"Leena, could we talk to you for a minute, please?" I heard a strange, deep and serious voice as I passed by the family room towards the kitchen to get me some of that delicious cream pie daddy brought home yesterday. It was my dad, sitting together with Uncle Joe and Jeff. I saw their car from my bedroom window enter our driveway about 2 hours ago, and they have been talking for a very long time now. Well, Uncle Joe and dad. Jeff sat a little far away from them, probably since he didn't need to listen.
Uncle Joe has been coming to our house very often now. I don't know why, but, every time I passed by dad's home office they were always talking about something and checking out lots and lots of papers. Dad's a litigator, so maybe it probably had to do something about a case? Or business matters? Oh, I don't know.
"Uhm, sure?", I said with a questioning tone. "What's going on?"
"Uhh, Jeff could you come here too?" Jeff stood up and sat beside his dad.
"So", dad started talking with a very serious voice, "are you guys doing anything this summer? Summer classes or something?" Jeff just moved his head to say no, and I just said that the two of us, together with our other friends were just planning to visit the gym every other morning.
"Oh, that's good. So you've been hanging out lately? That's great", dad said and Uncle Joe nodded his head. Wait, don't tell me this would be the same talk that mom gave me. Hell no.
"Actually, we're just going to ask the two of you for a favor", Uncle Joe said nervously, "Why don't you sit down, darling?" I smiled and obediently followed him. "You've probably noticed that your dad and I have been frequently meeting here talking about serious matters, and to tell you honestly, our family has been facing a huge problem recently." I looked at Jeff, and I could tell that he was very nervous and he didn't know what was going on.
"What kind of problem?", Jeff asked looking a little mad.
"Son, we've been losing a lot of money for these past few months now, because of our house loan. We just loaned money from the bank to pay after 5 years by installment to build it, and we just couldn't keep up with the monthly payments since, well, our business isn't really profitable enough. And now, they're planning to take it away from us. Our house...", Uncle Joe looked really sad. I never even saw him like this. And when I turned to Jeff, his expression was just a mix of sadness, nervousness, anger, and worry. I decided not to say anything, I mean, I don't even know what to say in situations like this.
"What?!", Jeff said angrily, "Dad, you didn't even tell us before? Does mom even know?"
"I'm really sorry, it's really hard, and I didn't want you guys to feel... you know... pressured or something! And you kids were so happy when you saw our new house, we didn't want to disappoint you again. And yes, your mom knows, I told her before we left to go here. Your sister still doesn't know though, and especially Marion. And, well, since your sister is in college now, we really went short." Jeff was just speechless.
"But don't worry, your dad and I have been working hard for months now to solve this problem, and there may still be a chance to save your house. It's not over yet, don't worry. I know you guys had a rough start in life, and then you finally had the chance to build a house of your own, that's why I will not let this happen, don't worry." Dad said that a lot, but still, Jeff's face didn't change. I just stayed quiet. "Which is why we are asking you to help us."
"In what way???", Jeff said with a puzzled look.
"Since the only way to solve this problem is to fully pay the bank, the first thing we need to do is to find another source of cash or income. And we are very much willing to help you," Dad said to Uncle Joe and Jeff, "but it still wouldn't be enough. So in order to do that, we'd have to have strong connections with people, specifically business people, companies that could either help you pay for it, but I wouldn't recommend to just settle with this since it would create even more loans, or we could also find connections with other companies to support your business in order to be more profitable. We just need connections with those people who can help us financially."
"The good thing is we already met some, persuading or asking them if I could work for them or something, or help out in a government project, or even if they're really nice enough to lend us some money, anything basically", Uncle Joe said.
I still didn't understand how the two of us could help, and I think Jeff knew what I was thinking too. "So... what are we going to do?"
"Well, it would actually be even better if they could also meet the family, you know, the people that they would be helping," dad said.
"So, basically, you want us to support you guys and talk to them? What would we even say???", I finally asked since, I really didn't understand why we, or even I, would be included. Plus, I haaaaate small talk.
"We're saying it's better if they met the family too, or the other people they'll be dealing with, to see if they could trust us or something. You just have to politely introduce yourselves to them and, you know, small talk. So your Uncle Joe and I wouldn't be the only ones there. It's just like when you guys met each other."
"Wait, so basically, the reason why you suddenly introduced Uncle Joe's family to us is because of this???", I asked dad, pretty shocked. But it was Uncle Joe who answered me, "Of course that's not only the reason! I mean, it would be great that all of us knew each other, right? That wasn't our first motive, of course not!" He wasn't mad or anything, but I think he got a little shy.
