Chapter 2 (unedited)
“Tessa! Tessa Hale! Get down here this instant!” The jarring voice that shouted from the first floor of the house startled me from my thoughts. I knew that if I did not comply, it would only make things worse for myself. With a resigned sigh, I set my pencil down beside my notebook as I planned to pick my chemistry homework back up once everything was finished downstairs.
“Yes, Jill, you summoned me?” I greeted half-heartedly as I entered the kitchen, not caring to hide the annoyance in my voice. I met the sharp gaze of my stepmother, Jill Hale. Her hands were on her hips and her foot tapped an annoying beat on the kitchen tile as she scowled down at me.
“What did I tell you? You have no right to call me by my first name! You will show respect and call me Mother,” she demanded, tilting her nose up at me as if I was a peasant in the thirteenth century and she was some woman of nobility.
My teeth clenched as my hands balled into fists, and it took all that was within me to not lash out at what Jill said. “You are not my mother, Jill. You never will be.”
She pursed her lips as her bright green eyes gave me a once over, and I knew that she was going to find some way to torment me for my disobedience.
“I don’t like your outfit. Go change, we are having company over for dinner,” she said, contrary to what I was expecting. I knew that usually, she would ask me to do some ridiculous task that would take all night and keep me away from my studies. Lord knows that it seemed to be her goal to keep me dependent on her for the rest of my life.
That she was asking me to come downstairs for dinner was quite new, so I figured that it was today’s method for bothering me in my studies.
I really can’t afford to fail any more assignments, I thought hesitantly, hoping that there was some way I could get out of this ridiculous dinner idea. Jill hates me anyway.
Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath was all the preparation I had to gather my thoughts enough to figure out how to deny Jill’s demand. Unfortunately, there weren’t many options that left me as the winner of the argument to come. Knowing this, I took it upon myself to skip all the formalities and go straight towards what would probably be the end of the debate.
“I don’t care to meet any ‘suitor’ of yours,” I commented sardonically, narrowing my eyes at her as I thought about how her attempt to find a new relationship and bring them home was a blatant disrespect to my father’s house which she didn’t have to pay for because of his life insurance. “If the world ends during this special dinner of yours, don’t even bother me then—I’ll take the ’L” and just die.”
Jill gasped at my words, which I took as the signal for me to haul my butt out of the situation before she blew up on me and put me on another special ‘diet.’ “It is my boss and his family!” She yelled, “So, you better be down and presentable at seven-thirty!”
She was going to get back me one way or another for my comments later, and I knew that resisting more this evening would only make things worse. With that understanding, I couldn’t help but grit my teeth as I shut my bedroom door, frustrated at the power that Jill had over me.
When will this end?
The sound of the doorbell echoing throughout the house was the only warning that Jill’s guests had arrived. Thankfully, in my rage caused by my stepmother, I had gotten through a greater amount of homework than what was expected.
Ah, the magic of acting purely out of spite.
I groaned loudly, leaning my head back and closing my eyes as I thought about escaping out the window and making a jump for the grass in the front of the house. If I didn’t care so much for my legs and ability to skateboard, I probably would have done it in a heartbeat. With a sigh of resignation, I closed the textbook on the desk, feeling satisfied at the ′thump′ that came from the shutting of the book.
Had I changed as Jill had asked? No, no I had not. I was still in the baggy, ripped jeans and t-shirt I had worn to school that day. The only thing I had cared to change was my hair—it was down instead of in a ponytail.
Wow, so fancy.
With a snicker at the thought of Jill's face at my mundane appearance, I walked barefoot out of my room and towards the stairs, hoping that my irredeemable looks would force Jill to send me back to my room in unexpected shame.
What a great plan.
I bounded down the stairway two steps at a time, nearly stumbling on the last jump. There was something about ruining Jill's day that brought a newfound joy into my attitude. Although my balance was lost for a moment and my face almost met the wall across from the stairs because of it, some extravagant arm flailing was enough to regain it.
Unfortunately, I was not the one to win the game that night. As I rounded the corner and walked towards the front door, which Jill was opening to greet her 'oh-so-important' guests, I froze in place for just a moment before practically choking on air.
There, in the doorway, stood the one person that I least expected and least desired: William Chantry.
Everyone’s heads turned to me as I pounded on my own chest, taking deep breaths to calm my rapidly beating heart.
Why? Why!? What did I do to deserve this torture!?!?!?
Will smirked as my stepmother scowled at me. “Tessa, what on earth are you doing?” She asks exasperatedly.
Does she not see that I just nearly died of heart palpitations!?
“Oh no, don’t mind me. I’m just slowly--” I grunt for dramatic effect, “dying by choking on air. Who knew that the one thing that keeps us alive could kill us so easily?” I question rhetorically.
Will chuckles as Jill looks like she is ready to strangle me. She takes a deep breath before turning back to the older man and woman, who seems to have been watching me with amusement.
“You’ll have to excuse my step-daughter. She’s going through a phase.” She apologizes.
