Sammy woke up to the pale sunlight that peeked through the butter yellow window curtains. She sighed and shifted in her bed. With a thick, unbelievably soft quilt, she was quite happy to snuggle in for a few more minutes. Burying her nose in the fluffy pillow, she closed her eyes and burrowed herself deeper into the toasty warmth.
Knock, knock. She lifted her head up and called out, "Who's there?"
"Your sexy stud muffin."
She could hear his laughter. "Are you up yet? Breakfast is ready. I would come in and wake you up myself, but Vince already warned me not to do so or I'd "find my ass out in the snow". Besides … your door is locked." She could practically see the pout on his face.
Sammy hurriedly threw back the covers and ran to the closet. Thank god she had taken the time to unpack yesterday. Rummaging for the long piece of cloth she had stuffed in the back of the wardrobe, she yanked it out. Breathing in sharply, she held her breath as she wrapped the fabric around her chest and knotted it. She coughed at the tight restraint. Damn, I hate this. Pulling on a loose dark blue sweater and a pair of black pants, she ran to the bathroom and brushed her teeth while combing her hair. One thing good about being a boy, I don't really have to care that much about my appearances. Bye-bye, blow dryer. Bye-bye, make-up. She pinched her pasty features and heaved a sigh.
Running to the doors, she jerked at the doorknob - remembered it was locked - unlocked it, rushed out ... and crashed into Danielle. I must have been cursed to run people over.
"I'm so sorry!"
Danielle laughed, tucking a loose lock of hair behind one ear. "It's okay. It woke me up at least."
Sammy smiled apologetically. Danielle once again looked absolutely stunning. Dressed stylishly in a tight beige turtleneck and a long formfitting black skirt, she looked casual yet elegant. Her black hair was pinned back with a simple russet clasp and she wore the cutest black boots ever. Sammy's eyes trained in on them. They're so nice. I wonder where she got them. I wonder if I'd be able to get them in a sale … man, I wonder if I'd ever get the chance to actually wear pretty boots again.
Danielle raised an eyebrow, coughing slightly. "Shall we get going?"
Sammy jumped and laughed, abashed. "Yeah. Sorry."
Sammy's eyes widened to plate size. "Oh my god. Is that real?"
Will laughed proudly. "Of course! One hundred percent raw beauty!"
Jack sat back on the sofa, shaking his head, "Careful. The kid looks like he's having heart palpitations."
Danielle chuckled. "He's so adorable."
Vincent shook his head, but couldn't keep a smile off his face. "If I didn't like him so much, I would have bashed his head in for being such a dork."
Danielle's smoky gray eyes turned into slits as she nudged her brother's side, murmuring, "If you didn't like him so much?"
He blanched and hissed at her, "As a friend, stupid! If the guys hear, I'll kill you first!"
Danielle sniffed. "Fine! Fine!" She walked to the door. "I'll go leave you guys alone … but Vinnie, please, don't play too rough, 'kay?" She threw a wink over her shoulder.
A strangled growl tore out of his throat as he chucked a throw pillow at the closing door.
Meanwhile, Sammy was still preoccupied with the gigantic television with massive stereos that was in Vincent's room. She fawned over it, craning her neck up. "It's like fifty times my size!" She held out her arms and plastered herself against it, trying to measure.
Jack smiled wryly. "He had the same reaction to his bedroom, the indoor pool, the outdoor pool, the backyard, the garden, the grand piano, even the bathroom. Poor people are kinda amusing, aren't they?"
Will cocked his head to the side, checking out Sammy's butt. "And cute."
Vincent elbowed him in the gut, sighing impatiently. "Sam, are you done yet? We're only halfway through the house tour."
She gasped, "There's more?"
Jack cracked up. "Stop. I think we should give him a break. He's going to keel over soon."
Sammy stiffened, grumbling, "It's only because I've never seen such a large house before . . ."
Vincent produced a pillow out of seemingly nowhere, stuffing it into Jack's face and holding it there. "It's okay. He's just being a jerk."
Will said, "You mean, he 'was' being a jerk. I think you killed him."
