The next half-hour was spent deliciously delved in a book. I didn’t even hear Rose when she knocked on my door.
‘’Arielle?’’ I heard her ask. I quickly put my book on the little table, making sure to put a slip of paper on the page where I was and got up.
‘’You can come in, Rose!’’ I yelled.
The door opened and Rose entered, a bag in her hand.
‘’I got you something yesterday, I hope you like it,’’ she smiled, a bit shyly. I widened my eyes.
‘’But you already got me so much. I saw a few dresses hanging in there that were definitely not mine. I hardly ever wear dresses, it’s not really a thing to do in California,’’ I explained.
She laughed, ‘’Oh that, it wasn’t anything special, honest. I just thought you’d like this, as a welcome present,’’
She handed me the bag. Curious, I peered inside and took out two boxes. I opened one and my mouth dropped open. Inside was a beautiful dress. It was a pinkish-orangey colour, and had sequins all over the top part until the waistline. It had no sleeves, but a kind of strap that tied behind your neck. It was exactly the right length for me, which was just above the knee. It was a soft, flowy material. I looked up at Rose, she was looking at me, smiling a little.
‘’Wow, thank you! Is this seriously for me?’’ I asked. She nodded, ‘’Seriously. I want you to have it. I have a similar one, but in turquoise. When I saw this one hanging there, I just had to get it for you,’’ she smiled.
‘’But…’’ I spluttered.
‘’But nothing. Now open the other one,’’ she ordered, her eyes twinkling.
I shook my head, but smiled and proceeded to open the other one. Again my mouth dropped… well, nearly. Inside the box were an incredibly beautiful pair of shoes. I was a real sucker for dresses and shoes, I couldn’t get enough of them. At home I hadn’t owned a lot of dresses, because, like I said, where I came from we went for the more jeans and jacket kind of style. The shoes were high heeled and a rose-gold colour and shiny, all along the open bit were little diamonds, that glittered in the light that was streaming out of the big windows.
‘’These are…wow. Literally, wow. No words,’’ was all I could say. I couldn’t tear my eyes away, they were so beautiful. The diamonds were also all the way down the golden heel.
Rose laughed, ‘’That’s what I said when I saw them, but I’m not really one for pink. I’m more the bluish and the greenish kind of person,’’ she explained, ‘’but I must say, those are beauty’s,’’
‘’I say!’’ I exclaimed, ‘’thank you so much, Rose!’’
I went over and hugged her, surprising myself. She returned my hug warmly.
‘’No need to thank me,’’ she smiled, ‘’now, I was just about to head to the shopping centre to meet my friends, want to come?’’
‘’Sure!’’ I smiled, putting on my jacket.
We headed to the big Titanic stairs and were just about to go down when we heard a male voice behind us.
‘’Going to the shopping centre?’’ James asked. I turned around to meet his glare. Seriously, what is wrong with that guy?
‘’Yep, why… you don’t need a ride, do you?’’ Rose asked, starting to descend the stairs.
‘’No, I have my own car, thank you very much. But Janae needs a ride to the shopping centre and I can’t bring her… you know, practise,’’ he said, lowering his voice. I frowned a little. What did he mean: practise.
Rose obviously understood, because she nodded understandingly and answered, ‘’Sure, you can come along, Janae,’’
‘’Thanks, Ro,’’ Janae said in that annoying voice of hers. I hadn’t even seen her standing there. I saw Rose wince at the horrible nickname. Seriously, who calls a girl Ro?
We went down the stairs and outside. A cold wind was blowing and I shivered a little, not used to such cold.
‘’Not used to the cold, darling?’’ Janae mocked. I almost glared at her, but refrained myself and smiled sweetly instead.
‘’No, not really, thanks. In California it’s always hot, you know, that explains my tan,’’ I told her and watched gleefully as her snooty smirk dropped and she glared at me before turning and stomping off to the car. Since Janae was there first, she managed to hog the front seat, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed looking outside the window and seeing all the new sights. I guess it was going to take a while to get used to, but I didn’t mind very much.
We soon arrived at the shopping centre, where we dropped Janae off at some expensive looking store and then walked on to meet Rose’s friends. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I mean, what if they didn’t like me? I wasn’t the prettiest girl there was and Rose was so gorgeous, her friends must be too, right?
