“Beck, wait!” Ava said, stopping him from leaving, which would haunt her for a very long time. She knew that people would say she was stupid for trying to be a hero, but she couldn’t help it; she loved helping people.
She stepped in front of Beck. “Don’t go.”
“Ava,” Bruce said, “don’t tell me you gave in to his sob story. That’s what guys do to get what they want.”
She glanced behind Beck, eyeing Bruce. “Bruce, shut up.”
She looked back at Beck. “Look, I’m still mad at you, but I can’t let you leave like this. I remember telling you I would help you start fresh; I’m not going back on my word. We’ll help you with the Annika situation.”
“We?” exclaimed Anna and Bruce.
“Yes, we,” she said firmly, glaring at them.
“I just got back from the dead,” Anna said, a frown on her face, “and you want to help him: the guy who was willing to let you die just to break his curse?”
Ava shrugged. “He’s just as much a victim as we are.”
Both Anna and Bruce looked at each other, not saying anything. Sara stood just watching the drama, also not uttering a word—likewise Beck.
“Fine,” Anna said. “I’ll help.” Anna looked at Bruce, causing Ava to focus her gaze on him.
Bruce didn’t seem like he going to agree to anything. He stared at Ava with his arms across his chest, his face emotionless and his jaw tight.
After a while, he finally said, “I don’t like him,” while looking at Beck with cold eyes, “and I’m only doing this to make sure you”—he pointed at Ava then Anna—“don’t get into trouble.”
“Thank you so much, Bruce,” Ava said, smiling. “Why don’t you take Beck and Sara home? You guys should freshen up. I’m sure Anna and I will be free to go by evening.”
Bruce muttered incoherent words as he walked out of the ward.
“I’ll see you in the evening,” she said to Beck, smiling lightly.
“I’m really sorry, Ava.” His eyes seemed teary. “If we had met under different circumstances, I never would’ve lied to you.”
Just then Sara stood beside him. “That’s true. Never mind his situation that made him to lie. He’s a really good man.”
Ava bowed her head a little before looking at Beck. “I don’t know if I can believe that just yet. You have to prove it.”
“Okay, but just keep an open mind about me,” he said.
She nodded, smiling a little.
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek before turning around to help Sara who had already started to return the materials for the ritual into her red handbag.
Anna moved away from there and went back to the bed. Ava fixed back the machines to her as Anna told the tale of how she’d met their parents at Strangeville.
Dr. Bernard had just finished with Ava when the last person she never thought would visit her did. He stood at the door with a faint smile on his pink lips and a bouquet of flowers in his big hairy hands. Dylan looked more mature than the last she saw him: his stubble appeared fuller and his jaw more set; unlike before, his thick eyebrows were nicely trimmed, accentuating his big green eyes; his hair he usually left long and flow down was short in a classic combed back style.
“Am I allowed to come in?” he asked, smiling.
“What do you want, Dylan?” she asked, scowling as she recalled what he’d done to hurt her.
“Ouch!” He placed his hand on his chest, feigning hurt. “Is that how you greet someone who’s come to check on you?”
“You’ve never checked on me since you know when. So, I find it particularly suspicious that you’re here now.”
“Come on, Ava.” He sat on the seat beside her bed. “I just wanted to see if you were alright. That’s all.” His typical boyish smile appeared now.
She stared at him deadpan. When he didn’t seem to understand she wanted to know what he was doing there, she said, “What do you want, Dylan? As you can see I am fine. And I’ll be going home soon. I’m just waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up.”
“You have a boyfriend?” he said, looking surprised.
“You seem surprised. Did you think I wouldn’t move on after you?”
His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. “Cynthia never told me you had a boyfriend.”
She glared at him. “So she finds out things about me for you?”
He raised his hands up, shaking his head. “No, I don’t spy on you.”
She raised a brow, still staring deadpanned.
“She just told me you were brought in with your sister and a guy after the accident, and while we talked I realized the guy is a major part of the story I’m chasing now.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Which story?”
“About a town: Strangeville. There’ve been strange occurrences in the last few days concerning the town. The most absurd one is that none of the town’s residents has been able to leave the town except two particular people whereas people not from the town have been able to enter and leave at will.”
“So you’re here to get the news from me?” Her voice was cold as she couldn’t believe he was doing what he did to her a few years back now.
“Uh . . . No, I’m not. I just—”
“You just decided to check up on your old girlfriend? The one you asked out simply because you wanted to have details for a story she refused to say anything about to other journalists as it concerned her parents’ death, remember?”
His Adam’s apple bobbed. “Ava—”
“Oh, please spare me the sweet talk, Dylan.”
“It’s been years, Ava. Can’t you just forget about it?”
“Well, if your girlfriend wasn’t being a bitch about it, I would have.” She scowled.
He shifted the seat closer to her bed, dropped the bouquet on her laps, and grabbed her hand closest to him. “You got to help me out, Ava.” His green eyes turned desperate. “With this story I’m sure I could get promoted. You know, take my career to the next level.”
