This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
CHAPTER 1 - FRILLY THOUGHTS
You’re fat. Fat. Fat. Fat. Emily said to herself as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was in a dressing room, trying on a pair of pants to wear at the upcoming party her mother was to throw for her promotion.
Emily hated parties, even the formal ones. Why did they force her to attend? It’d be so much better to be left in peace. She’d lock herself in her room, reading while listening to music, or just having a marathon of her favorite shows. Or why not, rewatching some old volleyball matches, to reminisce the good times, when there was some sort of light in her life.
It seemed all so distant. And yet only five years had passed. Five years. From the summer before her freshman year to this one, which signed her last year not just in school, but also in that horrible town. Well, the town wasn’t horrible per se, she just felt it was asphyxiating.
She felt inadequate. There was nothing that could cheer her up apart from books and TV shows, it seemed as if leaving volleyball had drained out all her life. Well, volleyball had been her life. Not being able to play anymore, at least not at high levels, like she used to, pained her not little. But the injury had been her fault too. She’d overstressed her bones, till they’d cracked and ... well, one ace too many and her knee couldn’t take the strain. So no professional volleyball anymore. She could still play, but only very calm matches, nothing too big. Five years.
Ironic. Something else happened five years ago. And some would say it had been that something to turn off the light in her eyes. Well, they would say that if they’d taken the disturb of noticing. But no one ever knew how painful it was for her. She never showed. Because she was cold, impassive, strong, nothing ever touched her. Nothing. Except for a specific departure.
Emily sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. It was all forgotten. Everything was fine. Everything had been since five years. After all, those weird emotions she’d felt years ago were really wrong and silly. It was better they’d disappeared. She was only a child back then, barely 14, well, technically she still was a child, because she’d turn 18 only in a few months, three days before Christmas, so for now she was still a minor, as a matter of fact, still a child in the eyes of the law. But the time would come soon.
Only a few months and she’d be able to leave. Possibly for Europe. No, Europe, especially England, wouldn’t be a great idea. Maybe Australia. Or even just Canada. Yeah, why not, Canada. Even though, she’d always felt the peculiar charm of Ireland. No reason, there was just this thing about Ireland that fascinated her. Either way, she’d leave that town. She’d miss her family and her best friend, but she needed to leave. To get some fresh air. He did, why shouldn’t she?
Emily pressed her eyelids, trying not to think of that person. A second brother. At least that he should have been, but he never was. He was so different from Jason, her actual brother, who always made fun of her. But he ... no, he was the kindest person she’d ever met.
Emily didn’t even know why did his absence pained her that much, but maybe it was just that every year, when the summer bonfire arrived, she felt always this gloomy, because that bonfire meant so many things altogether, from the actual end of the warm season, to the kick start to every sport, volleyball included, and normally she’d be retiring with her team, to get ready for the tournament that was to start, but no ... she hadn’t done that since five years already. At first they’d tried to convince her to go with them for support at least, but she always refused, till they just forgot about her and she slowly locked herself in her world.
A bit of light came when she met Vanessa in her sophomore year and she became her best friend, well, the new one, seeing at the old one dumped her once she became a “boring pain in the ass”, as Emily heard her calling. Well, after all, who wanted a brooding and melancholic friend beside them?
Now, the bonfire. It signed the end and the beginning of so many things. Hopefully this year it’d be better. Be it only because it was the last one. Then college would call. Finally. Years ago she’d have thought about trying to enter a good volleyball team, but ... well, those times were gone. Now there was to decide what would her major be. She didn’t really know what did she want to do, she just knew she liked books and movies and ... well, peace.
Vanessa had tried to drag her to a party many times, but Emily had always refused, and when she’d gone, she’d been pretty much a wallflower, unable to mingle with the other teenagers dancing and drinking. She liked medicine. Maybe she could be a nurse. She wasn’t much of a talker, but she liked helping and taking care of people. Even if silently.
“Everything alright in there?” A voice came to disrupt her thoughts. The shop assistant from the outside. Oh. Right. The clothes she was trying on.
“Yeah, I ... just a minute.” Emily replied, trying hard to buckle the pants. No point, they wouldn’t fit her. She’d given the wrong size to the salesgirl, of course they wouldn’t fit. She was too embarrassed to say her true size and since her plump belly was perfectly hidden by her huge sweater, the girl couldn’t say either. She’d felt embarrassed to admit she needed a 2x, because of her large hips, so when the salesgirl had offered a size 8, she’d said yes.
Once back in her comfortable oversize jeans, Emma grabbed all the pairs of pants the salesgirl had given her and exited the booth. Giving a fake smile to the girl, she returned her all the clothes.
