Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my second Big Time Rush fic! Applause, roses, chocolate, I accept them all.
Disclaimer: Own Big Time Rush? Hah! I wish! It would be one of the best things ever! But that twist of fate hasn't occured yet, so...Nope, don't own Big Time Rush. I do own their DVDs though, which I'm very proud of. ;)
So, I talk a lot in the beginning of chapters, always have, and probably always will. But, you see, I like to talk a little bit about the chapters and sometimes the story as a whole...so here goes: This story is a mystery/drama/angst/romance fic. It's a little bit different from what I usually write (romance, comedy, some science fantasy [just take a look at my name for the last one!], so there'll probably be some rough patches, but I'm determined to claw my way through. Besides, I've had this idea in my head for a couple of months, and it's been driving me nuts. So...
This chapter is all in Katie's POV, and incase you don't look at the chapter titles, it's part 1. Yes, there's a part 2, although technically it's the second chapter, and it'll be from James's POV. The two chapters were originally combined, but they got too long.
Okay, anything else I have to say I'll just say at the end, like most normal people (but I'm not normal, so that excuse just doesn't work).
Enjoyed the chapter!
Chapter 1 – The Invitation Part 1
(Wednesday, April 30th)
My head ached and I was beyond exhausted, my brain still sifting its way through all the useless information I had picked up that day. Let's see…X=Y…since when? Where did the Gettysburg address take place? Take a guess at that one. Why was James Diamond's newest single number one on iTunes? Oh, wait, that question hadn't come up in any of my classes. Besides, the answer was pretty obvious.
It was the sex appeal he oozed, that he worked to his advantage.
But that wasn't the point. I did my best not to think about James and any of my brother's ex-best friends. Come to think of it, I did my best not to think of Kendall at all, because I was still too pissed off with him to really think of him in a rational, non-violent way.
From behind me, a horn honked, and I immediately snapped out of the faraway zone my brain had been drifting off to, and hit the gas of my '95 black Honda Civic. The car lurched forward and I continued to press my foot against the pedal harder and harder, until I finally got it up to thirty-five miles per hour. Well, maybe thirty-two miles per hour. The piece of crap refused to go faster than, say, slug speed, which meant that whoever ended up behind me on the highway tended to zoom around me in less than a second. It was pretty pathetic. But it was the only car that I could afford, thanks to my brother and his stupid ex-friends.
I continued down Main Street of Chasm Lake, the small Minnesota town that I had grown up in, had left for a wonderful six years, and then had been forced to return to three years ago.
Chasm Lake. What an appropriate name for the place. Really, that was all the town was – a lake, and a chasm of land in the middle of Nowhere County, Minnesota. Most of the people I knew hated this place, and wanted to leave, but very few rarely ever made it out. I had almost left for good…and then just when I thought I had triumphed, I had been pulled back in.
I signaled and turned left, onto the street I had spent the first eleven years of my life on, and had spent the past four years of my life plotting my escape.
I pulled into the all-too familiar driveway, in front of the all-too familiar tiny house. I parked the car, shut off the ignition, and hauled my tired body out of the driver's seat, grabbing my backpack as I did so. I threw the ten pound bag over my shoulders and walked up the pathway to the front door. I paused on the door stoop while I fumbled with my keys, finally getting the proper one into the door lock. I turned it and there was a clicking sound, signaling the key had worked this time. It didn't always – there had been days, particularly in the middle of winter, when it was twenty below zero, when the lock refused to be, well, unlocked. But since it was spring and everything was de-thawing, the lock worked just fine.
I turned the doorknob and walked into the small, but neatly furnished living room. It was dark in there, the entire house was dark, and since I hadn't seen Mom's car in the driveway, I could safely assume that she was still at work at the diner. I glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece and saw that it was only
3:30 PM. No wonder. Mom wouldn't be home for another hour or so, and that was if she didn't pick up a double shift.
I was exhausted, but I had a shitload of homework that needed to be done before I needed to leave for my job as a waitress at the same diner that Mom worked on.