‘’Hey!’’ Rose suddenly shouted from beside me, waving her arm furiously.
I looked ahead and saw two girls smiling and waving back. My heart sank to my toes. They were gorgeous. In my head I was telling myself: Stop that! Don’t be so stupidly insecure! They’ll just have to take you for who you are! But it didn’t help.
‘’Hey Rose, how are you?’’ one of the girls, a black haired beauty said, smiling.
‘’I’m fine!’’ Rose answered, smiling.
‘’Who’s this?’’ the other girl asked, she had long auburn/brown hair.
‘’This is Arielle Norman. She’s staying at our house for eight months! Isn’t that awesome?’’ Rose introduced me.
The girls smiled and introduced themselves.
‘’Nice to meet you, Arielle. I’m Tazziana Jameson,’’ the auburn/brown haired girl said. The other girl introduced herself as Amanda Izbourne. They really have weird names over here… but they were unique and that’s what was so nice about them. I liked that kind of stuff.
‘’Nice to meet you both,’’ I smiled, still a bit shy, although they both proved to be very nice.
The rest of the day was so much fun. We shopped, had a snack in a cute little café and just hung out. Tazz and Mandy were really nice and bubbly. Kind of like Janessa and Lola at home. I even bought some new things. I know I already have a lot, but they had some really cute stuff here. I got a flowery pink jersey skirt, that flared out a little from the waist, a new pair of white- and- gold converse, a pair of pink ballerina flats with a cute black bow at the front and a new black- and- gold blazer.
When we finally arrived at home, 21.30, Millie was waiting for us in the little square in between the four bedrooms, I’ll call it the bedroom hall square (BHS), to be clear.
‘’Rose, I asked you to be home at 21.00 PM. You have school tomorrow, alright? I just ordered the twins off to bed. Please don’t be late anymore, you know Arielle’s joining you for school tomorrow, you have to explain the rules and then off to bed. Arielle must be tired from the Jetlag,’’ Millie looked at me, concern in her eyes, ‘’Arielle dear, I put your school stuff in your room. I bought it before I came and picked you up from the airport,’’
‘’Oh, you didn’t have to do that! I could have bought it myself! You must let me pay you back,’’ I urged her. She told me I didn’t need to but I felt mortified accepting so much money from them when I could afford it myself and finally I won, I would pay her back for the school stuff.
‘’Come Arielle,’’ Rose motioned me to her room, ‘’I’ll explain the school rules,’’
Her room looked similar to mine, except that it was in turquoise and aqua, with white wood furniture, not cream and gold, with brown wood furniture. I wondered what the twin’s and James’ bedroom looked like.
‘’Okay so, the rules. Maywood High has a lot of those, but the main ones are the clothes rules. We don’t have uniforms, but all the girls must wear skirts, and not lower than midthigh. If you are wearing a skirt that comes higher than just above the knee, you must wear leggings or tights. The tops cannot be so low as to showing a cleavage. No heels above 3 inches are to be worn,’’ she droned, looking bored on purpose. I laughed, ‘’They seem pretty reasonable to me, except that we have to wear skirts. I feel more comfortable in a pair of jeans,’’ I thought out loud.
‘’You can wear dresses too, of course. The same rules go for them as to length and such,’’ Rose explained.
I nodded, understanding.
‘’Well, seems like tomorrow’s early up so I’ll go to bed, if you don’t mind,’’ I told her.
She smiled and hugged me, catching me by surprise, ‘’Of course! Goodnight, Elle,’’
I groaned as I woke up by the sound of my alarm clock ringing. That alarm clock was so damn loud! I never woke up with most alarm clocks so my father got this one for me on one of his abroad business trips I didn’t get to go on because of school. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, swung my legs over the side of the bed and padded to the bathroom. After a quick shower and after I brushed my teeth I put on my bathrobe and went in my closet to pick an outfit. I had one chosen pretty quick, as I didn’t have very many skirts.
Next I added a white gold charm bracelet and little red heart earrings. I left my hair in its natural wavy state, and picked up my school bag. I had added some mascara, but I still didn’t dare to try any other eye make-up.
When I got to the dining room, I saw nobody. I started to panic, what if I was late or something?
‘’Arielle?’’ I turned around, Millie was standing by the door, ‘’Good morning! You’re nice and early, dear. I completely forgot to tell you we don’t eat breakfast here. Everyone has breakfast at a different time, so they all head straight for the kitchen, which is downstairs, second door to your right,’’ she explained.
