26 | Discovering The Truth
“One smile can’t change the world, but your smile changes mine.”
After spending a considerable amount of time with my beloved family, it is finally time to go home. Earlier, I had informed Alan I was with family. If I didn’t, he would go on a hunting spree for me. I’m not kidding.
So at nine o’clock, two hours after Brock returns home, Alan arrives.
When Brock first got back, he was shocked that I was here. But that quickly disappeared. He joined in with the rest of us but not with sadness rimmed in his eyes. Having Hannah ignore him has left a massive hole in his heart. It’s crazy to wrap my head around how much Brock cares for her. I am happy he found a girl like Hannah though - she’s sweet and crazy as hell but good. She cares about him. That’s all I want for him.
“Oh, who’s that at the door?” Mom jumps up from her seat, scurrying over to the door.
“That would be Alan,” I answer, gracefully standing up.
Dad and Martin quickly copy my movements, trailing behind me as I go to the door. I watch mom swing the door open, giving Alan a kind, friendly smile.
“Why, hello handsome,” she flirts, throwing a wink over her shoulder to dad who shakes his head in disbelief. Mom always loved to tease him. “Who might you be?”
Alan, who is wearing a stoic expression, answers cooly. “I’m here for Whitney.”
Mom flickers her eyes to me, confused for a moment by Whitney. I guess she forgot that I go by a different name now.
“Hi Alan,” I greet, smiling happily. “I’ve just got to put my shoes on.”
Alan gives me a brief nod whilst eyeing my family. Whilst his eyes appear hooded, if you stare closely, you can see the hidden curiosity in them. I bet he’s dying to ask me why I chose to come and see them today, after being elbowed in the face.
“Alan?” Dad asks, puzzled. “Who are you exactly?”
The way dad is now standing stiffly by the living room entrance, with an equally stiff-looking Martin next to me makes me want to roll my eyes. They think I am like him or I’m with him. Clearly, they haven’t been keeping up with the tabloids.
“He’s my bodyguard dad,” I say, dryly. Dad’s eyebrows shoot up in shock, not expecting me to say that. I thought Brock would at least tell them I have a boyfriend since he’s told them about everything that’s happened - except for Jason. I’m glad he hasn’t done that yet, I want to ask mom for advice about him tomorrow. There’s something peculiar in the way he acted today. I just can’t put my finger to it.
Dad’s body relaxes, along with Martin’s. It seems, since I’ve made my way back into their lives, they’ve become somewhat protective of me.
“Well then, it’s nice to meet you, Alan. I’m Anastasia’s dad, this is her older brother Martin beside me and as you probably know, Brock as well.” Dad introduces, all hostility vanished.
“I know who you are,” Alan says, nonchalantly. His gaze settles back on me after analyzing my dad and Martin.
By now, I’ve finished putting my shoes on - rather awkwardly might I add - and I’m ready to go. Firstly, I hug dad and Martin, promising to pop by tomorrow. Next, Brock gives me a tight hug. I assume he’s hugging me so tightly for reassurance that I’m not mad at him. We’ve hardly spoken the past week - perhaps he thought I didn’t want to associate myself with him. Who knows? Or maybe, he just needs comfort because he’s not getting any from Hannah right now.
I make an urgent mental note to sort this argument out between them. I do not want to come between the two of them.
Mom is last. She clings onto me, just like earlier, forcing me to say I will see her tomorrow. I need to see her anyways, Jason’s odd behaviour needs to be resolved.
I walk out of the door, turning to send a wave to everybody. Alan places his hand on my lower back and leads me to the car, wordlessly.
As soon as we start driving, Alan is quizzing me on what happened. I knew he couldn’t resist asking me. And so I told him everything that happened and how I felt about it.
The next day at school went like a blur. Callum doesn’t turn up to school and Brock keeps following Hannah around like a lost puppy. The twin's keep reassuring me that I look beautiful, despite having a bruise on my nose.
Jason has been odd though. When I got home last night, he was nowhere to be seen. Casey told me he went on a walk, perhaps to clear his head. This morning, he wasn’t around the house either. It’s only made me more eager to find out what is going on with him. I think it might be about this girl he’s in love with - I need to figure out who that is.
Alan drops me off at my parent’s house and makes me set an alarm for eight o’clock.
Happily, I bound the small steps up to my home. Unlike yesterday, I don’t hesitate to knock on the door. All nerves are gone. Its kind of weird having to knock on your house door but since I technically don’t live here anymore, I have to get used to it.
“Anastasia, baby!” Mom greets with a pleasant smile on her aged face. She tugs me in for a hug, squeezing the life out of me again.
“Mom,” I wheeze into her chest. “I can’t breathe.”
