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The foundation series bo.., p.27
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.27

           Kira Adams
Gia had also been on her best behavior since the last time I called her out and we were even being civil to one another. It felt good not to have the pressure of anything other than friendship.

  “He home?” I asked as I swung my backpack over the railing onto the porch after returning home from school.

  She shook her head no, but kept her eyes buried in her journal.

  “You’ve been knee deep in that thing all week, what are you writing?” I asked curiously as I stepped towards her.

  “Oh, nothing.” She blushed and then closed it swiftly, heading inside the house.

  “Hey, where are you going?” I called after her, grabbing my backpack and following her into the house.

  She walked over to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of water. “Want one?”

  I nodded, motioning for her to throw me one.

  As soon as I felt it hit my fingers I twisted off the cap and took a long swig. “Where’s your mom?”

  Gia shrugged. “I don’t know. I figured she was with Frank…then again, she has been disappearing quite a bit lately.”

  “Where do you think she goes?” I asked, taking another gulp of the cold liquid.

  “Promise not to say anything?” When I nodded silently, she continued. “She used to have this gambling problem a few years back. Some idiot introduced her to slot machines and it was over. There went the child support money, there went our rent money, shit, even our food money.”

  I couldn’t help the look of sympathy that poured across my face. “I’m sorry…”

  “Don’t be,” she replied smugly. “I learned what it takes to survive. I’m thankful for that.”

  “You really think she could be back into gambling?” I asked. My father was an alcoholic…alcohol and gambling did not mix.

  Gia nodded slowly. “I think that is what her and Frank have been squabbling about lately.”

  “Well, I knew it was money related, but…” I trailed off trying to recall what I could.

  “He gambled all the rent money and the last thing I heard he was screaming at her that she had to make it all back.”

  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered under my breath. I threw my backpack back over my shoulder and began to walk towards my room.

  “Jace?” Gia called after me.

  “Yeah?” I turned around.

  “I found this on the door the other day.” I watched as she pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper from her back pocket.

  I opened it up, curious as to the contents inside. I wanted to read the terms, I wanted to pay attention to anything else, but the only thing I saw big and clear was, EVICTION NOTICE.

  * * *

  That son of a bitch.

  We were being evicted because he spent our rent money gambling.

  We were being evicted, that was, unless we magically came up with $1200 in the next forty eight hours. We were pretty much screwed.

  Over the years I had managed to save $800, which was intended for my senior trip, but I realized that money may as well be gone because there was no way I would let Samina and Gia end up on the streets because of Frank’s reckless decisions.

  I pulled the money out without hesitation. That $800 coupled with another $200 I procured from my grandmother, and I headed to the landlords house ready to beg and plead for my home.

  After nearly an hour of back and forth banter, the landlord told me they could only accept payment in full, and unless I had it, we were basically shit out of luck.

  I returned home to an empty house and less than thirty six hours to sort it all out. Samina and Frank had been gone for quite a long time, but he was known for his overly long trips. I made a mental note to ask Gia if she had heard from her mother the next time I saw her.

  I was staring at the stack of bills in my hand when Gia finally walked through the door a couple of hours later. “Jace? Jace? Are you okay?” she asked, snapping her fingers in front of my eyes.

  I had been in a daze. How long have I been staring off like that?

  “Are you okay?” she asked again, her brows furrowed and riddled with worry.

  I nodded. “We’re going to lose the house,” I said finally.

  Her shoulders dropped heavily. “How short are we?”

  “We still need two hundred dollars and time is running out.”

  “I hate to ask this, and I know it’s not my place,” she began, “but have you asked Peyton?”

  I looked up at her incredulously. I wanted Peyton nowhere near my father or his crippling ways…I wanted to deal with this on my own. “I can’t do that.”

  She sighed loudly. “Of course not. I’m sorry I asked.”

  I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or sincere but I went with it anyways.

  I grabbed the money and went up to my room, plopping down on my bed. I wasn’t sure how long I laid there, in the darkness, anticipating his arrival.

  I hadn’t realized I had fallen asleep, but the sound of a door closing was enough to stir me. I looked around my dark room through tired eyes, attempting to regain control of my blurry vision.

  I heard the clinking of glass bottles and ripped my door open, running downstairs. I hadn’t expected to find Gia amongst the wine bottles, tipsy as ever. “Gia, what are you doing?” I hissed.

  “It’s our last night here right? Might as well drink up!” Gia tossed her head back and took a big gulp of the red drink.

  I heard the yelling before they were even near the house. Was he yelling at her in the car all the way over as well? I didn’t know what had gotten into me lately, but I ripped open the door to the garage, no fear, and ready to knock some sense into him.

