And So It Was:
It had never happened this way before. It was always him over at our house.
Never before had we, the Milliners, ever been invited to the Carter Mansion, let alone for dinner.
The prospect was a little daunting.
Especially since I, Stephanie Megan Milliner, was the unofficial girlfriend of the rightful heir to all of that Carter money (aka Jacob William Carter II).
Well, unofficial girlfriend to be.
Since he was going out with the 6-foot, blonde, Miss Popular known as Fiona Stanhope.
Our school is so social classed it's not even funny.
But honestly, it's no different to what you would expect: the most popular girl in the grade, going out with the most divine male specimen alive on this earth.
My future as Mrs Jacob William Carter was breaking into a million pieces. I could just hear the shards falling to the ground now.
There goes my dream.
But still, did I mention that he was my brother's best friend?
And we had been invited over for dinner.
Not only was Jake hot, rich and smart, his family was the most influential in the whole town of Lisette, and my father was their lawyer.
Making my father one of the most prominent lawyers in the industry.
It wasn't too bad for us kids either.
For example, it got Connor and Jake to be best friends, despite the fact that Connor would otherwise be a social recluse, owing to his overflowing social graces, including a variety of grunts that, when formed together in order from lowest pitch to highest pitch, could form a one and a half octave scale, and several profanities that I would much rather not repeat here.
For me? Well, I get to be associated with the hottest guy in the world.
Not only that, there have been the odd occasions when he came over to use our pool...
And Nicky? Little Nicky, my four-year-old sweetheart (translate: BRAT) of a sister. She's adorable, really, when she's been fed, dressed, relieved and rested. Otherwise, she's a terror. But for Nicky, Jake has been the brother she never had, since Connor and his social graces...
But enough of the family (and I haven't even begun on Mum and Dad... God knows that we don't WANT to go there...).
Going to the most important issue right now:
WHAT WAS I GOING TO WEAR??
I had sifted through my whole closet, looking for something appropriate (flattering, formal, yet looking like I hadn't tried) and had come to a conclusion that I needed to go on one of those makeover shows. You know the ones, where they give you advice about what to wear and then give you a thousand dollars, or two, and you get to buy a bunch of clothes. I mean, how totally awesome would that be?
But no, my wardrobe had to consist of jeans, jeans, t-shirts, a couple of skirts that looked like they would have fit me when I was six, and a cat suit, from the Halloween that Mary-Anne Dickson had said she was going to dress up as Catwoman, and I had been determined to out do her with my all black, Lycra suit. Only I forgot about a tail, ears and those awesome yellow eyes. Needless to say, she rubbed my face in that for a while.
I sifted through my shirts to find a semi-nice red tank top, with some sequin thing on the front. Sparkly looks good right? Teemed with my best pair of jeans, I didn't look too bad. A few dabs of gloss and a few strokes of eyeliner, I set to work on my hair.
Dead straight and murky brown, it was definitely nothing special. I bundled it into a ponytail, and tied it low. I scrounged through my drawer to find an old ribbon from a dance concert long ago and weaved it through a lose plait. I smoothed out a few strands of my messy fringe then put a pair of hoops into my ears.
I gave myself a once over, then smiled.
Not too bad, I told myself.
"Yeah! I'm almost done."
Just one more thing. Looking through my age-old ballerina jewellery box (was it EVERY five year old girl who wanted to be a ballerina?), I plucked out a bracelet that only just fit around my wrist. It was made out of twine, with a couple of off-coloured beads on it.
Jake had given it to me when I was eight. Soppy or something, but it still meant something to me.
I wondered if he would remember...
"Stevie!" my mum called again.
I ran out of my room, grabbing my clutch from my bed and headed downstairs.
I slipped on a pair of gold, strappy heels, from last year's formal, and headed into the car, a small smile on my face.
As we drove the fifteen or so minutes to the Carter Mansion, I felt the butterflies build up in my stomach. Was I too dressed up? Was my hair ok? Maybe the bracelet wasn't a good idea after all.
I fiddled with it the whole way there, thinking back on that day that he gave it to me.
Jake had handed it to me with a smile. "Here," he'd said. "Take this and if you ever need me, just rub these beads, and I'll come to save you."
I had taken it from him, awe in my eyes that this dodgy bracelet was a link between him and me, just the two of us.
A huge part of me had believed what he said, no matter how unbelievable the idea sounded.
A part of me still wanted to.
But I was sixteen and not quite that stupid, despite what some people thought.
We pulled into the driveway of the Mansion and the view of the house took my breath away.
So that's what it was like to be rich.
The gates swung open, and we began our way up to the front of the house.
The driveway was really long, exactly like the driveways you see in the movies.
Reaching the front door, a man dressed in a suit appeared out of nowhere.
"Good evening sir," he bowed. "Mr Carter, Mrs Carter, Miss Carter and Master Carter are awaiting your arrival in the lounge. Mary will be waiting for you inside the house. May I have your keys?"
