XXXVII. Makena Kekoa
I pressed the laptop closer to the flat screen. “Do you see this? Do you see this?!”
I know its ridiculous to show Nina the laptop screen through a face call, but somehow I couldn’t help myself. The anxiety only pushed me more and more with each ticking second.
Jackson held my shoulders and pull me back, “I just sent them the video. They’re watching it right now.”
I watch as Nina and Matt stared at the screen in front of them. Their eyes narrowed before Matt came closer. I’m certain he pressed re-wind and zoom in. They did it twice before Nina’s eyes widen.
“How?” I asked. “How did Alice know Emmy? When did they- how are they-” My brain scrambled to find an answer, but nothing popped up. I can barely hold up a sentence at the moment; forget forming an answer.
After some moments, Nina clapped. “Right!”
We all looked at her.
“Alice and I went to Harrison High when we were younger.”
“Huh?” I responded.
“MistVille High School and Harrison High had a program, where they invited ten of our top students to their school.” Her eyes narrow in an attempt to remember the past, “I believe they were going to choose a person at MistVille and grant them a full scholarship to attend Harrison High.”
“But...you- huh?” I went to MistVille High School, but I dont remember a program like that. Nina and I are only about five years apart, so by the time she graduated is when I started. Even if the program is terminated, I should at least hear about the program.
“The program started and ended during my junior year.” she said. “I’m not sure why...maybe it’s not a good fit?”
“So, you’re telling me...Alice met Emmy during high school?”
“That’s...how come Emmy never mention it?” It wasn’t particurly a question to anyone. Why would it be? No one in the room would know the answer.
“Piper,” Nina called my name softly. “I’m pretty sure Emerson has a good reason why he didn’t tell you these things.”
“Yeah,” I responded.
“We’ll look more into the situation, okay?” Nina assured me.
I nodded, “Okay.”
Nina’s eyes widen, “Wait.” She looks around the room, “Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.”
She got off the couch, and turned towards Matt, “Do you remember when I told you that these lawyers came to meet me a few years ago?”
“Lawyers?” Matt responded slowly. I’m pretty sure he has a handful of lawyers in his department and doubtful he remembers any of them.
“You won’t remember,” Nina said before she turned towards the screen. “Do you remember the day two lawyers came for me? How you threaten them to kill them if they do anything to me?”
“Nina. I threaten a lot of people.”
“Lawyers! They’re Alice and Neilson’s lawyers!” I watch as the screen moved in a blurred fashion.
“Nina! Slow down!” I heard Matt screamed. “The doctor says you shouldnt be moving so fast while you’re pregnant!”
Finally, the screen settled down in Nina’s bedroom. I tilted my head, “Is that a chandelier?” My eyes narrowed to get a better look at their bedroom. It’s a very nice room.
“You like chandeliers?” Jackson asked.
“No. I actually have a fear of them.”
“Yeah. Like while I’m walking or sleeping, it would fall on me.”
“But, when you went to my house you seem to like chandeliers.”
I chuckled, “Have you ever seen me walk underneath one though?” I do like chandeliers, but I would always walk around them. I’m not sure why I’m afraid of them falling on me; I just do.
“I found it!” Nina’s voice bought our attention back to the screen. She dragged a suitcase and plop it on the couch. I cannot believe they have a couch in their bedroom. She opened the suitcase, “I’ve been saving these papers just in case. I’m not sure for what, but I saved it.”
Matt settled beside Nina.
She grabbed a card and show it to Jackson and me. “Eric Sherman and Linda Larson.”
Nirvana Law firm.
“These lawyers came to represent Alice and Neilson.” She placed the card down and took out several folders, “After they passed, they left everything to me.”
Nina flipped through the folders and explained Alice and Neilson’s assets. My eyes widen at the end result.
“Alice and Neilson are rich too?!” Is everyone rich except me?
“Yeah. I was as surprised as you are considering how much they mooch,” she responded. “But, that doesnt matter. What matters is...this.”
She grabbed another paper and show it to me. “M.I.N.D?”
