I absolutely hate Riley. To the bloody depths of my soul, I swear to whatever deity that I despise my cousin. The next day, I got an early morning wake up call. Usually, I was so used to waking to an alarm clock, but this time around, I shocked away by heavy weight pressing against my side. My eyes instantly snapped open, first seeing wall then slowly angled my head backwards and saw a flash of Riley's spiky bangs before I noticed the lazy grin on his face. My expression was one of absolute terror mixed with the usual "What. The. Hell" look.
My cousin's first words were, "So...You have a date?"
I slammed my back against Riley and fell of the bed and onto the carpet of my bedroom. Next thing I knew, my dopey cousin was laughing right there on the floor like a eight year brother who pulled off a prank flawless. "Riley," I growled, in my gruff and dry morning voice. My face twisted into a nasty frown before I threw the covers away from me and sat up. "Why are you in my bedroom? Most importantly, why were you in my bed?!"
My cousin snorted, sitting up using his elbows as support for his bulky form. "Well, for one you didn't lock your bedroom like you do almost every night. And two, you had this stupid grin on your face since we got home last night so I came to conclusion. You made a move on Little Brooks."
Little Brooks? I thought for a moment I misheard him, but despite Riley's aggravating attitude, he was incapable of stuttering and spoke his mind, clear and easily. "You must mean Lynette," I yawned, stretching out my legs. "Please don't call her Little Brooks. It's demeaning."
"Oh, really now?" Riley said and his eyebrow arched upwards, all interested and curious. God, I hate that look of his. "Now you're telling me not to give her a nickname. Someone's a little protective." Then I saw pearly whites widen while he watched my expression turned into something of un-amusement. I got from my bed, walking over my cousin and into the bathroom, leaving the door open as I washed my face.
"I'm not protective. Not even close to it." I finally replied, wiping my face with a washcloth. The next move Riley made was to get up and lean against the door frame, grinning like a baboon. "Sure you're not," he drawled sarcastically, "But you like her. I mean why wouldn't, she's kind of..."
I stopped him quickly, "Shut up now, Riley. The girl is the type that knows when someone's talking behind her back."
"Right, right. Anyway, I think I prefer the sister anyway," he laughed. I wanted to throw a towel down his mouth to stop him from chuckling, but of course, I couldn't. "Anyway, what happened back at the "Brooks' Mansion"?"
I threw him another look, but he just countered by widening his grin. If I didn't answer right then and there, Riley would just tail me until we got to the kitchen, pressing me with all sorts of perverted questions.
I sighed, heavily. "Okay fine, Ri," I began to mutter, "Before we had a...disagreement. You know girls like Lyn, very driven and have very passionate feelings. Anyway, back at the Brooks' place we talked, made up - not in that way! - and she invited me to her place today."
My cousin's face sort of...dropped. Which brought so many feelings of relief within me, I actually relaxed myself. "So..." he tried to say, as though he was grasping at straws with his usual fun-loving voice, "You're still friends? Like, just friends? Really dude...?"
"Yes, dude. We're still friends. What else did you expect?" I countered. We were friends again, even though we weren't really before.
"Right...I thought you kissed her or something. Maybe you're holding out for your friend Ashley, then?" And...now the grin was back. I threw my washcloth at him and slammed the bathroom door closed. I could hear his laughter and chatter from the other side, but I paid no mind to Riley. I just looked at myself in the mirror, some water droplets dropping from my blonde fringe and down my face. I then actually realized that Lynette would be waiting for me today; probably getting readying herself too.
I briefly wondered what she would wear, but I quickly chased the thought away and stripped myself of my spotted boxers and grey shirt. I turned on the shower, allowing the warmth of the shower fill the bathroom before I stepped in and scrubbed away what sweat I had on my body.
Anyway, what would I wear?
It was some time past noon when I left the kitchen, breakfast was eaten and forgotten as my father caught sight of me from the top of the stairs. With a cardigan over me, I went for the front door, narrowly attempting to avoid Riley (who was still in the kitchen), when I heard my father call. "Ethan?" he said, "Where are you going?"
I turned back to my father and saw Sarah, my step mother coming down from the stairs behind father. I hate to admit it, but I barely noticed Sarah's frequent absence. I'm generally only face to face with her during the morning before school, but often my step mother is away, either at her office or overseas. Don't get me wrong though, her common disappearances have not allowed to harbor any ill feelings towards her, despite the fact that Sarah never could replace my mother.
My father was fond of her, more so some would suppose. At dinner or lunch parties that I'm forced to attend, I sometimes catch sight of them doing something...couple-y. Either a quick kiss or whispered words, I never thought much of it. I don't mind Sarah's role as my step mother either.
"Ethan..." My father said again, a frown forming on his face. I saw my step mother roll her eyes at the tone of his, an action I had to suppress.
I must have gotten lost in my brief ponderings of Sarah, so I quickly replied, "Oh, sorry. I was just going to a friend's today...if that's okay." I bit my inner cheek and waited for his rejection when my step mother laughed. "You certainly have our permission to go, isn't that correct darling?"
I looked at her, surprised and pleased over all, but I knew that glint in her eyes. It's that same little spark Lynette gets when she's about to cause me pain or corner me. I believe Sarah was doing the latter to father-dearest.
He exchanged glances with my step mother, as though he was attempting to persuade her to his side with his cold eyes. Sarah didn't even flinch, her face just dropped from her casual smile to a plain and impassive expression. I'm not sure how I would have reacted if she was giving me that look, but my father played over what panic or disdain within him with a sighing and a hand through his hair.
