C20 CHAPTER TWENTY
"Wake up, sleepyhead." Ethan groaned as the male voice permeated his sleep, and he turned this way and that way, reluctant to get up. While he was still struggling to wake up, he felt strong hands grab him and begin shaking him awake. He shook his head and sat up in the bed even though it was the last thing that he wanted to do. His friends obviously thought that they were still boys.
"What's up?" Ethan croaked in a voice that sounded as though it belonged to a frog and then cleared his throat.
"We're going for a hunting trip, that's what," Chad replied.
"Really? Why would we want to do that?"
"For fun, that's why."
"I've got to be on my way," Ethan said, although he wished to follow his friends on the trip. Chad must have heard the wistfulness in his voice because he began to persuade and give him different reasons why it was a good idea. As though that was not enough, the door opened, and in came Bruce, his other friend.
"He's right, you know," Bruce said, supporting Chad. "We hardly ever get to do things together like before or have this get together. We know what it took for us to get you out here and we know that it would be ages before we see your ugly face again. So stop whining and let's spend more time together before you have to go back."
"That's right. It won't take long. The place we're going to hunt is not far from here at all. We would be back early enough for you to go back. Don't worry, you don't have to do much work as we've already packed everything." Chad added.
"Alright, alright. You've managed to convince me." Ethan grumbled, as though he wasn't so keen on the trip when in truth, he was happy to go with his friends. Returning to his empty house was not that appealing nowadays neither was having Madison turn up any second she liked. So the three friends loaded all that they needed into their car and started on their hunting trip.
The knock came again and Chloe relaxed a little. It was a soft, timid knock, and she doubted that Lucas would knock that way. In fact, each time Lucas knocked on her door, she damn near had a heart attack. He always banged on it, as though he was a caveman and he had every right to be there. So, she got up and looked cautiously at the peephole before she opened the door. It was Aiden who was standing there, looking very small. He had never come to knock at her door before, no doubt because of his mother who would likely throw a fit. He looked around nervously, perhaps afraid that his mother would appear at any moment. It was a Saturday, but she still seemed to be sleeping. Chloe thought how sad it was that he was afraid of his own mother.
"Hi, Aiden. How are you doing?"
"Good morning, Miss Chloe," Aiden said, fixing her with sad and solemn eyes. He seldom talked, mostly doing so only when he was prompted.
"Morning. Why are you up so early?"
"I heard you moving things, so I came to look, but you were already going out, so I waited until you came back."
They were having this conversation with her standing in front of the door and holding it ajar and she reminded herself that she had to hurry up. While she wanted to talk with him, it was possible that Lucas could show up at any moment, especially as he did not have to go to work. Aiden looked around her and saw the empty room. His little face took on a resigned look.
"You're leaving." He stated.
"Yes, Aiden. I'm going to miss you terribly." Chloe told him, meaning it.
His eyes filled with tears, which he rapidly blinked away and Chloe found herself tearing up too. He was the only other person that she would miss apart from Erin, but she knew that he would miss her more.
"Where are you going? Is it far from this place?" Aiden asked.
"I can't tell you that Aiden."
"Okay, but will you be back to visit me?"
"Yes, I will." Chloe lied, trying to make him feel better. She was not sure that she would ever do so as she was tired of this place and did not really wish to come back, at least not any time soon. She hugged him tightly in goodbye and he left to go back to his apartment. Suddenly, Chloe was no longer hungry, so she discarded her remaining food and hit the road. At first, she was melancholic as she drove, as the fear of the unknown, coupled with thoughts of Aiden assailed her, but the wind lifted her spirits and soon melancholy vanished to be replaced with pure exhilaration. She really hoped that Aiden would be okay, but there was nothing that she could do about him.
San Diego would be good for her, she thought. It was where she would find love and finally be at peace. She could feel it in her bones and she could hardly wait. Even though she had a reasonable amount saved, she had no doubt that her money would finish quickly if she did not find something to do. However, she had done her research and knew that finding work, at least, as a waitress would be very easy, and would pay more than the job she was leaving. So that was a plus. The further she got away from the city, the happier she was. By the time she was leaving its boundaries, Chloe was giddy with happiness.