Chapter 5:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 142



Let me just say, an air mattress is not the most comfortable thing in the world.  Especially when you’re sharing it with El, the sleep kicker, and Madelyn, the sleep mumbler.  Somehow Kirsten was on this thing too, her face out of the kicker’s reach.  I couldn’t say the same.  I was too afraid to close my eyes in case her heel would break my nose or give me a black eye.  I turned my head.  Tate was asleep on the recliner, leaned back.  Peyton was asleep in his lap.  She’d gone back upstairs after her friend once the excitement from blowing up the mattress was over.

I have to give him credit, not many guys would want to sit downstairs with their roomie’s baby sister, her best friend, and her three nieces that apparently had a crush on him.  Sadly they were better at flirting that I am.  He’d sat through the rest of the Princess and the Frog and then me and Kirsten singing along to the remake of Hairspray.  Madelyn has a huge crush on Zac Efron.  That had been about when Kirsten had passed out.  Peyton had been out a long time ago, but woke every time Tate stirred. 

I scouted out the area.  It would be a horrible thing for me to do, but I could make it to my room without waking anyone up.  I’m very ninja-like.  Kirsten would hate me but at least I’d get some sleep.  I quietly rolled off the air mattress and stealthily got to my feet.  I double checked to make sure the nightlights were on, and the light at the top of the stairs, then booked it for my room.

I only got a few blissful hours of sleep when I woke up to El poking me.  “Hey.  Hey.”

“Shh,” I said, sitting up.  “What do you need?”

“Need a drink.”

“A drink?”

“I’m thirsty,” she confirmed.

“Okay.  Let’s go get you a glass of water.  Be quiet so we don’t wake up anyone, okay?”


El and I got up the stairs, I hunted down a plastic glass in the dark, and poured her some water.  I no sooner handed the glass to her before she chugged it.  “Thank you,” she said, handing me the glass back. 

“Do you want any more?” I asked.


I smiled when she rubbed her eyes and then took my hand on the way back downstairs.  Her warm, little hand in mine almost made getting my spot back on the air mattress worth it.  She nestled into her warm sister, and I fought to get a corner of the blanket from the rest of them.  I turned onto my side, away from the sleep kicker, and closed my eyes.  Then I heard the hissing sound and realized that my middle was sinking down lower.

“Hole,” I heard El whisper.

I fought back the laughter.  “It’s okay.  Go to sleep.” Then I tried to obey my own orders.

“Well, isn’t this a picture?”  I heard the glee in Ry’s voice.  He’d slept on a real bed with all the blankets he could ever need.  “Doesn’t Aunt Keke know that you’re supposed to blow up the air mattress before you sleep on it?”

I didn’t reply, just turning my head in the other direction.  Just in time to catch a glimpse of the pillow that Kirsten had winged at my brother’s face.  “Shut up,” I mumbled.  “We’re sleeping.”

“Your charges were all  upstairs about an hour ago,” he said.  “Knowing that they’re about as sneaky as a freight train, you must have been out for all three of them to get up the stairs.”

“It could be because we’re exhausted,” Kirsten retorted hotly, sitting up.  “Why the hell am I on the ground?”

I pushed myself up, hearing the last hiss of air rush out.  “We sprung a leak.”

“This I see.”

“Maybe it’s because five people aren’t supposed to sleep on it,” Ry suggested, smirking at my hair. It probably looked horrible.

“I slept in my bed for about three hours,” I said as Kirsten said, “I slept in her room part of the night.”

“Great.  You left the children unwatched,” Ry said as the two of us glared at each other.

“No, we ditched the sinking ship at separate times,” I said.  “Then I went on a midnight drink run with El.”

At the top of the stairs Kirsten headed for the shower.  I headed for the coffee.  I held up the pot.  “It’s cold.”

“Thank you, O wise one.”

“Shut up,” I said to him.  “Why is it cold?  Mom always leaves it on a timer for me.”

“Leigh was up and around, doing stuff for her online classes.  You know how she thinks Mom’s coffee is weak.”

