Fire and Flames

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II. Planning!

Athena

I slept till 9:30 for the first time in a really long time. Maybe my parents thought that I needed some space, and I’m very grateful for that.

I took a long warm shower to clear the stress that had been building up. I changed into olive jeans, black cami, and a black moto jacket and paired it with black ankle boots. I tied my hair into a loose side braid and applied some neutral makeup.

I want to visit my best guy friend. He understands my situation, but I have no idea how he will react when I tell him what happened last night. I can’t believe my parents would ask me to do such a thing. I don’t understand. I’m only twenty-one. I still want to enjoy my life, hang out with friends, and everything else that normal twenty-one year olds do.

I went downstairs, walked into the kitchen and saw Margaret, our house caretaker. She’s in her late fifties and a very nice, bubbly person. I enjoy talking to her.

She saw me and smiled. “Good morning Athena, what took you so long?” she said in a calm voice while looking at me with concerned eyes.

“Good morning, Maggie,” I said while I took a seat on the barstool beside the kitchen island. ” I overslept for the first time.” I chuckled.

I heard her chuckle, her back turned towards me as she prepared my food. “Once in a while it’s fine.” she said smiling and placed the tray of food in front of me.

“Yup, I don’t regret doing it.” I gave her a toothy grin which earned me another chuckle from her.

She always makes my day. Her smile and positive attitude always put me into a great mood. Should I tell her about yesterday’s event? Maybe next time.

I quickly finished my breakfast, which comprised pancakes, fruit, an egg, and a glass of orange juice. I don’t drink coffee during breakfast. I just don’t feel like starting my day with something that tasted strong and a bit bitter. But I enjoy it during breaks along with chocolate muffins. Oh, speaking of muffins, maybe I’ll buy some from my favorite bakery ′baked’.

“Thanks for the breakfast Maggie.” I called out as I left the kitchen. I went back to my room to grab my small backpack purse and the key to my motorcycle. I love riding bikes more than cars, but my Ducati was my favorite. I used to race with my friends and most of the time I won. We’re a group of five members: three boys and two girls. We’ve known each other since secondary school.

The house was silent because my siblings had school and my parents were at work. I made my way to the garage and switched on the lights. The place was filled with cars and only one bike, which belonged to me. All the vehicles were painted Navy blue, that’s my dad’s favorite color. I wanted my bike to be red, but he changed it to blue to match his collection.

I started the bike, put on my helmet, and waited for the gates to be lifted. Once the path was clear, I quickly rode out of the garage, and left in the direction of Derek’s place.

I sighed in content. I love the feel of riding this bike. The air gushed against my body as I rode fast through the busy traffic. After twenty minutes, I pulled over in front of my friend Derek’s apartment.

It’s a ten-story building, but he lives on the first floor since he is scared of heights. Poor guy. He should have rented a villa.

I parked my bike and went inside. I took the stairs and now stood in front of his apartment. I rang the bell two times, but no response. I checked my phone, it’s 10:45, and he’s supposed to be up by 10:30.

I tried one more time and this time he opened the door, revealing his tall and muscular figure. He was standing there shirtless, wearing black sweatpants that hung dangerously low on his waist. His dirty blonde hair looked messy and his blue eyes narrowed. If I was some other girl, I would have fainted right now looking at his body. Sorry girls he’s my best friend and I don’t have feelings for him.

I pushed him aside and walked inside, without greeting him “Hey. What are you doing here?” he asked impatiently, while closing the door. His voice sounded sleepy.

I went and plopped myself on the beige sofa before facing him.“I was at home all alone and needed some company.” I said in my cutest voice, pouting.

I think he woke up just now and let me tell you he’s not a morning person. He gets cranky when someone disturbs his sleep. In this case it’s me.

He groaned and ran his hand on his face. “Athena, you could’ve asked Kyle or Logan why me?” he whined like a baby.

I chuckled and looked around the place to find the TV remote “They stay far away and the only person who could understand my situation is you.”

He furrowed his eyebrows as he asked “What situation?”

“First go wear a T-shirt, then I’ll tell you,” I said in a lazy tone as I eyed him head to toe. Lazily!

He smirked and moved closer to me “Am I that distracting babe?” he leaned closer and wiggled his eyebrows. Here comes the playboy Derek, he used to have a crush on me but I always friend-zoned him. He still tries to joke around but I know it’s not serious. I hope!

I groaned and got up from my place “Eww Derek, you look like an idiot, I said that cause it’s cold, and I don’t want you catching a fever.”

“Awwe my baby cares about me.” he said letting out a throaty laugh while ruffling my hair.

