[I'm finally finding time to post a chapter that I've been mulling through my head for some time now. Lets hope I can get it out somewhat coherent and decent, since I'm pressed for time.]
For the longest time now, my brother, Tom, has been debating if his current girlfriend, Allison, is the one. They'd been dating for almost a year and she was practically family at this point, so marriage was something that wasn't going to seem to big, at least to me. So when the news came that Tom had actually proposed and Allison had accepted, the shock of it all wore off fairly quickly. I smiled, gave him my congrats while my mom was still wiping tears of joy from her eyes.
"My only son! I can't believe you're going to be married!" She simpered, embracing her six foot tall son and being enveloped into his long and comforting arms. He laughed and shrugged bashfully.
"Yeah. I'd tell you all the gory details but I have a feeling that my siblings wouldn't appreciate that right now." He smiled and nudged me in the arm. I snorted and nudged him back.
"You got that right!" I was happy for Allison and Tom, but knowing the ins and outs of their relationship was not something I cared too much about. I sat down and began eating my breakfast, wondering what plans my mom was developing in her mind at this very moment. My brother was just about to serve himself up some pancakes when my mom put her hand on his shoulder and smiled sweetly. That smile was reserved for special moments, namely moments where the person whom she was asking the favor was most likely to say no but couldn't after seeing a smile like that. I stifled a laugh and wolfed down another bite.
"Honey, how are you going to tell everyone about your new engagement?" She asked, moving over to the sink and doing a few dishes. Tom shrugged and took a big bite out of a pancake.
"I dunno. Just tell them, I guess." I finished the pancake in his second bite and grabbed for another.
"Why don't you have a get together...or a party!" She exclaimed excitedly, grinning widely at her only son. "We could host it here, maybe at the park across the street and we could invite all of your friends and all of the family friends nearby and..."
"Mom!" Tom cut in, his pancake left untouched and abandon in his hand as he stared incredulously at his mother. I couldn't blame him. How had she concocted such an idea in a matter of minutes? I guess, once you become a mother, thats all you have time for. Mom looked slightly affronted as she turned around and faced Tom.
"What? I just want everyone to know the good news!" She continued cleaning dishes and Tom took another bite of pancake and shook his head.
"Fine, mom. Whatever you want. Just make sure that what Allison wants comes first." He patted his mom on the back and went to sit by me. We gave each other a significant look, knowing that mom would have a hard time letting someone else plan something that she wanted full responsibility for. He flicked the side of my head and, although from his marriage on he'd be embarking on a new chapter of his life, I knew that he would still be the same old Tom. That filled me with comfort.
The rest of the day was relatively normal except for the constant nagging from my mom to answer phones, anticipating RSVPs and calls of congratulations from relatives. The party was scheduled for next week, and the park was reserved all day. To me, this whole situation was a little much just for an engagement. But once my mom had an idea, she stuck to it.
When I finally saw Allison with her engagement ring, she was the happiest I had ever seen her. Her cheeks were scrunched in a permanent grin and she was always seen arm in arm with Tom, her engagement ring glittering in the light. Her opinion of the party was wisely stifled, but she didn't stop from whispering it to people who would listen.
"I've never even heard of an engagement party before." She whispered to me in her sweet southern drawl. I chuckled and rolled my eyes.
"Something my mom would definitely make up just to brag." Allison nodded and walked over to Tom and wrapped her arms around him. I sighed and just hope that the wedding wouldn't be as bad.
Before long, the day of the party was here and my mom, as usual, was barking orders and stressing out about an idea that she spouted herself. The weather couldn't be more perfect, and everything was going perfectly smooth. As anticipated, all the siblings were unenthusiastic and we all scoffed our mom for planning such a thing. Even Tom verbalized his feelings, but for the most part, he kept his mouth closed.