I made a face.  “She’s up already?”

“And on a rampage.”

“Of course.  I need to get out of here.”


“Because I was planning on laying out her only plan for her wedding when Mom and Dad were here to keep her from ripping out my jugular.  Where are the kids and Tori?”  There was no noise.  Either Leigh killed them or had them duct taped to a wall somewhere.

“Tori was sick of Leigh so she took the girls to the mall.  Then they’re going to go to the pool, I do believe.”

“Mall.  Good plan.”  I pressed myself into a wall when I heard Leigh in the next room, ranting to herself.  The voices in her head weren’t happy today.  “I’m going to go take a shower.”

“Downstairs?”  I heard Ry ask.

The downstairs bathroom is a scary place.  But since I was the only one in the basement, growing up, it had been all mine.  I hadn’t been in this piece of in forever.  I grimaced when the water kicked on, only a little trickle.  Kirsten was in the shower, taking away all of my water pressure.  And Mom was doing the laundry!  I raced across the basement to the laundry room, punching the button to turn off the washer.  I got back to the shower and slightly more water was rushing out.

The water might have been a trickle, and it might not have been the warmest, I got past it.  Although those tricky spiders almost got me to fall and crack my head open so they could eat me, I managed to make it out alive. 

I got dressed in my casual day wear and raced up the stairs.  Kirsten had just started to apply her makeup when I knocked on the door.  “What?” she asked as I squeezed through the narrow space she’d opened the door.

“Leigh. Scary.  Rampage.  Must. Escape.”  I grabbed my contacts case and popped in my eyes.  Actually it’s a little more difficult than that but I don’t need to give you a rundown of that.  I did my hair and makeup in record time, stepping into my flipflops. 

“We’re going out the back door,” I whispered to her as she opened the door to check for Leigh.  “When she hears my car start it will be too late.”

“Good plan,” Kirsten whispered back.  “But where’s your purse?”

I had this brief panic-struck moment.  If my purse was out in the living room we were so screwed.  Then I remembered.  “Down in my room.  I carried it down there with the dress and just never brought it up.”

The two of us grabbed our stuff and stepped out onto the back patio.  Even a floor down and outside I could hear Leigh stomping around.  Kirsten and I circled around the house.  I stepped around the last corner and rolled my eyes.  Tate and Ry were leaning against my car.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked as I got my keys out of my purse.

“Going with you.  There’s no way we’re staying here alone with her.”  Lucky Jonathan still had today and a half day tomorrow for school. 

“She could eat my soul, and then how would you feel?” Tate asked.  “You owe me for that horrible movie.”

“What movie?” Ry asked.  I shushed them and motioned for them to get in the car.

I started the car and got around the circle.  My phone started ringing.  “Where are you going?” Leigh demanded.

I flinched away from her voice.  Someone in the back seat of the car might assume I had her on speaker, judging by the volume.  But no, she just naturally speaks like that.  “I am going to go price flowers and such and see what would best match your colors,” I lied.  It’s not like I could tell her the truth.

“Whatever.  Don’t take all day.”  Then she hung up on me.

I put my phone back in my purse, and put that between me and the door.  Normally I would put it in the backseat but Ry had never learned the lesson to never go through a girl’s purse.  Or maybe it was just mine.  He’s part of the problem with the guys always treating me like another guy.  I’m not entirely innocent either, but every girl goes through her tomboy stage.  Mine just took longer to get out of.

Kirsten, meanwhile, was digging through the glovebox.  “What are you looking for?” I asked.

“The CD,” she said.  “Duh.”

“Try to middle console,” I said.  “I might have taken it inside.”

Kirsten gasped.  “Why would you do such a thing?”

“Just check before you flip out on me.”

She opened it up and flipped through a few empty CD cases.  “Ahha,” she said victoriously.  She slid the CD in and turned up the volume. I turned it down.  She made a face at me.

