A British Summer

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Chapter Sixteen

After they all drag themselves out of the lake, dripping wet, they decide to make an evening of it. Thierry goes to shower in Nicks bathroom, Emily showers in the main bathroom and Olivia, and Lily take turns with the shower adjoining to hers and Emily’s room. When they are all washed, Emily lends Thierry a pair of joggers and t-shirt from Nicks closet and Olivia had lends Lily a pink co-ordinated lounge set from her suitcase. They sit down around the fire drinking whiskey. A special mix by Lily. The sky outside is a dark blue and there are billions of stars, scattered across the night sky. It’s silent out of the windows. The only tell-tale sign of life are the four youngsters who sit in the comfort of a handsome home, relaxed in each other’s company and acting like tomorrow will never come. They each chug down glasses of the burning nectar. “Okay, truth or dare?” Thierry asks Emily.

“No, no. We’re not playing that.” Olivia laughs uncomfortably. She can see Emily shake her head. “Why not?” Emily asks. “It’ll be fun.” Funny, seeing as there is no humour behind the way she said that. “Fine.” Olivia mumbles. Emily thinks.

“Dare.” Thierry looks around, then down at the glasses and the bottle of whiskey on the side.

“I dare you to take three shots of whiskey in one go.” Olivia can’t see this ending well. Emily grabs the bottle from the side and pours into three shot glasses. Thierry hands her a beaker and she pours the three shots into one glass. Without taking a beat, Emily lifts the beaker and swallows it down. Her face contorts and Olivia can literally see her eyes swim when she opens them again. She splutters a little then exhales like she just ate something spicy, with a “Woooo!” She sits back down and slams the beaker down on the table. Lily covers her mouth with her hand in mock shock. “Wow, you’re going to be absolutely wasted.”

“Yolo baby.” Emily slurs. Lily sits up onto her knees and looks around the group.

“Olivia.” She points a finger. Emily puts up her hand.

“I wanted to do Olivia’s.” Lily shakes her head, knowing what would come of that.

“I got there first, you snooze you lose…Olivia, truth or dare?” Olivia contemplates. Emily isn’t asking the questions, so the safest bet is probably going to be truth. “Truth.” Lily ponders.

“I have a few questions.” Emily interrupts. Lily doesn’t give her the chance to speak.

“What’s your dream job?” Emily rolls her eyes and Thierry shakes his head.

“Are we in primary school? What kind of question is that? How about, how many people have you slept with, or what’s your favourite position?” He laughs. Lily punches him in the leg. “Don’t be so crude. It’s my question, I’ll ask what I like.” Emily knocks on the table like knocking on a door. “Or she could answer all three? I think that’d be fair.” Olivia bites her lip.

“Two and CEO.” Thierry claps his hands. They’ve all heard that response to the position question, plenty of times before and Olivia is grateful for it in that moment. Lily frowns. “Wait, you didn’t answer mine.” Olivia squirms. She doesn’t know how to answer Lily’s question and it’s a bit embarrassing. Doesn’t everyone have a dream job? Why doesn’t she? Emily scoffs. “Good luck getting an answer out of her for that one. No one knows. Do tell, Olivia, what is your dream job?” Emily doesn’t act like this. It’s not who she is and Olivia has never wanted to slap her as much in her life, even when she had kissed the boy she’d liked in year nine, she’d forgiven her, and right now she can imagine herself diving over the table and giving her a good kick in the shin. “Actress.” She says. “That’d be quite cool, doing something different every day, living a hundred different lives.” For a brief second a look of pride crosses Emily’s face. A dream is a goal. A dream job is a goal one can potentially achieve. This is the first time in Emily’s life that she has ever heard Olivia say there’s something she aspires to be. She can’t help but show the pride on her face and Olivia sees it. “You’d make a brilliant actress.” Emily mumbles. The table gang go quiet and Olivia gazes at Emily. Is that a thaw in the ice queen, she sees? As soon as it’s there, it is gone. “My turn.” She snaps. Turning on her cold glare. She fiddles with her glass and then the bracelet on her wrist. She looks to Thierry and a cunning smirk draws across her mouth. “Thierry. Truth or dare?” He smirks back.

