Damn, how did two hours pass by so quickly? I had just gotten really sucked into reading about this new movement to fully eradicate carbon emissions in a few years. When you hear about something like that, you can’t just let it go, and I was just finishing up sending them an email saying we’d be happy to help out. I picked up my phone and sucked in my breath. 20+ messages from my wife. Watcher, she’s probably extremely worried. I’m never late to come home, and even if I am, I make sure to send her a message. I sent her a text back saying that I’d just gotten caught up in work and that I was coming home now. She’s going to be pretty excited when I tell her about nocarbon’s plan – I know I almost fell out of my chair when I read about it. It’s not just the idea that’s so amazing… it’s the fact that it can work. As I kept reading about their plan, I realized it wasn’t just another movement that had a good idea but no way to pull it off. They could pull it off, and that’s the exciting part.
As I was about to walk out of the room, I suddenly heard a creaking sound and footsteps. That’s weird, who would be here so late? Wait. I glanced over at the clock, and sure enough, it was eleven. Eleven pm Tuesdays… that’s exactly when Jake said Elle Saile comes. Oh Watcher, you’ve got to be kidding me! What if she has a gun, or something like that? I peeked through the glass pane of the door to see a figure go straight into the computer room, and I ducked down. My heart was beating so loud I swear she could’ve heard it. She’s in the other room, though – I could leave. I could leave! But what good would that do? Oh Watcher, I hope this isn’t a big mistake. I pushed open the door to the room she was in, and she didn’t even move.
“I’m caught, aren’t I,” she whispered, not even looking up.
Since it was obvious she wasn’t about to pull anything on me, I let out my breath and nodded. “Yeah.
She turned around to look at me and sighed. “So are you calling the police or something?”
What was this? She wasn’t even putting up a fight or denying what she was doing? She was just…done? Was this some sort of trick to try and throw me off guard? Because it worked. “What?”
She looked as confused as I did. “I mean, you caught me. Aren’t you going to call the police?”
“You’re not even going to deny it?”
She scoffed, shaking her head. “What is there to deny? I’m done being the bad guy. Gosh, I was done a long time ago, but I just couldn’t get out of the council.”
I slid into the seat beside her, and looked over at her screen, filled with numbers and all that. It’s not like she’s a dumb woman. I don’t know the first thing about taking money from one account to another – and I suppose that’s a good thing – but it means she’s smart. She’s smart enough to do it, and get away with it for so long.
“Why’d you do it?” If nothing else, this is what I wanted from her – to know why. It’s not like I really expected her to tell me, which is why it was a shock when she started telling me.
“The council’s running out of money. We just – they needed it.” She sighed, but surprisingly didn’t seem too sad or angry for a person who was about to go to jail for a while. She’s always been full of surprises. The first time I met her… she surprised me by being open. And now…she’s confessing to all this without a second thought.
“You know,” she chuckled softly, “I always wanted to be the good guy. It just didn’t happen for me.”
“You’re better than a lot of people out there. I mean, come on, at least you own up to your mistakes.”
“That means a lot. Really, it does. You know, when I signed up to do this – ” she motioned around, “I think part of me wanted to get caught. Part of me wanted this to be over.”
“Well, it’s over.”
She nodded silently, looking at the screen and down to her hands. “I’ve always admired you, Adelaide. You’re everything I wanted to be. You always do the right thing.”
“You’re doing the right thing now,” I reminded her, “you know that, right?”
She nodded. “I know. Now, are you calling the police or will I have to?”
Watcher, she’s nothing like anyone else in the council. She might have made plenty of mistakes, but the difference between her and the others is she knew it was wrong. She cared that it was wrong, but she was so tied up in Tilted (another word for the council) that she couldn’t get out. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Maybe in an alternate world, she’s sitting where I am and I’m sitting where she is. We’re not that different, you know. We tried to do the right thing – it just didn’t work out for her.
The door behind us suddenly opened and we both turned around.
“Neither of you need to call the police,” he said with a small smile. Somehow the police had already gotten here, even though I hadn’t called them. I looked over to Elle, who leaned in closer to me and started whispering.
“Maybe I was just done. This is the only way out, after all.”
“Ok, ma’am, hands behind your back,” the officer said curtly as Elle stood up. That man walked her out of the room while another one came over to me.
“Thank you. Because of you, we got her confession in full.”
I smiled softly. “I think she would’ve given it to you anyway. Sir?”
