‘Sometimes you just have to let go and see what happens.’
“So where are you from?” Asher asked Astrid, as he drove to her house. It was about six in the evening and the dusk sky was painted with streaks of orange and red. She hesitated for a brief moment before answering.
“Originally from Belgium but I had been living in Arizona for a few years.” She kept it as short and sweet as possible.
“Whoa! Was not expecting that. Why did you move here, anyway?” he asked, genuinely interested. She merely shrugged.
“Some reasons.” Her tone indicated that she was not ready to have that conversation anymore and thankfully, he got the hint and simply nodded his head, before changing the topic. He did not feel upset or offended in any way. She would tell him when she wanted to. Till then, he knew he could and would wait.
Their conversation touched the grounds of school and homework as the car neared their destination, making both of them hope they would not arrive for yet a few more minutes. Sadly, their time together for the day came to an end as pale roofs of her house came into view. He pulled over in front of the gates before turning to her.
“Well, I guess this is it for the day,” he said, hiding the slight disappointment in this voice. He enjoyed spending time with her, for some reason.
“Yeah,” she muttered, as she unbuckled her seatbelt. It would be wrong to say she did not feel the same way as he did, though neither of them had the guts to say it out loud.
“See you tomorrow, then.” Then he added, “Thanks for what you did.”
“This is probably the fifth time you are thanking me. One more time and I will whack you.” She even waved her fist in front of his face, a playful glint in her blue orbs.
He simply laughed as she got out of the car and walked to the gates. His eyes followed her as she turned back to wave at him, before getting inside the house. As the door closed behind her, the car zoomed past her house, into the silent neighbourhood.
Having been too immersed in her thoughts, Astrid did not notice that she had people waiting for her arrival as she walked up to the stairs to her room, but was stopped by her cousin’s voice.
“Mom, is that you?”
Astrid looked at her cousin, confused. Before she could say anything, Natalia immediately held her finger up to her lips, indicating her to say quiet. Her eyes kept glancing from her to the living room, panic and fear defined her stance. Astrid’s confusion only grew as Natalia grabbed her hand to pull her close, close enough to whisper in her ear.
“Listen, I don’t know what’s going on but there are strange men in the living room. They are looking for you. I don’t know if you were a part of some gang or something, but they look scary. So if you are in any trouble, just quietly leave the house and call for help while I somehow, distract them, okay?” she hurriedly whispered, before pushing Astrid towards the door. She was scared but tried to cover it up by putting on a brave front but Astrid didn’t get fooled by that.
“Let me see who it is,” Astrid said, soft enough to not be heard as Natalia shook her head.
“No. No. Run and call the police or something.” She started shoving her towards the door now. Before Astrid could do anything, they were interrupted by heavy footsteps. Several footsteps indicating that there were at least around five of them there.
Both the girls looked like deer caught in the headlights as they stared wide-eyed at the approaching figures. Astrid immediately pushed Natalia behind her, taking a protective stance. She heard Natalia’s little huff but did not care at the moment.
Her eyes grew wide in panic as she came face to face with someone that she knew all too well. He still looked the same as always- his shiny blonde hair neatly combed back with grey at the ears, his suit pressed immaculately, making him look younger than he was. His cold blue orbs, very similar to hers, regarded her cooly. Astrid’s shock soon evaporated and was replaced with white-hot fury. Her eyes blazed in anger as she spoke through gritted teeth.
“What are you doing here?”
“Is that how you speak to your grandfather, child?” Slight amusement shone in his eyes but was gone as quickly as it came. Natalia gasped in surprise at his words, as she looked back and forth between the two of them. The four other men stood behind her grandfather like perfect mannequins. What a sight they must be! Astrid would have definitely laughed at them and shot some snarky comment if she was not so angry.
“Cut the nonsense. Why are you here?”
“You know why I am here, Astrid.”
“And I thought you were smart enough to understand what ‘no’ means.” Her fists clenched at her sides as she glared at the man standing in front of her.
“And you know I won’t be taking ‘no’ for answer.”
“Guess what, old man. I don’t care what you want. Leave.”
“Um, should I call the police or something?” Natalia whispered in Asrtid’s ear from behind. She slightly shook her head.
“I will give you two options, Astrid. Either you come willingly or I will take you with me by force. You choose.” Astrid pretended to think for a second before answering.
“Well, here’s my answer. Screw. You.”
He simply sighed before motioning to the men behind him.
And that was all it took for Astrid to push past her frozen cousin and race out of the door into the streets. She pushed her body forward as much as she possibly could, as she sprinted towards nowhere. She had no idea where she was running, the only thing in her mind was the fact the she knew if she got caught, she would be forced back into the life she escaped from. That thought alone, gave her enough motivation. She would rather be dead than go back there again.
She knew the men were still on her trail, as their heavy footsteps thudded heavily against the ground behind her. They were trained bodyguards so she knew she had to give it all she had got to escape. All those years of running and parkour was finally going to be put into use, as she ran towards a stranger’s house, jumping over the fence. Her feet carried her over to the back as she cimbed over the fence again, praying that she did not get caught for trespassing. She ran climbing over whatever she can, cursing at the fact that they were still following her. She tipped down garbage cans, climbed over parked trucks, even shouted at the frozen strangers on the streets. She knew all she had to do was to get out of her neighbourhood and into the crowded city streets to escape. She could only hope that Natalia was fine.
She must have been running for about ten minutes as she caught sight of the crowds bustling with the street lamps on. She snaked her way through the throng of people, shooting an apology whenever she bumped into someone. She was beginning to lose them. Five minutes later, she let out a sigh of relief as she realised that she was not being followed anymore. She leaned her palms on her knees as she panted and tried to catch her breath. Her mind was turning its screws, trying to figure out how he had found her and how to make him leave. He was loaded so there was no way the police could be of any help.
She rubbed her face furiously, resisting the urge to scream. All she wanted was to live a peaceful life and all that was happening to her was nowhere near peaceful. Suddenly, she realised something. Natalia.
She immediately fished her phone out of her pocket, thankful that her pocket was zipped up. She dialled her number and help the phone up to her ear, still glancing at her surroundings making sure she was not being followed. Call it paranoid but she just wanted to be safe than sorry.
Natalia picked up at the seventh ring. She had been counting, unconsciously.
“Hey! Are you alright?” Astrid shouted into her phone, clearly panicked.
“I was not the one being chased by scary dudes in suits. Of course, I am fine. Are you alright?”
“I’m good,” she replied shakily before asking. “What happened after I ran away?”
“Well, Mom luckily came back home early today. She threatened your gran- I mean, the creepy old guy, to get his butt off her property before she rips him apart to pieces with the kitchen knife. This is the censored version,” she laughed, though it was clear she was still shaken up by the ordeal. Astrid had never been so relieved in her life. For a second, she thought Natalia was in trouble because of her.
“Did he leave?”
“Yeah. He said he will be back, though. Astrid...” She paused for a second before asking in a shaking voice.
“What the hell is going on?”
Any ideas on what is happening now? Comment.
Question of the chapter: Any new thing that you picked up during this lockdown.
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