Walking alone in that stricken path
With every sin and kink forgot
I know, there are demons walking beside
And a hungry beast aside
Waiting to see if I can make it to the door.
“This is too much of stuff.” Amber huffed as I put the last of the boxes into my SUV. “I wonder if the Megan I knew changed.”
I rolled my eyes. Amber had come to Chailey to help me pack and she had been consistently making comments every now and then. “I told you that Pamela gives me a good salary by which she makes me buy stuffs.”
“When I asked you to buy stuffs, you never did.” Amber pouted, as she came next to me. “Do I have a competition for best friend awards?”
I laughed. “You know that you will always ace that one right?”
“I know.” She chuckled, swinging her short curly hairs towards the other side. “I’m too best to have a competition.”
Amber looked so happy—I could see her big eyes twinkle with excitement. Her long ear rings bounced up and down every time she shook her head.
“I missed you Amb.” I said genuinely meaning it.
“Awe, do you think I didn’t miss you?” Amber pulled me into a hug. “I even gave Thomas all the extra work today, so that I could help you shift.”
“What?” I asked, pulling her away so that I could face her. “You overloaded him with your work too? That’s not fair.”
“That’s okay.” She waved her hand in the air. “I pay him well enough to work the double anyway.”
I shook my head at her.
“Hey you girls ready?” Came a new voice and we both turned to see Pamela. “I can see that you are all packed and ready to get going.”
“Pam, I’ll miss you.” I said, taking a step forward to hug her. “Promise to visit me at least twice a month.”
“Yeah.” She said, giving me a sad smile. “I want to visit Smith too.”
“Smith keeps asking about you.” Amber pipped in. “He’s grateful that you let Megan stay here when she needed the most.”
“But I’m angry at her for not staying with us.” Pamela gave an angry glare at me but that didn’t last long. “I still wonder how she convinced my mum. I should tell you she’s a stubborn woman.”
I gave an easy smile at her. “I have my ways.”
“I think the devil heard me.” Pamela said making us all laugh. “Coming mother.” She shouted back and then turned towards us. “You should tell her that you are moving out because I didn’t.”
“That’s not fair.” I wined. “She’ll hate me forever now.”
“Dive in your way now.” Pamela winked at me before turning her heels.
“I’m definitely your best friend for centuries.” Amber said, shaking her head with a chuckle.
After about one hour of convincing Edna that I was not going out for eternity and I would be visiting them more often, Edna finally gave a half nod at my pleas. Thankful for that nod, I bid my farewell to Edna and Pamela, and turned towards the familiar direction where the beasts of my past lay. Thinking of the consequences of my action, I doubted if it was the best decisions of mine.
The nightmares had lessened in the past two years and I was scared if travelling the forbidden path again, it might bring them back to me. Seeing Miles again in the party made my nerves shiver with greater frequency and if Peter hadn’t gripped me, I’m sure I would have fallen flat on the floor.
He looked the same, the same devilishly handsome figure. Didn’t us affect him, even in the tiniest bit at all? And that hurt the most, thinking that I was the only one who clung to that dead relationship more than him. Was it all his plan in the first place? To give me the letters with flowers and pretend not to know about them, to shout at me when I talked about them, to make me feel that I loved him less, to make me feel that I didn’t deserve him?
“We are here.” Amber said, bringing me back to the present. “Why are you crying?”
“What?” I asked rubbing my cheeks. To my surprise, I did have a few tear stains down my cheeks.
“Megan, honey.” Amber started. “I can talk to Smith if you like. I’m sure he will understand.”
“No, no.” I said way too soon. “It was just a speck of dust.” I said rubbing my eyes.
“That’s called a white lie.” Amber said, rolling her eyes. “I was wrong to ask if you had changed. You are just the same.”
“Thank you.” I said sarcastically, as I opened the door to get out. The familiar surroundings gave me a nostalgic effect, and I smiled at the same apartment I lived two years back. It was one of Laura’s, my other friend, and we had shared it till she went to do her internship. It held a lot of fond memories and that bugged me. I could almost hear the stories those walls echoed.
