Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016) - Chapter 1 | Penana

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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
Writer Ruby Iodine
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
A - A - A
Chapter 1
Ruby Iodine
Nov 15, 2016
21 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!bbWjKTTVTdavMbv7flrZposted on PENANA

"53 Birch Hill Lane, Riverdale, please."copyright protection208PENANAWsZOo8Qw4F

My eyes wander to the rearview mirror to look at the driver's crystal-like blue eyes staring back at me in amusement. I have no idea how my words provide any entertainment to anybody, but considering this is a taxi driver I'm talking to here, I can't imagine the boredom they have to suffer through every single day of their pitiful lives.copyright protection208PENANA8gQ5zBYswS

He presses his lips and shrugs. "Very well, then."copyright protection208PENANAGHosSTA7f1

I sigh, lean against the door and gaze out the window as soon as the car starts to move, with a little jolt at first before going steady. It started raining just a few minutes ago and I've forgotten to bring an umbrella (stupid weather forecast didn't say it's going to rain today) but thank god it didn't take long to hail a taxi over so I'm not too drenched in rainwater. Raindrops are beating against the windows like hail as the drizzle soon becomes a downpour. The car is traveling at quite a speed, causing the buildings and houses around us to zoom past in a blur, stopping only when the taxi does. Turning to the front, I look ahead and notice the traffic in front of us—not surprising as it is one of the inconveniences of having a workplace in an urban city with a population of about eight million, with each and every single one of them having their own personal vehicle. Being used to it doesn't really mean I'm no longer bothered by it anymore, though.copyright protection208PENANA6ct50SeQoi

It doesn't help that I don't even have my own personal vehicle, not even a bicycle. I still have a long way to go before I can finally buy even a secondhand car, though after what happened today, I doubt I'm anywhere closer to that goal.copyright protection208PENANAwxynC7YBAv

"Stressful day at work, miss?"copyright protection208PENANAtgcRJ4Ljb0

I jerk in my seat, snapping my head to the driver glancing over his shoulder, eyes filled with curiosity.copyright protection208PENANAkhdOndGB45

A snide remark bubbles somewhere inside of me, only because I'm not in the mood to be civil with anybody who attempts to converse with me, especially not with a taxi driver. A second look at his features makes me wonder why bother asking in the first place because he doesn't seem like those creepy Uber drivers being a little too nosy about your personal life (that's why I don't order an Uber in the first place). But I'm just too exhausted to deal with this shit, so I keep the agitation under wraps and reply in the normal fashion.copyright protection208PENANAUBCtYeBWPb

"That would be a clear understatement, if anything," I say, running a hand through the tangled mess of brown hair on top of my head, despite the hours I took to get ready this morning. Though I haven't intended on trying to impress people at the office (there's nobody decent enough anyway), it's not a crime for a woman to try and appear decent for once, but all of that is pointless when it turns into a wild bush at the end of the day.copyright protection208PENANArjsEbcIWvU

The driver cocks an eyebrow and is clearly struggling to suppress a laugh. "A bit of clarification, perhaps?"copyright protection208PENANAXQcaEzolbt

I study his features: the pale skin and soft features lead me to believe that he's not from here, but there seems to be a lack of nutrition underneath the exterior causes his skin to stretch over his face and creates bumps where his cheekbones are, making him look gaunter than he really is. His appearance is just as boring as the uniform he's wearing, the same uniform seen worn by any other taxi driver in the area. In other words, he is definitely not the 'gossiping' type.copyright protection208PENANAq642z2haZ7

Again, why is he asking all this shit? Doesn't he have anything else to worry about? His family or something?copyright protection208PENANAmqrP5C1Nyw

"Well, all I can say is that you might not feel lucky for having a job like this.," I say, gesturing towards the vehicle we are in, "but buddy, you're still luckier than me. At least you don't have to deal with a retarded boss who doesn't know what's quality and what's shit, every single goddamn day of your life.copyright protection208PENANAHwnTG1t5nF

"Well, my superior can sometimes get a bit... irritable when I do not fulfill what he asks of me." He chuckles for a moment, then his smile disappears. "I do not think, however, that he is 'retarded,' as you have phrased. His level of intelligence is the opposite of that of his patience, still."copyright protection208PENANAyNLCQkE8vD

"Huh. Looks like we're not too different, are we?" I scoff, managing a small, pitiful smile. He returns it, seeming pleased to see the light returning to my face. The traffic light up ahead turns yellow and he switches gears, looking at my reflection in the rearview mirror when he speaks.copyright protection208PENANAgR4HH9jIXS

