Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 61


My eyes flutter open to see a shirtless man with ink swirled on his body hovering over me. Those green eyes are fiercely penetrating through me to my soul. He’s not smiling, but his expression is as if he’s studying every inch of my face. He’s cupping my neck as he leans down to meet my lips. The man kisses me with enough passion to tell me that he’s got a solid and dominating grasp on me. He’s got a hold of my heart, and he knows it.

He backs away to look at my face. His eyes move from mine to my lips and back. Those bright green eyes start to darken to almost vehemence; he grips my arms - not too tight -but just tight enough to pin me completely still. “Elena,” Mike’s voice is deep, raspy, and full of need. “You’re going to be the death of me.”

I quickly open my eyes, gasping for air as though I’ve been strangled, and shoot up in my bed. All is quiet in the dark room. The moonlight is beaming through my window, providing the slightest pale glow. Rachel is on the mattress beside me, fast asleep. With a hand over my chest, I lay back down, still trying to catch my breath, I close my eyes and hope that sleep will find me again. What kind of dream was that?

“Elena, Rachel - get up. Elena, you have a gift outside.” Somewhere in the near distance, a man’s voice, soft -though firm, creeps into my slumber.

I turn around in bed and see my dad in the doorway. “Hey, come on, get up.” He waves his hand for me, enthusiastically to go to him. “There’s something for you outside.” He smiles wide then disappears down the hall.

My brows almost connect. “What?” Why would there be something for me outside? I push Rachel with my foot. She stirs a bit then opens her eyes.

“What?” she whines, rubbing her eyes with her hands.

I stand, then step over her for my robe hanging behind the door. “We have to go outside,” I tell her as I shrug into the robe.

“Why?” she asks, muddled.

I shrug my shoulders then walk out the room with Rachel following close behind.

Dad greets us at the front door. “Now, I’m sorry that this is a day late, but I know how you’ve been feeling kind of trapped lately, and I want you to be able to have some freedom around here. Plus, if you ever quickly need to get away for any reason, you’ll be able to do just that.” He smiles proudly and hands me a small box.

I give him an amusing look and take the box, then open it. Rachel gasps when she sees it. Keys. A set of silver keys.

He didn’t...

Dad opens the door; there before me in the driveway is a dark green four-door Saturn. My eyes nearly pop out of their sockets. Dad got me a freakin’ car for Christmas!

“You got me a car?!” I double-check to make sure this isn’t some weird twisted joke or another bizarre dream. The man nods his head.

“You didn’t think I just got you comfy warm fuzzy socks, did you?” he laughs. I jump into his arms to give him the biggest hug I can muster.

Rachel claps her hands and squeals on my heel as we rush out to look at my new car. My freedom. When school starts again, I won’t have to try to get to the bus, wake up at the near crack of dawn to ride with my dad, or, most importantly - I don’t need to rely on Mike at all for a ride. This is my independence, and I’m going to celebrate it.

“Can we take it out on the road?” I plead.

“You sure can,” dad beams.

After breakfast, Rachel and I change into our swimsuits and put some clothes over them. I grab my beach bag, sunglasses, and my flip flops. I put Rachel’s sunscreen in my beach bag along with her towel, and then we’re good to go.

Dad thinks it’s a great idea to take a little trip to the beach. When we say our goodbyes, he reminds me that he may or may not be home when we return. Also, to make sure that we lock the door when we return and to have my cell phone close by at all times.

I slide in behind the wheel as Rachel sits in the passenger seat. “Now your license is actually good for something,” Rachel teases as I turn the key in the ignition. I laugh in agreement then reverse out of the driveway to take our excitement to the beach.

“Can you believe it? We’re standing in an ocean, Elena!” Rachel yells in exhilaration as we tiptoe our way further into the cold water.

We must look ridiculous, hugging our bodies while our teeth are clattering as we slowly step further into the salty waters. There are small waves enough to roll in some foam that crashes into our bare thighs. Even though the sun is out, the December ocean temperature is a bit too chilly for my flesh.

“Do you think the ocean is always this c-cold?” I manage to speak through my shaky jaw. The goosebumps on my skin are so taut that they’re beginning to hurt. My body is trying to fight against hypothermia from the cool breeze slapping against it along with the icy bites climbing up my frame the further we go.

“I don’t know. Maybe if w-we just dive will be fine,” my fellow daredevil suggests. I look over to her with wide eyes. I don’t think I can do that.

“On the count of three?” Rachel insists.

I don’t think I can do that.

“One,” she says.

No, it’s too cold.

“T-two,” she continues.

Oh, man.

“Three!” she screams, and my eyes squeeze shut.

I’m suddenly under the water. The cold surrounds every inch of me now. The sound of the ocean is in my ears, and Rachel’s loud excited screams are fainted from above. With the icy water gliding onto my face, I lift myself above the surface to see Rachel just as soaked as I am.

“I am not feeling any w-warmer.” I laugh at her realization.

Without the need to say it, we both scurry out of the water. We run quickly to wrap our shaking bodies with the warm sun-kissed towels we laid out on the sand before running mindlessly into the blue depths.

“Oh, gosh! That was so much fun,” Rachel grins ear to ear.

“Yeah, it was,” I sigh with enjoyment, hugging the towel around me, taking a seat with her in the sand.

There is nothing planned for the afternoon. Just sitting here admiring the blue sky, the sunshine, the sound of the waves running into the shore, and being able to experience it all with my best friend... it’s more than I could ever ask for.

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