Flames of a Lie

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Chapter 2

"Our king's diner is sold," Dad said with a heavy heart. I felt the thunder from the angry sky was straight falling on me, shattering everything in my life.

"W..what," I said while shuttering. I couldn't believe what dad said. How can it be true? It's our land. They are joking with me. They are trying to pull my leg. "Are you guys trying to pull a prank on me?" I asked laughing nervously while looking at their faces.

"Let me tell you it's a very bad joke," I said while still laughing nervously. But my heart sank more when they didn't say anything after listening to my words. From the look on their face, I knew they were not pulling a prank on me. "H..how is it possible," I asked in my startled voice.

"This place is ours, how can it be sold to someone without our permission," I asked in my panic-filled voice as all the things came crashing on me. Listening to my questions dad averted his eyes while moving his faces in another direction to hide the distorting emotion of his face. I could tell it was hard for dad to explain it so I looked at my mother with questioning eyes but she too had the same expression on her face.

"Mom what is happening here," I asked in my cynical panic-filled voice while making her look at me. She looked at me with a pained expression.

"Dear we mortgaged our property papers at loan shark to pay the tuition fees of your college" mom said in her small voice making the ground under my feet crumbled. The air out of my lungs was kicked out. I couldn't process these new pieces of life-shattering information.

"B..but you guys told me you took a loan from the bank. Why did you guys lie to me?" I say in my pained voice.

"Your college tuition fee was quite high and the bank refused to give us the loan as our restaurant was not working well at that time and we didn't want to break your, heart, you work so hard to get into that college. So we didn't have any choice but to mortgage our restaurant papers to loan shark" dad said while looking at me with a sad expression on his face. His words made me look at him with wide eyes. It hurts when your parents hide something this big from you. My whole body was shivering and it had nothing to do with my drench clothes.

"But you guys always told me that interest to the bank was always paid on time whenever I tried to give you guys some money for It from my part-time job. Why didn't you guys accept that money? Why didn't you guys tell me you were facing a problem returning the money?" I asked in my hurt voice as I didn't know what to do anymore.

"Sage '' mom said in her painful voice while moving her hand on my back. "We were facing problems in starting as the interest rate was high but past few years we were paying it on time but the loan shark illegally sold our land because he was gaining huge profit out of it," mom said while sobbing a little.

"It's illegal. He can't sell our property like that we should go to the police," I said again in my angry voice.

How can he do this without our permission? This land is ours and we will take it back.

"It's of no use. They make you sign the papers which say they have full rights on the property before giving us money. We can't do anything, their whole business is illegal," dad said while looking at me. There were unshed tears in his eyes. I could tell it was so hard for him to see what he built with his blood and sweat slipping out of his hands like sand. I looked at their sad faces of mom, dad, and Elijah.

How am I supposed to get them out of this?

This thought increased the anxiety inside me.

"What should we do now," I said while slumping in the chair beside me feeling the whole energy getting sucked out of me with each passing second. My whole world was crumbling in front of my eyes and I couldn't do anything about it.

What will happen to us now?

I wanted to cry because everything was happening because of me. If I didn't go to my dream college instead I had chosen to go to a local college this would have not happened with us. If I had got a job on time this would have not happened. I even failed in that. Because of me, everyone's future is ruined.

"It has happened all because of me. I have ruined all of your future. I took your restaurant from you, mom and dad. I took your dream to go to business school, Elijah. Everything is happening because of me" I said in my crying voice while hiding my face in my hand. I was the sole reason behind all this and it was so much for me to take in.

"Sweetheart" dad said while moving in my direction. Taking a seat beside me he made me take my hands away from my face and made me look at him. "You did nothing, we decided to go to loan share, not yours. Don't blame yourself for things you didn't do. We know you are trying your best to get a job. We can see your efforts so never blame yourself. We will come up with something together like family" dad said in his firm voice while squeezing my hands and looking straight into my glassy eyes.

"Yes darling your dad is right we will come up with something," mom said while moving her hand on my back. Elijah gave me an encouraging smile.

"But how," I asked while still looking at them with glassy eyes as I couldn't see a single ray of hope.

"Our new landlord spokesperson came here with a loan shark to see this place. I talked with him and told him everything, listening to my request he talked with the owner. They have given us the six months if we want our land back we have to pay the whole sum money at what they bought this place in one payment or else the new landlord will demolish our place to build his new chain of the restaurant" dad said making me look at him with hope in my eyes.

"How much we have to pay them," I asked dad with a questioning gaze.

"Two million" dad said while making me look at him with wide eyes.

"What! How will we bring this kind of money in six months?" I asked in my bewildered voice.

"This place is still ours for the next six months, your mom and I will work hard to get the money back," dad said in an assuring voice.

"But still dad this amount is too high to summed in six months. How are you planning to get this much money" I asked with knitted questioning brows.

"Your mother made me invest money in assets. We made some profit out of it. So we already have a small amount. Don't worry so much about it we will sum up all the money before time" dad said in his assuring voice. He didn't want me to stress anymore. But I could see he too didn't know how he would get the money. He was trying his best to assure us but a big turmoil was going inside him and it was visible in his eyes.

