“So what’s your full name?” she asks.
“Aaron Basilio Rice. I’m named after my father, except for my middle name. My mother is Cuban and wanted me to have her father’s name too.”
“So your grandfather’s first name is Basilio?”
“Yes and my little brother, Micah, has my grandfather’s first name on my dad’s side,” he continues.
“That’s cool how they kept the names in the family.” They continue to talk about similar interests. After a while, Aaron stands up to stretch. Amelia looks at her watch and realizes they’ve been talking for hours.
“Do you have to go?” Amelia asks sadly.
He takes out his cell phone and checks the time. “Yes. I have to pick up my little brother from summer camp. Do you have a cell phone or a number where I can reach you?”
“I did, but it broke and my aunt’s not buying me another one. We have a landline but I’d rather not use that unless I have to. I’m sorry. I know it would be a lot easier.” She puts her head down and shakes her head, trying to forget how her phone broke.
“No it’s cool. I know where to find you,” he says, helping her to her feet. She dusts herself off and looks up at him. He touches her face. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay, drive safe.” She watches him leave, wishing he could stay forever. She sorrowfully gathers the picnic basket and the blanket and moseys into the house. Navid is in the kitchen getting something to eat. “Hey, I didn’t know you were back. You could have come to the backyard. We had plenty of sandwiches.”
“Where’s Mom?” He walks to the living room and comes back to the kitchen. Why is he so nervous?
“She’s out with Brady. I think they went for a walk, but that was a few hours ago. She should be back soon. Why?”
“I hadn’t seen her, just wondering.”
“Navid, are you okay? You’re acting weird.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that Mom told us to go find jobs and I haven’t found one yet. I know she’s going to get mad at me, so I’d rather just get it over with.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find one soon. Did Eli find a job?”
“Yeah, he got one as a waiter.” He bites into an apple while looking over his shoulder.
“Navid, don’t worry, something will come along soon. In the meantime, try and relax. You know she can smell fear,” Amelia jokes.
“You’re right. I think I’m just on edge, that’s all. She doesn’t want us to get close to you anymore, you know. That’s why she’s insisting we start working as soon as possible. But maybe I should hold off on the job hunting for a while. I’m worried about you being alone with her, Amelia. You don’t know how insane she can really get,” he admits sadly.
She lifts his chin and whispers, “I know more than you think.” Tears fill his eyes.
He looks down and takes another bite of the apple. Then he looks up at her and opens his mouth like he’s about to say something when Leona comes through the door with Brady. They’re both laughing and holding hands without noticing Amelia and Navid in the kitchen. As she and Brady head into the living room, Navid saunters right past them and goes upstairs.