"Do not fret, milady," he says. "I promise you, it will all be better soon. Perhaps not now, but... you will see."copyright protection208PENANAfEoCy5D2a1

I frown at the emptiness of his voice and a shiver runs down my spine. When I stare back at him, I notice a hint of something different flashing in his eyes. All of a sudden they look a lot like glass, like I can see my own reflection in them. The irises are painted a monotone shade of blue, like they're robot eyes. In fact, I won't be surprised if they are.copyright protection208PENANAHJPslFN0Oi

There's one thing I know, though, and that is the fact that this guy isn't normal.copyright protection208PENANAE4aJMRT5AQ

The light turns green and the vehicle lurches forward as soon as the car in front of us starts to move. I force myself to tear my gaze away from the mirror and back to the window. copyright protection208PENANAYPvnr4s56D

I look at the watch on my wrist. It's almost ten, and there's still a long way to go before I get home. A strange feeling creeps up my back that urges me to get the hell out of here, before whatever would happen, happens. But it's not like I can bail out in the middle of the road, while the vehicle is still moving. And we're already out of the city area, around the borders, meaning it's almost impossible to hail another taxi around these parts anymore. God knows how long it'll take until one shows up.copyright protection208PENANA6NnVfJB3Jq

I don't have anything else to say and neither does he, so that leaves the rest of the ride to be drowned in overwhelming silence, one I'm strangely not bothered with. Only when my phone starts to vibrate for the millionth time inside my purse do I break the silence and rummage through my belongings, snatching the damn device and turning it back on.copyright protection208PENANAlouw7ho0mZ

Ten messages. All with one name, from one person.copyright protection208PENANARlOmIfqblw

Isabelle Cross.copyright protection208PENANAPrkcnzVYCF

I sigh as I open each and every one of them. They're written in all uppercase letters by the time I get to the fifth message, all of them containing roughly the same words. 'Where the hell are you,' 'Why aren't you home yet,' 'I swear to god I'll lock you outside if you don't get home now'... The typical things you'd hear when you have an overbearing housemate, but someone who is also your best friend.copyright protection208PENANAoY3TvbbUcx

When I reach the tenth message, the phone vibrates again.copyright protection208PENANAT3THqBXRNi


I reply: Had to work a few extra hours. Be home soon.copyright protection208PENANAqvTuppGAkS

Her reply comes sooner than expected.copyright protection208PENANA8dW1VmDTdq

U BETTER BEcopyright protection208PENANAcB3WjS4BDb

"Boyfriend?"copyright protection208PENANAw4Gqz5PfG9

I lift my head up to see the reflection of the driver staring back at me again. His eyes have returned back to the state they were before, but it doesn't get rid of the uneasiness inside of me.copyright protection208PENANA7On4QjqtcE

His eyes are staring particularly at the lit-up phone screen in my hand. This guy doesn't look like the gossiping type but apparently he is.copyright protection208PENANAUpfXmzPqat

"No, roommate," I reply. Keeping information to a minimal is probably recommended in a situation like this.copyright protection208PENANABHyi77oWm4

I don't want to put my phone down and be forced to indulge in another awkward conversation with this guy, even though I don't see any other reason why I should keep it around. Instead, I decide to just check all sorts of social media apps (Instagram, Twitter, those sort of things) like a stereotypical white girl.copyright protection208PENANA6uTuyJNYd0

Not too long after, I get another message, this time from my actual boyfriend, Andrew Hurst, a.k.a. most eligible bachelor in the state and the twenty-six-year-old CEO of Hurst Holdings. I smile when I read it; just a thoughtful goodnight wish, only because he thinks I'd be home by now, safe and sound in my bed, while it should be noon where he is right now, which is halfway around the world.copyright protection208PENANAD7pS4LsUcC

It's a little depressing to know your boyfriend has to travel overseas from time to time, but in his case, those periods of overseas travel, more often than not, take longer than expected, even with flight delays and such. Still, every time he comes home, I'll be there to welcome him back and we'll make the most of our time before his next trip.copyright protection208PENANAnOkV6r3uop

And they say that long-distance relationships never work.copyright protection208PENANAzuUsYscMrp

Five minutes later, the car halts to an abrupt stop. I look up and expect to see more cars stuck in another traffic congestion problem, because I know it takes more than fifteen minutes to drive from my workplace all the way home. Instead, I see the road stretched out in front of us empty and dark, with only a few cars parked by the side of the road, in front of opposite lines of red-bricked brownstone houses, similar to the neighborhood Isabelle and I live in. Yet, the area remains unfamiliar to me because it's usually well-lit, whereas the street lamps here are all dim and flickering, with only a few porch lights turned on. A lone biker pass by and drive over puddles on the road created by the rain, but otherwise, this place looks abandoned.copyright protection208PENANAM4xbXBXpw9

