Aimee stood in the ANA Airport (Ancaster Neahovia Airport) holding onto her one carry-on bag as she looked around Gate B for Mr. Myers. From the looks of the line for baggage claim she was so glad she had shipped most of her belongings and now could avoid the long wait.
He was to meet her here at 5:00 pm she was certain she had told him as much on the phone before boarding the plane in London. She pulled her cell from her bag and turned off the airplane option. That was when she noticed she had one voice message from Mr. Myers. Aimee dialed the number to her inbox “Aimee, I am so sorry honey. I have been called into an unscheduled meeting. I have arranged for my driver; Mr. Malone to pick you up at the airport. He will be waiting for you in the front lobby and he will take you to Ancaster University. Mr. Andrews and his lovely wife Tessa will meet the two of you in front of Winchester Villa. I will call you tomorrow to set up a time to meet with you so we can get your accounts set up. Have a good evening dear.”
Aimee slipped her cell back into her bag and began her walk to the front lobby. After a few minutes and a couple of turns she found the airport lobby. She looked ahead at the front doors. Mr. Malone was not hard to spot he stood close to 7 feet tall and was extremely muscular. He was holding a sign above his head. Thanks to his height his sign was way higher than the others. Aimee managed to turn and squeeze her way through the crowd keeping an eye on the sign that read: WELCOME TO NEAHOVIA MISS AIMEE PITTMAN.
Mr. Malone reminded Aimee of a huge teddy bear. “Welcome to Neahovia Miss Pittman. I am glad God blessed you with a safe arrival.
Aimee grinned he was a Christian as well. “Thank you Mr. Malone it was indeed a safe trip and I thanked the Lord just minutes, ago for being with the pilots and crew as we traveled.”
Mr. Malone held the back passenger door of the Lexus opened for Aimee. “Please dear call me Brock.”
Aimee slid in the backseat of the Lexus. “I will as long as you agree to call me Aimee. Miss Pittman makes me sound old.”
Brock laughed. “Agreed.”
The Lexus was very classy. The cream seats were made of fine leather and all so soft. Aimee couldn’t help herself but to look around the car and then the view of the city. She rolled down her window so she could have a clear view of the sights as they drove by.
Brock watched Aimee through his rearview mirror. “The commute to the University should take a little over ten minutes as long as traffic is not bad.”
Aimee deeply inhaled the salty ocean air.
“Aimee are you ok?”
She smiled noticing that he was speaking to her. “I am fine just taking in the view and the fresh air. The ocean here smells so different than it smells in the States.”
Brock laughed. “I thought the same thing when I visited the States last year.”
The lady in blue couldn’t believe her eyes. Aimee had come to Neahovia after all. This was not good. Everything she has worked so hard to protect is now jeopardized. All her careful laid out plans are useless if Aimee finds out anything about her family roots in Neahovia. She needed awhile longer to make sure everything goes as plan. Aimee’s arrival to Neahovia has now put both of their lives in danger. She needed to find out more of why Aimee is here. It is very important that Aimee not learn any of the secrets she has worked so hard to keep. Someone is going to answer a lot of questions as to how this happened and give solutions on how these secrets stay a secret. The stakes are much higher now than they had been in a long time.
Ancaster University came into sight as soon as they turned onto Maple Avenue. Aimee gazed out her window as they drove by the old buildings that made up Ancaster University. They reminded her of old castles with a lot of character and charm.
“What is your major Aimee?”
“Business Management and Marketing. I am also taking a few Neahovia History and Geography classes.”
Brock turned onto Oak Street. “That is an awesome major. I hear the History and Geography classes have a lot of off campus assignments that allows you to visit different parts of our great Neahovia.”
“I hope so. I am looking forward to visiting different parts of the country.”
Brock turned the car into the Winchester Villa drive he stopped at the security booth. Once he informed the guard of who he was he opened the gate and directed the car to the guest parking area. “Mr. Myers mentioned we are meeting Rev. Anderson and his wife here. Is that correct?” Brock looked back at Aimee.
“Yes they are old friends of my mother’s.
