Two hours later, I called Nick. I was worried sick about mom and just about ready to burst out crying. I veltso claustrophobic, being stuck all alone at home. Especially in the status it was in. My flipping out is completly justified.
Nick answered on the fifth ring, sounding irritated.. “Yeah!” he answered the phone, sounding irritaed but trying to cover it. He probably expected it to be mom. Since I never call from our land line, if at all. The only I talk in through the land line is when dad called from work.
“N-Nick?” was all I could get before the Cam broke and my tears started spilling down my cheek in a stream.
“Sydney?” Nick asked confusedly, like he wanted to make sure it was me. I only ever bother to call me in emergencies. But even then, only through texts. Plus, I never touch the land line as much as I can avoid it.
“N-Nick, mom is – mom is- is missing?” I said in between hicups. Confirming it out loud, to Nick only made me to cry harder.
“What!” he exclaimed, clearly taken back by surprise. Then their was silence on his end of the line, only broken by my constant sniffling. I guess he was trying to process this unexpected information, I’d sprung on him out of the blue. I’d have tried to tell him in a much more subtler manner. But this is easier said than done. Specially since I was too busy flipping out. I know I shouldn’t blow thngs out of propotiong. It was so hard not to when you looked at the status the livning room was in... and kitchen... and the master bedroom.
After what felt like forever, nick took a deep breath and calmly asked me whether I checked the flower shop –probably forgetting that was where he dropped me off after school.
“I checked the whole shop twice, and home and I even called her and her phone was switched off and… and… Nick, I’m scared and I don’t know what to do. What if something happened to her or- or-” I rambled off in a rush. Truely scared for the sake of my stepmom.
“Shh... Shh... Shut, calm down. Now tell me where you are?” he asked me in a soothing voice. This is why I love my brother so much. He could always find the best way to calm me down. To stop me when I go off rambling or over-reacting.
“H-home” I sniffed, wiping my eyes uselessly, ’cause they were soon replaced by new one flowing out of my eyes.
“O…kay, don’t worry. I’ll be there in…” Bell paused for a moment, clearly calculating the time. “Five, don’t worry Sydney. She might have just gone to visit her friend” the last part he added making his tone light. Still, I could read the worry deep in his voice. He knew that I wouldn’t have jumped to this conclution just for nothing.
I nodded my head in answer before remembering that he couldn’t see me. Even by then, Nick had already hung up.
Alone once again, I stepped out of the claustrophobic house, to wait for Nick. I sat myself down on the top porch step and pulled my knee to my chest, wrapping my arms around my thigh and burying my face in my thighs.
I must have been there for five miniutes later - it felt way longer - when I heard a car screech to a stop in front of my house. I wasn’t really paying any attention to it though. Had I been paying attention, I’d have heard hurried footsteps, before the car came to a complete half. I did however, hear the car door slam shut. Nick yelling out my name startled me to look up.
Bitting my lips in worry - so I wouldn’t guest out crying all over again - I scrambled to my feet. By then he and his friends he reached me. I couldn’t even bring myself to care that Cam was amoung them. Or that he’d surely make fun of me for this once we get to school - he wasn’t insensitive enough to make fun of me right now. Truthfully, I was too busy to being worried about mom to care about that.
I quickly attached myself to him, wrapping my arms around his torso and burying my face in his chest. “Come on, Sydney, let’s g inside and talk” Nick told me softly, petting my hair. He was trying to reassure me, but I could tell that he was worried - not really about mom.
I nodded my head into his chest and he un-attached me from him and led us inside. The guys followed silently. Upon entering the house all of stopped dead on our tracks.
“God!” someone swore. “What the hell happened here?” another someone asked looking at our living room in shook. I was too much in distress to bother to place anyone’s voice. The reason they all swore was because the living room was up-side-down.
Cushions strewn across, the lamps knocked aside, the TV. not in it’s stand the bookshelf knocked down and broken. It’s contents thrown and scattered all over the floor. The couches moved, the coffee-table on the floor, the vase in splinters on the floor, the flowers all over the floor. It was really a sad sight to see, and something my sister cannot create. That was just not her style. Though Tania might, but she wasn’t here, neither was Dustin.
“Did you do this?” Daniel - a guy in the football team - asked near me. Now that I was no longer in hysterics, I cold identify who spine. I shook her head and Nick grunted - he knew that I’d never pull something like this, even if I lost my mind - but neither of us said anything.
