Chapter 10:

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

Reads: 85

Corey’s house was just like she’d imagined it would be. Although, maybe slightly bigger. In fact it was enormous. He’d mentioned his step-dad being a work-a-holic…Seriously, he must have been to afford this house, Kara found herself thinking as they pulled up in the driveway. They got out of the car and were greeted instantly by a girl around the age of fourteen. She was tall like Corey except she had long deep brown hair and sparkling green eyes. Kara noticed Corey flinch ever so slightly as the girl raced out the open front door.
‘Corey, about time you got home. Mum was just making hot chocolate. Come on… Oh hi,’ Kara watched as the girl went from loud and bossy to quiet, shy and almost suspicious. The girl looked at Corey questioningly.
Corey half-groaned, half-laughed at the questioning looks both girls gave him, ‘Mel, this is Kara. And Kara, this is my sister, Melanie.’
‘Hi,’ Kara said, watching his sister.
Melanie smiled slightly, ‘Well come on already. Do you want hot chocolate or not?’
As the girl bounced inside and further into the house Corey reached for her hand.
‘Sorry about her,’ he said leading her inside. ‘I’d forgotten it was Mum’s week with Mel.’
Kara tilted her head on the side, ‘I like her, she seems sweet.’
Corey shuddered at the thought, ‘Eww. No, you did not just say that.’
Kara giggled, ‘Uh, yea I think I did.’
Corey just shook his head and looked at her with his intense hazel eyes. He laughed and opened the door into an enormous kitchen. From the moment she stepped inside Kara loved the homey feel about the place. It was something she had experienced many a time but never in her own home.
There was a woman standing over the stove stirring something that smelled really sweet. The woman, she guessed his mother, was fairly short. Fairly short being not much taller than Kara, who herself could be put into the fairly short category. His mum had shoulder length brown hair the same shade as his sister’s and hazel eyes very much like his own. She seemed so warm and inviting that Kara was almost in shock at how nicely some people were treated by their mothers. The woman looked up as the two of them walked through the door.
‘Oh, hi,’ she turned the stove down, wiped her hands on her apron and walked over to them. ‘You must be Kara. Corey’s told me so much about you. I'm Leah and this,’ she said gesturing at the girl, ‘Is Corey’s sister, Melanie.’
Leah hugged her son and took them both by the hand and led them towards the kitchen bench. The each sat on a stool and were given a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
Kara sighed as the sweet liquid ran down her throat, ‘Yum, this tastes wonderful.’
Leah smiled, ‘I'm glad you like it. It was my mother’s secret recipe. So, anyway, tell us a bit about you. Tell me about…Your family.’
It was an innocent mistake. Anyone could have made it but Leah knew from the moment she said it that something was wrong. It might have been from the pained and panicked look her son threw her, but the thing that stayed with her was the moment of darkness she saw float across the girl’s face. It was only for a split second before Kara’s face changed once more to a picture of light ease and comfort.
Kara laughed lightly, ‘Well last I heard they were heading to Paris for a business conference. But then that was after they left my aunt and uncle in London. I haven’t seen them in ages.’
‘You must miss them a lot,’ Leah said, smiling at Kara as she watched her son squirm. She knew something wasn’t right. Kara was struggling to keep the initially easy smile on her face.
A loud ring filled the small kitchen as Kara’s phone went off. She reached into her pocket. Glancing at the screen she saw the caller ID.
Immediately Kara hung up and placed her phone on the bench. She took a deep breath and glanced at Corey. He’d seen the number over her shoulder and was giving her a concerned look. She just shrugged.
‘I hope that wasn’t important,’ Leah said. ‘You could have taken it if you wanted to.’
‘Oh, that’s alright,’ Kara laughed. ‘It’s nothing that can’t wait until later.’
Kara sat and listened while Melanie started talking about something that had happened at school. She slowly tuned out before realising that all three of them were watching her waiting for her to say something.
‘Oh, sorry, what were you saying?’ Kara mentally kicked herself for not listening to the conversation.
