Chapter 51: Phone Call
January 7, 2016
“We had gotten done a day of skiing and were relaxing on the couch,” Chase recalls from the night at the cabin.
He could recall the night vividly as he remembered the laughter and jokes before she left. It was also that day that he truly realized that he had feelings for her, resulting in a phone call to Regan later that night.
“We had just got done joking about my NAPA commer-”
“Did she want her own personal blow-up doll?” Darrell cuts him off with a laugh.
“Nah, she probably wanted her own dipstick but a different one than the commercial,” Ryan counters as Darrell rolls his eyes. Chase just lets out a sigh, having gotten annoyed of the jokes since the commercial came out. “I bet the commercial started the discussions of a possible relationship. Am I on to something?” Chase shakes his head no.
“I was having thoughts based on the way things had gone to that point and especially earlier that day,” he offers. “For the record, Darrell wins as she asked if she could have a blow-up doll for herself.”
“$10 please,” Darrell asks as he holds his hand out for Ryan. “We had a bet going as to what would be brought up first whne you got a girlfriend.” Ryan then hands over a $10 bill.
“For the record, this shouldn’t count as she wasn’t a girlfriend, but rather a psychotic woman,” Ryan answers as Chase sits there, drumming his fingers on his leg.
“And yet, I trusted her till the end…” Chase lets out quietly as Ryan instantly looks over at Chase, wishing he could take back those words.
“Chase, I didn’t mean anything by it. Nobody could’ve known till she played the card. By the sounds of it, she sounded like an awesome girl till that night.” Chase glances away from the pair, knowing that no matter how much he faulted himself, Ryan was right.
Everything had gone perfect till she got the phone call and changed the course of events. Still, he couldn’t help but wander if things would’ve been different if he would’ve cut the cords with her sooner. Then he wouldn’t have possibly done the one thing that he regretted most through this.
“For the record, does the blow-up doll exist?” Darrrell questions, catching a curious glance from the pair of drivers. “What?”
“What would you want with a blow-up doll of me?” Chase asks. “Are you that jealous of me that you want someone to admire when I can’t be around?” Darrell then reaches over, lifting a piece of hair as Chase flicks him off. “Seriously?”
“You need to stop letting everything go to your head, boy. I was just asking a random curious question with no motive at all.” Chase then lets out a sigh, remembering the course of events after the commercial.
“There was only ever one doll, and my mom hid it as she said that she knew there’d be a throne of crazed fans that’d want the doll for their own personal pleasure.”
“Creepy!” Darrell and Ryan let out at the same time as Chase slowly shakes his head yes in agreement. It was always odd to think about the crazy things that some crazy fans thought of when it came to them.
“For the record, if we ever run short on money, I know how to make enough to pay the rent and then some now,” Ryan says quietly as Darrell laughs, causing Chase to smack him. “Ouch!” Ryan then rubs the spot. “You call us over to ask for our help, and then beat us? What is this?”
“Behave and you won’t get smacked,” Chase tells him as he gets back comfy in his spot. “Anyways, her phone went off while we were teasing each other about the commercial. She got off the phone and said that she had to leave. I asked her what was wrong and she told me something her cousin having issues, but wouldn’t specify anything.”
He then lets out a sigh as that should’ve been his first warning sign that something wasn’t right. She should’ve been able to at least give some detail, even if not the nitty gritty, without giving anything anyway.
However, the lack of details should’ve tipped him off that there was something going on. Then the fact that she was so defensive in him not going with her – that should’ve been the second warning that something was off with her. When you’re faced with someone that you’re barely trusting in a foreign area, that should be the two warnings that send you packing your bags without another word. But yet, he stayed, and the events took place. He couldn’t help but blame himself, again.
“Chase, you couldn’t have known,” Darrell starts, sensing the quietness in his voice and knowing that he had gone into thought. “There were a million possibilities that could’ve equaled the reason for the phone call, the lack of details and why she needed to go alone. Families run into problems. People run into problems that they don’t want to be discussed. It’s like us being here. I may get a call from you to be here in the midst of my friends, but it’s not like I’m going to tell them what’s going on and that was it you. I’d just say that a friend needs me right now to help out with something and it’s major.”
“Darrell’s right,” Ryan adds. “And if that person pleaded for more answers, I would’ve told them that they need to learn to trust me and know that I’m doing the right thing. She put that trust in your arms and because you really liked her and had that relationship, you accepted it. There’s nothing wrong with what you did. Everything falls in her lap being her fault for the decisions that she made.”
The advice from the boys made sense as it was her decision to be part of the crime ring, it was her decision to hold the details of the phone call the night before he was attacked and it was her decision to not tell anyone anything.
“I guess….” Chase lets out quietly as he takes a deep breath, recalling that night some more. “She then told me that it would be two hours each way and she’d be back by morning. I told her that it was fine, with a touch of hesitation. I didn’t really want to be alone, after all. She then asked if I was fine, and I told her that I was. She then told me to text her if I needed anything and then she left.” He then sits back, remembering the loneliness that eh felt that night in the cabin without her. He remembered how much he missed having her to talk to, and how that somehow pushed him into believing that she was the one more so than he wanted to.