"I too have some jewelry we can sell," mom said while looking at me with the same assuring eyes as a dad.

"Mom dad gifted it to you, how can we sell that," I asked with teary eyes. Listening to my question she looked at me.

"Your dad's presence in my life is a big gift for me and both of you are the jewels of my life. I don't need anything else," she said with a faint smile on her face, making a tear slip from my left eye.

"I will also get one more part-time job to get the money on time," Elijah said who was sitting quietly all this time. I know he was shaking from inside but he was not letting mom and dad see it. Things that took place today have frightened him too but he was trying to be brave more than his age. They all were trying to be brave in front of me so I don't blame myself for it. I was blessed with such a supporting family and what else more I could ask God for.

"I will do any job I get," I said with a faint smile and hugged dad to let go of this building pain inside me. Mom and Elijah hugged us and we all had a group hug. Deep down I knew it was my fault too that we were in his situation.

After a family hug, we all went home. We all had our dinner in silence. Mom and dad didn't ask me about my job interview. They probably knew it didn't work out from my face. The next day we opened the restaurant at the same time. People were coming like usual but we all were still lost in our thoughts of how, to sum up, this big amount in six months. I was lost in my thoughts when I heard a familiar cheerful voice calling my name.

"Sage" she called my name so loudly in her cheerful voice making all the people look in her direction. Sophia with fast steps came running to me. It made me smile big looking at her smiling face reaching me she hugged me tightly. It was what I needed most now and she knew it just like that.

Maybe this is the power of friendship, you know what your bestie needs the most.

"Girl I missed you so much," she said, still hugging me tightly. She was now staying in the city and unlike me, she was busy with her work. As I followed my passion for culinary and hospitality. She followed her passion for being a makeup artist and let me tell you she is a well-known makeup artist now in the city. Whenever she gets time she comes to meet her parents and me here in our small town.

"Sophia dear how are you," my mom said in her happy voice while coming out of the kitchen probably after listening to her cheerful voice.

"Mrs. King, I'm doing great, how are you," she asked while breaking our hug and going to do the same with my mom.

"I'm doing great, dear. It's so good to see you here. Yesterday only your mom was telling me how much she misses you now you're here she must be so happy" mom said with a smile on her face.

"Yes she is and in her happiness, she is making all kinds of dishes to feed me," Sophie said in her delighted voice. Mom moved her head in amusement.

"You girls go get a seat. I will send some coffee and snacks to you to enjoy while catching up," mom said while going back to her counter. We nodded at her and went to take a seat in the corner.

Suddenly the gloomy atmosphere changed into a joyful one due to Sophie's arrival. We started chatting up. She was telling me about her work and how much she was enjoying and stressing at the same time because of increased work. Her clients, we're increasing dad by day and she was more than happy about it. I was happy for her. I just responded to her with a small nod and small hmm as I didn't have much to talk about.

"Sage what's with your face. What is troubling you?" she asked in her concerned voice while taking my hand which was resting on the table in hers and squeezing it like encouraging me to say what was bothering me. I moved my head in denial. I didn't want to tell her what kind of storm had passed in our life but she was able to see right through me. I told her everything and she was shocked to hear what has happened in our lives in such a short time. She had called me a day ago to talk about what was happening in my life. I had told her I had an interview in my excited voice and today I was telling her that everything has become upside down in our lives.

"I don't know how we will get this much money in six months," I said in my small voice.

"I can help, I have saved some money, I can help too," she said in her firm voice while not thinking twice about it. Her words made me look at her with wide eyes.

"No, we can't take that money. I know you have been saving that money to open your own business. No no, I will not accept it" I refused her kind gesture. I can't drag her with me in this.

"If you refuse my help, how are you going to sum that amount," she asked in her troubled voice.

"Me working part-time jobs only won't help so I have decided to do any job I get and started helping in getting money," I said with a small voice making her look at me with wide shock eyes.

"Sage, you have worked hard and done your masters in culinary and hospitality not just to do any job. Your dream is to make King's dinner a big one day. I won't let you ruin your dream just like that. I'm taking you with me to the city. I'm sure you will have good job opportunities over there than this small town" she said in her firm voice as she had already made up her mind.

"What No! If I come with you who will take care of mom, dad, and Elijah. They need me now at this crucial time," I agape at her words.

"I know they need you but if you stay here tell me how much money you will make in this small town doing any job you get. But if you come with me I'm sure you will get a good job of your caliber. Think about it Sage and it won't be for a lifetime you can work there for six months and come back here with money to support your parents" she explained making me understand.

What she was saying was true if I make the money in the city all our problems will be solved. Her words made me think more and at the end of our conversation I was convinced and after all, I won't stay in the city for life long. I will come back to my family after six months with the money.

