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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

For Everything You Were - 8. Heartbreak Hotel

My mind fizzed with dread as I placed the phone down to the desk clerk of the hotel. How could I have been so stupid I kept thinking to myself? I should have known that tracing a cell phone signal would be child's play with the job my dad did.

"You okay?" Ethen asked, squeezing my shoulders.

"What do you think?"

"You could have just denied you were here. You didn't have to let him come up."

"How could I do that? They have confirmed I am here. It's a little obvious, don't you think?"

"Look, just try and calm down; I have your back here, and I am ready to stand by you."

"Thanks, Ethen, but you're not the one who has to go back and live there after deceiving him and my mum."

"And he hasn't deceived you, no?"

I ignored Ethen's comment and got up from the bed, letting his hands fall from my shoulders. "I don't think I have ever felt so… so sick inside. But, actually, that's not true, you calling me probably topped the-.

I was cut off mid-sentence by a knock at the door. Swallowing hard, I walked slowly towards it and looked through the spy hole. I could see my dad clear as day standing outside, but all of me wanted so much for it to be someone else.

"Jake, Ethen, open the door, please!" My dad called, his voice sounding mildly irritated. I looked back at Ethen, and he nodded as if to give me emotional support. Slowly I pushed down on the handle and opened the door.

Dad seemed to look straight past me and fixed his eyes on Ethen first, his facial expression one of both sadness and regret. That seemed to change, though, as he switched his view to me.

"Me and your mother specifically told you not to make contact with Ethen, and you pull a stunt like this? Jake, what the hell am I supposed to do with you?"

"Mr Stevens, I can expla-"

"No, Ethen," I interjected, turning around briefly. "I can handle this. Dad, I know the reasons why you didn't want us to meet, so I might have been in the wrong for going when you and mum said no, but I'm glad I did… I know everything!"

Dad came into the room and closed the door. "What exactly is everything?" he asked, nervous. I must admit, I didn't think I'd have him on the back foot this quickly, but it was a welcome start.

"How could you dad, how could you do something like this to me, your own son?" I asked, straight in with the guilt.

"Jake, it was a complicated situation; you don't know the full facts. Anyway, get your things. We are going home."

"Home? No, I want to discuss this, and you haven't even said hello to Ethen. Don't you owe him that?" I barked. Dad glanced at Ethen, he looked uneasy, and I knew why.

"Mr Stevens, I found the files, my dad's files."

"Ethen, these things are best left alone. Obviously, I am glad to see and know you are okay, but I can't discuss this."

"Can't or won't?" Ethen asked, staring him down.

"Jake, get your stuff; I am driving you-"

"He was spying on you, you know?" Ethen blurted, catching us BOTH by surprise.

"What? You never told me that, Ethen," I said, creasing up my forehead.

"Ethen, what are you talking about." My dad added, looking suddenly worried. "This is nonsense. Why on earth would your father spy on me? We worked together every day."

"I didn't have time to look into the full details, but it looks as if it was authorised just before you came to America. I also saw files on two phone calls you made to the middle east in two thousand and thirteen."

"And you are telling me your father was the person chosen to spy on me?"

Ethen shrugged. "Seems reasonable seeing as he was the one working the most closely with you."

Dad scratched his head and headed over to a chair, slowly sitting in it. "I just don't understand."

"It seems I was not the only one you and my father worked over."

"Ethen I did not work you over. Your father asked me to help in the matter of keeping your death a secret. Believe me, I was as shocked as you were, Ethen, but I had no choice."

"You did, dad. You could have said no."

"In this case, Jake, no, I couldn't… what's more worrying now is why Colin was monitoring me. Ethen, did your father ever give you any indication that he was leaving his post in Beale?"

"Hang on, Mr Stevens, before we discuss this any further, I want to know what you plan to do."

"Plan to do?"

"Yes, you now know I am here. My father does not, if you catch my drift?"

Dad sighed. "If I were still part of your father's team, I would have no choice but to hand you in."

"But?" Ethen asked, raising a brow.

"As far as I'm concerned, the decisions you make are your own and have nothing to do with me. But Jake, you need to leave Ethen to do what he must. We cannot be involved with this."

I looked at dad as if he had just given birth right in front of me. "Dad, Ethen was my partner, we welcomed him into our family, we were all close to him, he helped mum, you and me. So are you really saying I should just walk away from him AGAIN?"

"Ethen, Jake, look, you are both young and may not understand the gravity of the situation, but I'm worried. There were obviously rules put in place to keep you a secret, plus there were specific reasons. I am going to guess these were linked to your father's job as that's kind of what I was told before we left America. The very act of hiding you, covering for you, or even lying about having contact with you could have serious consequences. I may not be working in America anymore, but our military still remains linked to America's concerning what I do for a living. If it ever got back that your father or the CIA were looking for you and I was involved with you avoiding being found, then… well, the unknowns of that very much worries me."

"I get it, Mr Stevens. I don't want to give you or your family any bother." Ethen dropped his head. "Selfishly, my main objective was to tell your son I was alive because I thought he deserved to know the truth, perhaps which was a mistake. So I'll book the next flight out." He announced softly, looking defeated.

