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C2 02


A. Bookstore.

And it looked like it was straight out of my dreams.

The store had glass doors and windows that allowed me see little inside. I could tell people were milling around, no doubt surfing for books they wanted to buy. Two trees were positioned on either sides of the store, with benches resting on them. The place looked so peaceful, like a little book heaven, and I found myself wanting to be in there.

"Can I visit this place sometime? " I found myself asking before I even realized my mouth had opened.

I froze, shocked at my own audacity. I had just met these people. Why on earth had I thought asking them for something just today was a good idea? Well, I hadn't been thinking at all, that was for sure.

Mrs Lawson looked surprised at my question. She glanced up and through her window —in the wrong direction, searching for the store I was talking about.

"Where? " she asked, when she couldn't find it.

I wondered if it was too late to back out now. How rude would it be if I zipped my mouth shut and acted like I hadn't said anything in the first place? Very, I supposed.

Don't be a coward now, Eva.

But when have I not been? A coward, I mean. I was too scared to go parties, wear clothes that actually suited me, make new friends and speak out in public, because I didn't want to bring attention of any kind to myself.

How much more cowardly could I get?

But this wasn't the moment for me to point out my flaws. My foster mom was patiently staring at me, waiting for an answer and seeing as no one but me got myself into this uncomfortable situation, I was going to have to get myself out of it.

"The store that sells books to your left. " I pointed at it, watching as she followed my finger.

The earlier excitement I'd felt on seeing the store, had dissipated and was now replaced with a feeling of fear. Fear that one of them might say no and then the atmosphere would be awkward between us for the remainder of the journey.

I blew out a breath when she faced me with a smile, "Of course. Abi could go with you if you want. "

"Thanks. " I smiled back at her, thankful that she was such a likeable person.

"You like books? " her husband asked, speaking for the first time since the journey began.

So he had been paying attention to the conversation after all.

"Yes. " I stated, but it sounded more like a question. I couldn't help but feel defensive whenever the topic of books came on. A lot of people found my obsession with books weird and I guess I expected the same annoying reaction from everybody.

Mr Lawson smiled at me in the mirror but didn't say anything.

It was his wife who said, "Oh, he loves books. " she explained, "He even has a library full of them at home. You should see it. It's every reader's dream. " she smiled fondly at her husband, the love in her eyes, unmistakable.

I looked away, suddenly feeling like I was intruding on a private moment. Love was a confusing concept to me. It made me feel weird and I did my absolute best to stay as far away from that topic as I could.

Back to books though, I wouldn't have guessed Mr Lawson was a fan. The fact that he had a library intrigued me. I'd always imagined having a mini library consisting of books of different genres that I loved. There would be more of romance, of course. I was a sucker for good romantic suspense.

The car resumed it's descent, turning onto another road, with equally beautiful places.

"Remind me to give you a key to the library when we get home. " he said.

I nodded absently, because at the back of my mind, I knew I would do no such thing. If he wanted to give it to me, he would. I had never learnt to ask for things and I didn't see myself starting now.

At the moment though, what captured my attention, was the environment. It was amazing how this world was completely different than the one I was used to. It was all so wonderful.

I'd heard about people and how they seemed to connect with a certain state once they found it. I knew Abuja was that place for me. Back in Lagos, I'd always been out of breath trying to keep up with the fast life. Everyday had been more exhausting that the previous.

Now, however, this was a place I could live in. Beautiful trees, zero people, peaceful atmosphere. And sure it was more than a little odd that I hadn't seen a single person since we turned down this..... street? But I wasn't one to complain about odd. The odd life was mine. I lived it. Breathed it.

We slowed to a stop in front of a huge black gate that looked like it had come out of a movie. Mr Lawson hurriedly got down from the car and walked towards the gate.

Shouldn't a house like this have a gateman or something?

He swiveled right all of a sudden, moving away from the gate and going to stand in front of a brick wall. He pushed at the wall and slowly, the gates rolled open.

What the–

"Is the control for the gate there? " I asked the one person sitting in the car with me.

"Yes. "

But............. How?

She must have seen the look of confusion on my face because she explained. "The gate has a code programmed in and everyone who lives here know it. Once you punch the right code in the keypad, the gates will open. If it's wrong, the gates will remain firmly shut. "

Amazing. Security here was tight as hell. I'd never seen anything like that other than on TV. This was new. Everything was new.

Mr Lawson was back in the car like a flash and the minute he drove through, the gates slid closed. Just as I'd expected. How cool would it be living in a place like this? Burglars and kidnappers would be the least of your worries. Well, as long as you were inside. The thought of a person being stuck outside, having forgotten the code, with robbers on his tail, had me cracking up silently.

Beyond the gates were rows of houses and I knew one of them had to be theirs. We stopped in front of another gate, which Mr repeated the same process for and in we rode.

Mrs Lawson, having kept her tab, turned fully in her seat to face me, "Eva, this is your new home. "

And what a home it was.

We drove between hedges of neatly trimmed flowers to the house she spoke of up ahead. From the view the car allowed me, I could see it was a magnificent two story building, far bigger than the whole orphanage put together. The house was painted in plain white and grey, the colours in pristine condition, which told me it had to be maintained regularly.

We parked off to the side and alighted the car, with the couple, checking to see if they had everything with them, and me gripping my bag and desperately trying not to gawk at the house.

In my circle, back at school, we'd all been from similar backgrounds. I didn't mean we were all orphans, no. We'd just had the average life. Same style houses and lifestyles, nothing out of the ordinary, but then again, my circle comprised few friends from my school. A public school.

There, standing just outside the house, were the first signs of life I'd seen since I entered this place. Two people stood beside each other and from their poses, I could tell they were girls. The twins.

I straightened, gripping my poor bag tighter as we walked. Mrs Lawson threw an arm around my shoulder easily. It was as if she'd sensed my unease. The difference in our height wasn't much, I noticed, she was maybe two or three inches taller than I was.

It wasn't until we were just about six feet from the girls that I processed something Mrs Lawson said in the car a while back. When I told her about wanting to visit the shop, she'd said Abi could go with me. She hadn't said the twins or one of the girls. She'd simply said Abi. That was...... strange.

Before I could ponder on that, we were already standing in front of said twins.

"Abi, Zoe, this is Eva. " Mrs Lawson started cheerily by my side, oblivious to my inner turmoil, but then again, it was called inner for a reason, "I've told you all about her already, I'm sure getting along wouldn't be an issue. "

Oh, but it will be.

"I'll see you in a bit, Eva, I just need to go change. " she said before her hand slid from my shoulders, leaving me feeling surprisingly cold under the hot afternoon sun.

I stifled a shiver.

"They'll get you settled in. " Mr Lawson squeezed my shoulder lightly, before walking off with his wife, leaving me alone with people I wasn't so sure I wanted to be alone with.

As I met the cold gazes of the twins, I kicked myself internally for being so stupid.

Omar was wrong.

Peeking out of your shell wasn't fun.

It was dangerous. As hell.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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