Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 18 (v.1) - Chapter 18

Submitted: January 15, 2019

Reads: 13

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Submitted: January 15, 2019

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“Tobi, hurry up!” Nrekeeka called from the hallway, knocking on his bedroom door.

“Hold on!” Tobi shouted back.

Nrekeeka sighed impatiently, crossing her arms and tapping her toe. They were going to visit Shelsea today and she wanted to be there when her sister woke up. She even dressed up for the occasion. Before Shelsea got sick, she saved up for so long to buy Nrekeeka a dress for her birthday. The dress was simple but pretty, dark red, and much shorter than anything she was used to wearing. She was having a hard time walking in the high heels she paired with the dress, but she knew her sister would appreciate the trouble.

She glanced at her watch again, puffing out a sharp breath.

A few minutes later, Tobi exited his room. “Okay, I'm—whoa.” His jaw dropped when he laid eyes on Nrekeeka.

“It's not too short, is it?” she asked, smoothing the hem of the skirt, which stopped a few inches above her knees.

“It's perfect. Shelsea will be happy to see you wearing it,” Tobi said, licking his lips.

“Same with you, but those jeans are...” Nrekeeka bit her lip to stifle a laugh at the low-cut jeans Tobi squeezed himself into.

“I know, but she saved her allowance forever to buy these for me,” Tobi said, lifting his arms to tie his hair back. When he did, the hem of his shirt rose a couple inches, exposing his abdomen.

Nrekeeka snorted, poking at the thin trail of purple hair starting at his belly button and disappearing into his pants. “I don't think she bought these from the men's department.”

Tobi clicked his tongue. “Yeah, it was a concern of mine as well,” he replied, tugging his shirt back into place.

“Any excuse she has to see your abs is a good one in her mind,” laughed Nrekeeka, yanking Tobi toward the stairs.

“This is a little lower than my abs...”

Nrekeeka grinned over her shoulder at him.

“If you don't calm down, you're gonna trip,” Tobi told Nrekeeka as she pulled him down the stairs and outside.

“But I'm so excited, I can't!” she exclaimed with a grin so wide it was painful.

“I understand, but you're going to hurt yourself 'Keeka,” he warned.

“I won't—” Nrekeeka stepped down wrong in her high heels and stumbled. Tobi caught her under her arms before she fell.

“I told you,” he said, helping her stand up straight.

She gave him a sheepish glance as she smoothed out her dress.

Tobi arched his eyebrows at Nrekeeka, a grin pulling at his mouth. “I have an option to save you from rolling your ankle in those shoes,” he told her.

“I think I'll be okay, Tobi. The car is right there,” she replied, pointing across the lot to where Tobi's vehicle sat.

“Still plenty of distance for you to trip on something,” said Tobi, stepping up to Nrekeeka.

Nrekeeka raised her hands. “I'll be okay,” she repeated, glancing between Tobi and the car.

“Can't risk it, Sweetheart,” he replied with a wicked glint in his eyes. Stooping down, he wrapped his arms around her thighs and hoisted her over his shoulder. She squealed and started smacking his back with a flat hand. Her breathless voice caught somewhere between a giggle and a protest.

“Put me down, you jerk!” she squealed, kicking her feet.

Tobi laughed as he carried her to the car. “But where would the fun be in that?”

“Yeah well, while you're having fun, my butt is sticking out!”

Stopping in his tracks, Tobi's eyebrows slid upward. “Oh, really?” he asked, reaching up with one hand.

Nrekeeka screamed in his ear and started flailing, kicking him and pounding her fists into his back.

“Cut it out! I will throw you into the car if you don't stop,” Tobi threatened. “Then it'll be more than just your butt hanging out.”

Nrekeeka stopped mid-swing and went limp.

Rolling his eyes, Tobi wrapped his arms around her legs and waist, lowering her into the backseat. He watched as she sat up, readjusting her dress. Licking his lips, he turned away and slipped into the driver's seat. As he started the car, Nrekeeka slid her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

“What was that for?” he asked, feeling the heat in his face.

“Just a thank you,” replied Nrekeeka, climbing into the front seat.