She quickly untangles her arms around me and gives me an apologetic look. “Sorry honey, I just love hugging you again. I’ve been deprived of it for too long.”
A tidal wave of regret and guilt wash over me and crash into my heart. Fortunately for me, mom turns and leads me to the living room so she can’t catch my face of sorrow.
Instead of going into the living room where Martin is casually lounging, she takes me to the kitchen. The kitchen is relatively large, with a small dining table that we use at breakfast. The main dining table is used at tea time, which is next door to the kitchen.
“Do you want a cup of tea, sweetie?” Mom asks, skipping over to the kettle.
I shake my head, “I don’t really drink tea anymore. I’ll have a cup of coffee though.”
She spins on her heels to face me with raised eyebrows. “Oh,” she blinks. “I never imagined you having coffee.”
I shrug my shoulders, “Well I do now.”
She doesn’t reply, causing the comfortable atmosphere to shift.
Two minutes later, a cup of warm coffee is placed in front of me on the table. Mom eases herself into the seat next to me, with a cup of coffee as well.
“So what is it, honey?” She asks me, getting straight to the point. My eyes widen at her question, taken aback. “Sweetie, you’re wearing that ‘I have something to ask you but I don’t know how to’ face.”
Of course, mom would be able to pick that up. She can read me like a book. “Well,” I breathe, unsure of where to start. “Have you heard of Jason, the actor who I worked with for my last film?” I ask her. She nods her head and gives me a look to continue. “So, um, my manager Lulu forced us to well, fake date so we could do shoots for Vogue. And...Callum, who I used to love or I might still do - I’m not sure - got mad about it and attacked Jason. A - And now...I don’t know what to do. Jason has been acting so weird recently. He keeps staring at me and he gives me these longing looks. I’m so confused.”
When I’ve finished rambling, I run a hand through my hair tiredly. A small weight has been lifted off of my shoulder now. It feels good to have all of this off of my chest.
Mom takes a sip of her tea, with her blue eyes glazed over slightly in thought.
“Hmm,” she starts in a calm voice. “This Jason boy, has he given you any sort of information or indication as to why he’s acting this way?”
I nod my head, “He said he’s in love with a girl but she likes someone else and will probably never love him the way he wants to.” I sum up our conversation in the car a week ago, recalling his sad face.
“Well then, he’s obviously in love with you,” Mom states, matter of factly.
“W - What?” I splutter, messily. Did I just hear her right?
“Anastasia, you just described to me someone who is in love...with you.”
I don’t know whether I want to laugh or cry right now. Everything is a mess, a big jumbled mess. Jason can’t be in love with me, he sees me as a close friend. We have a great friendship, we wouldn’t be right for each other, romantically.
“Anastasia, think about it. Really think about it.” Mom interrupts, urging me to step back for a moment and reevaluate every encounter.
With a deep breath, I think about all of the times we were together. When we first met, when we were shooting the film.
My mind travels to the day we finished shooting the film when Jason took me to the coffee shop and then to the park after the locals started to recognize us. Jason had grabbed my hand and dragged me away. His eyes kept glancing at our hands and my face with a look I could never decipher. Until right now.
Oh my god. How did I not notice this? How - when?
Those longing looks were directed at me, he wants to be with me. He’s in love with me. That girl he was talking about in the car is me.
“How could I never see this?” I question, still absorbed in the memories.
“Don’t beat yourself up about it Anastasia. Some people are just oblivious.” Mom tries to reassure, adding a bit of humour. I try and crack a smile but I think it comes out more like a grimace.
Needing something to distract me for a moment, I take a sip of the coffee, loving the taste that travels down my throat.
“He knows I will never love him that way back but...oh god. I don’t want things to be awkward between us. Do I tell him I know? Or do I pretend I don’t? Why is my life like this?”
The sound of the chair legs screeching on the cold floor sounds but I pay no attention to it. Not until thin arms wrap themselves around my shoulders. Mom rests her chin on my head and rubs her hands up and down the top of my arm.
“You have to tell him, sweetie. You can’t put it off any longer, it would be like stringing him along. He needs to be set free. You have to tell him that you can’t love him like that.” She answers, thinking what I’m thinking deep down. Jason is holding onto some sort of hope that I will love him back. He knows I won’t ever in that way but he still thinks that. Until I tell him otherwise, he will continue thinking that and will continue pining for me.
“You’re right, oh wise one.” I sigh. Mom laughs at my name for her and gives my arms one last squeeze before pulling away.
“I know I am, I’m a mom. Mom’s know best - they are always right.” She says, cockily. I refrain myself from rolling my eyes at her smirking face.
“Whatever,” I say. “Now what’s for tea?”
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! What did everyone do for new years? Did you have a good night?