“Yes,” she responded. “I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out Alice is the founder of a program called M.I.N.D. It’s a program established here in a high school called Pandora Academy. It’s a school rivaled to Harrison High School.”
“And?” I asked.
“Do you remember how you went through some documents and it turned out Emerson is part of a program called E.L.I.T.E?”
“Yes. He’s the founder of that club or something.”
“Well, that club is actually one of the most exclusive programs for young elites.”
“So, you’re telling me. My husband created a program for rich kids?”
“It looks like that. But, I remember reading about this last night and it’s more then just for rich kids. It’s for geniuses.”
Nina tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, “It make sense why Alice and Emerson knew each other. Alice is the founder of M.I.N.D and Emerson is the founder of E.L.I.T.E. They’re considered rivals.”
“But, they look like they’re happily chit chatting in the video.”
“All because you’re rivals on the surface doesn’t mean you're not friends. I’m not surprised if Alice got recruited for E.L.I.T.E prior to creating M.I.N.D.”
“Why wouldn’t she join then?”
“I dont know. Maybe, she thought it was fun to make her own instead?”
I cannot believe Alice created this elite program just for kicks.
No. I actually could believe that.
I remember Alice Lee was smart, but I didn’t know she was this smart.
“Dont you think its weird?” Matt question. “Alice...passed. Emerson is...missing. They’re both part of these elite programs.”
“Matt,” Nina said.
“Didnt you got to Pandora Academy?”
“Yeah, but this program was made after my time.”
“Do you think you can look more into M.I.N.D?”
“Do you think there is a link?” I question.
She bit her lower lip, “Its suspicious.”
“Nina,” I said her name slowly. “You don’t think Alice died because of this...right?”
Nina inhaled a deep breath, “No. It’s not about that. Its just...It may let us understand better about Emerson’s situation.”
Nina cares about me. She knows Emerson. But, they aren’t particularly close. There a limit to how much a person empathized with another.
But, if Alice were to be in the pictures. It’s a different story for her. It’s no longer empathy. Its personal.
I’m not mad at her for caring about Alice’s death. It’s probably difficult for her to accept that it was simply a car accident, particurly with Alice’s complicated background.
How am I so understanding?
Because, this time, I empathized with her.
Emerson’a disappearance is too suspicious to be simply labelled as a kidnap.
“We’ll find out,” Jackson said. Everyone looked at him, “Emerson’s disappearance and Alice’s death.” He looked at me, “We’ll find out, okay?”
I couldn’t respond to him with words - I can’t. Because if I do, I may choke in tears. So, instead, I nodded. Jackson spread his arms slightly and I moved inward for an embracement.
I watch as Matt hugged Nina. He kissed the top of her head and whispered comforting words into her ears.
“Hey,” Jackson whispered. “We’ll find him, okay?”
“And no one will take away Crystal and Dustin.”
Even with the new findings, none of the questions had been resolved. The layers of fogs is too thick for us to see through.
At the time, we didn’t know. We thought the answer may be simple, but it was much more than that.
They’re much more then people like you and me.
More but also less.
Like I said, its complicated.
I stared at the small screen on the ground.
Who exactly are you?
Matt’s phone rang and he released Nina to see the screen. “Its the P.I,” Matt said. He picked it up, “You found something?” We all stared at Matt as he listened to the other end. After a few minutes, he placed the phone down, “We got a lead,” he said.
He nodded, “To Emerson’s disappearance.”
My hands tighten around Jackson’s shirt, “W-What's the lead?”
“They found a girl...a paparazzi photographer,” he said. He turned towards Nina, “Do you remember when we got married, our wedding got leaked?”
Nina nodded, “Yeah.”
He licked his lips and look back, “They found out, ever since the wedding, the girl had been following Emerson.”
“Somebody...been following Emmy?” I shouldnt be surprised that someone had been following Emerson, particurly after I found out about his past. But it seems as if my brain hasn’t fully registered everything that happened.
Matt nodded, “Makena Kekoa.”