After a short pause, Nick turned me around to face him. “How long ago did you get home?” he asked me.
“Fi-fifteen minutes ago” I strutted sniffing slightly. I knew very well that it was not what he was asking. Grunting frustratedly, he shook my shoulder and muttered “Sydney”.
I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand to no appeal, since more replaced them in a sec. I shrank to the floor sniffing and said “After you dropped me off at the shop I went in to find no one their, I checked the greenhouse, twice to make sure, but she was not there in the shop, so I stayed in the shop to water the plants, I was there for like an hour. Then I went to granny’s pet shop, MY PET, and stayed their for another half-an-hour and then went back to the shop, since it was still closed I came home to find the living room, kitchen and her bedroom looking like this (gesturing to the living room).
I checked the whole house, you room, my room, Tania’s room, Dustin’s room her bedroom, all the bathroom’s, kitchen, living room, backyard, driveway, garage, everywhere. I double checked to make sure. After that I called you and…” I trailed off, since he knew the rest of the story. “See, my flipping off is completely justified” I cried into my brothers chest, he had knelt beside me as I told him everything I knew.
I felt a gently hand touch my shoulder. A hand that didn’t belong to my brother. “Completely justified. I’d have called the police if I found my house in this status” that voice belonged to none other than Cam.
I looked up at Nick worriedly. “Don’t worry sweety, she’ll be fine.” He said reassuringly, hugging me and stroking my hair. I leaned into his touch, but I wasn’t really reassured. “She might be in a friend’s house and her battery is dead, so her phone is off.”
I sat back on my ankle smiling slightly at his effort. “And all this?” I asked, gesturing around the upside-down living room. Hoping against hope that he’ll have a valid reason for this as well.
“Maybe someone broke into the house or something” Paul suggested excited and rather himself a glare from everyone. Daniel smacked Paul upside the head and said “or maybe Tania lost something and was trying to find it.” This lifted the mood and I giggled into my hand imagining a frustrated Tania pulling apart the house.
Soon enough everyone started to guess stupidest things they could think of that happened to the living room. While I was smiling and enjoying the boys company, I was still very worried about mom.
Nick must’ve noticed, as he suggested we clean up the living room. I could that he was trying to distract me from thinking about mom. Cam and the guys volunteered to help and sonce they were all guys, they wouldn’t let me to help. Truthfully, I enjoyed bossing them around. This was a rare opportunity and I wasn’t about to let it pass.
Cam, Leo and Paul were all arranging the items of the bookcase, when Cam let out a long whistle. “Cute, she your girlfriend Nick?” He asked looking at a shattered photo frame.
My head snapped up to look at him startled. “What girlfriend?” I demanded as I pulled on Cam’s arm lower to see the picture.
My face instantly flamed up, when I saw the picture, and slapped a hand to my eyes - covering them, in embarassment. Nick, who had come up behind me yell, “Good Lord. NO!”
it was a photo taken after Nick’s last football game in high school, back in australia. We were standing on the football feild after the game. Nick was grinning widely at the camera,his arms wrapped around the blonde cheerleader’s waist. She had he hand wrapped around Nick’s neck pompoms still in her hand - and was grinning at the camera as widely as Nick was. He had her lifted off the floor and her legs were bent upwards.
“Eww... guys, Thatme my little sister!” Nick exclaimed when the boys all looked at him like he was mad. He made a face at the end of his sentence, looking as creeped out as I felt.
“Tania?” Malcom asked, looking surprised. “Wow! I mean, she looks different.”
Nick snorted at Malcom. “No, not Tania. Sydney” he said with a shrug, like it was no big deal.
“Sydney?” all the guys chorused, looking at Nick ineven more shock than when they though it was Tania. They looked from he photo to me, then back at the photo and then again at me. It wasn’t a much of a surprise that they seemed to be unable to believe it. Because this picture had been taken when I used to dye my hair blond and was in the cheerleadOMG squad - in Australia. When Nick was still going to high school and I was dating Mark. It was taken in much happier times.
“Well, I guess you can see the resemblence if you look at it this way.” Cam commented, holding the photo above him and looking at it by cocking his head to the side.
“You used to be a cheerleader?” Daniel asked me, ignoring Cam’s comment. I shrugged my shoulder in reply and turned back to the task at hand.