“Dare.”

“Kiss Olivia.” She demands. Olivia’s heart beats out of her chest. Why would Emily do that? Thierry doesn’t wait a second. He leans over the couch, grabs Olivia by her ears and kisses her. It’s not a bad kiss. Olivia accepts that, he’s a good kisser but this could be a game to win a million pounds, it still wouldn’t be right. He’s not Nick. She pulls back and tries to count how many seconds it was. Was it three, maybe more? Should she have pulled away sooner? She wipes her lip with her thumb and Thierry sits back, with a large grin on his face. Lily sits, her mouth agape. Olivia looks at Emily and throws her the deepest look of resentment she can. Emily’s face is expressionless. She looks down, then back up at Olivia. Her eyebrows crease. She walks across to the kitchen and grabs a hand full of snacks, bringing them over to the group. She opens them up and waves for everyone to dig in. Lily and Thierry dive in and start munching away. Olivia and Emily stare at each other across their heads, the way a lion would stalk its prey in the wild. Olivia can’t take it anymore, she stands up and storms out, stomping her way to the dock. Poppy, who has been sitting in her bed, watching the drama unfold, hops out of her bed and follows Olivia out of the door.

The night air is humid. The earlier breeze is gone, and Olivia can’t help but wish she was anywhere else. She sits down on the dock and lets Poppy sit on her knee. She strokes behind the dog’s ear. Crickets chirp in the nearby field. She looks up at the stars and thinks back to the day in the field up Owd’ Betts. The same day she’d met Nick and the same day she’d been introduced to Isabelle, who at the time she had thought to be a romantic relation to Nick, but as it turns out, is a producer and a potential ally for Olivia to try out for a life in the film industry. All of those things. That whole day that had posed questions and stirred feelings, those stars that they had seen. The plane that they had mistook for a shooting star and the way Emily had gushed about Loui. The whole damned day and the best part for Olivia was being in the middle of nowhere, sipping whiskey and talking crap with her best friend. With her sister. How could things get so messy? How could they have turned sour so fast. She hears footsteps approaching and turns in the hopes it may be Emily, coming to sort out the mess. It’s not. Thierry stops beside her and sits down. He is grinning. “You’ve got amazing lips.” Olivia grunts and covers her eyes.

“No.” Thierry’s face falls.

“What’s wrong?” He asks. She is not comfortable in this situation and the last thing she wants to do is hurt him. “I’m not…I’m not available.” She whispers.

“You’re not?” He is shocked. “Then, why did you flirt with me?” Now she is shocked. Is that what she had been doing? Flirting? Maybe she had. “Look, I’m sorry if that’s the impression I was giving. I like you and your sister a lot and I really wanted to be friends with you. I know that Emily likes you both, too. Maybe I was trying too hard and it came off the wrong way?” Thierry thinks a moment then waves her off. “Nah. That’s not it. You weren’t trying too hard at all. I think, sometimes when you like someone so much, you look for signs that they like you too. If I hadn’t been interested in you the way I am, then…then you’d just be a really cool friend. Don’t sweat it. I misread things, that’s not your fault.” Olivia has never heard such an accepting speech come from a guy before. In her experience when she has had to turn someone down, they had called her a slut and shamed her for teasing them, even when she’d had absolutely no ulterior motives beyond being friends. Thierry is a wonderful human being. “You are amazing, do you know that?” She asks. He shrugs. “No, really you are. You’re such a lovely guy and anyone else would be lucky as hell to have you.” He pushes her playfully in the arm. “Stop, you’ll make me blush.” He laughs. “And look, I kissed you. You didn’t kiss me, so you’ve nothing to feel bad for.”

