Sophia’s voice comes through the line, and it’s so damn beautiful I almost cry. “Hello?”

“Sophia?”

“Oh my god, Beth!” she bursts out. “Where have you been? Where are you? Everyone has been like freaking out!”

Ugh, that is exactly what I was dreading. I don’t even have a plausible excuse ready. How do I even explain that the guy who rescued me decided to keep me? Even in my head the whole thing sounds insane.

“Beth? Beth?” Sophia repeats when I don’t answer immediately.

“Uh…” I draw out. “I’ve been lying low for a while… waiting for things to cool down.” Shit. I hate lying, especially to Sophia, but I honestly don’t know what else to say.

“Are you okay? Are you somewhere safe?” she asks, and she sounds so worried, the sudden guilt I’m experiencing intensifies.

Has she been worrying about me this whole time? Wondering what the fuck happened to me, just as I have about her?

“Yes, I’m fine,” I say, and try to change the subject. “And I’m safe. Seriously. Are you okay? Are you safe?”

“Yeah, I’m home and I’m safe. But it was crazy. I almost ended up in the Middle East!”

“Oh my god,” I exhale. “I wondered what happened to you but Johnathan wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“Johnathan?” she squeaks and I cringe. Shit. I’m fucking up already.

“Yeah… it’s a long story…”

“Okay, you so gotta tell me.”

I lean around the wall and glance towards the dining room, checking in on Charlie. He’s still playing happily with his Lego sets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s listening in on me.

“Yeah, now is not a good time. Listen, I’m only calling because I was worried about you…”

“Is there somewhere we can meet? Can I come get you?”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I can’t leave… I’m kind of babysitting.”

“Okay, now you really gotta tell me what’s going on! How are you hiding out and babysitting?”

Shit. Shit. Shit. I’m just digging myself deeper and deeper here. This would be so much easier if I could just tell her everything, but I don’t want her to freak out.

“Look,” she says, getting that tone of voice she always gets with me when she’s about to put me in my place. “We need to talk, pronto, and I’m not going to take no for an answer. You’ve been missing for days, and everyone, including myself, has been worried crazy. So you need to pick a time and place to meet.”

She stops, and I think she’s done, and I open my mouth to start giving her an excuse on why we can’t meet when she threatens, “Or I’m just going to call up my dad, have him trace this call, and I’ll find you anyway.”

Fuck, this phone call really was a bad idea. I totally forgot how bossy she can be.

“Sophia…” I plead.

“No, this is happening. You’re totally giving me weird vibes and I need to know that you’re okay.”

I throw my hands in the air. When she gets all bossy like this she almost always gets her way.

But not this time.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t want you to worry, and I would have called you if I could. But now is really not a good time.” Because I made a promise, a promise I totally intend to keep. “Look, I’ll call you later…”

“Okay. Well, I’m just going to ring up my dad…”

“Sophia, don’t!”

“And tell him you’ve been kidnapped again and you called me…”

Gah, she just has to play dirty!

“Then I’m going to get your address, call 911, and tell them it’s an emergency…”

Damn, she’s really going all in here. And I don’t doubt for a second she won’t do exactly as she just promised.

“Fine! You win! We can meet!” I cry, and fight back the urge to bang my head against the wall. “But you have to come to me. And you can’t tell anyone where I am. I don’t want my father to find me.”

“I can do that. I won’t tell a soul,” she agrees, sounding calmer and more relieved.

I rattle off Johnathan’s address, the address I noted yesterday when he took me to meet with his boss.

“I’m not far. See you in twenty.”

“See you,” I say, and hang up the phone feeling like I just made an epic mistake.

“Beth!” Sophia cries out when I open the front door, and flings herself into my arms.

We squeeze each other hard. God, I missed her, and it feels so good to see her. Now that I know she’s safe with my own eyes, I’ll be able to rest easier.

“I was so freaking worried about you,” she frowns as she pulls away.

“Ditto,” I say, and all I can do is make more apologies. “I’m sorry. Things have been rather crazy for me…”

“Is this Johnathan’s house?” she asks as she walks in. Her eyes go wide as she takes everything in. All the new furniture. “I really didn’t peg him for the boring, suburban type.”

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