“Not my style.” She just mumbled and left her there to reach her friend in the dresses department. Of course Vanessa would shop there. For the rule of compensation, an insecure, overweight mess as she was, could only be best friends with a hot top model like girl like Vanessa, whose big grey eyes were almost legendary in school, opposite to Emily’s dull brown.
They were complete opposite in everything, which at first had made Emily wonder if they’d ever get along, but her mother had underlined how often opposites attracts not just in love, the best friendships are sometimes based off completely different characters too, just like the best love stories. Well, she was right. Vanessa was an amazing friend. Apart from when she tried to drag Emily to one of those parties, that is.
“Found anything?” Vanessa asked as she admired herself in the mirror while trying on a tight red dress. Emily envied her, she was so thin ... not broomstick thin, normal thin, boys were always around her, attracted by her undeniable beauty, like bees to honey. Emily instead, she felt always inadequate. She was so dull, so plain, so ... unattractive. Even her name was dull. Vanessa, as a name, reeked of untamed spirit. While Emily ... well, it was so plain. Yes, it came from a famous poetess, but still.
“Nothing I’d like.” Emily replied, wrinkling her nose, one sign she was lying, which Vanessa caught, but didn’t say anything.
“Why don’t you try a sheath dress?” She proposed, swinging her hips to see how the dress passed with her practically perfect body.
“You know I’m not the kind for dresses.” Emily grumbled.
Vanessa sighed, turning to her friend, hands on her hips. Sometimes this girl could be so stubborn and negative ... “You’re a woman. Every woman’s the kind for dresses.” She reminded her.
Emily rolled her eyes. “Yeah, not me. I’d wear jeans and sweatpants every day if it was for me.”
Vanessa laughed. “You’ll have to come out of that shell sooner or later, Em.”
Emily gave her a dirty look. “I’m not hiding. I just don’t like dresses.” <em>And wouldn’t find any that would fit me. How could they? I’m so fat.</em> Because of the injury, Emily had had some troubles with her bones, she’d never been thin, but the injury caused her bones to develop differently, hence, there was more weight to sustain, and because she’d let herself go, she’d obviously put on more weight, which she thought was awfully too much, while in fact, it was barely 15 pounds, not much, considering that her target weight was supposed to be maximum 155 pounds, but she felt fat. And awful.
“Uh-uh ... well, you need to be elegant for your mother’s party.” Vanessa informer her, to which Emily sighed.
“Don’t remind me of that ...”
Her friend grinned, turning back to the mirror to admire herself and see if that dress fitted. Judging by the looks of the guys sitting on the other side, waiting for their girlfriends, it definitely fitted. Hopefully Jason’s jaw would drop as much as those guys’ ones did.
“Oh, I have to instead. Dean will be there too.” Vanessa pointed out, to which Emily frowned.
Vanessa chuckled. “Don’t act like you don’t know him.”
“The world’s full of Deans.”
“Yeah, but only one owns Miss Emily Robinson’s heart.”
Emily blushed. “I-I don’t feel anything for him ...” She defended, lowering her glance. It was true. She felt nothing for Vanessa’s brother, just found him cute and had made the mistake of telling his sister, who was now convinced her best friend had a huge crush on her brother.
Well, it’d be fair. After all, Vanessa thought, she had a huge crush on Emily’s brother, so why not just exchange the guys? Maybe go on a double date some time ... ah, right. Jason’s fiancée. That was a problem. For now. He’s proposed to that plain chick only before summer, they hadn’t even set a date yet, so nothing was lost. She could still work her magic. The guy would fall sooner or later. He just didn’t know it yet. It was just a matter of time.
Emily and Dean made an awesome couple, according to Vanessa, and she knew all too well her brother was crushed. He kept asking about Emily, Emily here, Emily there ... he was a lovesick puppy at this point. The only problem was ... he was just as shy as Emily, therefore didn’t have the courage to declare.
Vanessa laughed as she put her short jersey dress back on. “Come on, Em ... you’ve been having a crush on my brother since I know you.”
The thin girl laughed. No, it wasn’t true, well, not exactly, but there was something. Emily always blushed and behaved awkwardly around Dean, it had to mean something, right? Besides, it was about time she got some action. Vanessa had been trying to take her out of that shell since she met her, but never succeeded. They all shared the same concern, though: Emily had never been really open, but before the injury she’d been slightly more lively, now she seemed so different ...
“I just ... appreciate his looks ...” Emily mumbled, trying to justify herself. She really didn’t like Dean in that sense. Well, she sort of did, but not as much as Vanessa claimed. She just found him cute and funny. That’s all.