Brock took the first parking spot he found. “Do you mind if I walk you to meet the Andersons. I attend Wise Chapel Church were Rev. Anderson is the pastor?”
Aimee opened her door. “I would be delighted if you walk with me. You know my friend Piper and I are going to attend services at Wise. We actually did a mission trip there a few years ago. We helped with the beginning stages of the restoration. We are so excited to see the finished product in person.”
“That is wonderful my wife and I are the head of the Wise Chapel Youth Outreach Program. We are always looking for recruits.” Brock walked along beside Aimee
I will speak with Piper I am sure we can help somehow.” Aimee seen Tessa ahead waving.
The Reverend Mark Anderson was just as Aimee remembered him. His hair was more of a salt and pepper color but otherwise the same. He embraced her with a hug. “We are so glad you came to study at Neahovia. We have prayed for your return here for some time.”
Aimee returned the hug “Thanks Rev...”
Reverend Anderson stood back. “Please call me Uncle Mark like you always have.”
Aimee smiled. “Of course.”
Mark noticed Brock standing behind Aimee. He thanked Brock for escorting Aimee to the campus then the two men walked off discussing some church business.
Tessa joined Aimee and greeted her with a hug. The two ladies looked at the view of the Winchester Villa. Each building was made of cedar wood with the front doors trimmed in stone. Aimee counted a total of seven two story buildings. Each apartment or flat as they called them in Neahovia was separated by a flower garden.
Aimee removed her cell to double check the text Piper had sent earlier that day. “I am in Flat 707.”
Aimee and Tessa walked toward the Flat. It was on the farthest end of the parking area and it just so happened to be the closet to the beach as well.
Mark jogged over to them. “Sorry about that. Brock says hi to Tessa and to Aimee he looks forward seeing you in church.”
Aimee turned around. “I wanted to say thanks but I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt.”
Mark put his arm around her. “I thanked him for you. I see James over there at the end of the lot. Let’s go get you moved in my dear.”
Aimee could see James from a distance he was standing by an old red pickup truck.
“I am so sorry the Administration Building closed before you arrived today.” Tessa turned to Aimee.
“It’s ok. I told myself God had a reason for the unexpected layovers in Chicago and then again in London. I knew when my flight from Richmond took off on time that was too good to be true.” Aimee laughed.
Tessa looked at her. “You are so much like your mother, always looking on the bright side. Even so between the unexpected layovers at Chicago and again in London plus factoring in the time difference your flight turned into a 17 hour flight. You have to be tired?”
Aimee stopped just in front of James. “I am definitely ready for a hot shower and nap.”
James came over to give Aimee a hug. “I have to say I have never seen you travel so lightly.”
Aimee faked laughed. “Just wait until you help me put my stuff in storage.”
James grinned. “Who said I would help?”
Aimee shook her head. James had always been like an older brother to her. He loved picking at her but he also was very protective. It was a hard adjustment for them both when he moved to Neahovia with his parents. Aimee had already lost the two most important people in her life and to her it felt like her whole family moved away. She pouted for days. Then James began calling more frequently checking up on her. They stayed in touch with each other over the past two years but seeing him in person made her feel so happy. “My pretend big brother will do anything I ask.”
James laughed. “Yeah my pretend sister always gets what she wants.”
Aimee felt so silly ringing the doorbell to her own flat but she was keyless until tomorrow and Piper had not answered the text Aimee sent letting her know she was here. She waited nervously for someone to answer the door.
A tall light brown headed guy answered the door. “May I help you?” He asked with a thick accent.
“Yes I am Aimee Pittman. Pipers friend.”
“Oh yes the American. I am Colin, welcome to our flat.” He stood to the side of the door holding his left arm out.
The foyer appeared a little small but held lots of potential. Colin began giving her a tour pointing toward the living area as he explained that the cable for the Telli would be turned on tomorrow.
“Like she will watch any of our Neahovian shows.” A girl close to Aimee’s height with long light blonde hair entered the foyer.
Colin turned toward her “Don’t be rude Lexi.” He gave her an evil eye. Colin pointed to his left “the kitchen is this way…”
“I got it from here Colin.” A familiar voice to Aimee came from the stairs.”
