I kept my head bowed as I forced myself to keep my eyes on the papers ahead of me. Against my better judgement, every five minutes or so, I would find my eyes wandering to Isabella, whose eyes had been glued to her textbook since she had gotten here.
Mel had approached us both earlier, but had completely disregarded Isabella as she droned on about some carnival going on tonight. I knew it was a good opportunity to get Isabella to open up, but she shyly declined, claiming that she had a lot of work to get done.
I couldn’t help but feel like there was more to it than that, but I didn’t want to make it obvious and press her on the issue so I dropped it.
We were working on our project at the campus library, and though my motive was to get started on the project, I initiated this meeting so that I could get to know her more. The agency wasn’t pressuring me, but being in this environment had slowly begun eating at me, and I wanted to finish with this mission and leave as soon as I could.
College had been a memorable time in my life, but I couldn’t help but compare what my life was then, and what it was now. The person I am today is incomparable to who I was before, and being here would only continue to remind me of that.
I watched Isabella silently pull her bottom lip into her mouth as her eyes remained locked onto the book ahead of her, as if it held the answers to the world’s greatest mysteries. Her eyelashes fell over her porcelain cheeks, and I couldn’t help but appreciate the natural beauty Isabella was blessed with. Her dark hair completely contrasted her skin tone, yet it suited her so perfectly. Her doe eyes appeared too big for her face, but it somehow proportioned the rest of her features properly. It wasn’t like me to see my targets as anything other than a mere assignment, but there was an aura around Isabella I just couldn’t pin point.
She was quiet, but her eyes spoke wonders. She walked as if she was invisible, yet her presence was undeniable.
Everything about her screamed innocence and wonder, and something deep in my gut told me that something about Isabella Wright just didn’t connect properly to Rick Wright. The sensible part of me however, told me that this was exactly what they would want outsiders to think. The world was filled with phony’s and Rick Wright and his team were the most dangerous of them all.
I had ignored signs and brushed little things off in the past and it had cost me a life. From that moment forward, I had vowed to never make that mistake again, and I intended to keep my full focus on this assignment. Falling for Isabella’s facade would be a foolish decision, one that I would ensure I wouldn’t make.
Deciding that I was done with mindlessly staring down at history papers and needed to continue with the investigation, I gave Isabella some random excuse about Fletcher needing my help and headed out of the library. I could feel a headache approaching, but I ignored it as I made my way towards the front of the school where Mrs. William’s office was located. I had texted her earlier in the library about needing more files on Isabella, and she had invited me to pick them up in the office. I hadn’t visited her in weeks, and I knew that I could rely on her to provide me with information about Isabella.
The warmth of the office building instantly greeted me as I stepped through the doorway. There were a couple straggling students waiting inside the lobby as I made my way towards the receptionist desk. A flash of recognition immediately clouded over the face of the young lady behind the desk as she flashed held up a finger and picked up the phone perched on her desk. She exchanged a few words with whom I assumed was Mrs. Williams before setting the phone down and glancing up at me with a warm small.
“You can head in.” She informed as she ushered for me to head towards Mrs. Williams’ office which was down the hall.
I flashed the girl a smile and muttered a thanks before shoving my hands into the pocket of my jacket and making my way down the long hallway. I was met by an open door as I peeked inside for Mrs. Williams who had been typing away on her computer. Knocking on her door, I watched as a beaming smile lit her features as she rose from her seat and rounded her desk. Pulling me into a tight hug, her tiny frame latched onto me as I returned her embrace. The familiarity of her warmth and touch instantly put me at ease as I felt myself relaxing in her arms. It had felt so long since I had physical interaction with anyone, let alone someone whose touch was so similar to that of my mothers.
