Flawed - Prologue - First Draft
Back home in America every single person that Evelyn Irving knew was enjoying their summer off from the day to day agony that was high school. Back home in America her friends were spending hours talking about ridiculous and frivolous things whilst sipping on lattes at Starbucks by day and going to the movies by night. Things that normal teenagers with normal families did during their summers, but oh not Evelyn Irving.
London is where she spent every summer. Dreary, wet, depressing, London. Where she knew no one and did not particularly care to get to know anyone either. Every year was the same and the only good thing about it was that it was predictable. For months before hand she would mentally prepare herself to be miserable for three months while having to listen to her dear father, precious mother, and warm hearted younger sister all gush and pour their hearts into their summer retreat. It certainly was not Evelyn's summer retreat and she often wondered how it was possible that three people she loved more than anything in the world could love such a horrid place so much.
It completely baffled her.
They would tell her that she just was not opening her eyes. Seeing the beauty around her. What beauty? A burning sunset over an awaiting cool blue ocean after a bright sunny day filled with laughter back home in California was beautiful.
London just made her want to curl up in an over sized arm chair and read for three straight months. At least then she could transport herself to the places she would read about. She liked the characters in the books better than anyone she had ever met in London, as well. Especially that awful boy Aidan who was always attached to her sister Ember's hip all through the summer. Never was their a boy more obnoxious or one that she distrusted as he. She did not like the amount of time that he spent with her sister of merely fourteen. Granted the boy was only 15. A year younger than herself and only a year older than Ember but she knew how much Ember adored him.
Adored him as she knew her mother adored her father. Dangerous.
Evelyn loved her parents dearly but for as long as she had at all been able to understand that her parents had a love for one another that was as alive as any living, breathing, entity she had been plagued by fear because of it. Oh Ember was always telling her to see the beauty in that as well but Evelyn only saw the possibility of disaster. Of the destruction of the two people she loved most in the world. What good was love if you had to always live in fear of losing it? Evelyn could not imagine that it would feel like anything more to her than a ticking clock. Tick, tick, ticking by. Waiting for the opportune moment to strike and rip the heart right out of your chest.
Staring out the car window Evelyn paused in her rather dreary train of thought to watch the drizzles of rain travel across the glass eying one in particular that seemed to moving slower than the others. This was what London did to her. She could almost be certain that it took the vibrant purples and oranges that comprised the colors of her soul and turned them to black as coal and to a ghostly pale white. Much as her skin would look by the time she left.
Leaning forward she pressed her forehead against the cool surface of the glass and closed her eyes.
"Evey..." The soft sound of her little sister's angelic voice made it's way into her bout of self-pity. "Evey..." She said again and then continued this time, "...I would love to see you smile just once this summer. Just one time. For me."
"What is there to smile about around here? It's boring. The places are boring. The people are bori--"
"What places? What people? You don't go anywhere or talk to anyone when we come here." Ember attempted to reason and Evelyn was hardly surprised by her sister's eloquence or beautiful, insightful thoughts. She had discovered long ago that Ember was simply something extraordinary. A piece of perfection made by her mother and father whom were equally extraordinary. Where she fit in? She was almost positive that she was adopted. Being the perpetual black cloud over their lightness as she always was.
"Why can't you just let me sit and be miserable? I like it that way. I love our home. There is nothing that compares to it. Nothing ever will. Especially not London. We're just different, Ember." Evelyn said, turning her gaze from the window towards her sister.
Sitting together they must look like something out of a whimsical story. Ember the ivory skinned, blue eyed, blonde angel and Evelyn the green eyed, golden flame haired, she devil with hardly a perfect complexion. They were as different as they appeared, as well. Ember was such an old, soft spoken, soul. Evelyn told you exactly what she was
thinking when she was thinking it often at the price of being disliked. She hardly cared. While Ember was the eternal peace keeper. The angel on your shoulder. She voice of good. Evelyn often wished she would speak that voice louder and make the world a better place with it, but that just was not Ember. She was timid. Shy. But could bring you to life with a single touch and steal your soul with a single well versed phrase and she always knew exactly what to say. Brilliant at age 14 and at 16 Evelyn admired her yet knew she would never be anything like her. Evelyn was the bull in the china shop. Always would be.
