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Chapter Nine


“Have you locked up the kitchen?” Andrew asked, still looking around the living room in search of something that was out of place. I nodded, pulling the two small traveling bags we were using for the weekend-long trip to the front door of the cabin.

Andrew nodded, checking his watch. “We’ll make it there in about three to four hours. I’m not exactly sure...” Andrew trailed with a sigh.

It was about one in the morning and the two-day convention was starting in the early evening hours. Even though Ethel had tried to reason with Andrew to take a flight, Andrew had declined, deciding to take the train which he was familiar with.

“I’ll call Ethel to tell her we’re about to leave,” he informed me, taking his phone out of his pocket to do the necessary.

I watched as Andrew discussed with Ethel through the phone. I smiled, remembering Andrew’s conversation with my mother. I’d been impressed. He’d gone through the whole conversation without insulting the woman, and he’d ended the discussion with just being called a ‘waste of space’ and a ‘false academic.’

For a woman that clawed her way through the social ladder through countless divorces, she wasn’t exactly kin to make good first impressions.

“She said she’ll be there to pick us up when we arrive. She booked at the hotel late, so we’ll be sharing a room.”

I felt the side of my lip curve into a smile. I wasn’t so sure if Andrew took the information about the hotel room as good or bad news, but it was definitely terrific news to me.

Andrew did another double check on the cabin; searching for running taps and turned on lights. When he’d gone round for the third time in a row I stopped him, assuring him that everything was indeed in place. He’d sighed before nodding in agreement. He exited the cabin soon after with Roxanne at his heels. I frowned noticing his jumpy and panicky attitude.

Shaking my head, I decided to ignore it. It was probably the pressure from going to the convention. I walked out of the house, locking the doors behind me before tossing the key into the flower bed like Andrew had asked me too. My only hope was one of the chickens didn’t pick it up and cause us to be stranded when we got back.

Thinking about the chickens, I went over to release them from their coup. I just hoped they could manage on their own during the weekend.

“Ethan, we should be leaving,” Andrew called from the car. Roxanne was already at the front seat, sticking her nuzzle out the glass window.

“I’ll be there!” I told Andrew before turning to the chickens. I gave them another long look before turning to head for the car.

“They’ll be fine,” Andrew tried to assure me as I got into the car.

I didn’t answer him, I just wore my seat belt as Roxanne tried to find a comfortable position on top of me.

“Is that Hector?” I asked, scrunching my eyes in disbelief. The half-grown chick was, in fact, making itself comfortable in the car’s cup holder.

“Yes, don’t worry, I’m dropping him and Roxanne at your professor’s place,” Andrew said, running a thumb over the chick’s head.

“I thought Roxanne was coming along?” I said, giving him a questioning look.

“She doesn’t like crowds,” Andrew sighed, starting the car. “Trust me, she’s better off at Mr. Collin’s place.”

I didn’t nudge into the matter any further. I trusted Andrew’s judgment.

Not too long after he drove into town, taking familiar routes before coming up at a small bungalow.

“I’ll go drop them off—”

“I’ll go with you,” I cut in, opening the door to let Roxanne out. I don’t know, there was some sort of paranoia attached to having Andrew and Mr. Collins alone together. Mr. Collins was an open book when it came to his admiration for Andrew. He wasn’t good at hiding it. That’s if he was even trying to.

“Okay then,” Andrew muttered, taking Hector out of the cup holder. We got down and walked up the part to the front door.

The bungalow was a dark cream with its edges painted a dark brown. Andrew used the Antique looking knocker. The noise that came from it was loud and sounded like a huge load was being continually dropped on the ground.

Roxanne barked, running around in circles as the knob of the front door turned.

“Good morning,” Mr. Collins said as the door creaked open. He was in a crimson nightshirt and pants.

“Thanks for agreeing to this,” Andrew said, giving Mr. Collins a small smile before bending down to give Roxanne’s coat one last rub. Hector was tweeting in protest as he dangles from Andrew’s free hand.

Andrew laughed, dropping the chick on the wooden floor.

“I’m sorry,” Andrew apologized, rubbing the chick’s head. I watched the exchange and how Andrew kept pulling Roxanne into bone-crushing hugs. He’d explained that he hadn’t gone anywhere without her in a few years, making the decision to leave her being rough.

“I’m sorry,” Andrew said again, wiping at his eyes. Roxanne whined worriedly, nuzzling at his hair.

“Okay, I’m fine now,” Andrew said, getting up. Hector tweeted, running over Andrew’s shoe.

“You’ll be fine,” he muttered, looking down at the chick.

“Let’s go,” he finally said in a shaky voice. He bid Mr. Collins goodbye before turning to leave with me at his tail.

Roxanne tried to follow, but Andrew told her to stay put. As we got into the car I watched Roxanne’s confused look as the vehicle started. Her ears perked up in alarm as she started barking at the car that was already driving off.

“She’ll be okay,” I said, talking for the first time since the exchange. Andrew didn’t answer me but I noticed his grip on the steering wheel tightened. I sighed, saying nothing further.

We got to the train station about an hour later. Andrew paid to park the car in the lot over the weekend before we headed to the waiting area for our train.

As the train pulled up, parents were pulling their kids back so they were meters behind the yellow line.

We got on the train soon after, taking our seats. When the train was set and started moving I looked over at Andrew. He was looking out the window as he fidgeted with the sleeves of his oversized jacket. He looked tired, worried and panicked all at the same time.

I sighed, reaching out for his hand. He looked down at my hand, giving it a funny look before placing his in mine. It was slightly cold and shaky, making me worry all the more.

“It’s okay,” I whispered, making him nod before returning his gaze to the passing scenery. I made sure he was calmer before I diverted my gaze to the rest of the train. It was practically empty. Not a lot of people liked taking the early morning train, and especially when it meant taking connecting trips between stations.

I blinked, feeling Andrew’s hand stir in mine. I turned to find him still looking out the window. His brown hair shown with red highlights bestowed on it by the sun.

“You’re beautiful...” I muttered without realizing it. Andrew stiffened, turning to face me. His brown eyes giving me a pleading look.

“Please, don’t mention that again,” he muttered, turning to face the window. “Don’t say things that aren’t true.”

I didn’t say anything, just watched him. I didn’t like the way he ruined his confidence without realizing it.

“You’re beautiful,” I said again in an even louder and clearer tone. He didn’t say anything back, but I knew it affected him judging from the way his hand shivered slightly in mine.

I remember pressing myself against Andrew at night so I could inhale his scent. I’d even started drinking from a stainless steel cup that I immensely detest because it was Andrew’s.

I try to make him happy as much as possible because there’s something wonderful attached to a smile from Andrew that was directed at me and only me. It filled a vacuum I couldn’t quite explain.

I felt myself zoning out as I stared down at our entwined hands. His paler and thinner one was settled beneath my tanned one. I watched as he retracted and stretched out his fingers from time to time. I blinked, looking up at Andrew. He was half asleep now. His eyes were half closed, as his eyes moved under his lids.

I looked at him with a feeling I could only describe as love. I scooted closer to him so I could place his head on my shoulder. He didn’t protest, just tightened the grip of our hands.

I sighed in contentment as I ran my hand through his hair. A lot of people take ages to decide on what they want. They’re constantly contemplating and letting themselves make mistakes.

But I already knew what I wanted.

I wanted Andrew to be happy. I wanted Andrew to want me the same way I wanted him. I wanted him to love me.

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