My thoughts got interrupted by the sound of a ring signal, it wasn't mine. My gaze changed to the leaning man beside me, his thick lashes weighed heavy on his eyelids.
He didn't seem phased by it, as he continued to rest his eyes. The elevator wasn't helping with sound at all, it echoed instead.
It rings three more times, “ aren't you going to answer that?” I said slightly annoyed by the repeating sound. He grabs his tie and pulls on it.
“ No” was his response, I would have told him that what said earlier wasn't a question, it was a statement. His tone was rough compared to his usual sarcastic one, his mood was sour. The doors opened when we reached the fifth level, our floor. We part ways in the hallway. I kicked off my shoes and headed towards the bathroom to relax after a long day.
Forty minutes into my shower I heard a repetitive sound from a distance, I turned off the water to hear better.
I hear my phone ringing from my bedroom, I finish up quickly and wrap the towel around my body. Droplets drip down from my hair as I make my way out of the bathroom and into my cold bedroom. The aftermath of forgetting to close the window when I left earlier. I answer the call and put it on speaker.
“ Mama, how was the food?” I asked, she had sent me a picture of her lunch at a new restaurant. My mama doesn't like to try new foods, a picky eater to be specific.
I plugged in the hairdryer and started from the bottom of my damped hair and worked my way up.
“ It wasn’t too bad, but I rather eat at my sister’s restaurant, Child. I had to call Ylva since you didn't answer my call. ” She said, an image of her raising her hands dramatically appears in my mind.
“ Sorry, I just got home and took a shower,” I said reassuring her, otherwise she will give me a lecture on not giving your poor mother a heart attack. I put away the hairdryer and began to moisturize my body.
“ I called to tell you that we arrived at the airport, we are going to our beach house for a little family gathering”
My hands froze on my legs as my eyes searched for the digital calendar hanging on the wall, right above my neat desk. I swear they were supposed to be gone for a week more.
“ I will pick you up”
“Don’t worry about that, your father already picked us up. Drive safely” It was my aunt who responded this time. “ I will see you at the beach house then,” I said as the line cut. Going out this late wasn't my plan for today, the things you do for family. I put up my now almost black hair into a bun after that I began my search for an outfit. The selection came down to a matching pair of black sweats, considering the weather and my wet hair I need to wear something warm to minimize the chance of catching a cold. I sent a quick message to Mr. Graham letting him know about my visit since it was a part of the contract. I squeeze into my sneakers and walk out of the hotel room.
The sky showcased a dark blue color that got darker as I walked towards the elevator. I have gotten too occupied by work lately and perhaps the stalker got bored with me. It makes me unease to not know if it has stopped or if it is turning into a nastier situation. I stepped out as the elevator doors opened to the basement level. The lights were still on brightening the area that the sun does reach. I entered my beloved car and started to drive to the beach house.
The beach house isn’t too far away from the hotel so I don't have to rush, almost the same distance to my house which is great right now. My parents won’t be suspicious about my timing. The traffic was moving slowly probably because a lot of people get off from work during this period. Thirty minutes of traffic and I successfully made it to the gathering. I drove in as the gates opened, I parked a bit away from the other cars. Light smoke was coming from the back yard and the smell of food infiltrated into my nose. I followed the smoke and as I expected my father and uncle were at the grill.
“ Rachel, turn your car back on I’m getting teased again” the tall black-haired teenager pleaded as he clasped his palms together. His voice was still going to puberty, his voice cracks at the last word. I hold back laughter since he saw me as his last resort from the bullies, our mothers who were laughing silently.
“ Easy now, I will delete the photo right now,” his mother said in defeat when she heard him complaining. She loves to post childhood pictures of him and he is at an age where he gets annoyed by that.
“ See, my presence is the solution to every problem,” I said as I patted his hair, which he escaped from. “ Your head is already too big because of the air in there, don’t stretch it” he said smiling as he left me gaping. This little shit has gotten sharper with his remarks.
“ Moms, get back to teasing,” I said as I took a seat on their row, the two of us have always been bickering since he could speak but it never turns into a fight.
“ Rachel and Damian, get over here and help us” My dad’s Irish accent was prominent as he ordered us, we started to place the dishes on the table.
My phone once again started to ring as I placed the last plate on the table, it was Mr.Graham.
“ I will be back” I said to my cousin as I entered the house for some privacy. I quickly answer once I lock the door behind me.
“ Hello, I didn't expect your call today,” I said as I fiddled on the window curtain. I stopped chewing on my lip when I realized that I was doing it, a bad habit of mine.
“ I called you to report on the ice cream bar situation, the police believe that it might be a stalker who is trying to court you- this person is of course lacking common sense” He explained what he knows for now.
Courting? That can’t be it, why not reveal yourself to me first.
“ So what you're saying is that I probably have encountered this person?What can we do about it?”
“ Perhaps, I’m thinking of fake dating, you and Mr. Carter” He sounded hesitant in the last sentence. A frown appears on my face.
“ Fake dating? Won’t that drive them over the edge?” I spoke out on my concern with his solution.
“ Exactly, the stalker will get sloppy and slip up, and you have security with you,” He said as he further explained the plan. I pat my head as I let his word sink in.
Fake dating? Could it solve this messed-up situation?