I Get an Unexpected Surprise is the forty-fifth chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on May 20, 2017.
Jasmine, Johnathan, Peter, Elizabeth, and I are playing on the trampoline in our grandparents back yard.
It’s really fun to jump up, and when you land, based on how high everyone else jumped, you unexpectedly jump really high. That happened to me a couple times, and I landed on Jasmine each time.
“Annabeth!” I heard Mom calling from the front yard. She was standing at the gate.”
“Yes, Mom?” I asked.
“Could you come here? There’s somebody here to see you.”
“Who?” Jasmine asked.
“Come here and you’ll see.”
Jasmine and I looked at each other. We weren’t sure what to think of who it was, but I guess there was only one way to find out.
We got off the trampoline and followed Mom to the front yard. When we got there, we saw Dad talking to a man, and I immediately knew who it was.
I stopped and stared at him. “Dad?”
He noticed me and smiled. “Hello, Annabeth.”
I could barely believe it. It was my real dad. I haven’t seen him in three years. What was he doing here?
“Jasmine,” Mom said. “Let’s let Annabeth and her dad talk alone, ok?”
“I don’t want to go,” she replied.
“I know you don’t, but can you do that this time?”
Jasmine looked at me. “Do you want me to stay?”
I did, but I also needed to do this on my own.
I shook my head. “I’ll be ok.”
“Ok,” Jasmine replied.
“Come on, Jasmine,” her dad said, holding his hand out to her.
She looked at my dad uneasily, then she took her dad’s hand and they and her mom went back to the backyard and left me and my dad alone.
I watched them until they disappeared, then I turned back to my dad.
He gave me a friendly smile. “You’ve gotten bigger.”
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.”
“You have? Why?”
“Because you’re my daughter. But I’m guessing you haven’t thought about me.”
I shook my head. “Not for a long time.”
He nodded like he understood. “Annabeth, I came here because I miss you, and I want you to come home.”
I kind of suspected him to say that, but it still surprised me.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to my dad, but I’ve always wondered something since Sarah and Zak adopted me.
“You knew I was a demigod and you never told me,” I said.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” Dad replied. “But you were so young. I didn’t think you would understand.”
“Well, I do now.”
“Yes. I can see that. Have you met your mother?”
I shook my head sadly.
“I’m sure you will someday. I love you, Annabeth, and you’re my daughter. I want us to be a family again. Do you?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “What about Savanna?”
“She’s willing to try if you are.”
“And Jasmine? Will you let us stay best friends?”
“Of course. I was wrong to tell you you couldn’t be best friends anymore. So what do you say?”
“I don’t know, Dad.”
“That’s all right. You don’t have to decide right now. Take as much time as you need. As you know, I’m just across the river. Can I give you a hug?”
I hesitated, but nodded.
He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close to him. I wrapped my arms around him.
He pulled away a minute later. “It was good to see you again. I really hope you will give me another chance and come home.”
He walked away and down the street.
As I watched him, I kept thinking about one thing: What am I going to do?
“You shouldn’t go back,” Luke said.
We all were gathered together in the living room.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because he abandoned you, Annabeth,” Luke replied. “Fathers don’t abandon their daughters.”
“He didn’t abandon me. I ran away.”
“Exactly. And he didn’t try to find you. He just gave you up.”
“Yes. But maybe it was because he didn’t care about me then, like I felt, but he does now.”
“It’s too late. He should’ve done that before, not now. Not after all the pain he caused you.”
“Luke, shut up,” Jasmine said. “Just because it didn’t work out with you and your daddy, doesn’t mean it won’t for Annabeth and her daddy too.”
I stared at her, surprised. “You think I should go?”
“Why? What about what you said to my dad after I ran away?”
“I use to think that. But now he came back for you, and I don’t think that about him anymore.”
“Just because he came to see her for the first time in three years?” Luke asked in disbelief.
Jasmine nodded. “Yes. You should go home to your dad, Annabeth.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I love my daddy. I want you to love yours too.”
“I agree with Jasmine,” Emily said.
“You do?” Luke asked.
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Well, it’s not like your father is as good, considering he almost killed you for drunk driving with you in the back seat.”
Emily stared at him, confused. “What?”
“Luke,” Grandma scolded.
“It’s the truth,” he replied.
