8. Is a family really that perfect?
Thank you so much shonadhiman for the cover! It’s Hunt right there! Omg 🔥😍😍 And he’s got my name tattooed on his arm *dies*
Is a family really that perfect?
• • •
I woke up early the next morning, showered, changed, and came down to leave after checking up on Matt. He was still sleeping.
“Leaving, bro. Guess you’re not coming for class,” I said, poking his shoulder.
“Yeah. See you in the evening,” he croaked in his pillow.
I went into the kitchen to drink some water. Aunt Diane was up and making breakfast. Uncle James was up too, reading the paper as he drank his coffee.
“Leaving now?” She asked me.
“Morning, Xavi,” Uncle said as I went for the fridge.
“Morning, uncle,” I returned as I took out a bottle and chucked down the water.
“Have breakfast before you go,” aunt Diane said, placing a cup of coffee and pancakes on the table. I sat down on a chair and sipped the coffee.
“God! Your knuckles, Xavi!” Aunt exclaimed.
I put the cup down and observed my knuckles. It wasn’t bruised so bad but women always have some drama and exaggeration ready in store. She came and held my hands, checking it out.
“I have no more words for the two of you. You never learn,” she said, eyes intent on my hand.
I gently pulled it out of her grasp and presented a smile, “It’s alright. It’s nothing.”
“You call this alright? Nothing?”
“Got into trouble again?” Uncle James asked trivially with his gaze fixated on the paper.
“We didn’t initiate it,” I said, “Matt was in the car while me and Scott were checking out some movies in Sundance (the video store). He wasn’t feeling well and they took advantage of him. We weren’t letting them get away with that.”
Aunt Diane’s demeanor seemed to compose and soften at the story. What parents would want to hear about their children beaten up when they were sick? Not even the hurricane.
“Matt was sick?” She asked in motherly concern. Her eyes seemed pained.
“Yeah. But I guess he’s fine now. We came by Stephen’s last night before we came here. They wrote him some pills and he took it on the way. He’s still sleeping but he seems fine,” I said and took a bite of the pancake.
She nodded in relief.
“Did you waste them?” Uncle James asked curiously, now looking up from his paper.
I stopped chewing the pancake and stared at him.
“James! That’s not cool,” the hurricane chided her dear husband.
I grinned widely. Uncle James had always taken his wife’s side whenever it came to street fights. They lecture us like social activists would do but, this morning he seemed rather genuinely interested in knowing whether his boys knocked the brains out of the rivaling group.
What a pleasant surprise.
“What? I’m just asking . . .”
“Stop it! James! You’re fueling these kids to get into more fights by showing interest.”
“Look. Honey.” He folded the paper like he was ready to talk business. “Even the streets have rules . . .”
He pressed his lips together to a line. Well, we didn’t just call her the Hurricane for no reason. It’s really amazing how woman can do that.
I broke into a train of chuckles. Uncle James glanced at me and grinned, shaking his head.
Aunt Diane rolled her eyes and sighed, “I don’t understand boys.”
“Like women are any less complicated,” Uncle James mumbled as he reopened the paper, earning a hard glare from his wife.
I chuckled again and stood up. “I gotta go now. Thanks for the breakfast. See you in the evening.” I went over and gave aunt Diane a hug.
“I want no more trouble,” she said, hugging me back, “See you in the evening. I better go check up on Matt.”
Captain pounced into me once I stepped inside the house. He started lapping my chin in his signature welcome-home-buddy habit. I craned my neck up as far as they could go.
“Easy, boy. I’ve showered.”
As if he understood me, he settled back on all fours and looked up at me with a sort of disappointment; disappointed that he wasn’t getting the attention he craved for. Dogs are weirdly smart and sentimental.
“Sorry, mate. Come on,” I scratch his head a bit and beckoned him to follow me up the stairs.
Getting back his mood, he followed me up the stairs. I got my spare phone and the back pack. Coming down, I tried to make as less sound as possible. Claire and Grammy would most probably be in the kitchen having breakfast. My idea was to sneak out quickly before Claire stop me and claim my spare phone. Captain padded softly behind me, following my instincts.
He gets every intention I have. He’s my partner in crime and he definitely rocks.
I was almost out the door when Claire’s voice behind me. “Xavier.”
Her voice was impossibly calm and collected. Over that, she called me Xavier. That would mean only one thing. I was definitely in for trouble.
I spun back on my heels and exclaimed, “Hey, guys!”
Grammy was few steps behind her.
“Sneaking out, huh?” Claire folded her arms and raised an extremely bossy eyebrow.
Some elder sister. And worst, she was an Arquette. We have a family name tag of being domineering and short tempered.
