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Chapter 5

I was sitting on our old sofa, a cup of hot cocoa in my hands. Aric sat beside me while Xavier sat on the sofa facing me. His mother was beside him, and they were talking quietly. Mrs. Colleway and Mom were still crying and trying to get over the shock that we were back safe. They told us that they had thought we were dead. Actually, our whole small town had thought that we were dead. No wonder they were looking at us strangely when we first arrived. The police had been scouring the town, looking for us.

Mom and Mrs. Colleway asked us a bunch of questions and our only answer was that we got lost in the forest. We purposely kept the baby part out of our story. There was no point in scaring them. Now that Xavier, Aric and I were home, we were going to forget everything that had happened the night before and move on.

After Xavier left with his mom, I decided to take a hot shower. I went to my bedroom, but instead of entering the bathroom, I sat on my bed, facing the window. The drapes were pulled, so I got up and pulled them apart, the rays of the morning sunlight lightening the room. I walked over to my desk, opened my diary and the shower was soon forgotten.

Sometime later, there was a knock at the door. Even though it was soft, I practically jumped out of my skin. I turned around and saw my mom at my doorway. “Come in, Mom.”

She came and sat on the bed, patting the place beside her. I closed my dairy, put it in my bottom drawer, under a bunch of books and locked it. My diary is one thing that I couldn’t let into the hand of others. It’s too personal, expressing my feelings and everything that has happened to me.

When I sat down beside my mom, she put her arms around me and kissed my forehead. “Are you OK, honey?” she asked gently.

“Yes, just very tired.”

“Why don’t you take a good hot shower and a long nap? When you wake up, lunch will be ready. Huh? Does that sound good?”

I looked at her and saw that there was relief in her eyes. Relief that her two children were back home. But her face was drawn, and she looked tired. Older. My mom had spent the night worrying about us. I thought that she needed to rest more than I did.

“It sounds great mom, but maybe you should go rest, too. You don’t have to cook.”

She touched my cheek and shook her head. “No, dear. I want to cook for you and your brother. When you guys didn’t come back, I thought I would never get to cook again for you both. I thought I’d lost my two children. Your brother and you are the only ones I have. When your father died, I was only strong because I had you and your brother. I didn’t think I could handle the death of another loved one.”

I hugged her and placed a kiss on her cheek. “OK. You won’t lose us. We will always be here for you.”

She nodded and left the room, closing the door behind her. After taking the shower, I put on my oversized T-shirt and a pair of socks. Wow, finally comfy. I got on my bed, turning on my side. It took me some time to finally fall asleep, but in the end my sleep was troubled. All I saw was darkness, red eyes and fangs.

I was startled awake by the sound of my name. “Alexia, wake up. Mom is waiting for us downstairs.”

I opened my eyes and tried to blink the sleepiness away. “I’m coming.”

When I got to the dining room, Aric, mom, Xavier and Mrs. Colleway were all sitting around the table. It looked like mom had prepared a feast. The table was covered with food, and pastries were waiting on the sideboard. I took the seat between her and Aric. Mom smiled at me and turned around to say something to Mrs. Colleway. Aric was busy talking to Xavier, so I just sat there with my confused thoughts that kept wandering to what had happened the night before. I couldn’t keep the baby’s face out of my mind. Whenever I closed my eyes, there he was. Just thinking about it still brought my shivers. Xavier must have noticed my expression because he asked, “You OK, Alexia?” I nodded and turned to see that both mom and Mrs. Colleway were staring at me with worried eyes. I smiled to reassure them that I was indeed fine.

During our meal, Aric and Xavier continued with their conversations until Mom gave them a stern look. After eating, Mom got up and started taking the dishes back to the kitchen. I stood up to help her while Aric, Xavier and Mrs. Colleway made their way to the sofas.

“Mom, I’ll clean up and wash the dishes. Why don’t you go and join the others,” I said when I noticed my mom cleaning up the mess.

“Come join us when you’re done.” She kissed me on my forehead then left to join the others. At least, cleaning up would help me take my mind off the night before.

When the dishes were done, I went to the living room and asked them if they wanted any dessert. When everyone agreed, I went to the kitchen and came back with chocolate ice cream and pastries.

After I’d given everyone a bowl, I went to sit on the couch next to Aric and snuggled comfortably beside him. He placed his arm around me but continued his conversation with Xavier. I always felt safe with Aric. After our father’s death, he’d become my rock. When we were little, he was always there for me. Most guys never approach me because they are always scared they would do something wrong and Aric would end up snapping their neck.

The mention of my name broke me from my deep thoughts. I looked up and saw Xavier looking at me. “What?”

“Are you planning to go to college?” Xavier asked.

“I applied to some colleges,” was my only response. He nodded and continued his conversation with my brother.

“I’m going to bed. I feel very tired,” I said.

When I arrived in my bedroom, I noticed that my window was open. I didn’t remember opening my window, and now my room was cold from the chilly wind. After closing my window, I went to sit on my bed. I pulled the covers around me and closed my eyes. Even though I was very tired, it took me some time to fall asleep.

The next time I was shaken awake, I noticed that it was already dark outside. I turned to my alarm clock and saw that it was 7:30 p.m. I turned around and saw my brother sitting on the edge of my bed. “Mom is calling you down for dinner.”

