Author: carry.yourheart PM
Cassie's peaceful life is interrupted when her mother dies abruptly in a fatal car accident. The father she barely knows wants her to join his new family. Things get complicated when her good-looking step-brother comes into the picture.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Family - Chapters: 13 - Words: 29,411 - Reviews: 79 - Favs: 35 - Follows: 43 - Updated: 06-13-12 - Published: 04-04-12 - id: 3010616
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The only sounds I hear are our breathing and the erratic pace of my heartbeat ringing in my ears. I feel my stomach muscles clench and unclench. My chest feels too constricted. My limbs are immobile. White, hot darts of anxiety prickle my skin.
My senses are too concentrated on the pleasant warmth on my lips. Then, realization of our predicament dawns upon me. I think it hits Aaron at the same time.
Thereafter, everything happens very quickly—we scramble hastily off one another, scamper across opposite sides of the room and stare at each other in disbelief. It happened so quickly that I can't be sure we actually... In fact, if not for his incredulous expression, I will have believed that everything that happened was just a figment of my overactive imagination.
Just as hastily, we avert our gazes from each other.
"Let's…forget that ever happened," I hear myself saying too loudly.
There is a very pregnant pause. Then, Aaron clears his throat. "Right."
This is a big mistake. This is…this is seriously insane. Aaron's my brother for crying out loud. You don't just kiss your brothers. I mean, it wasn't even a friendly peck on the cheek. Or an affectionate, familial kiss on the head.
It was, all in all, a very nice kiss.
Anyway, that's not the point.
The point is…
The point is that…
"Chase," Aaron exclaims in sudden inspiration.
"Oh right!" I respond brightly. "It's, er, almost time for his piano lesson to end."
"I'll go pick him in my car. You can stay home."
"Okay, great idea." I nod enthusiastically. Sitting in the car with him isn't going to help either of us. "I'll have dinner ready." Right, cooking's always been a good form of distraction for me. It helps me release my pent up tension when I'm stressed.
God, I'm extremely stressed right now.
"Okay, see you," Aaron says a bit too forcefully.
"Bye," I say as the door closes. He practically sprints to his car before driving off speedily.
I bury my face in my hands and groan loudly.
"Oh My God what just happened?" I wail to myself.
I force myself to breathe in deeply and exhale heavily.
"Okay, let's calm down. We were just…caught up in the moment, weren't we?" I mutter to myself, walking to the kitchen.
A brief image of Aaron's serious expression as he looked into my eyes flashes in my head.
"Shit!" I shout, exasperated. "Stop it, Cassie! This is preposterous! It's incestuous, for heaven's sake!"
But he's not really my brother, is he?
"This seriously is not the time to think about this," I argue with my head defiantly.
What's the problem here? He's cute, he's smart, he's funny. And I know for sure I wasn't the one that kissed him. He was the one who initiated it. Who's to say that he doesn't like me?
"You're got to be kidding me," I groan forcefully, retrieving some vegetables from the refrigerator. "You're in deep shit, Cass. Seriously deep shit. Don't even go there. Aaron is your brother. "
I chant several times of 'He's your brother' out loud, feeling myself calm down.
I place the chicken under running water and wait for it to defreeze.
And then I realize that I'm subconsciously touching my lips.
Oh for God's sake.
"We're home!" I hear Chase's familiar voice squeal.
I feel nervous energy radiating off my body as I set the table.
"Dinner smells good," Aaron says awkwardly.
I can't manage a reply.
"I love chicken!" Chase claps his hands together.
"How was piano?" I ask, forcing myself to behave naturally.
Chase pulls a face. "I don't like Mrs. Griffin very much. She's scary."
Aaron and I laugh at the same time at his expression.
And then we both stop abruptly, watching each other nervously before averting glances.
Chase looks curiously at Aaron, and then at me. "You two are being weird."
"What?" I say nervously.
"Weird?" Aaron echoes at the same time.
Chase gives a childlike laughter at our synchronized responses.
"You must be hungry," I say quickly. "Let's eat."
Aaron agrees readily and we settle down for dinner.
Throughout the meal, only Chase is talking. Occasionally, when he directs a question at me or Aaron, we answer distractedly.
Okay this is getting ridiculous.
The atmosphere is so thick with tension I actually find it hard to breathe. Only Chase seems to be oblivious about it.
"What did you do at home?" Chase asks suddenly.
We straighten our backs and are on full-on alert. "We played some guitar." I say too quickly.
"That's all?" Chase frowns.
"We talked." Aaron offers helpfully.
"Oh," Chase finally says, seemingly satisfied with our response. "This is yummy, Cassie," he smiles widely.
"Thanks," I smile at him naturally.
I turn back to my food and at the corner of my eye, catch Aaron watching me. He looks away before I face him.
"Tell me a story first, Cassie," Chase pleads, pouting a little.
"It's late, you have to sleep," Aaron says.
Chase ignores him and looks at me fixatedly. We finished what felt like an excruciatingly long dinner and Aaron helped me as I washed the dishes. Throughout the chore, we kept silent and eventually joined Chase in watching the television. Things are less awkward with Chase as the buffer but we still can't quite look at each other in the eye.
Finally, it's Chase's bedtime.
I sigh, "All right, just one story."
I sit by Chase on the bed while Aaron watches us from a large beanbag at the corner of the room.
"Once upon a time, there lived a little girl. One day, her mom and dad took her to a carnival. She was so excited that she couldn't sleep the night before. On the day of the carnival, the girl wore her favorite dress.
"The best part was that her parents participated in all the rides with her. They took many rides, including the ferris wheel, which was the little girl's favorite. She also sat in bumper cars and played target shooting games. She felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
"Then she went on a carousel. It was a rotating platform with pretty lights and beautifully painted horses which went round and round. Her parents didn't go with her for this ride; she wanted to be brave and enjoy the carousel alone. When she got on a horse, she was excited. The horse started moving and she waved to her parents who were standing by the side. As the horse turned, she started to panic. She lost sight of her parents. She looked around blindly for them but all she could see were lights that were too bright and horses with painted smiles. Insecurity crept into her and she started to cry. But then horses had come one full circle and she saw her parents again.
"She wiped her tears and laughed to herself with relief. How silly she was. Her parents would always be there for her. As she got off her horse, her dad gave her a big hug and an adorable teddy bear…"
I trail off, realizing that Chase has long fallen asleep. Aaron has come over to my side and he silently reaches to touch my cheek. I realize that I'm crying.
"The little girl was you," Aaron says quietly.
I choke out a quiet laugh, wiping my eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm being silly."
"You miss her, don't you?" He asks as we leave Chase's bedroom together.
"Of course I do," I sigh. "She's my mom."
"You know that you have us, right?" Aaron smiles gently. "We're your family."
All the awkwardness from before has dissolved. I look at him and smile. "Yeah."
He's right. We're a family now.
The colors are too bright and the figures too fuzzy—it's how I recognize that this is a dream.
I'm in a red dress and I'm running towards my parents, my heart pounding with relief.
"Daddy," I choke out, my voice childlike. "I thought I lost you."
My father laughs and envelops me in a warm embrace. "Silly girl. We'll always be here for you."
He hands me a large teddy bear and I clap my hands together in glee.
"He's lovely!" I squeal happily. My mother laughs at my reaction and I smile at her, pleased.
"Thanks, Daddy. I love him," I grin.
My father smiles, his dark eyes warm.
I jerk my eyes open, startled. My breaths are coming in fast gasps.
A nagging thought is at the back of my head.
Something about the dream doesn't seem right, but I can't pinpoint what.
AN: Thank you for reading! I appreciate all reviews.