The two girls squealed each other’s names as they jumped up and down in unison like little girls.
Aimee met Piper in a boarding school they attended when they were fifteen years old. They had shared a room and instantly became best friends. They both attended the school for only one year. So they used social media to stay in touch over the past three years. The minute Aimee finally received her father’s permission to attend Ancaster University she immediately called to tell Piper. The instant they hung up Piper phoned her mother and had her arrange for Aimee to room with Piper and her Neahovian friends.
James cleared his throat. “I am so sorry. Piper this is my friend James. His parents Tessa and Rev. Mark Anderson. Mark is the pastor of Wise Chapel.”
Piper stared at Aimee’s friend James a short second. “Rev. Anderson I am looking forward to attending church services at Wise. I have heard so many wonderful things about the church.”
Mark shook her hand. “Thank you Piper. We look forward to seeing you there and please just call me Mark.”
Aimee and Piper made small talk with Mark and Tessa while James and Colin carried Aimee’s belongings up the stairs. When they finished Piper gave Aimee a tour of the downstairs of the flat before guiding her upstairs to the bedrooms. There was four rooms two on each side of the hall. Piper directed Aimee to the last room on the left side of the hall. The room had two twin beds which were separated by a bay window with a view of the ocean and two desks sitting in front of it. Aimee could see herself sitting at her desk for hours at a time.
“Let me guess you was the first to arrive?”
Piper grinned. “The early girl gets the view.”
Piper took a glance over at Aimee’s stuff. “Since when did you start traveling so light?”
Aimee walked over to her side of the room and removed a credit card from her purse and began fanning herself with the card. “We haven’t been shopping together in so long.”
Piper and Aimee went back to the living area where Piper introduced her to some of her roommates. Lexi was the girl from early she was sharing the room next to Aimee and Piper with Sophia a petite girl with shoulder length black hair.
Colin was rooming with Aiden (who has not arrived yet) and Josiah who looked kind of scary with his black hair spiked all over and the tips died green. He appeared to be wearing more eyeliner then all four girls put together. He was rooming alone because the guy he was to room with decided to get an apartment off campus so they could have a place for band practice.
Colin decided he wanted to check out a local pub. Lexi, Sophia and Piper joined him and Josiah said he was hanging at Jorge’s place (the roommate who got an apartment). Aimee wanted to stay back. She was in need of a hot shower and some rest.
She took out her bag and unpacked her toiletries, bath towels and some clothing. After a nice hot shower she put on her favorite aqua and pink plaid carpi pajama pants with a matching aqua tee. She wrapped her hair in a towel and got out her laptop turned it to her favorite Contemporary Christian music station as she began the task of unpacking.
A fast uplifting song about praising God was on the radio so she sang along while folding and hanging her clothes. Lost in her own world enjoying the uplifting songs Aimee was working at a great speed. Midway through singing along with one of her favorite songs she heard someone clear their throat.
Startled she jumped and turned toward the door. The hottest guy she had ever seen in her life was standing in her doorway with one hand on the frame. There was no question he liked to work out. He was wearing a seersucker shirt which clung tight to his body leaving no reason for anyone to have to imagine the physique he had under the shirt. She looked up at his face and prayed her mouth was shut.
His sparkling white teeth help show off the best smile she had ever seen. His hair was light brown and styled in a fade cut with the soft spikes on the top. He had mesmerizing dark blue eyes and a five o’clock shadow that made him that more appealing. She was so caught up in the sight of him she forgot her hair was wrapped in a towel.
Aiden watched the girl from the doorway. The fact he knew all the other roommates meant she must be Pipers’ American friend. She was tall for a female but from what he could see she had a beautiful well-toned body. She was definitely easy on the eyes. He knew he needed to make his presences known but something about her was just so alluring to him. He just wanted to stand there and watch her all day.
