Guilty of Innocence (Chapter -7)
Guilty of Innocence (Chapter -7)
Chad sighed as he and Nicky stood in front of a two story mansion looking house.
“You wanted to come here,” Nicky retorted to his sigh.
“I know, Chad grumbled, stepping toward the front door. “I’m just wondering why.”
With another sigh he pressed the doorbell next to the intercom and they both waited a moment.
“Hello?” the intercom questioned in a feminine voice, making the two teens jump.
Chad pressed the button to reply and said, “Hi. I’m Chad. I’m a friend of Jared’s. I’m here with Nicky. She’s a friend of his, too.”
“I’m sorry , but Jared’s doing his homework right now,” the female voice on the intercom replied. “Maybe you can come back another time to visit with him?”
“Mrs. Walker, please,” Nicky called. “We really need to talk to him. It’s important.”
“I’m sorry, but—”
“Mom, go finish dinner. I’ll handle this.”
Chad and Nicky frowned at each other when they heard Jared dismiss his mother then jumped when the door opened to reveal Jared himself. The sophomore smirked and crossed his arms over his chest to lean on the door frame but he missed it and stumbled. The two juniors in front of him had to stifle their laughter as Jared stood, scowling at himself then straightened himself out.
“So,” he started, crossing his arms again. “What’s this ‘important’ thing you need to talk to me about? Or is this another ‘geek’ task that needs to be performed.”
“Chad wants to apologize for that insensitive and uncalled for remark,” Nicky quickly replied, shoving Chad toward the younger boy.
The blonde glared over his shoulder at her before turning back to Jared and muttering something under his breath.
“What was that?” Jared retorted, teasingly as he leaned closer to hear his classmate. “Say that one more time.”
Chad glared at the younger boy before grinding out, “I’m sorry for calling you a geek.”
“Apology accepted,” Jared nodded, leaning away. “Was that all?”
“Actually there’s something else,” Nicky broke in, stepping next to Chad. “Can we stay the night?”
Jared frowned and adjusted his glasses before asking, “Why here?”
“Long story,” Chad blurted. “Can we talk inside?”
“But it’s such a fine day,” Jared smirked, relishing the irritation in his classmate’s tone. Chad glared at Jared who smirked for another moment before asking, “What’s in it for me?”
“Lack of a beating,” Chad retorted, making Nicky stare at him in disbelief. “Let us in, will ya?”
“Only if you let me in on what I looked up for you earlier,” Jared shot back. “And when you head to Washington, I’m going with you.”
“This ain’t a negotiation, kid,” Chad retorted.
“So we understand each other,” Jared smirked.
Nicky glanced between the two boys as Chad continued to glare at the younger one. He realized he wasn’t going to get out of letting the boy in on the secret, but he couldn’t let anyone else get caught up in his mess. It wasn’t fair to them.
“Alright,” Chad finally muttered, making Nicky shoot her gaze at him and stare at him with wide eyes. “I’ll tell you what’s going on, but you’re not coming with me. Even Nicky’s not going, so you won’t be the only one left behind.”
Jared nodded and moved aside for the two older teens to walk in. The juniors stopped a few feet inside the door and stared in awe at the spacious living room, sparkling clean and perfectly arranged.
“This way,” Jared urged them toward the stairs to the left but they took another moment before they actually turned to head up the steps. Chad and Nicky followed Jared up the stairs into a hallway with several doors on either side.
“There’s only one guest room,” he explained, still leading them down the hall. “I hope you don’t mind sharing.”
“It’s fine,” Chad replied for both of them, Nicky glancing at him but said nothing.
Jared turned to one of the doors, opened it and walked in first, followed by the couple before he shut the door behind them.
“I’ll show you the guest room later,” he assured them, sitting on his bed and gesturing to the computer chair for at least one of them to sit.
Chad set his bag down and sat in the chair while Nicky looked at him in surprise. She had hoped he’d be a gentleman, but apparently no such luck, she thought.
