Family friends suck.
“Raith is so hot!
How dare you keep him from me!” Lizzy screamed, hugging a couch cushion to her
It was Sunday and Lizzy and I were sleeping over at Gina’s house. I had no idea what we were going to do for the next two weeks of holidays but for today, we were sitting in Gina’s cramped little lounge talking and watching TV.
“He is quite attractive.” Gina admitted, a faint flush on her cheeks.
“And he’s really funny and nice.” Lizzy said dreamily.
“No. He really isn’t.”
“He did give you two hundred dollars Tegan.” Gina pointed out.
“He didn’t just give it to me! He made me…”
“Made you what?”
“Actually, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. Does he have a girlfriend? Actually, of course he does. Guys like that don’t stay single for long.”
Lizzy and, to my surprise, Gina sighed dramatically and I was left out of the loop.
“I seriously don’t understand you two.” I mumbled, flipping through the channels on TV.
“Well you wouldn’t. You already have a hot boyfriend.” Lizzy sulked. At the mention of Cory, I flinched a little. I had been avoiding his calls. Yea, I knew he was sorry for freaking out but right now I wanted to cool down a bit.
“Is there something wrong?” Gina asked. She was the perceptive one of my friends.
“Not…really…” I started. Gina and Lizzy instantly sat up, eyes glued to me. I knew it was a mistake to even hint about something.
“What happened?” Lizzy demanded.
“It’s nothing really.”
“Ok, ok, so at the fete, Cory got a bit mad at me about the Sabrina thing. Then when he apologized for avoiding me last week, I said something stupid so he thought I hadn’t noticed he was avoiding me…so he started shaking me…and when I pushed him away he grabbed my hair and called me a stupid bitch. The end.”
My two friends stared at me, stunned.
“It wasn’t as bad as that sounded.” I tried to defend. “Really, it wasn’t.”
“I don’t know Tegan. That sounds a little brutal.” Gina told me seriously.
“Yea. I can’t imagine Cory doing that though.” Lizzy added.
“Well it was a one time thing and he was really sorry afterwards.”
“I guess. Yea, Cory is a sweet guy. He must have just been having a bad day.” Lizzy nodded up and down enthusiastically but Gina still looked worried.
“Be careful Tegan and break it off if it happens again.”
“Definitely. The last thing I need is an abusive boyfriend.”
We fell silent as we watched cartoons.
“So what do you guys plan to do these two weeks?” I asked.
“I’m getting a job.” Gina said.
“I’m going to visit relatives up north for a week. Then I’ll be back and probably laze around the house for the second week.” Lizzy told us happily.
“Cool. So far I have no plans.”
As if on cue, my phone began to ring. The caller ID said it was Jess.
“What?” I answered.
“Tegan! Oh my God you won’t believe it!”
I sat up straighter, getting a little worried.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh my God, guess what mum like, told me just now?”
“Coralline and CJ are coming to stay with us for a week.”
“What? Where’s CJ sleeping?”
“Well since you weren’t here to object, your room.”
“No! Jess you can’t-Ugh!” she hung up on me! God damn that girl to hell!
I grabbed the couch cushion of Lizzy and held it over my face as I screamed in frustration.
“What’s happening?” Lizzy piped up eagerly.
I put the cushion down and faced my friend with a defeated expression.
“CJ’s staying over at my place for a week…and he’s sharing my room.” I said.
My two friends gave me horrified looks that mirrored my own.
“That’s terrible.” Gina mumbled.
“Oh my God Tegan, I feel so sorry for you.”.
So I guess I should explain who Coralline and Charles Jacobs (CJ) Welch were. Well Coralline was my mother’s oldest friend. They’d known each other since grade school and were basically like sisters. Ever since she got a divorce from her husband, they’d become even closer in recent years. She was the one person that my mum actually cared about; the one person that she actually acted normal around. I think it was because Coralline never brought up what had happened. CJ was her son, who was my age. There was a time a few years ago when they tried to set us up…which failed. It was weird how perfect they thought it would be if their two children ended up getting married.
Frankly, it wasn’t going to happen because CJ had the hots for my sister. It was sickening. Don’t get me wrong, he was a pretty ok guy. It was just that he had absolutely no chance. He just wasn’t Jess’ type. Jess knew he liked her though and basically used this to her advantage, the little minx. And poor CJ was so smitten that he didn’t notice. It made me feel terrible. But that wasn’t the only reason why I didn’t want to share a room with him.
CJ was, in all seriousness, an insomniac. The last time he was over and had to share my room, he kept me up the whole night practically bouncing off the walls and singing at the top of his lungs. Oh, but there’s more. When he did manage to sleep, the kid sleep walked. And because he was an insomniac, we weren’t allowed to wake him up.
I was certainly in for one fun filled week.
