Previously on Ristical…
Ristica learns something disturbing about Zerona…
…And realizes that she might be in danger.
Mayra tells the truth about Zerona but no one believes her…
…Except for Jamey.
Zerona has already begun to cover her tracks.
Chapter 5: Better Days Exist
Realizing that he had just indirectly accused Zerona, Jamey bolted out of Mayra’s room. Ristica wasn’t done talking to him just yet. She followed him outside.
‘You’re surprised she did it herself? What do you mean by that?” Ristica anxiously asked Jamey who was walking away. Jamey stopped and turned around.
“Just forget about it, Ristica.” He said.
Ristica frowned, “I can’t do that, especially after what I saw.”
“What did you see?” Jamey asked, becoming very concerned.
“I saw Zerona at the hospital the night we brought Mayra in. I chased after her and tried to stop her but she knocked me to the ground, ran to her car and got away.” Ristica narrated with a hint of fear in her voice.
“That’s not good.” Jamey judged, “She knows that you are the only one who saw her here and that makes you a threat to her. Please stay away from Zerona, Ristica. You don’t know what kind of person she is.”
Jamey’s words made Ristica think of the article she read about Zerona.
“I read a story about the Scath family this morning. Do you know why she disappeared for half a year? Did she do something bad?”
Jamey became uneasy, “It would be best if you didn’t know any more about her than you already do.”
“That means you know something! Please tell me.” Ristica pleaded.
Jamey sighed, “Zerona and I used to be together. We had a big fight one night and she left, disappeared for six months, came back and pretended that nothing happened. Now please stop asking about her.”
Innocently standing by a wall was Zerona, who had just arrived. Ristica looked at her and she waved back. Jamey turned around to see what Ristica was looking at. Seeing Zerona, he immediately knew that trouble had arrived.
Zerona was dressed very smartly in an outfit Jamey remembered she had worn to her family’s funeral.
“Stay her. I’ll go talk to her.” Jamey instructed. Ristica made a fuss but Jamey wouldn’t allow her near Zerona.
With enthusiasm, Zerona began walking towards Ristica but Jamey quickly made his way to her and stopped her.
“Oh, Jamey…” Zerona began with pretend-concern, “I heard that Mayra got hurt. Is she okay?”
Jamey shook his head in disbelief, “Just drop the act. Mayra told us what you did.”
Zerona’s expression turned cold, “She is lying.”
“Why would she?”
“She doesn’t like me.”
“That’s not an answer!” Jamey scolded her like a child, “If this story gets out to the media, people are going to start wondering whether those rumors about you are actually true. You need to realize that stuff like this draws attention we don’t need and that puts us at risk of being exposed.”
“What about that girl, Ristica?” Zerona burst out in anger, “Three days in town and she’s already rubbing shoulders with Paige Pickners. You are letting her get close way too soon.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Jamey scoffed, “You may have met Ristica recently but I have known her a lot longer and I know she isn’t a threat.
In the midst of their argument, Ice came out of Mayra’s room. She had her usual bouncy walk going on until she saw Zerona. Ice froze in her path.
“I… Uh… Hi.” Ice nervously greeted, “I was just going out to get some, uh, stuff for Mayra. Jamey, take Risti with you when you leave. Bye.”
Ice scurried away and began to run when she was out of Zerona’s sight.
“Did you see that?” Jamey gestured to where Ice was standing, “Mayra is in a bad mood and everyone else is tense. Leave.”
Jamey turned around, about to walk away when Zerona grabbed him by the arm.
“That girl… Is she going to be a threat to our secret?” Zerona questioned.
Jamey tugged his arm free, “You’re being paranoid.”
Jamey knew what a paranoid Zerona was capable of all too well. He knew he had to find a way to keep Ristica safe with him for at least the rest of the day until Zerona calmed down.
He immediately thought of an idea, one that would require a little courage from him.
With his most charming smile, Jamey walked up to Ristica.
“Risti, Ristica,” Jamey playfully called out to her, “Would you like to go on a trip around the city with me? We could grab something to eat, go for a walk…”
“Hmm… Are you asking me out on a date?” Ristica teased.
He lowered his voice, “Only if you say yes.”
Jamey arched his arm out for Ristica. She hesitated for a moment before she shyly locked arms with him.
Together they strolled out of the hospital, passing Zerona like she didn’t exist. All Zerona could do was watch and grit her teeth jealously.
