The Fine Line Between Hate and Love
"I think," Hail began as I held my breath. "I think that you can't get any better than this."
I beamed happily. That was the best compliment I could ever hope to get from Hail so I was more than happy to receive it.
Hail and I had been having practicing for almost everyday whenever he and I could meet without Gale realizing. This was my last practice as tonight...
...is going to be the big night.
"I wonder how Darcy keeps Gale busy," I said, wondering. I never thought about it before but I guess it wasn't really that important.
"Does it matter?" Hail asked. I just shook my head.
"Gale's going to be so happy, Devon," adorable Ardel said with a cute smile on his face. He was the one who came with Hail instead of Arundel today. "I'm really glad you're doing this for him."
"So am I," I replied, giving him a quick hug. "When will I get the dress meant for me?" I was getting anxious. I mean, for all I know it could be something really revealing or something! Okay, maybe not... But still... If it's Mrs. Scharden...
I shivered slightly in fear. Please don't let it be backless or have a hip-high slit or a very low neck or a-
"You'll get it later so you won't have time to change your mind if you don't like it," Ardel said cheerfully. "But it's wonderful so you'll love it."
That didn't comfort me. I gave him a wary look and he blinked innocently at me. There was a twinkle of mischief in those eyes though.
My wariness increased a hundred-fold to the point of extreme anxiety.
"Is Nina also receiving a dress from Mrs. Scharden?" I asked in curiosity. Ardel nodded.
"She also offered one for Cerise Richards but since Cerise is already loaded enough to buy a splendid dress, she politely declined. But don't worry," Ardel added. "Cerise said she wouldn't steal the spotlight away from the star of the night."
I was about to say that Cerise did NOT even need to TRY to steal the spotlight – she already had regardless – when I heard car brakes screech inside my head. "Hold up! Who's the star of the night?"
Ardel blinked innocently at me again. I was REALLY starting to distrust that cute facade and I was reminded of Gale. My anxiety just kept on going up.
The bashful, polite and timid boy actually beamed happily. "Why, you of course, Devon. It's the night you declare your undying love for Gale in front of thousands of people."
"A-A t-thousand?!" I almost screeched. In truth, I had forgotten that whole declaring my love thing!
Could we do this in another year?
Hail was giving a sheepish Ardel a reprimanding look. "Not thousands. Only hundreds."
Oh, that just made me feel heaps better! Really! Seriously!
"But it's meant to be yours and Arundel's birthday party!"
Ardel got off the couch he was lounging on and walked over to me. Hail got off the piano chair and stood back as Ardel sat next to me. Taking my hand in his own two ones – and I noticed that we actually have the same hand size; how come I never noticed? – his eyes intense. But it was not just his eyes. I could also Arundel's eyes in there – as though he was also in front of me.
Anyone from Gale's family... Once you get those eyes looking at you, you can never look away.
"Devon," Ardel began seriously – the very first time I've seen him serious. "The greatest present you can give Arundel and I is to make Gale happy. We really love him and we love you too so we just want you to be happy."
They adore you, Gale told me before. But I never really took that seriously. Now I knew that Gale was not exaggerating.
I was touched and I could feel a lump on my throat. How many 14-year olds – well, almost 14 – could say something like that so easily? They could've asked for anything else material – I most likely would've when I was 14 – but...
"We just want you to be happy."
I was going to cry, I just knew it!
But never in front of them!
"I need a sister," I said with some difficulty and I kept on blinking. "I can't be crying in front of boys – it'll destroy my reputation." Ardel smiled at my pathetic attempt of a joke.
"Then come over to our place and talk to Darcy," Hail said nonchalantly. "Besides, you need to start getting ready. Girls always take hours to get ready."
Ardel chuckled. "Hail..."
Darcy... Hail just said if I need a sister, I could turn to Darcy.
"Hi," a quiet voice... "My name's Gale Scharden. You?"
"Devon Shawn," I thrust my hand out in an offer. "Do you want to play?"
A beautiful innocent smile as he placed his hand in mine.
I never would have thought that in meeting him, I would have a whole new family.
Ardel and Hail were locking up Darcy's place as I waited for them at the small gate. They the two of them walked towards me: Ardel beaming happily while a light smile touched Hail's lips. The Schardens' car stopped in front of us and, remembering how I first met Gale, I held my hands up to both of them.
"Let's go," I told them and I knew that the smile on my face was the same as the one on the day I met the person I would fall so deeply in love with.
The two gave each other a grin before each taking my hand. I looked at Ardel and I could almost imagine Arundel walking with us.
I wanted to thank Gale.
Thank you for the three new brothers.
