Conflicted Affection

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19

We walk in, seeing Sean hugging Lela close and Max looking away from them at the floor. I can't help but wonder if he was alright.

"Ok," Max says, voice strong and sounding irritable, "We're gonna need to go to Mr. Crane's house, he'll know how to handle this." He just grabs a bunch of stuff and shoves it in a backpack. Some items I notice are jackets, knives, guns, bullets, and bags of dried fruit along with a container of peanuts and chips. A weird combination considering the other things looked like survival objects, but chips are pretty unhealthy. I'm not complaining though, I eat three bags of doritos five times a day dammit, who am I to talk?

"But how are we gonna get there?! He is all the way in England!" Lela speaks up, earning shock from me but no one else.

"England?!" I shout.

Ryland nods to me while Sean only glances. Lela remains focused on Max and Max sighs angrily.

"I have the money, trust me. If we wanna fucking survive we will get on that plane and find him. I don't care what anyone else says because I'm not losing my goddamn family over this shit." Max argues, throwing the backpack to the other side of the room, "That one's yours, Ryland." He says emotionlessly.

Ryland just looks at him and calmly goes to retrieve his backpack.

"Ryland has all the weapons in case we need them but we're gonna need to get rid of them before getting on the plane." Max says.

"What if we need them on the plane?" asks Lela.

"We won't." Max snaps.

"Don't talk to her like that. Just because you can't find a damn-" Sean stops, looking down at the floor then up at me.

"Alright, we gotta get going as soon as possible." Max speaks up, him ignoring the situation completely. I look over to Ryland but all he does is look at the floor.

We all pick up our stuff and head out, Max having a knife in his hand.

When we get safely into a car, Ryland puts the knife away into one of the car compartments.

Soon, we get to the airport and are as ready as we can be to board a plane to the United Kingdom. Even though I'm scared, going to England is a surreal, amazing feeling to me.

Me and Ryland sit together, me laying my head on his shoulder for the whole plane ride and him holding my warm hand with his cold one.

By the time we get there it is 7 at night and my stomach begins grumbling. Ryland made me wake up and get off the plane and he manages to get our stuff all by himself. I shouldn't underestimate his strength.

Max rents a car and we drive through the city into a nearly deserted forest, yet every now and then you would see houses.

We stop at a long, one story house. The first thing I notice is an old man in a rocking chair sitting on the wooden, paint chipped porch.

"I didn't expect you guys, spec'lly at this time. Who's this fellow?" He asks, looking at me. I expected him to have an English accent, but he actually has a thick southern accent.

"This is Dillan. Dillan, this is Mr. Hilton." says Max.

"You can call me Old Man Hilton if you wish." He giggles, "Are you guys hungry?"

"I was going to take them to eat in a little, I just had to make sure you were here." Max says.

"Is somethin' goin' on? Where's my daughter?"

"They came back. You know, they." Max explains, and Mr. Hilton's eyes widens.

"You can take 'em to eat, I'll talk to Ryland here 'bout it." He says, standing up and guiding Ryland inside the house.

I stand there, not wanting to leave him but I do anyways. I get into the car and Max asks, "Where do you guys wish to go?"

Everyone has different ideas, Sean saying a burger place, Lela saying pizza, and me saying, "Lets go to a grocery store and get snacks."

As we drive further down, I notice more farmland and a sign that says, "Welcome to Cotswolds."

I guess Max decided that we should go to the grocery store because here we are at a tiny house-looking building with a washed out sign saying: 'Market'. Max tells Sean to go get burgers, Lela to go get pizza, and me to go get some snacks.

Everyone goes a separate way, except Sean and Lela--of course--who followed each other. I soon find the snacks, my fingertips twinkling together in excitement. I grab Doritos--you knew I would--some Goldfish, Cheese-Itz, Jolly Ranchers, and plain potato chips. The grocery store is surprisingly empty and it honestly felt somewhat eerie.

I go to check out before Max or anyone else could offer to pay for it. As I put my stuff down and lift my head up, me and my eyes met with my worst nightmare: Michael.

I can't stop my mouth from opening in shock.

"Dillan?" He asks, his hair now shaved and his skin tanner than I remembered.

"Yeah." Is all I say.

Michael just scans my items and puts them in the plastic bags, "19.04 pounds." That's when I realize I only have American money. An instant state of panic sparked my system.

"I only have American money." I say quietly.

Max soon pops up to help me, handing me the money I need. I slowly give Michael the money, afraid of possibly making contact with his hand, making him actually punch me in the face. But--luckily--I don't.

I pick up my bag of food and stand there for a couple of seconds. Max soon walks up and puts his groceries on the table for Michael to scan.

"30 pounds, sir." Michael says and Max quickly hands him the money.

Max picks up all the bags and walks out quickly towards the car.

"I'm surprised I didn't kill him." He says.

"You knew him?" I ask.

"No but I know Ryland did and I suppose you did too." He says, putting the groceries into the car with a slam and another slam when he closes the trunk. When I think the slams are over, he closes his door with a slam after getting inside the car, making me jump.

Lela, Sean, and I all get inside quietly, not daring to make a sound.

I text Ryland, knowing I need to tell him about this.

Me: Um..

Ryland: Yes? Is everything alright?

Me: Kinda..

Ryland: Are you ok?

Me: Well.. I just got out of the store..

Ryland: And?

Me: I saw someone that we both know..

Ryland: Who..

Me: Michael..

Ryland: Kearney?! Michael Kearney?!

Me: Yeah..

Ryland: Wtf what is he doing here?

Me: I don't know I guess he moved to England

Ryland: I suppose so. What if he sees me?

Me: He won't do anything. I have a lot more courage to kick his ass now

Ryland: Haha thanks cutie

Me: I'm always gonna have your back from now on. We'll be back soon, ok? Be safe.

With that, I end the conversation. I watch the trees, tiny stores, houses, street lights, and people go by as we drive back to Mr. Hilton's house, every one of us still sitting in complete silence.

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