Hey lovelies! :) So, this is...the climax of the story, in a way. Or rather, the breaking-point in Juliette's life. Not much about Grady, it's mostly about her family this time, but I still hope you'll like it. The next chapter will definitely have Grady - a lot of him - I promise. :) Thank you so much for reading! xoxo Noelle
PS: I haven't had time to update anyone yet, so if you're reading this, thank you so much!
Entry #3: Cinderella was always trying to find an escape.
~ The Cinderella Deception by Juliette Harving
With the competition only a month away, the dance crew is practising really hard.
Callie and I, along with two other guys - Nate and Josh - have spent many afternoons together to choreograph our own steps, and we've come up with a routine that we're all really proud of.
We've even called in Kyra and Jude, who drop by to check up on us every Saturday afternoon. They have given their approval of our routine and said that, with a lot of practise, we'd definitely give the judges something to stare at.
Hearing their words of affirmation have given Callie and me the confidence that our dance team can actually make it to the finals - like we did last year - and win. And we're adamant that every single member of the crew should learn their steps perfectly, by hook or by crook.
Ever since Grady stopped talking to me one month ago, I've been throwing myself into my studies and dance wholeheartedly. Oh, and I've also been giving Josie and Jared a lot of my attention. We've been going on picnics, trips to the zoo and what not. I just love spending time with them.
When Grady was around, my mind was always everywhere. I'd be doing Maths in class, but I'd be well aware of his eyes on my back, and try my best not to flush or turn around and look at him. I'd be feeding Josie but I'd be thinking about how gorgeous Grady was.
Now? I can concentrate fully on anything I do. A boring, routine life, yes. But I think it's better if I forget anything that had ever transpired between Grady and I.
The only person I simply can't bear is Isabelle Hawkins. Now, for one thing, I hadn't really liked what Elysia - Grady's mom - had told me about Isabelle going over to their house to look for Grady.
And now that I've fallen out of favour with Grady Sullivan, Isabelle has never once stopped taunting me about it. And that's a very touchy subject with me. So, more often than not, I have to grit my teeth and hold down my temper, because I'm so afraid I'd lose it in front of everybody.
"Urgh, I hate her," I say, under my breath, to Callie during our dance practise.
I watch in disgust as Isabelle walks into the room confidently, her tights two sizes too small for her. We're supposed to be doing our warm-up exercises, but Isabelle immediately heads over to the group of guys and starts flirting with them.
"Tell me about it," Callie mutters, doing a perfect split on the floor. "She can't even master the basic steps, and has the fucking audacity to tick the freshmen off when they mess theirs up."
Isabelle gives her loud, bitchy laugh, and some of the girls and guys glare at her.
Callie immediately stops her. "Shut up, Isabelle. And start your warm-ups."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Isabelle says, with her smooth, nasal voice. "Is there, like, some rule against laughing in the dance studio?"
"No, but the slut-o-meter is definitely about to hit the roof any minute now," I reply, smoothly.
Everyone bursts out laughing, and Callie reaches over to give me a high-five. Isabelle glares hotly. And then she smiles, and it's a dangerous smile because I can see the gleam in her eye.
"Aww, is someone in a bad mood because Grady Sullivan doesn't want to talk to her anymore? Oh, boo-hoo."
The studio's quiet.
Everyone in this school knows about my dealings with Grady, but they have been nice enough to leave me alone about it. Either that, or their too scared.
They don't know about the journal, of course, but they do know that I'm the only girl who dares to talk to Grady - the hottest, but baddest boy in the school.
"And is someone so bitchy because Grady Sullivan won't even look at her?" I reply, quickly, even though I'm hurting inside because I know that what she says is true.
Isabelle narrows her eyes. "You watch out, Juliette," She says, turning to me. "I'll get you back for this. Just you wait."
"With pleasure," I say, smoothly.
She flounces out of the room, and Callie yells at her. "Isabelle! If you skip practise you jolly well aren't going to be in the competition."
"I don't want to." She calls back, sweetly, and slams the door shut loudly.
Everyone's silent for a moment, and then Callie grins widely. "Well, she wouldn't have pulled up our standard if she were here anyway. Maybe we're better off without her."
She smiles at me. I smile back, and nod to show that I'm okay and not too badly affected by what Isabelle had said earlier.
"Alright then!" Callie calls, and claps her hands loudly. "Let's start practising."
On Monday, I pick Jared and Josie up from school as per usual. We're waiting at the traffic junction in my car, when Jared yells, "GRADY!"
I immediately jump, startled. Jared points to a guy walking on the pavement on the left side of the road and I realise he's right. It is Grady.
It's as though there's a fist clenching my heart, and my throat is dry. I watch Grady walking along; his hands shoved into his jean pockets, and his eyes on the ground. Just the sight of him makes my breath catch.
"Grady!" Josie squeals, and clambers up from her seat eagerly.
Jared fiddles with the car door, and tries to open it, but I yell at him. "JARED! Don't you dare get out of the car!"
It seems like I'm feeling possessive all of a sudden. I don't want to talk to Grady, and I don't want to see him, because I don't want to hurt even more than I already am. But if I can't see him and I can't have him, then no one else can.
"Why?" He yells back and continues to fiddle with the lever. "I want to see Grady!"
Quick as thought, I push down the button that locks all the car doors. The traffic light turns green and I immediately drive off.
"Why did you leave?!" Jared shouts angrily. "I wanted to see Grady!"
I keep silent.
"You're mean!" He continues, and turns to his little sister. "Josie, look, Juliette fought with Grady and now she won't even let us see him! Forever!"
Josie sniffs, and promptly starts wailing. "I WANT TO SEE GRADY! I WANT TO SEE GRAAAAAAAADDDYYY!!!"
