Holy City

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?Oh I knew that you had problems, but none worth running away from home.?

?I'm Shane.? He had been watching the shaking girl next to him for a good 20 minutes. She didn't respond, but continued to tap the chair's armrest with her nails anxiously. He paused?had she not heard him? But how could that have been? He had spoken in a perfectly clear voice, hadn't he? He cleared his throat and tried again. ?I'm Shane.?

Her emerald eyes jumped to his. ?Oh.? She commented blankly, startled and unaware that he had been talking to her the first time. His mouth crinkled into a small smile and he waited expectantly, but for what, she didn't know. Oh! It dawned on her?her name. ?I'm not supposed to talk to strangers.? She lied primly. Now, he threw his head back and laughed?a full and loud sound. She crossed her arms, not seeing the humor in the situation.

?Which explains why you're on a plane, all by yourself.? He stated, not even bothering to pose it as a question as he folded his hands under his chin to watch her studiously. She shifted under his intense stare. ?I told you my name was Shane. We're not strangers. Or at least, I'm not a stranger. You, however, have yet to give me your name, which makes you the stranger in this scenario.? He pointed out.

She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. ?Avareigh.? She snapped grudgingly. He raised one eyebrow. ?My name is Avareigh.? She bit out, clearly not happy with the situation, and he nodded in comprehension. Shane settled back in his seat, somewhat satisfied with her answer.

?We're not strangers anymore Avareigh. Why are you going to Boston?? He asked curiously. It was her turn to raise an eyebrow.

?Oh, is that where I'm going? I didn't know.? Shane thought she might have been being facetious, but her face held no mocking note nor did her eyes have that glint that others had when they were being sarcastic, no, her expression was blank.

?How do you get on a plane and not even know where you're heading?? He asked incredulously. She shrugged, recalling how she had tripped into the airport terminal, tears streaming down her face and demanding a ticket to anywhere.

?I'm sure plenty of people do it when they don't care where they end up.? She said coolly, shrugging again. Shane shook his head in disbelief. ?I don't care where I end up as long as it's not here.? She added bitterly.

This piqued his interest. ?What's 'here'?? He asked curiously. She pointed out her window out towards the city they were currently taxiing away from. ?Charleston? Why would you want to leave Charleston?? He demanded?sure, he had only been there for a couple of days but, what he had seen of the city was amazing. ?It's gorgeous!? He exclaimed.

She scoffed. ?Sure it is.? He narrowed his eyes. ?If you must know,? she snapped, ?I'm running away.?

?Why?? He asked sharply. She looked up at his impassioned tone. ?Why would you run away from all this?? She laughed coldly.

?Because I'm tired of it. And you don't know anything about my life, so don't even try to act like you care.? She retorted angrily, turning to stare out the window at the slowly disappearing city she had once loved.

?How old are you?? He whispered, and she didn't answer. ?Avareigh, how old are you?? She shifted further away from him, and he sighed in defeat. Slowly, he turned to face the seat in front of him as the captain crackled over the PA system, announcing their delay in taking off.

?I'm 19.? Her voice was a shock?any information willingly given up was a shock to him, especially from her. ?And I'm leaving,? her voice dipped into a low, broken tone of despair, ?because I went back to my boyfriend's...ex-boyfriend's dorm to tell him something. When I got there, he was in bed with my best friend.? Shane winced.

?I'm sure you're prettier than her.? He consoled, taking in her currently disheveled appearance. She laughed bitterly.

?My best friend is a guy.? He winced again. ?And I told him calmly that it was over, and I left. I went back to my room, threw together a bag,? she gestured at her feet to the hastily packed carry-on bag, ?and called a cab to take me to the airport.? Her voice was shaking now and she turned back to the window to not let this stranger?yes, she argued internally, he was a stranger even if she did know his f***ing first name?see her cry.

He watched her carefully. ?Not to pry, but what were you going to tell him?? She shrugged. ?Do you not remember?? She nodded, her back still to him. ?Well...? he exhaled, not sure what to say. ?That is really sucky...but why are you running away because of him?? She picked up her head.

?Because he broke my heart!? She informed him, her voice jumping half an octave in her surprise. Shane shrugged.

?If you say so. I mean, you would know better than I, but it doesn't look like he broke your heart.? He observed. She crossed her arms and turned away from him. ?Sorry?just an observation. Maybe he did break your heart. I have no idea.? He smiled weakly.

?He did.? But this time, her voice wavered not with sheer grief but maybe, just maybe, a hint of doubt. ?I mean...we dated for 3 years. He had a ring bought for me. His parents loved me. He had to have broken my heart.? She insisted. Shane held up his hands.

?Don't need to convince me. But then again, it doesn't sound like you're trying to convince me...sounds more like you're trying to convince yourself.? He pointed out. ?But back to the point. You got your heart broken...apparently.? He grinned, acknowledging the doubt she thought she had masked so well. ?And you're running away because of it.?

She nodded. ?I don't know what part of that you're not comprehending.? She snapped in frustration. Shane chuckled and winced as her nails dug into his forearm. ?Sorry.?

?The part I'm not comprehending is that you're running away from everything?your friends, your college, your family?because some stupid guy switched teams on you.? Avareigh rolled her eyes.

?First of all, my family lives in Georgia, so it's a no-go on that particular guilt trip. Second, my friends don't care. Third, college. Whatever.? She waved her hand and Shane grabbed it. ?That hurts.? She yanked it away from him.

?College is not a 'whatever,' so don't even start.? His voice was serious. ?I wish I had stayed in school, to be honest, but this isn't about me. This is about you and running away.?

