Crossroads: Book 1

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 4

Elena

Ever since the trip out of Michigan, life seems to become simpler. The air is refreshing; people appear to be more pleasant. I give credit to the weather; the sun fills the air and people’s hearts with warmth.

“Here ya go, dears,” our middle-aged server with a smile of pure kindness says as she places our food in front of us. The southern accents are rich and melodious as they reach my ears in this Waffle House.

“I will never understand how or why you like your bacon burnt to a crisp like that,” Dad teases as I pull my long blonde hair back with a hairband. I could use a haircut.

Taking a slice of the bacon from my plate, I enjoy the crunch in my mouth. “It’s the only way, Dad.”

He just grins. “Not only do you look like your mother with that hair and blue eyes, but you also act just like her.” He chuckles to himself. “Oh, I miss her.”

“I do, too,” I mumble with a glance at my plate. While gathering some eggs onto my English muffin, I wish I had more traits from him.

My eyes shift over at the pinky nail I removed in the drive down here - a nervous habit. I’ve never seen my Mom or Dad pick at their nails... Dad always taps his fingers on his leg or on a nearby surface. I prefer that habit instead of this one.

Can habits be hereditary? If so, who knows where I got mine.

The only similarities between us are: we both like action movies and really greasy pizza. Other than that, there isn’t much we have in common.


As soon as we hit Georgia, we observe the red dirt, confederate flags flying high, people shooting pistols and rifles at outdoor gun ranges - aimed away from the traffic, of course. No shortages of muddy pickup trucks here; people sitting on front porches -just sitting there—rundown homes with some trash everywhere, and abandoned property probably from poverty.

Maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea. Some areas remind me of Detroit only in a small-town way.

We continue driving east, and the scenery improves, for which I’m thankful. As we travel further east, I notice a lot of farmland or at least houses with plenty of acreages. It’s refreshing compared to the hustle and bustle of inner-city life.

​“We’re about twenty minutes out,” I hear my dad say, pulling me out of my observations. Tiny little butterflies swim in my stomach.

I take a breath when I see it. There is a wooden sign that reads, “Welcome to Ludowici. Population 1,400.” What? 1,400 people here? That is a tiny town. I wonder if it’s true what they say, ‘small towns have people that know everybody, and everything is everybody’s business.’

Gosh, I hope not.

​In time, we pull up to a small two-bedroom home. It is charming - white with blue shutters and a red front door. No garage, but that’s okay; it’s not like it will snow here much. Some bushes hug the length of the front porch and a flower bed with Christmas roses. So elegant. Whoever had this home before took good care of it.

We climb out of the van and walk up to the door. Dad smiles at me as he puts the key in to turn the knob.

​“This is it, home sweet home,” he says in anticipation. As soon as we walk inside, instantly, the faint smell of lemon intermixed with dusty emptiness greets us. The little entryway stretches from inside the door and leads to the family room on the left. There are wooden floors throughout, except for the kitchen on the right side of the doorway. White tiles adorn the floor along with a small breakfast bar and updated steel appliances. A spot in front of the door is just big enough for a small table and chairs. It’s not much, but it’s just big enough for two people to live comfortably.

Walking further down the hall with the wooden floors creaking beneath us, the house has two bedrooms across from each other. One bedroom is next to a bathroom in the hallway. We walk into the master room, which is pretty spacious for the size of the house. Dad has a full bathroom to himself and two windows. We walk over to my room and notice that my room is smaller, but I don’t mind. I have one window that faces a light blue house, wooden flooring, and a walk-in closet–that’s nice.

We unpack the essentials and rebuild our beds after devouring a pepperoni pizza from ‘Sam’s’ pizza parlor. It has a lot of flavors and the perfect amount of grease to satisfy our hunger.

Even though my eyes burn and my body’s stiff from the ride down here, I can’t sleep. Tomorrow is my first day of school, and I am too nervous, not only because it’s a new school but also because I’m transferring in the middle of the year and on a Tuesday. It’s my senior year, and I have no friends.

What if I can’t find any friends? I hope I like my teachers. What if I get lost? No, I won’t get lost. This small town is tiny; the school can’t be that big. All the questions and scenarios that are filling my head escalates my breathing.

The room is constricting; I need to open a window. I built my bed by the window because looking out into the world as I fall asleep is a necessity. Unlocking the locks, I slide the window up.

The cool night air swarms into my room and fills my lungs, relieving me of my anxiety. I fall back on my pillow with my hands, clutching the sheets up to my neck. Much needed sleep is just a drift away.

Deep in my unconscious, there’s a rumble of an engine approaching.

Clash.

“Oh shit.” A deep voice curses nearby.

As if there’s an explosion, I spring up from bed and immediately glance around - forgetting that I’m not in my old room. The clock catches my eye – 3 am?! Ugh. I slam my face into the pillow.