“So let me guess – the cousin situation was a lie and she actually went to a meeting?” Darrell questions and Chase slowly shakes his head yes, remembering the next morning when she had gotten back. “When did you find that out?”
“The next day.” The boys’ jaws drop in realization of this detail. They had originally thought that Chase learned of her ring relation once everything was dealt with. However, that didn’t seem to be the case. A glance at each other and they realized just how much bigger of a twisted mess this was. “I woke up the next morning and she had gotten back sometime during the night. She told me that she got in really late around 2. I told her that I had tried to stay awake waiting up for her, but had fallen asleep. She told me it was fine and the thought was all that counted.”
“You could never stay up super late anyway,” Ryan teases as Chase rolls his eyes. It seemed in any sleepover the boys had together, Chase was always one of the first to fall asleep while Darrell was a self-proclaimed night owl that was able to stay awake all night if warranted. Ryan, meanwhile, was in the middle of the pair. “It’s okay, Chasey. We understand that you need your beauty sleep so you look so pretty for the girls.”
“Did you see what I did to Darrell earlier?” Chase offers as Ryan backs away a little and slowly shakes his head yes. “I could hit you, too.”
“I’ll tell your mommy on you!”
“Seriously?” Darrell questions with a laugh as Ryan shakes his head yes.
“He won’t do anything that gets him in trouble with Cindy,” Ryan teases as Chase sticks his tongue out. “Gotcha trapped right there, boy.” The room then goes quiet as all three of them know what is set to come next in Chase’s story of the events. “So anyways, what happened after you got that out of the way?”
“I asked her how things went,” Chase recalls as he thinks back to the conversation.
“Did everything go okay with your cousin?” He asks.
“Things are a little more rocky than I had expected and he had been going through,” she offered. “I was not going to come back at first, but then my aunt said that she had it under control.”
“Well, hopefully he gets it under control.” She shakes head yes, agreeing. “Oh, there’s something that I should tell you…”
“Oh?” He then thinks back to the conversation with his dad, remembering the pure shock that went through in finding out the news. There was than the argument that he should return home as soon as possible due to fear of being found, but he assured his dad that he was fine. Besides, Randy would e looking in North Carolina or Georgia – not Canada.
“Randy, the guy who attacked me, escaped jail.” Her jaw then drops as she hears the news.
Chapter 52: Discussion
January 7, 2016
The boys listen intently as Chase recalled his night with Demi before things went down with Randy coming into the picture. So far, they had kept things loose, but knew that things were getting closer to tightening up by Chase’s demeanor. It seemed the further he went into the story, the more he focused on facts rather than the emotions, and the quieter he got.
“What was her reaction to you telling her that Randy had escaped?” Ryan wonders from his perspective as he snatches the bag of chips from Darrell.
“Hey!” Darrell lets out as Ryan sticks his tongue out.
“She gave me the standard shocked expression that you’d expect,” Chase offers as the boys immediately turn their attention back to him. “She acted surprised and asked how he had escaped. Dad told me that it was probably an inside job. They found out later that one of the guards was actually a ring member and had helped plan the escape, saying that he was someone else and was allowed to have a three-day leave.”
“He made the most of his three-day leave,” Darrell comments as he grabs the chips back. Ryan then gives him a look as Darrell shrugs his shoulders. “Well, it’s true. He went about a spree of acti-”
“I meant the chips!” Ryan cuts him off as Darrell rolls his eyes.
“Didn’t you learn from your parents to share?” Chase questions as Ryan gives Darrell a look.
“But Chasey, he eating all my chippies!” Darrell whines as Ryan shakes his head. Chase then leaves the room, returning with another bag of chips as he throws it at Ryan.
“Now you each have your own bag of chips.” Chase then gets back comfy in his seat.
“So what happened next?” Ryan questions as Chase reflects back.
“I told her what my dad told me. I told him that he wanted me to come hom-”
“Why didn’t you?” Darrell cuts him off as Chase looks over and shrugs his shoulders.
“I was in love,” Chase comments. “I was in puppy love stage and didn’t want to leave my girl. Besides, I figured Randy would focus looking for me in North Carolina or Georgia, where I’m expected to be.” Chase then lets out a sigh. “I guess if I would’ve come home immediately then he wouldn’t had found me in the hote-”
“He would’ve found a way to find you when you got home,” Ryan cuts him off. “He would’ve figured out some way to either hijack the plane, or kidnap you once you were home. It could’ve turned out worse, actually. What if he would’ve hurt Bill, Cindy or Dale trying to get to you?” Chase knew the boys were right and knew that he had a plan in place to leave and that was close enough. But perhaps leaving sooner would’ve prevented the other….
“You can’t live in regret and question your decisions,” Darrell adds. “You just have to take what life gives you, live with the decisions you make and handle the consequences.” Ryan then looks over at Darrell, surprised.
“How do you become a philosopher?” Darrell then glances over at Ryan.
“That’s how I live my life. I don’t worry about what my sister thinks of boyfrie-”
“Chase, please, gladly continue your story….” Chase then laughs a little, before taking a deep breath and thinking back to the conversation with Demi.
“She then asked me what was going to happen next,” Chase recalls. “I told her that they were starting to understand my reasons, but would steal Dale’s jet immediately and come see me.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Ryan offers. “Your mom would do anything for you.”
