CHAPTER 8: THIS IS ALL MINE?
Gracie opened the door to the store, looking kind of tired, but when she found that it was me, she smiled. I smiled back a little and she looked at my company. Her smile faltered a moment then she looked back at me with that same smile. She ushered me in and I looked back at the boys with my brow raised. They each gave a small shrug and followed me into the store. I smiled as I inhaled the familiar scent of books and closed my eyes. Old and new books lined the shelves and the warmth of the building made me want to pull a book from the shelf, curl up in the back or in one of the window seats, and read, lose track of time, forget about what happened to me for a moment, and get lost in a battle that wasn’t my own.
Not that I had a battle, but it was interesting to think that I did.
“Hey Sam.” Gracie said, drawing my attention back to her. I looked at her and she smiled softly at me. “How do you feel? I didn’t expect you to be here until later.”
“I’m feeling better.” I smiled a small smile. “Glad to be moving around and all that good stuff.” She smiled sadly. “How have you been?”
“Wondering how a nineteen-year-old girl can run my store without any sort of problem and trying to run it myself.” I laughed a little.
“It’s easy really.” I answered. “Hard to explain, but easy to do. You just need to get into a rhythm. You will get it.” I turned and looked at a shelf of books. I went through and ran my fingers over some of the books, looking for nothing in particular, just looking at the new books she had gotten. I chuckled when I noticed that some of them were in the wrong order. I liked having the same author next to each other, but those books had to either be in alphabetical or numerical order seeming as you couldn’t have both. Book one might have a name that starts with an “R” but book too might start with a “B” so if it didn’t have a series, I put it in alphabetical order and if it did, numerical.
I quickly rearranged the books and laughed a little as I turned back to them. Gracie looked a little sad as she came over to me and pulled me into a hug. She pulled back and smiled sadly at me.
“No I won’t.” she sighed. I scowled as she took my good hand, which was the burned one so it wasn’t so good, as she smiled at me. Why was she smiling if she couldn’t get this down? “I was going to tell you this before all this happened.” She started. “But I was waiting for your family to tell you that you were leaving first…” her smile faded some. “…Your father and I were talking about a month back about this, and I know that I am never going to get this, as much as I love books, I’ll never be able to run a store with how… antisocial I am, so…” I raised a brow at her as her grin came back. “…as your going away present, I am shipping all of this…” she gestured around the store at all the books and things. “…out to Scotland with you, and I am giving you the store.” My eyes went wide as I looked at her.
“Are you… are you serious?” I gasped and she just laughed as she nodded. “You’re giving me the store?”
“Yes.” She answered. “Don’t tell your father I told you this, but it is a birthday present as well as the going away present, and if I find more books that you might like, I will ship them out there when I can, but that isn’t the part you can’t tell your father. This is. He is looking for a place for you to set up your own book store.” All I did was stare at her. My father was looking for a place for me to set up my own book store? I was a nineteen-year-old girl who was going to own a book store, run it, and everything else that goes along with it, and my father was okay with that?
Even after what happened to me only last week?
“Wow.” I breathed and sat down in one of the chairs that was against the wall. “Why don’t you sell it… or higher someone else?”
“Because I only trust you with these books, with everything.” She whispered and looked around the place. “Besides, this is where I live. I don’t want to sell it. I kind of like this place.” I laughed a little. I understood that. “I expect that you will take care of everything, like you always have.”
“Yeah.” I breathed and looked at Terry. He smiled at me and I turned my gaze toward Deric, who was watching me carefully. I wondered what he was thinking as he watched me with those intense, midnight blue eyes.
“So…” I turned back to Gracie. “Do you mind if I take care of business here until I leave?” I asked her. She grinned and went over to the door. She flipped on the light switch that turned on the sign that indicated that we were open. I got up and practically jumped over the counter to get to my spot behind it. I almost giggled in glee as I pulled the book I had been reading, before I was attacked, out of its place under it and also the sketchpad that I had been doodling on the night that I had met Deric.
I looked at the doodle that was still on the notepad and scowled. I didn’t remember drawing it and I definitely couldn’t draw this good.
“Gracie…” I whispered as I looked up at her. She looked at me and walked over to the counter. She looked at the paper and then at me with a raised brow. “Did you… draw this?” I asked.
