When Lightning Strikes

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

Chapter 21 (v.1)

Submitted: May 21, 2012

Reads: 564

Comments: 14

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 21, 2012

A A A

A A A

Lazily, I trudged upstairs with my huge bag of presents and dumped it by the side of my bed. I would sort through them tomorrow morning but for now, I needed some sleep. The party had gone on until midnight, where last of all, Ruby had handed out sparklers and everyone had waved them around in the air.

When I tip-toed outside my room to wash my face and brush my teeth in the bathroom, the house had gone quiet. The lights were off and bedroom doors were shut closed.

As I studied my face in the mirror, I was surprised to find my face still glowing, even after I had removed all the make-up. Maybe my change of mood had been from the party today. Or maybe it had been from simply seeing Jason.

I was ready to hop into my warm cocoon I called a bed after I finished, when I heard the most tragic sound. The quick intake of breaths and the heart-wrenching sobs pulled me downstairs and in the direction of the kitchen, where nothing could be seen. I hesitantly stepped forward and flicked on the lights.

“Aubrey?”

To my complete shock, my sister glanced up at me, red-faced and upset. Her dark hair spilled over her satin nightrobe and her vivid brown eyes were wide. Her dry lips parted as she took me in.

“Gracie,” she whispered. “No, no, you shouldn’t be here to see this …”

I quickly stepped forward to envelope her in a tight hug. I hadn’t seen Aubrey cry in years. What was the matter now? “Oh my god, what happened?”

A quick shake of the head was all I received. Damn it. She didn’t want to tell? But I had to know what was crushing my sister.

“Please Aubs?” I pleaded as I stroked her hair.

“I’m fine,” she whimpered.

I wasn’t going to have that and I hoped she knew. “You can tell me. I want you to help! I can’t stand seeing you so upset.”

She let out a small sigh before uttering four words that made my heart stop. “Jason doesn’t love me!”

Time slowed down as I processed what she just said. Did she find out that her fiancé had feelings for someone else? Had Michelle clued her in? My mind was whirling but I tried to remain collected and calm on the exterior.

“Why would you say such a thing?” I asked, hoping my voice sounded kind.

Aubrey grabbed a tissue a dabbed at her eyes. “It doesn’t seem like we’re as close as before, that’s all. He’s becoming less interested in what I have to say, when I want him to help with the wedding plans, he walks off and … oh god, everything adds up! My wedding is going to be a disaster!” she wailed.

I sighed. Sometimes my sister could be a little theatrical. “Aubrey, listen to me. Of course Jason loves you. That’s why he’s marrying you.”

“You don’t understand! He never pays attention to me anymore! I can’t even get him to bring me on one single date. He claims that he’s too ‘busy’, but we both know that’s a bunch of lies,” she replied bitterly.

I tried to keep in mind that Aubrey was very upset, but I couldn’t help the angry fire igniting in me when she called Jason a liar. He wasn’t one. He was the total opposite – honest, loyal, compassionate …

My sister’s voice dropped to a whisper, as if she was afraid of anyone overhearing whatever sin she committed. “I’ve even tried to seduce him and he doesn’t spare me a single glance.”

An emotion that I could only describe as jealous rage flared in my very heart. To hear something like that from my sister hurt and to imagine what would have happened if she had succeeded caused pain.

“Oh, Gracie! Whatever will I do?!”

Hearing how distraught she suddenly broke me out of my resentment and instead, made me feel awful. If only I take away her pain …

A sudden epiphany came to me at that moment. Here was my chance to be a worthy sister. Here was my chance to make everything the way it used to be, at least for one day. Here was the chance to make Aubrey happy.

I leaned my head on top of hers and quietly shushed her. “Aubs, you don’t need to do anything. Leave it to me.”

Jason’s message swirled through my mind as I sat there mindlessly, soothing my sister’s woes: For you, I will.

* * *

By nine o’ clock, I hurried over to my dresser to check whether I had a new text message and luckily, I did. My thumb floated over the message icon briefly before pressing it.

I’ll be there soon. Are you sure you want to do this?

