The Guest



THE OAK trees rising out on both sides of the driveway were like a gateway to paradise. Those were one of many things around here that I learned to appreciate and love. There was also something in this place that I didn’t find in the city, perhaps its the serenity compared to the noise of the city.

This small paradise welcomed me like a real home that I never had.

When Keene brought me here, I thought I would regret that decision, but everything quickly grew on me, and the only place I could call home.

I sauntered to the front porch, taking the swing from the right that I already claimed it mine because it gave me the perfect view of the sun-streaked leaves creating glittering shadows on the entrance.

I closed my eyes to the whining of bees on the flower pot in front of me. The earthy fresh smell and the blooming of the scents of the wild roses I planted on the flower bed relaxed my mind.

Keene once said that I had a green thumb. I laughed at that idea, but when I saw it first thing in the morning, it just melted my heart and blew me away to see the fruit of the hours I spent on them. They worth my sweat.

“Harry!” I jolted awake, sitting straight to his voice—it was Keene’s, the strongest guy I knew.

We’d been friends since college, and he’d been my rock since then.

“Harry,” he repeated, “guess what?” He was grinning with brown eyes glittering with excitement.

He was handsome in a classic actor kind of way. Finally, he let his light blond hair grow longer than he used to keep it skinhead, but he was still a little bit pale. I always loved to pinch his small straight nose that was now wrinkling on me as if he read my mind.

“Hey, I said I got something.” His expression suddenly turned sour when I didn’t pay attention to what he was about to say because I had not been receiving good news lately.

“Jeez, Keene, just say it.” I scowled because I hated the feeling when people interrupted my rest.

The fact that he surprised me, it made my heart rate accelerated, and it felt uncomfortable. He knew it because I’d been suffering from Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation when I was in college, and it came back when I was in stress.

“We got a guest. I received an email earlier and I already replied that the cabin is ready for visitors. Thought you’d be thrilled to hear it. He’ll be here as early as tomorrow morning. So, we still have a day to prepare the cabin, isn’t it great?” He grinned again.

This was good news for us since this property was left for him. When his father died, he left Keene with an almost empty bank account after the chemotherapy, but Keene never gave up on his dad and sold everything until there was nothing left. Before they got the deal for their small house and two cabins, his father died.


“Just okay? Harry, it had been like a year since we had a guest, not to mention it was only half-paid. You have to admit that our strategies didn’t work out. Plus, small businesses like this need a good advertisement, but we already know that it was impossible for us right now.

I chuckled bitterly. I understood his underlying frustrations in this situation because he couldn’t work anymore. For many days, I wished my lifestyle was like before that I could easily help him, but things changed since I chose to be on my own.

“You’re right. I guess this is good news. I’ll go clean the cabin.” I hustled to stand when he grabbed my arm.

“Coming with you.

I widened my eyes to shut him up. “I need exercise, and you won’t dare help me, Keene. Did you hear me?

He shut his mouth tight. He may be my best friend, but I bothered him too much already that I could barely sleep at night. The least I could do was to do the chores since he could barely stand on his own feet.


“Just bring some clean towels and sheets, okay? And some toiletries, too.” I stepped down the porch, then I paused to look at him. “Who’s our guest?

“It’s Arella Rogue who booked the cabin, but our guest is Clyve—”

“Okay. I should start cleaning because we still have to go to town for groceries.

“Be there!” he yelled out.

The cabin was made of finest woods from the foundation, walls, and floorboards. It was a little bit old that we had to make sure it was not infested by termites.

This one had only a small room, kitchenette with small cupboards, and a single Viking stove. A living room with enough space for a wooden rocking chair and an old black leather couch, which was Keene’s father’s favorite. There was a small fireplace with readied piles of wood.

I started clearing cobwebs on the windowsills and pulled off the white sheets that covered the furniture, then I dusted them off and vacuumed the floor. I was pulling off the sheet off the bed when Keene came, probably with the things I asked from him to bring.

“Just leave them on the couch. I’m done cleaning that area.

“You don’t have to clean alone, you know.

“Just go and make a list of what we need from the grocery.

I ignored his heavy sighing, not a few seconds later, he was sneezing and running out of the cabin, making me chuckle.

What I learned about this life was nothing came for free. You had to work hard to earn something. I guess the decision of my independence taught me the hard way, and I was liking it so far.

