"So you know the drill, you sit on my bed and do nothing while I stare at you a lot." I joked as Jacob and I walked into my bedroom.
He chuckled, sitting down on my bed as I got my easel and supplies ready.
"You get to look at me while I do nothing, that doesn't sound very fair to me." He teased.
I rolled my eyes, "Yeah it's not fair that I have to look at you so much, I'd rather be doing nothing."
"You wound me." Jacob cried, placing a hand on his chest over his heart for dramatic effect.
We both couldn't hold a straight face and burst out laughing.
When we calmed down I got straight to work on mixing colours to find the right ones to use. Sandy blonde was a struggle to create, but eventually I got as close to his hair colour as paint could get, with some shading and layers it should work just fine.
I don't know how long we, or should I say I, worked on the painting. Between his inability to stay in the same position, and the goofy mood we were in, the painting was taking a lot longer than I thought it would.
When I looked around the easel at Jacob, pulling a silly face, for the millionth time I decided to finish up for the day.
"Your suffering has come to an end for the day, I can't be bothered to get you to focus any longer." I teased, cleaning up my art supplies as I spoke.
Jacob let out a dramatic sign of relief, "Being a model is hard work. You should be paying me for this."
I rolled my eyes, "You'll have a lovely painting when we're done here, that's payment enough."
Before Jacob could reply there was a knock at my door.
"Hey Jenny I just wanted to let you know that Emma and I are both home." Liam spoke as he opened the door. Adding "No closed doors, you know that." When he saw Jacob.
My cheeks heated at the comment, "I was painting, there's nothing to worry about."
I avoided looking at Jacob as Liam rolled his eyes and left us alone.
"Since Liam is home maybe we can question him on my family for our history project." I suggested, quickly coming up with a way to distract us from the awkwardness Liam left in his wake.
"Sure." Jacob easily agreed, and with that I grabbed my backpack and we headed downstairs to find my brother.
We found him and Emma in the kitchen, just sitting at the island talking.
"Hey I have to make a family tree for a history project, can you help me out?" I asked, sitting at the kitchen table. Jacob followed close behind and took the seat beside me.
Liam nodded in agreement but something was off, he looked hesitant.
"So theres me, you, Emma, mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, but I don't know anyone else in the family." I started, reaching into my backpack to pull out my notebook for history.
I quickly flipped to the page where I started my family tree and looked down at the seven names written down. I was excited to learn more about our family, I'd never met or heard of anyone other than my parents and grandparents on my mom's side, so hopefully Liam could fill me in on everyone else.
"Well the only other relative I know of is mom's older sister Molly. Our parents never had much to do with the rest of their families, I've never met anyone apart from grandma and grandpa." Liam told me.
I couldn't hide my disappointment for what he said. I wasn't sad about the lack of family around us, but now that I knew we just didn't have any, at least none that we knew of or maybe even knew about us, I felt more alone than I ever had in my whole life. If Liam and Emma somehow died or couldn't take care of me, where would I go? What would happen to me? My grandparents were too old to take care of me now, would I end up homeless, or in foster care?
I looked over at Jacob and he was noticeably uncomfortable, which immediately made me feel guilty. He shouldn’t be here for a conversation like this, if I had of known how disappointing this would be, I would've brought it up when he wasn't around.
"Well at least I have you two, you guys have enough personality for a whole family." I joked to relieve some in the tension in the air.
"I'm part of your family, my dad has two brothers and three sisters I can tell you all about." Emma spoke up, giving me a kind smile.
I returned it with a smile of my own, "Thanks Emma, maybe tomorrow we can talk all about it."
She nodded in agreement as Jacob cleared this throat to get my attention, "I should be getting home."
I nodded, "I'll walk you out."
The two of us quietly walked through the house and out the front door, and that's when he stopped me.
"Are you okay? You seemed really sad in there."
I gave him a halfhearted smile, "I'm fine, not everyone has big families. I'm just lucky to have Liam and Emma, they're amazing."
Jacob nodded, satisfied with my answer, "I'll see you tomorrow."
With that we said our goodbyes and then he got in his car and I went back inside. Part of me wished that my heart warmed when Jacob showed concern for me, but maybe I have to know him longer for that to happen.