I really didn’t needed to remember those memories I’d had a hard time burying as deep as my mind would allow me to. I didn’t need to drown into them once more. There was a reason I was trying to forget my time as a cheerleader, my time in highschool in australia.
From there everyone went back to there own tasks, finding an old photo here and there, but I never went to look. Nick answered any questions they had and none of the boys bombarded me with questuons about being a cheerleader.
Anyway, with the guys help, soon the living room was arranged as best as we could - with most of the broken stiff - and we moved to the kitchen. Since the whole football team was there - andthey weren’t even winded by all the stuff they had to careful - all the work was finished within 5:30. Now, only the master bedroom was left,but I wasn’t about to allow the boys in there. What with all the undergarments scatteredall over the room and all.
It was until after everything wassomewhat back to normal that they sat all over the living room and started to go through all the photos they had found scattered around the living room - the photo album having been torn to shreds.
Feeling sorry for the guys, and thankful for all their help, I made everyone drinks. I wasn’t in the least bit tired as the boys didn’t let me to do any actual work, only to instruct them which goes where. I sevred the drinks with a whole tone of snacks that I could find in the kitchen.
“By the way, Nick I’m going back down to ‘Flora’, to check, just in case” I added in a please don’t argue voice.
“Fine, but you’re not going alone” he informed I grunted in protest, but I didn’t tell anything. I wasn’t in the mood to argue with Nick. Besised, I really wanted to check the shop, in case mom had come back.
“I’ll go with her” Cam instantly volunteered. I gave him a sharp look, but kept my mouth shut. “I didn’t want him to not let me.
Nick looked at me with an raised eyebrow and smirked seeing me seething silently. “Yeah, whatever” he replied uncaringly, waving at us to emphasis his point.
I didn’t like the idea of going with Cam, I didn’t want him to know my work place as well, but knowing my brother he will not send me to the shop otherwise and I didn’t want to be rude and ask him to send me with someone else. So that meant I’ll have to go along with Cam. My life is great.
“Call me if mom is there” he called before I got to the door, followed by Cam. “You too” I called behind me and went out.
As we stepped out I was stuck with a thought that Cam was up to something, he had been too quick to volunteer. But in the state I was in I couldn’t care any less.
“So…” Cam said all conversationally and I looked up at him – he towered a good feet over me– waiting for him to go on. “You didn’t exactly decline my offer or make a fuss with your brother on going with me. So you like me, despite what your mouth tells” he said with a cocky grin that showed his white teeth.
I smiled and shook my head. “I didn’t say anything because knowing my brother he would not have let me out the house unless I took someone with me” I said to him and he looked at me with raised eyebrows and a puzzled look. He was clearly wondering if I was the same girl from over the weekend.
He had after all not met the real me, who was a nice and friendly person, where as he brought out the bad-mouthed, idiot out of me. And the bad-mouthed idiot was who he had met. He brought out that side of me and when talking to him my mouth doesn’t listen to me to be nice, which is a bit annoying.
He started to say “you didn’t-” when I stumbled on a stone, I would have fallen flat on my face if he hadn’t caught me. “Easy” he said, straightening me. I mumbled a small thankx, which I wasn’t sure he had heard.
“Can’t stop staring? I’m getting good signal’s here, you know” he smirked. I shook my head but I didn’t tell anything to him. What was the point anyway? He was just going to keep insisting I liked him despite what I say and we both are only going to end up bickering. Even then he is not going to let go of it, my life was going down the drain. Might as well accept it and get on with life.
I can only wish he had taken someone else’s company to tease, someone who’d enjoy his company.
He was about to say something when a feminine voice squealed “Cam.” The both of us turned to face the road –we had been looking at each other– and saw Tania, Darcy and Lucy making there way toward us.
“Hey” Cam said and that was all the acknowledgement they got from him since he turned back to me. “That’s twice you didn’t deny what I said, so you do really like me, huh?” he asked me seriously, but still looking smug.
“Are you going to accept it if I tell you I don’t like you?” I questioned him, talking more like myself than the foul-mouthed idiot I made myself in front of Cam the past few days.
He looked thoughtful before telling “not really, because you do like me.” I gave him a meaningful look that said so-what’s-the-point? And started walking again, by then my sister and her two friends had caught up to us.
“Where could the two of you be going at a time like this?” Lucy asked cheerily, but she couldn’t keep the venom completely out of her voice though she did a good job at covering it. She was talking in front of Cam, so she had to be sweet.
