Back To Square One

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Chapter 3

“Brandon Anthony Gillen, you had better apologise to Samantha. You will not speak to a lady like that. I have not raised you to be a caveman and neither has your father!” Mrs. Gillen was marching up their driveway towards the front door while giving Brandon a piece of hermind.

I, in the meantime, was trying my best not to burst out laughing. I stepped aside to let Mrs. Gillen enter the house before us; she grabbed Brandon’s arm, dragging him into the living room and out of earshot. Knowing that he was about to receive a tongue lashing, I quickly stepped into the house and headed for the dining room. Since they still stayed in the same house I knew where to go.

The inside of the house had not changed much over the last three years. From what I could see as I walked down the passage, the living room had been repainted a deep, rose pink and the furniture replaced with cream-coloured couches and rose-shaped scatter cushions. A light brown coffee table stood in the middle of the room holdinga vase of fresh, pink roses.

I could see all of Brandon’s school pictures from the last three years, as well as some pictures of him in his rugby uniform, by the fireplace. Some were team pictures, others were of him after a match holding up a cup in one hand and holding onto Kimberly, kissing her.

As Brandon and his mom were standing in the next room trying to have their conversation in hushed tones so that I couldn’t hear them, I moved further down the hall, passing the entertainment room and the kitchen on my way to the dining room. Neitherhad changed much, if at all. Everywhere you looked there were either family pictures or pictures of Brandon growing up.

Feeling a knot forming in the pit of my stomach and starting to push up, I couldn’t help my mind from wandering to my own family, thinking how completely messedup we were compared to the Gillen family.

I mean, my mom had just spentthe last three years in jail for killing her own sister and my little brother; my dad had an affair with said sister and after their deaths killed himself as he couldn’t handle the guilt. Which only left me, with a hell of a lot of mental and trust issues to try and sort out, and which I am still working through.

The ugly duckling of the family was taken in by said father’s sister, shipped halfway across the world to live in a different country and then dispatched back three years later, new and improved, as my aunt said the day she broke the news to me. I might look different on the outside, I might look new and improved, but I’m just as messed up on the inside as I was three years ago. Regardless of what she and my therapists would like to believe, I still cry myself to sleep at night and need to repeat a mantra every morning just to be able to get myself outof bed every day.

Realising I had stopped walking and was staring at one of the family pictures taken not toolong ago, I quickly moved on to the dining room and started setting up for the tutoring lesson. Down the hall I could hear Brandon and his mother arguing about me. I closed off my mind and tried to block them out, concentrating on what I was doing.

“I’m sorry!” came Brandon’s voice from the door, “I really didn’t graspit was you, and in my defense you didn’t tell me either. I didn’t mean to insinuate you were ugly. It’s just that you have changed, and you don’t look like you, at all, anymore. I mean the old you. The one I saw three years ago. Why didn’t you tell me who you were that first day I made a fool of myself, when you made me beg you to tutor me?”

A small smile stole onto my lips before I could stop it. He really was adorable. The picture of him kissing Kimberly popped into my head and I knew that getting a crush on Brandon again wouldbe a huge mistake. He belonged to girls like Kimberly, not to girls like me.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. I found the fact that no one knew who I was or identified me entertaining, and wanted to see how long it would take before someone realised who I was. I didn’t make you beg me to tutor you! But, come to think of it, maybe I should have made you grovel some more.

“I . . . I suppose I wanted the opportunity to let you get to know me before you found out who I was, and assumed you knew me because I tutored you three years ago. I just wanted a fresh start and a fresh chance, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag now.” Laughing a little, I waved him over and indicated the books spread out on the table. “We should really get started as I do have an appointment later and I cannot be late for it.”

Nodding his head, Brandon walked over to the table, took the seat next to mine and we started working on the problems we had addressed in class over the last few days. A few minutes in, he abruptly stopped working and turned to me.

“For what it’s worth Sam/Samantha, I’m glad you are back and you do look great, and I would like to get to know you as the last time we didn’t really have a chance to get to know each other.”

Totally taken back by what he said, I couldn’t form the words to give him a reply, so I just nodded my head instead and looked back at the work we were busy with. About an hour later I found myself really surprised at Brandon. He had improved a great deal since I last tutored him but there were still some major issues with his equations.

As he worked, my mind kept drifting from the work at hand to the man that was his own piece of work right next to me. He wore his brown hair short, but it was curling around the ears and at the back of his neck as it grew out again, giving him that well-kept, but just-out-of-bed, sexy look.

I had to force myself not to tuck the curling hair behind his ear. His entire face was in complete proportion, from his ears to his nose, moving up to his strikingly blue eyes with the brown flecks.I could see myself getting lost staring into those eyes, his beautiful mouth forming beautiful words of encouragement, and then he leans into me slowly, never breaking eye contact with me, our lips are millimetres apart, a soft sigh escapes my lips and then he finally closes the distance between us and . . .

“Can I get you guys anything to drink?”

I was so startled by Mrs. Gillen’s appearance in the doorway that I fell over backwards off my chair, doing a somersault before landing flat on my back on the floor. As I hit the floor I realised I had been staring at Brendon’s mouth and fantasizing about kissing him when Mrs. Gillen came into the room.

I forced myself into a sitting position, feeling a blush creep over my skin. Looking up at Mrs. Gillen standing in the doorway, I saw her shocked but understanding eyes land on me. Brandon, totally confused by what had just happened, took a few seconds before jumping up and helping me back onto my feet.

I must have been wearing a really confused or embarrassed expression on my face as anamused smile appeared on Mrs. Gillen’slips.“Samantha, are you okay? I didn’t mean to startle you. You guys have been at it for three hours already with no breaks at all. I thought a ten-minute break wouldn’t be too bad.”

Three hours, have we been working for three hours already? Shoot, I’m going to be late for my appointment.

I jumped out of Brandon’s arms and started collecting my books, shoving them into my backpack and mumbling to myself how stupid it was of me to lose track of time. Brandon, not understanding what was going on, and his mother, who was completely shocked by my sudden need to depart, just stared at me.

Finally Brandon found his voice and grabbed my arms, forcing me to stand still and look at him. “Why are you rushing away?”

Still blushing from my totally inappropriate daydream, I tried to relax my breathing.

“I’m going to be late for my appointment and I simply cannot be late. I really need to go, sorry, I completely lost track of time. Thanks for the offer Mrs. Gillen, maybe next time. See you tomorrow, Brandon!” I called the last part over my shoulder as I rushed down the hallway to the front door so I could get out of there.

Running into the hallway as well, Brandon called my name.

“Sam, I’m playing a game this weekend at school, Saturday at 15h00, if you would like to come and watch. Maybe I’ll see you there?”

Glancing over my shoulder one last time I could see a still very confused Mrs. Gillen and a very expectant Brandon looking at me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the picture of him kissing Kimberly and I silently groaned as I reached for the door. Stepping outside I called over my shoulder, “Cool, yeah, um, maybe I’ll come maybe, maybe I’ll see you there. See you tomorrow.”

And with that I closed the front door and ran for my car.

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