I only had one word to describe my Dad's house: "Whoa!" Of course I didn't say it out loud, I couldn't let him know I'm impressed, but God! I was deeply impressed. I mean, it was somewhere between a mansion and heaven. The good news is, it's so big, I won't even have to see my Dad's face at all! Talk about a win-win, huh?
There were rows of people in uniforms, men and women who stood to welcome James and I. It felt like a castle where the Royals are being welcomed from a trip.
Dad introduced us to everyone but I was barely listening, I couldn't wait to find out what my room looked like. There was one person I did get her name though; she was an older woman, probably in her early fifties and Dad introduced her as our Nanny.
"You know I'm fourteen right? Not ten. I don't need a Nanny." I objected, trying not to sound offensive to the Nanny.
"I know, but..."
"No buts, I don't need a Nanny and I can look after James myself, that's practically my job." He looked from James to me, then to the Nanny and back to me.
"You don't have to look after James every moment, that will be Reggie's job. I'm not saying that you can't be his big sister and be there for him; all I'm saying is, you get time for yourself too and do what you want. I'm sure James will love Reggie."
"Yeah!" James exclaimed excited and I gave up. No use arguing about that and besides, for the first time since James was born, I get to think for just myself! I don't even have hobbies and I haven't discovered any talents, it's a good time to do that.
"Great! But you'll have Emma assist you." A younger lady stepped forward, beaming.
"I don't understand. Why?"
"It's a large house, Claire, you'll need sometime before you can navigate around and Emma is good company. She's just nineteen, so there won't be trouble in getting along."
"I'm beginning to regret my decision." I muttered under my breath and turned to James, ruffling his hair.
"I'll see you later, buddy. Emma, can you please take me to my room?" Emma wasted no time in leading the way. I found myself staring mouth-opened at my surroundings, no longer self-conscious as Dad's nowhere close by.
"It's a beautiful house, isn't it?" Emma said for the first time to me. I liked that her appearance screamed 'friendly'; from her pale blond hair, her nearly grey eyes and her full lips that was permanently stretched in a smile, to her perky body in the fitted uniform; I could already see us getting along.
"If you can call it that." She chuckled, leading up the glowing stairs.
"Of course it's a house, just a really big, really extravagant one. I was thrilled too when I first got here; the only difference is that you live here while I just work here." I was distracted by the huge picture of my parents and I, I was still a toddler. I felt warm inside by just looking at it.
"You were a cute little girl." Emma commented, stopping by the picture. "You still look cute, just that..."
"Just that...?" I pressed.
"It's nothing. You're still cute." Her smile grew more. "We're almost there."
"Emma, you know you can talk freely with me, right?"
"Urh, okay. Thanks." She didn't look at me.
"Just that what?" I pressed again. She stopped, exhaled and turned to me.
"You look stressed, tired, unhappy. You are a pretty girl, but it's really hard to overlook the melancholy." Wow! She can read a person. Unless Dad told her about... Nah, slim chance.
"But you're with your Dad now, I'm sure you'll feel way better soon."
Soon, we got to my long awaited room. It was awesome! It had it's own living room, cinema, games corner, library, a mini golf course, a study room, a five star closet and a princess sized bed! That's way too extravagant!
It had a lot of pictures from when I was little, as if it was decorated solely for me.
"My Dad looks like a busy man, when did he have time to do this?" I asked, touching a picture of me in my first ballet class; I only attended for a week but it was the best week of my life. Oh, I forgot I had a talent for ballet; at least my teacher thought so.
"He didn't do it."
"Right! He has people to do it for him."
"Actually, Miss Abigail decorated your room herself."
"Miss Abigail? She is your Dad's assistant and I heard they are childhood friends. She is extremely gorgeous with those long, beautiful, smooth legs. She could be a model or anything she wants to be, but she chose to be your Dad's assistant." I stared at Emma.
"You're making it sound like a bad thing." She chuckled.
"Wait till you see her, you'll understand. Although I heard she was actually born with a silver spoon, I know she isn't working for your Dad because of the money. It could be because they are friends and she is the best at organising and getting things done right." She swayed lightly on her feet as if she was drunk.
"If there's anyone I wish I could have her life, it's Miss Abigail. And she's super nice and polite, it's like she's made of candy."
Emma went on and on, talking about this mysterious 'Miss Abigail' I just couldn't wait to see. I needed to find out if she's my Dad's mistress; maybe she's the one my Dad left us for. One thing was for sure, I already disliked her.