“Hurry up and vacuum the table! No Jessica, what are you doing? That doesn’t go there! Tegan, go check the living room to make sure it’s clean! Wait just…ah! They’re here! Go answer the door Tegan!”
I wiped the dust off my clothes feeling disgruntled. This was the first time our mother had actually been at home and spoken to us for more than a few minutes but she seemed to have had a total personality change. Not only was she acting like a bustling house wife but she also made us spend the entire first day of the holidays cleaning the house just to impress Coralline and her son. It’s not like they cared if we had old magazines and shoes lying around.
The doorbell rang again and I opened the door, a huge fake smile plastered on my face. On the front step was a chubby bottle blonde woman in a pink suit with caked on make up wearing too much perfume. Next to her was a scrawny teenager with brown hair that reached his shoulders.
“Jessica! Is that you?” Coralline gushed, pinching my cheeks like I was five.
“Uh…that’s Tegan.” CJ said, sounding embarrassed.
“Oh, well it’s lovely to see you again Tegan!”
Coralline brushed past me into the house where I heard her greet my mum and Jess. CJ followed eagerly and I slammed the door shut, making a face. Jeez Coralline’s perfume was so strong that it might just trigger my dormant hay fever.
I entered the living room behind CJ who had a cheesy, dreamy smile on his face as he stared at my sister.
“So how have you been Coralline? How’s the house?” My mother asked. I had never seen her this happy or lively in a long time.
“It’s lovely. You and your husband should come by some time!” Coralline replied. “Is Hugh still on his business trip?”
God, even the way this woman talks makes me angry. She feels the need to enunciate every syllable.
“Yes, yes, he’s off and about. Never really spends much time at home. Did you fix up the irrigation for the backyard?”
Coralline and my mum sat down on the couches while Jess, CJ and I stood around awkwardly.
“Jess! Tegan! Go bring out the tea and those cookies we made earlier.” Mum ordered us.
“Oh how lovely! Charles, you go help too.” Coralline added.
The three of us went to the kitchen, me and Jess with sour looks on our faces.
“This smells really good. Did you make the cookies yourself?” CJ sucked up to Jess.
“Yea. Made them from scratch.”
“Wow you’re such a good cook!”
They beamed at each other and I glowered. Jess was such a liar. She didn’t make the cookies at all. I was the one who cut up the cookie dough after I bought it from the grocery store.
“That reminds me of the time when you cooked that beef stew for Tegan when she was sick.” CJ and Jess burst out laughing simultaneously and I stared in horror.
“What? I don’t get it.” I cut in.
CJ looked at me in surprise before whipping around to look at Jess.
“She doesn’t know?” he asked.
“I don’t think she knows.”
“How can she not know?”
“So you didn’t tell her at all?”
“What don’t I know?” I demanded, hands on my hips.
CJ and Jess gave each other meaningful looks.
“Um…” CJ began.
“Remember that time you were sick?” Jess interrupted.
“Yea…what about it?” I said suspiciously.
“And I made you that stew…”
“It was really just canned dog food. We added some water and simmered it over the stove for a bit.” Jess and CJ started cracking up hysterically.
My mouth opened and closed furiously but no sound came out. I was stunned. What the flip?
“You what?” I screamed, my eyes bulging.
“Relax sis! It’s in the past. I was young and stupid.” Jess said with bravado.
“That was last year!” I yelled, absolutely unbelievably pissed off. She fed me dog food?
“What’s taking so long in there?” Our mum yelled from the living room.
I opened my mouth to yell at Jess some more but I was just so angry that I couldn’t verbalise everything I wanted to shout at her at this moment. With a death glare that should have set her on fire on the spot, I snatched the tray of cookies from Jess’ hands.
“Hey!” she cried.
“You carry the tea.” I snapped.
“Why? The cookies are lighter! I might burn myself!”
“Stop whining! Don’t you dare pick a fight with me! I can’t believe you fed me dog food when I was sick!”
Jess and I had a stare off before she turned to CJ and gave him puppy dog eyes.
“CJ could you carry the tea for me pwease?”
CJ instantly fell under her spell and like the faithful servant he was, picked up the tray with the teapot and cups.
I was practically fuming as I dumped the tray of cookies in front of my mother and Coralline.
Then, with a fierce look at Jess and CJ, I stomped away, up the stairs and into my room.
“Sorry but you gotta admit, that’s pretty funny.”
I sighed as I rested my arms against the window ledge in my room. I had moved my bed away from the window so I wouldn’t have to sit on it to look outside. The thought of the blood still made my stomach lurch.
Instead I was curled up on my wheelie chair enjoy the cool breeze and the sunshine.
Raith was sitting in the massive tree outside my window, leaning against the trunk with his hands behind his head and his legs crossed.
“Dog food.” Raith gasped, trying but failing to hide his bursts of laughter.
“Shut up!” I yelled, my face heating up in embarrassment.
