The Secret Across the Street

The Secret Across the Street The Secret Across the Street

Status: Finished

Genre: Young Adult

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Young Adult

Houses:

Summary

Grace Withers is planning to have the most boring summer ever. Her best friend is leaving for a whole month for vacation and she's left all alone. Well, almost alone. Her best friend's older brother, Adam, is staying in town. And there seems to be a new addition to their neighborhood, a new neighbor across the street, who seems to have a dark secret, and yet, Grace can't help but fall for him. Torn between two boys, and two lives, Grace is going to have a very interesting summer indeed.
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Summary

Grace Withers is planning to have the most boring summer ever. Her best friend is leaving for a whole month for vacation and she's left all alone. Well, almost alone. Her best friend's older brother, Adam, is staying in town. And there seems to be a new addition to their neighborhood, a new neighbor across the street, who seems to have a dark secret, and yet, Grace can't help but fall for him. Torn between two boys, and two lives, Grace is going to have a very interesting summer indeed.

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Secret Across the Street

Author Chapter Note

Grace Withers is planning to have the most boring summer ever. Her best friend is leaving for a whole month for vacation and she's left all alone. Well, almost alone. Her best friend's older brother, Adam, is staying in town. And there seems to be a new addition to their neighborhood, a new neighbor across the street, who seems to have a dark secret, and yet, Grace can't help but fall for him. Torn between two boys, and two lives, Grace is going to have a very interesting summer indeed.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 14, 2012

Reads: 38

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 14, 2012

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER 1

“You’re seriously telling me you have no plans for summer?” Samantha slurps on her strawberry smoothie while giving me the you’re crazy look from under her big, white, sunglasses. Her cheeks are rosy from the heat and her blonde bangs have fallen from under her headband.

As much as I’d love to say I have some extravagant plans for this summer, something I’ll be telling everyone about next year, I don’t. And it sucks. “Yes, I’m seriously telling you.” I reply, laying back on the folding chair at the pool. It’s June 1st, the beginning of our freedom. The beginning of three straight months of hanging with friends, staying up late, and sleeping in until noon. And as fun as that sounds, it’s much better if you’re not doing it alone.

“I’m so sorry, Gracie,” Samantha says, twisting her hair with one finger. “I would stay with you, I really would. But my parents already have everything reserved.” She gives me an apologetic smile, because of course it’s not her fault her parents decided to take her on a fabulous vacation to Hawaii.

I play with the pockets of my shorts, trying to plaster a smile on my face. Samantha and I have been best friends ever since I moved in across the street when we were five. We do everything together. We’re so close that when Samantha walks into our house at ten at night, no one asks where she got the key or even why she’s there. It’s kind of a normal routine for us. “It’s fine, I’m not a total loner, right? I mean, there’s plenty of people I could hang out with while you’re gone.” Did I mention she’s leaving for a whole month? An entire month. Her parents got invited to help at the local hospital there, so they basically get a free vacation for the work they’re doing.

“Yeah, see,” she says. “There’s Katie from French over there,” she states, pointing to a red headed girl across the pool. I don’t even know her. Well, other than the fact that she’s Katie from French. “I heard she’s here all summer. Oh and there’s Brian from study hall,” she nudges me in the stomach playfully. Mr. Muscles, AKA, Brian Goodwill was somewhat of an obsession of ours back in seventh grade. It was Samantha’s idea of course to give him a nickname, because I would never do something that creepy.

It all started when he moved here three years ago, when nobody knew his name or anything about him, but Samantha knew exactly what to call him. It was kind of funny actually, once you get past the weirdness of it. We’d randomly say Mr. Muscles if he passed by us in the hallway, and he’d look at us like we were the strangest people he’d ever seen, and that would send us into an embarrassing fit of laughter, right there in the hallway. I smile at the memory, we were a little crazy back then. “Ah, see, you’re smiling. He’d be perfect for you to hang out with.” She finishes up her smoothie and puts her hands behind her head.

“Yeah, sure.” I snort. I would never be caught dead hanging out with a guy like him. At least, not if he was in his right mind. I’m just Grace Withers, and he’s Brian Goodwill. See, they just don’t mix. “Besides, I heard he’s going to Paris this summer.”

“Yeah. Paris, Illinois.”

“Seriously?”

“You bet.” She winks.

Huh, guess he was lying then when he was telling everyone about seeing the Eiffel Tower. I smirk, maybe Brian Goodwill isn’t all he says he is.

After Samantha and I left the pool, we headed down to her house, or mansion, really. The house is seriously the size of a castle. I guess that’s what you get when both your parents are doctors. But even though her parents are super rich, Samantha isn’t a snob. And that’s what I love about her. She doesn’t feel the need to buy everything she wants or sees, and even if she does want it, she works for it, instead of just borrowing from her parents.