We all gathered to the park shelter and started to prepare the food for guests. Slowly the guests began to trickle in and gather around Tom to shake his hand and to hug Allison. Me and my sisters all sat a table by ourselves, cracking jokes and trying to make the situation better. Sure, we were happy for our brother, but this wasn't our moment. It was his, and our parents, neglecting us as usual, made sure we knew that. Yet still we sat and joked, avoiding small talk with those we didn't recognize.
Eventually I stood up to get myself something to eat and drink and found myself running into someone.
"Sorry, excuse me." I muttered, trying to maneuver my way around the person. I glanced at his face briefly and found that my breath caught in my chest briefly. I had run into a highly attractive guy who looked about my age and I had never seen him in my life. I secretly hoped that I wasn't related to him, like I'd see him again. I got my food and my thoughts were soon concerned with other things besides the mysterious guy I'd run into.
The sun began to set, and people were slowly leaving, and only a small crowd remained. To them, the party was still going on, but we couldn't continue in the dark. I was prepared to make them go home until I noticed the guy again. What was more disconcerting was that he was watching me. I blinked, and he was checking his watch. I shook my head slightly, and suddenly wished that he'd go away. What kind of guy would watch someone? Besides, if he really wanted to meet me, he'd talk to me, not stare at me. And in a heartbeat, the once attractive guy was stuck-up and spoiled. I pursed my lips and began cleaning up the food.
"For those of you that want to still celebrate, we'll have a small party at our house after we clean up!" My mother announced, no doubt wanting to get rid of the extra food and entertain some more, one of her favorite things to do. I noticed that the guy's interest was perked and that he, no doubt, was going to be one of those party-goers. He walked over to another guy who looked older than him. Probably an older sibling who knows Tom. Just like me, he was dragged along against his will. Another detail that I didn't fail to use against him. I snorted and joined my siblings in our exasperation.
Once back at the house, there were fourteen people, including seven of the ten Jackmans and Allison. We decided to play a few games and different activities. It was all fun, until we played "Honey, Do You Love Me?" We all sat in a circle in the basement, where we had the most room, and began playing. The game consisted of someone walking up to another person and asking "Honey, do you love me?" and the person would answer either yes or no. If they said yes, the people next to them had to stand up and try to switch places while trying to make sure that the person who asked didn't get their seat. The person who didn't get the seat had to go up to another person and ask the same question. If someone answered no, they had to say who they did love, like "I love everyone wearing brown shoes." And those people had to stand up and run around for a different seat while the asker searched for a seat themselves. It was all very chaotic and violent at times, but fun, nonetheless.
Except for the moment the guy was in the middle.
He stood up after a particularly rough round of all the guys running around and searching for a seat. The guy was beat out by my brother-in-law, Duncan, and was left to go in the middle. I was laughing and waiting for the next time I would be running when I felt him watching me again. "Oh great," I thought. "He's going for me..." I looked around as he made his way slowly to me, staring at me with his deep blue eyes. He stood in front of me for a split second, and then, suddenly, managed to sit on my lap.
Shocked and slightly embarassed, I stared at him incredulously, wondering what on earth what he was doing.
"Honey, do you love me?" He batted his eyes at me, and I began pushing him off. But he proved to be harder to get off than expected. But I was angry. He was intentionally poking fun at me, and I was not going to have it. When pushing failed, I stood up quickly with all the strength I had and glared at him on the floor.
"NO! Who could ever love you?!" Without thinking about what I said, I ran out of the room, and outside, trying to clear my head. I wasn't even sure what happened, all I knew was that I probably made a fool of myself. I ran my hand through my hair and took several deep breaths.
"Get a hold of yourself, Tor. He wasn't trying to make you mad. He's probably one of those class clown types that gets on everyones nerves..."
"I don't know about the nerves part, but I wasn't trying to make you mad."
His voice was quiet and tentative. My heart jumped, despite its softness. I didn't think he followed me. I whipped around to see the guy, his face screwed up in a grimace. Obviously, the stunt he pulled wasn't meant to get out of hand. I pursed my lips.
