I wake to a knock at the front door of the guest house. I panic for a second, thinking it could be James’s parents or friends for some reason, but when I look at the clock the time flashes an annoyingly bright red.
I find myself weary and cautious as they knock again, more urgently though. Slowly, I walk to door and open it cautiously. I feel my face go flat at the sight.
“I hate you.”
James scans me first as a smirk creeps up on his devilish face. “You know this look suits you Addison.” He takes in my pajamas, and bed head, which I know is just horrific. He pushes past me and I feel myself growing more annoyed by the second, disabling my ability to think properly. “It actually makes you look… well… anyway.”
“Suck. My. Dick.” I say slowly, filling the words with as much hatred as it can take.
“Didn’t know you had one.” He says casually as he sets a backpack on the foot of Jake’s bed, whom by the way is sleeping like a freakin baby. My eyes practically throw daggers at him once they glance at him.
“He’s still sleeping?” James gives me a weird look.
“No, he’s dead.” I snap, giving him a face that just says ‘Duh’.
“I’d die too if I had to spend the night with you.” He grins. My temper begins to simmer.
“What the fuck are you even doing here James?” I ask, expecting some arrogant and rude remark.
“Brought you guys breakfast.” My face contorts, not exactly what I was expecting as you can see. He pulls a box of frosted flakes out of the backpack, along with a carton of milk, two bowls, and two spoons. He glances at me briefly before glancing at Jake. I stand there awkwardly for a second, wondering if the vibe could pounce on Jake just to wake his ass up.
I sigh as I walk over to him and shake him as nicely as I can, given I am not the brightest morning person. Jake groans, pushing me away and rolling over.
“Jake.” I say flatly.
“Go away.” He snaps, but his voice is muffled by the pillows.
“Get. Up. Jake.” He cuddles into his pillow deeper.
“Fuck me,” I groan inwardly as I walk to the bathroom. I grab a toilet paper roll from underneath the sink and stand in the doorway. I spot James out of the corner of my eye as he looks at me cautiously, but then I focus my attention on my lazy brother.
“Jake watch out!” I scream, and as I earn the response I was planning on, I launch the toilet paper at his face as he turns around just in time. It connects and he groans as he rolls off the bed, his hand covering his face. I hear James burst out in laughter.
A triumphant grin settles on my lips. “Goooood Mooooorrrninng!” I say sweetly as I tower over Jake now. He blinks up at me before he grows angry. His mouth opens to say something but his own stomach cuts him off as it growls at him viciously. He closes his mouth abruptly as his cheeks grow pink and I double over in laughter, literally half rolling on the floor.
Jake glares at me as I roll around, holding my stomach from laughing so hard. My own laughter isn’t the only one ringing in the air though. Jake glares at James who is at the foot of the bed, on his knees and burying his face in the comforter, laughing.
“You guys aren’t cool.” Jake grumbles as he gets up and heads for the bathroom.
“Hurry up, Jake, you’re going to be late!” I bark as I pound on the bathroom door.
“It’s barely seven twenty Addison!” he yells back. I huff a sigh.
Yeah, twenty minutes of awkwardness with James here, waiting for him so he can give him a ride. I swallow as I face James again. His face his relaxed as he lounges on the foot of Jakes bed, while I shift from foot to foot uncomfortably. I avoid his gaze on me and search for something that could actually use my attention, but the paranoia is too much.
“Do I really bug you that much?” James asks me, amusement tainting his voice.
“Can I ask you something?” I say abruptly, unable to kill my curiosity. “Off the record?”
“Isn’t this entire conversation off the record?” his eyes sear into mine as I gaze back at him. I don’t lose momentum once I have it though.
“Why are you helping us?” I force the words out and stare into those blue eyes I’ve learned to guard myself from. His eyes take on a new look, at least one I have never seen before that has been directed towards me. He almost looks sincere, and nice.
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asks quietly.
“Because we hate each other.” The words come out instinctively. “Granted you may be ‘friends’ with my brother but no one has ever shown him friendship like this because of me.”
“I never said I hated you.” He manages to say softly, doubling the awkwardness. I look away as I feel a blush rise to my cheeks.
“You don’t have to say it,” I almost laugh as I walk back to the bed I borrowed from him.
“What do you mean?” he asks me as I half face him, trying to cower underneath the covers.