“It is?” Emily asked. “Mom, what is he talking about?”
Grandma sighed. “You know how your father use to be an alcoholic?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, about fifteen years ago, a few months after you were born, our family met the Saturdays. Sarah and Zak met, and they eventually became a couple then. Your dad didn’t like that, and as a result, he started drinking again. One day, he was very drunk. He went out for a drive, bringing you with him, and he caused a very deadly car accident, almost killing the both of you.”
Emily took a moment to process that. “But you’re the Protector of America. You have the ability to look a few minutes into the future to detect where the next crime will happen and stop it before it does. Where were you then, Mom, at that moment?”
“Well, like I said, it was the first year we met the Saturdays, and that was hectic. Especially that particular day. We had gotten captured by an enemy of ours that was trying to get revenge on us for destroying his illegal empire in Tokyo, and he somehow got a hold of Immortal handcuffs that kept us from being able to use our powers. And Sarah and Zak had their first break up that day. So, yeah, it was a pretty bad day.”
“One of the worst we’ve ever had,” Sarah agreed.
“Ok. We’ll talk more about that later,” Emily said. “And, Luke, this isn’t about me and my dad, it’s about Annabeth and her dad.”
“She’s right,” Grandma said. She looked at me. “Annabeth, I believe in second chances. If you want to go back with your dad, it’s completely up to you. It’s no one else’s decision unless you want it to be.”
“I agree,” Zak said.
“So do I,” Sarah said. “No matter what you decide, no matter what happens, you will always be apart of our family.”
“And my sister,” Jasmine added, giving me a hug.
I smiled at them all. Or, most of them.
But what was my decision? Should I go home to my dad? I guess I should try.
“I’m going to give my dad another chance,” I said.
All of them, except for Luke, smiled at me.
“Do you want to call him right now and tell him yourself?” Sarah asked.
As Sarah went to get the phone, I looked at Luke. He clearly wasn’t happy with my decision. He left the room without saying anything.
He’s become more angrier since his failed quest last month. I hated seeing him like that, especially if it was because of me.
But I have to believe that my dad still cares and loves me. And I didn’t realize until now that that’s what I’ve always wanted from him.
After calling my dad and telling him I was coming home, I went to see Luke in his room.
“Luke?” I called.
He looked at me and smiled what I assumed was a fake smile. “Hey.”
“Are you mad at me?”
“What? Why would I be mad at you?”
“For going home to my dad.”
He sighed. “I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at your dad for asking you to go back living with him, even though you haven’t spoken to him in three years. You wouldn’t be leaving now if he didn’t come here.”
“Probably not,” I admitted. “But I have to try, Luke. Wouldn’t you go back to your real mom if she wasn’t the way she is?”
I knew that was a touchy subject for Luke, but I had to ask it.
“Maybe,” he admitted. “But everybody’s different, Annabeth. Just be careful. And, like Sarah said, you will always have a home here, no matter what. Never forget that.”
I smiled. “I won’t.”
I gave him a hug.
I went to pack some of my things from my room and left to my old family, saying temporary goodbyes to my newest family.
Jasmine went with me, of course.
After we got to my old home, my dad gave me a hug. Then we went to put my stuff in my old room. It looked exactly as I left it.
“I didn’t change anything while you were gone,” Dad said.
I could tell.
I remembered the last night I was in this room: all of the spiders coming out of the closet, biting me and covering me with their cobwebs. That was the one thing I didn’t miss, and probably never will.
Savanna just came back in from the backyard. “Hello, Annabeth,” she said, being polite.
“Hi,” I replied.
I still didn’t like her, but she was trying, so I guess I should at least try too.
Two boys ran into the room from behind her. They both looked to be about four years old, and identical. I knew that they were my step-brothers, Bobby and Matthew, but it’s been three years since I’ve seen them that I can’t remember which was which, and I honestly didn’t care.
They were both playing with some kind of toys in their hands.
“Boys,” Savanna said. “Go meet your sister.”
They put their toys down and looked at her, confused. “Our sister?”
Savanna pointed at me.
They looked at me, still confused.
Dad put his hands on my shoulders. “Bobby, Matthew, this is your sister, Annabeth. Your half-sister, anyway.”
They looked at me up and down, then they did the last thing I expected them to do: they smiled and ran up to me.
“Cool,” one of them said. “We’ve always wanted a big brother.”
