When Lightning Strikes

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

Chapter 22 (v.1)

Submitted: May 25, 2012

Reads: 637

Comments: 20

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 25, 2012

A A A

A A A

After seeing the dark circles under my eyes in the vanity, I scolded myself for staying up too late. Last night was a nightmare. My eyes wouldn’t shut and my thoughts were consumed with betraying Aubrey. Usually, I pushed that out of my mind and dreamed about Jason. I was in deep – too deep. I had accepted that there wasn’t a big chance of us having a future together, but I couldn’t help but hope that I would have that Disney fairy-tale ending where my prince and I would get married and ride off into the dusk, kissing in a carriage.

Reality slapped me in the face when I skipped downstairs earlier and saw Aubrey perfectly poised on the kitchen stool, sipping a chai latte. I shrank back and hung in my room until I heard Aubrey go back into her room. To say I was a coward was an understatement.

Around half an hour later, when the purr of Jason’s car could be heard, I swiftly took the stairs two at a time to let him into the house. My sister had no idea he was coming over and at the moment, she was leisurely taking a warm shower. That gave us some time to calm our nerves before the big storm and hopefully, the shower would have a calming effect on Aubrey.

I sat across from Jason in the living room and simply stared at him. His head was in between his hands. I couldn’t see his face and I wondered how he was feeling. It was probably how I felt at the moment – full of trepidation.

The scenarios I had thought of earlier entered my head. I heaved a sigh as I thought about the impossible one. Aubrey would never let us be a couple, so that would mean we would have to end up dating others. But would she still take Jason back after this? That was the big question.

If there was a little she-devil on my shoulder right now, she’d be crossing her fingers and hoping for a no. That meant I wouldn’t have to go through the torture to attending the wedding and watching the man I was in love with marry someone else. Meanwhile, my mini angel looked scandalised and scolded me for feeling that way. Aubrey and Jason were meant for each other and I was inferior. If the wedding would make them happy, then let them be married.

This internal battle would kill me someday, I just knew it.

“How are you feeling?” Jason’s voice broke me out of my reverie. I was surprised that he was still trying to make conversation at a time like this.

“I think I’m ok.” I clasped my hands together. “What are you anticipating?”

“A lot of shouting.” He blew out a breath. “But I’ll just have to take it all and hope she’ll forgive me in the end.”

I chewed on my lip. Honestly, I didn’t think she would take him back after this. Aubrey wasn’t the type to tolerate cheating. I was tempted to view my thoughts but hurting Jason wasn’t what I wanted. Instead, I quietly asked, “What if she doesn’t?”

“Then I guess I would have to move on with my life,” was his answer.

Jason finally looked up from the floor to meet my eyes. It was like he was sending a telepathic message: that I would have to move on as well. As right as it was, how could he expect me to do that? I imagined myself married to an unknown person and shuddered. What if I ended up reflecting back on how I had a chance with Jason? What if that thought tortured me for the rest of my days?

Suddenly, the sound of keys jangling sounded throughout the living room. Oh no. I craned my head. Mom came into view and was holding a bag of groceries. My jaw dropped.

“Mom! What are you doing home?” I exclaimed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jason sitting up, his face laced with disappointment and confusion.

“I have a day off work today!” She turned towards Jason and smiled. “How are you, Jason?”

He stood up and hugged her. “I’m doing good, thanks Evelyn.”

“Are you taking Aubrey out today? You know, she couldn’t stop talking about the date you had. It was so sweet of you to take her mind off things.” Mom patted his cheek. “Oh, do you want to stay for lunch?! I’m making pasta.”

Jason shook his head. “No, it’s fine. I’m heading off to work soon anyway.”

Both of us watched as mom strode off into her haven, the kitchen. Once she disappeared from sight, I covered my face with my hands. Now what were we going to do?!

I felt Jason’s hands tug my own away from my face. “Hey, how are you feeling?”

Frustrated, I ran a hand through my hair and slumped on the sofa. Now we had to abort the whole operation. “I was so prepared to tell her today and now we have to wait. It makes me more nervous now.”