I puffed a breath dismissively as if that was the most absurd thing she’d said all year, “Of course, not. School. See?” I lifted my right arm and dangled my back pack up and down in front of her eyes.
“Your hands are bruised, Xavi,” Grammy frowned deeply and came towards me.
Oh, fuck the knuckles, God!
“It’s nothing, Grammy. It was an accident.” I took few steps forward and hugged her tight. “Good morning.”
She hugged me back. “Good morning, Xavi. But look at your hands! Does it hurt?” She asked, pulling back from my hug and fondling my hand.
“No. It doesn’t. It’s really nothing. I’m perfect.” I smiled at her.
She pampered me a lot and I could talk her into anything. But none of that sort would work on the younger hurricane, Claire.
“Your grandson’s gonna rock the day.” I winked at Grammy and grinned at Claire. “Going now. Catch ya later, sis.”
Grammy laughed a bit. Claire rolled her eyes, “Stop showcasing your nonexistent glory and just hand over the spare phone. You’re grounded, remember?” She smirked at me devilishly.
“Oh, come on, Claire. Stop being so old-fashioned. Besides you’re only twenty five! You don’t have to act like aunt Diane.”
That was lame but seriously, a twenty five year old keeping a seventeen year old hunk grounded is so not cool. What a shame! The hazards of having a bossy elder sister.
“Xavier, grounded means you’re grounded,” she took another bossy step forward.
“See you later, Claire. Love you, Grammy,” I said in a hurry and dashed out the door.
Captain barked and followed me out the door. I heard Claire shout my name behind me. Without looking back, I jumped into my car as fast as I could and set it to ignition. Captain watched me from the steps in excitement. Claire and Grammy appeared at the door shortly after.
I rolled down my window and shouted through laughter and grins, “Keep my sister grounded for me, Captain!”
I saluted him and he responded with extremely high spirited barks. The last thing I saw, as I reeved out of the driveway, was Claire’s eyes burning with anger. I laughed it off.
I was just in time for class and the room was almost full when I walked in. Mongrel was already there too and Brittany was sitting behind her. So I settled on the chair on her right.
“Hey, Mongrel,” I said as I settled down on a seat on her right, across the gap, not really in the mood to tease her this morning.
“Hey,” she answered with a satisfied smile, eyeing at my seat contentedly, probably happy that I wasn’t sitting behind her now.
Really? I’ll meet you in the next class.
I smirked back at her.
Hart came in just few minutes later and class started. Half of the time, I kept zoning out, fiddling with the pen in my hand. I was still thinking about the night before and how dissatisfied I was that Damien didn’t suffer the good deal he deserved.
Fifty minutes later, the bell rang. Hunt came up to me as I was packing up.
“How’s Matt?” He asked.
“Broken nose. But I guess there’s nothing so bad besides that,” I answered as I zipped up my backpack.
We stood there for a while, talking ’bout what really happened and planning up to pay back soon enough. Then Hunt suddenly called out Alana who was already moving out of the classroom.
She looked back.
"Your Ugly Narcissist just told me he saw you in his dream last nig . . .” In the spur of a moment, taken aback by the sudden exposure of how crazy I was about her, I whacked him across his head.
Okay. I admit I was a bit shy about openly . . . You know, crushing over her.
Hunt laughed in response to my reaction. The hair on my body rose for a moment there. She seemed astonished enough to be confused if she should laugh it off as a joke or anything. Instead, she left with adorable pink tints on her cheeks.
“What the fuck, man.” I mumbled, staring at the door after her.
“Embarrassed, are we?” He smirked and raised an eyebrow at me, teasingly.
I threw my backpack over my shoulder and grabbed him by his neck under my arm, tackling him to the door.
While driving back home in the evening after class, I passed by Kingston’s Elementary and found David sitting at the same bus stop. I drove on a few metres to park and then came back to him.
“Hey, David,” I said as I sat down next to him.
“Hi.” He looked up from his shoes a little surprised.
“You’re waiting for your sister?”
“You don’t like to wait in your school yard?”
“I just wanted to look around.” He replied, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
I nodded with a smile. Despite the fact that he looked like Kevin, he had his own cuteness in a different way. He was a pretty interesting little human.
I felt like cheating behind Alana’s back but I couldn’t help myself from asking this question, knowing David would be able to give me the accurate answers.
After debating with my conscience for a while, I asked, “How’s your sister at home? Is she good?”
“Yeah, she’s good.” He nodded. “She cooks good food and . . . She helps me with my homework. She does my laundry and when I can’t find my toys, she finds them for me.”
Okay. That’s pretty accurate.
“Does she ever get mad at you?”
