When Lightning Strikes

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

Chapter 24 (v.1)

Submitted: June 13, 2012

Reads: 644

Comments: 20

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 13, 2012

A A A

A A A

Everything shattered. I guess I had been truly hoping for the opposite. Dreams of me and Jason going on dates and spending our whole lives together flew out the window. Instead, my future was set: I was to watch my sister wed the man I had fallen for. I’d be watching as they married, watching them as they arrived back from their romantic honeymoon, and watching them as they raised their own kids … while I tried to move on. It was a heavy blow and I wasn’t prepared.

My heart stuttered. My throat constricted. The room suddenly felt claustrophobic and standing in front of Jason didn’t help.

His concerned azure eyes probed deeply into my soul. He could see I was suffering. I needed to get out of here as fast as possible.

“That’s great, Jason, it really is.” I looked away so I wouldn’t betray to him what I was feeling. “I’m happy for you.”

His eyebrows furrowed and slowly, he reached out to touch my arm. My skin burned and I was reminded of the times we kissed. The memories hurt too much and I shrugged it away.

“I think I should go,” he whispered, realising that he wasn’t helping. I stood there, breathing quickly as he backed away. “I’m sorry, Gracie. I never meant for this to happen.”

It took me a long time to move from my one spot. I was left standing there feeling like a lost cause until I heard the front door opening. It was hard to try and act normal around my parents. Mom simply smiled at me and started on cooking dinner. She asked me questions about Vince leaving but I didn’t have much to report on. After all, I had spent most of my time wandering around the airport.

Dad on the other hand, had been a bit more perceptive. He pulled me into the lounge room while mom was dancing around in the kitchen to the radio.

“Gracie, I have a fatherly instinct that something is very wrong. You know what, actually? Lately, you’ve been quieter than normal. I don’t like it.”

As much as I loved him, I couldn’t tell my dad. My life was too complicated at the moment and I couldn’t unload it all to him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, dad.” With that, I stalked out of the room and into mine. I shut the door harder than necessary but my heart was pounding with gloom and adrenaline. My eyes shut as I tried to block out the image of dad standing in the living room, dejected. It must hurt to hear that your daughter didn’t want help and it must help to know that you couldn’t help.

Sighing, I laid back on my bed. Hearing from Jason himself that he was vowing himself to another woman was like a smack to my face. Knowing that I’d have to hang around with them for the rest of our lives pricked my heart.

Or maybe I didn’t have to. I was excited over this new revelation. After I graduated, maybe I could move far away – so far that I’d only need to visit on the Holidays. A smile blossomed over my face as I considered the opportunity.

“Gracie, are you in there?”

Aubrey’s tentative voice made me spring up from bed. It couldn’t be … was she really talking to me?

My answer came when she pushed open the door and slowly took a step in. Her dark hair was pulled back into a sleek bun and she was still in her work wear: a dark pencil skirt, the usual blouse and a thick red cardigan. Her eyes met mine.

“Au-Aubrey … what are you doing here?”

She stood there, blinking at me. I realised that she seemed unsure. That wasn’t good, but it was still a start. At least there was a part of her which wanted to be here, speaking to me.

“I’m here to tell you that me and Jason are still getting married.”

“Oh.” That was it? I had hoped she’d sit beside me and we’d start apologising for our actions before making up. But this was harsh reality. It took time to rebuild a fragile relationship. “Alright then.”

Of course, I already knew this, but there was no reason to tell her that Jason had visited. In my heart, I knew that Jason had come here without telling her.

Aubrey tapped her nails on the doorframe as she leaned on it. “I know that you have feelings for him, Gracie, but I’m hoping you’ll just let us be happy.”

Numbly, I nodded. “Of course.” But the question I had been dying to ask blurted out right after. “Why are you forgiving him?”

Her glossy lips had curved into a smile before her whole body stilled. I was afraid she wasn’t going to answer until she simply said, “We can’t just cancel the wedding, Gracie.”

“Oh. I guess that makes sense.” My voice came out as a whisper as my sister closed to door gently. It didn’t make sense. Did that mean she had wholeheartedly forgiven him? Would their relationship prevail or plummet?

I buried my face into my hands and leaned my elbows on my thighs. It was no use stressing now. It looked like Aubrey had won the ‘competition’.

* * *

The next day started out well. The sun seemed to shine brighter, the skies seemed clearer and the day seemed warmer than a usual autumn day. As you can guess, this was because of Aubrey. It hadn’t been big but it had been a start – a very small one in which we could hopefully work on.

