Eden was the first one inside Terra Café. She beelined to the coffee counter to place orders for two iced coffees.
“Aunty Eden!” a tiny voice called energetically while they waited for their coffees. The little girl’s raven hair was packed into two pigtails that bounced after her. She trotted to Eden with a lollipop stick shooting out between her lips.
“Thea!” Eden squatted and the girl plunged into her embrace. “How was your slumber party with Iris last night?”
“Err,” she shrugged an arm, “it was okay. Her dad snores, really loud,” she emphasised, eyes widened. Eden laughed and patted her head as she stood upright.
Thea cocked her head to get a better look at the person behind her aunt. She shifted dazzling honey eyes from Oliver to Eden, asking ‘who is going to go first?’ without moving her lips.
Eden got the probing look and glanced at Oliver before saying, “This is… my friend, Oliver.”
“Hello,” Oliver said to Thea who replied by rolling the lollipop over her tongue.
“My niece, Althea,” Eden proceeded with the introduction. “She is Makayla’s daughter.”
Thea slobbered the lollipop as she observed Oliver through narrowed eyes. She planted a hand on her waist and wrapped her lips around the lollipop again as she sucked it. She strolled to Oliver like she was about to give an assessment.
Oliver found it amusing that a girl who couldn’t be more than ten years old thought she could unbalance him with her stare. No doubt, Thea was quite intimidating. He’d have been tempted to take an unintentional step back as she approached him, but he wasn’t that guy. He had delivered speeches and addressed a thousand more intimidating and powerful people from all walks of life. A ten-year-old in a coffee shop at Red Hill will not make him squirm, he assured himself. Thea had a beautiful round face with caramel skin- Eden’s tone. The stare she gave him was like that of a father whose daughter brought home an unknown man and told him she wanted to marry him.
“Thea,” Eden chuckled falsely. “What are you doing?”
“Aunty Eden,” her eyes remained angled up at Oliver. “Is he your new boyfriend?”
Eden gasped flusteredly and Oliver’s saliva took the wrong channel.
“Althea!” Eden pulled her away from him as he coughed. “He is not my new boyfriend–
“Then he is your old boyfriend?” Thea pulled out the lollipop, making a pop sound and drew in air through her mouth. “You were cheating too?” She thrust the stick sweet at her aunt’s face.
“No!” Eden covered her mouth and faked a laugh when she saw Oliver’s flushed cheeks. “My niece, she has a big mouth.” She dropped another sheepish giggle. “Thea, be a proper lady.” She pointed a warning finger at her, then took the stick sweet from her fingers and stuffed it in Thea’s mouth. That should stop her from talking.
Thea took out the lollipop again and faced Oliver. “Although your identity has not been confirmed, I will act like a proper lady because my aunt told me to and I always listen to two people, her and my mom.” She brought down her tone and stood at attention. “My name is Althea Johnson,” she declared. “I am eight years old. Nice to meet you.” She shot out her right hand for a handshake.
Oliver’s eyes dropped on the dainty fingers and his lips widened in a smile. This was one hand he wished he could take, yet he would prefer not to know how the little girl’s life would end. Cautiously, he pulled his hoodie’s sleeve to the tip of his fingers and took her hand. “My name is Oliver.”
“My hands are clean,” she fluttered her fingers. “I wash them before and after I eat and before and after I go to the ladies and at least three other times a day,” Thea stated.
Even though he didn’t need to hear that information, he understood why she divulged them. “That’s not… that’s not the reason for this.” He jiggled his hoodie-clad hand.
“Why then?” she asked curiously.
He folded his lips and turned to Eden for help. “Thea, you know how you don’t like vegetables?” She said, squatting in front of her.
“Yes.” An invisible question mark hung behind her answer.
“Do you have a reason for not liking it?”
“No,” she shrugged. “I just don’t like it.”
“Well, touching people is like that for Oliver.”
Thea shifted his gaze to Oliver and back at Eden, not getting why and how that was the same as her aversion to vegetables.
“Your orders.” A female barista placed two mugs on the counter before them.
“Where is Makayla?” Eden asked her.
“She went to the store to buy a few things,” the barista responded as Oliver paid. “Thea, I want to talk with Oliver. I will see you later, okay?”
“Okay,” she nodded and skipped away.