"Or you are just stubborn." Ember said with an edge of a smile tipping up the corner of her mouth. "You should make an effort this summer. I would love for Aidan to see my real sister. He has been calling you the red dragon for years."
Ha. That made Evelyn smile with a short laugh. "The red dragon, huh? Whatever. He runs around like a savage. All bare feet and that crazy hair of his. Does he even wash it? You've even told me yourself that he isn't any good at any subject in school. He does nothing but play that guitar of his and it sounds like pigeons croaking and dying when he plays." Needless to say, Evelyn didn't have the highest opinion of Aidan Hart. Her sister's young heart was something she was fiercely protective of.
Never one to get angry, Ember just shook her head and let out a soft laugh, shaking her head, "You just don't know him." She paused for a moment, then said something that was one of many things she tended to say that always made Evelyn stop and think, "And maybe you never will. You have it in your head what a man should be, apparently. Is dad so perfect?"
"Yes." Evelyn said without hesitation. "What kind of question is that?"
"Just a question." What an infuriating response.
"Dad is a writer. He was never good at any specific subject either. And he runs around barefoot with us all the time. Is he a savage?"
Little miss point maker was starting to get on Evelyn's nerves. "Dad is dad. He's a grown man and a good man. Aidan Hart is a child. A child that acts like the entire world exists as his playground. Does he ever worry about anything?" It was an honest sort of question. One that took on a very different tone in Evelyn's voice. An almost jealous tone. It was embedded into her genetic makeup that she could simply never be as carefree as an Aidan Hart. Too many thoughts plagued her daily.
A slow smile crept up onto Ember's lips as she answered proudly, "Yes. He worries about me."
That answer brought almost a growl out of the red head within Evelyn, "Well he does not need to worry about you. I can do that just fine on my own." She ground out between clenched teeth, "In the words of his people here. He can piss off."
"Evelyn!" Her mother's soft, yet reprimanding, voice sounded from the passenger seat in front of them. The look on her face said it all and Evelyn instantly felt horrible. Not because of anything having to do with Aidan Hart but simply because she absolutely could not stand falling short of her mother's expectations.
Evelyn's mother was the sun.
Evelyn's father was the moon.
They defied every rule of nature to be together. They came together and created the stars in the sky. The created the sunsets that she loved so much.
This was how she had always seen them when she was little.
When she had been five in her kindergarten class her teacher had asked her to draw a picture of her parents and she had drawn exactly that. The sun. The moon. The stars. And an eternal sunset that they seemed to forever live within.
It had seemed so much easier back them. Magical. Now. It did not seem like reality. And it wasn't. Because in reality the sun and the moon are never together and could never be. And stars have no magic to them at all. They are just out there. Part of science. They certainly were not created by her parents. What a childish way to think. In fact, Aidan Hart probably would believe her. Hook, line, and sinker.
"Sorry." Evelyn mumbled and then brightened when a soft smile touched her mother's lips before they spoke to her father, driving the car, her accent rich and British, "Does it get further away each year? It seems as if we've been
driving for ages." Her mother was the only good thing that had ever come out of London. Evelyn was convinced.
"You say that every year. Chill out, sweetheart." Her dad. Ever the American. "What do you think? That the road grows, or something?" He said with a laugh as her mother's hand swatted playfully at his shoulder. He was always trying to make her laugh and while he was almost never funny, Evelyn still found it impossibly endearing.
Evelyn watched as her mother laughed softly and coiled her arm around her father's and leaned her shoulder against his, their heads angled towards each other as they sat in front of her. "I'm just very tired." Evelyn heard her say and continued to watch as her mother rested the side of her head against the side of her father's.
It was plain to see that they almost seemed to occupy the same breathing space just to be able to breathe properly and while she loved them for it, Evelyn knew that such a kind of love was not what she wanted out of this life. She didn't want her heart and life to rely so completely on a man. Her happiness to be all wrapped up in something that could get taken away or even just walk away. She didn't mind being alone. She preferred it.
Glancing over at Ember it was obvious that she did not agree. Her eyes were glued to the house that they were now passing. Aidan Hart's house. A humble little place. His family was not very well off. At least, not as they were. There was no sign of him, however, and Evelyn could see the trace of disappoint cross over Ember's flawless, child like, features.