  I realized very quickly that he had Samina on speakerphone and she wasn’t even in the vicinity. It didn’t take two quick glances to see just how smashed he was. He was wobbling back and forth with his phone as he approached the door.

  “Oh, no you don’t!” I held out my hand to stop him.

  He looked up at me, his eyes unable to make firm eye contact and then he attempted to push his way through.

  “Tell me you didn’t know about this?” I asked, shoving the eviction notice in his face.

  He looked like he went cross eyed before he took a good look at the bold lettering at the top.

  “Surprise! We’re moving.” And then he shoved me out of the way and onto the hard concrete of the garage floor.

  I stumbled up as quickly as I could, but the asshole had locked me out. I ran to the front door, jiggling the handle furiously as it remained firm. The back door was my only other option. I don’t think I had ever moved faster in my life.

  Her scream; that scream; it’s when I knew there was no going back.

  Fourteen: Face the Music

  Most kids don’t ever have to imagine hurting their parents. I had to live through it.

  It wasn’t the way I anticipated it would happen. I wasn’t even sure I was aware of my actions fully when I did it. All I heard was her blood curdling scream, chilling my bones. I couldn’t sit idly by. The house was already destroyed enough when I chucked a large piece of wood through the living room window and climbed through.

  “Frank! Please! Stop!” I could faintly hear her cries coming from upstairs.

  All the hairs on my body were standing on end as I frantically ran through the house looking for anything to fight him off with. It was just sitting there…right in the middle of the table. I hadn’t even realized he owned a firearm. My experience with guns was close to nothing, but if it wasn’t a sign, I wasn’t sure what was.

  I picked up the black pistol carefully and began making my way up the stairs, keeping my eyes peeled for Frank or Gia.

  It sounded like a struggle and then more glass shattering, more pounding on the walls.

  “Help!” Gia’s voice had never sounded more frightened; my legs felt shaky beneath me as I closed in on what I thought to be their location.

  I wasn’t prepared for the sight. Somewhere deep inside me I always knew there was a possib
ility he would take it to that dark place—I just chose to stay in denial. But when I rounded the corner and saw him, on top of her...I couldn’t help myself.

  I pulled the trigger without another thought. In an instant he was toppled over grabbing his injury.

  I ran to Gia, helping her onto her feet. Her hair was disheveled, her clothes ripped, and her bra was torn completely on one side. She looked terrified and shaken up. I quickly removed my sweatshirt and handed it to her to cover herself up with. “You okay?”

  She nodded, accepting it and putting it on slowly. “Thanks to you. Should we call the police?”

  “You need to get out of here—find your mom—and go,” I ordered, remembering what had just taken place. I was most likely headed to prison, I didn’t want Gia anywhere near that place.

  “What are you going to do?” she questioned, her lip quivering.

  “I’m going to take care of it.” I reached my hands up to her face, unsure of exactly how I should have been feeling. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

  “Will I ever see you again?” Gia asked, a tear streaming down her face silently.

  “I hope so,” I answered, and then, even though I was conflicted and knew better, I lowered my lips down to hers in a soft, short kiss.

  “Goodbye Jace.” She hugged me tightly then ran off in search of her mother.

  I looked down at my fingers, the same fingers that had pulled the trigger; dropping the firearm quickly.

  I was shaking as I looked back at my father’s body, face down on the bed Gia had been sleeping on the past couple of months. He was squirming around in his own blood. The sight would have been nauseating if I hadn’t just witnessed him attacking Gia. Between the gurgling and his light coughing and mumbling it sounded like he was trying to say something.

  I leaned down to the bed, not touching any part of him…not wanting to obstruct the crime scene. Lowering my ear closer to his mouth, I finally heard him. “You’re going to rot in hell for this, boy.”

  He was breathing heavily and coughing up blood onto the white downy comforter.

  “Well, I guess I’ll see you there,” I replied, giving my father one last look before walking out of her room and out the front door. I needed fresh air; it would help me figure out what to do. After pacing back and forth for what seemed like hours but was only six minutes, I knew without a shadow of a doubt what I needed to do.

  I pulled my phone out of my pocket dialing 911.

  After the greeting I spoke the incriminating words that would more than likely put me behind bars. “I’m calling to report a shooting. My name is Jace Austin and I just shot my father.”

  After hanging up it would be mere minutes before the police came to arrest me. I dialed the only other number I had memorized apart from my own. She answered on the fourth ring. “Jace?” Her voice sounded surprised as I expected it to be.

  “I don’t have long to talk but I want you to know that even after everything, I still love you. I just want you to hold onto that.”