After my piano practice, I was quickly ushered – pushed – into a sleek black car and driven to the Scharden estate. Hail then disappeared while Darcy and Nina descended from the grand staircase, then dragged me by my arms to Darcy's room as Ardel waved happily from the bottom of the steps. Arundel appeared from another room and smirked at me as he watched me get dragged along helplessly. That kid really enjoyed trouble.
"When am I going to see this wonderful dress that Ardel keeps on gushing about?"
"You're going to wear it after all your make-up and hair is done," Darcy answered my question with a salesgirl smile on her face.
"It really is wonderful," Nina added in, an identical smile on her face.
"You know you two are really scaring me," I told them with a deadpan expression. "So? When am I going to get it?"
Nina had already taken out a make-up kit while Darcy began walking around me, studying my short hair intensely.
"Oh... in a while," she gave a non-committal answer.
When the hell was a while?
That was exactly what I said.
Darcy stepped firmly in front of me, bent over and placed her hands at each side of my face, before giving me the most dazzling smile I have ever seen on her.
"You'll get it five minutes before the guests arrive so that you can't change your mind about it anymore."
...Damn it! I should've known!
"You can't do that!" I protested. I instantly stiffened when she gave me the most frightful smile I've ever seen on her.
"Oh, just wait until that moment then you'll see how I can do it," she said in a completely malevolent voice.
Hail was rubbing off on her!
"Really, Devon," Nina said with a shake of her head. "There's nothing to worry about! Clarisse Scharden designed it, Darcy and I approve it; heck, even Gale and the other Scharden boys like it! You're going to look like a drop-dead gorgeous courtesan!"
There was something wrong in that sentence.
"Nina, you monster!" I yelled. "'Courtesan' is just a fancy word for 'hooker'!" That only meant the dress was going to be revealing! Revealing!
"Nina's just teasing," Darcy said with a careless flick of her wrists. "It's beautiful and elegant. It's not revealing at all!" She then looked over her shoulder so that I couldn't see her expression and said, "Not revealing at all on the top half anyway."
The two harpies began laughing their heads off. Girls like Darcy and Nina could probably still be comfortable in revealing clothes but I've been a tomboy for most of my life! Even just wearing a spaghetti-strap top already made me a bit self-conscious!
"Sorry, sorry," Darcy finally said as Nina tried to recover her breath. "It really is beautiful, Devon, and we would never make you wear something you're not comfortable with."
I glared at them before sighing and nodding. They then proceeded to fix me up. But after an hour – does this really have to take that long? – I finally voiced something out.
"Darcy, shouldn't you start getting ready as well?" I asked her apprehensively. "And you, Nina?" I mean, I wouldn't want them to rush and panic just because they were tending to me.
Nina gave me a comforting pat on the shoulder. "I'm more experienced at this than you Devon, so I'll take much faster than you."
Darcy merely shrugged my worries aside.
"Honey, I am a model. I specialize in quickies."
"Ardel, don't listen," we heard Arundel's voice's urgent tone. "They're talking about sex stuff."
Darcy, Nina and I turned around in shock and saw Arundel covering his twin's ears. Ardel looked confused while Arundel was shaking his head in disapproval.
Darcy's cheeks flushed pink.
"Aaron, you little imp! I was not talking about that type of quickie!"
Arundel smirked evilly before uncovering his twin's ears. Ardel remained oblivious and puzzled.
They were such opposites.
"What are you doing here anyway?" Nina asked with a frown. "You're not meant to go to a girl's room while girls are getting ready."
"We were just wondering if you know where Gale or Hail is," Ardel explained in his soft voice. "They're not in their rooms and I need some advice..."
"Advice?" Darcy echoed, perking up. "What kind of advice?"
"His girlfriend's coming over," Arundel said with a roll of his eyes, his tone mocking with the word 'girlfriend'. The four of us frowned at him. But my own frown turned into one of confusion rather than disapproval.
"Girlfriend?" I said questioningly. "What girlfriend?"
Ardel was glaring at his twin. "She's not my girlfriend." Then he blushed, "I invited Mackenzie to come."
Oh! The girl from the salon!
I smiled slyly. "Good work Ardel." His blush intensified. How cute!
"I-I just t-thought i-it would b-be nice t-to h-have her o-over on m-my – our! – special day," he whispered, each word getting softer and softer. He was just too adorable! Mackenzie was also a cool kid so I approved.
"You're a good boy, Ardel," Darcy said warmly. "I hope there are more boys like you out there." Nina was nodding in agreement.
Ardel grabbed Arundel's wrist and started leading him to the door. But before they could leave, I called Arundel.
"What is it?" he asked with his usual calculating intense eyes.
"If Ardel invited Mackenzie, did you invite Heidi?" I asked with fake innocence. I just couldn't let the chance pass up.