"Look what you did!" I roar back. "How could you say such a thing to Josie?"
"YOU wouldn't let us see Grady! It's been a month and you don't tell us ANYTHING about him. How could you!"
The car turns into the road that leads to our home. I glare furiously at Jared through the rear-view mirror. "I can because I'm your sister! I'm not friends with Grady anymore and you'll just have to deal with that! You're not going to see Grady anytime soon, and that's that. And you better listen to me and do what I say because I'M YOUR SISTER!"
Jared listens to my speech with growing anger, and when I'm done he lets out an explosive noise of rage. I park the car in the garage and unlock the car doors. He jumps out immediately.
"Yeah, you just love controlling everything we do, don't you?" He screams. "I HATE YOU AND I WISH YOU WEREN'T MY SISTER!"
And with that, he runs off into the house. Josie's still bawling, so I immediately carry her and sing to her so that she'll stop.
But at the back of my mind, Jared's words keep repeating over and over again.
I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
That night, I'm at my study desk finishing up my Literature homework when I hear a sudden noise coming from downstairs. I immediately shut my book to investigate. I run downstairs, and to my greatest surprise, I see my parents shutting the front door softly behind them.
"Mom?" I say, in astonishment. "Dad?"
They turn to look at me, with disapproving looks on their faces.
"Exactly when were you going to tell us that you had detention, Juliette?" Mom asks, coldly. "Or participated in a fight?"
My heart sinks. I'm so screwed. I swallow, hard, and take a good look at them. "You guys look fantastic," I manage, at last.
They really do. They're both really tanned, and Mom now has honey-blond highlights in her hair. But I can still see the true hard, cold nature of Mom's - her full lips pressed in a straight, harsh line and her blue eyes narrowed angrily.
Dad? Well, Dad still looks the same - the same weak chin and the same furrows of worry lines in his forehead - the same old Dad who lets Mom manage everything and who's too cowardly to even say anything against her.
"Don't switch the subject," My mom says, in her clipped, cutting tones. "We come home hoping to be greeted with three happy, responsible children, and what do we get? Huh? What do we get?"
"Don't yell at her, Charlene," My Dad says, with a sigh. "You're tired, she's tired, we're all tired. Let's do this in the morning."
"Bill, don't interfere." She snaps. "Can't you see that I'm lecturing our daughter? So," She turns back to me, her eyes glinting. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"How do you know?" I ask, suddenly.
"We ask for a special report from every school on our children. We get about one a month…"
"You've been keeping tabs on me?" I say, louder this time.
"Don't you yell at me, Juliette Harving!" She shouts. "You're in no position to yell at me. We give you a good education and a house, and everything that you need! And all you have to do is to take good care of your siblings, and you can't even do that one simple thing!"
"It's not simple," I reply, furiously, my teeth clenched. "You haven't even tried it before. And if you did you wouldn't have done a perfect job either. No one can raise kids perfectly, okay, but at least I'm trying, even though it's not even my job!"
"We can't help that we're away so often, okay? Stop talking like you know everything because you don't!" She screams.
"You can't help it? You can! You can stop going away so often, and if you just take one step back, you'd see that your kids need you and you're missing out…"
"Don't you DARE tell me what I need to do. Don't you DARE tell me about what YOU think I should do! If you want to ruin your life by screwing some guy who involves you in fights and gets you into detention you can jolly do that but don't you DARE to involve Josie and Jared as well, they're MY children!"
"Now, Charlene…" Dad interrupts, and tries to step in, but Mom rages on and on.
"You are NOTHING to me, Juliette." She hisses, venom dripping from each word she says. "You do not mean a single thing to me, you are only the child Bill fathered with some random hooker off the street and you are lucky to get a place in MY home with MY children, so you had better fucking well REMEMBER THAT."
"I will!" I yell, furiously. "I always have! Even if Jared and Josie makes me feel the least bit welcome you will undo everything when you get back. You are a horrible mother, Charlene! You aren't there for YOUR children and you spend MY father's money gallivanting about on tours and cruises! You push him around and he," I turn to my father and glare at him. "He just takes it like a fucking coward!"
I'm about to continue on when a small figure appears at the top of the steps. It's Jared.
"Juliette, what's going on?" He stares, and then his eyes widen. "Mom? Dad?"
At the sight of Jared's face, something inside me snaps.
Charlene hates me. She hates every moment that I'm living under HER roof in HER house, even though the house belonged to me and Dad in the first place. She hates the fact that every time I look at her, my features resemble that of another woman. She wants me out the first moment possible and USES me to fulfil the responsibilities that SHE ought to fulfil, but doesn't.
My Dad's useless. He can't say one word against anybody, and just follows Charlene about like a shadow. He lets her use all his hard-earned money and lets her spend it like there's no tomorrow. He's too cowardly to do a thing and he's never been there for me since Mom died ages ago.
Jared hates me. God, he hates me. Every little thing I've done for him - all the chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning, washing, teaching - everything I've done is all wasted. My best isn't enough for him. He doesn't appreciate it one bit. Even Grady can get through to him, in a way that I never can.
And Grady. Grady…he just hates my guts.
And just like that, just the thought of Grady and I know what I need to do. There's only one thing I need to do.
I push past them blindly, and grab the car keys and my wallet from the kitchen counter. And then I run out of the house, jump into the car and drive off.
And the words from my third entry of The Cinderella Deception whirl in my mind, over and over again.
Cinderella stayed. Always. She never ran from anything, not even when things were sucky.
But I'm no Cinderella. I need to find an escape. Some place that will just get me away from all my worries and make me smile again. There are so many times that I've wanted to do this. To run, run, run and never be found again. I'm sure no one will care whether I'm found or not.
Because sometimes, the people you can't live without can live without you.