I was settled on my bed, battling to put down a thriller novel I started reading a few hours ago; I couldn't get my hands and eyes to put it down and go to bed.
Dad knocked on the door and came in after my forced 'Come in'. I looked him up, from his slippers, his sweatpants, his tank top, to his ruffled hair; he looked really good and homey. I wondered how he got so rich, but I had no plans of asking him. I couldn't let him know I was interested, I didn't even want to be interested.
"Reading?" He asked as he settled on my really soft rug.
"Yeah. There are tons of good novels on the shelf, my favorite kind of genre."
"Really?" He looked genuinely surprised. "Abigail chose them. I told her how much you loved to read and she ordered them. If they are your favorite genre, they are probably hers as well."
I shut the book and kept it far from me. Who's this Abigail? Was she doing all that just to win my affection before she let's me know she is my Dad's girlfriend?
I looked closely at Dad, he was saying something about Abigail's love for books. His eyes were bright, too bright for my liking. Did he love her? Is he secretly married to her?
"What do you want?" I interrupted whatever he was saying, letting him know it's time for him to go.
"I wanted to hang with you. I thought..."
"We don't have a relationship, remember? I'm only here because of James. If you want to hangout with someone, go to him; you have four years to make up for anyway." His face fell.
"Claire, if you'd just let me explain everything to you, you'll understand why..."
"I don't want to talk about it. Leave! Go to James, or better yet, go to your Abigail, I heard she's drop-dead gorgeous."
"What does Abigail have to do with this?" He began, paused, studied me, then exhaled. "What's going on in your head? If you have a concern, you can talk to me. Don't assume things." He stood up.
"Your Grandma and Aunt are coming over tomorrow." My grandma? I've always wanted to meet her.
"Look, your grandma isn't really the best person in the world. She adores her family and all but she has a difficult way of showing it. I just don't want you to take everything she says to heart."
I was barely listening. I've always wanted to meet her but my Dad always said no, that we couldn't afford to go. And now I get to meet her? And my Aunt! The way my Dad talked about my Aunt made me picture her as a kind, friendly little princess. She's his younger sister after all.
"Luciana will be coming with her kids. I'm sure you'll love Jacey, she's eager to meet you."
"Yeah, I'm eager to meet her too." I said without thinking and got a smile from him.
"I missed you a lot, Claire. You can't imagine how happy you've made me today."
"Yeah, yeah. Can I get some sleep now?" I rolled my eyes. His smile didn't leave his face.
"Sure. Good night." He left.
Now I couldn't wait to get to sleep and wake up, ready to meet my grandma! I dimmed the lights and got under the covers, willing myself to sleep.
"Hurry!" James was whining as I made cookies for him. He had woken me up just to bake cookies for him and he was so impatient. Who knew he missed my cookies so much? It took us some time to find the kitchen as Emma and Reggie were nowhere to be found. "Almost ready." "Quickly!" He whined again. "What are you? A pregnant lady? Why are you suddenly craving cookies." I asked as I placed my creation on the oven tray. "I don't know, I just love your cookies." "They are the best, right?" "Uh-huh!" Reggie and Emma came into the kitchen then. "There you are! What are you doing?" Reggie asked. "Making cookies. Where were you guys?" I asked. "Around. Mrs Wagner arrives today, so all hands were needed in preparing the house for her arrival." "Do you have any idea when she will be here?" "Claire?!" James fussed. "Sorry." I hurriedly put the cookies in the oven and set the timer. "Just give it sometim
ClaireEmma came in almost immediately, followed closely by a few other staff as they carried shopping bags."What are those?" I asked as I sat up."Starter clothes and accessories for you. Mrs Hart will be here later today to help you shop for your preferred clothes.""I don't understand." The other staff put down the bags by my huge closet and left without a word."Someone is coming here to help me shop? Is there a mall inside here?" That cracked her up; it took her two long minutes to compose herself."No, you'll select on her magazine and tablet, then she'll deliver them to you. If you choose something that isn't in her boutique, she'll order them. The point is, you don't have to go anywhere, whatever you want will be handed over to you."I didn't like how that sounded; it made me feel like plastic... Ugh, it's hard to explain. What's harder is being a rich man's kid."I'll get you your breakfast, do you want