He shook his head what was he doing. Clearing his throat had startled her so she turned to face him. She was beautiful even without all the makeup girls tend to wear and her hair wrapped in a towel. Her big hazel eyes where sparkling and the look on her face when she realized the towel was on her head was priceless. But all he could think of when she removed the towel was heaven help him as her long golden blonde hair fell down her back and around her face was he was in trouble.
He needed to say something…anything. “Hi. I’m Aiden. Sorry if I scared you.”
Slowly her cheeks turned pink. “It’s ok. I am Aimee. I hope my music didn’t disturb you.” She turned the volume down.
“Nah. I actually like it. It is different from any kind of music I have ever heard.”
“It’s Contemporary Christian.” She turned her head.
Aiden looked around the room. “Where is Piper? I figured as much as she has talked about you coming here she would be with you.”
“She went to some Pub with Colin, Lexi, and Sophia. Josiah went to a friend’s apartment.” Aimee replied while taking out some shirts and hanging them on hangers.
He watched as Aimee continued to work on unpacking her stuff. “What can I do to help?” At first he was certain she would turn him down and he didn’t want to leave just yet.
“If you want you can hang these in the closet.”
Placing the last shirt on the closet rod he began to laugh at the near empty closet. “I have never seen a girl travel so light.”
She laughed back. “I keep hearing that today. I was not sure of what was trendy here and what was not, along with being unsure of the amount of storage space and the climate I decided I would purchase my wardrobe…
“A shopping spree is in your near future.” It was all clear to him now.
“Yes. How did you guess; are you psychic?” She laughed.
“Not exactly but I am smart enough to know when a girl needs to shop.”
Aiden checked his watch. “Are you hungry?”
“Yeah. Piper said I could give her a ring if I needed her to bring me back something. But tell the truth…
“You’re unsure of what Neahovian Cuisine is actually like.”
“Are you sure you not psychic?”
“I just know how women think. Tell you what you get dressed. That is unless you really want to wear your PJ’s. I will call Milo’s Bistro to see if I can have a space saved for us.”
“There’s that psychic thing again. I do have one question.”
He grinned. “Ok.”
“Casual but keep in mind the evening air is chilly this time of the year.”
Twenty minutes later she appeared in the Foyer. She was more beautiful than he could have imagined with her straightened long golden hair. She had on a pair of distressed jeans that was showing off her curves very well and the plaid hot pink and brown shirt she was wearing caused those hazel eyes to sparkle even more. He watched as she did a 360 turn.
“Will this do?”
“Perfect.” That was the word to describe her. She looked perfect to him. The casual attire she wore made her look down to earth; unlike Ava.
Aimee took care to notice the way they were walking just in case she needed to find Milo’s on her own. Milo’s Bistro was only 3 blocks from their flat. The breeze from the ocean was still warm and the fresh salty aroma hung in the air. The streets where quite. It was amazing how relaxed she felt. Most people would be so nervous about being in a strange country all alone. But Aimee felt peaceful as if she had always belonged here.
As soon as they arrived to Milo’s a hostess took them to a table in the back corner. A tall slender waiter stood with a drink menu in one hand and a towel draped over the other arm. “Hello Welcome to Milo’s. My name is Owen. I will be your server today. Would you like to place your drink order now or do you need a few minutes.”
Aimee could feel her cheeks turning red for the second time tonight. She leaned over to Aiden. “I don’t drink alcohol”
He glanced at her. “Never?”
“Can we have two regular sodas please?” The waiter nodded taking his drink menu and leaving the table. “I should have told you early I don’t drink alcohol.”
Aiden laughed. “My psychic abilities let me down on this one. Your Pipers American friend that she goes on Christian Missions with.”
“Yes. That is me.”
Everything on the menu looked so good to Aimee. She was having a hard time deciding what to try. Aiden noticing her struggle leaned over to her. “They have an awesome chicken club salad with a special house dressing.”
Aimee nodded. “Then that’s what I will try.”
Aiden placed the order with the waiter when he returned with their sodas.
“Are you from Ancaster?”
“No I actually live in Broughton.”
She took a sip of her soda. “Broughton is the Neahovian Capital City right.”
“Yeah. It looks like you have done some homework on our country.”
Aimee glanced around the room at the pictures on the walls.