Evelyn let out a long sigh, and shook her head. She was the only sane one. It was official. The only one not wrapped up in romantic gibberish. "Don't look so stricken. It's not like you won't see him tomorrow." Evelyn drawled. "Him and that hair of his."
"His hair is romantic."
"You must be joking." She wasn't, though,
"Hair can be romantic." Ember said, with a little shrug. "Anything can be. London is romantic."
"London is tragic."
"London... is magic."
Evelyn groaned out loud. "Please. Enough. There are only so many rainbows and butterflies that I can take for one car ride." It was the tom boy in her pleading now for a few moments of sanity. She wasn't boyish, by any means, but simply not girlish, either. Unicorns had never appealed to her. Barbi was evil, she was convinced. Hello Kitty, as well. And she absolutely hated Titanic. Rose could have let the poor sap on that floating door with her. Why didn't anyone else see that? It was ridiculous.
"A little magic would be good for you, Evey." Ember said, her gaze drifting out the window as the car swung around the circular drive, a fountain at it's center, directly in front of the huge house that her mother had gown up in. "Oh! It's even more beautiful this year, isn't it Mum?" She gushed, her eyes lighting up like her entire face like a ray of pure sunshine coming through the clouds. She turned to look back at Evelyn, and said, "How do you not see the magic here? Or at least feel it?"
For a moment Evelyn felt a little pang of something. She was not sure what it was, but for the briefest of moments she wished she could feel that magic that lit her little sister up from the inside out. If anything just to better understand the brilliance that was Ember.
Pushing her way out of the door Evelyn instantly shivered and felt the cold already trying to seep into her. It would get warmer. Hopefully. If she was lucky. The weather was so fickle here. Never predictable. She hated that. Never knowing what to expect. It was maddening. However, there was one thing about coming here that she liked. Loved even. Just one solitary thing that made it worth it.
It was this moment.
Standing by the car watching as her dad, mum, and sister all stared up in wonder at the house that seemed like nothing but old, cold, and dusty to her, but utter magic to them. She loved seeing their faces as they hurried up the over sized front steps, eager to be inside. She loved seeing how much they loved it here.
And it was going to be the last summer that she would ever see it....
Flawed - Chapter 1 - First Draft
London, March, 9 Months Later
"Oh! You're a little devil, you are!"
A peal of genuine, heartfelt, unique and yet, mischievous laughter came from Aidan Hart just as it always did as often as he could manage. In this particular case, he had just infuriated his eldest sister to the point of screeching by hitting her in the head with a snowball. Perfect hit too! How often was he called a devil anyway? How many times for ages and ages? It was no matter really as he would forever continue to live up to the name. Everyone had to have a purpose in life, after all. At age 16, this was his.
He would wait a few moments to launch the second snow ball. Let his prey decide that she was safe enough to return to gathering firewood. Timing was everything! Lucky for him his sisters were great sports and actually possessed a sense of humor unlike most girls of his acquaintance. He hardly paid any of them any attention. Boring lot they were. Nothing like his sisters and certainly nothing like Ember.
Ember. He missed her. It was the same thing he felt when he thought of his parents. It was the kind of thing he attempted to ignore and do things like throw snowballs at his sisters. Which reminded him...
"Wait for it.... wait for it..." Aidan said softly to himself, pulling his arm back and preparing to fire. A few moments ticked by and when Megan Hart had just straightened herself back out and was preparing to head back to the house, he fired!
Too late! Megan had turned around enough to see it coming! Blast it! To be able to dodge the rapidly approaching snowball she had to drop all the firewood into the snow and then came the pay off as she spun, slipped and fell face first into the snow!
"YES!" Aidan cheered and jumped into the air feeling like he was nine years old again. For some reason he tended to act even more childish when he was at home with his sisters. They worked so hard to care for him and providing a little fun and entertainment was the only thing he knew he could give back.
Another peal of his contagious laughter filled the cool, crisp, morning air and where he would usually hear Megan's reluctant laughter in return he heard nothing. Sobering from his mischievous workings he realized that Megan was still laying in the snow, unmoving.
