Trouble in Paradise?

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Chapter Twenty Nine

I woke up really early the next morning, which was disappointing since we were on break and I had really wanted to sleep it. I huffed and rolled over again, staying in bed for another ten minutes.

Finally, I got out of bed and went downstairs. My parents were sitting at the dining table, papers strewn out around them as usual. As I entered the room, they both looked up with serious expressions.

“Did someone die? What’s with the looks?” I asked cautiously, my footsteps slowing.

“You said you needed money for a friend,” my father said. “We have come up with an agreement.”

“You sound like my lawyers.”

“This is serious, Stef,” my mother said softly. “If you want this huge amount of money, we have conditions.”

I nodded, sitting down at the table with them. “Okay. I’m listening.”

“We will help you to supply the money for your friend,” my mother finally declared after moments of silence. I jumped out of my seat again, shock and excitement running through my veins.

“Really?” I almost screamed.

“Under conditions,” my father replied. “Majority of this money will be coming out of your bank account, created by us, which was previously meant for university funds and eventually living funds.”

“Which means,” my mother continued. “That you will be giving up all of this money that is meant for your future. It is legally controlled by you, so you must make this decision.”

More silence as I thought. I would be giving up the money that I would use for my expenses in the future.

“Yes, okay. I’ll do it,” I said confidently. “What else?”

“The rest of the money will come from us, monthly,” said my father, a proud smile working it’s way onto his face. “This is a good thing you’re doing, even if it is almost bleeding us dry.”

I smiled back. My mother suddenly gasped. “We forgot! We would like you to get a job too. Only part time, as you need as much bed rest as possible. You know.. because..” she trailed off, not able to say what we were all thinking.

“That’s fine,” I said. “Am I able to continue with school, or does the doctor need me to stay at home like last time?”

“According to the test results we have gotten so far,” my mother said, almost tearing up. “You are a lot healthier and stronger.”

I nodded, bile rising in my throat. I hated this topic.

“I’m going to make some breakfast, anyone want some?” I asked, going into the kitchen.

“Aren’t we supposed to be the parents here?” my mother asked ludicrously, laughing.

My mother strolled into the kitchen and took the spatula I was holding. Damn, that was my only weapon.

“I’ll be cooking today, missy,” she said, pretending to hit me on the head. I heard knocking at the door, so I saved my witty remark for later as I went to open it.

Christen stood at the door, looking skinny and pale. I breathed a small gasp before wrapping my arms around my cousin, his chuckle emitting from his chest. He returned the embrace.

“Holy shit,” I said, still not letting him go. “How are you?”

“I’m.. fine? Better. Happy that I’m alive,” he said, finally releasing me.

I took him inside, shutting the door. My mother immediately rushed over to hug her nephew, my father greeting him as my mother squeezed the life out of him. “I’ll make you breakfast right away,” she said, almost jogging into the kitchen.

I laughed. “Wanna play video games?”

He scoffed. “Of course I do.”

We went up to my room, him slightly struggling as he went up the stairs.

“How is everything at home?” I asked him, setting up the console and the controllers. I put the game disk in.

“Tense, if anything. I can tell everyone is disappointed,” he said, frowning to himself. “I don’t know how to fix it. I screwed up, like always.”

“No you don’t,” I said, slightly unsure how to comfort him. Hell, I was still going to try. “We all make mistakes.”

He suddenly jumped as if he remembered something. “Listen, I know we haven’t talked in a while, but my mother told me what happened. Your sickness, it’s back?” he said, his words flowing with sad emotions. Deep in his eyes, I could see hurt. And that made me start to tear up slightly.

“Yeah,” I said, my voice cracking as I tried to clear my throat. “I’m sorry, I should have told-”

He engulfed me in a hug this time, squeezing me tightly. I gladly received the hug, burying my eyes into his shoulder.

“You shouldn’t be apologising,” he said quietly. “This isn’t your fault.”

I nodded, acknowledging that I heard him.

“We’ll both get through this horrible shit together, eh?” I laughed sourly.

He let me go, a sad smile lingering on his face. “Hell yes we will,” he said, giving me a fist bump. I chuckled.

>< >< ><

I didn’t hear from the four boys for the first week of break. I wasn’t disappointed, I really wasn’t. I’m not the clingy type.

So, today I was going for my first job interview. I had handed in my resume a few days ago, and they had responded really quickly. It was a small cafe on a corner, recently established and needing staff.

