Thom: I looked at her across the room. She was sleeping. I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I stared at the ceiling. After a few minutes I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.
Sera was thrashing around under her comforter. She was mouthing the word “no.” I walked over to her and gently touched her shoulder. She didn’t wake up. I shook her a little bit and her bright blue eyes shot open. She grabbed me by the arms and pulled me onto the bed next to her.
“What were you dreaming about?” I asked.
“My parents,” she said. “I miss them.”
“Me too. Do you have any siblings?”
“No. Do you?” she asked. I wasn’t sure how to answer her question.
“I used to. But she died,” I said.
“Oh,” Sera’s voice shook at her simple response. I looked down at her. She was crying. I brushed her arm with the back of my hand. She stopped crying. I started to stand up, but she suddenly gripped my arm.
She stared at me for a second. “Don’t go,” she whispered. I lay back down on the bed. She smiled sweetly at me. I smiled back. Eventually she fell asleep. I kissed her on the cheek, then went back to my own bed.
Sera: “You don’t have to do this,” Thom said. I wanted to though. I hadn’t seen the surface in over five months. We were sitting on a couch in the main room. He hugged me and held me close against him.
“I’ll be fine,” I said. I leaned in closer and kissed him.
“I love you Sera,” he said suddenly.
“I love you, too,” I said as I touched his cheek. I kissed him again. He hugged me tightly.
Marc walked in with a dark red flowing evening gown. He walked over and handed it to me.
“It’s exactly what you wanted. I even made the special adjustments,” he said as I looked it over.
“We should go over the plans again with Rian,” Thom said. Marc walked off to get Rian. Thom kissed me. Rian and Marc came back in. Rian was carrying the blueprint for a mansion.
“Okay, so here’s the plan,” Rian said. “I received word of another runaway who was captured recently. His name is Jered and he’s only sixteen. He’s lived his life on the streets. He should be right here.” He pointed to a small room on the second floor.
“Your part is the decoy,” Rian continued. “You go in and pretend you were invited to the party. You have to pretend you’re foreign and don’t talk much. When nobody’s looking sneak up to the room and break Jered free. That’s about it.”
“Okay,” I said. Then I walked to mine and Thom’s bedroom to put the dress on.
Thom: I walked into our bedroom as Sera was putting the dress on. It had thick straps and a tall back. It had to be high enough to cover up her scar.
I touched her on the shoulder. She whirled around. Tears were welling up in her eyes. I leaned down and kissed her. A tear ran down her face; I wiped it away.
“I’m scared,” she whispered.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” I said. She smiled and stopped crying.
“I have to do my make-up and hair,” she said. I watched her walk away.
After about a half an hour she came back to the main room. Her hair was immaculately pinned up, and her make-up was perfect. I almost gasped; she looked so beautiful.
“Are we ready?” Sera asked as she walked forward.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Marc said. The four of us walked to the ladder. Marc and Rian went up first. We were going to wait for her near the mansion.
I was about to go up when I turned around and lunged at Sera. I held my arms tight around her waist and pressed my lips to hers. She was a little shocked at first, but recovered quickly. She put her arms around my neck and firmly kissed me back.
After a few intense and intoxicating moments like this we broke apart. She smiled joyously, so did I. I turned and started climbing the ladder.
Sera: I stood in front of the mansion in awe. It was huge! I calmly walked toward the front door. The guard asked me my name. I told him my fake name, Katerina Skanz. He let me pass.
Once inside the house, I was overwhelmed by the amount of food and drinks they had. I milled about, eating a little bit here and there. I drank a couple of glasses of champagne. They made me a little tipsy. No one paid very much attention to me. When I was done wandering around I found the stairs and climbed up them.
I could see the room from here. I walked over to it. I pulled a pin out of my hair and picked the lock. The door swung open. Jered was sitting inside. He was dangerously skinny, and his arms were chained to the floor.
I walked over to him. He didn’t even glance at me. His eyes were strange and empty. I picked the locks on the chains and pulled them off of his arms.
“Are you here to help me?” he rasped.
“Yes,” I said. His eyes lit up and he started struggling to his feet. I helped him up.
“Have you started being brainwashed?” I asked.
“A little bit,” he said. We started to walk out of the room. He was a little wobbly; he’d been shot in the heel when he was captured.
“What do you know?” I asked.
“I know where Nathern is,” he said.
“Where?” I was instantly alert.
“A place in New Zealand. It’s called Marna Row. I—“ He was suddenly cut off. His eyes were totally blank as he fell to the floor.
There was a man standing behind him with a gun. There was a silencer on it. He smirked and fired again. The bullet hit me in the stomach. I fell by Jered on the marble floor.
Thom: I heard the gunshot from the house next door and tensed up. Sera was hurt, I was sure of it.
“Let’s go,” I said to Marc and Rian. They followed me toward the back of the mansion. We found a low window on the second floor. Rian boosted me up and I jimmied the lock on the window. It slid open and I went inside. Marc and Rian were staying outside.
I walked out of the room and into a long hallway. There was a man with a gun standing with his back to me. He was standing over Sera’s body. I ran full speed toward the man. He turned around and raised the gun to fire at me. But he was too late. I ran into him, knocking him down. He dropped the gun. I punched him a few times. He stayed conscious.
In anger I grabbed his short hair and slammed his head into the ground. He went limp and blood poured out of his head; I’d smashed his skull in.
I walked over to Sera. She was breathing normally. I was glad she wasn’t dead. I picked her up and carried her to the window. Her eyes opened as I lowered her down to Marc and Rian. I hurried down and took her from them.
“Marna Row,” she whispered. Then her eyes closed again.
Sera: I opened my eyes slowly. Thom was sitting on the edge of my bed, his messy brown hair caked with blood.
“Thom,” I whispered. He turned around. There were tears in his eyes. I sat up and threw my arms around him. I was wearing my pajamas for some reason, and my hair was down.
“What’s Marna Row?” he asked suspiciously.
“It’s where Nathern is hiding. It’s somewhere in New Zealand.” I thought for a second. “How did you know I was hurt?”
“I heard the gunshot,” he said
“You couldn’t have,” I said, confused. “There was a silencer on the gun.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about the dress?” he quickly changed the subject.
“I figured Marc told you. I’m so sorry.” I had the sudden urge to kiss him. So I did. He gripped my hand tightly.
He led me over to my dress. There was a hole in the Kevlar fabric concealed on the inside of it. It had protected me from the bullet, but the force had knocked me down. When my head hit the marble floor, it knocked me out.
Thom hugged me from behind.
“I’m sorry I failed,” I said miserably.
“It wasn’t your fault,” he said sincerely. I touched his hand.
“I love you Thom,” I said.
“I love you, too,” he replied. I smiled and kissed him.
Thom: The news had come a month ago. Nathern was dead. Marc had contacted some friends, and together they went to New Zealand. Marc had been killed, but one of his friends had succeeded in assassinating Nathern.
It was hard to settle into normal life. Sera, Rian, and I were going to have to find jobs soon.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a blue velvet box. I smiled as Sera entered the room.