Ten

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We followed Alvin down the dark streets and away from the main city. As much as I hated isolation, I knew this was for the best. The further away we were the less likely we would be found by those agents if they were following us. The last thing I needed were those guys to rain on my parade and prevent me from finding my sister.

On the other hand, I could feel the tension surrounding Melissa and I in the car. I had a feeling she was worried about me after my outburst with Alvin, but could she really blame me?

I had been blindsided by everyone. My mother, my father, Derik, Willi, Paige and even her. The stab wounds in my back were still very much bleeding, and I was afraid I would never be able to trust someone's word again.

Why should I have thought Alvin was any different after showing up unannounced and acting sketchy as ever?

"When we find Anna, and this is all said and done..." Melissa started. "We can go anywhere you like. We can start over."

I allowed the image to flood my mind.

"We can move back to Arizona, back to your hometown..." she continued. "I've always wanted to go to Phoenix. Plus, my dad can come too since he has work connections there."

I visualized the image of me, Anna and mom moving into a three bedroom. Anna would probably hate the idea of relocating, but maybe after this she would be up for a change of scenery. New people, a new school... away from our old life in Los Angeles.

Because there was no way I was letting her out of my sight again any time soon.

"We could get normal jobs, and after some time you and I could move in together," Melissa offered. "We'd have a spare bedroom for Anna to come over and stay the night..."

I felt my heart beat calm down as I smiled. It was such a nice image that I almost believed it was real. I could see Anna walking through the door with an overnight bag slung over her shoulder and a messy bun on top her head. She would have her favorite movies in one hand and her pink cellphone in the other.

I looked at Melissa. "That sounds great."

"Does it?"

I nodded and wished I could be a better person for Melissa right now, but I couldn't. I was just grateful that she understood that.

We finally made it to the motel, and the sight of a flickering vacancy sign made my skin crawl. It was one of those shabby motels with the room doors on the outside of the building, facing the parking lot. Melissa must've seen the look on my face.

"It probably won't be that bad," she reassured.

"And if it is?" I asked.

She gave me a hopeful look before exiting the Hyundai. We grabbed our bags as Al watched us walk over.

"I know it looks like a dump, but it's really not all that bad," he claimed. "Just a little...outdated."

And if by outdated he meant in need of a serious renovation about ten years ago, then he was absolutely correct.

He led us to the front lobby where a man stood, ready to take our money for the night. He gave a smile, but I couldn't look past the old portrait of a woman hanging on the wall behind him.

"We need a room," Melissa said.

"Sure..." He pulled out his log book. "One bed or two?"

"One's fine," I claimed.

This earned me a smirk from Melissa and a raised eyebrow from Alvin.

"Do you have your ID?"

Melissa's guard went up.

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