Ristica and Jamey spent the whole day out visiting different places. Ristica got to see some interesting-looking buildings and places she recognized from award shows on television.
They took pictures together…
…Had a lot of laughs…
…And went to Jamey’s favorite diner.
Their last stop was at the docks. They ditched the car and went for a long walk.
They found a stack of crates behind a factory. Climbing up the crates, they got a better view of the sea and sat there chatting till the sun was setting and the sky got cloudy. The atmosphere was tranquil as the noises from the city died into the sound of waves crashing.
“I like this place.” Ristica commented, “It’s very peaceful compared to the rest of the city.”
“The world disappears by the sea.” Jamey told her, “I come here sometimes when I want to escape.”
“Like right now?”
“I guess.” Jamey shrugged with a smile.
They eventually decided to hop off the crates and go back to the car. It began to drizzle.
“We should head back quickly before the rain picks up.” Ristica suggested but from the way she stretched her arms out and twirled in the light rain, it seemed that she didn’t want to go home just yet.
“I know a place we can go wait out the rain. Follow me.” Jamey said. He locked fingers with Ristica as they ran down the street.
They eventually stopped at an old warehouse near a construction site. The only lights on the warehouse were a few flickering streetlamps which only made the building more unwelcoming than it already was.
Jamey bumped the door with his shoulder and opened it for them to get in. Inside, there were tons of dumpsters, old lockers and crates. The floor had bits and pieces of what was once a carpet and it reeked of decay.
Ristica felt extremely uncomfortable but Jamey wasn’t even a little bit bothered by the state of the warehouse.
Jamey located a flight of stairs that looked somewhat safe to get upstairs. Ristica whispered a short prayer as they carefully went up the stairs, wincing at every crack of the steps.
When they reached the upstairs they found that it was also cluttered, with little space to walk. A few wobbly rails were the only thing keeping them from falling down onto the dumpsters and crates below. They walked sideways to avoid the clutter on the path and the dangerous edge.
Ristica accidentally stepped on a loose piece of ground. She leaned on the rail for support but it tilted downwards. A piece of the rail fell over the edge. In one swift move, Jamey grabbed her arm and pulled her to safety.
Afterwards, Ristica was tense the whole way until they finally made it to a long empty hallway with doors on each side. Ristica felt a great sense of relief.
Jamey led Ristica to an old office at the end of the hallway. There was a desk with some candles, a cupboard with books on top of it and a sofa with a blanket on it. In the center of the office were layers of carpets that roughly covered the unsightly floor. It looked as if someone had made an attempt to maintain only that room in the whole building.
“It looks like someone lives here.” Ristica commented at the somewhat pleasant room.
“Actually, I live here sometimes.” Jamey claimed.
“Why? To hide from your crazy fans?”
Jamey chuckled, “Something like that.”
He found a lighter and began to light the candles while Ristica, after lots of inspection and mental preparation, cautiously sat on the sofa.
After all the candles were lit, Jamey relaxed on the sofa with Ristica.
“Thanks for taking me out today. I really enjoyed it.” Ristica said as she pulled Jamey into a warm hug.
Outside, the rain had gotten heavier. A strong wind blew and shot through one of the cracks in the window, causing some of the candles to blow out.
“I’ll get it.” They both said, standing up at the same time. Ristica’s necklace latched onto Jamey’s shirt.
She immediately began trying to unlatch the necklace, fumbling with the shirt nervously.
Jamey placed his hands on hers, “I’ll help.”
They released the necklace from his shirt and Ristica shyly moved her hand off his chest but he kept his hand on hers. He looked into her eyes for a long time, just like he did the night at the beach party, and pulled her closer. A grin formed on his lips as he saw how nervous that made her.
He gently lifted her chin up and she closed her eyes lightly, feeling both nervous and excited. He smiled knowing that no one could interrupt the moment he had been patiently waiting for.
He pressed his lips onto hers, lightly at first as he slowly placed his hands on her hips, gauging how far she wanted things to go.
Suddenly, she pulled away from the kiss and pushed him away but he held the embrace.
“Is something wrong?” Jamey asked his voice almost inaudible.
Ristica whispered, “No… I just can’t believe this is real.”
Jamey chuckled as Ristica kissed him back. She had just said what he was thinking. He lifted her up in his arms and lowered her onto the sofa.
“He was right,” Ristica thought, “The world disappears by the sea.”
Outside, a storm was raging while another had begun inside.