I stomp my foot and huff frustratedly as Will bursts out laughing. “I am not!”
The woman I presume to be Will’s mother chuckles silently and walks up to me. “Hi, Tessa. I’m Mrs. Chantry. But you can call me Lila.” She smiles at me warmly.
I smile shyly and stick out my hand. “It’s nice to meet you Mrs--I mean Lila.”
She laughs and pulls me into a hug. “I don’t like shaking hands, dear.”
I stiffen at first, not entirely used to human contact. Awkwardly, I let my hands rest on her back until she pulls away, a slight frown on her face.
“I’m sorry, I was out of place.” She apologizes.
I shake my head. “No, no, no! It’s not that! I just haven’t been hugged in a while.”
Yea, ‘a while’ meaning 5 years.
She smiles at me. “Oh okay.” She turns a little and pushes me toward the two awkward looking men in my doorway.
“Let me introduce you to my family.” She says cheerily. I look at Jill for approval, not wanting her to blow up on me later. She nods her head, and I turn my head to lock gazes with a curious-looking Will. He looks between me and my stepmother, seemingly analyzing the situation.
“This is my husband, Harry.” Lila gestures to the tall man on the right. I stick out my hand.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Chantry.” I greet professionally.
He lets out a deep laugh and pulls me in for a warm hug. “Handshakes are for boring people.” He says heartily, pulling away and resting his hands on my shoulders. “It’s nice to meet you, Tessa. I must say, you are much more beautiful than what William described.”
My eyes widened as a blush crept up to my cheeks. “He... He... What?” I choke out. I look at Will with wide eyes, only to see him scratching his neck nervously, the smallest tiny of pink on his cheeks.
“Oh yes,” Lila speaks up, “he went on and on about how he thinks you are absolutely b--”
“Boring!” Will interrupts her. “Boring, and stubborn and strange and really just not my type at all.” He says hurriedly. I narrow my eyes at him as his eyes widen.
“No, no, no! Not like that! I mean you... you’re...” He struggles to speak.
“I’m what?” I ask agitatedly, placing my hands on my hips.
“Um... well... you’re... punctual...?” He scratches his neck, letting out a nervous laugh.
I scoff. “Punctual? That’s the best you could come up with?”
He laughs nervously. “Would you hate me if I said yes?”
I pretend to ponder on the idea. “Hmmm... Yes.” I affirm, spinning on my heel and making a beeline to the dining room.
What? I was really hungry.
“Oh Jill, this food is just to-die-for!” Lila says, setting her fork down on her plate.
Jill chuckles and gives Lila a smile. “Thank you, Lila. It means the world to hear that from you.”
I zoned out the conversation between the two women and focused on my food. I had barely two bites of it before Jill told me to ‘slow down’, which was her way of saying ‘stop looking like a fatty in front of these people’. Now I was staring at it, wondering if I could smuggle some of it into my room. I wouldn’t have to be planning escapades like this if Jill didn’t give me bare minimums of food.
“Is there a specific reason why you are death glaring at your food?” A voice I know as Will’s whispers in my ear.
I jump in my seat, banging my knee on the bottom of the table. I bite my lip to keep from yelling at the pain.
At this point, all conversations are paused and eyes are staring at me in confusion.
“Um... Sorry... I accidentally but my tongue...” I say sheepishly, a blush slowly creeping up to my cheeks.
Lila and Harry chuckle as Jill sends daggers my way.
“It’s fine, Dear. Are you okay?” Lila asks me with a caring smile.
I nod my head, unable to speak under Jill’s gaze.
“Forgive me, for Tessa’s... Interruption... Her table manners aren’t the best.” Jill apologizes to our guests.
Harry waves his hand in the air dismissively. “Non-sense. It’s fine.”
Jill nods curtly before turning her gaze to me. “Tessa, why don’t you go do your homework now?” She questions--more like suggests--to me. I nod quickly and stand up, taking my plate of food with me.
“And make sure to throw that food away. We don’t want ants.” She warns me.
I inwardly sigh and go to the kitchen, dumping all of that amazing looking food in the garbage can. Before walking out, I quickly glance around me. Seeing no one who could see me, I snag a banana and walk out of the kitchen.
I trudge upstairs and down the hallway, only to be halted by Tweedledee and Tweedledum themselves.
“Well, well, well, what have we here, Julia?” Tweedledee asks, crossing her arms and smirking down at me.
“Um... It’s Tessa?” Tweedledum looks at her sister exasperatedly.
Jenna sighs and glances at Julia. “I know that you idiot.” She snaps at her. Julia flinches back and looks at me with sorrowful eyes. I nod to her and hold my hands behind my back, keeping the banana out of sight.
Jenna brings her gaze back to me. “What on earth do you have there, Tessa?” Before I can react, Jenna grabs my shoulder and reaches behind me, snatching the banana out of my grasp.
