Always Together

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Chapter 2

“Good afternoon, Pops.” I enter the kitchen while rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

“Good afternoon, sleepyhead,” Pops says as he continues to stir something in the pot.

“I was so glad and relieved to find an empty casserole dish in the sink.” He turns around momentarily as I hoist myself on the counter, “I was so worried that I had to waste my car gas on searching you.” He laughs.

“How was last night? Did you have fun?” He asks as he places two plates on the four-person dining table in the kitchen.

“It was good, I made a new high score in Subway Surfers.” I laugh and hopping down the counter, I start helping him to set the table.

“Why I am not surprised that you were playing games on your mobile the whole time?” He mutters and shakes his head.

“What’s for lunch?” I ask while setting glasses on the table.

“I don’t know.” He shrugs as he places the dish on the table and sits, “I just mixed all the leftover food with spaghetti and made something edible.”

“As long as it tastes good and has not turned bad, I don’t mind eating even one-week-old food,” I tell him as I fill my plate with delicious looking spaghetti, and take a seat opposite to him.

“This tastes really good.” I swallow a forkful of spaghetti and nod my head appreciatively.

“Thanks.” He takes a sip of water, then puts the glass back on the table, “We are running out of groceries, can you do some grocery shopping?”

“Yeah, sure.” I nod, “And I might go to cabin house today and do some cleaning, so I will do the grocery before going there.”

“I would have come with you and helped you in cleaning and repairing, as there will be a lot to do, but I have to go to the other town to buy some car’s spare parts.” He looks guilty for not coming with me.

“Pops, it is absolutely fine, as I love spending time there.” I go around the table and hug him, “In that house, I feel like I am somewhat closer to mom and dad. It is like, that place is the connection between us.”

“Sometimes I wish, Garret and Claire were with us.” He blinks his tears away, “It is so unfortunate, that they never got a chance to know how amazing their daughter is.” His voice slightly cracks in the end.

I am the unfortunate one, as I’d never got the chance to experience their love.

“I wish, too, Pops.” I swallow and sigh, “I wish, too...”

“But, no worries.” I kiss his cheek, “I have you... I think I can live with that.” I smile, as he rubs his hand over his eyes and smiles.

“And I live for you, Avy.” He smiles as he lovingly pats my head.

After putting away the last bag of grocery items in the cabinet, I make myself some sandwiches and lemonade. I am not sure how much time cleaning will take, so I am packing some snacks with me. I bought some groceries for the cabin, too, but I don’t think I will have much time in my hand to cook something.

So, sandwiches and lemonade for me.

The cabin is the first gift dad gave to mom after their wedding. It is fifteen miles away from the town, a little deeper into the woods, and it is built near the lake. It is absolutely beautiful, surrounded by a calm and serene atmosphere.

I feel at peace there.

When I was little, whenever I and Pops went there, I used to pretend that mom and dad are alive and lives in that house. I used to cheer myself thinking that dad had gone to work and mom is cooking for me in the kitchen. When Pops cooked, I closed my eyes assumed it was my mom who was cooking. At the sound of the front door opening, I imagined my dad came back home.

I had this crazy belief that if you wish for something really hard and pretend that it is really happening. That wish will, someday, turn out to be true.

But as I grew up, I realized some wishes always remain wishes. No matter, how much I pretend I can’t have my mom and dad back. My mom will never cook for me neither my dad will ever come back home to me.

I would never have a normal happy childhood, like other children.

After driving for some time I stop the car, at a gas station a few miles away from the town, and make a quick pit stop. I buy a water bottle for myself from a convenience store, as I have forgotten lemonade in the fridge at home.

When I return to the car, I find some guys standing a little far from the gas station surrounding another man. This is not some abandoned kind of a gas station, but still, at this time there are not many people around here.

Leaning forward in the seat, I narrow my eyes trying to see clearly what is happening. That’s when I notice one of the guys is holding a knife behind his back, as their backs are at me. Then I shift my gaze from one guy to another and notice all of them are somewhat armed.

Holy shit! They are either about to rob that guy or murder him, most likely murder him.

My first instinct tells me to run my car over them, but I don’t want to ruin my graduation gift from Pops with some lowlives blood. But I can’t let that guy hurt. So I decided to save that guy without hitting them.

In my mind, I make a quick plan and next thing I know my car is going in their direction. As soon as I near them I pick up slight speed hoping to get an element of surprise. And that’s exactly what I get, as my sudden approach slightly shocks them and they jump a little back. I slow down my car, just enough for that guy to hop inside, and open the passenger door leaning over the center console. While I keep my eyes on others.

“Get inside,” I yell to him, and he without wasting any time jumps into the car.

As one of the guys near to my side leaps at my door. Before he can reach my door I harshly open it and hit him with the door.

So much for not hitting them with my car.

Quickly, closing the door I press the gas with full force, making my car fly forward. I can feel the adrenaline rush coursing through my body, as my gaze flickers between the rear-view mirror and the road in front of me.

“Are you alright, mister?” I ask as I check the wing mirror, to make sure we are not being followed, “Do you want me to take you to the cops to file a report?” I slow the speed as we gained a distance from the gas station.

“I am fine, thanks.” A deep voice beside me says, sounding slightly amused.

I turn my head in his direction and that’s when I get a clear view of his face. As earlier while trying to save him and running away from those baddies, I didn’t much get a chance to look at his face properly. And his hood was up too, obscuring half of his face. But now when he has put down his hood, I realize he is the same guy from the earlier night.

My eyebrows raised in a slight surprise, but then my face morphed into a neutral expression.

“Why did you help me?” He casually asks as he gets comfortable in the seat.

“Firstly, because you were in need of help.” I shrug,” and secondly, I don’t want to witness anybody’s murder.”