"Megan?" No reply. He waited and still nothing. A trick? She would think that she could outsmart him, now wouldn't she? Well, he would show her.
"Megan!" He cried in mock shock and terror, balling up yet another snowball that he hid behind his back, in one hand, as he ran forward and fell to his knees by her side. "Oh how could I be so--"
That was when she tried to do it. Tried to be oh so clever, the poor silly girl. Megan pushed up from the snow with an obvious intention to be quick about it but since he knew it was coming it might as well have been in super slow motion. Before the snowball in her hand was ever even launched his had already been fired, hit it's target, and was falling to pieces around her shocked wide blue eyes, sticking to and darkening wisps of her light brown hair around her face. "Oh! You... you... you are so..."
"Brilliant? Yes, I know but what I do not know is how you came to be so gullible, sis? I'm good at most everything, as you know, but I am a terrible actor! I mean, did you hear me? I sounded like one of those God awful soap operas and you completely bought it. It is a very sad day for. You have my condolences. Sincerely." Aidan was trying so hard not to laugh but it was far too difficult with her sitting there covered in snow fuming enough probably to melt it.
That was when he executed a most brilliant and strategic smile. It got him out of just about any bit of trouble he got himself into. Charming chap, he was and it worked now just as it did always. Megan smiled and laughed softly as she attempted to pick herself back up out of the snow.
It was good to hear her laugh. Megan was much older than he was. Ten years older to be exact and had spent much of her youth working and caring for him and his other older sister, Emmaline. He certainly wouldn't be the kind of carefree chap that he was without her taking on everything serious in life for him. He cherished her for that.
"Here," He offered, "Let me help you." Being that he was much taller than she, and still growing, he rose and helped get her up and situated without much effort. She gave him a little shove as they both straightened and he acted as if she had hit him hard enough to make him wobble. Ah, why not? It would make her feel like she could push him around. Might as well let the girl dream. "Oh come now. I just helped you up." He pouted.
"As well as you should. Little devil that you are. Wouldn't have needed helping up if it weren't for you." Megan reasoned and it was a fair enough statement. "Now be a man and help me with this fire wood. You are getting much too old to be spending your mornings playing in the snow, Aidan."
"Blah, blah, blah. Emma is older than I. Go bother her with your nagging. I get quite enough of it at school all bloody day long." Aidan whined. He didn't much like the idea of having to get older, gain responsibility, and all that rubbish. "Why is there any such hurry to grow up anyway?" He asked, gathering up all of the firewood and handing Megan one solitary piece to carry. So she would feel useful, of course. He could manage the rest.
"It's just inevitable, is all. We don't have the means for you to be a child forever. You know that."
"Yes. I know that but that doesn't mean that we all have to be so hum glum about it." Aidan replied, and then continued in his best 'hum glum' accent, "Oh... look at me. I am a grown up. I drink ridiculous loads of coffee, read newspapers and drive the speed limit. It's so great." He rolled his eyes. "I think I would rather shoot myself in the bloody head, thank you. It'd be far more exciting."
Megan laughed, again as she opened the door to their little house. Aidan brightened, "Now see? Is that not so much better?" He asked, walking in.
"Is not what so much better?" Emmaline Hart asked as she jumped up from the counter top she had been sitting on, sounding rather impatient. An irritable, tantrum throwing, teenager she was. Far more so than anyone could ever claim that he had been.
"Laughing about--" Aidan stopped short as he turned and saw Emma standing there wearing boots, tights, a too short skirt, a way too low cut shirt, blouse, whatever the bloody hell they called them, and looked as if she was about to leave the house in all of it. Was that red lipstick, as well? "Let me guess. You have..." He stood there acting as if he was really contemplating her intentions. "...decided to drop out of school, move to America, and take up some of that pole dancing. yes? Well, good luck. Send a post card now and then. Actually, don't. Lord knows what kind of post cards would come out of an establishment such as that." He paused. "Wait... actually, no, I've changed my mind. Do send them. Often."
"Aidan!" Emma cried, her hazel eyes turning an almost fiery brown, a red tint rising into pale skin that appeared even more doll like against the midnight color of her hair. Well, the midnight color of her hair this week, anyway. It could be orange next week for all they could predict with her.
