Bits and Pieces

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Chapter Four

It was a Sunday and her fifth day of work when she went in at eight AM. It was what time he opened on Sundays. Offering her some breakfast, she turned it down munching only on crackers and plain, black coffee. Unlocking the door, she flipped the open sign then raised the curtains. It was a short day for her, working only five hours.

Sundays were usually busy days for the business as both Carol and Monica joined her at work. During the lunch hour rush, she was standing in the kitchen when Casey heard the ring of the bell from the door opening. Merely glancing, she saw a family come in. A man, a woman, a teenage boy and a younger girl. They sat in Casey’s station.

Grabbing four menu’s, she walked toward their table. The woman looked twice at her then stood when she reached their table. “Casey, oh my God, is that you?” The woman, who seemed familiar, hugged her.

Then the teenage boy looked at Casey and jumped to his feet, looking her over. “Casey?” He said. Then slowly, he dropped to his knees and pulled up her pant leg. Pushing her sock down, he revealed the ‘C’ on her ankle and knew it was Casey.

Jumping back to his feet, he grabbed her and threw his arms around her, pulling her fast against him. “Oh my God… they said you were dead.” He whispered, his embrace warm and tight.

Surprised by his sudden affection, she looked at him when he pulled back. It was the same boy from her dream. “Travis?”

“Yes. How…?” Confused, he shook his head. “Do you have time to sit and talk for a minute?” He asked.

“Not really, it’s been busy.” She said, thinking this boy could somehow spark her memory. “But I’d still like to speak with you. I’ll be out of work in an hour and a half. Can you meet me here?”

“I’m not leaving, I’ll wait for you.” Travis said.

“Ok, can I get you anything to drink? Coffee, pop, tea?”

Taking their drink order, she promptly returned with their drinks then took their orders. Casey remained busy until it was time to go. Travis was still at the table waiting for her but the rest of his family had left. She put her coat on then sat across from him at the table. “I thought maybe we could go for a walk and talk.”

“Yes, absolutely, whatever you want.” He said.

Casey stood first and Travis followed her out the door. “So, what happened to you?” Travis asked.

“Well, I guess my family was murdered, but they didn’t kill me. I was in a coma for five weeks. From there, I was put in protective custody and sent to a foster care home in Dover. I hated it, was constantly in trouble, done some things I shouldn’t have. There was nothing there to help me remember my past.”

“What do you mean, remember your past.” He stopped and put his hand on her shoulder, causing her to stop too.

“I have amnesia. I don’t remember anything prior to five weeks ago, when I woke from my coma. My life has been erased. So I left the foster care home to return to Holland in an effort to remember my past.”

“So, you don’t remember me?” Travis asked.

“No, I remember nothing. But I’ve had glimpses of my past in my dreams. My dreams have been giving me clues to my past. I’ve dreamed of you and I’ve dreamed of a masked man with a gun who has a glass eye, a brown eye and a blue eye. I know he’s the one who murdered my family.”

“The police still have no clues to the murders. Have you discussed your dreams with them?”

“No, I can’t prove anything just with my dreams. I need solid evidence. I’d really like to go to that house, the house I lived in. Do you know where it is?”

“Of course, it’s only three doors down from mine. Come on, I can take you.” He said, taking her hand.

Feeling the ring on her hand, he lifted it up to look at it. “You still have my ring on.” He said.

“Your ring, you’re the one who gave it to me?” She asked.

“Yes, for your seventeenth birthday, the day before… that night.” He said.

“Thank you. It’s really pretty.”

“You told me you would never take it off, and you haven’t. Thank you Casey.” He said and hugged her again.

Although he was like a stranger, he wasn’t. Everything about him was familiar but she was apprehensive. Maybe it was the rape that was making her somewhat nervous. But she had a calm, welcome feeling about him that deterred her suspicions.

“Come on, my car is right over here.” He said.

Hesitant, she followed him to his car and climbed into the passengers side. It was the same car from her dreams. Traveling merely five blocks, he came to a driveway and pulled in. “Please Casey, be careful around here. If there is still someone trying to kill you, they will soon discover your return.”

“I will.” She said, looking at the familiar house that she almost couldn’t place.

Getting out of the car, she first looked at the car in the driveway and seen the keys in the ignition. “This is your car.” Travis informed her.

“Really?” She said.