“What makes you think that I was about to get murdered?” He lightly chuckles.

“Well, I don’t think anyone would surround someone just for fun, carrying a knife, gun, and brass knuckles, etc.” I momentarily look at him, “If they just wanted to beat you, brass knuckles would have been enough to beat the shit out of you. But bringing knives and guns along with them, means probably, they were there to finish you.”

“Good point.” He slowly nods his head.

“They were stupid or either we were lucky, as they were carrying guns but then also they didn’t shoot at the car to stops us.” I quietly laugh to myself and shake my head.

I pick up the water bottle from the cup holder and uncaps it.

“Do you know me?” He asks as I finish drinking water and wipe my hand across my mouth.

He doesn’t sound snobbish just curious.

“You are the same guy from the last night, who blocked that hit while looking at me.” I shift my eyes to him, “which was quite impressive, I must say.” I give him a small smile, while he tries to suppress his smile.

“And you are also the same guy, whom I saved from becoming a dead body a few minutes ago,” I say nonchalantly, “Other than that, no, I don’t know you.” I scratch the side of my head, then I rest my elbow against the door while keeping my hand on the steering wheel.

“Haven’t you heard stranger danger thing?” He jokes.

“If you are pedophile, necrophile, or rapist, then one of us is in danger.” I pointedly look at him, “And that is going to be you. As, if you are either one of them, then I will straightaway burn your man parts.” I lit the imaginary matchstick with my hands.

“Geez, girl.” His eyes widen and he shakes his head looking slightly offended, “I am not any of those.”

“Good, then you are safe with me.” I shrug.

“Haven’t you consider that I may be a murderer?” He asks, as his phone lights up in his hand.

He checks his phone, giving me a chance to study his profile.

There is an aura of authority which surrounds him, but one can also sense the dangerous vibes emitting from him. I feel like he can be extremely dangerous when he wants to be.

“I don’t think you are a murderer,” I answer him when he finished typing something on his phone, “You might be a killer, but not a murderer.”

“Don’t you think both are the same thing?” He asks, twisting his body slightly towards me, while his brows pinched together in confusion.

“No, it is not.” I shake my head, “At least according to me.”

“Enlighten me,” he says looking genuinely interested.

“Murderer is someone, who takes the life of others for no reason. Sometimes for fun, perhaps.” I purse my lips together, “He is more like sadistic, finding satisfaction in others pain.”

“On the other hand, a killer is someone who kills when he is, either trying to protect himself or others or trying to avenge someone. People, animals, kill for food, too, we don’t call them murderers.” I think for a moment for the right words to explain, him, my thoughts.

“Murderer murders when he wants, however, a killer kills only when it is needed.” I glance at him, to find him looking at me with fascination.

“Impressive.” He raises his eyebrows as his lips form a small smile.

“Where were you going?” He suddenly asks, it seems like he has just realized that we are out of town.

“Where do you want me to drop you off?” I ask curtly, instead of answering his question, sounding a little more guarded than I’d try to sound.

He doesn’t seem weird or anything, but he is still a stranger.

Moreover, I also don’t like sharing my life with others. There is a part of me which is hidden from almost everyone, and the cabin is an important part of that too.

He looks at my face, for a moment longer than necessary, with a calculating gaze. Like he is trying to figure something.

“Drop me at the Battleground, if you can,” he says, “It is not very far from here.”

I remember Battleground is the name of the place, where last night Jake’s fight was held.

“Okay.” I nod and turn my car in that direction.

The rest of the drive to the Battleground is in silence, neither of us speaks to each other. However, from the corner of my eye, I can see, he is watching me.

“I am sorry,” I say as feeling slightly bad for my earlier behavior, “I didn’t mean to sound rude earlier.”

“It is fine, you weren’t rude... you were just being careful,” he says, sounding not even slightly offended, “That’s a good thing. I am a stranger and you should never share anything about yourself with strangers.”

“Alec.” He extends his hand to me, as I park the car in front of the gates of the Battleground.

“Avery.” I shake his hand giving him a small smile.

His hand feels rough against mine, as I can feel the calloused texture of it, from the years of weightlifting and physical training.

“Avery.” He whispers to himself, then slightly smiles, like he is testing my name.

“It’s nice meeting you, Avery,” he says as he releases my hand.

“It was adventurous meeting you, Alec.” I lightly laugh, as his face turns serious.

“Avery, can you please inform me when you reach home?” He asks looking serious, “Or where ever you are going.” He adds after a moment.

“I am going home,” I tell him as his body slightly relaxes.

“Please, save your number.” He hands me his phone.

“If you send me any dirty messages or pictures of your junk.” I glare at him, as I take the phone from his hand, “I swear I will place your pictures along with your number on every porn site which I will find.” After saving my number, I return his phone to him.

“Save my number,” he says ignoring me, as I get a message from him, “And don’t forget to inform me.”

Ignore me, dude. But if I get any picture of your pendulum, I will make sure that you become an over-night pendulum-star.

“Thank you for saving my life.” He smiles, this time his smile is a little bigger than his previous smiles, “I hope to meet you, soon.” Opening the car door, he walks out of the car.

Just before getting inside the building, he turns around to look at me and waves his phone. I smile and nod my head, letting him know that I will inform him after I get home.

When I reach home, it is silent, Pops car is in the driveway which means he is at home. I quietly peek into his room, to find him sleeping. After checking on Pops, I go inside my room and switch on the lights while taking out my mobile from my pocket.

Home

I type a single word message and send it to Alec. Exactly a moment later, I get an Okay as a reply. His response was so quick that it feels like he was waiting for my message.

Without even bothering to change my clothes, I get inside the covers feeling tired from all the earlier happenings. My eyes close, as soon as I hit my pillow and within a few seconds I drift off to sleep.



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