The following morning Anna was sleeping so soundly it took the phone ringing off the hook to wake her.
She pulled herself to a sitting position on the couch and looked around, spotting a note on the coffee table.
Had to go help my dad this morning, you looked so peaceful
I didn't want to wake you. Be back soon- Love you-
The phone started ringing again and she hurried to get it.
"Anna! You have to do something!" Jenna sounded frantic.
"Why! What’s going on?"
"Jess is saying that she isn't coming, she is being absolutely ridiculous! She doesn't want to leave Nate for a month, blah blah, I swear I'm going to kill her!"
Anna took a deep breath and let it out slow. "Is she right there?"
"Yeah, but she won't take the phone. Marina is here, and neither of us can talk sense into her. I figure you can at least play the guilt card since you paid for NON-REFUNDABLE tickets…”
Anna heard mumbling in the background.
“She says she’ll pay you back,” Jenna stated sarcastically.
Anna considered her friend and sighed heavily. "Jenna, I'm afraid we might have to let this go.”
"Every time we have ever forced Jess to go somewhere we've ended up regretting it, every single time. She'll be miserable. She'll spend the entire time holed up in the rooms of the hotels texting him-which I kind of thought she would be doing anyway-though at least if she wanted to come she might have enjoyed some things. If she doesn't want to be there she'll cry every night and constantly worry about what he's doing, where he is, and who he's with. She's your sister Jenna, you know I'm right."
"I don't CARE if you're right, this is so freakin' stupid! If she doesn't go, I am not speaking to her for the rest of her life!"
Anna coughed out a laugh at that dramatic statement. She could tell Jenna was holding the phone away from her, but she could still hear what she was saying. She went upstairs to gather her things together listening to the background conversation.
"Don't talk to her like she's a baby Mar, she doesn't deserve to be coddled! Jess, you are going with us, do you hear me? No! That is not acceptable, stop crying! He will still be here in a month. Like I said, if you two are meant to be than....Oh my GOD, do you seriously think that whether or not you go will make any difference? Whatever, I'm done. Stay here, without your friends, we'll be sure to fill you in on all the fun we're having, all the cool things we see, but believe me when I say that if you call me at any point whining about him I will hang up on you!"
"Yeah, I'm here," Anna pinned the phone between her shoulder and ear so she could carry the rest of her bags into the back porch.
"I've decided you're right. I'll have a better time without her anyway, the whole image of her crying and texting him non-stop makes me nauseous. I'd probably end up pushing her out the window of the Eiffel Tower."
Anna laughed. "Yup. Don't worry, we're going to have a great time. It's her loss. Of course if she was in the right frame of mind she would've been great to have with us, but like this....not so much."
"Okay, I'm getting my bags together now. Mar and I will be at your house in half an hour."
"Cool. Chow." She hung up the phone and made a face. Jess could be so short-sighted. The chances of her and Nate lasting were slim to none and she was really going to regret missing out on this. But...that was her mistake to make, she'd have to live with it and hopefully learn from it. The phone rang again and she answered half expecting it to be Jenna saying Jess had changed her mind.
"Anna?" Holly's voice sounded a little shaky.
"Holly, what's wrong?" Anna squeezed the phone tighter.
"My dad went to the hospital last night, and…there's something wrong with his heart…I'm sorry Anna, I'm not going to be able to leave today," she sniffled.
"Oh no! Will he be okay?"
"I think so, they're talking about surgery but they said it was fairly minor. Just a little scary for me, and I don't want to leave mom right now."
"Of course! We'll postpone...
"No! Please don't do that, I would hate for you guys to do that. I know the tickets are non-refundable. I'm thinking that if everything turns out okay then I can meet you guys wherever you are at the time."
Anna frowned as she considered her friend. She knew Holly really would be upset if they didn't go, but she felt guilty at the thought of leaving her. "Holly I really want us to wait. A few days or a week won't matter and you know I don't care about the money.....
"Anna, I seriously do NOT want you to. I'll be spending all my time with mom or at the hospital, please I'm asking you not to," she insisted.
Anna sighed. "Okay, but please keep us updated and when you can come I'll take care of the ticket, no arguments. Jess isn't going either, so she’ll be here if you need her."
"What? Why, what happened?"
"Nothing to be alarmed about, believe me," Anna snorted. "She doesn't want to leave Nate, and you know how she gets and if we force her to go..." she trailed off, figuring she didn't need to finish.
Holly was silent for a few seconds, and Anna could picture her shaking her head.
"Well, maybe if I'm able to meet you she'll have changed her mind and she can come with me."
"That's an idea."
"Okay. Well, I'll let you get ready, and don't worry about me, I want you guys to have fun! I promise to keep you informed. As long as he comes home and everything is going well, I'll meet you, so...take lots of pictures, and would you mind telling everyone else for me?"
