Stay Strong

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Chapter 4

I roll out of bed that morning around nine. I didn’t sleep well last night and now I was dead tired, even more tired than I was last night at work. I rub at my eyes as I walk over to my closet. I went through my clothes for about ten minutes before deciding on a purple sweater and some skinny jeans, paired with my combat boots. I threw my hair into a ponytail before going into my kitchen.

After I ate some eggs and toast, I slipped on a light jacket since it was getting colder outside. I grabbed my phone, wallet, and keys before leaving the house, locking the door behind me. I hopped in my car and pulled out of my driveway before heading to pick up my three friends.

“It’s about time you arrived,” Sonia huffed as she climbed into the passenger side seat. I was only a few minutes late. What got under her skin?

“What got under your skin?” I echo my thoughts, slightly annoyed. She seems to ignore me and looks out the window. I roll my eyes and head to Vanessa’s and Bryson’s house.

After picking them up we headed towards the mall one town over. We laughed and joked the whole way there. Well, Vanessa and Bryson did most of the joking and Sonia and I did the laughing. But Sonia seemed to be ignoring the few things that I said between laughs. Why was she acting like this? She hasn’t done this before. I decide to ignore her behavior and focus on having fun.

I pull into a parking space and we head to the mall. We hit a few stores as a group before Vanessa speaks up.

“I’m going to go into that store,” Vanessa squealed, grabbing Bryson’s arm and taking him with her. “Meet us in the food court in thirty!”

I laughed to myself and turned to ask Sonia where she wanted to go next but she had already left me standing there. I shrug and decide to try to find some new books and head to the second level of the mall.

I enter the store and take in the smell of the books. I could get drunk off of this smell. I took a deep breath, holding it for a moment before exhaling. I decide that I am in the mood for a mystery novel and head to that section. I trail my finger along the spines of the books, looking at the authors’ name and the title. I found one that seemed interesting and read a few pages of it before tucking it under my arm.

“Hello, Aspen.” I turned towards the familiar voice and come face to face with Landon’s mother. I look around to see if Landon was with her and mentally sigh in relief when I don’t see him.

“Hello, ma’am,” I smile gently and nod my head in greeting.

“Oh, no need for that. Just call me Pheobe,” she laughed. I nod my head and begin looking at more books.

“You like that author, too?” she asks while peeking over my shoulder. I look at her and then down at the book. I nodded my head before skimming through the shelves, finding a book I already owned.

“This one is really interesting,” I state while handing her the book. She reads the back of the book and then reads the first few pages.

“You read a little into the book as well? My friends think I’m crazy when I do that,” I laugh. She laughs with me.

“So does my husband.” She shakes her head before clutching the book to her chest. “So what other types of books do you like?”

I find myself talking to her for the full thirty minutes I was going to spend in the store. We talked about what types of books were the best, which author we loved and how many we had at home. “I have to go, but it was really nice talking to you. See you around,” I call over my shoulder as I go up to the cashier to pay for the book.

After paying for my book I head to the food court after reading a text from Vanessa telling me where they were.

I see Vanessa and Sonia standing in line for a Chinese restaurant and Bryson was standing in front of some pizza place. I look at my options before deciding to get some pizza as well.

“Hey, Bryson. Where did you two run off to?” I asked as I stood in line behind him.

“She drug me into some store, I can’t remember the name of it now but, I decided that I love it. I found three shirts and four pairs of pants.” I swear he seemed like he was about to start jumping up and down out of glee. I laugh and shake my head.

After we got our food we sat down at one of the tables. Sonia and Vanessa were talking about the clothes they got when someone walks up behind me. Vanessa glances at the person, a smile breaking out over her face and then Sonia notices the person also and practically jumps out of her seat. “Landon!”

I cringed. I thought I was free of him for the day. Damn. I turn around to see Landon with a grimace on his face as Sonia wraps her arms around his neck, hugging him. I cough to hide my laugh and turn around and take a bite out of my pizza.

Landon manages to pry Sonia off of him and he sits down beside me, smiling at me and ignoring Sonia, who huffed in annoyance before falling back into her seat dramatically. I roll my eyes and quickly finish my pizza while Landon was talking with everyone. I briefly pay attention to Sonia asking Landon if he wanted to meet up at her place to finish their science project. I didn’t hear the rest because I got up to throw away my plate.

When I came back, Sonia was sitting in my seat, leaning over towards Landon. I shake my head. This girl...

I notice that Landon is looking up at me. His gray eyes pleading with me to help him. “You don’t mind if I sit here, do you, Aspen?” Sonia asks, looking at me over her shoulder with brown eyes that dared me to say that I wanted my seat back.

“No, I don’t mind,” I respond to her silent threat and sit down in her seat. I find that Vanessa and Bryson are sharing a knowing look with this creepy shit-eating grin on their faces. I throw Vanessa a questioning look when we make eye contact and she simply shrugs before finishing her food. I glance at Landon and find him looking down at his arm, where Sonia’s hand rested on it. I tried to see his face but his dark brown hair created a curtain. I mentally apologized to him before I entered a conversation with Vanessa and Bryson about work.