“So, now that we’ve got some alone time,” Jared began as Chad pulled Nicky’s wrist to pull her onto his knee, making her squeak in surprise, as he continued, “tell me about that call I looked up for you.”
“You remember what happened to my parents, right?” Chad cut to the chase and Jared nodded, hesitantly. “Everybody does. Well, this guy – Mr. Nemo – he called me and said he knows I didn’t kill them, because he did it.”
Jared’s eyes shot wide behind his glasses but Chad didn’t react to his shock, neither did Nicky.
“Not only that, but he’s been tapping mine and Nicky’s phones,” Chad continued.
“That’s why we came to you,” Nicky chimed in. “He didn’t mention anything about you, so that must mean he doesn’t know who you are.”
“I never call you, so he can’t know who you are,” Chad elaborated. “And there’s one more thing.”
Nicky took the cue and leaned down to pick up his bag and handed it to him. He set the backpack on his other knee and opened it to pull out the plastic bag he’d shoved into it before leaving his uncle’s house. Jared shrunk back when Chad pulled the bag out, his eyes widening as his heart thumped in his chest.
“Wha-W-What the hell?!” he sputtered. “What the hell is that?!”
“I’m guessing, this is the knife that guy used,” Chad replied, strangely calm. Nicky shot a wide-eyed gaze at him in disbelief and moved to stand, but he kept a firm arm around her waist to keep her on his knee as he continued, “When I head to the train station tomorrow morning, I’ll make a stop at the police station and leave this there with a note explaining everything.”
“I thought you weren’t gonna go to the cops,” Nicky replied as he put the plastic bag back in his backpack.
“If you’ll recall, my Skater Fox, that was before you found that in my closet,” Chad retorted. “And the cops are gonna follow me anyway. I may as well let them in on my plan, right?”
“So you are going to Washington?” Jared wanted to be sure. “I thought you were joking!”
“I’ve never been more serious,” Chad replied. “And I’m dead serious about going by myself.”
Jared nodded in understanding but noticed Nicky’s sorrowful expression as she looked away from the blonde. The younger boy glanced at his computer then stood and gestured that Chad and Nicky stand as well.
“I traced that call on my computer,” he explained, sitting and typing at the computer as Chad and Nicky leaned over each of his shoulders. “I figured I’d prove I was useful and help you out a little more to convince you to let me in on this little adventure of yours.”
“What did you find?” Chad wondered.
“Using this computer, I was able to pinpoint the call a little better,” Jared replied. “The call came from a cell phone, but on the computer at school I couldn’t figure out which of the three towers he was using. I dug a little deeper on this one and found where the signal ended up. I traced the signal back and found the source.” He typed a little in his computer until a map came up with a blinking green dot on it. “The Japanese Gardens.”
“Why there?” Nicky frowned in wonder. “Awfully strange place to make calls from.”
“Why not there?” Chad retorted. “Tranquil, serene. Probably his way of finding some peace.”
Nicky and Jared both turned frowns to Chad as he still stared at the screen. He sensed he was being stared at and glanced between the two of them with a frown of his own.
“You sound like you know what he’s like,” Nicky voiced for both of them.
“Maybe I know what it’s like to want some peace in a life of chaos?” he murmured and Nicky’s frown disappeared as she stepped next to him, slipping her hand into his and setting her forehead on his shoulder.
“At least now you actually have a destination,” Jared said, ignoring the comment because he knew Chad didn’t want to look soft. “You gonna stake out the Gardens?”
“Maybe,” Chad replied as Nicky set her temple on his shoulder to face Jared, still holding the blonde’s hand. “I have to get there, first.”
“And you think the train is the best way to get there?” Jared smirked, adjusting his glasses as Chad frowned at him in wonder.
“It’s cheaper,” he replied.
