Chapter Eight. Rossie
"You alright, Jack?" I gasped.
"Yeah, I just... I thought you were trying to strangle me."
"Strangle you?" I almost exclaimed, but I managed to keep my voice low. "You silly... Scaredy-Cat!"
Again, Jack, I know I'm scary and a bit weird, but come ON; did you really think I was going to strangle you to death? The poor kid was pale with fear. I think the fact that I terrifed him made me like him even more.
"Who's trying to kill you, Rossie?" he whispered, still blushing from my last comment.
"Al calls him Mink. Apparently Al owes him a lot of money from a really long time ago. Al claims that the two of them made an agreement that they would cancel the debt, but Mink doesn't seem to remember this, and thinks Al still owes him."
Jack frowned. "What kind of agreement?"
I shrugged. "I guess Al did him a favour, and they decided to call it even."
"Do you believe him? Al? Do you believe they made an agreement?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I do. Al's raised me from a kid, so no, I don't think he'd lie; not baout something this serious."
There was movement on the other side of the door; Nibbles arched his back and bared his teeth. I felt every muscle in my body go into spasms. Footsteps. Passing by the door. Was Mink going to open it and find us?
I looked at Jack; surely he must have been terrified. But to be honest, he looked more relaxed than I did! Had he not heard what I'd been saying about Mink wanting all of us dead?!
He must have sensed my silent panic, because next thing my hand was being squeezed. He was reassuring me! Me, the tough squatter girl, being comforted by the boy who was constantly afraid I was going to kill him!
I think that's what I loved about you Jack. You could always manage to surprise me.
Did I say love? I leant like. As a friend of course.
The footsteps passed by the door, and I almost passed out with the relief.
"Come on," I whispered to Jack as I got to my feet and started towards the tiny window that was about two thirds of the way up the back wall of the little room. I pushed the little stool under the window and hopped up onto it.
"What about your..?" Jack paused. "What about Al?"
I looked down at him from the stool. "Al can handle himself, Jack. Trust me." I yanked the window open and pulled myself up onto the ledge. "And he's my dad, Jack. Not by blood or by family. But he's still my dad."
I helped Jack up to the window, and the two of us dropped out the other side, landing in a cluster of long, horrible grass. Al and I couldn't exactly do any gardening; what would have given us away quicker?
I looked past Jack, and saw something sparkle in the long grass. I edge around Jack and leaned over, finding the beautiful silver bracelet buried in the green blades.
"Jack," I laughed. "It's your bracelet. Al threw it through the window. I tried to find it, but I couldn't." I held it out to him. "Sorry I never got to give it back to you."
He took it into his hand. "Thanks," he said in a small voice, slipping it into his pocket. "So what do we do now? We could go back to my house. Mink won't know where you've gone."
I quickly shook my head. "No, Jack. I'm not going to put you and your family in his hands."
He looked troubled. I desperately wanted to let him help me. But I knew that family was important, and I wasn't about to jeprodise Jack's.
"Well, then we'll..."
He seemed to bite his tongue. He started to clasp his hands together nervously.
"We'll go somewhere that Mink won't find you."
We? He was willing to leave behind his life? For me?
"What are you saying?" I asked.
"We'll run away."
The sincerity in his big kind eyes was so irresistable. I'd only ever trusted one person; and that was Al. And Al couldn't help me now. Nor could I help him.
I reached fondly for Jack's hand. "Sounds like a plan, Scaredy-Cat."
He blushed again.
Screw it. I loved you Jack. I just didn't say it.