Ryne Evers has the most normal - not to mention boring - life anyone could ever have. She goes through the pains of high school, has a boyfriend, fights off bitches, the whole nine yards. Then enter Sky La Brea - a drop-dead gorgeous guy with the sexiest British accent and everyone just seems to bow down to him. He seems good enough, but there's just one little problem of him being a kidnapper. Such shame, isn't it?
It turns out that Sky had a new car -
Mercedes Guardian. Couldn’t he have stolen a more conspicuous vehicle? I turned
to him as the four of us made our way to it – four, including Dash – opening my
mouth to voice up my opinion but he somehow knew what I was thinking.
“I didn’t steal it. It was a backup.”
“Exactly how many cars do you have?”
He grinned slyly. “A fair few.” Imah
then joined our conversation as we went into the interior of the car. “We have
seven! There’s the old Ferrari, this one, a Porsche, and then there’s my
favourite – ”
“We only use them for special cases.”
Xavia said. “The Ferrari was my favourite. But apparently, it has been
abandoned by someone – ”
“I didn’t abandon it. Why are you all hounding on my back?” Only Imah
responded brightly, “I wasn’t!”
“Do you want a round of applause,
Imah?” Xavia started. “No, it’s okay. I’m covered.” She grinned in return. I
was going to seat beside the two of them – Xavia and Imah – when Imah suddenly
piped up, saying, “Oh! No more space left, Ryne!” They are so toast. She
continued. “I’m sorry.” but she didn’t look sorry at all. I blast out,
“What are you talking about? There’s –
Xavia whistled and Dash bounded in the
backseat between them. Leaving no space for me.
I huffed then said, “Fine.” I turned
to Sky, who was supressing a smile, pursing his lips as he climbed in to the
driver’s seat. I went into the other side, the shotgun seat. He said as he
started the engine, “Now let’s just hope that nothing goes wrong.”
30 minutes later
“The Pheonix firing range?”
Sky smiled at me. “Awesome name,
Xavia spoke, “It’s not that grand, but
with you two around, we’ll have to need anything but grand.”
“What the hell do this people want
Sky pursed his lips as he parked the
car discreetly on the quiet street. “A good lot of things. Starting with you
dead.” Oh. Okay, that was refreshing. So crazy people who wants me dead and a
Mr. Mafia waiting for me… somewhere. Imah sensed my discomfort and said, “They
won’t touch you Ryne. With Sky and Xav around – ”
“What about you?”
She grimaced. “I’m not a fan of guns
and I’m certainly not a fighter like Xav – ”
“Yes.” Sky joined in. “I wonder why
she’s here.” Her lips puckered at that and she scowled. “I know to handle those things. I just don’t want to actually do it.”
Sky shrugged. “Same thing.”
“No, it’s – ”
“Shut up, you two.” Xavia said.
“You’re so childish.” Imah rolled her eyes as she opened the door on her side.
“He did it first.” Then we all followed her, started to move out with Dash in
tow. I had to admit, hearing their banters felt nice. It’s normal and it sounds
like we’re just a group of friends. Going out. To shoot guns. I felt
uncomfortable.; I never do this sort of thing in my life and never have I
thought that I would need to. Sky was in front of me, leading the way, Imah by
my side holding Dash and Xavia at the back.
Great, Ryne. You can’t run.
Sky pushed the glass doors open and
entered the front room. It looks ordinary and unremarkable. Nothing special.
But I know there would be people shooting at targets later. How encouraging.
The guy at the desk looked up and raised an eyebrow. Just raised an eyebrow.
People here are so tough and mysterious, ugh. Sky said,
“La Brea reserved three spaces here an
“Are you La Brea?”
He just nodded his head. When the guy
turned around to get a signing form though, I heard him mutter, “Obviously.” I
giggled. Sky grinned at my direction. “Sometimes rudeness is a virtue.” I laughed
aloud, then the guy turned to us again, a slight frown on his face. I pursed my
lips to keep from smiling as he said,
“Everyone just signs here.” he said as
he passed us a form on a clipboard. As I stepped forward to sign, I felt Sky’s
hand on my waist. Not really touching, more like hovering.
