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Coincidental Meetings
By Mel R. C.

Chapter 6

I open my eyes not even noticing that I had closed them in the first place and look around the room at the astonished look on everyone's face. "That was the last time I saw Alex, until now," I say as I smile at Kate. "I told the doctors, who my parents were and where they lived at the time. I had lost the person that meant the most to me and decided that it was time for me to go on home. I went to court for the death of the girl and boy, but I got off when the judge ruled that it was self-defence. After my parents took me home I was restless and couldn't deal with the fact that I couldn't go where I wanted, when I wanted so my parents sent me to stay with Tad for a while, against their better judgement of course. While in Elkader I looked around for, Alex. Even though I didn't want her to know that I was in Elkader, I still wanted to see that she was indeed alright. So I figured that she would be still here in Elkader, but I never saw her even though I looked everywhere. I finally gave up the search and just went on living like nothing had happened during my time on the streets," I say as I look up at the ceiling counting to ten before looking down and over at Kate when I feel a hand on my thigh.

She pants my thigh lightly and smiles softly. "I was here. You just didn't look in the right places that's all," she says quietly as she looks into my eyes.

I raise an eyebrow at her, because though her face and voice had a hint of compassion her eyes held something different. Something I've never seen before, but I just mentally shrug it off as a guilty reaction and grin at her softly.

I pull here up off the floor where she was sitting and into my lap and hold her smiling at everyone in the room. "So. Now ya'll know the truth. So what do you think of me now? Am I still the hero you believe me to be?" I ask feeling hesitation run through my body.

Marion looks at her brother then at us. "Well I can't believe it. Nor can I believe that I know the truth," she says with a chuckle.

I hug Kate to me and grin happily, knowing that my new friends have excepted me even though they now know the entire truth about me. It's all to much for me really. Knowing that I once again have Alex in my life and friends that don't doubt me. I just shake my head slightly at the confused feelings welling up inside of me then I look towards Max and Marion.

"So. What's your story?" I ask as I lean back in the chair with Kate's head resting on my shoulder. "Why was Tyrone bugging you during my first day at school?" I ask as Marion looks at her brother who in turn look back at her with questions written on his face.

She just shrugs her shoulder. "It's only right, Max. She's told us about what happened to her," she says to Max then she looks towards me. "Well he wound out who exactly I was, while I was in the bathroom and I ran from him, but was cornered in that room. I don't know what he would've done, but you and Max came into the room before he could do anything," she explains as she wringers her hands together, but I know that there is more to it, but I just leave it at that.

I just nod my head while taking out another cigarette and lighting it then slowly taking a small drag from it in order to let my lungs get used to the smoke once again. I let it out slowly and watch as it swirls my head then I look towards Marion once again. "So the question is. What do we do about Tyrone?" I ask as I wrap an arm around Kate then hand her my cigarette to take a drag from after she beacons it from me.

I hear a cough then look up to see my dad in the door way. He smiles at me and Kate and I feel a blush work it's way onto my face and neck. I then look down at the floor before looking back up at him.

He winks then leans against the door frame. "Pizza is here. We ordered it from the Pizza Cellar," he says with a chuckle.

I nod my head then smirk slightly at him. "Did you give Curt a big tip?" I ask as I lean my chin against Kate’s shoulder.

Dad nods his head and grins widely. "Oh, yes. As a matter of fact I did," he says with a sly wink and a chuckle.

I snicker loudly as I take the cigarette back from Kate. "Yeah? Did you give him the best tip of all? 'Close down the place you, stupid moron, either that or rename your place! Who would want pizza from a Cellar?" I ask as everyone starts to laugh because this guy is the most idiotic person in Elkader. He wont hire anyone if they are over the age of sixteen because he doesn't wanna pay full wages and if you are heavy forget it! He likes slim women working for him because he thinks he's gods gift to women. More like three turnips short of a bundle.

Dad shakes his head and laughs softly. "Nope. I tired to give him a penny for his thoughts, but all I had was a nickel, so I told him to keep the change. Even though his thoughts aren't even worth a penny. I doubt the guy ever had a thought in his entire life," he says with a calm look on his face. "So anyway. I informed him that I had meant to only give him two cents because to actually have a thought would take much more mental power then he actually has. I mean the man makes a gopher look like a genius," he says as everyone starts laughing and he just smirks slyly.

After that we get up from our seats and walk into the dinning room, which is actually the dinning room and kitchen put together, to get some pizza that had been delivered to the house. As I walk over to the cup boards for some paper plates and glasses for soda the phone rings. I scratch the under side of my jaw on the left side of my face before picking up the phone.

"Hello?" I ask as a little bit of my southern accent slips out for a bit.

"Ahh yes. This is a representative for Sprint and I would to ask you if you are happy with your current long distance provider?" The feminine voice asks on the other side of the phone line.