I shook off the unwanted thoughts and asked for the keys. Amber handed them promptly and as I unlocked the doors, I found the apartment clean and tidy.
“Yup. All cleaned and prepared to welcome its guest.” Amber leaned across the door, crossing her arms across her chest.
“That’s so sweet.” I said, walking towards the long hall. It was just as I had left it. All the furniture was the same, it was as if I never left. “There are no cobwebs.”
Amber laughed. “It’s because it was cleaned recently, like two days ago. Laura asked those who were staying here to vacate for you.” She went out and within a few seconds she was back with a big box.
“What?” I asked in surprise. “She didn’t have to do that.”
“Well, that’s the Laura you know.” Amber waved her hand in the air. “Come on now, I didn’t absent myself from work for nothing.”
I shook my head with a smile and followed Amber.
Within half an hour, we put all the boxes in the apartment and all that was left to do was unlock the boxes and stuff them in their rightful place. By the time we finished the shifting process, we were starving.
I laid on the bed, closing my eyes. “What’s there to eat?”
Amber laughed. “I think you should wait for another half hour more.”
“What’s happening?” I asked turning around, my belly facing the mattress, facing Amber. “Are you preparing something?”
She huffed. “Even though I give myself more credit to cooking than you, I’m not preparing something for you.”
I pouted and turned away.
I turned towards her again with a hopeful face. Amber laughed while I pillowed her.
“Today is ladies’ day out.” Amber announced. “It will be you, Laura, I and we should not forget the little Emerald.”
“Emerald is coming too?” I asked excited. Emerald was Laura’s daughter and I had not met her since a long time. Whenever I came here, I visited Smith and silently went back without leaving any trace behind. Meeting Emerald would definitely change my depressed mood. “That would be awesome.”
“Yup, she has hardly seen you right?”
“Yeah, it would be a great change over for me.”
At sharp six thirty in the evening, Amber promptly pulled me into the Tiffany’s coffee shop. Though I was excited to meet the girls, I wished I would have a peaceful day sleeping at my old place.
“Come on, lazy ass.” Amber pulled me from the couch and dragged me out of the apartment. “Laura had called me two times already.”
“Tell her that we can meet her tomorrow.” I pouted, as Amber locked the apartment. “Don’t you have to meet Zack or something?”
“Nope.” Amber said, popping the ‘p’. “It’s supposed to be a lady’s day today. But he’s coming over to my place later.”
“Gross.” I said making a face, as Amber winked at me.
Amber laughed and a minute later, her phone rang again. Amber gave me a pointed look and held her phone at my face. It was Laura. I rolled my eyes. While Amber blabbered about how late I was being, I drove us to the Tiffany’s.
Laura was with Mark when we reached there. It had certainly been a very long time, since I had seen them. Mark now had a French beard with a small ring on his ear, while Laura had gained a few pounds. They looked like a best couple ever. And the little Emerald was the cutest kid I had ever seen. Her green eyes defined her. She had been wearing a butterfly clip on her head with a matching frock.
“Hey guys.” I greeted as I neared them. “You look fantastic.”
“Megan!” Laura gushed towards me with open arms. I returned her hugs and smiled broadly at her. “How are you? It’s been ages since we met.”
“Not to forget the long one hour calls every week.” Mark chipped in.
“I’m glad to see you too Mark.” I hugged a bear hug with him. “I’m starting to think that this is the new father look?”
“My girls like them.” Mark said and laughed. “While the bigger one likes to nibble on this ring, the smaller one just fiddles with it.”
“Ewe.” Amber said.
“Mark!” Laura poked him on the stomach, making all of us laugh.
“Amber, I’m so glad that you dragged her here.” Laura said, pulling her into a warm hug.
“Dada.” The little girl said, bringing some attention to herself.
“Come on precious.” Mark pulled her into his arms. “Look this is your mother’s best friend. You want to shake hands with her?”
Emerald looked at me as if I were a demon and finally gave me a half-hearted smile. “Hi.”
