Runaway
Author: Lacey Raine

Chapter 21
Luke

 I groaned and rubbed my head. This was why I didn't drink often. I blinked up at the ceiling, only then realising that I'd fallen asleep on the sofa in the living room. I stood up, the room spinning and swinging as I did so and made my way over to Jonah's room. Maybe he'd come back through night? Ha. No such luck. His bed was empty and hadn't been slept in. Even so, I checked every room in the flat. It was pointless. He was gone.

I went and sat back in the living room, curling up at one end of the sofa. There were three bits of paper on the coffee table. I picked one of them up. Jonah, spliff balanced between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, making a peace sign with the other. He was smiling carelessly into the camera. I'd never seen him stoned before. His eyes were glazed over and had a distant look in them. He seemed happy- but I knew he probably wasn't. I dropped the photo and went through into the bathroom, thinking a good warm shower would wake me up. It helped a bit. I could think straight when I went back through.

Jonah had only lived with me for a month. Before that I'd lived alone for over a year. And yet, the flat seemed empty without him. I missed his lively chatter, his daft dances, his singing in the shower. I sighed and leaned back agaisnt the wall. A month ago, all Jo-Jo had been to me was a teenage runaway I'd picked up in the park who I didn't like much. Now he was a sweet, funny kid with a bad past who just wanted someone to love him. And I did. I sighed and grabbed my jacket and a pair of shoes. No way would I be able to stay here alone much longer.

I walked to Mum's. It gave me more time to think. She looked surprised to see me. "Hello, love," She said, drying the dishes she'd been washing. "Hey, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Mum, I just wanted to come and see you," I shrugged. "Is Jaya in?"

"Er... yeah, I think she's in her bedroom, just go up," She said. I kissed her cheek then jogged upstairs before knocking on Jaya's door.

She opened it, smiling. Her hair was newly dyed bright pink. I raised my eyebrows. She winked. "Like?"

"Yeah," I chuckled slightly. Then I sighed. "Listen, I know I asked you this last night, but you didn't see Jonah on your travels did you?"

"No," She frowned. "Why? Have you still not found him?"

"No," I sniffed. "He went out for a walk at about seven last night. He hadn't come back by eleven so I went out looking for him and I didn't find him. He wasn't there this morning and his bed hasn't been slept in."

"Oh. You don't think he really has done a runner do you?"

"I don't know. I mean..." I swallowed. "I'm scared that he's been mugged or raped or something."

"I'm sure that hasn't happened," Jaya sat me on her bed and hugged me.

"I know it's not likely, but..." I shuddered. "He was raped a few nights ago. By some dude who slashed his arm with a screwdriver. What if something like that's happeened again? What if they didn't just slash his arm? What if they stabbed him or something and just dumped him in a ditch or an alleyway somewhere? What if-"

"Luke, stop," Jaya sighed. "Pack it in with the what-iffing. Just stop and think for a minute. As far as you know, has Jonah pissed anyone off recently?"

"No," I sniffed.

"Right. And as far as you know, is there anyone in his life who would hurt him intentionally?"

"N-" I started to say no. Then I stopped. I remembered when I first found him. I remember the way he'd reacted when I thought Blain was his boyfriend. I remembered the scars that were still on his back when we slept together. "I have to go. Thanks, babe, you're the best!" I kissed her forehead then ran out of the house.

I picked up the photo of Blain and Jonah. They both looked happy enough- but I knew otherwise. I tried to think. Why would he go back to Blain? Then it struck me; maybe he didn't do it through choice. I racked my brains, trying to think of where he was from. I don't think he ever told me. I thought about his accent. He was a northerner, definitely. Not Newcastle. Not Liverpool. I thought about his voice, really thought. Then it hit me; Manchester. But Manchester was a big city. It'd take me days to find him. I needed some way to find him more easily. His accent didn't hint at a part of Manchester. I sighed. This was virtually impossible.

After sleeping on it, I decided to at least go up to Manchester and spend a couple of days there, thinking it through. I got booked into a cheapish hotel that wasn't to seedy then went up to my room. I lay on the bed and sighed dejectedly. Why was I here? I wasn't going to find him. He'd told me nothing about where he lived. Except for the name of the pub...

I sat up straight. I could find the pub. The Horse and Rider. I could ask someone at reception. They'd know, surely? I stood up on my wobbly legs and walked down to reception. "Excuse me?" I said to the young girl behind the counter.

"Yes?" She smiled pleasantly at me.

"Er... I'm supposed to be meeting a friend of mine in a pub," I lied. "The Horse and Rider?"

"Certainly, sir. It's just up the road from here, actually."

 

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