Abandoned Lives

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Chapter 3: Candi...

Nothing else has happened the past couple of days. Chris stayed another night and went home this morning. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I imagined it. My rationalization is this… I probably had a nightmare and when I woke up, my mind was still messing with me. After all, the only light that was on was the alarm clock and the light coming from the surge protector. That being the case, I may have not seen what I thought I did.

Now I’m sleeping with my door open and the foyer light on. The bedrooms are in a circle around the house, with the hallway up here basically being a balcony. The foyer light is located up top and shines down on the “hallway” up here and the foyer downstairs. It makes me more comfortable knowing that I will be able to see anyone coming if I get scared again.

For today? Cam is on his way back to New York. He decided that he’s moving here with me, as I knew he would, and he went back to get his stuff. He said he’ll be gone a couple of days because he’ll need to get some sleep before he drives back down here. I wish he had just taken a plane and picked up another rental truck to drive back, but he thought it would be a waste of money. A millionaire that refuses to spend money… Yep, that’s pretty much my family in a nutshell. Then again, we only came into our inheritances last year, so we’ve had time to go crazy for a minute and settle back down. And our grandparents didn’t amass their fortune by being wasteful and reckless with it.

Getting out of bed, I grab a dark blue tank and a pair of cut off shorts. I take a quick shower, get dressed, and throw my dreadlocks up in a bun. It’s too hot to wear it down today. Nine A.M. and it’s already hitting the eighties. Thankfully they got my central air installed yesterday, so I don’t have to be uncomfortable in the house. I’m not staying inside, though. I’ve got stuff to do.

Sliding my feet into my plain blue flip flops, I grab the keys to the Mustang and head out to the local department store that we went to a few days ago. They have groceries, too, so I can make this a one stop trip. We’ve spent the past couple days getting take out, but I’m ready for some actual food in my house. Of course, I need dishes, too. I don’t have anything to cook with or eat on.

After about an hour of browsing, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not gonna work. My car is a good size for me, but it’s not big enough to put all the crap in it that I want to buy. I found this really pretty patio set that I want to put on that part of the porch that looks like a castle turret. And there’s a grill that would go well on the porch, as well. Cam keeps pointing out that there’s a possibility of power outages, so a grill would actually be a smart purchase. Especially a charcoal grill. I can just stock up on charcoal and I’ll have a way to cook in case the power DOES go out.

It’s Monday morning… well, Monday afternoon, anyway… so I can’t call Chris. Before he left he said he had to go back to work this morning. Obviously, I don’t know anyone else with a truck and this isn’t the type of store to deliver.

Shoulders drooping, I resign myself to leaving behind the bigger items that I really, really wanted and head to the front to check out my two buggies full of groceries, dishes, and small appliances. I’ll just call Chris later and ask him if he’ll come over and help me get them after work. I hate to keep bugging him, though. We were really good friends in New York but, before this trip, he hasn’t really talked to me much over the past year. I don’t want to impose on that friendship.

I manage to pack everything I bought into my car, but it’s a seriously tight fit. The back seat, passenger seat, and trunk are all full. So, now I’m on my way back home to unload. I’m starting to love this drive. Virginia is so very beautiful, with the mountains in the distance and everywhere I drive, there’s trees by the road. I’ve never been this into nature before, but I can get used to it pretty easily.

Back at the house, I’m on my second trip into the house when someone clears their throat behind me. I turn around to see a tall smiling, hotness standing at the bottom of my steps.

“Hi, you want some help?”

Now, I wouldn’t normally invite strangers into my home. Especially since I’m staying here alone right now. But, my common sense goes out the window at the sight of over six feet of male, brown eyes, black hair, and a dimple.

“Um, sure. Thanks.” I smile back at him, motioning to the full car. He immediately goes and grabs two armfuls of my purchases and follows me in the house. “Just set them anywhere.”

Once he does, he turns and holds out a hand, “I’m Kieran.” I reach out and shake his hand and he points towards the woods, “I have a summer cabin right through there. I’ve heard ya’ll getting moved in the past few days and figured I’d come by and introduce myself.”

“Oh! I hope we weren’t too loud?”

Smiling again, he shakes his head, “Not at all. I just waited so as not to overwhelm you your first day here.”

“Oh ok. I’m Candace. Most people call me Candi.” I’m smiling right back at him, like a dork.

He motions behind him, “I’ll get the rest in. Why don’t you go ahead and get your stuff put away?”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. I never offer to do something I don’t want to.”

“Ok,” I nod, still smiling, “Thanks. I appreciate it.”

We work in silence until everything is brought in and set on every available space. Then he starts pulling appliances out of their boxes and putting them together.

“Oh! You don’t have to do all that.”

