Monday, September 24, 2012

And Into the Oven

I hope any confusions were cleared up. This chapter goes after Out of the Frying Pan chapter. Sorry I uploaded the wrong chapter that one time. The story is almost over :( I know some of you are probably sad. Only 46 more pages.. I'll try to write more but the story is pretty much done. I don't know if I'll write anything new. I don't normally have the time or energy. I am so unproductive and today is the night where I spend 3 hours fro 6-9 working on the school newspaper before it goes to press! 
I have my own column for the school newspaper once a month. I don't know if I'll be linking that... maybe if enough interest sparks up. I had an awful math test today and I still have to figure out how to do the graph work on my biology lab. I don't like group projects. I like working with people but... group projects are supposed to make work easier, not harder. Sighs! Well anyways, I hope you enjoy this chapter. I'm going to go cry about my grades. 
On another more positive note, I saw TG while walking home. He bikes home and I think I have a thing for guys who bike. It's not just because I saw TG biking. I promise. I wrote a whole different story that's about 50-70 pages based on one of my fantasy San Francisco dates. When I moved computers, I was really stupid and didn't bring half my files. Most of my pictures are gone as is my music and a lot of my word docs. That story was pretty crappy though. It was not up to par with this one. I'm getting better at writing fiction and essays! Yes, I'm not good at writing a long story following a couple main characters. So that story also had like 4 or 5, not as many as this one. 
Here's a little summary of it haha. There's a girl named Melanie with a sister named Jenna. Jenna works at True Religion in order to support the family because they don't have a dad (well that's revealed later). There's also a guy named Sam whose father runs a huge advertising company. Jenna is really a genius and Sam's dad wants her in a commercial. She doesn't want to and later Sam convinces her to by dating Melanie. Jenna doesn't want Melanie to get hurt so she agrees to do the commercial. And there's a lot else but basically I came up with this whole Sam character based on this really good looking guy I saw in San Francisco with his bike. Ever since then, I guess. This story was my first longer story.. I've written another one before but that was on a more fantasy level fiction. I wrote a shorter one about three triplets that are separated at birth but end up meeting who are all very different. That one wasn't very interesting and I stopped midway. Hopefully I'll be finishing this Coffee Shop one. 
I'm going to post another short story I did about A Separate Peace. Stay tuned for that. xx 
And Into the Oven 
Ryan hadn’t actually talked to Vanessa after their breakup. His mother had thought that finding the O’Shea girl was more important than going to Hawaii. His dad was on a separate business trip anyway, emergency called, and his sister was in Boston on a school trip. His mother was the only one who knew the big secret. 
“Where is she, Vanessa?” Ryan asked. They were sitting in a coffee shop the day before Vanessa had to leave. 
“Why are you asking me for help?” 
“You’re the only one I can ask.” 
“I thought you would have enough manners not to ask me.” 
“You’re friends with Claire. I know you know. I need Claire, Nessa.” Vanessa shook her head.
“You never said that about me. I don’t want to help you.” Ryan nodded and stood up. He would have to find her another way. When she dropped off the backpack, she said it had something important. There was nothing in it except garbage and his old address book. Ryan turned to leave but saw Vanessa standing up too. 
“Lillian Townshend,” she said before leaving. He smiled but she was already gone when he looked to thank her. Vanessa had disappeared through the busy streets of New York. Why of all people was it Lillian? There was no one to gripe to and he had the address book in his pocket. Lillian wouldn’t want to see him. Claire wouldn’t want to see him either. He still drove up to her apartment. It surprised him that she was still living here alone. Ryan walked into the lobby and pressed the button on the elevator.
“Excuse me, sir, you’ll have to sign in,” a lady said pointing to her clipboard. He nodded but kept his eye on the elevator. He scribbled his name easily enough but realized that there wasn’t a single clock anywhere. The elevator doors slid open and he ran inside. No one was else was there and Ryan quickly pressed the button to floor five. He was anxious and his heart was racing for some reason. His excitement was stopped by a briefcase. The elevator door slid open again and someone with a large fedora hat came in. His briefcase had nudged the door open and he didn’t seem to be in any sort of rush. He stared casually over Ryan’s shoulder at the panel of buttons. He nodded his head before leaning away. No one entered and Ryan broke out into a run. He still hadn’t decided what he wanted to say to her yet. He couldn’t get rid of that lingering feeling that he was being followed. Ryan took a quick turn in the wrong direction and saw that the man was slightly confused. 