Just as the music started I heard a beeping sound.  I checked my dash.  The passenger seat belt light was flashing.  The beeping continued.  I looked at Kirsten, who guiltily turned the volume up and tried to drown out the beeping.  Still on the gravel road I hit the brakes.

“What?” Kirsten asked.

“Seatbelt, or I ditch you right here.”

Kirsten pouted and then buckled up.  “What would I do without you, Mom?” she asked sarcastically.

“Die.”  There.  That was easy enough. 

“This is not the mixed CD I thought it was,” Kirsten grimaced as she skipped the Taylor Swift song that was currently playing only to find the next song was also by T-Swift.  She popped it out and looked longingly at the window.  She would just love to throw it out.  She knew that I would make life miserable if she did so.

“Count your blessings,” I said to Tate and Ry. 

“Let me guess,” my brother said.  “More Ke$ha?”

“He’s so smart,” Kirsten said to me, sliding down in her seat.  She propped her feet on my dash. 

I reached for my sunglasses and slid them on.  “Don’t ruin what is sure to be our last free day,” I said to her.

“You have a point.”  She sat up straight.  “What should we do?”

“I was just planning on the mall,” I said.  “I like the mall.”

“I like the mall too, but the two downers in the backseat will get sick of our shopping technique within fifteen minutes.”

“Why do you need to go shopping?”

“We don’t really buy anything,” I said.  “We just peruse.”

It was closer to ten minutes.  They ditched us at the shoe store where Kirsten was trying to talk me into buying a new pair of heels for the wedding.  “I already have shoes that will match,” I was arguing. 

“That black pair of granny pumps you call heels?” she said.  “Hell no, you aren’t wearing those with that dress.”

“I’m sure Leigh will have me running around all day and those are comfortable,” I protested.

“Exactly. They’re comfortable.  Wedding shoes are not supposed to be comfortable, they’re supposed to be hot.  These,” she held up the pair of blue spike heels.  “are hot.”

“Those are deadly weapons of mass destruction in my possession,” I corrected her.  “I am not coordinated enough to wear those.”

“You are too.  This is why you don’t get dates,” she said, sitting down on the bench exasperatedly.  “I try and I try, and you want to wear granny shoes.  How will you ever find your rich prince with a PhD in sexy?”

I burst out laughing.  She looked insulted.  I quickly became serious.  “And these shoes will get me that rich prince?” I said, skeptical of her logic.

“And his PhD in sexy.  As opposed to the cats who will eat your face when you die alone.”

“Please,” I snorted.  “The crazy cat lady is way overdone.  I’ve decided I’m going to adopt ferrets instead of get married and have kids.”

Kirsten groaned and put her head in her hands.  She looked up at me.  “You will buy these shoes.  And these.”  She grabbed a pair of black ones that were equally horrifyingly tall.  “And you will be happy.”

“When am I ever going to wear these?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter.  Every girl has to have that highly insensible pair of shoes in her closets for her hot dates.”

“Yeah, because I’ve had so many of those lately.”  Just so she’d stop nagging me I took the two pairs of shoes up front.  “You’re so lucky it’s buy one get one half off,” I said to her.

She was busy looking over her choice.  Black, just as spikey as mine.  I thought they were shudder inducing, scary, torture devices and she loves shoes like these.  “Cry about it,” she said.

We walked through our usual stores, raving about the cute new outfits.  I got a couple of new “college worthy” tops.  Kirsten tried to talk me into another sundress but thanks to her I have about five million at home already.  “Ooh,” she said, holding up a little black dress.  “You must try this on.”

“It’s not really my style,” I said to her, holding up a pair of blue jeans.  “These are more my style.”

“Try it on, you big ho.”

Ten minutes later, after some persistent nagging, I found myself in a dressing room, wearing the very little black dress.  I had to admit, I did like it.  It was black, very formfitting material, that was strapless.  Then over it was some black lace, that formed one sleeve at the top.  I almost looked like I had a figure.  I turned in the mirror.  It really showed off my legs.  I could picture it with those black heels.  I could class it up with some pearls.  Every girl needed a little black dress. 