"Ok. Fine. Just like once a week." Aidan continued, ignoring Emma's insulted cry as he unloaded the firewood down by the fireplace.
"What is wrong with my outfit?" Emma asked. She was all fire and angst all the time. It could get to be quite exhausting actually having to deal with teenage girl emotions all the time. "Is it that my outfit actually looks cute and you always look... look... just..."
"Charming?" Aidan offered. "Dashing?"
"Disheveled." Emma finally got it out. "You go to school every day looking like a homeless person. Half the time you are wearing the same bloody thing you've been wearing all week! Oh! And your hair! It hasn't been cut in ages and look at it... it looks as if it might attack someone at any moment." Her voice hit a bit of a comedic serious note. "We should not all have to live in this house in fear of when your hair might strike, Aidan."
He shrugged. "What's your point?" He said it merely to see her shake and rattle with fury. It was just so amusing. Chuckling he picked up his school pack with one hand and his guitar case with the other. "And why does everyone always go on about my hair? It's hair. I would love for it to be able to attack people though. That would actually be a rather cool trick, don't you think?" He directed the question toward Megan, but she just shook her head and disappeared into her room leaving him alone with the melodramatic chaos that was Emmaline. The prospect of that seemed far more dangerous to him than anything his hair might do.
Hearing a car pull up outside, Aidan felt a sudden wave of relief. Luckily he wouldn't have to do it alone as was their morning ritual. Fight. Then get in the car with Deacon Childe and listen to them fight all the way to school.
It was an almost violent relationship between his sister and his best mate. Not physically violent. They had simply known each other for all their lives and fought like an old married couple. It was certainly something different then what he had with Ember. Whatever that was. He had never even kissed Ember. It was something that he was planning on when she returned this summer and was fully expecting that he would completely screw it up. No doubts about that one.
Climbing into the backseat of what Aidan had long ago dubbed as Deacon's clown's car, he gave a little hello nod to Deacon and then grew a rather dark, irritated, expression when he happened to witness Deacon's reaction to what his sister was wearing when she climbed into the car as well.
"You look nice." Deacon said.
Emma gained a rather smug smile which she turned right toward Aidan. "Ah well, thank you. Aidan thinks I look like some kind of floosie." She said it with a touch of mock hurt in her voice. She certainly knew how to play the game. Manipulative little thing.
Aidan didn't think she was expecting Deacon to laugh out loud as he did, though. "Aidan! You actually said that to her? Ha! You are brave, chap!" Uh oh.
Emma's head snapped towards Deacon. Now he had done it. "And what is that supposed to mean, hmm?"
It was a good thing it was a short ride to school. Aidan had forgotten mp3 player. What misery.
Jane was yet another woman in his life that forever made him want to bang his head up against a very hard and unforgiving surface until he was in so much pain that he couldn't tell left from right anymore let alone what she was doing. Deacon was his mate but Jane... Jane was his best friend. Would always be but would also always be that one girl that he could never quite have for one reason, or another. It just was not in the cards and no matter how many instances arouse to prove that very fact to him, it just didn't seem to change that appeal. That wanting of something that just was never meant to be yours. Maybe it was that he just did not understand why she wasn't. They were virtually the same sort of person and they never fought. He loved all of the same music, movies and plays that she did and they had the exact same sense of humor.
It seemed that God had a better sense of humor because something about just never worked. Something had always been missing and it wasn't just that she had never once looked at him the way that Ember did. It was something else. Something that he didn't even necessarily have with Ember. In fact, he was certain that whatever it was he didn't have it with Ember either. Hence his kiss plotting. She would be 15 this year and he felt much more protective of her than he had ever felt of Jane. Had he ever felt protective of Jane? It certainly was not the same thing, if he had. He was torn on whether, or not, to even attempt a kiss with Ember. She was so fragile, perfect, and chaste. He had wanted to wait until she was at least 16. He felt like the biggest, bumbling, idiot around her. Afraid constantly of doing something that might cast a mark against her innocence. It was so very unique. He knew no other girls that had a light about them like Ember had. Not even Jane. It came from within her and when she chose to cast it upon you if felt like your entire body warmed from the inside out.