“So then Demi then suggested that I should go home. She said that perhaps those worrying about me more could protect me more so than being awa-”
“She was actually trying to help you find protection?” Darrell asks, surprised. “And then did whatever she did?” Chase lets out a sigh and shakes his head yes.
“That’s why I didn’t believe anybody when they told me that she had played a part,” he starts. “That’s why it hurt more than anything. That’s why I didn’t believe it till she told me herself. That’s why it’s breaking me apart, and why I called you both.”
“You know we’re here for you always and will do whatever it takes to help you,” Ryan assures him. “Go on…” Chase then takes a deep breath.
“I told her that I couldn’t go home, but she told that I needed to think of my safety. I then told her that I felt safe with her and admitted that I loved her. I told that I never wanted to leave her or lose her.” He then looks over at boys. “Sounds stupid now that I say it out loud. I only knew the girl a couple of days and here I was, head over heels, already planning a future.”
“It’s not stupid,” Darrell tells him. “It was like that with Shelby and I. We went on a couple of dates and I was immediately thinking about how we’d spend our time together, living together and doing things. It’s an okay thought to have while you’re in love. Some people also fall quicker than others. That was you in that moment. Like I said, you can’t regret that. You can’t live regretting your decisions.” Chase shook his head as he wanted to listen the boys. However, the more he thought about things later that night, he regretted it more and more.
“I wish it was that eas-” Chase starts.
“Dude, the girl broke your heart and played you! It happens! Just ask Ryan!”
“Hey!” Ryan lets out as he looks over at Darrell.
“You don’t understand….” Chase then lets out quietly, causing both boys to look back. The fun expressions on their face immediately disappeared as they saw the sadness and tears threatening to fall.
“What are you trying to say?” Chase then takes a deep breath, almost letting himself say it, but stops.
“Let me tell you the rest of what happened and you will understand, okay?” The boys slowly shake their heads yes as they wait for Chase to continue. “She stammered on what to say back at me in return, in which I then cut her words off and told her I knew she felt the same way. That’s why she didn’t want to leave. It was why she wanted to stay with me when I had that fall. I told her to tell me the truth.” Darrell shakes his head as he knew where this was going.
“She obviously lied because of what happened, huh?” Darrell offers and Chas shrugs his shoulders. In the end, it turned out to be a lie as if she felt the same way in response, she wouldn’t done what she did. However, despite trying to convince himself of that fact, he knew in that moment the feelings were true. No matter what she had done, she had feelings for him in response. They just weren’t strong enough to overcome other things in her life.
“She told me that she felt the same way, but there were some issues there,” Chase reveals as Ryan crosses his arms. “She the-”
“May I interrupt?” Ryan wonders as Chase looks over. “Even with what happened, do you believe that she had feelings?” Chase glances down at the floor and slowly shakes his head yes.
“I could tell today when she apologized. I could tell by looking in her eyes. Her eyes had that same look that they had that night of pure love, but had slightly changed today with her apology in feeling regret and loyalty to her group.” Ryan shakes his head in disbelief.
“So this is like some strange version of Romeo and Juliet?” Chase thinks it over and shakes his head yes. “That stinks, buddy. I can understand why it can be hard to move forward without regrets. It takes time for a broken heart to mend.”
“You don’t know half the story,” Chase lets out as Ryan looks over, confused once again. “Can I continue?” Ryan then shakes his head, growing more curious. He knew there was something intriguing coming by Chase’s comments. “I thought she meant that distance was the issue, but that wasn’t it. I thought she had a boyfriend possibly, but that’s not it. She then admitted that she went to a meeting with her crime ring frien-”
“So you stuck around despite knowing she was a crime ring member?” Darrell cuts him off and Chase shakes his head yes. “You trusted her to get you to freedom with that knowledge that she knew Randy?” Chase shakes his head yes.
“I was blinded by her love and believed her when she told me that she’d help me and she didn’t want to help him. She explained how she knew nothing before about Randy till the meeting, and detailed why he was at the meeting. She told me that she kept quiet and wouldn’t do that to me. I questioned her trust, just like you’re wondering why I trusted her. She told me that she loved me and want everything that I want. I believed her!”
“But why?” Chase lets out a sigh and shrugs his shoulders.
“I loved her, and I could see that love in response. I figured that I could trust her and she wouldn’t turn on me. Hey, till she got the phone call the night before things went down, she was right in her words.” Chase then takes a deep breath. “I know I messed up, okay? I know that I was wrong to trust her. I know tha-”
“Chase, you couldn’t known,” Ryan cuts him off as he walks over to where Chase is sitting and kneels before him. “Look at me.” Chase then glances up from the floor at Ryan. “You couldn’t have known that she was going to turn on you with a simple phone call. Love can blind you and make you do things that you regret later. You fully believe that person because you feel something that you don’t know how to comprehend. Anybody can get on your case and say that you should’ve done things differently. But, in that moment, you did what you thought was rig-”
“But it was wron-” Chase starts.
“But, in that moment, you thought it was right. Everything that you’ve told us, and how you described the relationship the pair of you grew to have. If I was in your shoes, I would’ve done the same thing. You can’t get on yourself. You just have to learn from the experience and more forward.” Chase holds back the tears threatening to fall at those walls. As always, there was one more factor preventing hat right now.