I dragged myself down the hall to my room, plopped down in my desk chair, slipped my earbuds into my ears, and clicked on a Sum 41 album. Ahhhh. Complaining and pessimism. Just what I needed.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays it's the same routine. I drive down to the local community college, try to force myself through Algebra II (because I couldn't pass it in high school), U.S History 105, and Economics 100, before driving back home, forcing myself through all of my homework, before leaving at 7:30 for my four hour shift. The diner is open 24/7, even on Sundays, thus the reason why I got off at midnight. If I was lucky, I would get home around 12:30 AM, and would collapse for the next six hours or so, until I had to drag my ass out of bed again. Tuesdays and Thursdays and the weekend were the best days, because I didn't have to work so I could more or less catch up on my sleep and any homework I had been forced to leave undone the night before.
It could be a miserable existence at times, but I was just going through the motions until I could get the hell out of here. But there I was, nineteen years old, the sister to a two-time-successful brother, and I was still living in the same crappy town, in the same crappy house, that I had before Brother Dearest made his first million.
At 4:30, just as I had predicted, I heard the front door open and Mom call out to me.
I abandoned the evil algebra problem I had been trying to solve, and headed out into the living room where she had just collapsed on the couch. Her pretty, curly red hair was pinned up in a messy bun, and her sweet eyes were lined. Her makeup had been rubbed off, and she smelled like onions and beef fat. It wasn't necessarily the worst smell for a restaurant (although it sure wasn't the most attractive), but it sucked rocks as a perfume.
"Hi Sweetie," Mom said with a soft smile as I walked into the living room. She kissed me on the forehead and I curled up on the cushion next to her. She ran her fingers through my brown hair, smoothing it out. "How was class?"
I shrugged. "It was class. Nothing more, nothing less."
Mom pressed her lips together sadly. "I know you'd rather be attending business school out in LA, but even with your scholarship, we can't – "
"Afford it," I finished for her. "Yeah Mom, I know. We've been all but broke ever since Kendall abandoned us four years ago."
"He didn't abandon us!" Mom protested. "He just…left…and very rarely sends money…and never contacts us…"
"Speaking of, some kids in my history class were talking about the game last night," I told Mom. "The Wilders won, thanks to Kendall."
Mom smiled in pride. "Good for him. Maybe I'll give him a call and congratulate him."
"If he hasn't changed his phone number again," I grumbled. "I swear, he's worse than James used to…"
I broke off. I hadn't spoken James's name out loud for nearly three years.
There was a brief silence, and then Mom said, "Kendall has tons of fans, thanks to both Big Time Rush and the Minnesota Wild. Of course he'll need to change his number every few months."
That was Mom's excuse for why every time we tried to call Kendall we got a "the number you have dialed is no longer available" on the other end of the line. I for one would love to believe Mom, but I don't think she even believes that herself. Besides, I've seen too much at this point to believe the best of my brother. Don't get me wrong – I love him dearly. But I also hate him. Love and hate are never meant to be mixed, but yet, here they are. It would be easier if I only hated him, but he's my brother and for the first sixteen years of my life, he protected me. And then he just upped and abandoned Mom when Big Time Rush fell apart. Mom swears he had his reasons, but she won't tell me what they are. The last thing Kendall said to me was: "One day I'll tell you why I'm no longer talking to Mom, but until then, I don't want anything to do with her. You'll find out why when you're older."
Well, I'm older now, and I haven't heard anything from him since he left to join the Minnesota Wild. So the excuse he gave me was probably just bullshit, and he didn't want to admit that he was too selfish to actually care about Mom and me. Which is why I was currently balancing school with work, driving a crappy car, and praying every day that one of these days, I would get out of Chasm Lake, Minnesota.
I glanced at the clock over the mantelpiece. "I should go finish my homework, I have to leave in three hours for work."
The corners of Mom's mouths dropped down into a sad grimace. "Is it really going to take you three hours?" she asked pleadingly.