“Really?”

“Really. I practically attacked you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you took me to court. I’d take it like a man. I would.” Olivia chuckles. “And, Emily. I have no idea what’s going on there, not a clue, but…when guys fight, we just get it all out in the open. Talk about it, throw a punch if we have to, then we shake hands and move on.”

“Are you saying I should punch Emily?”

“Or let her punch you…but, those cuts and bruises are healing up nicely, if I were you, I’d tell her to punch you in the stomach.” They laugh together. “Come on. Come back inside.” He stands up and holds out a hand for her. She takes it and they walk back towards the house together. Poppy, once again, running by her heels. As they are on their way back in, Emily runs past, Lily trying to catch her. Lily stops by the pair. “She’s being stupid. She’s had way too much to drink. I’ve just had to coax her down from playing monkey bars on the banister!” Olivia turns just as Emily starts to climb the tree where the tyre swing hangs. “Oh my god.” She runs over, Thierry and Lily behind her. Poppy gets there first. She stands on her hind legs and barks up at the tree. Emily makes kissing noises, teasing her from her great height. Olivia looks up at her friend. “Emily, get down, you’re going to hurt yourself!”

“Like you care?” She calls. The branches bend and creak. She climbed beyond the trunk and is up in the fragile branches. They’re too weak and Olivia nearly hurls at the thought that they’re going to break, and her friend is going to fall. Olivia climbs the tree. She sets her bare feet carefully on the trunk, bending her toes to keep her grip. “Be careful.” Lily says. Thierry pushes her up a little, giving her a helping hand. Olivia keeps climbing till she is on the sturdy branch and she stands, holding a hand up to Emily above her. “Take hold of my hand and I’ll help you back down.” Emily shakes her head, swaying where she sits.

“Why would I trust you? You’d just let me fall.”

“Why would I do that? Emily, I love you. You’re my best friend, I’d never, ever do anything to intentionally hurt you. How can you not know that?” Emily shakes he head again.

“Well, too late.” Olivia snaps.

“What the fuck is your problem? I get it! I kissed your bloody uncle! And I’m sorry okay! I’m sorry! I didn’t expect to have feelings for him, it just happened. And I wasn’t going to do anything about it but then I started to find out he felt the same way and then I nearly drowned to death and he saved me, and it was all really confusing and scary, and I kissed him! I know I shouldn’t have because it’s weird for you. We’ve been friends forever and he’s your uncle and he’d die for you, and I’d die for you and it’s weird, I know! And I should have spoken to you first, when I figured out how I felt. You asked me if I had feelings for him and I said no. I lied. I betrayed you and I’m sorry! I’m sorry okay?!” Olivia can’t breathe. She barely took a breath during her whole rant and she didn’t even realise that she’d delivered the speech, looking at the tree trunk. She takes a second to gather back her courage and looks up at Emily. She is crying and laughing at the same time. “Why are you laughing?” She asks, afraid of the answer.

“That’s all I wanted.” She splutters, tears still running down her face. “For you to realise why I was mad and why I was upset. You’ve known me forever and my own best friend didn’t even know why I’d be mad. When have I ever stood between anyone and someone they truly wanted to be with? I’m a romantic. I wouldn’t care if it was your third cousin, I’d still give you my blessing if you were in love.”

“Okay, please don’t talk about me being in love with a cousin. That’s super weird. Please come down.”

“I don’t care that he’s my uncle. Okay? It’s weird. It’s super weird, yeah, and if you guys ever get married, I’m not calling you aunty. It’s not happening. Nick is like…he’s more like a big brother. That’s who he is to me. So…I guess, if you guys did ever get married, you’d be more like my sister. Which is great! Because, I already consider you my sister.”

“We’re not getting married, Emily. Is that what you think about? That’s terrifying.”

