23 - Where Flowers Save the Day

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23

         I hated Monday mornings.

         Everyone said it, which was why it was true.

         At the moment, I could feel my mother’s hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake, no doubt frustrated that I’d slept past my alarm. It wasn’t my fault that the damn clock was broken and sounded more like crickets chirping than an actual brrrrr-ing!

         “Okay, okay,” I grunted, throwing my hand into the air and trying to bat away her hand. She was being a lot more insistent than usual. “All right, all right, I’m up for goodness sake!” I jolted up and scowled.

         “Sorry,” Jacoby said sheepishly, hand frozen on my shoulder. “Just thought we’d better get a move on.”

         I rubbed my eyes and stared at him.

         “Where are we?” I asked, my voice croaking. I cleared it hastily and continued to look at Jacoby.

         “Parkbourne.”

         “Where’s that?”

         “About a hundred, hundred fifty kilometres away from Portsdale.”

         I paled. A hundred kilometres away from home?

         My pulse sped as I looked around. I didn’t even know where the heck we were. The place looked…well, it looked decent, I suppose. A drab room with even drabber wallpaper. A chair and a small desk. A lamp wearing a shade that was a little worse for wear.

         “When did we get here?” I asked, still sluggish on the details. I didn’t even remember getting off the bus.

         “Past midnight,” Jacoby replied, leaning on his elbows. I was lying on a thin mattress that’d been placed on the ground. I glanced and saw his sleeping bag sprawled on the couch, then down at myself. I was cocooned in my own, as well.

         Jacoby continued, going back to his sleeping bag and rolling it up. “We’re lucky the guy at the entrance didn’t ask too many questions.” He sighed and stuffed his sleeping bag into its drawstring pouch.

         “How did you manage to pay for a, um, hotel room? Or is this a motel?”

         “Motel,” he confirmed, brushing his hair back from his eyes. “I made a stop at the bank the day before going to Lake Ingorian.”

         I bit my lip. He’d asked me to go on this trip with him, but I couldn’t let him pay for everything. “How much was it?”

         He paused and let his hand drop from his head. “It’s nothing, you don’t have to worry about it—”

         “Jacoby.”

         He shrugged and went to the table, picking up a paper bag. I glimpsed Tim Hortons on it before he thrust it into my chest. “I went and picked up breakfast. Yours is a blueberry muffin. Hope you don’t mind.”

         I opened the bag and stared at the food. It smelled delicious. “No. Jacoby, I have to pay for something.” It hadn’t occurred to me that we would be living in hotels or motels and buying our own food. I gave myself a mental slap. How did it escape me?

         “You were exhausted yesterday,” he said with a shake of his head. “And you were still sleeping. It’s nothing, Jasslyn.”

         I hated owing people. I wasn’t going to go through this entire trip mooching off of Jacoby. I set the paper bag down. “Can we stop by the bank when we leave?” I asked.

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