Arundel looked confused before his memory kicked in. He gave me a smile that I would not have expected from a kid his age. It was a bit unsettling.
"I'll never see her again, Devon. So you should know the answer to that question."
I stared after Arundel as he left, perplexed. What a cynical child...
"He's very unlike Ardel," I said out loud. Ardel sighed before placing a hand on mine.
"Let me tell you something about us, Devon," he told me quietly and seriously. I faced him completely. He was rarely serious so what he was going to tell me was probably something very important.
"Until our visit here, since we were seven, Arundel and I would only see each other for only four months every year."
The whole room was silent as the weight of Ardel's words settled in.
"H-How is that possible?" I asked and my stuttering was evidence of my disbelief. "You're brothers – twins! Wouldn't you see each other everyday?"
Ardel smiled sadly. "We would have if we lived together."
Another big surprise. "You didn't live together? But aren't your parents together? They're not divorced, are they?"
Ardel shook his head. "They're not divorced. We probably would have lived together if we weren't twins but since we are-" He paused as if considering what he was going to say next. "-they didn't want Arundel and I to rely on each other all the time. Since we are twins, we have a really strong bond that it's easy to shut people out. Apparently, we were displaying such behaviour when we were younger that they decided to separate us and see if we would grow out of that behaviour."
"So the two of you were separated so you wouldn't separate yourselves from the world," Darcy commented. Ardel nodded in agreement.
"Especially Arundel," he continued. "Our father has all his hopes on Arundel. Even though I am older, my father said that Arundel is the more practical and ruthless one – thus perfect for running a multinational corporation – while I stay pretty for our mother." A bitter little smile appeared on his face and I wanted so much to make it disappear.
"I don't know what kind of place Arundel was sent off to," Ardel ploughed on. "I just know that whenever he sees me, he still smiles like I am the one person he would be with rather than the rest of the world. But sometimes, I see him give those little smiles he just gave you Devon. Those smiles are... terrifying."
He wasn't looking at me. I squeezed his hand but when he looked at me, he didn't look sad anymore.
"He's just like Hail, though so I'm not too worried," he said cheerfully. "Ah, Gale is really lucky with his parents, especially Aunt Clarisse!" Then he blinked and quickly added, "Not that I'm saying my mother isn't kind! She's wonderful! She just smothers me a bit."
"And dresses you up like a girl," I told him wryly. He laughed nervously.
"Hopefully she'll stop soon. I am a teenager after all now."
"And now you have Mackenzie to worry about," Nina added slyly. She and Darcy were giving him predatory looks.
Ardel laughed nervously once more. "Oh my, I should really leave. Bye ladies."
He was JUST that short of running out.
"Don't tease him too much," I reprimanded them. "It's cute!"
"Yeah," Nina agreed. "Just as cute as the time you still had no idea Gale had a crush on you when we were ten."
I was reminded of something.
"Where are Gale and Hail?" I asked out loud, not really expecting an answer.
"Maybe they went to pick Kevin up," Nina said with a shrug. She then held up two different earrings. "Now I need advice. Hoops or diamond?"
"It's like you're getting engaged," Cerise Richards commented with a smirk as she looked at the young man in front of her, who was gazing into a velvet box.
Gale looked up at Cerise and gave her one of his most sincere smiles. "This is exactly what I wanted, Cerise. Thank you."
Cerise, however, was waving his apology off. "Anything for you and Devon; I was just lucky that I saw that beautiful piece of rock. The moment I saw it, I knew what it was meant for."
"Thank you," Gale repeated but Cerise just smiled and shook her head. "Are you finished getting ready?"
Cerise spun and placed her left hand on her hip while her right hand was raised high above her. "What do you think?" she asked, her voice becoming a smoky alto. "Don't I look divine?"
Gale chuckled. "You always do, dear Cerise."
Cerise looked like a Grecian goddess with her emerald chiffon dress: simple yet elegant. Her hair was pinned at the sides but her rosy tresses were allowed to cascade down her back. Any man would kill to have her. Gale knew that many would question his sanity for preferring a tomboy over a goddess.
"We still have to pick Kevin up," Hail said from the corner. Gale looked at his cousin and pocketed his present for Devon. He then offered his arm to Cerise, who took it before the exited the Richards mansion.
"I am looking forward to seeing how this evening will unravel," Cerise told Gale quietly. Gale smiled at her.
"Everything will be perfect."
Gale Scharden will forever remember those cursed words.
A/N: Sooo sorry this took forever! I've been VERY busy (as you've probably guessed)! And guess what!
THE NEXT CHAPTER IS THE LAST!
Unless I decide to put an epilogue in too of course!
Well, I'm still in a bit of a busy schedule (ahem) so I shall leave you guys with this!
Thanks so much!