“How did you know she was going to be here today?”
“We got tipped off. Was it you?”
I shook my head and started to gather up my things. It wasn’t me – but I bet it was her. She said it herself – she wanted out. She wanted to get caught.
My phone suddenly started ringing and I instantly knew who it was.
“Oh my Watcher, Adelaide! Are you okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“There’s a ton of police cars around your work building. Do you know what happened?”
“Yeah. The person who’s been stealing money from Brindleton was caught.”
“I have a feeling you were involved?”
I laughed. “You know me so well.”
She was right. There were probably six or so police cars around the building, and just before I got in my car, I saw a glimpse of her getting into the back of one of the cars. Watcher, I hope she’ll be alright. She’s not really a bad person. Not to me.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Dani murmured, pulling me into a deep embrace.
“I love you,” I whispered back, squeezing her tightly.
I took a few days off after that day. It just gave me a lot to think about. The world isn’t as cut and dry as many would like it to be. There isn’t just good and bad. It’s just not like that, and it makes things a hell lot more complicated. It makes things hard for people like Elle Saile. It was hard to get her out of my head – maybe because I saw a lot of myself in her. Because I know I could have been just like her if I’d makes some different decisions. But I didn’t, and that’s what I keep reminding myself. I didn’t make those same choices. But the reality is – I could have. And it’s hard to think about.
“So, will you?” I suddenly heard my daughter’s voice from outside, albeit faintly. I peered through the window to see her and Jaden talking.
“Will you be my boyfriend?”
My jaw dropped and at that moment I knew I had to listen to the rest of the conversation. I pushed the window up, just in time for him to reply ‘why’. My daughter didn’t even flinch at the fact he just sort-of rejected her.
“Because it’s like being extra-best friends,” my daughter replied, and I snorted at her description of a romantic relationship. It was so innocent.
“What do I have to do?” He asked, tilting his head.
Gosh, this was so cute. My daughter may make me want to smash some walls sometimes, but moments like these remind me she’s still an innocent seven year old. Lyric’s going to scream when I tell her my daughter asked her son out.
“Um, well we hold hands and sit together at lunch and stuff.”
“We already sit together at lunch,” Jaden pointed out.
“Uhm, yeah, so we’re kinda already dating!”
“Okay,” Jaden finally said, smiling. “So you’re my girlfriend now?”
“Uh huh,” Vali replies, grinning. Dani came up behind me, looking out the window.
“What’s going on?” Dani asked, sliding a hand around my waist.
I giggled, kissing her softly before replying, “Your daughter just got a boyfriend.”
Dani’s eyes widened and she turned her head to look out the window at our incredibly proud daughter.
“It was really adorable, though. She described dating as being ‘extra-best friends’.”
Dani giggled, taking both my hands. “Extra-best friends, huh? That’s not too bad of a description.”
“Dang, I can’t imagine her actually dating. I want her to stay a little, innocent girl forever.”
“Don’t worry… there’s still plenty of years before that happens.”
“But when she gets old enough, when are we going to start letting her date? 16? 17? 37?”
Dani chuckled, laying an arm around me. “Adelaide, I think you’re getting ahead of yourself a little here. But that last one doesn’t sound so bad – even if it’s not realistic.”
It wasn’t realistic, but I wasn’t kidding when I said I wished she’d stay young forever. She’s always going to be my little girl, even when she’s a grown woman. I tucked her into bed that night as she looked up at me with her big green eyes, and I just wanted to preserve the moment forever. She’s definitely a girl with a mind of her own, and some days it’s a lot to handle – but other times it makes for amazing moments. I’m sure only a small amount of girls Vali’s age would ask a boy out or try and get their drawings in an art gallery. She’s one-of-a-kind, and I’m really glad she’s my daughter.
I looked down at Valentina, smiling. “What is it?”
“Are you and Mummy going to forget about me when the new baby comes?”
Ah. So Dani was right. Valentina wasn’t saying anything about the new baby because she didn’t know what to think. A new baby is a pretty life changing event for everyone involved.
I shook my head softly. “No, Vali. Your mum and I could never forget about you. You’re our big girl.”
She let out a smile, and whispered, “I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you, Vali,” I replied, tucking her in.
A/N: Sadly, today was the last day of my winter break, so there won’t be nearly as many chapters posted at once, lol. Back to the schedule! 🙂