Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 6: Something Bad's Going to Happen

Cara frowns as I grab my purse from the counter marble top. She crosses her arms over her chest and leans against the wall with her hip. “Do you really have to go?”

I look up and meet her eyes. “I should.” I bite my lip as I walk across the room to the plug beside the television to grab my phone charger. I fold the wire and tie a small rubber band over it so that the wire would not go all over the place when I put it in my bag. “Yeah. I should. It’s only for the weekend though.”

I have decided to spend this weekend at my parents’ place. I haven’t seen them in almost two weeks and I sort of missed them. The short conversations over the phone with my mom and dad are really starting to get on my nerves. I don’t know why, but I think something really bad has happened to the company because my parents have been busier than ever. I’m starting to get a little bit worried.

I can still remember my conversation with dad just yesterday. I had tried to call him a few times, but he did not answer. Maybe he was too busy to answer it, or maybe he just didn’t want to talk to me. So, I called mom instead and told her to pass the phone over to dad. At first she didn’t want to, but after a lot of persuading, she finally gave in.

“What’s happening over there, dad?” I asked, full of concern. I had been pacing around the living room of the apartment and even Cara was getting annoyed by me. She went back into her room after a while, giving me some time alone to talk to my dad.

He sighed. I heard papers rustling over the phone, his frustration lapping off him. “I don’t think this is a good time to talk about this, Alexandria.”

God, I missed his voice. My heart ached for him, knowing that he was having such a bad time handling whatever he was handling.

“I’ve been trying to call you all week,” I said, feeling the same frustration he did. “I don’t know why you think that avoiding me would solve everything, dad. Maybe I can help-”

“No.” He cut me off, his voice adamant. “You cannot help me here, Alex. But you can help me by returning to your studies and go about being the normal eighteenyear old girl you should be.”

I knew my dad did not want me tangled up in the whole situation. He was always that way, even before I moved out of the house.

“I know,” I ran my fingers through my hair, feeling every fibre. “God, I know. But I’m worried about you. You and mom. You guys have been acting really secretive about this whole thing. I want to know what happened, dad.” A long pause.

“Why not instead, you tell me how was your first week in college?”

I rolled my eyes at his stupid attempt at changing the subject. I guessed the situation must be pretty bad if he wanted to avoid talking about it at all costs.

“College is fine,” I blew out a shaky breath. I suppressed the desire to tell him about my class and about Nate. “But don’t change the subject. Tell me what happened.”

I heard him chuckle. “Aren’t you stubborn.”

It had been a long time since I heard one of his laughs. I barely heard him laugh throughout my whole eighteen years of existence. He was always quiet, only speaking when he had to.

Silence drifted out.

“Come back home this weekend,” My dad finally said, “I’ll tell you about it, I promise.”

I sighed out of relief. “Okay. I’ll come home.”

“See you then, Alexandria.” I heard him smile over the phone, if that was even possible.

“Love you, dad.”

I listened to the three short beeps that came after he hung up before finally putting my phone down.

Even though it is not much of my business to know about the company’s affairs, I am still curious. After all, if my parents are involved in this, I should be too. I am their daughter, possibly the heir to the entire company. And that thought alone scares the crap out of me.

“Do you want me to come along?” Cara asks as she helps me pack my things. I don’t really need to bring much with me, only some clothes and my computer. I had some assignments I needed to finish by next week and I should probably get started on it when I get home.

“No, it’s fine.” I wave her off.

“Are you sure?” Cara insists.

I glare at her. “Cara, I’m fine. I just need some alone time with my parents, that’s

all.”

My best friend shrugs. She grabs a stool from underneath the kitchen table and sits down. I take my bag from my room and place it on the table as I tie my hair with a pink scrunchie.

“I don’t know,” Cara says after a while, “I have this weird feeling. Like something bad’s going to happen.”

Pressure clamps down on my chest. What if she was right? Cara always had this sickening feeling in her stomach whenever something terrible was going to occur. Back in high school, she had many of those churning stomach episodes. And she was almost often right.

I try not to think to much about it. Maybe this time she would be wrong. “You’re overreacting.”

She arches her eyebrows at me. “I’m so not.”

I grab my bag and sling it over my left shoulder. My fingers clasp around my car keys from the small bowl on the table. “Whatever.” I looked around to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything important. “I’ll see you on Sunday, okay?”

She casts me a small smile. “Yeah. Just be careful.”

I send her a smirk as I approach the door. “Aren’t I always?”

She laughs at my sarcasm. “Your right foot and hand tell me otherwise.”

I ignore her comment. “Bye, Cara.” I blow her kiss and she pretends to catch it, and placing her hand to her heart.

I made my way to the carpark, and found my baby at the end of the row of other cars. The cars seem to be scattered, which means some of the other students had gone back home too. I place my bag in the hood of my baby and slid into the driver’s seat. My hands wrap around the steering wheel and I hit the exit.

The drive to Kenmore square doesn’t take very long. I arrive at the townhouse in about half an hour.