I pretended not to notice.
Once we all signed, we went to the
direction of the only other door inside the room but then the mysterious dude
“Dogs aren’t allowed, ma’am.”
I licked my lips, whistling to Dash.
“C’mon, boy.” My three companions waited for me as I tied Dash’s leash to the
metal bar in front of the desk. Such friends.
Then we went inside through the door.
We found ourselves inside a kind of compartment. A glass compartment. There
were several white cabinets stacked up high to the right of the door where we
came through and on the other wall were grey cabinets of similar size and
stacked the same as well. But the attention was on the space visible beyond the
glass, where dozens of people are wearing protective gears – goggles and
earmuffs. Others were using earplugs which are more difficult to spot. And
they’re shooting as if they’re just chilling out on a Monday.
I turned to my colleagues – I don’t
know what to call them, okay? – and I saw that they were already opening the
“Are – are we going to – ”
“Relax, Ryne.” they all said in
“I’m not panicking – ”
Imah laughed. “Yes, you are.”
“That’s why I’m bringing this.” Sky
said, waving a first-aid kit. Of course. Xavia stepped forward then, hands
filled with a safety goggle and a pair of earmuffs. And a handgun. “You’re
going to defend yourself sometime, Ryne. Better start now, what do you think?”
“Yeah, you’re right.” I said meekly as
I got the items from her. “As long as I don’t end up like the guy outside.”
They all chuckled. Imah smiled widely and said, “His name is PJ Hastings. He
and his sister owns the place.” I looked at her, brow creased. She’s such a
computer. “How do you know that?”
“I checked it! I told you my job was
to keep you safe, didn’t I? The sister’s name is – ”
“Phia Villamore?” Xavia asked.
Sky raised an eyebrow, closing the drawer of one of the many grey cabinets. Xavia just shrugged. “They’re both
here.” she pointed to a framed certificate on the wall. Shooting fest award for
just a few years back.
I feel absolutely out of place.
I finally gave up my façade and faced
them with a defeated look on my face. “Look, do you really expect me to just –
” Xavia patted my shoulder. “Really, Ryne. It’s fine. Now, here’s your number.”
She gave me a laminated number 17. Sky faced us.
I sighed and put on my earmuffs and
transferred the goggles and handgun to one hand. No one ever listens to me. We
passed through another door.
This is insanity.
I never ever thought handling a gun
would be a major necessity later in life. Never. We moved on to find our space
number. People weren’t paying attention to us, much to my comfort. When we
reached the 13th, Imah grabbed Sky’s arm and showed her identically
laminated card. Turns out that we’re in a row. Imah, Xavia, Sky and then
How the hell are they supposed to teach me?
I faced Sky, a skeptical look on my
face. He winked at me reassuringly and turned to his target. There were glasses
– like, extremely thick ones in front of us and only a square hole to put the
bullet through. Beyond the glass was a circular target, not unlike what is used
for darts. I hesitantly took off my glasses and put on my goggles then looked
at the gun at my hand unsurely.
Why the hell am I here again?
Sky turned to me, biting his lip and
finally putting his own gun down. Xavia was already starting, shooting several
bullets perfectly through the square hole and into the target. Imah was having
a little trouble, as predicted. As she pulled the trigger, she’ll jump a little
from the movement.
Sky moved towards me, sanding a little
behind my back. He slowly removed one earmuff from my ear and I heard the
continuous gunshots, but he spoke in my ear, instructing me.
“Stand in proper firing stance.” then
he nudged my foot. “Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.” I followed what
he said then he continued. “Stand with a slight lean forward. That’s right.”
This feels really different. But this is necessary, I reminded myself. Sky
placed his chin on my shoulder, still speaking in my ear, “Make sure you’re
“I think I am.”
He gripped my right shoulder. “Make sure that you are – ”
“Okay, okay. I am.”