In the back of my mind, there was still the news of the two of them still getting married, but I tried my best to ignore it.

My feet picked up speed and I ended up flying down the stairs. I could hear voices in the dining room and skipped towards my family and the smell of breakfast. My head poked in and immediately my smile faltered.

Aubrey was nowhere to be seen.

Immediately, my heart plummeted. I knew getting my hopes up was useless but I had really expected her to greet me a good morning, like she usually did before we had told her everything.

“Morning Gracie.” Mom came over to me and smoothed my flyaway hair. “Would you like some porridge? Or do you want to make your own breakfast?”

I shrugged and slipped into my seat at the dining table. “I think I’ll just have porridge.”

Mom nodded and began pouring me a bowl. As I waited, my gaze travelled over to where my dad sat. His wrinkled eyes burned into his bowl as he ate. A frown made its way onto my face. I wondered what was wrong with him.

“Here you go, sweetie.” A bright yellow bowl was set in front of me and I smiled as I recognised that my mother was trying to cheer me up. I loved yellow. It was a bright and soothing colour. “By the way, Ruby called.”

This made me look up. “Why didn’t she just call me?”

“She did. You were asleep though, so that must have been why you didn’t hear it.” Mom laughed as she opened the newspaper to the politics section. “She said to meet her in the town square at twelve for sushi.”

The idea of spending a day with my best friend managed to put a smile back on my face. It would take my mind off my complicated love life. I used to think that after telling Aubrey, it would be settled, but I was wrong. My body was drained of energy. My heart ached. I longed to just meet a sweet guy and fall in love without any complications. Simplistic was what I wanted right now.

“I think I’m going to shower,” mom announced as she gathered any leftover cups or plates from the table. “I might be late for work!”

My heart pounded as she dashed out of the kitchen. This left me with my father, who was studiously ignoring me.

“Dad?”

The only response I received was a grunt. How mature.

“I’m sorry about yesterday.”

This made him pause. “There’s nothing to be sorry for.”

I let out a sigh. Now he was being annoying, but he was my father and I was going to explain. “It’s just … I don’t want you to become involved in my problems. It’s too complicated and … I’m scared if you’ll judge me.”

He looked up at me and I shivered. His eyes were calculating, just like Aubrey’s. “Oh no. No, no, no!”

My eyes widened and I leaned away from him. “What?”

He slammed a hand down on the table, making the bowls rattle. “You’re taking drugs, aren’t you?!”

“I – what?!” Bewildered, I clutched my heart. Complete confusion washed through me. What on earth led him to draw up that conclusion?!

Dad ran a hand through his hair. “Cee, you know I’ll never judge you, but really? What did they teach you at school?!” He started to mutter to himself. “Damn, I never wanted her to get into those stupid things …!”

I groaned. “Dad! I’m not doing drugs! No one is doing drugs!”

He narrowed his eyes at me, making me shrink back. “Tell me the truth, Gracie Mae. Don’t lie to your father.”

I sat up in my chair and levelled with his glare. This is what Aubrey would do. If you’re confident, they’ll believe you. “Dad, I’m not doing drugs.”

After a few tense seconds, his body sagged with relief. He rubbed his temples. “Just as long as you’re not doing drugs, in a gang or …” A shudder came from him. “S-Se…”

Immediately, my face flushed. I hated it when my dad tried giving me that talk. “No, dad! Just don’t say it!”

He jaw tightened stubbornly and he gritted out, “But I have to tell you.”

I shook my head quickly. “No, you don’t, believe me! Ugh! Please!”

My reaction to the talk made him crack a small smile. I guessed he believed me then. “That just shows you’re an innocent girl still. Alright, run along now.”

I shoved myself away from the table and sprinted upstairs, still tomato red in the face. If that conversation ever popped up again, I would die.

* * *

By noon, I had managed to catch the bus and arrive at the square. Sometimes I really did wish I owned a car.

Ruby was already sitting on one of the stools as I walked in. She smiled at me and waved with her chopsticks. “I’ve been sitting here dying to eat but I couldn’t just start without you.” She motioned to the carousel of sushi on plates with a dreamy look. “So that’s why I’m so glad you’re here!”

Instead of talking, we spent the next minutes digging in. Light piano music was being played, giving off a soothing aura and the smell of the fresh sea and food filled the air. I quickly filled my plate with tempura prawn sushi, my favourite. Ruby meanwhile, was grabbing at the sashimi.

