“What are you doing here?”
I rolled my eyes. “What, can’t I pop in to see my lovely baby sis?”
Serene arched an eyebrow at me. “I saw you last weekend. Barely five days ago.”
I brought a hand to my heart, faking offense. “Oh! Why do you break my heart like this, Pebbles? I thought you loved me.”
She rolled her eyes, predictably. “I just meant ... I thought you’d have plans this weekend. That’s why I came the last one. Didn’t we say that?”
“That was before ...”
“Before what?” she frowned, and I didn’t miss that, one, she was dressed up, two, she still wouldn’t let me in the apartment. Mmh ... I think I might have a human sized punching ball to work out on this weekend.
“Before ... before.” I replied vaguely, eyeing her apartment. That was before my plans got ruined, that’s what. It was before Silvia started dating that guy, before I lost my battle, before ... ugh, whatever.
It’s not like I was gonna do anything anyways. I mean, yeah, ok, maybe I’d vacated my weekend to take her out, so? It’s a good thing that killjoy came to stand between us, right? This way I can’t be tempted to drag her into my fucked up world.
She saved herself from the impending doom, I guess. And yeah, maybe I’m jealous because right now there’s some dude holding my girl, kissing her, caressing her and who knows what not, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I’m jealous. Good. I learnt what if feels like. One more experience I can put in my life resume along with got drunk at the worst moments, nearly killed a man at least five times, nearly got raped in jail.
The last one was a funny one, though. There was this dude that wanted to make of me his prison wife ... had to teach him I’m no one’s bitch. Funny how even convicts learn fast that you’re not some pretty face they can play with when you kinda send a dark and stormy gorilla to the infirmary.
Jail is like playground, really. It’s the realm of the bullies, so either you become a bully or you succumb to bullies. It’s as simple as that. And the only way you can do that is by showing them you’re the toughest. Darwin said it, after all. Survival of the fittest.
“Jake? What’s going on?” My sister questioned, slyly closing the door just a little more.
I arched an eyebrow at her. “You tell me. What’s going on?”
She paled, oh yeah, she paled. “Nothing ...”
“You suck at lying, sis.”
“It’s ... I’m fine.”
I cracked my knuckles, knowing that always works on her in these cases. “Alright, what’s his name and where is he?”
“Either you tell me or I find him. If I find him it’s gonna be way worse, Pebbles, you know that.” Stupid, hormonal kids. Can’t they go pestering some other chick? Why always my sister? I really don’t wanna be a bad wolf, but these kids force my hand.
Serene sighed, leaning against the door, I bet not to let me pass, yet trying to be nonchalant. “There’s no one.”
“Then why aren’t I allowed in the apartment for which, by the way, I pay?”
She snorted. “You don’t pay for the apartment. It’s ours.” It belongs to our family, that is. Perks of being born awfully rich, you’ve got houses everywhere, including New York City.
I rolled my eyes. “Who do you think pays your bills, kiddo? Santa?”
“Wasn’t it uncle Keith?”
“No, I forced him to accept it would be me.”
“Why?” Nice try, sis, nice try. Averting the subject.
“Because I’m your brother and blah, blah, blah. Now, where’s the little shit?” I barged into the apartment, forcing my way past her. “You better hope I don’t find him naked.”
“There’s no one ... and even if there was, I’m 19, Jakey.”
I snapped to her, frowning. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
She grinned, coming closer to me, I bet to ensnare me in one of her giggly smiles, using my own heart against me. Damnit, she’s learnt too much from me. “It means I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want.”
“Sure you can, but that doesn’t concern-”
“Ahhh, don’t say it!” I had to cover my ears.
She laughed. “I’m not a virgin, Jakey, you know that.”
“Ugh, for God’s sakes, don’t say it.” That awful sentence, I never wish to hear it in my entire life.
“Oh, come on ... I’m 19.”
I growled. “I didn’t give you permission to grow up.”
“And since when you can control that?”
“Since always. Now where’s the dead man walking?” God knows I’ll fuck him up. He decided to play with the wrong girl. I scanned the living room, heading to the bedroom.
“Jakey ...” Serene followed me, which only confirmed me there was indeed someone she didn’t want me to find.
“I tell you, Pebbles, if he’s naked he’ll leave this apartment with a few limbs less.”
“Don’t be ridiculous ...” Yet she ran after me, definitely to stop me from killing the whatever horny little shit that she’s seeing. I should have known. She never wants me to come over, lately she comes to Boston instead of letting me here, and she claims I must knock before entering her place, because I might find a disturbing sight ... now I understand why.
