Aqua raced out of the block of apartments, her silver gun slipped beneath her shirt. Her bullets were hidden beneath the hollow of her belt, and if she had to – which she hoped she wouldn’t – she would kill them. Easily.
She rushed next door, and knocked three times on the window pane. The door flew open and a woman with bouncy brown curls rushed out to find her daughter standing in state. “Are you OK? Was it a man with sunglasses on?” Sandy – the real Sandy Lite – wrapped her arms around her child who was shaking with fear.
“Mami,” Aqua cried. “They’re coming. Like you said. They’re coming for me.”
Sandy rushed her inside. “Have a shower quickly. I’ll pack for you.”
“And the car?”
Staring at her daughter, Sandy felt like screaming. “It’s round the back. Richard will pull it out onto the curb for you.” Aqua nodded and raced upstairs, trying hard not to waste any time.
Sandy pulled out a mini black pull-along suitcase with a single passport balanced on the top. For months, Sandy had packed and repacked the suitcase, waiting for the time her daughter would need her. She opened it anyway, checking everything was there. Clothes, shoes, a purse with over £30,000 stuffed inside, all the things someone would need on a normal journey: not a run-away journey.
It had been considered a lot whether or not she should pack a gun. But she’d only get caught by the officers when her bag went through (customs?). But Aqua had come up with the plan to use one of the fake-foam stomachs they use in Hollywood movie to make the audience believe the actress was pregnant. Aqua would hide the gun beneath the foam, so that when an officer searched in her pockets or in her shoes, no items would be found. Who would think that any pregnant woman would try to do such a thing?
Sipping the bag up, Sandy placed the foam strap on top of the bag along with the passport. Richard stepped into the room. “What’s going on?” He asked. Richard wasn’t Aqua’s father, he knew that. But he was a Step-dad, which meant he didn’t know Aqua before she changed. He never knew different.
Sandy printed a brave smile across her face. “Aqua’s going on holiday to see some of her friends. Can you pull her car out from around the back?”
“The old Chevy truck? I though you wanted her to get out of that death trap?”
Laughing, Sandy brushed it off. She had said that, but only because it was her duty to protect her child. But it was also her responsibility to listen to what her child wanted too. “Yup. But she’s agreed, when she gets back she’ll take it to the dump and will let us buy a new one.”
A smile sparked Richard’s face as he turned around. “I think we saw it coming.”
When he shut the door, Aqua stepped in, her head bowed and hair dripping. She was wearing a pink baby-doll top with boyfriend jeans and white pumps. “He doesn’t like me, does he?” She said, reaching for the blow dryer.
I sighed. “He likes you, he just doesn’t like how you disappear at particular times.”
“Because I’m a vampire, right?” Aqua snapped. Sandy nodded reluctantly. Sighing, Aqua strapped the foam piece across her stomach, took her gun out of her back pocket and pushed it in between the foam and her vest. It was tight, but Aqua didn’t care, all it meant was that the gun wouldn’t slip. She felt the fake bump, it was hard, but it didn’t show any sign of the gun. Aqua unstrapped the bump, and shoved it into her bag.
“I’ll put it on in the car.” Aqua explained. “We can’t have Richard finding out.” Richard didn’t know about magic. And it was better that way. He didn’t posses the power, and Sandy had checked the future: there was no way any of that would change.
Aqua blow-dried her hair. When she had finished, she turned to her Mother
“Mami,” Aqua cried. “I’m so sorry.”
Sandy buried her daughter beneath her arms as she cried. “Go to Dublin. Find Skulduggery Pleasant and his friends. They’ll protect you.”
“Aqua! Sandy! Car’s ready.” Richard called, and Aqua snapped into character, brushed the tears off her face and snatched her suitcase from the edge of the bed and gripped her passport tightly.
“Bye.” Aqua said, bolting for the stairs. When Sandy came downstairs, Aqua was already strapped into the car. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.” She called.
“Take your time.” Richard replied.
And with a smile painted on her lips, Aqua drove off into the night. She pretended there wasn’t a dying man in the apartment she passed. She pretended she didn’t know him. And when she looked back, she pretended that her mother wasn’t crying for a monster.
But she did not pretend that she had stolen the silver chain with her Mother and Father’s- her real Father’s – wedding rings linked to it. Because that was all she had to prove that there was someone before she became Aqua.