Somewhere I Belong

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Chapter 22: Trenton, North Carolina - November 6, 2017

The end of October came; bringing Halloween, November and cooler weather. Cory and I pushed through with working on the house, finishing up the plumbing and the lighting. It was starting to come together nicely, the second floor resembling a room rather than an empty area. Cory had installed the plywood on the floor and put carpeting in over it. It was a light brown color that matched the wood paneling well. Like we had spoken about before, he put the smaller closest in and the half bath in the back corner. It was just a toilet and a sink, big enough for a person to get ready for the day in. I put the ceiling fan in in the middle of the room, making everything seem complete.

With that done, we focused on the first floor. Cory had finished the bathroom, installing a large claw foot tub with an attached shower head. It was beautiful and I was jealous when I bought it in the store. There was a matching white porcelain sink with oak cabinet underneath it and Cory had put an old vanity mirror above the sink. I had purchased lights for it, giving it a bright feel that lit up the entire room. It looked great from the wood paneled walls right down to the brown tiled floor. In the main part of the first floor, we had put down dark brown carpeting that was very soft to the touch. It matched the paint on the walls and Cory hung a long chandelier in here, dangling from the high ceiling above. From the living room, you could look up and see the hall wall Cory had constructed for the loft. He had painted it a tan color with a wooden top to match the theme. The half wall followed the entire length of the stairs, ending with a solid wooden banister. We had talked about redoing all the stairs but he felt like they were sturdy enough to just built on. He put backs on the steps and stained them with a chocolate shade of brown.

The only thing left to do was the kitchen. It was the gas line that was giving us trouble now. Cory had put a permit in to have it installed but for some reason, the gas company was being slow on the uptake of approving it. We couldn’t do anything until the gas line was put it, leaving us in limbo while they made their decision. Cory assembled the island that separated the living room from the kitchen, sliding it into place once it was done.

“It looks great in here!” Daddy said, coming in the door one afternoon. Cool air came in through the door, making it comfortable enough for a long-sleeved shirt. Cory tucked his hammer into his belt and stepped back, eyeing his work on the island. It was a slab of granite on top of a mahogany cabinet, drawers and doors on either side for storage.

“Thanks, Mr. Green.” Cory said, smiling at my father. I was perched on the steps, trying to find the number for the gas company on my phone. I was getting sick of their waiting game so I was mentally preparing the speech I was about to give them about lacking customer service and efficiency.

“You both are doing a great job. I also got some great news for you.” Daddy said, smirking at me. I raised an eyebrow, lowering my cell phone.

“What’s that?”

“The gas company just left a signed approval letter for the gas line to be installed. They will be here the beginning of next week to turn it on.” He held up a folded letter in his hand that he was hiding behind his back. I laughed, jumping off the step to grab it.

“Yes! This means we should have this place down before Thanksgiving. We could have it rented out by Christmas.” I said, skimming the pages of the agreement.

“Well, first I need to have it inspected by the codes enforcer. Once it passes that, you can start looking for a tenant.” Cory replied, stepping closer to us. “We’ll pass though. I made sure to follow every rule in the damn book. It’s a solid place. Anyone is going to be lucky to live here.”

“Well, I don’t want to do much until after the holidays. I know Sarah is coming down for Thanksgiving and I thought you girls could stay out here to give you some privacy.” Daddy said, tucking the letter back in his pocket.

“Sarah said she should be flying in next Tuesday. I’m so excited to see her.” I called over my shoulder as I walked into the would-be kitchen. I grabbed my water bottle from the counter and walked back over.

“Whose Sarah?” Cory asked.

“She’s my business partner in New York. She helped me build my company from the ground up. I don’t know where I would be without here, really.”

“I’m glad she’s coming in for the holiday. She’s a good girl. Hate to think of her alone in the city.” Dad was referring to the fact Sarah didn’t really have much family. Her father lived overseas in London and barely spoke to her unless it involved borrowing money. Her mother had died when she was younger, allowing her to join my Dead Mother’s Club. She had no other siblings or family that she would visit, spending most holidays with Michael and me. She never seemed to mind it though, always staying upbeat and pleasant. Sarah is quite the force to reckon with, explaining why she wasn’t in a relationship either. Her and her previous girlfriend, Sofia, had broken up last spring when things got deep at work. Sofia couldn’t take Sarah working such long hours and Sarah couldn’t understand why Sofia was upset by her success. The two split and Sarah claimed she gave up dating for lent.

