"I got all of the money! If anyone says anything to the cops, you won't be able to say anything after!" Adam cackled. My arms were raised above my head, and my eyes were wide in play-fear.
"O-okay, sir. We-we won't t-t-tell. I promise," I stuttered. Adam laughed one more time, then he ran out of the room with the briefcase. A minute later, Adam came dashing back in, giggling.
"That was awesome, Nikki. I-"
Adam was cut off short when we heard a shout from downstairs.
"Nicole! Adam! Dinner!" Adam's mom yelled. I grinned at Adam as we both ran down the hall, then the staircase. My legs got me to the dining room faster than Adam did. He came in right behind me, panting.
"Pizza and breadsticks, homemade. Just how you two like it." Jo nodded, proud of herself. Like she said, there were two homemade pizzas (one Hawaiian and one Meat Lovers), and sixteen made-from-scratch breadsticks. The greasy aroma of her cooking filled the air, and it was like Heaven to my senses. Adam and I sat down next to each other, and Jo sat down across from us.
"Thanks, Ma. It means a lot to me that you let me stay here this weekend while my parents are gone...Again," I said, upset. Jo and Adam went silent for a minute. They knew what I meant, and even though we were okay with talking about with each other, it was still hard to.
"Oh, it's not problem. You know we love having you here. And, it keeps Adam from playing those stupid video games all day." Jo eyed him wearily; you could tell that he truly was playing video games a lot.
"Mo-om! Can we just say Grace and eat?" Adam reached over and put my hand in his. Jo grabbed my other hand, then Adam and Jo joined hands.
"Dear Lord, thank you for the food before us, and the friends and family around us. We are so blessed to have you in our lives, to have each other in our lives. Thank you. Amen."
I let go of Jo and Adam's hands, immediately pouncing on the delicious meal. Adam wasn't far after me, and soon all three of us were wolfing down the meal.
One hour later, Adam and I were on the couch, watching It's A Long Way From Here. It was actually a movie that Adam and I directed, written, and produced together a few months before. It was about a young girl (our friend Liliona) growing up, wishing she could be an artist, but her parents make her become an accountant. In the end, she breaks free, moves to Paris, and accomplishes her dream job.
Back to the story. We were sitting there, munching on popcorn, when the doorbell rang. Coming from the kitchen, Jo walked to the front door and opened it. My mother was standing there, a stern and tear-streaked face.
"Give me my darn daughter. Right now, Jo. I don't want to wait. Nicole! Come here!" my mother scolded. Frightened, I grabbed Adam's hand and leaned against him. He squeezed my hand tightly while Jo stepped out of the way as Mother pushed past her, into the living room.
"Ni-cole! Get your filthy butt over here! We're going away! Right now! And you better know that you'll never be seeing your father again!" My mother clenched her fists and stared at me, fire in her eyes. I could tell that she was daring me. Daring me to stay where I was. Daring me to disobey her.
I took that dare like you take money out of your grandparents' hands.
Jo could tell that I wasn't moving, so she moved quickly and stepped in front of Mother before she could do anything to me or Adam.
"Now, Gianna. there's no need to overreact. Why don't we-" Jo was immediately cut off by my mother again. We could all tell she wouldn't let anyone talk sense.
"Shut up, Jo! I am not freaking overreacting! I want my daughter, and you're going to give her to me, and that's final!" Mother began to walk towards me again. Jo stopped her again. You could see the fire in both of their eyes.
"Gianna, if you don't stop right now, I won't hesitate to call the police. I may be your friend, but this is getting out of control. Just, go back home. Get a good night's rest, and come back in the morning. Then we'll talk," Jo ordered. I could feel Adam's heavy, fearful breathing on my neck. The two of us were both shaking down to the bone.
"This isn't the last you'll hear of me."
"Yeah, I know. At some point you'll have to pick up your daughter."
When you first see her, Jo looks like a sweetheart. And she is, don't get me wrong. But, if you get that woman mad...You better watch your back. And my mom knew that. That's exactly why she walked out of Jo's house with one last final, livid glare.
"Adam, Nicole, go upstairs. Get a movie on in Adam's room. I'll... be right there." Jo attempted to smile as Adam and I slunk upstairs.
Nine years later...
"Nikki! Adam's here! And it looks like he drove the Convertible!"
A smile spread across my face, ear to ear. After applying a bit of dark red lipstick, I slung my purse over my shoulder and strutted out of my room.
"Coming!" I began my descent down the stairs, making sure not to trip while in my heels. Once I got to the bottom, I heard a gasp. My head snapped to the right, and Daddy was standing there.
"You look beautiful, honey. That is a beautiful color on you. Now, go ahead. Spin, spin!" Daddy cried. My smile spread wider as I spun around and my black, flowy, knee-length dress flew around me. I only stopped when I got dizzy.
Daddy smiled at me, excitement in his eyes. He loved Adam like a son. Maybe in a few years he would be.
"Alright, go on, sweetheart. I love you. Have fun. Be safe. Back by midnight!" His smile got wider (if it was possible) as I pecked him on the cheek, then swirled out of the door.
"Hi, Nikki! You ready?" Adam called. He was in the front seat of the Convertible, just like Daddy had said. The top was down; most likely so that we could still get the slight breeze in the humid, summer, night air.
"I'm more than ready. This is our senior prom, after all. Oh, and Daddy said he's gonna take pictures once we get back because he 'doesn't want to bombard us'." I opened the passenger side door and slid in, closing the door again.
"Alrighty then. We're off to the races!"
Adam and I looked into each other's eyes for a moment before we sped off to the interstate, towards Clearwater High.