Pink Walls

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Day One [Part III]

“Dead bodies are what started all this, adding more to the equation is the last thing I’m going to do.”

It had started snowing again, a light flurry that danced every which way in the direction of the wind created the scene that I had longed for just hours ago. But the subject of the snapshot was absent and even if she wasn’t, only the aesthetics of such moments could be recreated, not the spirit.

And even that was impossible because I also didn’t own a camera.

I watched the snowfall with equal parts skepticism and equal parts longing from the sole window in Daniel’s bedroom, while the teenager continued tinkering with pastries in the kitchen—like he claimed to have been doing for the past two days.

The bedroom had not one hint of his personality apart from the messy splashes of red he had made on the otherwise white walls and the sea blue futon we had moved here from another room.

Daniel admitted to not sleeping much in the room. He had only packed into the house three days ago and still slept on the couch downstairs with his pistol clutched to his chest.

I wondered if my presence would help the teen sleep easy, or if it would worsen the whole matter altogether. Despite the fact that Daniel was always smiling at me, I could tell that the kid didn’t trust me—which was understandable seeing that there was a target on his head.

“Are you sure you don’t want that cookie?” I heard Daniel ask from behind me. “You look hungry.”

I considered the offer for a moment, still looking out the window. It was the only one that directly overlooked the part of the street in front of the house.

It was something I had noticed earlier when I had been talking to Ron—the perfect vantage point—and already I had taken note of two people who looked overtly conspicuous.

They were either wearing too much or too little for a chilly winter morning and both had gone past the house four times—separately and in different modes of transport.

“I don’t look hungry,” I replied and turned my head to look at the teenager for the first time in four hours. I let the blinds snap shut. “You are being overly sensitive.”

Just now, I had watched the man had get out of a cab to pause in front of the house and rub feeling back into his gloveless hands before shoving them into his pockets and walking off again.

The woman had walked by the house thirty minutes earlier, carrying a case that was large enough to hold a rifle or a weapon equally dangerous.

I couldn’t tell whether they had been so easy to spot because they were decoys, or if they were really after Daniel, and I got headaches thinking about what could be in the man’s backpack.

If I was lucky it would just be guns and ammo, and if I wasn’t: explosives or something even more deadly.

“When are you going to eat?” Daniel wiped his wet hands on the front of his apron then tucked some of his fringe behind his ear, revealing another piercing by his upper lip. “There’s a lot of food.”

“I won’t eat until I shower—”

“Then go and—”

“And I won’t shower until I figure out how to keep you alive for the next three days,” I said sternly. It was all that was on my mind, how to do this job effectively without spilling too much blood. If the teen actually trusted me, it would make me job a whole lot easier, so that was obviously my first goal—winning Daniel’s trust.

“Can’t we just wait it out here?”

“If it was that simple, you wouldn’t need me.”

Daniel frowned slightly and the diamond stud above his lip twitched, reflecting a speck of light and attracting my gaze for longer than was professional. “Things can’t be that bad if you’re letting me go out tomorrow.”

“I’m using you as bait to draw out whoever is attempting to track your movements.”

“Is that safe?”

“We’ll find out tomorrow.” I hooked my thumbs into my jeans pockets and blinked back the image of Olly’s equally blinding smile. “And stay vigilant, someone will probably try to kill you tonight.”

“So soon?” Daniel jerked his head towards the window, his fringe breaking free to once again conceal the distracting piece of jewelry. “You saw them?”

“You’re lucky you’ve managed this long.” I looked around the room one more time, dissatisfied that there were more than two entry points. My best bet was disarming the killers and keeping them immobilized until Daniel could be retrieved by his family, and to make that work, he needed somewhere airtight. “We’re going to have to secure the back door. Who, other than you, knows about this place?”

“The contacts my parents have in the city. I want to say that they’re trustworthy but there’s always the possibility of one of them being a double agent,” Daniel admitted, not meeting my gaze. “It’s safe to say that this location is already compromised.”

“And your job?”

“I paid the store’s owner enough for me to let me work there till further notice. He doesn’t know, or care about, anything else.”

“Do you have somewhere else you can stay?”

“I thought you said we weren’t going to play hide and seek?”

I let out a breath and pressed my knuckles to my jaw in an effort to stay calm. Jobs like this one where I had to communicate my intentions to another person in order to achieve success were especially tedious. More so now that my target was a skittish teen dealing with family drama. “Just answer the question, kid.”

“I,” Daniel thought for a while while gnawing on the nail of his left thumb, “still have the lease on my former apartment.”

“Do your ‘friends’ in Alphaz know about it?”

“Obviously,” he answered then rolled his eyes once. “Why?”

