There it was. My reality, my home. After Ricardo left, I took a deep breath as I looked at the door in front of me. I was about to knock when I realized it was left ajar.
Don’t these people know about security?
Honestly I felt like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulder. The familiar aroma of cinnamon tea engulfed the atmosphere inside, it must have been Mrs Dawnly making her everyday drink, and she even forgot to turn the kettle off in the kitchen. She’s really getting forgetful these days. I quickly went in the kitchen and turned it off. As I continued through the house, I heard a soft silent humming in the living area. It was coming from behind the couch on the ground. The image of the humming sound almost filled my eyes with tears as I noticed that it was my little sister Nina drawing on a scrapbook while sitting on the ground and humming a song. I hadn’t seen her in days, and I know it would sound strange but it almost felt as if she had gotten bigger. The sound of my footsteps must’ve alerted her to stop humming and turn around. Her big bright hazel eyes widened as she saw me and ran towards me knocking me down on the couch.
“Juliet!” She happily giggled.
“Hey kid.” I smiled returning her hug.
“I’m missed you, where did you go? You were supposed to go with me to the school fair, you promised me and you didn’t.”
When she said, that I felt like my heart became so heavy and I suddenly began to feel lousy about myself. Nina wanted us to go to her school fair together, all she talked about was that. It was something I told myself I would make time for, yet I was the bad sister and didn’t even show up. Although, I didn’t have a choice, I stayed away from her for her own good and I couldn’t even explain that to her.
“I’m so sorry Ni, I really am.” I said making a pouty face to her.
“Hmm, that’s alright. Mrs Dawnly took me but I really wanted you to go with me instead.”
“I know, I know but I promise I’ll make it up to you okay?”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Juliet.” I heard an oddly familiar voice from behind me. A voice I dreaded. Jenna.
“Jen,” I said as I stood from the couch to face her.
“Out of all the ridiculous things you’ve done, Juliet, this-” She replied almost disgusted to continue, “This is unacceptable.”
She gave a look to Nina to head upstairs and she obediently listened. To be honest, I hated when Jenna played ‘mom’ with all the scolding. I hated when she still treated me like a child, I wasn’t one. I wasn’t even a teenager, I was an adult, yet Jennifer Greene never accepted that. All she saw in me as was the little sister that caused trouble and needed protecting, she never trusted me to be by myself, or ever changed her perspective of me. I know she was worried about me, I know she thought I was wrong, and I don’t blame her but I also know that I couldn’t tell her the truth. I just couldn’t no matter how much I wanted to.
“How are the Dawnlys?” I asked, trying to change the topic.
“They were worried sick about you. You know how old they are now, Julie! Yet you want to stress them out. Don’t you realize how much they did and keep doing for us?”
“It’s not that, Jenna.”
“Then what is it? No, I’ll tell you what it is! Juliet Greene is too selfish! She can’t think of anyone but herself!” She yelled but then took a deep breath to calm herself, “I told them you were on a trip, it relieved them. They’ll be home later.”
I needed to tell Jenna something, as much as I hated lying to her I know I had to.
“Actually, I had gotten a job, Jenna. I had to take the trip to finalise it. I had to meet the manager.”
“What? That doesn’t even make sense.”
“It’s true, but I never had expected to have to take the trip. At the Empires Heights hotel. I was supposed to give my application forms to the Manager, Mr. Johnson, but when I found out he wasn’t at the hotel and was at the airport I had to rush there.”
“Couldn’t you have waited at least, Juliet?” She replied, getting more frustrated with me.
“N-No, it was really important to meet him and when I went in to meet him, well, he was already on the flight so I bought a ticket to get on the plane just to meet him.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I know, it was really stupid, but I’m sorry, Jenna. I only did this because I didn’t want to be a resource sucker again. I didn’t want you to see me as the ungrateful freeloader.”
“Oh my God, Juliet.”
Her voice seemed to change as she sat on the sofa pinching the brim of her nose.
“I’m sorry, Jenna.” I replied again as I sat next to her. Thank goodness I hadn’t told her about already getting the internship there, otherwise she wouldn’t have bought my lie.
“Look, just go upstairs and change your-” She stopped and looked at the dress I had on.
Crap. These weren’t my clothes from before, she knew all the dresses I had and she wasn’t stupid to realize that this was a new dress. This was the dress Vandermir had gotten me. Damn, now I had to lie to her again.
“Where did you get that dress from?”
“Oh, I um…” I began as I rubbed my hands together, “Well, someone had spilled coffee on my old clothes, so I bought a new dress. Anyway, I’ll go upstairs now.”
It felt like as the day continued it was draining my energy out. All I did was lay on my bed, rethinking about the past couple of days. It seemed like a dream, a nightmare. No, it didn’t seem like a nightmare, I didn’t even know how to describe my experience anymore. One thing was certain though, I was glad it was over.