?Just drop it, okay? I blew all my money on this plane ticket, so don't bother trying to get me to go home.? Avareigh snapped, crossing her arms across her chest. Shane sighed and leaned back in his seat. ?Wait. How old are you?? She came forward to examine him more closely.

?23.? He stated, irritated that his seatmate was so pushy. She settled back in her seat, satisfied for the moment. ?Why do you ask??

She shrugged, trying to give the appearance of not really caring. ?You were talking about how you had wished you had stayed in school and I guess I just got curious. That's all.? Her tone was a touch defensive and Shane chuckled softly.

?Alright.? They lapsed into silence again.

She picked up her head. ?Why are you going to Boston?? She was even more curious now. He raised one eyebrow. ?Why are you going to Boston?? She repeated, giving an earnest expression.

He sighed and looked across her to gaze out the window. ?I'm going to visit my dad.? He said smoothly and she nodded awkwardly.

?Honestly, I was hoping you were running away from something so I could call you on it.? She admitted with a half-smile. Shane threw back his head and laughed. ?Stop laughing at me.? It wasn't really a request?more like a demand, which only made him laugh harder.

?Even if I was running away from something like you, did you think I would tell you and let you call me out?? Shane pointed out and Avareigh scowled at him. ?Did you remember what you were going to tell your boyfriend??

She crossed her arms across her chest and sighed. ?It doesn't matter.? Avareigh whispered after a moment. Shane turned to her and fixed her with a stern look. ?I was pregnant.?

He caught the past tense verb. ?Was?? He inquired, worried now. She looked up at him through her lashes that were dotted with tears.

?Yeah...I lost the baby.? He gave her another look, this one full of sympathy. ?I was upset. But sort of relieved, you know? And then I felt guilty, because I was...well I wasn't happy it was dead, but I was happy I wouldn't be a mother...at least, not yet.? She confessed. ?And then I felt guilty but I couldn't talk to anyone about it.? Shane raised an eyebrow.

?It's called the Holy City. There are like, 184 churches there. You could have talked to God at one of them.? He pointed out. Avareigh sighed.

?I didn't feel worthy. I was happy my baby wasn't going to be born. I couldn't go...I didn't deserve to go talk to God about that. Not when I had that kind of sin on my head.? She argued weakly. Shane shook his head sadly.

?Confession?? He offered. Avareigh shrugged, her eyes wide and staring at the back of the seat in front of her. ?You can always pray Avareigh.? He whispered, taking her hand boldly. A sharp intake of breath from her as his warm hand engulfed hers, but both of them understood that there was absolutely nothing romantic about this gesture.

?I was so ashamed. You don't understand. God gave me the gift of a baby. And then it was gone...and I was glad.? She whispered brokenly. Shane sighed. ?And how do you go and talk to someone who gave you such a precious gift and you let it slip away and break? Because that's what I did. I took His gift and I was glad when it got broken.? The tears finally spilled over, tracking down her face.

He rubbed the back of her hand with the pad of his thumb. ?It's going to be okay.? Shane soothed, wrapping his other arm around her shoulders. ?I don't know how, but everything is going to be okay.? He promised. She looked up, her mascara smeared lightly.

?I need to get off this plane.? She realized with a jolt, reaching to unfasten her seat belt. Shane's eyes widened and he closed his hand over hers that was fumbling with the latch.

?Can you not do this? Can it wait until we get to Boston? We're about to take off.? He tried to look into her eyes, but she kept her face down. ?What do you need Avareigh?? He tilted her chin up to look at her face.

?I need go home.? She whispered, still struggling with the seat belt. Shane sighed and let her undo the metal and fabric before mimicking her actions silently. She didn't notice, merely grabbed her carry-on bag and dashed down the aisle, searching for a way off the plane before it was too late. Shane followed, not even caring about his luggage. He'd get it eventually.

The huge wooden doors were flung open to reveal the pounding thunderstorm just outside. The dim candles flickered inside, and the drenched girl threw herself inside the dark cathedral. Dropping her purse, she rushed to the alter and fell in front of it. ?Father, forgive me for I have sinned.? She sobbed, her voice breaking.

Shane crept in quietly, sitting in one of the pews near the back. She'd notice him eventually. She was still at the alter, and her sobs still ricocheted off the high ceilings 30 minutes later. He sighed and stood up, carefully approaching her. ?You know, I did really want to get to see my dad.? He pointed out. Her head shot up.

?Why are you here?? Avareigh demanded harshly, wiping at her eyes. Shane sighed and pushed the still damp hair out of his eyes and shrugged.

?Something told me to make sure you were okay. And clearly, you're not.? He offered, rocking back on his heels. Avareigh's shoulders dropped in defeat. ?Are you ready to go?? He asked softly, and she nodded, getting to her feet shakily. Shane rose with her, wrapping an arm around her waist and guiding her out to where his car was. ?I'll drive you back to your place.?

Avareigh opened her eyes, the harsh sunlight a little blinding. She groaned and stretched her arms out before pulling her hair up into a ponytail. She glanced out the window and faltered a bit at the strange car outside her first floor dorm room. Instinctively she checked her bed. No one was there. She let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding and left her room for the front of the dorm.

She pushed open the front door and stared at the car. Shane was curled up in the backseat. She tapped the window lightly, trying to wake him up. He stirred inside, and sat up. ?Good morning.? He yawned, giving her a little wave. She crossed her arms around her body, casting him a wary look.

?I just wanted to make sure you were okay after last night.? He offered, opening the door and she nodded stiffly, clearly embarrassed.

?I'm sorry for that, by the way...I just sort of broke down.? Shane hopped off his car and kissed her softly. She pulled away, stunned. He smiled down at her, tracing her makeup-less jawline.

?So. Do you break down in the Holy City often??





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