It was early in the morning when he woke up to someone shaking him roughly. He groaned and mumbled to himself, half asleep.
Trust Serena to pull him out of his slumber.
He mumbled again and then rolled over to the other side of the bed to put some distance between him and Serena's frantic attempts to revive him. Just when he thought she'd gone away, he suddenly felt a large amount of liquid - very cold liquid, being dropped on his back. He jerked fully awake and met his sister's gaze.
"Are you crazy?" He asked, getting up from the bed. A low growl escaped him as he approached his sister who quickly scurried down from his bed like a kitten trying to avoid the wrath of a dog.
"Mom said to wake you up,"she mumbled as she stepped back from his approach.
"Are you crazy?" He asked again, as if she hadn't said anything.
Before she could reply again, their eldest sister appeared at the door, fully dressed and ready for work.
"You're not ready?" She asked in disbelief with a frown. "I won't be late again because of you." She stomped off.
Last week Friday she'd gone late because he'd forgotten to set his alarm. Usually he woke up by six o'clock and then Emerald drops him off at school before heading to work. Last night, he'd gone to the club with his friends and had gone home late. He had probably forgotten to set his alarm again and he feared that Emerald might quit taking him to school in her car.
He turned to where Serena still stood by his door. "Get out," he growled at her and she scurried away without a word.
By the time he was done dressing, he went down to join the rest of the family in the big kitchen. Of course, everyone was there; just like he expected, except Conrad.
"Morning mom." He walked to the fridge and took out an apple.
"Morning baby," mom greeted back as she began frying some more pancakes. "Trust you had a wonderful rest."
"I did, until someone poured something on my back." He took a bite from his apple as he turned and glared at Serena from where she sat at the breakfast bar.
She shrieked and ran to her mother's side. "Mommy, look! Jerry's looking at me in that manner again."
"Jerry, don't look at her in that manner. I asked her to sprinkle some water on your face if you refused to get up - "
"Well, she didn't sprinkle - " he interjected
"And if she didn't sprinkle," mom continued as if he hadn't spoken, "then you should understand that she's a baby, and she's still a bit too young to - "
"Ugh," Jerry narrowed his eyes. "She's ten. Ten isn't a baby."
"Ok! Enough with the family drama," Rachel interrupted from where she stood by the kitchen window. "My ride's here." She grabbed her bag and rushed to the door.
"Oh," mom turned to face her after putting off the cooker. "Is David here already?"
"Oh no, that's not David," she replied with a shrug. "We broke up. That's Bradley outside. He's the new guy." And with that she was out of the kitchen and out of the house.
Jerry narrowed his eyes again. Trust Rachel to break up with a guy today and get a new guy tomorrow.
Serena ran to the window. "Mom, my bus isn't here yet," she said in disappointment as she walked back to the breakfast bar.
"Eat, honey," mom urged her as she placed another piece of pancake on the table for her. "They'll be here in a minute."
"And if they're not, can I ride with Emerald then?"
"No," Emerald replied almost immediately. "It's bad enough that Jerry gets to ride with me. And he only gets to ride with me because I drive by his school every morning before getting to work."
Jerry scoffed at his sister's revelation. He decided to approach his mom instead of giving any comments to Emerald. Even though she did everything she possibly could to get on his nerves, he tried his very best to ignore her. And if he so much as talked back at her, that meant taking the bus to school every morning.
"Where's Conrad?" He asked his mom . He was beginning to grow tired of his brother's absence.
Mom sighed. "He got ill last night, you know?"
Of course he didn't know. He was out clubbing last night, remember?
"But he'll be down in a minute," she added with a dull smile.
His gaze ran over her. She looked ill too. Her very azure eyes seemed to be extremely tired at the moment. He blinked as he realized that her skin was pale too. He observed her and it seemed like she'd lost a few pounds over the month.
"You ok, mom?" He asked as he placed his palm on her cheek.
"I'm fine, baby." She turned to Emerald and his hand fell reluctantly from her cheek.
"Emerald, honey, please take him to school."
"Mom, my bus isn't here yet!" Serena wailed as she ran to the window again.
"They'll be here, sweety," mom said in a very dull tone and Serena returned to her food.
Jerry frowned at Serena. She was one of the things - wait, should he say things? Probably yes. She was one of the things adding to his mom's stress.
He returned his gaze to his mom. "Mom, you look worn out," he stated. "Maybe we should get a maid or something"
"I said I'm fine, Jerry," she replied, trying to sound nonchalant, but Jerry wasn't falling for it.
"No, you're not," he said, trying to trap his rage. "I think we should get a maid. With all the money dad left behind for us, I think we can get anything."
The kitchen went quiet. Serena, who had been picking at her food stopped and stared at them. Emerald had been busy with her phone, but at the mention of their dad, her head snapped up and she looked from mother to son.
Jerry stared back at his mother, her gaze so intense that he feared she might ask him to leave the house and never return. Huge overstatement, but still, the look she gave him was frightening.
