Kaia was hot. She was in this black dress which showed off all her good features, dark hair straight down her back and red lipstick contrasting the whole thing. I’d already been told off once for staring so I kept my eyes anywhere else. It was harder to do when we arrived, because I had to look at her. We had a part to play and I wasn't about to let it slip because of her rack.
The party was raging by the time we got there, as all parties did on Friday nights. It was a common theme in summer to start the parties at seven, because it was still daylight and warm and good for socializing and getting tipsy. The real fun started when it got dark. The music turned up, the people got drunk, the dance floor got filled.
We managed to arrive at 8:30pm because Kaia was running late, so afternoon had turned to dusk and dusk was turning to night. The cicadas were buzzing and it brought the night to life.
Margaret LaMarr, Audrey’s best friend and the girl who happened to be hosting the party, had one of the smaller houses in the town. Not to say it was small, because it wasn’t by anyone’s standards. It was grand, with tall ceilings and expensive fixtures, but it wasn’t large in square metres.
I’d come here in year seven for a gathering while I was dating Audrey, so this place didn’t hold the best memories for me. But I had a mission, and I was intending to complete it.
Make Kaia my official ‘girlfriend’.
Not like it would be hard, she’d already said yes, but I had to act coupley and like I was nervous about asking her at the same time. It was a tough gig. All she had to do was stand with me and look pretty, something she was doing incredibly well.
Hayden and the boys ran along into the party without waiting for us. I got out of the passenger seat and opened Kaia’s door for her, acting the true gentleman. People were still arriving, with cars lining either side of the street, so I offered my hand to help her out and she took it with a put-on smile.
“I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here,” she was chanting under her breath as people came up to us, some already intoxicated and some fully sober.
“Are you two a thing?”
“Awh you look so cute together!”
“When did this happen?”
“DAMN KAIA!” Followed by a wolf whistle.
“It’s going to be a long night,” she whispered in my ear when we finally made it to the front door, the wooden rectangle hanging obsolete on it’s hinges. All I could think about was how this house was going to be full of bugs when we were done.
“Try to enjoy it,” I told her, leading her through the crowds of people to the backyard, where I knew we would find people to talk to until the real party started.
“Never said I wouldn’t.” A small smile hooked her lips, as she paused mid-step, turning to face me. “Is there any chance you would like to get me a drink?”
I smiled back, conscious of the population in the room. We were so close to the backyard where it was less crowded but she’d been sneaky enough to stop here. “You’re kidding, right?”
She shook her head and quickly pecked my cheek. I laughed as I could see her struggle not to scrunch up her face. “Please and thank you,” she lulled, then pulled her hand out of mine and wandered through the back door.
She was such a pain in the ass.
I somehow located the kitchen where the island bench was covered in drinks. The red cups you saw in American teenage movies were stacked up at the end but you could tell everyone was ignoring them unless they were mixing drinks. I didn’t know her well enough to know what drinks she liked so I stuck with the safe option of a Vodka cruiser, grabbing myself a Smirnoff double black. I grabbed the bottles by the neck and headed back outside, taking twice as long with the amount of people I was greeted by.
Kaia had found the guys who were sitting around on lounge chairs on the deck, chatting away with some other people from school. She was sitting on the arm of an empty chair so I took it, handing her the drink.
“Thanks,” she grinned down at me, then clinked her bottle with mine and rejoined the conversation.
I caught sight of Hayden, sitting opposite me in the circle with his eyes glued to his phone, occasionally looking up when someone was talking. He was texting and I had a feeling it was the girl that had made him change his ways. The only thing I couldn’t wrap my head around was that everyone from school was here. It was an open house, so everyone from our year level and some from the years below were here.
Everyone except for Parker.
It made so much sense. I mentally applauded myself for figuring it out and set to work out a way for him to tell me. I wasn’t going to force it out of him, but I was going to make him want to tell me.
I was convinced it would work.
The sun went down and everyone went inside; the real party was starting. The entire ground floor was overflowing with people but it wasn’t until you made the hall to the entry way. It had been turned into a dance floor, with girls grinding on guys like they do at these parties. Not to say no one was dancing not like a stripper who’s rent is due tomorrow, but the most eye-catching were said stripper-ish people.
I scanned the room for Marcus and Audrey with Kaia on my arm. The main reason we were here was to show off our newfound love to those two morons. I knew the latter of whom would be here, considering her best friend was hosting it. But Marcus? It didn’t seem like his scene.