“Umm . . .” He looked up to the sky, thinking for a while then he nodded, “Not really but she doesn’t like it when I mess up the house.”
“Does she ever get mad at your mom and dad?”
David’s face changed a bit, confused and almost troubled. For a while I waited for him to answer until seconds later, I realized I’d done a terrible mistake.
“I’m sorry. I mean your dad.”
“My mom,” he said slowly, “She died when I was very small so I don’t know if Alana ever got mad at her.”
I nodded, feeling a tight grip in my throat; guilty like never before. “I’m sorry, David.”
“That’s okay.” He looked at me and smiled kindly. “How could you know?”
His answer surprised me. With his sweetness and kind words, I couldn’t help but feel more guilty. I felt a firm kick in my chest. With his appearance and the way he talked in such kindness and understanding, I felt my emotions all over the place.
I nodded and swallowed hard. “You’re a nice person.”
“Thank you.” He smiled. “Alana taught me not to be bad.”
“Yes. She said that being kind to other people is good. She’s nice too. I love her. And dad loves her too. She also doesn’t get mad at dad.”
I stared down at my shoes, rubbing my lips with my right hand and then running it across my nape. For some odd reason, I felt strange, nervous and almost compassionate . . . And the sad.
“Never?” I asked lowly, looking back at him.
He shook his head in response.
Is a family really that perfect? Normally?
We talked for a while about other things until Alana drove up a little while later.
“Come on, David,” she called through the window.
Our eyes met and for some strange reason, I felt my heart soften at the sight of her. Maybe it was the cause of what David had told me about her.
David sprang up, saying, “Gotta go.”
I stood up too. We fist-bumped and he got inside the car. Just as she was about to drive away, I called her back, remembering I still hadn’t had her number.
I leant down on David’s window with my forearms, and slightly ducking my head in to see her, I said, “I want your number.”
“You won’t get it.”
Oh well. Figured.
“That’s okay, Mongrel. I’m just asking. You know, casual decency. I’ll get it anyway.” I smirked at her roguishly.
There was a moment of stare-off challenge until I scoffed and smirked at her again. With that adorable scowl of hers, she drove off once I stood back up.
Did she really think I wasn’t getting her number?
“Why didn’t you give him your number?” David asked.
“Because I don’t want to,” I said, looking ahead at the road.
“But you’re friends,” he sounded confused.
“No. He’s not my friend.”
“But you know each other.”
“Knowing each other doesn’t mean we’re friends all the time. In our case, it means we’re known enemies," I explained.
David frowned, “He’s nice. I like him.”
“Well, you won’t if you were me,” I said.
“Because he’s an asshole.”
Then I bit my tongue. I was supposed to mind my language around my younger, innocent brother.
“I mean . . . He’s an annoying person,” I corrected.
Anyway, let’s not make a big deal out of it. David will learn it all in few years, whatever.
“He’s not,” David sort of argued.
“He is!” I raised my voice.
“No! He’s not!” He raised his as well.
My face distorted and I glared at him, “Are you serious? I told you he is!”
I couldn’t stand anybody defending that asshole. And to hear my brother, my best friend for life, defending him against me was a hundred fold more frustrating.
“You should stop seeing him. He’s making you un-adorable.”
“I don’t wanna be adorable.” He shrugged. “I wanna be cool like him.”
“Girls don’t like guys like him. You better not want to be like him if you want a girl,” I retorted stupidly.
What am I thinking? He’s just eight and the thoughts of girls should be basically out of his mind at this stage of his and it’s my job to keep him innocent. No swearing, no girls . . . But for now I just want to manipulate him as much as that jerkwad did. No strings attached.
“Girls are stupid,” my dear brother replied, folding his arms over his chest defiantly and then looked at me, ”Just like you.”
“See. That’s what I’m talking about,” I squaked, “He’s manipulating you. He teaching you all the wrong things. Girls are not stupid.”
“He didn’t teach me that. I know it,” he shrugged again.
Dialing 911 would be the best idea for now. I’m having a nervous breakdown. I might drive straight into a traffic post.
“He’s bad influence, David.”
David grumbled, “Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean I should not like him too.”
“Now don’t act so smart,” I spanked him on his thigh.
He retaliated with consistent punches on my arm. “You’re the bad influence. He’s nice! I like him! You’re bad!!”
“David, stop it! I’m driving.”
“You’re bad! You’re bad! You’re bad!!”
“David! Stop! Stop it if you wanna live!”
Yep. Though this book is basically in Xavier’s POV, I will be throwing in bits of Alana’s POV too to keep the flow of the book.
So, do we have a favourite scene in this chapter?
Thank you so much for reading! Don’t forget to vote and comment!
Lots of Love, Hermyne