Pulling them out, she went to the front door, Travis following her. Finding the right key, she opened the door and went inside. There was enough light coming through the windows to see without turning on a light. Walking into the living room, she saw the blood stains from her parents fate. It made her shiver.

Looking around, she saw all the pictures, getting glimpses into her life. All the displays of family was further proof that her seemingly perfect life had been shattered by a man in a mask with a gun.

It was like she knew exactly where she was going in the large house as she went straight to her bedroom. The bright yellow room was almost like her room at the foster care home, but this room felt more like home. Travis followed her into her bedroom. Casey looked at all the things in her bedroom, seeing the jewelry box on her dresser.

Opening it, she went through the box, looking at all the jewelry. Then she came to one piece, a necklace with a diamond pendant. She knew it was her mothers and left her room to return it to her mother’s jewelry box.

Looking through her mother’s jewelry box, she seemed to somewhat remember. Then she returned to her room where she went through her drawers and closet and packed some of her clothes and accessories up to take with her. She knew it wouldn’t be safe to stay at the house. But she was taking her car.

Packing everything into her car, Travis showed her where his house was. Writing his cell number down on a piece of paper, he handed it to her. “I want to make sure you can get a hold of me if you need to.” He said. “By the way, where are you staying?”

“I have my own apartment.” She said, not yet ready to reveal where.

“Are you working tomorrow?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you mind if I come and visit you?” He asked.

“Not really. You have already helped me to remember and I appreciate it. Thank you Travis.”

He hugged her one last time before getting into his car and pulling away. His heart was sinking knowing she didn’t much remember him but he knew he had to work to change that. He loved her deeply and knew it would take some time.

Driving to the grocery store, she sorted out her money and held back enough to pay for another weeks rent. Then she went to purchase a disposable cell phone and programed Travis’s number in it. Saving enough to put gas in her car, she spent some at the grocery store.

The last stop was the gas station where she put the remainder of her money in the gas tank. Relieved to have a vehicle, she knew she needed insurance. That would have to come after a few more days of tips and perhaps payday.

Returning to her apartment, she decided not to drive her car anywhere else until she obtained insurance, it was too risky. Throwing her keys on the table, she plopped down on the couch and reached for the remote. Flipping through the channels, she could not concentrate on the TV as her mind was swallowed by thoughts of Travis.

She knew not who he was but there was definitely something about him that drew her to him. Besides the fact that he was extremely good looking, he was approximately the same age as her. With his soft voice, he seemed gentle and laid back. But because of Brett, it was hard to find trust.

Picking up her phone, she looked at it, contemplating whether she should call Travis. It was the only one she knew, other than everyone at the restaurant. But for some reason, she longed to talk to Travis.

Dialing the first three digits, she hung the phone up, still unsure. But again, she tried calling the number, dialing the entire number. Not recognizing the number, Travis didn’t answer until the fourth ring, Casey nearly hanging up.

“Hello?” He asked.

“Travis?”

“Yes Casey, it’s me. Are you alright?”

“Yes, I just wanted to chat with you.”

“I’m glad you called, I was thinking about you.”

“Were you? I guess I could say likewise.”

“What are you doing? Where are you?” Travis asked.

“I’m at home, sitting, watching TV. What about you?”

“I was playing a video game, but I would much rather talk to you.” He said.

“You seem like you knew me well, what was I like?” Casey asked.

“Yes, I’ve known you since you were six. We’ve been going to school together for a long time and you were my best friend, for years. I need to tell you that a big piece of me died that night. But it has been reborn. Seeing you today was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I can’t begin to explain how I felt.”

“You’re sweet, but you have to remember that I don’t remember. I have intuition about you, but I don’t remember.”

“What kind of intuition?” Travis asked.

“I’m not sure yet. But intuition is good.”

“Yes, I would agree. What are you doing right now, I’d like to come and see you.”

“Maybe not today. I’m relaxing for awhile then going to bed. I have to work early.”

“Ok...” He sounded disappointed. “Maybe tomorrow, after work.”

“Maybe.” She returned.

The thought of the documents ran across her mind and she remembered having information on her parent’s lawyer. “I’m going to take a hot shower then go to bed. I’ll probably see you tomorrow.” She assumed.

“What time do you get out of work tomorrow?” Travis asked her.

“Two.” Casey answered.

“Can I meet you there, about three forty five?”

“Ok. Maybe we’ll do something.”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you then.” He said, but didn’t want to end their conversation.

