I left the Levine’s after I had helped Camille wash the dishes and Delilah with reciting the alphabet. She was steadily getting better but she always thought ‘W’ was ‘Two V’s’, as it did look like two V’s intertwined. She was smart. I had never noticed that until a few years ago when I first started taking French as a subject.
When my dad’s car had appeared on the driveway, Jason had sneakily kissed on cheek, before opening the door for me like a gentleman. I could still feel it there and I didn’t want to wash it off. Now I sounded like an obsessed fan girl.
I was cheerful about the fact that today was Sunday, as that meant a day with Ruby. I was looking forward to catching up with her, even if she had feelings for my ex. I think I was slowly starting to get over that because of my new experience with Jason.
When I reached home, mom questioned me about my bubbly mood. I had said nothing and she had raised an eyebrow suspiciously. Oh, if only she knew.
Aubrey had gone out which made me feel even more comfortable in my home. I texted Ruby once I reached my room.
Sunday sesh! Want to come over now? (: xoxo
I added the smiley-face emoticon in case Ruby still thought that I was uncomfortable around her.
My reply came five minutes later: I wouldn’t have thought you wanted to have one since … you know, but I’m glad you do. I’ll be over in ten! Xoxo
A smile blossomed on my face. I was eager to know what happened between her and Vince. He was a really great guy and if he was her boyfriend, then I completely approved. If it were another guy, I’d have to get to know him a little first before fully trusting him.
I went downstairs to grab some cashews we could chew on while we talked and sat on the couch while waiting. I couldn’t believe that this was the spot I had first kissed Jason. My skin warmed at the thought of him. I wasn’t sure whether to tell Ruby. It wasn’t like Vince, where I could flaunt him and excitedly tell the world that he was mine. No, this was different. My story with Jason was … different. More intimate. More secretive.
When I saw Ruby’s car pull up on the gravel outside, I rushed to the door and squealed.
“You look excited to see me,” Ruby said with a small laugh.
I nodded, pulling her inside. “I sure am! I want to know all about you and Vince!”
Ruby wryly smiled. “Are you ok? You’re so ... hyper and happy.”
“Why can’t I be happy?” I questioned with mock hurt. “Now come on, tell me all the juicy details.”
She sat down next to me cautiously. “Well … I bumped into him at his aunt’s bakery yesterday. He was behind the till, so I couldn’t avoid him.”
“His aunt Florence? You should meet her, she’s really nice.” I paused, realising that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say. I didn’t want to remind Ruby of the fact that I used to date Vince. I could tell it was making her feel worse. “Anyway, so what happened?! Did he ask you out on a date?”
She was staring into space. “No. We just looked at each other. I was blushing so much that I must have resembled a tomato. He only said hello to me and wished me a good day.”
My jaw dropped. The Vince I knew would have immediately wooed her. I wondered what was holding him back. Was he scared that Ruby wasn’t into him? Or did he feel bad for liking her when she was my best friend?
“I can’t believe this,” I muttered, thinking. “You should tell him how you feel! That way he’ll know for sure if you like him. And …” I hesitated. “You should tell him once again that I completely approve.”
Ruby let out a sigh and leaned her head on her hand. “G, I don’t know … I don’t know if it’s the right time to start a relationship.”
“Why not?” I asked, confused. It was the perfect time! Someone needed some happiness after what’s been going on.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I’m just not really looking for a relationship right now. Sure, I get excited when I think about him, but I’m not ready.”
“I see.” I decided to let the subject drop because I could tell that she didn’t want to talk about it. Well this was depressing.
Ruby shifted and turned to look at me. Her light eyes were full of guilt and concern. “How are you holding up? You looked giddy when I came but if it’s an act, just tell me. I don’t want you to bottle up your feelings, sweetie.”
I smiled softly. “I’m really over Vince.”
She looked shocked. Usually I would take a little longer and plus, she had seen how elated I had been with Vince. I had talked about him so much that I must have annoyed her.
“Really I am.” I paused, biting my lip in hesitance. “But you’ll never guess what happened, Rubs …”
She saw my expression and came over to link arms with me. “I have a feeling it’s not a good thing.”
I let it all out. It wasn’t fair to keep things from my best friend so I told her every detail. To see Ruby’s reaction made me giggle. She was awed that Jason Levine was the one who I truly felt sparks with, although she turned grim when she realised what this meant.
“Oh G, I can’t believe I haven’t been here for you.”
I rolled my eyes. “This only happened for the past few days and we didn’t see each other. We were both busy so you can’t blame yourself.”
“I guess you’re right.” Ruby sighed wistfully. “Wow Gracie, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really believe you and Jason would make a great couple.”
The comment made me laugh. “You’re saying that because you’re my best friend.”
She took in my dubious face and protested, “No really! I don’t want to offend Aubrey or you, as I know that you really care about her, but I don’t think that they’re … fit for each other. Some people may say that opposites attract, but in this case it’s not the situation. I see that they care about each other, but there’s just something that I can’t put my finger on …”
I pointed out, “Maybe it’s what I told you about. Remember how I mentioned how it seems like Aubrey’s controlling their relationship? And their fight at the engagement party?”
Ruby’s eyes lit up and she clapped her hands together. “That’s it! But Aubrey is more of that type of person anyway … you know, she likes being in charge.”
It was cute how she was being evasive and cautious. I knew that it was because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings by saying something negative about Aubrey.
