My sister definitely found it quite amusing that I was having a guest of mine over, and my dad seemed to support Alexis' feelings towards that. The next morning, I woke up a little bit earlier than usual. I used to wake up around noon during the weekends, and dad considered it untimely and used to come in my room and literally scream in my ears in order to get me up and out of bed. As it had proven unsuccessful at one point, he'd given up. So when I came bouncing into the kitchen with a smile on my face at around 9 o'clock, I didn't miss the look he gave my sister who responded with a smug grin.
Pausing in my step, my eyes swerved from one face to the other. "What? Why is it that both of you are giving me the look?"
"We’re not giving you any look Lynette. We’re only just wondering why you’re up so early," my dad said, his voice feigning seriousness but greatly failing. I rolled my eyes at both of them for the response and moved towards the kitchen counter, reaching for one of the mugs and pouring the hot chocolate - Alexis usually had prepared – from the kettle.
"I already told both of you yesterday night that Ethan’s coming over. So why make a great big deal out of it?"
Alexis exaggerated a sigh and when I turned around to stare at her with irritation, she placed a coy smile on her lips. "Now why might you do that, my baby sister?"
"I’m only just being polite, Alexis. And if both of you don’t get off my back, I’ll make sure you regret ever having picked on me for the rest of your life."
As far as threats could go, the one I’d just said was definitely not as menacing as I’d meant for it to sound, even coming from me. Judging by the grins on my dad’s and sister’s face, I knew they’d shut up about it for a little while but there was no guarantee about the humiliation they’d bring onto me when Ethan would be around. I’d forgotten how big of a joker my dad could be during the time we’d been distant, but now that I’m once again aware of that fact, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on the two when Ethan visits.
After having my quick breakfast of pancakes with a choice of chocolate or maple syrup, I headed up to my room and took a quick shower, letting the hot water relax me as my thoughts wandered to what Ethan and I could do when he’d arrive. To be honest to myself without feeling the itch of pride, I know I live in a modern palace which if looked at the past would only be meant for the royal families that could afford it. There were so many rooms and halls in the house that as a little girl, I used to have difficulty finding my way to where I actually needed to go as I ended up getting lost plenty times. And even up to this moment, there are still many rooms that were yet to be explored.
Wrapping my body into my cozy purple bathrobe, I walked into my room and opened my wardrobe, eyes going over the possible outfits I could wear. It's not a date, Lyn! Just put on something casual. With that thought in mind, I took out a simple and plain blue long sleeved t-shirt that would hang till my knees when I wore it and white leggings that travel down till my ankles. The t-shirt belonged to Alexis and she'd given me several hand-me downs that were quite big and 'airy' as I'd put it. Well being the girl I am, a tomboyish one at that, I felt perfectly comfortable wearing outfits that made me look more like an outcast of a female specimen than I really am.
Sliding down the banister [a favorite activity of mine], I headed towards the kitchen where I thought Alexis and dad would still be lazing around. And I ended out being right when I found their eyes assessing me once more. My folk are not lively, really.
"Well you're all dressed up aren't you?" Alexis purred teasingly.
"Only someone as blind as you would say that Al," I bit back at her and she laughed, that soft laugh of hers that echoed across the walls and would bring a smile to anyone's face. Looking at her, I couldn't help but wonder if we really were sisters. It always seemed to me that she had much more life in her than I could possibly ever have. She's the backbone of the family, the person who brought life to it after mom died. When attending an event as a family, sometimes I'd just feel to be the odd one out since our personalities ranged greatly.
I always imagined people to say, "Hey, look there's Alexis! Isn't she great and so funny and lively?" The moment they'd see me, their reaction would be, "And here's the sidekick." It's not that I despise her. But it's just that I wish I could be more like her. In a way, Alexis has become my role model.
"So when's he arriving?" Dad's question snapped me out of my thoughts and I answered him with a shrug.
"Any time now I guess. I just hope he's not having a hard time finding out where we live."
Alexis grinned and winked at me. "Anticipating his presence, huh?"
I glared at her and decided to say a few words to caution them. "Look you guys. Ethan is not who you think to me. He's my tutor and my friend. Nothing more. You know I'm having a relationship with Jason and whatever crazy fantasy you have about me and Ethan does not exist in reality, alright?"