“Uh-uh ... well, he’ll be at your mom’s party specifically for you.” Her friend informed her and Emily’s eyes bulged out.
Vanessa giggled as they walked through the stacks of clothes. “Well, your mom said we needed a date and you had none, so I just asked Dean to be yours.”
“And why on Earth would you do that?!” Emily barked, freezing in her spot. That was such a horrendous idea!
Vanessa sighed, explaining absentmindedly as she let her fingers skim over a cute satin dress: “Because you like my brother, he likes you back and I’m tired of you two just playing hard to catch.”
“W-we’re not playing anything ... I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me.” Emily pointed out for the thousand time, now losing her nerve.
Her friend sighed, putting down the dress she was looking at as they were walking around the store. “Then how do you explain his always asking about you?”
“H-he asks about me?”
“Yeah, every time I say I’m going out he’s like “heading to Em’s? How’s she doing? Will she come over soon? Why hasn’t she been sleeping over lately?“”
Emily snorted, disbelieving. “Yeah, sure ...”
“I wish Jason did the same about me ...” Emily rolled her eyes, letting her fingers slide through dresses as they kept walking. Dresses she’d never wear, because she was so fat ...
“He’s so hot ...” Vanessa continued.
Emily grimaced. “Vane, please! It’s my brother!”
The blonde girl grinned, glad to have a reaction that wasn’t gloomy. “Not my fault if your brother is hotness personified.”
Emily sighed, rolling her eyes once again. This would never end. Ever since they met in sophomore year and she brought Vanessa home that one time Jason was home, her friend never quit babbling about how hot he was and so on, things that made Emily grimace, for obvious reasons, but Vanessa was determined. And even when before summer he announced he got engaged, she only snorted and claimed he was only derailing for a bit, he’d see reason soon enough.
“Give it a rest. He’s taken already.” Emily grumbled, but the other snorted.
“Yeah, well, that bitch doesn’t deserve him.”
Emily rolled her eyes, sighing. “He loves her.”
“No ... he loves me. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Vanessa winked.
“There’s something like a nine years gap between you two.” Emily pointed out. Jason was 27, halfway through his residency, living in Boston with his fiancée, Gwen, who he’d met in college, and he was so in love with her. He’d even proposed, what better sign than that? But Vanessa kept believing the opposite.
“So what? I bet he could teach me something ...” She claimed, to which Emily grimaced, rebuking her best friend for such sinful thoughts, but the the girl only laughed. “What? You know I’d gladly get intimate with your sexy brother.”
Emily sighed. “Could you just stop it?”
“Why? I hear you blabbing about how cute my brother is all the time.”
Emily blushed. “I just say he’s cute, not that I’d gladly sleep with him.”
Vanessa laughed even louder, even attracting some attention as they walked out of the boutique. Some male attention, to be precise, which she always caught, no matter what, Emily knew that, therefore she tried to ignore the guys smirking and muttering what she supposed were very sinful things as they stared shamelessly at her best friend. Usual.
Those guys were even from their school and Emily would have sworn she’d recognized the Queen Bee’s boyfriend. Who knows what Alice would say if she knew he had his eyes on Vanessa, especially considering that they’d been friends at first, but then Vanessa had blatantly rejected everything Alice represented, humiliating the girl in front of everybody, causing a war.
“Yeah, but you would, wouldn’t you?” Vanessa kept going, to which Emily turned crimson.
Lowering her glance as she fidgeted, she mumbled, embarrassed: “You know I’m still virgin ...” Another reason to feel ashamed. Pretty much all of her peers had lost their cards, had had more than one story, but she ... nothing. Not even one boy that was ever interested in her. Not one kiss. Nothing.
To think that by her age her brother was already a heartbreaker. And her mother had already met her dad. She? Nothing. The only boy that mostly talked to her was Vanessa’s twin brother and even with him it was awkward. She just couldn’t make herself talk freely. In this sense, she envied her best friend, Vanessa was always so open, so free, she couldn’t care less about what people thought, but Emily ... she felt like every single word she said would be so heavily judged that it was better not to let it out.
There had been one person that made her feel at ease, but leaving, he’d taken away her self confidence too, even without knowing. He’d taken so much without knowing ... no. No, that was over. She was over those frilly ideas she had when she was 14. Now she was almost adult, there was no room for such silly thoughts.
Vanessa laughed. “Yeah, I bet Dean would be very glad to teach you.” She commented, making her friend grimace once again.
“How can you be so at ease with talking about your brother like this?”
Vanessa shrugged. “I’m not as prude as you are, Em.” Emily rolled her eyes, deciding to drop the topic, not wanting to discuss her being so inadequate socially.
