Armitage - Chapter 5 - Family Ties (Part 1 of 2)
Chris drove Madeline back to campus, and as he pulled up outside of her building she turned to face her brother.
‘Thanks for seeing me home,’ she said.
‘It’s nothing,’ replied Chris.
‘So where are you staying?’
‘My car, I guess.’ Madeline gave her brother a look that he knew all too well; it was the look that meant she was not impressed. ‘Look, I didn’t have time to sort anything like that out before I left, I just needed to get to you.’
‘Well that’s sweet but you can’t sleep here. Come on, you can sleep on my floor.’ Madeline and Chris got out of the car and headed into her dormitory building. The presence of a man accompanying Madeline to her room was not a sight people ever saw, so when Jennifer poked her head out of her room to say hello her eyes widened visibly in surprise.
‘Oh, hi Maddie,’ she said, looking Chris up and down. ‘I didn’t know you had company.’
‘Jen, this is my brother, Chris,’ said Madeline with a smile. She knew Jennifer was hoping for a sexier explanation and she found her friend’s disappointed expression amusing.
‘Oh, right. Hi there,’ said Jennifer politely.
‘Hi,’ said Chris, feeling somewhat self conscious.
‘Chris is in town on short notice and I’m putting him up for the night,’ said Madeline, making sure Jennifer understood what was going on.
‘Okay, cool. Well I won’t disturb you. Nice to meet you Chris.’
‘Yeah, same here.’ Madeline smiled again and unlocked her door, letting Chris enter before she closed it after herself. ‘Who was that?’ asked Chris once they were alone.
‘Oh that was just Jennifer,’ said Madeline, still smiling. ‘Don’t mind her, she obviously thought I’d picked up some guy tonight.’
‘Why would she think that? Do you usually pick up guys when you go out?’
‘Chris!’ Madeline didn’t have to say anything further, her expression said it all.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, looking at his feet. ‘I just don’t want you getting into trouble, that’s all.’
‘Well for your information I don’t go out looking to pick up guys. Jennifer’s just got a one track mind.’
‘Well what about Mike?’ asked Chris, looking up.
‘What about him?’
‘He was walking you home tonight.’
‘So how long have you known him?’
‘Well not that it’s any of your business but I met him tonight at Jack’s. But,’ said Madeline quickly before Chris had time to interrupt. ‘Nothing happened and I would think you’d prefer me not walking home alone.’
‘I do but…’
‘Look do you want to sleep in your car?’ Madeline had her arms folded and was almost ready to throw Chris out but she reminded herself that for all his blustering and insensitivity he was only looking out for her. ‘I’m sorry Chris.’
‘No I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be questioning your every move. Thanks for letting me stay tonight. The heater’s broken in my car and I wasn’t looking forward to freezing to death.’
‘It’s okay, you just better not snore.’
‘Well you’d better not talk in your sleep,’ laughed Chris.
‘Here, let me get you a pillow and a blanket.’ While Madeline laid out some bedclothes for her brother a black Mercedes sat idling a short way off from her dorm building. Andreas took his phone from his jacket pocket and pressed the Redial number.
‘Report,’ said the voice at the other end of the line.
‘She’s not alone,’ said Andreas. ‘She has her brother with her.’
‘Her brother?’ said the voice of Mason, sounding somewhat surprised. ‘This complicates matters.’ After a moment’s silence he spoke again. ‘It is of little consequence, he shall be dealt with accordingly if and when necessary.’
‘Yes sir,’ said Andreas.
‘Do you have my dinner?’
‘Very good, I’ll be waiting.’
* * *
When Madeline awoke the next morning she found that Chris was nowhere to be seen. The pillow and blanket he had used were folded neatly on her chair but that was the only sign that her brother had ever been there. She looked at her alarm clock and swore when she saw it was a quarter to nine. She realised she must have forgotten to set her alarm last night, fortunately she didn’t have any classes today, but she still didn’t know where Chris was. She got out of bed and quickly checked the bathroom to see if he was taking a shower or something, but he wasn’t. As she stood there, frowning slightly, her phone started to ring from somewhere in the room. She searched frantically until she remembered it was in her bag, and pulling it out she saw that it was Abby calling.
