christmas eve

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f o u r

The light that Cade was shining into the room didn’t help at all. I stood up and groaned against the pain in my knees. I hadn’t thought about the aftermath after I had climbed in here.

Why had I thought that I would land on my feet?

I had never been really good at PE. The only sports I could really do were the ones involving throwing or kicking balls. I could let out parts of my aggression. And it felt really good to throw these balls into the faces of people I didn’t like.

Oh god, how much I wanted to throw a ball at Cade right now.

If I’d find one in this big mess, I probably would without another thought.

He was the one that had brought me into this...

“Holly?” And there was his voice again.

His stupid and deep voice.

“Yes?” I asked breathlessly. I stroked the strands of hair that had escaped my bun back behind my ear. I was a mess. My knees were throbbing, and it felt like my hands were burning.

Hopefully, all of that would go away soon.

“Are you at the door yet?”

I huffed.

How fast did he think I could stand up after this?

I swallowed down my anger and took a step forward. Because I could barely see anything, my hip bumped against something. Metal rattled, and my breath hitched. “I’m trying, Cade.”

I tried to see what damage I had caused, but it was too dark. “Hold the torch right, dammit! I can barely see anything!”

He adjusted it.

Finally, I could make out some things. I was standing next to a metal table, where a few metal pots and glasses stood. I had been lucky that only the metal had moved. Cleaning up broken glasses in the dark would have been a challenge.

“How long will it take?”

“Just-” I gritted my teeth as pain radiated from my left knee. My breath hitched. I had really done a number on myself. “Just quit talking.”

I looked around and could finally make out the kitchen door to my left. I breathed in deeply and started walking. At this point, I just wanted to return to my room. Laying in my warm bed with tea and a good book in my hands sounded like the right idea.

I sighed. First, I needed to get some food.

I lifted my hand forward, and my fingers brushed the door. A smile bloomed on my lips. At least, I had done one thing right.

My hand reached down to the door handle, and I pulled. Nothing moved. Just like I had expected. I shook my head and bit my lip. “I’m at the door. What am I supposed to do now?”

“Just open it,” came Cade’s excellent answer.

I rolled my eyes and huffed. “Cade, I don’t know-”

“Just turn the latch.”

I stilled and looked down. Right, there it was. It seemed so easy... “And you dare and say you can’t open this?”

I heard his laughter. “I could’ve. I just wanted to see how far you’d go.”

Heat ran through my veins, and I felt my heartbeat speed up. My hand clenched around the door handle, and I ground my teeth. That fucking bastard. Who did he think he was?

I breathed in deeply.

I grabbed the latch and turned it without another word, waiting for him to come. I opened the door, and the light from behind me disappeared. I could hear his every footstep.

He appeared in front of me, the stupid smirk on his face again.

I licked over my lips. I was so fucking angry.

I shook my head and turned away from him. He followed me, and I flinched when the light turned on suddenly. I looked back at him with wide eyes. There was a light switch right next to the door that I hadn’t seen.

I sighed and turned again, walking to the cabinets. They were arranged against the wall opposite the door. The green color looked faded and old against the white tiles that were stuck on the wall. Above them were grey wall cupboards, and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to reach them.

“You’ll take the hanging cupboards. I’ll search through the cabinets.”

I kneeled down onto the ground, winced, and opened the first door. Great. Nothing. I crawled to the next one, only finding a few cans of soup and crackers. I took them out and placed them on the cabinets.

Cade was next to me, but I could only hear the doors closing and opening again and again.

It didn’t seem like he made much progress.

But I choose to ignore him. No matter how lucky I was that I wasn’t alone, I still couldn’t see his face anymore. If it hadn’t been for him, my knees wouldn’t be bruised.

A second later, I could hear him let out a short laugh. “I found marshmallows and cacao powder.”

I groaned. “Why are you being so helpful?”

The next cabinet was full of packages of cheese. I grimaced. If that was what we would need to survive on, I would rather starve. I had always despised cheese. I closed the cabinet without touching them.

He placed the items he found next to mine. I moved on to the next cabinet. Again, nothing. It was so frustrating.

Cade moved to the side and was now standing behind me. Somehow, he was still able to reach the cabinets. His legs pressed against my side. My shoulders tensed. Why couldn’t he just leave the one cabinet that was above me? We didn’t have to touch in any way.

Especially not after he had lied to me.

I closed the door louder than I had wanted to.

“Are you angry with me?” Cade asked, and I could feel him staring down at me. I breathed in deeply.

“What do you think?”

A second passed in silence.

“I didn’t think you’d actually do it,” was his only excuse.

“Oh, really?” I rolled my eyes and tried to crawl away to the side. But he didn’t let me. He stepped to the side so that his legs were in my way. I groaned and let myself fall back, landing on my butt. I stretched my legs out in front of me and winced against the pain it caused my knees.

I refused to look up at him, so I only stared at his knees angrily. I must have looked like a little child during a tantrum, but I didn’t care. I felt like one anyway right now.

“I didn’t want you to hurt yourself... I’m sorry, Holly.”

I swallowed.

I hadn’t expected him to actually apologize. Maybe he wasn’t as much of a bastard as I was trying to paint him to be... But still. I placed my hands on the ground behind me and leaned back. I looked up at him. His brows were furrowed, his eyes meeting mine.

“I don’t apologize to anyone, so you better take it.” He gave me a short smile and reached out his hand. He was waiting.

I let a few seconds pass before I did anything.

I didn’t want him to think that it was just fine. I wouldn’t let myself be treated that way if he continued that behavior.

I sighed, shook my head, and took it. It wouldn’t make anything better if we’d start fighting now. We would have to spend the next few days with each other.

“Fine, but don’t think you’re off the hook,” I told him. He helped me stand up. We looked at what we had found. Cans with vegetables and soup in them, a few crackers, marshmallows, and cocoa powder... How great. We would probably die.

“This is so bland... and why the marshmallows?”

Cade shrugged. “Well... if we’re stuck here until Christmas, you’ll need them to enjoy the spirit.”

My brows furrowed, and I gave him a look. “Marshmallows to enjoy the spirit? What world are you living in?”

He chuckled and laid his left arms around my shoulders, pulling me to his side. The breath left my lungs. I had not expected that. “You’ll see, Holly,” he chuckled.

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