He grinned. “Good. Now point your
gun.” Now, this part. I sighed a
little and raised the handgun on chest level. Sky approved, saying, “Yes,
that’s what you do when you’re facing your enemy point blank. But if you don’t
know where they are yet, your right arm should be really straight,” he bent my
arm to make it straighter than it already was. Then I said, “What now?” he bent
my other arm in, making it look like a letter V. “You keep that stance, okay?
And when you’re not about to fire yet, make sure that your fingers are outside
the trigger guard. Outside, okay?”
“And also, the barrel should be
pointed downrange. Just like that.”
“So, err, do I shoot now?”
“Your position is wrong. You do the
one when the target is point blank.” I fixed my position, returning to the
first one. He lifted his chin from my shoulder and held it instead with his
hand. “Yes. Now – ”
“I shoot?” I said, turning to him. I’d
like to admit, learning this is so fun. I mean, this stuff isn’t on the school
curriculum! He still put his mouth near my exposed ear to better make me hear
him as he said, “Aim good, okay?”
“Err, what happens if I don’t?”
He chuckled. “Just squeeze the
trigger, Ryne.” he paused and then said, “I’m going to place your earmuff now,
the sound is kind of, uhmm, annoying.” then he did as he said and I found
myself facing the target through the thick sheet of glass. I bit my lip and
then squeezed the damned trigger fast.
I felt the gun jerk back from the
force and the bullet hit the glass. I heard it ricochette off. I jumped
violently, forgetting everything Sky said earlier. Now I know how Imah feels.
I instantly turned to Sky, who was
already taking a step towards me, a guilty look on his face. He took off one
earmuff like he did earlier and spoke to my ear. “I sort of forgot to tell you
that – ”
of?” I glared at him.
“I’m sorry! See, you have to squeeze
it slowly. When you jerk the trigger, it will throw off your aim and – ”
“You tell me this now? Oh, that’s
really – ”
“I said sorry already! You know, we
should just get going.” I faced the target for the second time, already in position.
Sky put his arms around mine, holding the handgun as well. He was behind me,
his front torso touching my back and even his forefinger was hovering over
mine. He said to my ear, “You aim for the centre mass.” he guided my shaking
hands with his warm ones and said, “Stop shaking.” then he chuckled, “Now, just
let me control it first and you can do it on your own later. You do this
slowly…” he slowly squeezed the trigger like he said and boom.
I looked at the hole in the target
where the bullet zoomed through a second ago, my lips pursed. Sky withdrew his
arms and stood to the side. I gritted my teeth and steadied my feet. I’m
awesome. I can do this.
I squeezed the trigger slowly and boom. I brought down my safety goggles,
looking at what I did. I passed through the hole and hit – well, not the target
– but at least I got in the target board. I turned to Sky, eyebrows raised.
He gave me the thumbs-up and a
dazzling smile then gestured me to continue. He picked his own gun and started
firing at his own target. Glasses in his pocket, safety gears on. I put on my
goggles again and faced the dart-like thing, a smile on my face. I started
shooting, only one at a time, not getting ahead of myself. My results were
sometimes good, at times incredibly lousy, but I’m actually getting the hang of
it. I reloaded my gun for the third time as I had learned from the D.I.Y. when
I put down my earmuffs and I heard someone say on my opposite side,
“You’re a fast learner.” I turned to
the person, and my first impression was black.
The guy was in and all-black attire but he honestly looked good on it. His hair
and eye colour were also black and he has spiky hair. The contrast with his
skin colour made his aura comfortable. I smiled shyly and said, “Thank you”
You’re not the one who hasn’t
communicated with selected people for seven freaking days, okay?” He smiled in
return and offered his hand.
I smiled genuinely this time and shook
his hand. “My name’s…Ryne.”
“You say that as if you’re not sure.”
he chuckled. Damn you, Ryne. You couldn’t
be more obvious. I just chuckled along with him. “I’m awkward when I first
meet people. It’s completely…normal.” He started responding to what I said when
I noticed Sky moving out of the awesome vision I had. I turned to him and saw
that his face was scowling as he looked at me, then at Chris. Then he looked
away, returning to his shooting. I stared at him. That was –
“Is that your boyfriend?”
