I stood uncomfortably at the bottom of the stairs, my fingers itching to rip the stupid tie away from my neck. I had worn the suit and tie to try and please Riley, but now damn Tori was fawning over me. Her gushing compliments about how neat and handsome I looked sickened me, but I guessed I’d rather her gushing than Julian’s dagger glares. We were all waiting at the bottom of the stairs for Riley. She was taking a bloody long time to get changed. I looked up as soft thuds sounded from the stairs to see Riley. I saw a lot more of her than I wanted to.
“Oh dear, what on Earth is she wearing?” gasped Tori from behind me.
Riley was not dressed formally like she told me to, but instead wore a flimsy skirt over a black leotard. Her skirt was see-through, the gauzy blue material doing little to conceal her legs. And the leotard was way too tight for her, accentuating her curves almost indecently. Over her shoulder swung a black gym bag, with the ends of her pointe shoes poking out. She was not headed for dinner, that was certain. But what was with the dancing costume? I never knew she danced!
“Ummm... where are you going?” asked Tori, putting into words what I wanted to say.
“My old dance studio,” she said, grabbing a bottle of water next to the coat stand, “I’m done with Julian and Jackson’s shit.”
“What do you mean?” Julian asked, grabbing her wrist.
What kind of a question was that? She meant that you wrecked everything, you idiot! I thought.
“I need you two to get along,” she told us, “And I need to let off steam. So bye.”
I opened my mouth to object to her sudden mood, but she cut me off.
“Screw you Jackson,” she hissed at me, slamming the door behind her.
After all this time with Riley Jones, I still cannot figure her out. One minute she is all happy, and the next she acts like the world’s against her. I contemplated swinging open the door and going after her.
“Let’s go,” Tori said, breaking the silence.
“What! We’re still going out to dinner?” I asked, “But Riley’s gone!”
“Doesn’t matter,” Tori said matter-of-factly, “I booked the most expensive restaurant in town, and I’m not about to cancel it for Riley’s silly whims.”
“Alright, Tori,” Julian said, pushing her towards the door, “How about you head out to the car while Jackson and I sort ourselves out?”
“No fighting, boys,” she told us as she stepped out towards the car.
“Now, I say that we make a truce,” Julian said, closing the door after Tori.
“A truce? Are you serious?” I said, “You know how hard that’s going to be? I know I want to punch you every time I see your face, and I’m pretty sure the feeling’s mutual.”
“Ok, you have a point,” he admitted, “What do you propose then?”
“I want to move out of here as quickly as possible,” I said, “I’ve got enough savings to rent out a place, and I just got a job downtown as an apprentice landscaper.”
“Good,” he said, “Now Tori, Riley and I can have peace back in our house.”
“What do you mean Riley and I?” I snapped, “She’s coming with me!”
“How about no?” he retorted, “As if she’d want to stay with you by herself, you know how indecent that is?”
“Fine, we’ll see what Riley thinks about this,” I said, “I doubt she’ll want to stay for a minute longer in your bloody Disney castle of a house.”
“Get out Jackson,” he said.
“Oh no, you can’t tell me to do that,” I mocked, “What will dear Tori say when she finds out her favourite brother had been fighting despite her instructions?”
“Shut up and get out Barker!” he yelled, “And stop your bloody mocking of Tori, she has nothing to do with this.”
I walked out of the door and across the lawn to my truck. Smiling smugly, I slid into the driver’s seat and turned on ignition. Ha, I finally managed to make Julian really snap!