“Found him,” Kaia whispered, casually nodding her head towards the kitchen before turning into me. It was really smooth. She’d definitely grown out of her awkward stage and I wasn’t sure I liked it.
I followed her direction and bingo, there he was. He was standing on the side of the kitchen with a drink in his hand, left forgotten because his eyes were glaring daggers in my direction. I didn’t make eye contact, I just moved my gaze to the ceiling slowly and then back down to the girl in front of me.
“Have you found Audrey?” She asked but I shook my head.
“Let’s look. Marcus will follow,” I suggested, sliding my hand into hers and heading onto the dance floor. Everyone was dancing to the blaring music, some upbeat pop shit I hated. The lights were dim here, feeling a lot like a nightclub Luca had taken me to last year. I frowned at the memory.
“That wasn’t hard,” Kaia got my attention, her eyes looking towards the stairs that led to the left of the front door. I followed her gaze and of course, Audrey was there, standing a few steps up with a drink in her hand and Margaret by her side. It was Margaret that saw us first, then she said something to Audrey but I was smart enough to look away before she saw.
“We have our audience,” I said, my voice low. “What’s the plan?”
A shadow of a smile found her red lips as she took both my hands. “Dance like we’re drunk. Ask me out. Make it public. Make it loud.”
“You’re not drunk?” I doubted that. She’d had six cruisers within the space of two hours, and there was nothing of her.
“I can hold my drinks,” was all she said.
And then we danced.
Anyone with eyes would have been able to see we were a thing, made so much better by Marcus’ relentless glares. I didn’t care so much about Audrey; she was just my cover for this fake relationship, but it was obvious it was angering her too.
Personally, I thought dancing was a bad idea. Kaia was hot and she was dancing like her stripper classmates and it was hard not to be affected by that. I worked hard to keep my mind on other things, so I just tried to play the movie Gladiator over and over and over until my mental will slipped.
“I think we’ve proved our point,” I whispered in her ear, although it was more like talking normally because the music was so fucking loud.
“Do you think so?” She asked, slowing down a bit so we could talk.
“Yes. Come with me.” I led her into the room where everyone not dancing were crowded. It was much quieter here with the music still prominent but not overbearing. In the middle of the room was a table that had food on it a long time ago. Now it was littered with red cups and empty bottles, perfect for what I had in mind. I took Kaia to the edge of the table where I smirked, then steadily stepped up onto the chair and then the table.
The room gradually went quiet, with every pair of eyes on me. I did a quick check to see that the ex’s were near, and both of them were standing by the door to the dance floor.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Someone shouted from behind me, followed by a few other questioning remarks. I turned roughly in their direction.
“Shhhhhhh! I’m trying to be fucking romantic!” That got a chorus of laughs but I ignored them, turning back to Kaia who had a slightly horrified expression which she covered up with a smile like a champ.
“I used to be best friends with this really amazing girl,” I started, my eyes wandering around the room as if I were talking to everyone. In a way I kind of was; the attention was on me. “But then I moved away and we didn’t talk for six years.”
The crowd oohed, and someone shouted “Get to the point!”
“I’m getting there!” I shouted back. “I came back two weeks ago and the girl hadn’t changed a bit. She is my best friend but I don’t want that. I want her to be my girlfriend.”
There was a collective awh from all the girls in the room. I think even some people from the dance floor had come to watch this turn of events unfold.
I turned back to Kaia with a half-genuine smile. “Kaia Sawyer,” I said and the room went silent. “Will you do me the honour of being my girlfriend?”
The attention shifted to her and I swear she wanted to hit me, but she had a part to play. Instead of squealing like a lot of girls do, she just looked up at me with a half smirk half smile and said “How could I refuse?”
The room erupted into cheers and I jumped down off the table, landing only a foot in front of her. Her gray blue eyes looked at me as if to say you’re going to regret that, and then she put her hands around my neck and kissed me.
I kissed him. I wasn’t a fan of PDAs and I definitely wasn’t a fan of Jacob, but he’d asked me out in front of the entire year twelve student populace and made me the center of attention. I’d told him for it to be public, but not that public.
So I got him back.
I could tell by the way he froze that he was not expecting that, but after what seemed like forever he finally gave in and kissed me back. It wasn’t like I had kissed a lot of guys, but he was definitely one of the best. He took it slow and wasn’t trying to shove his tongue down my throat.
