Chapter 2: Nice to meet you, old life
Amelia stared down at Trevor. His brows were furrowed together as he took a sip from his glass and then sat it down and looked at her. His words resonated with her.
Their mayor had died.
Amelia shook her head and began to pace back and forth. "What do you mean died? She was healthy, young, and vibrant."
"Natural causes is what they put in the newspaper."
"How natural?" Amelia muttered. She crossed her arms and began pacing back and forth. "She was healthy. She ran marathons and she had a clean bill of health."
"Police investigated Amelia." He shrugged and crossed his arms. "They said it was natural causes. There’s not much that they can do."
"But it’s been two weeks?" Amelia fired back. "Two weeks without someone running this town?"
"We aren’t hooligans Amelia," Trevor said, chuckling. "There’s been an interim mayor until a permanent one can be elected and set into place."
"Her husband?" Amelia shivered at the thought of Marcus Shefter holding up their town. He was more of a push-over kind of husband; not the husband that you would let control 7500 people.
Trevor shook his head. "He stepped down immediately. He didn’t feel as though he was right for this certain position."
"So, who took office?"
"Her brother Richard. He’s young; probably mid to late twenties. He was the only one in their family that knew a thing or two about running a town. Their father is governor somewhere or something." He shrugged. "He’s not going to keep it up forever, but until we have general elections then he’s stepping in."
Amelia leaned against the table and looked up at Trevor. "How’s Melinda?"
"Melinda, the mayor’s daughter?" Trevor shrugged. "She was getting ready to go off to University in Seattle. She stayed for the funeral, but that was about it. She was gone the next day."
Amelia shook her head. She could only imagine. Something happening to her mom pained her, but also knowing that she would eventually have to attend a funeral would kill her even more. Her body tensed up realizing that Melinda and her family would be put on a pedestal and looked at this whole time.
She couldn’t imagine.
Nor would she have wanted to.
"I assumed you would be happier than you are," Trevor continued. His brows furrowed together as she glared at him. "With your long history of terrible escapades with the mayor."
Amelia scoffed. "I would never wish death on her. She was strict and hard, but that doesn’t mean she was a bad person. Issuing town curfews and all that is terrible, but it’s also life." Amelia crossed her arms. "She didn’t have to die for it."
"’So they say,’" Amelia retorted, adding air quotations for effect. Amelia sighed and stood up from the counter. "I should probably go help Bia get everything put away."
"How is she, by the way?" Trevor asked, almost immediately.
Amelia shrugged. "She’s Bia. Hard outer shell, a fluffy pillow on the inside." She smirked. "She’s at odds with my dad now, but it’ll pass."
"Tell her I said hello." He polished off his tea and sat his cup in the sink. He turned back to Amelia. "It was great seeing you, Mel."
Bia had been standing in the doorway of her room for about 10 minutes now and she couldn’t find it in her heart to walk in and interrupt what looked so peaceful. She hadn’t seen it in three months. It was clean, her bed made up with the array of pillows that followed. The doors to her little balcony were closed, cleaned and the white curtains had been pulled to the side to make room for the sun to shine through.
She looked around and her teal walls were glowing. They had mirrors running along the side by the right balcony door, close to her bad. On the left was a flower array that hung halfway down that was made by her best friend, Mae. She had a white chair with a pillow next to it and next to that was her dresser, lamps and other accessories.
She stood looking at her room, all the memories that were here and all the memories she wished that she would have never made.
Bia crossed her arms and then slowly started to walk into her room. She crossed her arms and stood in the middle of the room, looking around as if to be looking at a foreign place.
Before she could move, her phone began to vibrate. She looked down and realized that she had received a text from Mae Shefter, her best friend since grade school.
Time to live it up tonight. Ready?
Bia didn’t know if she was ready for a night on the town. She didn’t feel like she wanted to be home nor did she want to damper all over her friends’ parade because she knows that they love her and miss her just as she did them.
Bia picked up her phone and replied.
"Hey." Bia turned and spotted Amelia standing in the doorway. Her blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders as she leaned in.
"Hey." Bia turned her body and looked at Amelia. "I’m going out with Mae and the girls tonight. The place is TBD, to be determined. Want to join?"
Amelia shook her head. "The RAT Pack and I have plans." Amelia smiled. Amelia had named themselves the RAT pack because her and her friends’ names equally spelled out RAT: Reyna, Amelia and Taylor.
Bia nodded. "Still a clever name. It’s weird how the universe brought you all together."
Amelia smiled. "Thank the good Lord for that."