"Probably not," I told her, "but if it does, then it's good to have that extra time. When I'm finished, I'll come and hang out with you."
Mom nodded. "All right. I was just going to heat up a couple of Lean Cuisine meals for dinner, is that okay with you?"
Mom's culinary skills have seriously gone down the drain ever since Kendall left. Lean Cuisine TV dinners usually serves as our evening meals, unless she's picked up something from work, although sometimes she'll splurge for pizza or Chinese food when she needs a serious pick-me-up.
I hugged Mom and then got up off the couch, and walked back to my room where I had left the sadistic algebra problem. After plenty of teeth grinding and hair pulling, I figured it out, and continued on to the next one. It was nearly an hour later when I finished the worksheet, and my brain felt like it was on the verge of collapsing.
I was just pulling my Economic textbook towards me so that I could get some of the reading done, when my Pantech Breeze II phone lit up and vibrated against the surface of my desk: 1 New Message.
Well, I could use the break from schoolwork.
I snatched my phone up and flipped it open so that I could read the text. I was expecting to see a message from one of my friends from school, or maybe from work, telling me that they were going to be needing me a little earlier. What I didn't expect to see was a blocked number and four more messages popping up in my conversation box, so that it was just one super long text message:
So, Katie Knight, how're you doing? Enjoying Chasm Lake, MN? Enjoying Chasm Lake Community College, and Gracie's Diner? Tsk, tsk, tsk, whatever happened to you darling? You were going to be a big – BIG – talent agent, and instead…well, let's face it, there you are right now, sitting in your bedroom while you do your homework like the good little girl that we both know you're not. How cuh-yoot! So babe, creeped out yet? You should be. I would be if someone was watching my every move. Stay tuned, something interesting should be happening soon. That is what you want, right? Something interesting. In that case, you'll love this. ;) –The Replacement. P.S – talked to James Diamond lately?
I just gaped at the phone in my hand. Who the hell was The Replacement, why was their number blocked, why were they spying on me, what did they want, and what business was if of theirs whether or not they had talked to James recently?
And then it hit me –
I leapt to my feet and rushed to my window. I couldn't see anyone, but that didn't mean anything. Our house is one level, and my bedroom blinds were cracked open, meaning that anyone could have been peeking in without me realizing. But why did they know so much about my life? And what did they mean by "something interesting should be happening soon"? What the hell did that mean? Was that a hint that someone was going to throw a hand grenade through our living room window, or that I was just going to get a late birthday card from some long-lost relative? And why was James even mentioned? Did they know – ? No, how could they? Only James and I shared that particular secret, and that's the way it was going to stay.
I wasn't sure if the text would go through, but I knew I had to try something – I mean, who the hell was this person?
I quickly typed in: Who the fuck do you think you are, spying on me like some insane stalker? And what the hell do you mean "something interesting should be happening soon"? And why is it any business of YOURS if I've talked to James recently anyway? Why should it matter to YOU?
And I hit send.
Possibly not the smartest move I could have made. Calling someone an "insane stalker" usually pisses them off, but I was just plain angry, and I was running off of adrenaline. Maybe if the fear had hit me, I would have figured out that sending that text was stupid, but it was like the fear was frozen.
I somehow managed to finish the reading for Economics and filled out the worksheet for my U.S History 102 class. It was nearly 7:00 when I slipped the worksheet into my backpack.
I stood up and pressed my hands to my lower back, stretching out my spine, before walking out to the kitchen, where Mom was standing in front of the oven, counting the seconds until our dinner was finished cooking.
"Hi sweetie, did you finish your homework?" she asked, sounding much more cheerful than she had earlier.
"Yeah," I replied. "But man, algebra should be illegal."
Mom laughed. "I completely agree."
"So which Lean Cuisine dinners are we having?" I asked, trying to peer into the oven.
"The chicken and broccoli pasta," Mom answered. "And I'm heating corn up in the microwave." She nodded to said appliance, which, sure enough, was humming loudly as the timer counted down.
