The Wanderers

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chapter 3

Ginger woke me up in the morning, like she always does. “Hey girl,” I said, scratching her head. I looked at the clock. It was eight o’clock in the morning. “I wish you could tell time. That way you would know not to wake me up this early on a Saturday,” I groaned, stumbling out of bed.

I took off my clothes from last night and put on some comfy pants and a tank top. I slid into my slippers and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. After I wiped off what was left of my makeup I head downstairs.

My mom was already in the kitchen starting breakfast. “Want some help?” I offered making her jump.

“Goodness Ella, you scared me.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to,” I said leaning on the counter.

“It’s okay sweetie. You can help by setting the table.” And I did just that. Thankfully I didn’t have to wake my brothers this morning.

After breakfast I helped my mom clean up, then go upstairs to take a shower, but had to wait because Xander was currently occupying the bathroom. I gathered all my toiletries and towel while I waited for Xander to be finished.

When I heard the shower turn off, I picked up my stuff, and stepped out into the hall where I found Dean standing in front of the bathroom door. “What are you doing?” I asked him.

“Waiting to get in the bathroom.”

“Oh no you don’t. I’m next.”

“Ha!” he laughed.

Xander opened the door, took one look at us, and jumped out of the way. I charged for the door, but Dean was closer. I managed to get there in enough time to keep him from shutting the door. I pushed with everything I had and he pushed back harder. “Dean!” I screamed and he laughed.

“Give up, Ella!”

“Never!” I lost my footing allowing Dean to close and lock the door. I pounded and kicked the door, demanding he open it. I could hear him laughing. Then, to piss me off even more, he started humming a tune, acting like he couldn’t hear me.

I screamed, annoyed.

“What is going on?” my mom asked.

“Dean knew I was waiting to get in –”

She put up her hand to stop me. “Your father is on a very important phone call and is not to be disturbed. So keep your voice down.” I crossed my arms and stomped my foot ready to throw a hissy fit. “You can use our shower,” she said, ending the discussion. I picked up all my stuff and carried it into my parent’s bathroom.

After my shower, I felt a little ridiculous for the way I acted, but I was tired of always being last and taking cold showers.

I shrugged off the earlier drama and headed back to my room. On my way there I overheard my mom and dad arguing in the den.

“You Promised Liam!” my mom pleaded.

“I know, but I have to break that promise.”

“What about your daughter who leaves for college next week. This weekend was for her, to spend time with her before she left. To make sure she was okay to leave.” My mom was angry and she rarely got angry.

“Damn it Jamila I know!” I jumped at the sound of my father’s fist coming down on his desk. “But if I don’t finish this deal we may lose everything.”

“I don’t care. The only thing I care about is this family.”

“And so do I. That is why it is so important that I finish this. Do you understand that?” my father said in a low growl.

“I understand,” she whispered. With her head down, she turned to leave.

I quickly ran to my room and closed the door behind me. I never heard my parents argue like that, especially over me, and what did they mean to make sure I was okay? Did they still think I couldn’t handle going to school? That I’d have a relapse and breakdown? I slowly sat on my bed pondering each thought carefully.

“Hey Ella?” Xander said interrupting my thoughts.

“Yeah?”

“Are you soon ready?” I looked down at the towel I was still wearing. Crap.

“Um…give me like fifteen minutes.” I quickly threw on some clothes, minimal makeup, and towel dried my hair. Then I headed downstairs where Xander was waiting.

“I’m ready!” I shouted jumping off the last step.

“Yeah, well, Dean’s not.”

“Ugh!” I groaned plopping down on the couch. “How is he not ready yet? He got in the shower before me. What could possibly take him that long to get ready?”

“Perfection takes time lil’ sis,” Dean said, from behind me. “Something you should spend more of when you get ready.” He walked around the couch and eyed me up and down.

“Shut up! Where are we going anyway?”

“To the club,” Xander replied.

“Really? Why?” I whined. “I hate the club. It’s a bunch of stuck up snobs who only talk about how much money they have.”

“Now now Ella, stuck up snobs are people too,” Dean said, his thumbs gliding across the keyboard of his blackberry.

I ignored his comment and turned to Xander. He adjusted the cuffs of his sleeves and pressed down the wrinkles in his slacks. He checked his watch and then begun pacing back and forth. “What’s taking them so long?”

“Xander, relax, what are you wound so tight for?”

“It’s because he’s late for a date.”

“Shut up Dean,” Xander said.

“Wait…what?” My head snapped up.

“Lil’ sis, you really do need to start paying attention.” Dean finally put down his phone. “Our big bro here is nervous because he’s finally introducing his girlfriend to his fam.”

“Since when do you have a girlfriend?” I asked, puzzled.

“Since you started seeing the crazy doctor,” Dean replied.

“Dean!” Xander scolded.