“To the flower shop, we are finding for Sydney’s mom” he informed them casually. I’m sure he was used to being cornered by random girls and answering random questions for them. He was the play-boy of our school for nothing I guess.
Only now did he sounded a little irritated with having met these girls or was it just me being paranoid –as usual. I’m sure it was just me. The girls didn’t seem too happy to see him with me either, he was their dream date and that meant anyone out of their rank cannot date him.
When he said we were looking for my mother, Tania narrowed her eyes unbelieving-ly. “Step-mom” I corrected him under my breath.
“My apologies, we are looking for Sydney’s step-mom” he corrected himself, such a gentleman. Too bad he wasn’t always like that and I’d have considered him.
“What happened to her?” Tania asked not so pleasantly. She hates mom, but loved our really mother. The same woman who gave birth to us, but couldn’t bother to stick around to watch us grow. Oh, I’m bitter alright, bitter that she left us when I was only two years old. That she left my dad to take care of three little kids all on his own.
“Sydney came up with the crazy idea that she was missing” Cam informed her earning him a glare from me. “Crazy idea?” I shrieked at him shocked. “Did you not see the state our house was in?” I asked him disbelieving. How could he even- oh right, he was Cam Striker, the evil-bastard.
Tania, Darcy and Lucy looked at me startled. “Finally got you to react to something” Cam cheered his own stupid static. I just glared at him huffing. Then I rolled my eyes and pushed my way through the three cheerleaders and stormed towards the flower shop. Cam couldn’t have any idea how hard his stupidity affected me. Even more so since I was already on edge.
He caught on to me soon enough, followed by Tania, Darcy and Lucy. “Hey take it easy, I was just joking” he said to me, but I was too pissed with him and I didn’t bother replying to him. After that I pretty much walked in silence. That was because Tania, Darcy and Lucy kept asking him question after question near Cam and he was busy answering them and enjoying their company to bother with me.
As I expected the shop was empty but since Darcy said she wanted to bye flowers for her mom I let them in and stayed, I was the one with the key and I had to lock-up before leaving. Cam was dragged away by Darcy when he apporached me, so he shopped around with them while I stayed back, by the coumter.
With Darcy he too bought a bouquet. I gave both of them the flowers for free. For Darcy because she was my sisters’ friend, for Cam because he had helped me out at home with arranging the living room and all, so I let him buy the bouquet for free.
I left the shop with Cam after he bought a bouquet, Tania and her two friends were still looking around so asking Tania to lock up the shop I left with Cam, I wasn’t in the mood to stay in the shop. Actually I wasn’t in the mood to do anything. I even forgot to be surprised that Tania and her friends hadn’t even tried to follow us and let him off with me.
Cam asked me whether we could stop by his house and leave the bouquet he bought at home. I agreed to go, not really thinking straight. So we stopped by Cam’s place.
Upon entering I noticed a guy watching TV. He looked a lot like Cam. He had his same green eyes and silky black hair. He also had Cam same facial features. Only, he looked to be around Nicolas’s age.
The guy looked up from the TV screen when we entered the house. “Welcome home Cam” the guy said, probably not noticing me standing behind Cam.
“Bruce? What are you doing here?” Cam asked sounding for some reason surprised.
“You might not have heard of it brother, but this happens to be my house as well” the guy, Bruce, replied to Cam in a bored voice, but at the same time sounding amused.
“I meant what you are doing at home instead of at work” Cam asked through gritted teeth. By this tone was light.
“Had a little argument with the boss, got fired. End of story” Bruce replied bored-ly switching through channels. That was when his eyes landed on me. He looked me up and down and whistled low and long. “Who is this beauty?” He asked Cam who rolled his eyes, but it made me blush madly. He had called me beauty.
“You know this is the first time you have ever brought a proper girl home, Cam” Bruce went on not even waiting for an answer, but his eyes travelled up and down my body again.
My blush deepened while Cam said calmly “we are not dating.” His reply made me role my eyes. “As if I’d ever go out with a jerk like him” I snorted getting a glare from Cam and a raised eyebrow look from Bruce. “I’m Sydney Blake by the way” I added to Bruce holding out my hand.
“What! Kiss me Blake?” Bruce exclaimed, wide eyed.
I turned a deep shade of red while Cam spluttered out laughing. “K-kiss me B-Blake. Oh my god that’s hilarious” he said laughing so hard he was doubled over.