I smirk evilly at the phone then wink at everyone who is now staring at me with puzzled looks on their faces. "Will you hold for one moment, ma'am?" I ask as I pull the phone away from my face, but still close enough so that the woman can still hear me. "Henry! Ah told ya not to tie up junior and then torture 'im. Don't make me put ya back in that there hole in the back yard where you done buried those bodies of them Jehovah's Witnesses earlier taday," I yell while letting my southern accent full rain over my voice.

I'm about to talk to the one once again when I hear a click and the phone goes dead. I raise an eyebrow at everyone in the room then shrug slightly.

"I'm guessing she didn't wanna talk to me," I say as I hang up and my accent still in my voice.

My dad walks around the island and over to me before cuffing me on the shoulder. "Well it helps if you don't yell in someone’s ear about dead people in the back yard and tying someone up either," he says with a chuckle as he puts an arm around my shoulders.

I smirk at my father then look towards the doorway when I hear a gasp and see my mother standing there with her mouth wide open looking like a frog trying to eat a fly. I just raise an eyebrow at her then she strides over to me.

"Jacqueline Corrina Steffano! I heard your conversation on the phone! How dare you do that and defile our good name? What would your grandfather say about your behaviour? I bet your dearly departed grandparents are probably rolling over in their graves because of your behaviour. We're going to your grandfathers this weekend for Christmas on my side of the family and you had better not act this way in front of them. Do you understand me?" She asks as he face turns an interesting shade of red from anger.

I look at dad and see that he has a sheepish look on his face. I shake my head then close my eyes before rubbing the bridge of my nose then I open my eyes and look at mom.

"Why didn't you tell me that I have to put up with those snobs this year? Is it not enough that I just got out of the hospital due to a coma and now I have to put up with my morons from hell relatives that don't even consider us a part of their family in the first place?" I enquire as I lean against the counter.

I feel dad put a hand on my shoulder and pat it gently. I grumble as I bat at his hand then walk over to the refrigerator and pull out a can of soda, not really giving a damn whether or not I can drink it or not and pop the top of it then take a couple of swallows to cool down my anger towards my mother for springing this on me. I growl to myself then slam my palm onto the counter before turning around to look from my mother to my father then back again.

"Okay fine. If you are to subject me to this torturous weekend then I have one request and that is to bring someone with me to the torture chamber of Taturus. Why would I want to subject someone to the horrors of Taturus, otherwise known as my grandfathers house you ask? Because I need reinforcements for this horrible event otherwise known as Christmas on the Valentino's side," I say sarcastically as I lean against the counter drinking my soda.

I look up to find my father mumbling loud enough for me to hear it. "My daughter has major big problems sometimes," he smiles at me innocently when he sees that I am looking at him with a murderous look on my face.

I roll my eyes then raise an eyebrow at him. "You're talking to yourself again, dad. I think it's time for you to go to MHI(Mental Hospital Institute)," I say with a chuckle as I turn my full attention towards him. "So what do you say? Can I have someone come with me?" I question him with a slight smirk on my face while I play with the edge of my shirt.

He rubs the back of his neck then nods. "Okay, by me if you have someone come with us," he says as he turns towards my mother. "Is that alright with you, honey?" He query's her after leaning against the edge of the stove.

Mom sighs then rubs her temples before nodding her head slightly. "Fine. Anything else before I have a nervous break down?" She asks as she leans against the sink looking at me.

I lick my lips then walk around the island counter and move slowly towards Kate before wrapping an arm around her wait while looking towards my mom. "Yeah. There's one more thing. I'm gay and I'm in love with Kate. Before you can ask why, who or what. I just want you to know that I've known Kate for three years and yes I am very much in love with her," I says with a shrug of my shoulders while swallowing hard waiting for the worst from my mother. "Because this is Alex. The girl in the picture I have up in my room," I say as I smile at Kate as she leans her head against my shoulder and smiles back at me.

I look up suddenly when I hear a loud hysterical laughter come from the direction of my mother. Oh gods. I've driven her nuts. Me telling her I'm gay was her last straw. She's on her way to the padded party room with an invitation for one. I muse to myself as I watch my mother double over in laughter.

"Heh. Is that all? I knew that even when you were going out with, Dan. I also knew that you were in love with this Alex person because one night I heard you crying and repeating over and over again that you love some person. I soon figured out for myself that this person that you were crying out to must've been the person that you were with while you were on your own," she says as she crosses over to me after composing herself.

I detach myself from Kate and meet my mother half way. She then opens her arms before I reach her and I walk into her arms where she hugs me to her tightly.

"I know that I seem to be so hard on you sometimes, but I don't want you to think I don't know you're here once again and I don't want you to leave me ever again either. It about killed me the very first time that you left, Jack," She says as she leans back and I smile at her for using my nickname for the first time since I came home three years ago. She smiles back at me sadly then kisses my forehead.

I hug her again then lean back from the hug. "I know that, mom and I can promise that if I do leave it'll be for college. So you don't have to be so hard on me. Dad isn't and I know that he knows that I wont leave ever again," I say as I hug my mom once again.