I understand now, how this guy's boss gets mad at him from time to time. How can he not, when the damn driver doesn't even have appropriate navigation skills even though he has a phone placed beside the dashboard with the Maps application running, and instead takes his passengers to the entirely wrong places?copyright protection208PENANA2UXmQ4NTzb

"We're here," he says, confirming my suspicions that this may be my last stop for tonight. I look out the window, and it clearly isn't the same place I've been living in for the past four years. The bronze-plated number on the front door read '26' and the mailbox shows we're in Bridge Street, which is still about two miles away from home. I shake my head and turn to the driver.copyright protection208PENANAj8GdBFGOr8

"This isn't my house," I say, glaring at the driver. "This isn't even the right street, for God's sake!"copyright protection208PENANAdddLpannAT

"Well, this is where I was told to go," he replies, shrugging. I refuse to believe the innocent-like facade he's putting up, because this man is guilty without a doubt. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but this is as far as I will take you. Please step out of the vehicle. Perhaps you may want to double-check where we are right now?"copyright protection208PENANAwCNuZEyNx8

I scowl under my breath and give him another glare, but I gather my belongings and open the door anyway. Right underneath the car is already a large puddle of unknown depth, but I still step out with great reluctance. A small splash is created where my foot lands and I can feel water droplets on my skin and dampening the ends of my trousers. I cringe and shiver, drawing a sharp breath while pretending everything's just fine, because I know this asshole won't leave until I do. I hold my purse above my head to shield myself from the rain (it's not much, I know, but it's definitely something) and when I take another step and turn for a moment to close the door, I look up again and realize that I do recognize this house.copyright protection208PENANAZQgF4SkKGL

The house belongs to Cameron Hood.copyright protection208PENANASUZ6Fpg2MR

Cameron Hood, my ex-boyfriend.copyright protection208PENANAWjtKNtomgW

Out of all the places, in the city, in Riverdale or even in the whole state, I just had to be dropped in front of his house.copyright protection208PENANAufNLVRDfCj

This is the last place I want to be in right now. I want to get back home, where it's safe, and sound, without any ex-boyfriends around to ruin your already-shitty day.copyright protection208PENANA1vd1BTqRVc

I groan, turning around and ready to slam my fist to the side of the taxi's body, maybe at the driver's window to demand to be taken where I need to be. Instead, I see an empty parking space right in front of me, the taxicab gone and disappeared without a trace of its whereabouts.copyright protection208PENANAJSwdCjG0GX

I didn't even hear it leave. How the hell did a giant, three-thousand-pound car with an engine that I'm sure hasn't been changed for about an entire decade, vanished into thin air, like it was never even there at all?copyright protection208PENANAXbcKW8BAoe

I snap my head back up and down the street, but there's still no signs of the taxi—if it just left, I should still be able to see it, right? But the street has been left empty and lifeless again, and so am I as every sliver of energy left inside of me drain away with the rainwater and into the sewers.copyright protection208PENANAUpJ7rk0RcW

I'm cold, drenched in water, falling victim to hypothermia and most of all, alone. And that's in addition to twelve hours of having to tolerate the asshole in a suit I have for a boss who thinks that none of his subordinates' opinions are relevant at all. How can today be any worse?copyright protection208PENANA4VOA8rUPsB

I scowl, thinking that the only option I have left is to wait for the next bus or taxi to come by (which is about 'never' at this point). Maybe I'll end up walking all the way back home, which will take at least two more hours, unless I get raped or mugged or something along the way and it'll be never.copyright protection208PENANAMpMZ9J7Lkv

The creaking of wood behind me causes me to flinch while bringing me out of my thoughts, and I turn around to see the mahogany door thrown open and behind it, the face I never thought I'll ever see since the last time I did, two years ago.copyright protection208PENANAZeVIlm3meg

His hazel orbs lock with mine and my knees almost lose their strength. He gasps in disbelief.copyright protection208PENANAjjb7UkzO91

"Emma? Is that you?"copyright protection208PENANAqVqcVAW2lg

I manage myself a small, awkward smile, and wave. "Oh, hi, Cam..."copyright protection208PENANAylut4QQ7c5

He hasn't changed much since I last saw him. His messy brown hair has been kept short as always, reaching down only up to the bottom of his ears. He has an oval-shaped face with a great jawline, a slight stubble growing on his chin which has grown to surround his mouth area, more than what I've been used to. High cheekbones, handsome features that can make any girl swoon over him, giving him that stereotypical high-school bad boy look even though he's far less badass than he actually is. He wears a gray shirt and checkered sweatpants, and for the love of God, he's wearing bunny slippers.copyright protection208PENANAnwozEiUd73

