Hannah stared after Waylon hoping he would find Zach before something happened. She had an uneasy feeling that something bad was going to happen. Shaking her head she briefly wondered if this feeling was the same one her dad would get that made him sweat and feel sick to his stomach. She turned her attention to Donovan. He was crouched over his computer screen.
“What are you doing?” she asked trying to see over his shoulder.
“Nothing much” he mumbled as he keyed in a few more commands.
She moved closer a frown forming on her brow. “That’s a bank account….” She gasped reading a familiar name. “What are you doing? That’s…”
“I’ll explain everything I promise” he spared a glance up at her. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“You shouldn’t be doing this at all.” She crossed her arms the anxiety in the pit of her stomach gnawing away at her. She looked uneasily around the room, “you’ll get caught. Go to jail.”
“No I won’t” he shook his head. “Just tell me if someone comes.”
She gave him a doubtful, half angry glare. She snapped her mouth shut not wanting to draw attention to them. After what felt like hours but was only twenty minutes she asked “are you almost done?”
Casually glancing at the time Donovan chuckled. “I’ve been done for at least ten minutes.”
“You what?” she growled whirling around to glare at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to see how long you’d stand there,” he winked at her. “I knew you’d have my back.”
“I hate you” she declared stomping towards the door.
“Hey don’t be like that” he called after her. The slamming of the door told him everything he needed to know. “Shit” he cried aloud drawing interested looks in his direction. Sitting down at the computer he had been monopolizing for the past hour he erased all of his activity. Careful to leave no trace of what he had been doing. It shouldn’t be illegal to take back what was there’s anyway. He was helping a friend. Why should he feel guilty about that?
He tried to finish the game he started but his mind kept replaying the sound of the slamming door. It sounded so final. The least she could have done was let him explain. She didn’t have to storm out of there like he was some sort of criminal.
“Donnie you can’t keep doing this” her voice was plaintive as she reached over pulling him close. “I love you so much baby. One day I’m afraid someone will figure out what you’re doing.”
Shrugging her off he rolled his eyes. “Mom that won’t happen. I know what I’m doing.”
“That’s what they all say.” She sighed a look of profound disappointment in her eyes. “Prisons are full of people who knew what they were doing.”
“That’s not going to happen to me” he insisted. “I’m careful. I double-check everything. I leave nothing to chance.”
She snorted in disbelief. “Why can’t you be like that towards your school work?”
“School is boring” he groaned loudly.
“You don’t apply yourself,” his mom said getting up and crawling under his desk.
“Mom” he cried incredulously “I need my computer for school.”
Glancing up she nodded before she continued to unplug all the relevant cords. “You can use my laptop for anything school related.” She grunted getting to her feet wiping her long hair from her face.
“But mom,” he groaned giving her his best puppy dog look.
“Don’t mom me” she said sternly picking up the tower and walking away. “You brought this upon yourself. All you had to do was stop hacking. Now you have no choice.”
“That’s not all I do on my PC” he protested. “I play games too.”
“You can play them on my laptop,” she said determined not to give in to his pleadings.
“Your laptop belongs in a museum it’s so old” he whined.
“You’ll survive” she said standing in the doorway. “Quit whining.”
That lasted all of his senior year. He found ways around it. The library. Friends. Even his mom’s laptop. He did try though. Despite how he acted he had no desire to go to prison. It was just fun to figure out ways around firewalls. See what he could learn. He seldom took anything big. He did some creative reallocation of funds to help people who needed it. He wasn’t a criminal. Of course there were the occasional illegal game download. It’s not like the gaming company couldn’t afford to give a game or two away.
Hannah had the same look his mom had. Disappointment. Why couldn’t they accept him for who he was? Why did he have to change? It’s not like he was hurting anyone. Not like the people he reallocated funds from would press charges. They were the real criminals. Swindling people like his mom and Waylon’s Uncle and countless others out of their hard-earned money. He was the modern-day Robin Hood. He shut the computer down kicking the chair beneath the desk as he got up.
What did they expect him to do? Sit back and do nothing? He had to do something. Waylon needed help. Waylon was his friend. He didn’t have a lot of friends. Even at that he felt guilty the entire time he was maneuvering things. He felt bad he couldn’t locate all of Waylon’s Uncle’s money. He felt like he was letting his friend down. As if that wasn’t enough Hannah was reacting like he was a criminal.
He needed a smoke. He needed it bad. He seldom gave in to the impulse. It was just another bad habit his mother didn’t like. He went outside and stood in the chilly night air dragging the nicotine into his lungs. He could feel the tension melting from his body as he looked up into the night sky. It didn’t give him any answers. He was just as confused as he was before.
Hannah stared out her window. She watched as someone stood smoking just below her. She could see the glow of the cigarette. The smoke as he exhaled. The figure looked vaguely familiar. She couldn’t be sure from this height and the dark shadows. They moved with the grace she had come to associate with Donovan. She turned her back to the window. It made sense that Donovan would be a smoker. It was just one more thing she didn’t like about him.
She hugged herself trying to come to terms with who Donovan was. He was a criminal. He was a cyber criminal to be precise. Stealing people’s money. Creative reallocation. He could call it whatever he wanted. It was still stealing. Worst of all he made her an accomplice. What had she been thinking? She could be convicted for helping him. At the very least she ought to turn him in. She had been his look out. How could he do this to her? She had trusted him. She liked him. She thought he liked her. Thought she was special to him.