While I hug her I feel her nod her head slightly. "Okay, Jack. To tell you the truth I was beginning to get sick of the person I was becoming and I wanted to much to tell you that I'm sorry for being hard on you, but you were pushing me away and I wasn't sure on how to do it in the first place. I'm so sorry for being that way with you. From now on, I'm going to be more relaxed with you," she says as she leans back once again and smiles at me.

I smile back at her before we grab a couple of places and sits down with the rest of my family and friends to eat our pizza.

While we eat, Tad and dad entertain my friends with stories, that of course, are very embarrassing, about me. I groan loudly and cover my eyes with my hands, half wishing that I could just crawl into the empty pizza box sitting beside me, as Tad goes into the story he was telling Kate at the party three months ago.

"So here's this blue haired girl, who had recently turned sixteen the year before , sittin in the corner while her aunts and uncles whoop it up. I walk over to where she's sitting and sit down in the chair beside her. Now mind you I had no idea that this small girl was still pinning away over a certain girl that she had left so that this girl could have a chance at a better life. So I get her a beer which she downs like water which just totally surprises the hell out of me," he says with a twinkle in his eyes.

I roll my eyes towards the ceiling then look at him, giving him a strange look. "Tad! They've heard this one already," I say as I slouch down in my chair with a frown.

Tad shakes his head then points a finger at me. "You are mistaken. I only told Kate. Marion and Max have yet to hear this one yet and don't you go spoiling it either, young lady," he says as he shakes the appendage that's being pointed towards me.

I sigh then cough slightly. "Fine. But don't yell at me if they find the story absolutely boring as all hell. I think I saw Kate, yawning the last time you were telling it," I comment which earns me a slap on my shoulder from Kate.

I smile sweetly at her, but she just glares back at me. "I think you hit your head alot harder then the doctors thought because I was laughing hysterically while you slunk around behind us. So you must've severely damaged something up there," she says before finally smiling at me then she looks towards Tad. "Please continue, Tad."

He smiles at her fondly then nods his head. "Now where was I? Oh, yes. Now I remember. So anyway, after he sixth beer I notice that young Jack, here is swaying slightly due to the beer and the music. I asked her is she still played the guitar and she just nods her head then gets up to refill our pitcher of beer, staggering ever so slightly over to the bar and back again, she remarkably doesn't spill a single drop, until she sits down because she misses the chair entirely and ends up with half of the pitcher of beer on herself. She quickly gets up and proceeds to pour herself another glass of beer not really caring that she's covered in most of it. Now by then I was really curious as to why she had been silent most of the night, so I begin to probe her with questions," Tad goes on, but my memories interrupts his voice and in my minds eyes I am taken back to that chair, sitting there watching the band play and drinking one glass of beer after another, trying to drown my sorrow and ignoring my Uncle Tad's questions or at least trying too.

I sit watching the band play, listening to their music I sway slowly back and forth to the melody of the music while taking a couple of swigs from my glass of beer. I turn my head to Tad when I hear his voice from the corner he's sitting in.

"So. Is it a boy?" He asks as he raises an eyebrow at me.

I sigh then shake my head no. "It's not a boy, Tad. Though now that you mentioned it I do wish that this guy Dan, would take a flying leap into the nearest large body of water," I say as he pours himself another glass of beer.

I sigh then shake my head no. "It's not a boy, Tad. Though now that you mentioned it I do wish that this guy Dan, would take a flying leap into the nearest large body of water," I say as I pour myself another glass of beer.

Tad nods his head slightly. "Don't like him much do you?" He enquires as he pours himself another glass of beer as well.

I rub my face and looking up at ceiling I sigh softly. "It's now that..." I pause for a moment then let out another sigh before rubbing the back of my neck. "Just forget it. It's to damn complicated." I finally answer after staying quiet for a few minutes.

Tad just nods his head and stays quiet for a while. I down my beer and pouring myself a another glass when my cousin Ben, who's only a year younger then myself, walks over to our table with a soda in his hand then sits down on my right. We sit and talk for a while and by my tenth beer I'm beginning to come out of my funk that I was in and start to loosen up for a bit. We begin to start to talk about what we have said when telemarketers have called our house.

My added southern accent has my cousin rolling around in his chair. I have to catch him twice in order for him to stay in his chair and so he doesn't fall out of his chair and end up hitting the floor hard.

I'm about to tell him about my idea to get rid of Jehovah's Witnesses that come to our door which involves a strap on, gold foil and fishing line when my other cousin Sabrina, who's a few months younger then myself, comes over to the table and sits down in front of me.

She smiles at me then at Ben and Tad before looking at me again. "So. How are you doing, Jack?" She asks as she leans her elbows on the table looking at me.

I shrug my shoulders looking down into my glass feeling depressed again for some reason. "Aight, I suppose," I say soberly.

She raps her knuckles again the table and grins widely. "Well hey. We've got a bet going about you," she says with a twinkle in her eyes.

I raise an eyebrow at her suspiciously. "And?" I ask smelling a challenge waiting for me. "What's it about?"