"Well, then, why can't Cris just take my place?", Jeff asked his dad. Which also made me ask mine, "And why couldn't Mariel or Maryh take mine?"
"Okay first of all, your sister," Uncle Joe pointed at Jeff, "has summer classes, and your sisters too, Leena. And obviously Marion is just a little boy, so he couldn't. So that leaves us with you two. Also, your mothers will be coming too, so no worries." Jeff and I were both silent.
"And it seems to us you two are already friends, right?" Dad asked, "so, it's just like going out, I guess?"
Going out??? Maybe hanging out. "So when are we supposed to do this?"
"Well it won't just happen in one day. The first event we'll be going to is on Friday evening. It's kind of a... semi-formal event. A business forum, where we'll meet with a lot of businessmen. I already have a friend that's going there, so at least we know someone who could work us around. So what do you guys say?" Uncle Joe asked both of us. And of course, I couldn't say no.
I felt really sad when they said to us the news. And I felt even more sad when I saw the looks art Jeff's face. To be honest, my family also went through with a problem like this before, and boy, it was hard. I called it 'The Dark Times', when we were so low on money we couldn't even afford to buy new clothes for school because mom and dad had so much to pay for. Luckily, when I was entering high school, I was seeing that somehow, we could now afford more things and mom and dad slowly paid all of it after their overnight shifts and hard work. Which is why I didn't hesitate to help Uncle Joe and his family.
"Well sure, it's okay for me, I guess. If this is something that I could do to help you, then I'm in," I said with a faint smile. He patted me on the back and hugged me. I felt better already. "How 'bout you?", I asked Jeff.
"Uhm... yeah definitely," he said, looking a lot better now.
"Don't worry, you guys could hang out after or something. It is summer, and we feel really guilty letting you do this, so don't worry."
Actually, I didn't even think that they would be wasting our summer. I think this might actually be something new for me! I hate socializing, but maybe this would develop me or something. Plus, we'd go to different events or parties maybe, and get to dress up. Time for a new makeover! "No, it's okay really! I mean, I think I might be even looking forward to it. It's an experience right?", I said excitedly.
"That's my girl!", dad said rubbing my head. I could see that Uncle Joe was happy too.
Mom prepared us dinner after we finished talking, turns out she knew that dad and Uncle Joe would be breaking us the news today. After eating my parents and Uncle talked a little more, so Jeff and I went to the family room to watch TV. After choosing channels for almost 5 minutes, I decided to go with Master Chef. Jeff was just staring at the TV, I knew he still wasn't okay, I wish I could cheer him up or something. Then suddenly, he faced me, looking nervous and tired.
"Yeah?" I said with my warmest and soft voice.
"Thank you. For helping out."
"Of course! No problem," I said cheerfully, being careful not to shout so loud so our parents wouldn't hear. And again, he smiled with his handsome smile.
"But, I guess... uhm. Would it be okay if we just keep this to ourselves?"
"Oh, sure if you want to. I won't tell anybody."
"Thanks. It's just that.....well,"
"You don't want our friends to know?"
"Well, sort of..."
"It's okay, I understand."
"Thanks a lot."
"Yeah, don't worry. Look at the bright side, you'll always see me all dolled up and glamorous!"
He laughed. Oh, thank god I made him laugh.
"And you'll see me working my black suit every now and then. Jaw-dropping, I swear," he grinned at me, and I just rolled my eyes. Oh, as if! Well, maybe.
Okay fine! So I am attracted to him. I just love how we make jokes about each other and teasing each other. I love his smile. And up until now, the scene where I kissed him on the cheek after taking me home still keep repeating in my mind. Non-stop!
We saw that our parents were already saying their goodbyes and started packing up their stuff, so we stood up from the couch and closed the TV.
"So.. promise you won't tell?", Jeff asked me again.
"I promiseeee! Gosh."
"Well, thanks. Thanks a lot, really." He said with his soft voice. Then suddenly he stepped closer to me and wrapped his arms around me. I hugged him back, having the time of my life, and rubbed his back.
"We gon' have so much fuuuun!"
"Yeah, I hope so. So.... see you on Friday, I guess?", he said nervously. Wow, he's nervous.
"Definitely." I smiled, hoping my cheeks wouldn't be as read as a tomato.