Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 93

Elena


“Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, do you have a gift in mind for Mike?” Rachel asks into the phone.

My eyes glance at the package that I rewrapped yesterday. It would have seemed silly to give him a gift with Christmas wrapping paper for Valentine’s Day. Then I’d have to explain why he never got it. It would just be embarrassing, especially if he never had a gift for me. “Well, I bought him something for Christmas, and I never gave it to him because things got weird between us. I wasn’t sure if a gift would have been appropriate...I’ll give it to him for Valentine’s Day.”

“What was that again? Sleep Walking till You Die or something?” Rachel jokes.

“The Walking Dead video game. We love that show!” He loves to play video games too. “Sleep Walking till You Die? Where did that come from?”

She laughs into the receiver, “I don’t know, I don’t watch that show. It’s too creepy.”

With a smile, I roll my eyes and take out a red piece of cardboard paper to make a homemade card for Mike to go with his gift. “With this game and a homemade card, would it be too much if I made a large brownie in the shape of a heart to go with it?” I wonder aloud.

Valentine’s Day is still only a week away. However, being the organized planner that I am, I want to make sure I have everything that I need, so I’ll be ready for when the time comes.

Where has the time gone? Being in a relationship with him is the easy part. From our homework to driving around, we do everything together to him trying to teach me how to play some of his video games – which ends up with us making out, to our late-night phone conversations that I cherish so much. We’ve even started cooking meals together for my dad.

Sharing him with the club is the hard part.

It’s not easy waiting on the sidelines every time Mike goes to the clubhouse for club business. He goes to that clubhouse every day now. I have asked him multiple times about what’s going on over there and if I could help with anything, but he dismisses it. I’m pretty sure that the meetings they have are about his half-uncle, he has let me in on that part, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m sure he’s just trying to protect me. Apparently, his uncle is a bad man, but I want to help him; how can I help if he doesn’t let me?

Is there something he doesn’t want me to know? Maybe all of this doesn’t bother him as much as I think it does. Perhaps I’m overthinking everything...

One thing I am sure of is the fact that he’s in love with me, and I’m head over heels in love with him. Aside from that, does any of the other stuff even really matter?

“Aww. You really love him, don’t you?” Rachel hints into the phone. “I think it’s adorable. I think he’ll like it. That boy has a sweet tooth, and I don’t think you can go wrong with your homemade brownies.”

Or whipped cream and strawberries... I involuntarily smile as I recall his favorite type of treat. He said that it was his favorite sexually. I flush. Maybe I’ll bring some over with my brownies and find out just what he means by that.

Playing with an edge of the red paper in front of me, I gush out to my best friend, “I really do love him, Rach. When I first told him that I was in love with him, I knew it was true. I never doubted that, but as time goes on, the more in love with him I fall, because I’m still learning so much about him. He has a tough exterior and a temper, but inside, he is ooey and gooey and such a teddy bear.”

“Ooey and gooey?” Rachel teases into the phone.

“Yeah,” I laugh. “I know you and Paul are doing the distance thing... are you guys doing anything for each other?” I’m finding myself invested in their long-distance romance story.

She’s smiling on the other side, I know it. “Well, apparently, I have a card coming my way. I plan on sending him one too. We also talked about how we are going to try and have a romantic candlelight dinner over Skype,” she chuckles to herself. “It’s so corny – I love it! Oh, Elena, Paul is amazing.”

“That does sound so romantic!”

“Does Mike have anything planned for you?” she asks with her voice going up a notch.

My lips curl up, thinking about what he could have in store. “He just says that it’s a surprise.”

“That’s it? He’s not giving you anything to go on?” Rachel yells in shock.

I laugh and shake my head even though she can’t see me. “Nope. Not a thing.”

“Ughh,” I hear over the phone; I know she’s rolling her eyes. “Men and their egos. I don’t know if they ever go a day without them,” she giggles.

“Elena?” A deep voice sounds through my bedroom door.

“Yeah, dad?”

The knob turns as dad peeks his face in from the hall. “I need to go to work. I shouldn’t be too late, though. Do you plan on going out at all?”

I put my palm over the receiver. “Just to the grocery store; I’m a few ingredients shy for a dessert I want to make later this week. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, sure. Just be careful and make sure to lock the door,” dad walks in a couple of steps to kiss my forehead.

“I love you, Dad. Be safe.” I reach up and hug him.

The crow’s feet crinkle around his dark brown eyes when he smiles. “Love you, too.”

As he shuffles out of the room, I turn my focus back to Rachel. “Sorry about that,” I apologize.

“No worries! We’re just about ready to eat, so I need to go anyways.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, have a good night!”

“You too.” Rachel voices.

Upon hanging up the phone, I reach for a drawer in my desk and take out some colored pencils to begin decorating Mike’s homemade Valentine’s card. My finger taps the end of the pencil as ideas flood my thoughts on showing him how I really feel about him.

