When Lightning Strikes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 18 (v.1)

Submitted: April 24, 2012

Reads: 630

Comments: 20

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 24, 2012

A A A

A A A

Dinner at the Levine’s was lovely. Everyone crowded around the table and discussed about random things. I liked the feeling of being in their family. It made me feel content, but at the same time, a bit guilty. This was Aubrey’s spot, not mine.

“Do you like trees?”

I looked down next to me where Delilah sat. She was smiling prettily at me and showing off her plate of cut-up chicken and vegetables. She had to be one of the healthiest kids I’ve ever seen in the modern day world. Camille had told me that she wasn’t allowed to eat candy, chocolate and coke until she was seven, although chocolate in small things like brownies or cookies was an exception. Not that she needed persuading or anything – the girl preferred fresh juice, a bowl of fruit and vegetables any day.

“Yeah, I like trees.” I was baffled on why she was asking.

Warren ruffled his daughter’s hair affectionately. “She means broccoli. She can’t say it, so she calls them trees.”

“Daddy, I can hear you,” she said, making us all laugh. “They are trees! Look!”

He nodded. “Mhmm, very small trees indeed, munchkin.”

Delilah held one up to her mouth. “Yep, they’re small because I’m small too!”

She was too cute for words. Throughout dinner, I helped feed her and she would do the same, giving me the bigger carrot pieces. I could feel the smiles from everyone at the table, especially Jason. His eyes always softened whenever I interacted with his little sister. It made me break out into pleasant goose bumps.

After everyone finished dinner, Stella and I volunteered to wash the dishes so Camille could rest. I saw Cale look at Jason meaningfully and they stalked off together, probably to talk about the twisted love triangle we were trapped in. Camille took Delilah upstairs for a bubble bath, while Warren was cleaning out his workshop in the garage.

This meant that Stella and I were alone in the quiet kitchen. As expected, she took advantage of the privacy to interrogate me after we decided that I would rinse and she would dry.

“So, you and Jason hey? You know, I completely approve, even if he is engaged. I know she’s your sister, but I don’t think she completes him like you do. I can’t believe I never saw it!”

By the end of her little speech, there were stars in her eyes. She was excited for me, but I didn’t feel the same.

“You do realise that we can’t be together?” I asked.

She looked dismayed. “Why not? I know a wedding’s big and all, but I do believe in true love. You guys are perfect together. The way he looks at you is so romantic.”

Hmm. I wondered how he looked at me when I wasn’t watching. “Aubrey and Jason have been together for a very long time. I’m not coming in between that.”

Stella rolled her eyes. “Posh! You already have!” I cringed and when she saw, she immediately apologised. “No, I don’t mean to sound harsh! I’m saying it in a good way. I don’t know what Jason is thinking, but if he has feelings for you, he should cancel the wedding.”

I shook my head, confident in what I said next. “Our feelings will go away sometime.”

This was when Stella turned to me with pursed lips. “People marry because they truly love each other right? If Jason truly loved Aubrey, then what’s he doing with you even if it is temporary? I guess thinking a chick is hot is alright, but having feelings for them isn’t. If I were getting married and I learnt that Cale liked someone else other than me, but loved me more or something, I’d be downright pissed. I’d cancel the wedding because Cale would need to sort his feelings out.”

What she said was true, but Jason was adamant on marrying Aubrey. He had said she needed him. “Cale would never have to choose. You’re absolutely gorgeous.”

She burst out laughing and I felt a stab of envy. She did look like a supermodel, and I bet on my life she’d make a better one than Michelle. Her waist-length dark curls spiralled down her back and her eyes sparkled, her cocoa skin was soft and smooth as a baby’s and her curves were to die for. Right now, even in her simple tights and hoodie, she could walk down the red carpet.

“You’re too kind, Gracie,” she said. “But seriously, I think Jason should wake up soon enough. He has to realise that the relationship he has with Aubrey is becoming … well you know. It seems like it’s more of a hassle these days … like he’s tired.”

