Houdini’s Box

Part 13

By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

There is an additional language disclaimer here. Whoa, Grace can sure curse when she’s pissed off. J Email me for a PG-13 non-cursing version if you need too.

Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!



June 28, 2000


"No." I state, folding my arms over my chest. I can’t fucking believe this.

"Grace, please." Jaden answers, her blue eyes pleading with me to give in.

"I will not leave. This is bullshit, Jaden!" I tell her, raising my voice. "Didn’t we just talk about this? About you allowing me to make my own decisions?" I uncross my arms, angrily slamming my fist down on the counter. "Why don’t you trust me to do what’s best for me? You’re not my fucking mother!"

Jaden doesn’t flinch as I continue to assault her tiled countertop. "I do trust you Grace, I just can’t see you hurt."

"Why do you think I’m going to get hurt? I’m a big girl, Jaden and I can take care of myself!" I sigh angrily, running my hands through my short hair. "It’s bad enough I can’t even take the dog out to pee without those goons you hired watching my every move. Now you want to send me away to the middle of bumfuck so you can run around after some lunatic?"

She doesn’t answer me, her cerulean eyes angry. Despite my frustration and pissed-off attitude, I find her eyes mesmerizing and I can’t help but watch the beautiful intertwining of colors as she glares at me.

"Grace, listen.."

"No, you listen to me." I interrupt her, and I don’t know who’s more surprised at my forcefulness, Jaden or myself. "I will not be in a relationship where I am told what to do and when to do it. I don’t want you to control me Jaden, for the first time in my life I feel like I’m in control of myself. I’m not willing to give that up."
"I’m not asking you to give that up!" She states, her voice angry. "I am asking you to think intelligently about this situation. Jesus Christ Grace, Aron has already approached you once! He knows you live here, and he’ll do whatever he can to get at me. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the way to get to me is through you! Will you just take a step back and look at this situation?"

"Don’t you dare call me stupid!" I respond, putting my hands on my hips. "I am thinking intelligently about this! I don’t want to go live in a fucking cabin by myself until either you get killed or you kill him!"

"It will be relaxing!" Jaden argues, raising her voice above mine. "You and Bean can sit by the lake, you can write and have a vacation!"

"Oh, yeah, real relaxing. Sitting by the lake, writing in my journal about how I wonder if you’re dead. That’s my idea of a fucking vacation." I retort sarcastically. "I care about you Jaden. Do you really think I’m going to be able to sit up there not knowing how you’re doing? Or what you’re doing?" I pause, the anger seeping from my voice, leaving me emotionally drained. "I don’t want to lose you. I love you so much that it hurts me." I step towards her, and place my hands on her arms folded across her chest. "Please don’t send me away."

"Gracie, I don’t want to send you away." She says softly. Her angry eyes begin to settle, looking much like the Atlantic after a rainstorm. "But why can’t you see that it’s my only choice?"

"It’s not your only choice." I argue, not ready to give in to her request. "Why can’t I stay here? You have people watching me!"
"It’s not enough." Jaden responds, her face tired and set. I know that face; it’s her ‘I’m not giving up no matter what you say’ face. Fuck. I don’t want to go to a cabin by myself. I don’t want to leave her.

"Why?" I ask her, my face equally as tired and set.

"Why what?" She responds, confused.

"Why is it not enough?" I clarify and she gently removes my hands from her crossed arms and exits the kitchen. Where the fuck is she going? I really hope she doesn’t leave this argument like this and just expect me to go.

I barely hear her rummaging around in her bedroom over the insanely loud Aerosmith she insisted on blasting as soon as she got home. The neighbors must love us.

She returns, a picture in hand. Showing it to me, I see a picture of a teenaged Jaden and an older boy, both with equally striking good looks and dazzling smiles.

"This is why it isn’t enough Grace." She speaks, her voice low. "Jonah’s blood is why it isn’t enough. The death of the person I love is why this isn’t enough!" Her last sentence comes out in a screech and in a flurry she throws the picture down and roughly grabs my arms. "Listen to me." She yells, shaking me. "I won’t have you die. I love you and I won’t have you die! He will kill you Grace. Kill you!" Jaden’s voice is pure rage and she violently shakes me back and forth. I struggle in her grasp, and find her stronger than Scott could ever hope to be.

