Born Immortal Chapter 16

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Astyr was waiting downstairs for Randy when he pulled up beside her on his motorcycle. She loved riding on the big Triumph and was looking forward to another long ride today. She gave Randy a big smile before putting her helmet on and climbing on the back behind him and wrapping her arms around his waist. He revved the engine and started slowly down the road.

They followed the river north and after an hour came to a state park that had a natural spring that fed into the river. There was a swimming area around the spring and a ramp for putting boats into the river and along with a public restroom and a small shack renting tubes and paddleboats, there was a restaurant that had seating on the inside and a snack counter on the outside for swimmers who didn't want to go inside. They decided to sit inside out of the chilly breeze and Astyr was astonished to see that the tables had large griddles built into the table tops. There were other diners and she could see that they were making their own pancakes at the table.

They sat down and the waitress came and took their drinks orders and left them a large stone pitcher of pancake batter and a rack of syrups. Astyr grabbed the pitcher and started pouring the batter out to make different shapes and they had a good time trying to decide what they all looked like when she flipped them over. Randy was pretty good at guessing but got quiet when she turned over the last one. It looked like a large wolf and he was sure his heart had stopped beating. Astyr was grinning at him and she asked him if he wanted to give up.

"It's Mickey Mouse!" she said laughing. "Can't you see the big ears?"

Randy tried to laugh away his nervousness and then teased her about it, "If Mickey Mouse looked like that, Disney World would have shut down years ago."

She pretended to be hurt but she was laughing too hard. They finished eating and then went for a walk around the large spring holding hands and walking close together.

"Hey," she said, "Is there something bothering you? You seem kind of distracted today."

Randy paused and then sighed. "I was hoping you wouldn't notice, but it's no big deal." He said.

"Of course it's a big deal if it's making you sad." She told him, "and I'm your friend, how could I not notice."

He grimaced when she said friend and leaned down to rest his forearms against the railing that kept people from falling into the river. "I wish you thought of me as more than just a friend, Astyr; even though I don't deserve it. But I'm just feeling down today because of my dad. He's been in pretty bad shape ever since my mom left, but lately it's like he's just completely given up. I don't know what to do to get through to him anymore."

The pain etched on his face nearly broke Astyr's heart. She knew all too well what it felt like to be abandoned and she wished she had something to say that could make him feel better. She squeezed in between him and the rail and put her arms around him. She just held him for a while pressing her face against his chest and eventually he brought his arms up around her and held her, too. They stayed that way for a while, Astyr didn't want to let go of him; she didn't know what to say to help him so she just gave him what comfort she could.

"You do deserve more, Randy." Astyr said, "But I've got too much going on in my life right now to give you more than my friendship. Please try to understand. I love being with you but I can't promise you that I'll be here a month from now when I don't know if I will be."

Randy laid his cheek against the top of her head and hugged her tighter. "It's okay, Astyr. It means a lot to me that you're here with me now. If that's all you can give me, I'll take it." He pulled away from her but kept his hands on her shoulders and looked down straight into her eyes. "I'm here for you, too. If you need anything from me, even just someone to talk to, I'm here." He gave her a smile and she couldn't help but smile back at him.

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