One Murder For Another

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Chapter 14

Mina couldn’t bring herself to stop staring, her laughing becoming excessive now as she watched Khalil’s eys widen, his jaw permanently unhinged, as he took in the gigantic mass of glass and dark oak wood that was her home. When she had opened the door and found him gaping on her doorstep she couldn’t suppress a mile-long smile and watching him stumble about from the entryway, to the living room, to the kitchen and back again was pure and unfiltered entertainment. It was like watching a three year old let loose in a toy store, and it was absolutely adorable.

“You have a fucking pool?” he exclaimed, glancing back and forth between Mina and the glass patio door that led to the backyard as if he were waiting for her to yell out “April Fools!” and that all of this was just one elaborate joke.

“Yes?” Mina laughed in confusion, making her way past Khalil’s astonished figure and towards the open archway that led to the kitchen, calling out behind her as she went? “Do you want a snack?”

“Yeah, sure!” Khalil sighed out as he followed her like a lost puppy into the large kitchen. “I-I just can’t believe you live here! This place is amazing” he exclaimed with a loud humph as he took up a spot on one of the stools at the granite island counter in the middle of the room. Mina laughed, her back still towards him as she rummaged through the contents of her fridge. She had never seen him so comfortable, so vocal.

“I think the nicest thing we had at my house was a light switch with dim settings.”

“Really?” Mina turned around, a look of confusion on her face and a jar of pickles in her hand. She pressed her back up against the open fridge door and pushed it closed. “Aren’t they doctors?”

“What?” Now Khalil was the one sporting a confused expression, but it disappeared as fast as it had appeared in a matter of seconds as he began to realize his mistake, but Mina didn’t miss his hesitation. She couldn’t deny that she hadn’t believed Khalil’s story he had woven that day at the lunch table, but she tried to give him the benefit of the doubt in the situation. Maybe he had a reason for lying about his parents, though she still couldn’t help wonder why he had never mentioned a thing about the rest of his family. Surely he had to have other family.

“Right!” Mina could practically see the gears turning in his head as he attempted to come up with a reasonable explanation for his hesitation. “They are doctors - but things are a bit....um-complicated right now.” Complicated. That’s what he was going with? Mina decided to drop it, she wasn’t interested in burning yet another bridge.

“Mhmm” she hummed to herself quietly, setting the jar of pickles down on the counter in front of him as she moved around the kitchen gathering other ingredients.

“What are you making?” He attempted to change the subject.

“Sandwich” she answered curtly. She had to tell herself to let it go.

“With peanut butter and pickles?” he scoffed. “Not to be rude or anything, but that sounds absolutely disgusting.”

“Um-excuse me. Your haven’t lived if you haven’t eaten one of these bad boys” Mina exclaimed, holding up the slice of bread she had begun to spread peanut butter on.

“I promise you” she continued, placing two large pickles onto the bread before slapping the last piece on top. “It will change your life!” She sat the glass plate down on the counter before him, where she watched him continue to eye it suspiciously.

“Oh my god!” she exclaimed in realization. “Wait one second!” she warned before she began to bounce about the kitchen once more, this time coming back with two glasses of milk in her hand and another small plate.

“Here” she passed one of the glasses over the counter to Khalil, taking the other for herself.

“You actually drink milk!” he reproached, laughing at the confused look that overtook Mina’s face, as she bit into the sandwich she had made for herself.

“And they say I’m the crazy one?” he smiled matter-of-factly, receiving a long eye roll from the girl in front of him. “That’s psychopathic behavior!” Khalil let out another body shaking laugh at the faces Mina was making in front of him, only laughing harder as she reached over and slaped his arm in protest.

“Shut up and eat your sandwich!”

Khalil smirked lightly to himself before he once again turned his attention to the abominable looking sandwich that was staring him down on his plate, and now it was Mina’s turn to laugh at the grotesque faces he was making.

“Come on” she sung. “Don’t be a baby.” Khalil gave her a quick look of disgust, before he finally gave in and lifted the sandwich in front of him.

“Rich people are weird” Khalil whispered under his breath, though he knew Mina had heard him when she only stated to laugh harder. There was no getting out of this one and Mina was sure he knew it and she watched in satisfaction as Khalil unwillingly took a smile bite of the sandwich in his hands. She watched as his jaw moved up and down as he slowly chewed the food, his facial features changing every second until she wasn’t even sure what he was feeling in the moment anymore.

