J O H N
“Morning,” John grumbled as he saw Sara in the kitchen. It had been a couple of weeks and she was going back to school. And John was still at home.
He had planned to leave a while ago, but something was keeping him there. A responsibility to Sara was keeping him there. He was prepared to become a brother to her. To give it all up. His career was over anyway. Mari would always be a great dent on his record.
“You still up for giving me a ride?” she asked. She was ecstatic about the decisions he was making. The more he was a part of her life, the more she was sure he would stick around. He had taken a job at a garage yesterday, under his old last name. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he was just living one day at a time.
“I’m having some friends over if that’s okay. Dad’s usually at the bar so I don’t ask him but since you’re around…”
“That’s fine, Sara. You’re eighteen. Having friends over is fine,” he confirmed. He wasn’t a morning person.
Once he dropped Sara off at high school, he drove over to the garage. He felt so… ordinary. He was used to chasing down criminals in back alleys and sleeping during the day. And he would drink away his exhaustion, just like his father.
Whilst working on the repairs on the engine of a faulty car, he tossed around ideas of what Mari was doing. He didn’t want to be thinking about her. But she constantly plagued his thoughts. Just when he thought she had left, simply for a couple of minutes, she would worm her way back in.
He left her out in the middle of nowhere with nothing and no one. It was his little revenge. She would soon come to civilization, but he made her work for it. He assumed she was long gone by now, far away from New York.
He pondered how he would start to find her. Not that he was going to. He just wanted to know if he still could. Finding people had been the only thing he lived off for over a decade. He hunted, ate and slept. And occasionally had sex to blow off steam.
“Yo, John!” his colleague called out, beckoning him over to take a look at something. But his mind never strayed far from the girl he still loved.
After a long day of work, he returned home to see a party in full fucking swing. What the fuck?! So, then he remembered what teenagers were like. And also realized they were nothing like Mari. When Sara asked if it was alright to have a few friends over, she meant she was having a party and their dad was never home to say anything against it, not like he’d care if he were home.
He stormed in and marched right over to his little sister who was dressed like a hooker after a full night. He grabbed her arm in front of all her friends and pulled her to one side, away from the guy who she was grinding on.
“What is your problem? You said I could have friends around,” she slurred, drunk. This was what happened when he wasn’t here. Maybe it would have been better if he stuck around.
“I didn’t say you could have a party.”
“You were the one who said that I was eighteen and that having friends here was fine. You basically implied that I didn’t have to ask for permission. And you’re right, I don’t. You don’t own the house, neither do I. You can’t boss me around. You haven’t been here.”
“You were the one who wanted me here, or have you forgotten?” John countered.
“Whatever. Go if you want. But you can’t stop me from being who I am,” she argued back. “Besides there are plenty of rebound girls here. You like them young, don’t you?” Alcohol really made his little sister bitter. She smirked and rejoined the crowd of sweaty teenagers dancing up on each other.
“Hey, sexy,” a girl flirted, placing her hands on his chest and running them down him. “You’re so hot.” Another underage drunk girl. Just what he needed. This behavior reminded him of how Mari had reacted that night. She wasn’t even drunk and had never been drunk and yet acted like an underage drunk girl so realistically. She was much more skilled than he thought, and he felt a little less gullible for believing her charade.
He peeled the girl’s hands off his chest and proceeded to snake through the crowds.
“You’re Sara’s brother, right? She said you would be here and that you were super hot. Well, I thought you would be, and she didn’t disagree,” a brunette girl declared with her posse behind her smiling suggestively. She passed him a bottle of beer that he didn’t ask for. “I’m Lily.”
John stayed silent and just guzzled back his beer.
“So… John, right?” she asked.
“There are plenty of guys here your own age for you to talk to,” John stated bluntly.
“Yet I’m talking to you,” she snarked, reminding him of Mari’s attitude. “Sara said you were dating some teenager and then you broke up. I know how to cure a broken heart.” The girls behind her giggled like a gaggle of geese squawking, whilst Lily smirked.
“She wasn’t a teenager, and I don’t have a broken heart.” This party was making him even more depressed. And bringing even more thoughts of Mari to the forefront of his mind.
“Oh, come on, don’t be such a downer.”
“Leave him alone, Lily,” Sara said, appearing out of nowhere and instantly making John sigh in relief. He never would have thought he would be saved by his little sister. “John has only ever had eyes on one girl. Even brought her to our mother’s funeral. And then broke up with her the day after. Why don’t you just call her, John, instead of this brooding?”
“I think your brooding’s hot,” Lily commented and the siblings both rolled their eyes. “Either call her or sleep with me. I dare you.” The gaggle of girls all agreed like this was a fucking democracy.
“Well, she doesn’t have a phone so…” They all furrowed their brows in unison, confusion spreading like wildfire across their faces in collective shock.
“She doesn’t have a phone? How is that even possible? She can’t afford one? So, she was a leech,” Sara said dumbfoundedly. “How can you be hung up on a girl like that?”
“I can’t call her so that’s that. All of you can leave me alone now. My brooding is my best feature,” he joked before downing more of his beer. He wanted to drown in it in that moment. He was sick of people and of talking and of thinking about her. His life was now about Mari. He preferred it before when he had never met her.
“God, you’re so ripped. I like a real man,” Lily said seductively.
“I don’t think he wants you, babe. I saw Trevor checking you out earlier,” Sara told her.
“You did?” She suddenly sounded incredibly excited about that. And then she skipped off. John thanked the heavens, and his little sister.
“It’s a shame she doesn’t have a phone. Otherwise, I would have made you call her.”
“You’ve sobered up,” he commented, attempting to change the subject.
“Yeah. I’m better at alcohol than our parents. I have more control,” she explained with this sense of maturity he’d never seen in her. “What do you do for a living? Tell me honestly. I’m not some little girl anymore that you have to protect with your lies and secrets. Just tell me. Do you kill people? Do you work for some gang?” John chuckled and shook his head. And she released a sigh of relief.
“You know what? Fine. I get hired to find people.”
“How is that dangerous?”
“I get hired by criminals to find criminals. I make enemies along the way. I sometimes carry weapons that aren’t legal. Sometimes I’m forced to do things in pressured situations or a witness something. All of it is dangerous,” he explained. And she just nodded.
“And Ella? You didn’t really meet her like the way she told?”
“Sort of. It’s a long story,” he replied with a deep huff. Somehow, the conversation always circled back around to Mari, or Ella.
“If finding people is what you’re good at, you should go find her. If not to get back together, to get closure. I think you were too rash, and you didn’t get what you needed to move on. Go get it,” she urged.
Perhaps she did have a point. He would most likely never have another relationship or anything resembling that, like he had with Mari, but the little girl had halted his entire life. He couldn’t move forward when the thought of her was dragging him back.
Sara was right. He needed closure. And he was a bounty hunter. That was something he knew he could do.
He would find her.