CHAPTER 41 - Of a Forest (Part I)

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Author's note: A little heads up for the chapter, before you call Eleni dumb or something. She has been an orphan and an abandoned child. She has extreme trust issues and she gets panic attacks. Being awfully insecure of herself, she constantly expects something bad to happen to her. And it usually does happen as we all know. But she will get better soon, with a little help. Also, coming up is the longest chapter so far. And this one's dedicated to my favourite writer buddy! ❤

~Happy Reading❤💫~

***

"You think we lost them?" I asked, after we finally stopped to catch our breaths.

Ralph nodded, tight-lipped, stopping a little ahead of me.

Swallowing hard, I took in his face. He was tensed, still reeling from the aftereffects of the disastrous confrontation with the Chief. I shuddered to even think how he might react when he becomes aware of the fact that the woman, he lived with all his life was the actual reason he grew up fatherless? The answer that he was looking for was actually in his own house.

"Ralph, please say something," I said in a low voice.

He turned to look at me, eyes blazing, "What's there to say, Eleni? Why did I listen to you? I wanted to talk to that woman but I am here. And I am damn scared of you, you know, and all the new surprises you're bringing in with you. I don't know anymore, what am I even doing!"

His words stung like salt rubbed on all my wounds. With a leaden dread in my stomach, I watched him turn around and walk away with long strides. Ralph's departing figure moved into a denser part of the foliage of trees. Gone. He was gone.

"I'm sorry." I whispered a little too late. My legs rooted to the spot and knees gave away as fear settled into me. Ralph was gone.

He was leaving me alone here, having being done with all the chaos of my life. I was suddenly more scared than ever, as my gaze halted, where Ralph had disappeared. I hugged myself tight.

I was alone. Again. My hands shook violently. The forest seemed to close up on me, but I didn't blame him. I would abandon me, too. Like everyone in my supposed family.

"This should be enough for a small fire," Ralph's heavy voice boomed into the clearing and I felt my heart hammering with an otherworldly emotion.

I deadpanned at him wide eyed, my breathing stuck, as he walked back towards me, a bunch of broken twigs cradled in his arms. As I looked at his awfully casual self, which was unaware of my thoughts, I felt a numbing urge to run and hug him.

He wasn't gone. I wasn't alone.

Hope and urgency surged in me. "Ralph, I didn't know, I swear... that my mother..." I shivered, looking at him, trying to tone down my panic. Not wanting him to see that I had assumed the worst of him. 

"Guess you were surprised too. But I am going to find her again, just so you know..." He said, looking at me, and his eyes narrowed as if he was seeing me for the first time. "Are you quite alright there?"

Even through ragged breathing, I managed to speak, "Why are you always so...considerate?"

"Is that a bad thing?" He faced me, concern gleaming in his eyes. 

"You can be mad. For a little longer," I whispered.

"I know," he swiped a rough hand through his hair after dropping the twigs down, "I have a friend back at home with a very annoying sis– sibling - and I never understood how he tolerated her. But I guess, now I know. I just can't stay mad at you."

I stared at him, mouth wide open, as he shrugged. What was I supposed to say at his sweeter than sugar straightforwardness? I knew how siblings were, but he didn't and still here he was...

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