Eden’s favourite seat by the window was unoccupied. Both coffee trays balanced on Oliver’s hand, they weaved through tables and chairs to their spot.
He lowered the trays on the table and his gaze drifted to Thea as he took his seat. She met his eyes and gestured as she mouthed, “I have my eyes on you,” at him. He snorted, wondering why all the female Johnsons disliked him.
They each took their mug and sipped their drinks. While Oliver kept observing Eden, she had her gaze everywhere else but on him. He had to admit to himself that he wanted to be in her life. He had the strange idea that she was connected to him somehow. She had to be. Why else would she be the only one he couldn’t see her death vision? It made no sense at all. It raised his curiosity. Besides, Eden wasn’t a bad company. She was stunning- looked like trouble, but still very beautiful and interesting- a terrible driver too. He found himself chuckling inwardly as he remembered the night she drove like a possessed being to save her Granny Wess. He needs to tell her something if he wants to stay in her life. Otherwise, Eden wouldn’t let him in. He needed to give her something. He has never shared what led to his ability with anyone before. He merely told Niles he could see how people would die and never told him what triggered the strange ability. He would tell Eden one day. Not today and definitely not now.
“I had an,” he paused, “incident when I was twelve years old. After that, I woke up at the hospital and realised I could see the moment of people’s death. I felt a hand on my arm before I opened my eyes after I became conscious. Then, I had these flashed,” he waved his hand across his eyes, “these images, vision. At first, I couldn’t figure out what they meant. I thought I was dreaming. When I opened my eyes, I saw the same nurse I saw in my dream. In my dream, she committed suicide. She was alive, so I figured it was merely a dream. Roughly two weeks later, I was still at the hospital when I heard other nurses whispering that she had committed suicide, exactly the way I saw it happen.” He rubbed his nose and sniffed. “Of course, before that, I had noticed that when my body comes in contact with another person, I see images in my head. Initially, they were in blurry pieces, later they became clearer.”
Eden tried her best to listen. It was hard to remain levelheaded and not call him crazy. However, after what she witnessed a few days ago, she was compelled to believe him. As insane as it sounded. “How does it feel when you see it? The images… death visions.”
Oliver rubbed his chin, thoughtfully. “It is always like a vision or like I am remembering a scene from a movie or a memory that I was pulled into. I become this invisible third party at the scene of the death and I see everything at that moment.”
“Like seeing the future?”
He laughed. “No. I can’t see beyond the place of the person’s death. For instance, if a person was supposed to die in this café. What I will see is the person dying here. Meanwhile, he could have been poisoned from outside or someone had previously hit his head. I don’t see beyond that single frame of the last few minutes before the person dies. I call it visionscape.” It was his ability, so he had the licence to name anything related to it.
Eden couldn’t begin to imagine how traumatic it must have been for him. “And you’ve had the ability consistently for almost twenty years?”
“Yep.” He took another swing at his coffee. “Nobody believed me when it started. I spent months— my parents spent months moving me from one hospital to the other. I took scans and MRIs every week. Because of the events leading up to my stay at the hospital, they believed I was suffering from PTSD. Eventually, I lied and told them I couldn’t see anything again. I just wanted the tests to stop.”
“What event? Why were you in the hospital?”
He folded his lips and grunted softly like he was trying not to show he was hurt. He looked up with a smile. “Can I tell you that later? I don’t think I am ready to talk about that now.”
Eden looked into his brown eyes- she had not bothered to observe them before- and saw a glint of sadness behind them. “Okay.” She nodded and slurped her coffee. She noticed the discreet scar on his left brow and once again wondered how he got it. It was an old scar. She didn’t want to pry in case it had anything to do with the incident Oliver didn’t want to share. There was quietness around them for a few seconds except for the buzzing in the café, then she asked, “How have you been coping with it? Hiding that ability wouldn’t have been easy for a public figure like you.”
He chuckled and leaned back. “It is not. I wear long sleeves even in hot weather.” He tugged his hoodie. “Hiding my hands in pockets has long become a habit. I avoid crowded places like plague and try not to shake people’s hands. When I absolutely need to, especially at an official function, I take a deep breath, clench my teeth and do it once.” He giggled and slurped his coffee. “Hum,” he swallowed and placed the mug back on the table, “one time, during the grand opening of our Scientific Division in Japan, I shook so many people’s hands I threw up. There was also a time when I went to Berlin to launch some of our new products. Immediately I entered my car, I passed out from mental overload.” He chuckled as though he was reminiscing about good times. “The ability comes in handy sometimes. If I know a potential business partner is about to die, I could discontinue partnership to avoid unnecessary loss or liability or failure of performance due to circumstances beyond their control,” he made a quotation mark in the air and laughed.