She had been wrong. Her chest tightened as she fought to keep from crying. She had so many dreams none of which included going to jail. She knew Donovan was rough around the edges. Knew he was reckless, brash, fun. He reminded her of how her dad might have been like before he met daddy. Young and reckless.
Angrily she swiped at her eyes. She had so many dreams of a future with a guy that would probably wind up in prison sooner rather than later. Stupid, stupid, stupid the voice in her head repeated taunting her. She was so stupid to let herself fall for someone like that.
She groaned aloud regretting her own role in what had happened. How could she be so stupid? Slapping a hand over her mouth she glared at Charity asleep on the other side of the room. Charity moved restlessly on the bed murmuring in her sleep. Hannah hurried to the door hoping Charity wouldn’t wake up and want to talk. All she wanted to do was get away. She needed to think. Clear her head.
She ran down the stairs oblivious to the curious stares of others as she passed by. She didn’t know where she was going. She just couldn’t stay there. She needed someplace where she could breathe. She thought about her favorite place she liked to go when she was upset. For a moment all she wanted to do was go home. She wanted to snuggle between her dads. Tell them everything that had happened. Her safe place had always been her parents. Rory was strong and steady. Eddie quiet and understanding. In a strange way Donovan had made her feel safe. Even when he was turning her life upside down. She felt safe around him. Even at his most annoying moments.
That was gone now. She felt like someone had ripped her safety blanket away leaving her cold and alone She was confused and hurt. She had no one she could turn to. She could call her dads but she didn’t want them to worry. Charity was dealing with that worthless woman who called herself a mother. Ryan was too busy pretending he didn’t care. For the first time in her life she felt alone.
Donovan dragged on his cigarette inhaling the soothing smoke. He heard the door open nearby. He turned instinctively to see Hannah emerge acting as if she were being chased. He moved to call out to her. He snapped his mouth shut. What was he doing? She made it abundantly clear she didn’t want anything to do with him. Probably thought he’d get her in trouble by being near him. That’s what he got for getting involved with someone like her. He should have stuck with the usual bad girl. At least they didn’t judge him.
He tossed the butt away. Debated whether or not to light another. It was getting late. Frowning he wondered where she was going. He hurried towards the sidewalk. Worry creasing his forehead. He didn’t like she was alone. He shouldn’t have let her go off on her own. He glanced in both directions wondering which way she went. Deciding to head towards the park he could only hope he chose right.
He shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked. He shouldn’t have let her go no matter how upset he was with her. He should have stopped her even if that meant getting into an argument. It wasn’t safe for a young pretty girl to walk alone at night.
He kept waking for another block kicking himself for not doing something to stop her. Stopping mid stride heart leaping into his throat. He heard a loud scream fill the night air. Oh god, that sounded like Hannah he thought. Breaking into a run intent on reaching her in time.
Hannah didn’t know where she was going just that it was away from him. She couldn’t breath or think when he was around. Her feet carried her towards the park. She had spent several hours here with him. Her feet slowed as she remembered the many times they had met at the gazebo after class. They studied in companionable silence only the distant hum of cars and children playing marring the silence.
She stopped. Everything inside her telling her to turn around and go back. The last thing she wanted to do was think about him. She wanted to clear her head instead it kept repeating all the little moments they shared together. How he would carry her book bag once they were done with their assignments. He’d hold her hand when she lost her balance. Laughing at all her crazy ideas. Shaking her head she curled her fingers into fists. Willing herself to stop thinking about him. He wasn’t what she thought he was. She tried to ignore the voice that kept telling her that maybe he was trying to become the person he was meant to be. She chuckled a little at the voice in her head that kept telling her she could help him become that person. She couldn’t make anyone change not unless they wanted to first. Did he want to change? She had seen a flicker of guilt in his eyes tonight. It was hidden behind his bravado but it had been there.
“It must be my lucky night” a gruff harsh voice said as a man in dark clothes emerged from the shadows.
Hannah took a step backwards “what do you want?” her voice quivering.
The man laughed “I want a lot of things. You’ll do for now.”
Before Hannah could react the man grabbed her pulling her close. His hands lifting her skirt as his mouth crushed hers. Heart pounding in her ears she froze in terror. Her mind going over half remembered half heard conversations between her parents. Her daddy’s fears that she wouldn’t be able to defend herself in a situation like this. She screamed. she brought an elbow up smashing it into his side. Followed by her knee to his groin.
Taking advantage of his momentary shock Hannah ran screaming. Slowing only when she saw someone running towards her. As he came up to her she elbowed him in the nose. He fell backwards onto the sidewalk holding his bloodied nose. Lights from a passing car illuminated his red hair.
“Shit you broke my nose” he moaned.
“Let me see” she demanded. Pulling on his hands to inspect the damage.
“Why’d you do that for?” he asked.
“Excuse me” she cried. “I was only protecting myself.” She gingerly touched his red swollen nose, “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
He grunted looking around the dark street. “We should leave.” He looked at her, noticing for the first time her ripped clothing. “What happened? Are you hurt?”
“No I….I think I busted his ribs though.” She looked down at her torn dress. “I heard something crack when I elbowed him in the side. I ran as soon as he let go.” She glanced down at him meeting his eyes and smiled. “Everything happened so fast but I knew what to do.”
“I heard you screaming” he said pulling her close. “It made my blood run cold.” He stroked her face. “I was afraid I’d be too late. That I’d find you dead or worse….”
“So you came running to my rescue” she smirked at him. “As you can see I don’t need rescuing.”