“You’re moving back.”

“What? You can’t be serious.”

“If you get attacked tonight, that means that the Carmosino’s have already checked your apartment. That also means that your buddies sold you out.”

“So you think that they wouldn’t think that I would be stupid enough to go back there when I know that I have a hit on me?”

“That’s the plan.”

That seemed to annoy Daniel even more. “Why don’t you just kill them all as they come? It’s what you do, isn’t it?”

“Look, kid.” I took a step towards the impatient teenager. “Dead bodies are what started all this, adding more to the equation is the last thing I’m going to do.”

“So what? You’re just going to knock them out and hope for the best?”

“Lead them on a wild goose chase until Wednesday, that’s the plan,” I answered firmly. “So get packing.”

“I’m already packed,” Daniel said, then shrugged when he was faced with my questioning gaze. “I’ve been prepared to run since the first hit on Friday.”

“And how exactly did you expect to protect yourself if they did?”

“You should have read my file, Mr Bodyguard.” Danny bit lightly on his bottom lip before hissing in anger. “My parents are just too overprotective. I can take care of myself. I’m not fragile.”

“You obviously don’t know what it means to have the Carmosinos sic their hunting dogs on you.”

“I know very well—”

“If you did, you wouldn’t have started this mess.”

Daniel looked at the window again then tugged furiously on the collar of his polo even though the air in the room was frigid. “You’re not even going to ask? It’s been hours and all you’ve done is stare out into the street. You aren’t curious about why I did what I did? Not even a little bit?”

“It doesn’t matter if I’m curious. You’ll tell me if you want to.”

The buttons of his shirt undone, Daniel let his hands fall to his side though now he was all the more disheveled.

When silence settled in the place of our conversation, I rubbed at my eyes, sure that they were bloodshot. I had been staring at one spot for hours and forgotten to blink on more than one occasion.

I really needed coffee.

“I’m going back to the kitchen,” Daniel announced quietly before backing out of the bedroom and shutting the door with a gentle click.

These three days are going to be fun, I shook my head and headed for the bathroom, hoping a shower would help me clear my head.

I doubted it though.

I was far from peak form, and a mistake here would get me killed. I didn’t have Ron and Alex around to pick up the slack caused by my inattentiveness so I had to be extra careful.

I have to stop treating him like Olly.

Sometimes the images of the two teenagers superimposed, leaving me wondering why. They were too different to even be compared with each other and yet because of them, I would have a warm place to sleep two nights in a row.

This would also be the second time in a year that I’ve found myself in the bathroom of an actual house.

I wondered if I was spoiling myself unnecessarily.

Maybe I should have slept in Alex’s car and scouted from there. Maybe I shouldn’t have followed Olly into his house that Saturday. Maybe I shouldn’t have done a lot of things...

After this job, I knew I would have to go back to asking for favors at gyms and doing chores at restaurants to stay clean again, and I didn’t know how to feel about that.

***

“So?” Daniel quirked an eyebrow, his grin simultaneously expectant and triumphant. “What do you think?”

“You’d make a better pastry chef than the head of a crime family,” I answered after taking a small bite out of the massive cookie the teenager had handed me, “and that’s not a bad thing.”

“You know, you don’t smell like the rest of them,” Daniel said as he ran a damp napkin over the flour-stained counter and scooped wasted dough into the bin by his feet. “What are you?”

“You’re being a little too nosy, aren’t you?”

“I guess I am.” Daniel smiled a bit at that and leaned forward to stare intently at my face. “It doesn’t matter what you are.”

I was about to ask what that meant but my vision began to blur. The cookie slipped out of my hand when I tried—and failed—to stand. Daniel leaned back the moment I staggered to my feet and attempted to use the kitchen counter as a support.

I fell instead, and felt the numbing pain of my head colliding with the floor.

“You really should have read my file, Mr Bodyguard.” Daniel clicked his tongue and reached beneath the counter to get a duffle bag.

He slung it over his shoulder and made his way to the back door, but not before turning to me one last time and saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t die.”

I would have cursed if I could, but I couldn’t even lift a finger. I could only watch Daniel’s boots leave the house before black dots began to creep into my field of vision.

I knew that I had been drugged and that I was going to pass out, that much was obvious. But what I didn’t know was for how long. If the house was attacked before I came to, I was undoubtedly going to die, and Daniel—that stupid boy—would die too.

I should have seen this coming—Daniel’s strange insistence should have said it all—and yet I didn’t. Just because from a certain angle turquoise eyes could almost look forest-green.

❄❄❄

A/N: A little bit of a cliffhanger here. The next chapter will be up next Saturday. Thanks for reading ❤️

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