The campfire was a great idea. Roasting marshmallow made the tension between Tyler and Millie go away. We played a few games of 30 seconds, what almost caused a fight between Samantha and Tyler. The two of them were so competitive and being on the same team only made that worse.
Sitting in silence was much better. Millie and Tyler found out that they both were big fans of the series House. So they are now watching an episode on Millie's phone. Samantha is reading a book and her feet rest on my lap. She is wearing her favourite fluffy socks and I just stroke her feet gently.
I always loved to go camping by myself. Just some time to clear my head and to disconnect from the world. Now I was actually grateful for Mrs. Reed and Millie disrupting my plans. Eventually we did all had fun and we avoided those dreaded vampire movies!
Samantha yawns and stretches.
''Tired?'' I ask.
''My mind is, but my body is not. I think I will go for a walk and then go to bed.''
''You want to go for a walk, now? It's dark and we are in the middle of nowhere!''
''I'm not an idiot, Alexander. I have a flashlight with me and I have on my phone. I will just walk to the parking lot and then go back. Is that alright with you?''
''No,'' I say sternly. ''But that doesn't matter, because that won't stop you. That's why I will go with you and don't start with saying that you can take care of yourself.''
Samantha glares at me with those intense azure eyes of hers and I see a tiny hint of a smile on her face.
''If you insist, Mr. Harrison.''
I grab her feet firmly and I tickle the bottom of her feet. Samantha tries to keep a straight face, but I know she can't keep it up for long. Soon she starts laughing and she tries to squirm herself out of my grip.
''I take it back, you can come with me. Just stop tickling me!''
''Then put your shoes on. Why do I always have to wait on you, Jones.''
''It's a family trade I think,'' Millie grins.
''Tyler, did you know Millie brought chocolate and that she is hiding them from you?''
''Really?'' Tyler asks with a mischievous grin.
''I would check the side pocket of her backpack if I were you.'' Samantha says and she blows Millie a kiss.
''All of this because I said that the two of you have trouble with being on time?'' Millie asks in disbelieve.
''Yes, because your assumption is dead wrong. Besides uncle Thomas, I'm the only one in the family that's punctual. However you also ate my last KitKat and this will make us even!''
Samantha grabs her flashlight, while Tyler already makes a move on Millie's backpack.
''You know she could kill you while you're asleep, right?'' I ask Samantha while we start walking in the direction of the parking lot.
''Yes, why do you think we're taking the long route to the parking lot? By the time we get back Millie is probably already asleep or watching another episode of that show.''
I groan, because only after Samantha said that, I realise that we're indeed not taking the short cut to the parking lot.
''Alexander, can I ask you something?''
''Sure, what is it?''
''Why did you wanted to go camping by yourself?''
I sigh as I follow Samantha down a narrow path.
''Because my mom is still in town, so my parents keep getting into ridiculous arguments. They couldn't even stop for one dinner, so I decided that I needed some space from them.''
''And then you got stuck with Tyler, Millie and me.''
''Yes, but I don't mind. I would even do all that stuff Millie threatened me with if it meant that I could get away from my parents.''
I feel Samantha reaching for my hand and I smile when I feel her squeeze it softly.
''Did your parents always fight like this or is that something what happened after they divorced?''
''They always fought a lot. My mom used to say that my dad put his career before his family. While my dad said he worked so much for our family. Making sure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table and to make sure that my mom crazy spending habits didn't bankrupt us.''
''They sound like a lovely married couple.'' Samantha says sarcastically.
''From the outside it looked like they were. Keeping up appearances is the first lesson you learn in my family. But things got worse when my mom fell in love with another man and she left without saying anything. She almost stayed away for an entire year, but then she came back. Begging for another chance and my dad actually gave her one.''
''But it still ended in a divorce.''
''Yes. After my mom came back, my dad started to work even more. My mom naturally became suspicious and thought he was having a affair with his secretary. She thought my dad was trying to get back at her for leaving him. So moving forward. My dad came home early one day to surprise my mom, only to find her in bed with another man.''