I changed back into my street clothes and walked out of the dressing room.  “What the frack?” Kirsten said.  “I wanted to see it.”


“Come on.”

“Shut up or I won’t buy it.”

“You’re buying it?  Awesome.”

By now we’d shopped all we needed but now we needed sustenance.  We always head to the Arby’s line, even when it’s the longest.  “Look at what we have here,” came a voice behind us.“Is it the two who said they’d be perusing?  What’s that in their hands?”

“It looks to me like a shopping bag.  Or a dozen.”

“Look,” I turned and confronted Tate and Ry.  I held up my bags.  “Three.  Count them.  One, two, three.”

“Four,” Tate pointed at the small bag that I’d forgotten about.  So I saw a ring that was going to perfectly get my style into the hideous bridesmaid outfit, sue me.

“That one doesn’t count.”

“You are a sad, sad little person,” Ry said to me.  “Are you done now?”

“What?” I asked innocently.  “Is Ry-ry  getting bored?”

“Do you know how many guy stores there are in this place?”  he asked as Kirsten stepped up and ordered.

“I have no idea,” I said primly.  I stepped up to order my food.

“Two shoe stores, one that has clothes only for guys, and one sports store,” Tate listed.

I smiled and stepped aside, letting Ry order his lunch.  “You should have hung out in Sears.  That’s like guy central.”

“Can we please leave?” Ry begged.

Kirsten’s food was done so she left to scout out a table.  I looked at my cell phone.  “We have at least two more hours to kill and even then we’re going to beat Mom and Dad home.  If I go home now, I will go crazy.”

My number was called and I stepped up to claim it.  “They’re not going to give up on this,” I said to Kirsten.  “We need a compromise or we’re going home.”

“Why don’t we go see a movie.  I’m sure there’s got to be something out that we can agree on.”

“Don’t count on it,” I said to her as Ry approached.  I already had my cell phone out, pulling up the schedule of the nearest movie theater.  “Ooh, Letters to Juliet.”

“Hell. No.”  That came from Kirsten, not my brother.  “That’s the one that plays the Taylor Swift song in the trailer.”

“You hate her so much that you won’t even go see a movie where they might play her song for thirty seconds?” I asked incredulously.  “Come on.”

“I agree with Kirsten,” Ry said.  “I will not be watching that movie.”

“What movie?” Tate put his tray down on the table.

“Letters to Juliet,” I answered.

He looked at me with a horrified look on his face.  “I thought you were different.”

“What?” I asked, totally confused.

“Ry said that you were like a guy.  I was entertained with many stories of your exploits.”

I smacked my brother’s arm.  “This is why I’m a perma-friend,” I said to him.

Kirsten snorted and stole on of my curly fries.  “Your horrible taste in movies is what earns you that status.”

I stole one of her curly fries, then slid mine out of her reach.  “Well, there’s really nothing else out,” I pouted.

“Iron Man 2,” Ry said suddenly.  “It looks awesome.”

“You just want to see Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow,” I said icily.

“That coming from the girl who went to see Step Up for Channing Tatum.”

“You can’t fault us for that one,” Kirsten said. 

“It’s our movie or Leigh,” Ry said to me.  “Pick your poison.”

That really wasn’t a hard choice.  And I actually did like the movie.  I would have liked to see my movie better, but more time away from Leigh was always appreciated.

Back in the car I looked at the clock and groaned.  “Is there anything we could do for another hour?” I asked.

“Make a run for the border,” Kirsten suggested.

I sighed and started the car.  “That’s what I was afraid of.”

Luck was with me.  Sort of.  In an annoying sort of way.  And in a bad way too.  The highway that took me from the interstate to town was blocked off, since there had been a really bad accident.  I was about the twenty fifth car in line, around a curve.  There were about ten cars behind me.  I rolled my window down and looked out the window.  I couldn’t see anything. 