Sabrina smiles even wider. "Well, Andrew says that you probably can't remember how to play the guitar," she says as she raises an eyebrow as well. "So the bet is whether or not you can still play anymore."

I give her a look then put my chin on my open palm and nod my head slightly. "Oh really. That's the bet is it?" I ask as I scratch the side of my nose. "Okay. You go take that bet," I say as I get up out of my chair and stride over to where the band is set up.

I beacon for the lead guitarist to come over to me and whisper into his ear. He smiles at me then hands me his guitar. I put the strap over my head and shoulder then turn around towards the band as I step up onto the slightly risen floor that acts as a stage and adjust the guitar around my neck.

"Okay. We're going to play a song by Sir Elton John. You all know Candle In The Wind right? Not the old one, but the Tribute to Princess Diana. Ya'll do know that one right?" I ask as I watch them all nod their heads. "Okay. Lets go then," I say as I turn around and play a couple of rifts on the guitar testing the tuning of the guitar.

I make a few adjustments before nodding my head to the band to begin. We being to play the opening rifts and I surprise them all by stepping up to the mic and begin to sing the lyrics to the song.

"Goodbye England's Rose. May you ever grow in out hearts. You were the grace that placed itself where lives where town apart. You called out to our country, And you whispered to those in pain. Now you belong to heave, And the stars spell out your name."

As I sing I see in my minds eye like a slide show going through my head different things that Alex and I had done. I can see myself and her laughing over things that we had done. It goes from there to us running around the streets laughing deeply as others race after us, trying to get me to stop, but I just run beside Alex smirking at her lopsidedly.

"And your footsteps will always fall here, Along England’s greenest hills; Your candle's burned out long before Your legend ever will."

The scene in my head switches to us standing on a grassy hill, swaying slowly to the music that's coming up towards us from the wedding reception below up then from us dancing to us walking away hand in hand away from the hill.

"Loveliness we've lost These empty days without your smile. This torch we'll always carry for our nation's golden child. And even though we try, the truth brings us to tears; All our words can not express The joy you brought to us through the years."

I can hear myself screaming as I watch Alex fall down onto the ground and see myself running over towards her and cradling her head in my arms as I smooth out her hair and feeling the blade once again enter my back as I try to hold her off the ground so that she wont get all wet.

"Goodbye England's Rose, From a country lost without your soul, Who'll miss the wings of your compassion More than you'll ever know."

I hear the whispers of 'I love you, Sela' and feel her lips on my own then I blink my eyes and look around as I finish the song that I am singing.

"It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the; Never fading with the sunset When the rain sets in. And your footsteps will always fall here, Along England's greenest hills; Your candles burned out long before, your legend ever will."

After we finish playing and the room erupts into applause and cheers while I walk off the stage and hand the guitar back to the guy who let me borrow it.

"Dude! That was wicked. Where did you learn to play like that?" He asks as taking the guitar back.

I grin slightly then shrug. "Taught myself really. Nothing to it. Just have to practice alot that's all," I say with a grin as I walk back towards my seat receiving back pounding praise from my uncles and teary eyes praise from my aunts.

Finally, though my seat is only a short ways away, after what seemed like thirty minutes I get back to where I was sitting. I sit down and pour myself a glass of beer then lean back against the back rest of my seat. I smile at my uncle fondly then stare at the wall for a while, fighting back my tears of sorrow.

I jump and reach for my blade that is no long there when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn my head to see Tad looking at me with understanding in his eyes.

"It's hard I know, but just remember that if things are meant to be things will get better in time," he says as he pats my shoulder then gets up and leans while I just stare at an empty seat that he had once sat in letting the tears flow freely down my cheeks.

I open my eyes as the memory slowly fades away and I look around to see everyone in the room laughing as something my Uncle had said. I rub the bridge of my nose and grin when everyone turns to look at me.

Tad must've seen the look of sadness in my eyes because he leans over and hugs me before looking at everyone else. "Welllllll, I hate to be a party crasher, but I need to get on home. My beacons to me all the way over here," he says with a grin as he gets up.

Max, Marion and Kate stand up as well. "Yeah, we need to go as well," Marion says as she yawns loudly.

I stand up with them and walk them out of the house, making my way slowly while feeling the exhaustion hit me full force. I blink my eyes rapidly feeling like I need tooth picks while I stand watching everyone get into their cars. I wave goodbye to Tad as he heads out and before Kate gets into her car with Max and Marion in it, she kisses my cheek and tells me that she'll see me tomorrow morning. I smile back at her and wave goodbye to them then make my way slowly into the house. I yawn once more and rub my eyes which by now are starting to water due to the need for sleep.

I look up at my dad comes over to me and wraps an arm around me then begins to steer me towards the steps up to my room. "What are you doing? I can walk ya's know," I say as I frown then wave good night to mom.

Dad just grins widely. "Yes, I know this, but you look like you might fall asleep half way up the stairs so I'm gonna help ya'll up to your room and get you to bed," he says as he helps me up the steps.