I had put on some of my relatively nice clothes, and I was biting my lip as I walked into the place. Luckily, the manager was working, and she pointed me into one of the back offices where the owner and staff manager sat.

The interview was around twenty minutes, and it involved me giving them my details before I had to answer questions. I had decided to slightly bend the truth, not bothering to mention my current medical condition.

Don’t lie on your resumes, kids.

Anyway, after that was done, I headed to the hospital. I walked into reception, giving a kind smile to the receptionist.

“Hi, who can I speak to that will help me pay off bills for a patient?” I asked her.

She directed me to an office on the third floor. Apparently, these were the people who dealt with the bills of the patients. Multiple offices were set up, and people sat at them, either on the phone, furiously writing or speaking to someone.

People lined up, waiting to speak to someone. I did the same, reaching into my bag and grabbing the cheque. It wasn’t all of the money, only a sixth of it. It was also a third of the money in my bank account, and so far I hadn’t begun to regret my decision.

After waiting in line for five minutes or so, finally I was called to sit down. The lady introduced herself, and she asked how she could help me.

“I’m looking to pay a patient’s bill, but I want it kept anonymous,” I said. “I have a cheque here.” I pulled it out and showed her.

“Alright, I’m going to need ID, some details and verification, and I’m going to need to know your relationship with the patient.”

I explained everything to her, and she nodded, writing it down and filling out paperwork. I told her that I would be coming here monthly with money.

After an hour of waiting for verification, I was able to go home and rest. I was already tired out from the day, so I crawled into bed and had a nap for a few hours.

When I woke up, I was hungry. I grabbed my phone and went downstairs, seeing that the house was empty. I looked up a recipe online, deciding on some good old spaghetti. Halfway through my little cooking session, I got a text from Blake.

Blake: sleepover @ Xavier’s house. You in?

I bit my lip and put my phone down. I had an appointment at the hospital in two days, and I wanted to be rested. It’s only a sleepover, I’ll be fine. I’ll just make sure to keep calm and rest as much as possible.

Me: I’m in. send me the details.

Blake sent me the times and the address within seconds, adding a few too many emojis for my liking. I rolled my eyes and continued with my spaghetti.

So there I was, standing in the driveway of the address that Blake gave me. I had my backpack on, and I was holding my pillow. I recognised Xavier’s car in the driveway, so I smiled and walked up to the door. His house was huge, and I was about to knock on the door when I heard rustling in the bush next to me.

I heard a hiss, before I recognised Blake’s voice. “Psst, Stef. I’m in the bush.”

“What the fuck?” I whispered back, crouching down behind the bushes where Blake sat, wearing all black. “What are you doing?”

“Planning my revenge on them,” he said. “Xavier, Ethan and Jordan are already inside. Now it’s time to strike.”

“I have no idea what you’re planning, but I’m in,” I said. “So what are you planning?”

“I have planned a horror themed revenge prank, equipped with creepy noises and self opening doors and windows,” he said. “I want to scare the shit out of them.”

I chuckled, feeling evil. “Perfect.”

“We have to get closer,” he said, pointing to a window. “That looks into the living room, where they all are. Go over there, and I’m going to switch off the power from out here.”

“Oh shit, okay,” I said, quickly running and hiding in the bushes beneath the window that Blake had pointed to.

In a few seconds, all of the light emitting from the house had vanished. I heard the boys stop all conversation, and I listened closely to attempt to hear what they were saying.

“What the hell?” Xavier questioned out loud. “Power outage?”

“The houses on the street are lit up,” Jordan said, confused.

Blake appeared next to me again, telling me to be quiet. “I rigged up a few creepy sounds, and they should be hearing it right about...”

“What was that?” Jordan questioned after a really loud thud came from upstairs.

“I’m going to crawl in the back window and fuck some shit up on the top floor,” Blake whispered. “When you hear a scream, which I will play from the speakers, climb in the side window and scare them.”

“Got it,” I said. “Good luck.” I saluted him.

He saluted back, crawling down the side of the house and to the backyard. Minutes of silence passed, before I heard Blake start to make some sounds upstairs. I heard the sound of glass breaking, more footsteps and more thuds.

Xavier started forward, ready to confront whoever was upstairs, but the double doors to the living room where either stuck or locked. “What the fuck!” he whispered.