“Where are you going?” Ryan asked when he found the man standing over his shoulder again. 
“I’m trying to find someone named Claire.” There had to be more than one Claire. Ryan nodded and started to walk the other way. The man turned around too and grabbed Ryan’s arm. His fingers dug into Ryan’s skin. Ryan almost yelped out in pain. “You are going to help me find her. Two can play at your game.” At that instant Ryan knew he wasn’t in hot water, he was in a boiling pot of water ready to be eaten. 
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was going to go see my girlfriend Lilly,” Ryan said. He was a good liar. The man looked pleased. Had he said the wrong thing? 
“Even better, lead me to them,” the man said pushing Ryan forward. He didn’t know for sure if Claire was with Lillian. He didn’t want to find out anymore.
“Can I call my girlfriend first? You can stand right there. I hadn’t told her I was coming. She hates surprises.” All of that was true. The man let out a sigh that resembled more of a growl. He gruffly nodded and waited for Ryan to call.  Ryan took out his phone and pressed the little picture of Lillian. He still hadn’t updated any of his contacts. The picture was of a very young Lillian. He missed the shy girl that she once was. It was a miracle that this number still worked. He had once tried calling but had hung up at the first sound of voice. He should have asked for forgiveness. Nothing was really his fault but one thing was clear. He had chosen not to do anything. Maybe it was his chance to change it. She would listen to him now. 
“Hi Lillian,” he said clearly. The man was still watching him very, very carefully. She founded taken aback but she went along with it. “I’m standing outside your apartment. Get ready to be surprised. Come out in five minutes time. I can’t wait to see you. I can tell you to be ready for anything. My mother sends her greetings, by the way. I love you, bye!” Ryan hung up just before Lillian also gave him the signal.  He smiled. She still remembered their signal. She was a smart girl, an extraordinary girl. The man scrutinized him. He pushed him ahead and Ryan just walked. He walked without breathing. 
“Who are you?” Ryan asked when he neared Lillian’s apartment. Had they left yet?
“Just know that I can hurt you,” the man answered. Ryan didn’t have the time to call the police or privacy. Ryan walked ahead slowly but surely. He finally reached his destination and prepared his hand to knock on the door. The man shoved him out of the way and banged on the door. Ryan moved back and grabbed the man’s briefcase. He was diverted by the door and the girls who should be outside. The briefcase was easy to snag and Ryan left the hallway before the man could even take out his weapon or call in reinforcement. He stood at the door banging. Ryan left in the elevator and heard the thudding footsteps of the man. He pushed the button to close the elevator and there was no briefcase to save the man this time. He screamed at the elevator to stop but it dinged with satisfaction as the door closed. The sense of panic had slightly disappeared. He was worried about Lillian but had the haunch that his phone was being tracked. How else had the man known so quickly that Ryan was going to Claire? He ran to his car and threw the briefcase inside. There was no ticking and it wasn’t some bomb detonating like in a movie. There was a heavy padlock attached and Ryan knew he would have to get a locksmith to break it. He took the chance by calling Lillian. He had to know if Claire was okay. They could speak in code for all he cared. 
“Ryan, Ryan,” Lillian was saying hurriedly. Was this part of their code? She never sounded like this. Lillian Townshend was always composed. Was she crying? Something bad was happening. Weren’t they able to leave? Lillian was crying while reading some address. Ryan knew he had to go there. The briefcase was safe in the shotgun seat and Ryan drove towards the shadowy back roads. It was a weird place, a place he wouldn’t ever dare to enter. It was clear that this place had been abandoned for maybe a decade now. Eventually his car became too large to fit in the narrow streets. He got out and lugged the briefcase in the alley. There were no lights and Ryan wished he had turned around and went home. He was eventually greeted by one dank apartment in the middle of the road. The other apartments had been bulldozed down. There was a foul stench hanging in the air and Ryan heard the wind howling through the alley. There was no looking back. He studied the place a little bit longer before walking towards the only building still there. There were no other choices and he pressed the doorbell. He heard dogs howling. There were big dogs in there. Was Lillian okay? Was Claire okay? Lillian hadn’t mentioned anything about her distaste for him yet. 