Feeling to exhausted to argue that much I just allow him to help me up the steps and into my room where I flop down on my bed and close my eyes. Mumbling a good night to dad I roll over and curl up in my blankets and fall fast asleep in my cloths.

I groan as I sit up in bed and scratch my stomach then yawn feeling a lot better then yesterday which was just an exhausted day for me. I stretch with my eyes still closed then slowly blink then open to the weak glare of the wintry sun pouring through my windows. I stretch again then kick my covers off before swinging my legs over the side of the bed. I smirk as I jump out of my bed, almost falling flat on my face because the sheets are still tangled around my feet, then walk over to my closet and throw open the door to peer inside of my closet.

"What to wear? What to wear?" I mumble to myself as I go through my shirts pulling ones out that I think would be good to wear for the day.

I whistle to myself softly as I go through the cloths that I had laid on top of my dresser, only to hang almost all of them back up in the closet before finally settling on my long sleeved blue silk shirt. I nod slightly at the shirt before hanging it up on the door knob of my closet and closing the other door.

I walk over to my stereo and turn it on tuning into the local radio station. I walk around my room moving my fingers over the neck of an imaginary guitar as I jam to the music that's blaring through the speakers. I chuckle to myself and roll my eyes while I walk over to my dresser and pull open the top draw then pull out a pair of black socks and a pair of checked hunter green and navy blue boxers. I toss them over onto my bed then crotch down and rifle through the third drawer of my dresser that holds my pants. Finally I settle on a pair of black baggy cargo pants which in turn I toss over onto the bed.

I then dance my way over to the bed with my silk shirt draped over my shoulder before stripping out of my cloths that I had worn yesterday and had fallen asleep in the night before. After I toss my cloths into the laundry hamper that's sitting beside my closet I grab my towel from it's hook and wrap it around my waist before picking up my cloths from the bed then I raise an eyebrow and shrug then throw them back down onto the bed before dancing my way out of the room only to stop at the door and roll my eyes once again. I then chuckle to myself and with a shake of my head I head for the upstairs bathroom, humming to myself while I walk into the bathroom and close the door behind me with a soft click.

Ten minutes later I step out of the shower and grab my towel in order to dry off my body. Once I'm done drying off I rewrap the towel around my waist, comb my hair and put deodorant on before leaving the bathroom and go back into my room to get dressed. I walk into the room to the blaring music coming from the speakers and hear my favourite song on the radio. I sing as I pull my socks, boxers and pants on. Then I stop and look at the bra that's sitting on my bed and raise an eyebrow at it before looking down at my chest and poke at my boobs that are only a size A cup.

"I swear if it wasn't for that fact that I lack a certain part of the male anatomy I would be a man," I mutter to myself as I forgo the bra and slide the silk shirt over my shoulders, after getting my arms into the sleeves which was as fiasco since my shoulder seems to be hurting for some odd reason, feeling the smooth, cool fabric gliding against my skin as my muscles shift and bunch while I button up my shirt. I go over to my dresser and put some cologne on, then I twirl around and imitate one of Michael Jackson's dance moves, then chuckling to myself I stumble over to my desk slightly dizzy and boot up my computer. I flop down in the chair, watching the Operating Systems logo load onto my screen before Beethoven's 5th Symphony plays through the speakers of my computer as the boot up wav.

I'm logging into my hotmail account after about three times of trying to log onto the internet when there's a knock on my door.

"Come on in," I say as I type in my password not looking up from the keyboard when I hear the door opens.

I blink feeling something not right with the presence of this person or the sound of their footsteps.

'Push away from the desk,' a voice inside my head says just as I feel the air whoosh towards me I kick away from the desk at the last minute and I watch a dagger embed into the wood of my desk.

The momentum of the push had wheeled me back against the other side of the room and I thank the gods that I had talked my parents into getting me the chair with wheels on it last year.

I look up and grab one of the daggers I have hanging up on the wall and pull it out of it's sheath and black another blow to my head from my assailant. I look up and right before me is Kate.

My eyes grow wide in shock." What the hell?" I yell as I push her off of me and stand up from my chair and move away from this woman whom I really didn't have the foggiest idea why she was attacking me.

"HEY! I haven't cheated on you ya know. There's no reason for this!" I exclaim as I circle this crazed woman as she gets up and doesn't say anything then comes at me again.

She slashes my right shoulder, in which I counter by ducking left then I duck right when she reverses her attack to my left shoulder, but before she can attack me again, I duck and roll under her defences and come back up only to punch her in the temple knocking her out before she can being another attack on me.

I watch as she slumps to the floor then I walk over to her and kick the dagger away from her hand then I frown slightly as I look at her before squatting down beside her.

I run my fingers through my hair. "Well who ever you are, you are definitely not Alex. She would've known how to counter that move or at least get out of it. I mean she did teach me it, so how could she not know?" I mumble to myself as I pull the impostors shirt up only to reveal smooth skin where a scar from the bullet that went through her shoulder blade should've been.