"Why'd you do it?" I asked.
"I dunno. Big groups make me freak out."
"Well, when that happens to me, I just stay as quiet as a mouse."
"Everyone is different."
"I can see that."
He grimaced even more, and for the first time this night, I felt a tad sorry for him. I sighed and made to go inside the house. I had just passed him when I heard him speak again.
I turned to look at him and placed my hands on my hips.
"What is that supposed to mean?" I cocked one eyebrow and stared at him. He only laughed.
"Thats my name, silly. Emerson." He smiled slightly, probably thinking the introduction of his name entitled him to a conversation with me. I hadn't decided yet if he had succeeded. He waited expectantly for my name, but I hesitated. Why give him my name? It wasn't as if I was ever going to see him. He's probably from out of town and in a few months time, he'd be the ghost of a memory. But then, why not give him my name? It wouldn't do him any harm. I decided on the latter, and took my hands off my hips.
"Victoria, but I hate being called that. Just call me Tori." Like you'll be able to once you've walked from this house. He stepped closer to me, testing the perimeters. When I didn't do anything to scold him, he took a few more steps until we were a decent width apart.
"I like that name. Its hardly ever used anymore."
"Oh, and Emerson is very common. A close second to Mark." I grinned and laughed, the awkwardness finally broken. I began to laugh and we looked at each other, finding within one another a kindred spirit. If only he lived next door.
Just then, The front door opened and closed, and we both, in unison, looked to see who was there. It was Tom. I smiled at him and waved. He just stared at the pair of us, his face hard to read.
"Hey Tom. Whats the matter?" I asked. I noticed that Emerson looked at me funnily. I glanced back. "Tom's my brother, Emerson. I'm not a stranger to this house." I laughed, but stopped when I saw him step away. "What is it?"
"Tori, what are you doing out here with him?" Tom walked swiftly towards me, and stood protectively between me and Emerson. My face contorted confusedly as I looked from Tom to Emerson, who was peaking at me from behind Tom, his face almost identical to Tom's.
"Whats wrong with being out here with Emerson?"
"Wait...this is your sister?" Emerson asked Tom, who didn't bother to turn around.
"Yeah. My younger sister." I glared at Tom. Why was this an issue? Emerson had to be my age...right?
Emerson backed away at the word younger and turned around so I couldn't see his face. By the looks of it, he was rubbing his temples with one hand. I looked at Tom, who was backing me inside.
"Tom, whats going on? Whats wrong?" I kept on asking, I stared out at Emerson, willing him to tell me. How is it the perfect guy for me is being guarded from me? By my older brother?! I was slowly becoming angry. Tom had no right to do this. When we were both inside, he looked outside the door. The sound of an engine revving and a car driving away was satisfying enough. He closed the door and locked it. The he turned to look at me.
"Tori, what were you doing?"
"Just getting some air!"
"Whats going on between you and Emerson?"
"Nothing! He just sat on me, I ran off and he followed. That was all the contact we've had all night. Don't get paranoid. Besides, whats it matter to you who I'm dating and such."
"I know you're not dating him."
"How? I don't tell you the inner workings of my mind."
At this point, I had to be winning. I just pulled the you-don't-know-me card. That was always a grand slam. But then the whammy came.
"I know that you aren't dating him because, for one, he just moved here last week, and second, he hasn't met anyone in the family except for me, and thirdly, he's a twenty-year-old student who wouldn't be interested in the likes of you. But now, I'm not too sure about that last thing..."
Tom trailed off and shook his head. I just stared at him, dumbfounded. Twenty? College student? He looked too young! I knew he was just too perfect, and I knew myself better than to think I'd start crushing on a guy my age. That never happened. I sighed and slumped off to my room.
Emerson, the twenty year old college student. "I hope I never see him again!" I said to myself. But secretly, I did.
[well, thats the first part. But I'm thinking of splitting Chapter 3 into two chapters. But hope you enjoy. Ta!