“You’ll love her. She’s this spunky, energetic ball of fun that is not shy of anything.” I said, looking at Cory. “She’s like the human version of a puppy.” He smirked, nodding.

“Well, I can’t wait to meet her.”

“You should bring Cindy over for Thanksgiving, Cory. Love to have you and her over.” Dad said, heading towards the door.

“We’d love to come. I’ll bring some of her green bean casserole.” Cory replied.

“Sounds great! I’ll leave you two to your work then.” He winked at me before walking out. I took a long sip of water from my bottle, emptying it.

“What are you doing this weekend?” Cory asked, walking over to the space where the stove would be. I shrugged, tapping the empty bottle against my leg.

“Probably working in here. Why?”

“Patrick asked me if I wanted to go out to the bar Friday night. Him and few guys that used to work with us at the factory are going out. I thought maybe you’d like to invite your friends along to make it a party.” He knelt on the floor, connecting the pipes to the gas line he had run through the ground up into the floor.

“I’ll have to ask Marie and Angie what they are doing. I’m sure they will be up for it. Any chance to drink works for them.”

“Do don’t drink much?” He asked, looking up from his spot on the ground. I shrugged.

“Not really. I mean, I’ll have a glass of wine here or there but I don’t drink to drink.”

“I’m sure your dad has something to do with that.”

“Yeah. I mean, he’s not an alcoholic but he came close to it. I just don’t think I could picture myself living life like that. I already have the genes to become a psychopath. Let’s not add boozer to that as well.” I joked. Cory didn’t laugh though, pulling himself to his feet.

“How have you been? I mean, we haven’t really talked about it much since that day at the corn maze.” I sighed, knowing this was bound to come up. Since that day at the pumpkin patch, Cory has done a great job not mentioning Mike or what happened. It was if he had no clue, keeping it quiet. I knew it would pop its head up again eventually.

“Okay I guess. I haven’t had the time to think about it. With everything going on in this place, I kind of just through myself into work.”

“Well, there’s nothing new.” He replied, snorting. “You’ve always done that. Hell, when your Momma died, you did nothing but work on your writing for at least a month. Thought for sure you’d have an entire book series by the end of it.”

“I could have. It’s just how I deal with my emotions.” I answered, jumping up on the island to sit.
It was just easier than thinking about the fact of what happened.”

“I get it. Let’s you focus on something positive rather than the negative stuff around you. Believe me. When shit went down when we were kids, I high tailed it to the woods instead of dealing with it in person. You know that better than anyone.” Nodding, I gave him a small smile.

“We’ve been through a lot of shit together, Cory. I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you for being there for me through it all. If not, consider this it.” He smirked, the tips of his ears turning red.

“I think you’ve said it a time or two before but you’re welcome. I could say the same to you. You saved my skin back when Vicky had her claws in me. She probably would have killed me if you didn’t step in when you did.”

“Speaking of Satan, what ever happened to her? A few years ago, I looked her up on the internet but I couldn’t find anything. Is she dead?”

“Sadly, no. She’s living in Newburg with Jake. They moved there after she was released from jail. I see him from time to time. He still talks to me when I do. She acts like I sinned her. Tried to tell everyone in town that I was a liar and trying to steal their money all the time. Last fall, she slipped in a puddle outside of the big grocery store in Newburg. She ended up getting a settlement for about $100,000. Safe to say, she doesn’t think about me much.”

“You gotta be kidding me. How the hell does that work? After all the shit she did to you, the universe grants her all that money? That’s why I don’t believe in God.” I scoffed, tossing the bottle into the empty box the cabinets came in.

“You don’t believe in God?”

“No. There is no way that some divine power is up there, screwing up lives like this. If there was, you would think he’d be a bit nicer when it came to us little people.”

“Well, you never know. He could be letting things pan out. They say everything happens for a reason. God could be that reason. I mean, I’m no bible thumper but I do think somethings are more than coincidence, ya know?”

“Like what?” I asked, amused. Cory and I have had this debate before. Where I grew up in a house with parents who went to church, he grew up with foster parents who couldn’t give a crap. I went to church every Sunday until Momma started getting sick. She didn’t want to go anymore; certain God was against her. That was about the time my belief disappeared as well. I find it hard to believe he would let all the crap I’ve been through happen if he was floating on a cloud up there.

“You coming back to Trenton. I never thought I’d see the day you coming strolling back into town. Something had to have known that was going to happen.”

“I only came back because my husband accidently offed himself. Not because of some destiny I was meant to fill, Cory.”

“I guess we’ll see.”

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