Nothing about what he said was funny, but he was smiling nevertheless. She knew his smiles and laughs were coping mechanisms and ways not to draw unwanted attention to himself. “This isn’t funny. Clearly, using your ability takes a physical toll on you when you use it for an extended time.”
Was that worry he sensed in her voice? “It does,” he affirmed. “But I have learnt to live with it. It’s been almost twenty years, it is normal I do.”
How could she live without physical contact? Eden faced the direction of Thea’s giggles. She was prattling with Kenya, the café librarian. Eden couldn’t think of a world where she wouldn’t be able to hold her niece. She was there when Thea was born. She held her before her parents did. She wouldn’t have been able to do that if she had Oliver’s ability. Human physical connection and touch were basic needs inherent in every human. How was he coping without it? “Do you have to touch only with your hand? Or any part of your body is just as… sensitive.”
“Any part of my body, but my hands are the touchiest and most responsive.” He flexed his fingers.
“What about relationships?”
Oliver snorted. “How can I stay in a relationship with a lady when I can’t even pull her aside from an oncoming bike?” That happened in his first relationship. “I have been in a few, none lasted more than a month. Inability to make physical contact is guaranteed to shove a relationship down a rocky path,” he said flippantly. “It never ends well.”
She guessed that solidified his sexual status. Why was she thinking about that now?! “And you have never been able to save anyone you saw their deaths?”
“Nope, not one. Not even my father.”
“Oh,” Eden shifted her arm on the table. “I am sorry,” she said softly.
“It’s okay,” he said dismissively.
“But why can’t you see when I will die?” she asked after a short pause.
“I don’t know.” He placed his right palm on the table and walked his fingers to Eden’s hand.
Eden looked up and saw him grinning. She faked a grin in response and slid to the edge of her seat. “I think I should give you a fair warning, so listen very closely. I didn’t always want to be a veterinary doctor, I wanted to be a psychologist. However, to get the degree I had to take a psych evaluation test. Do you know what the test result said?” She leaned into Oliver. “It said I have a 70 per cent chance of being a sociopath.”
Oliver’s brow snapped at attention.
“When I have that tendency, do you think I can still be a psychologist?” It was meant to be a rhetorical question, but Oliver shook his head slowly. “Exactly. Hence, the alternate line of profession. So, when you do things such as touching me without permission, it unsettles the lid I keep on my sociopathic side,” she said in a low threatening voice. “Do you get the gist?” Her gaze fell on Oliver’s hand resting on hers.
He swallowed and lifted his hands off. He wondered if she was merely pulling his legs or if she was serious. He studied her stern gaze and concluded he didn’t want to find out.
“You saved Granny Wess,” Eden continued in a normal tone like the last minute didn’t happen. “She was supposed to die three days ago. Told you fate can be changed. We did it.”
“Did we, really?” he arched his brow.
Eden could have sworn she heard a foreboding theme playing in her head after Oliver’s last statement. “What do you mean?”
Oliver searched around for aid. When we couldn’t find any, he brought out his pen and spilt a pint-sized of his coffee on the table. “This coffee,” he pointed his pen at the coffee which had begun to flow, “is the normal event that should happen. Call it fate, if you will. Now, this pen is an unprecedented element that was introduced, like how you saved your Granny’s life on Wednesday.” He smacked down the pen on the path of the coffee pool, cutting off its flow. “Because of this new element, we now have potentially a thousand other possibilities. Possibilities that were not supposed to exist.”
He saw Eden staring at him as he spoke. He tapped the table, telling her that was where her eyes should be. The coffee had found its way, flowing down its initial course from each side of the pen and under it.
“The question is what the outcome of that change will be,” Oliver went on. “New possibilities that will lead to new paths?” He pointed to coffee streaming from both sides of the pen on the table. “Or did we just postpone the inevitable?” He pointed at the coffee slipping from under the pen. “Take your Granny for instance. There are lives she wasn’t supposed to cross paths or interact with that she will affect now that she is alive. Let’s say, she wasn’t supposed to take her clothes to the dry cleaner because well, she was supposed to be dead. She’s alive now, so why not?” he gestured. “She took her clothes to the dry-cleaner and while the dry-cleaner was doing his thing, he slipped, hit his head and died.”