I distinctly heard Chris ask the
question and I turned to him immediately.
“Ye – no. No.”
He chuckled again. “Okay, Ryne. So,
what do you say to a game?”
“Game?” I repeated nervously. Friendly
strangers are okay, but I’m a newbie! He smiled, assuring. “I’m new at this,
too. Just the first one to get a bull’s eye. So you up to it?”
I chuckled. “Why not?”
“It’s been fifteen goddamned
My new friend laughed. “Last round.
Then we can give up.” I stretched my arms as the both of us got ready again. I
fired a shot. Fail. Another one – not bad. Then I got serious. Hands down, Sky
and Xavia were the best shooters I’ve ever seen – not that I know many – but
I’ll try my best. I positioned my feet and arms.
aim for the centre mass.
The voice in my head sounded like Sky
and I took aim confidently. I fired.
I took off my gear and faced Chris, a
huge grin plastered on my face. “I did it!” He looked at me, then at my target
board. “I knew I shouldn’t have boosted your ego.” I laughed. I feel so
accomplished. At least I know I have something.
“So,” I said. “Do you get to be my slave or something?”
He smiled. “How about I get your
number?” The next thing I heard was the bullet from Sky’s gun ricochette off
the glass and him swearing. He clicked his gun violently and resumed his
shooting, as if the target board had done him a personal wrong. Chris turned to
“You sure he’s not your boyfriend?”
I shot him a withered look. “I would
know f he is, or if he isn’t okay?” Someone tapped my shoulder then. I turned
around and saw Imah and Xavia. “Time to go.” Imah said, sounding relieved.
“Sky’s becoming a bit of a loose cannon.” she added in a hushed tone. I nodded
and turned back to Chris. “It was nice meeting you.”
He grinned. “Same to you. Hope we meet
again.” We won’t. Imah lead the way
out his time and she almost jogged back to the glass room, seeming eager to get
away. We laid down our protective gears and I noticed as we made our way to the
front room that Xavia kept on glancing at Sky, who was at the back of the
group. I licked my lips and matched up my steps with Imah’s as we were greeted
by the different air on the front room.
The mysterious dude was reading the
newspaper and just lifted his eyes for three seconds, looking at us. He put
four small checks in his clipboard and then went back to his paper. I untied
Dash as he barked at us in recognition and as a group, we came back to the car.
“Well, that was good. Ryne, you
learned quickly! That was really good – it’s like your natural flair. I don’t –
“You’re exaggerating.” I interrupted
as I grimaced. “I’m not!” she argued and Xavia shot her a warning look as they
both got into the backseat with Dash. That was odd. But aargh. My shoulders and
arms are sore and I need relaxation. I climbed into the shotgun seat. As Sky
quietly started the engine, Xavia said, “We can’t stay there for far too long
though. I’ll find another place for you to practice, maybe tomorrow.”
Imah responded. “Can it wait for the
next day? I’m all sore and I’m sure Ryne is, too – ”
“Are you, Ryne?” Xavia asked.
“A little bit, yes.” I didn’t mention
the word a lot.
She just nodded. “That happens. Let’s
just see tomorrow.” She glanced at the back of Sky’s head but reverted her
gaze. I chewed my lip as I watched Sky sideways by my eyes. He wasn’t scowling
anymore, but there was still a stubborn crease between his brows. I slowly
turned to the people on my back, and shot them a look that plainly said, What the fuck is going on? Help me.
Imah looks about to burst
from…something and Xavia was pursing her lips to keep from laughing; it was
getting uncontrollable that she had to bury herself to Dash’s fur. They’re so
Imah’s eyes suddenly widened and she
then sat up straighter. “We still have to drop by Mark and Colleen’s by the
way.” I scrutinized her. “We? And who
are these Mark and Colleen people?”