"No way! Ethen, I'm not losing you again!"

"Jake, your dad's right, and besides, you have Cody now, and I probably came here with the pretence that somehow things would not have changed. I don't want to put you or your family through any more grief, and I don't want to be the cause of breaking up you and Cody."

Dad came over and rested his hand on my shoulder. "Let's go, home son, your mum and Cody will be worried."

"But I…I can't just leave him here."

"Jake, I'll be fine. I have money."

"But… but where will you go?"

Ethen Shrugged. "Dunno, I can't stay here too long cos of visa restrictions, so I guess I'll go back to America… maybe Texas."

"Dad," I pleaded. "You gotta do something!"

"I'm sorry, Jake, I've explained how this works, I can't… we can't get involved with this."

I was so torn as we stood there in that room, all of us now silent. No one knew what to say to move things forward to a good ending. Of course, there wasn't one. I could see clearly that once dad had spent a few minutes with Ethen, even he was reluctant to just walk away. Right now, I could feel the anger of what Colin had put us through… put us all through boiling to the surface. He was the cause of this. He had made Ethen's life complicated to the point where he had to hide. He was the one that metaphorically tied my dad's hands so he could not help.

"You could stay, like get a job or something," I said, sounding kind of desperate.

"Ethen pursed his lips together. "Wish I could, but I'm on a tourist visa. I would be arrested and sent back home anyway and straight into my dad's grasp if I got caught. So no, anything I do now must be within the law, wherever I end up."

"Dad, cant you contact Colin and straighten this out?"

"No, Jake, I can't, and besides, what would I say? Like Ethen said, if his dad finds him, he'll have to go back to the US anyway."

I butted my head with my hand, trying to think of something. "Jake, it's okay, I'll be fine. All I ever wanted was to make sure you were too, I'm sorry for putting you through this, but hey, you know I'm okay now, so you can move on."

"Oh, just like that, I still… I still have feelings for you."

"And I you, but we can't put ourselves at risk."

"For fuck sake, this isn't East and West Germany. People should be allowed to see and spend time with who they want, fuck your dad, fuck the CIA and fuck everyone who interferes."

"Jake, we need to go now, mum and Cody want to see you, and I need to get back to work."

"Can I just have a few minutes alone with him please," I asked softly.

"I'll be waiting in the car. You have five minutes, Jake."

Dad shook hands with Ethen as if he'd never been away and left the room. I really couldn't get my head around the way dad had been with Ethen. Then I remembered him being alive was probably not a shock seeing as he knew all a fucking long!

I tried to fight back a stray tear that had formed in my eye, knowing we were about to say goodbye. I wanted there to be that miracle option that would solve everything to come bouncing into my mind. I'd waited for it since dad came, but alas, nothing. It was real. Ethen and I were saying goodbye again.

I raised my head and looked into his eyes. "I dreamed about you for so long. Holding hands walking through the woods, playing by the rocks, eating together. Then I remembered someone once told me that I should never aim for the best-case scenario because life is never that wonderful. I never realised quite what he meant until today." I said.

Ethen pulled me into him, and we stood in the centre of an empty room, just us. "I thought about you every day, sometimes whole days would pass, and I don't remember thinking about anything else. Life is cruel, Jake, but sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture and remember that other people are affected by our decisions. You are your mother's only child, Cody is your boyfriend who loves you, your father's job and income for your family rely on certain things not being revealed. So see, we both have those people to think of too."

"Ethen, why did you come here?"

"It's funny if you had asked me that just before I left America, I probably would have been annoyed and told you what a stupid question it was."

"And now?"

I felt Ethen heave a sigh as he continued to hold me. "It's like you said, people should never look at the best-case scenario because life is never that wonderful. I guess that's exactly the trap I fell into. I had pictures in my mind of how this was all going to be. I had you clear in my mind all the time, single, alone and yearning for someone to make you happy again. Stupid of me, really, but somewhere in all the craziness, I thought I could once again be that person. I guess knowing what I know now. I should never have come and put you through that."

"No, I'm glad… I mean not glad, but… well, let's just say I know why you did it."

"I never stopped loving you, never!"

"You don't need to tell me. As soon as I saw you look in my eyes, I knew nothing had changed. I just wish things were different. Those months with you were like… like being wrapped up in pleasure and joy… like it was something tangible you could pick up and sprinkle over yourself. I never knew I'd ever have to say goodbye."

"Like now. You better go. I don't want you getting into trouble with your dad and family. Tell them… tell them I'm sorry for any upset I've caused, it was not my intention and say I said I wish them well."

I burst into tears, and Ethen held me tight like he had done so many times before. A wave of unforgotten love seemed to drift around us as I took in his classic scent. The boy I had met was a man now, and I agonised over what sort of person he would grow up to be, who he would end up with, and how he would eventually grow old like me.

As we broke our embrace, I walked over to the side of the bed and picked up my bag. I couldn't believe I was actually going to do this - walk away.