As we walk down her massive driveway, the crickets are chirping and the sky is crystal clear, showing the beautiful array of stars that are splattered in the sky. That’s really when it hits me, how lonely I’m going to be when she’s gone. There is seriously one big disadvantage to having a best friend; you can’t do anything without each other.

We can hear the laughter trailing from the backyard, and the soft, crackling sound of a fire burning in their stone fire pit.

As soon as we round the corner, everyone greets us, almost in mid laughter. Mrs. Morgan jumps up and gives me a big hug, wrapping her arms around me as if she was my own mother. Sometimes she’s around so much I almost think she is.

“Grace! So good to see you, honey. Do you want to join us?” She gestures to the circle of people sitting around the fire.

“Sit by me, Gracie!” Samantha’s five year old sister, Harmony, pats the spot next to her. She’s my other best friend.

“What, no room for good ol’ Sammy here?” Samantha jokes, giving Harmony a big hug, twirling her around playfully. I laugh and sit down next to her, grabbing a marshmallow from the bag in front of me. This is somewhat of a summer tradition for us, s’mores and endless story telling in Samantha’s backyard. Her family always has some hilarious stories to tell.

Harmony stuffs a big graham cracker in her mouth, sending a bunch of crumbs spiraling down her shirt. I giggle. She looks at me with wide eyes and tries to give a smile, but her mouth is so full that when she does, half of the graham cracker falls out of her mouth.

“Oh shoot!” she exclaims. “Look Gracie, you made me drop it.” She’s trying to contain her laughter, and her golden hair is bouncing up and down as she laughs.

“Oh look Gracie, you made her drop it!” I turn to find non other than Adam, Samantha’s older brother, smirking at me like an idiot from across the fire.

“Don’t call me Gracie. Only friends get to call me that.” I cross my arms and help Harmony pick up her mess with a napkin. She’s still giggling a little as I ruffle her hair and turn to throw the napkin in the trashcan.

“Whatever you say, Gracie.” Now it’s Adam’s turn to cross his arms. He looks at me happily, shrugging his shoulders. I roll my eyes and sit down again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Morgan is in the middle of telling what seems to be a very important story. “It was so hot that day; we were the only ones at the zoo. Of course it was Annie’s idea to go there.” He nudges Mrs. Morgan and she just blushes, urging him to go on with the story. “Sammy here was only two and a half, and Adam was three. Of course, he didn’t want to be there, but Samantha was just in love with the zoo. Right, Sammy?”

Samantha nods, giving me a look, and looks back to her dad. “So there’s this fountain there, and we’re all famished. And Samantha’s just dying to splash her face in there. But the ledge was too high for her, and she couldn’t reach, so Adam decided to help her.”

Adam clears his throat, “I think I know where this story is going, Dad.” But Mr. Morgan just smiles and goes on. “So little Adam here grabs Samantha by the legs and hoists her up, and next thing we know, Samantha is soaking wet, splashing around in the fountain!”

Harmony gasps beside me. “Did you get in trouble, Adam?” Her eyes are as big as oranges, like she’s never heard anything as strange as this.

“No way,” he says to her, giving her a wink. Harmony smiles back.

“You know,” Mr. Morgan continues. “I think I might have a picture somewhere…” He pretends to look around, patting his pockets and scratching his head. Samantha jumps up and grabs his hands.

“Not another embarrassing picture, Dad. Remember what you did to the neighbors last time?”

“Oh they weren’t fun at all. All I did was show them a couple pictures.” He throws his hands up, palms facing out, as if to say, why are you accusing me?

“A couple, Dad? You brought out all three family albums!” Adam retorts with a smile.

Mr. Morgan laughs and nods his head. “Now that I think about it, I may have gone a little overboard.”

We all laugh again, passing around the s’mores and telling more stories. It’s all fun and games until talk of their vacation comes up.

“Hey Grace, you won’t be completely alone!” Samantha jumps up and says as Mr. and Mrs. Morgan are going over some plans.

“What are you talking about?” I ask, thinking that we’ve already been over the fact that no one is staying in town this summer.

“Looks like not all the Morgans will be gone for this family vacation,” there is a sly smile on her face that can only mean one thing.

“Oh that’s right!” Adam says sarcastically. “I’m staying here aren’t I? Oh darn it, it must have slipped my mind.” Adam looks at me happily, knowing that this is the last thing I wanted to hear.

“Oh joy.” I say as he sits down next to me.

“Come on Gracie, we’ll have tons of fun together. Right, Samantha?”

“Right.” She plops down on the other side of me and slings an arm around my shoulder.

I smack a hand to my forehead, thinking of just how interesting this summer is going to be.