I pulled away and had to laugh at his surprise, but then he just slid his arm around my waist and led me to the back door. Landon and Zavier were standing there grinning, looking like they were waiting for us to show up.
“That was quite a show,” Landon said, his voice slow and if I didn’t know any better, mocking.
“It fucking worked,” Zavier added, fist-bumping Jacob. “Well done, guys. Have you two thought about becoming actors? ‘Cause you even convinced me there for a second.”
“I’m already aiming for speech pathology but if that fails, I might give it a go,” I laughed, the guys laughing with me.
We went outside but Jacob excused himself to go get a drink, so he went the opposite way. It was still warm out here, despite it being almost eleven o’clock. I hadn’t realized Hayden was missing until we sat down, me on the chair beside him. He had his phone in his hands and was texting someone, and being the sneaky ninja I was I got a look at the name.
It was evidently a girl by the yellow heart after the name, which was obviously a nickname of some sort. Or a code name, but I couldn’t imagine Hayden wanting to hide his conversing with a girl from anyone. It read mon amour, which must have been Spanish or French for something.
“Who are you texting?” I asked, making him jump and almost drop his phone.
“Jesus fuck, Kaia. You scared the shit out of me.”
I quipped up an eyebrow. “You must be in a pretty interesting conversation if that scared you.”
“Yeah, well, shut up.” He was getting all flustered, his cheeks turned red only just visible in the dark.
“Who’s the girl?”
“None of your business.”
“Well she’s clearly not here otherwise you’d be with her.”
“Do I know her?”
He went silent.
I paused, considering. “Why is this one different?”
He let out a short laugh. “There are so many reasons, Kaia,” he said, scratching the back of his neck. “But I really care about her.”
That was the first time I’d seen Hayden Porter show his heart, or show that he had one.
A smile took over his lips and he nodded, looking like a moron in love. It was cute. “So are you two dating and just keeping it a secret?”
“No,” he shook his head. “I keep going to ask her but then I back out.”
He nodded again.
“Do you love her?” I wasn’t sure if I was pushing the boundaries, but I really hoped I wasn’t. I just wanted to help him and whoever this girl was to be happy.
“I don’t know,” he paused, looking down to his phone and then back to me. “I’ve liked her for so long but it’s only been recently that we’ve gotten really close. I just… I don’t know.”
It was then I knew that he was hiding something. He went to say something but cut himself off. “There’s something you’re not telling me, and I’m not going to ask what it is. But if you love her, you should tell her.”
“The problem is, I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t be in love with her.”
“But you are.”
He sighed. “Yes.” Then he frowned, as if realizing this was disturbing somehow. He stood up abruptly shoved his phone into his pocket. “I gotta go.” He paused, looking down at me with a slight smile and he ruffled my hair. “Thanks.” Then he left.
It was only a moment later that Jacob returned, with no drink and a rather disturbed expression.
I stood up, partially because there were people around that weren’t in on our secret and partially because I was concerned. But only a little.
“What’s up?” I asked, taking a step towards him.
He blinked, his eyes coming into focus. “Uh. I just had a few interesting encounters with our exs.”
“Both of them?” I was surprised Marcus would speak to him. He wasn’t a sociable person with people he didn’t know.
He just nodded.
“Let’s go for a walk.” I took his hand and led him back through the house and out the front door, where the noise dulled and the silence of the summer night grew.
“Audrey first,” I suggested, taking my hand back and crossing my arms. It was a bit cold, with the wind that had just picked up. “What happened?”
He took a deep breath in and let it all out, as if in the one breath. “I was heading to the kitchen to get drinks and everyone was congratulating me and then she comes up and asks if I want to talk and I said no but she literally pulled me into the hallway and asked why I’d want to be with you over her and so on so forth. Then I basically told her that you were a thousand times better than she could ever be and she got mad and said something like ‘I’ll forgive you for that because I know you didn’t mean it but I’ll make you regret choosing her’. Then she tried to kiss me but I dodged her and she ended up kissing the wall and that was funny but the whole experience was disturbing and I’d rather not go through that again.”
“Woah. Okay. Breathe,” I reminded him, knowing full well he took maybe one breath in his whole rant. “I really don’t like the sound of making you regret choosing me.”
