m not going unless you do.” She starts scratching the material on the couch and bites her lip hard.

“Yes, uh, my parents have a log cabin 15 miles east of Springfield. I guarantee you two will be safe there. Well, send someone over every weekend to bring you more food and supplies. Listen, we need to get out of here, now.” Adrian gets up and follows Veronica to help her and Vivian pack.

“Hey kid,” I look up and Veronica is leaning over the railing, “I don’t know if you know how to use one of these but you better learn and fast,” She drops a gun from where she’s standing and I catch it in my hands.

The metal is harsh and cold, it reminds me of the one Adam put to my head. It’s heavier than I imagined too. A lot heavier than the BB gun I had as a kid.

I take a wooden chair and move it up to the window to look outside. My dad was a cop but he never allowed to touch his guns, he always told me when I turned 18 he’d take me to the shooting range. The day I turned 18, though, he started saying I wasn’t man enough to hold his gun. That because I had night terrors I couldn’t function correctly. Because I was afraid, I wasn’t allowed to learn how to defend myself.

The second Adrian, Veronica, and Vivian come down the stairs in the rush, I tuck the gun in my waistband and open the front door.

“We’re not going to take your car, Veronica, he probably already knows what it is, so we’re gonna take a cab back to our hotel, pick up the others and go straight to the airport.”

“No, no, just text them and say that we need to leave now. They can keep watch on the house and see if anyone comes and when someone does they can take pictures, send them to us and then I can tell you who they are. When that’s over, then they can come back. But right now, Vivian and I need to get out of this state. Todd left sometime early this morning so those guys could be here any minute.”

“Alright Veronica, have it your way.” Adrian gets into the front seat of the cab and I squish in the back with Vivian and Veronica.

“Take us to Albany International AirPort,” Adrian orders, grabbing over eight hundred dollars from his pocket and handing it to the cabby, “For the fair and some stuff on the side. Make sure to keep this drive off the books.”

The man nods and takes the money from Adrian’s hands.

“You’ll get another four hundred if you get us there in an hour and a half.” The cabby nods again and presses on it, he’s going nearly 100 miles per hour and is swerving through cars the entire ride.New York taxi drivers really don’t play around.

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