“What’s going on?” Jordan asked. “This is weird, what the fuck is that?”

“Is this some type of joke?” Ethan demanded. “I will beat up both of you if this is a joke, I’m not kidding.”

“It isn’t us!”

While they were whisper arguing while trying to listen for more sounds, I crawled around the side of the house to the second window that looked into the living room. It was pitch black inside of the room as well as outside, so I doubt that they could’ve seen me. I put my bag and pillow down as quietly as I could.

Blake was making louder sounds, almost deafening crashes and loud noises. Xavier banged on the door, trying to open it. All of the loud noise combined masked the sounds of my effort as I crawled in through the window, no one seeming to notice. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I could vaguely make out where the boys stood. Jordan was the closest, unknowingly plastering himself as my victim. I pulled my bag and pillow back in through the window, setting them down on the floor.

Suddenly, a loud scream echoed through the house. This was my signal. I grabbed two pillows from the ground, and I hit both Jordan and Ethan with them.

They both jumped many feet in the air, Jordan letting out a small scream as he slipped and fell onto the floor. Ethan cursed loudly and grabbed the pillow, mistaking it for a person.

The lights came back on, Blake strolling through the doors moments later. I was too busy laughing on the ground to say anything to them, Blake almost crying with laughter. Jordan was on the ground, panting as if he had run a marathon. Ethan stood with his arms crossed, a broody and annoyed scowl on his face. Xavier cursed, sitting down.

“Fucking hell, you guys scared the crap out of me,” Xavier said, holding his hand on his chest. “That was not funny.”

“It was hilarious,” I said, wiping a tear from my eye. “You were all so scared.”

“Shut up,” Jordan mumbled.

“Awh, are the three of you grumpy?” I said, mocking their frowns. I went over to my bag and pulled out the plastic bags full of candy that I brought. “Want some candy?”

Blake and Jordan immediately ran over, smiles on their faces. They took the bag, grabbing the flavours of candy that they liked. I grabbed another two bags, chucking one to Xavier who swiftly caught it. I opened the last one and grabbed a gummy strawberry, putting it in my mouth. I inched over to Ethan with an easy going smile on my face, holding the bag out to him.

“Does Mr. Broody want a piece?” I asked.

He looked at me before breaking out in a smile, taking the bag. “Mine now.”

I gasped dramatically. “I feel so betrayed. I’m only good for candy!”

Ethan glanced down and sighed, holding the bag back out to me. I took a few lollies, giving him a charming smile as a thank you. “The rest are mine,” he said. I rolled my eyes and scoffed.

“Well, welcome to my house,” Xavier said, giving me a quick tour around before we went back to the living room.

“Let’s play charades!” Blake said.

“Dude, I will destroy you,” Jordan replied.

“I’m on Jordan’s team,” Xavier said.

“Okay. Fine! I’ll be by myself. Stef and Ethan can be a team. But I’ll win! I promise you,” Blake said.

“I think you’ve all forgotten that Stef and I happen to be the most intelligent here,” Ethan defended. “Pinning us as the obvious winners.”

“Also, you can’t play by yourself. So you’re the judge,” Xavier pointed out. Blake huffed and agreed, saying that the next game would be his to win.

I sat down on the couch, Ethan sitting next to me. Xavier set up the game, while Blake began throwing trash talk at everyone.

“You are not the most intelligent!” Jordan fired back. “I am.” He smiled smugly.

“Fine,” Ethan said, putting his arm around my shoulders. “Bring it. The two losing teams have to suffer a punishment set by the winning team.” Warmth surrounded me as I was very aware of Ethan’s arm.

“Deal,” we all agreed.

Blake started an argument with Xavier, so they bickered while Jordan tried to intervene.

“You seem to be in a good mood,” I said lowly to Ethan, who still had a smile on his face. He looked good when he smiled, yet he didn’t do it often.

“I got a good phone call, and it’s been a good day,” he replied, giving me a charming smile of his own. Damn those good teeth.

I felt happy on the inside, hoping that his change of mood was because of my help with the hospital bill. He was a good friend, and I had wanted to help him because of that. Many would call me stupid, or wasteful, but he was my friend.

“Well, at least you’re in a good mood,” I said. “How long will it last?”

He pushed me playfully. “Shut up.”

“OKAY!” Jordan yelled, halting all conversation. “Let the games begin. May the odds be ever in your favour!”

“A Hunger Games reference? Really?”

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