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Chapter 5 Josephine

I didn’t know how much I would love going on vacation, but being able to do whatever I want in a new place definitely has its perks. I wake up early to make sure I have enough time for everything I planned for today. Snowboarding lessons, shopping, and finding the best-reviewed bookshop they have around here. The town is small but there are so many things to see since I haven’t been here before.

I make sure to bundle up again since I’m most likely going to fall on my ass a few times given the fact that I have never gone snowboarding before. I have no idea if I’ll even be able to manage to stand up with the thing attached to my feet. I guess we’ll find out.

I slide my phone and my extra memory card into my pocket before heading down to the kitchen. No one is home, so I decide to go out for breakfast at the little café’ I passed yesterday.

When I get to the café’, I order the biggest cup of hot cocoa they have, a fried croissant and strawberries on the side. The hot cocoa came in a mug the size of a small boat. It’s shaped like a log with a branch as the handle and topped with a mountain-sized pile of whipped cream. The hot cocoa is delicious and the food is so fresh, like it was just freshly baked, and the strawberries picked right from the garden. It’s so good I can’t help but to eat every single last bite and drink every drop of my cocoa before heading back out for the day.

After an entire day of being on the slopes and not falling nearly as much as I thought I would, I am exhausted. The instructor said I was a natural with how easily I caught on and I did have a lot of fun. I definitely plan on coming back a few times before we have to go back home at the end of the week. But before I go back for the night, I feel like spending some more of the guilt money Jeff gave me. It doesn’t make up for all the arguments I had to hear over the last year between them, but I don’t care, guilt money spends the same way, doesn’t it? And if they’re going to give it to me, I’m going to enjoy myself by buying whatever the hell I want for once. I decide to buy all four books I found and have been wanting for a while. ’The Lost’ by: Natasha Preston, ‘The QB Bad Boy’ by: Tay Marley, ‘Losing Hope’ by: Colleen Hoover and ‘With You’ by: Jensen Kristyne. The amazing reviews they all have gotten has drawn me in and I cannot wait to sit down to read them all. But for now, I will pack them safely in my suitcase in my room and wait to have more time to read them when I get back home.

The street lights have all come on already so I check my phone and see that it’s past eight o’clock. I don’t care about missing dinner and no one texts me to see where I was, so they’re all most likely still out doing whatever. I walk up along the icy road to the house and lugging shopping bags full of books in the snow up a hill sucks, but it’s totally worth it. I spent a couple of hours after snowboarding in the town’s bookstore. It’s the only one around apparently, so it was easy to find. The name of it is called ‘INKED’. I think it’s kind of a clever name. It sort of reminds me of the one back home. It’s small and quiet, and has an old cottage feel to it. No matter where we move to, I always find the best bookshops.

My stomach is growling so loud by the time I reach the porch steps. It sounds as if it is echoing off every surface out here with how quiet it is. I expected the house to be loud and littered with Nate’s drunken friends again. The rental car is in the driveway, telling me that mom and Jeff are probably here so it wouldn’t be ideal for Nate to have a party, I guess. I punch in the numbers to the keypad 217241 and the door pops open for me. I head straight for the stairs with my bags in my arms and start walking up the lengthy staircase to my room when I notice shouting coming from mom and Jeff’s room at the top of the landing. Nate’s door opens just as I realize who’s doing the shouting and he ambles out of his room, shutting the door behind him harder than necessary. He looks down at me standing there on the last few steps and as he walks towards me, he shrugs his shoulders and gives me a look that says ‘Sorry, trips over’ before walking past me to go downstairs. I stand there for a minute, listening to what’s going on behind the closed door. The yelling, them swearing at each other. Why the hell did they have to start fighting here!

After a perfectly nice start of actually being able to get away from all of their bullshit, they have to go and ruin it, as usual! I should have known it wasn’t going to last long, but I had hoped we would at least have a few days out of the week without any of this happening.

I walk up the last few steps and go down the hall to my bedroom, swinging the door open with my foot. I stomp over to the bed and throw my bags across it but they don’t stop and end up sliding off, scattering the contents all over the floor. I slam my door shut and lock it before I kick off my shoes and throw my clothes off as I walk to the bathroom and turn the shower up as hot as it will go. I don’t want to hear any more of their screaming and bickering so I sync my phone to the blue-tooth speakers and blare my music so that it echoes off of the tiles, surrounding me in a cocoon of angry lyrics, drowning out the noise coming from the other side of the hall.