Vincent lifted the pillow as Jack coughed and wheezed. "Nah, he's resilient. Like a cockroach. So Sam, any more comments?"
"Don't you get lost in this place?"
Will shook his head solemnly. "Didn't you know? We keep a stack of maps by the front door."
"Oh . . ." The expression on Sammy's face was uncertain and Will erupted into laughter.
"You're too cute, Sammy," he chortled.
Vincent decided it was time for a break. "How about we play some video games for a while?" Jack and Will nodded approvingly, eyes lighting up.
Hesitating, Sammy offered a wary smile.
"Oh, he's totally kicking your ass, Jack!" Will cried out, perched on the edge of his seat.
Jack hunched over his game controller as he maneuvered his character. Sammy tapped her thumb furiously on the kick button, blocked Jack's move, and sent the character spiraling into the air. GAME OVER.
Jack hung his head, defeated. "I don't believe this. You beat all of us. Weren't you supposed to live somewhere in Hicksville where there weren't any televisions, let alone video games?"
Sammy rolled her eyes. "Ha ha. I said I wasn't as rich as you. That doesn't mean I couldn't afford to play video games." Back when her parents were still alive, she and Terry used to spend lazy summer afternoons playing her brother's favorite video games. She could still remember playing until her thumb felt swollen and hot and how her mother kept coming to Terry's room and telling them to get off their lazy butts and go vacuum the house. Now, it all felt so long ago. "As a matter of fact, I'll have you know I was very good at these kinds of games," she continued with false cheer. "I could beat all the characters like this!" She snapped her fingers to emphasize her point.
Vincent folded his arms, "Yeah, yeah, Game Master, lemme ask you something, what games did you play before?"
She looked puzzled, "I don't really remember. Street Fighters?" She shrugged, taking a sip from her bottled water. "But they're all basically the same."
They all looked dismayed, as if she had committed blasphemy. "The same? What? You're crazy! There are all these different levels of skills you have to master. Different villains, different tactics, different graphics, different –"
Danielle stuck her head inside the room. "Hey, Sammy, there's someone across the street here for you!"
Sammy blinked, "Oh, okay!"
Vincent's eyes fired up and he got up before she can, storming out of the room. "Harland has some nerve. I'll tear out his entrails and string him up on a Christmas tree and -"
He stopped short. Sammy, who had hurried after him in a panic, ran straight into his back. She peeked around the boy. A familiar blonde girl stood in the hall, timidly pulling at her white scarf.
Vincent was the picture of geniality. "Carrie, you're the visitor for Sam?" The girl nodded. "Is your brother here?" She shook her head. "Okay then. See ya." The black haired boy turned around and almost stepped on top of Sammy. "Sam, what's the matter with you? You're blocking the doorway." She moved aside without a sound and he sauntered off. Sometimes, it's scary how he changes his mood so fast.
"You wanted to talk to me?" Sammy asked, taking a step into the foyer.
Carrie bit her lip, shuffling her feet slightly. "I – can we go to some place a bit more ... private?"
"Um, well, would the living room be okay? The guys are playing games and with me out of the room, one of them might actually have a chance of winning," Sammy grinned.
Carrie chuckled shyly and nodded. "Okay." But before Sammy could look around and try to figure out where precisely is the nearest living room, the blonde girl had already turned around and was walking down the hall to the spacious room at the end away from the room with the guys. Sammy followed in surprise. Wow, she knows this place better than I do. Has she been here before?
Carrie took a seat on the black leather sofa in the room, fidgeting with her scarf, and then stood up abruptly. Pacing around the room, she went to the window with lace curtains and stopped. "Um, Sam, can – can I tell you something?"
Sammy nodded slowly, mystified by the young girl's behavior. "Sure. What's up?"
Carrie suddenly spun around and grabbed her hands. Her light blue eyes were bright. "I – I – I like you."
Sammy choked. Stunned, all she could say was, "Uh, what?"
