Eli's eyes were the size of the cups in which they served coffee in.
"What? What the hell? When did I... I ask you to shoot him?"
"You didn't?" A blunt voice came back.
"No! What do you think?" Then, reality dawned upon him. He closed his eyes and balled his fists. His teeth were gritted and his anger was at its peak. "Oh shit! What's Dallas going to think?" He opened his eyes and pursed his lips. He wouldn't have been surprised if there were really flames coming out of his ears and nose.
"Dallas was really furious when you shot Felix, now what's going to happen when she finds out you shot her own brother?"
This time, Parker too was dumbfounded. The magnitude of his actions had not struck him before, but now, it struck him a little too much. Eli heard something strike the asphalt. He turned around; he saw Dallas gaping Parker and Parker had smacked his cell phone on the asphalt. Eli's phone stumbled out of his hands, but Eli quickly got hold of it and swallowed.
"Dal," Eli began, hesitantly.
Dallas knitted her eyebrows and looked at Parker. "You shot my brother?" Her face was red and surprisingly, no tears. No tears at all. She looked shocked and was trying to calm herself. She crossed her arms and inhaled through the gaps in her gritted teeth. "Where is he?"
Eli drove as Dallas sat in the front asking him to drive faster. Parker sat at the back, his legs crossed and his lips pursed. He was whistling nervously and jerking his dangling foot shakily. Dallas looked at him after a while and mouthed to him, "I'll kill you, if he's dead."
"He won't be dead, I shot his leg."
"Well, now, it doesn't even matter because I will have to go to the Grove anyway."
Eli and Parker looked at her in uncertainty. "Why? Dallas, you're old enough, you can stay here."
"It doesn't work like that, Eli. It just doesn't." She hesitated and closed her eyes tightly. She did not want to leave Ashford. The only bit of excitement she had in her life was from Ashford. She was ready for payback and was ready to even the score the hard way. She was ready to give the Griffins what they deserved and find out what really happened to her parents.
Leaving Ashford meant losing herself. The only connection she had to her real identity. She had always felt as if she were out of place in Olive Grove. In kindergarten, Dallas always wondered what she was doing with a group of anonymous blonde headed three years old. In middle school, she wondered why she was not like the other children going behind the seniors in her school. And when she was in high school, she wondered why she had never dated anybody and focused on her writing instead. She had always the urge to find out about who she really was and on her way to Ashford, she had decided that she would find out everything about herself and leave the town.
Or maybe, even stay there with her real family.
If they were there.
"Eli, stop, here's the candy store you were talking about," she shouted, pointing at the shop Eli had lucidly described to them a while ago. She leaned towards the window and opened the door even before Eli could pull over.
Eli screamed and stopped in the middle of the road. He watched helplessly as she stumbled out of the car and ran to the store. Eli looked at Parker and on cue, Parker stepped out of the car and jogged to Dallas. Eli pulled the key out of the ignition and sighed. He was afraid of how Oliver looked like and who knew what kind of distorted mess he was in. It was Parker, to say the least. He was the root of all of Eli's problems anyway.
Parker seemed to be the problem always. Even though, he had given Eli all the ideas and the planning, he seemed to be the one dropping bombs when the plan was on the verge of being successful. Each time. And, just when Eli had given up on him - Eli faced a moment of self-assurance by telling himself that Parker was old and had gone through a lot in life, which included watching his best friend and business partner massacred in front of his eyes and not to mention, the immediate departure from his dear family. Gabriel and his cohort, Nicholas Cho had ruthlessly and mercilessly murdered Matilda's father, business trendsetter, Bradley King. Bradley King was the chief executive officer of a company named 'King's Smooth Peanut Butter'. This was then passed down to the company's executive officer, Gabriel Griffin.
When Bradley had apparently "disappeared", Gabriel and his partner Nicholas had planted ideas on everybody's minds saying that, Bradley and Parker Braxton had taken part in a wide black market plan and were part of illicit trade. So, ashamed by their betrayal to their own company, they had run off to a place they were more valued rather than discarded each time.
Gabriel, Nicholas and Veronica had in unanimity addressed the folks of Ashford and planted these sick ideas on every soul's mind. Now, whenever the name "Bradley King" was mentioned, women grit their teeth and men grunt.
Bradley King was thus etched in everyone's minds merely an object of revulsion. Mothers and Fathers who knew everything but the truth passed them down to their children, who babbled on to their friends at kindergarten.
Eli looked at the source of the voice. Dallas was trying to open the door, and started to look through the glass. Parker walked to them and said, tapping the glass harder, "It's open." The glass door slid open and Parker walked in. Eli flashed a lopsided smile at Dallas, but she returned it with a certain scowl. Dallas was in no situation of thoughtless buffoonery and Eli understood that. But, he was a man. A man who was sure of when to act immature and silly and when to act wise and practical.
The fact that Eli did not even pretend to be thoughtful hurt Dallas.
Of course, Eli did not have to weep and burst into tears, but he did not have to crack a joke when Parker had shot Oliver. Oliver was not aware of the unclear vicissitudes of life. Its changes, the pessimism, and even the use of weaponry involved with it. Even though, he did know a lot about mistrust and slyness, he was uninformed by anybody about the violence behind it.
Dallas wondered in what condition she would find him in. Would he be a mangled mess of blood and flesh? But, Parker only shot his leg. Well, that was what he had said. Or, was Dallas complicating a simple bullet wound. He would be fine, Dallas assured herself. Felix was fine after a bullet struck his belly and a knife through his leg. Oliver would be okay.
These thoughts obscured her practical way of thinking as Dallas walked through a corridor inside the store. Her heart seemed to be in control this time. Not her brain. This time, she knew deep down that reasonableness would be a joke if she set her eyes on Oliver. An eruption of every emotion of sorrow would follow that and she would turn into a mangled mess of her own.
And her instincts proved her right again.
When Parker led her into a small room in the right, she saw Oliver lying across a pale beige rug, his face sweaty and a deep red and what shocked her most was the size of the bloodstain on the rug. His leg was fine now, wrapped in a bandage. He was unconscious though.
Parker and Eli quickly carried him away from a sobbing, yet restrained Dallas towards outside the store.
In five minutes, Parker, Eli, Dallas and Oliver were out of the store with the rug rolled and tossed into the boot. Oliver was also tossed into the backseat with Dallas. Dallas kept whispering into his ear that he will be okay. She kept rubbing his forehead with her balmy palms and wiping her runny nose with a damp tissue.
"You'll be fine," she whispered a little louder the next time.
Eli looked at Dallas from the front seat. They were in front of the Greenwood-Bach Medical Facility. Parker had gotten down and had run inside. Dallas caught his gaze and Eli realized that it had nothing to do with any kind of anger or hatred. It had nothing to do with them as a pair or their relationship. Eli forgot all about settling scores and their unforgiving plans. It was different this time.
She watched fixedly as a few nurses carried his body to the main hospital and Eli slowly got out of the vehicle. Dallas got down too. She looked at him and he looked at her. "He's going to be fine," he said to her.
His hand reached out to wipe her tears, but she pulled back and closed her eyes. She opened them again, said something Eli could not make out and walked slowly into the building.
Eli was confused. His chest was tight and he was finding it hard to breathe easily. He was confused. But, he knew one thing. It was final. Eli's thoughts of being involved with Dallas were done and were swiftly blown away like the dreams he had the night before meeting her.
Bear with me. I am slowly shaking off the writer's block. I'm done with Chapter 15 as well. So watch out. Feel free to share with me any suggestions on how the story should turn out and what would happen next. Thank you for the comments on the previous chapter as well. See ya!