Chapter 7 - Change
Athena took a silent deep breath and walked straight to her grandmother without looking back, even though she could feel Jake's presence behind her as she walked. Her grandmother looked up at them as they approached, and smiled. Athena placed the glass in her hand on the table and sat on an open chair close to her grandmother. Athena smiled. "I was wondering where you two were. I saw you two talking to Liz." Miss Thompson's eyes traveled from Athena to Jake, and back with a glint in them. "I always knew you two would find each other eventually," she said and winked at Athena. Athena felt the blood rush to her cheeks. Jake chuckled. How could he be so calm about this? Athena looked at him and instantly wished she hadn't. She knew Jake looked even more gorgeous when he laughed. Her heart heated as it raced in her chest. She looked away. It was just a little kiss. What was she going on about?
"Why didn't you two tell me? And how long has this been going on for?" Miss Thompson seemed genuinely excited about this (fake) news. Athena's mouth dropped open, but she couldn't say anything. Lying to Liz was one thing but lying to her grandmother was another. No doubt Miss Thompson wouldn't approve of this lie if they told her the truth, and she might tell Liz. Athena almost cringed. That would make Liz's birthday. Knowing Athena felt so insecure that she had to lie about dating Jake Brown. Athena suddenly realized something. Dating Jake Brown meant something. Really meant something. He was like a trophy to girls like Liz ... and Athena wasn't even if she was in a good enough league to date someone like Jake. That's why Liz was so surprised. "Athena? Are you alright, dear?" Athena looked at her grandmother. She felt heaviness in her chest which she couldn't understand. "Uh..." She felt Jake's hot palm on her shoulder and tensed. Her breathing felt heavier. He stepped in front of her and hunched down a little to look into her face. "Yeah, you don't look so well," he said. She studied him. She didn't feel well. She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. Her grandmother placed her hand to Athena's forehead. "My dear, you're burning up." She said and slid her hand to Athena's hot cheek. "I'll get you a glass of water," Jake said and removed his hand from her shoulder before walking off. Athena watched him walk away.
"Now, that's a really special young man."
Athena looked at her grandmother. Miss Thompson's eyes were on Jake. "Let me guess. You two were just pretending to get under Liz's skin," she said with a knowing smile then looked at Athena. Athena nibbled on her lip and dropped her eyes, ashamed. She felt her grandmother's soft hands cover hers on her lap. "It's alright, Athena. I've seen how nasty Liz is with you, but it doesn't justify you lying to her. You're better than that," Miss Thompson said gently. Athena couldn't say anything.
She raised her eyes to her grandmother. Miss Thompson smiled. "Not all of it was a lie, was it?" She asked. Before Athena could say anything, Jake returned with a bottle of water. Athena made brief eye contact with him as she took it. "Thanks." Athena took a sip from it, appreciating the cool liquid running down her throat. "You okay now?" Jake asked. She almost smiled at how concerned he sounded. She nodded with her eyes low as she screwed the lid back onto the bottle. She felt silly. Stupid actually. Going on like this because of a little kiss? On her forehead! But, she knew it wasn't just the kiss. It was the intense look Jake had given her before that kiss that drove her crazy. She was desperate to know what was going on in his mind, because she was almost completely sure that Liz was the last thing on it. But, maybe that was just wishful thinking from her side. One thing she was sure about was that she needed to get it together and fast, otherwise Liz would be the least of her worries.
Athena's eyes traveled towards the door where a few people were already leaving. Teenagers. They were probably on their way to Liz's house for the after party. "I think we can leave," she said quietly. Athena looked at her grandmother. "Are you coming over next month?" Athena asked and stood up. She placed a gentle kiss on her grandmother's cheek and hugged her. Miss Thompson smiled. "Yes, I've never missed it," she said. Athena looked at Jake as he took his turn to kiss the lady. Jake kissed both Miss Thompson's cheeks. The old lady giggled and that caused Athena to do the same. She wrapped her arms around herself, tucking the water bottle under her arm. Jake hugged her grandmother. "I better see you next month as well." Miss Thompson said with a wink. Athena tensed a bit. Her grandmother had just allowed Jake another excuse to worm his way back into her life. Athena couldn't help but realize that it didn't bother her as much as it used to. "So let me think ... next month is ... not your birthday, your mom's, right?" Jake asked after they walked out of the doors of the hall. Athena nodded.