Tobi tried his best not to stare at Nrekeeka's thighs while she readjusted her dress. “For what?” Draping his arm over the back of the seat, he pulled the car onto a side road.

“For being you?” she answered with a shrug before her playful expression turned serious. “For helping me and Shelsea, basically paying for us to survive.”

An exasperated groan left Tobi's lips as he put his hand on Nrekeeka's shoulder, tugging her toward him. “'Keeka, you are my closest friend. You could ask me to take over the planet and I'd find a way to do it for you.”

“Well, I don't think you'll have to do anything quite so drastic,” she scoffed. Staring through the windshield, Nrekeeka put her head on Tobi's shoulder and let out a shuddering breath. If not for Tobi, her anxiety would have gotten the better of her long ago.

 

***

 

While they waited at the reception desk, Nrekeeka leaned forward, crossing her arms on the surface and bending one knee. There was a whistle behind her and she shot upright. Scanning the area, she met the eyes of a scrawny, pasty, fifteen-year-old boy. He was grinning at her even as he clutched his stomach in pain.

Tobi tried to hide his amusement as he kicked at a scuff on the white linoleum floor. “I, uh, wouldn't bend over anymore,” he whispered to her, curling a stray chunk of hair behind his ear.

“Oh, shut up,” Nrekeeka scolded with a pout.

The pair stood in silence for a couple more minutes until a haggard, yet cheerful woman approached them.

“Nrekeeka! Tobi! Nice to see you again.”

Nrekeeka smiled. “You too, Nurse Pierce.”

The brunette picked up an electronic note pad and let out a breath before looking up at the pair. “You're here to see Shelsea, I suppose? She's been asking for you.”

“She's awake? How long?” Tobi asked as they followed the nurse down the white and beige corridor.

“Awake for two hours, coherent for about one. Try not to excite her too much, okay? Right in here,” she replied, pointing them into a room.

“Thank you,” Nrekeeka said, pulling Tobi into the room. Her nose twitched at the smell of disinfectant, but it was all she noticed about the room before her eyes locked on her sister.

“I thought you guys would never show up!” she said, her unused voice quiet, breaking on certain words. Her brown eyes sparkled with humor as she twirled a lock of her thick, curly, black ponytail around her fingers. Despite her sallow skin and gaunt appearance, she appeared to be in good spirits.

Tears sprang to Nrekeeka's eyes, her voice betraying her when she tried to speak. Crossing the room, she practically fell onto the bed, wrapping her arms around Shelsea's neck. Tobi joined them, resting his hand on top of Shelsea's head.

“How you feeling, little Sea Shell?” Tobi asked.

She turned her attention to Tobi. “A little stiff and sore, but otherwise pretty good.”

“You sure?” he questioned, touching one of her long ears before taking her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.

“Yeah, I just feel like I slept too long,” she assured him, putting one hand on Nrekeeka's back.

Tobi chuckled. “A serious understatement.”

“Why? How long was I asleep?” A frown creased Shelsea's brow.

Nrekeeka sat up, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Two and a half years,” she hiccupped.

“Serious?” Shelsea's voice cracked.

Tobi nodded, casting a worried glance at Nrekeeka.

“Please stop crying, 'Keeks. I think you're weirding Tobi out,” said Shelsea, reaching out to wipe the tears away.

“I'm sorry.” Nrekeeka scrubbed the heel of her hand over her eyes.

Tobi's cheeks puffed up with a breath and he moved around to the other side of the bed. Bending down, he took the shaking woman in his arms, hugging her tightly. “I think she's just overwhelmed, is all.”

“No! I'm just—”

“'Keeka, it's okay. I'm okay,” Shelsea reassured her. She tipped her head and a piece of hair fell loose from her ponytail.

Nrekeeka inhaled deeply. “I'm okay,” she parroted, wiping her eyes again.

“No more crying, okay?” There was no arguing with Shelsea's radiant grin.

Releasing Nrekeeka, Tobi stood up straight and nudged Nrekeeka's shoulder with his hip. “She's fine for now. When we get home though...that's another matter entirely,” he laughed.

