Chapter 24: We’re Done

Nickolas Parkingsons

I put on a black suit, reminiscent of the one Carleton forced me to wear the first day of school.
That’s seems so long ago now.
I fix my tie, looking at myself in the mirror. The bags under my eyes have yet to go away, but maybe after today I’ll start sleeping better.
I get into my car; Sheridan in the passenger seat, Marco behind me. Sheridan had put up quite a fight when I said I wanted to start driving myself, but I convinced him by telling him driving couldn’t be harder than anything else I have had to go through lately.
Pulling easily into Tuesday morning traffic, the inside of the car is silent. We are all in our own worlds, hoping today is the last day we will have to travel to the same damn place we’ve been traveling to nearly every day for three months.
But today should change that.
We park between the same two cars in the parking lot, getting out easily. Sheridan and Marco scan the area for potential dangers, and I feel myself doing the same as well.
“Cufflinks!” Kaitlyn’s pet name for me always brings a smile to my face as she waves from the steps. She waits for me every day at the top, her sharp pantsuit making her look older than a senior in high school.
I give her a hug and she hands me a coffee, sipping one of her own. We head inside together, my hand instinctively reaching for hers. Cabet and Derek slide easily into my own small group of bodyguards. The four have gotten relatively close over the past few months, due the circumstances.
“All rise for Judge Hallsworthy,” the bailiff says, and we stand robotically. It’s become habitat now, which is quite an awful habitat to gain. Kaitlyn’s knee bounces slightly as we return to our seats. I place a hand on her leg and she ceased the bouncing, placing a hand over mine to let me know she’s felt me.
We both need some reminders sometimes.
Cameras click in the back of the room, and I feel the eyes of hundreds of millions on us. Everyone has tuned in to see the verdict on the Nexis members.
As the Judge begins his routine, my mind wanders. I found out my parents had allowed Carleton to be killed, and Robin was the woman who got away. Jonathon really was in it for the money, but in the end bailed before the day of the launch. Chris apparently did love Kaitlyn but was told to cheat on her to make Kaitlyn vulnerable. And Robin just loved Frost and loved being evil.
But a common theme among all the confessions was that they didn’t expect Kaitlyn to fight back or for me not to return to Nexis.
At this point, Kaitlyn leans over to me and whispers, “I got another sack of letters delivered today. Do you want to come over and open them together?”
“As long as we read only the nice ones,” I whisper back, causing Kaitlyn to smile. She returns her attention to the front, and I follow her example.
“…as for the verdict,” Judge Hallsworthy looks toward the jury. The jury was apparently hard to pick, due to the fact everyone felt like Nexis was in the wrong.
The first juror stood, a piece of paper held in front of her and she read with confidence, “The jury finds all members of Nexis guilty of three counts of the threat to public safety, two counts of kidnapping, and sixty-seven counts of first-degree murder.”
Judge Hallsworthy raises his gavel, “I hereby sentence all one-hundred-thirteen members of the terrorist group Nexis to life in prison without parole.” The Judge bangs his gavel and the room erupts in cheers. I hug Kaitlyn, thankful the whole ordeal is finally over.
As we file from the courtroom, our bodyguards flank us as reporters fling questions at us and cameras are shoved towards our faces. Kaitlyn’s parents meet us at the end of the hall with their own bodyguards. We make our way out to our respective cars and this time I get into the passenger seat. We start to drive away and I tell Sheridan we’re going to Kaitlyn’s.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Sheridan groans good-naturedly and I allow it to slide.
I’m just glad everything is finally done.

Kaitlyn Jarred

I’m just about to get in the car when a hooded man catches my attention. I narrow my eyes and gasp when we make eye contact. A reporter blocks my view and when she moves, he’s gone.
I slide into the car, still shaken by what I’ve seen. My parents ask what’s wrong, but I brush them off.
“It’s all over now. It’s over, it’s over,” I chant in my head until I begin to believe it. “You just imagined him. You’re just sleep deprived.”
We head home to see Nick has beaten us. I get from the car and Nick’s tired smile is wiped clean from his face when he looks at me. I give him a look and he schools his expression. We enter my home and Nick and I make our way up to my room. I close the door and sag against it, resting my head on the frame.
“Come on, let’s get out of these clothes,” Nick pulls me from the door and hands me sweatpants and one of his t-shirts. I take a deep breath, breathing in his scent as I go to the bathroom to change. By the time I’m out, Nick is sitting cross-legged on the bed, the bag of letters in front of him.
“What had you spooked, darling?” Nick asks and I snuggle up to his side, sighing.
“I thought I saw someone,” I start, wincing. “I thought I saw Lucas.”
“Lucas as in dead-Lucas?” Nick says, his eyebrows raised. “I don’t think so.”
“That’s what I thought, but—”
“No,” Nick grasps my hands. “Nexis is done and over-with now. Frost is dead; Robin, my parents, and Chris are in jail for life. We are done with them.”
I sigh, allowing a smile to grow on my face, “We’re done.”
“Yes, we are,” Nick hugs my side, before spilling the letters all over us. “Where do we begin?”
We start tearing open letters, sorting them into ‘Good’ piles and ‘Bad’ piles. In the good, we place the thankful notes for getting out the antidote quickly enough so no one died and the ones that said we were quote ‘the cutest couple ever’. In the bad, we place the death threats and ones cursing us out. The good always seems to have more in it, which is a good feeling.
We’re down to only a few letters left, giggling over another cute letter when I rip open one that I instantly get a bad vibe from. I unfold the paper, my blood running cold.
This isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning.
Nick reads over my shoulder, ripping the letter from my fingers and tearing it to shreds. He tosses the ripped paper into the ‘Bad’ pile, a satisfied smile on his lips.
“It is the end,” he says firmly. I smile back, my eyes drifting towards his lips. His do the same, and he leans down closer.
“Don’t you think we should go on that first date first?” I whisper, my lips getting closer to his. He rolls his eyes and closes the gap. Our first kiss is hungry, tired, loving, promising, and comforting.
All the things I needed to get back to a normal life.
Well, as normal as it could get.

And with that, another book is completed!
I hope you enjoyed it. If you did [or didn't] I would love your feedback! I know this story could have a lot more to it, and I would love your imput :)
There is an epilogue if you want to go check it out.
Thank you for reading!

Complete story is in this collection!