*******

With the small shopping basket in hand, searching the baking aisle for baking cocoa powder, I feel that someone is watching me.

Not Again.

Why do I always feel like I’m being watched whenever I’m alone in public? I glance over my shoulder, but I don’t see anyone.

I turn back to the shelves and finally spot the cocoa powder that I need. As I put it in the basket, I turn my head over my other shoulder and see a familiar face smirking at me.

Rolling my eyes, I turn and start to walk in the other direction. “Hey, wait up!” the male voice yells out.

I don’t stop. He humiliated me that day in the hall, and he was the reason why Mike got suspended. What does he want to do with me, anyway?

Before I’m able to turn the corner, Zack blocks me from the aisle. “I just want to talk,” he says. His body is a little too close to mine for comfort. I can smell a very strong cheap cologne, making my nose zing in discontent.

I back away a bit and try to step around him, but his hand reaches out to stop me. I look down to see that Zack’s hand is on my stomach. “I just want to talk,” he repeats in a deeper, more quiet voice.

I step back, clearing my throat; he drops his hand after its been on me for seconds too long. “What?” I deadpan.

“A buddy of mine has gone missing. I think you know him,” he whispers. His hazel eyes are fierce, cold.

I only know of one person that’s gone missing, and that’s Declan’s brother... I never got a name. Right when I’m about to defend myself in telling him that I have no idea who he’s talking about, a tall man with a long v-shaped beard interrupts us. I’ve seen him before at Mike’s clubhouse.

“Is there a problem here?” the man asks with strength laced in his voice. Though I’ve seen him before, I never actually met him.

“No, no problem. Just curious on if Elena has any knowledge on a friend of mine that’s gone missing,” Zack says with an edge to his tone, his irises snap at the bearded man.

The man with the beard who wears the same cut as Mike and has a faint cigar smell stares Zack down. The bearded man looks lethal. “There’s only one person that I know of that went missing,” I blurt before something bad happens between the two of them. If what I know stops a fight from happening, then I’m going to share it.

Both sets of eyes are suddenly on me, waiting for me to continue. “A-a friend of mine at school, says that his brother went missing on Christmas Eve...but I don’t think –”

“What friend?” Zack asks with a bite.

I inhale a shaky breath. “Declan,” I mumble.

Zack’s face twists, before I know it, he’s in my face. “I knew you knew him! Isaac. He’s missing, where is he? You tell your boyfriend that I know - ” I clutch my basket tight against my body, my eyes widen with fear while I try to swallow the fact that Declan, my friend, is my assailant’s brother.

Can’t be. It’s hard to breathe.

The bearded man yanks Zack away by the collar of his shirt before he’s able to finish his sentence. A few other customers veer around us as to not want to get involved. The bearded man smiles at the poor women with an apologetic grin to assure them that there is no problem here. The women scurry away to mind their own business while he turns his attention back on Zack, who is trying to fight this large man’s grip in the corner of the baking aisle.

“You listen here, punk,” the bearded man with large crazed blue eyes hisses in Zack’s face. Zack looks scared for once. “You leave Elena alone. If I so much as sniff your cheap cologne on her, I can and will enjoy cutting out your tongue nice and slow so you can never taste another pussy ever again. I’ll feed it to my dog. Then I’ll take my time carving out your sorry ass. I’ll bury it so far beneath the ground that the heat from the earth’s core with incinerate it. These are direct orders from my Prez, understand?”

Zack nods vehemently, and my rescuer tosses him off to the right in efforts of shoving him out of the grocery store. Once Zack is rushing out the doors, the man swivels his head to me. His crazy blue eyes soften. “Are you okay?” he asks.

I nod my head once. No, I’m not okay, but I am physically... I’m guessing that’s what he was asking about. His hand reaches out to me. “I’m Tick, Mike’s Sergeant of Arms in the club,” he introduces himself. I extend my hand to take his.

“Nice to meet you,” my voice is quiet. Reserved. “Thank you for that.”

Tick nods and offers to carry my basket for me; I let him. He offers an arm for me to hold while he escorts me to the checkout. Tick probably noticed the shake in my legs from the eventful grocery store escapade.

Once in my car, Tick tells me that he’ll make sure I get home safely. I tell him that he doesn’t need to do that, but he insists. When we get on our way, I notice that the black Pontiac behind me is the same black Pontiac that I saw in my rearview mirror on my way to the store. It only started to follow me after a certain intersection just outside my neighborhood. I didn’t think anything of it, but now I know it was Tick all along.

Mike must have set that up somehow. How did he know that I left the house? It could have been because my car was missing. But the timing was too perfect. I don’t let this bother me; I have a bigger issue on my hands.

Declan and Isaac are brothers.

I reach for my phone that I threw in the passenger seat and dial a number.

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