As things began to wrap up for Science for the day, Oliver approached Jace and touched him on the shoulder saying, “Hey Jace! Come with me and the girls. We want to introduce you to our gang.”
Almost reluctant in his response, the boy quickly recovered and agreed to come with them.
Walking out from the science building, Yumiko noticed a group of students, two boys and two girls waiting by the beverage vending machines. The raven-haired girl then ran over to them and said, “Hey guys. Hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long, science stretched on longer than expected.”
“No worries,” said one of the boys. “Geometry only let out a few minutes ago, so we just got here.”
Recognizing a familiar student in the group, Jace waved and said, “Hey Kevin!”
Looking up from his soda, Kevin noticed Jace’s black ascot and jokingly said, “Oh, hey Jace! Glad to see you made it through your first class alive.”
“You’re telling me,” added Oliver acting exhausted. “Mrs. Lindbergh is way too hard to listen to all the way through for two hours. I thought I was gonna pass out from boredom.”
It was at this moment another girl in the group noticed Jace’s unfamiliar face with their usual three friends and said, “So, who’s this kid?
“Wow Carine,” said Oliver. “Very inviting.”
“What?” she retorted. “I’m just curious, that’s all. No need to start attacking.”
Sticking his tongue at her, the blonde-haired boy said to Jace, “Don’t worry about her, that’s my sister Carine. She can be a little testy in the morning.”
Continuing the introductions, Oliver began again saying, “Jace, let me introduce you to the gang... It looks like you already know Yumiko’s older brother Kevin. That blonde haired beanstalk is my alleged sister Carine. That girl with the pink hair clinging to Kevin is Adele’s sister Maya, who also happens to be Kevin’s girlfriend. And that brown haired boy is Yumiko and Kevin’s brother Tristan.”
“Wow Oliver,” said Carine. “You should’ve formed a new student welcoming committee. You could be in charge of meeting every new student that comes in to school. Of course, you’d likely scare away each new student with that kind of enthusiasm.”
Everyone including Jace shared a laugh as Oliver showed a rather slumped look from Carine’s words.
Finally, after the humor ceased Jace finally addressed everyone saying, “Nice to meet you all. You guys have definitely made being new much more enjoyable.”
“You bet dude,” said Kevin smiling. “We were all new at one time, so we can definitely hear where you’re coming from.
Noticing her not saying much, Maya looked over at her sister and asked, “Adele, everything okay sis? You haven’t said much today.”
“Huh? Oh, no worries, I’m okay,” she said appearing to still be slightly uneasy towards Jace.
“You sure?” asked her sister again for confirmation. “I just remember how you were feeling this morning and wanted to make sure.”
Appearing to show a fake form of a smile, Adele looked up and said, “Seriously, I’m okay. How about we all get some lunch together?”
Ears perked at the word lunch, Oliver was about halfway towards the cafeteria while the others followed him to make sure they could still get something to eat before he consumed everything in sight.
As the others walked together, Jace continued to talk more with Kevin and his brother Tristan to get to know them better.
“So, if you guys don’t mind my asking,” he began, “how all do you know each other so well?”
Kevin replied, “You’ll find it funny, our parents all know each other as friends from years ago. In fact, they actually met each other here at Kadic.”
“Really?” asked Jace rather curiously. “What was life for them like here?”
“One word,” said Tristan. “Busy. Our mom and dad would talk about how much they would hang with Carine and Oliver’s father and Adele and Maya’s mother and father each day after classes and things always seemed to hectic that they almost never focused on school.”
“It’s kinda weird,” added Kevin, “it always seems to be a subject they don’t like to talk about much, and even dodge talking about altogether. We can’t figure out why, but maybe as things change, they’ll open up and tell us what’s going on.”
Seeing that there was something interesting about those words from both boys, Jace replied saying, “I’d imagine it’s probably tough. And I thought my first day here was drama enough.”
Both boys laughed as Jace tried to lighten the mood, and the turtleneck wearing boy then proceeded to ask, “So, what are you parents’ names?”
