For Rach (my darling) who betas my work and always boosts my confidence, Sam the only 'man' my age I can rely on, Rebekah who seems to appear at the low points and Mrs. Keith Ronald Harkin my newest reviewer :)
"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something will make sense regardless of how it turns out." And for my parents - whose upcoming divorce inspired a story.
After viewing a picture of him one of the girls had told her that she must be delusional because there was no way a guy like him would ever like her. She had just smirked, "I've gotten into his pants many times. The first time would have to be the most memorable though."
She shivered; which made sense as she was walking home and it was bucketing down with rain. Luckily her schoolbag was mostly waterproofed but she wasn't as fortunate. And it wasn't like she could call someone as her parents were interstate for a conference and her brother's university was over two hours drive away. She smiled softly as a raindrop landed right on the tip of her nose. She liked the rain, as long as she didn't get sick.
She jumped, startled from her thoughts, as a car honked its horn. She looked back to see her brother's friend at the wheel. He gestured for her to hop in.
She opened the door slightly, "I'm soaking wet and it's only another five minutes to my house – I don't want to damage your seat."
He laughed, "They've suffered through plenty worse." She hesitated but slid in.
"I would have thought your parents would have picked you up today."
She shivered slightly and he turned up the heater. "Thanks," she smiled gratefully. "They've gone interstate for a conference. They'll be back in a week."
He raised an eyebrow, "Jake didn't tell me he was back for the week."
"He isn't. My parents agreed that at sixteen I'll be fine on my own. And the fact I'm more mature and capable than Jake..." She trailed off with a smile.
A comfortable silence then took control. She was content to try to warm her fingers and ponder her homework when she looked up and gasped, "Where are we going? You've passed the turnoff for my house."
He scowled, "I don't care what your parents say; it's too dangerous for you to stay there alone. You'll be staying with me until they get back."
He interrupted her, "Don't argue. I'll sleep on the couch and you can have my bed. I'll drive you to and from school."
She smiled, almost patronisingly, and shook her head gently, "I was just going to say I don't have any stuff; basics like clothes and a toothbrush."
"Oh," he looked chastened. "Sorry."
He went to turn the car around but she stopped him. "We're almost at your place, if you have some clothes I can borrow while these dry we can just leave early tomorrow morning and pick up some stuff on the way to school."
"That sounds like a good idea."
That night after she had showered and changed into some of his old clothes, they had played a game of Monopoly. They cooked dinner together. Well she cooked while he tried to be helpful. It was one of the best meals he'd had in a while. Though that wasn't saying much as he had been living off microwave meals. They had had to go shopping before she could start cooking as she had pointed out there was nothing for her to cook with.
As he fell asleep that night he smiled at how domesticated and 'couple-y' it had been. And what was more of a surprise was the fact that he had liked it. And how much he had liked her in that role.
—End of Flashback—
All the girls at the party had all been shocked with the exception of her cousin. "Oh yeah," she continued, "He's a real beast in bed."
She was only six. The annoying follower who adored her brother and best friend who were so wondrous and grown up at eight and a half. She had convinced them to let her watch one of their 'boy' movies that evening. She regretted it now though she would never admit that out loud. She couldn't close her eyes without returning to the nightmares that had woken her up.
She grabbed her blanket and tiptoed down the hallway to her brother's room. As much as he complained about her she knew that he loved her and would let her sleep in his bed with him to make the nightmares go away. She opened the door and went to climb up onto her brother's bed when a voice stopped her. "Hey," he sat up. "Nightmare?"
She nodded and pulled her blanket tighter against her.
"Well ... do you want to hop in here with me so we don't have to wake your brother up and make him cranky?"
She smiled, scurried over and dived in. His arms wrapped around her as she snuggled into his chest. "Thank you," she muttered before her breathing began to even out and she drifted into a sleep no longer plagued by nightmares.
The next morning he woke to find her sitting next to his head, her head tilted and a curious look on her face.
He yawned. "Good morning?"
She poked his face, "You sound funny when you sleep."
He sat up and rubbed his eyes, "Funny how?"
"Like a bear or one of those beasts in your 'boy' movies. Does the beast in Beauty and the Beast make noises like that when he sleeps?"
"Um ..." he tried to make sense of the information being forced down his ears. "I guess?"
She smiled, "So you're the beast and now all we have to do is find you a beauty!"
He nodded, giving up on it making sense. "Can we have breakfast now?"
