[2] Tell Me A Story

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They brought me inside, seated me at the dining table, and placed a warm plate of pasta and steak in front of me. Somehow, I don't think this is how you're supposed to treat a thief. Then again, I only tried to steal- I didn't actually succeed. To their credit they're being kind to a crap thief and not a master burglar.

"Honey, what's your name?" the slender lady from before asks. She recently introduced herself as Collette Armstrong, and the two boys as her nephews, Atticus and Jay Martin. They're all seated around me at the table, watching.

My name... I don't give myself time to ponder my actions, instead I impulsively respond, "Jade Scott." Lie.

"Jade, is there a reason you're not at home right now? Do you need help?" Damn, her voice is too soft. It's making me feel bad for lying. Not bad enough for me to recite my biography, of course. But bad enough to feel a lump forming in my throat.

"No," I clear my throat. "I'll be fine. I uh, I ran away and I needed gas. I'm sorry I broke in."

Collette pouts and places a velvety hand on my shoulder. Her eyes are so big and round, so very hazel, just like Jay's. She's an absolute vision and looking at her gives me the same sense of safety I get from my mom when she envelopes me in herself and coos 'mija' as she strokes my hair. I miss her faint scent of lemons and cilantro.

Ah crap now there's an ache in my chest too. Lump and ache, horsemen of the emotional instability apocalypse. I need to leave, fast. I need to go before Collette uses her magic nice-lady powers and convinces me to go home.

"You ran away? Can I ask why?" Collette continues to look at me and I have to break away from her gaze, it's too earnest.

"Those reasons don't matter. My home life is okay, I have a single mom who works as a teacher. I'll be fine on my own, I just needed to get away."

Atty scoffs. Jay and Collette's heads whip toward him like a pendulum. He's sitting on the opposite end of the table with his elbows perched on the dark wood and hands clasped together, balanced carefully against his lips.

He waits a moment before bringing his hands down on his lap. "She's lying."

Collette begins to scold Atty for his rudeness, but all I see are his dark green eyes digging deep into me, invading the darkest crevices of my shallow soul. He knows. And he's giving me a chance to come clean before he does it for me.

I sigh and swallow that pesky lump. "He's right. My name isn't Jade Scott. It's Madeira-Jade Hayes. My dad is the neighboring town's sheriff and my mom is a baker. Well, the baker."

"But," I add, "I really did run away and really was looking for gas. And I actually am sorry."

"Then tell us the truth," Atty says.

"I just did."

"The truth about why you ran away." He says this with so much nonchalance, as if he's asking me to read the back of a cereal box and not to reveal my secrets to him.

"That's none of your busine-"

"It is." Atty sighs. "It is my business because you've made it my business- when you cracked open that garage door."

Collette clicks her tongue, pursing her lips. With the overhead chandelier shining directly above her, casting shadows on her face, her cheekbones make her relation to Atty more than obvious.

"Go a little easy on her Atty, you're not a cop."

At this Jay laughs and teases, "but her dad is so be careful cowboy."

I shift in my seat and finish up the last of my steak. I should be concerned with finding a way to weasel out of this situation but all I can think of is how I can get seconds.

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