*Continued from Chapter Twelve*
“You need to stop with the tickling, Don. It’s getting pretty old,” I said, sipping my cocktail. We were back on the balcony that overlooked the city, drinking some fruit shakes.
“I don’t know, maybe because we’re presently not kids anymore, and I think it might be getting childish,” I replied taking another sip. He rolled his eyes.
“Nothing about that is too antique for me kid.” He laughed ruffling my hair messily.
He then took me by surprise and began to tickle my neck. I shrieked and we started to race around the balcony for the second time; I stuck my tongue at him which made him run faster.
“GO AWAY!” I shouted as I hid behind a rose bush. He laughed so hard and nearly dropped to the ground.
“I told you, it’s never too old to have some fun!” he yelled and decided that it was enough as he went back to finish his drink.
I calmed my heart down and jogged back to chug the rest of mine. It was getting hot with all that running about. I leaned against the ledge of the balcony and stood beside him as silence took over.
“Mm?” he hummed, shifting to look at me. His smile still on.
“Do you...ever think of him too?” I asked in a tiny voice. I didn’t know what came over me but my mouth just worked by itself.
I thought he was going to be mad at me again for asking but he sure was full of surprises.
“Sometimes,” he sighed, staring at the clouds rolling by in the deep azure. “Mostly when I’m with you, I’m not sure why but maybe it’s because you guys were besties?” He shrugged. Leander and the twins have often clashed in the past but got along well. Somehow, Leo always appeared to grow jealous when my cousins steal me away to play with them and it made us all laugh at how cute he turned when he pouted. “We weren’t that close, but yeah, guess I miss him too. Such an innocent child...only to be taken at a very young age.”
Tears started building in my eyes, but I hurriedly wiped them away before he noticed.
“I know,” I said, almost in a whisper.
“Well,” he coughed, turning to face me with a big grin and quickly changed the topic. “Are you ready to find out what we have in store for you this year?”
“What?” I asked excitedly. All sorts of things whooshed by my brain that second. Were they going to bring me to Korea? Maybe a solo ski trip I’ve been wanting to do ever since I was a kid or-or...
“It’s a surprise,” he winked, gulping down the last of his chocolate shake, and walked back indoors. He left me standing there, mouth hanging in shock.
Of course. Why hadn’t I expected that?
“JERK!” I screamed at him making him raise a thumb high in the air.
I chuckled. This was what I always anticipated each year. To have a rebellious and mind-blowing adventure with them and the best part was - our parents never knew.
I remembered the first time we sneaked out last year. It was 1 AM. The twins planned to bring me to an abandoned warehouse at the very heart of the city, somewhere in the abyss. It was nerve-wracking at first, but I started to have fun when Damien managed to persuade me that the place was empty of serial killers or hobos. We survived and got back to the mansion without anyone knowing we ever left.
It was Brendon’s master plan. He was the one who sabotaged the security cameras and in charge of handling the bribes for the mansion guards to let us out without raising an alarm. Including the fact that he was the one to come up with those crazy ideas.
They wanted my first experience of being a teenager to be epic and wild. It went better than planned because we even had time to buy snacks in a nearby 24/7 diner.
**The next day**
“Are you ready?”
“Yes. I. Am.” I answered with a self-confident smirk plastered across my sinister face. Hell, I was so excited about this.
“Then...GO!” Damien roared.
I instantly stepped on the pedals and the car went tearing.
“Watch the building!” he warned, pointing at the half-built station. He then ordered in an alarmed tone, “Drift!”
The sound of the car’s tires was heard screeching noisily as I turned a sharp curve.
*5 hours earlier*
Damien and Brendon informed me, via SMS, that I was to be ready within the witching-hour; midnight.
It was already 6 PM and my parents were yet to arrive.
Mom had some emergency meeting at her workplace and Dad said he’ll be home late. Ivan on the other hand was having a sleepover at the Castillo’s mansion. Anton and Jace invited him to show off their newly.
And of course, Angelique was already here. She was as curious as I of this mysterious adventure of ours later.
“So, when are we sneaking out?” she asked excitedly.
