AITL – Chapter Four

Monday: May 23, 2022

Aurora’s alarm went off at six o’clock that morning. Lifting Cooper’s head off her chest, she sat up in bed. She pulled her feet out from under Dexter’s chest and climbed off the bed. It felt far too dark in her room. She pulled open the curtains to let in some natural light, wrapping them around the silver hooks drilled into the wall on either side of the window. Her brow furrowed.

Was someone standing outside?

She closed her eyes and rubbed at them. When she looked out the window again, nothing was there. She sighed, deciding to chalk that up to having just woken up. How many stupid, unbelievable ghost or alien sightings came from someone who had just woken up? Too many, that was for sure.

You simply couldn’t trust those ‘just woken up’ thoughts and sights. A tired, barely awake mind exaggerated far too much to be trusted on much of anything, strange men in her yard included.

She headed downstairs, both dogs close behind her. She refilled their food and water dishes before letting them outside. She turned on the coffee pot and leaned back against the counter. She realized she didn’t have any pots or pans in the house, and she wouldn’t have any until tomorrow. The neighbors had brought her several desserts and foods for lunch and supper, but nothing for breakfast.

She had nothing to eat. She sighed and unplugged her phone from its charger. She typed up a text for Luke, thumb hovering over the send button. She didn’t want to be a burden, but… there was nothing for breakfast in the house, unless she wanted cookies or lasagna to start her day. Letting out a breath, she sent the text.

Aurora: Are you up?

Luke: Sure am. Whatcha need?

Aurora smiled softly before sending another message to the sheriff just down the road.

Aurora: Wanna come over for breakfast?

Aurora: You have to bring a pan though.

Luke: Lol how about I just bring breakfast?

Luke: Or you can come over here and I’ll make something?

Aurora: Really?

Luke: Of course. Told you to text if you needed anything, remember?

Aurora: Right. I’ll be over in a few.

Aurora: Thank you for this!

Luke: Don’t mention it

Aurora set her phone on the counter and turned off the coffee pot. She let the dogs inside and went upstairs to change out of her pajamas. Breakfast with a man she barely knew couldn’t be too bad. Maybe it would boost her real confidence instead of helping her learn to show her false confidence… if that was ever possible.

***

Luke Davidson’s house was much nicer than Aurora had ever imagined it could possibly be. It was well decorated, and the curtains were pulled back to fill the rooms with natural light.

“I didn’t do any of the decorating, if that’s what you’re thinking about,” Luke said, looking at her over his shoulder. “My mom did it,” he added.

Aurora laughed softly. “Well, either way, it’s lovely.”

He chuckled. “Thanks. I’ll be sure to tell my mom that. She’ll love you forever for the compliment.” She snorted. He smiled before clearing his throat. “So, when’s the moving van coming in?”

“Tomorrow,” Aurora said almost immediately.

“What a tragedy. No more impromptu breakfast dates.”

Aurora smiled. “Hey now, we can still have breakfast, if you ever wanna text me in the morning and ask me to make food.”

“Deal. Say, how’re you liking the neighborhood so far? Everything going okay?”

“I haven’t been out much so far, but it’s nice,” she said, nodding. “It’s a good place to run through with the dogs, too.”

“Definitely. Lots of trees and happy little birds.” Luke crossed the room, setting two plates down on the table. “Come. Sit,” he said as he pulled out a chair.

Aurora sat down. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He sat down across from her and took a drink of his coffee.

Aurora was the first to take a bite of the food the sheriff had made. “Oh, my God, Luke. This is amazing.”

He smiled. “Thanks. My dad was half Italian and learned to cook from his mother. Dad made a homemade meal every night, and I just kinda picked up a thing or two over the years,” he said. He took a bite, chewed, and swallowed before saying, “I noticed you applied for the dispatch job.”

“Yeah, yeah, I did. Fingers crossed for an interview,” she said. “It’d be one of the first things to go right in a long time,” she muttered.

“I’m sure you’ll do just fine, Aurora.”

She felt herself smile. His words felt reassuring, and she hadn’t had any sense of reassurance in a long time. It felt good, to say the least. “Thank you.”

***

“Thank you for breakfast, Luke. I really appreciate it,” Aurora said.

He smiled brightly, nodding once. “You’re welcome, Aurora. You can come over anytime you need something fresh or homemade. My door and kitchen are… always open if you need something,” he said.

“That’s incredible. You’re incredible. Thank you.” Luke nodded. She left Luke’s house and walked back to her own. The strangest thing, she figured, was that the front door was locked. It was locked, even though she knew she didn’t lock it before she left. She shook her head and headed for the garage door, but the doorknob held fast. She closed her eyes, let out a breath, and made her way to the large garage door. She bent down and opened it, ducking under the door before lowering it back to the ground. She squeezed through the space between her car and the wall and headed for the small set of stairs that led up to the door.

The door that connected the house to the garage wasn’t locked. She stepped into the house and headed for the front door. She unlocked it, a frown on her face. Hands on her hips, Aurora stared at the door for a moment. She didn’t remember locking the door, and she certainly didn’t remember locking the garage door. With a sigh, she headed up the stairs to go to her bedroom, deciding that she must have locked it. There was no other explanation for it. She assumed she had only been too tired to remember turning the lock that morning.

It was no big deal.

She headed upstairs and changed into her workout clothes. Like the previous morning, she took both dogs for a run. She figured all three of them could use a break from the house, forgotten locked doors or not.

***

Aurora’s eyes rested on her plain, boring reflection in the mirror above the bathroom sink. She couldn’t believe Luke was being nice to her. It obviously wasn’t because she was pretty. It wasn’t because she had large breasts or showed ample amounts of cleavage to everyone that happened to be around her at any given time.

Maybe he had a thing for pink hair or ear piercings. Maybe tattoos. She didn’t know. She hadn’t hung out around men enough to know what the hell went on in their heads, and she certainly hadn’t hung around Luke enough to have a clue what went on in his.

The bathroom door slammed shut.

Aurora’s gaze shifted to the door that had been open only seconds before. She rinsed off her toothbrush and dropped it back into the holder on the counter. She leaned down and rinsed out her mouth, doing her best to keep the door in her line of sight. She dried off her face and slowly walked to the door. Grasping the doorknob with a shaky hand, she yanked the door open.

Nothing.

Standing in the doorway, she realized that one of the doors in the dining room was open. She sighed in relief. The wind had blown the door shut. There was always a logical explanation for everything that could happen to a person. Shaking her head, she turned off the bathroom light, closed the door in the dining room, and headed upstairs for bed.


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