He looks up, “I know. But, I have nothing better to do today, so I’ll just help you out.” He stops and raises an eyebrow, “Unless you’d rather I leave? I saw your husband or boyfriend or whatever leaving this morning. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

Laughing, I shake my head, “Not husband and not boyfriend. One of the guys that was here is a friend and the other is my brother. And, please stay. I just meant that you don’t have to work. I’m glad for the company. It’s really quiet out here.”

He goes back to pulling the microwave out of the box, waiting for me to motion to where I want it to go. “You must not be from here, then.”

“Nope. New York City.”

“Wow.” Both eyebrows go up. “That’s a really big change.”

“Yep.” I don’t want to elaborate on my reasons for leaving. I came here to have a fresh start, out of the public eye, and I really want to leave the past in the past. “It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s so beautiful here.”

Thankfully, he doesn’t question me further, just nods and says, “Yeah, it is. That’s why I come up every summer. It’s nice to get away from all the noise of daily life.”

“So, Kieran, what do you do? You must have a pretty sweet job to be able to take off every summer.”

He grins, “I’m a history teacher. Summers and holidays off.”

“That’s awesome! I actually don’t know any teachers, so it’s doubly nice to meet you.”

“Well, you do now.”

“So, what grade do you teach?”

“High school kids. It’s pretty fun most of the time.” He holds up my new can opener, “Where do you want this?” After I point out a spot on the counter, which was also installed yesterday, he continues, “Some of them are hard to get through to, but I try to make it fun.” He shakes his head, “Enough about me. What do you do?”

“Oh, um…” I hesitate, “I don’t actually have a job right now. I have a degree in accounting and business management, but I haven’t found anything yet.” Honestly, I have no intention of working, but this guy doesn’t need to know that I have money.

“Gotcha. Let me know if you want me to put out the word. I don’t know many in the finance industry, but someone else may.”

I nod, “I appreciate it, but I just wanna get settled in for right now. I still have time.”

“Sure, just let me know. Ok,” he smacks his hands together and looks around the kitchen, “I think we got it all put away. I’ll head out and let you get back to your day.”

“Wait!” I can’t just send him away when he just did all this stuff. “Um… so I was gonna fix some dinner. You wanna stick around and eat?”

He smiles, “I’d love to but I actually made plans for tonight. Rain check?”

“Sure. Thanks for your help.”

He nods and turns around, walking out the door. Alone again, I start wondering around, trying to figure out what else I want to get done in the house. I make it back to the kitchen with a nice list in hand. There’s not much left to do to get the house where I want it, but a few things could be added.

Glancing over at the basement door, I remember all the junk down there that needs to be gotten rid of. There’s not an external exit from the basement so it will all have to be drug up through the kitchen and out the back door. I can at least start working on that until Camden gets back and he can help me get rid of it. I’m sure there’s a thrift store or something that would appreciate it.

Grabbing a roll of contractor trash bags and my phone, I head down the stairs. Pulling a table over to the side, I turn my playlist on with my phone and get started. There’s so much crap down here! I’m a little offended on behalf of these people’s kids, though. They left behind what was obviously well loved dolls and stuffed animals. One of the dolls is kind of creepy, but it’s been played with so much that her little dress is frayed around the edges and her paint is wearing off. She has big blue eyes and long ratty black hair. Her dress is white… well, grey now… with big blue flowers all over it. Honestly, if she wasn’t so creepy looking, I’d keep her and clean her up, if only to honor the poor little girl that lost her.

If I ever get the chance to have kids, I’ll make damn sure their things are kept. Especially the favorite toys. I can’t help but wonder what happened to this family, though. Because it’s not just toys and furniture. There are piles and piles of clothes down here too. Most of it looks like it’s straight out of the 90’s, but when I get further back, there’s clothes from every decade. There’s even a zoot suit down here. If I get that cleaned, I bet it would fit Cam. He likes to go clubbing to some of the places that this would fit in really well.

That option is thrown out the window, though, when I pick it up. It starts to disintegrate in my hands. Damn, how long has this stuff been down here? I’m starting to think that the really old stuff is ACTUALLY old, not just stuff that the one family owned.

Just as I reach over to clear off the top of what looks like an antique sewing machine, there’s a thump from upstairs. I freeze, with my hand still outstretched to it. Oh God… Somebody’s in my fucking house! I reach over and turn off my music, trying to hear what’s going on upstairs. Maybe I imagined it.

As soon as my music stops playing, I slowly walk over to the steps and look up at the door. The door knob starts to slowly turn and my eyes go wide. I’m damn near hyperventilating at this point. Suddenly it stops. Then the doorknob starts moving like someone’s jerking it. I step back, preparing to run, and trip over that fucking doll laying behind me. The doorknob stops when I hit the ground, and then almost immediately starts back up and now it sounds like someone’s kicking the door. I’m full on panicking and crab crawling backwards. I need to find a different way out!

Then the lights go out…

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