Sophia told me she will arrange for me to stay at her previous roommate's place until I get a job and pay for my bill on my own. The whole day went into thinking about how I will convince mom and dad. They never forced me to stay with them but I never wanted to leave them. At dinner, I told them about my decision. All of them were a little shocked after listening to my decision but they supported me in it. They knew I would get a better job of my caliber in the city compared to our small town.

After two days I was leaving with Sophia. I didn't want to leave them but mom, dad, and Elijah encouraged me to pursue what I wanted. Mom took a promise to call her every day. I have never been away from my family. Away from my small town but today I was leaving everything behind and going to the city with the dream to make two million dollars in just six months. It didn't look like it was happening now but I was ready to work hard to make it happen. With heavy parting emotions with my family, I took my seat on the train beside Sophia. I waved to my family; they were waving back at me with a small smile on their face. It was hard for them too.

The city is five hours away from our small town. It was late when we reached the place where Sophia lives. Her roommate was out so today I was going to stay with her and tomorrow she will take me to my new place so after settling there I can start job hunting. Sophie orders food for us. After eating it we dozed off on the bed as the exhaustion of the whole day took over our body.

The next day after breakfast she took me to my new place. It was an apartment building a few blocks away from her place. We took a lift to the seventh floor. The building was a little old from the outside but inside it did look modern. Reaching our floor Sophia pulled my hand to move me as I was busy looking at the new place. Standing in front of room number seven zero seven she ringed the bell. We patiently waited but the door was still not opened. This time Sophia ringed the bell furiously. I looked at her with wide eyes.

"Sophia, what are you doing? The owner will get angry with us," I asked in my worried voice still looking at her with wide eyes.

"Sophia can't you let a man take shower in peace," yelled a manly voice and in a blink of seconds, a door was ripped open. My wide eyes moved from Sophia to the man standing half-naked in front of me.

"Eric you always take so long in the shower don't blame me," she said casually while shoving him away from the path and entering the apartment.

"I blame the day I let you stay here as my roommate," he said in his annoyed voice. I kept looking at them with wide eyes.

"Do you need a special invitation?" the half-naked guy asked, looking at my stunned face. Still, with wide eyes, I moved my head in denial and entered the apartment while lowering my eyes in the process.

"Eric don't be rude to her" I heard Sophia scolding him to which he ignored her and closed the door. I still kept my eyes low as I'm not used to seeing a guy only in a towel. Even though he was well built with a handsome face. My cheeks turned red at that thought.

"Go wear something before we talk. She is not used to seeing a half-naked man," Sophia said while slumping on the couch making my cheeks turn redder.

"Stop ordering me around or else I will kick you out again," he said in his mad voice while going inside a door to change. Sophia mimicked his words while rolling her eyes.

"Do you think it's fine for me to stay here? It looks like he doesn't like people much," I said in my small voice so he can't hear me. I never thought she would arrange my stay with a cranky man. He seems pissed all the time.

"Oh don't worry about him he is like this with everyone even with his mom so chill," she said in her carefree voice while waving her hand to dismiss that thought of mine.

"I heard that" Eric's voice again bloomed from his room.

"It was meant to," she said with a mischievous smile on her face.

"You like to annoy him," I asked with a small smile on my face in my whispering tone.

"We're much," she said with a mischievous smile on her face. He came back dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and slumped into a chair in front of us. His hard blue eyes looked from me to Sophia making me press my hands more into my lap. His eyes lingered on me more than required.

"You told me it was a man," Eric said while looking at Sophia with raised eyebrows.

"When did I say that," she said in her surprised tone while making me look at her.

"You told me my new roommate's name is Sage King, what should I take out of it," Eric said in his hard voice while looking at both of us. It always gets on my nerves when someone says that.

"It's a unisex name," I said in my little annoyed tone while looking at him. Listening to me he looked at me with an amused face.

"So you are not mute good," he said, like what I said about my name didn't matter. It made me gasp at his words.

"Eric stops with that attitude of yours and starts being good to her as she is going to be your roommate from now onwards," Sophia said in her warning voice.

"Didn't I tell you I won't take a girl roommate? You were enough of a nightmare, I don't need another" he said while looking at me with his penetrating gaze.

"Eric please she needs a place now it's urgent and she is not going to stay here for long" Sophia pleaded with her puppy eyes. He again looked at my quiet state for some time to which Sophia poked me.

"Please I won't stay here for long and I won't disturb you too," I said in my pleading voice joining her. He looked at me with his piercing blue gaze for some time making me smile nervously at him.

"Ok but before you move in get the rules of staying here from her even though she never followed them but you have to or else I will kick you out," Eric said in his firm voice while looking straight at me.

"Y--yeah I will take all rules from her and follow them," I said in my nervous voice. I was not used to this kind of intimidating sstareAll this was so new to me. I have never stayed with anyone before that too with a stranger and that to a man.

"Didn't I tell you Eric is the best guy I know in New York City?" she said in her cheerful voice making Eric move his head in amusement. I gave him a big smile and nodded at him.

One problem of my staying was solved and now next was to get a job which will pay me well and solve all my problems.

I was smiling today but I don't know what tomorrow is holding for me under her sleeves.

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