For about the first ten minutes we talked and laughed.  My window was rolled back up so the air conditioning was keeping us cool.  By the forty minute mark, my car was in park and turned off.  The thirty cars behind me were doing the same.  All of our windows were rolled down and the radio was still playing since I hadn’t opened my door.  A car passed us, coming from the other direction and I got all hopeful.  There was another one.  But we still didn’t move.

“That’s just the people ahead of us giving up and going back a different way.”

“The only way I know is one that one that loops all the way out to the boondocks and eventually leads to the lake two towns over,” I said.

“There’s a turn on it that takes you to Logan,” Kirsten said, sitting up straight.  “Keely, you might as well do it.  People are getting out of their cars.”

I started up my car again and luckily had left enough room for me to pull up, then pull a K turn.  The guy behind me used the space to get out.“Call Mom and Dad and tell them to go a different way,” I said.  “Wait, I have an idea.”

I got back on the interstate, going the other direction.  “This is just going to take us back to where we just left,” Rylan said from the backseat.  He leaned forward and pointed.  “See.”

“I’m not taking that exit,” I said.  “Keely, remember that place where we got our hair done for Prom last year?”

“Yeah, in the little Podunk town of Metville?  There’s no exit from this direction.”

“Yes, there is.  One time I accidentally hit it while using Dora and it told me to take this exit.  It was actually closer.”

I signaled to turn into the exit lane. “You’re going to get us lost,” Ry persisted.  I think it’s a guy thing.  He would rather die than ask for directions because this male GPS is built in.

“I know what I’m doing,” I snapped.

“Oh look,” Kirsten waved at the cheerful little pink building.  “There’s the place that made Keely look like Miss America.”

Ry snorted.  “I wish,” I said.  “Miss America would have had a date.”

After some winding around on the interstate I ended up getting on the exit that would lead to the other side of our town, having come from a different direction all together.  “What now?” I said victoriously, turning to glare at Ry.

“Go home,” he suggested sarcastically.

“No, that was a rhetorical question.  Like, ha, I was right, you should apologize.”

“I could have gotten us here in half as much time.”

“Doubt it,” I said.  “Now I need to prep for my presentation.”

“What presentation?”

“You shall see,” I answered mysteriously.



Keely locked herself in her room with her laptop for two hours after they’d finally reached home.  Kirsten had opted to hang out with Tate and Ry. The three of them were mostly hanging out in the living room, trying to stay out of Leigh’s radar.  It got easier but not any less irritating when Tori got home from the pool with her three girls.  Her husband had gone up to work, staying in a hotel.  Tori wasn’t happy to be handling her three handfuls of energy but luckily there was a lot of help here.

When Ry’s parents got home, the atmosphere changed.  Leigh got imperceptibly less icy and the girls were bubbling to see Grandpa.  Keely finally emerged from her room, carrying her lap top.  She tinkered around on it, sitting on the kitchen counter, while her mom and Tori cooked dinner.  That left Kirsten to change Peyton’s dirty diaper.  She wasn’t happy but she did it.  “I don’t love babies as much anymore,” she said, taking the diaper to the trashcan.

“Jonathan, make sure the trash goes out tonight so my whole house doesn’t smell like baby diaper,” his dad ordered.  He was sprawled out on the floor outside of the kitchen, reading the paper and chatting with his family.  Tate loved how this family had such an easy routine, meshing together just so.  And they welcomed outsiders, making them feel like part of the family.

At dinner he again managed to stake out a seat next to Keely.  Tonight she was sitting next to Peyton’s high chair.  She barely focused on the adult conversation, just talking to Peyton.  The little blond would chatter excitedly about something and then pause to look at her aunt.  “No?  You did?” Keely would exclaim.  Then Peyton would chatter on, sometimes gesturing with her cup or her fork. By the time dinner was over, the floor around her was covered in mac and cheese and the family dog was happy. 

“Before everyone goes, I have put together a little presentation about the wedding,” Keely announced, bringing her laptop over from the counter.  She pulled up a powerpoint.  It was blue and black, the edges of the title page decorated with what looked to be sequins.  Keely sat her computer on the table, gingerly flicking mac and cheese noodles out of the way.