"I like you," Carrie blurted out desperately. "I thought about what you said and you were right about moving on with my life. I'm going to take the initiative with everything I do from now on –"
"Okay, maybe sometimes, too much initiative is not such a stellar idea – I mean, like, for example, say you're in a war zone and you run out without thinking and step on a land mine or get – get probed – I mean, shot or cut up – and gutted. See? Initiative not so good," Sammy babbled. Oh, my god. She's supposed to be all shy and quiet. What did I do to her?
"I've thought about it and I think we could really give this a try. I – I just felt this instant connection and I really do like you –"
"Oh." Sammy laughed nervously. "I like you too. You're a really nice girl and you'll be a really, really, really good FRIEND."
The blonde hair girl looked crestfallen. "No, you don't understand –"
"Yes, I do," Sammy nodded.
"I understand perfectly!" Come on, just stop talking, Carrie.
The girl looked like she was on the brink of tears and even as Sammy sweated buckets, she had to give Carrie props for having such pure nerve. Lord knows she'd never be able to face a guy like this – Vincent's face came to forefront and Sammy turned bright red.
Carrie mumbled, "I like you. As in, I like you more than a friend."
Carrie bit her lip and she slowly released Sammy's hands. Wringing her fingers together, the blonde girl fixated her eyes on the floor. "I like you, Sam."
Sammy's brows knitted as she closed her eyes, rubbing them as she released a rueful sigh. "Listen, Carrie, you're just confused. You only met me yesterday –"
"It was love at first sight!" At Sammy's expression, the girl added, "Maybe?"
Sammy was still green. "No, it wasn't! I was the first, ahem, boy you ever truly talked to besides your brother and you probably mistook this new friendship for something deeper."
Carrie's eyes filled with tears. "I felt a connection with you."
It's called estrogen bonding. "Connection and love …" Sammy tried to slowly explain. "They're different. Love … needs to have some sparks. You know, chemistry."
"No, there isn't!" she protested and Carrie blanched.
"How would you know?" the blonde girl mumbled, distraught. "Am I so unappealing, you can't even give me a chance?"
"No, it's not like that, Carrie." Sammy's shoulders sagged in defeat. "Like I said, you only met me for one day. There are cases of ... false alarms."
Carrie bowed her head. "You understand me. You listen to me. You also lost your family. You know how I feel. We have a special bond. You and me ... we're the same."
"In more ways than one," Sammy muttered tiredly.
"Nothing. Listen to me, Carrie. Go home and rethink this over."
"I spent the whole night thinking about this already. You told me to live on, to seize the day ... well, here I am! I know this is a bit fast, but just give me a chance! I think I'm taking a step in the right direction!" The girl pleaded.
Sammy had never felt guiltier in her life. She took a deep breath. "Carrie, you don't like me. You ... don't know everything."
Carrie furrowed her eyebrows. "I need to know more about you? Oh … well, I was planning to do that when we go on our first date, but okay!" She pulled out a little notepad from her pocket and fished out a pen. She flipped to the first page and waited expectantly with her pen poised. "You can begin!"
Sammy stared at the poor girl. God, she really doesn't have any experience with guys, does she? "Fine, I'll give you the reasons why there's no way you could really like me."
Carrie only stared at her, poised with her pen and pad.
Sammy sighed. "You only met me after one day."
"But we can get to know each other as we date."
"But you go to an all girls' school and I go to an all boys' school. We'll hardly meet."
"We can visit each other any time during vacations and weekends. Bonus: I can also see my brother more."
Sammy wanted to tear her hair out in frustration.
She continued, "Tristan is my friend and he wouldn't approve of me dating his sister."
For the first time, Sammy noticed the stubborn set of Carrie's chin. The younger girl responded, "Tristan is my brother and he'd be more than happy to see me with such a great guy."
"I have only brotherly feelings for you," Sammy tried to put her down as gently as possible.
Except, there was only a pause before: "I can change that."
Oh lord, I've created a monster. Sure, she's a bit delusional … and a tad desperate, she's gutful at least. Gutful? Is that a word? Sammy thought, half dazed.
Sammy gave up. "Carrie, I . . ."