Same old Cam as always.copyright protection208PENANAexZEKUfGXA

He rubs his eyes, as if he refuses to believe that I'm standing out here, in front of his house, in the middle of the night. I don't blame him.copyright protection208PENANAXwWr00iR7u

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asks, incredulous.copyright protection208PENANAWv1l5FDZSL

"It's... a long story," I say, jumping at the sound of thunder behind me.copyright protection208PENANA36j3L4Y0KW

He glances up at the sky, at the still-relentless rainstorm, then back at me again. "Well, why the hell are you still standing there like a statue? Get inside, goddammit! It's raining cats and dogs out there! Get in!"copyright protection208PENANABIsxasxsjF

Part of me wants to refuse, because I know it'll make things awkward between us after leaving at a rather unpleasant note the last time we saw each other. But the other part of me is also saying 'screw this, I'm going inside' because that part of me is still in a shitty mood and I want to get the hell out of this rainstorm and get inside where it's warm and dry.copyright protection208PENANAXgbYBhDfhv

And, knowing him, he'll probably just walk out with his stupid bunny slippers and drag me inside himself if I refuse to budge. So, I start walking before he does.copyright protection208PENANA0kCknoomp9

He slams the door behind me and immediately I'm overwhelmed by an air of warmth that enveloped my shivering body like a nice, thick blanket. When he disappears into a room in the back and reappears a second later with a large towel, I realize maybe this isn't the worst decision I've ever made at all.copyright protection208PENANAi0RKy1d6tw

He wraps the towel around me and helps taking off my coat and purse, setting it down on the coffee table. Then, with one hand on my back, he guides me towards the green, worn-out leather couch and allows me to sit down, before heading towards the kitchen area with a speed faster than lightning.copyright protection208PENANAMqNYoof2Dw

"What the hell were you doing out there?" he demands with a voice I haven't heard for a long, long time, long even before our break-up. It's rare to see him with a serious demeanor, but when he does speak to me in that kind of voice, he means serious business. "And at this hour, too. Shouldn't you be at home, in bed or something?"copyright protection208PENANAxDRaYfymBX

"Usually, yeah," I say, but my voice comes out small as my body struggles to reach its normal temperature. I didn't even realize how cold it was out there until I feel the warmth provided inside the house with the heater turned on. "I was working late today. Trying to convince the boss that this new client of mine is worth the effort. The asshole's skull is too thick to break through and refuses to even give my client the benefit of the doubt. Then he decides that I've been 'slacking on the job,' as he'd phrased, since I haven't met the standard quota, so he insists I help someone else with their project. That someone happens to be another asshole in the office, because the company can't hire decent humans to be civil with."copyright protection208PENANAvTXmEwoRCR

I keep my gaze fixated on my belongings on the coffee table until he comes back and hands me what looks like a steaming cup of brown liquid. I take a whiff of it and recognize the smell, immediately overwhelmed by nostalgia.copyright protection208PENANAopibnHzCJc

Chamomile tea. Just like the ones he used to brew for me every morning back when we were still together. He still remembers.copyright protection208PENANA9hQ0rOgZbR

Without hesitation, I pick up the cup and bring it to the edge of my lips, tilting it and taking a quick sip of the liquid. It burns my tongue and my throat on the way down, but it quickly heats my insides and brings the warmth back to my systems.copyright protection208PENANAWGLU2prrg3

Just the thing I need for a crap day like this.copyright protection208PENANAiFtBQQjqt2

"God, don't tell me you still work at Pendleton's." I stay quiet, and Cam shakes his head. "Why are you still working for that guy? I thought you would've moved on by now, you know? Make it big like you've always wanted to. Maybe start your own publishing house with your own team of editors."copyright protection208PENANADCjuDLiUKt

I roll my eyes and take another sip. "I wish. I still have a long way to go. And besides, you of all people should know what I really wanted to do."copyright protection208PENANALHaxBdW3Ed

He stares back at me with sorrow and understanding in his eyes, not even denying that fact. "Well, I wish that I can say Fate is fair and everything will turn out the way we've always wanted them to be. But I thought you at least would've gotten out of that nasty hellhole. You've always hated it there—why stick around?"copyright protection208PENANA7XTAyJqRaU

"Because I've got nowhere else to go," I say, taking another sip and turning my eyes to the soothing beverage in my hands. I start tilting the cup around a little by its edges and my mind can't help but begin to think about his words, as well as mine. "It's not easy to get a job here nowadays, and I still have to pay rent for the place I'm living in, remember?"copyright protection208PENANAUNwehaZA4K

