By this time I think the police are fed up with coming and asking me about perpetrators who have already fled the scene. Thank God, Piers’ ankle is fine. Just a minor sprain.
Once everything calms down and the police leave Piers and I rejoin. Sitting across from each other on my white living room couch a few inches from where he was pinned down just a couple hours ago.
“This isn’t safe anymore. We need to lay low.” Piers says as he rubs his ankle.
“You need ice.”
“I’ll get it in a second.”
Silence. I don’t think either of us know what to do, and neither one of us wants to give up the book.
“My semester at the college ends in two weeks. I’ll try to finish it out. Maybe by that time things will cool off.” I clasp my hands together at his statement. Two weeks is a long time. Anybody could come back within that time.
“You don’t think they’ll come back? I’m afraid they will. I’m still shaky from earlier.” I fidget in my seat.
“I know you are but you did great today, thank you for helping me earlier.” Piers’ eyes water a little and grabs my hand. I let it rest there for a while. We both need the comfort.
“I don’t think we should travel during the next two weeks. Just to be safe.” He nods.
“The book should stay in the safe.” I nod. “We just have to be careful…that’s all.” Piers’ thumb strokes my hand thoughtlessly. That brings me into his gravity and I find myself drifting into his comfort. Before I know it my back is pressed to his chest. He kisses the crown of my head, but I don’t mind. All of this just exhausts me. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be able to stand.
Three days go by and nothing happens. Everything seems to return to its normal state. My nerves didn’t seem to receive the memo. Every noise, shifting shadow, and random stranger became a threat. I’m jumpier than normal, but I still return to the book store. I like to think Milo keeps me company while I stay there.
“Hello, beautiful.” I know who it is before I look up from my computer. My skin ripples into goose flesh.
“What are you doing here Matt?” I say clenching my desk.
“Don’t act like this is my fault.” He says advancing to my desk. He makes himself comfortable and sits on my desk.
“Get out.” I stand. “I don’t know what you’re angle is but you’re nothing but trouble. Get out.” I walk towards the door and open it. He sneers at me and walks towards the door, but before I can react he yanks me by my collar and slams me into the wall.
“Listen to me! You stupid half wit. I warned you, I told you to stop this and get rid of it. But you refuse.” He presses against me more firmly. I grown under his weight. “You’re just like him.” Instantly it registers.
“You knew Milo?” Tears pour out of my eyes.
“No.” He releases me. I slap him in the face as hard as I can manage and spit at his feet.
“You’re disgusting.” I say as tears drip onto my collar bones. I look over to see a mother and her little daughter hiding behind a book case. Matt catches on and clears his throat.
“Get out.” And he does.
I lean against the wall for support. Turns out the woman had called the police. They’re definitely tired of me by now.
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Sun streamed into my window, hitting me perfectly in my eye, so I know it has to be about nine-thirty. I toss and turn for a while until I hear a scratching noise. Where is that coming from? Another scratch. The Kitchen? My hands start to feel numb and my tongue is tingling. Someone is my house. I snatch a knife out of my bedside table and flick it open. I never thought I would actually have to use this. My body starts to shake. I can’t just stab someone. I close the knife and pick up a large cedar staff decoration instead. Then I suck in a deep breath and walk quietly down the stairs. I don’t hear the scratching anymore. The hairs all over my body stand on end as my attacker is somewhere in my home. Then I hear the fridge door go smack.
“Is that your idea of defense?” Piers asks between bites of apple. A green one.
“Are you insane? I could’ve killed you!” I toss the rod aside and slump in a nearby chair. “You’re going to give me a heart attack.” I say as I feel a stress headache develop.
“I doubt you could deliver enough head trauma to kill me with that rod.”
“Don’t test me.” I huff.
“Let’s go somewhere today.” Piers says walking from the kitchen area into the open living room.
“Do you think that’s the best idea after what Matt said?” Piers turns his back to me.
“I seriously doubt he knows anything even close to what we’re doing. Who would?” He says over his shoulder. The people who killed Milo, that’s who. Against my better judgment I can’t help but itch to travel somewhere else. I can go wherever I want… Ha, I can travel and still be poor.
“Where are we going?” He smiles.
We decide on Greece. Of course, what traveler wouldn’t want to visit the beautiful beaches, and ancient sites.
“Are we sure this picture will be sufficient?” Piers says holding up a picture of a beach with a large harbor in the background just a ways from Athens.
“It should suffice, thank you very much. There are defining factors in them like a café that’s been there for several generations and a government sign. My aunt took this picture for me.”
“If you say so.”
“So.” I say as I open the book of gateways to an empty page and place the picture onto it. The page warms to life and sucks the picture into a nice portal. The border at the ready for instant use. I suck in a deep breath still surprised by this strange magic or science, or whatever this is.
“Ready?” I nod. We sling our bags over our shoulders and lock arms. I take a deep breath as Piers places his finger on the “key hole” and feel that familiar sensation of being whipped around and forced through something entirely too small. Then darkness.
“Whoo!” I say dragging my head up to gather my surroundings. My hand naturally comes up to shield my eyes from the blistering sun. My head still a bit scrambled. I look over to see Piers rubbing his temples.
“Made it.” He grins wide. I nod and put on sunglasses.
“What time is it here?”
“About four fifteen.”
“That means all the locals she be arou-.” My mouth drops open as I see a little boy mirroring my expression. His face drained of all his usual olive color. I see Piers out of the corner of my eye waving and crouch to one knee as he gives his best smile. The boy relaxes a bit and inches closer. Bravery or stupidity (who knows). Then the boy pokes my leg and jumps back. Then I feel a laugh gurgle up into my lungs and out of my mouth. The boy smiles and gives me a curious look. I hold up a finger to my mouth and make a “shh” face. The boy smiles and holds out his hand. I’m at a loss. What do I give? Piers smiles and pulls out a snack bar from his bag and places it in the boy’s hand. The boy takes it happily and disappears.
“That is a future business person.” I say as we walk away giddy with our successful trip.
“A sneaky one at that.” Piers says with a grin.
“Eh, what can you do?”
“Definitely not business with him.” He winks, and it makes me miss Milo.