It was totally not funny. Not funny at all. During the entire walk back to my house last night, Samantha was trying to contain her laughter while I stood there, giving her an evil glare. She kept saying, “Oh he’s not that bad” and “You guys don’t even have to hang out”. Yeah right. Lord knows how much Adam will try to bother me while his family is gone. It will be constant “Hey Gracie!”’s everywhere I go.

Just thinking about it makes me want to smack my head against a wall.

But I have better things to worry about than the annoying guy who lives across the street. Way better.

I close my eyes as I’m lying on my bed, and try to relax. It’s been a long day. This morning, Grandma almost got lost again. Dad left the garage door open on accident and she made it outside. Thankfully, she didn’t go anywhere. She just kept walking across the driveway yelling, “Where is Michael?” And then mom had to come out there and tell her that Michael is gone, and that she had to go back inside. And of course the neighbors had to make a big deal out of it, thinking we couldn’t see them peaking their heads out their windows.

Samantha gave me a sad smile from her window, but she didn’t keep on staring like everyone else.

I run a hand over my face and take a deep breath. Grandma has only had Alzheimer’s for about nine months now, but it’s getting worse as the days go on. Dad pretends like nothing’s wrong and mom worries about it day after day. And I’m just here, taking it all in.

“Grace, sweetie, can you come down and help me with this?” Mom calls me from downstairs.

I sigh, glad to have something to do that will take my mind off of grandma.

I trop down the stairs and pull myself together, I don’t want mom to know that I’ve been thinking about Grandma.

I find mom trying to balance three plates of spaghetti on her arm. Sometimes I wonder why she always takes the complicated way of things. “Mom, why didn’t you just take them one at a time?” I grab two of them from her.

She puffs a strand of hair off of her eyes. “Well you know, honey, I always like a challenge.” She smiles at me, her silent thank-you. Giving her a peck on the cheek, I sit down at the dinner table.

The smell of dinner fills up the whole room, and even though I just had like ten s’mores, it makes me hungry. Mom has always wanted to open up her own restaurant, to share her food with everyone else, but after Grandma got diagnosed, that dream has slipped away like a feather floating away.

“Is that Mom’s famous Super-Spaghetti I smell?” Dad’s heavy footsteps make their way down to the dining room. His brown eyes have bags under them, making it obvious that he’s had a tough day at work. He sets his bag on the ground and picks my mom up by the waist and giving her a kiss on her head. “Dad, let’s keep it PG in here.” I joke, getting up to give him a hug. Mom laughs at my attempted humor. Dad gives me a hug and says, “Oh yes, can’t forget about Gracie over here now, can we?”

Wow, the name Gracie seems to be on a roll today.

Mom heads downstairs with a plate of food for Grandma, she rarely ever comes up to get any food. We usually just leave it by her bedside table, and find that it’s still sitting there three hours later.

“So, have a good first day?” Dad asks, sitting down across from me and pouring himself some food. Mom sits down next to him silently, leaving me to answer the question.

“Yep.” I say, playing with my salad. I’m not sure if Mom told him about Grandma’s incident or not, and I don’t want to be the one bringing it up.

Dad eyes me strangely but I still don’t say anything, waiting for Mom to be the one who pops in.

I wait for her to say something about it, but she doesn’t. Instead, we eat our dinner as if everything’s ok, and forget about everything that’s not.

TWO

I seriously hate gloomy days. It totally kills the whole “summer” mood, and really any other mood there is. One second I want to go listen to some music and ride my bike in the sun, and the next it gets cloud and rainy and all I want to do is sleep. And that’s exactly what Mom’s been doing. She’s been wrapped up under her blankets and hasn’t gotten up since this morning. It’s almost lunchtime. Dad says not to bother her though, saying that she’s probably just tired and needs her rest.

So far today, I’ve done absolutely nothing. Sam’s busy packing for their trip, they’re leaving tomorrow, and I am so not hanging out with Adam right now. Or actually any other time. I’m not hanging out with Adam period.

I lay on my bed and close my eyes, listening to the sound of the rain pound against my window. This is the first time the weather’s been this bad, usually it sprinkles for a while and then it’s an endless blue sky, but I guess Mother Nature decided to change it’s course this summer.

Just as I’m about to close my eyes and take a nap, there is a knock on my bedroom door. It’s Dad.

“You too?” He says with a smile, gesturing to me all bundled up in bed. He pats my back and I sigh, I just don’t feel like doing anything today. “Looks like we’re getting some new neighbors.” He says, looking out the window.

The house across the street has been on sale for a while now, but I didn’t know that anyone had decided to buy it yet. I sit up in bed to find out for myself. Through the rain splattered window, I can’t make it out much, just two people hurrying to get inside the house. One of them grabs the “For Sale” sign and brings it inside, confirming that they are our new neighbors. “Looks like it,” I reply to Dad.

I secretly look at Dad from the corner of my eye, did he come up here just to tell me that we have new neighbors? He doesn’t seem to be leaving yet, just sitting, with his eyebrows knitted together. That look usually means that he has something on his mind.