"Fine, but be back before seven..." he muttered, going to the kitchen while Sarah just smiled and blew me a kiss goodbye.
Not knowing exactly how I was suppose to react to my parents' exchange of looks and silently clashing attitudes, I just left without another word. I haggled with Riley during breakfast to lend me his car (I silently thanked God for it not being an over rated sports car) and I relied on GPS to find Lynette's place again. I refused to call her as I was unsure what I would say to her, but really her house wasn't so hard to locate.
The Brooks' estate was intentionally somewhere away from neighbors, enclosed by woodland and forests. I drove up to the front gates, already opening for me, and parked near the entrance door and the Roman columns that added to the house's classic taste. Once I got out of Riley's car, my throat was dry and my palms were sweaty. Was I nervous? Probably, but Ethan Marks was not known for being a nervous person and swallowing down this reminder, I walked to the front door and rang the bell.
I'm pretty sure I tugged at the collar of my shirt once or twice, while I waited for someone to answer. Soon enough, Lynette came bursting behind the door, opening it wide as her welcoming smile. She did not concerned about her appearance as I was this morning because I could tell her brown hair had yet to washed as it hung loose around her shoulders. She wore nothing but a long sleeved t-shirt, white leggings travelling past her knee, and flip flops. I mentally patted myself on the back for never thinking of Lynette as "girly".
"Hi," I said quietly.
"Hey, Ethan," Lyn nearly laughed, her smile still on her face. "You drive?" She gestured behind, to the car with a nod of her head.
Lynette shrugged. "Figures. Red trucks are not you."
I gave her a strange look while she just invited to me into the hallway. The image of her house never really left my mind since last night. It was just large and spacious as it was yesterday...
"Come on," Lynette said, tugging my arm briefly. She directed me to follow out of the foyer and through some halls. Paintings and weird art pieces decorated the white walls, but aside from that the house was eerily quiet, spare for the chatter Lynette and I shared (it was mostly Lyn pressing me with questions about school and my dad). I half expected to run into a maid or two because, let's face it, her house was bigger than mine and even my family has help besides Daniela to maintain our home. I mean the Brooks' estate was the typical rich American upstate house, and compared to my smaller, less open house, it looked better too.
Anyway, Lynette eventually led me past some grand, framed doors and into this somewhat wide empty to face. If it were any bigger, I believe I would heard my own echo. "Lyn?" I began, taking in the wide windows that allowed sun in from one side and the lush green garden outside, "What is this place?"
"My dad calls it the ballroom, even though we never really had any balls," she replied. A weak smile began to form on her face, but dropped quickly, while her eyes strayed to a single piece of furniture in the room: a white piano in the center of the room.
"My mom loved this room. It was her favorite actually."
"Oh," I stared at her for a moment. The sadness was clear in her voice, but I didn't want to start crying all over again. I've seen tears fall from her eyes twice already, and my heart nearly stopped when I realized I was the cause of them the second time.
I bit my bottom lip. "Did she...did she play the piano?" I asked, trying to ease the tension.
Lynette shook her head. "No, but she loved it. Alexis used to play, but now she's forgotten how too."
I nodded to myself. Playing the piano was not something people learned how to do to simply forget, but I suppose certain circumstances come up and the joy of playing it simply disappears. I thought for a moment, as to whether her elder sister stopped playing because of the death of their mother or something. I like to hope it was the latter.
"Would you..." I trailed of momentarily, considering the words I was about to say in my mind. I swallowed and spoke. "Would you like me to play? The piano I mean?"
Lyn turned her head to me, her directing looking into mine. There was a graceful expression on her face that I couldn't really describe. It was if she was at peace and completely torn up inside at the same time. Admittedly, I thought she looked beautiful. Heartbroken, but beautiful.
"Yes," she whispered to me, "I would like that."
I nodded then walked to the piano. I'm not sure what I could have possibly played for her, but it seemed as though my fingers had a mind of their own. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata began to hum within the empty room, while my only audience swayed to the sad, but peaceful melody. She began to speak as my fingers moved upon the keys. Lynette spoke of her mother only. Of how Lyn had such sweet memories of her when they chased each other in the garden; when the girl was read to into the library; and of the brief moments the two shared in the silence of the night and Lyn could not sleep. I thought of my own mother as I played, picturing a happier, younger Lynette with a woman whose face I did not, but became fond of by the why spun the tale. I wondered whether my mother was anything like this. She was graceful and delicate, that I knew, but I was beginning to think she was like Lynette's. Spirited and caring.
The song ended on this final note, but my eyes did not move from the keys before me. We just sat there in silence for a while, before Lynette gasped. I nearly jumped from my seat looked at her strangely. "What?"
"I've totally made this into a terrible day haven't I?" She asked me. Lynette looked a bit panicked and worried, which strangely relaxed the buildup of tension within me.
"Lyn, you didn't -" she cut me off midway. "No, I asked you to come over to have fun, not week and mourn." A heavy sigh left her as her shoulders slumped. I felt terrible and stretched out my hand to comfort her once again, but Lynette's eyes widen and her mood seemed to change. "I have an idea," she squealed, "Wait here. I'll make this up to you."
"You don't have to..." I began to say, but Lynette was already running from the large room before I could finish. I didn't know how to react to sudden surge energy, so I waited patiently for her return. Soon enough, she ran back in with a music player and placed it on top of the piano. I watched put on track from the corner of my eye and the next thing I knew Bubble Toes by Jack Johnson.
"Dance with me."
I just blinked. "What?"
She rolled her eyes and grabbed my hand. "Dance. With. Me."