I bit my lip to keep the tears at bay. It would be an understatement to say I was hurt by Dean’s comment. “Why you have to be such an ass!” Xander said to Dean. I ran up to my room so he wouldn’t see me cry.

“Ella, I was just messin’,” Dean called after me.

I sat on my bed, clutching one of my pillows tightly to my chest and wiping angrily at the few tears that spilled down my cheek. “Ella?” Dean knocked lightly, pushing the door open.

“Go away.”

He didn’t, instead he came in and sat next to me on the bed. “Ella, I’m sorry.”

“No you’re not and don’t pretend to be,” I spat turning away from him.

“Look, we all know I’m a dick…”

“If this is your way of apologizing, please, stop now.”

“Ella, I’m not good…with this stuff.”

“Really?” I said sarcastically.

“My way of dealing is making jokes.”

“What exactly is it you’re dealing with?”

Dean looked down and picked at his pants nervously. “After the accident,” he began slowly. “I was really scared.”

“Scared about what?” I finally turned to face him.

“Scared of what would happen to you. Scared you might not recover mentally and we’d lose you forever.”

“I really wish people would stop acting like I’m going to freak out or something.”

“We just worry about you El. You don’t know what it was like for us to watch you suffer like that. If only you could have seen what we saw.”

“What you saw?” I threw the pillow aside and got up from the bed. “How about what I saw. You have no idea what I’ve seen. I saw my boyfriend burn alive. I’m sorry that I can’t get that mental image out of my head. That my nightmares, my screams in the night, put a drain on you. Please forgive me!” I yelled.

“Ella! That’s not what I meant.”

“Then please explain it to me,” I cried, crossing my arms over my chest to keep them from shaking.

“Just forget it.” Dean got up from the bed and walked to the door, then stopped. I turned to look out the window, not wanting to look at him. “It’s just…I don’t know what you’re going through. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it’s like and I don’t want to. I’m sorry this happened to you…” He paused momentarily while searching for what to say.

“I wish it hadn’t and I wish I could take away your pain, but I can’t. The only thing I can do is tell you I love you and hope you’ll be okay.”

“That’s all I need,” I said, my back still turned. Not able to hold it back anymore, I buried my head in my hands, and cried. He walked over to me, turned me around, and gave me a hug while I cried on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry Ella. I promise I’ll try real hard not to be a dick.”

“Good look with that,” I said, pulling my head back.

“Now look who’s got jokes.” I shoved him. “Alright, enough of this.” Dean straightened himself out and dusted off his shirt. “You might want to fix your face. You’re looking a bit ragged.”

I picked up my pillow and threw it at his head. “Hey! Watch the hair,” he said, putting up his hands to fix it. Then he smiled at me and I just laughed as I walked over to the mirror to fix my now gone mascara. When I was done I took the stairs two at a time and hopped off the last one joining the rest of the family in the living room where everyone was waiting for me. Xander rushed us out the door in a hurry to get to the club.

I ran into Josie when we got there. “Hey Josie, what you doin’?”

“Ugh…taking my bratty brother to the pool. My mom is on one of her ‘business lunches,’ ” she gestured using air quoted. ‘Business lunch’ was her mom’s code for sitting around gossiping and getting drunk. “Wanna come swimming with us?”

“Um…maybe later. I have to meet Xander’s new girlfriend.”

“Alright, you know where I’ll be. Come find me then.”

I said goodbye to Josie and joined the rest of my family at our table taking notice that Xander’s girlfriend had already joined the group. “Ah…Ella,” Xander began, “this is Jasa. Jasa, this is my sister, Ella.”

“Hi,” I said, shaking her hand. She smiled pleasantly at me. I studied her carefully. She wasn’t someone I would have pictured Xander with. He normally went for the “plain Jane.”

Jasa was anything but. She was exquisitely beautiful with long, blond, wavy hair, an athletic figure, and the most unique eyes. They were gold with violet flecks, something I’d never seen before. They were almost mesmerizing.

She was wearing a very expensive designer dress and high heels to match. Without the heels she would have probably only reached Xander’s chest. Although you could say that about most people because Xander was very tall.

My mom instantly struck up a conversation with Jasa. While I tried to listen attentively, Dean – like always – was too busy to draw his attention away from his blackberry. My mom scolded him with her eyes and with a sigh he put the phone away.

I could tell Xander really liked this girl. The way he watched her as she talked, praising her for all her achievements. Like my mom, she had done extensive charity work in orphanages and shelters. My mom asked her about her background, where she came from, what were her plans for the future, which really meant: What are your plans with my son?

Jasa told us she was an only child. Her parents died when she was young and she spent most of her life in an orphanage. The orphanage was what made her want to start doing charity work and with that she ended up getting a scholarship for school.