I tried to hold in my gasp but failed. Is that how people viewed their relationship? I always thought they were going on strong, except for the occasional arguments. Did others really think that Jason was becoming tired of my sister?

“But when he’s around you, he lights up,” Stella continued on, oblivious to my shock. “He doesn’t have to make an effort. He’s just … himself. I see that now.”

I shifted on my feet as I scrubbed down another plate. “But I never want to hurt my sister.”

She turned to me and I had to look away from her sympathetic eyes. It made me realise how much this situation sucked. “Ah, the most extraordinary loves are always the hardest.”

Love? I tried best not to smile and give myself away, because I could really see myself falling in love with him. Or was I already in the process of doing just that?

Before we could say anything more, Camille came in and smiled gratefully at us.

“You girls are simply wonderful, volunteering like that. Thank you so much. I’ll take it from here now and both of you can join everyone else in the lounge room. They’re picking a movie to watch right now.”

With that, both Stella and I headed into the living room to find the boys sitting on the floor surrounding Delilah, who was going through stacks of DVD’s.

“No, not that one, Lila,” Jason warned as she curiously looked at the cover Jersey Shore. “Put it back.”

Stella turned to glare at how boyfriend. “So that’s why it’s missing!”

“What? It wasn’t me babe, I swear!” Cale innocently put up his hands in mock surrender.

I watched as she stalked up to him, her eyes throwing daggers. “Oh, so my DVD so happens to just magically disappear?!”

Delilah squeaked. “Magic? I want to watch Jersey Sore!”

I cracked a smile as I took a seat on the sofa. It was funny how she wanted to watch a DVD full of swearing, sex and booze. The only magic which happened in there were the artificial muscles and curves.

“Lila, put it back, there’s no magic in that one.” Jason reached forward to pluck it from her small hands, making her pout. “Come on, don’t do that.”

My eyes widened. I could see that she was going to start wailing sometime soon. Her wide blue eyes, the exact same ones as Jason, started to water. Seeing this, Cale intervened and brought her in his arms.

“Why don’t we watch Tangled? You like that movie, don’t you?”

She perked up instantly and agreed. Like the sneaky person she was, Stella picked up Delilah and seated the both of them on one of the armchairs. She smiled satisfactorily as Cale realised that if he sat on the couch, it would be awkward, so he ran to grab the other armchair. He sent his girlfriend a glare to which she responded by poking her tongue at him.

This left Jason stranded in the middle, looking around. Being brave, I patted the seat beside me and he cautiously sat down, eyeing Stella warily. I hated to admit this, but she was good.

The lights dimmed and the bright lights of the movie started. Delilah was singing along to every song and sometimes she hopped down from Stella’s lap to pretend to be Rapunzel and dance just like her. The couple in the room were being funny again, as Cale was rooting for the evil ‘mother’ and Stella was constantly telling him, “Go and marry her then!”

I was entrapped and excited about the growing romance in the movie, and randomly mentioning at times how handsome and sweet Eugene was. By the time the couple were in the boat with the floating lights around, I was teary. I loved this scene. The way he looked at her was so … so romantic. It always made me wish that I had something like that, but I realised I did. Just not with someone single.

While the slow melody played, I peeked out of the corner of my eye to look at Jason. It was now that I realised how close we were. Just like in his room earlier, my skin tingled from the proximity. I admired his profile – the curve of his lashes, the straightness of his nose, his sculpted cheekbones, those delicious bow lips …

Suddenly, his head turned and he was looking straight at me. I bit my lip before turning back to the movie, blushing. The look he had given me had spoken volumes.

Soon enough, everything was becoming bleary. It was becoming increasingly hard to concentrate on the movie. I realised why when I saw the clock on the wall. It was nearing midnight, so eventually, I let sleep overcome me. The last thing I remembered was the sound of Rapunzel’s crying and the feel of someone’s warm hand enclosing mine.

