The Essence of Sin

Chapter 3

I flipped through the songs on my new iTouch while keeping an eye on the brand-new, fifty-five inch LCD in front of me. I hit play and I stuck the handheld in my pocket, focusing on the words popping up on the TV screen. I let out a laugh as the newscaster relayed her top story.

“—notorious gang, known as Gang 9 by authorities for its nine members, stole over one-hundred thousand dollars from the Clover National Bank last evening. They escaped on motorcycles during heavy pursuit from the police. Strangely, two members seemed to be missing as only seven were seen fleeing from the scene. Officials say—”

I tuned out the woman’s voice, blasting my music and falling into the only vacant moon chair left. Ryo bounded into the room when he heard that we were on the news. He started jumping up and down when they showed a video clip of a man on a blue bike speeding down the road. It was impossible for anyone on the outside to figure out his identity because his face was covered by a tinted helmet, and he wore all black.

“It’s me! It’s me!” Ryo cried. “That’s my bike!” He pushed Shaun out of the way, making him fall to the ground. I tried to hold in a laugh as Shaun put the redhead in a headlock. Ryo eventually freed himself after a slight scuffle, and the two stood quietly and watched. I pouted.

“Ryo, move! You’re in my way!” I whined. He mockingly glared at me and sat on top of me. Ow . . . Damn this guy was heavy! I tried pushing him off, but he didn’t budge. My face was squished into his back as he made himself more comfortable.

“Huh? Wasn’t Kara in here like two seconds ago?” Jared’s voice sounded from the entrance to the living room. I tried to peer around Ryo’s big figure, but he mashed me harder.

“Nope. Haven’t seen her,” he said loftily. Haven’t seen her, my ass! If only looks could kill. I managed to turn my head enough to free my mouth.

“Jared!” I squeaked, bringing rounds of laughs to my ears.

“Sorry, Princess. He’s long gone!” Polo exclaimed. I screamed in frustration, making Ryo’s body shake with laughter. Okay, this was getting annoying. Not that it hadn’t been annoying from the start, but you got my point. I sunk my teeth into his shoulder, making him jump for a split second. Once I had I freed my arms, I wrapped them around his torso, squeezing him for all I was worth. I stuck my hand up his shirt and dug my fingernails into his abs, making him cry out in pain.

“Get off of me!” I shouted.

“Okay! Ow! Stop that and I will!” he yelled. I loosened my grip, and he quickly jumped off me.

“Thank you!” I exclaimed in an innocent voice. Ryo glared at me, and I think I felt guilt claw at my stomach. Or maybe it was just repercussions from all that pizza I ate for breakfast. Who knew? I stuck my tongue out at him and grinned. He raised an eyebrow and walked towards me. “Ryo . . . ? What are you doing—AHH!” I cried out as he grabbed me at the waist and threw me over his shoulder. The world turned upside down as I stared into everyone’s snickering faces.

“Payback time, Princess!” He cackled evilly. Oh, God. Evil laughs couldn’t be a good thing. Luckily, I was saved from whatever Ryo had planned when a black-haired man walked in.

“I’m going to the store,” Jared said from the doorway. “Princess, what are you doing?” He stared at me as if I had three heads.

“Make him put me down!” I exclaimed, uselessly pounding on Ryo’s back. Jared chuckled and pulled me safely to the ground. I straightened my shirt, which had ridden up, and gave Ryo the evil eye.

“Aww! Come on, Boss! I almost had her!” Ryo whined. Jared ignored him and addressed the rest of the gang.

“As I was saying, I’m going to the store,” he announced again. “We’re out of beer. Anyone need anything?”

I bit my lip and thought about it, looking back on the events of the day. Hmm . . . What could I possibly need? It popped into my head. That’s right! I almost forgot!

“I do!” I chimed, raising my hand. Jared nodded and looked to everyone else without asking for further explanation. I was a girl. I had needs.

“Can you get me a big pack of Crunch?” Ryo asked, clicking off the TV. The newscaster had switched to talking about some petty gang shooting. Kid stuff.