Of course I did. I typed back a simple ‘yes’ before placing my cell phone back and walking into Aubrey’s room. Even when she was upset, her room was absurdly neat. Her bed was made, the blinds and curtains were pulled open the let in the light, all her papers and folders were neatly placed on her large mahogany desk …

“Gracie?” My head snapped up to the figure of my sister in the corner of the room. She walked up to me, wringing her hands. “I’m so sorry you had to see that last night. Everything between me and Jason is fine. You don’t have to worry. I was just … overreacting.”

My lips tightened together because I knew she was lying. Was she trying to re-build the image of her and Jason being a perfect couple to me? I hoped not, but for the sake of it, I decided to play along.

“Alright then.” My reply seemed to make her pleased. “Do you have any plans for today?”

She shrugged and sat down on the edge of her bed. “It’s a Monday – time to work. Maybe I’ll work until ten tonight.”

I frowned, disapproving. Like dad, I didn’t like it when Aubrey pushed herself to work nearly every single day of the week. There was also another reason why I disagreed with her idea. “Why don’t you take a break? Hang out at home?”

“It’s boring at home,” she said, rolling her big brown eyes. Her phone then signalled that she had received a text and I watched as she read it. Aubrey’s eyes lit up and she raced out of the room and into mine. I followed her and it turned out she was looking out of my window, which faced the front yard.

“Aubs, what are you doing?”

She turned around to me with an excited smile. “Jason’s taking me out on a date! I’m going to get changed, so go and open the door and keep him occupied!”

Oh, if only she knew what I’d like to do to keep him ‘occupied’. I quickly shook my head to get rid of the thought and headed downstairs to open the door. Jason stood there, his golden brown hair wind-swept and his face impossibly stony and determined, but once he saw me, his eyes shined.

“Gracie … what are you doing?”

I closed the front door behind me to stand with him out on the porch. “Aubrey told me to open the door for you because she’s busy getting changed.”

“Ah, I see.”

After that, it was quiet, but it wasn’t the type where it was comfortable. No, it was when we both wanted to say something. I couldn’t stand the unnerving silence, so I took a deep breath and blurted out the words I wanted to say before I backed out, “I think we should tell her tomorrow.”

I glanced up at Jason, who remained passive. His eyes were a stormy blue as he stared straight ahead and his plump lips were flattened as he crushed them together tightly. I yearned to read to his mind.

“It seems cruel,” he cautiously pointed out. “I’m taking her out today and tomorrow we’re going to crush her?”

It did seem unpleasant when he phrased it that way, but in my head it made sense, so I tried explaining as best as I could. “I just can’t stand it – her not knowing anything. Last night she was bawling her eyes out, Jason. I’ve never seen her so lost or troubled. I hated watching that and I don’t want it to happen again. Of course, it does have to, but I’m hoping for it to be as quick as possible. Stretching it out longer won’t make a difference when you think about it.”

“So this is why you begged me to take her out.” Jason raised an eyebrow and turned to me. “To give her one last day of happiness before we tell her.”

My back straightened and I lifted my head, a little defiantly so I looked confident. If I was sure then Jason would follow through. Somehow, I knew that he trusted in me. “Yes.”

He sighed and closed his eyes briefly. “Alright, I’ll come over tomorrow. Will your parents be home?”

I racked my brains, thinking about what days they worked before smiling, satisfied. “No, they should both be at work.”

Jason absently ran a hand through his hair and nodded. I knew he was becoming stressed. I had the hugest urge to comfort him, to hold him in my arms and let him know that I was there for him no matter what, but this wasn’t the time. We were standing outside on my family’s porch where the neighbours could see quite clearly.

“So what are you doing today then?”

I crossed my arms over my chest and huffed. “Well, I’ve got to write up a conclusion for an essay and then I’m heading over to the primary school to do some teaching.”

Jason’s lips curved into a smile and I swear my heart stopped. He was just so handsome. “Delilah will come home a happy girl then.”

Before I could reply, the door creaked open and there stood Aubrey radiantly glowing in her usual sheath dress.

