Forgotten Spies – Chapter 1 (YA Spy Thriller)

The front door of the house Jay lived in with his grandfather burst open as he rushed out. His feet slapping loudly against the wooden planks of the front porch. The door slammed shut behind him as it bounced off the house, cracking the glass of the small window inset near the top of it.

He paid no mind to the blue sky completely devoid of clouds. Nor did he acknowledge the clean, crisp bite of the morning air that held hints of the new life that came with spring.

James Refton, known to his family and if he had friends as Jay ran down the pathway through their yard and to the sidewalk beyond. It was a warm, beautiful day, but he saw none of it. The eyes that should have been noticing the world around him were instead focused on the argument that he had just run out on with his grandfather.

Emotions that were becoming harder to control every day warred against his self-control. The near-daily disagreements were the leading cause behind that particular difficulty.

This marked the tenth argument they had had about Jay not going away to college that week alone. For the teen, it was a simple matter. He was unwilling to leave the old man and only family he had left alone. If only his grandfather would understand that.

Sure, Jay had already graduated from high school, but the window for him to go to college was by no means near closing. He had spent the last two-and-a-half years taking care of his grandfather and he wasn’t about to stop now. He was only twenty years old, there was plenty of time left for him to continue his education at a later time.

Who knew how much time his grandfather Jethro had left, his health had been declining the last few years. He had promised his parents that he would look after him, and it was a promise he intended to keep. He didn’t mind putting his life on hold. Family mattered, and that was all there was to it.

He understood why his grandfather considered it important and what he was trying to tell him; he did. At the same time, his mind was already made up and as long as it was just the two of them, it wasn’t going to change. He wished they could just let the entire matter drop. In his opinion, what his grandfather was asking him to do was leave him all alone, and abandon him when he needed someone there the most.

At one time, years ago, college had been an important part of his future. That was before the accident that had taken the lives of his parents. Like people would expect, such a loss had changed his way of thinking and what was important.

It had changed his grandfather, too. Before the accident, he had been a healthy sixty-five-year-old man with muscle and energy to spare. Now, his health had taken a steep dive during his junior year of high school, and it only continued to get worse.

His age had caught up to him with a vengeance, and the need to have someone watching him had increased at the same time. He was determined to be that person. They had no one else and couldn’t afford an in-home nurse. Even if the stubborn old man wouldn’t admit it, they had limited options.

Jay knew that all Jethro wanted was for him to have a life of his own. Under the surface of their arguments concerning college, were the hints that told the truth. Jethro did want him to go to college, but more importantly, he wanted his grandson to live his life.

Only he knew how much Jay had put his life on hold. Even before the accident that took his parents, he had been doing it. Now, he had been doing it for so long that it was easier and didn’t even seem important. When he was younger, he had rationalized that he would eventually get to something when the time was right.

The time was never right.

Originally, he had started the process because they were constantly on the move. His parent’s work took them all over the country. At times, he thought they almost seemed to be running from something. Jay was always the new kid. Eventually, he grew tired of trying to make new friends or even meet people when they moved.

It was easier that way.

Now, he had one more thing to focus on while putting his own matters on hold. His grandfathers’ health. It was clear that if it kept declining as it had been, then he wouldn’t have long to live. It was a truth that Jay refused to lie to himself about. Until that sad day he became truly alone in the world, he would wait. He was good at that.

The rough cobblestones of the path changed to smooth concrete as Jay reached the sidewalk in front of the house. He kept running, feet pounding against the ground as they carried him away. There was no destination in mind, only the desire to escape the conversation that awaited upon his return.

He was near the edge of a small neighborhood park when he saw the old man looking blankly up at the sky. It was a sight that tugged at his heartstrings and he found himself wandering over to him.

“Are you alright?” Jay asked, as the older man remained unmoving.

“That cloud just looked like something I thought I recognized.” Unfocused eyes turned to Jay, a glimmer of madness showing within the dilated orbs. Turning away, he began to mumble to himself. “He could be the one, right age, and there is something familiar about him.”

Jay backed away, upon registering what he was mumbling about. The words sending alarm bells ringing through his mind. “Right, well I’m glad that you are… uh,” He wasn’t sure of how to finish that sentence. There was clearly something wrong with the elderly man. The only thing he could say for sure to have established was that he was alive.