About two more hours of hanging out at the mall, which consisted of Vanessa and Bryson cracking up when Landon would glance at me and Sonia glaring at me while practically throwing herself out there for Landon. I thought, just for a brief second, that she was like a dog in heat. When I had told that to Vanessa and Bryson they shared another look before laughing again. I swear those two sometimes have their own little world. They were friends before I met them and Sonia and they are as thick as thieves.

After I dropped everyone off at their respective houses, I headed home myself. After cleaning the house I decided to go to sleep a little early.

The next morning I woke up in a pretty good mood. Which was kind of surprising. I jumped in the shower before heading into the kitchen. I looked through the fridge before groaning. I would have to go to the grocery store today. I hated that place. It was like a madhouse at times. I shuttered just thinking about it.

After I fixed some bacon and some french toast I sat down at the small table in the kitchen next to the window. I glanced out the window at the sky. The gray clouds that blanketed the sky reminded me of Landon’s eyes.

I quickly looked away from the clouds. Since when did I think about him during my breakfast? I began eating to take my mind off of Landon’s eyes. About halfway through my meal, the sky decided to open up and let the rain pour.

I watched the raindrops hit the window before sliding down the glass pane. I finished my food, the sounds of the rain filling the once silent house. I changed into my combat boots with some thick jeans and a loose fitting t-shirt. I pulled my jacket on and zipped it up before pulling the hood over my head.

I practically ran to my car, waving hello to the neighbor who was running to their own car. Once in the car I cranked it and waited for it to warm up before turning up the heat. That rain was freezing.

I pulled out of my driveway and headed to the store. Once there I found a parking spot right at the front of the store. That was lucky. I brace myself for the cold rain before opening the car door and bolting for the door of the store. Once I made it inside I took off my hood and unzipped my jacket. I grabbed a shopping cart and walked through the aisle at a leisurely pace.

While I was debating whether or not to get some candy for Candice someone called my name. I looked up and saw Landon’s mother waving at me. “Are you following me?” I ask sarcastically. She laughs and assures me that us meeting here was just a coincidence.

“I could use your help though.” She looked at me hopefully, her brown eyes pleading.

“Of course.” I nod my head and she claps her hands together before pulling out a sheet of paper.

“I have no idea where this stuff is. Can you point me in the right direction?” she hands me the list which had some of the items marked off. I happily tell her where the things she was looking for were and she went on her way. I turn back to the task at hand and decide that I would get Candice some candy.

After I had checked out and loaded the groceries into the car, I slid into the driver’s seat, soaking wet. I cranked the car and decided the call Lorelai.

She answered after a few seconds. “What?” she demanded in a cold voice.

“I want to know if Candice is ready to come home,” I deadpanned, not bothering with words of greeting. There were a few words on the other end of the phone before Lorelai told me to come and get Candice. Before I had a chance to respond she hung up. I shake my head and put my phone away.

I pulled up to the front gate of Lorelai’s house. Well, it was more like a small mansion. My mother’s company made Lorelai rich beyond belief. I felt sick at the thought of Lorelai owning my mother’s company but shook it off when the iron gate swung open. I drove up the paved driveway to the brick house that looked like it came out of colonial times. It really was a beautiful house. To bad a witch lived in it.

I got out of the car and walked up to the grand white wooden doors. I rang the doorbell and waited. Before long, someone opened the door.

Lorelai ignored me as she turned around and called for Candice. Lorelai never stepped foot onto the porch where the wind was causing the rain to hit me. Candice came running out of the house with a big smile on her face, her dark brown hair flying behind her, a moment later. Lorelai bent down and hugged her, her gray hair pulled into a perfect bun. As she let Candice go, telling her that she loved her, she spared me a glance before turning around and heading back into the house.

I shook my head, grabbing Candice’s hand and leading her to the car. “I have a gift for you,” I smile down at my younger sister.

“What is it? What is it?” she asks, jumping up and down. I laugh and tell her that she’ll have to eat dinner before she gets it. She nods her head enthusiastically as I put her into her booster seat. I buckled her in before walking around the car and flopping into the driver’s seat.

“How was your stay at grandma’s?” I ask, looking at Candice in my rear view mirror as I pulled out of the driveway. She told me about what they did that weekend and what Lorelai said they could do next weekend. I smile to myself.

Everyone loved Candice. She was bright, funny and so kind. She was my little angel. I would protect her from anything. A few days after my mother was put in the ground, I went to her grave and promised her again that I would do whatever I could to protect Candice. No matter what.

After we pulled into the driveway of our house we ran inside. I told Candice to hold the door open while I went to get the groceries.

Once everything was inside, Candice shut the door and laughed at my drenched self. “You think this is funny, huh?” I say with an evil grin. She notices my look and starts running away but I catch her and wrap her up in a hug. She laughs while trying to push me away but I start to tickle her and she falls into another fit of laughter.

After a few minutes of us playing together, I get up and start putting up the groceries, Candice following me and deciding to help me. Once everything was put away, I tell Candice to get started on her homework if she had any while I fixed dinner.

Before long we had eaten and both of our homework was done. I put Candice in the bath and once she got out I brushed her hair and sent her to bed. I took a shower myself and then crawled into bed.

Today was a nice day, even with Lorelai ignoring me, but that was nothing new. I wished things could stay this peaceful. But something was telling me that things were going to change.


Hello! So things with start to get exciting in the next chapter. Just wait and see.

I’ll post the next chapter once I get a chance. See you guys then! Bye Bye!

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