—End of Flashback—
Her cousin had just walked the last girl to the door. When she returned her cousin was still sitting on the couch, looking at the photo. She was in the arms of the older boy and she was smiling at the camera. He however was looking at her. His expression was not quite a smile but tenderness and care.
She looked up, her eyes filling with tears. "Maggie, it's like that song – 'it was only a kiss, how did it end up like this?'.
She had turned up on his doorstep, soaking wet and with puffy, bloodshot eyes. Without saying anything he had pulled her into his arms. Jake had just rung him and he was on his way out to find her when she knocked.
He had had to pry her out of his arms, telling her to have a warm shower and that they'd talk when she got out.
She dressed in his old clothes, with damp hair and a clean face she reminded him of the first time she had worn his clothes. He hadn't realised before just how beautiful she looked but there was nothing he could do about it now as the similarities had ended there. The girl from the past had been almost carefree and had a smile that had lit up the room. This one had so much pain reflected in her eyes it was breaking his heart.
Jake had rung because their parents had decided on a divorce. They'd all known it had been heading that way for a while. She wouldn't have taken it so badly except that it was mentioned the only reason they had been together the last few years was because of her. They had wanted her to grow up in one house, with one family. She had had to witness fights, tears and her parents' unhappiness and then be told it was all her fault. At least that was the way she would see it.
He sat her down and began to gently brush her hair. She began to shake and he pulled her into his arms. After a while the tears had begun to subside, though her face was still buried in his neck and his hands were still running up and down her back.
She shifted and he looked down and he looked down at her now upturned face. She breathed out his name. He leant down to meet her lips with his. Nothing serious occurred that night but she was nestled in his arms as he drifted off to sleep.
She had left before he had woken up, leaving a note scrawled on one of his shopping lists, containing only two words; Forgive me.
—End of Flashback—
Maggie sighed and sat next to her cousin. "Why did you run?"
She shook her head, "I didn't run."
"Darling you left him before he woke and then left that day to stay with us. Over the other side of the country and haven't answered any emails, texts or phone calls from anyone, especially not him. You sprinted."
"I ..." she shifted uncomfortably. "I just didn't want to see the regret in his eyes when he woke. He only kissed me out of pity. And I haven't checked phone calls etc from anyone except Jake. I just wanted to get away for a while. It hasn't been that long."
Maggie pulled a letter out of her pocket. "I got this from Jake today. He's really worried you know. Both about you and him. You've been avoiding everyone for three weeks; I think its time to face them all. Also if you're still idiotic enough to think he kissed you out of pity have a look at his face in that photo."
Maggie stood up, "Read the letter. Maybe then you'll understand."
After Maggie had left the room she began to open the letter with shaking fingers. A small note fell out and she decided to read it first after recognising Jake's handwriting.
Get your arse back home soon! I miss you. And so you know I'm not the only one. You know exactly who I'm talking about. He's falling about, going crazy because he can't contact you. We've given you space but I'm now fed up.
She knew who the other letter must be from and she dreaded reading it. Because she was afraid that it would confirm that he regretted it and because she was afraid that it wouldn't. That there may be love between them. And she had tried so hard not to believe in love. It had been easier not to after watching her family crack.
I really hope you're reading this. I've been going nuts. Jake told me you haven't been answering anyone else's messages either but that only goes a small way towards making me feel better.
Imagine how I felt, I've been struggling with how much I like you for a while. And when I finally do something I wake up without you. You left a note that didn't have an explanation and to top that off you've been on the other side of the country since then with no way for me to contact you.
Don't you think I was scared too? I thought you'd regretted it until recently which is why I haven't flown over there to bring you back. You might want to thank Maggie – she rang me to tell me that you do care.
I'll be waiting. I know you need time to think it through. Its one of the things I love about you – you think everything through for ages before you act. Just remember I'll be waiting until you come back. I promise.
Please don't take too long – I miss you.
She reread the letter, and was surprised when a tear fell onto the page. She lifted a hand to her cheek and wiped away her tears. A smile spread across her face and she jumped up, scaring Maggie who had been standing at the doorway.
"Are you ok?" Maggie asked tentatively.
She smiled, "I'm better than ok. I think I need to book a plane ticket."
Maggie laughed, "Let's go do that now."
Later she dialled a number she knew off by heart. With a plane ticket booked for the next day she had a phone call to make. She was sure there was going to be someone waiting for her at the airport.
Would love some feedback - hope you enjoyed it!