It was not exactly a high-bar he needed to clear on that one.

The mumbling stopped, and an arm flailed about as he tripped and fell to the ground in confusion. Jay rushed back to him, as he didn’t want the barely coherent man to hurt himself. He had lived with his grandfather for long enough to know just how fragile older people could be.

The barely coherent man groaned and blinked. His eyes focused on Jay’s face as the cloud of confusion in them lifted for a moment.

With a quick move that belied his obvious age, he grabbed Jay’s arm in a firm grip and pulled him closer. His eyes never left Jay’s face.

“It was you! I found you, I really, finally found you!” He mumbled under his breath, the words barely making it to Jay’s ears as they drifted away on the wind.

The young man held back the desire to escape and leave the mentally ill man on the ground. Instead, he helped him to his feet.

“I’m alright, no harm done.” He gave Jay a quick grin before continuing. “Follow me, I want to show you something.” The old man’s grip changed slightly as he struggled to straighten his back, pushing back against the stoop that had developed. His back cracked repeatedly as he straightened, struggling to come to his full and imposing height. He was tall, very tall, in fact.

Normally, Jay didn’t think of himself as short or tall. He was a fairly normal height of just over six foot one, which was how he liked it. He wasn’t so short that he got made fun of, nor so tall that he stood out. In his own thoughts, he was the perfect height. In that particular moment, however, he felt short.

The wrinkled old man dwarfed him by at least four inches.

The almost painfully tight grip on his arm changed again as the man turned and tried to pull Jay along with him. It was as though the confused grandpa figure he had seen minutes before was nothing more than a lie.

“Wait, hold on!” Jay protested, trying to resist the firm grip on his arm. “Who are you? Where are you dragging me to?” Despite the strong grip on his arm, it wouldn’t have taken much for him to break out of it. The problem was doing it in a manner that didn’t result in his would-be captors’ hand or arm being broken.

No response was forthcoming to his question, and it had become abundantly obvious that the man wasn’t in complete control of his mental faculties. Not that he was completely gone mentally. When he had spoken after seemingly recognizing Jay, the light had still been on in his eyes. Someone had been home for at least a few seconds when that happened.

It wouldn’t have felt right if he was to injure and then leave someone like that alone. Besides, Jay reasoned that he could take care of himself if anything happened. Not that he believed he was in any real danger.

Without saying anything, he gave in and allowed himself to be pulled along. The pace was a slow and somewhat off-balance, stumbling gait that was the best the man in front of him could achieve. He would follow the elderly man and let him show whatever it was that seemed so important in his addled mind. If it was real.

After that, he would try to leave, making sure that he got back to his home and grandfather, hopefully safely and in one non-ax murdered piece. If the two items were somehow one and the same, in that it was real, and he was safe, then even better.

Regardless of what would or could happen because he followed him, it at least gave him the opportunity to keep him safe. Plus, there was the side-benefit that this little adventure was helping to keep his mind off the argument he had earlier with his grandfather.

Jay found himself being pulled across the street and into the front yard of someone’s house. Skirting the side of the blue-painted two-story structure, they entered the backyard of it and then another house. From there, he followed along as they crossed one street after another and wandered through an ever-increasing number of yards.

He was rather impressed by the stamina the old man seemed to possess. They had been walking for well over ten minutes, and the person he had taken to be a weak, frail man of advanced age didn’t seem to even be out of breath.

It was only when they walked into an open garage that Jay began to question his decision. Before he could think it over or feel any misgivings, he was tugged inside the house. Finally, he was beginning to realize just how far gone the man was.

It was too late to do anything by that point, as the man stopped and looked at the landing above them. His grip on Jay’s arm tightening as the teen looked up.

A striking brunette who looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties stood above them, looking down in shock at the intruders to her home. Her eyes focused on Jay as she cocked an eyebrow and shot him a questioning look. The old man started walking again suddenly, the painful grip he had on Jay’s arm pulling the unwilling young man along as well.