She removed her hand from his. “I can’t help you. You’ve to look for another source.”
His eyes became more desperate. “I’ve tried. You’re the only option I’ve left. Besides, I’m curious to know how you got involved with these people.”
“It’s just like I said: look for another source.”
“Hey, beautiful,” sounded the familiar sonorous butch voice of Beck. At that instant, Ava’s stomach flipped, making her realize how much Beck affected her.
Beck advanced from the door to her side opposite Dylan.
“Hey, handsome,” she said, grinning at him as he took her hand. “Meet my ex, Dylan.” She gestured towards Dylan. It was probably that time Beck noticed that there was another person in the ward with Ava. “Dylan,” she said without looking at him, “this is my boyfriend, Beck.”
When Ava looked at Dylan, his eyes shifted from her to Beck and back again.
“Is he from Strangeville?” Dylan asked.
Her silence and scowl must have given him the answer she didn’t want him to have because he stood and stretched out his hand to shake Beck.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Dylan said, grinning boyishly.
“Sure,” Beck replied, shaking Dylan, keeping a straight face.
“I’ve been waiting for the moment I’d finally meet you.”
Beck narrowed his eyes. “Why?”
“It’s about Strangeville.”
Beck’s eyes widened in understanding, only for him to scowl at Dylan again, seeming like he didn’t want to talk about it. Ava was elated at Beck’s demeanor. That way she wouldn’t have to stealthily force Beck not to talk about Strangeville. She certainly didn’t want Dylan to have any more information, if any at all, about Strangeville. If this story was going to be a major hit for his career, then she’d make sure she sabotaged it as payback for using his career to hurt her feelings when she was most vulnerable.
“Could I have a word with you about it?”
“No!” she screamed.
“No?” Dylan said, shifting his eyes to Ava.
“No,” Ava said firmly.
“Why?” he asked, looking uncomfortable.
“I’d like you to leave.”
“She said you should leave,” Beck interrupted. “It’s apparent that you’ve upset her.”
There was no doubt that Ava got a bit frightened seeing him that irate. Nevertheless, she was grateful that he felt the same way she did about having to talk about Strangeville to Dylan.
Dylan raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, I will.” He shifted away from the bed. “It was nice seeing you again, Ava.” He didn’t wait to see or hear a response as he quickly left the ward.
As soon as the door was closed, Beck said, “You told him I was your boyfriend.”
She glanced at him. He didn’t look impassive; he still looked upset but not as much as with Dylan.
“Are you offended?” she asked hoping he wasn’t.
His silence was enough for an answer. She bowed her head, feeling guilty for using him as an excuse to get back at Dylan.
“Why did you?” he said, sounding a bit harsh.
She didn’t raise her head. Why did I even do that? Trying to remember why, she realized she wasn’t exactly thinking of it when she said it. She simply blurted it out, hoping Dylan would take it as his cue to leave. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
She felt the bed go down at the side Beck stood. She glanced there, seeing his butt already seated on it. She blushed at the sight on his butt in black jeans on the bed. She quickly stopped the blush when she remembered he was upset with her.
Beck mustn’t have seen her cheeks turn a little red as he said, “He broke your heart, didn’t he?”
She nodded, her head still bowed.
He raised her head by her chin. When she looked into his eyes, the fury wasn’t in them anymore. They looked pitiful now, and she felt like she didn’t deserve his pity.
He stroked her profile, saying, “Don’t ever do that, okay?” His eyes shifted from left to right. “I’m not anybody’s rebound.”
She nodded quickly. “I’m sorry I did that.”
He stroked back her hair that fell on the side of her face. “It’s okay. Just don’t do that, okay?”
She nodded quickly again.
“Bruce is getting Anna ready to leave.” He stood and stretched his hand towards her. “You ready?”
“I am.” She took his hand and stood.
As she made her way to the bathroom to change out of the hospital’s attire, Beck said, “Sara said we have to go to Strangeville. The earlier we go to Strangeville and perform the ritual to break the curse completely, the quicker we can deal with Annika.”
She stopped and turned towards him. “That’s no problem. But is Anna still the one to do it?”
He nodded. “According to Sara, she’s the reason it was broken partially. I’m sure that now she knows the full story, nothing would hold her back from doing it wholeheartedly.”
“Okay.” She bowed her head. “I just hope she survives it.” It was one thing for Anna to be the sacrifice; it was another for her to not die after the ritual. Sara had said if it were successful, the sacrifice wasn’t supposed to be dead or even show any sign of the four—what was it she called it again?—purifications. She really hoped Sara hadn’t said that based on assumption.
“She will,” Beck said, bringing her out of her thoughts. “The ritual isn’t meant to kill to her if it’s successful.”
I really hope it doesn’t, she thought before entering the bathroom to change.
Important announcement: Anomaly is completed on GoodNovel! You can check out the story there now. Iʼll post the last chapter here on Monday next week.