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Unexpected Love Story (Love 2) Natasha Madison 2022/8/3 13:50:43

“I don’t think she is going to eat any of this,” I say, looking around the kitchen at the fried chicken my aunt just made.

“She needs to eat,” Blake says from his chair. I turn to glare at him.

“I’m aware, but she just lost her husband and probably feels dead inside. You really think she is going to come down and eat fried chicken?” He doesn’t answer; instead, he looks down at the empty whiskey glass he’s spinning on the table.

“We have to make the arrangements,” I say, rubbing my forehead. “What a fucking clusterfuck. I can’t even imagine what she’s feeling right now.”

Blake opens a new bottle and pours himself another shot, swallowing it down, and I look at him. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t …” I remember when he had to bury his first love when cancer took her at nineteen. He has never been the same.

I don’t say anything to him because I hear the creaking of the stairs. Looking down the hallway, I see Hailey coming downstairs. Her hair tied on top of her head, the robe is still wrapped around her. Her eyes are swollen from the tears she has shed the whole day.

“Hey,” I whisper to her, “you hungry?” I ask her but she doesn’t even acknowledge me. She looks around the room at the table set, but as soon as her eyes land on the brown bag on the counter she is in a trance. She turns on her feet, heading straight to the brown bag. My eyes find Blake’s, and we both inhale deep.

The crinkling of the bag fills the silence of the room as the four of us stand, waiting for her to fall. Waiting to catch her.

Opening the bag, she takes out his watch first. When she looks at it, the sob rips out of her. She brings the watch to her nose and smells it, her other hand gripping the counter to hold on to it. I step forward but stop when she sets it down. I don’t see what she pulls out next because the tears block my vision.

“This isn’t his.” She turns to us, holding a black iPhone. “His phone was white.”

I walk over to her, this time to help her stand. “Maybe it was put in there by mistake. Here, let me plug it in, and we can see who the phone belongs to.” I grab it from her and walk over to the wall charger, plugging it in. The red dead battery sign lights up.

I look back at her as she runs her fingers over his phone, her eyes closing as tears drip off her chin, almost like you left the faucet on. “We took this picture last week after he got home. He was gone for a month this time. It was the longest he’d ever been away.” She looks up at us, the hollowness almost too much to bear. “How did this happen?” She looks at each of us separately as she waits for an answer. My aunt and I are brushing our own tears off our face when the buzzing on the counter starts.

Hailey walks over to the phone before I can get to it and presses the button. Her face goes white, whiter than it was, her lips almost turning ash. Her hands start shaking, shaking so much the phone slips out of her hand and lands right in front of her feet.

[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======

The phone faces all of us, and I finally see what shocked her. The picture on the screen is Eric with another woman and kids. I don’t have time to let it sink in, I don’t have time to comprehend what this means, because the phone is now ringing with the word Baby on it.

The room stands here in shock, my aunt’s hand going to her mouth. My arms hang by my sides, heavy, so heavy I can’t reach out and grab the phone from Hailey before she bends down and presses the green button.

My heart is breaking, my inner voice yelling No. My breathing comes in spurts, almost as if I’ve just run a marathon. I don’t hear her voice when she answers because the whooshing of my heart fills my ears.

The four of us are rooted to the spot. The phone finally slips out of her hand, and we all spring into action. Blake rushes to grab Hailey before she falls, the phone stopping right in front of my feet. “Hello?” I hear being shouted from the phone. “Hello?” I finally bend down and pick up the phone, bringing it to my ear.

“Hello.” I finally find the words that have been lodged in my throat.

“Who is this?” whispers the female voice.

“This is Crystal,” I finally say, turning and walking out of the room. Stepping out the front door, I sit on the first step. “Who is this?”