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The Counter Plan
An R.L. Mathewson Chronicle
“What are you doing?” Mikey couldn’t help but wonder, as she looked up from her phone to find her best friend, who she was almost ninety-nine percent sure had already left for the night, checking to make sure that her window was locked.
“Checking,” Sebastian mumbled absently, as he double-checked the lock only to sigh, shake his head and open the window so that he could look outside.
“For what?” she asked, shifting to get more comfortable on her bed as she watched her best friend, who was clearly in the middle of some sort of mental breakdown, close her window, lock it and…double-check to make sure the lock was working before he moving onto the next window.
“For Uncle Jason,” Sebastian said, making sure the other window was locked before turning around and heading towards her closet.
“And you think he’s hiding in my closet?” Mikey asked, unable to help but frown as she watched Sebastian turn around with a sigh and check beneath her bed.
“I wouldn’t put anything past him,” Sebastian said, as he shifted his attention to the other bed that her parents had been forced to put in here for those nights when Sebastian decided to stay over. Not that she remembered inviting him over, because she honestly couldn’t remember ever doing that. He just sort of showed up and once he was here, she usually just shrugged it off and went back to whatever she was doing.
“What are you talking about?” Mikey asked, watching as he gave up searching under her bed to open her bedroom door and stick his head out into the hallway.
“He gave up too easily,” Sebastian said, closing her bedroom door and headed back to her closet where he shoved her clothes and baseball gear out of the way before closing the door, looking thoughtful as he glanced around her bedroom. “They all gave up too easily.”
“I see,” Mikey mumbled absently, as she glanced down at her phone and-
Sighed when it was plucked out her hands.
“He’s texting you?” Sebastian said with a sad shake of his head as Mikey looked up just as Sebastian texted something and hit send.
“Does personal boundaries mean nothing to you?” she asked, as she reached over and stole her phone back.
“Not when it comes to the Yankees,” he said, dropping down on the bed next to her, giving her no choice but to move over.
“He was just wishing us a safe trip and asking if I could look after Aunt Haley for him,” Mikey said, shifting her attention back to her phone and found herself rolling her eyes when she saw the text message Sebastian sent Uncle Jason.
“You really are the weakest link,” Sebastian said, sighing heavily as he focused his attention on the stack of books that he liked to keep on her nightstand.
“What are you talking about?” she asked, ignoring Sebastian’s text message and sent one reassuring Uncle Jason that she’d help keep an eye on Aunt Haley.
“He’s playing you,” Sebastian said, settling back on her bed with a book on his lap.
“No, he’s not,” Mikey said, sighing as she sat back next to him.
“He really is and so is everyone else, but you just don’t see it, which is why they’re working on you first,” Sebastian said with a pitying shake of his head.
“What are you talking about?” she asked, because no one had even mentioned the trip tomorrow except to wish her a good trip.
“Because they normally watch your every move at dinner?” he asked, turning the page.
Blinking, she said, “Yes, yes, they do. Have you not met your family? Anytime I make the mistake of looking away from my plate for more than five seconds they take that as invitation to steal my food.”
Shaking his head, he said, “You really need to stop doing that by the way. It didn’t strike you as weird that everyone showed up for dinner tonight without being invited?”
“That’s pretty much how it works with this family,” she pointed out.
“They’re working you first,” Sebastian said, shifting his attention back to the book on his lap.
“They didn’t say anything to me,” she said, only to frown because that had been kind of weird.
They normally talked to her, joked with her, and teased her, but tonight…
They’d all stared at her like they were waiting for something.
“They’re looking for a weakness that they can exploit,” Sebastian said, only to sigh and toss the book back on the nightstand with a, “I’ve already read this one.”
“They’re known about this trip for over a week and we’re leaving in the morning. Why would they wait until now?” she asked, because it just didn’t make sense.
“There’s only four tickets and too many of them, which means that they were forced to wait and watch, trying to decide which one of us they could break first,” Sebastian said, searching through that stack for a book that he hadn’t read yet.
“And you think it’s me?” she asked, blinking in surprise.
“I know it’s you,” he said, selecting a book.
“How do you know it’s not you or Aunt Haley?” Mikey asked, only to end up glaring when Sebastian reached over and patted her on the head with a, “It’s so sad that you think it’s not you.”
“It could be Uncle Jared,” she said, slapping at Sebastian’s hand.
Shaking his head, he said, “There’s no way that it’s Uncle Jared. The only one that he would have to worry about conning him out of his ticket is Aunt Haley and she already has her ticket.”
Well, that was true…
“What about you?” Mikey asked, still wondering why he thought that she was the weakest link when they both knew that absolutely nothing was going to make her give up her ticket.
“What about me?” Sebastian asked, as a chime drew her attention back down to her phone and-
“It’s a trap,” Sebastian said, before Mikey had a chance to finish reading the text message that had her worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.
“He’s just asking if we could-”
“It’s a trap,” Sebastian said more firmly, as he reached over and plucked the phone out of her hand and tossed it on the other bed.
“You didn’t even read the message,” she pointed out, as he settled back with the book.
“And I don’t have to, not when I know it’s a trap,” he said, sounding bored.
“Fine,” Mikey said, sighing heavily as she shoved the covers down and pulled them back up over her, deciding to call it a night since they had to get up early and-
“Umm, goodnight?” she said with a pointed look at the other bed.
“Goodnight,” he said, turning the page.
“Are you going to move?”
“Why not?” she asked, shifting to get more comfortable.
“You know why,” he said, glancing up at the closed bedroom door.
“Because you’re paranoid?” she asked, following his gaze as it shifted to the windows.
“Because this isn’t going to end well.”
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