“Sshhh!” I snapped. “Do you want the maids to eavesdrop?”
“Oops. Sorry,” she smiled sheepishly. I was looking up information about how a nuclear power plant works to use the process of nuclear fission to generate electricity, but couldn’t concentrate. “So tell me...when?”
I rolled my eyes. “Jeez. Can’t I study for a second?” I chuckled. “Around 11 PM by the latest?”
Her eyes grew wide. “B-but...we’ll get in trouble being out that late.”
“I know. That’s why we have Donny. It was his idea, so he has to be integral to this plan, or us sneaking out will fail miserably.”
Angelique presented a wide grin. “Of course he would. No one else but Don can convince you in a blink of an eye. Either he uses his power or walks around threatening people that he’ll steal their underwear.” We both roared in laughter.
“Who is it?” she demanded.
Angelique suddenly squealed. “Oh! What did he say?”
“He requested my blessings to be given to him and so the priest can get on with his work,” I jeered sarcastically.
The way her face turned from stunned to a red crimson was just phenomenal. I was laughing my ass as I waited for the clockworks in her brain groan tiredly.
“Shut up!” she cried and jumped up to tickle me. I was laughing madly as my sides began to ache, no thanks to her pointy fingers.
“ENOUGH!” I begged, trying to get away from those annoying pointers. “P-please, I was joking! Oh, my fucking lord, can you please quit that? He only asked whether you’ve arrived or not because he volunteered to go pick you up!”
“He...what?” She retracted her fingers back and I made a brooding face.
“Do I have to repeat myself, lover girl?”
“N-No. But did he tell you that?” I showed her my phone and my phone got snatched away. She bounced up and down as she held it in her hands like it was his heart, literally.
“Urm, I think cupid gave you double the golden arrows. Damn it, can you stop with the hopping? You might drop my phone and at the same time you’ll be paying for the damage on my bed.” I threatened, folding my arms at the edge of the bed.
But she paid no heed.
“Lily!” I snapped and she turned her head at me with a quizzed look.
“Huh? Oh, yeah sorry. I was only...urm...I saw this new item on an ad sponsored by Nike and I just became excited to try it out,” she lied. I shook my head.
“Just shut up and return my phone.”
“Who texted?” I asked, hands outstretched as I tried to reach for it.
“Your Mom, she said that your Dad and she won’t be coming home at all because some distant relative of yours recently died and they need your parents for some other important transaction,” Angelique answered, scanning the contents of Mom’s message.
“Wait, did you say they won’t be coming home?” She nodded. “Then that means...”
And by the count of 10 seconds, we both shouted.
“I’m sorry, dude! It’s freakin’ dark in this place. I can’t see properly!” I whined as Damien barked another command for me to stir left.
“THEN TURN THE HEADLIGHTS ON!” They all shouted. Damien was at the shotgun, even though Brendon called for dibs, so he turned it for me.
Donny groaned from behind. Angelique was silent, unmistakably nervous about me being the driver. She was seated behind the driver - seat belts buckled and holding for dear life.
I smirked as I drove Damien’s winsome Jeep Wrangler. He didn’t mind if it got damaged. Besides, he had others he wouldn’t even allow me or anyone to touch.
Finally, I made an impressive drift that struck both the twins as well as my best friend. I had been trying for more than 3 times and my mentors were - who else - but the twins.
I put the car on the brake and everyone climbed out for some fresh air. My body stretched as I bent down to touch my toes. My butt started to ache after the energy it took to drive.
“I still can’t believe you brought us here, you ass,” I turned to Brendon who gave us all a boyish grin. We were here. The place I used to dread when I was a kid. The land where no little girl was ever allowed to enter and the place which me and Angelique always feared were filled with drug addicts and rapists.
Here we were, standing in the open shimmering night, under the lighted sky of New York City, with cars still bustling at 11:45 PM. There wasn’t a single soul about which shocked me when we entered the area.
We were actually inside the place, which I observed was clattered with unused machines and rejected materials, completed tiny dunes here and there. This was a place I would want to come back to.
Chills of excitement filled me.
We were...really here.
In the Outback.