A knock on the door stopped everyone in their tracks. Steven and the rest had been listening to music absentmindedly, not doing anything at all. Steven stood up and went to the door.
He wondered if it was Ms. Walker, or if it was another clue. Ms. Walker had made her visit to Steven's apartment yesterday. Steven didn't know what he was expecting when he opened the door. But when he did, he got the chills down his spine. A letter was at his feet, and Anonymous, as usual, was in the shadows with a hood drawn.
"Thanks," Steven said quietly. He noticed that someone had turned the music down back in his apartment.
"Henry wants to make sure you understand this is your third and final clue. After this you will get no more. And because of this, I won't be stopping by anymore. And you should be able to figure out what that means." Anonymous spoke gently, too.
No more letters to Carrie, Steven thought worriedly.
"Okay," Steven nodded. He reached down and picked up the letter. His throat was dry. This was it. This was the last letter, the last clue he was ever going to get.
"Good luck, Steven," Anonymous said slowly. Steven looked up in surprise.
"Thank you, Anonymous. For everything. Maybe when I find Carrie we'll see each other face to face."
"Possibly," Anonymous shrugged. "Only if that opportunity arises."
A pit of panic that was in Steven's stomach only got bigger. Anonymous nodded his head, and then strode down the hall. Steven watched him go until he disappeared around the corner. A little part of him felt like he had just said goodbye to a friend.
"Steven?" Axl asked, coming up to him. "That's our last letter, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Steven nodded. They went back inside. The group sat down on the couches and chairs, and Steven put the letter on the coffee table.
Everyone looked at the letter. It seemed to be tantalizing them, teasing them, as if it knew that it was their last chance. Nobody said anything for a while. The tension in the room was tight, and no one wanted to break it. Annie, however, got fed up with the waiting.
"Are you going to open it or what?" she asked. Everyone looked at her. She flushed and held her hands up. "Waiting isn't going to do us much good," she finished.
"She's right," Bryan agreed. Steven nodded, and took the letter.
His fingers trembled slightly as he opened up the letter. His eyes grazed over the words, and at first Steven didn't process what they were saying. But then the letters formed words that Steven could read. He cleared his throat and began to tell the group what the letter said.
To Steven Rascal and whomever else it may concern,
Hopefully Anonymous has told you, but this is your third and final clue for finding Carrie. Maybe it comes to your aid. Maybe it does not. Nevertheless, before I give the clue - Steven, I speak directly to you.
You have been brave through this process. Carrie has been, too. You have searched for me and for your beloved. But I am afraid your efforts have been in vain. I. Will. Win. This is how it will end. Carrie has always been meant for me, and you have just been an unfortunate roadblock in our relationship.
"Don't listen to him, Steven," Axl growled. "He's lying. He's trying to get into your head."
"It's true!" Jennifer nodded vigorously. She went over to Steven and put an arm around his shoulder. "Henry's afraid, because he know's you're winning. Don't you dare take those words to heart, okay?"
"Okay," Steven responded. Jennifer smiled a little, and then sat back down. Steven shook his head clear and continued to read the letter.
Now, if I do say so myself, I believe this is the easiest clue I have ever given you. I might as well just say the place we're at.
It is where she made you with her forever.
There it is. Your final clue. It may or may not be to your advantage. So we're clear, no more clues, letters, or communication. You're on your own now, Steven.
And remember, if you do find me, I want a date and ten thousand dollars. But I'm sure you've remembered that. No date, no Carrie. If you only have nine thousand, nine hundred, ninety-nine? No Carrie.
You Know Who
Steven finished the letter. The group fell into a lapse of silence. Steven started to grin, though. He threw on his jacket.
"I think I know where it is," he said.
"Where?" Axl asked, jumping out of his seat with everyone else.
"Central Park!" Steven said triumphantly.
"Central Park?" Jennifer repeated doubtfully. "Steven, we've already looked there."
"I know, but she's got to be there," Steven replied. "It's where we had our first date. It's where we had our first kiss."
"You guys had your first kiss together on the first date?" Bryan practically shouted. Steven smirked.
"Yeah. And I'm sure that's what it means," Steven said, jerking his head toward the letter. "It's where she made me with her forever. Central Park is where we official became a couple. It fits!"
"Well, it was one of our first places we thought," Bailey murmured. "So that's a positive thing, I suppose."
"What are we waiting for? Let's go!" Steven urged.
Within minutes the seven of them had bundled up in coats, scarves, and hats and were heading to Central Park. They were confident until they stepped on the grass. Then the greatness of Central Park stumped them.
"Where do we go first?" John asked quietly.
"I have an idea," Steven said. "Let's not start here. Let's retrace the steps of where Carrie and I walked when we had the date. On our second date, Henry was following us. So he knows where we went exactly."
"Sounds like a plan," Annie nodded briskly.
Steven led them to the part of Central Park that he and Carrie had sauntered through, hand in hand. He muttered to himself as he went through the motions of the first date.
"We got out of our cabs, then we hugged, then we went in this direction!" Steven told them.
Steven led the group around in the general direction he and Carrie had been. There were no signs of her, but Steven remained optimistic. This fit with the clue. She had to be here.
They trekked around in Central Park for hours. Then when they were tired and cold, they turned to Steven. Steven had gotten his thoughts completely turned around. Bailey thought that she had an idea, though.
"Steven, Carrie told me that you and her went into Times Square!"
"Let's go!" Steven agreed.
The seven then walked to Times Square. Steven didn't know what he was hoping for in Times Square. It wasn't magical as when Carrie was with him. It felt insincere and cold and dark.
"Steven," John said shortly, clapping him on the shoulder. "I don't think Henry's here."
"He has to be!" Steven protested. "The clue!"
"The clue must mean something else," John replied. "Steven, Carrie's not here."
YOU ARE READING
Love from a DistanceRomance
Carrie and Bailey are two Alabama born-and-raised girls who are taking on the big city - New York! It's 1975, the year they've decided to find themselves, and somehow shake off their annoying admirers, Jay and Henry. They meet Steven and Axl at a pa...