I blink rapidly. "Well son of a bitch. Either there is a one hell've a plastic surgeon out there that I do not know about or I've just found proof that you are definitely not Alex," I say as I sit down on the floor cross legged after pulling her shirt down.

While I sit there on the floor beside her I tap my leather bracelet that covers a tattoo on the inside of my wrist on my right hand.

I slap myself on the forehead as I remember the tattoo's we both received while drunk. We didn't even remember where we got them, but there was a note beside us saying to cover it with the leather bracelets that were left right beside us. Shaking my head at the obvious give away I should've noticed when I had first met her.

"Gods. I can be so dense sometimes," I say to myself as I take my dagger and cut off the bracelet. I drop my dagger when I see nothing on the inside of her left wrist.

"Okayyyyyyyy. I do believe I have definite proof here that you are not Alex. Now the question is who are you exactly?" I ask myself as I lean my head back and fall over when I see Marion and Max standing in my door way.

I grin sheepishly and wiggle my fingers at t hem from my position on the floor. "Hullo, ya'll," I say as Marion comes over and grabs my hand and helps me up from the floor.

"What in the hell happened here?" Max asks as he looks to the laid out Alex impostor and back to me.

I let out a sigh then point towards the woman on the floor. "All I know is that this isn't the woman I thought she was and that she attacked me for some insane reason," I say as I throw my hands into the air then slap them against my legs as I pull my desk chair back over to the desk and sit down hard in it then lean my elbows on my knees and my chin in my open palm.

"Well how do you know that this woman isn't who you thought she was?" Marion asks me in a soft voice.

I look up at her and give her a look from nodding my head towards the woman. "There's suppose to be a tattoo on the inside of her left wrist, but there isn't," I say as I lean my head back and stare up at the ceiling.

And you're sure about this?" Marion asks as I look away from the ceiling and give her a look that I know says "duh".

"Yes. I'm sure, Marion," I say as I pull off my leather bracelet and show her my tattoo. "It's suppose to look like this. There are some differences, but other wise it's exactly like this one. This woman doesn't have it," I explain as Marion and Max come closer for a better look.

I put the leather strip back around my wrist then stand up and pace around the room then I stop and sigh before walking back over to my desk and pull out my cigarettes from the top drawer of my desk. I look at them sort of dreading the effect they have on me now, but I don't really care at the moment. I tap one out and light it, taking only a small drag from it so not to give myself a coughing fit. I lean back against my desk looking at Marion and Max.

I tap my fingers against the desk, my cigarette dangling from my lips as I think. "There's something I'm not seeing here. What could it be?" I ask myself as I stare at the wall. "Why would someone go to the trouble of making a duplicate, Alex. How would they even know what she looks like? FUCK!" I exclaim as I hit my hand against the wood.

I hear a cough and look towards Marion and Max who are giving me a pointed look. I look from one to the other and shake my head. "NO WAY! He wouldn't know what she would look like now. Hell he doesn't even know what she looked like then. I mean I'm the only one that has a picture," I say as I frown then think while taking another small drag of my cigarette.

"What if someone told him what she looked like, Jack?" Max asks as he runs his fingers through his hair while looking at me.

I shake my head. "Naw that can't be.......WAIT! There was an article in the paper about her and there was a picture. Aww shit. How could I have missed that? That means she told him where I was living and told him about the party. It all makes sense now. Jesus Christ! I'm such a moron sometimes," I exclaim as I put my cigarette out. "Why do these things always fucking happen to me?" I ask the ceiling as I move over to the laid out woman. "We need to tie her up before she wakes up. What we need right now is answers and quick," I say as I look around the room then go over to my chest that I had gotton from my grandmother and rifle through it.

I start tossing things around as I look. "So. What are ya'll doing here any ways?" I ask as I raise an eyebrow as I look through the chest.

"Kate or whoever she is. Forgot her purse and she said something about going to the store after the get together with your family and since Max and I wanted to go to the movies then shopping at the mall we thought that we'd run if over here before we..." Marion stops talking then looks at Max. "Hey, Max. When we were looking at the photos in the living room do you remember seeing a picture that had another person in it that looked like Kate, but the person looked like some guy and Kate said it was her twin brother. I wonder..." she says as I look up at her to see her scratch her jaw.

I furrow my eyebrows as I stand up with some rope that I had once used to hang up my punching bag from the ceiling in my old room and walk over to the laid out woman on the floor. "You're saying that there might be two of them?" I ask as I begin to tie up the woman and then I move her into a sitting position leaning her against the wall as I tie her hands and feet together.

I turn around to face Marion as she nods her head. "Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying here, Jack. Is it possible that this twin could actually be the real Alex?" She asks as she leans against the wall next to the door.

I shrug slightly. "I don't know. I would have to see the picture, but it's very likely. After al this woman is about the exact copy of Alex no cosmetic surgery could've done that there's no possible way and not in that short of time, but the only thing that who ever set this up, was that I knew what was under the leather bracelet. They however did not because they got the other tattoo's right," I say as I hold up the woman’s hand put mine against hers and show them the yin yang symbol that is completed when our hands are together and look at them with raised eyebrows.