“Ok. Travis, have a good night.”

“I will now.” He said, smiling against the phone.

“Bye.” She too, smiled.

Hanging up the phone, she got off the couch and went into her bedroom, searching for the documents containing information on the lawyer. Finding them in her dresser drawer, she returned to the couch and looked through the papers. The only information she had was the name, address and phone number of the lawyer. She is unsure whether she had ever met the man.

Knowing she would go when she got out of work, she closed the file and left it on the table. After taking a hot shower, she dressed in her pajamas and went to bed with her hair wet. Instead of falling asleep, her mind wrapped around the thought of her pregnancy. Rubbing her belly, she could feel the smallest of a bump coming from her tight stomach. It seemed to become a reality.

Tossing and turning, she thought about the pregnancy and wondered if Travis was possibly the child’s father. The more she thought about it, the more she suspected it although she had no proof. Trying to get the pregnancy off her mind, she shifted thoughts, now thinking about her family. Feeling so alone, she was instantly depressed, knowing she lost everything she had in her seemingly perfect life.

After an hour of crying and tossing and turning, she finally fell asleep. Although it was a night without dreams, she woke feeling exhausted and out of balance. Dragging herself out of bed, she made some coffee while she dressed, hoping it would help wake her up. But it only made her ill.

Entering the kitchen of the restaurant, she greeted Joel and went straight to the bathroom where she was ill again. Coming from the bathroom, Joel walked to her and examined her face. “Are you alright?”

“I’ll be fine, just give me a little time. Can I have some apple juice?”

“Yes, of course, help yourself.” Joel agreed. “If you’re sick...”

“No, I’m fine.” She cut him off and walked toward the refrigerator.

Drinking a small glass of juice, she unlocked the door and flipped the open sign. In her routine, she opened the curtains and made fresh coffee. The breakfast rush came and went, soon followed by the lunch rush. Making over one hundred dollars in tips, she knew she had almost enough to cover her car insurance.

At the end of the day, Joel informed her that it was payday, handing her a paycheck. Now she was sure she had enough for auto insurance. Talking to Joel, she discovered the closest bank and closest insurance agency. Then she asked about the lawyers address and he gave her simple directions.

Her first stop was the bank, then the insurance agency. After acquiring insurance on her car, she walked back to her apartment to get into her car and drive to the lawyers office. Walking through the front door, it seemed as she had never been there before.

“Can I help you?” She heard the woman’s voice from behind the desk.

“I would like to speak with Mr. Jenkins.” Casey answered her.

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No, but it’s urgent.”

“You’ll have to wait and see if he’ll see you. He’s with a client right now.” She said.

“That’s fine, I’ll wait.” Casey said and sat on the bench, picking up a magazine.

Waiting for merely fifteen minutes, she heard the door open and three people come out. Two men and a woman. Seeing the man wearing a suit and tie, she assumed he was Mr Jenkins. Glancing at her, he took a second look as he shook hands with the other man. As the couple left his office, Mr. Jenkins walked toward Casey and she stood to her feet.

“I’m not sure which one you are, you’ll have to identify yourself.” He said.

“You remember us? I’m Casey.” She said, handing him her drivers license.

“This states that you are Casey, but I need to see your tattoo to be sure.” He said.

Casey smiled, surprised so many people knew about the tattoo. Lifting up her pant leg, she pulled her sock down and exposed the ‘C’ on her ankle. He nodded his head and motioned for her. “Come on in.”

Closing the doors behind him, he offered her a seat. “I’ve been waiting for you to come in. I knew you were still alive and I know you left the foster care home.”

“Yes, now that you mention it, Detective Powell did say you were aware.”

“I’m glad you came in, there are some papers for you to sign, for your parents estate. Considering the fact that Emily is missing and presumed dead, the entire estate will go to you. Unless she appears suddenly to claim what is hers and it’s already been more than two months.” He said, opening a file.

Shuffling some papers around, he handed her sheets, explaining and pointing where to sign. “The house, properties and vehicles are yours. Unfortunately all the cash and life insurance policies are tied up in a trust fund which you can’t touch until you’re eighteen. However, I am allowed to pay a specific amount to ensure your care. Being that you have no caregiver, the cash will go to you. That payment is four hundred and sixty seven dollars a week. I will print your first check in a minute.” He explained and showed her again where to sign. “The estate, not including your trust fund, is worth three hundred twenty one thousand seven hundred eleven dollars and sixty seven cents. Your trust fund is worth one million, two hundred seventy one thousand, sixteen dollars and twelve cents. That includes both of their life insurance policies.”