Leah laughed, ‘That’s alright, it’s pretty late. You’re probably tired. Corey can drive you home whenever you want him to. We were just asking what you plan to do with yourself after school.’
Kara smiled, ‘I want to be a primary school teacher. I love kids and I really want a career where I can help as many of them as I can.’
The conversation slowly died down about half an hour later and Melanie decided to go to bed. ‘Corey love, I'm going to clean up a bit. Why don’t you show Kara around and then come back in here before you take her home,’ His mum suggested, picking up the mugs and grabbing a cloth.
‘Sure thing mum,’ Corey said taking her by the hand and leading her out of the enormous kitchen.
They walked down a hallway and Corey pointed out the lounge room, dinning room and study.
He pointed out his mum’s room and they headed up the wide, sweeping stair case to the second floor. She saw Melanie’s bedroom, completely purple. Everything in it was purple. The wardrobe, which was half open, was completely colour coded and organised. They went further down the hall to an old playroom, completely filled with video games, board games and puzzles. There was a large TV with about five gaming consoles set up next to it.
They passed two guest rooms and another lounge room before they came to a smaller staircase. The staircase, though smaller than the main staircase, was still pretty big. It was bigger than a normal staircase and yet there was something about it that set it apart from the rest of the house. Kara could tell immediately as she stepped unto it that Corey’s room was upstairs, that it was rare that anyone else in the house actually went up there, like it was somehow off limits.
Kara didn’t realise it at the time but she began to shiver. Corey glanced at her and took her hand again leading her up the stairs. She glanced around. The room was pretty big. There was a computer in one corner, a television in another with two armchairs and a couch arranged around a coffee table. There was a pool table in the middle of the room and a darts board on the far wall. There was an almost unnoticeable door alongside this. Corey gave her a chance to glance around and look at the room.
‘All yours, huh?’ She asked as he started to lead her through the room towards his bedroom.
‘Pretty much. The rest of the family are too busy to come up here much so I’ve pretty much got it to myself. This way,’ he disappeared through the doorway.
His room was fairly big. It was painted a rich shade of blue. There were posters of cars on all of the walls. His bed sat in one corner, half made because he obviously couldn’t have been bothered making it last time he got out of it. His desk was covered in stuff, papers that he’d gotten half way through writing and then given up on, amazing drawings, random textbooks on whatever subject he had decided to read about recently. Burnt and bought CD’s lined a wall next to his CD player. There was an armchair and a beanbag.
‘Sit down if you want to,’ he sat on the beanbag and watched her.
Kara glanced around the room another time before walking over and sitting at the edge of the beanbag leaning back against him.
‘So,’ Corey said, moving her head gently into his lap so he could see her reaction. ‘Are you going to call her back?’
Kara sighed. ‘I don’t know Core. I don’t want to talk to her but I guess I should find out her demands huh?’
Corey nodded, ‘Go ahead. Do it now. I’ll go down to the kitchen so you can talk to her alone. Come down once you’re done okay?’
She nodded and reached into her pocket pulling out her phone. She quickly dialled the number. Corey waited a moment at the door.
‘Mum, hi,’ she said and he left.
* * *
Downstairs his mum was waiting for him. She sat at the kitchen table with a stack of junk mail in front of her and an inquiring look on her face.
‘She’s really pretty,’ his mum spoke as he walked into the room. ‘And seems really cute.’
Leah watched her son carefully. There was something awkward about this, the warning signs were in his eyes. It didn’t take an idiot to see he really liked her. His mother could see that immediately in his eyes. But she also saw he worried about her, though she couldn’t really see why. Sure the girl’s parents and siblings seemed to be travelling half way around the world without her and that seemed to distress her a bit but she couldn’t work out what else could be going on.
‘Is she alright?’ Leah asked her son as he sat down on the edge of the table opposite her.
‘I'm not going to lie to you mum. Right now I don’t know. She’s just struggling; she’s putting up with so much crap right now. But she’s getting better, she’s going to get through it all,’ Corey wasn’t sure whether he put this last bit in for his mother’s benefit or to convince himself.