‘’Oh, I’m sorry. Good morning, Millie,’’ I quickly exited the dining room and headed for the kitchen. When I got there the twins and Rose were already sitting at the large bar table, eating eggs and bacon or cereals with yoghurt. The cook, a plump woman who looked to be about in her 50s, grinned at me cheerfully, ‘’Good mornin’ dearie. So ye’re the new addition te the family. Ye fancy some eggs and bacon for breakfast or someawt else? I can make you anything,’’ she said. Her accent was not quite the English the Beaumonts used, but I couldn’t properly place it. She looked very jolly and friendly to me.
‘’Good morning! Yes, that would be me. Oh, don’t trouble yourself, I’ll eat some cereals,’’ I answered, placing my bag by the door like the others had and smiling back at her.
‘’It’s no trouble, dear. I’m more than happy te cook ye someawt, but ye want cereal, ye get cereal,’’ she said, smiling away.
I sat down by the others and greeted them, ‘’Good morning Rose, Paige and Pearl,’’
Rose gasped, ‘’You know how to tell them apart?’’ because I had greeted them in sitting order.
‘’Yes, we told her yesterday. It’s not fair to fool her, anyway, and she looks like someone who would enjoy a joke, so we need her to know, so she can help us,’’ Paige told Rose, a glint in her eye.
Rose turned to me in horror. ‘’Please do not help them, Elle! You have no idea how bad they can be,’’ she begged.
I just grinned and turned to the cook, who was busy cutting fruit.
‘’What do you want me to call you, ma’am?’’ I asked respectfully. She laughed boisterously, ‘’Oh dear, I’m no ma’am, miss. You can call me Sue like the rest of the young’uns. That suits me jus’ fine,’’
‘’OK then, Sue,’’ I smiled. She came up and put a bowl with Muesli and yoghurt and heaps of fruit heaped on top. It looked delicious.
‘’Oh, thank you!’’ I thanked her. ‘’Yer welcome, miss,’’ she answered, winking.
After breakfast we said goodbye to Sue and headed to Rose’s car. The twins sat in the back and I sat in the front this time.
‘’At last it’s a nice and calm ride,’’ Rose sighed and upon my confused look she explained, ‘’Normally the twins make such a row about who gets to sit in the front, and the whole journey they throw insults at each other, because they’re still mad,’’
I laughed and looked at the twins, who looked a little ashamed, ‘’Really? I thought you two were like, bonded or something. That you always agreed on everything together and stuff like that,’’
Rose made a face and answered before either of the twins could answer, ‘’They agree with each other if it comes to arguing with someone else. Once those two start arguing against you, you can’t win. Only dad and mum and Sue can. How they do it, I don’t know, but one look from them and the twins are silent,’’
I smiled wistfully, ‘’You have such a great family, I wish I had that,’’
Rose looked sympathetically at me, then her face cleared, ‘’But, Elle, you are one of the family now.
Seriously! You haven’t been here long, but everyone likes you already,’’
‘’Not James,’’ I muttered.
‘’What’s that?’’ Rose asked.
‘’Nothing,’’ I quickly answered, smiling at her. Thank goodness we were at the school, so Rose didn’t have time to question further.
We stepped out of the car and were immediately joined by Tazz and Mandy, ‘’Hey Rose, hey Elle!’’ they greeted in synch. I smiled at them. ‘’Hey Tazz, Mandy. You okay after that smoothie yesterday, Tazz?’’ I asked, laughing a little, remembering the face Tazz had pulled when she took a sip of her smoothie. Mandy, Rose and me had put salt in it while she had gone to use the toilet. Tazz’s face had been hilarious!
‘’That was so mean!’’ Tazz protested, while Mandy and me just laughed. I noticed Rose staring at a group standing near to the school doors, looking wistful. My laughter faded.
‘’Rose? Are you alright?’’ I asked, walking to her.
Rose started and turned to me, a hazy look in her eyes, ‘’What?’’
‘’Are you alright?’’ I repeated.
Her face cleared up, ‘’What? Me? Oh, yes, I’m fine. The bell should go soon, let’s get inside and get your schedule and find your locker, Elle,’’ she hurriedly answered.