“So we’ve got the dresses,” a picture flashed up of the dresses, Leigh’s included.  “And we managed to stay on budget.  For the engagement party, I’ve already got things lined up for the whole Fitz fest thing.  It’s on Friday night next week, so I sent out invites to the people on your wedding list,” she said to Josh and Leigh.  The points were bulleted on the screen.  “As for the wedding, we were cutting it too close and summer is such a busy time for marriages that there was not a single church open.  Leigh didn’t want a courthouse ceremony so my only, and I do mean only, alternative was the golf course.”

“The golf course?” Leigh protested.  Josh squeezed her hand.

“Give your sister a moment to show what she has planned,” Her dad spoke up.  He was already focused back on his youngest daughter.  “Please continue, Bug.”

She shook her head at the nickname that Tate knew she despised.  There was a picture of the golf course then a closer one of  where she was planning to have the ceremony.  It had a gorgeous little lake behind it, some tall will trees next to that.  The grass looked lush and green.  “I was planning to have the preacher and Leigh and Josh stand in front of the willows.  The guests would then have their backs to the sun since this would be about seven that night.  There’s plenty of room and its very flat so the chairs shouldn’t be a problem.  They’ve done events down there before so they know what they’re doing.  And the golf course will be closed so it’s not like there will be random golfers in the shots.”

“What about weather?”

“They don’t have any tents large enough to hold the numerous guests Leigh and Josh have invited.  They won’t give on the number of people.  I really don’t want to rent a huge tent unless I have to since the cake is going to cause heads to roll when the bill is sent.Speaking of the cake,” the picture of the cake popped up. 

“This is the cake that the decorator sent to me.  This is what she can do based on the size and the budget.”

“It’s very pretty,” her mom said.  The cake was a royal blue with black flowers cascading down from the top.

“The flowers are obviously not real.  The flowers that Leigh wants for her bouquet are very expensive, especially if she wants them professionally done.”  The numbers flashed up on the screen.  Tate flinched.  That was a lot for flowers.  “I was thinking since it is now outside, we could let the natural beauty do its work and cut down on the flowers out there.  Leigh can have her real flower bouquet and the bridesmaids will just have to have smaller than what she wanted.  As for the centerpieces, the flower person said she could do them but I think that I can make something that will be more personal and for much less.  We will just be scraping through with the budget when I add in the DJ…” a price flashed on the screen, “the food…” another price, “and the renting of the ball room in the golf course’s clubhouse.  That way if the weather is bad, we can always move everything inside.”

“I think it looks awesome,” Josh said, patting Leigh’s hand.  Leigh was looking a little… pale.  Could have been cold feet, could have been rage, could have been shock that she was going to be married on a golf course.  The way Tate saw it, Keely would pull it all together in a classy, breathtaking way.

“You’ve done a very nice job.”  Keely’s dad reached over and patter her hand.  Even Jonathan and Ry, used to teasing their sister, nodded their heads seriously.  “I think it will be wonderful.”

“Leigh,” Keely began cautiously.  “What do you think?”  Then Tate saw it clearly.  As much as Keely complained about her sister and as much as she threw barbs right back, Keely truly cared about what her sister thought.  They were family, and family, to her, meant that you loved them no matter what. 

“As of right now, I think it’s going to be tacky and cheap.  But if that’s my only option…” Leigh burst into tears and ran from the room.

Keely looked at her dad, panic all across her face.  “Daddy, I thought it was going to be pretty.  I have it all pictured… why doesn’t she trust me?”  Then tears welled up in her eyes and she ran from the room, heading outside.

Josh had shot after Leigh but everyone else was frozen in place at the table.  “Dad, should I-?” Ry asked, already pushing back from the table.

“No, leave her.  Rosie will sort it all out.”

“Who’s Rosie?” Tate asked.

Submitted: April 25, 2012

© Copyright 2022 DMT. All rights reserved.


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