“Jesus!” Eden flinched.
“Hold on,” he raised a finger. “Now that she is alive, she has dementia- an illness that probably wouldn’t have been discovered if she had died like she was supposed to. Let’s say during one of her forgetting episodes, she ran out of the house. An innocent driver wanted to avoid running her over and while trying to do that, he hit another passer-by or he had an accident himself.”
“Oh my God, stop.” She rubbed her arms. “It is so messed up that you think like that. Damn, you are so grim and dark.”
“Try seeing one million ways people could die for twenty years, see if you won’t be dark.” He picked two folds of tissue stacked on the table and mopped the coffee pool as he mumbled. “I should contact the director of Final Destination. They can start a whole new Final Destination franchise based on my visions.”
“All you have stated are the possible bad outcomes. There could also be good ones. You know, people that she can help now that she is alive.”
“I am not saying it will be all bad.” He wiped coffee off his pen and pocketed it. “I only listed likely worst-case scenarios. If you block the course of water, two things will happen. One, the water finds another path to sweep through. Two, the water overflows without an outlet and bursts through. When number one happens,” he raised his left index finger, “are the new paths good or bad? When number two happens,” he raised his second finger, “will the overflow cause a greater and more disastrous outcome than the original course?” Eden was staring at him as she listened as though she was watching a slasher movie. “Of course, these are just hypotheses.” He relaxed his back on his seat and released a sigh. “I have not been able to save anyone, so I don’t know what will happen now.”
Eden tapped her coffee mug, thoughtfully. She decided not to give herself a splitting headache trying to think about outcomes and whatnot. Granny Wess was alive and that was okay with her for now. She would keep an eye on her anyway. A man that could see how people would die upon physical contact? God, she had seen it all. She was by her grandma’s side when she died. Though she was old and she died in a way people would refer to as peaceful, it was still hard to watch. How difficult simple daily activities like going to the mall or cinema would have been for him? Oliver wearing suits and long sleeves in summer made sense now. At the slightest brush with someone— A memory rammed into Eden which made her freeze. “You touched Lessie,” she said. “Did you…?”
He replied with a nod.
“You know when she will die?” He kept a straight face. “When?”
He groaned. “I don’t think you want to know and I don’t think I should tell you.”
“Why?” She could tell it was bad from his reluctance. Something was wrong. “Tell me.” He tightened his lips and looked away. “Oliver,” she tapped the table, “tell me, when will she die?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come up with a better lie.”
He looked sideways and back to her. “What is the point of knowing?” he whispered. “It will not do you any good.”
“Who said it wouldn’t? We can prevent it—
“I have told you, we can’t—
“We already stopped one.
“Are you going to start playing God now? Try to save everyone?
She narrowed her eyes at him.
He shifted to the edge of his seat, spacing his words as he spoke, “Even if you prevent it, everybody dies eventually. What do I plan to do? Stop every death? It is useless,” he emphasised.
“How can you say that when we saved someone already?”
“Cause and effect. We still don’t know what will happen by tampering with what was supposed to happen.”
That was it! She blew a gasket. “Oliver!” she banged the table causing him to jerk on his chair. “Tell me.”
“Geez, watch the temper,” he muttered.
“Tell me,” she repeated through clenched teeth.
“Fine,” he tossed his hands up. “Friday by 9:15 a.m.”
“Friday? Which Friday? This Friday?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“This Friday?” she asked again, her voice higher than the first time she asked.
“Yes,” he affirmed.
Eden’s jaw dropped as she widened her eyes. “Lessie,” she said under her breath. She was her closest friend, she couldn’t lose her. And she was expecting a child. “How?”
“At a train station. I think she was- will be pushed in front of a moving train while waiting at a train station.”
“She will be murdered?”
“No, I don’t think the person knows–” Darn it! Tense usage was always confusing when he talked about death visions. “I don’t think the person will know. I didn’t get to see enough because I withdrew my hands almost immediately but I think two people were arguing and it got out of hand. One of them pushed the other and he tripped to where your friend was. She fell on the train track and couldn’t get out before an oncoming train got to her.”