Realizing that he'd made a huge mistake bringing his dad, her husband, into the conversation, he sighed and tried to reach her. "I'm sorry."
She moved away from him and turned to get Serena's lunch bag. He'd been so caught up in the moment that he hadn't realized that Serena's bus had arrived.
"I'll take you to your bus now," she said to Serena as she took her hand and walked with her out of the kitchen.
"Let's go," Emerald said with a croaked voice seconds after their mom left with Serena.
He followed Emerald out of the house. When they got to her car and they were on their way to his school, he wasn't so naive to believe that Emerald would let him out of her car without speaking her mind.
Just when they were approaching his school and he thought she'd actually decided to leave this one out, she turned and gave him that weird look.
"You shouldn't have said that," she said as she tried to keep her eyes on the road too.
"Said what?" He asked casually, trying to avoid looking in her eyes.
"Don't play dumb with me."
"He's our father - "
"Was," she corrected.
"Doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about him when we can."
"She hasn't gotten over his death, we both know that."
"It's been over two years since he died."
"That gives her enough reason to mourn his death as long as she sees fit because she loved him."
There was a long pause as she stopped the car in front of his school.
"I'm sorry," he said with a sigh as he turned to look at her. "I didn't mean to hurt her."
"I know, you were merely suggesting, and I think you're right. We do need a maid." She paused and sniffled. He noticed that she was trying her possible best to hold back the tears in her eyes. Any topic about their dad brought tears to her eyes. He contemplated soothing her but thought better of it; it would only bring more tears."She's been playing the role of mother and nanny," she continued when she could. "I'll talk to her about getting a maid."
Jerry gave her a brief nod and then left the car.
Their dad, Stephen Daniels, died in a car accident. It was believed that he'd been drunk before he died. Their mom, Clarissa Daniels, had later confessed that she'd had an argument with him which nearly led to a fight. Stephen had left the house in a rage and a call came in after a few hours, informing them about an accident that had occurred.
Jerry sighed as the very tragic memory came flashing back. He just wasn't prepared to lose his mother too, not with her working her ass out every day.
He turned and gave a smile to the girls that stood by the school entrance, and thoughts about his parents began fading from his mind.
He walked past them and walked into the big school hallway. He greeted a few people on his way to his locker.
He turned and gave a wide grin as a girl , an inch or two shorter than him, with auburn straight hair and very bright blue eyes, ran to meet him. Although, there was a frown on her freckled face, he knew she was faking it.
"Hey, Ashley." He went to give her a hug but she slapped his hands away.
"You lied," she said with a scowl as she folded her hands across her chest.
He turned and opened his locker, taking out some books. "How?" He closed the locker and turned back to her, leaning his shoulder on the locker.
"You told me you'd let me know before you left last night. I asked around and I was told you were gone."
"You were busy with your new found babe," he teased with a chuckle. "I couldn't bring myself to intrude."
She broke into a grin at the mention of her boyfriend. "He's cute, isn't he?"
He shrugged. "Yeah," he replied with a narrow of his eyes.
"What was that?" she asked, bringing back the frown to her face.
Two boys approached them. The twins. Non-identical twins precisely. Tristian and Sebastian.
Tristian had sandy blond hair with a bright smile that brought dimples on both his cheeks. Sebastian was the quiet one with the pale blond hair with the less charming smile. Although he managed to smile at the moment, which was quite unusual as it brought a slight dimple on his left cheek.
While Tristian was the lousy but playful and funny one, Sebastian was the quiet but smart and serious one.
"How ya doin', Rico?" Tristian asked, giving him a friendly punch on the shoulder.
Jerry grinned from ear to ear as he rubbed his shoulder.
He was used to all the names they called him; Jerry, Rico, Ricky... they were all his names. His full name was actually Jericho Daniels. Some of the girls at school called him Ricky. His friends, like Tristian, Sebastian and Ashley, called him Rico or Jerry. His mom and siblings called him Jerry too. Only few people called him Jericho. His dad used to call him Jericho. Stephen never approved of one's name being shortened.
"I'm good, Tristian," Jerry replied, throwing him a punch too. "What's up, Seb?" He turned to Sebastian. Jerry knew better than to throw Sebastian a punch. The other twin never enjoyed joining them in their awkward way of greeting.
"Cool," Sebastian replied with a brief nod.
Jerry wasn't surprised to see that the smile had vanished from Sebastian's face. The dude barely kept a smile on his face for a whole minute.
"Where were you last night?" Tristian suddenly asked. "You just disappeared on us"
"Sorry. I checked the time and it was getting late. Had to get home before my mom discovered I wasn't in," he replied.
"And you couldn't let me know first?" Ashley asked, giving him a hard frown.
"You were with your prince charming - "
"Don't be ridiculous," she blushed and then glared at the chuckling twins. "You're my best friend, Jerry. It doesn't matter if - "
He was glad the bell went just in time to interrupt her, and they all hurried to class.