“I can’t just do that…” Ryan shakes his head, understanding.
“I know. Your heart is broken and that’ll take time to mend. It may take a couple weeks, or a couple months. But, you need to start moving forward. To start moving forward, you got to stop blaming yourself for the wrong decisions. You just have to accept the decisions that you made and learn from them.” Ryan then sits down before Chase. “Now, continue with where you were, thinking about what I just said….”
“It’ll be okay,” Darrell offers as he moves closer, giving Chase’s shoulder a squeeze.
“So I started to believe her and understood now why she wanted to go home,” Chase continues quietly as he focuses his eyes down on his legs. “She said that she’d help me leave safely and save me. I asked about her and she said that all that mattered was me. She said that once she believed it was safe for us both, we’d get back together and everything would happen. I then asked her what the plan was and she explained it.”
“Did she follow it up until things happened with Randy?” Chase shakes his head yes.
“We called in an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers. We then got a hold of Dale and told him I wanted to come home and to send the jet. She then said that she’d take me to the airport over the course of the following day, leaving no traces along the way, which she did. I was at the hotel across from the airport. It was just a matter of waking up in the morning and getting on the jet.”
“So why did things go wrong?” Chase knew that it’d be easy to skip to that, however he wanted to tell the boys the one thing that continued to pressure his mind first.
“Can I finish what happened before we left, and then tell you about that?” The boys shake their heads in agreement, though slightly confused. What else could’ve happened at the cabin? “I pulled her close and asked her if this was our last day together. She told me that she didn’t want to be apart, but we needed to do this to keep me safe. I asked why she couldn’t just tell the police of her connection, get protection and let us be together….”
“Anybody who says anything, no matter the protection they’re promised, gets harmed,” Demi tells him. “I can escape quietly and safely once things die down. However, while things are at large and people are looking for someone like you, it’s not that easy.”
“I don’t know what I’ll do away from you….” Chase lets out as he keeps her held close.
“You can call and text me every moment of the day.”
“But it’s not the same…”
“It’s better than nothing at all.” He then takes a deep breath. The thought gave him a bit of fear and he wasn’t sure if he was ready, but he had to make this last day with her truly worth it. He wanted to make it the most memorable so if something happened, at least he’d have the memory.
“I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never had sex an-”
“No, hear me out. If we’re not going to see each other for awhile, I want something before that. I want something to hold on to.” He then takes a deep breath as he keeps his eyes focused on hers. “I want you to be my first.” She feels her own breath hitch in her throat, not knowing what to say.
“Please, Demi?” She then takes a deep breath as she remains focused on his eyes.
“Are you sure that you want this today and now? Are you sure that you’re ready for this?” He shakes his head yes as he grabs firmly hold of her hand.
“I love you. I meant what I said. I love you and I trust you and I…I want this, Demi.” A smile forms on her face as she pulls him closer to her.
“As long as you’re sure and you want it, then okay. I promise to take care of you and keep you safe.” She then kisses his lips softly as she lets her hands roam underneath his t-shirt.
Chapter 53: The First
January 7, 2016
Ryan and Darrell’s jaws drop as Chase tells them what happened, before looking at each other with surprise and back at Chase. Out of all the things that he could’ve told them that night, hearing that Demi was his first was probably the most shocking of them all.
“So that’s why you said it’s hard to let go,” Ryan starts. “That’s why you said it’s hard to place it in the past without any regrets. Because you slept with her.” Chase slowly shakes his head yes as he keeps his eyes locked on the floor.
“Through high school and watching others hook up and then seeing boys brag about it, I always told myself that I’d wait till I found that special person,” he tells them. “I kept saying that I’d be the type to sit back and wait till I found someone that I truly love and want to be with forever. I felt that with Demi, or so I thought. But that’s what I felt in that moment.”
“Based on what you’ve told us, I believe you and why you’d think that. Everything seemed to be going perfectly and you seemed to have a connection. You also seemed to be able to talk about things with her that you couldn’t with others and joke around. It seemed like that perfect relatio-”
“I fell too quickly. I fell too quickly and didn’t hold back at all. I lad it all on the line without a thought of restraint, despite even Regan trying to convince me that I should. I should’ve held back and waited. I should’ve thought of ways that it couldn’t happen.” A tear slips out of the corner of Chase’s eyes, in which he quickly reaches back up and brushes it away.
“You couldn’t known and sometimes, you can’t fault your heart for what it does based on the situation,” Darrell offers. “I fell quickly for Shelby, but she was the one that held me back and made me wait till we continued to get closer. It happens. You can’t walk around and regret it forever.”
“But it hurts!” Chase lets out and the tears then fall as Ryan stands up from his place in front of Chase and wraps his arms around his friend, holding him close.
“I know it hurts,” Darrell continues from his vantage point. “Heartbreak is the worst feeling. If you combine that with being your first, the one person that you decided to show everything to – I understand. Heartbreak isn’t easy for anyone. Just ask Ryan.” Ryan gives him a look as Darrell shrugs his shoulders. “Sorry…” Ryan then lets out a sigh as he lets Chase go and goes back to sitting on the floor before him.