I’m surprisingly not scared, regardless of Jaden’s strong grip. She could hurt me easily, even kill me. I know she won’t do that. She could never hurt me. I stop struggling and let my body go limp. She releases me with a sob and falls to the floor.

"Jaden, shhh." I kneel down on the floor next to her prone body. "It’s okay." I don’t really know what else to say to her so instead I just wrap my arms around her and hold her. She cries into my embrace and I stroke her thick hair.

"I don’t want you to get hurt." She says in-between sobs. "You mean so much to me and I can’t see you get hurt because of me."

"I know that scares you." I tell her, continuing to run my hands through her raven hair. "But Jaden, you need to let go of your guilt. It was horrible that Jonah had to die, and even more horrible what Aron did to you. But it wasn’t your fault." I try to tell her with as much conviction as I can, knowing that even if Jonah came back from the dead to release Jaden of her guilt it wouldn’t work.

"It was my fault." She mumbles into my shoulder.

"No, it was a horrible accident." I respond, pulling her up to look in my eyes. "No one blames you for Jonah’s death Jaden. No one but yourself."

Her blue eyes vacantly look into mine and I can’t help but wonder how much of Jaden is really present right now. She looks like she’s miles away.

"Jonah wouldn’t want you to feel guilty Jaden. He loved you so much, as much as you love him." I cock my head to the side, trying to meet her averted gaze. "Let your guilt go."

"I can’t." She whispers, looking like a terrified child. "Not while Aron is still around. I have to stop him for good."

"Revenge isn’t the answer." I plead with her. "Please Jaden, what good will come out of you killing Aron? It won’t bring Jonah back."

"I’ll feel better." She argues, her face still dazed and emotionless.

"No you won’t." I argue. "Killing Aron will only make you a murderer."

"I’ll have avenged Jonah’s death." Jaden responds, her eyes now coming to life. They look like ice fragments, and just looking at them makes me shiver.

"He wouldn’t have wanted that. Do you think Jonah wants his little sister to be a murderer?" I am getting angrier than I should and I struggle to keep my voice calm. Jaden doesn’t deserve to be yelled at right now. "Please Jaden, think about what Jonah would have wanted."

She doesn’t answer, and her face suddenly breaks from its’ stoic mask. Wiping the tears from her face with the back of her hand she avoids looking at me. She starts to stand up and I reach for her arm and pull her down.

"Don’t run away from me. Please."

Jaden sighs and sits back on the cool floor. "I don’t know what you want me to say Grace." She looks warily into my eyes.

"Tell me how you feel." I beg her, wanting her to be open.

"I feel like shit." She begins, the corners of her mouth turning into a wry smile.

"I know you do." I answer her.

"Listen, Grace, I’m really sorry for grabbing you. Did I hurt you?" She asks, her eyes expressive and apologetic. I rub my upper arms, tender from where she shook me.

"A little." I answer her honestly. She looks as if her heart is breaking as she struggles to apologize.

"I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. I know that you were just upset in the moment. I’m not mad at you Jaden, I understand."

"Thank you." She says softly. "I’m sorry."

"I know."

She clears her throat nervously. "You’re right. Jonah wouldn’t want me to become a murderer. And I don’t want that for myself either. I’ll do whatever I can to have it not come to that."

I nod my head. "I’m proud of you."

"I’m sorry I put you in this situation." She adds.

"No. You didn’t put me in this situation, remember? I’m a big girl who made her own decision to move here. Though, maybe a heads up about Aron would have been nice." I smile at her to let her know I’m only joking. "We all have secrets Jaden. Just try to keep me informed for the future, okay?"

She nods solemnly. "Promise."

I stand up, offering a hand to help her up. It’s so strange, we’ve done this before but it’s always been Jaden helping me up. I know that she needs me to be strong right now, and that she is trying to do what is the best for me. But that still doesn’t make me want to go live in a fucking cabin.