Eden’s heart constricted painfully. She rubbed it as she tried to take slow breaths. Cold sweat trickled down her back in the heat of the day, and then something else dropped into her mind. “Wait, that can’t be right. Lessie’s husband drops her at work every morning, every day. She is in her third trimester and he is very protective of Lessie. He doesn’t let her go anywhere without driving her there and she arrives at work at exactly 8 a.m.”
“She was alone in my vision,” Oliver said.
“What was she wearing?”
“A yellow sweater. Turtleneck.”
“A sweater? In summer,” she gestured to the sun rays beaming inside the café.
“That was what I saw.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Eden said, deep in thought. “Why will she be there? Wearing a sweater in summer.”
While she muttered to herself, drawing circles in her head to make sense of all she had heard, Oliver finished his coffee. “I must take my leave. I have to be in India by tomorrow morning.”
He rose to his feet. “I must leave now if I intend to catch my 6 p.m. flight,” he said as he glanced at his watch.
“Business?” She stood up.
“A partnership demands my physical attention.”
“When will you be back?”
Oliver cocked his head with a crooked smile. “Missing me already?”
She rolled her eyes and stepped away from the table. “Forget I asked.”
He took her hands without warning. “I will be back by Thursday.” He circled his thumbs over Eden’s wrists as he spoke. “If I finish late, then Friday,” he punctuated his words by kissing her knuckles.
Eden frowned to hide the smile hovering beneath her cheeks and slowly pulled her hands away from his. “You are trying to read me again, aren’t you?”
“Can you blame me?” he asked with a playful smile. “I want to keep touching you. I like the blankness.”
She chuckled. “Be careful not to say that outside, people will think you are a perv.”
“But you don’t think I am, so that is fine.”
She snorted. “No, I still think you are.”
“What was that?”
“Have a nice flight.” She turned him toward the exit before he could reply and waved when he looked back at her.
Stray barked, all four paws leaping off the floor in excitement as she saw Oliver descend the stairs.
“Stray, I just showered,” he giggled as he got to the foot of the stairs. Despite his constant battle with sniffles and a runny nose, he had to confess that the puppy was making him addicted to her cuteness. “I can’t get fur on my body again.” His pace faltered as he tried not to step on his well-fed and fast-gaining weight pooch. He placed his jacket on the kitchen island and brought out a bottle of water from the refrigerator. Stray waited until he finished guzzling and then made another attempt to get his attention. She whimpered and nuzzled Oliver’s shoe. “I’ve gotta work to feed you, otherwise you will end up on the street,” he told her. “Those chicken and grains don’t come cheap.”
Stray angled her head and swiped her tongue across her snout as she wagged her tail.
“Mrs Brooks will feed you when she gets here.” He gave her a gentle pat on the head. “I have to go to work, hum?” He picked up his phone and jacket and then headed to the door. Halfway there, he heard the electronic lock beeping as someone punched in the unlock code. His pace dropped as he expected Mrs Brooks to enter. She is early, he thought.
The door opened and Niles walked in.
Oliver blinked at him. “What are you doing here?”
“You are back from India, yay,” he slurred as he dragged himself and two travelling bags inside.
Oliver’s eyes dropped to the bags. “What are those?” He shot a finger at them.
Niles plodded past him to the living room.
“What are the bags for?” he asked again, following Niles back to the living room.
“I ran away from home,” he answered and sank into the sofa.
“What?” he asked, arching his right brow. “You ran away from home? At your age?”
“I’m not supposed to be living with my father at my age anyway.”
“Then move out and get your place. Why did you come here?”
“I don’t want to leave alone,” he grumbled. “I will be lonely,” he made a pouty face at his friend.
Oliver stared at him for two seconds, his right brow arched. “Get out,” he said blankly.
Niles frowned. “Where should I go?”
“Back home or go to a hotel, I don’t care,” he gestured with a shrug.
“This is what I get for being your friend for ten years?” he scoffed, sulking on the sofa. “I just need a place to bunk in for a while.”
Oliver rubbed his forehead as he dragged in a long breath. “Why did you run away from home?”
Having been waiting for him to ask that question, Niles sat up eagerly and began. “Do you remember the lady I told has a bakery on my street?”
According to Niles, the lady always used an eyeliner that made her as beautiful as Cleopatra. Oliver knew it was because Niles didn’t know her name and was too shy to ask her. “What about her?”
