Fourteen

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I gasped awake as my heart threatened to explode out of my chest. My hands immediately rubbed my eyes in an attempt to erase the horrific images of Anna's battered and bruised body. Just the thought of my sister suffering made me want to vomit, and the nightmares didn't help.

I became aware of where I was as I peered through the dimly lit room to see Melissa's bare back rising and falling. My eyes lingered on her before inevitably pulling away as I stood from the bed.

After dressing myself, I paced to the kitchen to inspect what we had to eat, which wasn't much. Fortunately, there was a coffee pot and some leftover coffee grounds. I decided to brew some.

With a nearly scalding hot mug of coffee in my right hand, I pushed open the front door with my left. The wind was still during these early morning hours, but the dry cold was relentless.

I silently wondered what our next move would be because it would have to be a big one. Those men that had kidnapped Melissa and I last night were probably out for blood now, and we didn't have a lot of time. I needed to find my sister before they found us. But Paige was leaving us with nothing.

The clues yesterday had done nothing but make me feel bad about myself, but I figured that was completely intentional. Maybe now that I understood her life, it could lead me somewhere. And with four heads thinking together, we had to come up with something.

I heard the front door close as my head automatically snapped to the side. My father, who also toted a coffee cup in his hand, joined me outside.

"Didn't mean to scare you," he apologized as he sat next to me on the porch. "Good thinking, brewing the coffee."

"Too bad it's stale," I admitted.

I faced forward but I could feel his eyes on me. Just the image of his worn expression made me want to scream. Everyone was hurting and it was all my fault.

"You're lucky Alvin had that tracker in your jacket," my father said. "I can only imagine what would've happened if we hadn't shown up."

"Melissa and I would be working for the other side."

Dad shifted. "What do you mean?"

"They're connected with Victoria," I admitted. "They wanted us to steal something back from the NIA for them."

"Which was?"

"An external-drive." I faced him. "Apparently, Victoria had stolen it from the GIB before she quit years ago, which was why she was in hiding. Then an agent working for the NIA confiscated the drive, but Melissa and I stole it back before we left Los Angeles."

My dad had confusion and shock written all over his face. I still found it amusing how little he knew about my life.

"Well, where is it now? Do you and Melissa still have it?" he wondered.

"No," I said. "Alvin does. He's trying to open it."

Dad sipped his coffee. "What's in it?"

I shrugged. "We don't know, but it's obviously really classified if they considered it treason when Victoria stole it."

A silence settled between us at the revelation. It was clear dad didn't know anything about this. Hell, I hadn't either up until Alvin had showed up. Although, I was glad he did considering he had been very helpful in the search for my sister. I was looking forward to him coming over soon so we could brainstorm over where Anna could be.

"Alexa, I..." Dad's voice trailed off.

I looked over. "What?"

His elbows rested on his knees as he stared down into his coffee. The steam rose and danced around his face. I wanted to know what he had been trying to say, but didn't want to push him.

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