It was two days before the start of the fall semester and the Stoke family were just four of the hundred or so people in attendance at the Morris family's end of summer garden party. The Stokes, Peter and Alice and their two children, sixteen year old Jason and thirteen year old Christie had only moved onto the street two weeks earlier but Peter worked with Tom Morris and so they'd been invited last minute. Christie had already become good friends with Lucia Elms who lived two doors down but Jason had failed to meet or befriend anyone his own age as he didn't know the area and it seemed that there were no other sixteen year olds living on the street.
"Jason, why don't you go talk to Christie and Lucy?" Alice urged as they stood by the bar.
"Because they're thirteen," Jason said blankly, wishing he was back home in Manhattan instead of here in Seattle. He'd been practically glued to his cell phone for the past two weeks, desperate to have some kind of connection to his friends and home.
"Well what about Tom and Lorna's daughter? She looked about your age. I saw her run into the kitchen, why don't you go introduce yourself, you'll probably go to the same school. It would be good to know someone," Alice suggested.
"I don't even know what she looks like, Mom. Can't I just go home?" Jason begged.
"Please, sweetie. Just try? It'll make me feel so much better," Alice begged and Jason groaned in defeat. He knew his mother had been under a lot of strain at work and she hadn't been well, he wasn't going to worry her so he glared at her and headed back towards the house. It was by far the largest house on the street but Tom Morris was the owner of the company that the town was based around. He got lost trying to find the kitchen and tripped up a step into a hallway, spilling coke all over his jeans.
"Shit!" He cried out and then jumped a foot in the when someone sitting on a nearby staircase spoke.
"You can get kicked out of this house for swearing you know," An eight year old girl who was sat there reading a book said.
"Oh, sorry... Is there a bathroom around here? I spilt my soda," Jason asked.
"Upstairs or down the hall to the left but the sink's dodgy so you're better off using the kitchen, first door on the right, that way," The little girl, Tom's daughter Courtney answered.
"How old are you?" Jason asked, surprised by how old and sophisticated she sounded.
“Eight," Courtney answered, "How old are you?"
“Sixteen, I’m Jason,” He replied and she opened her mouth to respond but she was cut off bu someone calling out.
“Courtney? Titch, where are you?” This was shortly followed by the emergence of a girl from a doorway further down the hall.
Jason's jaw almost dropped. Freya Westergard was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, she was small and slim with waist length dark red hair, a pretty face and bright green eyes.
"Hey have you seen a small blonde girl?" She asked when she noticed Jason. He just pointed to where Courtney was sat, too dumb-struck to speak.
"Court," Freya said once she'd drawn up beside Jason. "Mom's looking for you, she wants to show you off, she caught me earlier but if you can get round her into your Dad's study then she's already checked there and you'll be spared,"
"Okay, where is she?" Courtney asked, snapping her book shut and jumping up.
"Carol called her into the garden for a minute so make a run for it,"
“Okay, thanks Frey,” Courtney said and then looked at Jason. “This is Jason. He spilt soda on his pants,” she added and then disappeared with her book.
“Am I meant to assume that she meant to take you to the kitchen to clean up?” Freya asked him.
“If you wouldn’t mind,” Jason said apologetically.
“It’s fine, come on, it’s just down here. You’re Jason right? Christie’s older brother?” She asked.
“Yeah, how’d you know?” Jason answered as he followed her a short way down the hallway.
“I’ve seen you around, I’d have stopped to say hi or something but I’ve been so busy since I got back. Lucia told me who you were when I picked up Courtney the other day. I’m Freya, by the way, Freya Westergard,” She said as she turned through a doorway and they came out in an enormous designer kitchen. It looked like the set of a cooking show. A flagstone floor, giant fridge, granite countertops and at least four different types of oven filled the high-ceilinged room.
“Wow,” Jason said involuntarily.