“I get what you mean. You thought you were going to get it over and done with today but now, you’re all anxious again because you realise that you still have to tell her.”

I nodded. “Exactly. It’s like high school all over again when we had to do speeches for class.”

For the first time today, Jason cracked a smile. “I miss my high school days. I was always in music class jamming with my friends.”

I giggled as I imagined a younger version of Jason strumming an acoustic guitar. “You look really cute in my mind right now.”

His jaw dropped slightly. “Cute isn’t a word used to describe a guy, Gracie. You need to use words more along the lines of stunning, handsome, hot …”

I slapped his arm as my body shook with laughter. “You’re incredible.”

His eyes twinkled mischievously. “Oh, I know.”

We sat there smiling at each other, before my thoughts about Aubrey set in again. My face fell and I wondered when we would be able to tell her about all this. Jason must have seen the expression on my face because he leaned forward and took my hands in his, slowly making circles with his thumb.

“Gracie, don’t cry.”

I hadn’t realised that there were unshed tears in my eyes until Jason said so. I unwound my hand from his to wipe them away.

“Sorry. I just think this is all so hard.” I looked away and sighed. “I hate betraying Aubrey. She’s my sister and I love her so much. What if she never forgives me, Jason? What will I do then?”

His grip on my left hand tightened. “She will, Gracie. You’ve got to believe that she will.”

A slight movement in the shadows of the hallway caught my attention. My breath caught as I realised who the figure belonged to. Quickly, I dropped my hands into my lap and took a shaky breath. I mouthed the word, ‘no’ to Jason but it didn’t seem like he noticed.

“Aubrey loves you too. You’ll see, she’ll forgive you.”

I licked my lips nervously. He wasn’t getting the point.

“Jason … I think you should stop now,” I whispered hoarsely.

His eyebrows drew together quizzically. “Why are you – oh no …” Blood drained from his face as he caught onto what I was thinking. Time slowed as we both stared each other in the eye.
“She’s behind me, isn’t she?” I could tell he was dreading the truth.

I winced. “Yeah …”

Slowly, ever so slowly, we both stood up from our seats, preparing ourselves for the terrible wraith of my sister.

“Forgive Gracie for what, exactly?” Aubrey moved out from the dimness and into our line of sight. The darkness of the hallway cast shadows onto her face, while the sunny living room illuminated her intense eyes.

From the way Jason and me were standing beside each other, shoulder-to-shoulder, it seemed like we were on the same side, battling off against Aubrey. All alone, she stood a few steps away from us. She was right there but out of our reach, staring at us calmly.

Jason stuttered. “Aub-Aubrey … what did you hear?”

She tilted her head, assessing us. Her dark curls spilled over one shoulder as she did so and she looked very much like a porcelain doll – a little doll with glassy eyes and a perfect, cool exterior. It unnerved me. Now I finally knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of Aubrey’s intimidating stare.

“Just enough to know that Gracie wishes for my mercy,” she told us. Her arms crossed over her chest and she leaned on the doorframe. “So what would you like to confess?”

I saw a look pass over Jason’s face, as if he disapproved of Aubrey’s choice of words and threatening stance. It felt like I had majorly sinned, like murdered someone.

I decided that I would start off. “Aubs, we have something to tell you. Something that we should have told you a long time ago.”

She huffed. “Keep going.”

I looked to Jason, who gave me a small encouraging smile. This helped me take a deep breath and turn back to Aubrey. I really hoped my mother couldn’t hear our conversation over the sound of the pan sizzling and the news on television.

“Jason and I have …” My heart thumped erratically. “Kissed.”

I expected a shocked gasp, a widening of the eyes, a glare or even the flare of her nostrils. But nothing happened. Her face was marble stone. She didn’t say anything and not one twitch gave her away.

Jason cleared his throat. “It happened more than once but it was in the heat of the moment. I still love you Aubrey and I want to be with you. I still want to marry you.”

I felt like crying. She wasn’t reacting.