‘Her family…What’s going on there?’ Leah wanted to know everything she could about this girl. She wanted to help. If things were so hard she wanted to be part of the solution, she wanted to help fix things.
Corey gave a weak smile at that, ‘She hasn’t seen them since seven months ago. Christmas day. They missed her birthday, left a card and twenty dollars on the kitchen table. But what’s worse is I think she’s scared of them. She doesn’t like being in the house alone because she’s scared of it, because of them. It’s all their fault and they don’t even seem to notice or care how much it’s affected her. She’s taken it so hard mum.’
‘That’s terrible. Look, Core, you need to make sure she knows she’s welcome here anytime. I want to help. We have plenty of spare bedrooms; she can stay over whenever she wants. She’s always welcome,’ Corey watched as his mum’s face suddenly became bright and less serious as she looked up to see Kara coming down the stairs.
The girl said something to herself and then forced a smile. As she walked into the room Corey looked at her questioningly.
Kara just shrugged, ‘She said they’ll see me in two years. Is it just me or is that one long business trip?’
Kara sat in the chair next to Corey’s legs, across from his mother.
The woman placed a warm hand on hers, ‘Kara, you know you are always welcome here. You can come by whenever and as I'm sure you’ve seen we have plenty of spare rooms. You could stay over if you wanted a night away from home occasionally.’
Kara smiled the first genuine smile Leah had seen. She nodded, ‘Thankyou. That means a lot. No one normally really cares; they’ve decided heaps of seventeen year olds live on their own so why can’t I? But it gets so lonely and tiring in my house alone, day in day out. I might just have to take you up on that offer one day.’
‘You could stay tonight if you wanted to,’ Leah said.
Kara looked at Corey who was watching her carefully out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his mum.
‘Umm, actually mum, we were sort of going to watch a movie at Kara’s house,’ he looked at Kara for a moment. ‘Then again we could always watch one here and you could stay for the night. We could go back to your house quickly to grab anything you need.’
Kara’s eyes brightened, ‘That sounds cool, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble of course.’
They both looked at Leah.
‘Sure,’ she said. ‘On one condition, I get to watch with you and Kara and I get to chose the movie so that we can watch a chick flick or something instead of whatever random action, thriller, adventure you want to watch.’
Leah laughed. It was a light airy laugh that tingled through the room and into the hallway.
Kara poked her tongue out at Corey, ‘Sounds good to me.’
Corey groaned and picked up his car keys, ‘Fine, fine. The things I do for you people. Now come on, do you want to grab some of your stuff or not?’
* * *
‘I love her,’ Kara said the second they started driving. ‘I just absolutely love her.’
‘Yeah. I noticed. I just realised, you meeting my mum…Not a good thing. You are both going to gang up against me with each other all the time. Like the movie thing for instance. I hope you don’t mind that by the way. I mean it would have been nicer just the two of us…’ he trailed off and changed the track on the CD that was playing.
Kara smiled, ‘Yea maybe, but I’d really like to get to know your mum. She’s awesome!’
‘Why are you telling me this? She’s my mum. Of course I think she’s awesome. I mean doesn’t everybody?’ Corey laughed.
Kara suddenly fell silent. She moved her hand off his thigh and sat suddenly stone still.
Corey realise what he’d said, ‘Shit. I'm so sorry. That was horrible of me I didn’t think. I-’
‘It’s fine,’ she said looking at him again and letting herself relax a bit more again. ‘You didn’t think. Everybody has their moments. Really, just forget it. I don’t care. They don’t care so can we just drop it? Please.’
They’d arrived at her house now. Kara opened her car door and got out. Corey followed her. He reached around her waist as she slid her key into the lock. He noticed she tensed slightly as he did so.
‘I'm sorry,’ he said as she opened the door and turned to face him. ‘And, well I love you.’
He leaned into her a little more and slowly their faces came closer together. He watched her for a moment, the tense feeling gone from her as he ran his hands gently up and down her back.
