Chapter 21: Plenty of Time

Nickolas Parkingsons

Nickolas Parkingsons
I follow my parents from the room, Chris waiting for us right outside the door.
“Duke and Duchess Parkingsons, right this way,” Chris gestures for my parents to go ahead of him, before glaring at me. I scowl right back at him as I fall in step behind them. I trudge along, my hands shoved in the pockets of my jeans. I continue to look around for Kaitlyn, hoping I’ll get to see her. We approach a gathering room, and step inside. Nexis agents have filled the room, various weapons in their hands. I instantly zero in on Crystal and rush forward, ready to attack. Frost catches me before I can reach her and throws me to the ground on my back. I land with a thud, but start to stand, ready to fight. Frost anticipates my movement and knees my face. I feel my nose crack and blood begins to flow. I clutch my nose in pain, glaring at him, but stay seated on the floor.
“Where is she?” I ask, glaring at Crystal.
She side-eyes me, “Gone.”
“What do you mean ‘gone’?” I ask through gritted teeth.
“Don’t worry, pretty boy,” she flashes a sarcastic smile. “She got away with the antidote.”
I sigh in relief, noticing the bruising beginning to form on Crystal’s arms and on her cheek. Kaitlyn must’ve put up a fight, I think to myself, grinning beneath my hands. Good girl.
Frost glances between Crystal and I and he seems to be deep in thought, something unusual for him.
“We release the gas tomorrow,” Crystal states loudly and the room whoops in joy. “Since we have not heard from the government, we will go to our respective hideouts until the disease has run its course.” After Crystal’s declaration, Nexis dissipates, leaving only my family, Chris, Frost and Crystal. “Come,” Crystal offers a hand to me, but I refuse it. She leads me from the room, leaving everyone else behind. I’m wiping blood off my hands and on to my shirt when we reach an infirmary. “Sit,” Crystal commands and I curiously do as she asks.
“Kaitlyn put up quite a fight I see,” I gesture to her bruises and she chuckles.
“Yes, she did. But maybe not in the way you think,” Crystal turns, wet cloth in her hands. She hands it to me to wipe the blood off my face.
“What do you mean by that?”
She shrugs, taking the cloth from me and replacing it with another, “Guess you’ll just have to ask her.”
I snort, “Like I’ll get a chance to do that.”
Crystal only smiles slightly, before placing hands on either side of my nose, “It’ll hurt.” That’s the only indication before she snaps my nose back into place and I yelp. “Told you,” she mumbles before washing her hands. “I’ll go get you another shirt.” She turns to leave as I touch my nose, wincing. I can feel the difference in its shape already.
After she leaves, I stand and peek out the door. No one is in the hallway, and I make a split-second decision.
I’m almost to the elevator when I get spotted. I fight off two Nexis members, but without having fighting skills, I’m easily overtaken.
“It’s a shame, really,” Frost says after I’m brought before him. “I was just beginning to tolerate you.”
“That’s only because you broke my nose,” I sarcastically say.
“And I can do it again,” Frost threatens and I shut my mouth. Crystal appears, holding a shirt.
She rolls her eyes, “Put this on. You’re going into a cell.”
I shove the agents off me and accept the shirt, replacing my bloodied one. After I’m settled, two Nexis agents grab my arms again and drag me behind Crystal. I’m thrown into a cell, and I try to rush back out, but the door closes too quickly. I hold on to the bars, staring at Crystal on the other side.
“I gave you plenty of time,” she mumbles, rolling her eyes again. Before I can ask what she means, Crystal is long gone. I move backward in the cell, surveying it. A cot in the corner and a toilet and sink in the other. I sigh, sitting on the cot and check my watch.
22 hours.
In 22 hours, the disease will be released.
I just hope Kaitlyn figures out how to stop it before then.

