Chapter 4

Luck was on Joyce’s side. She made it home without getting caught. Or was it because she didn’t wear heels today hence her footsteps not echoing when she tried to run and hide along the side streets? But she didn’t linger to ponder about matters. She rushed into the house and locked the door behind her, not even turning on the light. (Yes, it had turned completely dark outside.) She made her way to Claudia’s room, trying to keep calm.

“We have to get out of here right away,” Joyce told Claudia as she entered the room, flicking off the lights at the same time.

“What happened?” Claudia asked, getting up from her chair.

“Nic saw me when I was spying on him.”

Claudia gasped. “He’s coming?”

Joyce shook her head. “I don’t know. But we have to get out of here right away. I don’t know how long it would be before he’s coming here.”

A knock came at that time. Then two knocks. Two knocks soon extended to three.

“Go,” Joyce whispered. She gestured toward a window on the other side of the room. “Just to be safe, make sure you look everywhere carefully for the other two. I’ll try to keep him here as long as I can.”

“But you…”

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll try to wing it through. If not, it was nice knowing you.”

Joyce had on a smile while saying the last few words. Then she turned to leave, closing the door shut behind her, not wanting Claudia to hesitate any longer.

“Why didn’t you listen to me?” Nic confronted Joyce when she opened the door.

“What are you talking about?” Joyce feigned innocence. It was worth a shot, at least stall some time for Claudia.

“I saw you spying on us earlier.”

“I was just curious why you were there, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I got lost trying to look for new clients than just the usual route. And that was when I saw you.”

Nic didn’t look like he was convinced of her explanation. “And you just ran?”

Joyce shrugged. “I don’t know. It was awkward being caught like that.”

Nic smiled then, placing a hand around her shoulder in the process. He led her toward the living room after locking the front door–and flicking on the lights. “What am I going to do with you?”

Joyce felt unease, but she tried to keep it normal. At least he seemed to believe her that it was an accident to run into them like that. “Are you saying I’m silly?”

Nic smiled again, shaking his head. “No, I like you that way.” Then his expression tensed again as they settled down at the sofa. “But you’re lucky that they didn’t see you.”

Joyce wrinkled her eyebrows. “They didn’t?”

“Their backs were to you, remember?”

Joyce looked like she was trying to remember. “I don’t know. I only remember you looking at me with disapproving eyes. That was why I panicked. Imagine having to explain to you that I was spying on you and thinking you have some other girlfriend.”

Nic seemed amused. “And telling me the truth like you got lost would be more embarrassing?”

“You’re making fun of me now, you know.”

Nic held both hands up then. “I wouldn’t dare.”

Joyce gave him an annoyed look but let him off. She resumed her serious expression. “But it’s strange Wallace and Tony didn’t know I was there. I meant at least they heard me running? Or something?”

Nic shook his head. “I told you that you were lucky. There were some boxes by the wall you were standing at. It was windy earlier, remember? The boxes blew around after you rounded the corner of a side street. So they thought that was it.”

Joyce didn’t even remember any of that, but she was so, so glad it was windy–and there were boxes around. She couldn’t imagine meeting the worst if the other two had caught on.

“But promise me to never do that again,” Nic said, using his serious tone. “I can tell you now that I’m not hiding any girls at my place.” He paused and grabbed onto both of her shoulders. “Because you’re the only important person in my life, and I want to bring you back to Earth one day. Didn’t you say you want to paint with many more colors than just gloomy gray?”

Joyce was almost touched by those words–if she hadn’t heard contradicting words about her several hours back. But she forced herself to smile and lean on his shoulder. He held her closer, appearing all happy. Yet Joyce knew it was all a façade. She was just a pawn to his grand plan.

© Monday, October 8th, 2012

Posted: Saturday, October 13th, 2012