I could feel a small voice in my head blaming myself for the lack of interaction in my life, but I pushed it aside as Mrs. William’s pulled back to stare at me. Just as she had last time I had seen her, she wore an angry expression as she held her finger up to my face, “You have not visited me in weeks, Mason! Is this how you treat an old woman?” She scolded as she tapped her foot angrily on the carpeted floor. Letting out a small laugh at her reddening face, I held my hands up in surrender.
“I know and I’m sorry. It’s been a busy couple weeks here.” I offered as explanation as she simply ‘tsked’ at me before walking back around her desk. As she took a seat on her chair, I shut the door to her office before settling down into one of the chairs in front of her desk. I watched quietly as she pushed stacks of papers that littered her desk to the side before clapping her hands, “I know you came here for files on Ms. Wright, but I don’t have everything completely ready for you. I need to look into a couple things first, and then you can come by and pick them up. I could have saved you a trip by informing you of this over text, but you hadn’t visited me in weeks, so I figured I’d see how you’re doing.” She stated as I smiled at her antics. There was no telling what Mrs. Williams was capable of when she was upset with you, and I couldn’t possibly be angry with her knowing she had a valid point.
It had been weeks since I had last seen her, despite me living on campus.
Brushing my thoughts aside, I spoke up, “May I know what exactly you need to look into?” I asked as I sat up in my seat.
Mrs. Williams had refrained from asking any questions about the investigation so I was curious as to what she could possibly need to look into.
I could see Mrs. Williams flash me a cheeky smile as she shook her head knowingly, “Oh Mason, always the sharp agent.” She jokingly chastised before turning in her chair. I watched as she opened up the drawer behind her and pulled out a couple files before turning to face me once again.
Dropping a manila folder in front of me, she pulled out a couple papers that appeared to be housing documents.
“When I was twenty, and before I met Michael, I was married to Ethan, my first husband. He had just lost his job and I was still in school, so money was tight. We couldn’t afford rent on the house we had been living in, so an old friend of his was generous enough to allow us to stay in his home in Oregon for a couple months. I don’t know if my mind is playing games with me, but I I feel like I’ve seen Isabella from somewhere, and a hunch tells me it’s from my time in Oregon. I just need some time to look into it before I hand over any documents.” She explained as I processed the information she had given me.
Isabella living in Oregon?
As far as I was concerned, Isabella had resided in Maryland with her father since birth.
“We’re talking about Isabella Wright, correct?” I clarified as Mrs. Williams nodded her head. Leaning back on the chair, I ran a hand down my face. Although I really wanted to look into the documents today, if Mrs. William’s hunch ended up being right, then it could possibly provide us with more evidence on Rick and Isabella.
Which also meant that this investigation could pick up the pace, and finish quickly.
In the mean time, I needed to focus on developing a more personal relationship with Isabella. I needed her to open up to me, and the carnival could serve as the perfect opportunity for that. I could only hope that Isabella would be there tonight.
“Okay, just let me know if you find anything.” I finally said to Mrs. Williams as she nodded once again.
Setting the papers back into the drawer, she turned back to me with a small smile on her face, before asking, “How’s the investigation going?”
Letting out a deep sigh, I placed my elbow on my knees and rubbed a hand down my face before meeting Mrs. William’s worried eyes, “I’ve had easier assignments.” I honestly responded as I brushed a hand through my hair while letting out a humorless chuckle.
I hated to be candid about what I was truly feeling, but Mrs. Williams was one of the few people who was aware of my past so opening up to her was easier than most.
With a knowing look in her eye, she placed her hand on top of mine and gave it a brief squeeze before speaking, “I know it must be hard to be back here.” She softly stated as I simply gave her a brief nod and looked ahead at the clock behind her.
“Mason.” She called out as my eyes remained latched on the clock.
I knew what was going to come next.
Mrs. Williams would push me to talk about my feelings and I would shut her down. It was what always happened when I gave her a brief idea of the storm brewing in my head.
The outcome was the same every time, and I would never be able to tell her what she wanted to hear.
If I couldn’t come to terms with things myself, how would I make it make sense to her?