Kaitlyn Jarred

I’m riding in the car back to my house. My parents had been called and are expecting me at home. For now, that’s where I would be.
“So, Nick was part of Nexis,” Oscar whistles.
“I think we should be focusing on the part that Crystal let her go,” Marissa emphasizes. “I can see her motives behind everything, but this all seems quite extreme over one person.”
“I agree,” Valerie pipes up.
“She loved Asim,” I answer, continuing to stare out the window at the passing cars. “And she still does. She thinks this is retribution.”
“And you think she is releasing the disease at Dulles International Airport?” Melinda clarifies and I hum in agreement.
“She had me promise to stay away from Dulles,” I add. “That’s the only Dulles I know of.” Everyone choruses in agreement.
“Do you really want to go there?” Valerie asks in a small voice. “We can lock ourselves up in our houses, we don’t have to risk our lives.”
“You guys don’t have to do anything,” I say firmly. “I’m going to do something. I think I’m the only one who can change Crystal’s mind.”
“She killed Sheridan, Kat,” Marissa looks at me from the rearview mirror. “She’s unstable. She probably lied to you to get you to take the police there.”
“I considered that,” I say, messing with my fingers. “But, I don’t think she is. She formed some type of attachment to me, I don’t think she would lie to me.”
“She manipulated you,” Melinda agrees with her sister. “You were her captive. She took care of you so she could gain your trust. It was all an act.”
“I still think she wasn’t,” I state resolutely, but end the conversation. If I’m wrong, I won’t put my friends in danger.
We pull up to the gates of my home and my parents come running out to the van. I exit it and run to meet them, and I get engulfed in a massive hug.
“Thank goodness you’re alright,” Dad says, kissing the top of my head.
“Please don’t cry,” I whisper to them, since they have tears in their eyes. “I’m alright, I promise.”
“Thank you,” Mom says to my friends and they nod. We all go inside, as my parents ask me to recount my entire kidnapping. I leave out that Nick used to be a part of Nexis and Dulles, but fill them in on everything else.
“So, this is all over a lost love?” Dad says in disgust. I want to retort, but I can see where everyone is coming from.
But they didn’t see the tears in Crystal’s eyes or her voice crack when she talked about Asim.
“What a horrible human being,” Mom agrees.
“But at least she gave me the antidote, right?” I say weakly, and my parents return to their happier selves.
“Yes,” Dad says, before turning serious. “The deadline is fast approaching, so your friends must return home and barricade themselves. You will not step foot outside until this disease has run its course.”
“But what about Nick?” I ask, feeling panicked. “He’s still out there, I have to look—,”
“No,” Dad says sternly. “He can take care of himself.”
“No more, Kaitlyn,” Mom says, placing a hand on my cheek. “We can’t lose you again.”
I sigh, “Alright.”
I tell my friends goodbye as they leave. Marissa and Melinda eye me suspiciously, but Valerie and Oscar nod at me. I take that as a sign they are with me, no matter what happens.
Not that I’ll let them come, but their agreement is reassuring.
Later that evening, I’m alone in the house.
Well, not completely alone. Bodyguards are stationed at the end of every hall and at every door. My parents have gone to the White House for the next briefing and to tell my story. I had feigned exhaustion, so they said they would do it for me. I’m laying in bed in the darkness, when light flashes on my desk. I stand, the towel in my wet hair slipping, as I grab a phone. I look it over to see my parents had bought me a new one, complete with all my old contacts. I hurriedly unlock the phone when I see it’s a message from Chris.
Nickolas tried to capture me for Nexis!
I frown, typing back a response. Within a minute, Chris has answered.
That’s why I thought I should warn you. He was the one who came up with the plan to kidnap you. He’s always been with Nexis, he’s been lying to you.
My frown deepens. Ever since Crystal had said Nick had been part of Nexis, I’ve had my suspicions. But it seems weird he would want to kidnap Chris. Nick knew I was over him, if he had wanted to kidnap one of my friends, I would think it would’ve been any of the others.
“Something doesn’t add up,” I mutter, sending Chris a quick ‘thank you for the heads up, but I’m safe’ message. He doesn’t reply and I put the phone beside my bed as I decide to set my plan in motion in the morning. I glance at the clock, noting the time. I set my alarm clock for a few hours later, giving me plenty of time to get to the launch site before the disease is set to be expelled. I curl into bed, glad my coughs have reduced down to only a few as I drift into a restless sleep.

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