"Sounds good," I agreed blankly, my mind flashing back to the text I had received. I had never heard back from The Replacement, whoever the hell they were, and frankly, I didn't care. That text was creepy enough without a follow-up one, and I could only hope I never heard back from The Replacement again. And what kind of name was The Replacement anyway? That was just a bizarre name anyway.
The oven timer went off, and a split second later, the microwave beeped. Mom and I pulled our dinner out of the two ovens, and sat down at the table with plates, forks, and napkins.
I quickly ate, and then leapt up to change out of my t-shirt and hoodie and into the Gracie's Diner t-shirt that all employees were required to wear, and covered it with a sweatshirt. I pulled my long brown hair up in a ponytail, slipped on another layer of makeup, and grabbed my purse.
Mom was still in the kitchen, sitting at the table, sorting through the mail, so I went in to say goodbye to her.
She was holding a letter, her eyes wide.
"Mom?" I touched her shoulder and she nearly tumbled out of her seat.
"Oh! Katie! You nearly scared me half to death, honey!"
"Sorry," I apologized. "What're you reading?"
"Just…nothing. A tax notice."
"Oh, sounds pleasant. Anyway, I'm leaving now, so I'll see you tomorrow."
Mom nodded, face still very pale as I kissed her forehead.
"I love you, Katie."
"Love you too, Mom," I replied with a smile before I headed back outside. I opened the car door and slid into the driver's seat. I slipped the key into the ignition and turned, hearing the engine roll over startlingly loud. I rolled my window down a tiny bit, and a breeze drifted in, and that's when I saw it: A folded piece of white copy paper on the passenger's seat.
With shaking fingers, I reached over and gingerly picked the paper up. There was a newspaper clipping attached to it with a paper clip, with the headline: Minnesota Wild Leads In Hockey Playoffs – Center Kendall Knight Scores Winning Goal At Tuesday Night's Game.
Underneath the headline was the article, and a blown up picture of Kendall in full hockey gear, his hockey mask up so that his face was shown. He was grinning proudly while his teammates surrounded him, patting him on the back. He looked happy, and why shouldn't he? He had a fantastic career as a hockey player, playing for his all-time favorite team. No doubt he had a fabulous life, filled with girls and cars and mansions. Lucky him.
I flipped back to the regular paper, and my stomach rolled over. The note was handwritten, and scrawled in large letters across the paper: How does it feel to be Kendall Knight's sister? Too bad he abandoned you and your mom. But did he really abandon you? Aren't you even a tiny bit curious about why he left? Even just a little bit? I'm sure he had his reasons. Don't worry, little one, before long they'll be revealed to you. –The Replacement.
I crumpled up the papers and stuffed them in my glove compartment. "You don't know anything," I muttered. "And how the hell did you get into my car?"
Someone must've picked the lock. There were plenty of people around here who never bothered to lock their cars or their houses, but after living six years in Minnesota, some habits were permanently instilled in me. I always locked the door, even if I was just leaving the car for five minutes. There was no way they could have gotten in if they didn't happen to have a lock-picking set on them.
"What's next?" I muttered. "A magazine interview with James? An article on Carlos's new reality show? Maybe something in Doctor's Digest on Logan? Screw you, whoever you are."
And with those words, I slammed the gears into reverse and backed out of the driveway.
People are usually at home and have finished dinner by 7:30 – in Chasm Lake, it's practically a crime not to follow that timeline – so the traffic was pretty mild. I navigated easily through my hometown, and reached the restaurant by a quarter to 8.
I parked in the designated employee parking area, and crawled out of the car, double and triple checking to make sure that all of the car doors were locked, before walking into the diner through the backdoor.
I made my way to the employee locker room, where I punched in, and pulled my sweatshirt off. I stuffed it in my cubbyhole, and was about to put my purse in there too, when I felt it vibrate. My phone.
