Facing Jail time Six
o’clock met James in a nearby shopping mall a few blocks from the Paz motel, and as he was staring at the cabbages and vegetables that lined the shelves around him, he couldn’t help listening to the two ladies gossiping beside him.
“Did you see this morning’s news?” A brunette woman asked excitedly. “Of course, I saw it. I thought news about their divorce was going to be the craziest thing we would get, but it just keeps getting worse! He and her cousin… like that’s just so messed up!” A blonde lady exclaimed, throwing her free hand in the air.
Wondering what the heck they were talking about, he shook his head and put the cabbage into his basket before moving to the next shelf and grabbing a bunch of tomatoes. As he was placing them into his basket, he noticed how some shoppers were whispering, instead of talking normally and it just made him even more puzzled. But he carried on with his task in silence, trying his best to ignore them since he wanted to buy all the stuff quickly to make breakfast before Elijah or anyone else woke up. Finally, when he had all the items on the list in his basket, James carried it to the cash register, paying with his credit card.
Then he collected his plastic bags and headed out of the store and started walking up the sidewalk, humming to himself softly.
After a ten minutes walk, he suddenly stopped in his steps, his eyes widening as he saw the bunch of news crew vans, parked in front of the motel with a bunch of reporters standing outside like vultures ready to pick off the bodies of their prey.
His heartbeat accelerated as he wondered if they were here concerning the situation where Elijah punched a reporter yesterday, and the more he thought about it, it made sense, and he let out a sigh of annoyance. Clutching onto his bags’ handle, James drew a deep breath and started walking toward the motel entrance, praying that none of them stop him.
But when he got to the door, he felt a hand tap him on his shoulder, and he squeezed his eyes shut, dreading who it would be. Yet, he didn’t turn around and pushed the key into the lock.
“Excuse me, do you live here?” A journalist asked, looking at James struggling to unlock the door. “It seems like you do… Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?” “Yes, I do mind!” James replied angrily, shaking his head as he finally managed to open the door.
Then he shoved it open, rushed into the lobby, then fought his way into shutting it in the face of the reporters, who were shouting questions at him while banging on the door. “What is wrong with these people?!” James growled, shaking his fist in frustration. “Is it true that this is where Elijah live, in the motel of Peach and her mother?” A reporter shouted from outside the shut door. A look of worry and anger flashed across James’ eyes as he took a step back, mumbling beneath his breath, “This has gotten out of hand. Master Elijah is in some serious trouble.”
As the fear that he tried to suppress became hard to ignore, James rushed into the kitchen with the plastic bags and set them on the counter before pulling out his phone. For a while, he stood, staring at its screen, as he wondered if he should call. Then he sighed and dialed the number. After a few rings, he heard Mr. Maxwell’s voice on the other end of the call, “Why are you disturbing me this early, James?”
“So…rry… I am sorry, Boss. It’s just that the young master might be in a serious situation and 1…” James stated, trailing off as he could feel his voice shaking.
“James, is my son facing jail time?” “Well… I… I don’t think so, boss… not that I know of.” “Is he in need of a heart, kidney, or organ transplant?” “Huh?! Hmm… No, sir.”
A sigh of annoyance echoed through the receiver and then Mr. Maxwell said calmly, “Then why are you calling me?” Swallowing hard, James closed his eyes and said nervously, “The thing is, sir, there are reporters everywhere, and they-”
“James, you call me this early in the morning because of reporters?!” Mr. Maxwell demanded harshly, his tone filled with irritation as he said, ”I told you to call me in case of a real emergency.” “But sir, his reputation…” “What kind of teacher gives his students the answer to the questions on the day of the test?” Annoyed and worried, James lost his grip on his tongue and said, “But sir, you are his father, not his instructor.” “Don’t be silly, James. How does a child learn to crawl, walk, talk, and understand life..? From the adults in their lives regularly. And as his father, this is a part of my life lessons for him. Let him figure it out for himself!” Mr. Maxwell said calmly.
Silence took over and after a few seconds James spoke again, his voice low, “I understand, sir.” “Good. Don’t call me again unless my son has exhausted all his options. Otherwise, I won’t forgive you or handle it lightly!” Mr. Maxwell uttered firmly, ending the call without another word.
Staring numbly at his phone for several seconds, James sighed, and then he put it back into his pocket, frowning at the groceries.
At that moment, he heard the sound of footsteps approaching him from the back, and he immediately turned to see Miss Grace heading his way. He smiled faintly as she greeted him with a warm smile and said, “Morning, James!”
“A pleasant morning to you, Grace,” He replied gently.
Darting her eyes away from him, she stared at the bags and asked, “What’s in these?” “Oh, I picked out fresh ingredients for breakfast,” James answered as she walked towards the
Then Miss Grace took a peek into the bags, staring in disbelief at how fresh the vegetables and fruit were, dumbfounded that Elijah knew how to pick out food so well.
”Thank you so much.” Miss Grace said gratefully, her face breaking into a radiant smile as she stared intently at him. “You should go rest. I will handle things from here.”
Watching her in disbelief as she took out the bag of tomatoes, Elijah rushed over and gently grabbed it from her grip, saying, “You just got back from the hospital! I could never let you take such a big load by yourself. So you should be the one to rest.”
Grinning brightly, Miss Grace stared at him with a loving look before saying, “I’ll manage, don’t worry. Besides, you, Elijah, and the others have done so much for us, that I can’t keep letting you guys continue like this.”
“You are not cooking, Grace,” James stated sternly, shaking his head in disapproval. “You are too weak right now.”
“He’s right, mama.” Peach uttered as she stepped into the kitchen, pouting at her mother’s frown.
“But…” Miss Grace tried to argue and then sighed when both her daughter and James glared at her. “Okay, fine.”
Smiling at her mother, Peach went over to Miss Grace and hugged her tightly, inhaling as a sense of relief flooded over her body as she felt safe and secure being in the arms of her mom.
“Does anyone know who has the front door key?” Matt asked as he suddenly walked into a kitchen with a confused look on his face.
“Right… I came in here to ask the same question.” Miss Grace said, pulling away from Peach.
A look of worry crossed James’ face when he said, “I do, but it’s safer that way because-”
“Guys, there are a bunch of people standing outside… I peeked out my window and saw these journalists and cameramen out there.” Ryan said, rushing inside the kitchen.
A look of concern was written all over everyone’s faces at what Ryan said, especially Peach, who looked over at her mother’s worried eyes. “Why is it so noisy outside the motel?!” Rookie asked as he entered the kitchen, looking sleepy and annoyed. Frowning, James sighed and mumbled, “Reporters.”
“Reporters? Where?” Elijah asked, scratching the back of his hair as he yawned.
The moment he fixed his eyes on everyone in the kitchen, Peach lowered her gaze to the tiles as his words from yesterday played in her head, and she felt her heart thumping rapidly. Effortlessly, Elijah noticed her reaction, and his brows furrowed together, wondering if his behavior yesterday toward her was a mistake.
But soon, he realized that maybe he shouldn’t be thinking too much about it since their conversation didn’t seem to be that bad in his head.
“Elijah, we have a problem… Reporters are swamping outside of the motel with their vehicles, and I think it will be a long while before they leave…It looks like someone tipped them off that
you stay here.” James explained with a hint of fear in his voice.
Silence engulfed the room, and everybody waited anxiously for Elijah to say something until Rookie broke the silence and asked, “What now?’