I stand up and walk over to the closet and open the door. "By any chance did this woman say where her twin was?" I ask as I pull out my shoulder holster and slip it on over my shirt before turning around and staring at Max and Marion tapping my sock covered foot against the floor.

She snaps her fingers. "The twin is suppose to live in an apartment on the main drag in town," she says as she runs her fingers through her hair.

I roll my eyes and chuckle as I walk over to the woman once more. "Oh that's works. Oh yes, but we're forgetting something here. It's called WE DON'T even know the twins name and there are about how many apartments on the main street of Elkader?" I ask as I shake my head slight then motion to Max. " Can you give me a hand here? We're going to take her up to the hidden room," I say and he gives me a strange look. I just smirk at him. "Just follow me."

I pick the woman up by her shoulders and Max grabs her legs and we walk, with me in the lead, over to the my closet. I reach behind me and slide it open then I step inside. Max snorts with laughter and I look at him with a raised eyebrow.

"What?" I ask as I feel around for the door knob on the wall that opens up the door to the secret room upstairs that's actually the attic, but it's my attic.

"This is your so called secret room?" He asks still laughing.

I shake my head then my hands touches the door knob and I turn it then kick the door open with the side of my foot. "Nope, but this is," I say with a grin as I slowly walk up the steps after motioning for Marion to follow us.

We slowly make our way up the stairs, when we get to the door I open it and walk over to the chair where Max and I deposit the woman before Max and Marion look around the room in shock.

Marion lets out a low whistle. "Wow. This is way cool," she says as she looks around the room.

I grin as I walk over to a chair and sit down slightly out of breath and feeling a little exhausted from it all. "Yeah, I know. My grandmother had this installed before she died. Dad thinks she knew she was going to pass on and did it so I had some place to hang out without my mother bugging me, because at the time my mom was being real bitch to me," I says as I lean over and grab my combat boots that I had left beside the chair the last time I was up here with my dad and put them on.

I lean my head back against the chair and yawn softly before closing my eyes for a minute in order to get myself situated then I open them and run my fingers through my hair sighing softly. "So what do ya'll purpose we do now?" I ask as I look from Marion to Max and back again.

Marion shrugs her shoulder before replying. "Well we could look up this woman's last name in the phone book and see if there is anyone with her last name living downtown."

I smirk and nod my head then reach into the drawer of the lamp table that holds a phone and pull out a phone book. "Good thinking, Marion," I say as I flip through the book looking up Kate's last name. "Ah HA!" I exclaim as I point to the listing. "There's only one person by her last name that lives on Main Street," I say as I look up at Marion and Max who walk over to me with raised eyebrows.

"WELL! What's the name?" Marion asks as she looks down at the phone book. "Cassandra Vantrous. Okay, that doesn't sound like a mans name, Jack," Marion says with a shake of her head.

I look up from the phone book and at Marion. "Yeah, but what if, Kate, was lying?" I pause in between the words dramatically then do a bum bum bummm and we all laugh. "And actually her twin is a woman with short hair and baggy cloths?" I ask as I pull out a piece of paper and a pen then write down the address before putting the phone book back into the drawer and the piece of paper into my back pocket of my jeans.

"Okay, so, what do we do know?" Max asks as he leans against the pool table crossing his arms.

I stand up from the chair and look at the woman. "Well, she's going to be out for a while, so I suggest we should go and talk to this Cassandra person," I say as I walk over to the hidden door that leads back down to my room.

"Is it really wise to leave her alone?" Max asks as I turn around in time to see him jerk a thumb in Kate's direction.

I nod my head. "Yeah, it's cool. The doors lock from the outside. The only reason why this door was unlocked was because I forgot to lock it and this entire room is sound proof. So she can yell till she's blue in the face and no one will even know she's here," I say with a chuckle as I walk down the steps.

I stop at the bottom and wait for Max and Marion to come through the door before I walk back up stairs to lock the door to the room then I walk back down the steps, close the door, hide it and lock it then I walk I walk out of the closet and close the doors behind me.

I grin at Marion and Max. "Come on lets get going. Where's yer jackets?" I ask as I grab my black leather jacket and put it on.

"We didn't wear jackets," Max says as he falls into step beside me as I walk out of my room and downstairs.

I stop on the steps and look at him. "What do you mean you didn't wear a jacket? This is Iowa. The air has to be bitterly cold out there," I says I walk down the last of the steps.

"Nope. More like fifty degrees outside. Compliments of El Nino," Marion says with a chuckle as she walks down the rest of the steps and stops right beside me.

I roll my eyes and mutter something intelligible then walk out of the house and towards my car, only to notice that Marion and Max are indeed right. It's a nice fifty degrees outside. I just shake my head and get into my car waiting for Max and Marion to get in before starting up the car and backing out of the drive way then down the road towards town.