Bia rolled her eyes and sat down on the edge of her bed. She was uncomfortable in her own living area and she could feel Amelia’s eyes on her. She glared up and Amelia had an eyebrow raised.
"I’m just not used to being home," Bia said, truthfully. "I just…" She sighed and looked around. "It’s too neat and too bright and too…"
Amelia glared at her sister as she tried to find the words. It was hard for her to, and Amelia noticed. She walked into the room slowly and sat down beside Bia. She was breathing hard and trying to figure out the right move to make. In the end, she just gave up and leaned down on the bed. Amelia followed in suit.
"I know what you mean," Amelia reassured. She placed her hand on her sister’s briefly and then back on her bed.
They laid in silence for a while with the only sound going was their breathing. Bia stared at the ceiling. They were finally home and although she had lived here her whole life, there was something mysterious and unfitting about the town that she lived in. There was an unspoken horror that she wasn’t sure existed, but she felt it in her entire soul.
She wasn’t crazy. Or at least she thought that she wasn’t.
"Did you hear about the mayor?" Amelia asked, breaking the silence.
Bia’s chest tensed up. She had heard about the mayor as soon as the mayor had died. She had kept this secret for a while, but she knew that sooner or later Amelia was going to hear about it.
"I read the paper when I came in," Bia said, which wasn’t the whole lie, but she left out how she really knew. "Tragic."
"Yeah." Amelia propped up on her left arm and looked over at Bia who was still laying on her back. She turned her head and looked at her. "Natural causes they say, but I just can’t believe it."
Bia shrugged. "I guess we’ll never know and just have to take their word for it."
"Yeah, a wrong word."
"Amelia, we were way across the country. How would we know if their word was wrong or right?"
Amelia glared at her sister and rolled her eyes. "You know Ryland as well as I do. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in our town. There’s 7500 people here. This town is too small."
Bia felt a shiver run through her body at the mention of their town. She had a point. Our town was too small for things like this to happen, but they happened anyway.
Amelia stood up immediately. "We haven’t eaten all day. With grandma and our dead mayor." She shrugged. "How about we freshen up and go down to Stix?"
Bia nodded. "I’d like that very much." Anything to get her mind off the obvious.
Two showers and a car ride later, Bia and Amelia ended up in front of their favorite hole-in-the-wall diner Stix. Bia stumbled upon it two years ago while it was raining and pouring as she did her morning run. She had to stay there for about an hour while the rain subsided and that’s when she got to know most of the employees and taste a lot on their menu.
She was in love.
"I’m so glad you found this place," Amelia said stepping out of the car. Her dirty blonde curls floated in the wind. The summer air was coming in crisp, but that didn’t stop the wind from showing up.
They both headed in. Bia opened the creaky door and inside the little bar-like diner. There was someone working behind the bar and you could also hear the kitchen brewing in the background.
The little tables and booths in the restaurant were filled with people and some were empty. Not many people knew about this place and Bia was glad of it because it was her place; the place she came to think and relax; the place she came to get away whenever she needed to.
Amelia and Bia sat down by the massive window that spit out onto the street. It was good for people watching and for daydreaming.
"What can I get you ladies?" Bia looked up at the waiter who was tall, lanky and had dark brown hair and bronzed skin. He smiled at Bia. "Beatrice Montgomery, back from the great beyond."
Bia’s smile spread across her face as she stood up and hugged the waiter. "Arthur! How have you been?"
"Way better now that the Montgomery sisters are back into my life." Arthur placed his tired eyes on Amelia and then leaned down to kiss her forehead. "Where have you both been? The summer was lonely without you."
Arthur was not only the waiter of this tiny diner, but he was also the owner. He worked many hours just to make this shop the best that it could be.
"Visiting family in a totally different country," Amelia said as Bia slid back into her seat. "It was the best. Some of us wanted to stay." Amelia placed her eyes on Bia.
"What about you?" Bia asked, changing the subject. "How has the diner been?"
Arthur sighed, looked around and scratched the back of his neck. "I’m the only one still going here. I have a few cooks, no waiters, one bartender." He shrugged and looked back at the girls. "I don’t know how long I can keep going."
"Have you thought about hiring more help?"
Arthur shrugged. "Even if I did, I wouldn’t know where to start or if I could even promise them a good wage for waiting here. Money’s been tight around here. Ever since Eileen…" He let his thought trail off.
Bia placed her eyes on Amelia who was already looking at her. Amelia looked up at Arthur. "I turned 16 in April. I can legally work here. And I’ll take whatever you’ll pay me."