"I'll be up in my room." I called to Liam and Emma before making my way upstairs. I needed to think things through for a while.
What if feelings never developed between me and Jacob? I thought as soon as I kissed him that I would feel some instant connection, and when that didn't happen I thought if I spent a bit more time with him that surely feelings would blossom. Maybe I just haven't given it enough time though.
I decided to give Mason a call to check up on him and so I could talk about my worries. Speaking to him always seemed to make me feel better.
"Is everything okay?" He answered the phone on the second ring.
I smiled at his concern, even though there was no reason for it, "Yeah everything's fine. What happened when you got home from school? I was expecting a call from you by now."
I sat back against the headboard of my bed as I spoke, getting comfortable for the long talk we were about to have. Every time Mason and I talk on the phone it lasts at least an hour. Somehow we never run out of things to talk about.
"He was passed out drunk so I didn't have to deal with him. I'm safe for today." Mason answered.
I was conflicted by his response, relieved that nothing had happened but sad for him because his dad was such a horrible mess. Mason deserves parents that love and support him.
"I guess that was the best case scenario." I muttered.
Mason hummed in agreement and I could tell that he didn't want to talk about his situation anymore.
"So why didn't you call me?" I asked, changing the subject. I was expecting him to call about an hour after school ended, that's around the time he usually calls to tell me what happened.
Mason sighed, "I didn't want to interrupt you and Jacob again. The faster you win the game, the faster you don't have to hang out with that guy anymore."
I frowned, "Why don't you like him? You don't even know him."
Everything was silent as I waited for a reply. Maybe if Mason was honest about why he didn't like Jacob, I could fix it so we could all get along. It would really help if Mason was supporting me in this.
"I just don't understand why you started the game. Liam and Emma both said it's not something anyone should do, but you did it anyway. Why?" Mason completely steered the conversation away from my question.
"Liam and Emma fell in love because of the game, I want that too. I think I can have that with Jacob if I really try." I told him, my voice soft and honest. If anyone knows how badly I want love, it's Mason. Ever since I saw how happy Liam and Emma are, I've wanted that for myself.
"Jenny, you're looking for love in all the wrong places." Mason argued, a hint of desperation in his tone.
I was taken aback by his words, "What's that supposed to mean?"
He sighed, "Nothing, I just don't think you can force something as powerful as love. It's not a choice, it just happens."
"It sounds like you're speaking from experience." There was a pang in my chest when I realized that Mason might be in love with someone, and I didn't even know. He never told me. Why wouldn't he tell me something as important as that? I thought we told each other everything.
"Maybe I am." He whispered, confirming my suspicions.
"Why didn't you tell me? I thought we were best friends, why wouldn't you trust me with something like that?" I demanded, trying, and failing, to keep the hurt out of my voice. I could feel my heart breaking but I wasn't sure why. Was it the betrayal? Was it the fact that he felt like he couldn't trust me? Or was it something I couldn't put my finger on?
"It doesn't matter Jenny." Mason said, his voice apologetic, "She doesn't see me that way."
How could this girl not love Mason back? He's caring, funny, attractive. He's the kind of guy you spend the rest of your life with, not just some high school hook up.
"I'm sorry." I apologized. This subject was obviously painful for him, I couldn't imagine how awful it would feel if someone you loved didn't love you back.
But part of me was jealous that he felt love, even if it was one sided. I'd never felt that. The person who was obsessed with it had never even been in love. How ironic.
"I'm sorry too, for hiding it from you." Mason gave his own apology, and just like that our little argument was over and we were back to normal.
For the next hour we talked about whatever came to mind, including the party that was in only a couple of days. I didn't bring up Jacob anymore, knowing that was a sore point right now, but I was silently plotting a way to get kiss number two done at the party. Maybe a game of spin the bottle would go in my favour. Or someone would dare Jacob to kiss me during truth or dare.
Eventually it got late, and I needed to go down and grab some leftover from dinner to settle my grumbling stomach, so Mason and I hung up and I was left to wonder who the mystery girl was that Mason loved.
Maybe if I knew who she was I could help her see how amazing Mason is.
But why did my heart clench in protest at that idea?