  “Jace.” Peyton’s voice rose unusually high. “What is going on?”

  “I shot my father, Peyton.” I paused, fully digesting the words myself. “I’m probably going to jail, or worse.”

  “What?” I could tell I had Peyton’s full attention then.

  “He went after Gia, Peyton. I couldn’t help myself.”

  I could feel the pain I inflicted with the mention of Gia’s name. After all, Gia was the reason for my confusion, our space and time apart.

  “I told you…” Peyton said softly. “I told you to go to the police before something like this happened.”

  “I know…do you forgive me?” I asked, suddenly realizing my time was running short.

  “What?” Peyton asked in an exasperated tone.

  “You heard me—will you give me another chance if I find a way out of this?”

  She swallowed loudly then.

  “Jace, you’re scaring me.”

  “I’m scaring myself,” I replied honestly.

  And then I heard the sirens and caught sight of the approaching lights.

  “You’re always going to be my little rock star,” I whispered into the phone as my eyes blurred with tears.

  Her wails and sobs on the other side of the phone were going to be seared into my memory forever.

  “Freeze! Hands in the air!”

  Game over.

  Fifteen: Jailed and Conflicted

  As the red and blue lights spun around, whirring and twirling, my mind went elsewhere. I could hear my name faintly through all the commotion but my vision had gone dark.

  It’s funny that in the heat of the moment, I froze up completely. Memories of my father playing with Jax and me as children took over my mind.

  It wasn’t until I felt the handcuffs being fastened tightly around my wrists or my body being roughly thrown to the ground that I came to. I was in the police car quicker than I could blink. I never got a chance to explain what happened.

  They left me in the back of that car for hours while they “cleared” the scene and then they brought out a stretcher with a white cloth covering my father’s body. Blood was soaking through the sheet. I had to look away. I could already feel my insides churning. To say I was going through an extreme range of emotions was the understatement of the year.

  People were beginning to come out of their homes; astonished looks smeared across their faces. I’m sure none of them expected anything so dark and sinister to happen right in their own neighborhood. And then I saw her. I had to blink a few times to clear away remnants of my earlier tears—but she was definitely there, to the side of my car, looking straight at me.

  I thought she had left.

  My heart began racing. I really hadn’t given her enough credit. With each step Gia took towards the officers my stomach flip-flopped even more. I was basically salivating to hear what she would tell them, but in less than five minutes I watched her get carted into the back of another police vehicle.

  We were both taken to the police station and put in separate interrogation rooms. The room I had been thrown into had nothing more than a table and two chairs. One thing it was not missing? A two-way mirror; it was the first thing I noticed. They were no doubt on the other side observing my behavior.

  After fifteen minutes of excruciating silence had gone by, the door finally opened. In walked two officers; one male and one female. The female looked like an Amazon woman towering over her partner’s thicker frame. She had short brown hair styled into a bob. The male looked to be around 5’8”, Hispanic, with a goatee.

  “Hello,” the Hispanic male began. “My name is detective Gil and this is detective Handler, I’m sure you know why we brought you in today.”

  I nodded as I watched detective Handler take a seat across from me. “I shot my father.”

  “That’s right.” Detective Gil took a step closer to me. “Jace, we are going to need you to tell us exactly what happened and what led up to that decision, do you understand?”

  “Yes sir.” In a way it would be like taking a load off my chest; I had been hiding the truth about my father for so long I was even beginning to believe my own lies. It has to be better this way.

  It wasn’t surprising that after close to three hours in interrogation, the police still seemed hesitant to believe that my father was an abusive drunk who tried to rape Gia. I was sure I was a goner until detective Handler removed my handcuffs and asked me to prove that Frank was abusive…it wasn’t a hard task at all. My bruises, although far from being new, lingered for months, and for all of the hell Frank had put me through, I was sporting at least six gnarly looking ones.

  She couldn’t hide her shock as her hand instantly went to her mouth when she saw my back and chest. “Do you mind if we take pictures?”

  I shook my head dismissively. “Not at all, go right ahead.”

  The good news? I had a pretty solid case.

  The bad news? I was not getting out anytime soon. In fact,
I was going to jail. I was going to jail where I would be held until my arraignment and trial. Gia had no part in what happened to my father, so after a long, in depth questioning, she was released. The detectives were kind enough to let me say a real goodbye to Gia, one in which I asked her to tell Peyton what was happening and that I would be in contact as soon as possible.

  Besides Gia, Peyton was about the only other person who had witnessed my father’s violence first hand; the only other person who would agree to testify against him. I knew I was going to need as much help as I could get.

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