"Thank you so much for the ride, Riley!" I tell my friend as she stops her white sedan outside my house. "I owe you one." I give her a goodbye hug, before hopping out of the passenger seat.
"See you tomorrow, Ari!" Riley waves at me, flashing her stunning smile that got guys dropping at her feet before hitting the gas. I watch the car zoom away and disappear into the evening traffic, a small smile playing my lips as I take a lung-full of the cold, yet cool air.
It was half past six and the sun was setting, painting the sky in hues of orange, purple, magenta, and gold. A light breeze was blowing through the narrow streets, turning my dark blonde waves into a mess.
Throwing my hair into a messy bun, I lean to a street lamp and enjoy the last few moments of the sunset, until darkness start falling and the sky was left with nothing but gray. Soon enough, it was just the shine of electric lights lighting up the streets. I sigh, lazily moving from my hunched posture.
Giving the tiny specks of diamond like stars now visible on the sky a longing look, I grab my backpack I earlier set by my feet and turn around to face where I call home.
The house infront of me, was once where my mother grew up in, and now, it's where I do, with my brother. Mama inherited it from her father who passed away when she was in high school, and with years of saving up, she's managed to renovate the mansion-like house, bringing modern touches to the design, its interior, exterior, and the porch.
The gravel crunched under my feet as I walk to our front porch, the mouthwatering smell of freshly baked brownies hitting my nostrils as I open the front door.
"Ariana? Is that you?" My mother's sweet voice calls from the kitchen as a creak echoed inside the house, breaking the heavy silence as I closed the door behind me.
"Yeah, it's me." I call back, throwing my backpack onto a sofa. Stepping out of my sneakers, I shove them into the shoe rack before walking across the sitting room, to our kitchen-dining room.
"How was work today?" Mama questions as I stepped to the sink, turning on the faucet to wash my hands. My mouth was longing to get a good bite from those heavenly looking goodness sitting on the counter top, but my mother is a neat freak and I was aware my hungry stomach was to wait as I scrubbed the dirt off my hands.
"It was the usual, you know. Making coffee, serving orders. Riley had the same shift as me, thankfully, she gave me a ride home. Did Andrew say how many days it would take for his old car to be repaired?"
"Nope." Mama replies as she place another batch of brownies in the oven. "Why don't you call and ask him? Perhaps, tell him to visit me this weekend, too?"
I skip my way across the room to the cooking batch of brownies, grabbing a few and stuffing my mouth with one. The chocolatey flavor hits my taste buds and I close my eyes, savoring the heavenly feeling before swallowing them." I can never get used to this, I swear." I slightly moan, earning a chuckle from my mother.
"That's what Andrew tells me. too! Yet, that boy forgets his Mama when he gets back to college!"
"Mom! Stop being too hard on him. I'm sure he's busy with lessons and assignments." I pull her into a hug. "Don't worry too much, Mama. I'll call him tonight, okay? I'll tell you miss him, I promise!"
"I was joking, stupid!" She taps the back of my head with a laugh. "Now, get off me, you filthy monkey! Go take a good shower and finish your homeworks!"
I laugh and give her a sloppy kiss on cheek before fleeing out of the kitchen. My mother is definitely the best a person could get.
My father, Elliot Orlando, on the other hand is a different story.
He might be a well known businessman in his world of lies and drama, but since he filed divorce with my mother sixteen years ago, he has no longer been a part of my life.
I was barely two when it happened, my brother Andrew was three. We were both quite too young to understand what was going on, which Andrew calls a blessing.
We grew up as normal citizens in a middle class household, away from the fanciness our father seem to be coming of.
And relying on my experience, life has been wonderful by living a normal life, as I got the chance to appreciate every small thing, instead of growing up to be daddy's little spoilt brat.
I often get questioned about my father, mainly because Andrew and my relation to the great Elliot Orlando is not a secret from the public.
While he lives his fancy life with his new wife and son in the city of Willows, my mother has found a great beginning for Andrew and I in Lockwood, a neighboring city to Willows.
My mother, Amelia Robinson is an independent woman, who never looked back when our father broke things with her. She's been my greatest admiration from day one, my role model. The way she packed everything and moved back to where she grew up in with her two toddlers and found a steady job to keep us happy is something to be written in history, and I applaud to the woman I call my mother.
And that is the reason I don't hesitate on answering the questions regarding on Elliot Orlando with confidence, telling I am happy with the life I have, and that I don't need anything from that man I share the same blood with.
Once I am in my room, I finish my brownies and hit the shower. Taking a long, hot shower, I let my tense muscles relax after a long day with school and work. Stepping out of the bathroom once I was done, I change into a pair of shorts and a tank top, my regular choice of outfit at home. I finish my homeworks like I promised Mama, before I grab my phone and dial Andrew's number.
Andrew pick up on the second ring and we have a casual chat. I tell him about school and work, and how much Mama misses him. As expected, Andrew replies saying he was busy with a couple of assignments. He's a part time photographer at the campus too, and he goes further explaining he had a few shoots this week, reasoning why he hasn't been able to call Mama.
"She said she was kidding, but I know she wants you to visit as soon as you can."
"You know, some of my friends are actually jealous of me because I have such a caring mother." Andrew laughs. "Tell her not to worry, I'd be visiting this weekend. You know, we could have a small dinner party for my visit."
"Why do I sense another intention behind why you want a dinner party?" I drawl in a teasing tone. "You want to have Michelle around, don't you?"