And don’t you even try to take her defenses. We had a deal. No adult stuff as long as I live.
“Come on, come on, buddy, make yourself known. Believe me, it’s best if I don’t find you on my own!”
“Jakey ... there’s no one, really.” Serene tried again. “Except-uh ... my roomie. She’s sleeping, don’t wake her.”
I turned back to my sister, confused. “And since when you have a roommate?”
“Since my friend Bonnie started needing a place to stay ... I told you about it last week, but you were too busy staring at that girl while we waited to get on the Ferris wheel ...”
Ugh, not even you, sis, damnit. “I wasn’t staring at any girl ...” I defended weakly, trying to delete the thought. Damn jealousy.
“That girl with hazel hair, you couldn’t take your eyes off her, and-”
“Ahhh! Never mind! Just ... ugh, let’s just go eat something.” Is it my heart? Is it my goddamn heart aching? Is it ... is it heartache what I feel?
No, it can’t be. I mean, alright, jealousy. Fine, I can accept that. But heartache? Why? Why on earth would I ever feel heartache? Duh, Tess and her stupid ideas.
So what? Silvia’s seeing someone. What’s it to me? I mean, yeah, it irks me that I couldn’t get to taste her virgin skin, but so what? World’s plenty of women, of all people I should know that. Okay, maybe this one was the first I actually had a crush on, but so what? It’s not like she’s the first one I care about.
I cared about Olivia too, didn’t I? She was the first girl I cared about, wasn’t she? If guilt was the only thing I felt upon leaving her, why am I feeling this goddamn sense of frustration and hurt for a girl I’ve never even been with?
“Ok then! Let’s go eat!” I think I nearly screamed my answer, but luckily my brother was too distracted to notice. Phew.
Quickly grabbing my jacket and keys, I ushered him out, taking advantage of his absent mind. Wow, that was a really close call ... I mean, I’ve never been this close to getting caught.
Usually Jakey calls this time of the day, and I thought I’d persuaded him to warn me before coming over ... for a while the idea that he could barge in and find his baby sister in indecent conditions kept him from dropping in at the unexpected, but I guess today he didn’t think about it.
Good thing I heard the door. I swear, I barely had time to zip my dress back up. Five seconds more and my brother would have busted us.
Sighing, I stepped into the car, and while he was busy spacing out, I bet thinking of that hazel-haired girl, I took the chance to grab my phone and text.
Coast is clear. Leaving now.
Do you think he’ll stay the night?
I don’t know, maybe ... I’m sorry, babe, I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?
Sigh, all these secrets ... I hate it. I hate lying to my brother, but ... he’d take it so bad. Every boyfriend I’ve had, he always scared them shitless, but this one would be so much worse ...
Colin: I gotta leave tonight. I’ll be back on Monday. Love you.
Okay, okay, maybe I’m seeing my brother’s best friend behind his back ... don’t judge me, it’s already enough complicated as it is.
It took us ages to finally get together, I swear, and for as much as I felt guilty and hated being away from my brother, I gotta say, the years Jakey spent in prison were a bliss for Colin and I. It was then that I realized just how much I loved my brother’s best friend. And not at all in a platonic way.
It’s kinda cliché, I guess. I grew up with the two of them, but because my brother’s been on and off for the past ten years of my life, I spent more time with his best friend. I’ve always loved Colin, it’s just that once we got to spend more time together without Jakey as third wheel I realized my love had evolved into a different kind.
I still remember my 18th birthday like it was yesterday, the kiss we shared, the blissful day we spent together ... so beautiful. It was when our first kiss happened, it was when Colin confessed he’d been having “indecent thoughts” about me, as he called them. It was when I smiled and kissed that silly boy, telling him there was nothing indecent if he felt attracted to me, because so did I to him.
We’ve been dating since over three months, more or less, because it took us a great deal of reasoning to convince ourselves there was nothing wrong with loving each other. A month later my brother got out of prison, and we broke up, because Colin felt too guilty going behind his best friend’s back like that, and it was only this weekend that we finally got back together ... how could I know my brother would come over at the unexpected?
Sigh. I was ready to spend such a romantic night with my boyfriend. We’d even settled everything, I promised we’d tell Jakey about us before the end of the month ... I guess it’s karma. I wanted to be a rebel, and it came back to bite me.
I seriously hate going behind Jakey’s back, but he’s so overprotective and so stubborn ... was it up to him, I’d never be anywhere near a male being, if he knew his own best friend is the man responsible for his baby sister’s newfound womanhood, my brother would kill Colin first, then I.