“Actually, he’s right in asking me,” Ryan starts. “I’ve been through it. I know how much it hurts. I know how much you want to cry and chase that pain away, but I also know the anger that you feel at the same time. Trust me – I’ve been there. Maybe not to the extent that you’re at, but I’ve been there.” Chase glances up at Ryan, in hearing those words. With the discussion that they were having now, it was fitting why he knew it’d be good to tell the boys.
“Does it get easier over time?” Chase asks and Ryan shakes his head yes. “When? Can it go away now?” Ryan chuckles and shakes his head no.
“It takes time, bud. There’s a couple of girls that I’ve gotten out of my mind in a week. There were a couple – probably Jeanette – that took two months for me to break the funk.”
“Two months?” Darrell asks and Ryan shakes his head yes.
“A couple days past and I found ways to do things without thinking of her,” he starts. “You’ve found that as you’ve started to move forward in focusing on the season and doing things at the shop and what else. However, it’s still hurt here –“ Ryan points to his chest “-at times. There are times when you feel lonely, and you want to cry. There are times that you want to lash out. Am I right?” Chase shakes his head yes.
“Why do you think I called you?” Chase questions.
“Well, you did the right thing in calling someone and talking to them – and I want to thank you for trusting us. But back to what I was saying. It will ease with time as you move forward in life. All you can do is take the lessons that you leanred from that moment and use them so you don’t go through the same pain in the future. Next time you find someone that you like, take your time. Relax and see where the waters go before rushing in without holding back.” Chase glances down as Darrell sits back, watching their friend closely. He could tell that there were thoughts on his friend’s mind.
“What are you thinking?” Darrell questions as Chase thinks it over.
“I feel dirty and used and….I hate it!” He states as he runs his hands through his hair.
“Dude, she may have used you in the end for her own ploys and chose the wrong side. But, that’s cause she didn’t realize what type of guy she had. She didn’t realize that she had met the most sweetest southern guy that she’d ever meet who’d do anything to make her happy. She didn’t realize that she’d met the most determined individual that I ever know for going through everything you’ve been through and continuing to fight back.”
“Darrell is right as you’re amazing and if she can see that and still do what she did, she’s the most rotten person in the world,” Ryan adds. “I know it hurts and I know it’s got to suck to be used and played like you were. But, you’re not the dirty one. She’s the dirty one for playing that game. You’re still the wonderful guy that we know. It doesn’t change anything about you and who you are, Chase. You’re still our sweet friend.”
“Even if I did the one dirty thing I swore to myself I’d never do and sleep with some random girl?” He questions as Ryan pats his leg.
“You didn’t do anything dirty or wrong. She wasn’t a random girl. She was just someone who manipulated your emotions and it sinks more than anything that we can describe or talk about here. It’ll get easier with time and you’ll find someone that loves you for you and won’t do this to you. You can’t let it eat you up.” Ryan then stands up, noticing his drink is done. “Why don’t we get some hot chocolate and make smores? Chocolate and marshmallows makes anybody feel better!’
“Girls eat ice cream, us guys eat smores?” Darrell questions and Ryan shakes his head yes.
“We eat smores, get our emotions on the table and play video games to make the pain disappear for awhile till we’re ready to face it and move forward,” Ryan offers as he heads for the kitchen. “Please tell me you have all the ingredients!” Chase gets out of his spot and follows Ryan to the kitchen.
“I have a four year old girl as a neighbor,” Chase starts. “I think I’d have the perfect recipe to make any small kid happy.” He then goes in the cupboard, getting the crackers, chocolate and marshmallows out. “Thanks for doing this guys. Thanks for coming over and hearing me out, and thanks for the advice. I hate to admit it but I feel a little better already.”
“We’ve got your back – always,” Darrell tells him before giving him a quick hug, snagging a marshmallow as he walks away.
“Saw that!” Darrell then looks back, licking the big marshmallow before holding it out to him.
“Want it now?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no. “That’s what I thought. By the way, you can tell us the rest that happened when you’re ready. You don’t have to do that tonight.” Chase glances at the clock, seeing that it was late. He had promised Ryan he wouldn’t keep him up past his bedtime.
“It’s getting lat-”
“We’ll stay and listen if you want to tonight,” Ryan cuts him off. “Like Darrell said, we’ll do anything for you. I can deal with going to the shop tomorrow with barely any sleep.” Chase lets out a sigh. He knew if he didn’t talk about the rest, he’d probably be left without any sleep himself. He hated to put that on his friend’s shoulders, but if they were willing to help, then he was willing to accept that. Besides, he had gotten so far already so why not finish it?
“Let’s make the smores and then I can tell you the rest,” he tells them as he puts together the first smore for melting.
Chapter 54: Reunited with Randy
January 7, 2016
After eating the smores and sharing some jokes, the boys were set to get back to the seriousness of the matter. While they rather would’ve avoided the rest of the discussion, they knew that they had come too far to just ignore the rest of what happened to Chase during his time away from them. Taking their spots back in the living room with some fresh hot chocolate, they got set for the rest of the story.
“So the next morning, you woke up….” Ryan tries to encourage from where they left off as he watches his friend closely.
“I woke up – feeling what I thought was the greatest feeling in the world,” Chase says, quietly, his voice barely above a whisper. “I can’t describe how great it felt to be laying in her arms, totally wrapped up in that moment. It just feels terrible now lookin-”
“Remember what we told you,” Darrell cuts him off, wanting to escape those emotions. He almost felt like crying himself earlier when Chase had been discussing the regret of his actions with Demi.