She clicks her tongue and shakes her head slowly. “Naughty, naughty, Tessa. What would our mother say?” She taunts me.
I curl my hands into fists. “Jill is NOT my mother,” I growl through clenched teeth.
She barks out a laugh. “You’re right. Your mother is dead. There’s no one who loves you.” She sneers at me.
Tears brim my eyes as I push past her smirking self and storm into my room, slamming the door behind me.
I sink down to the floor and bury my face in my hands and bringing my legs to my chest.
She doesn’t understand...
No one understands...
But that doesn’t mean I can’t get revenge.
Yes, that would be nice. Maybe I can saran wrap her to her bed... Or maybe to the bottom of a pool... Or maybe the ocean... Or maybe to her bed and put her bed in the bottom of the ocean... Yea... That would wor--
“Tessa?” I hear Will’s muffled voice through the door.
I sniffle and keep quite.
“Tessa it’s Will.” He says.
Oh, no crap Sherlock.
“Tessa please let me in.” He begs.
I ponder this thought silently.
To open the door, or to not open it. THAT is the question...
“I have food.”
I scramble to my feet, fling the door open, pull a startled looking Will into my room and slam the door shut.
“GIVE IT TO ME!” I exclaim, snatching the plate of food from his hands.
He watches me with an amused look as I plop down on my bed and scarf down the edible food. He sits next to me.
“Whoa, slow down there, Princess.” He jokes.
I scowl at him. “I’ll slow down if I want to.” I take a final bite of food and set the empty plate down on my bedside table.
“Erm... Thank you.” I say sheepishly, looking at my bedsheets to hide my blush.
“Your welcome.” He replies sincerely.
“So...” I start awkwardly.
“So...” He replies with an awkward sigh.
“Some nice weather we are having, huh?” I say, referring to the drought within California’s Bay Area.
He chuckles softly and looks at me from under his lashes with a lopsided smile. “Yes, it’s quite fabulous.” He replies sarcastically.
I snort. “Did THE Will Chantry just say ‘fabulous’? My life is now complete.” I say, fanning myself with my hand in a girly manner.
“Shut up. And don’t say my name like that. It’s weird.” He says, crossing his arms like a five-year-old. I look at his face, only to see the slightest amount of pink on his cheeks.
“Oh my God!” I exclaim, pointing a finger at his face. “You’re blushing! I, Theresa Hale, have made a THE Will Chantry blush!” I crack up laughing as he scowls at me, his cheeks burning an even more vibrant color of pink.
“Shut it, Princess.” He huffs like a child.
I crack up more. “Aww... Is the little willie-poo embarrassed?” I coo while pinching his cheeks.
“Don’t call me that.” He grumbles pushes my hands away, sending a glare at me before his eyes are filled with a mischievous glint. “Wait... Did you say your full name is Theresa?” He smirks at me.
And now it is my turn to blush.
“Um... No?” The answer comes out more as a question than an answer.
His smirk grows wider. “Really? And what did you say then?”
“Um...” I struggle to find anything to say to him. “...Tacos?” I reply, screwing up my face once I realize what I said.
Will barks out with a laugh as my cheeks burn an even brighter pink. “Shut up,” I grumble, punching his arm playfully.
He shakes his head and smiles at me, tilting his head to the side.
“What?” I ask defensively, suddenly growing extremely self-conscious.
His grin grows even larger. “Nothing.” He says, still looking at me with that creepy grin plastered on his face.
I raise an eyebrow at him. “Yea, aha, whatever you say, Joker,” I reply sarcastically.
He smiles. “Do you really want to know what I was looking at and thinking?” He asks me, raising both his eyebrows questionably.
I nod my head, although in my mind I was slightly doubting my decision.
“I think you’re really beautiful when you blush.” He says to me plainly, as if that was something completely normal to say and it didn’t just send my heart into overdrive.
“Y-you what?” I choke out, looking at him with wide eyes as a blush oh-so-conveniently burns its way onto my cheeks.
He chuckles and tucks a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “I said I think you are beautiful when you blush.”
I open my mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by a voice from downstairs. “William! It’s time to leave!” I hear his father yell.
I pull my eyes from my bedroom door, only to lock gazes with Will, who seems to have gotten closer than before.
“Um... W-Will... you’re parents need you.” I say, my voice a whisper.
“Uh-huh.” He mumbles, his eyes locked on my lips.
“Will!” I snap my fingers, not liking where this is going.
He shakes his head and looks at me, his eyebrows furrowing together and giving him an adorable confused look.
Whoa, adorable? I wouldn’t say that... maybe...
“Will, you should go.” I say looking down and playing with an escape string on my bed.
He sighs but doesn’t say anything. Slowly but surely, he stands up and makes his way to the door. Just when I believe that he is no longer present, his soft voice reaches my ears.
“You really are beautiful, Tessa.” He says longingly.
And with that, he left my room, with me sitting on the bed trying to calm my heart which decided to dance to the freaking samba.
Thanks a lot, Will.