Samantha stops and I walk straight into her, causing her to fall. We hear a cracking sound and the flashlight stops working, we are now surrounded by complete darkness.
''Fuck, I can't see you. Are you okay?''
''Of course I am. I'm just trying to figure out how on earth you are still like this.''
My eyes finally adjust to the darkness and can see Samantha sitting on the ground. I reach out my hand to her, but she doesn't take it. She just looks at me with a puzzled expression on her face.
''How am I like?''
''Not screwed up after everything your parents did to each other and to you!''
Samantha grabs my hand and pulls me down, so I sit opposite of her.
''You didn't turn into a badboy or in someone that just sleeps around, breaking girls hearts left and right. You are still you and I don't get it!''
I can hear the frustration in Samantha's voice and I just smile.
''Believe it or not, it's because of Tyler. We have been best friends since primary school and he knew how bad things were at home. He never said anything about it, but he kept insisting on hanging out together. That was his way of making sure that I was okay and that's why I spend so much time at your place. But enough about my family drama and me. Can I now ask you something?''
''Ask me what?''
''Was Emma crying before you guys showed up at Burger Joe?''
I see Samantha clenches her hands into fists and I try to to grab them, but it's too late. Her nails pierces through her skin and blood is already dripping down her wrists.
''She basically cried because of our mom. At first she thought that our mom would be mad at her for not winning all her matches, because that use to happen to me. After I tried to convince her that was not the case, the rest came out. Emma doesn't understand why our mom never calls or visits us, so she blames herself for everything.''
I finally manage to relax Samantha hands and I stroke them gently.
''I cant understand that, so how can a five year old?''
Samantha sighs and she keeps staring at her feet.
''I told her that our mom was working on herself, so she could take care of us again and that made Emma happy. She believes that someday we will return home, but that will never happen.''
''Why is that?''
''Because I made sure of that!'' Samantha snaps at me. ''I made sure that my mom can never harm Emma again. That's how I know we will never return to her.''
''What do you mean with your mom harming Emma?''
This time I am quick enough and I feel Samantha's nails dig into my skin. It hurts, but the pain is nothing in comparison to the pain I see in Samantha's eyes.
''When Emma was two she slipped into a coma, because my mom gave her too much insulin. She said it was a mistake, but I know her. She was being careless, like always. Probably mixing her pills with her alcohol. I thought she would at least show some remorse, but she never did. She was loving the attention the nurses and doctors gave her, way to much. That's when I knew we couldn't stay with her anymore and we moved here.''
I pull Samantha into my lap and I wrap my arms around her. Samantha rests her head in the crook of my neck and I can feel her tears rolling down my neck. I don't know what to say, so I just keep holding her. Stroking her back until she feels calmer.
''Alexander, I have still one question left.''
''And what would that be?'' I ask while I place a kiss on Samantha's head.
''Why does it bug you so much when I call you Mr. Harrison?''
I really didn't see that question coming, damn it!
''You don't have to tell me,'' Samantha says as she leans back so she can look me in the eyes.
''Just promise you won't laugh.''
Samantha nods and I take a deep breath.
''Fine, after the divorce I came home early one day. I was talking with Tyler on the phone when I went upstairs to my room. Then I hear someone yelling and I actually got worried, so I ran into my dads bedroom. I wish I didn't had my earphones in, because maybe then I wouldn't be scarred for life. I walked in on my dad having sex with his secretary and she was the one who was screaming Mr. Harrison over and over again. Since then I go back to that moment when someone addresses me with my last name.''
It stays quiet for a while, but then I see a hint of a smile on Samantha's face.
''Don't you dare, Jones!''
''I'm not smiling because of that.''
''Then why are you smiling?''
''Because I'm really glad that I've met you, Alexander.''
Samantha pulls me into a tight hug and I let out a deep satisfied sight. ''I'm very glad that I've met you too, Jones.''
''SAMANTHA JONES, GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE! TYLER FOUND YOUR STASH TOO!''