“James, the things we say and do to each other just says it all.” I half laugh, completely bewildered by how I find this amusing. When I get no response I look up to see his face, half written with guilt.
“Addison, I never-”
“Stop.” I cut him off sharply. “Don’t do that.”
“You don’t even know what I was going to say.” He eyes me with narrowed eyes.
“Look. We cannot be friends. Not even mutual friends. Nothing. We’re enemies, that’s it.” I say, climbing out of the covers to head to the kitchen, keeping eye contact with him the entire time so I can drive my point home. As I pass him to go to the kitchen though I feel his hand close around my wrist, not letting me pass. Immediately, I yank myself free from him, trying to compose myself before he can notice the emotion the little action provoked out of me. But even I can’t help cover the shock of my immediate response.
“Why won’t you let me apologize? I would think that if I made your life such a living hell you would have it out for me just to make me apologize for everything I’ve said.” He looks down at me, his body almost touching mine. I resist the sudden shudder that spikes up my back.
“That would be assuming your words actually meant something to me James.” I glare. Still, James studies me for a few more seconds, trying to calculate if even the smallest part of me is lying. “You can’t do this.” I step forward, making him take a step back. “Even if we wanted to try, and I’m not saying we do,” I point a finger as I keep backing him up, halfway to the bed now. “we can never be friends.”
“We can’t or you can’t?” he glares down at me. My eyes narrow at him.
“We can’t.” I poke his chest. I try to stare him down for a few more seconds but then I notice our close proximity and I’m about to back away when he asks, “Why not?”
“Jake.” I say too quickly.
“What?” he asks indifferently.
“We can’t be friends because it will ruin everything for Jake.”
“How would you and I being friends ruin everything for Jake?” he looks away from me, completely puzzled by the entire thing.
“James, if we became friends’ people would wonder why, or what happened between us and that would risk people finding out the truth about our father. If people knew, people would do the exact same thing you did.” I pause. “They would pity us.” James’s head snaps back to me and his mouth opens in protest. “Jake would never have a shot at getting real friends. They would pity him for how our father treated him and that he’s stuck with me as a sister. I know Jake gets upset because everybody knows how I am and it sometimes prevents him from hanging out with ‘your’ group but I can’t do anything about that now.” I pause to take a breath and force myself to say the next few words. “I can’t have Jake hate me because I didn’t do everything in my power to make sure he could have a life as normal as we possibly can. So please, James, just do me this one thing and don’t be nice to me. Don’t take mercy on me; don’t do anything different when it comes to me.”
“Then what do I do?” he asks, his eyes never leaving mine.
“Help Jake,” I look up to him, trying to look as serious and as nice as I possibly can. James studies me for a few seconds and his lips part to answer but I hear the bathroom door swing open and I back away from him as quickly as I can so that Jake wouldn’t suspect anything.
I hear James clear his throat as Jake says, “What do I do during lunch? I mean, its not like I can go…” he trails off as he looks at us, scanning our faces quickly. “Did I… Did I interrupt… something?” he asks hesitantly as he looks between the two of us, who are in arm’s length but it’s still abnormal for us to be this close when we have so much space to be father away.
“No.” We both say at the same time. I shoot James an annoyed glare as he flashes me a side grin.
“Righhttt…” Jake murmurs. The room grows into a silence too unbearable for me.
“So you were saying about lunch?” I slowly sit on his bed.
“Right.” Jake goes back to what he was saying as he heads to his bag to put away his pajamas. “Do I come back here or what?”
“Actually, you can go to lunch with me and some of the guys.” James says abruptly. “I mean, if you want to…” he glances at the both of us who are giving him deranged faces.
“Can I?” Jake asks me quickly making my face scrunch up with what probably looks like disgust because that’s just how it came out.
“I’m not your mother, I don’t care!” I half yell as I get up and stomp around to my bed.
“So you in?” I hear James ask, as I crawl underneath the covers.
“Yeah, thanks man.”
“No problem, are you ready to go?” James glances down at his watch.
“Sure thing.” Jake says as he grabs his backpack and heads for the front door.
I look at James as he glances back at me one more and mouth to him the two words I thought I would never ever in my life say to him: thank you. He nods once before slinging his backpack over his shoulder.
“Well,” he blows out a long breath and I begin to think he’s going to say something serious. “Stay ugly.” He chirps and he’s out the door, leaving me confused for a second but then spreading a smile across my face for the first time ever.
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