“Hello.” I said with a smile as I extended my hand to her and she gently shook it. “What’s your name beautiful?”
“Emald.” She said, making us smile. “What’s your ame?”
“I’m Megan.” Wondering if she would be able to pronounce my name or not, I added, “But you can call me Meg.”
“Meg.” She repeated after me.
“Gosh, she’s so adorable.” I pinched her cheeks while she turned to her daddy, embarrassed by my actions.
Laura shuffled Emerald’s hair. “She’s one pretty demon at times.”
I laughed. “Come on, it won’t be that bad.”
“Oh, it will be.” Amber said. “Mark, you should invite her to do some babysitting when you guys go on dates.”
“That would be great.” I said, turning towards Amber. “Soon she will start liking me more than you guys.”
“I would love to see that.” Mark added. “Ladies, excuse me. I have a meeting to attend to. I’ll see you guys later.”
Mark kissed Laura and Emerald before heading out.
“Mommy, why is daddy leaving us?” Emerald asked, poking Laura on her neck.
“He’s going to office, honey.” Laura said, caressing her daughter’s cheeks.
“Hey, how about you have a bite of chocolate?” I asked as I fished out a big candy bar. I could see Emerald’s green eyes twinkle with excitement. Even before I had held it out to her, she grabbed it from my hand and pulled the covers off.
Amber laughed. “Already bribing her to be on your side?”
“Don’t lead her into it.” Laura warned and I waved my hand at her.
“So, what’s new?” I asked once Emerald was busy with her candy bar. “How much did I miss?”
“Pretty much everything.” Laura said, rolling her eyes. “I mean you were gone like for two whole years—”
“Three.” Amber corrected Laura.
“Yes, three whole years and you ask what you had been missing?” Laura fumed. “Just tell me how many times did we meet up in these past years?”
I kept quiet and looked at my hands. I knew I was responsible for this one on my own. I could see two eyes staring at me. “Okay, you are starting to give me creeps now.”
Amber sighed. “Sara and Leo got married last month, when we were dealing with Smith’s crisis. Thomas is my new assistant in the business.” She started. “Rachel, our event planner, is planning on a divorce. And Em has started to call me Aunt.”
“What?” I asked. I was sure my eyes were as big as a moon on a full moon day. “Rachel is getting a divorce? She was so happy with her relationship!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah.” Amber said. “But the good thing is that their kid will be given the whole attention by both of them.”
“Oh…” I sat thinking. “When are they getting?”
“May be this month end or something.”
“Mommy… mommy.” Emerald said, seeking attention to herself.
“Yes?” Laura said, in a defeated voice. She made it so clear that raising a kid was so difficult. “Done with the candy? Look you spoiled your new dress.”
Laura dusted the frock to remove the candy stains.
“It needs to be washed, dumb head.” Amber said, with a light chuckle.
Laura glared at her and then turned to me. “It’s all your fault.”
I laughed. “You really need a time out. Emerald, do you like to draw?”
“Yes!” she said, clapping her hands. “Carrots!”
I smiled knowingly and held a pen and a paper. “You want colors?”
Laura laughed. “You really know how to handle the kids.”
“That’s because she is one of them.” Amber pipped in. “Sleeping late, not eating their food and oh, not to forget idiotic fights that are never worth fighting.”
I rolled my eyes at her.
“The last one is damn right!” Laura said. “Shit, I’m sorry, honey, you were not supposed to hear that.” She then went ahead to cover the innocent ears of her daughter.
Amber and I laughed.
“Seriously, you are right.” Amber said, recovering her laughter. “Now, because of her childish behaviour, both of them are suffering.”
Without another beat, I knew what they were talking about.
“This color is orange.” I told a little loud so that they would get distracted and leave the topic alone. “And this is blue.”
“In all honesty, I was shipping them off.” Laura said, ignoring my loud voice. “They were so happy together and suddenly, it sinks.”