"Um Lynette, you should probabl-"
"Well I never knew that."
I tore my gaze from my sister and met my father's livid glare. "You did not just say you are dating Jason Crowe are you?"
"Yes I am father. Is there a problem?" I asked, lifting an eyebrow and giving him a daring look as to give me a reason why there should be an issue with my being interested in Jason.
"The Crowes are not exactly good company Lynette. We're done doing business with them."
"But it's not business that I'm doing with Jason, dad! I like him a lot!"
"Well why Jason Crowe? Why not Ethan Marks?" My dad threw that question at me and I couldn't help but feel irritation bubble up inside me.
"Because Ethan is different!"
"Lynette!" Alexis yelled at me.
"What?!" I snapped.
"Ethan rang the bell God knows how long ago! Bring him in!"
"Why didn't you tell me that?"
"Amidst this babbling, how could I?"
Taking a deep breath, I threw a sharp glance at my dad and muttered, "We'll continue this conversation later."
Heading towards the front door, I took another breath or two before opening the door with a wide smile. I found him looking rather nervously at me, dressed in his usual attire.
"Hi," his voice sounded small as his smile and I laughed a little as I greeted him back.
"You drive?" I asked, glancing at the red truck parked on the driveway. He shook his head no in response and muttered, "Riley's."
"Figures. Red trucks are not you."
Lightly taking hold of his arm, I brought him into the house and let him look around a little. I'd grown accustomed to this gesture that many people did. No matter how many times a person might have visited the Brooks' mansion, they'd never fail to be taken aback by the lightest degree when they enter it. I decided not to lead him to the kitchen. Based on the conversation I'd had with my dad, the atmosphere inside would still be a little steamy. Besides, we would have more fun doing anything else that didn't include small talk with my dad.
At first, I didn't even know where I was taking him as my body took the lead when we walked across the several passageways and halls. But I realized that I was leading myself to the ball room section of the mansion. Funny how my body sometimes picked up on things later than my mind.
I entered the room and grinned. This looked perfect. The beams of sunlight flooded into the room from the windows that were located high above, almost appearing to touch the ceiling. Spacious and large yet empty as it lacked the amount of people required to fill it.
"Lyn? What is this place?"
"My dad calls it the ballroom, even though we never really had any balls." I smiled at him but it seemed to fall a little when the sunlight centered on the white piano, almost as if it were a spotlight.
"My mom loved this room. It was her favorite actually," I whispered softly. A thousand emotions must have crossed my face at the moment. The memory of my mother always left me feeling a light pang of hurt, a sweet pain that left me feeling empty.
"Did she...did she play the piano?"
"No, but she loved it. Alexis used to play but now she's forgotten how to."
The silence filled the air and my mind pondered to those days where my mom would bring me here alongside Alexis, and watch her play, all the while holding me close to her and slowly rocking me along with the melodies that succumbed the room. I would do anything to have those days back.
"Would you like me to play? The piano, I mean?"
I turned my face to look at him, my eyes meeting his and I gave a small smile. "Yes. I would like that."
As he moved towards the piano, I followed his shadow. My feet felt like led and somehow, I felt as if my heart was tearing apart, one tear at a time with every step I took. Sitting down beside Ethan, I watched him play, his hands moving gracefully across the piano. I was familiar with the melody he played. Alexis had played this one day. One exceptionally peaceful and beautiful day.
"My mom, she used to make my day. I'd sometimes have a hard time falling asleep because I didn't want the day to end. Every day was like a day in paradise. She'd chase me around the garden, acting like a child herself with gleeful smiles on her face. It was those smiles that drove me along, kept me going everyday.
"As a child, I never took much interest in reading but my mom was the one who tried to place that interest in me. She'd take me to the library and we'd curl up onto one of the large sized bean bags with me on her lap. She'd read and I'd listen. I learned so much during those days with her."
I paused for a second and glanced at Ethan. His eyes met mine and I learnt many things through that one swift gaze we exchanged. For one, he didn't feel like some therapist getting paid to hear my heart out. He was comfortable with it. And second, there was a reassurance in his eyes that made small glimmers of hope to light up in my heart. Things were going to be okay.
It was at that moment that the song came to an end and Ethan's eyes were on the piano. Silence once again filled the air but not an uncomfortable one. It was rather peaceful. But it was the peaceful part of it that made me realize the mistake I was making.