“I want M&M’s!” Marco exclaimed as he got up from the couch and walked past Jared and into the hallway. “Please and thank you!”

“Anyone else?” Jared asked.

“We’re running low on spaghetti,” Gio piped up. “I was planning on making it for dinner.”

Thank you, Gio! I was in the mood for some Italian food.

“Right. Beer, Crunch, M&M’s, Spaghetti,” Jared counted off. He turned to me and smiled. “Let’s go, Princess.”

“Are we taking your car?” I asked excitedly. Jared’s car was fit for the gods. There were seriously no words to describe my undying love for it. He just shrugged indifferently.

“Sure. You want to drive?” he asked. He was trying not to smile when my jaw dropped. I squealed and hugged him before running out to the garage. Hell yeah! I sprinted so fast, I almost fell flat on my face. I got to drive it! Holy shit!

In our giant garage, I flicked a switch and the lights flickered to life, revealing the single most amazing car I have ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on: a Ferrari F430 Spider Supersport.

It may have taken a damn good number of thefts, but the moment Jared came home driving this thing, I freaked. As did the rest of the gang, and seven boys hooting and hollering like drooling, lovesick idiots was extremely amusing to watch.

I gawked at the car's black paint job, black leather interior and chrome rims. I remember almost fainting when I found out it had a 656 horsepower engine. Now, I stared at its perfect beauty and almost didn’t notice when Jared tossed me the keys. I caught them, fumbling, and held them as if they were holy. Well, in my world, they were holy. I unlocked the doors and gingerly sat inside. He’d never let me drive his car before, and I looked at him with question after I closed the door. In fact, he'd never let anyone drive his car other than Shaun.

“Reward for doing so well on the last mission,” he said simply. I loved this man. I stuck the keys in the ignition and started the car. The engine purred like a cat.

Oh, my God. I thought I was going to puke! No, wait. That would’ve been a very bad thing inside a Ferrari.

I grinned wildly and saw Jared had a similar expression on his usually passive face. I pushed a button and the mechanized garage door slowly opened, rays of light bleeding through into the dark garage. The door rose all the way up, revealing a bright, sunny day outside. Yes! Jared handed me my sunglasses and threw on his own pair. I looked at him in surprise.

“When did you get those?” I asked, referring to my glasses. I was sure I had left them inside my drawer in my room. He smirked and fixed his gaze to the long driveway ahead.

“I had a feeling you needed to come with today.”

“Stalker,” I accused, feeling my face heat up. Jared pressed something on the dash and the top of the car retracted. Have I mentioned I loved this man? Oh, well. One more time couldn’t have hurt. I loved this man! Even if he was a dirty stalker. Jared leaned back in his seat and flashed a winning smile at me.

“Let’s go,” he said. Excitement welled up in his voice, momentarily decomposing his cool attitude. I couldn’t blame him, though. I didn’t think I’d ever get used to having a Ferrari. We went from living off the streets to all this. It was anyone’s dream.

I put the gear shift in drive and slowly pressed down the gas pedal, making sure I had the feel of the car before I let loose. It jerked forward as if it was nothing. Terrified, I pulled my foot up, letting the car roll to a stop again. Jared was failing horribly at holding in a laugh.

“This bitch has a lot of power,” he reminded. I sighed and tried again, this time barely tapping the pedal. The car, as before, surged forward, but this time I was expecting it. It was smoother than ice, like I was floating. I gave it more gas and we cruised out of the garage. Jared leaned over me and pushed the button to close the garage door so I wouldn’t be distracted. Yeah, like a twenty-three year old man two inches away from me wasn’t distracting.

Jared was pretty good looking, now that I thought about it. He had soft black hair that fell over his emerald eyes like a cascading blanket. His marble-smooth skin was only disrupted by the dusting of morning stubble on his jaw.