“Home?” Shelsea asked, her eyes lighting up.

“You'll love it,” Nrekeeka said, shooting a glare at Tobi. “I couldn't bring myself to go home after you got sick. Our new place is amazing, though. Huge, too.”

“And all of our rooms are full,” Tobi reminded her, falling into a chair by the bed.

“It's okay. She can share my room until we figure something out. I don't know how long those three are staying, but if need be, we could always change the library into another room. It's not like we really use it anyway,” answered Nrekeeka.

Shelsea held up her hands, halting their conversation. “Two questions,” she said, “one: you have a library? And two: don't you two share a room?”

Color flooded Nrekeeka's face.

“No, we're just friends,” Tobi answered while Nrekeeka tried to find her voice.

The brunette pouted. “How disappointing.”

“Why?” Tobi asked, watching Nrekeeka's face take on more color.

“Well, you certainly didn't wear those pants for my benefit,” said Shelsea.

“Actually, he did,” Nrekeeka managed to say.

Shelsea's spine straightened as she watched Tobi expectantly.

Tobi narrowed his eyes at Nrekeeka while nodding at Shelsea. “Yeah, I figured I'd wear them since you bought them for me. Your sister did the same with the dress. You remember buying it for her?”

“Of course! What is with you guys?” Shelsea wrinkled up her nose and scowled at the pair.

“What do you mean?” Nrekeeka tipped her head as she glanced up at Tobi, then back to her sister.

Shelsea pouted. “You're like different people.”

Tobi grabbed her hand, twining their fingers together. “A lot has happened, Sweetheart. Things aren't how they used to be, we had to...adapt.”

“Because of me, right? Because I got sick?”

“Oh, no Shelsea, it's not your fault,” Nrekeeka insisted, resting her hand on the girl's shoulder. “Of course it made me sad, and worried, but it wasn't...” Nrekeeka stopped, tears welling up in her eyes again.

Shelsea glanced at Tobi, eyes wide, begging him to do something. He rose from his chair and crouched next to Nrekeeka. Without even having to say a word to her she turned, flinging her arms around his neck to cry into his shoulder. He held her, giving Shelsea an apologetic grimace.

“She's still recovering from a traumatic injury. This is a bit much for her,” Tobi explained, absentmindedly playing with Nrekeeka's hair.

Shelsea gasped, raspy and painful, her hand covering her mouth. “Oh no! What happened?”

Tobi hesitated. He didn't want to discuss this while Shelsea was still recovering as well. But she kept staring at him, waiting. He moaned. “She was shot. Our friend Theo is a Panacea Hand and managed to get to her quickly enough.”

“Will I get to meet Theo?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Good. I'm not gonna ask what you were doing at the time since 'Keeka is already having an emotional meltdown. You can tell me the story another day.” Slouching in her bed, Shelsea crossed her arms.

There was a knock at the door and a doctor entered the room. “Sorry to interrupt, but Shelsea really needs to rest,” the man told them.

“Aw, really? I feel fine, Doc,” Shelsea complained.

He smiled at Shelsea. “You don't want to overexert yourself and relapse, do you? Time to rest. Doctor's orders.”

Sticking her tongue out at the doctor, Shelsea conceded. “Fine.”

“We'll come back tomorrow, I promise,” Nrekeeka said, wiping her eyes again. She let go of Tobi and latched onto Shelsea instead.

Tobi chuckled. “Okay, Nrekeeka. You're gonna strangle the poor thing.”

Nrekeeka reluctantly released her and stood up straight. Tobi squeezed in beside her to kiss Shelsea's forehead.

“See you guys tomorrow,” Shelsea said with a wave.

Tobi waved back as he dragged Nrekeeka from the room.

“I hope she can come home soon,” Nrekeeka mumbled, sniffling loudly.

“That would be nice. I'm happy she's doing better though. Whatever was in the medicine must have been pretty potent,” Tobi said, hooking his arm around Nrekeeka's neck.

Exhaling deeply, Nrekeeka leaned against Tobi.

“Tired?”

She nodded. “All of my emotions have been in overdrive.”

“Things will calm down soon.”

“I can't wait.”


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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