“But a big sister is cool too,” the other one said. “Do you want to come play with us?”
“Umm . . .” I wasn’t sure what to say.
“Go play with your brothers, Annabeth,” Jasmine said.
I glared at her. Now I kind of wish she hadn’t come with me.
“How about you go play with your brother?” I suggested.
“I will,” Jasmine replied. “But not until you go play with your brothers.”
I looked at them, and they were waiting for my answer.
I sighed. “Fine. We can go play.”
“Yes!” Bobby and Matthew cheered.
They both grabbed my hands and pulled me out to the backyard.
“Bye, Annabeth,” Jasmine said just before the sliding glass door closed behind me.
As soon as we got outside, I was greeted by a familiar bark.
I smiled. “Rufus!”
My old dog ran up and jumped on me, licking my face.
“Hey, boy. I really missed you too.”
And I did. He was really the only one I missed.
He stopped licking me and got off. I stood back up and dusted myself off.
“You know our dog?” Matthew asked. (I had finally asked them their names, and could remember which one was which because they were wearing different clothes.)
I nodded. “I’ve known him since he was a puppy, and trained him too. Watch.” I picked up a disc from the ground. “Fetch.”
I threw it, and Rufus ran and caught it in his mouth. Then he came back toward me and sat down.
“Good boy. Now drop it.”
He did next to my feet.
“Good boy. Now speak.”
He barked once.
He dropped to the ground and rolled to his right.
“Good boy. Now come here.”
I held my hand out. “Stay.”
He did. I missed him so much.
I put my hand on his head and looked at Bobby and Matthew.
“See?” I said.
“Cool,” Matthew replied.
“You’ve known him since he was a puppy?” Bobby asked.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“So you’ve been here before?”
“How come we never saw you until now?” Matthew asked.
“Oh . . .” I looked down. “I ran away when I was seven.”
“It’s a long story, and I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Where did you go?”
I knew I couldn’t tell them the whole truth, so I decided to tell them only part of it.
“You saw that girl that came with me, right?” I asked them.
“She’s my best friend, Jasmine. Her parents accepted me, and I’ve been living with them across the river.”
“Ok,” Bobby and Matthew said.
I picked up the disk at my feet. “Let’s play.”
I threw it and Rufus caught it.
We formed a triangle around him and threw the disc toward each other, keeping it from him.
If he caught it before the person one of us threw it to and didn’t drop it, that person was out.
Bobby and Matthew kept throwing it at me since I’m twice their size and Rufus was bigger than them, so since they don’t throw it that high, Rufus is able to get it and take me out.
I was mad at them for doing that, but Jasmine and I would do that to Luke all the time, so I didn’t hold it against them and had fun, which is something I never really thought would ever happen for me with them.
After playing with Bobby, Matthew, and Rufus for awhile, my dad wanted me to tell him everything that happened since I was seven, and I guess Rufus wanted to know too, because he followed me into Dad’s office and stayed there.
I told Dad about my life for the past three years: journeying across the country with Jasmine, eventually meeting Luke and Thalia; Grover taking us to Camp Half-Blood, and Thalia sacrificing herself to save us; Chiron, Mr. D, my older sister Cassandra, and our other siblings at camp; my newfound love for architecture; everything.
“You’ve had such fun and heartache for the past few years,” Dad said when I was finished. “You’ve been so brave, and I missed all those moments with you.”
“I know, Dad,” I said. “But, hopefully, you won’t anymore.”
“I hope so, too. I have something I want to give you.”
He went to his desk, opened the top drawer, and pulled out a gold ring.
He gave it to me. “This is my college ring. And I’d like you to have it.”
“They give you rings in college?” I asked.
Dad laughed. “Yes, they certainly do. Maybe you’ll get your own someday. Until then, I want you to have mine.”
I looked at the ring in my hands. I tried to put it on one of my fingers, even my thumb, but it wouldn’t stay on.
“It’s too big,” I said.
“You’re still growing,” Dad said. “It’ll fit you someday.”
“Thank you, Dad.”
I gave him a hug.
I wanted this moment to last forever. But, of course, something had to happen to ruin it forever.
It’s been a few days since I went back to live with my dad. Savanna and I have been trying to get along, and so far we’ve been polite to each other, but still didn’t exactly like one another. But we’re trying.