And he had a perfect body to boot. The man made a point to work out every morning before breakfast, and he had the eight-pack as hard proof. Of course, being the leader of a gang, being in top shape was essential, especially when scuffles with other local gangs came into play. I had never been around for these fights, Ryo locking me in the bathroom with only a bag of Chips Ahoy and a Nintendo DS to keep me occupied, but after they were over, I heard the stories out at the clubs. Jared single-handedly took out an entire gang of thirty men! With a broken wrist, he killed the city's biggest drug lord! He outwitted four enemy gangs in one night! These things seemed preposterous, but the rumors had to have been based on something, right? And I had seen him easily take out a group of lechers that hit on me a few months ago, so I knew he was the real deal gang leader.

When he wasn’t getting into fights, he played it cool, always calm and collected. He was the most mature of the gang, but the maturity didn’t simply come from being the oldest. He was our boss, our leader, and all the responsibility of taking care of us automatically went to him. He was always so distant, unable to let himself become too involved with us; he couldn’t allow emotions to rule him. A good leader was logical and found the best solution for everyone. I hated to admit it, but I wasn’t very good friends with him at all. I knew close to nothing about our boss’s personal life, contrary to the relationship I had with the rest of my gang. With the others, if someone slept with a girl, we all knew. If Polo got a high score in Pacman, we all knew. If Caleb bought a new pair of boxers, we all knew. But Jared? Nothing. I didn’t even know where he was half the time. He was always “out on business,” but that was the only explanation I would get.

I snapped back from my thoughts when the boss said something.

“Huh?” I asked, looking at him.

“Slow down,” he ordered. “We’re not on a heist. I’d rather not have the badges on us for no reason.” I looked at the speedometer and realized I had been going almost twenty over the limit. Dammit. I hated stupid speed limits! You went to some third-world country and you didn’t see any fucking speed limits! Why the hell did they have them in America? Wasn’t this a free country for Christ’s sake?! I muttered under my breath, making Jared chuckle.

“I think I’ll get a radar while we’re out,” he declared, letting his arm hang out the side of the car. For those of you who abide by the law and didn’t know what a radar was, they alerted you if a cop was around so you could slow down while you passed them. Very handy little device if I did say so myself. And anyone could get them right at their local Best Buy. So technically, they were legal. Stupid, yes, but I wasn’t complaining.

“Then we’re going there first!” I exclaimed, making a sudden turn at the intersection. We drove in silence for a few minutes, the only noise being the quiet rumble of the engine. It was slightly awkward, I must admit, but Jared was staring out the window and not at all looking interested in making small talk. Thankfully, we reached Best Buy in a few minutes, and I turned into the parking lot. I found an empty spot near the front and eased the car in, going much slower than usual because I was afraid of scratching the Ferrari. Once the engine was off, Jared and I got out, and I was greeted with the big yellow and blue sign as I ran through the automatic doors.

Jared and I parted ways, him to hunt down the radar and me to explore the stereo section. I gazed longingly at the Bose speakers that would have been a perfect companion for my new iTouch. I let out a loud groan when I saw the price tag: $399.95. Why were the shopping gods trying to mock me? I turned to leave as I saw Jared at the head of the isle, and we walked to the checkout counter together. He gave the box for the radar to the clerk. And then he gave him something else.

The speakers! I stared at Jared who just smiled at me so warmly that the air was punched from my lungs. “Jared, that's way too expensive—”

“You want it, right?” he asked. I nodded slowly, bewildered. He paid for the things and the clerk put it in a bag. While we were walking back to his car, I stared at my feet in remorse. I glanced up at the boss, who was studying me with a smile playing on his lips.

“As a princess, don't you think you're entitled to the best?” he asked.

I sighed and smiled. “Well, you’re the boss,” I replied, stretching. I paused and gave him a sincere smile. “Thanks.” He met my smile with his own. For a second, I thought he almost looked human.

Back in the car, Jared hooked up the radar and we went out to test it. There was this one spot where a cop always sat. Hiding, waiting, and watching for some poor soul who happened to be speeding as they passed by. I drove past this spot now, making sure to be under the speed limit, which killed me, but I stayed under, nonetheless. Immediately, the radar alerted us to the copper’s presence before he even came into view.

“Looks like it works!” Jared exclaimed enthusiastically.