"Grace, you know me well enough that I wouldn’t ask you to do this unless I thought it was necessary." She begins, her voice calm.

"I know." I answer.

"So just hear me out, okay?"

"Okay." I relent.

"Joe and Diana have a cabin in Maine. It’s really pretty; I’ve been there before. It’s right on the lake, and there is no one around for miles. Your nearest neighbor is the grocery store plaza two miles up the road. The lake is beautiful, and you can swim. There’s a rowboat you can take out, woods to walk through, and everything. I think you and Bean will have a great time."

"Do they have TV?"

She smiles at me. "Yes, you won’t have to miss ER."

I sigh. "How about a phone? Can I call you?"

She shakes her head solemnly. "I can’t be in touch with you, I don’t want to put you in danger." She pauses. "But yes, there is a phone. I talked to Diana today and got the keys from her. Everything is in working order; there is a caretaker that sees to the place every once in awhile. It’s stocked with food, and ready for you to go."

"When?" I question, not liking where Jaden is going with this.

"Tonight." She answers.

"What?!" I exclaim loudly, grateful for the loud music still blasting fro the stereo. Jaden isn’t convinced that this place is bugged and didn’t want anyone overhearing our conversation.

"It has to be tonight." She continues.


"Because it just has too. I told everyone at the station today that we broke up and you’re moving back to Ohio. It has to look real."

"This is crazy." I argue, pacing back and forth.

"Grace, everything is set for tonight. Please, believe me that this is my last resort."

The most insane thing about this entire fucking plan is that I do believe Jaden and that this is her last resort. I still don’t like it, but I don’t know how to stop it.

"What do you need me to do?" I ask her, resigned to my fate.

"I need you to pack your things. Take anything that is important to you; make it look like you’re leaving for good. Then I need you to yell at me to turn the music down and we need to have a huge fight that ends with you leaving for Ohio. If we are being bugged, that should be enough to make them think you’re leaving."

"Okay, then what?" I question unbelievingly. I can’t believe I’m going along with this.

"One of Jake’s best guys is coming over with a double for you. She’ll come in and will leave in your clothes and get in your car, hell bent on Ohio. You will get in her clothes and leave with Jake’s guy for the cabin."

"What the fuck?"

"I know it sounds crazy Grace, but it will work. Trust me."

I sigh. I do trust her, and maybe that is what’s wrong with me.



Later that evening:

I can’t even believe this. I’m in the car with Ian, who looks very much unlike what I pictured a bodyguard to look like. He’s short, with shaggy curly blonde hair. He is very nice though, talking easily about the beautiful scenery. He’s lived here all his life and was born in Maine. He said the lake we’re staying on is great for fishing.


Jaden’s "plan" went over easily. Ian showed up with Jody, a woman who was my exact body type and height. They knocked on our door in the middle of my and Jaden’s "breakup fight" and Jaden introduced them as friends of hers. I took my cue to announce that I was leaving for Ohio and I was sick and tired of Jaden’s ways.

The next events of Jody and I switching outfits and exchanging wigs will forever be burned into my memory. I don’t know if it looked convincing should anyone be watching, but with Jaden’s attention to detail never failing to amaze me, I’m sure that it looked like Grace got in her car, headed for Ohio, and Jody and Ian went on their way.

Bean is snuggled in my lap and I stroke her absently while I look out the window. She was a good puppy for the way out to the car. We shoved her in Jody’s large handbag, and much to my puppy’s credit, she didn’t stir.

Jaden made sure that a bag of my important belongings including my journal and few treasured items found their way into Ian’s hands. Before I left she shoved an enormous amount of cash into my hand so I could buy food and clothes as well as a note.

I haven’t read the note yet. I think I’ll wait until I’m by myself and Ian is fishing or something.

"Welcome to Maine!" The roadside signs boldly exclaims.

I shut my eyes, feeling the tears well as if I am powerless to stop them.

Welcome to Maine.


Part 14: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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