“Not really,” Jared corrected, spinning toward his computer again and typing into it. “Trains are unreliable. It’ll take you two days, at best, until you get there. Maybe three. It’ll take you two hours by plane. Leave tomorrow morning, get there in the afternoon.”
“A…plane?” Chad sputtered before swallowing.
Nicky lifted her head to frown at him as Jared only continued typing. She nudged his arm and when he looked at her with wide eyes, she nodded to silently ask what was wrong. He only shook his head before looking back at what Jared was doing.
“What’s your credit card number?” he asked and Chad frowned, leaning over the younger boy’s shoulder.
“Don’t have one,” Chad replied. “What are you doing?”
“Getting your ticket,” Jared replied simply, not looking away from the screen.
“Here,” Nicky suddenly chimed in, leaning on the other side of Jared with a small card in her hand. “Use mine. I have enough.”
“Nicole,” Chad called and she looked up to meet his warning glare. “Don’t.”
“Chadworth,” she replied in the same tone. “It’s my money, and I’m going to.”
She set the card in front of Jared, whispered something into his ear and patted his shoulder before standing tall and smiling cutely at Chad. He stood tall as well, gritting his teeth as he marched around Jared to grip her arm and pull her away to the other end of the room.
“What are you doing?” he growled, staring her in the eye.
“Helping you,” she murmured. “And don’t tell me you don’t need it, because I knowyou do. I want you to catch this guy too, and if I can help, I will.”
“You don’t want me to find him,” Chad retorted. “And I don’t want you to help me. I know I need help, but if this guy gets to you through you helping me and hurts you, I—”
He swallowed and glanced toward Jared before looking at his and mumbling, “I don’t wanna lose my first girlfriend to a psycho killer.”
Nicky couldn’t help but smile as she stepped close enough to slip her arms around his chest and set her head on it. Chad straightened and swallowed before glancing to Jared to make sure he wasn’t watching so he could wrap his arms around Nicky.
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me, Chad,” she murmured with a small smile.
“Don’t get used to it,” he warned, making her giggle and he couldn’t help but smile at the sound of her giggle as he set his cheek on top of her head.
“I should warn you,” Jared suddenly called, drawing their attention to him as he continued, “the walls here are thin. So anything you guys might be planning to do will definitely be heard.”
“Who made you the relationship zebra?!” Chad spat as both he and Nicky pulled away from each other blushing. “We weren’t even thinking it!”
“Right,” Jared smirked as his printer activated, printing out a boarding pass. “And I don’t think in a string of programming software.”
He pulled the paper from the printer once it was done and handed it to Chad who snatched it from him with a glare.
“You’ll need that with your ID. Since you’re sixteen you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting through security, but if they ask, you’ll have to tell them a relative is picking you up or something.”
“Oh, that should be fun,” Chad muttered, looking over the paper but frowned when he noticed another paper coming out of the printer and asked, “What’s that?”
“I accidentally hit print twice,” Jared shrugged. Chad was doubtful, but he didn’t bother with it. “Is that bag the only one you’re taking?”
Chad nodded, mutely.
“You’ll wanna go through it and make sure everything’s ok to take on the plane.”
“Yeah,” Chad muttered. “Gotta practically undress and unload to get through security.”
“Imagine how the foreigners feel,” Jared agreed. “Anyway, if there’s anything you can’t take, just leave it here. My guess is you’ll be back again.”
“Why can’t Nicky just take it home with her?” Chad wondered.
“Because I’m not going home,” she chimed in, making Chad shoot his gaze to her. “I’m staying here until you come back.”
“That could be a while, Nicky,” he warned. “I may not be back for days, maybe even weeks or months.”
“Until this creep is dead or locked up, it’s safer here, don’t you think?” she replied.
“Well, yeah, but Jared—”
“Has no problem housing your Skater Fox until her knight’s return,” Jared cut in, standing and stepping next to Nicky to hug her shoulders for a split second. “We never have guests. She can stay in the guest room until you get back.”