“We’re really sorry about it, Aubrey. God, I’m so sorry, I never meant for it to happen. I never want to hurt you.” By the end of saying that, tears were slowly slipping down my cheeks and my voice had gone up to a higher pitch from the clogging of my throat.

Jason hesitantly took a step forward. He reached for Aubrey’s hand. She didn’t stop him. “I know it will take a while, but I really hope you can forgive me. I’m not going to go down on my knees because I don’t want you to pity me, something you tend to do. So I’m just going to leave you with that.”

Finally, my sister spoke up. Her voice wasn’t weak, but one which held authority. After all, she did have the power here: the power to break the engagement off with Jason and the power to never speak another word to me again. She could easily move out of my life. With her bank account, she could move off to the city herself and I could never hear from her again. It was a painful thought.

“And what if I don’t?” she challenged.

I watched as Jason’s face contorted with pain. “Then I guess I’ll have to let you go.”

In this moment, it seemed as though his whole world revolved around my sister. I was the intruder, standing here by myself. Then, to my complete shock, as Aubrey stared into the face of her fiancé, her brown eyes started to glisten. Her chest heaved from the need to cry, but she held her head higher to show that she was strong.

“How could you, Jason?” Her piercing question made the man next to me flinch.

“I’m sorry Aubrey,” was his only reply.

“Get out.”

I stifled a gasp. Was she really doing this?

“Are you sure?”

Aubrey’s eyes flashed with anger. “I said, get.out. I don’t want to see you!”

With a resigned sigh, Jason stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked away. Out of the house he went, away from the sisters who had caused him nothing but pain and trouble.

This now left me with Aubrey. She was still in the same position with her head resting against the wood of the door fame and her eyes closed. I softly paced over to her until I merely inches from her.

“Aubs, are you ok?”

Her head slowly lifted up and I could see now that she had gone back to hostility. “Why wouldn’t I be?” She let out a fake laugh. “I find out that my own fiancé and little sister are having an affair and you think I’m OK?!”

I flinched, fearful of her fury. “I’m so sorry Aubs. It wasn’t done intentionally.”

She smiled bitterly. “I’m afraid that doesn’t really cover it, Gracie. All my life I have trusted you and now you do this! You’re nothing but a back-stabber!”

I recoiled. To hear a bad word about me come from her mouth cut me deeply. I was surprised that this was all tumbling from her mouth now. A few moments ago, she was unresponsive as a statue and now … well, I was going to get an earful.

“I’m sorry!” I cried, not knowing what else to say. “I don’t know what to do! I’m in love with him …”

Immediately, my eyes widened. How could I even say that in front of her? Why would I let something like that spill out?!

Her eyes narrowed with accusation and her small fists clenched tightly. “You’re delusional! I’ve been with him for years and you think you’re in love with him when you’ve only gotten to know him?!”

I couldn’t find any words to say. The way she said it made it sound like I was a young, naïve girl. And maybe I was. “I … I …”

She wasn’t finished. Her eyes were dark and narrowed into red-rimmed slits now. Her chest heaved up and down as she breathed quickly. “I knew … I knew from the moment you landed back on that plane in this country, I’d have to compete with you all over again. This was my time to be in the spotlight! I’m the bride and yet you just shine! Everyone only sees you! No one cares about my thoughts, my feelings! No, they only care about the Golden Gracie!”

My head couldn’t comprehend this. Was this what Aubrey really thought of me? An attention-seeker? My eyes felt prickly from the tears which threatened to arise. It became harder to breathe as I stood there, staring at my lovely sister. Did she ever love me? Were all those years or sisterhood nothing but pretence? Had she been sneering behind my back jealously all these years?

All the questions were nagging at my insecurity. I had never thought I was perfect and yet here she was making me out to be some sort of goddess or superstar. I only saw myself as Gracie. Simply Gracie – the awkward, tall girl who was trying to weave through life looking on the positive side.

“There’s no competition, Aubrey,” I said sombrely.

She pulled back her lip in contempt. “Well there’s already one, isn’t there? We’re in love with the same man.”


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