Somewhere I Belong

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Chapter 26: Trenton, North Carolina - November 16, 2017

Sarah helped me pack up some of my things to move into the back house for the week. I offered to give her the bed upstairs but she refused, saying she would take my pull-out couch instead. She did take the closet though, unloading all of her designer clothes into half of it. I didn’t bring much since it wasn’t a far walk to my actual bed room. Just a few outfits that fit into the small dresser next to the hall wall that over looked the downstairs. It was fun hanging out with Sarah, reminding me of our times in New York. Since Mike worked so much, it wasn’t too uncommon to find Sarah at my place with a bottle of wine six nights out of the week. We’d order take-out, watch horrible television and drain the bottle before she’d head home. We even planned our days by the shows that were on during the week.

Daddy came home from work as we were unpacking Sarah’s luggage. He knocked on the door, knowing enough to wait for one of us to answer. Sarah opened the door and gave him a hug. She had gotten to know my father quite well since we first met. Dad would often make the journey to the city to see me even though he hated the bustle of it all. Sarah’s father wasn’t in her life really and she enjoyed having someone like Dad to act as a stand in for that role. He thought of her as a second daughter as well, something he never had with my other friends here in Trenton. “Well, this is a nice surprise. I thought you were coming in on Tuesday.” He said as she let go of him.

“I was but I decided to surprise Abby. It worked.” She replied, winking at me. I rolled my eyes as I came down the stairs.

“Yeah. Yeah.” I said, sitting on the arm of the couch. “How was work, Daddy?”

“Same old. Can’t wait for tomorrow to be over. A weeklong vacation sounds golden right about now.” He said, sighing. “Well, I’ll let you girls catch up.” He turned to head for the door when something outside caught his eye. He looked over at me. “Abz, Cory is here.”

“Oh! I get to meet him!” Sarah said, her face lighting right up. I groaned. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later but I was hoping it would be tomorrow when I had some vodka in my system.

“You can let him in.” I said. Daddy nodded, disappearing out the door. I turned to Sarah. “I swear to God if you ask him about any of my lady parts, I will throttle you.” I warned, pointing a finger at her.

“Relax. I won’t say anything that will embarrass you.” She said. “But you will tell me all about him seeing your lady parts later, right?” There was a light knock on the door before Cory opened it, stepping inside.

“Hey.” He said, smiling at me. He wore his work boots today, a light blue pair of jeans over them along with a white and blue flannel shirt. It was thicker than his others, the November air growing chillier by the day. His eyes flashed to Sarah who was grinning ear to ear at him. “Oh, hello there. You must be Sarah.”

“Yes, I am. You must be Cory.” Sarah reached her hand out and they shook for a quick minute.

“That’s what they tell me I suppose. It’s nice to meet you. Abz has said nothing but good things about you.” He smiled at her, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

“I assure you that it’s all lies. I’m either much nicer than she said or much meaner than she said. Either way, it’s nice to meet you. Have you and Abby been friends long?” She asked, sitting on the couch. I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide. It was like watching my parents meet him all over again.

“Since the fifth grade.” Cory replied, shoving his hands into his pockets. “And you?”

“We met about the time she moved to the city. She’s quite the special girl, isn’t she?” I bit my tongue from lashing out at Sarah who casted me a mischievous glance.

“That she is. Since you’re here, does that mean you’ll be joining us tomorrow night?” He asked.

“I haven’t had a chance to ask her yet. As you can tell, she has a mouth that could power the whole county.” I answered before she could. She gave me a fake pout, crossing her arms. “But yes. She’ll be tagging along. Angie and Marie are going as well. Marie found a babysit with no helps to Pat.”

“There’s a shocker. He’s my friend but he’s a terrible husband. I don’t get what she sees in him.” He replied, shaking his head. “I guess some girls go blind when they fall in love.” His eyes flashed to me for a second before turning back to Sarah. She looked like she had just witnessed something incredibly; her eyes were wide and she was looking back and forth between the two of us.

“I guess so.” I said softly. I knew he was referring to me. I wasn’t an idiot. He wasn’t wrong either I suppose.

“You know what?” Sarah said, jumping to her feet. “I’m in the mood for some junk food and wine. It has been far too long since we had a night like that. I’m going to see if your Dad will run me into town to pick up some stuff.”

“Well, I can take you.” I offered. She shook her head, pulling her jacket on.

“Don’t worry about it. I wanted some time to catch up with your father. You two chat! I’ll be right back.” She winked at me as she ran out the door. Cory snorted, shaking his head in her direction.

“She’s not very subtle.” He pointed out. I sighed, nodding as I stood up from the arm of the couch.

“That’s an understatement. You grow to love her. I promise.” I said, walking towards the stairs to the loft. He followed me as I climbed up them. There was a new bed here, the only piece of furniture I didn’t own from my old place. Dad suggested I buy it and could just put it in my room once we found tenants. Sarah had made it with the new brown and tan comforter set I had bought for it. It really looked like a home now. I was proud of the way it had turned out. Cory and I had put so much work into it and it really paid off.

“It looks great in here. You guys staying out here while she’s here?”

“Yeah. I figured it would give Grams and Dad some more space without the two of us hanging out in there. Especially since Daddy’s off all week. You and Cindy still coming over for Thanksgiving?” I asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Planning on it. She’s already trying to find a new pie recipe to bring over. She wants me to ask your Dad about your mother’s apple pie recipe.” He responded, leaning against the wall by the closet.

“I can get it for you. It’s in one of the boxes I put in my room. It’s easy to make.” He nodded as a silence fell over us. After a moment, he cleared his throat and adjusted his feet.

“How you feeling?” He asked. I glimpsed at him through my eye lashes, not sure what to say. I knew what he was asking.

“I’m fine I guess. It’s nice having Sarah here. I missed her a lot.”

“That’s good. Anything from Mike’s family?” I shook my head, standing. Walking over to the small dresser, I pulled open the top drawer and dug out the check from the insurance company I had received this morning. I held it out to him. He grabbed it, his mouth gaping when he read it.

“It’s only a chunk of it. The rest will come later on.” I muttered, taking the check back. I tossed it in the drawer and shoved it closed. “I don’t even want it anymore.”

“Well, I will gladly take it off your hands.” He scoffed, grinning at me. “The money is rightfully yours, Abby. You can do whatever you want with it. You should use some of it to publish something.”

“I don’t need to. I was picked up by a literary agent this afternoon.” I grinned at him sheepishly. “I was going to tell you about it when everything was official.”

“That’s amazing! See? I told you your hard work would pay off. Your talent nailed this for you.”

“No. You did actually. I contacted the same company that published my short story when we were kids. The agent said I had a few followers who liked my work. That’s the reason she decided to sponsor me. All these years later and you still manage to bring the best out of me.” His ears tinted pink as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Yeah well you are making it harder as we get older.” He joked, smiling at me. “But I’m happy for you. It’s something you deserve. So, you going to remember us little people after you’re a famous writer?”

“I will try my hardest.” I replied, winking at him.

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