“OK. Tell her I’ll be there in ten minutes.” I covered my mouth as a yawn escaped. Rubbing the sleepiness from my eyes, I looked at my brother.

“Did you sleep well?” Aric asked. I stared at him closely and noticed how he was avoiding looking into my eyes. I knew what he was thinking about.

“No,” I said honestly. He looked taken aback from my honesty. “The baby,” I whispered.

He nodded his understanding and got up to go to the door. “You could come and sleep with me tonight,” he said before leaving.

When I got downstairs for dinner, Mrs. Colleway and Xavier were no longer there. “Did Xavier and his mom leave?” I asked.

“Yeah. They were tired,” Aric replied. I tried my best to hide my disappointment, but my dear brother could always see behind my façade. He smirked and said, “You know I’m gonna kick his ass if he makes a move on you, right?”

“Exactly! That’s why every guy are so scared to approach me. And now I like Xavier, and I bet you’re already scaring him before he even makes a move,” I said exasperated.

“He’s my friend and I know him. He isn’t right for you,” he muttered, clearly taken aback by my outburst.

“Aarrrgg...” I stomped off into the kitchen where mom was slicing some fruits.

“I heard you and your brother arguing,” she said.

“Alexia likes Xavier,” Aric said from behind me. I turned around and glared at him. He gave me a devilish smile. “I just found out that Alexia never had a boyfriend in high school. Hard to believe, huh?”

If looks could kill, Aric would have probably dropped dead five seconds ago. “So, you like Xavier?” I heard my mom ask. “He’s a good guy,” she continued without waiting for my reply.

It was my turn to smile. I turned to see my brother frowning. “You think so, Mom?” I asked. She nodded and I continued. “That’s what I was telling Aric, but he said Xavier is a bad guy.”

Aric’s jaw dropped open, and I laughed at his expression. “I never...” He never got to finish his sentence as mom cut in. “I really don’t want to hear you two argue. So help me with dinner.” Before we left the room, she called, “Oh and Aric, do not bad mouth your friend.” I burst out laughing. It was good to laugh. I felt the release of the tension that had plagued my body since the previous night.

“How do you always turn Mom on me?” he said angrily. I shrugged and tried to hide my smile, but he saw it. He glared at me, but I could tell he wasn’t really mad.

After dinner, I helped mom with the dishes while Aric watched the news. While I was cleaning the table, mom stood next to the oven and kept shuffling from one foot to another. I could tell she was nervous about something. She sat down on a stool and watched me clean. When I turned back to her, I noticed her hands were clasped tightly on her lap, her eyes cast down.

I went on my knees in front of her and asked what was wrong. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m scared.”

I was taken aback by her pure honesty. Mom was very good at hiding her feelings from Aric and me. She never cried in front of us, even when Dad had died. She never confessed how she was feeling and never leaned on us for emotional support. So her telling me she was scared was very different and unnerving.

“Why are you scared?” I asked in a low soothing voice.

She looked so lost for a moment that I thought she hadn’t heard my question until she answered, “I have a bad gut feeling. You know the feeling, that something is very wrong.”

I took hold of her hands and kissed her knuckles. “Mom, everything is OK. We are fine. Aric and I are home safe,” I reassured her.

She nodded and kissed my forehead. “Sorry, baby girl, I guess I’m worrying for no reason.”

Before I had time to answer, Aric sauntered into the kitchen. “Is there any dessert?” he asked.

“Just ice cream,” was mom’s response.

After Aric got his ice cream and went to his room, I asked my mom if she needed anything. “No, honey, you can go rest. I bet you’re still tired,” she replied softly.

“I got enough rest. Do you want to watch a movie?”

When she nodded, I went to the living room and started looking through Netflix for a good movie. I went through a long list until I finally settled on Fast and Furious 6. Just as I was about to start it, mom walked into the living room with popcorn and sat down beside me. I tucked my feet under me, and we watched the movie, munching on our popcorn.

I felt a warm blanket covering me. I opened my eyes, and noticed that the TV was off and Mom was covering me with a blanket. I must have fallen asleep while watching the movie.

“Go back to sleep. I’m going up to my room,” I heard Mom whisper. I nodded, trying my best to stretch out on the sofa and closed my eyes again.

The next time I woke up, the living room was lit by the morning rays. Someone must have opened the curtains. I looked towards the clock and noticed that it was past eleven. Damn! I’d overslept. I got up fast and ran to my room. After washing my face and dressing up, I went downstairs and found my mom in the kitchen making coffee.

“Where’s Aric?” I asked her while I grabbed an apple off the table.

“He went to meet Xavier,” she replied.

Oh! “Do you know where they went?”

She brought me a cup of coffee. “Does your brother ever tell me where he goes or not?”

“No, but you trust him,” I replied.

She nodded. “Yes, I trust him and Xavier. I know they won’t do anything foolish.”

I was about to reply when my phone pinged with a message. It was Samantha asking me if I wanted to come over to her house. I send her a quick yes to let her know that I was coming.

“I’m going to meet Samantha.” I told mom. She nodded and went back to doing her work. After breakfast, I grabbed my coat and went around the kitchen counter to kiss my mom good-bye. “Be back before dinner,” she said.

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