"Yes?" Carrie waited in anticipation.
Sammy closed her eyes, grimacing. "I'm . . . a girl."
The notepad clattered to the floor.
"Ex – excuse me?" Carrie blurted out in shock.
"I'm a girl."
Carrie froze and tears filled her eyes again. She looked away, blinking furiously.
"I'm so sorry," Sammy whispered. "I –"
"It's okay. You don't have to lie to me," Carrie retorted, back stiffened.
"I would have just settled for 'I'm gay', but 'I'm a girl'. Huh. You get creativity points, at least."
"What? Nononono, I'm serious!" Jeez, the first person I tell my secret to and she doesn't believe me.
Tears were rolling down Carrie's cheeks unchecked now. "I'm sorry for bothering you. I'll go home now."
Sammy sidestepped in front of the girl, stopping her. In a low voice, she repeated quietly, "Carrie, I'm a girl."
The girl stared unblinkingly at the somberness in Sammy's face and with dawning horror, she paled. "Oh my god. I'm a lesbian."
Sammy clapped a hand to her forehead. She shook her head. "You're not a lesbian! Like I said before, you were just confused."
"Uh … I guess," Carrie said in a small voice. "You sure?"
"Yes, I'm pretty sure." Sammy's lips quirked in a wry smile. "We're only good friends."
The girl nodded blankly. "Yes, good friends." She sagged in relief. "Well, at least I didn't really get rejected. I was getting so depressed that my first real initiative was failing so badly."
Sammy grinned. "Yeah, we're going to work on how you talk to a guy. He would have been running for the hills a mile a minute if you did that to him."
Carrie giggled, "Yeah, I was a bit surprised by my own nerve." Then she smiled playfully. "So does Tristan know about this?"
Sammy blushed. "No, and I would appreciate it if you didn't tell this to him . . . or anyone, for the matter. Nobody knows."
Sammy's heart failed. They turned in shock to see Danielle leaning against the doorway with her arms crossed in front of her chest. The dark haired girl grinned.
Sammy was having a nervous breakdown. "Wh – what?"
"I knew that you were a girl."
"B – but how?" All she could process was, They all know. I'm going to be shipped back to Uncle Frank. Numbed with fear, she could barely breathe. Her chest seemed to be constricting on her.
"Simple." Danielle shrugged. "You kept staring at my clothes and my shoes."
"Men tend to go for the breasts or at least, the butt. But every time I saw you, your eyes were hungrily devouring my boots."
"I – I could have had a shoe fetish . . ."
"But you don't. And I just overheard. You're a girl!" Danielle was practically clapping with glee.
Sammy wilted. "Are you going to report me to Headmaster Finnigan?"
"What?" Danielle frowned. "No way."
Sammy perked up. "Really?"
"Of course!" Danielle walked over and linked her arms through Sammy's left arm and Carrie's right one. "Girls must stick together, you know. Now I don't know your reasons why you're doing this, but I think this could be a lot of fun, don't you? I do. I think so. A secret just between us three. The Triple Alliance. Oh hehehehe, Vinnie won't know what hit him." Danielle's grey eyes were practically dark steel as she all but cackled.
Carrie nodded, still bewildered but trying to recollect her composure. "Yeah, we're friends. I won't betray you ever - not even to Tristan."
Tears prickled Sammy's eyes. She'd gotten so used to hitting dead ends and seeing things more cynically after staying with Uncle Frank that she'd forgotten how nice it was to have the support of friends. Real friends. She beamed. "You have no idea how grateful I am to you guys!"
"What the hell are you three whispering about?"
They froze and turned to find a scowling Vincent hovering in the doorway. "Dani, why do you have Sam in a death grip? What were you guys talking about?"
Danielle smiled back sweetly. "Oh . . . this and that."
Vincent's eyes darted suspiciously between the three. Something weird is going on . . . He knew that much for sure, but as his eyes rested on Sam for a minute, the redhead gave him a small smile. Vincent turned away, tightening his grip on the bottle of water he had came out to get. At least he's still normal.
© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/30/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.