“You look beautiful,” Jason immediately told her before offering his arm.

I convinced myself that this was all for show, but my heart felt otherwise. I should be happy that he was making an effort to appear excited.

“Why thank you.” Aubrey stood on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek before turning to me. “Well, we’ve got to go, Gracie! Have fun, today!”

My jealous side prickled. It was as if she was mocking me: Have fun today wondering what Jason and me are up to!

I quickly shook my head as soon as the thought crossed my mind. I hated this resentful side of me.

“You too,” I called out as they paced to the car sitting on the driveway. I stood outside and waved until they were out of sight. Then began my very slow day.

I spent the next forty minutes writing up a conclusion for an essay and reading over it again to edit necessary bits. Once that was accomplished, I freshened up. Rowan had called in a few days ago to tell me that I was only needed after recess and that I would be taking most of the reigns now. It was daunting to have to teach your own class, but you gained more confidence, something which I wanted to work on.

I was just glad I hadn’t picked to be a high-school teacher. Imagine trying to hold a hormonal teenager’s attention for an hour!

Ruby had offered to drive me to the school today, so when I heard a car beep, I hurried outside. Bless her. Sometimes I really wouldn’t know what to do without her.

As I slid into her little Peugeot, the scent of fresh hot coffee overwhelmed my senses. Sitting in the cup holders were two Starbucks cups.

“I thought you would need a little something to guide you through the day.” Ruby grinned.

Touched by her gesture, I took one in my hand. “Thanks. You really are a life saver.”

“Have you noticed that it’s getting colder?”

I glanced up; surprised that she was talking about the weather. “I have noticed. Autumn’s here.”

Ruby saw my petulant pout and laughed. I was more of a summer girl and she knew it. “Don’t mope, G. Think positively! We can go to sleep wearing woolly socks and walk around wearing Ugg boots and beanies without anyone looking at us weirdly!”

The small mention of Ugg boots did cheer me up. Yes, I was one of those girls who wore them regularly. A lot of girls say that they look funny and cheap, but they are also so damn comfortable!

“There’s a smile!” Ruby peeked at me out of the corner of her eye and frowned. “Now that I look, it’s not really a genuine smile. Fess up, G. What’s wrong?”

I loved that nothing got by my best friend. To know that she could read me well made me feel special.

“I guess I’m nervous about tomorrow. I’m going to tell Aubrey tomorrow and I have no idea how it’ll play out.”

Different scenarios raced through my head. The first one was obviously one full of anger, where my sister would declare her hatred for us loudly and storm off saying that she wanted to see neither of us again. I couldn’t stand that one. Then there was the second, where Aubrey would give us a look of pain, burst into tears and mope for days in her room. It hurt me to think about that one. Last of all was one where the three of us sat down calmly, talking it all out and magically, Aubrey understood our feelings for each other and gave us her blessing.

Now that was just plain unrealistic, but a girl could always dream.

“Oh my goodness. I can’t imagine how you feel right now, Gracie …” We had arrived at my destination but we both sat there quietly. “But I know everything will work out. You’ll see.”

“I hope so.” I blew a strand of hair out of my face and gripped my coffee tighter. “Well, thanks again for the ride, Rubs.”

Her mouth curved into a gentle smile. “I’ll always be here for you.”

I already knew it but hearing the words out loud really did make me feel as if I wasn’t alone. I really did have someone who cared for me. Then I remembered about her situation with Vince and guilt flooded through me. I was so self-absorbed that I hadn’t bothered to give her any comfort. After all, her Prince Charming was only staying the county for another few weeks. Although I really wanted them to become a couple, maybe it was for the best that Ruby stayed away from him. It would prevent her from developing stronger feelings and missing him while Vince’s in France.

“And I’m always here for you.”

I hopped out of the car, pretending not to notice she had reacted strongly. She had seemed taken aback by my words. It meant that she knew I was talking about Vince.

* * *

I was greeted with a quiet class of no one, but that was because it was recess and the children were outside in the playground. Rowan was sitting at her table furiously typing away on her laptop and occasionally taking a nibble out of her snack. When she spotted me in the doorframe, a beam crossed her face.