“So, is Jason coming to the party?” Vanessa asked as they walked, arms entangled, making her friend roll her eyes.
“Of course he is ... with Gwen.” Emily replied and the other grumbled.
“Why does he stick with her? She’s a bitch.”
“Told you, he loves her. And she’s no bitch. Gwen is a very sweet girl that loves my brother deeply.”
Vanessa snorted. “Yeah, I bet she cheats on him.”
“How would you know that?” She shrugged, not giving any other explanation other than a “feeling” she had. Not wanting to discuss the foolish crush that wasn’t so much a crush, despite everything, that her best friend on her brother, once they’d reached a bookstore, Emily froze.
“Oh, come on ... you’ve been here only two days ago.” Vanessa complained.
“Just a tiny look ... go ahead, I’ll catch up with you.” Her friend replied, already going towards the door.
Vanessa sighed. “You’ll find me there.” She said, pointing at the underwear shop. Emily nodded, even while planning to remain there as much as possible, just to avoid setting foot into the skinny realm, and entered the bookstore.
“Good morning, love.” The kind British lady at the counter greeted her.
Emily smiled politely at her. “Good morning, Mrs. Smith.”
“Back here already? I saw you only two days ago.”
“Yeah, I’m here with my best friend, you know ... shopping on Saturday.” The old lady nodded and the girl left to hang around the store.
She wandered around, stopping at the Classic department first, letting her fingers slide through the piles of books, which always soothed her, but she’d barely been there for a couple of minutes that she bumped into someone tall enough to tower over even her that was 5′10".
“Oops ... sorry.” She heard a male voice say.
“It’s okay.” She replied, without even looking up, just too taken by the new arrivals.
“Emily? Emily Robinson?” Her heart skipped thousands of beat. Oh, no. No, she was hallucinating. Definitely hallucinating. It couldn’t be ... he was in London. It couldn’t be ... nah, she was certainly hallucinating. Yet she looked up, just to be sure, and the sight nearly had her faint. Gosh, it couldn’t seriously be ... she blinked her eyes several times, trying to tell if she was right or not.
“Riley. Riley Evans. Remember me?” The dark blonde guy in front of her said. How could she forget? It’d been only five years. And she could barely breathe. “I went to school with your brother Jason.” He specified, as if it was even necessary.
Emily nodded, trying hard to inhale without him noticing her anxiety. “Uh ... yeah, Riley ... how can I forget ...” Riley and her brother had been best friends for a long time, practically, since they were in diapers, or at least that she’d been told. Then Riley left for London, but they remained in contact.
She’d known Riley was doing great in England exactly because Jason brought news about his best friend every time, considering he’d been practically a second son to her parents and ... should have been a second brother to her. Should have. Emily remembered the handsome guy in front of her too well. Even too well.
Riley smiled widely, checking her out from tip to toe. “Wow, you’re all grown up.” He commented. “I remember you like this.” He added, mimicking a child’s height that stopped at his stomach.
Emily smiled, well, tried to, just not to give away the wide range of emotions she was feeling. “Yeah, it’s been five years more or less.” She pointed out, trying not to blush. He nodded.
“When did you come back?” She asked, just to say something that had sense.
“Only yesterday. I’m here till the bonfire. Then I’ll apply for a job in Boston.”
“Oh, so you’re definitely back.” She couldn’t help commenting and he chuckled, showing her his pearly white teeth that dazed every single girl in town.
Apparently, Riley and her brother had been the heartbreakers in that little burg, they were even well known, well, at least her brother was, because in freshman year even teachers kept asking her “Robinson? Any relation to Jason Robinson?“, to the point that, exasperated, she’d almost wanted to hang a cartel on her back that said “yes, I am Jason Robinson’s sister, quit asking”.
“Yeah, I missed old Uncle Sam. London girls are so cold ...” Riley commented and she chuckled, though never looking him straight in the eyes. Into those peculiar green eyes whose shade was as much unique as Vanessa’s grey.
“Nowhere’s like home, right?” He asked rhetorically, but she wrinkled her nose, biting her tongue not to say she actually wanted to escape. And she would. Soon enough. His return wouldn’t change anything.
“So, how are you doing? You’re on your senior year, right?” Riley questioned.
Emily nodded. “About to start. After the bonfire.”
“Already decided the college?”
“I’m thinking of Boston University.”
“Oh, you can aim higher than that.” She smiled shyly. “You’re a smart girl, Emily. Why don’t you try MIT? Or Yale?”
“Well, I’m not sure I’m qualified ...”