Bobby and Matthew liked me a lot for some reason. They’re being just as annoying to me as Jasmine was when we were five. And still now, though not quite as much.
Them separate, Bobby and Matthew, they’re not so annoying. But when they’re together, which is all the time, they’re twice as annoying, and that’s how annoying Jasmine is.
But I do like them all.
Jasmine did come over a couple times, of course, and she brought Johnathan with her to play with Bobby and Matthew while we played with Rufus.
They seemed to like each other.
Jasmine also brought Toothless, which Bobby and Matthew liked, and he gave them both rides on his back. Dad also liked Toothless. So much that he wanted to get all the information he could about him. It really embarrassed Bobby, Matthew, and me, but Toothless didn’t seem to mind.
One day, Bobby, Matthew, Rufus, and I were playing in our backyard when something terrible happened.
We were playing tag when something made me stop. The air felt still. Too still.
Matthew tagged me. “Tag. You’re it!” Then he ran. But he stopped when he realized I wasn’t chasing him. “What’s wrong, Annabeth?”
I didn’t reply.
I didn’t know what was wrong, exactly, but I knew that something bad was going to happen.
Rufus could sense it too, because he was facing the woods behind our house and was barking at them.
Something was there, watching us.
I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t want to find out. But I knew that I had to get Bobby and Matthew somewhere safe before it was too late.
“Guys,” I said. “Get inside now.”
“Why?” Bobby asked.
“I can’t tell you. Just trust me on this. Get inside now.”
“What about you?” Matthew asked.
“I’m right behind you. Go!”
They ran to the house.
“Rufus,” I called. “Come on!”
He didn’t seem to hear me. He just continued barking.
He stopped barking and looked at me.
He didn’t want to, but he followed me to the house.
That’s when the monster came out of the woods.
I turned in time to see it before it jumped on me. I tried to get away, but it was no use. It had its paw pinning me to the ground, and it was too heavy to lift off. I was doomed.
But Rufus came to my rescue. He jumped onto the face of the monster and bit its nose. The monster howled in pain and lifted its paw off of me.
I stood up from the ground and backed away. Now that I could get a better look at it, I immediately knew that it was a hellhound. And, luckily, there was only one. This was the first time I’ve been attacked by a monster in my home town. That’s probably because, as I get older, monsters are able to catch my scent more easily. It would’ve killed me had Rufus not come to my rescue.
The hellhound was twice his size, and he managed to hold onto his nose with his teeth. But he wouldn’t be able to do that for long. The hellhound would eventually get the best of him and kill him. And then me. I couldn’t let that happen.
I didn’t have my knife with me. It was in my room. I quickly ran inside my house. Bobby and Matthew were in there, watching through the windows. At least they made it inside ok.
“Annabeth,” Matthew said. “Why is a poodle attacking you and Rufus?”
A poodle? I know that the Mist changes the true form of a monster for mortals to something they’ll understand, and it surprises me a lot what it makes it look like. But a poodle? Really? That is too farfetched. A Great Dane is more believeable than a poodle. If I wasn’t so scared right now, I’d probably be laughing. I probably will later, if I survive that is.
“Umm, it doesn’t like us?” I said, sounding more like a question than an answer.
I ran to my room, grabbed my knife off of my nightstand, and ran back outside. Except I didn’t make it outside before the hellhound threw Rufus through the window.
Bobby and Matthew were smart enough to get out of the way. Unfortunately, Savanna was home, and she heard the window break.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
When she came into the room, she stared at the hellhound in horror. Since she knew that I was a demigod, I didn’t think the Mist could fool her. She could see it for what it really was.
“Savanna,” I said. “Get Bobby and Matthew and get out of here.”
She did as I told her. “Bobby, Matthew, get over here.”
“It’s a poodle, Mommy,” Bobby said.
“It has white foam coming out of its mouth,” Matthew said.
Great. A poodle with rabies. Well, I guess that’s better.
“I don’t care what it is,” Savanna said. “Get over here.”
They did reluctantly. Savanna took them out the front door and they were gone.
Good. At least they were out of harms way. I wish Rufus was too.
He was lying on the floor, a few shards of glass punctured his side and he was bleeding, but he was still able to stand back up on his legs with some difficulty.
The hellhound was still outside, making its way slowly toward us. Rufus growled at him.