“Soooo?” she hummed out, hoping for a response as she continued to study his face in any indication of an emotion. “What do you think?” she rested her chin in her hands, he eyes glued to his figure and unmoving.

There was silence for another minute before a small smile began to break way on Khalil’s lips. “I’ve lived!” He exclaimed, kickstarting a chorus of “Yays!” from Mina’s ecstatic figure in front of him. “This calls for another celebratory bite!” she smiled, holding her sandwich in the air and waiting for Khalil to follow suit. A short cheers later and they were both digging into their food again.

“You’ve got a little-”

“Mhmm?” Mina hummed in response and a small laugh emanated from the back of Khalil’s throat.

“What?” she couldn’t hide a laugh now at her own confusion.

“You’ve-you just have some-” he petered off, letting out a sigh and instead gesturing to her mouth with his hand with a curt laugh.

“What?”

“Peanut butter.”

Oh. “Here?” she asked, wiping at a random spot of her mouth. “Did I get it?”

“No” Another laugh as he shook his head in amusement. His laughter was contagious and Mina found herself laughing with him at her own expense.

“Here?” she asked, whining once more as he continued to shake his head at her.

“J-just right a-a little more.”

“Here?”

“A little more. Almost. Right there!”

“That was much more complicated than it needed to be!” Mina laughed, licking the peanut butter she had brushed from the corner of her mouth off of her thumb in one swift move.

Mina smiled, looking up to find Khalil’s eyes trained on her once more, but her smile quickly fell as fast as it had appeared as she found her body growing hot and uncomfortable under the intensity of his stare. His eyes were unmoving as he traveled her with a look Mina wasn’t sure he had ever sported before, and the unfamiliarity of it all was making her writhe in her skin.

She needed to change the subject. She needed to change the subject before things became more awkward.

“I’m glad you uh- glad you like the uh- glad you like it” she managed to stutter out in regards to the half eaten sandwich sitting in front of Khalil, her eyes dropping down to the dark granite of the counter in embarrassment.

“So” Khalil sighed aloud and Mina was glad for the quick distraction from the awkwardness that had become thick in the room. “Your parents let you bring random boys into their million dollar home?” He joked and Mina took the bait willingly, happy for the distraction even if it meant that she was forced to talk about the people she hated most in the world.

“They don’t let me do anything.” she crossed her arms over her chest, trying to keep her emotion is check. She didn’t need another recap of Chris’s birthday party again, pouring her guts out to Khalil yet again. “Perks of living alone I guess.” she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.

“What’s the longest time they’ve been gone for?” Mina couldn’t understand why Khalil was so interested in the comings and goings of her parents, but she was grateful for the ears of her new confidant. No one ever wanted to talk about her neglectful parents, but that was all she could think about morning, noon, and night.

“Three weeks” she said, without skipping a single beat.

“Wow” Khalil’s eyes bugged out of their sockets in bewilderment. “What do you even do when they’re gone?” She usually cried a lot, though she wasn’t going to admit that to Khalil, instead she shrugged her shoulders in question.

“I don’t know-”

“Must be nice to have so much freedom. I can never get away enough.” He attempted to joke, but the laugh that he mustered was choked.

“What do you mean?” Don’t say it. Don’t say it. “Your parents never seem to be around either.”

Silence reigned through the now thick atmosphere and the large kitchen seemed to become eerily smaller and smaller. She had meant the words when she thought them, but now that they were out floating in the air between the two of them she wished she had kept her curiosities to herself, but some part of her couldn’t help but wonder why her friend seemed full of lies whenever his family was mentioned.

Khalil’s eyes dropped from hers and his hand immediately went to wrap around the cold metal pendant that he still sported around his neck. He seemed to pale significantly, pushing the plate of food away from him half-eaten.

“I’m sorry!” Mina blurted. “I’m sorry” she repeated, this time quieter, a much softer tone to her voice. “I didn’t mean-” Yes she did. “I didn’t mean that.” Now it seemed they were both lying. She watched as Khalil’s gripped tightened on his pendent, his knuckles glimmering white. He opened his mouth as if he were going to say something before abruptly closing it again, thinking better of his decision. He did this three times, all the while Mina trying to apologize in vain.

“Mina” he finally choked out, his voice hoarse as if taking pained him. “Mina my parents are dead.”

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