“So what did it taste like?” He asked when he managed to calm down enough to look at me straight in the face.
“I can’t remember. I probably couldn’t taste anything since I had a clogged up nose.”
I stuck out my tongue before yawning and stretching. I could still hear everyone talking downstairs and it annoyed me. Maybe I should blast some loud music just to annoy them all.
“Your phone is ringing.” Raith said offhandedly, interrupting my devious thoughts.
“It is not…wait, it is.”
I looked at the caller ID and inwardly cringed. Cory.
With a glance at Raith, I answered it.
I started picking at my nail polish and made a mental note to redo them some time.
“So you planning on doing anything these holidays?” Cory mumbled after a few seconds.
“Well a family friend is over so I need to be a good house guest…”
“I see. That sounds like fun.”
“Ha, I wish. What about you? You doing anything?”
“Not really. We should hang out.”
“How about Wednesday. You free?”
I felt a familiar sense of dread. I really didn’t want to see him at the moment…but I guess I had to face him sooner or later.
“Yup sounds good.” I said slowly. “What were you thinking? Lunch? Dinner?”
“Lunch is good.”
“Alright. I’ll meet you at the coffee place at one?”
“Okay. I guess I’ll talk to you later.”
“You too Cory. Bye.”
I hung up with a relieved huff. There we go. Just like normal. Natural. Like nothing ever happened.
“What the hell happened?”
I jumped, completely forgetting about Raith. I looked up and saw that he was staring at me with his head titled to the side.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You can’t seriously tell me that that’s how you two usually talk to each other on the phone.” He raised his eyebrows and I frowned.
“It is. Why?”
“Well it was unbearably awkward. It was almost cringe-worthy.”
“Hey, I don’t need relationship advice from you! You and Trinity don’t seem to be the most wholesome couple!” I snapped.
I looked at Raith in disgust since he actually sounded confused.
“You know, Trinity? That little minx who had her hands all over you in the diner?”
“Tegan baby, are you jealous?” he cooed, eyes sparkling.
“Ha! As if. I was just curious. What is she anyway?”
“What?” I almost fell out of my chair. I mean, knew I shouldn’t sound so astounded but…wow she was a real demon?
“Well…she was about to become a demon. She was in that in between stage between human and demon, so she wasn’t completely insane yet.” Raith continued casually.
“Huh? In between stage…?”
Raith looked hesitant about explaining it to me but after a moment he decided to reveal a little more.
“When you die and a Reaper is present, you go to purgatory while the transformation takes place. It lasts about three to five years and you’re sleeping through most of it. It’s…err…it’s hard to explain. I’m probably not allowed to tell you anyway.”
Raith tapped the side of his nose secretively which just made me even more annoyed.
I let out a huff and rested my head in my crossed arms on the window sill.
“So why didn’t you bring a full demon girl?” I asked.
“And here you go with all the questions.” Raith shook his head in frustration as I glowered.
“It’s not my fault I’m ignorant about these things.” I defended.
Again Raith looked like he wasn’t going to answer but for some reason he changed his mind.
“It takes thousands of years for a demon to gain enough power to appear bodily on earth. It’s easier to just pull the in-betweens from limbo.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “All full demons are also insane.”
That last sentence was met with a stunned silence. I think I even heard a branch break three streets away.
“W-what? Like full on crazy deranged?” I tried to clarify. My brain was having a little information overload.
“Yea. They all lose their sanity after the…actually, I shouldn’t tell you. Let’s just say that being a demon is pretty shit.” Raith looked away and pretended his was interested in a leaf.
“They lose their sanity after the what? Tell me! Please?” I begged.
“Sorry. Classified info.” He winked and I was frustrated beyond belief. It wasn’t fair that he gave me tiny snippets of information and left the whole big picture unfinished. It was frustrating and annoying to say the least.
I thought about Trinity and imagined her insane with black wings, horns and a pitchfork. She’d probably make a good succubus.
“So she’s not actually your girlfriend?”
At Raith’s nod, I felt a strange kind of relief but I ignored it.
“Well in that case, you have no right giving me advice.” I said confidently.
“What? Listen honey, I’m pretty sure that I know more about relationships that you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I bet you’ve never been with a decent girl in your life. When was the last time you had a meaningful relationship?”
That appeared to be the wrong thing to say because Raith’s face suddenly became stony. He subconsciously fingered the ring hanging around his neck; the ring that had got me into this whacked up situation in the first place.
“That’s none of your business.” He said softly. I had hit a nerve. Or five. Raith had a faraway look on his face and from his pained expression, it wasn’t a happy memory. Yeesh what a drama queen. I thought he of all people would be able to handle a break up.
“Watch out for Babu.” He muttered to me. “I think he’s up to something.”
Then he disappeared and I was left with another curious piece of the puzzle.