He shrugged, his chest rising and falling again like it should. “It’s not like she can do that much. I wouldn’t be worried.”
Too late. “What about Marcus?”
“Oh him. Yeah. Well. He came up to me and threatened to beat me up if I continued to date you because he wants you back.”
“He’d do it, too,” I said with a frown. I didn’t want to be putting Jacob in danger for this plan that wasn't even for Marcus. “Maybe we should stop.”
Jacob stopped in his tracks, turning to face me. “You’re quitting after a few days?”
“I don’t want you to get beaten up because of me,” I told him.
He just laughed, then held his arm up and flexed. My brain kind of went blank for a minute there and I cursed myself for finding him hot. “I can hold my own. Besides, he’s a coward. He wouldn’t try. Quite frankly I’m more concerned for you with that one. I don’t know how far he would go to get you back.”
“All the more reason to stop. I don’t want anyone getting hurt because of this.”
“We’re not backing out now, okay?” He asked, his eyes not moving an inch from mine. It’s something I remember him doing when we were younger, because he said it was the only way to see if I was telling the truth.
I sighed. “Okay.”
“Good,” he nodded, and then turned around. “I’m ready to head off.”
“Me too,” I agreed. Neither of us wanted to walk back to the house so he texted Landon to see if he and Zavier were ready. His response shortly came back with that they wanted to stay longer because Annaliese was about to turn up, so we were stuck. My house was across town so I couldn’t walk. We’d have to go back to the house. I started to turn back when Jacob stopped me.
“What are you doing?”
“Going back?” I asked, as if it were obvious.
“I don’t live too far from here. I can drive you home.”
“It’s okay,” I told him. “I’ll wait.” Although the thought of being in the party with Marcus around set a shiver down my spine.
“I’m being nice, Kaia. I’m taking you home and you aren’t arguing. Come on.”
We made it to the end of the street and turned onto the main road into town. It was usually packed with cars, hiding in the shade of the huge trees, growing on either side of the road and almost touching in the middle. We walked underneath the trees, fallen almost green leaves crunching beneath our feet.
“Huh,” Jacob mumbled at some stage along the road, kicking a stone off the footpath.
“What?” I glanced up at him with a questioning look, wondering what was going on in that pretty little head of his.
“Hmm?” He asked as if I’d pulled him out of a daze.
“You said ‘huh’.”
I laughed, the sound disturbing the quiet that had settled over the neighborhood. “What are you thinking?”
“Fun fact,” he said, looking at me for a split second before looking straight ahead. “You were my first kiss.”
“What do you mean?” I frowned, trying to recall kissing Jacob all those years ago. I didn’t think I had. “When?”
“An hour ago.”
If I was drinking something, I would have spit it out. “You’re kidding.” He had to be.
“You mean you hadn’t ever kissed someone before?”
He shook his head.
“My ego, Kaia. It hurts.”
I rolled my eyes. “You should take my surprise as a compliment. You didn’t kiss Audrey?”
“Not anyone while you were gone?”
“Wow.” I felt kind of bad now. Not that I thought someone’s first kiss was a big deal but he might have. “Sorry.”
“What are you apologizing for?”
I shrugged. “That was a pretty shit first kiss.”
“Context wise, yes. Skill wise, no.”
I laughed. “You’re an idiot.”
He turned into a street to the right so I followed, going through a puddle of light from the street light. ”Du bist ein dummkopf.”
“Nein. Du bist ein kartoffel.”
“You speak German?”
“I learn it at school. I’m not very good at it though.”
“Huh. I didn’t know that.”
He started to turn up the driveway to a house that looked a tad less than twice the size of mine but still smaller than Hayden’s. Speaking of, I’d have to see how he went with the girl I guessed he rushed off to see.
“I have to get my keys from my room,” he said, leading me around the side of the house to a sliding glass door than was unlocked. “Come in. I think my family will still be up.”
The corridor from the room we entered to the staircase was long and wide, with doors branching off all over the place. I was curious to go exploring but figured it’d be best not to.
There was noise coming from a room near the stairs but Jacob shook his head, put a finger to his lips and motioned for me to follow him up. When we were in the security of yet another carpeted hallway, I had to ask.
“Why are we being quiet?”
He opened the door at the end of the hallway which was evidently his room. It was massive, with a couch and a television and a bed, with two freaking levels in it. My room paled in comparison.