"You're still living with Izzy, right?"copyright protection208PENANA4Qren3rk66

"Of course, I am." An idea pops into my head, and I quickly grab my purse and start scrambling around for my phone. Through the rain and my mood, I realize that I've completely forgotten that, unlike me, Isabelle does own her own car—her job as a freelance photographer has earned her quite a bit more than me, especially when she's always the first person booked for any concert or event happening around this town and the next.copyright protection208PENANAyd3rOCbftl

I tap the screen a few times and soon it starts to dial her number, but after a few rings, she has yet to pick up the phone. I try again, but to no avail. As much as I want to go home right now, I have already expected something like this might happen, knowing that she probably kept to her word of locking me outside and was very likely to be found three layers deep into unconsciousness right now.copyright protection208PENANA9o8GDqQC0V

"Shit, she's fast asleep," I say, leaning back against the couch and sinking further into the crease I've already created. "Shit. I guess I'll just have to get my own ride home and—"copyright protection208PENANAn4MPj9TKuZ

"Why don't you stay the night instead?"copyright protection208PENANAQ2dUu2wFh0

I almost choke on air and stop. Sitting back up, I glare at him, wanting to make sure I haven't heard him wrong.copyright protection208PENANA0qo961zXEz

"Stay," he repeats, making the hairs in the back of my neck to stand straight up. "It'll be just for the night. I refuse to let you walk out there, under the pouring rain, waiting for a bus or taxi that'll never come. Just stay the night, take the couch. Then tomorrow morning, you can just head home and pretend this never happened."copyright protection208PENANAT1EFRXOKIj

I frown. I'm still a bit uncertain about this; isn't it awkward to have your ex stay over at your house after a not-so-amiable break-up? I've seen this happening in a million bad sitcoms and they never end well. So why in the world is he doing this? Worst case scenario, he comes in the middle of the night to rape me or kill me in my sleep but even he knows better than that—I know he knows better than that. So, what's his motive? Why is he being so friendly to me all of a sudden?copyright protection208PENANAKzlXtP0Zvh

Why is he acting the same way he did to me all those years ago?copyright protection208PENANAZwIoFOqeM4

"Please, don't take it the wrong way." He speaks in a gentle voice, almost pleading, in fact. "I'm just being a good guy here. Forget what happened between us in the past—this is the present we're talking about, and present shows you're gonna get real sick really badly if you insist on leaving this place and heading outside without even an umbrella. And all my umbrellas are broken, too."copyright protection208PENANAOF6tkXq8H8

I think twice about it again, still hesitant on whether this is a good idea or not. It's not like my current boyfriend knows that I'm staying over at my ex's place, right? That is, unless I tell him, which I won't because I have no reason to. It's not like we're going to do anything that may put us both in a bad and regrettable situation, and I definitely do not want to ruin my current relationship the way I did with Cam. I can just sleep through the night without any incidents, wake up, say our goodbyes again and leave for good.copyright protection208PENANArrINpbDqb8

"Okay," I say with a sigh. "I'll stay."copyright protection208PENANAHbEpzke0z0

He seems genuinely pleased by this and nods. "Good. I'll go grab a spare pillow and blanket then. The bathroom is over there, beside the stairs—you've been here more times than I can count. Or, you can head upstairs and we'll trade places. I'm fine with sleeping in the couch."copyright protection208PENANA5oFcRZah8R

I pat the leather seating beneath me and smile at him. "The couch is fine, thank you."copyright protection208PENANAqAj8oJk2av

It'll make it even more awkward for the two of us if I do decide to sleep on his bed. I know nothing freaky will happen but I can't help thinking of the bodily fluids that might be in between the sheets, so I'd rather avoid coming into contact with any of them, especially when I have a suspicion that he hasn't washed them in a while.copyright protection208PENANAaRGPhgavhJ

He disappears again and comes back with said pillow and blanket, and after making sure I'm all right by myself, we bid our goodnights and he climbs up the stairs, leaving me alone here in the living room, listening to the steady rhythm of the rain beating heavily on the ground outside.copyright protection208PENANAwm7cyYcIgk

I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. What will we say when we wake up? Will anything be different between us?copyright protection208PENANAAGVUPkE9mO

Will we ever be the way we used to be anymore?copyright protection208PENANAFxGmmXCwtU

I close my eyes, with the same questions roaming around my mind, demanding to be answered and refusing to wait until tomorrow. But as I continue to drone out into the rain drumming on the windows and the porch, I start to find myself falling into unconsciousness and finally, I fall asleep.copyright protection208PENANAgZgncPmoxC

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