What kind of man was he exactly that he could sit here eying Jane across the courtyard while in two months such a creature as Ember would be here blindly adoring him? Selfish. He was a selfish bastard. Wanting something he could never have while refusing to relinquish something else that came so easily and meant so much to him. If that were not in reference to two beautiful human beings it wouldn't sound quite so terrible. It would just sound as if he was torn between taking a holiday to Hawaii or playing his guitar at the local coffee shop. The difference being that neither Hawaii or the coffee shop had their feelings wrapped up in his decision making process.
Reality struck and the blurry figure in front of him crystallized into the exact shape and size of Jane Riley. All 5'5" of her, curved like a delicate pixie, long chocolate brown hair that curled up at the ends and bounced, with matching almond shaped eyes. He blinked once, or twice, and found himself at an odd loss for words. She very rarely went out of her way to come talk to him anymore. Not since they'd both decided that it was better for him if she
"Aidan? Hello? Is anybody home?" She asked, with a soft smile, reaching a hand up to knock at his head rather hard.
"Yea, I'm here. Hi. I would prefer you use the doorbell though. It hurts a bit less." Aidan said, smiling his own rather crooked smile, as he reached up and rubbed the side of his head.
"Sorry." Jane said with a soft laugh. "What are you playing?" She asked, sliding her hands back into the pockets of her black button down coat.
Aidan had completely forgotten that he even had his guitar in his hands he had been so lost in thought. "Oh, ah, nothing really. I hadn't really thought up something to play just yet." It was something of a lie. He used to play for her all the time. Now, the only time he ever brought out his guitar was in the summer to play for Ember, or when he
thought of her enough to write a song. He supposed it was his way of dealing with her not being around all year and she was always so excited to hear whatever he had written when she came in the summer.
"It's been ages since I've heard you play or even since I've seen you with your guitar out." Jane said with an almost hopeful look about her. He knew she cared. He just wasn't entirely certain that he wanted her to. "I saw you with it and just was wondering..." She trailed with a little shrug of a single shoulder.
"Wondering why I didn't give up playing this ridiculous thing ages ago?" He decided to lighten the choking awkwardness with a bit of a joke. "I know... I know. It's sad really. You're absolutely right." He chuckled, flashing that brilliant smile.
"Oh, Aidan. Don't be silly. You write beautiful music. And no... I was wondering what, you know, made you start again?" Her voice softened considerably. "I know it's been awhile."
Oh no, was that pity he was hearing in her voice? Pity for his sad little love sick self? He knew that was exactly what she saw when she looked at him and he knew that there was some truth to it but not completely. She had been just as confused as he had been about what it is that they felt for one another. She had just come to the conclusion that they weren't right for each other quicker than he had and with more certainty.
Jane also knew nothing of Ember. No one did. He kept her at a distance. Safely guarded away from anything and everything because he often felt like his time with her wasn't even time at all but more like a dream. Something like a sanctuary. Megan was the only one who knew anything at all about her as he had to explain his frequent disappearances in the summer and Emma was always too wrapped up in her own little world to ever notice what he was doing.
Glancing up he realized that Jane was still looking at him expectantly awaiting an answer to her question and he hadn't even thought up an answer yet. "Um," He managed to get out, then came out with, "A girl, actually." He had said it before he even realized if he really wanted to tell the truth, or not. Probably better to tell the truth since he was a horrifyingly bad liar. If he had gone into some sort of grand lie it probably would have ended up having lions, witches, and pixie fairies in it.
"A... a girl? Really?" Jane stammered, and then nodded.
That reaction was troubling to him. Troubling and vindicating at the same time.
"Yea." Aidan said a little more definitively. Oddly reassured and relieved to actually speak of Ember to someone other than himself. It made her more real when four summers hadn't done the trick. Interesting. A smile kicked up at the corner of his mouth, his eyes moving from left to right, as he let it sink in and it was then that another thought crossed him. He wanted to talk about Ember but only with Jane and he hoped that the reason was not because he wanted to make her jealous in any shape, or form. It didn't feel that way to him now. That was not where the need was coming from. It was that need to make her more real. What better way than to speak of her to Jane? Jane was almost a little too real to him, after all.