Well, truth be told, I was a woman before Colin, if you know what I mean, but ... there’s just that subtle difference between having sex with whatever dude and sweet lovemaking with the one man you love ...
I love Jakey, and I’d never ever want to hurt him nor disappoint him, but ... I also love Colin so very much, and I know my brother would never ever agree, so ... I guess we’ll have to keep the secret for a while longer.
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty, believe me. My brother has done so much for me, you couldn’t even begin to fathom, but ... just this once, I gotta be selfish.
“So where do we go?” I asked, decided to take him off his thoughts. Sometimes my brother does that. He thinks I don’t notice how his features darken and how impenetrable his gaze becomes, but it’s so evident to me ...
Sigh. I’m 19, I grew up parentless, obviously my brother has been doing all his best to protect me from the evil world, so he’ll never tell me whatever bothers him, but I’m not blind, I can see that sometimes he has these moments where his mind sails off to the worst seas. I just wish I could help him somehow.
“It’s just jealousy, alright?”
I frowned, confused. “What?”
He cleared his throat, realizing he’d thought out loud. “Uh ... I mean, what do you wanna eat?”
Right ... “Usual place?” I offered absentmindedly, studying his face. He pretended to be focused on the road, but I knew his mind was elsewhere. However, this time he didn’t seem as much troubled as the others, or rather, this time it wasn’t an internal battle, it seemed more like the reaction to something bad.
What do you know about some hazel-haired girl?
I texted my boyfriend, knowing that Jakey confides solely to his best friend.
I rolled my eyes. Men ... Colin is so clever, yet he loses himself in a glass of water sometimes. Especially when it comes to women. He hadn’t even realized I was into him, mind you. I had to be as explicit as possible.
You know some hazel-haired girl? Has Jakey told you about her?
My brother’s told me about his office, his employees, I’ve met his assistant, and he’s mentioned this Italian girl ... but every time he kinda drawled out the words, as if he badly needed to talk to someone about her yet he didn’t really want to. And last week at the Ferris wheel, he just couldn’t take his eyes off her ... hard to miss such signs.
Colin: Her name’s Silvia. She’s his translator.
Ok, how is she? And what’s between them?
I rolled my eyes again. Sigh, when will men ever learn not to question these things?
Colin: As far as I know they’re friends and that’s it
Ugh, that means my brother hasn’t told his best friend either. What the hell is going on? Normally Jakey talks to Colin about everything more or less, so why hasn’t he told him about this girl who, obviously, pervades his thoughts.
Big brothers always tend to fail to realize just how easily their little sisters read their minds. He thinks he gotta protect me, that I’m too little to understand anything that goes on in his life ... he just doesn’t understand I’m utterly open to anything he’d want to tell me. As long as it’s PG-rated, that is.
I mean, okay, I can be my brother’s confidante, but for the love of God, if to him I’m eternally bound to be an asexual being, to me it’s the same. Well, maybe I’m just a little less drastic than him.
I mean, I do know my brother’s sexually active, I do know he’s been with um ... a maybe too high number of girls, but I don’t wanna know details, thank you very much.
The difference is, he likes to think I’m still virgin, while he knows full well I lost my V-Card when I was 16. Hell, he himself punched my boyfriend when he found out. Poor Darren, since then he quit coming over, terrified he’d find my brother at home.
But anyways ... desperate times call for desperate methods. When my brother pulled over by the restaurant we usually go to, I purposely lingered behind. I knew that before getting a table I’d have to stand there shooting daggers at the waitress while she carelessly flirted with my brother, and he knows I hate when women try to woo him right in front of me, so he didn’t question me as I stayed behind.
I took the chance to text Tess. I met her last week, and she’s been really nice. Normally I would never give away my brother’s secrets, but like I said, desperate times call for desperate methods.
To Tess: Hi, this is Serene Watson, remember? Jake’s sister. How you doing?
From Tess: Yes, of course! I’m great, you?
I smiled, remembering the volcano she is. I think she has a crush on my brother too, so I need to be careful or she might get jealous or something. Believe me, it’s not easy growing up with such a brother ... so many girls chasing him, yet he never budges. Well, he tells me he doesn’t. I’d rather not know any more than that.
To Tess: Great. Listen, I know it’ll sound weird, but you know, I gotta do my sisterly job ... I wanna talk girls. Is my brother seeing anyone? He’ll never tell me, so I gotta ask the person that sees him the most.
Honesty is always the best policy.
From Tess: Well, you know your brother ... he’s a bee fertilizing flowers ...
Ew. Delete mental image, delete mental image!
To Tess: Good thing I haven’t eaten yet ...
From Tess: LOL! Sorry xD
To Tess: So no one?