The night sky appeared so eerily tranquil with its polka dotted diamonds which adorned it. I was tired yet I didn’t want to go to bed just yet. Walking down the hallway I saw Mr Dawnly at the balcony setting up a telescope. This old man never acted like he was ever tired or depressed or weak in anyway. Honestly, I loved him like my own blood; he always has been so kind to my sisters and me. I just missed him so much. The Dawnlys could never have children of their own, but I know they considered us as theirs. They were close family friends anyway, thank goodness for that because if it wasn’t for them, then who knows where my sisters and I would’ve been now.
“Mr Dawnly,” I called out, causing him to turn around.
“Juliet, how many times do I have to tell you, don’t call me that. Just call me grandpa or something.” He warmly smiled.
Grandpa? Huh, that word was so unfamiliar to me. I’d never met any of my grandpas before, nor grandmothers. My parents always told me they lived far and one day we’ll visit them, but look at what happened. That one day never got the chance to happen. I looked at the old man in front of me with his silvery hair and deep blue eyes. Instantly I just felt so ashamed of myself, for lying to them all, for everything I’ve ever done that would unknowingly hurt them. I never meant to. He cared for me so much, he loved me so much. Jenna was right, I could never repay them for all he and his wife have given me.
“Sorry,” I laughed softly and he hugged me as a real grandfather would.
“Ginger was throwing tantrums for you.” He laughed back as he addressed his crazy wife, “She was so scared, but I knew you would be in good care.”
“Huh?” I asked a bit confused. How did he know that?
“Well I mean, you’re the only Greene that I know is capable of defending yourself and fighting.”
That was a relief. I almost thought he knew something.
“So,” I continued, “You’re star gazing?”
“Yes, Ginger wanted to, you know how nagging she can be.”
I giggled at the thought. Mr Dawnly was such a nice man, such a good husband. They were the cutest old couple I ever knew. He was such a respectable decent man. Adrian should take some note from this man.
Urgh, forget him, Julie.
“Oh don’t start, Frank.” I heard Mrs Dawnly from behind.
The old woman came up to me and threw her arms around me almost as if I was like her own child. “Oh Juliet!” She squeezed me tightly. It was getting so hard to breathe.
“Ginger please, give the girl some air.” Mr Dawnly laughed.
“Don’t you ever leave me like that, alright cupcake? I don’t care how old you are, I just want you to know that I love you so much. I promised your mother I would take good care of you, Juliet. She was a good woman and a wonderful person to me. I’ll never break that promise.”
Hearing her words I just didn’t know what to say, I never knew what to say when they mentioned my mother.
“She looks just like her, doesn’t she Ginger?” Mr Dawnly smiled.
“In print.” His wife replied as she pinched my cheeks.
That was oddly true actually, I really did look a lot like my mother. Everyone always told me that. I had her brown eyes and dark brown-black hair and everything, well, except my attitude. My mom was nothing like me, she wasn’t rebellious or had an attitude. She was soft, shy and kind, she always was a passive fighter, just like Jenna. Me, on the other hand, well I was the active one.
Later that night, everyone gathered around the table for dinner. It had always been so formal yet informal with the conversations Mrs Dawnly threw out there. Jenna was pouring the juice in the glasses for everyone in the kitchen so I went to assist her.
“I’ll help you.” I said, as I started pouring Mrs Dawnly’s favourite Grape juice.
“Get the strawberries for Nina.” She replied dryly.
Alright, so Jenna was still talking to me. Not a bad sign.
“How long are you going to stay mad at me?” I asked.
“I’m not mad at you.”
You still sound mad.
“Just bring out the other two glasses.” She continued and left the room.
After doing as she instructed, I sat at my own chair as I stared at the food. My appetite wasn’t there even though the food looked delicious. I just felt so sick- at myself. I hated lying. This guilt was going to kill me one day.
“So, I heard you got a job darling. Where? ” Mrs Dawnly smiled brightly at me.
“Yes, Empires Heights hotel, it’s not too far.” I replied.
“Oh yes! The Vandermirs! They were such wondrous people. It’s a lovely hotel anyway.”
“Were?” I asked, suddenly interested.
“Well yes, they had died a long time ago.” She said, staring at her drink.
Adrian’s parents had died? God, my stomach felt even sicker at that moment as I remembered how I told him no one would want to be with him.
Juliet, maybe you’re the heartless one after all.
“Their son took over the hotel now, didn’t he?” Mrs Dawnly asked her husband.
“Yes, and made it quite far. He did more than his parents could do with that hotel and not to mention his companies on the side.” Her husband replied.
“He didn’t inherit those?” Jenna suddenly asked.
“Only the hotel, everything else I highly doubt.” Mr Dawnly smiled.
This perspective of Adrian was odd. I never thought of him like that, he must’ve worked excessively hard to become where he was today, to be as successful at such an age. He wasn’t an immature kid who inherited everything from his parents, he was actually quite contrast to that.
“Julie what are you thinking? You haven’t even touched your food yet.” Mrs Dawnly stated as she gave me a worried look.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Don’t worry.” I replied and I lifted the spoon to my mouth forcefully.