I didn’t press the matter, as I saw she didn’t want to talk about whatever it was. We headed inside and walked to my locker. To my joy, but also to my dismay, I found out James had the locker next to mine. He was standing there, putting books in his schoolbag. I had but little time to admire him, because Rose pulled me to my locker.
‘’Hey James, seems like you and Elle are locker neighbours,’’ she grinned. James looked up, and -as always-scowled at me and stomped off after throwing his locker door shut with a resounding bang. Rose turned to me in bewilderment, ‘’Did you two have an argument I don’t know about?’’ she asked.
I shrugged my shoulders, ‘’I have no idea what’s going on with him. Apparently the sight of me is enough to ruin his good mood, if he ever has any,’’ I gasped as I realised I practically insulted him in front of his sister. ‘’Oh, I’m so sorry, Rose. I didn’t mean to insult your brother,’’
She shook her head, ‘’No, it’s okay. I am just wondering what on earth could possess him to act like that,’’
I punched in my locker combination and went through my pile of schoolbooks, picking the books I would need for today.
The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, except at lunch, when Janae accidentally spilled her bottle of water all over my skirt. Accidentally my ass. The worst thing was, James was laughing at it, laughing! I don’t know why I still liked that boy. This weird attraction from
‘’I’m going to kill that girl, I promise!’’ Rose was shouting in anger. We were currently driving home, or well, Rose’s home and I held on to my seatbelt for dear life. The way Rose was driving right now was a danger to anyone within 5 mile radius.
‘’Okay, okay, but could you do it a little more quiet?’’ I asked. She frowned at me, ‘’I’m doing you a favour here!’’
I laughed at her face, ‘’Of course you are, dear. Of course you are,’’
Rose went to her room pretty quickly after that, as she had homework. The teachers had given me some too, but I never could concentrate enough right after school to do it. I’d do it a bit later. I had finished Moby Dick and couldn’t be bothered to start a new one, so it was safe to say that I was a little bored. Deciding to explore the house, I quickly pulled on some light skinny jeans and a white t-shirt that said BOOM in neon colours on it. I slipped on my white sneakers and pulled my hair up in a ponytail. I closed my bedroom door behind me and walked down the stairs. Where to go, where to go, I thought, before finally heading towards the huge Titanic stairs. I sauntered down, looking all around me appreciatively. There was a huge crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The lights weren’t on, but the light that streamed in from the windows at the ceiling made that the hundreds of crystals shone and shimmered, casting little flecks of rainbow-coloured light everywhere. When I had come to the bottom of the stairs, I tried the first door to the left. It was a medium sized room with comfortable benches and a place to hang up jackets. The second door held a bathroom. I was about to open the third door when I heard music. Piano music. It sounded like it was coming from the fifth door. Curiously I walked to it. The door was ajar and I glanced through the creak. The piano music was amazing. The person playing was playing Ludwig von Beethoven’s Für Elise, but with so much feeling and tenderness. When I closed my eyes I could feel the music transport me to a whole new universe. I opened the door a little bit more, just to see who was playing, but the door gave a loud creak. The music stopped abruptly and I prepared to flee. Footsteps came towards the door and it was jerked open. I almost gasped as I met James Beaumonts stormy gaze.
‘’Why the hell are you spying on me?’’ he asked, roughly, glaring at me as usual. I furrowed my brows.
‘’Not everything is about you, James Beaumont. I heard music and I wanted to see what it was, is that so wrong?’’ I was surprised at my tone. It came out bitter and cold.
He raised one eyebrow, ‘’Please. Do you think I don’t see you staring at me all the time?’’ he scoffed.
My mouth fell open, and I fought to not blush, ‘’Seriously? You must either be paranoid or really full of yourself. And by the way, I’m not as glad as I should be to find out you’re not mute,’’ I spun on my heel and walked away, glad he didn’t say anything else.
As I slammed the door of my room behind me, I tried to order the turmoil of thoughts wringing from within my mind. What the hell gave him the right to be like that to me? I had never done anything to him, I had never even said hello, because the very first memory I have of him is him glaring at me over the supper table. What right did he have to judge me?
I sighed and laid down on my bed. Maybe some sleep would help me calm down. One thing was for sure, from now on James, to me, didn’t exist. Although it was a firm resolution, I couldn’t help but hear a little nagging doubt in the back of my mind, asking: Will it be as easy as that?