I’ve never seen my brother with a girlfriend, except my ex babysitter. Olivia and Jakey were really close, and I thought it’d last, I really hoped it would, because then Olivia would become my real sister, but ... nothing.
It was such a pity, really. Olivia and Jakey made a really beautiful couple, but my brother can be such a blind asshole sometimes ... I love him to bits, but sometimes he’s really stupid. He let go of a girl that saw nothing else but him, a girl that loved him with her whole being, and I still don’t understand why.
“Serene?” He called, as grim as ever.
“The table’s ready ...”
“Uh ... yeah, yeah, I’m coming!” I passed the flirty waitress. Well, ok, maybe I kinda stepped on her foot with my 4-inch heels, but ... understand me, she asked for it. She was so shamelessly lusting over my brother, basically doing an X-Ray of his body. What is he, a steamy steak? Ugh, how I hate when women do this!
As lost in his thoughts as he was, my brother didn’t even notice the glares she and I exchanged. I’m pretty sure my plate will come with a good dose of spit in it, but whatever, I’m used to it by now. Every goddamn time we go out there’s some chick hitting on him, and I hate it.
Okay, okay ... maybe now I understand why is Jakey so protective and jealous over me, no need to get all smartass on me, you people.
I suppose he feels the same as I do ... our bond is exclusive, anyone that comes in between deserves nothing but hatred. That’s one reason why I’m scared of telling him about Colin and I ... that and because I don’t want my brother to beat up my boyfriend aka his best friend. My Jakey can be such an unreasonable hot-head.
Miss Flirty took his orders, well, more like presented him every dish with a sexual innuendo, seeing to lick her lips every now and then. I’d have kicked her ankle, but I preferred focusing on the incoming texts I got:
Colin: Why did you ask?
Tess: Technically no ...
I arched an eyebrow at the latter one.
To Tess: What do you mean?
Tess: I mean technically he isn’t seeing anyone, but ... there is, technically someone ...
I knew it.
To Tess: A Silvia, by chance?
T: Yes! Did he tell you about her?
Me: Yes and no ... so what’s between them?
T: Sadly nothing ... they’re two stubborn idiots
Huh. I don’t like the sound of that.
“Put that phone away, Pebbles.” I heard my brother order in his gruff tone.
“Just a sec ...”
“You know what happens when you don’t listen.”
I rolled my eyes, putting away my brand new phone. Last time I didn’t obey, he threw it on the floor and stepped on it, crashing it. It was the freaking latest freaking I-Phone model, people. I lost such a technological jewel because my brother hates when I use my phone during one of our lunches or anything we do together. Says it’s disrespectful of me to text or whatever while he’s talking to me. I’d say he’s right, but wasn’t he busy taking Miss Flirty’s advances until a moment ago?
“So ... who’s Silvia?” First rule to handle Jake Watson: take the bull by his horns.
He gulped. My brother, Mr. Cool Badass, actually gulped. Mmh ... that’s a bad, bad sign ... or a good one, who knows. “How do you ...”
“You told me about her, remember?” Half lie. He did tell me about her, but he never said her name. He just talked about her as if venting out. He talked to me about her like I talked to my best friend about Colin at first: in a concealed lovesick manner that not many people would take for what it truly is, aka the very beginning of a journey towards Loveland.
“Did I?” Jakey laughed, embarrassed. When the heck is my brother ever embarrassed? “Well, uh ... she’s an employee, I’m sure I told you ...”
“No, I meant ... who is she to you?”
He blinked his eyes repeatedly, mouth slightly parted. “She is ... uh ... a friend.”
“And what?” He snapped, attacking his sausage as if it were an enemy he was meant to destroy. “Just a friend I might have had a crush on. A girl I feel attracted to. So? No big deal.” He blurted out in one breath.
“Don’t Jakey me, Serene. It’s fine.”
“Uh huh ... sure ... then tell me, what’s that sausage done to make you so aggressive?”
“Oh, come on, Jakey, I’m your sister. You can talk to me.” As if ... he never treats me like an adult. To him I’m always a child, which is cute most of the time, but in these cases it’s really annoying.
“You couldn’t understand.” He gritted through his teeth.
“Why? Grown-up problems? Ohhh what a coincidence, I’m a grown-up!”
“Serene Annabelle Watson!” I mimicked his gruff voice, “don’t talk to your brother like that! I’m the magnificent Jake Watson, I’m so tough and badass I don’t need to speak up my mind. Grrrr, grrrr, I just need to grunt and grrr!” I attacked his sausage for show, slicing it to pieces.
