Until November (Page 2)
At first, I was angry and refused to reply to any of the letters he sent. Then one day, I received a huge box stuffed full of cards from birthdays, Christmas, Halloween and every holiday in between. Some looked old and some looked new but they all said the same thing. “Dreaming of when we will spend this day together.” Since then, we talk every day and he has become one of my best friend’s.
“Okay, boy, were gonna go take a break. What do you say?” Yes, talking to my dog is now becoming a habit. Most likely, a bad one. I need to make sure that no one is around when I do it or I’m going to end up looking like one of the crazy people who think their animal is sending them messages from the other side. That would not be a good thing. I have enough problems without adding insanity into the mix.
I pull off at the next rest stop and park close to the area designated for dogs. I let Beast out and he shakes his coat and stretches his legs in front of him. We walk over to the grass and I hear another vehicle pull in. I turn around to see if the person getting out has a dog as well. I don’t want to break up a dog fight, and I have no idea how Beast will react to other dogs. I notice that the car that pulled in is still running and no one is getting out.
The car is a silver Ford Edge with New York plates. The windows are tinted so dark that you can’t see anything inside. Something buzzes across my skin. Beast must feel it too because he starts to growl. Trying to act casually, we start walking back towards my car. I see the back passenger-side door on the Edge open. That’s when I run with Beast running right along beside me. I get my door open and he jumps across my seat.
I’m just able to get the door closed when I see a guy walking in my direction. He’s wearing a black hoodie and black jeans. The hoodie is up so I can’t make out any details of his face, but I know he’s white because his hands are resting on his hips. Without a second look, I put my car in reverse and press the gas pedal. Boxes go sliding as I turn my car to get out of the rest area. I slam the car into drive and start speeding away. I don’t see the Ford Edge in my rearview mirror. My heart is going a million miles a minute and I keep checking for any signs of the Edge. Fortunately, it’s nowhere in sight.
I start thinking about the whole situation and realize that my imagination is going a little crazy after being attacked. I mean, really, what are the chances that someone from New York would follow me just to try and hurt me again. A few hours later, there’s no sign of the Edge when I check my GPS. I have less than two hours until we get to my dad’s. Looking down at my gas gauge, I see that I have to stop soon to fill up. With that thought, my once calm heart starts to speed up again.
It’s after seven at night and the interstate is quiet with just a few cars traveling but there are lots of semis on the road. The next exit offers every kind of fast food available so I’m hoping there will be a lot of people there. No, not just people. I’m hoping for the scary trucker type of people. I exit the interstate and pull into the most well lit gas station around. There are a few other cars getting gas so I get out and go inside to pay. There is a Dunkin’ Donuts and, like a parched man in a desert, I find myself standing in front of their counter. After getting my coffee, paying for gas, and getting another bottle of water for Beast, I step out into the parking lot. Looking around, I walk quickly to my car.
“That’s a beautiful dog you have there.”
Screaming and stepping back, I almost fall over the hose that is going from the pump into my car. “Sorry I scared you, honey. I just saw your dog and he’s a beaute.”
“Oh, thanks,” I say while holding my chest. Getting a look at the guy, he looks harmless. He’s dressed a lot like Santa Claus, including the suspenders with a red and black plaid shirt tucked into his jeans and black boots. I can’t help the smile that comes to my face. He smiles back.
“Russ,” he says, sticking out his hand.
“November,” I say, shaking his back.
“What kind of dog is he?”
“Great Dane, I think. I’m not sure. I only looked up pictures online after I found him. His name is Beast.”
“You found him and named him Beast,” he laughs.
“Well, actually, it’s a long story but I guess he kind of found me.”
“That I believe!” he says with a sad look on his face. “You take care of him and he’ll take care of you, honey. I used to have a dog like that and he traveled everywhere with me. Even took my back a couple times when I got into a jam. They really are man’s best friend.” He looks so lost talking about his dog that I wanted to say something but didn’t know what. I reach my hand out and squeeze his. He squeezes mine back then I drop mine to my side and gave him a small smile.
“Welp, gotta hit the road. Have a load to drop off in Nashville. You drive safe.”
“You too,” I say as he walks to a semi with the word yellow written on the back and climbs inside. Then, without thinking, I lift my fist up in the air and pull down. With that, he blows his horn and is on his way. I can’t help the smile that hits my face.
My GPS announces that we have reached our destination as I’m driving up a long private road. In the distance, I see large blue house with a white wraparound porch. Sitting in the dark in a rocking chair is my dad. I slow down to take him in. He has his bare feet stretched out in front of him with a cup in his left hand. He’s wearing jeans with a V-neck blue long sleeve T-shirt. His dark hair barely touches the collar of his shirt and is pushed back from his face. His skin looks tan, like he spends a lot of time out in the sun, but around his eyes is lighter. He probably wears sunglasses when he’s out enjoying the sun.