‘Hi Maddie, are you okay?’
‘Yeah I’m fine.’
‘You said you were going to call me as soon as you got home.’
‘I’m sorry, Chris crashed here last night and I forgot to set my alarm.’
‘Chris is there?’
‘Well he was,’ said Madeline, looking around her room. ‘I let him stay so he wouldn’t have to sleep in his car but I’ve just woken up and he’s gone.’
‘I don’t know…hang on.’ Madeline’s gaze fell upon a piece of paper that was taped to the back of her door. It read:
I woke up early and couldn’t sleep
so I’ve gone to get coffee. I didn’t
want to wake you but I’ll be back
in a while.
‘It’s okay,’ said Madeline. ‘He’s gone out to fetch coffee.’
‘Are you okay though?’ asked Abby.
‘Yeah I’m fine, just annoyed at myself for not setting an alarm.’
‘You need to rest up. Do you have any classes today?’
‘Good, otherwise I’d have told you not to go.’
‘Abby I’m fine,’ said Madeline. ‘I’ll talk to you later.’
‘Okay, you take care.’
‘You too.’ Madeline flipped her phone shut and laid it on the bedside table. She walked over to the window to open it slightly and saw Chris heading back towards the dormitory. She picked up the intercom phone as it buzzed and let Chris into the building. As she opened her door Chris came trotting up the stairs with two cups of coffee and a doughnut bag in his hands.
‘Thanks Maddie,’ he said as he passed her. ‘Is it okay if I grab a quick shower?’
‘Of course.’ As Madeline was about to close her door Jennifer once again appeared in her own doorway.
‘Morning Maddie,’ she said sleepily.
‘I swear sometimes I think you listen at your door,’ smiled Madeline.
‘I just have good hearing,’ said Jennifer, grinning. ‘Was that Chris?’
‘Yeah, he went out for coffee.’
‘Why didn’t you tell me your brother was so cute?’
‘Well he is,’ said Jennifer, a predatory look in her eye.
‘Maybe so, but he’s only in town for a few days so don’t go getting any ideas.’
‘Shame,’ smiled Jennifer.
‘Tell him I said hi.’
‘I will,’ said Madeline as she stepped back into her room and shut the door. Chris emerged from the bathroom some minutes later wrapped in a spare towel.
‘Thanks for that Maddie, I really needed it.’
‘Jeez, thanks for the peep show,’ said Madeline, turning around.
‘Oh, sorry,’ said Chris as he picked up his clothes. ‘I’ll just be a minute.’ He retreated back into the bathroom and Madeline sat down and helped herself to a cup of coffee and a doughnut.
‘Thanks for these,’ she said when Chris emerged once again from the bathroom, this time fully dressed.
‘Oh no problem,’ he said as he looked in the mirror and finger-combed his damp hair. ‘I hope it hasn’t filled you up too much though.’
‘Because I want to take you out to lunch.’
‘You don’t have to do that,’ said Madeline, turning around in her chair.
‘I want to, besides I want to say thank you for letting me stay last night.’
‘Well only if you’re sure.’
‘Okay,’ said Madeline as she sucked the sugar from the doughnuts off of her fingers. ‘Where do you want to eat?’
‘How about Salvatore’s? I haven’t been there in ages.’
‘I knew you were going to say that,’ smiled Madeline.
‘Great, it’ll be nice to see them again.’ During his time at Armitage University, Chris worked at Salvatore’s Italian Restaurant as a waiter and then a chef, when it became apparent that he had more potential in cooking food than serving it. He became a good friend of the Damico family, especially their daughter Sophia, whom he dated for several months. Upon leaving university and therefore his job at Salvatore’s, he was assured by the family that there would always be a job for him should he need it.
‘It’s a little early for lunch though,’ said Madeline, looking at her clock. ‘Can we go to the hospital first? I want to check on Mike?’
‘Yeah, if you want to.’