“Hi Gracie,” she called out. She motioned for me to sit on the chair next to her so I did. “Ready for today?”

I put my bag down on the floor and nodded. “I sure am. What will I have to do?”

Rowan took another bite out of her ham and cheese sandwich before answering and handing me a piece of pink paper. “We’re adding and subtracting numbers under ten.”

I looked over it and smiled. “Alright then.”

“For the few lessons you’ve been here, you’ve done well you know. The kids really like you and you’re very patient, which is what a teacher needs to be.”

I grimaced, thinking back on the few cranky teachers I’ve had in my life. “Not all are.”

She caught what I meant and joined in with the laughter. “Oh my, I used to have the grouchiest teacher ever in my senior year! Whenever someone would smile, he’d go berserk, muttering things about how they were all laughing behind his back about his divorce.”

I giggled into my hand. “He must have been delightful.”

Rowan smiled wryly. “Yeah, worst chemistry teacher ever.”

We chatted about harmless topics like the weather, work and movies in theatre until the bell rang and the kids came streaming in. They all saw me and eagerly bid me a hello. A few girls were surrounding me, including Delilah, asking if they could play with my hair because they had just learnt how to plait. I thought it was cute and promised them I would let them.

Rowan let me take over the class after that and headed off to the staffroom to run some errands. This left me by myself to control the class.

For the next two hours, I walked around helping the children with their mathematical skills. Seeing the easy sums made me yearn to be in elementary school again. The enthusiasm in the air made teaching all the more enjoyable; although it was frustrating when some of the boys would get off track and start wrestling matches. I couldn’t wait to graduate and find a teaching job.

The day passed by nicely and our whole class had a good time after lunch painting. Rowan had set the task of painting a picture of your family and even I was doing one, although mine was a sloppy as most of the kindergartens. I was hopeless in art unlike Ruby.

The last hour of the day was definitely the best. There’s nothing like a relaxed atmosphere with music playing in the background. I was reminded of the time when I was baking with Ruby a week ago.

By the time school ended, I was drained of energy. Hopefully a daytime nap and a smoothie could cure me. I was assigned to waiting outside the classroom with the kids again while Rowan was talking to one of the parents. Ainsley and Delilah stayed by me telling me all about their family.

“My daddy plays the guitar for mommy,” Ainsley boasted as she looked at her painting.

I smiled. “That’s sweet. Are you going to give your picture to your mommy and daddy?”

She pursed her small lips and sniffed. “But I wanted to put it in my room!”

“Oh, of course you can hang it in your room!” I exclaimed, ruffling her hair. “I bet it’ll look very pretty!”

Delilah frowned and hugged her picture to her chest. “I’m giving mine to my mommy. I’m going to tell her to put it on the fridge!”

Ainsley’s parents arrived before we could say another word and we waved to each other. Once they walked off, Delilah turned to me.

“Can I see your painting?”

I nodded and showed it to her. “Sure. That’s my mom and dad right there, and my sister.”

Delilah’s eyes widened. “I wish I had a sister. What is her name?” she inquired curiously.

“Aubrey.”

Once the name left my lips, she quickly looked down at her shoes. “I don’t like her very much …”

I chewed on my lip, feeling disheartened. Ever since I came back from France, it was like everyone had turned against my sister. “Why not?”

“She doesn’t talk to me or smile at me and shouts at Jason.” Her bubbly voice dropped to a mere whisper. “I hear them sometimes in my room.”

I felt the need to comfort Delilah, so that’s what I did. I pulled her to me and gave her a reassuring squeeze. She relaxed slightly and played with a lock of her hair.

“Oh look! Jason!”

As her older brother and his fiancée came into view and strolled over to us, the little girl next to me leaned into my embrace even more. Aubrey’s eyes zoomed onto our entwined form, making me shrink back.

“Gracie, why can’t you marry my Jason instead?”

Shocked by her words, I stared at her wide-eyed. I wished I could have given her an answer, but unfortunately my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. She was right. Why couldn’t I be the one marrying Jason?


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