I pull up as he stands and starts down the stairs. I try to open my door but he’s already there, pulling my door open. Getting out of the car, my hands start to shake and all of the stress and worry from the last few days comes to the surface. I know that now that I’m here, my dad will take care of everything. He is my biggest supporter and the person I can always count on to have my back. He pulls me into a giant hug, shaking me around. When he finally sets me in front of him, he looks down at me and his hands go to my face.
“You look more beautiful than the last time I saw you, baby girl. Even with all the bruises,” he says, holding my face gently in his hands. His face changes and his jaw gets tight. “If I ever see the f**king guy who did this to you, he’s going to wish he was never born. I hope they catch that f**king coward,” he says, letting go of my face and hugging me into his chest while kissing the top of my head. “Welcome home, baby girl.”
That was all I needed to hear for my whole body to relax into his. Welcome home. I actually had a home and it felt beautiful. “It feels good to be home,” I say with a smile. Just then, Beast pushes his way between us. Dad bends down to show him some love. He scratches his head and, in return, Beast licks his face. “Hey, now. None of that,” he says while standing. “So, baby girl, are you ready to see your new place and get a lay of the land or do you want to just see your room and pass out?”
Laughing, I say, “I’ll just see the room and pass out. It was a long drive.”
“I know that you wanted to get here quickly but you should have stayed another night in a hotel.”
I didn’t tell my dad about the rest stop because I didn’t want him to worry. And I think I was just being paranoid. But after that happened, all I wanted was to get to my dad’s house and put as many miles as I could between me and New York.
“I know, Dad, but I just wanted to get here.”
“I’m glad you made it here safely. Let’s get you inside so you can get settled and get some sleep." He puts his arm around my shoulder, taking me with him.
Walking into the house, I was a surprised that everything looked like it was out of a magazine. By the front door was a long, black table with a bowl filled with keys and coins. The wood floors were so dark, they almost looked black. Walking down the hallway, we enter a room with the tallest ceilings I’ve ever seen. The beams going across the room were the same color as the wood floors. There was a wall of windows from one side of the room to the other. The kitchen was open to the living room with an island in the center that was as big as a dining table with five stools in front of it. The appliances in the kitchen all looked new and unused. The countertops are a light granite with brown and red streaming through them. In living room, there’s a leather couch that looks more like a bed with a low back. The entertainment center is built into the wall and two leather recliners sit on either side of the low couch. The throw pillows and blankets on the back of the couch match the granite in the kitchen. All the colors in the room blend perfectly together. I see caramel, dark brown, and red everywhere I turn.
“Wow, Dad, this is beautiful.”
“Thanks, baby. Your grandmother decorated it."
“Grandmother?” I ask.
"Yeah. She can’t wait to meet you. I know we haven’t talked about my family much but they all know about you and are excited to get to know you."
“Awesome,” I whisper, still in shock that my mom took me when I a baby. She never talked about my dad at all. I never even knew who he was until I turned eighteen and he tracked me down. Every time he has come to New York to visit, he never talked about his family and I never asked. I figured his story was the same as my mom’s. Her parents died before I could meet them and she didn’t have any brothers or sisters. My mom has always been a loner, unless you have something she wants. Then, she will attach herself to you like a life-sucking parasite.
"Everyone will be here for breakfast. They wanted to come tonight but I thought you might get overwhelmed on your first night home. Also, we need to talk about you doing the books for the club. Your degree will help me get the office straightened out. I don’t have a lot of time to manage that part of the business. Lynn moved away with her husband and I haven’t had a chance to replace her.”
“When do I start?” I say, smiling.
“Well, tonight I want you to rest.” He squeezes my shoulder. “And for the rest of the week, I want you to recover. After you’re feeling up to it, I’ll take you down to the club and show you the office. Hopefully, you can set something up so you can work from home.”
“Sounds good to me.” Walking through the kitchen, there’s a set of stairs going down to the basement. “Wow, Dad, I thought you loved me and now you’re taking me to the dungeon.”
Laughing, he shakes his head. “No. There’s a basement apartment. Your grandma and everyone else came over and worked on it all day yesterday. They rushed over as soon as they found out you’d be staying with me. It also has its own entrance so you can have some privacy.” He flips on the light.
“It’s perfect.” There’s a small living room and kitchen when you first walk in. He leads me down a short hall and opens a door. The bedroom is huge and there’s also an attached bathroom with a stand-up shower and a pedestal sink. I’m so overwhelmed that I start crying.
“It’s okay,” Dad says while dragging me into his body for a hug. “We just want you to be happy here.”