A gasp escaped my mouth and Ethan looked startled when he turned his face to stare at me strangely.
"I've totally made this a terrible day, haven't I?" I started to panic. Here I am, having Ethan over and all I'd done was turn it into one of those "oh-my-god, she's killing me with her depression dialogue" days.
Just when he was about to reason with me, being the gentleman that Ethan is, I interrupted him, saying, "No, I asked you to come over to have fun, not week and mourn." Sighing heavily, my mind raced with thoughts on what I could do to lighten the atmosphere and then I grinned to myself.
"I have an idea! Wait here, I'll make this up to you."
I thought I heard him say something but I couldn't catch the words as I raced out the ball room, heading towards the one at the far end of the hall where we usually kept our 'party equipment'. Glancing around the table where we laid our materials out, I took hold of the music player and jogged back.
Entering the room, I placed the music player on top of the piano and clicked on the play button. Bubble Toes by Jack Johnson started playing and I couldn't help but smile. Perfect song for a dance.
"Dance with me."
Ethan just blinked, a blank expression across his face as if he didn't hear what I'd just said. "What?"
Rolling my eyes, I repeated, "Dance. With. Me."
The look that crossed his face was that of uneasiness. I could see that he was probably questioning my sanity as he stood up and walked to me slowly, his posture half-hearted. Since he was moving at the pace of a snail, I sighed and took hold of his hand, pulling him towards the centre of the room. I placed my left hand on his shoulder, the right hand interlacing fingers his left. Looking unsure, he placed his free arm around my waist.
My head fell on his chest and I groaned. "Jeez Ethan. I'm a girl. Dance with me like I'm one. I won't bite you know."
As the song went on, the melody turned into a more playful one as the beats started ringing in. I twirled around, my laughter echoing across the walls. Ethan finally started loosening up and took hold of my free hand. Our steps were in sync and at one beat or another, he'd twirl me around or dip me. My laughter didn't die when I saw the grin on his face. He was enjoying this and so was I.
Ethan's arm around my waist wasn't as stiff anymore and his dance was not tense anymore. The smile on my face didn't diminish for even a second as we danced together, having fun just like I'd wanted to. When the song came to an end, both his arms went around my waist while mine around his shoulders. Smiling up at him, I asked, "Having fun?"
He gave me a grin, the rare genuine one I usually recieved from him, and replied, "Of course I am."
Biting on my lower lip, I decided to suppress the mock tease that was about to slip out. I could use it on him later; this moment was too perfect to ruin. We slow danced together for a few more songs. My head eventually rested against his chest and his arms, loosened around my waist but still held me close. Things just feltright. It felt too good to be true. I never would have imagined dancing with Ethan like this a month ago when all he'd been was a 'pain for my brain'. Suddenly, the uneasiness wasn't being felt by Ethan but by me. When had it come to this?
The same moment that I let go of my hold, he let go of his and we both stepped back. Had the discomfort hit him too? I didn't know the expression that was on my face but I gave a timid smile, and said, "That's enough dancing for now. You want to go?"
Ethan nodded wordlessly and after I turned off the music, we took the same route out that we'd come in at the start. Within a matter of minutes, we'd reached the kitchen and Alexis turned around at the sound of our footsteps.
"Ethan, it's great to have you." She approached him and gave him a hug. He looked a little surprised when she did so but that's Alexis and her ways.
"Great to be here, Ms-"
"Just call me Alexis. I don't like all the formalities."
She stepped back and beamed at the two of us. "So what have you guys been up to the past hour?"
"Dancing," both of us said simultaneously. I grinned at him before settling down into one of the chairs and pulling Ethan to sit down on the one to my left.
"That sounds like fun. You guys want some wine?" Alexis asked.
"Wine? At this time of day?" I asked, glancing at the clock. It was only just two in the afternoon.
"Honey, there's nothing wrong with drinking wine as long as you don't overdo it." She winked at Ethan and poured the same type of wine that had been served yesterday night.
Handing us our glasses, she said, "Let's drink to a good life!" Simple, yet good enough. I took a sip out of the wine and gulped, the familiar burning sensation going down my throat - the one you get when you take the first sip. Then with a grin at my direction, Alexis leaned towards me and whispered in my ear, "And a good love life for you."