I shot him a glare before I told to Bruce, “Not kiss me, Sydney”
He took my hand and instead of shaking it he kissed it saying “My apologies. I’m Bruce Striker, this… jerks? Brother” he said to me not letting go of my hand. But there had been a question mark behind ‘jerk’.
“Sydney give me a min, I’ll be right back” Cam said to me just then and hurried upstairs, leaving me with Bruce.
“Could you by any chance be Nicolas Blake’s sister?” Bruce asked, taking me by surprise.
Was there anyone who didn’t know my brother?
“Yeah, I am” I said to him in reply just when Cam re-appeared downstairs again.
“So what brings such a fine little lady to our humble adobe?” Bruce asked with a debilish smirk that looked exactly like his brothers. I must’ve been subjected to it enough to know. “After all, by what Nicolas said... you and my brother don’t get along very well.” He went on not waiting for a reply.
my Jaw dropped in astonishment. “You’re friends with Nick?” I asked bouncing on the balls of my feet. Excited to meet one of Nick’s friends. I mean, back in australia I knew every single one of Nick’s friends. Now I didn’t know a single one of his friends. I’ve never personally met them - Cam and his football team not counting.
Laughing at my obvious excitement, Bruce nodded his head.
“Seriously? This is so awesome!” I exclaimed, by now bouncing up and down in happiness. “Like I finally get to meet a friend of Nick’s.” I gushed on in my excitement of meeting him.
Still laughing, he caught me and stopped me from bouncing. “Yes, it’s nice to finally meet you to” he said holding me down. Though it was his words that stopped me from boincing and look up at him curiously.
“Let’s just say that, you are... somewhat... known to all of us” he told me, stopping often to find the right word. I blinked up at him a little lost. I understood by ‘us’ he meant his group of friends. “You know, because you always text Nicolas asking him to come home or asking him permission to go somewhere. Truth is, he used to always laugh at his phone whenever message comes.So one day, we bugged it out of him, thinking he had a secret girlfriend, about whom he wasn’t telling us about. You can imagine our shock when we realized it was only his little sister. Yep, we’ve been waiting for a chance to meet you. You won’t even believe how irked the guys would be if they know I met you and they didn’t.”
“Well then, a pleasure to meet to you too” I said, sticking my hand out and smiling widely up at him.
He laighed again and shook my hand, shaking is head. “Now, you didn’t answer my question. What brings you and Cam here?” he repeated, his eyebrows raised as he looked at us inquiringly and astonishedly.
“Oh, Sydney’s, step-mom went missing and...” it was Cam who told him the story - as it was - while I waited patiently for him to finish. Sure I was anxious to get home, but it felt like we owed Bruce an explanation.
As soon as he heard the story, he asked us to go on ahead and that he’ll be right behind us. So we said bye to Bruce and made it to my house. Where the situation hadn’t gotten any better.
Half-an-hour later and I was sitting in the couch, cuddled next to Nick. Cam, Leo, Daniel and Bruce (he came a few miniutes after we came home) were the only ones in our house now, the others having left sometime earlier.
Tania, who had come home when I was still at Cam’s place - had left as well. She’d said something about girl’s night or something.
Nick suggested he’d call the police twhen it started getting late, but I stopped telling him not to –in case she really was in a friends place. But the true reason was that I didn’t want to make it official by calling in the cops. I think even Nick understood that and agreed to not call the cops.
The boys were still looking something on TV. I was not paying any real attention, when the phone rang at around 6:45 p.m.
We all hurried to the phone and Nick answered. “Hello?” he answered and waited for a miniute for whoever was on the other line to reply. He waited a long time without replying, only occationally nodding his head or grunting in reply. “Alright, I’ll tell Sydney........... Okay........... I know Mary........ Fine, Bye” he said - more like snapped the last part - and hung up.
We all looked up at him expectantly, waiting for him to fill us in. Mary is moms name, so it had to be her. Rubbing his temple, he turned to us. “She’s fine” he muttered and all of us let out a sigh of relife as one. I hadn’t even noticed that I was holding my breath.
“She said she won’t be able to come home today, so why don’t we all go out to dinner. Mom’s treat.” He added the last part with a strained smile. I could tell he didn’t want to bring up the conversation he just had with mom. He was definitly hidding something.
The guys all instantly agreed with his plan. So we headed out for dinner. I’ll catch Nick later.