Jeff reached towards the dashboared, and tuned the radio into the local alternative music station.
"Would you turn that crap off?" Matt sighed "It's bad enough I have to deal with your choices of food for the next week."
Jeff just grinned at his brother. "Hey, I won those meals fair and square. You should know I always win at paper-rock-scissors" he boasted.
Matt flipped the radio switch off, and Jeff pouted for only a second, then returned to his daydreaming, leaving the brothers in comfortable silence. Matt turned onto the road leading back into their small home town of Cameron North Carolina.
As they reached the main street that ran through town, they both decided to get out and walk around a bit. They had not been in town in a while, and decided to see how some of the people they knew were doing. Matt even conned Jeff into stopping in the small diner for some food, instead of going home and cooking.
They walked along the street, chatting with a few friends of the family along their way. Jeff decided to go into the small book store, and get some reading material for the next few days. Matt said he would meet him at the diner in 15 minutes and to move his ass, because Matt's stomach was beginning to growl.
Jeff chuckled "Well, we could always just go home and cook some of my food, and skip this all together if you are too hungry bro."
Matt raised an eyebrow, "Just go get your damn book, and be quick about it, will ya?"Jeff laughed and ran into the store. Matt continued walking down the street.
Nothing much had changed around town, almost all of the original shops were still there. The general store, the book store, the diner. Almost all of the people that he saw out and about, were people he had known ever since he was a kid growing up. Older folks stopped him to ask him about his father, and how Matt and Jeff were doing physically and mentally. The younger ones he had known as some of the brats of the town, who were now middle class working adults, just like everyone else. He saw Mr. Rollman, outside his general store, sweeping away at the side walk. Mrs. Walker, with her mangey group of yappy dogs out walking.
He turned around to start heading for the diner to meet up with Jeff. As he was walking, he noticed a girl, who was very unfamiliar to him. She looked like she hadn't slept in days, and had been wearing the same clothes for at least a week. She didn't look like she belonged here in Cameron at all. Matt's first reaction was "I didn't know we had homeless people here. I always thought that we had a good handle on that sort of thing. Course, being away for almost 6 months changes a lot of things." He blew it off as some run away teen from one of the broods around here, and headed up to the diner.
Jeff and Matt grabbed a booth, and the waitress came, took their meal and drink orders, and left them to talking to eachother.
Jeff waved a hand infront of Matt's face. "Woo-hoo. Matt, come in Matt. Do you read me?"
Matt smacked his brothers hand away "What?" he asked irritated.
"You completely spaced out on me. Where is your mind wandering right now?" Jeff said propping his feet on the length of the seat.
Just as Matt opened his mouth to tell Jeff to mind his own buisness, the girl from the street walked through the door.
"Jeff, have you ever seen that girl around here before?" Matt said discreetly pointing to the girl.
Jeff looked her over. About 5' 7, pixie haircut, brown hair, amazing big brown eyes, not a supermodel build by any means, but well proportioned in the right places, and attractive in the others. She was wearing a black tee-shirt with the words " *Role Model* " written across the chest, a black and white checkered flannel draped around her waist, a pair of venezia jeans with a hole in the knee, and a pair of black hiking boots. She definately didn't fit the mold of a Cameron citizen.
"No, I have never seen her in my life. Cute though" Jeff grinned "Very cute. She looks like my type of girl. Why don't we invite her to have some dinner with us? She looks kinda lost, and tired to say the least..."
"Leave it to you to find a wounded bird to nurse" Matt laughed.
Jeff got up from the table, and crossed the floor to the bar seat where she was sitting. He took a seat next to her.
"Have I seen you before?" He asked her.
"I highly doubt it" She answered.
"Well then let me introduce myself, the names Jeff" He said reaching his hand forward in a friendly shake.
"Jocelyn" She replied, shaking his hand tentativly.
Jeff noticed how her hand was trembling, he began to feel pity for her, even though he knew nothing about her.
"Well hello Jocelyn. I hope you don't find this awkward, seeing as how we just met, but would you care to join me and my brother in a hot meal?"
"Oh, I couldn't possibley. I don't want to burden you, and I really have no money to pitch in towards the bill" she murmerd softly. Jeff could tell she was embarrassed.