Suddenly they were greeted by a bright light. They both jumped about a mile as a car drove up the driveway. The front and passenger doors slammed shut and two figures walked towards them. Corey glanced at Kara, startled that she stood so calmly on the front step waiting for these two strangers.
‘So, how was it? What are you doing here?’ Kara asked as the two figures stepped on to the doorstep.
‘Oh, it was great! We had so much fun. Drew just wanted to make sure you got home okay,’ Amber laughed.
Drew smiled and glanced at Corey. He raised an eyebrow at Kara, asking in the way that only he could do if this guy standing next to her was Corey. Kara nodded.
‘So,’ Drew said. ‘You must be Corey. Kara’s told me a bit about you. Has she mentioned lunch on Sunday yet?’
Corey smiled, ‘You’re Drew and Amber, right? Yea she did. If you’re sure I won’t be intruding I’d love to come.’
‘Awesome,’ Drew said and turned back to Kara. ‘We just wanted to make sure you got home alright but obviously you did. I’ll come by in the morning and help you out with some housework if you want. Or we could just do coffee or something.’
‘Andrew James Curtis. Do you think I'm not capable of looking after myself? No, I’ve finished the housework for now and I'm actually busy tomorrow so you don’t get to do the big brother thing and look after me. Not this time I'm afraid,’ Kara poked her tongue out at Drew who pretended to be incredibly offended.
‘Huh?’ Corey was suddenly confused. ‘Aren’t you her cousin?’
Kara, Drew and Amber all laughed.
‘Yes you idiot. I just think of him as a brother. He’s all I’ve got,’ Kara turned to Drew. ‘Anyway. You two need to get out of here so that we can do the same. We’ll see you Sunday around eleven thirty.’
They exchanged goodbyes and Kara and Corey went inside. Corey sat down in the lounge room while Kara went to her room to grab a change of clothes, her pyjamas, her pillow and her teddy bear.
‘I'm very fussy,’ she later explained. ‘I have to have my teddy bear. Even if he sits in my bag the entire time, if I go somewhere overnight he has to come.’
She shoved her stuff into a small overnight bag and went back to the lounge room where she found Corey looking at family photos.
‘Who are they all?’ he asked, hearing her come into the room.
Kara glanced at the photos. The two he was looking at shared a double frame. They were both taken at Christmas and they were both set up in the same layout. One had been taken three days before her uncle’s death and the other was taken last Christmas. Corey watched her as she starred at the pictures.
‘That’s me and Drew,’ she pointed to her and her cousin lying on the floor grinning in each of the photos.
‘Anna, Auntie Kathryn, Michael, Abbey, Felix, mum, dad, Gemma, Hailey and Lachie… And’ she paused. ‘Uncle Dave.’
Corey watched as she flinched at the mention of her parents and siblings and then seemed to sadden at the mention of her uncle.
‘The other picture’s the same. Only that one was taken last years so I guess a fair bit has changed since…’ Kara trailed off.
Corey looked at her as she placed the picture back on top of the glass cabinet and led him towards the door. He stopped her at the doorway, looping his arms around her waist from behind and pulling her in close.
He leaned into her hair and whispered in her ear, ‘I love you, you know that? You are so strong and so beautiful and I’ll always love you.’
Corey turned her around to face him. Kara moved slightly out of his grip. It was different somehow to when they were going into her house. It was her house, her empty house. She was leaving it with her boyfriend, it was empty and he was trying to kiss her. Her mind raced as she pulled away slightly. No, she thought, not a situation I need to be in right now.
‘Come on,’ she said softly, running her fingers lightly up and down his chest. ‘Your mum’s waiting for us. We can’t be too long or she’ll start to get suss.’
He sighed and released her. Kara locked the door while he started to head for the car. Corey stopped part way down the front walk to wait for her. She walked over to him and slid under his arm, placing her own arm around his waist.
She watched him for a moment before finally speaking. ‘I…’ Kara trailed off as Corey glanced at her. ‘I love you too.’
He looked at her for a moment and then laughed, ‘Took your time. Anyway come on. Like you said, mum will be waiting.’

Submitted: October 15, 2009

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