Casey began to cry, not realizing she had that much money. She knew she wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills. And she wouldn’t have to worry about how to financially support her child.

Leaving the lawyers office, she was smiling, happy about the news she received from the lawyer. She had just enough time to go to the bank and deposit the check into the checking account she had just set up before she had to meet Travis at the restaurant. Sipping on soda pop, she glanced at the newspaper.

Hearing the bell ring from the opening door, she looked up to see Travis coming through the door. Looking at him, she felt a sense of nervousness as she realized how attracted she was to him. With his dark hair and dark eyes, he was tall and slender. Walking to her booth, he sat across from her.

“Hi.” He said first.

“Hi.” She responded with a smile.

“Are you ready?” He asked.

“Ready for what?”

“I thought we could go do something more fun than sitting here.”

“Oh, what did you have in mind?” She asked.

“Come on, I’ll show you.” He stood and reached his hand out toward her.

Watching from the kitchen, Joel smiled, knowing they were a strong couple before that dreadful night that the man in the mask with a gun took everything from her, including her memory. Everyone saw what they shared before that night, other students and teachers and their parents, as well as her boss, Joel.

Taking his warm hand, she stood and followed him out the door. His car was parked in the street, two spaces from the front of the restaurant. Driving through town, he went north then turned west. Pulling into a parking space before a large building, there were only a few other cars in the parking lot.

Walking through the doors, she heard the loud crack from the ball smashing into the pins. It was a strike and she watched the young girl jump up and down, celebrating her strike. Casey smiled at her. Renting a lane and shoes, they found their best suited bowling balls and set them on the lanes. Casey changed her shoes then figured out how to navigate through the scoreboard screens.

Casey was surprised to find how good she could bowl then Travis informed her they used to come almost every weekend. After two games, she found herself starving. Offering to buy their dinner, she encouraged him into the on site restaurant.

The restaurant was also a bar and they knew they would have to leave by nine PM, when they were no longer allowed in the bar. The inside was barely lit, with the lights turned dim and the inactive dance floor was even darker.

Sitting along the edge of the dance floor, the bartender approached them. “Did you two want to order some food?”

“Yes, I’ll just take a burger with everything, a basket of fries and a basket of onion rings And a Coke.” Casey told her.

“Ok...” The waitress said and jotted it down. Looking at Travis, she waited for his order.

“I’ll take a cheeseburger with everything and a basket of fries too. No onion rings. I’ll take a Coke too.”

“Ok..” She jotted his order down. “I’ll be back in a few.” She said and left the table.

“Casey, I can’t believe you ordered your cheeseburger with onion and tomato. You hate onion and tomato.” Travis said.

“I guess I like them now…She mumbled, hiding the fact that she was wondering if perhaps it was a craving.

Digging in her pockets, she found some change and went to the jukebox. Putting in her change, she selected a few songs. Then Travis put in some change and selected a few more songs. It wasn’t long before their meals came. While they ate, they talked about their day. As they finished eating, the last song came on, the song that used to be their song.

Standing to his feet, he reached his hand out. “Would you dance with me?”

After working all day then bowling, Casey’s feet were swollen and aching. But that didn’t deter her as she accepted his offer. He seemed safe enough. Following him onto the dance floor, Travis stopped in the darkest corner as if to hide from the world. Turning toward her, he took her in his arms and they began to sway with the music.

She was close enough to slightly smell his body spray and breathed it in as she closed her eyes. Slowly, Travis stopped moving to the music and she opened her eyes to see him looking down at her. Closing his arms tighter around her, he leaned down and kissed her. It seemed completely awkward to her but she was unsure that she wanted the kiss to stop. She liked it and it felt right but deep inside, she was tugging with the notion that he was yet, a stranger to her.

Deciding to end the kiss, she pulled away and walked off the dance floor, leaving him standing there alone in the darkness. Returning to the table, she left enough money on the table to pay the bill and tip the waitress before putting on her coat and standing, waiting for Travis to take her home.

Watching her from the dance floor, Travis saw her put her coat on and knew he should take her home. But he felt disrupted by the kisses end. He had to remember that he was, after all, still a stranger to her. It was hard for him to accept, but he knew he had to and hoped there were no hard feelings over the kiss.

