Chapter Five- Admittance
Something was wrong with Annabelle. In the three days since Mom and Jake had gotten engaged, she came out of her room only to go to school. Once we were home, she was back in her room. Even at school, the teen queen's attitude seemed lackluster. And people were starting to notice.
"I just don't know what's wrong," I confessed to James, as we sat on my front porch. He'd come home with me for help studying his French midterm. To James' fortune, I mercifully called a break. An hour and a half ago.
"She's probably PMSing," was his brilliant response. I slapped his shoulder and scooted away from him. He laughed. "Marie, here's my advice. Just give her time and let her work this out. Whatever it is, she'll get over it."
I sighed and put my head on his shoulder. "I don't think so."
When James didn't answer, I lifted my head to look at him. He was looking at his hands. "James?"
He looked at me. I suddenly noticed that his eyes weren't just brown- they were rich and warm. He had a straight nose and creamy smooth skin. In the words of Annabelle, he was actually good-looking, in a creepy sort of way. "Are you alright?"
James grinned. "Yeah, freak. I'm fine." I rolled my eyes and stood up. He grabbed the hem of my bondage pants and pulled me down. I landed on the cement step with a thud.
"James!" Before I could say anymore, my mouth was tangled up in his. I tried to pull away, but James' hand found it's way to the back of my head. So I honestly had no choice but to give into the kiss.
He wasn't a careless, sloppy kisser. He knew just where to put his lips and what to do with them. His hands snaked themselves around my back, pulling me closer. A wave of heat enveloped me, and breathing became difficult.
"Wait-" I whimpered against him, and pushed away. I was confused and I could feel myself panicking. My mind told me that this wasn't right, but my body was screaming for it. I stood up, needing to get away from him. But he stood with me.
"I'm sorry- I thought you- I guess I read the signs wrong." He was gazing intently at me, but I wouldn't look at him.
"Yeah... you did."
I could sense the muscle in James' body tightening. I'd just rejected him.
"Look, James, you should get your shit and go."
I followed him inside, and stood quietly at the door as he gathered his things and threw them in his duffel bag. He was clenching and unclenching his hands.
He walked past me. When he started down the steps, I called his name. He stopped, but didn't turn around. "I'm sorry... you're a really good friend of mine and I don't want that to be..."
James walked away.
I shut my bedroom door quietly and returned to my bed. I'd just witnessed what I knew should have been a private moment in my sister's life.
I shut my mind off and stared blankly at my TV. It wasn't my moment to think about and analyze. It was Marie's, and I needed to respect that.
There was a soft knock on my door. I didn't say anything; I knew Marie would come in anyway. She shut the door behind her and crawled on top of my bed. I tore my focus from the TV screen and watched her curl up next to me.
I looked back at the TV, saying nothing.
"Anna, please talk to me. I need you right now."
"I saw you guys."
"Oh." She fell silent.
I grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. "Why'd you blow him off?"
She shrugged. "I don't like him."
"Yes, you do."
"He's my best friend."
I hesitated. "You're scared."
Marie scoffed. "Of what?"
"Of letting a man into your life."
"James is hardly a man."
I sighed. "I miss him too, you know." I looked over at her. Sitting there, playing with her fingers, and slightly pouting, she reminded me of a child. Marie was a control freak. But the world wasn't under her control, and every day something would happen that reminded her of that. She grasped for power and never got it. And when she understood that she wouldn't get it, she hid. From everyone, but mostly from herself.
I continued when it became apparent she wouldn't pick up with conversation. "It's hard... I think about him every day. And I know you do. I hear you pray for him."
I felt a lump forming in my throat. She whispered, "I don't pray for him. I don't care. He's dead."
"Stop it. That's not true- you do care. You don't just stop loving someone because they're gone!"
Marie jumped up from my bedroom. "Mom did! Dad died, and she didn't care! She stopped coming home, she started working all the time, and next thing you know, she brings Jake into this house! God, Annabelle, I can't- I can't-" She cut herself off, collapsing on my floor, sobbing.
I slipped off my bed and wrapped my arms around her. "I know."
And we just cried together.