“I know.” Chase takes a deep breath. “The traveling back – it went smooth like she said. Everything was going to plan. To me, everything did go according to plan. However, I learned from her today that things didn’t go like I thought the night before Randy showed up.”
“I’m guessing someone noticed you and tipped her off, right?” Ryan offers and Chase shakes his head yes. Ryan could only roll his eyes. He began to wonder himself what would’ve happened if nobody noticed them together. “So what did she tell you?” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering the board room meeting.
“She said that after e got back to the apartment while I was in the shower, her district manager called her and said that we were recognized. It pains me that she never told me. She could’ve told me in that moment and changed everything, or at least gave me some warning. But no, she was afraid and kept it a secret!” He then takes a couple of deep breathes in an attempt to calm himself down.
“Randy still would’ve found a way to you. If you would’ve done something with the warning, the person that spotted you would’ve noticed your attempt to escape and called it in. It doesn’t change things, Chase.” Chase wished he could convince himself that was the case. However, he felt a couple different scenarios roll through his mind. Rather than dwell on those, he took a deep breath, remembering Demi’s words.
“She said that she tried to play dumb, but he didn’t believe her, saying that the guy had a photo. He then told her that no matter what, Randy would get me and if she wanted to live, she had to play dumb. So, being scared and such, she played dumb.” Chase then felt his blood boil just as it had in the room when she had told him her actions. “She played dumb and left me to fight for myself. Do you honestly think that’s fair? She tells me that she loves me and cares for me, but yet leaves me to fight for myself and runs off like a scared chicken? I don’t even know what to think!”
“We’ve talked about this, Chase.” Ryan then took his spot back on the floor, kneeling in front of Chase. “Chase, look at me.” Chase then looks down at Ryan. “We talked about this, okay? She played you perfectly. Yes, there may have been feelings there. You can’t fault yourself for your feelings in return. You can’t fault your heart for what your heart followed despite her actions. You can’t dwell on that as you’ll never move on. Accept the lessons that this teaches you, and move forward, and stop kicking yourself in the ass.” Chase feels the tears building once again as he looks away from Ryan at a random spot on the wall.
“I’m trying Ryan, I really am. It’s just…I can’t help but regret-”
“I know, and I understand. I know it’s hard. I know this is probably one of the hardest things you’ve ever been through, and you’ve been through a lot.” Ryan then takes a deep breath, shaking his head as he erases the image that he knew would never leave his mind no matter how much he tried. It was that day in Daytona at the hotel room when Chase got stabbed in the leg. The amount of blood was something that Ryan could never forget, and often found himself reminded of that when he saw any bit of sadness on Chase’s face. It was what drew him to help, not wanting his friend to hurt like that again. “But you have to start doing that now if you’re going to start moving forward. Remember – it’s not your fault and you can’t blame yourself. All you can do is know in your heart that you did what you believed, take the lessons you learned and move forward, knowing that she’s paying for what she did now.” Chase could only laugh at that comment.
“Right, because 15 years in prison is supposed to make up for everything that she did to me and others? Yeah, okay!” Ryan glances over at Darrell, as if looking for some encouragement of some sort and all Darrrell could do was shrug his shoulders.
“I don’t know what to say,” Darrell quietly whispered as Ryan lets out a sigh, looking back at Chase.
“15 years is better than nothing, right?” Ryan questions. “Besides, you have the restraining ord-”
“It’s just a piece of pape-” Chase cuts him off.
“It’s a piece of paper that deems that she must stay away from you, and you can have police intervention the minute that she does come near you. It counts for something. Besides, you also have an army of friends and family that will do anything for you.” Chase could only smile, knowing that fact was true. “Now, tell us what happened next.” Chase takes a deep breath, remembering the details of the morning….taking a couple more following deep breathes to keep himself calm.
“So she left that morning, telling me that she was going to leave and call 9-1-1…which she never did, obviously. She said that he was standing in the story and knocked her out. So I was left in the apartment by myself that morning, sleeping…”
“So what happened when Randy showed up?” Darrell then asks as Chase takes a deep breath.
“I thought I was dreaming that morning,” he starts. “I thought I was dreaming when he entered the room, and started saying things. I tried to convince myself that nothing was wrong. Besides, if Demi was there like she should’ve been, she would’ve screamed. I finally clued in that I wasn’t dreaming when he mentioned the hotel incident, and asked how my leg was.” Ryan glances towards the ground with a deep breath of his own, instantly flashed back to that image of the blood.
“What’d you do?” Ryan glances up, hearing Darrell ask the question.
“I immediately jumped out of the bed, and backed away from him, towards the window. I knew that I could hold him off, or at least I believed that I could.” He then lets out a sigh as he glances away from the pair.
“You did what you could….”
“I know.” He takes a deep breath before glancing back at the pair. “He walked around the bed, trying to close the gap. I pushed him back and that’s when I grabbed the phone, hitting the dial button. I knew if I concentrated on numbers, he’d get the advantage on me. I knew as long as I called someone that someone would know and perhaps do something. I forgot that you were the last two that I talked to before going to bed.”
