I called Ethan and he asked me to meet him at Pupperstone Park. I didn't like how Beau or Ethan were treating this. It was like something everyone knew about except for me. The abuse of Briar. The crazy power the Fortners had on this town. I just didn't get it.
"Hey, August," Ethan greeted me.
Jaw flinching, I tried to keep my anger in check. As the sea breeze floated over me, I willed it to give me peace, but it didn't. I wanted to punch someone. Preferably Daniel.
When I didn't turn around, he sidled up beside me and said, "You know you're playing a dangerous game, getting mixed up with the Fortner's business. I'd suggest you forget Briar's troubles and go back to being an arm-at-length friend."
I snorted. "You sound like one of Daniel's chumps."
"I'm just observant, bro. People often say I give the best advice."
"So, you're telling me I should allow Briar's bastard boyfriend to beat her bloody whenever the hell he feels like it? Not gonna happen."
"He's never hurt her before."
"Yeah? How do you know?"
"Because Beau told me he's never hit her before. Why the hell she decided to break things off now was stupid. And I believe she did it for you. Did you tell her you wanted her to? You've been getting way too close to her lately."
Anger pulsing, I balled my hands into fists. "Are you suggesting this is my fault?"
He shrugged. "Not suggesting, man. It's common knowlege that no one gets close to Daniel Fortner's girlfriend. No one in their right mind would. But you're fairly new here. I thought you understood things, but I'll make it clearer for you since you seem to be blind as well as ignorant. Stay away from Briar."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Are you threatening me?"
"I don't have to threaten you. I'm just relaying a message that's been clear since you got here. Daniel Fortner is dangerous. If you get too close, I'll promise you and your family will get seriously hurt or worse. Beau and I will get her out of this situation but this takes time. If you mess things up, you might make it harder on her."
"Tell me what's going on then."
Ethan shook his head. "You're just going to have to trust me on this. Leave it, dude. I'm telling you this as a friend."
But I didn't want to leave it. I decided to go over everyone's heads. Looking up the FBI office in San Myshuno, my plan was to blow the whistle on all this criminal activity. Obviously, Ethan was scared of the Fortners and he held lots of knowlege about things he wasn't telling me. The Fortner's couldn't get away with having mob-like power in Brindleton Bay.
Going through a huge phone tree, I finally talked to someone who perked up at the Fortner name and got an appointment with the head of the San Myshuno branch--Special Agent Mark Dickens. Unfortunately, their office was only open during the week, so I'd have to miss school. And it was an airplane ride away, so I had to come up with something my parent's would go for.
My mother looked at me skeptically. "You're going to miss school? That doesn't make sense, August."
Dad snorted. "Can't blame the kid for trying. I'd do anything to get out of school at his age."
"I'd just miss Friday. It doesn't make even more sense for me to go there and try to see everyone on Saturday then fly back on Sunday. And this is really important to me, Mom. Please?"
"But why now?" she asked. "You can always visit your uncles in the summer."
Dad interjected, "Aw, kitten, you know he's been struggling lately. Have a heart."
I felt a bit guilty for using my orientation as a cover, but I did want to talk to Uncle E about things and he happened to live in San Myshuno. So what if it wasn't as urgent as I was making it sound? "Dad's right. I really need to talk about stuff with Uncle E. And I also want to visit with Aunt Dakota and Uncle Eli and Uncle Eric, too, while I'm there. I promise to get my work from my teachers for Friday."
Mom shook her head. "You can visit them in the summer. Missing school is not something to be taken lightly. The answer is no."
At that, Dad jumped to his feet and said, "Siobhan, let's talk in our room."
Uh oh. I didn't want to cause a fight between them. But what was I supposed to do? I couldn't let the Fortners hurt any more people and if I told them what I was up to, they'd stop me instantly.
The image of Briar's bruised face kept me going with this plan.
I wouldn't stop until I saw all the Fortners behind bars.