“I still don’t understand the reason for their breakup.” Amber stated, looking at Laura. “He was there for her, with or without the notes, who the hell cares? He was with her, that’s what it matters.”
“I just wish someone would write me notes and send it to me with flowers.” Laura gushed with dreamy eyes. “I always thought it was romantic.”
“Shut up!” I said, closing my eyes. “Both of you! You are giving me a migraine.”
“Just tell us.” Both of us said in unison.
I sighed. “One fine day, I got a few notes telling me stuffs.” I started from the beginning. “Though I went on a hunt trying to find out who it was, I didn’t. Neither could I reject the notes, so it was like an un-welcomed guest. Slowly, I started accepting it.”
“It… the notes, said about my daily activities and it surprised me. Later, I found myself waiting for them to come by and make my day shine a little brighter. I stopped searching for who sent that thinking if the person found out, he would see for who I really was.” Tears brimmed my eyes.
“And Miles knew this all, but he kept quiet all along. We would even have few fight because of them. He once told me that I like those letters more than him.” Now, the tears rolled down my cheeks. “How can I trust him again? Just tell me that Lau. What if there are bigger secrets yet to be revealed?”
“Megan.” Laura reached for my hand and squeezed it.
“No, I’m over it.” I said wiping my tears and plastering a smile as if the whole chat didn’t happen at all. “It was all a perfect nightmare.”
I was at one of the interviews the press held. I had enough of them since the last two years. But somehow this one had entered into my schedule. I had already spent half an hour of my precious time in the room with the lady called Tamara, and she was starting to give me a migraine.
“Mr. Jackson, we heard that you are no longer cooking. Is that true?” She beamed at me, revealing her white teeth. Her black hair shone brightly at the camera lights. I took a deep breath and smiled at her.
“It’s true.” I then turned towards the audience, with the same smile. “I would really want to have some time for me to rest right?”
The audience laughed. “But, don’t you think the usual customers are missing them?” she pestered.
“Well, if you put it that way…” I countered. It was always the same questions and the tricky part was, I was not supposed to answer the same thing twice. It was supposed to be the same answer but that would be put in a better way. I was tired of it all. “The usual customers will understand my plight and let me live by peace. Isn’t that true folks?”
The crowd gave a few cheers and clapped for me. I assume it’s in my favor.
Tamara shook her head and laughed along with the crowd. “You have got your ways with the people.” She commented.
“Well, that’s what I’m good at.” I adjusted my blazed and leaned on the cushioned chair.
“One last question for the day, for you Miles.” She said, when the crowd settled down. “Our reporters tell that you are still not in contact with your ex-lover, Megan Taylor.”
My cool demeanour vanished when I heard her name. I keep running away from her, yet she somehow manages to come back into my life. I curled my hands into fists and gritted my teeth. The last time I saw her, she was happy in the arms of that bastard, Peter. I was the only one suffering from the after math of the relationship we had. Was that even fair?
“But you met her not a week before, right?” she continued. “Is it true that you confessed your love to her?”
If I had the power to blow fire from my mouth, Tamara would be a roasted chicken right now. I closed my eyes to calm myself. Her nerve! What are the reporters of hers doing gathering all wrong information? I had been prepared to answer any kind of question regarding my business and the last question to be expected was regarding her?
I had maintained my cool till the end even if it meant holding back my dogs of hell. But now, it had reached its limit. “Tamara, you should gather your information right.” I said in the serenest voice possible.
“I did meet her, but because of my busy schedule, I couldn’t talk to her.” I said, taking a gulp of water. “Moreover, I was there for only half an hour and by the time, she had already left.”
“That’s a shame.” Tamara said. “How is she? Does she still love you?”
“That’s her choice isn’t it Tamara?” I smiled. I checked my watch and nodded at her. It was one of the movements that we decided to silently wrap the bullshit.
“Well, it’s good to know that you still care about her choice.” Tamara said and then turned to the crowd. “Well, folks, that’s Miles Jackson we have right now, the hottest youngest bachelor.”
I fake-smiled at the crowd, waving my hand at them, I walked my way out without another word.