Chapter 2, Part 3
Cassie whipped around, nearly sending bananas everywhere, and darted through the pastries and the frozen aisle before taking refuge among the canned foods. A burly shopper whose cart looked outrageously small next to him glanced at her in bemusement.
“Uh, it’s my ex-boyfriend. I really don’t want to talk to him,” she blurted. He nodded in understanding.
“Feel free to hide behind me,” he grinned. Her mouth curved into her own grin before ducking behind him just as the Freak walked by and peered down the aisle. All he saw was a former linebacker intently perusing the nutritional information on the back of a can of green beans.
“I take it that was him,” the man said when the coast was clear. Cassie checked around his bulk.
“He looks like a rough character. You’d best stay away from him,” he cautioned.
“Believe me, I’m trying,” Cassie promised. “Thanks.”
“Take care, kid.”
Cassie waved as she left the aisle. There was a close call among the cleaning supplies and Cassie took cover in the pharmacy section before she made it out. She shoved her helmet back on and fired up her bike. She was pulling out of the parking lot when the Freak ran out of the store. He jumped into a waiting car and it sped after her.
Cassie didn’t know where she was going. All she knew is she couldn’t go home yet. Brakes squealed painfully behind her. She twisted to see a truck spin around the corner after her. She could make out more than one person through the tinted windshield. Great! The Freak had help. She shifted gears and accelerated down an alleyway. She had hit a residential area. She had a vague idea that she needed to get somewhere more public. Her wings were writhing at their confinement under the wrap. Oh, how she hated them! The darn things had ruined her life. She turned onto a main thoroughfare that would take her into the city. Periodic checks behind her yielded no sign of pursuit, but she took several turns before heading back to the suburb where they lived.
Half an hour later she parked behind the apartments and slammed through the door. Mariah fell through her chair and Caleb almost dropped a dumbbell on his foot.
“What’s going on?” Sam demanded as Cassie ripped her helmet off and choked out the breath she didn’t know she had been holding.
“The guy who attacked you?” Sam was on his feet.
“WHAT?” Caleb bellowed.
“You got attacked?” Mariah shrilled.
“Where? What happened?” Sam took Cassie’s helmet.
“Cassie?” Abigail nervously queried. Cassie rubbed her forehead. The two younger teenagers were proceeding to act like headless chickens and Abigail just looked terrified.
“Everyone just….sit down!” Cassie ordered. Seats were filled in seconds. Abigail handed her a glass of water at her request. She drained the glass before telling the whole story. What she saw when she was finished were two great fish impersonations and one petrified mouse.
“Why is he after you?” Caleb finally ventured to ask. Cassie shrugged.
“Maybe people know about me.”
“Do you think it has to do with your parents missing?” Abigail piped up. The room fell silent. Cassie sniffled and rubbed her nose.
“I don’t know, Abby.” She was engulfed in a pair of small arms. “Hey, you know what would make me feel better? Ice cream for dinner.”
Caleb saw it was a good time for a raucous whoop and took advantage of it. Sam grabbed him in a headlock to stifle the noise and they went to the kitchen to start dishing up. They called Abigail to come artistically drown the ice cream in hot fudge sauce. Mariah sat across from Cassie, looking a little lost.
“Hey, you never told me what you wanted for your birthday,” Cassie tried to lighten the mood.
“You don’t have to get me anything, Cas. I mean with the rent going up and…”
“Don’t worry about it. You’re going to be sixteen! You deserve something!”
“The only thing I want is for all of you to be safe!” now Mariah looked like she wanted to cry. This was her only family. Her parents and younger brother had died in a car crash three years ago and she’d been alone until she bumped into Sam while running from the police.
“We’ll be ok!” Cassie firmly promised, sitting by Mariah to better give her a hug. The mood was lightened when the ice cream arrived and they ate on the couches. But Cassie needed to do something more. She jumped up to go change. Usually she’d do some Pilates. Even with her handful of tries, she’d found out really quick that every muscle in her body had to be strong in order to fly, especially her stomach. She’d found some discarded Pilates videos and had gone to work. But she wouldn’t do that tonight. They needed to think about something else and what better way than by holding a contest? She ran back out.
“Sit-ups, Caleb!” she challenged. This was one thing she could probably beat him at.
Two minutes later there was much groaning from Caleb’s side as Mariah and Abigail gleefully counted sit-ups. He finally flopped back on the ground.
“No fair! Ok, Abs-of-steel. Pushups!”
“Only if you get a handicap!”
They both assumed the push up position. Caleb was already chortling as Abigail clambered precariously onto his back. He knew he could win. A minute in, Cassie’s arms started wobbling but Caleb was still going strong. Mariah and Sam were cheering on their favorites and Abigail was giggling helplessly. A strand of stray hair tickled Cassie’s nose and she knew she was in trouble.
“Get clear!” she shouted. Everyone ducked for cover as she sneezed and her wings burst out and propelled her, nose first, into the carpet.
I doubled up this week because I still feel bad about missing a week and giving y’all a really short one last week. And I was able to get a few more installments written recently. 🙂 Enjoy!
Happy Independence Day! Take a minute to remember the sacrifices made to make our nation and those who serve to keep our freedoms intact. Even though there have been some decisions recently that I don’t agree with, America is still a great place to live and I’m proud to be an American living in the great state of Texas!