“And my god, Michelle has made me dislike her more,” I murmured, suddenly remembering that my mom was somewhere in the house. I didn’t hear any noise from the kitchen so I had a feeling she was in the backyard. As for dad, I could hear him upstairs with his stereo turned on. “Why is she doing this to me? It’s blackmail!”
Ruby pursed her lips. “Do you see it though? In her own, twisted way, she cares about Aubrey. At least we know she’s not mean enough to let it slide and know that her own friend is being cheated on.”
“That was what Jason said.” But did she care truly for my sister or was there some ulterior motive? No, I think she just enjoyed knowing that she was one to bring misery to others.
“Do you know how you’re going to tell Aubrey?” Ruby asked, cocking her head to the side.
I frowned. I hadn’t thought of that. “We’ll tell her in a soft and calm way.”
In return, she smiled. “Alright, I’ll take that as an answer.”
The sliding doors in the kitchen opened and we both became quiet. With mom inside, we didn’t want to talk about our problems. I think she would faint from worry for me and Aubrey if she overheard our conversation.
Both of us hopped up from the couch and walked over to mom. Ruby greeted her and they started catching up. Mom was telling her how to make a Thai dish and I suddenly thought of an idea. Maybe we should bake something today! It would definitely take our minds off our love life.
I told Ruby my idea and she agreed eagerly. It had been long since we had made something together.
“How about a crème brûlée?” I suggested. I hadn’t had one of those in a while.
Mom beamed. “I just bought a blow torch last week so you girls can use it! What a coincidence.”
We had all the ingredients in the pantry anyway and set off baking. Although it was a long process, it was worth the wait. I let Ruby use the blow torch as I wasn’t really good with fire. She was gleefully laughing, which made me giggle. She looked so carefree, so different from when she had been bawling her eyes out. I was glad that she was somewhat happy. I hoped her and Vince would become a couple soon.
“Be careful, it might be hot,” I said as Ruby was about to crack the top.
She pouted. “But they look so good!”
My eyes lit up as she said it. I ran towards the dining table where my phone was and used it to snap a picture of our creation. Documenting fun times was one of my favourite things to do. I loved going back through my photo albums and reminiscing over the past.
“Strike a pose for me, Rubs,” I told her.
She happily did just that and blew a kiss at the camera. After taking a few silly pictures together, we decided to eat. My parents came and shared one together, complimenting us on our baking skills.
“Maybe we should open a patisserie,” I joked.
Aubrey’s ringing voice floated through the hallway and we all turned to her as she entered the kitchen. I gulped. I hadn’t seen her since yesterday and here she was now being her stunning self. Even though people I know make some slightly negative remarks about her, whenever I see her, I can’t help but think of an angel. She’s my sister – the one who had read my bedtime stories when I was in first grade, the one who had slapped the guy who had laughed at me when I said I couldn’t date, the one who had gone out in the rain to buy me soup when I was sick … the sister I loved.
I couldn’t believe I had really gone behind her back. What kind of sister was I? After the talk with Jason, I was reverting back to feeling more guilty and sad than jealous and angry.
Seeing Ruby’s quick glances didn’t help either.
“Gracie and Ruby made crème brûlées,” dad explained before chewing into one. “Maybe you should cook for us too, Aubrey!”
She rolled her eyes. “Dad, you know I’m busy.”
“And that’s why sometimes I wish you’d quit work and spend some more time with your family.” Dad snorted. “I can’t believe you decided to do more work on a Sunday.”
Aubrey bristled slightly. “I’m in the middle of an important case, dad. I need to be dedicated. I can’t just sit around.”
Before anyone else could say anything, mom interrupted. “Aubrey, come and taste one. We saved one for you knowing that you’d be home soon.”
She came towards us and kissed mom’s cheek. “Thanks.” Taking a bite, she nodded impressively. “This does taste nice.”
After a few minutes of talking, my sister asked Ruby if they could speak. Wide-eyed, she agreed and they both headed into the lounge to talk in low voices. I raised an eyebrow. What was that about?
Dread filled me. What if Michelle had told her? What if she was asking Ruby right now? Maybe she wanted to see if my best friend knew anything first. My head was spinning. Had Michelle lied about giving us two months? Had she wanted to catch us off-guard? Dozens of questions rose in my head and with every new possibility, my heart began to pound faster.
Aubrey rarely talked to Ruby. Why would she need to now?
When they came back, they both had poker faces. Great, how was I supposed to know what happened? I carefully scanned Ruby’s appearance. She seemed calm. Hmm.
I motioned for Ruby to follow me and she got the message. We went into the hallway by the front door and I whispered, “Does she know?!”
Ruby frowned, confused as to what I was on about. “About what?”
I rolled my eyes. “About you know …” My voice dropped. “Jason and me.”
Her eyes widened in understanding and she let out a little laugh. “No, no, she doesn’t know.”
“Oh good.” I let out a sigh of relief before the suspicion set in. “Wait … then what were you two talking about?”
I knew my best friend well and this expression told me that she was playing innocent. Her eyes were wide and blinking and she was fidgeting with her fingers. “Nothing much really.”
I narrowed my eyes in suspicion. “Ruby,” I warned. “What did she say?”
Now she was panicking. “I should go now. My mother’s expecting me to be home soon!”
Before I could stop her, she shouted goodbye and ran out the front door. Ruby knew that she wasn’t good at lying and so now she was trying to avoid me. This meant one thing: whatever Aubrey had told her must be bad news.