“Welcome,” a shrewd looking woman said. She couldn’t have been more than forty but he wasn’t sure. The woman opened the door a peep and Ryan struggled to come through. She wouldn’t open the door any further. 
Claire was in the shower.  She felt especially grimy after meeting her mother. She didn’t know why and she was shaking in the shower. The water dial was turned all the way on the hot meter but it heated at such a slow rate. The soap, in liquid form, smelled good. It was lilac scented and in a special bottle. Claire wondered if she wasn’t supposed to use it. After about fifteen minutes, she dried herself off and changed into the only pair of pajamas she had. It was only four but the sun was setting early since it was still winter. Lillian was snacking on popcorn and they decided not to discuss the events that had happened. Claire wondered what had happened to her mother. It had to be that guy who called himself her father. 
“Do you know Ryan?” It was a demand rather than a question. Had they talked about Ryan? It seemed oddly random but Claire just nodded. She didn’t exactly want to talk about Ryan. 
“Yeah, I was dating him until I found out that he was still interested in Sasha.” Lillian looked like she had been slapped. 
“I’m not used to hearing her name so much.”
“Do you know Ryan? He had your address. That’s how I found you and your phone number.” 
“He was an old friend,” she said. Her warm tone had disappeared and in its place was an iciness that Claire hadn’t missed. Claire didn’t want to prod but she couldn’t help feeling curious. There was a bit of sadness when Lillian had said old friend. She was reminiscing. How long ago were they friends? Everyone here seemed to know everyone else. “He ruined my old relationship though.” Claire simply nodded. Ryan had never mentioned any of this to her. 
Claire absently turned on the TV and her favorite movie was on. Her favorite actor, Liam Winchester, was in yet another Cinderella spoof. She didn’t mind the obvious plot lines too much. He was enough eye candy to get through the whole hour and a half. Lillian seemed to be having an angry freak out.
“Can you believe how often they play this movie?  Liam Winchester isn’t even that good looking.” Claire toned out the rant.  She had seen this movie on all her nights off through the small TV in the staff room. 
“He’s a total package, Lilly. Any girl would be lucky even to have just one hour with that guy.” 
“My name is Lillian.” Claire didn’t know why Lillian was so adamant about that. Lilly was a cute name. 
“You used to go by Lilly right?”  
“Used to Claire,” Lillian said when her phone rang. She answered in total surprise. Her responses were cryptic and Claire couldn’t understand what she was saying. Claire’s back straightened when Lillian said Ryan’s name. They were old friends, right? Why was he calling Lillian? Wasn’t he in Hawaii?
“We have to leave, Claire. C’mon, c’mon, through the window,” Lillian said standing up. She left the TV on and opened the window. Claire thought she was crazy when she started climbing out. Lillian hesitated and pulled her leg back in.  She grabbed a jacket and then stood on the windowsill outside. Claire had no choice but to follow. Her footing was shaky as she followed Lillian’s determined leadership. They were hanging on for their dear lives. Lillian lived on the fifth story. There was no way to jump down.
“C’mon Claire, this way,” Lillian started to cling to the wall. She went on step by step and Claire followed timidly. She was afraid of falling down to her death. A pounding at the door was a catalyst for their speed. Lillian was already far ahead and Claire was struggling to even see her. They were holding on for about a half hour and Lillian was waiting inside the building. The window was propped open and Claire felt a sense of relief. All of a sudden everything changed. She heard Lillian screaming and heard her fall to the floor. Someone else grabbed Claire. He had rough hands and pulled a burlap sack over her. She felt like a bunch of potatoes. Lillian was screaming and Claire heard the man coughing. She couldn’t see anything through the burlap sack. 
“Get away from her!” Lillian was screaming and Claire heard her swift kicks delivered to the man’s shin. Claire heard the clean cut click of a stapler. Lillian had a stapler? The man yelped out in pain. He stood still for a second before delivering a blow. Claire couldn’t hear anything else and wondered how Lillian was. She was thrown in the back of a truck. It smelled like rotten cheese and Claire tried not to cry. She wanted to be anywhere else. After what felt like eternity, the man finally picked her up and carried her inside. Claire sensed that it was the same place that she had gone earlier in the day. 