“You need to let go of the pain from your past. You will never see the potential of your future if you focus on what cannot be changed” Mrs. William’s advised in a soothing voice as I let her words ring in my head. I could feel my chest tightening as the memories from the past swarmed in.
I used been so happy. And now it simply felt like I was just breathing.
“The events of the past have made me into who I am today. It will always be a part of me.” I tightly responded as I swallowed the ball that had formed in my throat. I couldn’t meet her gaze, but I knew her well enough to know that she was wearing a frown on her face.
“Your past doesn’t have to define you, Mason.” She firmly stated before pausing briefly. Glancing up at her, I could see hesitation flash through her orbs before she let out a sigh and lowered her voice, “Nicholas would have wanted you to be happy.” She finally uttered as I felt my heart lurch in my chest. Just the mention of my younger brother’s name had the ability to turn my legs to jelly and wreak havoc on my mind.
In that moment it felt like every suppressed emotion, thought, and memory reached the surface of my mind. I could feel my eyes shutting tightly as Mrs. William’s voice faded in the background and I was whisked into another dimension.
“Nick! Come on, man! Mom’s going to kill you if you’re late again.” I hollered from the bottom of the stairs as I felt Nick’s loud footsteps thumping from above. It was barely 7:30 a.m, and instead of being in the comfort of my own bed, I was waiting to take my younger siblings to school.
Tapping my foot impatiently on the hard wood floor, I glanced down at my watch and let out an audible sigh. I was home a couple days early from college for Thanksgiving and Nick and Adelyn still had a couple days left of school.
My mother had so kindly provided me with the task of getting my two siblings to school, and each day, Adelyn and Nick ended up arriving late.
Surprisingly, Adelyn, who was usually the one who took ages to get ready, had been ready long ago and was tapping away mindlessly on her phone.
I let out a sigh of relief and flashed Nick an irritated glance as he finally made his way down the stairs. His hair was still wet and he had thrown on a random hoodie as he rushed down the stairs. He brows were furrowed and he appeared to be agitated as he sat on the last step of the stairs and put on his shoes.
“You good, man?” I asked him as he tied his shoe laces. I watched him closely as he simply nodded his head and got up without saying a word. He avoided eye contact with me as he brushed past me and muttered that we could leave now. I flashed Adelyn a questioning look as she simply shrugged her shoulders and swirled her finger near her temple, as if to say Nick was crazy.
Letting out a soft chuckle, I followed behind the two twins, shutting the front door behind me.
I could feel a throbbing pain in my chest as I felt the memories of the past fade away once again. I looked up to see Mrs. William’s who held a hand to her chest as she stared at me with wide eyes. I could tell that I had frightened her by shutting down like that, but it was simply the way I was.
I physically and mentally could not process what had happened in the past, and it would continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.
“I’m so sorry for even mentioning anything.” She profusely apologized as she continued to squeeze my hand which still laid on the desk. I could see the remorse in her eyes as she solemnly stared at me.
Squeezing her hand, I attempted to flash her a comforting smile, “It isn’t your fault. Nick was my little brother, and his death has become a part of me. Something I don’t think I can ever part from.” I finally said to her as she stared at me. I knew she wanted to say something, but decided against it as she simply nodded her head reluctantly, Each time I visited her, she always pushed me to accept what had happened in the past, but fell short every time.
I couldn’t move on from what had happened until Nick got justice.
And that would only happen if people like Rick Wright and anyone working with him were locked away for good.
Until then, I would continue to fight until my little brother got the proper closure.
The same closure that would finally put my demons to rest as well.
I know this is so overdue but life has yet to settle down.
Sometimes, I truly feel like I cannot catch a break.
I am truly sorry to make you all wait so long, but Thanksgiving is around the corner so I am hoping to crank out a couple more updates.
Thank you all so much for your love and support.
I hope everyone is doing well, and you all enjoyed this update!
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Until next time!