I ended up studying Ruby as she cheerily chewed on her lunch. How easy was it for her to put on a façade? Wasn’t she hurting inside?

I took a sip of my juice before taking the courage to ask a sensitive question. “Ruby … how are you dealing with Vince really?”

Her whole stance froze and her mouth opened a few times, as if trying to find the right words. “I’m trying to get over it. He was just a crush, so I shouldn’t be so sad.”

“How much do you think about him?”

She blew a strand of hair away from her face. “All the time. I can’t help but think about him. We had a chance of being together, G.” She shifted and turned to stare me in the eye. “How can I not think of the possibilities? He could’ve been my boyfriend. My first real boyfriend.”

How could I forget that Ruby had been single throughout her life? The old feelings of guilt for being with Vince in the first place suddenly flooded through me. If I hadn’t kept dating him, would Ruby and Vince have met anyway? I sighed. That was the thing with the future. There were completely different pathways …

“But what about you?” Ruby tentatively leant closer. “I saw Jason and Aubrey walking together this morning.”

My head snapped up. I swore I cricked my neck. “Really? When? What were they doing?”

I knew I sounded like a stalker but I couldn’t help it. Curiosity got the better of me, especially when it came to Jason.

Ruby bit her lip as she thought back. “Well, it was this morning. They weren’t holding hands or anything but they seemed … close. Close, but strained. Jason kept fidgeting and Aubrey … for once she didn’t seem as confident.”

What did that mean? Were they having problems? “They were together because the wedding’s still going ahead.”

A gasp came from Ruby’s lips. “Really? I thought Aubrey wouldn’t take him back.”

“Same,” I admitted a little glumly.

She laughed softly at my tone. “G, don’t worry. Everything will work out. I’m sure you’ll find the one.”

The problem was that it seemed like Jason was the one. I hadn’t fallen this hard for any of my past boyfriends. This was way more intense. But I didn’t say this aloud. I didn’t want Ruby’s pity.

Instead, I attempted a smile. “I’m sure I will.”

We didn’t continue the conversation after that. After paying for our plates, Ruby and I headed outside. We walked along the brick pathways leading to more shops and occasionally stopped to browse through some stores. The first was an Oxfam shop and I ended up buying a gorgeous white scarf with silver reindeer and snowflakes. However, Oxfam shops were Ruby’s favourite and ended up with a mustard knit jumper, a beaded necklace, a pair of boots and another bagful of goodies.

“I really need to stop your addiction to shopping.” I frowned as I peered into her bag.

She giggled and nudged my side. “You know me. If I see something worth buying, I will buy it.”

When we stepped out of the cramped shop, we realised that the sky had turned darker. Clouds were rolling in and the wind was blowing against my face. We both agreed it wouldn’t be wise to spend more time here, as we hadn’t brought our umbrellas. Our direction changed to the car park, but Ruby spotted a pair of moccasins she had wanted for weeks in a shop window.

“Gracie, look! It’s nearly half price!” she exclaimed in awe. Her hand reached out to touch the glass. “Oh my, I have to buy it!”

I smiled. “I’ll wait for you outside.”

She rushed into the store while I stood there, staring at the sky. I hoped the rain would just hold on a little longer. I didn’t want to look like a drowned cat. My feet tapped on the pavement. I turned around to look back in the shop and found Ruby slipping on the shoes and smiling excitedly. They must sell her size then.

My neck started to hurt so I turned back and across the street was a familiar figure. She stood by a newsstand in her blouse and pencil skirt, flicking through a magazine. I wanted to talk to her so badly.

It was as if something told Aubrey to look up, because she did. Her eyes met mine and our lips slowly both curved into a smile. Seeing her eyes shine with affection at me made me so happy. I wanted to cry.

She wasn’t angry with me. She really wasn’t. And even if she was jealous of me, she still loved me. I could see it on her face and I could tell she knew that I had figured it out. It was as if she was sending me a message.

Aubrey dropped the magazine back in the rack and started walking towards me. My heart started to beat faster at the anticipation to simply talking with my sister. Her heeled feet strode across the road and her face transformed into a bright, flushed smile as she came running over to me. All that mattered was Aubrey.

I was too distracted to register the zoom of a car, or the booming bass of the music that was being played.

That was when a flash of black came out of nowhere. There was loud screeching halt, before a bloodcurdling scream echoed through my very ears.


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