"So, you gave him your number and told him it was my number?" Meraki asked, frowning.
"Yeah," Nish nodded her head.
"And then he asked you for your number and what did you do?" She asked.
"I.. uh.. gave him my mom's number," Nish said, fidgeting with her fingers, "and the worst part is, he had kept texting my mom thinking it was me. And he has, not once, texted you."
"Why did you give your number in the first place?"
"Because I claimed you as my friend. I didn't want him to see me as a weirdo who's trying to pretend to be friends with the popular girl without even having her number," she sighed. She thought too much.
"Look, all of this is pretty confusing and I could see how clingy he is. So, what do you want from me?" Meraki rolled her eyes and set down her mug of stale coffee. It was just the four of them around. Garry and Fred were bickering among themselves like always, and Nish. No one else was there.
After what happened the day at Westwood, Meraki was shaken. She had always been a nervous person even if she did put up with delinquents. She just hid it too well. On top of that, the file about Glendell that she had found at the police station was lying inside her purse. She couldn't bring herself to talk about it.
Maybe because she had seen the struggle and determination in their eyes while Elliott, Jack and even Garry risked their lives for it. She couldn't just put them aside or back off from the deal.
Deep down, she wanted to see it end. She didn't want to let go of the power she felt in her veins.
"Give me your number so I can sort out this misunderstanding," Nish said. Her voice felt soft and surfaced. Her eyes looked a little disappointed and Meraki knew why. She chuckled.
"Nope. It's good the way it is," Meraki said.
"W-what do you mean?" She said.
"Let him have your number and I'll play along," Meraki picked up her bag and waved at Fred. He nodded back. She was heading home.
"Seriously? You want to play along with my lies when you can literally just give me your number and deal with it?" Nish was frowning as she watched Meraki leave. "At the end of the day, he likes you, not me."
Meraki smiled and turned to look at Nish. She tilted her head slightly.
"Let's change that, then," Meraki said.
Meraki had always lived in a house no less than a mansion. The tall silver gate opened up as she drove her car inside the house. She had always found her house to be rather pretentious and exaggerated.
But Meraki adored her riches but sometimes it felt unfair. Every time she looked at the people around her striving for such luxuries. She didn't regret it, she didn't have anything to do with it.
Guess she had always been that way.
"We can't deal with it right now. You know the pressure on us from the up," a voice came from the living room as Meraki was passing by.
"Do you mean we should just ignore it? When hundreds of people are dying every week?" Meraki's mom said, her voice had anger in it.
"I know, Lara. Do you think I'm unaware? But I'm stressed as well. Someone cracked into the prison security system and got access to all the data. I don't know who did it but they are doubting me because I was in charge," Meraki's dad said. His head was buried in his hand as he sat on the couch.
That was when Meraki realised it was her. On the day of the Westwood incident, she had accessed the system to verify the prisoners they helped escape. She leaned against the wall, hiding. Her breath was heavy and her eyes were wide. She was scared as she rubbed her hands together to stop them from trembling.
It was an offence to do such a thing and Meraki was already a culprit. One, for wrongfully entering the security system. Two, for being associated with illegal cooperation.
Either way, she was doomed.
Taking a deep breath, she decided to walk past the living room like she never heard anything. It was just a matter of time before her dad asks her about the issue. It was best to ignore them for the time being.
She quickly passed by the door when she heard it. Her dad's voice was low but audible. He sounded worried.
"Vincent.. is arriving tomorrow. He says he wants to talk," Francis, Meraki's dad, said.
"What?" Lara's agitated voice boomed through the room, "I won't let that man anywhere near my house. After everything he has done to us, to Meraki, how could you agree to it?"
"He's coming.. and you know I cannot stop him from doing so," Francis said, he looked defeated.
Meraki stood, her feet frozen. She didn't even risk breathing to now blow off her cover. She couldn't believe things she had gotten into. She refrained from bringing back those memories, she tried not to think about the things that had haunted her for so long.
And now after 6 years, the man behind her nightmares was stepping back into her life. The devilish grin and the restless eyes, she couldn't forget one bit of it.
Then, there was no stopping her. She straightened up and started fleeting away. She didn't want to face it, knowing her words, neither did her mother's words mattered. People saw her dad as a powerful man but he was just another puppet. He danced to the rhythm of the mayor and the officials and hide behind the tall walls of his castle.