“You know how you suggested I talk to her?” Oliver nodded. “Well, I did.” Niles sniffed and locked his face like he was about to cry.
“What did she say?” He couldn’t wait for the explanation to be over, but he had to indulge his friend.
“She said she likes someone else,” he snivelled.
“At exactly that time, the person walked past.”
“So? Who is he?” He urged, waiting for the part that brought Niles to his house on a Friday morning, looking like he had his cookies stolen.
“Mr Jenkins,” he cried out, rolling on the sofa.
Oliver squeezed his face at him. A grown man writhing and whimpering like four years old on the sofa was not a sight he found interesting. “Mr Jenkins? Your father?”
Niles intensified his cry. Stray whimpered and exchanged looks with Oliver.
“She even asked for his number,” Niles sniffed.
“Oh.” That would hurt anybody. Oliver patted his shoulder, laughing silently at the scenario. Niles’s parents were divorced and his father had more dating history than Niles and Oliver combined.
“I am not dating again,” he declared. “I am going to dedicate my entire life to work and making money. More money than my father.”
“Hum, nothing motivates like a lady telling you her type is your father.” He patted his friend’s arm. “I understand,” he said as he stifled his chuckle. “But to make that money you need to go to work first.” The tip of his pinky fell below Niles’s short-sleeved shirt and he saw a vision of Niles’s death; like he had several times. It helped that he would die at a very old age with two women- probably his granddaughters, judging from the striking resemblance- by his side, sobbing.
Niles stood up and picked up his phone. “Let’s go! I have nothing but work going on for me right now. Give me your car key, I will be your driver.”
“Oh good, wonderful decision.” Oliver hurriedly gave him the car key. “I will sit at the back. I need to go over some documents.”
“Let’s go, boss!” Niles marched to the door.
Oliver shook his head, laughing at Niles as he followed him to the door.
“Thank you, Dr Johnson,” a man clutching a bulldog said as he walked towards the clinic’s exit
“Bye,” Eden waved and watched the man step out before turning to Rodney. “Lessie is not here yet?”
“Yes, she is not,” Rodney answered, taking inventory of the shelves.
She checked the wall clock, it was 8:30 in the morning.
“She must be running late today,” Rodney said.
“I guess so.” She glanced at the street through the windowpane. “She is never late,” she said to herself and walked towards the back door.
“Call her,” Rodney suggested.
“Yeah.” She went to her office and dialled Lessie’s number. She put the phone on speaker and placed it beside the sink when it began to ring while she washed her hands.
“Hello,” Lessie’s voice came on the line.
“Where are you?”
“Sorry, I’m late. I am just leaving home. I wanted to call—
Lessie’s voice sounded clogged. “Are you okay? What’s up with your voice?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Woke up with a cold.”
“Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?”
“I have an appointment this evening. I will go after work.”
She heard a bike roar under Lessie’s voice. “Are you outside?” she asked, rinsing her hand.
“Yes. I am going to the train station.”
The words ‘train station’ ploughed into her ears, causing her hands to stop under the running tap. The last few days had been jammed with work that she forgot it was Friday already. The day Lessie would die according to Oliver’s vision. How could she let that slip through her mind? “Where did you say you are going to?”
“The train station.”
“What do you mean why? To come to work of course.”
Without another word, Eden hurriedly rinsed her hands and mopped them with a towel, then grabbed her phone and pressed it to her ear. “Where is Ian?” Ian was Lessie’s husband and he always dropped her at work.
“He travelled to Meadowville yesterday with his boss for a meeting with one of their clients. He was supposed to come back last night, but the meeting ended late. He will be back this morning.”
“Why don’t you wait for him? Don’t take a train.”
Lessie laughed. “Did he call you? You’re repeating the same thing he said. I will be there soon, it is no big deal”
“Lessie, erm,” Eden nimble on her fingernails. “Lessie…” she stammered, unsure of how to tell her she would probably die if she went to the train station. She couldn’t bear it if anything happened to Lessie. She was her friend and she had very few of those. They saved a young girl from a drunken man seven years ago while they were at university. Lessie had gone soft now, but back then she was a total kick-ass which was why they clicked immediately.
“Are you by any chance wearing a sweater?”