“Hey don’t touch my hair” I swatted his hand away.

“Okay okay, I’ll be back in a minute” he smirked and walked towards his bedroom.

I sat on the couch and turned on the TV, playing Accidentally in love on Netflix. Yup, I’m a C & K drama fan. Awwe, they look so cute like real-life dolls.

“Now tell me.” he said, sitting on the sofa beside me while leaning on his elbow and giving me his full attention.

I cleared my throat and looked down at my hands resting in my lap, “Something that happened at dinner last night, and I need to talk to you about it.” My voice was soft and fragile.

“What happened? Did your parents yell at you? Did you finally agree to be my girlfriend?”

I looked at him in horror before throwing the cushion on him that he managed to dodge.

“NO! You idiot, this is serious. And no, that is never going to happen.” I glared at him pointing a finger between us.

He laughed and held his stomach “You... should’ve seen..your face” he said breathlessly between his laughs

I huffed “Will you listen?” I yelled at him, which still didn’t stop his outburst.

After sobering, he looked at me intently saying “Go on”

I took a deep breath and explained everything.

❇❇❇❇❇❇

After I told him about everything that had happened last night, We went to one of my favorite cafés in Lower Manhattan, ‘Baked’. To say that he was pissed about the whole situation was a gross understatement. Thankfully, he supported me and promised he’ll do anything to help me stop this.

We ordered muffins and coffee while discussing what to do next. I looked at him, and he looked lost in thought as he peered outside at the bustling city, while the orange hue of the setting sun made his face glow. We spent almost six hours talking and catching up in that cafe.

“What are you thinking?” I asked, taking a sip of my coffee.

He turned to glance at me, his brows knitted “So you’re not interested in taking over the company right?”

I groaned, this is the ninth time he asked me this today “For the millionth time, I said ‘No’!” I deadpanned rolling my eyes.

“Why don’t you tell your dad you need some time. Like a year or two?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. He never agrees to what I want, so he may not agree to that either.”

“If he doesn’t, then you should tell him that if he doesn’t agree you will not agree to get married at all.”

“Even still, after the time is over, I would still have to get married and I don’t want to do that! If I ever get married, I want it to be because I love that person and they love me. Not because I was ordered. I feel like he thinks that we are living in a time where I could be sold to the highest bidder for some sheep or something.”

“Maybe you’ll find someone during that time and then you can tell your dad that you are in a relationship and unable to marry the man he chose for you. I’m sure it isn’t his intention to hurt you.”

I rolled my eyes. My father only cares about himself. If he did care about me, he would’ve asked what I wanted to do

“I don’t think that will work at all. He will just make me break up with whoever I am with and force me to marry the man he promised me to.”

He heaved a heavy sigh, “I don’t know what else to do.”

I leaned back into my chair and sipped the coffee. The bittersweet taste wasn’t helping me calm down my nerves and frustration.

I wanted to join a culinary school and I have one in mind but it’s in France. I would love to join that school and my best friend Ruby also lives over there doing her internship in fashion designing.

I groaned and put my cup on the table. “I wish I could just run away from my house!” I muttered frustrated.

Derek looked suddenly at me with wide eyes. “What did you just say?”

“Oh nothing. I was just thinking of running away.” I chuckled at my silly thought.

“OMG! You are a genius, Athena, just do it. It’s time for you to live your life as you want” he smiled and held my hands.

I frowned “I don’t think that is possible. Plus, my parents would be devastated if they found out I ran away.”

“Just think about it. Your parents may not understand right now, but I think that they will eventually. Plus, your brothers are almost nineteen and in a few years, they will graduate and then they can take over the family business. Surely your father can wait a few more years to retire.”

I looked at him stunned by his words. “Whoa, is this the same Derek? What happened to the playboy who jokes about everything and doesn’t give a damn about what anyone thinks?”

He rolled his eyes and huffed, “Hey!”

I laughed and pinched his cheeks “Aww, don’t be angry. You’ll always be my playboy Derek.”

He gave me a lopsided grin before sipping his coffee.

****

I reached home a few hours ago, and sat on the garden swing which hung from the willow tree. This was a silent place, serene and calm. The sky was tinted blue and purple with birds and rustling of trees acting as the background music. It helps me think. Derek’s words kept repeating in my head.

Just Runaway!

Easier said than done, but I’m going to try. I hope it works. Now all I have to do is make a plan. I smiled inwardly before getting up and walking towards my bedroom.

I sat at my desk and took out a notebook to draft my ultimate escapade. After craning my head for over an hour, I finally finished it. I took my book and admired my finished work.

Ultimate escape!

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