When they were in the car, things became awkward. Neither of them had anything to say. When they were a nice distance away from the party, Jake finally broke the silence between them. "So, how was it?" He asked. Athena looked over at him. His eyes remained on the road. She took a breath and decided to be honest. "It was okay, and believe me, for a party in honor of Liz, okay is very high on the enjoyable chart," she said. Jake chuckled. "Thank you for coming with, Jake." Athena said. Jake glanced at her. "You're welcome," he said with a small smile. Athena dropped her eyes. It was only eleven. She felt bad about wasting Jake's Saturday. She didn't know why. He was the one that forced his way into this party ... probably because he knew the after party would be incredible, he had said as much, hadn't he? "Uh ... You can still go to Liz's after party if you want," she said. Jake smirked. "And why would I do that?" He asked. Athena's eyebrows came together above her eyes. She was confused. Why would he have wanted to come then? "I just ... figured it was more your way of spending a Saturday, that's all." Athena said and played with the chain around her neck.
Jake looked at her. He smiled, making her shoulders relax. "Another few hours at another party with Liz and her followers? Nope, not for me." Jake said and turned his eyes back to the road. Athena sunk down in her seat comfortably. She stared ahead as she moved the butterfly pendant around on the chain. She smiled a little as she remembered how a few of Liz's friends were giggling and obviously admiring Jake from their table during one of the speeches. "That's pretty," Jake said. Athena looked at him. His eyes were back on the road. He glanced at her. "The necklace," he said. Athena looked down at the silver butterfly between her fingers. "Let me guess, sweet sixteen gift from the beautiful doctor Thompson?" Jake asked teasingly. Athena rolled her eyes. She shook her head. "No, uh ... I got it for my fifteenth birthday," she said and nibbled on her lip. "You did? I don't remember that." Jake said, sounding confused. Athena dropped her eyes. "That's 'cause I got it right after ... you know, that day you-"
"Oh," Jake said, cutting her off. Athena kept her eyes low. The car came to a slow stop. Athena looked up and realized they were in front of her house. They both got out of the car at the same time. Jake stuffed his hands into his pockets as they walked alongside each other up the path to the front door. Athena giggled. "Even when we were friends, I never thought I would be walking up to my house next to you while wearing heels," she said. Jake chuckled, looking ahead. "And why is that?" He asked. Athena shrugged. "I could barely stand in heels when we were fifteen," she said. Jake burst out laughing. "I remember that. The night after your aunt's wedding you paid me to massage your calves." He said. Athena blushed. She looked away. "You seem to be doing alright now," Jake said as they reached the front door. She smiled.
"You've grown up to be such a girl," Jake said. Athena's eyes widened when she looked back at him. She laughed. "Why do I get the feeling that's an insult?" She asked and took a key out of her purse. "It's an admiring and fascinated statement." Jake said. Athena looked up at him. Her heart leapt to her throat. He had that look again. She suddenly realized the situation. Jake was dropping her off at her front door while she stood there with a key in her hand, frozen under his gaze. In any movie this was the kiss scene. But, they had not been on a date, and she wasn't going to feel stupid again. Athena looked to the door and unlocked it. She looked back at Jake with her hand on the handle. Athena smiled nervously. "I'll see you Monday. Now that your Math doesn't seem to be much of a problem anymore, we can do some chemistry after," she said. Jake's eyebrows lifted a little. "So, I guess you're sticking with me. I hope you know what you're getting yourself into." He said. Athena smiled full on. "I do."
Jake was still smiling even after he parked his car and walked towards the front door. Athena wasn't ready to tell him about what happened in the three years they had missed in each other's lives, but at least now he knew she had forgiven him. Things were looking up. Jake opened the front door and was surprised to see light coming from the kitchen. He closed the door behind him. "Mom?" He asked. "I'm in the kitchen!" Ruth called back. Jake took off his jacket and threw it over a couch in the living room, then walked into the kitchen. He found his mother sitting at the kitchen island with a half-empty glass of wine in front of her. She seemed grim. Jake felt his spirit plummet into the ground. "What's wrong?" He asked, already dreading the answer. Ruth took a deep breath and looked Jake straight in the eye. "You're father called," she said. It sounded so casual coming out of her mouth, but her expression didn't change. She didn't even flinch. Jake felt his skin burn all over. "What did he want?" He asked. "Jake ... please, just don't get upset." Ruth said. Jake clenched his fists. "Mom, what did he want?" Jake asked again. Ruth sighed quietly. "He's coming to visit for a few days."
*Mr Blobby: Thanks love.
*Mandy E: Haha. I'm going as fast as inspiration can take me.
*BriBri: Haha. Jake is turning out to be one of my favorite male characters. (besides Ethan―weak spot there)
*Mar: Patience dear. In good time.
*Zelia: Haha. It's my pleasure. I love writing this story.
*Cecilia: Thank you.