It was the almost-worst moment of my life when I had to give Riley’s note to Mr Jones. It’s one thing to have a girl ran away from me on the night of the ball I took her to, but seeing the brokenness in Mr Jones’ eyes as he finished reading the note really churned my insides. He carefully slipped the handwritten note under his lion paperweight, and looked up at me with empty eyes. I cleared my throat.
“Jackson, why?” he asked, his voice thick with unshed tears.
Why what? Why did Riley run away? Why did I take her to the ball? Why did I accidentally fall in love with her?
“I don’t know,” I said, answering all three questions truthfully, “I could...”
“What, Jackson?” he asked, his voice weary, “Go find her? Goddamn it! She took the car and we don’t even know which way she went!”
“I’ll put my spying skills to work then,” I said and left Mr Jones’ office, uncertain of exactly what I got myself into.
Ok, all that I know is that she ran away after I took the corsage off her wrist. Why not before? Why at that exact moment? Perhaps that tattoo on her wrist was more than just sheer decoration. But what did AWD stand for? I racked my brains, trying to find similar symbols somewhere within the banks of my memory, but nothing came up. For now, I had to put aside trying to figure out the AWD mystery and pack for my trip into the unknown (literally). What the hell did you get yourself into, Jackson Barker? You have no IDEA where she went!
Shoving the last of my clothes in, I zipped up my canvas bag and stepped out into the dorm. Evidence, I needed evidence to where she would’ve gone. Best to start with something close to home. Riley’s room would be just fine as the first step into this journey into the unknown. I walked swiftly up the stairs, through the Jones’ corridor and into Riley’s opened door. Everything was as I left it. I bounded over to her drawers and ruffled through her clothes and belongings. She took almost all her summer clothes, her phone was nowhere to be found and neither were her keys and wallet. I went over and rummaged through her dresser, her wardrobe, desk, bed and wastepaper basket. Still can’t find her phone, keys or wallet, which meant that she must’ve taken them. Then it hit me. She must have a credit card inside her wallet, and I can use that to track her down. I left her room and ran straight back to Mr Jones’ office.
“What did you find now, Jackson?” Mr Jones asked as I closed the door behind me.
“It’s what I didn’t find,” I said, “Riley had her own credit card, I presume?”
“She did,” he replied.
“Is there any way in which we can contact the bank and trace her credit card use?” I smiled as I asked, mentally patting myself on the back for such a brilliant thought.
“Why, I believe we can, Mr Barker,” Mr Jones said, his eyes more lively with this glimmer of hope.
He rang up the bank, explained the situation and managed to get their agreement in tracking her credit card use. For the first few days, we discovered nothing as she probably used cash for the first part of her travel. Then on the fourth day after Graduate’s Ball, I got summoned to Mr Jones’ office during Advanced Tracking.
“We got something,” he said as I sat down on the chair opposite him, “Gothel’s Inn, Boston.”
He didn’t even need to say anything else. I nodded and stood up.
“Good luck, Jackson,” he said, excusing me from his office and from World Domination until I find Riley, “and thank you.”
I ran past my dorm on the way down and grabbed the canvas bag of clothes that lay at the end of my bed ever since the night of Graduate’s Ball. Plucking the keys to my battered truck off the desk, I replaced it with the note I had for Ryan. I was prepared for this. Gothel’s Inn, here I come.