For the hundredth time since I started working at the grill, I’m wishing closing came earlier. Eleven o’clock at night is just so late. Especially, when I’ve got class in the morning. "You're coming to the party tomorrow night?" Cam asks, slipping his sweater on as we head outside.
Jeremy’s been working most nights, but he had today off, and as I walk to my car with Cam, I’m glad Jeremey isn’t there. Since the night in the car, a week ago, he hasn’t spoken a word to me, and I’ve said just as little as him. "I didn’t know about it."
"Oh?" He shrugs a bit. "I thought Jeremy said he was gonna tell you about it."
"Well, are you gonna come?"
"What’s it for?"
"Do you really think we need a reason to party?" He asks, laughing.
I smile. "I guess not."
"So are you gonna come?"
I don’t answer right away, I dig through my coat pocket for my keys and take the moment to come up with my reply. I shouldn’t go. I know I shouldn’t. But I can’t imagine what look Jeremy will give me when I show up. Will he be surprised? Happy? Upset? What if he doesn’t want me there? I decide I don’t care what he wants. A large part of me wants to go. "Yeah. I’ll go." I say, and my voice sounds as sure as I feel.
I get home just before midnight and mom is sitting on the couch, waiting for me. "Cutting it a little close, aren’t you, Brooklyn?"
I sigh as I slide my jacket off and hang it up in the coat closet. "I’m home before midnight. That’s what you and dad said my curfew was. Midnight." I glance at my phone to check the time. "It’s 11:58. So I’m home before midnight. You can’t be mad at me for that. I’m going to bed." Before she can respond, I stalk towards the stairs and go to my room.
I change into some warm pajamas and collapse onto my bed. Between working the extra shifts I convince Don to give me and trying to keep up with my schoolwork I’m finding less and less time to sleep. I know I should get up and wash my makeup off my face, like I’ve been trying to remember to do more often, but I’m too tired. I do manage to force myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth before going back to my room and snuggling into my covers. I’m asleep in minutes.
Her shrill, clearly upset, voice is what I wake up too. "Are you even listening to me?"
If I were more awake, I’d be rolling my eyes right now. "How can I be listening to you? I was asleep only seconds ago." I grumble.
I’m sure my ‘attitude’ won’t go unnoticed. I know I’m right when I hear her scoff and stammer over herself for a moment. "Brooklyn Taylor Jones! How dare you speak to me in that tone of voice?"
I sit up and blink against the bright light. I hold my tongue, knowing if I say what I want to say, I’ll most likely be grounded. "What’s going on?" I ask, instead. "Why’d you wake me?"
"Someone is here to see you." She hisses the first word of her sentence, making it sound like poison, and I can’t imagine who could possibly be here to see me that would bother her so much.
"Who is it?"
"Just go speak to him. Maybe then he’ll leave." And with that she turns on her heel and storms out of my room. Of course, she leaves the door wide open, like it seems most parents do. It was shut when she came in, why can’t she think to shut it on her way out?
I push myself out of bed and shut the door so I can change. I don’t know who could be downstairs but I know that there’s no way I’ll let whoever it is see me the way I am right now, messy hair, pajamas and smeared makeup. I rush to get ready, not wanting to make whoever is downstairs wait around for me. Especially with mom stalking around the house in such a bad mood.
I’m wracking my brains, trying to think who could possible have caused mom... to be so upset, as I walk downstairs. Who do I know who would bother my mother to that extreme? At first, I’d thought maybe it was Andrew, but she’s never been that appalled at him coming to visit me. And she’d said ‘someone’ not ‘Andrew’. I stifle a yawn as I turn into the living room. The couch is set up to face away from the door, so I only see the back of his head, but I instantly know who it is, and I immediately know why mom was so upset.
"Oh my gosh! What are you doing here?" At the sound of my voice, he jumped up off the couch and I run to hug him. He lifts me up off my heat in the most comforting hug I’ve had in what feels like years.
"Mom sure was pissed to see me at the door this morning." He says with a chuckle. She passes by the living room and shoots us both a dirty look. "She hates me, doesn’t she?"
I shrug. "I wouldn’t say she hates you. Heavily despises would be more like it."
Chris is the ‘black sheep’ of the family. Instead of going to college, like mom and dad wanted, he moved to California with a few of his high school friends. After spending a load of money on drugs and other useless things, and then spending three months in jail, mom refused to speak to him and dad took her side. After getting out of jail, he somehow wound up as an extra in a movie, and then a few other movies before getting himself a few more important, but still very minor roles. Now he’s the bass player/backup vocalist for a surprisingly decent band.
"I’m surprised she even let me in the house." He tells me, sitting back down on the couch.
I drop onto the couch too, tucking my legs up underneath me. "Why are you home?" I ask. "I mean, not that I’m not thrilled to see you, because I am, but, I thought you didn’t want to come back?"
"I had to come back and check up on you, make sure mom hasn’t driven you crazy yet." I laugh, but I know that’s not the only reason he’s here. There has to be another reason. I know that he loves me, and would check up on me, but I also know that he wouldn’t just drop by to see me. He typically checks up with phone calls, or texts. Before I can voice my doubts, he sighs. "Okay! You’ve got me." A sheepish grin crosses his face as the next words come pouring from his mouth. "I’m getting married!"
I pick up my bagel and take a small bite. Chris hasn’t stopped talking about his fiance since we walked in the door of the small cafe. After his announcement, we decided to move the conversation somewhere with less judgmental ears. I can’t believe he’s actually getting married. "I didn’t even know you had a girlfriend!" I grumble, accusingly.
