As the sun began to set, the light in the boxcar grew dim, not that its occupants cared. Lucky pretended to read the classified section of the newspaper as he sneaked glances at Lizzie. She was bothered by something and he wished she would tell him.
Lizzie released the breath she had been holding and pulled her legs to her chest. She didn’t want to go home. She wished she could stay there with Lucky and not think about the real world. Ever.
“Okay,” Lucky said, putting the paper down, ”what gives?”
“Nothing,” she mumbled.
“C’mon, Elizabeth. You know me better than that.”
Lizzie sighed and took a good look at her best friend. Something was wrong, but she didn’t want to unload on him. Living in a boxcar gave him enough problems of his own and besides, all she ever did was unload on him.
Lucky pulled on her shoelaces. Lizzie smiled and raised her foot, playfully kicking at his hands. Leave it to Lucky to make her laugh, she thought.
“Okay, I give,” she laughed, as Lucky attacked her other foot.
“It’s about Gram,” she said. She felt weird telling Lucky this, but since he asked.
“What about her? Does it have anything to do with Tommy coming back?” he asked.
“Yeah, kinda. This may sound dumb, but I was looking forward to it being just the two of us. Me and Gram. No Sarah.”
“That doesn’t sound dumb,” Lucky replied quietly.
“Maybe I’m being selfish, but I wish Tommy would go back where he came from,” she said, her eyes staring sightlessly into the distance.
Tommy and Audrey had spent the entire day together. After their lunch with Lizzie, they went shopping. Audrey didn't like seeing her grandson in such ill-fitting clothes. Also, she knew that whether he showed it or not, he would appreciate the gesture. She hoped that he would realize the love she felt for him.
Tommy did appreciate the new clothes. He thought about the fresh, new jeans and shirts that were in the bag. He couldn't remember the last time he had new jeans. Jeans which had never been worn by anyone else before. He looked down at the new Nike shoes he was wearing. Shoes that fit perfectly and weren't defected in any way were something he thought he would never have. He looked at Audrey as she pulled the car into the garage. He wanted to not trust her, but the more he was around her, the harder, not trusting her became.
"Maybe when Lizzie gets home, we could all order a pizza," Audrey suggested as she unlocked the back door. She flicked on the light and they entered the kitchen.
"I won't be here for dinner, Grandmother," Tommy replied quietly, holding the bag of clothes very carefully in his arms.
"But, Tommy…" she began.
"I have something to do, but I'll be back," he said. He quickly went to Sarah's old bedroom, put away his clothes and left the house.
"When you kiss me like that…"
"Yes?" Nikolas questioned with a smile, gazing deeply into Dawn's dark chocolate-colored eyes. He still held her within the circle of his arms and if wishes came true, he would never let her go.
Dawn looked into his eyes and grinned. Her first inclination was to tease him, but she decided against it. Teasing came in handy sometimes, but there were times when it wasn't necessary.
"When you kiss me like that," she continued, "I want more."
She said the words quietly, her eyes never wavering from his. She wanted him to know that she meant what she was saying. She didn't want this to be a hit and run type relationship. She wanted more and she wanted to know if he felt the same. She willed that he would understand.
Nikolas did understand. He pulled her even closer to him, if that were possible, and whispered, "So do I."
He lowered his head to brush his lips against hers, but they never made contact. Suddenly, Dawn was wrenched from his arms and he felt someone behind him. Acting on instinct, Nikolas turned and kicked the mid-section of his assailant. His Tai Chi knowledge took over, as he struck the person's neck. Nikolas was making quick progress on his attacker until he heard Dawn scream in pain.
He turned in the direction of her cries and was grounded by what he saw. Some man was holding her tightly. Her right arm was twisted behind her back and if more pressure was applied, it would be broken. She tried to struggle, but his hold on her was too tight. She wanted to hold it back, but a single tear trickled down her cheek.
"Let her go!" Nikolas screamed. He heard the other man behind him, cough as he slowly rose to his feet. Nikolas was aware of the man's every movement, but his eyes never left Dawn.
"Back off!" the man said, and to emphasize his words, he increased the pressure on Dawn's arms. She bit her lip to prevent herself from crying out, but nothing could prevent the tears from falling.
"Look, take my watch," Nikolas said as he took off his watch and gave it to the man. He reached for his wallet and held it out. "You can have this too, but please let her go."
The man behind Nikolas grabbed the wallet and pocketed the bills and the credit cards that were there. When he was done, he threw the wallet on the ground. His mid-section was killing him and he would like nothing more than to kill the kid. Hell, maybe even both of them.
"Okay, you have the money. Let her go," Nikolas said. He was terrified. If anything happened to her… He wouldn't allow himself to complete the thought. They would let her go. They only wanted money, right?
"Thanks for the cash, boy," the man said before he hit Nikolas in the base of the neck with the butt of his gun. "And the girl."
"Nickie!" Dawn screamed, as Nikolas fell to the ground and the two men dragged her out of the park.