I take out my keys and unlock the door. When I step in, I take it the familiar surroundings of the place. All I see is white. White walls, white curtains, white boulders. Then, other colours begin to seep in. Beige, red and black dot the entire living room. I see the long couch that I had spent many nights on after falling asleep reading a book. I see the beautiful square windows that allow the afternoon light in. I see the stairs in which I have tumbled down so many times I lost count. “Mom? Dad?” My voice echoes throughout the entire house. “Anyone home?” Silence greets me.

Sighing, I glance at the stairs. My parents had draped rich purple carpet over it, making the colours of the room pop more. I take the steps two at a time, until I reach my bedroom. If my parents weren’t home, I might as well get started on my assignments first. Stepping into my room, I am overwhelmed by the familiarity of it.

Light pink wallpaper cover the walls, a huge crystal chandelier hanging in the middle of it. White bookshelves huddle at one corner of the room, with a standing lamp beside it. My four-poster bed filled with stuffed pillows stands opposite from my study table.

Now that I have moved, the room feels barren. My wardrobe has little clothes in it, most of them either too small for me or completely out of fashion. My bookshelves are almost bare except for a few paperbacks scattered here and there.

Setting my bag down on my bed, I take out my phone and decide to shoot a text message to both my mom and dad, telling them I was home. After sending it, I receive another text message. I smile to myself as I realise it is from Nate.

Cara said you went back to your parents’ place.

I reply. Yeap.

After a while, he texts me again.

Why didn’t you tell me?

I arch a brow when I read it.

I didn’t think it was important.

My phone beeps again.

Can I call you?

My heart stammers wildly against my chest. Did I want Nate to call me? I guess it is fine if he did. I could always start on my assignments later. I send him my answer, and my phone rings a heartbeat later.

I press the green button. “Hi.”

“Hello, Alex.” His voice is deep and husky over the phone, and I like it. “Where are you now?”

“In my room,” I say, my voice pitched embarrassingly high. “Where are you now?”

“Alone in my apartment,” Nate murmurs, “Well, technically Simon’s here too, but he’s pretending I don’t exist.” I laugh at this. “And Daniel went back to his parents’ too, coincidentally.” Huh. That’s weird.

“Thank god he’s not here, though.” Nate chuckles, “I don’t have to hear him getting it on with some girl on our couch in the middle of the night.” “Good for you, then.” I smirk.

“How’s your leg?” Nate whispers a concern. “Is it getting better?”

“Yeah, I can finally walk like a normal person now, instead of like a penguin.”

A low laugh rumbles from his throat. “Damn. It’s a shame though. You were a cute penguin.”

We talk for another half an hour. Eventually, I had to lie down on my bed with my phone pressed to my ear. He tells me all about his day, which involved doing nothing. I don’t know if I should tell him about my concerns with my parents’ and their company. If I did, it seems as if I’m sharing a small part of myself with him, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet.

I also don’t want to tell him about what happened with Daniel last week. Thankfully, my hand had healed before he noticed anything.

I’m certain of one thing, though. I know I like Nate. He’s super nice and he makes me laugh. Everything about him is so easy-going and fun. Not to mention he’s devilishly handsome. Sometimes when I walk with him to class, I receive death glares from a few of the girls. I didn’t realize until then that I’m super lucky to have much of Nate’s attention.

“Hey, Alex, you still there?” He whispers softly over the phone.

I don’t know what time is it, but I know that it’s really late. It’s almost night and my parents’ still have not arrived home yet. My mom had texted me sometime just now that they were going to be late, but how long? And should I wait up for them?

My eyelids start to flutter close.

I guess I should just talk to them in the morning.

“Alex?” Nate speaks.

“Sorry,” I yawn. “What did you say?”

“I was going to ask you something.” He says, “Is this a good time? If not, I can always call tomorrow-”

“Just tell me.” I bite my lip.

“Well...” His voice trails off. “Um, I hate to ask this over the phone, but I can’t wait any longer.”

“Nate, just spill it,” I smile. My heart pounds against my chest as the realisation of what he was about to ask me dawns upon me.

“Are you free next Friday?” His question almost made my heart burst. “I want to take you out to dinner.”

I gasp slightly. “Why, Nathaniel Albert Eloise Jones-”

“I never should have told you my full name.” He groans.

“Are you asking me out on a date?” I say, almost breathless.

“Yes.” He breathes, “Yes. I guess I am.” Damn.

“Nate...” I start off, “We hang out a lot, but... I realize I don’t really know you that well.”

“Isn’t that what dates are for? So, people can get to know each other.” He says, “and I really want to get to know you, Alex. You’re funny, smart, and beautiful, and you don’t even know it. I like that about you. So of course, I want to go on a date with you.”

The smile on my face grows.

“So, what do you say?”

Am I ready to take a leap and go out with Nate? What if he breaks my heart? I like him enough to know that it will hurt if he did.

“Alex? Will you go on a date with me?”

Taking in a deep breath, I tell him my answer.

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