Incandescence (Part I)

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I put my phone back on my kitchen counter while Amelia and Jacob tidied up the kitchen. Bradley and Leonard tried talking to me but I couldn’t speak. It wasn’t until Bradley looked down that he realized the severity of my burns that he carried me to the sofa while Jacob grabbed my first aid kit.

Everyone was fussing around me but all I could think of was that figure in my kitchen window. What would have happened to me if I were at home alone? What will happen after everyone leaves? Was I putting everyone’s lives at risk by having them in my home? Who was that? The questions just kept running on loop in my mind.

It wasn’t until someone suggested ordering takeaway for dinner that I finally found my voice ‘my phone’ was all I could manage to say.

Now that I had finally spoken, everyone stopped what they were doing and just looked at me, wanting to know what had just happened. I could understand why my behavior had alarmed everyone, after all, we were laughing and having such a good time only a few minutes earlier.

Leonard handed me my phone and I opened my message from ‘Unknown’ – and placed my phone on the coffee table so that everyone could see the messages; instantly the room was filled with silence.

‘Tori, who is sending you this?’ Bradley was the first to ask.

‘I don’t know. These messages started yesterday when I finished work. Just then when I was taking the roast out of the oven there was a tap on my kitchen window – someone was standing there with their phone watching me, messaging me’. I spoke slowly, as the severity of what had just occurred started to sink in.

‘We’ll stay here with you tonight and tomorrow we’ll work on a plan to keep you protected’ Amelia stated. I knew this wasn’t Amelia’s idea of spending extra time with Jacob, but for once I was actually happy with one of her plans. I would have been too embarrassed to admit I was afraid and that I wanted everyone to stay with me.

‘Who would want to harm you?’ Jacob finally spoke ‘Like seriously, you’re that person everyone loves’.

I gave Jacob a weak smile ‘You do know I fire people for a living right? I’ve always had enemies and I’ve always been threatened. It’s just this is the first time anyone has ever followed through’.

I could see Bradley and Leonard looking at each other and then back at me. Knowing exactly what they were thinking I said ‘You can’t be thinking Jackson. Surely your cousin wouldn’t stoop this low? He’s an Accountant, he might be a sexual deviate, but he’s not so vengeful as to stalk and threaten me’ I was saying these words hoping for some reassurance from them, but they were silent.

‘You need to call the police and tell them everything that’s happened’ Leonard finally said. His concern was making me anxious. I don’t know what came over me but I found myself crying; I never cry, yet there I was crying.

I could hear everyone talking in hushed tones. Jacob and Amelia were both saying how worried they were as neither of them had ever seen me cry before. Knowing my behavior was causing alarm I decided to pull myself together and get back to the fun night we were all having a mere 30-minutes earlier.

‘So, now that I’ve managed to destroy dinner, what does everyone feel like?’ I asked, feigning confidence.

‘I wouldn’t mind Pizza’ Leonard said and I flashed him a smile of appreciation, I knew he had my back in that moment.

‘Yep, Pizza sounds great’ everyone chimed. It took several minutes before we finally agreed which pizza toppings we wanted before I placed our order.

Not long after dinner arrived and we made our way to the dining table to eat. We ate, drank and laughed; everyone made a conscious effort to remain upbeat and I felt truly blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing group of friends.

Jacob and Amelia cleared the table and the rest of us made our way back into the living room. ‘How’s your leg’ Bradley asked. It was at that moment that I remembered Bradley had carried me into the living room and tended to my burn.

‘I honestly had forgotten all about it’ I truthfully admitted ‘thank you by the way, you did an amazing job with it’.

‘Just don’t make a habit of it’ Bradley teased. I could tell both brothers were tense but putting on a brave face in front of me. Deep down I was petrified, I just didn’t want them worrying. I could hear Amelia and Jacob whispering in the kitchen; they were also worried which was why they volunteered to clean up. Everyone was on edge.

‘So did you destroy dessert as well’ Leonard joked; once again using food as a way to lighten the situation.

'Very funny, it’s in the fridge’ I teased before adding ‘and as backup we have Donuts, remember?’ I laughed as he got up and made his way to the kitchen. I could tell everyone was doing everything possible to keep me out of the kitchen and I appreciated their efforts as I had no intention of returning to that room.

‘Wow, you have brains and you can cook. This looks amazing’ Leonard announced as he brought dessert over to the dining table.

‘So, you two took a while in the kitchen, what were you up to?’ I asked Amelia and Jacob, throwing them both a wink, I was determined to the shift the attention away from me.

‘Yes, do tell’ Leonard teased ‘You seemed awful jumpy when I walked in’ and with that we all laughed. The banter continued over dessert. We took turns at interrogating and teasing one another.

‘What I don’t understand is how you can both be single’ Amelia stated while looking at Bradley and Leonard ‘Like seriously, you are two extremely good-looking guys, you’re successful, I bet you have girls falling at your feet. So what the hell are you doing here and alone?’ I’ve always loved Amelia’s forwardness and now that everyone had had a few drinks, I was looking forward to hearing some truths.

‘And who’s to say we’re single’ Leonard chimed

‘Well are you in a relationship?’ Amelia continued with her interrogation

‘It’s not that I want to be single; it’s exactly what you said earlier, girls only want to be with us for our looks, money, success and name. Do you know how hard it is to trust anyone when every girl that meets us has an ulterior motive?’ Leonard answered honestly.

‘Let’s face it, the only decent girls that don’t use us for personal gain are our employees; and because of that, we can’t take things further’ Bradley added

So, you like someone from work’ I chimed in before Amelia cut me off ‘For someone that is so clever, boy you can be really stupid’ Amelia snapped, pleading with her eyes for me to shut up. I knew I’d had a bit to drink, but I didn’t know what I’d said to make Amelia so annoyed at me.

It was getting late and we were all ready for bed. ‘Does everyone know where they’re sleeping?’ I asked, being not so subtle in my attempt to change the subject. ‘Would you two mind sharing so that Bradley and Leonard can each have a room?’ I casually asked Amelia and Jacob.

Without waiting for their response, I said goodnight to everyone and headed to bed.

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