"Of course. We'll really miss you Holly."
"Thanks. I have to go, but I'll talk to you soon, okay?"
Anna pressed end and stared at the phone. From six to four in less than an hour. Hopefully nothing else happens, or I'm going to start wondering if our plane is going down, she thought morbidly.
Macey walked in the back door a minute later grinning from ear to ear. "Are you ready to go to Europe or what!"
She looked so deliriously happy Anna almost didn't want to fill her in.
Macey’s eyes narrowed a little, noting the look on her face. "Uh oh, what's wrong?"
She told her about Holly first, for which she was properly concerned, and then about Jess.
"No! That is so stupid!"
"I know, but like I keep saying, she'll be miserable if we force her. Anyway, she can keep Holly company now, so maybe it'll work out for the best."
"True...oh well, the four of us will still have a blast! I wonder if we'll meet up with Rudolph and Julien!"
Anna smiled. “That would be fun.” Rudolph and Julien were two extremely hot French exchange students who had gone to their school a couple of years before. Macey and Marina kept in contact with them via email.
Anna heard Austin’s SUV pull up the driveway and her heart did a little lurch. Where the hell did that come from? The girls pulled up right behind him and she didn't have time to examine it. She met them in the driveway and filled them in on Holly.
“You’re sure we shouldn’t wait for her?” Jenna asked when she’d finished.
Anna frowned, “No I’m not sure, I wanted to but she made a huge point of saying she’d be upset if we didn’t go.”
“That sucks,” Marina made a face, “poor Holly.”
They loaded their bags into Austin’s car and discussed Jess’s foolishness.
"Have you talked to Nate today?" Jenna asked Austin.
“No, but I'm sure he wouldn't want Jess to miss out on this, he's not like that."
"I know, I was just wondering if he thinks she's as stupid as we do."
"Okay, enough with the Jess bashing. It occurs to me that none of us truly understands how she feels," Anna pointed out. After all, none of the rest of them had been fully intimate with a guy.
Jenna rolled her eyes but said no more.
Austin shut the hatch and turned to them. "Time to roll." He hoisted Anna up into the passenger seat and the girls climbed in back. They spent the hour long drive to the airport talking excitedly and before they knew it they were checking in their luggage.
Anna wrapped her arms around Austin and felt the little heart thing again. Whoa, was she going to cry? Yup. She choked up a little and he lifted her chin.
"Hey, don't do that." He hugged her tightly and she let a stream of silent tears get soaked up in his shirt. Her shoulders were shaking slightly, and unfortunately the girls noticed.
"Oh no, please don't tell me Anna doesn't want to leave Aussie now," Marina sounded put out.
She pulled away from him and stuck her tongue out at her friend. "Don't be a jerk I'm just going to miss him a little."
"A little, huh?" Austin raised his brows.
"Okay, maybe a little more than a little." Although what she actually thought her tears were about was something different. Like everything might have changed by the next time she saw him.
She leaned up to kiss him and froze as she caught a glimpse of black eyes over his shoulder. For a second she thought it was the same guy as the last time then noticed he was much thinner. Her mouth went dry and she tore her gaze from him, refocusing on Austin who was looking at her strangely. He didn't ask what was wrong, which told her he had guessed. She inwardly thanked him for being sensitive enough not to draw attention to it.
She drew in a breath and shut her eyes briefly "turning it off", and when she looked again the guy was normal. Or appeared that way.
Austin hugged her to his chest and whispered, "Seeing them?"
She nodded. "But he's walking away," she whispered back.
She discreetly pointed to her eyes. He got it.
He wanted her to point him out. She wasn't sure if that was such a good idea, the guy (thing) might realize or at least suspect that they knew and...what? She didn't want to find out. She shook her head, "I don't want him to know I know."
"What are you guys whispering about?" Jenna cut in.
They both shook their heads, and Jenna rolled her eyes at them. "Probably don't want to know."
They nodded in unison and the girls laughed.
Anna looked around, but he’d disappeared into the crowd of people. She prayed he would not be on their flight-that would be a nerve wracking fifteen hours.
The girls suggested they wander around until it was time to board, so she tucked herself into Austin's side and strolled.
It felt like seconds later it was time for them to go. She and Austin shared a long kiss goodbye while the girls teased them, and then they were on the plane, in the air, watching New York disappear beneath them.
To be continued...
The Allies of Old:
Reborn, Available Now on Amazon.com
Thank you for reading the first five chapters of my book. Reborn is the first of a five part series called 'The Allies of Old'. I hope you enjoyed this work so far, and I can't wait to bring you Book 2- Renewal! (Coming Spring/Summer 2019)