“It’s okay,” Ryan assures him. “We told you that we’d do anything for you, and that includes accepting that phone call. You did what you thought was right, and your logic sounds right. I called 9-1-1 as soon as I heard the details. I knew they’d probably say I was strange and perhaps not be able to do something, but it was worth a shot.”
“Exactly why I called the number,” Chase comments. “I made my way out of the room, trying to get to the exit. Before I could get to the exit, he grabbed my arm and it swung me back into the room. He then caught the edge of the kitchen counter. That was the bang that you heard when you asked if I was alright.” Darrell shakes his head, remembering the fear that had been rushing through his mind during that phone call.
“So you were sore….” Darrell offers and Chase shakes his head yes, remembering the amount of pain he felt.
“Every inch of back, arms – it just felt like it was on fire by the amount of the pain that I felt. But, I couldn’t just sit there – I had to do something. I went looking for a knife, since we were in the kitchen. He kept closing in, though, so I grabbed a pot and flung it over my shoulder, hitting him in the face. It was my effort to give me a couple extra sounds.” Chase then closes his eyes, remembering the next set of events….sort of.
“Chase…..” Ryan says quietly as he reaches out for his hand.
“As I reached for the knife, I felt a sharp object go into my arm,” he continues. “I knew I was in trouble as the numbness began to take me over immediately. I tried to fight against it, but I couldn’t and that was it. I was out like a light.” Darrell shakes his head, feeling his own nerves peak.
“I remember the silence,” he starts quietly, catching the other two. “I remember that silence on the phone and how eerie and scary it was and how I wished that I could be there and do something. I was so scared and worried about you and I didn’t know what to think. I stayed frozen for a couple moments, just staring at Ryan, debating what to do and what to think. I tried to remain faithful that you’d be alright, but I didn’t know what to do.” Chase closes his eyes, as he thinks over his own thoughts.
“I was in real big trouble and wasn’t making my way out of this one, honestly. I was losing every bit of hope with every minute that went by in the room. I didn’t know if I could fight it any longer. I just….When I woke up later on, I figured I had to do what I had to do to try, but I didn’t know if it’d work.”
Darrell shook his head, understanding. The quietness of the room in that moment caught all of them off-guard as they all reflected back to that moment and the phone call. The boys finally realized the fear and fight that Chase had gone through, along with the emotions, while Chase realized just how much this had affected his friends.
Either way, they all knew that it was worthwhile having the conversation.
Chapter 55: Continuing the Tale
January 7, 2016
The conversation seemly had started off light and fluffy, with some jokes along the way. Though it seemed the deeper the boys went, the more emotions came to surface. From Chase’s regrets and heartbreak with Demi, to the fear that Ryan and Darrel felt with the phone call, to Chase’s own fear when he was reunited with Randy.
No matter how hard the emotions were to express, Chase knew that he had done the right thing in calling the boys. It was always easier for you to move forward once you got the emotions on the table. He had learned that previously in talking with Regan after his encounter with Mariella, and talking with his dad following the hotel incident with Randy. Now to be able to release this, while helping his friends let their emotions go, it felt almost therapeutic. He knew it was tough throughout, and hated the tears and anger, but knew it’d be worth it in the end.
A glance at Ryan, though, and he almost felt bad for calling them to his house that night. One glance at the clock and it had grown really late. If he had to be the shop tomorrow, it was going to make a short night of sleep and a very long tiring day.
“So when did you end up waking up?” Darrell asks, continuing the discussion before Chase could ponder his own thoughts about where they were now.
“I woke up in a small room that had gray walls and no windo-” Chase starts.
“Reminds me of every horror movie that I’ve seen,” Ryan comments and Chase shakes his head yes, agreeing. “You’d think Randy being some mastermind would have something different up his sleeve.”
“That was coming, by his discussion of his plan.” The boys then look at Chase concerned as he thinks back to that moment. “So I woke up, in a bit of pain, no idea where I was, but I recalled what had happened. I thought about going back to sleep – it was peaceful, not scary and I could dream of anything. However, I knew that I had to stay awake and figure out what I was going to do next.”
“So what’d you do?” Darrell wonders and Chase shrug his shoulders.
“I did what anybody would do – I checked out my surroundings,” he offers. “I didn’t find anything, except a large lock on the door. As I was glancing at the door, a small slot in the top half opened. It was Randy, who made the comment that it was nice to see me. I made the comment back that I would’ve been awake sooner had he not drugged me, but he said that he had to do it to get me to go there.”
“It’s not like you’re going to follow a psychopath across a foreign country, right?” Darrell offers and Chase shakes his head yes. “What else did he think he had to do?”
“So I asked him what the big plan was. He asked me why I should know. I then said that I was trapped and might as well get some entertainment. He then explained that this room was just an over-night stop and he was going to take me to a nice cabin all the way up nor-”
“Please don’t tell me that he took another chapter out of a horror novel?” Chase shake his head yes as Darrell shakes his head in disbelief. “This guy has no creativity. Like, I would’ve expected some creativity at least – not that you needed anything else to go through. But I mean, kidnapping someone and taking them to a cabin far away is so stereotypical.”
“But here’s the thing – he wasn’t planning on killing me and stashing the body, as you’d expect per the novel.” Darrell then looks at him confused.