* * *

The sound of my name drifting in from another room awoke me. Was someone calling me? My eyes slowly opened and adjusted to the light streaming in from the arched windows of the living room.

Wait … what was I doing in a room other than my own?!

I pushed myself up from the suede couch and realised that this wasn’t my home. The events of last night came back to me and I gasped. I had fallen asleep at the Levine’s home!

Two thin blankets covered my body and I smiled gratefully. I wondered if it was Jason himself who had gotten me blankets to keep me from the cool night.

“Gracie is really an amazing person,” I suddenly heard. My head snapped to the direction of the voice and I connected it to the person. It was Camille. “How did I know? Motherly instincts you could say. The way you held her last night … well I’m surprised that no one else knows.”

My blood ran cold. Was she talking about the complicated relationship between me and Jason? She had to be. It couldn’t be anything else. I felt rude for eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know her opinion.

“Uh actually …”

I heard Camille hiss, “There are others who know? Jason, how could you be so careless?”

He sighed and I longed to run my hands through his hair. “I’m telling Aubrey soon, ma. We can’t keep it from her. It’s not right.”

“Oh my. There’s going to be a lot of drama.”

I had a feeling that Jason might have shrugged. “I guess I have to face whatever is coming for me.”

In return, I heard his mother let out a sigh. “Oh Jason, just be careful, ok? I don’t have a good feeling about this …”

“Ma, it’s going to be fine. Everything will work out to the best.”

I cringed with guilt. This was my entire fault. Being with Jason not only affected the little triangle, but others too. There was his family, my family, friends …

Heavy footsteps coming in my direction made me jump. I quickly ran back to the couch and rearranged the blankets to make it look like I had just woken up. Jason appeared in the doorframe and grinned at my appearance. I must have looked awful, especially with my crinkled clothes and hair in disarray.

“You’re up. How was your sleep?”

Waking up and seeing his handsome, fresh face first made me happy. It felt like a good way to the start of a brand new day, even if just a few seconds ago he had been seriously talking with his mother about me.

“It was good. I didn’t realise I fell asleep.” I let out a yawn and something dawned on me. “Oh no! Jason, I have to call my parents! They’ll be worried sick!”

He came forward and laughed. “Relax, Gracie. My mother called them last night and they gave permission for you to stay here. I remember ma saying that you looked so cute and tired that she couldn’t bear to wake you up.”

“Oh.” I blinked, processing that everything was really fine. It was surreal that I was waking up in Jason’s house.

“I thought you’d like a pick-me-up.” He handed me the steaming mug of hot chocolate that I hadn’t noticed, making my eyes light up. It looked divine, topped with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, a few marshmallows and a wafer stick.

He watched me silently as I took a few sips, before saying. “I figured that you’d like a toothbrush, so I opened a new packet and it left it on the bathroom counter by the soap. There’s also a green towel for you if you want to shower and let me know if you need a change of clothes. You’re taller than my mother, but I’m sure it’ll fit well enough.”

Touched, I leaned forward to kiss his cheek. His surprised expression told me that he liked it. I knew I shouldn’t have done that, but I couldn’t help it. I loved that he was so thoughtful and had gone to the trouble of laying everything out for me already. “Thank you. I’ll do that soon.”

After finishing my hot cocoa, I started my daily routine. The only difference was that I was around a different family, a different house. Jason had told me that I was welcome to use the body wash and shampoos available. I felt bad for using their stuff, but I really didn’t want to stink. I saw that Jason had left me elasticated grey sweatpants and a simple blue cotton shirt. Once I changed and walked out of the bathroom, I ran into Cale, who looked like he had just awoken.

“Oh. Good morning Gracie,” he said. “How was your sleep?”

I smiled. “It was good. The couch is very comfortable.”

In response to this, he chuckled, but then he became more solemn as he remembered something.

“Gracie?”

