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Alexis wiped her brow as she entered the kitchen from outside in the yard. She and her aunt had finished weeding the newest section of the garden. Inside the kitchen sat Nia on one of the bar stool swiveling around until she saw Alexis and stopped to place her hand on a shoebox and an empty Gersalt back. Alexis’ mother and grandmother stood a bit to the side sipping at their drinks.
“You went into my room?” Alexis hissed.
“I needed something.” Nia tossed out. “What. Is. This?”
“You went into my room without asking?” Alexis felt like she was thirteen again, screaming at her sister for messing with her stuff.
“I know for certain that Nate can’t afford Gersalt.” Nia shook her head. “Girl, if you’re cheating…
“It was a gift.” Alexis snapped. She had tried to return the clothes the day after the event, but it was one of the locations that the original card had to be presented to do so and they also could tell that she wore it. She had placed the shoes and dress in her closet along with the box and bag. She had planned to give them back to Jordan the next time she saw him. He was, however, ignoring her calls and texts. Again.
“From Jordan?” Nia leaned forward.
“Whose Jordan?” Grandma asked and Alexis glared at Nia.
“Another boy.” Nia answered. She pushed the box away from herself a bit.
“I thought your boyfriend’s name was Nate, Alexis.” Grandmother had such a long drawl that it made Alexis’ heart break hearing her. She knew she had disappointed her grandmother and she hadn’t even cheated. She had never wanted to have the conversation. In fact, she could not believe that her sister had gone into her room and embarrassed her in this way.
“It is.” Alexis’ mother cocked her eyebrow at Alexis.
“It’s nothing.” Alexis snatched the bag and shoe box. “I couldn’t find anything to wear and he bought it.”
“Alexis.” Her mother shook her head and her Aunt laughed before clicking her tongue.
“Ring their heads love. Boys are stupid. Get everything out of them that you can.” Her Aunt laughed patting Alexis’ shoulder.
“Alexis. I hear Nate is a perfectly good boy. Don’t do that to him.” Grandma reminded Alexis, who wanted to cuss out her sister in all the languages she knew. Storming off, Alexis climbed the stairs and threw the boxes to her bed. She pulled the dress out and then the shoes.
“How expensive are those?” Nia asked from the doorway. She had followed and Alexis was ready to fight.
“Why did you have to do that?” Alexis snapped. “You did not need to confront me in front of mom.”
“Mom is the one who found them!” Nia snapped back. “She was cleaning your room when she found them.”
Alexis’ heart stopped beating. No matter how angry she was, she could not get angry at her mother. Her sister had taken the heat for their mother, and Alexis rage disappeared upon hearing the truth. She could never be angry with her mother, not that way. Her mother must have been so distraught knowing that Alexis had possibly hurt someone. She’d need to explain to her mother that it was not the case, until her mother believed her.
“I don’t know how to give them back.” Alexis admitted.
“Just roll up to his house. You know what he’s doing.” Nia sat on Alexis’ bed. “He has his eyes set on you and once he gets what he wants, he’ll discard you.”
“I know. I don’t like him.” Alexis reminded Nia. “I do like Nate.” Even as she said the words she felt as if they were part of a carefully created lie. She did like Nate, but she also… No. She had Nate. Nothing else. No one else.
“Then give the clothes back.”
“I tried to return them and he’s not answering.”
“I said. Go over there.”
“Then I will.” Nia hopped from the bed and grabbed the dress from Alexis who was reluctant to give it to her. Only after a long moment, did she let go and Nia grabbed the shoes and bags. “I’ll be back.” Nia left the house faster than a cat chasing a mouse. Alexis wanted to remind her sister that she could not drive and did not have her license, but she said nothing. Nia would remember it soon enough. She did not return, however.
It took Alexis a good ten minutes to gather herself and return outside to help the others. They started asking her about Jordan and Nate, and she found herself more furious with Jordan in the passing moment that they asked about him. After all, how dare he? He was making her life terrible. She knew he was only playing around with her, and the idea that he had only done it to get her attention? She was pissed. She had often thought of– No. She only wanted to know him because of the mysterious door, and that no longer mattered. Nate mattered.
When Nia returned an hour later, she whistled to Alexis and when Alexis met her, she found an exasperated sister.
“He didn’t take it?”
“No he did. But he smiled and…” Nia shook her head. “We stay away from him, ya hear?”
“Loud and clear.” Alexis agreed. Jordan Brooks would no longer talk to him. Taking out her phone she blocked his number and then returned with her sister to the art of gardening with her mother and family.
“Did you drive there?” Alexis asked.
“No. I got a ride.”
“I swear if Nathan finds out because you asked Jim.” Alexis hissed.
“He probably already knew. He saw me with it and then told me where Jordan was.”
“What?” Alexis gasped. No. Nate could not…
“He saw it and knew. I’m pretty sure he already knew, from what Jordan said to him…” She shook her head. “That man is a mess and we stay away from him.”
Alexis nodded and clenched her hands, trying to put the thoughts of hurting Nathan from her mind. She’d need to message him and explain. Yet somehow she already knew that he probably didn’t care. Jordan did what he liked and everyone was along for the ride. She’d apologize anyway.
As she suspected, Nate told her that he already knew.
Nate: He messaged me that you were at the mall searching for something.
Nate: Then he sent a picture of the dress and told me he’d get it for you.
Nate: I told him not to and he did anyway.
Alexis: I didn’t want to wear it.
Nate: Jordan has a way of making sure his way is the only way. It was a beautiful dress. You should have kept it.
Alexis: He bought it for me.
Nate: He does that. You get used to it in the end.
Nate: He loves buying things for people that don’t want him to use his money on them.
The messages did not make her feel too much better, but after talking to him on the phone for an hour, she did. She felt more settled after it all and decided to put everything to the side. The door and Jordan Brooks no longer mattered. When Alexis slept that night she thought of the door and the constant sound of her name from a voice she did not recognize.
Alexis. The door. Help.
She woke in sweat, tears, and fear. She knew the voice but she did not know how or why. it was the voice that reminded her of everything she had ever known and yet, left her grasping at facts uncertain. Why did she know the voice? It was something from her past? Or was it something from her future?
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