I licked my lips, praying that it wasn't what I thought it was, but with the way my stomach was clenching and the way my palms were suddenly sweating, it had to be...
With a deep breath, I opened my purse and fished my phone out. I flipped my phone open and groaned: The Replacement had texted me back:
Oh, Katie honey, is that was you think, that I'm an "insane stalker"? Oh, baby, I may be a stalker, and perhaps a little bit on the edge of crazy, but not insane and stalker together! Quite honestly, I'm insulted. As for why your business is my business? It isn't. But I'm making it my business. Does that answer your question? What do I mean when I say something is going to be happening very soon? Well, my dear girl, you'll find out very *soon*, now won't you? ;) And as for James Diamond? Can't you guess? Or have you forgotten your history with him? I certainly hope not, he was such an important part of your life, now wasn't he? You know what I mean by that, so put that brain to work! But don't worry, I'm keeping watch on him. You know, he doesn't seem quite as happy as he used to…I wonder if he's missing you? Btw, how did you like the newspaper article about your brother? Made him sound like a hero, didn't it? Like superman? Of course, you know better than anyone that he's more The Joker than anything else. Why else would he have abandoned you? So, will these answers satisfy you? I doubt it – you're never satisfied, now are you, Katie Knight? Well, nevertheless, these will have to do for now. You'll find out soon enough ;) Until then.
So that was that. I stared at the text. James…The Replacement was watching James. He didn't seem very happy…but missing me? Hah! I doubt it. I couldn't flatter myself even considering that idea. I heard rumors about James every few weeks, and there were always pictures of him with some bimbo on his arm popping up on the internet. Believe me, he wasn't missing me. He probably didn't even remember my name. Why would he? I was sixteen and he was nineteen when he last saw me.
I shook my head, and this time didn't even bother replying to the text(s). I just shoved my phone into my purse and headed out into the main part of the restaurant.
It was nearly 12:30 when I finally walked in through the front door. My entire body felt sore and tired from the sixteen hour day, and all I wanted to do was drag myself into my room and collapse on my bed for the next six hours. Tomorrow night I would catch up on my sleep…
One of the lights was still on in the living room, and Mom was sitting on the couch, twisting her hands around. She looked up, startled, when I walked in through the front door.
"Oh, good, Katie, you're home," she said, sounding relieved.
"Really? I am? Great. I thought I was sleepwalking in the diner. Well, if I'm home, I'm going to bed. 'Night."
There was an urgency in her voice that I had never heard before, and it was enough to make me stop in mid-step and turn towards her.
"Katie, come sit down with me." She patted the cushion next to her, and without really thinking, I crossed the room and sank down onto the couch beside her.
"What is it, Mom?"
"Do you remember that letter I was reading when you left?"
"Yeah, the tax notice. Oh no! Mom, we're not losing the house, are we, because if we are – !"
"No, no, no, nothing like that," Mom said hurriedly.
"Oh, okay, then what? Did we forget to pay our bills?"
"No…Katie, it wasn't a tax notice."
"Then what was it?"
"It was a…well…an invitation of sorts…from someone who I've never met…well, see for yourself." She pulled a folded-up piece of paper from the pocket of her bathrobe and handed it to me.
The paper was simple, and the invitation, if you could even call it that, was typed out in elegant print:
Dear Jennifer and Katherine Knight,
You will not know who I am, but I can assure you, I know exactly who you are. I have been keeping tabs on you both for eight years, and have wanted to meet you for that lengthy period of time. And now I have been granted the opportunity to invite you on a cruise on the DLS Serpent, a cruise ship that my partner and I recently bought.
The DLS-S will depart from Santa Monica Pier on Friday, May 2nd, at 2 PM. Boarding begins at 12 PM. The DLS-S will sail around a specified route and will return on May 16th at the previously named pier. Your tickets are already bought and paid for, you just need to give your name to the boarding officer when you get on the ship. All expenses are paid for. Enclosed in the envelope are two airplane tickets for the 3:30 PM flight out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday. You will be staying in the Motel 6 on Dalton Drive in Los Angeles – accommodations have already been arranged. At LAX, you will also find a car that has been rented out in your name, Jennifer.
