Just a Bit Confusing

By: Alessandra Hazard

Luke chuckled. “If the Russian mafia kidnaps me, the local police is the last place you should call.” With that, he was gone.

The door clicked as it locked after Luke, and he was alone with his thoughts once again.

After a few moments of stillness, James crawled back under the comforter and closed his eyes, ignoring the pang of guilt for his broken promise to Luke.

For the most part, he didn’t regret joining Luke in Russia. Luke was good company and Russia was…interesting: the people, the cultural differences, the sheer size of the country, the huge gap between the social classes. It was all very interesting and…

It had been the longest, shittiest two months of James’s life. Sometimes it was hard to remember why he had to get up at all, and those mornings were the worst. He was self-aware enough to know that he had a nasty case of depression, but he didn’t know how to pull himself out of it. How to get a grip.

Everything in his life just seemed to have fallen apart: his family, his relationships, his place in the world. On the few occasions they had talked on the phone, his dad had yelled at him, beyond furious for his leaving. After the first few calls James had turned his phone off. He didn’t need his dad’s rants to know that he was being irresponsible and reckless. He knew he shouldn’t have left like that. But he couldn’t go back. Not now. He couldn’t handle his dad at the moment. Arthur missed nothing and had no qualms about using people’s weaknesses against them; in his current state of mind James would find himself married off to Megan before he knew it. Because his dad was right: he was weak. He was weak for Ryan, always had been and always would be, but he was much weaker without Ryan.

Sighing, James turned onto his stomach, wrapping his arms around his pillow. He  wanted to move on—he wasn’t a masochist—but it was impossible when every fiber of his being wanted Ryan, a deep ache that couldn’t be satisfied no matter how many interesting places Luke dragged him to. It was almost like a physical need, like hunger or sleep.

God, he fucking hated how purposeless and off-balance he felt without one person’s presence in his life. His pride resented it, but his pride couldn’t change how he felt. At first Luke had told him it was normal to feel down after a bad breakup and that he needed to just ride it out and move on, but after almost two months, Jamie knew it wouldn’t be so easy for him. He didn’t feel  down.

He felt like a fish out of water—trying to breathe and failing.

Chapter 24

The vibration of his phone woke him up in the very early morning again. Ryan reached for it blindly.

“Yeah,” he said, still half-asleep.

“I cannot find James,” Arthur said.

Ryan’s eyes snapped open. “What?”

“Neither James nor Whitford’s boy is answering his phone,” Arthur said. “Normally I would think little of it, but…”

“But?” Ryan said.

“Whitford called me last night, asking if I heard from James. He confided to me that his son has been missing for a week—”

“What?” Ryan said, sitting up. “You mean Luke has disappeared?”

“Yes,” Arthur said. “Whitford’s Russians employees haven’t seen Luke in a week. Whitford suspects the boy has been kidnapped by one of his…business rivals.” Arthur ’s voice was extremely dry as he said it.

All Ryan could hear was his heart pounding in his ears. “What about Jamie?”

“No one knows,” Arthur said briskly. “Whitford’s employees have sometimes seen him with Whitford’s boy, but it appears James has rarely accompanied his friend to his business meetings. No one knows where James resides. He used his credit card in Moscow a few weeks ago, but after that, nothing. For all we know, he might be completely safe, but…”

“But he may not be.”

Arthur ’s silence spoke volumes: he was worried his son was caught up in whatever shady business Whitford was involved in.

“You said you couldn’t find Jamie,” Ryan said.

Arthur heaved a sigh. “Russia is…a very different place. People I spoke with on the phone were either unhelpful on purpose or didn’t understand what I wanted from them, which is not unlikely, considering that most of those people seem to have only a rudimentary grasp of English. I’m afraid the only course of action is to travel there, but I have business meetings that I can’t—”

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