Drawing in a deep breath, he finally walked off the dance floor and put on his coat. “I’m sorry Casey.” He mumbled, looking up at her.

“Don’t worry about it.” She smiled, answering back.

Stepping toward her, he slid his hand along her chin. “But I do worry about it. You have no idea how much I worry about it. Whether you know me or not, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in love with you. This is incredibly hard for me to deal with too, ya know.”

Looking in his eyes, she realized how truthful he was. It brought her struggles to remember forward to her mind, hoping she could remember more about him. As she tightly closed her eyes, a tear escaped and she felt even more lost. All she wanted to do was go home and hide away from the world.

“Come here...” He mumbled, seeing the tear fall from her eye. Slowly he pulled her into his arms. “Just promise me that now that I’ve kissed you, again, for the first time, you won’t die on me.”

She looked at him, feeling her heart tear, and realized how he must have felt the day he got the news. Not able to find the words to say, she simply nodded her head and wiped a tear from her eye. Travis held her for a moment while she cried.

“Come on, I’ll take you home.” He said, escorting her out the door.

Pulling out of the parking lot, Travis went back toward town. “So, where am I taking you, where do you live?”

“Above the restaurant.” She mumbled.

“Oh, really?” Travis said.

“Yeah.” She mumbled. “Thank you for being my friend Travis. You’re the only one I have.”

Reaching his hand out, he took hers and held it. “You’re welcome, you should know I had to be there for you.”

“Thank you Travis.” She began to cry. “I’ve lost everything. My family, my friends, my virginity, my life. I don’t know where to turn.”

“No, you haven’t lost everything. Your family, yes, your virginity, yes, your past life, yes. But not your friends. I’m here, and I know Taylor and Rand would love to see you.”

“How did you know I lost my virginity?”

“Because it was me, the night of homecoming, under the bleachers. It was both of our first times.”

Looking at Travis, she thought of a red dress and black sweater scarf. She thought of a full moon and rain. It was like she could remember bits and pieces of that night. Instantly she realized that Travis was her child’s father.

Travis pulled behind the building and parked beside her car. “It’s the door beside the restaurant, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” She said opening her door.

“So, can I see you tomorrow?”

“You know where to find me.” She answered before getting out of the door, smiling at him.

Travis waited until she was inside before pulling away. Casey climbed the stairs, digging through her purse, looking for her keys. Looking up as she cleared the last step, she saw that her door was slightly open. Instantly alarmed, she quietly walked to the door and looked through it. From inside her bedroom, she could see the flicker of a flashlight.

As fear engulfed her, she nearly tripped as she went down the stairs. Grabbing her cell phone as she ran for the corner of the building, she called the only person she could think of. Travis. Her voice frantic, she spoke loud words. “There’s someone in my apartment!”

“What, are you alright?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll be right there.” He said.

Doing a u-turn in the middle of the street, he was relieved there was no police. But he hadn’t gotten far from her as he pulled back in the alley and parked beside her car. Looking around, he saw her peeking from the corner of the building. Travis got out of the car and went to her.

“Which apartment is it, I know there is more than one.” He said.

Her voice was shaky. “It’s the last door on the left.” Casey said. As Travis turned to walk away, she took his arm, waiting for him to turn back toward her. “Please be careful, I didn’t see who it was.”

“I will.” He said and turned away from her again.

Casey watched as Travis disappeared through the door. Standing in her spot, she was shivering and trembling, both cold and scared to death. It seemed she held her breath until she saw Travis come back out of the building a few minutes later. He was accompanied by another man. As Casey looked closer, she recognized the other man as Jason Powell.

Feeling both relieved and apprehensive, she knew Detective Powell would try to make her return to the foster care home. Watching Travis, she knew he was leading Jason to where she was and decided to meet them across the parking lot.

“Casey, I’m glad to see you’re alright. You’re looking good.” Jason said.

“Thank you, I’ve been taking care of myself.” She responded. “How did you know?”

“We’ve had an anonymous tip but they weren’t sure if you were Casey or Emily. I needed to investigate it.”

“I’m not going back.” Casey said to Jason.

“Look Casey….” He looked at Travis, then back at Casey. “I know what happened at that foster care home and the last thing I would make you do is go back. You’re seventeen and doing well here, working and paying your rent. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re life could be in danger. I would really like for you to let me put you back in the protection program. You don’t have to go back to the same foster care home, but you need to get away from Holland.”

