Against All Odds

This story doesn't stop at romance. It is a story of love and friendship through all the bad times and hope for a better life. It deals with the horror that is in our world today and questions the humanity of it. The main characters in this book, Tessa and James, are determined to stay together and stay alive, against all odds.

Perhaps it is a bit exaggerated in places, but these things still happen, even if we don't want to believe they do. I want to open people's eyes to the hardship some people suffer and encourage people to try to make a change in our world. Please let me know what you think of it :)

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5. James - Chapter Two

The smoke rises. I can see the flames. The shouts and screams taint the silence of the night. Somebody's life is now in ashes.

For once it's not me. I am safe here. With James. I look over at him, sleeping under the willow tree. It was six months since we met that rainy night under the bridge. We've gotten so close since then. I told him all my past, he told me his. There were tears, but it's better now that we know. I know how his mother left him and his older brother in an orphanage after he was born. What they did to them there. How the escaped, and survived on the streets, just him, and Tommy, his brother. He told me all about Tommy. How close they were, how Tommy always looked out for him. How Tommy was killed that night we met. It was a gang attack. They went for Tommy first, tortured and killed him in front of his little brother. Then they turned to James. But he escaped, with only his injuries and his memories of Tommy.

James is the first person I could properly talk to. I am a different person around him. But maybe, that person is the real me. Maybe, with my mother, I had to cover up my fear and pain, and block it all out so that the world couldn't see. Like a wall. James broke down that wall.

My nightmares have become less frequent since I met James. I guess I feel safer with him. And I feel safer out here in the countryside. We have taken to sleeping in the woods just outside of the town. It's like our home now. We come to the same spot every night. To the willow tree. It's heavy canopy protects us from rain and wind. It's branches hang down, nearly touching the ground, making us invisible from the outside, and also keeping in the heat. It's perfect.

~

By sunrise, it's me who's asleep and James who's awake. He shakes me. "C'mon Tess, we better get moving." We pack up our stuff, have a small breakfast of stale bread, and make our usual way back into town. We work the streets  as a team, I beg while he searches bins for food, clothes, anything. 

Today, there's an air of excitement in the town. People wrapped up in coats and scarves, greet each other with happy voices. They hug and laugh, more than usual anyway. I wonder what's going on. 

I meet up with James when it starts to get dark. We had a good haul today. James found some chicken and cold chips, a coat and a blanket. I got enough money to buy a box of matches. Tonight, we're going to have a fire and a good meal. Excited for what the night holds, we go home to our willow tree. James starts the fire, while I prepare the food. We eat until all the food is gone. Then we sit in front of the fire, basking in it's heat, the flames dancing in our eyes.

I watch James, the fire illuminating his face, highlighting his features. He's so different now to the boy I met that cold rainy night. He's put on a lot of muscle, he's now an almost healthy weight. As am I. We work well together, we have enough food to get by. At least we don't have to resort to the things we did years ago.

All of a sudden, we heard a loud whistle, then a bang. Colours filled the sky, erupting in sparkling streams of light. "Fireworks." James whispers. He looks at me. "I've seen them before. Tommy told me what they were." he said in his normal voice. The fireworks continue. We just sit and watch them in awe. I've never seen anything like them. "Tessa," James says, with a tone of surprise in his voice. "I think it's New Years Eve!" It makes sense. The air of excitement. The happy people. I laugh. "Happy New Year James!" I say. "Happy New Year Tess." he laughs. Music starts up somewhere in the distance. Suddenly I'm feeling very happy. Maybe it's the food. Maybe it's the hope of a new start, a new year. Or maybe it's- "James! What are you doing?" He's on his feet, bowing to me, one hand behind his back, the other outstretched to me. "Would you care for a dance Ma'am?" he says in a posh English accent. I laugh. "James, you're an idiot!" He smiles. "Ah, but idiocy is the sign of a true genius" he purrs, now in a French accent. I laugh. "Okay, let's dance!" I stand up. He puts his arms around me. I reach up and drape mine around his neck. We sway to the flow of the music. It feels strange, being this close to a person, but feeling safe. His muscular arms around me, protecting me, driving away all the memories and the nightmares. Right now, in this moment, I am completely happy. From the tips of my toes to every last hair on my head, I am happy. I close my eyes, breathe in the smell of the woods, the heat of James' body, the soft music, and I make sure to cherish this moment. Forever.

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