“What was his plan then?” Chase thinks back, shivering at the thought. He was glad that he hadn’t ended up at the cabin or else he would’ve indeed gone insane, if he wasn’t already.
“He said that it’d be payback in keeping me alive, secluded away from family and friends to let them worry about me, while putting me through a version of what he went through. So we’ll say slow torture and time in jail secluded from family. He said that it seemed fitting.” Ryan laughs as he thinks over the irony of those words.
“Right, because you should be punished for being tortured and scared the crap out of a guy, just like he should be punished for doing that?” Ryan questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “Yeah, that’s a baloney plan. I’d love to know how he came up with that.”
“I’d rather not dwell on that, personally,” Chase shares with a deep breath. It was obvious that his emotions were touch and go on the subject, and it was hard to find the strength to push forward and continue the story. But he had to do it as he couldn’t run from the past – he had to face that day and those emotions to move forward. He needed to move forward as he had a big season ahead. “I told him that he wouldn’t get away with it, but he assured me that he knew what he was doing. I told him to not get used to the idea, and he told me to keep telling myself that if it made me sleep easier. He then told me to get comfy that night as I’d need my rest, and handed me some granola bars, a bottle of water, a sweater and a winter coat. He didn’t want me to get cold.”
“I’m guessing you didn’t sleep?” Ryan questions.
“Did you eat the granola bar and drink the water?” Darrell wonders as Chase glances between the pair of them. “I wouldn’t have. He’s a psychopath. How can you trust food from a psychopath?”
“He has a point….”
“I did eat the food thou-” Chase starts.
“Are you crazy?” Darrell questions as Chase looks over at him, debating the validity of that. Considering everything that had happened, perhaps he was a little crazy.
“I checked the seals and made sure that they weren’t tamp-”
“He could’ve resealed it!” Chase rolls his eyes.
“But he didn’t and if you think about it, it was a good thing that I did eat them. It gave me a bit of energy to deal with what he had in store for me, right?” Darrell thinks it over, knowing that Chase was right. However, it didn’t make him comfortable about the food.
“Think about it – he said he wasn’t going to kill Chase, but rather seclude him away and slowly torture him,” Ryan offers to Darrell’s food confusion. “If you’re going to do that, would you poison someone’s food the night before?” Darrell thinks it over and shakes his head no. “There’s your explanation.” He then looks back at Chase. “Did you sleep that night?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“I slept a little bit, but it was a really rough sleep,” Chase admits. “I’d sleep for an hour, wake up for a while and fall back asleep. I couldn’t’ get into a sound sleep with my worry and thinking of a plan for the morning.”
“Did you establish a plan?” Darrell wonders and Chase shakes head no. no matter how much eh thought of things that night, there were no ideas that came to mind. It was easy to understand as he didn’t know the full details of his morning transportation. “So Randy showed up the next morning, right?” Chase shakes his head yes.
“I woke up that morning to a pair of voices outside of the door – Randy’s voice and his helper who had given him the place to store me for the night…….
“Why haven’t you just killed the kid?” Chase hears a man speak, not recognizing the voice. He slowly sits up, having been resting but not totally sleeping due to not wanting to be caught off-guard. He figured the man was whoever owned this house that they were in.
“That’d be too easy,” he hears Randy reply. “It wouldn’t be fair.” Chase rolls his eyes.
“I still don’t get why you’re doing this…” He could hear the pair walking, presumably down a set of stairs to where he was. However, he heard a pair of feet immediately stop.
“The kid made my life a living hell. It’s time that he pays.” He hears the other person stop walking, probably caught off guard by their own conversation.
“Let me get this straight – you were called in by Princess Mariela to help her dispose of some people and things went wrong because of this kid?” Chase shakes his head in disbelief. Things only went wrong because of how Mariela dealt with things in the trailer.
“The kid got in her way and she got killed by the cops while strangling the kid. As a result, I got no payment for dealing with the bullshit that surrounded that kid, Dale and some guy named Steve.” Chase snickers as he remembered the confrontation that Steve had with Randy, as Steve told him. It seemed Steve didn’t take lightly to what happened.
“So she screwed up and got herself killed. That shit happens – some people can’t do what we do. When it comes to those situations, you just let them go and move forward to the next job. You don’t waste your life over this.”
“I can’t let it go. I can’t move forward because of all the shit that I went through. I should’ve got done with it easy that night at the hotel, but the little shit can actually hit.” Chase snickers at that thought, as well. He certainly did land a good punch that night.
“So what are you going to do? Take him away and hide him?”
“Slowly torture him so he understands things. Then, comes verse two with the next piece of puzzle.” Chase shivers at the thought and knows what that means. If Randy gets away with this, he was going to continue with either Dale or Marie next. Taking a deep breath, Chase knew that he had to figure out a way to end things here.
“I still say that you’re doing the wrong thin-”
“Will you shut up and let me take him out of your hair if you’re so upset?” Chase was intrigued by the argument. Perhaps Randy could piss the guy off enough that he’d see the light and help make things right. Perhaps his prediction of everything turning on Randy would come true. He then glances up as the small trap door opens, revealing the pair of green eyes. “Ah, nice to see you’re awake this morning. Are you ready for our journey?”