“No, I’m not leaving Holland. It’s the only place that helps me remember.”

“Are you sure you want to remember the worst thing in your life?” Jason asked her.

“No, I may not want to remember that, but I want to remember my life.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry.” Jason said. “Have you remembered anything from that night?”

“No, but I’ve been dreaming of a man with a mask and a gun. He has a glass eye, a brown eye and a blue eye. His face haunts me and gives me a nagging feeling deep inside. I’ve been dreaming of my past, including that night. I don’t know that man who pulled the trigger but I know his eyes.”

“That’s a really big clue Casey. You need to contact me when you have information like that.” Jason said. “Is there anything else you can remember?”

“Not really, just the incident itself.” She said, explaining the dreams she’s had.

Detective Powell knew her dreams were correct, explaining what they had discovered at the crime scene, her mother laying on the floor, was shot second, following her father. Avery, who was upstairs in bed, was the third to be shot while Casey was the forth to be shot, after she called 911.

“I need to go research suspects with those descriptions. Do you know how tall the man was, approximately, or if he was skinny or fat? Anything you can remember would help.”

“I don’t know, I would say he was taller than Travis with a medium build. But he was wearing all black, black hooded sweatshirt with the ski mask.”

Reaching in his pocket, he handed her a business card. “If you think of anything, or need anything, you just call me.” Jason said then gave her a hug. “I still care about you and your safety is my utmost concern. Please call me if you feel anything is suspicious.”

“Ok, I will.” She said, programming his number into her cell phone.

As Detective Powell turned to leave, Travis walked Casey back to her apartment. “Jason is right. Your life could be in danger. I hate to see you here, all alone.”

“I’ll be fine. I have Joel right next door.”

“But you called me instead.” Travis said.

She knew he was right but she didn’t think about it, it was just the first number she called. “Maybe it was an old habit.”

“Maybe.” He smiled at her.

Travis followed her up the stairs and into her apartment. Looking around, he hadn’t really seen it before, only going in to confront the intruder. It seemed small and quaint with a feminine touch. Casey shut and locked the door behind them, still shook from the incident.

“Help yourself to anything you want in the refrigerator, I’ll be right back.” Casey said as she went into her bedroom and shut the door.

Travis opened the refrigerator and pulled out a can of pop then sat on the couch and reached for the TV remote. Casey changed into her pajamas and threw her robe around her, wondering when she’ll tell Travis about her pregnancy. She knew it wouldn’t be now, it was way too early. Travis was a stranger who was close to her heart and she could already feel an attachment to him.

Coming from the bedroom, she sat down beside him on the couch, nervous, but needing to ask him. “You said I was your best friend, then surely you should know how many people I’ve had sex with.”

“Why would you ask me something like that? Yes, I do know how many people you had sex with. You were never interested in sex and dating. But you were with me. I was your only one. You were my only one. I’ve spent the last three months trying to forget about you. But I never could. Then here you are.” Travis said, sliding his fingers through hers and holding her hand.

“I’m sorry Travis, I understand how you feel, but I don’t feel that way. You are simply a familiar stranger to me and I can’t just jump into a heavy romance with you. It doesn’t work that way with me.”

“I know it doesn’t Casey, don’t forget, although you don’t know me, I know you. Very well.”

“I hate this. Not being able to remember is the worst thing in the world. My life is a big empty void.”

“No, Casey, your past is a void. Your future is bright and beautiful. The tragedy doesn’t have to change the plans you’ve made for the future.”

“Yes, actually it does. I don’t remember the plans I had for my future.”

“I do. We were going to attend college together. But you have to go back to school to get your diploma.”

“I’m not sure that is a good idea. Everyone will know I’ve returned and it’ll bring a lot of attention to me.”

“You’re probably right. But that will happen soon enough anyways. This is a small town, Jason already found out, it won’t be long before everyone at school will know.”

Nodding her head, she thought about it. “Yeah, maybe I should return to school.”

“I really miss your help in algebra. I’m really struggling and could use the help.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You were the top student in the class. One of the top students in the entire student body.”

“Oh, so I’m smart?”

Travis laughed. “Yes. One of the smartest people I know. Please don’t throw your intelligence away, go back to school.”