“Huh, how did you know that? Sun is shining but I have chills. How did you know I am wearing a sweater?”
Okay, Eden was starting to panic. “Lessie, go back home.”
“Nah, I will be bored at home,” she grumbled and sniffed.
“You don’t need to come to work today. Just go back home and stay there.”
Lessie laughed. “What is wrong with you this morning? You are even more protective than my husband. I am about ten minutes away from the station. I will be at work soon—
Eden squeezed her eyes and exhaled. “Go home.”
“Exactly why should I do that?” Lessie stressed.
Damn it! She wished she could just tell her. Even if she did, Lessie wouldn’t believe her. Who would? She wouldn’t even believe herself. “Or take a cab.”
“I will have to take about three cabs to get to work. Subway is easier. It will take me straight to Mozuro that’s less than two minutes’ walk from the clinic.”
Eden groaned. “Then go back home. You said you are sick. Go home and rest.”
“Eden Johnson, stop nagging. I will see you soon, bye.” She ended the call.
“Less- Lessie!” She looked at her phone, “Damn it.” She dug her nails in her hair, pacing around her office frantically. Then, she shrugged off her overall and dashed out of the office. She ignored Rodney’s questions and darted into the morning sun. Outside, she realised she didn’t know which subway Lessie would take. She called her number again but she wouldn’t pick up her phone. “Lessie,” she grunted, stamping her foot on the ground as the fourth call went to voicemail.
“Yes!” She had an idea. Oliver saw her die, he should know where it will happen. She was about to start searching her contacts for his phone number when she remembered she didn’t have it. She thought of going to his office and stopped. Even if he was back from India, it would be too late to get to Lessie. She bit her lips, hitting her head and pacing.
As she pranced on the pavement outside her clinic, a car parked beside her. She could care less about that. Then she heard a familiar voice. “Eden.”
She turned toward the voice. “Oliver?” Damn! It’s good to be rich. She didn’t know it was him because he was in a different car, a glistening black Bentley Continental. Focusing on what was important, she perked up and dashed to the car. She opened the back-seat door and ducked in, loving the texture of the nude interior under her butt.
“What- what are you—” Oliver fumbled with words, shifting to the other side of the seat as Eden entered and shut the door.
“Drive,” she ordered Niles.
He arched a brow at her. “Excuse me? I’m not your driver.”
“But you are his,” she pointed at Oliver, “so please drive.”
“I am also not his driver.”
“Which train station did Lessie die at?” Eden asked Oliver.
It took Oliver a second to process the question. “Right, today is Friday.”
“Which train station?!” she screamed impatiently, slapping the front seat headrest.
Niles and Oliver flinched.
“16th street subway, jezz,” Oliver answered.
“16th street?” she repeated quietly.
“Close to Rousa Avenue.”
She knew Rousa avenue, that was good enough. “Drive,” she told Niles.
Niles curled his lips and repeated, “I am not a driver.”
“You said you were a few minutes ago,” Oliver reminded him.
Niles threw him a side-eye and ignored his statement. “You can’t tell me to drive,” he told Eden.
“Will you get down and let me drive then?” she asked with a stern look.
“I have to get to work,” Oliver said to her.
She whipped her face at him. “My friend’s life is at stake and you are talking about work?”
Okay, that made him look like a douchebag. “You can’t stop it.”
“We saved one person, we can save another. She is pregnant,” Eden’s voice shook. She didn’t have time for this back and forth. She got out of the car.
Niles looked over his seat to Oliver and asked. “Is that the doctor?”
“Yea,” he answered, though his eyes followed Eden as she power-walked around the car to the driver seat.
She opened the door. “Get down, please. I don’t have time.”
Niles scoffed. “This is not your car,” he pointed out.
“It is not yours either.”
Niles’s jaw dropped.
“I don’t mind sitting on you to drive this car but I need to,” she said, desperation etched on her face.
Oliver tapped Niles and suggested, “You better move to the passenger seat.”
The determination in Eden’s eyes was unwavering. Niles moved to the front passenger seat and Eden took the driver’s seat.
Calling to mind the last time she drove him, Oliver blanched. “Oh God,” he groaned and fastened his seatbelt as she started the engine. “You better buckle up,” he told Niles, before Eden zoomed off without warning.
Thank you for reading. Will Eden be once again able to change fate and save her friend? Join me next week Saturday to find out.