Letting out a long sigh, Jane stepped forward and sat down next to him on top of the picnic table where he was perched, feet on the bench. She was obviously eager, yet wary, of having this conversation with him. It would be a step forward but a difficult and awkward one. "Um... what girl? Do I know her?" She bit her bottom lip. She was nervous.
Aidan shook his head. "No," He paused. "She's American."
That surprised her. Chocolate brown eyes looked at him and blinked rapidly in a purposeful manner. Yet, she said nothing... yet.
"Are you surprised?"
"Yes, quite. I don't think I could be more surprised unless I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet." Jane said, and he immediately recognized the reference.
"Chevy Chase." He said immediately. "Come on, Jane. You can do better than that."
"I never could stump you." She said with a laugh. "Seriously, though. An American girl? Didn't you once tell me that if English girls were filled with sugar, spice, and everything nice that American girls were filled with vinegar, bile, and everything vile?"
He laughed. "Did I say that? Yes... yes, I did but only because I despised... what was her name? Sarah?"
"Samantha. Samantha Noel."
"Oh God, yes. I hated that girl. She was awful. Walked around school like she was better than everybody just because she was American and her daddy had a private plane." Aidan scoffed, and shook his head, "I've never felt a stronger urge to murder someone, I think, and that's an impressive violent urge for a ten year old."
"But it seems that you have discovered that not all American girls are Samantha Noel." Jane seemed to ponder out loud, eying him curiously.
Letting out a bit of an uncomfortable sigh, Aidan set his guitar off to the side of him and leaned his elbows down onto his knees tilting his head up to look at her, choosing his words carefully, "There is no one like Ember. American, or not. She kind of has her own little category. Her own little box." He drew a box shape in the air with his hands which made Jane smile.
"Ember..." She said it like she was testing out what it would mean if she said it aloud and what his reaction would be. "Pretty name." She nodded. "Um, so, how did you come across an American girl?"
"Oh, she summers here with her family. Mum, dad, and her awful sister. Now she is just like Samantha Noel. Her name is Evelyn and it's not that I don't like her. I don't know her. She constantly looks at me like I'm some bug that needs squashing. She's that stiff and cold sort of person. It amazes me that her and Ember are even related. Maybe she's adopted, or something." He shrugged. He didn't know what Evelyn's problem with him was and Ember did nothing but make excuses up for her behavior towards him and her constant nagging and complaining.
"That's not very nice." Jane said, almost shocked.
"I know! It's horrible. She brings out the worst in me. She's just that sort of person." Aidan knew that Jane would understand what he meant as he got along with just about everyone that could be reasonably gotten along with. It took someone pretty horrible for him to just give up. Jane knew that about him. He wondered briefly if Ember would know that.
"She frustrates you rather effectively for someone you hardly know."
Aidan's brow furrowed. "Well, I..." He paused. He hadn't ever really thought of that before. "... I just don't get it, I think. How two sisters are so different. It's not like they're just a little bit different. I'm telling you it's like night and day type different." He sighed. "Plus I think I'm a little afraid that she might rub off on Ember. I'm afraid I might rub off on her and I only see her for three months out of the year."
"For how many years have you known her?"
This would be harder to explain. "Four years." He narrowed his eyes, watching her carefully.
"So, um, when you and I were trying to, well, figure things out, you were..." She trailed off, confused.
"Yea, and no." What a horrible answer and she just looked more confused. "Ember is a year younger than I am. I met her when she was eleven so it really was much like it was between you and I when we were eleven. Friends, really. I mean... I think she's always had this kind of crush on me that is really adorable but it took me a little longer. It really wasn't until last summer that I really noticed some things about her. Like how beautiful she is." He stopped himself before he started becoming a complete bore. "I suppose I have a bit of a crush on her now." He said with a soft nervous laugh.
"Wow," Jane said. "I can tell." She nodded and smiled. "And it's a good thing. Especially if you are playing music again. She's good for you and that's..." She trailed and then cleared her throat, "... that isn't the easiest thing for me to say." She looked down at her hands, spinning the ring on her right pointer finger.
One of Aidan's more rare, serious, expressions creased his brow. A soft, meaningful, gaze. "What is it?"
