“I’m not sure I can do this,” I tell the women in leather standing in front of me. I’m sitting in a warehouse, surrounded by boxes, men in the distance waiting to hear the gun shot go off, waiting for my death. “It’s too dangerous. And besides, putting my family through all of that… it’s not right.” Although, I probably don’t real care about anyone in my family but my brother, Benton. The rest can go to hell.
Solana paces the floor, a gun in each hand, appearing as though she’s going to shoot me at any given moment—it’s what she was hired to do. “Death can be liberating Layton,” she says¸ checking the amount of bullets in each gun. “You should embrace it.”
“I’m not you, Solana,” I tell her, shifting my weight. My hands are tied behind my back, the box beneath me starting to sink from my weight. It’s been only a couple of months since Lola and I shot the Dellefontes, two weeks since she ran off, two weeks where I thought we were going to get away with what we did. But then I was caught.
And now I’m here, about to die.
“You don’t really have a choice, do you?” Solana asks, the person hired to kill me. The problem is I’ve known her for a little while which has led us to this little pre-murder chitchat, which has given me second thoughts about the whole damn thing. “Death is the only way out of this.” She lowers her voice. “We’ve talked about this already.” She pauses in front of me, glancing at me with a look on her face that I can she’s disgusted by whatever she’s going to say next. “Besides, think of Lola. If you stay alive, you know as well as I do that they’ll make you kill her.”
“But if I die, you’ll kill her.”
“Better you than me.”
“Solana.” I try to keep my composure, because emotion doesn’t go well with Solana. The woman is dead inside, but that’s what she was trained to be. “I’ll do this, but only if you promise not to kill Lola.”
Solana cocks her head to the side, considering what I said. Then she raises the gun at me. “Fine, I won’t kill her, but I might have to bring her close—you know how these things go.” Her lips curve upward, the only smile I’ve ever seen on her face. But it looks wrong, like she’s not even sure what emotion she’s feeling and just does the gestures. “Now close your eyes.”
I do what she says, shutting my eyes, counting my heartbeats, my pulse steady as a rock. I’m doing this for Lola. To protect her. To save her. Because I love her. More than anything.
The last thing I picture is Lola’s beautiful face, her smile, her gorgeous eyes, the girl I’ve loved forever. And it’s what makes the sound of the gun going on just a little more easier.
I’m a dead woman on the run, a shitty life, but then again my life was never full of rainbows and sunshine. Smiles. Time spent being peacefully oblivious to the danger the world holds when lives center on money, wealth, and power. There is so much danger that comes with putting those three things first, even when you’re not technically the one seeking it. My father is one of those men who wants it all and will do almost anything to get it. The problem is he’s always put my life at risk because of it, since the day I was born. And there weren’t just risks either, but secrets. Drugs. Death. Death is the worst in my opinion, especially when you cause it, which I did, and now I’m paying for it. It kills me everyday, what I did, the man’s life that I took and I don’t think I’ve even fully dealt with it yet, too focused on running, which makes it easier to stay in denial.
Run away from your problems.
“Lola, you can’t keep going on like this,” my Aunt Glady tells me on the phone, which she tells me every time I check in. She’s my mother’s sister but doesn’t remind me of my mother at all, which is good because I don’t think I’d be able to talk to her as much, the painful reminder too great. “Going into hiding isn’t going to do you any good.”
“Are you sure about that?” I ask with the disposable phone pressed to my ear, the kind that are harder to track and easier to replace. “It might have saved my mom if she’d done it.”
“Honey, I know you think you’re life is in danger,” my Aunt Glady says. “But you’re father will protect you.”
“My father caused this. Because of him, I have blood on my hands,” I snap bitterly as I peer out the window of the apartment I’ve been staying in for the last two months. It’s in no way my home but it’s fitting; cold, empty, just like my soul.
“I don’t know exactly what happened back in Boston,” my Aunt Glady says. “Since you won’t tell me, but I know for a fact that your father will protect you know matter what.”
“I don’t want his protection nor do I trust him at all.” Don’t trust anyone. Layton had told me this.
I move back to the window and sink down on the bed. It’s one of the few things I have at the moment—a bed, a pillow, a few clothes. Anything more would be too much. “I don’t want anything from my father ever again.” It’s the truth. Something inside me died the day I killed a man to save my father. And that part seems to be connected to my emotions. For the most part, I feel nothing anymore. Emotionally detached. I feel nothing but this hollowness inside me.
“Fine, but you still really need to go home even if it’s just for a day or two. You can do it discretely—no one will have to know.” There’s something in her voice this time that makes me wonder if she’s keeping something from me.
“Why are you pushing this so hard?” I ask. “I mean, I know you’ve been pushing me to stop running since I took off a couple of months ago, but today you’re being extra pushy so what gives Glady? Fess up. You’ve never been good at keeping secrets anyway.”
She sighs heavy heartedly. “Lola, do you ever check in at home… with anyone?”
Lying down on the bed, I squeeze my eyes shut as a feel a ping of homesickness, not for my father, but for the few people I did care about. My few friends, a couple of my bodyguards, Layton. “No, it wouldn’t be smart… the people looking for me... I’m sure they’re watching the people I’d contact.”
“What about…. What about Layton? Do you ever talk to him?”