“No.” she shook her head. “I thought that you did.”
“I…” I backed up from the counter and shuddered. “T-that’s my room…” I closed my eyes and breathed shakily as I felt his cold hand against my neck. I saw his dark eyes and gasped when hands touched my shoulders. I opened my eyes and looked at a worried face.
“What is it Sam?” Deric whispered.
“H-he has d-dark eyes.” I breathed and his arms tightened on my shoulders. I touched my neck and tried to hold back the tears that were forming in my eyes. “I-I remember… dark eyes.” he nodded as I closed my eyes again. “I’m scared again.” I shuddered once more and he sighed. He made me sit down and he knelt down in front of me.
“Don’t force the memories to come back Sam.” He whispered and took my gloved hands in his. “They will come back on their own time. You will be okay. I won’t let him or anyone get to you. I promise. I am here to protect you, so no matter what, I will never let anything happen to you.” I nodded and let out a shaky breath. I knew, as he said it, that he would never let anything bad happen to me, but it didn’t mean that he could help if something bad did happen. He would do everything to make sure I was safe, but not even everything could prevent something.
He would never let me get hurt, but I knew without a doubt, that I would end up hurt. It was life. In life people got hurt. There was no two ways about it, but knowing that he would try to do whatever he could to save me the hurt, was comforting as much as it was smothering and I almost didn’t mind that. It seemed too romantic to be too smothering, and I knew I could tolerate it.
After all, he was here to stay for as long as I needed him, if not longer.
“You better?” he asked softly after a moment after I opened my eyes. I let out another shaky (and calmer) breath and nodded. I was feeling better.
As long as he is here, we will always be okay. Lana stated and I agreed silently. As long as Deric was here, then I would always be okay. Even when I was on the brink of breaking down or something much worse, as long as Deric was there, then I would be fine.
“So now that that is over…” I whispered and cleared my throat. “…should we start packing or wait for a little while to start packing things up?” I asked.
“When do you expect to be leaving?” I shrugged and looked at Deric. Did he know?
“Up to two weeks, sooner if Tanya and James call and say they found a place.” He said and Gracie looked at him. She glanced at me and then looked at him again.
“I don’t think we have met before.” She said, sounding slightly uncomfortable. Her “anti-socialism” was kicking in, meaning anxiety was working its way in. “I’m Gracie… as I am sure you have guessed.”
“Deric.” He nodded. Neither of them extended a hand toward each other, in fact, they looked rather tense standing there watching each other. I looked between them and then at Terry, who had a smirk on his face as if he was enjoying the awkwardness that kept building between the two. He was leaned against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and looked rather comfortable there…
Until he looked at me.
That was when he almost looked like he was scared. I scowled. Why the sudden change…
“You should probably start packing them up.” Gracie said as I turned my attention back to Deric and her. She nodded at Deric and then turned her attention to me again. I glanced at Terry, whose face now held what looked like disappointment, but almost seemed relieved at the same time, and that confused me. What is going on with Terry? “You have two weeks, but it may be shorter than that, so we better play it ‘better safe than sorry’ and get them packed up. Besides, it saves me the hassle of having to do it by myself…
“Though, you shouldn’t do much heavy lifting since last week you were…” she paused and nodded to herself. I nodded too, understanding her hesitation. She didn’t want to set me off, and after a few minutes ago, I wasn’t sure what would and wouldn’t set me off. “…anyway, I will ship them out when your dad has a place for them.” I nodded once more. She glanced at Deric again and then she turned to Terry. “I have specific books I want you to pack up. I will label them so you know not to, but do not display of sell these books Sam. They are special books I want you to have.”
“Okay.” I answered and Terry stood up straight.
“I’ll go get boxes.” The door opened as Gracie and Terry went toward the back and I looked at it. Sebastian and (surprisingly) Andy stood there and that made me wonder where they had been and why Andy wasn’t at school.
Andy came over to me and wrapped his arms around my waist. He put his forehead to mine and I put my hands against his chest. He inhaled deeply (as if he were breathing me in) and then let out a long sigh. He held me a little tighter and smiled. I smiled back as I closed my eyes and moved my head to his shoulder. I inhaled his scent and he chuckled as one of his hands came up and took my “good” one. He didn’t smell too bad himself.