The bath was oddly less embarrassing, probably because Emma had her eyes closed to make me more comfortable. I was almost done, just to wash my hair was left when Jacey came back but stood at the other side of the bathroom door."Hurry up! They'll be here soon.""In a minute." Emma answered. She quickly washed my hair, rinsed it up and gave me a towel before she finally opened her eyes."Better?" She asked with a smirk."Yes, thank you.""Any century now!" Jacey said from the other side of the door.A few minutes later, I was in my denim shorts as Emma helped me dry my hair."Remind me to add hairdryer and body lotion to your shopping list." I nodded to Emma; she had to borrow a hairdryer from one of the staff that lived in the mansion."They're here!" Jacey suddenly sprung up from her position on my bed."How can you tell? Do you hear voices?" She rolled her eyes at my questions."Will you just come already?" She
MattI couldn't tell what my Mom was thinking; trying to call Doris names in front of the kids. Sometimes, she can be really hard to understand, it's no wonder James stayed away from her. Just when Claire's beginning to warm up to me, she wants to ruin it and take me back to square one again.I wasn't even one to vent my anger, I always leave the arguments and the harsh words to Luciana."Could you be any less impossible, Mom? What was that back there?" Luciana began as soon as we got into the green house. Abigail and I sat down at the tea table and watched Mom and Luciana yell at each other; it was getting old."Can't you at least buy a heart? It's barely two weeks since those kids lost their mother and now they are turning to their Dad's family for support, you want them to find out that you hate their mother? How terrible is that?""Luciana please be quiet, I'm not going to argue with you right now." That was new! Mom never misses
"How's that possible? He's so little.""Well, that's what the doctor said." Claire snapped at Abigail. I could see that it was a hard topic for her, hell; it was hard for me too."It just started one day; he had a fever so I went down to the pharmacy to get him some drugs, when I got back, Frank and Mom were fighting, right in front of him. When I took him away to his room, I noticed that he wasn't moving at all, it was as if he paused in time." She stopped and looked at me. "That was two years ago. The doctor said it's really rare for kids, yet here we are."Damn! Why does everything have to be so wrong? Schizophrenia? Isn't that just too much?"He's coming back." Claire muttered under her breath so that only we heard her. James blinked twice, then stretched."Claire!" He sounded cheerful. "There are so many pictures of you here and none of me.""Sorry, Buddy. It's just that Dad doesn't have any of your pictures.""What about t
ClaireAs much as Jacey couldn't stop talking, Antonio couldn't even say a word. All day, I've tried different ways to get him to talk to me but it was as if I was talking to a rock. He never responded and I couldn't take it personal because he didn't speak to anyone else either. Maybe it was his thing, the deep melancholy. But I couldn't give up on being great friends with him; it made more sense since he's only a few months older than me.The next morning, after I had gotten ready to leave for my old home, I decided to ask Antonio to join me. Even though I told my Dad I would go and was very stubborn about it, it spooked me out to go back there. I would have easily asked Jacey but she's just ten and she mentioned going somewhere with Grandma. Dad had insisted that I take a bodyguard or he'd ask some cops to escort me but I turned him down flat; I made him promise to let me do it myself.He would have kept pestering me if Abigail hadn't interve
I put my hands over my mouth to suppress the frightened cry that left my lips. I was looking at him, I was looking at my mother's killer. I pressed my eyes closed to calm myself down, and when I reopened them, Jason was already making his way towards Frank with a kitchen knife. I didn't know what was going on in his head; was he about to commit murder? I turned to Antonio, he had his eyes fixed on Jason but he made no attempt to stop him."Jason, stop!" I screamed, going after him. Frank opened his eyes immediately and in a flash, he went for the knife, fighting to get it out of Jason's grasp. I stopped in my tracks, unable to do anything. I turned to Antonio, only to find out that he was gone! Gone to where?! I just couldn't imagine Antonio running away, more like fleeing and leaving me to deal with the situation myself.Jason successfully pushed Frank away from him as he stood beside me, reaching for my hand."Clary? Who's this brat?" Frank was panting hard, m
MattIt was bad enough that I couldn't discourage Claire from going back to the murderer's house; I also had to deal with my jackass business partner Nathaniel, who just wouldn't stay away from Abigail. Don't get me wrong, I know she doesn't belong to me and she's a free woman; yet it's so annoying to see him all over her.Abigail doesn't even like him! I mean, she's definitely not entertaining his flirting.But, it would have been a whole lot better if she was speaking properly to me. Forget about speaking properly, she was clearly avoiding me; speaking formally to me, barely touching me. In fact, she only made physically contact with me when she pushed me out of Claire's room, every other time, she either looked away from me or spoke with monosyllables.I didn't know what her deal was and she also refused to tell me. I felt I did something wrong, but how do I apologise for something I don't even know about?