Meraki got into her room and slammed the door behind her. Leaning against the shut door, she crouched down on the floor. Her head felt like exploding with the headaches shooting up her skull.
She raised her head and decided on something that settled down on her mind. She would take the easiest way out. She would do what she had always done...
Escape. Once again.
The clock struck 6 in the morning. No one in the house wakes up a second before 8 am but this time, a pair of eyes laid wide awake in the dark of the door.
Suddenly, the shrill buzz of the alarm clock started on her bedside table and she leapt over to shut it off, scared that someone else would hear it. She didn't have much privacy at her own house.
Meraki couldn't sleep the whole night, thinking about what she might end up doing it she saw Vincent in front of her again. But she was determined to not let it happen.
Meraki got out of bed and rushed to the washroom. She splashed water on her face a few times to wake her eyes. In another ten minutes, she grabbed her bag and rushed out of the house from the back door, climbing up the tall wall and leaping outside as she had always done since...
She jumped over the wall and landed on her hands and feet. She could see the main entrance of the mansion and the two sleeping guards posted at the gate. She sighed, she could've just left through the main gate without being noticed once.
Suddenly, she heard rustling noises from somewhere beside her. Alerted, she snapped her head to the side and noticed a strange sight.
A girl with a small frame knelt in front of the railing of Meraki's house's garden and stuck her hand inside. She was struggling to get her hand to the white daisies, probably to pluck a few of them. A red cycle stood beside her. She wore a peach cardigan and a brown skirt, her long brown hair was left open falling in curls on her back.
Meraki walked to her and leaned against the wall beside where she was sitting. The garden of Meraki's family was attached to the mansion but left open, surrounded by tall walls. But one opening was left open which was a grill railing, and it had caught the interest of the girl.
Meraki cleared her throat and the girl flinched. Slowly, she froze and raised her head to look at Meraki, her mouth dropped open.
"Hi," Meraki smiled. The girl, scared, stood up and started backing away.
"You.. misunderstood me. I wasn't doing anything. I was just trying to..", the girl noticed the sceptical look on Meraki's face and faltered, "I wasn't stealing! I was just-"
She kept on backing away till she accidentally bumped into her bicycle and tripped over, falling over it. Meraki watched her in amusement as the confused look never left the girl's face.
Meraki walked over to her and held out her hand. Hesitantly, the girl took her hand and stood back up, dusting her clothes. Meraki was surprised at her own hospitality.
"Who are you?" Meraki asked. The girl blinked at her for a few seconds before shaking her head.
"I'm Rose Matthews," the girl chirped. It was too early in the morning for her dark blue eyes to shine bright with her beaming smile, Meraki thought staring at Rose. "Uh, we go to the same school, actually."
Meraki was taken aback.
"Just.. so you know, I wasn't stealing from your garden," Rose said, not meeting her gaze. They were walking together, heading towards school.
"Yeah sure. You were just performing the art of thievery," Meraki nodded, mockingly.
"Yes exactly- wait, no!" Rose said upon realising, Meraki chuckled at her embarrassed face even if it wasn't even a big deal. "I love flowers, especially daisies. I hate how underrated they are. What do you think?"
"I don't really care about them," Meraki said, observing her.
"Exactly. People just don't care enough. I never understood why. Your garden has so many flowers, yet I bet you can't make one-fourth of them," she sounded a little disappointed.
"I won't disagree," Meraki smiled.
"Whenever I pass through your garden, the daisies bloom too brightly for me to ignore," she mused. Then her eyes widen and she looks at Meraki, "It's not like I steal flowers every day, I just-"
"Relax!" Meraki laughed. For some reason, she felt relaxed. Her worries were long gone for the energetic pair of blue eyes in front of her. "Isn't it too early for school?"
"Ah! School! The library must've opened. I study the extra materials there before the classes start. I'm a little back in studies," Rose said, scratching her name. Then she jumped up. "I need to rush, do you mind if I go ahead?"
Rose pointed to her bicycle, wondering if she could go on ahead without Meraki.
"You don't have to." She said.
"What?" Rose asked.
"Your bicycle has a back carrier, doesn't it?" Meraki smiled.