“Why aren’t you at school?” I asked as he lased our fingers together and rested his chin on top of my head.
“I was heading over to your house to say ‘good morning’ and your brother was rushing out the door, looking a little panicked if I do say so myself, and we decided to look for you.” I pulled back a little and looked at him with my brow raised. “We weren’t too worried seeming as you had my brother and Deric with you, but still, there wasn’t a note or anything, so we called Terry.” I scowled. Terry’s phone had never rang and he never answered a phone call. “He said you guys were here, so we came over here.”
“Well, shouldn’t you be heading to school?” I questioned. He grinned at me.
“You don’t really want me to go.” No, I didn’t, not really, but he couldn’t miss school because of me. Who knows how many times he already had or snuck away on a school day, just to come see me.
“You need to go to class.” I told him and he chuckled as he lowered his lips to mine in a slow, soft kiss. I slid my arms around his shoulders and neck as he let go of my hand and cupped my face in his hand. He deepened the kiss and a throat (I could only assume was Sebastian or Gracie) cleared behind us. He pulled back with a chuckle and kissed my nose before he let me go and we faced the others. Gracie and Terry were back with boxes and were watching us carefully. Gracie glanced at Deric a moment and then focused on me again.
“You should head to school now Andy.” She said and he sighed. He nodded and looked at me.
“I’ll be back later… or I’ll just meet you at your house.” I nodded and he kissed me shortly and then headed for the door. When Gracie ordered something, it was done or you were in trouble. She might be antisocial and rather… well she didn’t really look intimidating at all, but the woman could be very scary and outspoken if she needed to be. You didn’t disobey that woman in fear of your life.
“Alright.” I said and looked at the people in the room. “Let’s start packing this place up.” I worked here and I never realized just how many books were actually in this place.
I pulled the last few books down from the second to top shelf and in one of the bookshelves and looked at them before I went to the box of books on the counter. I put the three books in the box and nearly jumped out of my skin when Deric’s arm came into view from behind me. I really wished that he would stop doing that, but at the same time, I always loved that he was this close to me when my back was turned...
UGH! Why does he have to be so cute?!?! I questioned Lana and I just heard her laugh quietly. You know you are no help and you suck right? She just laughed again and I rolled my eyes as I looked up at Deric.
“Sorry... again.” I raised my brow at him and he backed up a little. “You scare easy.” now I just looked at him. “I know I know.” he sighed and looked down. I scowled now. What was going on with everyone right now? One second they were great and then everything gets really depressing the next. What was wrong with everyone? Shouldn’t I be the one depressed and not them? This is just crazy.
“I’m fine you know.” I said quietly and he looked at me again as I walked back over to the shelf to get the ones from the top. “I promise.” I heard him walk closer to me as I reached up and grabbed a couple of books. It hurt a little and I had to hurry and lower my arm again, but the pain went away rather quickly as I walked over to the box again.
“You shouldn’t really be reaching for anything up there right now.” he said to me softly as he grabbed some too and came over to put his in the box as well. I rolled my eyes and went back over to the shelf and reached up...
This time, pain shot through my side, like it had when I had reached for the glass the other day, and books fell as I cried in pain and Deric caught me as I started to fall. I breathed hard as I knelt there with Deric behind me, holding me close to him.
The others ran in and looked at us as I held my side and whimpered. It hurt worse than before and I was sure that Deric knew that as I shook in his arms.
“Come on.” he whispered as he tried to turn me and I cried in pain. Why didn’t I just listen to him? Why did I have to be so stubborn about all this stupid helping? Ugh! I hated my stupidity! “Easy, come on Sam, you’ll be okay.” I cried in pain again as Deric tried once more to turn me around some. Slowly, he managed to and then he picked me up and carried me over to the window seat. The drapes were closed and the blinds were down behind that (we decided to keep them closed because it was dark and gloomy outside because it was going to rain) so it was darker than usual, even with the lights on.
I breathed hard as my body stopped shaking so hard.
I didn’t understand. Why was my side hurting so much worse when I was supposed to be healing? Why did it hurt so bad now, when it didn’t even hurt half as bad the last time?
What was going on?