“Listen,” he starts. I knew he wanted something. “I know your not really in the mood for it, but your mother wants me to go give them this batch of cookies, she baked them last night. I have to get to work, would you mind giving it to them for me?”

I’d say no, but I can’t turn down Dad. He looks just as tired as he did last night, so I don’t want to make him more exhausted by making him run across the street. “Has Mom even met them?” I ask while getting up to fix my hair.

“Think so,” Dad replies, standing by the doorway. “She says they have a son your age.” He smiles at me, knowing that I’m pretty much alone this summer. I simply nod. “The cookies are on the kitchen cabinet.” Dad says, heading out of my room.

“Got it.” I follow him downstairs, so that we can head outside together. As he said, the cookies are sitting on the kitchen cabinet. They look really good, I almost steal one, but then I find Dad raising his eyebrows at me from across the room. “You can make more, Grace.” He says, laughing.

“Right.” I whisper.

Dad gives me a hug and yells goodbye to Mom, he was already almost late to work. I watch him drive away, wondering if I should just wait until the rain stops to deliver the cookies.

But the sun doesn’t seem to be coming up anytime soon, and it’s better to get this done with sooner than later.

I grab an umbrella from the closet and head outside. The wind is blowing sharply and I have to grip the umbrella tightly so that it doesn’t fly away. I almost turn around and head back inside, but then I spot someone peaking out the window of the new neighbor’s house. I can’t turn back now, they’ve already seen me.

I sprint across the street, trying to keep the cookies from falling. The stairs leading up to the front door are super slippery, and I try not to fall flat on my face.

As I’m about to ring the doorbell, my foot slips on the ledge and I fall forward right as someone opens the door. Next thing I know, I’m laying right on top of the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. And the cookies are splattered all over him.

I quickly push myself off of the guy, trying to hide the blush that is slowly creeping up my face. “I am so sorry, I just came by to drop these off and-“

The boy laughs, cutting me off. I stand there, wondering if he’s going to suddenly yell at me or just keep laughing. “It’s fine,” he finally speaks. He bends down to pick up the cookies. I help him pick them up and place it back on the plate.

“Seriously I am so sorry about this.” I tell him, trying to avoid eye contact. If he looks at me, he’ll see how completely embarrassed I am right now, which would make this situation a whole lot more embarrassing.

Once we’ve finished cleaning up, I lean against the kitchen counter behind me, not quite sure of what to do next. Would it be weird if I just ran out of the house and pretended that I was never here? “So,” he says, foiling my plan. “Do you always fall on top of your new neighbors?” Oh God, he’s smiling. And it’s gorgeous but oh so embarrassing.

“Um, I uh-“ I wish had some of those clever comments that people in movies always do, but I don’t, and he keeps freaking smiling.

“I’m Carter.” He sticks his out his hand and I shake it, trying not to blush more than I am now.

“Claire,” I reply, realizing that I’ve been holding on to his hand for a second too long. I quickly take my hand away and my hands behind my back, hoping he didn’t notice.

“Thanks for the cookies,” he says, turning to grab something out of the fridge.

“No problem, even though I spilled them all over you.”

Carter laughs again. “Want a drink?” He asks me, holding up a bottle of soda.

I shake my head, I’ve been here long enough. I don’t think my clumsy self can keep that soda from spilling all over myself, or Carter. Carter just shrugs and pours himself a glass.

I’m trying not to stare, but man, this guy is pretty easy to stare at. Toned skin, like a surfer’s, blue eyes that seem miles deep, and hair that’s the color of autumn.

“Carter! Where did you put the-?”

“Guests over!” Carter interrupts, not letting the voice finish. Suddenly, a woman that could easily pass as Angelina Jolie walks into the kitchen. She has the same color hair as Carter and the figure of an Olympic athlete. As soon as she sees me, she hides whatever she was holding behind her back and gives me a smile. I smile back at her, pretending like I didn’t just see that she clearly doesn’t want me to see something.

I expected her to say hello or introduce herself, but she just pulls Carter close and whispers something in his ear, then leaves the room, still keeping whatever she was holding out of my sight.

Ok, so this just got a little weird.

“Was that your-“

“You should leave.” Carter says without looking at me.

“Um, did I do something-“

“Leave. Now.” I can’t believe this guy. I mean, I know I ran into him and knocked cookies all over his floor, but I said sorry and it wasn’t on purpose. Carter grips the kitchen counter and turns his back to me, his shoulders tense. My jaw is practically on the floor, I can’t believe how rude this guy is being.

Without saying goodbye, not that I really need to, I grab my umbrella and run out the door, hoping I’ll never have to see him again.

When I get back to our house, I settle on a thought: Compared to Carter, Adam seems to be a pretty cool guy to hang out with right now.


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