I couldn’t let her worry about me anymore. I couldn’t tell her what had happened. Although everything was ‘back to normal’, I don’t think I would ever want to risk letting the people I love get involved with the stuff I had accidently gotten into. Having nothing to do with it still almost got me killed anyway. After everyone ate I just sat there with my own food alone, barely untouched, when I suddenly heard the doorbell. Quickly putting the food away, I went for the door. As I opened it, I was utterly shocked to see who was at the other side.
“Juliet, I- I know it’s really late but I wanted to meet you.” He said with that boyish yet tired look in his eyes.
I felt a little nervous at the moment because it wasn’t usual that a guy came looking for me at the middle of the night. And to make the matter even more awkward, I heard Mr Dawnly’s voice from behind me, “Juliet, did you get the door?”
He came into view as he noticed Finneas.
“Oh, I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to barge in or anything.” Finneas said in his friendly voice yet there was a hint of nervousness.
“No, it’s alright boy. You’re Juliet’s friend? Why don’t you come in?”
“Actually, I wasn’t planning to stay very long.” He said as he took a step in and when to shake Mr Dawnly’s hand, “Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself, my name’s Finneas Harrison.”
Was it just me or did Mr Dawnly’s hand stiffen at the mention of Finneas’ name?
“Oh, well it’s nice to meet one of Juliet’s friends. Although, I don’t recall her ever mentioning a Finneas.” He smiled back.
“That’s probably because we only met back a while ago. Actually, I hadn’t seen her in a while. We’re college friends.” Finneas replied smoothly.
Another perfect lie, Finny?
“Frank! Where are you honey?” Mrs Dawnly suddenly called out loudly from upstairs.
“I see. Well excuse me there, you kids catch up.” The old man said as he left us.
I couldn’t bring myself to even look him in the eye. Finny just kept lying about everything. I mean, yes I know he had to lie about this but it’s just that- it wasn’t how I expected him to be. No matter how much I wished it, Finneas wasn’t that guy I hoped he was. The guy who I thought he was when I had first met him, he wasn’t him.
“Juliet, are you mad at me?” I heard him ask in a soft voice.
Forcefully, I looked him in the eyes and painfully regretted it. He was hurt, I just knew it. His eyes were as dim and tired as ever, his blue orbs seemed like an ocean of worry.
“No, it’s not that.”
“Don’t lie to me, Julie.” He stated faintly.
“Lie? Me? You have some nerve telling me that.” I replied rather harshly.
“What are you talking about?”
“This is exactly what I’m talking about, Finneas!” I shot back as I felt my heart ache a little, “I trusted you out of everyone yet you’re the one keeping me in the dark most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I don’t want to know your personal life. I respect that, your privacy. But, it just really hurts to know that someone like Ricardo would be honest to me yet you keep lying to me.”
“I didn’t know you felt like that.” Was all he could say.
“You even left without telling me goodbye.” I stated sourly.
“Because I didn’t want to say goodbye to you. Juliet. I really care about you, you have no idea how I feel about you. You just remind me so much about her. I didn’t want to lose her again.”
“My sister, it’s not that you look like her or act like her. In my opinion you two are completely opposites, but I don’t know. When I saw you unconscious when Adrian had saved you, I just felt like you were my responsibility now.”
“That doesn’t even make sense.” I replied still trying to ignore the pain.
“It does, to me it does. She was in such situations as you were in. I didn’t want to see another girl get pulled back into this business.”
Looking at him, I wanted to say something but words never met my lips.
“And I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you, Julie. I never intended to. I know what you’re talking about anyway, when you started to doubt me, when you asked me about Adrian.” He continued.
“Then why did you lie to me?” I sighed.
“Because it isn’t my secret to tell. And honestly, the less you know is better, it’s safer for you.”
“It’s Vandermir’s.” I stated feeling a bit nostalgic.
“Julie, you have to understand that everything he does has a reason. Every decision he made concerning you was for your own good.”
“Did you really come all the way here to talk about him?” I asked as I tried to smile but failed.
I didn’t want to talk about this anymore. I already knew Adrian did do things for my betterment, but what I didn’t know was that whatever Finny was hiding had to do with Adrian. And it didn’t make sense asking Finny about anything either because he wasn’t going to budge. To be honest, why should I even be curious? It wasn’t any of my business anyway. Adrian Vandermir knew what he was doing and what he wanted and I wasn’t going to be an idiot and get in his way again. None of this had anything to do with me and right now my only concern should be to fix things with my family and help Jenna out with the finance.
“I didn’t come to talk about him actually,” Finny’s voice brought me back to reality, “I just wanted to see you again and tell you I’m sorry.”
“No Finny, don’t feel bad about anything. It isn’t your fault. I was sticking my nose in things that wasn’t even mine to know, I’m sorry.”
“Well we’ll call it even then,” He smiled and placed his hand on my head as if I was a little puppy, “I’m always going to be here for you Juliet, remember that.”
Those words were so warming to me. I didn’t have many people to count on except Jenna and the Dawnlys, but I always considered myself a burden on them so I never told them anything. As he left I headed upstairs and on my way to my room, I saw Mr Dawnly looking at me from afar. He seemed worried, like he wanted to tell me something but just as he was about to walk towards me, it seemed like he held himself back.
Huh, how odd.