“I know! I was just mad that you didn’t tell me. That you lied. And now, you’ve told me and you’re sorry that you lied.” The tree creaks again and Olivia hears something snapping.

“Emily, please come down, please. You’re going to hurt yourself.”

“I lied too.” She is blubbering now. Snot and tears running a marathon down her face. “I lied. I’m running away with Loui! We’re running away! But you can’t tell anyone, because they’ll stop us! I don’t want to leave, but I love him. I love him so much Olivia, I had to lie. I had to, for the sake of my future.” Olivia knows this and she doesn’t want to tell Emily that she knows this. “It’s okay. I forgive you.”

“You do?” She cries again. “But won’t you miss me? We’re running away after all. To Italy!”

“You’re so dramatic! Do either of you even speak Italian.” Emily’s bottom lip wobbles.

“Nope.” She cries again. Olivia is still terrified for her safety.

“Emily, please come down.”

“Come with us! Yes! You and Nick can come with us! You know you want to be an actress now! You can perform in Venetian plays or we could go to Rome and you can play Juliet at the Coliseum.” She shifts slightly and the branch breaks, bending down to the ground. Emily loses her, already unsteady, balance and falls from the tree. Olivia throws out her hand and tries to grab her but misses, so she throws herself from the sturdy branch and tries to catch her full body. Instead, Olivia hits the ground first and Emily lands on top of her. Her back scrapes along the floor and her elbow throbs, but her head is safe. She looks up and Lily had put her hand in the way in a bid to save her. Lily pulls her hand out and the back is cut up from being crushed. Thierry lifts Emily off Olivia and Olivia stands up. She brushes off the dirt and turns to Lily. “Are you okay?” Lily picks out a small piece of stick from her hand.

“I’m fine. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, thanks to you.” She turns to Emily who is leaning on Thierry’s shoulder, half asleep.

“She needs to lie down.” Thierry advises. They look her over and check for marks, making sure that she didn’t bang her head or break any bones. Thanks to Olivia cushioning her fall, and Lily cushioning Olivia’s head, there isn’t a mark on her. Emily leans forward and throws up on the floor.

Thierry and Lily help Olivia haul Emily up the stairs and onto their bathroom floor. She curls up around the toilet. “Are you going to be okay?” Lily asks.

“We can stay if you want?” Thierry offers. Olivia shakes her head.

“I think I’ve got it from here.” They hug and the twins leave. Olivia sits down beside Emily, holding her hair back as she throws up again into the toilet. “It’s okay.” She sooths, rubbing her back. “I’m sorry I was such a cow.” Emily slurs. “I won’t tell him about Thierry. I won’t. That was me. I was…” She throws up again and breathes heavily.

“Shh. It’s okay.”

“No. I was trying to see. To be sure. You weren’t into it. Not the same way…I’m sorry. I miss Loui so much. I think, I was just jealous to see somebody else happy…do you love him?” Olivia didn’t expect that question, though she should have. “I don’t know, yet.” Is the only reply she can think of. “Then you don’t.” Emily whispers. “Not yet. You’d know if you did.”

“Do you? Love Loui?” Emily sobs.

“More than I thought, till he wasn’t around anymore and then I knew.” She throws up again. “Urgh.” She grunts. “Disgusting.” Olivia laughs a little.

“Better out than in…do you think you’ll remember that we’re friend again, when you’re sober?” Emily shrugs.

“I hope so…that’d be awkward if not.” She closes her eyes and lies her head on the floor. “I think I’m done.” She mumbles. Olivia helps her up off the floor, gently and leads her through to her room. She sets her down on the bed and covers her up. “Don’t leave me…I don’t want to be alone. I’m such a train wreck.” Olivia chuckles.

I’m a train wreck.” She says.

“We’re both train wrecks.” Is the last thing Emily murmurs before passing out. Olivia pulls up a chair and rests beside her. “Love you sis.” She yawns and falls asleep where she sits.

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