Jennifer, this is a message directly to you: If you decide against this cruise, I am warning you, your beautiful daughter and your handsome son – congrats on him scoring the winning goal for the Minnesota Wild, by the way! You must be so proud! I bet you would tell him if he would answer his phone – will be in danger – all of the boys will. I am watching you, and I can very easily arrange an…accident. I do not advise you to ignore this warning or threat, whichever you prefer. And the threat will be activated if you choose to involve the police.
Keep all of this in mind when you make your decision. I hope you make the right one.
Good luck and I hope to see you soon!
"Mom…" I whispered. "Mom…we can't…This is…this is ridiculous!"
Mom didn't say anything: She just held up two plane tickets.
"You read the letter," Mom said softly. "You kids are all in danger. This person…they knew that Kendall won't pick up his phone when we call."
"That doesn't mean squat!" I cried.
"It means enough. We're going. I won't risk your life, or Kendall's, or James's, Logan's, or Carlos's. Your are all too valuable to me."
"But we don't…we don't even know what the point of the cruise is!" I insisted. "For all we know, the ship will be loaded with explosives, or – or – the plain will come crashing down. Mom, it's a trap, it's so obvious…Look!"
I yanked my phone out and showed her the texts that I had received earlier.
"And this – this person managed to get into my car, they left a note with a newspaper clipping about Kendall's big win from last night, on the front passenger seat. Mom…"
Mom just pursed her lips stubbornly. "That's even more reason. This person knows more about us than we could have ever guessed or thought. For all we know, they're listening and watching right now."
"We're going to do this. I'm going to call your school and let them know that you won't be able to finish the spring quarter classes. Perhaps I can get a slight refund. You go and try to get a couple of hours of sleep, and then we'll pack. We're leaving at ten AM."
"That's my final decision."
"But – "
"Katie, please don't argue with me on this. I love you, I love all of you kids, and I'm doing this for you. Please don't fight me. We'll be okay, I promise honey, I won't let anything happen to you. I promise. I love you."
"I love you too."
"Good. Now go and sleep, I'll wake you in a couple of hours. Good night baby girl."
Mom reached for the landline so that she could call the college, and I got to my feet. I managed to get into my room without passing out, and I changed out of my work clothes into pajama bottoms and a soft cotton t-shirt that had been washed so many times that the sky blue of the material had faded into a pale blue.
I brushed my teeth and brushed out my hair, and was just pulling the covers back so that I could climb into bed when my phone lit up with a new text message. And I knew exactly who had sent it. With a deep breath, I reached over and flipped my phone open, opening the text:
See K-squared? That wasn't long to wait at all! See where a little patience can get you? On a flight out to LA for a 2 week cruise! Are you excited? I hope so, because I'm excited! Believe me, I've got so much planned for you, it's going to be so much fun – for me, that is. ;) You're right to be cautious, but your mom made the right decision; it would be beyond foolish to ignore my friendly invitation. But don't worry, you'll be getting what you deserve…Btw, what do you think of the nickname "K-squared"? James used to call you that, didn't he? Ahhhh, memories, memories. Gotta love 'em. –The Replacement.
Sorry if Katie seems a little bit...bitter...okay, I'm not sorry. She's supposed to be bitter, she's been seriously hurt by almost everyone important in her life.
So, do explanations about what happened to the band seem vague? If they do, then good! That's the idea! Usually I like to explain things point blank and not beat around the bush, but somehow, I don't see that happening in this story.
What'd you guys think of "The Replacement"? Did I make them creepy enough, or are they just a little...weird?
So...let's talk reviews. I love reviews. What writer doesn't? Reviews are practically our life source. You cut them off, and we go into comas *nodds seriously*. So...please review? *Employs huge puppy-dog eyes on unsuspecting readers*.