Hell yeah! Speed city, here I come! Once we lost sight of the cop and the radar stopped flipping out, I hit the gas and boy, did that engine roar!

“I love this car!” I sighed as I cruised along happily. Jared laughed.

“By the way, I’m driving home,” he said, catching me off guard. “I wanna have some fun, too.”

I started to open my mouth to protest, but I heard an engine splutter next to us. I looked over through my shades at a couple of rowdy teenage boys in an old ’94 Chevy who were eying me hungrily. Or maybe it was the car. Maybe a combination. All I knew was if they fucked with me—

“Hey, baby!” One of them called out to me.

Oh, he did not just call me “baby.”

“Damn nice ride you got there!”

I started to wonder whether they were hitting on me or the car. I glanced over at Jared for help, but he was just sitting there with a smug smirk on his face. Asshole. Wasn’t he going to at least try to stand up for me? This time I glared at him pointedly. His smirk got bigger and he just shrugged. I sighed and looked back at the boys who had brought their car right next to ours. I kept one eye on the road and made sure they didn’t hit us. They were awfully close, those faggots.

“Why don’t you ditch the loser and come play with us!” a particularly ugly looking boy asked. He looked like he was in his late teens or early twenties. But dayum he was ugly. Greasy orange hair fell over a face full of zits, and his teeth were muck-yellow from too much weed. He badly needed to invest in some braces. And Crest Whitening Strips.

I think I puked a bit in my mouth. Yeah, it was that hideous.

“Sure, boys!” I called back. I looked at Jared and grinned in triumph at Jared’s appalled look. Now who was smirking, pretty boy? I turned back to the ugly fags and jerked my head to the right, signaling that I wanted them to follow. They cheered, lecherous looks plastered on their faces. Ew.

I turned into the next street and didn’t bother paying attention to the 25 mph sign that whizzed past. Jared leaned back in his seat, smiling. He knew what I was going to do. I floored the gas pedal, zooming way ahead of the boys. I heard them shouting at me to slow down but I just laughed and waved. I wove through the streets, revving the wheels. While on a normal car, the tires would have been squealing with protest by now, these purred as if nothing was going on. The ride was so smooth, I almost squealed in place for the tires. Jared laughed at the crazed look on my face as I drifted around a curb.

Suddenly, the radar started beeping, signaling that a copper was nearby. I painfully slowed down. Yes, it was physically painful to slow down to twenty-five miles per hour. I heard the spluttering engine of those retards behind me, and I burst out laughing when I heard the sirens and saw the red and blue lights flashing behind them. Suckas! I was laughing so hard, I had to pull over to the curb so I wouldn’t crash. Jared was keeled over in hysterics next to me as well. Finally, I calmed down and drove out of the neighborhood.

Jared was sitting back, his arm around my headrest, enjoying himself fully. Hell, I was having the time of my life! All eyes were on us, glaring at the car enviously. I felt like true royalty as my nickname had bestowed upon me. I basked in the limelight, making myself look as laid back as Jared, just so we’d look cooler. In your face! I know. I was a bitch.

After a couple minutes, we reached Super Target. This place owned. And if you thought otherwise, I would gladly have kicked your ass. Don’t diss Super Target.

I pulled into a parking spot, all the passersby staring at us. I didn’t think it was normal to see a Ferrari at Super Target, so I really couldn’t blame them. Once inside, I quickly ran to the woman’s care aisle and found my pads. After that, I walked to the candy aisle and found Jared stocking up on sugar. I tossed my thing in the cart and went to find the Snickers. I decided on a smaller pack, since Jared had already bought me those ridiculously expensive speakers and an iTouch in the past week. I jumped when my phone started vibrating in my pocket. Damn that thing!

Spaghetti sauce 2 plz! was the text from Gio. I relayed the message to Jared and scurried off to get the mutilated tomato mush. We met up in the booze section where the boss was waiting for me. I placed the cans of sauce and packs of spaghetti in the cart and stared at him.

“You really gonna drink all that?” I asked, pointing at the three twelve-packs of Miller Lite. I knew him and Ryo could really drown those things, but three cases?