“Let go of me,” Claire said finally able to breathe. She was tied down with rope and Marlene was investigating her. Was that any way to treat a daughter? Ryan’s words flooded back into her brain. This woman couldn’t be her mother. She had to find the O’Shea family. 
“Lyle, Lyle, come here,” Marlene yelled. She sounded happy, overflowing with joy. Her voice was vibrant and full of energy. 
“Good work, Marlboro,” the man named Lyle said. He was the man from earlier. His henchman left with a curt nod.
“Marley, dearest, another guy, Giorgio, locked the other girl up in her own apartment and made sure to set a fire after. The boy who stole Giorgio’s briefcase is coming here. We have the ransom.” 
“Let me go,” Claire cried out. Lillian was going to die in a fire, all because of her. “Do you know Lillian?”
“I know Miss Townshend quite well. Do you know why her mother is like that?”
“Her mother is normal, you’re not normal,” Claire yelled. It was true that Lillian lived in her own apartment but her mother was busy. Busy was not abnormal. “You’re a freak.” 
“Ah, you don’t know,” the man said in his raspy voice. “Her mother is the one who snatched you from your father. I ruined Lillian’s life, on accident. The child had been kidnapped properly on a family vacation. Her mother wanted to keep searching and her father didn’t. Lillian was just five.  They divorced and eventually paid a very large sum. Lillian’s mother is a bit crazy when she comes to children matters. That’s why she works so much.” Claire froze and wished she hadn’t heard that. Ryan was right. Marlene was crazy. She needed to get out. Claire squirmed in her ropes when the door rang. Marlene left the scene. 
“What do you want with me?” Claire hissed. 
“Money, I want money,” he answered instantly. 
“What will you get from Lillian’s death?” 
“Your obedience,” he said with a second to think. Claire heard the briefcase fall. Ryan was here. He had to save Lillian, not her. 
“Lillian’s in danger,” she blurted out. 
“Let’s get you out first,” he said kicking the briefcase towards the scruffy man. “What’s in there?” 
“You don’t have to know, Nichols,” the man said. How did this man know Ryan? He polished the case and Ryan untied her. He grabbed her hand and they started to run. 
“Stop there,” Marlene said. “You’re coming with me. We’re delivering you to the O’Shea’s. I want my money from you missy.” 
“You’re crazy, Marlene,” Claire said. Her eyes were brimming with tears. “How could you do this to me? Didn’t you love me at all? Didn’t you miss me? You just moved away like that. Why didn’t you wait for me?” 
“Come here, come here,” Marlene said. Her tone was soft and comforting and she opened her arms. Claire sniffled and ran towards her. Ryan wanted to pull her and tell her to stop but she whizzed past him. Claire was still na├»ve enough to want her mother’s love.  
“Got you,” Marlene said tightly hugging Claire. Ryan smelt a fresh match being lit. He reached for Claire. They had to get out. Smoke started rising and he heard the howling of dogs. The dogs were unleashed and they were scampering around searching for blood. They tore at his leg and had him pinned to the floor.  
“Claire, let’s go,” Ryan screamed from the floor. He was trying to shake the dogs off but they were too big and there were too many of them. 
“Ryan!” She screamed before turning desperately to Marlene. 
“Don’t you need me alive?” Claire asked Marlene. Marlene laughed at Claire’s innocence. Even in the outside world, Claire was relatively the same person that she was locked up in an apartment. 
“Truth is darling, no; the whole world thinks you’re dead already.  We needed to eliminate you since you aren’t cooperating.” Claire sobbed and Marlene still had her arms wrapped around Claire. “The police were starting to poke through holes. Life was getting dangerous. They even visited our old home. That’s why I left. I didn’t have a choice, darling. I was nice enough to leave an address.” 
“Now Marlene,” the man jeered. She seemed frightened by the man. Claire hoped that Marlene would disobey him in love for Claire. Marlene looked hesitant and Claire held her hand firmly. It was no use as Marlene dropped Claire like a useless toy. Claire started to cough. The fire had started. Marlene left like a wisp of smoke. Claire’s thoughts flickered back to Lillian. Claire stood up uneasily and started to kick at the dogs. They were as big as her with sharp piercing teeth. Ryan’s leg was bloody and she could see that he was unconscious. 