“I’ll have to think about it, and talk to Joel. When do you return to school?”

“January second.”

“I’ll have some time to think about it.” She said, yawning. “I have to be to work by six so I should go to bed.”

“Ok.” He said, almost seeming depressed. Leaning over, he kissed her on the cheek before standing to his feet. “I guess I’ll go so you can go to bed.”

“Thank you for everything Travis.” She said, standing up.

Following him to the door, she watched him walk down the stairs, almost wishing he wasn’t leaving. But she was tired and needed her sleep now more than ever. Locking the door, she shut off the lights and went to bed.

A few hours after falling asleep, she found herself in the hospital, Travis beside her. Feeling the incredible pain, she knew she was in labor. Travis was holding her hand and trying to calm her as the labor quickly progressed. Feeling the urge to push, Casey fought to give in to the urge but it was too strong and she began to push.

Just as the child was born, she sat up in bed, wide awake. She didn’t even get to learn the sex of the child. Drawing in a deep breath, she realized it was a dream then suddenly heard the knock on the door. Pulling herself out of bed, she glanced at the clock and saw it was quarter to seven AM. She knew she was late for work.

“Casey? You alright?” She heard Joel’s voice through the door and was relieved it was him.

“Yes, yes.” She said, rushing to the door. “Oh my God Joel, I’m so sorry.” She said as she opened the door. “I think I forgot to set my alarm. I’ll be right down.”

“Ok. It’s alright, I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

“I’m fine, thanks. I’ll get dressed and be right there.”

Joel nodded then turned to leave. Casey closed the door and rushed to get dressed. Walking into the kitchen, she apologized to Joel one more time while she put on her apron. For the entire day, she thought of the dream she had, knowing it was a reality. She could almost still feel the intense pain of childbirth from her dream.

By the end of the day, her feet were swollen and achy but she made good tips. Leaving the restaurant, she went to the bank first to withdraw enough money to pay a weeks rent and shop for groceries. Then she stopped to pay her rent before dragging her groceries up the stairs. Expecting Travis to stop by, she cooked them dinner.

Her suspicion was correct, it was nearly four when she heard the knock on the door. Opening it, she saw Travis standing with a smile on his face. From behind his back, he pulled out a dozed red roses and handed them to her.

“What’s these for?” She asked.

“Just because I was thinking of you and wanted to show you that I care.”

“Well thank you Travis.” She said, smiling. Taking the roses from him, she went to the kitchen to find a tall glass. Snipping the long stems off, she put them in the glass with the baby’s breath and ferns then filled the glass partially with water. Setting them on the table, she arranged them one last time.

“Something smells really good.” Travis said, sniffing into the air.

“I’ve made dinner for us, I assumed you might stay.”

“How can I refuse?” He smiled. “What are we having?”

“I’ve made beef stew and cornbread.” She said, placing the pans on the table.

“Oh yummy.” Travis said, sitting at the table.

Casey sat across from him and they dug into the food. It was an early dinner but she was starving already. Holding light conversation while they ate, they spoke of each others day. Helping her clean up, Travis washed all the dishes and put them in the strainer while she dried them and put them away.

“I love this small apartment. It’s perfect for one person, or a couple with no children.” Travis said.

“Yes, I love it too. It makes me feel more independent.”

“You are independent. You’re doing very well on your own and I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks Travis. I appreciate that. It’s a little easier now that I spoke to my parent’s lawyer.”

“Oh, did you?”

“Yes. He knew I was alive, one of the only people that did. I spoke to him about my parents estate and my trust fund. I’m getting a weekly check from him, a payment to ensure my financial care. I can’t touch my trust fund until I’m eighteen and by then...” She stopped, not wanting to reveal her pregnancy yet.

“And by then…?” He asked.

“By then, I can have my GED. Instead of going back to school, I’ll take my exam through adult education and get my GED. If I’m that smart, I should pass before I’m eighteen and have my diploma. Then I too, can start college, if that’s what I decide to do.”

“We did always talk about going to college together, but I’m a year ahead of you. This could make us even.”

“I haven’t completely decided on college yet.”

“What are you talking about, it was your plans.”

“Plans change.” She simply said.

“They don’t have to.” Travis said.

“Yes, actually, I think they do.”

“I really hope they don’t.”

“Just what were my plans?” She asked him.

“We were both going to go to Northwestern University. From there, I was going to medical school. You were taking up nursing.”