It seemed neat apart from all the books scattered on the floor, most open and face down.
“What’s with the books?” I asked as he stepped over them to fetch his keys. They were on his bedside table.
“I read a lot, but sometimes I get bored of a story and want to change books.”
“So you chuck them on the floor?”
“No,” he said carefully, pocketing his keys. “I place them on the floor open to the page I am up to.”
“Doesn’t it get confusing?”
“Only when I switch from English to German. It takes me a minute to wrap my head around it.”
When we got to the bottom of the stairs he paused, turning to look at me with a frown. “Just a heads up, Ada told my mother we’re dating.”
“Of course she did,” I rolled my eyes, a smile coming to my face thinking of the sneaky fourteen year old.
“But please, whatever you do, do not get into a conversation with Mutti. She’ll never let you leave.”
“And that’s such a bad thing,” I said with sarcasm.
“Then I’ll be stuck with you for hours, so yes, it is such a bad thing.”
I poked my tongue out and followed Jacob into the living room. I wasn’t expecting there to be so many people. I knew Jacob had four siblings but didn’t think they’d be home.
His two brothers were sitting on opposite ends of the couch, faced towards the television until we came in. His mother was sitting on the recliner with glasses on, looking exactly the same as six years ago, unlike his siblings. His older sister, Milena, was sitting on the floor by Claudette’s feet, and Ada was no where to be seen.
“Guten abend, familie. Wie gehts?”
Every pair of eyes in the room turned towards Jacob, and then moved slightly to the left to me.
“Kaia?” Claudette asked, getting to her feet. “Is that you? Oh, you grow up so much. Beautiful girl.” Her accent was thick and almost impossible to understand, but I managed. When she reached me she held my arms and looked me up and down, before kissing either cheek. I remembered doing this when I was young, so I was used to it.
“You certainly have grown up,” Jacob’s brother Luca drawled, looking me up and down with wide eyes. He was such a creep. Thankfully, the eldest, Royce, punched him on the arm and clipped him over the ear.
“I apologize for my brother, Kaia. Although I’m sure you remember,” he said, with a tight smile.
“He’s an idiot,” Milena agreed with a smile. “It’s nice to see you again. Your dress is gorgeous.”
“It is definitely working in your favour,” Luca added.
“Luca,” Claudette scolded him. “That very… How do you say?”
“Rude?” His three siblings chimed in.
“Jawohl,” Claudette agreed before turning to be. “I very sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I said, but shot Luca a half glare regardless.
“Anyway. I’m driving her home now, Mutti,” Jacob said, kissing his mother on the cheek. “I will be back shortly.”
“Why don’t you stay?” She asked, looking directly at me. It was so hard to refuse her as she was so hopeful.
“I would love to but I should be getting home,” I told her. “It’s getting late.”
“Will you come for dinner then? Thursday? We celebrate Ada birthday.”
Jacob leaned down and whispered, “It’ll just be my family, Ada’s friend and Hayden.”
How could I say no to her? “I’ll be here.”
“Good, good.” She beamed.
“Speaking of Ada,” Jacob said before his mother could get another word out. “Where is she?”
“She went upstairs with a headache about an hour and a half ago,” Royce explained. “Said she wanted to sleep.”
Jacob frowned and it was obvious he wanted to go check on her, but didn’t say anything further. “We should go.”
“Yes yes,” Claudette said. “Go. You get home safe. Good to see again. Very good.”
“You too,” I grinned, and it truly was.
“You didn’t have to agree to dinner,” Jacob said when we were in his car. It was much cleaner than Parker’s, of which I’d been riding in most recently.
“How could I have said no to your mother? I forgot how lovely she was.”
“She is,” Jacob agreed with a nod.
He pulled up to my house five minutes later. All lights were out except for Parker’s bedroom light. She was probably waiting for me.
“Thanks for the lift, Jacob,” I said, opening the car door. “It was much more bearable than staying at the party.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied, tapping his hands against the steering wheel. “I’ll see you Monday.”
I nodded. “Yeah, Monday.” And then went inside.
Parker was running down the stairs when I came in the door and bugged me for details about the party. I told her all the details as I got ready for bed, taking my makeup off and putting my pajamas on.
“Sounds like an eventful night,” she said as she was leaving my room. I crawled under the covers and she shut of the light.
“Eventful is an understatement.”
I was out like a light.