Alivia pulled on the leather jacket, opting for the outfit that will offer more warmth. Martin had a big garden and most likely everyone will be sprawled outside anyway. She double-checked her phone but didn't see anything about a cancellation. She grabbed her handbag and headed downstairs. Jordan was elbow deep in suds, helping Muriel with the dishes.
“Jorrrrrdannnn,” she stretched out the word and gave him her best smile.
“What do you want?” he muttered, pulling his arms out of the sink and drying them.
“A lift to the party,” she replied. “Please?” she added as an afterthought. He glanced at her, a calculative look in his eyes.
“You better not be planning to make me stay,” he murmured.
“Not dressed like that I won't,” she said. Jordan frowned and stared down at himself. He was wearing faded jeans and a t-shirt saying 'Fish Happens'.
“There's nothing wrong with my clothes,” he muttered, stalking upstairs. When he returned he'd pulled on a brown jacket with the zip up. Alivia grinned up at him. Alivia was on the short side with wispy, thin dark brown hair, while Jordan towered with gangly limbs and dirty blond hair.
“Have fun you two,” Muriel said as they headed for the door.
“I'm coming right back,” Jordan insisted. Alivia rolled her eyes and dragged him outside. Her eyes did their automatic search, but nothing odd appeared. Normally she'd see something abnormal maybe once a week. Nowadays it was a daily occurrence. Before they had to be on the same street as her to be noticed. Now she could spot tiny figures far away. Sometimes the person didn't even look odd, but she could sense a wrongness. She shuddered at the memory of the strange guy. She'd seen him more and more often, she wished she knew why he was following her. She'd put it down to being crazy, except she knew it was crazy. You're only crazy if you don't think you are.
“You okay?” Jordan asked, pulling her from her thoughts.
“Yeah, I'm fine,” she murmured, starring out the window. She did a double-take, but whatever she'd seen in the sky was gone. It'd been too fleeting a glance for her to know what it had actually been. Probably just a plane or something. The car jolted as it came to a stop outside Martin's, it was a second-hand junker afterall. All the same she patted it affectionately as she got out.
“So, coming inside?” she asked Jordan who was still behind the wheel.
“You know I'm not,” Jordan muttered. He opened his mouth to say something else and got interrupted by Sophie racing over to them.
“Ali!” she exclaimed, pulling her into a hug that nearly choked her.
“Hey Soph,” Alivia replied, detaching herself from her best friend to glance back at Jordan.
“Hey Jordan, didn't realise you were coming,” Sophie beamed, her cheeks blushing a little.
“I'm not here for the party, just giving Ali a lift,” he explained. Sophie body visibly drooped. Alivia sighed, her brother was completely clueless as always.
“Come on Jordan, quit being so anti-people. Maybe they'll become less anti-you as a result,” Martin teased, coming down the steps having heard the conversation. His brown hair had been recently cut, so it ended neatly behind the ears. Alivia didn't really like it. She'd always preferred long hair that she could run her hands through. But she refused to be the sort of girlfriend who told her boyfriend what to do.
“Ha,” Jordan said, rolling his eyes.
“Leave my brother alone,” Alivia said, poking Martin in the chest.
“I am, it was just a joke,” he replied. “Wasn't it, mate?” he said to Jordan with a smile. Jordan didn't bother replying just turned the key in his car.
“Call me if you need a lift home,” Jordan said to her before driving off. She sighed, no matter how hard she tried, Jordan always avoided people.
“Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say no one's surprised,” Martin said, raising an eyebrow.
“You didn't help,” Alivia threw at him. He blinked at her in surprise and opened his mouth, his expression saying he had some snarky response ready. Alivia cut him off from replying with a warning glance.
“Whatever,” he said, throwing both arms up in the air in defence before turning back to the house. It was more like a mansion really. Smooth pale brown stone made up the outside. Music vibrated through the walls to the outside, the front window splaying light on the ground below it. You could see the silhouettes of the people dancing inside on the grass.
“You know those two Ali, they'll never fully get on,” Sophie said with a shrug. Alivia sighed, rubbing her forehead with one hand.
“Yeah, I know,” she murmured. They used to all be friends when they were kids. Then Martin became more confident when he started secondary school while Jordan remained the same. Alivia had asked Martin about the whole bullying business, he usually avoided answering. She knew something had changed during year nine, something that made Martin back off. But she had zero luck getting an answer out of either of them.
“Let's go enjoy the party already,” Sophie said. Alivia nodded and followed her into the house.