"You take care, my angel. I love you, I always have," he said, wiping tears from his eyes. I took one final glance back at him and tried to smile, but inside, my heart was shattering into a million pieces.

"Goodbye, Ethen. I won't forget you."

I couldn't bear to look at him anymore and headed towards the door and closed it behind me. Then, sobbing like crazy, I walked towards the elevator and called it. I wanted him to come running out of that door and tell me not to go. Of course, I didn't want to go, but what would happen if I didn't?

A bell rang, and the doors opened. When they closed again, I knew any chance of us getting a reprieve from the gods above had passed.

The drive back towards home was silent. My dad tried to make conversation with me numerous times, but I didn't have the energy or the certainty I could stay calm with any answer I gave him. He knew I blamed him, and It felt it totally justified that I did. He could have done something; I knew it. The trouble with my dad was he was a very non-confrontational man who usually went for the quiet or smoothest options in life. God knows how he did his job. Mind you, he had patience and mostly always got his way, so maybe it wasn't so strange he ended up doing what he did.

"It's for the best. You know that, right Jake?"

"For who? You?!"

"For all of us, including Ethen."

"I just can't believe you knew and put me through that. Why didn't you tell me as soon as we got back to the UK if you were worried about whatever it is you were worried about."

"Jake, it was a complicated, highly secret and delicate situation. I had hoped that Ethen's death wouldn't have affected you for so long-"

"How can you s-"

"Hang on, here me out," he cut me off. "Say I had told you when we came home, can you honestly sit here and tell me you would have left it alone? I think what you would have done, Jake… because I know your heart rules your head... you would have tried to track him down and landed yourself, Ethen and all of us in a difficult spot. You're my son. I would never do anything to make you upset or angry deliberately. I was just protecting you."

"If I had a gun, I would kill Colin," I spat, as my mind once again drifted back to who caused all this.

"That's a little extreme. Jake, this is his job. It's what he signed up to."

"Does that include spying on his work colleagues, too?"

"Yes, well, we don't know the full facts or if It's even true."

We pulled up to a set of lights, and I shifted in my seat, looking directly at him. "Dad, Ethen doesn't lie. I know him well enough to know that he has always been honest."

As we sat there, my dad's demeanour seemed to change like he had just discovered something while thinking. Then, a look of concern washed over his face as the lights changed to green, and he didn't move.

"Dad, move!" I barked as I looked back, seeing we were holding up traffic. Dad put the car into gear and pulled away. "What was that all about?" I asked, puzzled.

"It's… it's nothing."

"Oh really, dad, I know that face."

"The files," was all he said.

"What files?"

"The files on my database, the ones that went missing… perhaps this WAS all a set-up… but why…" his voice trailed off as if going back into thinking mode.

"Dad, you're not making sense."

"Because it doesn't make sense, at least it didn't."

"Has this got something to do with those calls to the middle east Ethen was talking about?"

"I can't talk about that, Jake, but let me just say it would be easy for suspicions to be raised. If you are asking if it warranted someone spying on me, I don't think so, but none the less here we are."

"I told you he didn't lie. You are starting to see what's gone on with Ethen is so wrong now, aren't you."

"Jake, I have never suggested the way Ethen has been treated or what happened to him under his father's rules were right or dignified. What I am saying, and have said, is that it was not our business. However, yes, I agree that Colin has betrayed me in a way too. Whether he freely went along with that, I don't know, but it happened. I now know why Colin deleted all those files. It wasn't just because of what we were working on or the new job Colin took. It was because either he or someone else was trying to erase any evidence that might have suggested he spied on me."

Suddenly, dad yanked the car left and did a complete U-turn in the middle of a busy crossroads, totally shitting the life out of me. Two or three vehicles honked their horns in anger, as he caused them to brake hard.

"DAD! What the hell are you doing?"

"Sometimes, Jake, you have the choice to take the easy decisions in life or the right ones." He replied cryptically, looking all over his mirrors, trying to weave in and out of the traffic on the other side.

"What are you talking about, and where are we going?"

"Back!"

"Back where?"

"To put right a wrong I did… I'm going to get Ethen. The shit that's probably to follow with that I'll deal with later."

While I was busy picking my jaw up from the seat, I wondered what was to come when we actually caught up with him again.

©Copyright 2014 James Matthews, Mark Baker; All Rights Reserved.'
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Not sure what to think here, more convolutions to say the least...I'm gonna hold off on my prognostications as there are too many cards the dealer is holding up his sleeve...one reason Vegas is so successful is that the dealer always wins!

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All of the intrigue is fabulous.  But at all like I anticipated when I started this story, and not at all like your past writing.  You've got me hooked.

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Great comments! I am loving this story and the mystery of Colin and Ethen's disappearance.  Alan is suddenly putting things together and does not like the possible answer(s).  Just a little idea here, but what if Colin is the rouge double agent.  He has the knowledge, expertise, and legal credentials to pull off all that has happened. If he is a double agent, then he also has some non-governmental support.  I fear for Ethen, Jake, Jake's family as well as Cody.  Wouldn't it be fun if they all have to return to Beale AF base for a job and protection? :2thumbs: 

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