I was beyond exhausted when I was done in the bathroom, sweating like a pig and sticky with dust. I could smell myself like an old house and soot. I lied back on the couch, trying to catch some rest for a few minutes before we headed to the town.


“Dang it, Keene. Are you trying to give me an early heart attack!” I rubbed my eyes, lifting my gaze to him.

“Sorry.” He gave me an apologetic look.

“How long did I pass out?

He shrugged. “Three hours?

“Three hours?” I asked incredulously. “And you did not wake me up?” I stood up quickly, grabbing his hand. “Let’s go then. Did you have the list?

“Yeah, and went there while you passed out. I know how grumpy you are when someone disturbs your sleep.

I paused, squinting my eyes at him. “What? Why did you go alone?

“Because I can and you’re tired. I did come back safe and sound, so stop worrying about me like I'm gonna melt in front of you.

“Don’t do that again, Keene.” I walked past him, still scowling. “Close the door behind you.

“Wait! You’ve been tired lately, Harry. Do you have trouble sleeping?

My throat suddenly thickened. “No.

“Then what have you been up to?


“If you’re worried about—”

I turned to face him. “I’m good, okay? I promise.

He had a lot on his plate right now, and I couldn’t add another. I knew he tried his best to be strong when I was around, but deep inside, he was struggling. I guessed we deal with our pain in different ways.

I strode toward our kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. And he was right, he went to the market on his own. The fridge was full.

A small smile curved up my lips when I saw some cups of peach yogurt—my favorite. “Thank you.

“That’s the least I can do after leaving you alone cleaning the entire cabin.” I didn’t miss the guilt in his voice.

“And I can’t let you die from sneezing.” I rolled my eyes.

“Go ahead and hit the shower. I’ll make us some sandwiches.” He grabbed fresh lettuce and tomato from the fridge, then he stopped. “I can feel when you’re watching me, Harry. I’m not that weak and won’t collapse on your watch, you know.

“Who said you’re weak? Besides, you went to buy stuff on your own.

“You’re not gonna drop it, are you?” He took a sandwich loaf, slicing it in half. “Which do you prefer halloumi or cheddar?

“Upgraded, huh?” I chuckled.

“We’ve got a guest tomorrow, darling, and you can’t just feed him with couscous salad every day.

“What’s wrong with couscous? I can make something more than a salad out of it.

“I know, chef.” He rolled his eyes. “This will be done in a few minutes. Now get your ass ready because I’m starving. You’ll sleep early tonight, Harry. No more stalking your family on the Internet.

My chest ached every time he mentioned my happy family. “That was only one time. I just wanna see my sister, and I’m just curious.

He searched something on my face, then nodded slowly.

I walked away, releasing the breath I held for a while.

Thank, God! He didn’t pry.


AFTER OUR lunch, I rechecked the email. Our guest didn’t arrive when he supposed to be here before twelve. And there was no way the flight had been canceled because of the weather unless he changed his mind.

Well, if he did, we wasted our time for nonsense.

“I’ll bring some supply, Keene. Just lead him to his cabin if he arrives before I’m done, okay?” I could feel my increasing heartbeat. I had to take a few deep breaths to calm it down.

Yesterday I was completely drained to even put some bottled water in the cabin. I hoped this man would arrive today because I was going to curse him for the whole month if he would not show his ass up here.

I looked around when I was done. It looked spotless, and things seemed to be in the right places. I was ready to bail out when I caught a distinctly male voice, and it was not Keene’s.

Our guest had finally arrived.


There was something in his accent that seemed different. An Irish? Australian?

Thanks, mate! Oh, British! Our guest is British?

How the hell did he find this place?

I scurried toward the living room when the sunlight entered the cabin, indicating that our guest just entered.

He had a deep, yet calming voice. He was still talking with Keene when he stopped in the middle of the living room, dropping his suitcase and cargo bag beside the couch. He then snapped his gaze at my direction when he perhaps, sensed they were not alone.

Then our gazes locked. Suddenly, his gunmetal blue eyes widened as if showing some recognition, and his jaw literally dropped.


My lips instantly dried with dread. Just the pain forming in my chest due to the hammering of my heart almost made me feel dizzy.

Oh my, God! What if?


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