He shrugs, not even bothering to look the least bit repentant for leaving such an important detail of his life from the small conversations we occasionally have. "It never came up." He takes the lull in the conversation to bite into his muffin and after washing half of it down with a gulp of coffee, he’s back to gushing about the girl. He’s so lovestruck it’s almost sickening, but I’m happy for him. From what he says, she’s the most perfect girl to have crossed the face of the earth. I decide that I’m most definitely going to have to meet her myself to get an unbiased opinion of her, because there is absolutely no way that somebody can be that perfect.
I nod occasionally, but I’m not really listening anymore. I forgot how much he talks sometimes; I’m just now remembering that this is why I typically avoid his calls when I can. No wonder I didn’t know about his girlfriend. The jingling of the bells above the door distract me from my inner monologue and I turn my attention back to Chris, hoping he didn’t notice that I hadn’t been paying attention. He’s blabbering on about something different now, and I try to follow along, hoping I can figure out whatever it is he’s talking about. Before I get the chance, he says he’s going to the bathroom and he disappears.
I lean my head back and close my eyes, grateful that Chris is here, but wishing he’d chosen to pop up at the house in the afternoon instead of so early in the morning. I hear my name being called and I look up. Cam is standing at the counter, waving at me, and waiting for his order. Beside him, Jeremy is staring at me. I wave back and force a small smile before turning to my phone, trying to look busy.
When I glance up again, the worker at the counter is handing Cam a bag and a Styrofoam coffee cup. I’m hoping they’ll just leave now, but I’m simultaneously happy and upset when they head over towards me. When they get to the table, Cam nudges Jeremy to slide into the booth seat first. "You’re smaller." He says. Jeremy rolls his eyes, but sits down on the bench and slides over until he’s directly across from me. Cam sits down beside Jeremy and drops his bag onto the table. Apparently, seeing the muffin in front of Jeremy doesn’t seem to let, either of them know that I’m here with somebody.
"What are you doing here?" Cam asks.
"Eating." I say. I’m not trying to sound snippy, it just comes out that way, but Cam laughs.
"Yeah, I can see that." He gestures to the half-eaten muffin and bagel. I know he’s assuming I’m eating both of them and I wrinkle my nose up.
"Ew. That pistachio muffin is definitely not mine. I thought you knew me better than that Cameron." I add a smile to the end so that I don’t come across as overly snarky and he laughs again.
"That’s right. You hate pistachios."
Chris is heading back over to the table now, looking at me with raised eyebrows. When he sits down, both Cam and Jeremy look slightly surprised. "Chris, this is Cam and Jeremy." I turn to face Cam, but avoid looking at Jeremy. "Guys, this is Chris." I risk a glance at Jeremy to see him stone-faced.
"So how do you two little Brookie?" I notice that Chris’ words seem to bother Jeremy. He leans forward a bit and continues his staring at me.
"We work together." Cam says, speaking for both of them. It seems Jeremy has gone back to not speaking to me. I don’t have time to dwell on that because Chris turns to me, looking confused.
"Since when do you work?" It seems that me avoiding phone calls with Chris have caused him to know just as little about me as I seem to know about him.
"Almost six months now." His jaw drops a bit in disbelief and I roll my eyes. "Don’t act like that, Chris. You shouldn’t be that surprised. You aren’t the only one who wants to get out."
"Well, yeah, that’s obvious. I just can’t believe she let you."
I sigh. "Can we talk about this later?" I don’t want to discuss family things in front of Cameron and Jeremy. He seems to get the hint and drops the subject.
"So how do you know ‘little Brookie’?" Jeremy finally breaks his silence, copying Chris' words from earlier. Jeremy turns his blue eyes from staring at me to face Chris.
"She hasn’t told you about me?" Chris frowns at me, but in seconds his frown is replaced with his usual grin. "I’m the father of her child."
Cam starts coughing on his coffee and Jeremy’s eyes nearly bulge out of his head. I roll my eyes and sigh loudly. "Chris you are such a loser. I don’t have a kid you guys. Honestly, I’m a bit hurt that you both believed him. Chris is my idiot brother."
Jeremy relaxes and leans back in the seat and Cam finally manages to stop coughing.
"I didn’t know you had a brother." Cameron says once he can talk.
I smile. "I avoid talking about him. He’s a bit of a loser."
Chris does his signature snort-laugh and rolls his eyes. "Says the friendless one."
"I have friends!"
"Ew!" I swat his shoulder and he just laughs. "And that’s why I avoid being out in public with you." I say, trying not to laugh at him. "You’re so inappropriate."
I look over to see Cam laughing and Jeremy with a small smile on his face. When he sees me staring he drops his gaze, but the smile stays on his face.
I glance at my phone and groan. "Well, unlike you, Mr. Rock star ‘I’m in a band’," I say to Chris, "I actually have to work, so if you could be so kind as to drop me back off at the house before you leave to wherever it is you’re staying, I’d appreciate it."
"Rock star? What band?" Cam asks, at the same time as Chris says, "Will mom kill me if I ask to stay the night at the house?"
"Guys, I’m going to be late if we don’t leave like five minutes ago." I push Chris to get up before he can launch into another one of his speeches about his band and with a loud sigh, he finally listens to me and stands up. "I"m sure you can find another day to bore Cam with your band stories."
"Bore? I’ll have you know we made the top ten on your favorite station this week!" He shouts, loud enough to cause everyone to stare.
"And that’s my brother. You’d think he was ten." I tell the other two boys. "I’ll see you guys later." To Chris, I say, "You better get to the car or I’ll tell mom you tried to get me to move to California with you!"
He jumps towards the door. "Sheesh, woman! Are you trying to get me killed?"
(I love hearing from you guys! Please don't hesitate to comment!)
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Scars And A Daisy - Chapter FourBrookie gets a surprise visit!
By Em Bishop