He snorted. “Nonsense. They’d be lucky to have you.”
She blushed, so lowered her glance to conceal it. “T-thanks, Riley ...” It felt so weird to say his name out loud after so long ... he smiled, making her heart race as she couldn’t help thinking about how gorgeous he was. But more than that, he was special. To her at least. He’d been the only one person to truly understand her. Much more than her own brother, for sure. Actually, she’d always preferred Riley’s company to Jason’s.
But not even when she was five and he made ride piggyback on his lap or back was he ever a brother. If anything, he was a special friend. Actually, special friend was the definition Emily had always liked to use in regards to him. Till weird emotions came into view and she started feeling awkward around him.
She’d wanted to talk to him about it, because he was so understanding, he’d always kept repeating her, even when he left for college with Jason, that she could tell him anything, so she’d wanted to talk to him about those weird emotions he was starting to cause her ... but before she could, Riley announced he’d leave for London, not sure till when. Well, useless to tell him at that point, right?
“So what are you doing around here?” Riley asked.
Emily shrugged, trying to delete those frilly thoughts. “Just shopping.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Alone?”
“No, my best friend’s with me.”
Riley nodded, kind of pensive. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tonight.” He said, going to walk past her.
“Tonight?” Emily asked anxiously. Why, she didn’t even know, neither did she want to. Nothing good would come out of indulging in such silly thoughts.
“Yeah, your brother invited me over, so I’m having dinner with you guys tonight.” Riley informed her.
“Oh ... nice ...”
He chuckled. “Yeah, so excited, aren’t you?” He commented sarcastically and she giggled, a bit childishly maybe.
“No, I’m happy to see you, Riley. Really.” Emily admitted truthfully.
He smiled, making her heart flutter as he affectionately pinched her cheek, confirming: “I’m glad to see you too, Honeybee. I’ve missed you.”
She tried her best to keep a normal stance till he was there, but once he left, repeating he’d see her tomorrow, Emily let out all the breaths she’d held back, feeling lightheaded. Not these thoughts again. It’d been five years. She’d gone past such frilly ideas.
Riley was almost ten years older. He was her brother’s best friend. He’d seen her in diapers. She was, always would be, only his Honeybee, that name he’d always affectionately used for her, opposite to the Little Monster Jason reserved to her. Her thoughts were really silly. As much silly as Vanessa’s hopes on Jason leaving Gwen for her.
Yet Emily found herself sprinting to the exit of the bookshop and heaving a big sigh as she spotted Riley walking down the street, towards the stairs, hands stuffed in his pockets, barely paying attention to the hordes of girls, from teens to older, that gawked at him. Emily closed her eyes, trying hard to calm down her heart.
He’s too old. He’s your brother’s best friend. Quit being so silly, Emily. This is insane. As much as it had been locking herself up in her room and crying her heart out when he left. As much as feeling her heart heavy because she missed him so badly. As much as that fear that now paralyzed her.
Riley was back. And her heart would restart aching. Again. And she was no more a child, she knew what caused those emotions. She just had to push it back till he left for Boston. Then maybe she could save her heart.
Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...
Animeviewer: It is one of the best stories I've ever read. This story will have you riding a roller coaster of emotions and nearly dying to know what happens next.You will get very attached to the characters and in my case I relate well with some of their very traumatic or emotional experiences, Just Juliet f...
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
Jade Jez: What a wonderful, immersive book from Eliott McKay. It starts with an air of mystery, introducing main character Michaela, the clumsy teenager. From there, it whisks you off your feet and dumps you into a beautifully written world where you can almost smell and hear everything happening. I go...
MavisMcQueen: "To Live Again" is a well crafted, highly engaging, heart vibrating tale surrounding our favorite Elven King. The author will keep you engrossed until the very end and by that time you will feel so strongly for Clara and the other characters that you will never want it to end...like ever. Thrandu...
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to Liz Aguilar, author of To Have And to Hold a fast-paced, gripping, adrenaline rush from start to finish, one of perhaps the finest pieces of writing I've ever read, in particular because of its' telenovela-like feel, May she continually find success as an author. Bravo my dear, bravo!
tyleroakleyfan: thank you for writing this story I loved it. it was great I enjoyed every minute of it I couldn't stop reading you did a fantastic job. Thanks for killing ron he was starting to piss me off. he was being a dick. I love that you made it a gay love story its about time someone did. love it great job.
FateFellShort: I have read this story and have followed the writers on tumblr from the beginning. Its a wonderful story. Beautifully written with a really nice pace, that makes it enjoyable to read more than once. For me, fairy tail has very good characters but what the writers have done is give them more depth...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."