I was curious, wondering what he wanted to talk to me about, but something warned me to be cautious. I turned slightly but didn’t look into his eyes. “Yes?”

He ran a hand through his brown hair and I figured that he was slightly nervous. “Look … from my point of view, I think my brother and your sister aren’t really a wise pair.”

Of course it was about Jason and me. He had seen us kissing last night too and was entitled to his own opinions. The only thing I was concerned about was whether he would tell anyone.

“True, I’d rather have you as a sister-in-law, but I’m not Stella. She jumps into things and is a big romantic at heart. I guess you can say I’m more careful and logical.”

I think I could see where he was going with this.

“I’m hoping that you and Jason are … careful.” That was the exact same word that his mother had used this morning. “I just don’t want my brother hurting. He doesn’t deserve all this drama and he’s not good at handling it. I’m just hoping you’ll be rational at times too, because this isn’t all a game. Aubrey will be furious if she finds out and there’s Jason’s reputation at stake. I know I sound like an ass, but can you imagine how everyone will react when he dumps Aubrey and goes for his sister?”

Jason’s reputation? I hadn’t thought about that one, but it was true. I could easily imagine all our family and friends whispering behind our backs if we became a couple, but on my list, it was a low priority. My main concern was Aubrey’s feelings.

“I’m not saying that I’m on Aubrey’s side, but I don’t want everything to crash,” Cale ended, before clearing his throat. “Well uh, I should go now. But I really hope that Jason will somehow see that he’s not meant for Aubrey. For god’s sake, the woman controls his every move.”

As I walked down the staircase, I thought about the conversation I just had. It was clear that Cale cared deeply for his older brother and I had wanted to soothe his worries, but I couldn’t. He was right. We needed to be more cautious.

“Good morning, Gracie,” Camille greeted. “I hope that your sleeping arrangements were comfortable.”

I smiled. “It was, and thank you for giving me blankets.”

“It’s fine. By the way I’m making sausages and toast. Did you want anything else for breakfast or …”

“Not that’s fine! It smells delicious.”

Warren came in the room at that moment and agreed. “The aroma made me wake up.”

As I helped Camille with the cooking, the Levine children started appearing one by one. Jason had gone back up to his room for a while before coming back down to eat, then Cale, who was then told by his mother to go back and wake up Delilah.

She was still in her fairy pyjamas and her long brown hair was sticking up in a few places. The sight of her holding Cale’s hand was adorable.

Warren chuckled. “It looks like you didn’t bother to brush her hair.”

“What? That’d make me look feminine!” Cale protested.

I laughed and that was when Delilah saw me. Her eyes lit up and she ran towards me, leaving me to lean down to pick her up and she blinked a few times at me, probably wondering if I was really here at her house again.

“Gracie! You’re here!”

I nodded and smoothed her hair with my fingers. “Did you know I slept on the couch last night?”

Her eyes widened, taking in the news. I had a feeling she had passed out before the movie ended too. “Really?! Are you living here now?”

Breakfast was being set on the table so I walked over and put her down on one of the chairs. “I’m sorry Delilah, but I’m only sleeping here for one night.”

She pouted cutely and I sat down next to her. “Why didn’t you sleep in my room then? I have glow-in-the-dark sticks.”

“She means stickers,” Jason automatically said from beside me.

We ate breakfast at a leisurely pace. I found that I had enjoyed my time immensely at their household. Even if the source of all my problems was living there, I had loved staying over. I wish I could do it more often, but I knew it was only a one-time thing. Aubrey should be the one sleeping over and bonding with the Levine’s. Come to think of it, I had never heard her talk much about her future in-laws. I had no idea what she thought of them and it never seemed like she made any effort.

From Stella and Cale’s comments when I had first met them, it seemed like they didn’t get along very well with my sister. I was sure that Mr and Mrs Levine would have been kind because … well Camille was just too sweet.

As I stared at the five wonderful people around me, I couldn’t help but think how much Aubrey was missing out on.


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