“I know right, my Mom’s a cook in her free time so Tom had this kitchen made for her when they got married,” She said with a smile as she remembered her Mom’s face when she’d been shown her new kitchen.
“It is impressive. My Mom would think she’d died and gone to heaven if she came in here… Did you say your last name was Westergard? I thought it was Morris,” Jason asked, distracted in spite of himself.
“Tom’s my step-dad,” Freya sad as she handed him a dishcloth. “Here, get the worst of it out with that and then we can camp in here until it dries. The wet patch does look fairly incriminating,” Freya said as she headed for the fridge. Jason perched himself on a stool at the island counter and rubbed at the stain on his leg. “Can I get you a drink or anything to eat? I promise you that the only thing they’re serving out there doesn’t have caviar in it is the snails,” Freya asked as she rummaged in the refrigerator.
“A drink would be great thanks, I’ll have whatever you’re having,” Jason answered
“Sure thing,” Freya said, pulling out two bottles and a plastic tub. “Root beer and leftover ‘going away’ cupcakes,” She said with a smile as she put them on the counter and sat down on the stool next to Jason
“Who went away?” Jason asked curiously as he took one of the root beers, having done everything he could for his jeans.
“Me, one of my friends made them for my leaving party,” Freya answered as she picked up one of the cupcakes and ran her finger through the frosting.
“Where did you leave?” Jason asked, sounding puzzled.
“School, I used to go to boarding school in New York but my Mom wanted me to come home so I finished up my sophomore year and I’ll be going to Carnegie when school starts back next week,” Freya explained. “You too, right?”
“No, Christie and I are going to Woodlands. Mom’s trying to get her into Carnegie but I am so not smart enough,” Jason answered. Carnegie Academy was the local private school, whilst Woodlands High was the state school.
“Neither am I to be perfectly honest, I think I only got in because Tom’s on the board,” Freya said. “I’d rather go to Woodlands, all my friends are there. Hey, I can tell a few of them to look out for you. It’s always good for there to be someone who knows you on your first day in a new school,”
“That’d be great thanks. So why are your parents making you got to Carnegie then? Don’t you have a say in the matter?” Jason asked.
“I guess, but I don’t want to disappoint Tom, he’s been so good to me and he treats me like I was his real daughter. His son George graduated Carnegie this year and he’s bound for Harvard which is Tom’s Alma Mater, I think Tom wants the same for me,” Freya said, still eating just the frosting on her cupcake. “I’m thinking of it as an opportunity to re-evaluate my views on life… and cupcakes,”
“Cupcakes?” Jason asked.
“Oh totally, you see life is like a cupcake, the frosting and the decoration, the extra stuff is the best bit. It’s what makes the actual cake great. Without the frosting, it’s just a boring cake. With the frosting, it’s this whole new, colourful, exciting thing. Up until now, I’ve always tried to just have the frosting. I never do anything I find boring. Anything boring that’s necessary, I’ve made fun. Now, though, I have to go to Carnegie and have the cake without the frosting because right now I cannot see how to make Carnegie fun,” Freya explained as, having eaten all the frosting, she dismembered the cake in her long thin fingers.
“I don’t get it… But I’m sure I will… So are you not going to start eating the cake now?” Jason said, sounding puzzled but looking at the cake crumbs,
“Oh you shouldn’t eat anything Katie Butler bakes. Nine out of ten times you get food poisoning. I just happen to know that the frosting was made by someone else in our dorm,” Freya replied with a grin.
Jason's heart skipped a beat when she smiled directly at him and he realised that maybe moving house was not really so terrible. He didn't know much about this girl who he decided he'd fallen in love with but he was looking forward to finding out. At least, this was how he felt for approximately fifteen seconds before a good-looking, tall sixteen year old strode into the kitchen.
"Jamie!" Freya squealed when she saw him.
"Hiya, love," James Garrett said as he pulled his girlfriend of two years into his arms and kissed the top of her head, effectively reinstating Jason's pessimistic outlook on his future.