Ava was seated on a wooden chair in the living room. Her elbows were on her knees and her palms were rested on her head in a frustrated manner. She was muddling over the fact that she searched for Anna, for perhaps an hour, and she still didn’t find the redhead.
Ava was still deep in her thoughts of how to find her until she heard a deep voice say, “Hey, Ava.”
She raised her head only for her to see—with the help of the candle, which lit the room—Beck at the door with a gorgeous smile on his handsome face.
Your sister’s missing, a part of her berated, and here you are mooning over a man. That part rolled her eyes.
She dismissed the thought of how beautiful Beck was and stood up to help him with the big basket and car battery in both his hands.
She stretched out her hand to collect the basket first. “Welcome, Beck.” She forced a smile. “How was your walk?”
He sighed and handed the basket to her. “It was fine.”
She stretched her other hand to take hold of the battery.
Beck refused to hand it to her, saying, “It’d be too heavy for you. Besides, I want to put it in the living room.”
Ava nodded. She went to the center table and picked up one of the flashes on it. She switched it on and made her way to the kitchen with the flash in one hand and the basket of foodstuffs in the other.
After dropping the basket on the floor of the kitchen, she went back to the sitting room. She found Beck seated on a rocking chair so she took her former position on the wooden chair. She switched off the flash and dropped it on the table.
Then, she forced another smile. “So, how was your day?” she asked him.
He scoffed. “It was the typical.”
She scrunched up her face. “What do you mean?”
“I was lonely today again.” He stared into her eyes for quite a while before saying, “I missed you girls, especially Anna.”
Her stomach knotted in displeasure, causing her to bow her head. Ava didn’t understand why Beck’s words hurt her feelings. Perhaps it was because she wanted him to miss especially her instead of her thirteen-year-old sister.
He placed his hand on her knee. “Hey. Don’t take it wrong way.”
She looked up to stare at him.
“I miss you too. It’s just that Anna makes the place lively.”
And I don’t? she snapped back in her mind. There was a chance she glowered at him too.
“Come on! It’s not my fault you’re the quiet one.”
She narrowed her eyes. Had she said her thoughts out loud?
“Yeah, you did—twice.”
“Oh!” She bowed her head.
He removed his hand from her knee and placed it under her chin to raise her head up. “Hey. I miss you too, okay?”
She shook her head, successfully removing his hand—which triggered an unusual churning in her stomach—from under her chin. “No, you’re right: you should miss Anna more because I’m the quiet one.”
He faintly smiled at her and shook his head. “Speaking of quiet: why’s the place so quiet?” He looked around the room. “Where’s Anna?”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and bowed her head. How could she have forgotten that he would notice Anna wasn’t around? After all, he missed her more.
“Ava, I asked where Anna is.”
She looked at him. “I tried to warn her but she wouldn’t listen to me; she was stubborn about it. And she’s my thirteen-year-old baby sister; I couldn’t say no to her.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “What are you talking about?”
She sighed, thinking, He would have to know eventually. He’s the only one who can help. “Anna is lost, Beck, and I couldn’t find her.”
His suspicious look was more forestanding. “What do you mean she’s lost and that you couldn’t find her?
“We were reading. Then, she said she wanted to explore the forest ’cause she was bored. I didn’t want to leave here based on what you told me our first night here when you came to my bedroom. But, I told her that we had to get back before dark. We went out, and after ten minutes or so she wasn’t by my side.”
He bowed his head, having a thinking face. Then he looked at her again. “Was she behind you?”
She shifted in her seat. She hesitated in answering his question because the answer was complicated. Nonetheless, she went on to say, “Well . . . I was ahead of her but my eyes still could sight her behind me. Then, I walked a little further away from her, and that was when my settled on something unusual.
“It was a tree, and it resembled one at the elementary section of her school. To confirm my suspicious, I decided to ask her about it. When she didn’t answer me, I turned around and didn’t see her around.
“I searched for her, for probably an hour, but I still couldn’t find her. I didn’t even know if I was going to be back here. However, I used my instincts to get here.” She stood and hugged herself. “Beck, what if she’s already dead?”
He too stood and took hold of her hands. “Hey. Don’t talk like that, Ava. I’m sure she’s safe wherever she is.”
She shook her head. “You don’t know my sister like I do, Beck. Her adventurous legs could lead her to the ghost.” She removed her hand from his hold and nervously fiddled with her fingers. “I don’t want to lose her, Beck; she’s my baby sister.”
“Ava,” Beck called.
Ava ignored him by continuing to pour out her mind: “If I don’t find her then I’ve failed my parents.”
“Ava,” he called again.
She still continued: “I promised them I was going to take good care of her and my brother. What am I—?”
Her natter got interrupted by his lips that were on hers. It didn’t take long before her eyes became as wide as her face. Her heart too beat hard and loud against her ribcage. Her mind couldn’t do anything but concentrate on the feel of his lips on hers. They were chapped—extremely chapped. It made her almost uncomfortable because hers wasn’t as dry as his.
Ava hoped he was going to remove his lips off hers soon because of the increasing intensity of heat in her neck. That hope was tossed into the ocean when he put his hands on her waist and pulled her closer to him. He didn’t stop there: he went ahead to move his lips gently against hers as if encouraging her to respond to his touch. And, she did exactly that.
Ava closed her eyes and placed her hands on his chest. She felt how fast the rate of his heartbeat increased immediately she synchronized the movement of her lips with his. Even though she had kissed before, she had never felt this much passion.
After some seconds, he slowly pulled away from her. She was grateful he didn’t push further by going the French kiss style. She didn’t know if she’d ever be able to look at him again if their tongues had collided.
She panted slowly and softly and gradually fluttered her eyes open. Her eyes met his and immediately, she got lost in them. It was when he shifted them to look at something below her eyes that she remembered what had just happened. She became conscious of the fact that they were still in the position of the kiss they just shared, only that their lips didn’t meet.
Then, loud enough to his hearing, she whispered, “Wh—why did you—? Why did you kiss me?”
He raised his eyes to meet hers. He stared at them, in a manner she couldn’t decipher, for almost a long while—long enough for her to have almost repeated the question. “I was seeking your attention, and I didn’t know how else to do it.”
She scrunched up her face due to her confused state. When was he seeking my attention? Her mind then wandered to when he kept calling her name, realizing that she refused to keep mute and listen to what he had to say.
He let go of her waist and took her hands in his. “We’ll find her; just believe that.”
She shook her head, not being sure of what will happen. “Considering what you told me about this place I doubt that we’d find her alive even if we do find her.”
He raised his hand and stroked her hair before placing a strand of it behind her left ear. “Just have faith; if you do, we might find her alive.
She bowed her head and squirmed. Still, she was unsure of his assurance. She felt as if the next time she saw her sister, Anna would have been dead already. She loathed that feeling yet she couldn’t help it.
“Beck . . .” she told him honestly, “I’m still not sure about it.”
He sighed. “Just know we’d find her, okay?”
She nodded, though her instinct insisting that Anna would be in bad shape when she’d be found.
Beck let go of her hands and stretched out his for a hug. “Come here.”
She didn’t hesitate to reject his offer. She put her left thumb in her mouth and leaned closer to him. He wrapped his arms around her before she rested her head on his shoulder
“Everything would be fine,” he said.
She nodded lightly, hoping he was right.
“Everything would be fine,” he whispered this time. It was faint, seeming as if she wasn’t supposed to hear this particular one, and there was a lot of hope in his voice. She thought he must have passed through something like this and he didn’t want her to do the same.
Ava closed her eyes. Everything will be fine, she assured herself.