“Our mom and dad’s names are Yumi and Ulrich,” replied Tristan. “Maya and Adele’s mom and dad are named Aelita and Jeremie, and Carine and Oliver’s father is named Odd.”
Slightly taken aback, Jace asked, “Oh I see. If I may ask, do Oliver and Carine have a mother?”
“They did,” said Kevin with a solemn voice. “Their mother died when Oliver was about two years old. “
“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” replied Jace.
“It’s okay,” replied Carine jumping into the conversation. “She apparently had brain cancer for about three years and didn’t find out until shortly before my brother was born.”
Adding to the conversation, Kevin said, “I met her a few times when I was younger hanging out with Carine and Maya. She was really nice.”
“She was,” said Carine slightly teary-eyed. “We miss her a lot.”
Trying to be reassuring, Jace offered some kind words, “You know, even though she’s not here now, that doesn’t mean she’s gone forever.”
“I know,” said Oliver’s sister. “I just wish we could have had a little more time with her, you know? I guess we just feel a little cheated that she wasn’t here longer.”
Feeling their pain, Jace reflected to the memory of losing his grandfather at an early age but didn’t have the chance to know him very well. But what helped him to deal with the pain of his family’s loss, was the reassurance that he wasn’t taken from his family, but that he was being received by God to be welcomed home to Heaven.
Hearing his words, something inside Carine appeared to work out a smile and the elder Della Robbia child said, “That’s true. She may be gone, but at least there’s no more cancer now.”
“That’s right,” Jace replied with comfort in his voice.
As the four continued to talk, Jace looked off to the corner of his eye, and could see Yumiko and Adele having some girl talk that he figured was not for his ears to hear. Looking at the two talking, he was stunned to see how pretty of a smile she had when she was sincerely happy and social with the group. So stunned, a slight shade of pink appeared on his face, which forced him to quickly turn around as Yumiko looked his way.
Meanwhile, near the back of the group, Yumiko asked Adele, “So, what was up with you earlier? You know, the stammering and all?”
“What do you mean?” she asked appearing caught off guard.
“Oh, you know what I mean,” replied Yumiko getting a sly smile on her face. “When Jace wanted to shake your hand, you simply said, ‘I’m... uh... I’m...’ I’ve never seen you react that way to anyone when you meet them for the first time.”
With another sheepish response, Adele said, “Well, I just... uh... alright fine, I blanked. I guess I just couldn’t figure out what to say.”
Now Yumiko’s smile turned even more into a devious grin and she placed her hand on her shoulder and said, “Aww, Adele. Do you have a crush on him?”
“What?!” whispered Adele rather loudly, stirring the attention of her sister in front of her. Noticing her concern, the young teen said quickly to her sister, “Sorry Maya, Yumiko was just telling me something interesting, that’s all.”
“No worries,” she replied. “You only share your secrets with me if you feel comfortable.”
Going back to her conversation, Adele said more discreetly, “I don’t have a crush on him, I’ve only met him.
“And besides,” she continued, “he probably wouldn’t be interested in a girl like me. He probably would prefer a more taller and prettier girl.”
Trying her best to reassure her, the only sister of Kevin and Tristan took on the role as Adele’s other sister saying, “Adele, you need to stop thinking of yourself as not good enough for a boy. Just because things haven’t worked out with other boys, doesn’t mean you give up trying.”
It was at this moment that Adele heard some reassuring words that felt almost like dejâ-vü to her conversation with her mom and sister, “Besides, I’ve got a feeling Jace would definitely want to get to know you more. You don’t know this, but while we’ve been talking, I saw him blush a little looking back over here.”
“Really? He did?” asked Adele slightly curious, trying not to let on specific feelings.
“Yep,” replied Yumiko smiling. “Maybe we can find out more about him during lunch. Who knows, maybe he might ask you out sometime.”
Adele pondered on that thought as they prepared to get lunch at the cafeteria. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give him a chance. Maybe he was different than other boys, and he might be the one who would think she was worthwhile.