Bia nodded. "She’s a hard worker."
Arthur’s smile came slowly, but you could tell that he was abundantly grateful. He nodded. "I can put together some things if you’re able to come here tomorrow for an overview of what I need from you."
Amelia nodded. "I can definitely do that." Arthur smiled, grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze.
"I’ll get you both your usual."
He left their side and Bia looked at Amelia.
"That was very grown up of you."
Amelia shrugged. "We love Arthur. Did you see those bags under his eyes?" Bia nodded. "It was intense." She looked out of the window and Bia observed her baby sister.
"Weird being home?"
Amelia nodded and looked at her sister briefly. "Weird being home," she mumbled. The diner doors opened with a little ding and then shut. "Isn’t it weird that just two days ago we were in Albania and now we’re here."
Bia nodded and clasped her hands together in front of her. "A lot of things are weird. It’s weird picking up where we left off when you can’t even remember the last place you left off."
"You can be kind of depressing Bia. Did you know that?"
Bia rolled her eyes at her sister and stood. "I’m gonna go talk to Austin at the bar. I know it’s been hectic for him."
Amelia nodded. "I’m gonna text the RAT pack and gloat that I’m the first person that has a job." Amelia lifted her phone and dramatically threw her hair over her shoulder.
Bia rolled her eyes as she turned around and ran right into someone she never thought that she would see. Tyler James. His blue eyes paused on her and his body stopped. Bia shivered and stood back and that’s when she noticed who his left arm was hooked on.
"Bia!" Her voice was loud and punctured Bia’s ears as she began to speak. She was also one of Bia’s best friends.
"Shannon!" Bia said, more shocked than excited. Shannon wrapped her arms around Bia’s torso and hugged her tight. "Ugh. I’ve missed you so so so much."
Bia faked a smile. Her eyes were placed on his and he hadn’t looked away from her. "I feel the same way."
Shannon stood back and looked at Bia. Her long brown hair was curled down her shoulders and her hazel eyes were cheery, upbeat and no bag in sight. She smiled some more and then reached in to hug Bia again. She pulled back again and sighed.
"Three months too long." She rolled her eyes. "Those facetime calls did us no justice."
"I know." She glanced at Tyler who was still looking at her and then back at Shannon. "How have you been?"
"Besides missing you, I’ve been spending all summer with Ty."
For a while, Bia was the only one that could call him that; she was the one who coined the name when they were in eighth grade. Bia was the one who was gripping his arm this tight. She was the one he could show off to everyone.
Now she wasn’t.
And she didn’t know if she was or if she wasn’t okay with that.
"Bia," he muttered, juggling the words from his mouth. She waited for what seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. "It’s good to have you back here in Ryland."
Bia’s face fell, but she managed to fake a smile. "It’s good to be back." She noticed how Shannon was all cozied up under Tyler, but she couldn’t tell if he was happy about it or not. "Well, I would hate to interrupt your morning time so…"
Shannon nodded. "Oh of course! We have a lot to do before tonight."
"Tonight?" Bia asked, hoping she wasn’t going to say what she thought.
"Yeah, we’ll see you tonight with Mae, right?"
Bia sighed and then continued with her fake smile. "Yes."
"Good." Shannon ran back for a hug and then whispered to Bia. "I have so much to catch you up on B. I’m really happy you’re back."
She leaned back, gave Bia one last squeeze and then walked toward the table that she and Tyler were on their way to.
For a moment, Bia and Tyler had a little time together. He was still mute, not knowing what to say, but just standing at her. They had a stare off before Bia looked away and spoke first.
"I’m glad you’re happy Ty."
And she brushed past him, not looking back because she knows that if she did, he would still be staring at her.
She approached the bar where Austin stood, looking at her with pity on his face. "That was harsh even from where I stood watching it."
Bia sighed and sat down on one of the stools and placed her head in her hands. "Please don’t even tell me how awful that looked. I don’t think that I can handle it right now."
"You need me to tell you how bad that was because it was really bad." Bia looked up at Austin. "Shannon might have been oblivious, but the look on your face said it all." Austin ran a hand through his shoulder length hair and picked up a rag. "You must really be okay with this."
"I am okay with this!" Bia screamed.
Austin raised an eyebrow. "You wouldn’t have to convince me if you weren’t."
Bia clenched her jaw as Austin began wiping down the tables.
She was okay with this, right?
Butterfly: Thank you! Hoped you liked this one!
Miha: I'm glad you're excited!! I am too!!