“You’re going to study to be a doctor?” She asked.

“Yes. I was the doctor and you were the nurse. That’s what we had planned.”

“I doubt that curriculum will fit into my life now.” She said, knowing having a baby would hinder her original plans.

“I wish you would at least think about it. I don’t want you to have to be a waitress forever.”

“I’ll think long and hard about that.” She said, knowing he was right.

“Besides, I’ll need your help with my homework. Especially algebra, calculus, you know… I’ll never be able to become a doctor without your help.” He smiled.

“What would you do without me?” She smiled back.

“I don’t ever want to go through that again Casey.” His face was suddenly serious.

“I’m sorry Travis...”

“Please don’t be, it wasn’t your fault. If I had only taken you home fifteen minutes later, he would’ve been gone. If I would’ve went in with you...”

“No Travis, you can’t blame yourself either. I don’t believe you had anything to do with it and I don’t believe you could’ve done anything about it. If you would’ve went in, you could be dead as well. Everything happens for a reason, even thought I don’t know what that reason is.”

Drying off his hands, he threw the towel on the counter and put his arms around her. “I don’t know what that reason is either. And I don’t know what the reason is for you to survive but you did. And even if you didn’t want anything to do with me, I would still be happy that you survived.”

Looking at him, she smiled. “You are the sweetest person I know.”

“You don’t know very many people.” He smiled.

Smiling back, she responded. “Even if I knew a million, you’d still be the sweetest.”

Pulling her closer, he leaned down and kissed her. She didn’t resist, nor could she. His kiss drew out a passion that had been locked inside and she responded with unbridled passion. Pulling back to look deep into her eyes, he saw the fire deep inside. Kissing her again, he pushed her backwards until her back was against the wall.

Raising her arms above her head, he pulled her sweater off. With another kiss, he slid his hands around her back and unhooked her bra, sliding it off her arms. Next, she pulled his t-shirt off over his head and placed her hands on the tight muscles of his abdomen. Leaning his body against her, his naked skin touched hers as he kissed her again.

Reaching down, she unbuttoned his jeans then unzipped them and slid her hands inside, pushing them off his hips. Travis moaned as his lips slid to her neck. Fumbling with the button of her jeans, he unbuttoned and unzipped them. Tugging on the sides, he pulled her jeans over her hips. Sliding her fingers along the edges of her panties, she slid them down along with her jeans, kicking them off.

Travis slid his hands behind her, grasping her buttocks. She was completely naked but he wasn’t. Picking her up, she wrapped her legs around him as he carried her into the bedroom and laid her across the bed. As she scooted up in bed, she watched Travis take his pants and underwear off, pushing off his shoes and kicking them aside.

Climbing in bed beside her, she threw the covers over them. Leaning on one elbow, Travis looked down at her in the late daytime light. “You’re so beautiful Casey.” He said and kissed her again. Feeling his hands roam over her body, she flashed back to the time under the bleachers. Again, she was remembering bits and pieces of her past. A time when they openly shared their feelings for each other.

But as Travis brought her back to real time, she felt herself grow more aroused. She knew he was the only person who could make her feel this way as he kissed her neck. As he repositioned himself on top of her, she opened her legs. Sliding his hands beneath her, he grasped her shoulders and pushed himself in completely.

Casey let out a moan as he began to move his hips back and forth. Arching her back, she pulled him closer as she moved against his rhythm. Growing closer to her orgasm, her movements became faster and she pulled him tighter.

Letting out a long moan and trembling beneath him, Travis knew she had reached her orgasm and thrust himself in with long steady strokes. But it only brought him closer to his and he couldn’t contain it any longer. With a jerking motion, he held his breath and let out a long moan before collapsing on top of her.

For long moments they laid as one with only the sound of their breathing. The evening sun was setting, casting long shadows across the bedroom. Travis lifted his head and looked at her, drawing in a deep breath. His hand ran across her jaw, pushing her hair back. “You are my one and only love. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I see only you.”

Smiling, she leaned up and kissed him again, having no words to respond with. Pulling himself off her, he laid beside her, snuggling up to her, they spent the evening in bed together, just being together, alone. They talked about the past, Casey barely remembering certain aspects. They talked about the future and Casey knew she didn’t want to be without him. And the more they talked, the more she realized she needed to tell him about the pregnancy. But she wasn’t quite ready to share.

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