“Get away from him,” Claire yelled. The tears wouldn’t stop rolling down her face. Was he dead? Would he be dead? She still hadn’t told him how she felt now. The dogs scattered off after Claire sprayed them with a vial of Lillian’s pepper spray. They wouldn’t be gone for long. How had Marlene and that crazy man escaped so quickly? There was no way to find any sort of backdoor. She dragged Ryan away from the fire. He was heavier than she had suspected. The door was all the way on the other side of the hallway. The fire had started in the kitchen but it was spreading like crazy.
“Ryan, stay with me,” Claire croaked. She needed water. Claire understood why that man’s voice was so husky and raspy. He started fires all the time. He was a pyromaniac. He needed help at a hospital. Smoke had filled her lungs and she tried to cough it out. Ryan didn’t say anything else. The flames were leaping in a rush on the wooden floor. It was eating the wooden panels away and Claire felt the scorching heat. This was all a bad dream.  It would be over tomorrow. Somehow, miraculously, they had reached the outside. The dogs had been scared off by the fire. They too were poor helpless creatures in a world where no one wanted them. The apartment would be up in flames in an hour or so. Claire coughed miserably and wondered where in the world Ryan parked his car.  They were sitting on the street just a couple feet away from the fire.  It was the furthest that she could’ve dragged Ryan without collapsing herself. She slid her hand in his pocket awkwardly searching for his car keys. His phone plummeted to the concrete. She winced when she saw the new scratch on the otherwise perfect surface. He would kill her when he saw it. If only he was here to scold her. If he was here, he would carry her to safety. Claire shook those thoughts out. He wasn’t here. She had to do something. She had to be the heroine. Lillian hadn’t called. Claire quivered at the thought of Lillian. Lillian was a smart girl. She would’ve made it out of a fire. Lillian had probably escaped through a window. Claire couldn’t imagine Lillian in a coughing fit in the middle of a fire. No one had called, not even his mother. It was late, almost ten at night. Claire grabbed the keys and found a piece of paper also in his pocket. It was a note addressed to her.
“Dear Claire,” she read it aloud. “I have never met someone like you. I hope you forgive me because I can’t live without you. I’m sorry.” It was rather simple but she cried out again. Was Ryan dying in her arms? The street was rather dirty and she didn’t want to drag Ryan along it. She could just hear him yelling at her for ruining his clothes and face. Claire tried to smile for the both of them but couldn’t do it. She started breaking down and coughing again. 
“Dear Ryan,” she said in response. “I hope you’re listening. I can’t acknowledge that you might be dead. I used to think you were the worst guy ever. But you know I learned that you were a jerk because no one had ever treated you with love and respect. I hope you forgive me because I didn’t believe you. I’m sorry. I. . . I think. . .  I think that I love you.” There she said it. She remembered the night when he was helping her with homework a very long time back. Claire was so exhausted that she had fallen asleep but she had still heard his confession. They hadn’t properly started dating.  
She waited for him to wake up but it never came.  Claire wiped her tears before using her own body as a crutch. She winced in pain when she tried to move her legs. They had been burnt badly but she didn’t even want to look at Ryan’s wounds. The house was ablaze and they couldn’t stay here. They were both hungry and needed a place to rest. Ryan’s phone was out of battery and it too died in her hands. She hadn’t thought of bringing any of her money. All she had were a half empty can of pepper spray, a dead iPhone, and a possibly dead person. She was surprised that he didn’t have his wallet on him. They finally made it to his car. Claire was relieved that he hadn’t brought the motorcycle. It was a larger car and one that she hadn’t seen before. The car was parked on the curb, right next to a street lamp. She opened the car door and pushed him inside. Claire turned the car on it wasn’t hard. She wished that she could drive. It would’ve been so much better if she could’ve just driven them to the hospital. Claire made sure the radio was on and the heater was billowing warm air.  There was nothing else in his car except his drive license and a couple twenties ducked in the sunglass compartment. She stuck one in her pocket. That would be for dinner. She could pay him back later. He was sitting in the driver’s seat and she was in the shotgun. She leaned over and kissed him. His condition didn’t change at all and Claire felt silly. She should’ve been searching for real solutions. There wasn’t a part of him that wasn’t dirty or injured. She had to find a hospital fast. Claire found the phone charger specially made for the car. She plugged it in and waited for the iPhone to light up. Eventually it did and Claire was finally able to call 911. 