As I listened, I wondered… but before I could finish my thought, Dean took the words right out of my head. “Someone who claims to come from nothing surely has found a way to out-do herself.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand?” Jasa asked. Xander gave Dean a look of warning.

“That dress, shoes, purse…surely you can understand why I have a hard time believing someone like you could afford that. As you said, you had to earn your way. So what exactly did you do to earn that?” Dean asked with a cocky smile.

My jaw dropped out of shock.

Xander’s face turned bright red. He had the look of death in his eyes.

“You’ll have to forgive my son. He seems to have forgotten his manners,” my mom said, interrupting with the intent to defuse the tension.

Dean leaned back in his chair, smiling.

“You are correct. Someone of my stature could not afford these beautiful things and your brother was kind enough to purchase them for me. I didn’t have anything nice enough to wear today and I wanted to make a good impression. Xander offered to help me out,” Jasa said, apparently unphased by Dean’s comment.

We sat in awkward silence until the waiter came over to take our order and then my mom continued asking Jasa all sorts of questions. She had very little to say about her family. As she had told us earlier, she was an only child whose parents had passed at an early age, not allowing her to get the chance to know the rest of her family. She worked her way through school and even managed to graduate at the top of her class. She currently was a law clerk at a very prestigious firm and was beginning a master’s program in the fall.

I have to say I was fairly impressed. So was my mom. I could see it in the way she paid close attention and hung onto her every word. Dean seemed as though he could had cared less, which was no surprise. If my dad were here, I knew he would approve of Jasa as well.

After lunch I excused myself (after I got my mom’s approval) to join Josie at the pool. I told Jasa it was very nice to meet her before I headed off to change into my bathing suit. I found Josie sitting on the edge of the shallow end watching Jake. Well, at least pretending to. “Hey, so how was Xander’s girlfriend?”

“She seems…nice.” I dragged out the words.

“But?” Josie pressed.

“But…also seems too good to be true.”

“Ella! Ella! Watch me!” Jake hollered. I turned my attention to him and he did a summersault in the water.

“Good job, Jakey.”

“Dean!” Jake shouted, enthusiastically. Dean waved to Jake. Jake jumped out and ran over to Dean. “Hi Dean, you comin’ swimming?”

“Maybe later, buddy.”

“Okay.” Jake did a cannonball back into the water.

“Ladies,” Dean said, passing us and heading straight to the bar.

“It’s a shame all that hotness goes to waste,” Josie commented as he checked out some girl’s ass at the bar. I just shook my head.

I spent the rest of the day playing in the water with Jake while Josie worked on her tan. After Dean was done entertaining his ladies by the bar, he joined us in the pool. It ended up being a great day. Even Josie eventually got in the water.

Sometime near the late afternoon, Jake passed out on one of the lounge chairs, tired from playing all day. Ready to relax herself, Josie asked if we wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on Jake while she looked for her mom.

It took Josie a half an hour before she finally returned – minus her mom. I didn’t even have to ask, the annoyed look on her face said it all. Apparently her mom was passed out too. She must have decided to extend her ‘business meeting’.

Dean volunteered to help Josie get her mom to the car while I carried Jake and put him gently in the backseat. “I’ll call you later,” Josie said, hopping in the driver’s seat and buckling in her unconscious mother.

“I must say, Mrs. McNaughton is quite the hottie for an older woman. Definitely a M.I.L.F.”

“Gross Dean. Keep away from my mom,” Josie cringed.

“Hey, I’m just saying.” He put his hands up.

“Yeah, I bet you wouldn’t still think that if you saw her before all her surgeries,” Josie said snidely. Dean just winked at her. Josie rolled her eyes before she closed the door. I waved goodbye as they drove away. Turning to Dean, I gave him a nasty, and walked away.

“What?” he asked innocently. I just ignored him and head back inside to find our mom.

I located her, Xander, and Jasa in the lounge. “Hi honey, how was swimming?”

“Fun, but I’m beat now.” I sat next to her on the big chair and laid my head on her shoulder as she put her arm around me.

“Don’t worry. We’re leaving soon. We’re just waiting for your father.”

“Dad’s here?” I sat up.

“Yes. You know nothing could keep him from spending time with his family.” I looked at my mom ready to say something but stopped, remembering that she didn’t know I overheard their argument earlier. “What is it honey?”

“Oh nothing.” I rested my head back on her shoulder.

Once back at the cabin, I collapsed on the couch and turned on the TV. Dean stood in front of me blocking my view. “Dean move! I can’t see.” He started dancing. “Dean!”

“You said move.”

“I meant out of my way, ass.”

He chuckled and bent down in front of me. Before I had a chance to process what he was doing, he farted in my face. I kicked him in the butt and yelled at him for being disgusting. He continued to laugh as he left the room. It was moments like these that had me looking forward to going to school and being on my own.


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