"Liam... what... how..." I spluttered. I didn't know where to begin.
"A little help?" he grumbled, wedged in the window.
Ryan stepped forward and grabbed Liam's twitching arms. Bracing himself against the pile of broken antiques, he yanked my best friend through the gap. It wasn't a graceful manoeuvre. In spectacular fashion, they were thrown off balance and fell to the floor in a disgruntled heap.
Despite the grave circumstances, I laughed. "Very graceful, boys."
They turned to me. Ryan's face wore a glare, but Liam was grinning.
"Nice to see you too, Liv."
I stepped toward them.
"How the hell did you find us?" I asked, reaching down to help him up. "Not that I'm not happy to see you, but Jesus, Liam. How are you here?"
Once he stood on his own two feet, Liam replied. "I followed you, duh."
Ryan grunted below us. "Don't worry about me. I'll get myself up."
I refrained from rolling my eyes. "You're a big strong adult. You'll manage."
I still wasn't completely over him lying about his age.
Liam threw me a funny look but decided not to comment. "I heard about your break-in at the hospital -- very sneaky by the way, I love it -- and when I saw two oddly familiar people strolling down Maple Street in undercover agent wear, I knew it was you." Suddenly, he frowned. "Those jackets were ridiculous by the way. Whose idea was that?"
Wordlessly, I pointed to Ryan, who glowered at us from his position on the floor. Assembling his limbs into a weird crouched position, he lifted himself up. "It was our best option, alright?"
I bit my lip to hide my laughter and turned to Liam. "But we've been here for ages, Liam. Why did you only decide to break in now?"
He regarded me as if I was stupid, his eyebrows raised. "The door was locked, and I only just figured out the window wasn't. I couldn't exactly knock on the door. What if you thought I was the police?"
My lips formed a small 'o'. That made sense. If I'd heard knocking on the door, Ryan and I would've been out of there as fast as our feet could carry us.
Before I got a chance to reply, Liam pulled me into a hug and answered my unsaid question.
"I know Daniella is a bitch and all, but I don't think for one second that you set her house on fire."
It was a touching moment, which Ryan felt compelled to crunch beneath his shoe.
He coughed, bringing our attention back to him. He ran a hand down the back of his neck, playing with the hair there. "Arson isn't the worst of our issues right now. I don't suppose you've had a news alert on your phone, Liam?"
Liam shook his head. "Nope. My phone died sometime between me running around town last night looking for the felon over here-". He threw his thumb over his shoulder to point at me. "And tracking you both down today."
A strangled noise escaped my throat. "You stayed out all night?"
"Don't be ridiculous." Liam scoffed. "I stayed at your house to see if you came back. Your mum was on the night shift, but your dad was in. He was acting super weird by the way, and why does no one in your house have an iPhone charger? Why was I cursed with a best friend who favours android?"
Liam opened his mouth to continue what was probably a colourful rant about my poor taste in technology, but it snapped shut when the screech of the television turning off caught his attention.
Ryan stood behind the TV, twirling the power cord between his fingers. "Can we focus please?" he asked, his tone laced with irritation.
Liam's eyebrows knitted together. "Focus on what?"
"I don't know..." Ryan began sarcastically. "How about we figure out who the hell is trying frame Olivia for Daniella's murder?"
Liam stilled and shifted his gaze to mine. "But Daniella isn't dead, she..."
"She's dead," I confirmed. And with a small shake of my head, I avoided his eyes. "Someone got into her room after we left. Liam, I swear-"
He silenced me with a heavy look, which was filled with complete and absolute trust. He never doubted me for a second, which was more than could be said for the other boy in the room. Ryan's new tolerance of my presence was solely due to a crazy sequence of events in which we proved my innocence. If that was the lengths I'd have to go to every time he thought I'd gotten trigger happy with my powers, I was in for a long year.
Unconsciously, whilst avoiding Liam's eyes, my gaze had wandered to the boy who plagued my thoughts. And of course, Liam noticed.
His eyes narrowed, and he shifted his stare between us as if trying to solve an impossible puzzle. "Since when are you two chummy enough to be on the run from the police together?"
Sometimes, I wished Liam was oblivious to his surroundings.
Ryan cleared his throat, shattering the tension in the room. "Y'know how we tried to find Olivia around town after the cinema and eventually assumed she went home?"
Liam nodded, his expression guarded. I wasn't sure what he thought was going on between me and Ryan, but I was certain of his suspicion. Not toward me, of course. But the distrust in his eyes as he regarded my captor-turned-ally, said a thousand words, not all of them complimentary.
I supposed that if I had imagined myself on the run from the police, Liam would have been with me, not Ryan. The new kid on the block had taken his -- admittedly not favourable at the moment -- position, and Liam didn't seem pleased.
If Ryan noticed Liam's angry posture, he didn't react. He continued his explanation, and it was spoken so fluently that I nearly believed him.
"Well I saw the police pull up outside her house a little while after, and that's when I knew something bad was going on. I didn't know about the Reese's house yet, but when her Dad kicked her out of the house, I brought her here to stay the night." He waved his arms around the antique store as if it was a five-star hotel. But if it had a trip advisor page, I'd have given it a negative rating.
Liam wasn't convinced. "But why did you go to the hospital if you were trying to lay low? That's kind of a stupid plan."
"We thought someone might be trying to set Olivia up and Daniella may have seen her attacker. It was worth a shot."
Ryan shrugged and sank into a chair, with Liam and I quickly following suit. We sat in a weird triangle shape, with dead air between us. If there had been a campfire in the centre, I'd have expected Ryan to pull out a guitar and start singing kumbaya.
"So..." Liam prompted after a moment. "Did she see them? Her attacker?"
It was my turn to speak, and I hummed quietly. "She called him hot," I mumbled.
Liam snorted. "That's it? You risked your arse to find out the attacker was Daniella's type? No physical description whatsoever. What even is Daniella's type?"
Slowly, I raised my arm and pointed at Ryan, ignoring his shocked intake of breath.
A/N: I knowwwww, I knowww a cliffhanger... AGAIN?!
I'd like to say I'm sorry, but I'm not.
I'm out in the welsh countryside this weekend, but I wanted to push a pre-written chapter out anyway. That does mean I'll be slow replying to comments over the weekend, but it doesn't mean I appreciate them any less, because you guys rock.
In other news.... we were added to the official Wattpad Adventure profile's Fantastical Adventures reading list!!! I still cant quite believe it 🙌
This weeks special thanks go to Knucklez_Deveraux, one of the sweetest people I have met on this website.
And also daydreamingyouth for leaving me nicest comments to wake up to this morning!
YOU ARE READING
Named after the aunt who burned down her high school, Olivia Peterson never had a chance at a normal life. But when an innocent birthday tradition results in a new set of curtains-and an unforgiving hole scorched into her carpet-Olivia realises that...