She sat in the hospital for a very long time. When she had arrived, nurses and doctors ushered him out of her hands. She was unattended and ignored but Claire knew how it was in this society. His parents had rushed to see him in the emergency room. She had nowhere to go now. It would be back to the empty Le Cordon Bleu campus. Did she even want to return? It wasn’t like she had a choice. Claire fell asleep in the hospital chairs wondering what was happening.
Lillian woke up in a hospital. She was wearing a white hospital gown and connected to all kinds of IV machines. Computer monitors were scanning her every move. A nurse was excitedly jotting down that Lillian had regained consciousness. All she remembered was that she had tried to leave through the window because there was a raging fire. Claire was taken to another place and a con man had made her call Ryan. She didn’t know how she came to be in the hospital. 
“Excuse me,” Lillian said. The nurse ran over immediately. 
“Yes, Miss Townshend?” 
“Did my mother find me? Is she the one who brought me to the hospital?” It was very probable. Her mother might have thought to bring dinner. She did every once a month. 
“Oh no Miss Townshend, a movie star brought you in. He’s in a new movie. I just saw the preview yesterday,” the nurse chattered. Movie star? Lillian had a sinking feeling in her stomach. 
“Is it Liam Winchester?” She knew Liam missed her deep down.
“Ooh, do you know Mr. Winchester too? No, it wasn’t Mr. Winchester.”
“Is he still around here? I wasn’t able to thank him.” 
“I think he should be, I’ll go looking for him. Is there anything else you need?”
“I would like to make a phone call.” A hospital phone was brought to her and she dialed Ryan’s cell phone. Claire didn’t own a cell phone. Were they all right? They should be together. Claire picked up and Lillian was relieved just to hear her voice. She had been crying and Lillian wondered where she was. 
“Claire, where are you?”
“In the hospital,” Claire said with a yawn. She was stretching her back. How long had Claire been here?
“You should come visit me,” Lillian with a smile.  She told Claire the room number. A few moments later, Claire had raced up the stairs. Claire sat down on the hospital bed. Lillian had never seen Claire so petrified or relieved. She had just washed her face. Soot was still in her hair and her injuries hadn’t been cleaned. 
“Let me call the nurse,” Lillian said pressing the button. Claire stood up. 
“No, no, I’m fine! It’s all because of me that you and Ryan are like that. Is your apartment okay?”
“I was planning on moving out anyway, don’t worry Claire,” she said trying to comfort Claire’s broken soul. “You should get some sleep after a nurse bandages your wounds.” 
“I told you that I’m fine.” Lillian didn’t have the energy to fight her. Claire waved goodbye and left the hospital room. She was afraid of contaminating it. Lillian sighed and watched Claire carefully shut the door. She saw a tall figure walking around. It was Ryan. They were at the same hospital. Lillian could see from the window perched at the top of the door that he was putting colored bandages on her wounds. She smiled. The door clicked open again. Lillian expected to see Claire or Ryan or a nurse but instead saw a complete stranger. He was familiar from somewhere with dark hazel hair. He had sweeping bangs and emerald green eyes. 
“I’m glad you’re awake and okay,” the guy said. He was so cute when he smiled. Was this the movie star?
She couldn’t do this all over again. Lillian didn’t have the strength to sit up or even turn her face away. She had met Liam at a hospital too. He was working in one of father’s movies and her father had caught some sort of illness during the production. She accidentally bumped into Liam at the door of the hospital room. 
“Thank you,” Lillian said curtly. She didn’t know what else to say. He sat down in a chair across from her. “How did you find me? We don’t know each other.”
“Your father,” the guy began to say. She shook her head with any remaining strength. Her father had always wanted to join the movie biz. She had taken singing lessons all throughout middle school. Her mother didn’t have the power to help Lillian leave that road. She was a child actress until her parents had divorced. After seven, she stopped acting and started attending private school. It was only lately that her father was jumping in at every opportunity. This was either a scheme to get her to join the business or for that guy to use her.
“You need to leave,” Lillian said. “Thank you for everything and I’ll send you a check for your troubles. Nurse!” The nurse shrugged apologetically and opened the door for him. 