Aiden pointed out one of his favorites. “The owner of the Milo’s Bistro chains daughter painted all the portraits.”
“She is very talented. Are these places here in Neahovia?”
Aiden leaned back in his chair. “Yeah these are some of the best landmarks in Neahovia.”
“I hope to see more of the country over the next few years.”
“Have you ever been her before?”
“A few years back.
Aiden watched as she studied one of the portraits. “When did you visit Neahovia?”
“Oh sorry. Once when I was very young I came her with my mom to a beach. We met one of her friends here. And again a few years back Piper and I worked on a mission trip.”
“The Wise Chapel project.”
“Yeah. We helped in the beginning stages of the restoration.”
Aiden took a drink of soda. “It’s a beautiful building.”
“Yes the building is beautiful but it’s what happens inside the building that makes it special.” The waiter brought their food out.
“So what happens inside the building that makes it so special?”
“The teaching and preaching of God’s word. Piper and I are going to be attending services there you should join us.”
“Maybe I will. So what is your major?”
It was obvious to Aimee he was changing the current subject. “Business Management and Marketing. What’s yours?”
Aiden laughed. “Business Management and Marketing.”
“You’re joking right.”
“Not at all. So I guess it is safe to say we are going to be study partners.”
Aimee nodded. “Study Partners for sure.”
The conversation continued about school throughout the main course. Aiden ordered a fruit parfait and a cup of coffee for each of them for dessert. Aimee was amazed how nice he was he had the good looks and a great personality which could only mean one of two things.
“So do you have a girlfriend?”
He seemed amused. “What gave me away?”
“Mainly it is the fact that I have never seen a single straight guy be so well mannered and thoughtful.”
Aiden laughed out loud. “I am so glad you didn’t ask…”
Aimee laughed with him. “We’ll just leave it at that. Tell me about your girlfriend.”
“Her name is Ava Porter. She is studying fashion design in Italy. How about you? Do you have some special guy waiting for you back in the States?”
“No and no to the second question as well.”
He laughed. “It seems I am not the only one with psychic abilities at our table. Seriously though, I would have thought for sure you would have been taken.”
Aimee blushed once more. “I always knew I wanted to come to Neahovia to attend college. A relationship oceans apart didn’t seem practical to me.”
Aiden took the bill from the waiter and ordered two to-go cups of coffee. “You know some say distance makes the heart grow founder while others think it is a true test for your love.”
“Oh I am sorry I didn’t mean it like that.”
He chuckled. “It’s cool. Italy is closer than flying to the States so I can see how that could make a difference.”
The walk home seemed shorter to Aimee maybe because now she was familiar with the street a little. The air was cool and she was glad to have the extra cup of coffee to help keep her warm.
Lexi was writing on a dry erase message board when Aiden and Aimee returned to the flat. Aiden sat in the oversized chair across from Colin.
Colin started grinning from ear to ear. “Well Lex look who has finally made it home.”
“It’s about time.” She continued writing in bold letters Flat Meeting Tomorrow at 8p.m. “Ava has called me twice looking for you.”
Aiden felt around his pants. “I must have left my phone here.”
Colin tossed him his phone. “Lex you should have been like me and just not answered her calls.”
“Hey Lex what are you doing?” Aiden asked in an annoyed tone.
“We needed a message board so I bought one.”
“I see that. What is this Flat Meeting stuff?”
Colin rolled his eyes as Lexi responded. “The Villa Advisor called and said we had to do a meeting.” She picked up the marker Pizza provided by the guys.
Aimee snickered. “Looks like Lexi just told you. By the way I love extra cheese and I am allergic to mushrooms.” The girls headed up stairs as the guys mumbled.
Piper was finishing arranging her side of the room when Aimee walked in the room. So Aimee went and cleaned her face and slipped on her favorite oversized baseball shirt then took out her Bible.
Piper took out her Bible and sat on her bed. “I am so glad that your dad is letting you study at Ancaster. I was so afraid he would say no.”
Aimee started reading her Bible. “What are you studying Piper?”
“The Book of James.”
“So am I.”