"Well, it would be awful unkind, and very unlike me to watch a lady starve. I will gladly pay for your dinner, in exchange for your company, and to know more about you" He smiled charmingly.
She lifted her glance to meet his. Jeff could really tell a lot about people, just by looking at their face. And Jeff could tell this girl was frightened, feeling alone, helpless, tired, and extremely hungry.
"Well, I can't resist your smile, Jeff" She smiled slightly "If it will earn me a hot meal, I wouldn't mind sharing you and your brothers company."
Jeff got up from the seat, and being the southern gentleman he was, held out his hand for Jocelyn. She laughed softly at his charm. Matt got up from the table to meet up with Jeff, and his new friend.
"This brute of a guy" Jeff smirked "would be my older brother Matt. Matt, this young lady is Jocelyn. Keep your hands, and eyes to yourself" Jeff laughed trying to ease the tension he could feel in Jocelyn's fingers.
Jeff let Jocelyn slide into the booth, and he sat beside her. The waitress came back, and Jocelyn placed an order for a small side salad, but when Matt and Jeff both looked at her in disbelief, she ordered some country fried steak, and mashed potatoes for the salad to side.
"So, if you don't mind me asking Ms. Jocelyn, what brings you to Cameron?" Matt asked politely.
She almost choked on her lemonade "What brings me here?" she asked nervously. Her mind raced, how was she going to tell these two very kind men, that she was a runaway from Michigan, who had been hopping buses and trains for the past year, with only what she had in her knap-sack, which was not money.
"I'm uh, visiting some family in, um Raliegh.Yeah, distant, several times removed family members" She lied staring at the drink in front of her, suddenly wishing this place served alchohol.
Jeff spotted the lie from the first word out of her mouth, so had Matt. "Ok, now that you told us that wonderful, sugarcoated, lie...What are you REALLY doing here Jocelyn?" Jeff asked with a raised eyebrow.
She gulped another helping of her lemonade, and made the mistake of looking Jeff in the eye.
"To tell you guys the truth, I ran away from home over a year ago. When I was 17. Things at home were never the best for me. My mom didn't understand what my goal was in life. She wanted me to go to a law school, and kept pushing me. She even had the gall to start filling out law school applications for me. I wanted to write. That is my dream, my passion. I have been like that since I was 9 when my parents got a divorce. It may seem like I ran away from issues that could have been resolved, but no one knows my mother. She won't let anyone have their way about anything. Its always got to be her way." Tears started filling her eyes. "I'm sorry, all you guys asked for was an explination as to why I am here. I am a runaway from home..."
Jeff looked at the girl sitting next to him, she was shaking from trying to keep the tears from falling.
"Look, Jocelyn. I don't mean to keep asking person questions, but where are you staying? Do you have somewhere to go?" Jeff asked. Matt caught on to what Jeff was getting at. He wasn't sure, this girl was nice and all, but they didn't know her.
"No. I just sleep where ever I can. I don't have money for a motel or anything." She said staring at the table in front of her.
Jeff looked at Matt, pleading him with his eyes. "She needs help, please?" Matt sighed, and nodded his head yes.
"Um, Jocelyn? If you would like, we have a pretty big house, and if you want, we have plenty of extra room if you'd like to came stay with us."
"Jeff, I couldn't possibley do that! You have already been the nicest to me by buying me dinner. I couldn't ask you to take me into your house. Now if you'll excuse me, this is where I take my leave. Thank you so much for buying me dinner, and being so nice to me. It was nice meeting both of you" She got up and grabbed her knap-sack, and began walking away.
Someone suddenly grabbed her arm, and spun her around.
"You didn't ask to stay with us. We are asking you to stay with us. It would mean a lot to Jeff to know that you are ok, and it would mean a lot to me if I could get to know you better" Matt looked into her square in the eyes for the first time. They were the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. He remembered watching Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", he had always fallen for girls with lovely eyes like the character of Belle. And here were eyes even more gorgeous than that.
"Please Jocelyn, I want to see that you are safe somewhere. And it would mean a lot if that safe place was with me and Jeff." Matt pleaded.
Jocelyn looked up at Matt, and sighed. "I'll give it a try, I don't guarentee I will stay though." She grumbled walking back to the table.
Matt grinned "I think you will."