Jay shouted a quick “Sorry!” over his shoulder as he was dragged through the house and into the backyard. A beautiful back patio spread out under his feet, dotted with wicker-made chairs. Green grass trimmed to near perfection could be seen in the cracks of the patio before joining fully with the rest of the grass.

The painful stranglehold grip on his arm eased and lessened before disappearing entirely. Swinging his now freed arm in relief, the muscles twinging gratefully as fresh blood flowed into them. Standing back, out of reach, he watched as the old man sat down in silence. The sun-heated wicker chair flexing underneath his weight.

Jay glanced back to the house and then to the man, deciding it was unlikely that he was going to get back up right away. He needed to go and apologize to the woman inside before she decided to call the cops on them. Going to jail for helping someone was not on the list of things he wanted to accomplish in life.

He had only just turned completely around when another younger beautiful brunette flew out the door in her rush.

“Grandpa!” She screamed, bounding past Jay with great, long strides that would have been impossible for anyone not in shape. He could only stand there stunned as she passed him without a second glance.

“Lexie?” He breathed out in a disbelieving mumble, spinning around to watch her. He shook his head at the ridiculous thought. Still, the more he looked at her, the more the image from his past intertwined with the young woman in front of him.

He hadn’t seen her in years, but he was increasingly sure that it was her. She had been his best and most mysterious friend growing up. Somehow, she always showed up whenever his family moved. Each time she did, they would just pick up where they had left off like no time had passed at all, in the way only kids can.

The last time he had seen her was seven years ago, when he was thirteen and she was twelve. She had been his last and only true friend. Not a day had passed in those seven years where he hadn’t wondered what had happened to her. If she was alright, how she was doing?

She had always been a cute girl growing up, but seeing her as an adult for the first time was something else entirely. She had a slightly rounded face, with shoulder-length hair in the front while it tapered out shorter in the back. Her eyes had always intrigued him. They were the purest hazel-colored eyes he had ever seen.

No matter what she wore, they would change to match her clothes without leaving a hint that they had ever been any other color. Right now, they looked violet, mirroring the color of her shirt. All told, she couldn’t have been more than 5’2 in her flat, purple Converse shoes.

She rushed to the old man and grabbed him around the neck in an angry and desperate hug. It was something she could only accomplish because he was still sitting down.

“Where have you been? We’ve been trying to find you all morning! We were just about to start making calls to the police and hospitals.” She questioned him angrily.

She didn’t wait for a response before turning to face Jay.

“And you,” She paused, a confused frown flickering across her face as she finally realized who he was. “Jay?”

Jay read her lips more than he heard her say his name she was so quiet.

“Hi Lexie, it’s been a long time. How have you been?” He said as nonchalantly as possible, all the while freaking out inside. ‘How have you been?’ Really? Jay berated himself, mad that he hadn’t come up with something better. Anything would have been better, he thought. He couldn’t have told her she looked beautiful, or just simply given her a hug and remained silent.

Her eyes widened and began to water as she heard him confirm her suspicion. It was the first time she had spoken, much less seen her friend in years. “What? Why? How?”

She shook her head before he could respond and started over.

“Thank you for bringing him home. I hope he wasn’t much trouble. Where did you find him?” She simultaneously thanked and implored him, ignoring for now what she really wanted to know. Namely, how had he been, how were his parents, and more than anything else, how was he here with her now?

Jay knew that she wanted to ask him more than that. The aborted questions and look on her face told him as much. It wasn’t the right moment for their reunion. That would have to wait a little longer. He was a little slow on his own response, as he was too busy taking her appearance in.

She was gorgeous, and her skin had a healthy glow to it. More than anything though, after not seeing her for so long, she seemed nothing short of perfect.

Before Jay regained the use of his tongue that he was struggling to keep in his mouth and respond, her grandfather interjected on his own.

“Quiet for a minute, Lexie dear. I have something that I need you both to hear and then something that I need to show you as well.” He paused, looking incredibly excited about whatever it was that he had to say.

Lexie turned her attention from Jay and focused on her grandfather once more.

“Lexie.” He paused once more to grasp her upper arms in both hands to make sure that he had her full attention before continuing. “Lexie, this is your brother!” He finally blurted out explosively, his head turning to Jay as he did so.

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