“Stay, Rufus,” I said. “It’s my turn with him.”
He looked like he didn’t want to listen, but he stopped growling. He looked like he was asking me a question: Are you sure?
I nodded. “Yes.”
I turned back toward the hellhound just in time to see it charging at me.
Rufus tackled me out of the way at the last second. I landed a few feet away as the hellhound jumped on top of Rufus. He growled at it, not showing any sign that he was afraid of dying.
I really wish I was as brave as he was. But I was not going to let him die. Not on my watch.
“No!” I screamed.
I jumped on top of the hellhound and held on like I was riding a bull, but I wasn’t for long. I lifted my knife and brought down the blade on its head.
The hellhound disintegrated, leaving behind a pile of dust.
I landed on top of it. Rufus was covered in it. He tried to shake it off, but it hurt him too much. I crawled over to him, wiped the dust off, and wrapped my arms around him.
“It’s ok now,” I promised. “You’re going to be ok.”
He believed me and licked my face.
We laid there together until help came for us.
About ten minutes after I defeated the hellhound, Luke, Jasmine, and her family came over and took care of things.
I wasn’t really hurt at all. Jasmine and her mom took the glass out of Rufus, put healing cream on his wounds, and wrapped them in bandages.
The police came here, but Raylee talked with them and told them a fake story, sounding very convincing, and they believed her and eventually left. She told the same thing to Bobby and Matthew, but I told me dad and Savanna and everyone else the real story.
After what felt like a really long time and getting everyone’s pity, especially Jasmine’s, she and Luke and their family went home so that Rufus and I could rest after a long hard day.
At one point, I went to the kitchen to get something to drink.
I passed by my dad and Savanna’s room and the door was closed, but I could hear them arguing. I didn’t really care what they were arguing about until I heard my dad say my name.
“That wasn’t Annabeth’s fault,” he said.
I pressed my ear against the door to hear better.
“That thing came here because of her,” Savanna said. “It could’ve killed Bobby and Matthew.”
“It wasn’t here to kill them,” Dad argued. “It wanted to kill Annabeth, and she protected them and herself from it by killing it, like she’s been training to do.”
“You don’t understand, Frederick. She’s too dangerous to be around, and do you want to risk our sons lives with them being near her and a monster that could attack her at any moment?”
“No,” Dad admitted.
“Neither do I. She can’t stay here.”
“She’s my daughter.”
“She’s not mine.”
I backed away from the door and stared at it.
I didn’t want to admit it, but Savanna was right. If I stayed here, they would be at risk as much as I am, and I don’t want them to get hurt because of me. And my dad seemed to agree with that. I may be his daughter, but I’m too dangerous to be around.
Oh well. At least I tried.
I went to my room and packed most of my things as fast as I could. Then I was about to leave my house when I heard Rufus whine behind me.
I turned to face him. “I’m sorry, Rufus. But I can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous for you and everybody else.”
He barked, as if protesting that he didn’t care if it was too dangerous for him.
“You got hurt because of me. You’re lucky you survived, but you might not the next time, and I don’t want you to die. I have to go.”
I was crying now. Rufus whined again and licked my face.
I wrapped my arms around his neck. “I’ll miss you too.”
I backed away from him and went to the door.
He followed me.
I held my hand out to him. “Stay.”
He sat down reluctantly.
I opened the door and stepped out of it into the night. I turned back toward Rufus and waved to him. “Goodbye.”
He gave me one more bark, and I closed the door.
I hated doing that to Rufus, but I had to. I hope he understands that someday, even if he is a dog.
I went to my true home, and I didn’t look back.
When I got back to Jasmine’s house, I rang the doorbell.
It was late, but not everyone was asleep yet. Jasmine gave me a hug and told me she was sorry it didn’t work out with my dad. I was, too.
A few days later, I got a letter in the mail from my dad, telling me how sorry he was. He even put his college ring in the letter that I had left behind. He wanted me to have it.
I thought about sending it back, but decided to keep it. I strung it on to my necklace with my beads from camp, and put it around my neck.
At least I have a little part of my dad with me, even if it’s not much.
Aww. And Annabeth and her dad were really trying too. And poor Rufus.
So has anybody here read The Dark Prophecy yet? It was good. I'm interested to know what happens in the next one!
Please review here.
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