It’s quiet when I turn off the music after my shower so I get dressed in warm comfortable pajamas and decide to go downstairs to the kitchen for a snack. I haven’t eaten since breakfast and the word ravenous comes to mind right now. I almost get to the bottom of the stairs when I hear someone in the kitchen. I peek around the corner and see Nate bent over, picking up broken pieces of glass that are all over the floor.

“Nate…what happened?” I ask hesitantly. He looks up and locks eyes with me for a second before letting his gaze fall back to the mess on the floor.

“Nothing, it’s fine. Just go back to bed.” He says, his tone is sad, but it leaves an angry aftertaste as he continues to sweep up the glass.

“Here I can help.” I go to walk towards him but as I do, he quickly stands up and yells at me not to come over.

“Wait! Don’t walk down here, there’s glass everywhere and you’re in bare feet.” But it’s too late. I didn’t see the broken shards at the bottom of the stairs and I step right on them. I feel the sharp edges puncture my skin, so I automatically jerk my foot away and land hard on the bottom step.

“OW SHIT!” I hiss through my teeth. I grab hold of my foot to assess the damage and when I look down all I see is red. The blood is quickly running down my toes and dripping onto the hardwood floor. Nate comes over to me, takes my foot in his hands, and looks at it for a second before letting it go and scooping me up off the stairs. He walks into the kitchen and sets me on the higher counter before wetting a cloth in the sink. He seems angry by the way he moves throughout the kitchen. Hastily opening cabinet doors and shoving them closed again when he doesn’t find what he’s looking for until he opens the bottom drawer next to the sink and comes up with a first aid kit in his hand.

“Nate I’m sor…” I try to apologize for being such a pain in the ass. I always seem to make a bigger mess than the one I’m trying to clean up, but he cuts me off before I can finish my sentence.

“Forget it. It’s not your fault. You were only trying to help.” He reassures me while picking the chunk of glass out of my foot with tweezers. His hands are gentle and I notice him being careful not to touch the cut as he wipes away more of the blood before holding my foot under his arm while he puts some kind of ointment on a bandage. He places it on the bottom of my foot and gently smooths over it with his hand before wrapping a strip of gauze around it.

I don’t know what to say or how to act around Nate right now. Most of the time we just coexist, but don’t usually have any kind of contact with each other. He’s never really been one to jump at the chance of getting into the middle of anything since the day we moved in with him and his dad. I can’t remember even having a full conversation with him that consisted of more than a few words. Granted he’s not talking much right now, but this is the first time in a while that I have felt like he cares about anything other than himself. Maybe even a little for me.

I sit quietly on the counter as Nate finishes taping up the bandage around my foot. He throws the cloth in the trash can and then without warning picks me up off the counter and sets me gently on the floor before he puts the first aid kit back where he found it. I stand leaning mostly on my good foot, so only my toes are touching the floor on my other foot. The pressure from the bandage is making the cut throb when I try to walk, so I’m a little hesitant to take another step. I hobble out of the kitchen, trying to walk as normally as I can while Nate goes back over to sweep up the rest of the glass on the floor. He’s silent the rest of the time as I watch him walk back and forth in the kitchen, dumping the dustpan into the trash. I feel like I should still try and help but that would probably piss him off, because knowing me I would just get in the way again. I try so hard not to make things worse and the tension in the air is already so smothering every time our parents argue that I feel like it’s my fault that Nate seems so miserable and pissed off all the time. There has been nothing but tension from the day we moved in with them so, I can only think they would most likely be happier if they hadn’t met us at all. Nate comes back into the house from taking the trash outside and I see that his attention is on his phone. I stand there like a dumb little kid while he walks past me, intently staring at the screen, watching him as he saunters up the stairs. I finally muster up enough courage to say one last thing to him tonight before he disappears behind his bedroom door.

“Nate…” I finally say and I pause. Not knowing how to get the words out to ask him what happened tonight. Did he witness the entire argument? How bad was it? What does he think is going to happen between our parents now? But I choose not to ask him those questions after taking a second to consider his answers. It’s probably better to just leave it alone. “Thank you.” I tell him. His hand is wrapped around the door handle but he pauses and looks back at me over the banister.

Sadness briefly crosses his expression again and before he walks through his door he says.
“No problem.” And he shuts the door behind him. A quiet click of the lock tells me he’s in for the night, so I hobble carefully up the stairs and lock myself in my room for my own sleepless night, waiting to be hauled away from what I thought was going to be a paradise for a few days. I guess I got my hopes up again because it turned out to be the same as always. At least now I know not to hold my breath if we ever get to do something like this again.

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