Xavia seemed to be tickled pink by the news but she made an effort to
answer my queries. “Mark and Colleen are cousins and you should, err… it’s best
if you don’t know much about them.” she added hastily. My eyebrows drew together.
“But aren’t we meeting them?” And I had a sneaking suspicion that Xavia and
this Mark have a something going on. I mean, she looks excited already.
Imah said, “Me and Xavia are meeting
them first.” I stared at them, then at the person driving the car. Oh, no.
“You mean, I get to meet them as soon
as you – ” Imah interrupted. “You’ll meet them soon, Ryne. But right now –”
“I’ll go home? I mean, go back?” I shook my head. “To the hotel?”
Xavia nodded approvingly. “Pretty much.” My shoulder slumped and I faced the
dashboard of the car again. Then Sky asked, voice devoid of emotion, “Where do
you drop off, Xav?”
“You can drop us now, actually.”
“But it’s drizzling.”
Imah shrugged her shoulders and
reasoned, “We better get out now before it gets worse, I think.” So without
further ado at the next second, Sky parked the car on the pavement, splashing a
bit of water in the process. As Imah and Xavia started to go out, Dash started
barking and I had to restrain him from jumping off with them. Why the hell is he
leaving me alone?
“Bye, Ryne.” Xavia said. “You too,
“Have fun!” You already know who said
that. The rain pounded down hard then, as they closed the door of the car and
we drove away. They’re going to get soaked. My brow creased as I released Dash and
stared at the place where they were just moments ago.
“Don’t you think we should – ” I
looked at my seatmate then and realized who the handsomely scowling face was
and fell into an extremely awkward silence. I chewed my tongue and pursed my
lips. A minute later, the weather outside changed and immediately, it was
raining cats and dogs. And the thing is, I really liked the rain a lot,
especially the violent ones – the sounds are so comforting and my view from the
window is sort of therapeutically relaxing, with the continuous falling of
precipitation from the clouds. It reminds me of one time, when I was ten years
old and I’ve been sick as a dog because I stayed out on the rain for far too
I relaxed my head on the headrest and
sighed deeply. Today had been a productive one, in a sense. I got the hang of
shooting but I’m not exactly mastering it like the people do on television.
They make it look so easy! But at least I’ve started, right? I stared at the
green trees passing us by. I have absolutely no idea which city we are right now – I don’t recognize any of the
landscapes from anywhere but I have a feeling that we are somewhere on the
Then I noticed the road where the
car’s tires are flashing through, slowly gaining speed. The clouds were dark,
and the glass made it hard to see because of the water pouring from above.
And it’s not exactly safe.
Maybe I have paranoia, Maybe I don’t.
But the tires could easily slip on the watery road and…I shivered.
Sky’s scowl of annoyance – I think it’s annoyance – changed to one of
“Are you cold?” he asked, audible
through the patting of the rain through the vehicle’s exterior. “No, it’s just
that you’re running a little too fast. Could you please slow it down?” He
nodded and did as I said. I just felt like avoiding something that might be an
entire catastrophe later. I fidgeted nervously. Nothing’s going to happen, I reminded myself. I’m only cautious.
Sky flickered his gaze towards me.
“We could stop over until the rain
calms down if you want.” His statement was followed by a violent flash of
lightning and a horrible thunder. I almost gulped. I like rains, but not this rain. I told Sky, “I might fall
asleep.” I do that all the time. I mean, the constant pounding sound of the
rain and everything. It’s perfect for dozing off.
Sky smiled. “You always do.”
I gave a smile of my own. He has a
point. “That’s encouraging.” I said as I drew my knees up to my chest and put
my forehead on my knees. Then Sky parked the car and turned the engine off,
putting the keys safely in his pocket. He rested his own head on the back of
his seat. I closed my eyes, not bothering with my glasses – it’s just a small
nap anyway. My sore arms and back gave in and I drifted to sleep.
The insider put off their binoculars. They
have absolutely no idea. The person smiled. Ice had been right.