Jane looked up then and it had seemed for a moment that she was going to play it off as nothing but she looked
at him looking back at her, and said softly, "You know that I always wanted to be that for you. I just... wasn't. And I knew that but it never changed that I wanted to be. It just wasn't there. That... something. You know what I mean?"
Funny that she put it like that. "Yea. I know it." He didn't like that she seemed so distraught over it. "But hey I'm just fine. I lived. If you don't experience a little heart break then you can't ever appreciate something special when it comes along, right? I should thank you."
"What? Thank me? You're daft!"
"No, it's true. You have to think of things like that, Jane. Kind of like everything happens for a reason. Or else you will drive yourself insane trying to figure everything out all the time." Aidan said and felt a pang of disappointment as the bell sounded, signaling the end of their lunch block.
Pushing herself up and off of the picnic table, she spun around to stand facing him. "Aidan Hart... there is no one quite like you." She let out a long sigh, and shook her head. "At least not any 16 year old. You are an old man on the inside, I think."
"Is that a compliment, then?" He asked, giving her an incredulous look, as he pushed himself up, quite towering above her.
Jane rolled her eyes. "Yea, sort of."
Music Appreciation was Aidan's favorite class but today he was barely paying attention as his conversation with Jane was forefront in his thoughts. It had been the kind of conversation that they had used to have before everything had to get so awkward. He remembered when it had happened and how frustrating it had been. Like suddenly they were too old to be just friends anymore. Like they had to figure out what it really was because a girl and a boy didn't spend this kind of time together without it meaning something. The innocence of being a child was such a fragile and beautiful thing.
Ember was the same but seemed to be permanently locked into that state. Every year he expected her to come back having woken from that childlike innocence and she never did. It was an odd thing. Feeling so relieved that nothing had marred her perfection and yet almost frustrated since he already felt inadequate enough as it was. Every flaw he possessed became almost neon in her presence. Every time he caught himself hoping that she would come back having fallen closer to his level he hated himself for doing so. It was such a selfish thought and only a thought. It would break him to see her become anything close to resembling just another girl and less of an angel.
"Aidan! Have you seen them?" The arm of his mate, Gavin, wound about his neck, curling into a headlock for a few moments before releasing. The big bear of guy plopped down next to him as the class had apparently broken up into groups without him noticing.
"New girls. Pair of them. Sisters, I hear." Gavin said, and the glint in his eyes said more than that. Gavin was the kind of guy that girls Aidan typically avoided swooned after. They had gotten to be friends when Gavin and Emma had briefly dated. Briefly being the key word there. Gavin really was not the sort that put up with someone like his sister. Despite her annoying habits she was a very strong personality. She did things her way and Gavin liked the passive types that just wanted to be seen with him and not heard. Needless to say it hadn't ended well.
Aidan glanced over at his sister looking rather cold in her lack of proper clothing, and sighed, "I think that there's at least like a week waiting period on new girls, isn't there?"
"Absolutely not. Someone has to break them in." Gavin was mostly talk he'd discovered.
"Break who in?" Deacon asked as he sat atop a desk across from Aidan.
"New girls." Gavin said with a widening, cocky, smile.
"Oh right. Heard about them. Emma has a class with the older of the two. Said she wasn't very friendly and was crying the whole time. Mum died, or something."
"That's horrible." Aidan said.
"That is too bad. Sounds like baggage and who wants a girl that's crying all the bloody time." Gavin said then stalked off towards the teacher. More than likely to request a hall pass so he could disappear for the majority of the class. It hardly surprised Aidan, nor had his comment.
"Deacon." Aidan said to get his mate's attention, waving him closer. Deacon leaned forward. "Go and give your coat to Emma would you. She looks frozen and she'll definitely forgive you for that bit this morning." He said with a reassuring nod.
"Ah. Now that's a good chap. Always looking out, you are." Deacon said as he hopped up from the desk, shrugging out of his jacket. "Bloody marvelous idea. Oh, look at that..." He paused.
Aidan glanced up at him, brow furrowed. "What?"
"That's one of them." Deacon said, and nodded his head towards the door.
Aidan had to lean to the side to see around him and when he did, his heart stopped and he said her name before he even realized what he was doing.