Chad glanced between the two before sighing in relief. Good. Nicky would be safe. Even if Nemo knew about Jared, he was in Washington and had no qualms with him, or Nicky. It was Chad who was dangerous to be around.
“Thanks, Jare,” Chad smiled, setting a hand on the teen’s shoulder. “I mean for everything.”
“When you find him, you should tell him how you found him,” Jared smirked. “You know, before you kill him.”
That earned him a punch in the gut from Nicky and he gave a small grunt as he almost doubled over completely.
“We’re not using the ‘K’ word in the presence of the Princess,” Chad explained as Jared quickly recovered.
“Forgive me, Your Highness,” the sophomore retorted as he gave a mocking bow to Nicky. “I was unaware.”
“Oh, stuff it,” Nicky grumbled as Chad folded up his boarding pass and shoved it into his pants pocket. “Where’s the guest room?”
“This way, my Boarding Addicts,” Jared replied, gesturing grandly toward the door and leading the way into the hall. He stepped next to a door, opened it and waved grandly into the room as the couple approached.
“You’d make a great actor, Jared,” Nicky muttered, entering the room.
“Closing curtain bow is spot-on,” Chad grinned, following her in.
“Enjoy your stay at the Walker Inn,” Jared grinned. “I will inform the Inn keepers to set two more plates for dinner and breakfast, tomorrow.”
“Two for dinner, one for breakfast,” Chad corrected, tossing his bag on the bed with Nicky’s. “I’ll get mine on the fly tomorrow.”
“Should I call Brandon and Nicky’s parents?”
“No!” the couple almost shouted in unison, making Jared take a step back in surprise.
“Tapped lines, remember?” Chad reminded him and the younger teen nodded.
“Right. Sorry. I’ll let you guys alone now. Dinner’s in an hour.”
“Thanks again for everything, Jared,” Nicky smiled.
“No problem,” he nodded, starting to close the door behind him but added, “Remember…thin walls.”
“Shut it, ya virgin!” Chad spat as they both blushed again.
“Oh, and you’re not?” Jared smirked and ducked out of the doorway, shutting the door before hearing Chad’s reply.
“Damn…hormonal…computer rat,” Chad muttered.
He whirled toward Nicky, hearing her tone as she sat at the foot of the bed.
“You’ll come back, right?” she wondered, softly. “You won’t…forget about me?”
“Forget about you?” Chad echoed with a frown as he stepped toward her and sat next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “How could I forget about you? You’ve been there for me when no one else was. You’re my Skater Fox.”
She looked up at him with wide, emerald eyes and breathed, “Really?”
“Yeah,” he grinned, seeing her give a small smile. “And let me tell you, if I find out that little Software Junkie out there tried to make a move on you while I was gone, I’m gonna—”
His threat was cut off when Nicky planted her lips to his. One of her hands flew to the collar of his jacket to pull him closer while the other leaned on the mattress and Chad groaned before sliding a hand to her knee, the other holding the hand on the mattress. Chad deepened the kiss and his hand slid up her leg just a touch but she placed her hand on it before it could go further as they broke the kiss to breathe. They sighed as they rested their foreheads against the others, their eyes locked for a moment before they both laughed, slightly.
“I could get used to this,” Chad murmured, lifting his hand from her leg to brush a strand of hair from her face.
“Me too,” Nicky grinned as they shifted, letting her rest her head on his shoulder as he gathered her into his arms. “I don’t want you to go.”
“I have to,” he replied. “No one’s safe while this creep is out there.” He gave a small chuckle before reminding her, “You always said you wanted a hero.”
“A hero for me, not everybody else,” Nicky retorted and he chuckled again.
“Well, your knight in shining armor has to go slay the dragon,” he smirked, twirling a piece of her hair. “Will my princess be waiting in the tower?”
“Yes,” she sighed, hugging his chest, tightly. “I will.”