I'm driving down the road when I feel back lean over the seat. "Where are we going?" He asks as I turn a left heading down the street towards Tads house.

I watch the road as I pull up towards Tads. "We're going to stop here. I figure that if we can get alot more information about the family before we find out why exactly I was being attacked today. So, lets go," I state as I get out of the car and walk up towards the front door.

I stand in front of it waiting for Max and Marion to catch up to me then I walk through the door. "Yo! Tad! You home?" I yell as I walk through the foyer.

"Yeah! I'm in the study, Jack!" Comes a muffled yell in the direction of the hall where the study is located.

I motion for Max and Marion to follow me as I walk down the hall and through the large oaken door. Inside Tad is sitting in a large high backed black leather desk chair, he looks up at me when I walk into the room.

"Hey, Jack. I thought you had a family thing today and Kate was going with you?" Tads asks as he gets up from his chair then motions for us all to take a seat.

I take a seat in a chair that's right in front of him as does Max and Marion then Tad sits back down. "Yeah, well. That's why I'm here. I need some information about Kate's family," I say as I lean back in the chair fixing Tad with a serious stare.

He raises an eyebrow then looks from me to Max and Marion then back again before leaning his arms against the desk. "What's going on here?" He asks as he leans forward fixing me with a stare of his own.

I sigh softly then go begin to tell him what happened this morning with Max and Marion filling in with what they know. When we finish our story Tad just looks at us with a shocked expression on his face.

I tap my fingers against the arm of the chair. "Do you see why I need the information now?" I ask as I run my fingers through my hair.

Tad shakes his head then gives me a weird look. "Okay this is strange. I'm not gonna pretend I understand either, but I will help you get down to the bottom of this. What are your plans for today?" He asks as he begins to flip through a black book he has on his desk.

I cross my arms over my chest and look at him. "Well we were going to go to this apartment and find out who lives there and whether or not I can get some information out of them," I say as I look towards Max and Marion who both nods their heads.

Tad nods his head as well. "Aight, but I want you to have some protection with you. I know. I know. You can take care of yourself, but I would feel better if you did," he says as he picks up the phone.

I stand up and put my hand on his and make him put the phone back down. "Wait a minute. I get to pick who I take with me. This is my problem there for I'm in charge of it and I pick Marion and Max to come with me," I say as I turn around and look towards them. "That is if you except."

Max and Marion look at each other then back at me and smile. "We except," they say at the same time.

"Alright then. You'll need something if you are to help my Niece," he says as I turn to look at him as he gets up out of his chair and walks over to a safe that's behind a picture.

I watch him while he spins the dial then opens up the safe and reaches into it before pulling something out of it. He hands a holster to Max then to Marion. "Here. You're gonna need these," he says as Max pulls out a gun that has the Steffano family crest on it then puts it back and nods his head.

"Alright. Be back in about five hours and I'll more then likely have the information by then," Tad says as he walks over to me and hugs me. "Be careful," he whispers and I nod my head before taking a step back then Max, Marion and myself walk out of his office and out of the house.

We get into the car and I start it up then pull out of the drive way and make our way over to the apartments on the main drag of town. I drive around looking for a parking space which I finally find after about three laps around the block. I pull in then take a deep breath before shutting the car off. We get out of the car and walk up to the door to apartments.

Once we're inside I notice that Marion is squirming. I raise an eyebrow at her. "What's wrong?" I ask as I lean against the door staring at her trying not to laugh at her discomfort.

She continues to squirm. "This holster is cutting into my shoulders!" She exclaims and I can't help, but chuckle at her.

I nod my head and continue to chuckle. "Did you adjust it before strapping it on?" I ask as I push off the door and walk over to her.

Marion looks at me with a surprised expression. "You can adjust it?" She asks while slapping at the scoffing Max who looks like he's about ready to fall on the floor and roll around laughing.

I laugh and shake my head. "Yes, Marion, you can adjust it. Take your flannel off and I'll adjust it for you," I says as I tuck my tank top, that's under my silk shirt, into my pants then I walk over to her as she takes her flannel off and I work at the buckles to adjust the straps for her.

I take a step back and grin at her. "Better?" I ask as I fold my arms over my chest.

She nods her head and smiles. "Yeah, much better. Thanks alot, Jack," she says as we head up the steps to the apartments.

I grin then let out a sigh as we get to the top landing and look around for apartment number two zero four after looking at the apartment number that I had written down on the piece of paper that I had taken out of my back pocket.

We find the apartment at the end of the hall and I take a very deep breath and feel someone pat me on the back. I look back and see Marion giving me a thumbs up and smiling. I grin back then knock on the door.

Behind the door I can here footsteps and mumbling, then I hear locks being undone before the door opens and there standing before me, is an older yet very similar, version of Alex who is now looking at me from within her apartment. Before I can say anything the words that I have been longing, yet not really knowing that I was longing for them, since leaving her room three years ago are uttered.

The woman looks at me with a surprised look on her face. "Oh MY Goddess! Sela you're finally here."

To be Continued in Part 7

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