“When can I see you again?” He said as he was halfway out the door. 
“When hell freezes over,” Lillian said wondering who in the world he was. He left, struggling to keep a serious face. Was she that much of a joke? The nurse was gasping with horror. 
“Who is that?” Lillian asked the nurse. The nurse was a younger woman in her twenties. She was staring dreamy eyed at the door even though he was long gone. 
“Your father is a movie producer, Lillian. Don’t you eat breakfast with Amy Adams and go to concerts with Brad Pitt?” 
“He’s a movie producer not a celebrity magnet,” Lillian said sighing. The nurse could have just answered her question. “Who was that guy?” 
“I’m not quite up to date with my celebrities; you know how often they get nose jobs and such. If I’m not mistaken, that’s Christopher Fleming,” the nurse said with an exasperated look. “Who told you to be so rude to famous people?”
“You can leave now, I bet he’s still here to sign your forehead or something,” Lillian said. The nurse rushed out in a whimsy. What was she going to do now? The hospital phone was still on the table next to her bed. She dialed her mother’s number. A worried voice filled her ear. Lillian sighed before speaking.
“Hi mom,” Lillian said carefully. 
“Honey, what happened? I saw your name on the news with a recent report about a fire. Are you okay? Are you at the hospital?” 
“Mom, I’m sorry about the apartment.”
“Don’t be, honey, I already took care of it.” Lillian had been independent for so long that she had forgotten what it felt like to be taken care of. “The insurance company was nice enough, Lillian. What hospital are you at?”
“Thanks, I’m at the Lower Manhattan hospital. Some guy named Christopher Fleming took me here. I don’t know how he found me. Apparently he’s working with dad.” 
“Your dad and I talked and we decided that you should be in Los Angeles for a while. Just until the whole insurance thing is over, and then we can find you a new apartment.” 
“Mom, I don’t want to go there.”
“It’s been two years since you left. The Hollywood world works fast. Your dad owns a couple houses so you can just stay in a separate one. I told him not to push you to act again.” 
“Thanks,” Lillian said and hung up. She couldn’t possibly return to Los Angeles. It was unthinkable and yet Lillian was thinking about it. The door opened and she saw Ryan and Claire come in. Ryan had a cast on his left leg and another sling was attached to his arm. 
“Hi,” she simply said. He made her feel uncomfortable, even now. He started to say something. 
 “You just have to leave,” Lillian said. Maybe it was for the best to leave New York, just for a while. 
In a couple days, Lillian was ready to leave the hospital. Her brand new clothes were packed away. She had decided that she wanted to return to the sunny beaches. The sunny atmosphere would be good for her health. Claire had decided to find her parents, her real parents. No one knew exactly where Marlene had gone. Lillian sat down in her boarding gate. She was clutching the ticket in her hand and pulled out her shiny new cellphone. Her mother had gotten it for because Lillian had agreed to relocate for the entirety of winter break. 
“Hello?” Claire answered. She was staying at Le Cordon Bleu just until she could figure out her family situation. 
“Hi,” Lillian said energetically. She still had half an hour before her flight. 
“Lilly! How are you? I thought you were leaving today,” Claire said. Lillian rolled her eyes. She would let it go just this one time. 
“I’m doing well, a lot better. My flight is in half an hour so I have a lot of time.” Lillian listened to Claire prattle about different types of jam. She glanced around her surroundings. There weren’t too many people in her gate. 
“Lillian!” Someone yelled. Lillian turned her shoulder to see . . .  the guy from the hospital. Claire was still talking about boysenberry and he started to approach her. Lillian commented with an insightful ‘uh-huh’ before turning away from Christopher Fleming. Who did he think he was anyway?
“Lillian!” His voice became more distinct. 
“Is someone calling you? I can always call back,” Claire said. “Bye!” 
“Claire, Claire, wait, wait, you need to tell me about rhubarb.” It was no use and she heard the click. Claire had hung up and Lillian wasn’t one of those people who pretended to gab on the phone anyway. Christopher sat next to her with a beaming smile. 
“I thought it was you,” he said almost glowing. She shook her head and sighed. 
“My dad is a movie producer, yes, if you were thinking about using me to get ahead, you’re wrong.” 
“Well I’ll be waiting until hell freezes over,” he said with a cheery smile

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