“I think this is enough.” He had a mischievous glint in his eyes. What was he hiding? I narrowed my gaze at him, but he just calmly walked off towards the checkout counter.

“Is that everything?” he asked, thinking aloud. I checked the contents of the cart as he started unloading it on the conveyer belt. Candy, spaghetti, sauce, pads, beer.

“Yeah. That’s everything.”

We reached the front of the line, and Jared gave his ID to the woman working there so we could buy the beer. Of course, the ID was fake.

I could tell something was off from the moment we stepped in line. My stomach was heaving, giving me a feeling of paranoia. I looked around the store, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Just a bunch of red bullseyes everywhere. I stayed close to Jared and glanced around as I put the bags back in the cart. He noticed my uneasiness and looked at me with worry as he paid for all the stuff. He grabbed the cart and started pushing it towards the exit, me walking right behind him.

“Everything alright?” he asked. I gulped and nodded. Why couldn’t I shake this feeling that something big was coming my way? It was probably nothing. I had cramps. That was the only possible explanation. Nothing was wrong. I began walking slower and slower as my stomach lurched. The paranoia was overwhelming. Something was horribly wrong. Jared had reached the automatic doors and stopped when he noticed I wasn’t next to him anymore. And then it happened. That’s when I heard my name.

“K-Kara . . . ?” someone called out. I spun around and my eyes went wide with terror. “Kara . . . is . . . is that you?”

A woman stood there, fingers tightly gripping her husband’s arm. Her other hand was covering her mouth, which was wide open with shock. She had shoulder-length, black hair with a soft face, small nose, and full mouth. If not for the few strands of gray hair mixed into her hair, I would have suspected her to be in her thirties.


“Don’t be silly, Alice!” the man exclaimed, starting to pull the woman away.

He was almost a head taller than his wife, and age had given him a bit of weight around the middle. His dark brown hair contained wisps of gray and white. Crow’s feet creased at the corners of his eyes, and a few wrinkles started to show on his face. His jaw was hard and stubborn, opposite of his gentle eyes.


The two people I hadn’t seen for eleven years were now standing a few feet away from me. I had forgotten about them, pushing their memory to the farthest depths of my mind. Never had the thought dawned on me that they might miss me. Never had I imagined that we would meet again. Least of all in Super Target.

I stared at them, the fear evident on my face. This was not happening. This was not happening!

“Kara, come on,” Jared called out to me. Oh, shit! The woman’s face lit up and her eyes sparkled with tears.

“Kara! It is you! Kara, sweetie! You’re alright! It’s Mommy and Daddy! Don’t you remember us?”

The man’s eyes went wide with shock. I couldn’t look at them.

“Where have you been all this time, Kara?” he asked, breaking down. “We’ve missed you so much. We looked everywhere for you!”

I couldn’t take this. I couldn’t stand to see my past creeping up on me again. I did the only thing I could think of.

I ran.

“Princess—” Jared tried to say something but I sped past him, my boots pounding on the tiled floor.

“Run!” I shouted frantically at him. I grabbed the bags and a case of beer from the cart and fled out the doors, cutting off a few shoppers.

“Kara! Kara, wait!” Their voices were far off now. Thank God. We got away. “Kara!” Okay, I spoke too soon. The two adults started chasing after us. I put the bags under my arm and took the beer with that same hand. With my free hand, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the car keys, fumbling and almost dropping them. I looked around frantically for our ticket out of here. Where was it? Where had I parked?! I scanned the ocean of vans, jeeps, and cars as I ran.

“Princess!” Jared shouted from the next row down. I sprinted in his direction as I pushed the button on the key ring to open the trunk. Jared stashed his cases inside and jumped in the driver’s side, not bothering to open the door. I dashed up and literally threw everything that was in my arms into the back. I slammed the hood down and leapt into the passenger seat, shoving the keys at him.

“Go!” I shouted as my parents ran in our direction. The wheels screamed as Jared floored the gas pedal. We sped off, leaving the man and woman standing in the parking lot, tears running down their faces.