“Don’t do the child.”
“Why? You always treat me like one.” He makes me so mad when he does this, I swear! He just shuts me out, convinced I can’t understand because gah, what do I know? I’m just a kid. Ugh.
My brother sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Why are you fussing like this?”
“Because you’re in one of your bad moods and you won’t talk to me! You never do! And I hate it!” I dropped the fork, angry. “I’m your sister, goddamit!”
“It’s not what you think ...”
“Whatever it is, tell me.”
He sighed, leaning back on his seat. “Serene ... it’s complicated ...”
“Yeah, yeah, it always is ... you stupid ... soggy lampshade!” Okay, maybe coming up with insults isn’t my strong suit, but I did leap to my feet and huffed for show.
“Ugh, I hate that nickname!” I nearly screamed, frustrated.
My brother stood, and I realized from his face and his stern stance that he was getting real mad. “Serene Annabelle Watson” He hissed. There you go ... full name. Gosh, it’s so creepy when he does that, he sounds like uncle Keith. “You will sit down right fucking now and calm yourself, or I’ll drag you to the car and tie you up and gag you until you pull yourself together. Understood?” At least he was having a reaction of some sort.
I do these scenes every time he ignores my questions or loses himself in thought, just so you know. It’s the only way to get him to quit thinking and focusing on something different.
Sighing, I sat down, and he followed me. Needless to say many people had turned around to gape at us, but I ignored them, as focused as I was on my brother and his relenting seethe. If there’s one thing that makes him furious is when I act like a whiny child, he says. Then how come he treats me like a baby?
“Now, what the hell is wrong with you?” He wondered, snappy.
“I wanna know what happens to you. What do you feel. Why has your mood turned so sour as soon as I mentioned that hazel-haired girl? And why did you show up at my door for no reason?” I reached for his hand, also to calm down the both of us. “Jakey, talk to me. At least on these matters, confide to me ... please.”
My brother lowered his glance, his countenance showing now what looked like pain, which I hate seeing in him. He sighed, half closing his eyes. “Remember when Olivia and I went our separate ways?”
I arched an eyebrow at him. “How couldn’t I? She was so brokenhearted. I hated you for a month.” I was barely 9 and my babysitter told me she’d leave me because she couldn’t endure being around my brother, it hurt her too much ... of course I hated him for a while. I just never realized how hard it was for him too, I merely thought of my heart, how much I would miss Olivia.
He nodded. “Well ... it’s something similar.” Jake sighed, letting go of my hand to rake a hand over his face, pained. “It’s ... it’s just the other way round this time.”
“Oh, Jakey ...” I reached for his hand, but he slipped it away, attempting a smile. It’s his heart to feel broken this time, that’s what he meant. God, why can’t I help him in some way?
“It’s fine ... I’m fine, I just ...” he sighed, standing, and swallowed, “I’ll be back in a few.”
“Just to take some fresh air, I promise.” My brother bent down to place a small kiss on my temple, attempting a smile, then he left.
Fresh air. Fresh air is code for I’m about to be real vulnerable and I don’t want you to see me like that. It’s my brother’s code for I’m hurting and I don’t want my baby sis to realize I’m not an indestructible hero.
As if I didn’t know that ... I might have thought it when I was a child, but I know now my brother is human. Just like everyone of us, he has his moments. The trouble is, worse than the average human, his “moments” tend to destroy him little by little.
I just hope these feelings he’s started having for this girl won’t add to the already huge burden he carries every day on his shoulders, the one he thinks I don’t know about.
I may not know the details, but I do know my brother’s taken on his shoulders all the weight of our family’s troubles, just so I wouldn’t have to. At this age, I still don’t know what really happened to our parents, and if I haven’t asked, it’s only because I know he wouldn’t want me to know.
What is sure is, our family broke down more than once, and my brother took the fall for it every single time, leaving me to be the only untarnished member of the Watson family.
Or at least he tried to. He burnt his every effort in raising me carefree and happy, I couldn’t break his dream, that’s why I forced myself not to let that horrible business ruin me that time two years ago ... I resisted more for my Jakey than for my own sake, to be honest. Hadn’t it been for him, I wouldn’t have recovered as fast, I can assure you.
The point is, my brother thinks I don’t know, but I am well aware that he is broken deep inside. We both pretend everything’s fine, but it’s not ... I just hope someday he’ll find the right person that’ll be able to dive into the dark abyss his broken soul has been thrown into, and finally lead it back to light.
I just hope he’ll find hispeace of mind, but ... something tells me, if the only answer is this Silvia,then the path to salvation just got one hell of a lot harder.