“Fuck.” There’s that voice again. What is going on? Who is that? I sit up and peer out my window to where the cussing is coming from.

There’s a man next door in the driveway trying to pick up trash next to a motorbike. He has on long pants and a cutoff shirt. I can tell from the outside lights and the moon glistening that he has some serious muscles. He’s stumbling around trying to pick up trash, cursing as he goes.

Clash

“Motherfu-” the man mumbles as he trips over an aluminum trashcan top and tells the trashcan to ‘stay.’

I can’t help but let out a giggle. This poor guy is having a heck of a time, but he needs to stop making such noise at this hour. I decide to push aside my introverted-self and go over there to ask him to be quiet. The last thing I need is for my dad to hear any of this. He doesn’t need to threaten arrest for disturbing the peace -especially on our first night here.

Bringing my legs over the bed, I put on my favorite slippers with little panda heads covering my toes, and grab my bathrobe to cover up my night shorts and tank top. The robe covers me well enough: it hits me just above my knees.

I push my hair around to make it look somewhat tame. It’s dark out, so I’m not too worried about how my face looks. I don’t wear that much makeup anyway on any day. I open my door to tiptoe my way down the creaky hall to the front door. With care, I close it behind me so as to not wake my father. I take a deep breath and make my way over through the dry crunchy grass to the man cussing like a sailor under his breath. He’s mumbling something about... a Jace?

As I get closer, I realize this act is most likely a mistake. The man’s body language tells me he is a little pissed off, plus he towers over me. There is nothing small about this man. My heart stops as my mouth drops when he turns around. He is gorgeous even in the dark of night with only the street lamps glowing over us.

I can’t tell the color of his eyes, but he has a cut jawline covered with short dark stubble; the man in front of me has thick dark hair which blends in with the night around us. It’s short but long enough to notice a few curls.

Those blessed broad shoulders have swirls, symbols, and designs that travel down both arms. Before I can trail my eyes any further, the man says something and it breaks me of the trance. I then realize I’m standing here with my mouth wide open, my eyes are straining from popping out of my sockets. I feel like a buffoon as I try to compose myself.

“W-what?” I manage to wheeze out.

The beautiful stranger just smiles. “You got some drool there,” he says, pointing to my mouth. His voice is a little raspy and deep, but there’s a rich southern drawl -it instantly makes my skin quiver with delight.

What? No!

“Huh? No, I don’t!” It surprises even myself at how defensive I am as I paw at the corners of my mouth to wipe away the gawking evidence – thank God, no drool.

He chuckles at me. I’m so glad for the darkness; otherwise, he would be able to witness the crimson red on my face. I want the earth to swallow me whole. The embarrassment growing inside me is torture while standing here, ogling at this beautiful creature while making a complete fool of myself. The urge to run away and hide under a rock before further disaster strikes is intense. Unfortunately, my mind is not registering my flight response to the rest of my anchored body.

“Do you always go for a walk at night wearing a robe? Or is this just for me?” he asks, cocking an eyebrow. His words come out a little slurred–is he drunk? He scans the length of my body with an adorable smirk on his face.

​“Huh?” Looking down at myself, I notice that yes, I am in a robe… forgot about that. Here come the red cheeks again. Pull yourself together, Elena! That’s when it hits me; I was coming out here to yell at him for waking me up during the devil’s hour.

I am not sure where it comes from, but irritation takes over. “Look! Mister.” I point a finger at him to stress the seriousness of this encounter. His eyes bulge only a tad from the surprising outburst. “You woke me up in the middle of the night with all your cursing and terrible attempts at being a trashcan drummer! I came out here to ask you if you could be a little quieter because some of us need to get some sleep.”

​He places his hands up in mock surrender. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake anyone up. That house?” He checks, pointing at my new home.

“Yes,” I dramatically point at my house that is next to his.

“Oh! Oh Shit, I’m sorry–I-I didn’t know. I’ll try to keep it down. Sorry to wake you up.” Right when I am about to thank him for understanding, he rakes those eyes over me while rubbing his chin with a tattooed hand. “Actually, Kitten, I can’t be that sorry.”

​Did he just call me Kitten? I am not sure how I feel about that. “What do you mean?” My voice is a whisper. Where is he going with this? A shudder runs through me from the cool breeze, suddenly waking my vulnerability of being outside alone with a massive man in the black of night.

“I like what I see; I can’t be that sorry.” He shrugs, but steps back, easing my senses.

​“Ugh.” He is so uncouth. I turn on my heels and stomp back to the house with haste. “Please be quiet!” I whisper-scream at him. The rude stranger keeps laughing at me. I yank open the door out of frustration and gently close it behind me - remembering that I need to be quiet. I need to get some sleep.

Once back in the safety net of my room, I notice the time - it’s 3:30 am. I have to wake up in two-and-a-half hours, I groan to myself. Tomorrow will not be a good first day. I can sense it.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.