"I thought you were okay with me dating your friend?" I can feel my brother pouting from his end even though I cannot see him.
"Chill, I was playing around. You know I'm cool with you guys dating, and you know, I'm actually happy it's Michelle and not some other bitchy girl as my to-be sister in law."
"Thank you, Ari. You have no idea how much that means for us."
"Okay, stop getting emotional. Do you know why I am calling you on a Wednesday night?"
"To express your undying love to me and tell how our mother misses her one and only son?" He asks playfully.
"Ew, no! I called to ask you about when your old car would be repaired. I'm sick of calling uber or catching rides from friends after work every time. Riley is kind enough to give me rides back and forth from school, I feel bad for bothering her. But at the same time, I'm not taking the bus anymore, and this whole thing, is giving me a migraine."
"Don't tell me that son of a bastard Raymond is bothering you again!" Andrew exclaim, the protective tone of his voice made me smile. Raymond Cyrus is a stupid mistake from my junior year of high school, we ended up in bad terms. But I guess that's a story for another time.
"Not really. But his friend Ashley still takes the bus and- you know. Its awkward, considering we used to be so close."
"I get you. Don't worry, I'll call Eddie and tell to hurry up. Hopefully, you'll get the baby before Monday."
"Anytime. Look, I gotta go. Ellie is calling."
"Good night, lover boy!" I laugh, cutting our call. In these days brothers are normally assholes to their sisters, I'm lucky to have Andrew by my side. He's truly a gem.
I glance at the time, to see it was already half past eleven. How time flies, I say to myself as I stretch my limbs and throw myself into the comfort of my soft mattress. Yawning, I roll over so that I'm laying on my stomach and open Instagram, to see tons of messages in our friend circle group chat. I take a quick look through the messages, suddenly remembering Noel, our dearest guy friend in the squad was having his second blind date tonight.
Noel, by his nature is kinda nerdish and shy, and due to that, even with the number of girls swooning after his good looks with every step he takes, he has been unable to make a move on a girl.
Michelle being the matchmaker she is, decided to help him out by planning blind dates for the poor guy. His first one had been a disaster, but this time, all of us are counting on him as the girl tonight was someone we all are familiar with.
I check Noel's account, and to my disappointment he was inactive. But there were a couple of pictures of food on his story, with the location tagged as the restaurant Ellie has booked for him and I smile, happy that it was going smooth for him.
Opening text messages, I type a text with a sly smile before sending it to him, just so I could annoy him.
Wednesday, January 17th ° 23:25
did you kiss her?
bro, go freaking kiss her.
i can already picture both of you together and the image in my head is so fucking cute!
I lock the phone and sigh, draping the blankets over me and snuggling into its warmth. Grabbing a book from my nightstand, I let myself slowly drift into a world of fiction that I did not hear the ping of my phone when it first lit up with a notification. The second ping, however, woke me up from my beautiful daydream, to see a couple of texts from Noel.
Wednesday, January 17th ° 23:30
i don't know who you are, or whom you think i am but honey, i've kissed a lot of girls if you wanna know. but then again, i don't think it's your fucking business.
What the hell?
I double check the contact name and text message history, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me but I saw nothing out of ordinary. It was indeed the chat log between Noel and me, so what on earth was this? I'm sure I did not text some random stranger! Did Noel's phone got stolen while he was at the restaurant? No, no, that can't be the case. His phone can't be opened without his fingerprint.
That was when my eyes landed on the phone number digit below Noel's contact name. OH. MY. GOD. I know Noel's number by heart, and that was definitely NOT Noel Grayson's number.
Riley Evans, you are so dead!
Wednesday, January 17th ° 23:32
oh my god i'm so sorry, wrong number!
technically not an accident because my oh-so-great friend changed my other friend's contact number to some random stranger's, but yeah, you get the point :D
no worries, it's totally fine.
i'm Zachary. Zachary Miller.
nice to meet you ig, Zachary?
i'm Elle Grace
That wasn't a lie since Elle-Grace is my middle name, but he doesn't need to know.
pretty name for a pretty lady! i hope.
if you don't mind, how old are you? i'm seventeen, turning eighteen real soon.
On normal circumstances, I would've called this creepy, but I had a feeling Riley knows this guy and I'm speaking from experience. She's changed Ellie and Drew's number before, too, to some random dude she had for a one night stand.
And I have a strong feeling this guy is the same.
But what if he's not? The sensible part of my brain pondered. What if he's some psycho pervert?
He definitely does not sound like one, I tell myself and wave it off. I've taken reckless decisions in the past and I knew I was making the same mistake again, but who cares, though? Definitely not me. I am that bored.
I save the number separately with the name 'Zach-Miller' and enter Noel's real number to his contact info before replying to Zachary.
Wednesday, January 17th ° 23:40
cool, i'm seventeen too
which school r u from?
i go to Lockwood High, hbu?
Silver Oak Academy for Business & Arts :D
ooh fancy. i got a couple of friends there, couldn't make it myself bc apparently i ain't one with good talents lol
well, sucks to be you bc Silver Oaks is dope!
I wait for a reply from him, but to my disappointment, he did not say anything after that. I wondered if I said something wrong and then shrug it off, who am I kidding, he probably got tired of texting random stranger. If it's a he on the first place, I tell myself and go back to the book I was so lost in before I was interrupted.