Wow. They had a butler valet guy. That was so cool.
We stepped out of the car, and Dad looked a little nervous handing over the keys to our modest commodore.
Having done so, Dad cleared his throat and knocked on the door.
It swung open within a second.
A small lady appeared, curtsying. She was actually wearing one of those frilly hats.
Then realisation struck me.
They had maids??
"Mr Carter, Mrs Carter, Miss Carter and Master Carter are awaiting your arrival in the lounge. Please, follow me."
And with that, she turned to briskly walk in the direction of what I presumed to be the lounge.
Walking through the hallways of their house was quite an adventure, the walls hung with decorative art pieces, with huge ornamental frames.
I wondered if any of these were originals. Knowing Mrs Carter (or Julie as she always insisted when we saw her in the paper) and her love of art auctions, there was no doubt that somewhere in this whole collection, there would be an original Picasso or something.
I looked up, the high ceiling stretching up and up. It made me feel kind of small. I just wondered how the upstairs felt.
Mary turned sharply around a corner and we followed, the lights having suddenly dimmed. She flung a pair of doors open and stopped to curtsy.
"Mr Carter, Mrs Carter, Miss Carter and Master Carter, may I present to you-" She stopped, the butler/valet guy appearing from a secret (??) door on the left. Her eyes had widened considerably and she curtsied and bustled out again.
Mr Butler/Valet cleared his throat. "Mr Carter, Mrs Carter, Miss Carter and Master Carter. Your guests for this evening." He motioned towards us and bowed.
Mr Carter stood up from the lounge he and his wife had been reclining on. "Thank you James," he nodded towards Mr Butler/Valet (also known as James).
James bowed again and then stepped back, disappearing, the secret door slipping shut.
Mr Carter moved towards my dad, hand outstretched.
"Henry," he said, his deep voice filling the room. "Welcome to our humble abode." He laughed, a deep rich tinkling kind of laugh.
My dad shook his hand and laughed nervously. "It's a pleasure Bruce, really it is."
Mr Carter motioned towards the lounge. "Please, take a seat."
We made our way to the lounge, finding ourselves sinking into the overwhelming softness of the cushions.
Mr Carter moved towards the side of the room and turned to face the wall.
"James, we'll be needing some drinks," he said.
INTERCOM? Was there anything they DIDN'T have?
"Yes sir," he said, his voice steely, extremely different to the voice that he had used upon our arrival.
Mr Carter turned once again to the room. "Henry, what will it be?"
Dad looked flushed. "A red will do thanks Bruce."
"And for the ladies?"
Julie gave her husband a smile. "You know I can only drink grapefruit juice, darling."
I saw the look that my mother threw her way.
Grapefruit? Of all the fruits in the world...
Mum nodded. "I'll have the same."
I stared at her wide-eyed. Mum hated grapefruit. Yet here she was...
The things the lowly people did to impress the others.
Mr Carter looked to Connor, Nicky and I and raised an eyebrow.
Connor cleared his throat. "I'll just have a Coke, thanks."
He nodded and then Jake spoke up.
"I'll have one too thanks James."
I noted that he completely ignored his father's raised eyebrows.
I saw James nod.
Now, Mr Carter's eyes were trained on me.
I opened my mouth to speak.
But as usual, at moments like these, nothing came out.
"I... uh... uh..." I stammered.
I saw the corner's of Jake's sister lift.
"Dad, Stevie and I will get a Sprite. Diet, mind."
I nodded, then turned to mouth a 'Thank you' in her direction.
She shrugged it off.
Mr Carter finally turned to James, who nodded, bowed and disappeared via the same secret door.
He came to sit back down and settled with his arm around his wife.
"So where we?" he began, trying to start conversation, I guess.
"It's a lovely place you have here Bruce," my mother said, leaning forward.
Julie nodded. "It's just lovely isn't it? It's a pity you weren't able to join us for lunch on a weekend. The gardens are simply divine. The gardeners are forever pruning the roses in the gardens, as well as the orchids. The aromas are just overwhelming every time you go outside." She was rambling.
A silence settled over the room.
Jake cleared his throat, and I realised how like his father he was.
"Well, Dad, we'll just go down to the basement and-"
Mr Carter cut him off.
"Yes Jacob. Wonderful idea." He said it like it was the most horrible idea he could think of.
I noticed a flash of... something in Jake's eyes, before it disappeared and he smiled.
"Let's get out of here," I heard him mutter.
He got up, and we all trailed out of the room behind him, Elizabeth included. We regrettably left Nicky behind falling asleep on Mum's lap.
Once the doors had closed behind us, it seemed that we all released a collective sigh.
"Sorry about my dad, he's just a little..."
"Uptight." Elizabeth filled in.
Jake raised an eyebrow. "That's the understatement of the year."
Connor had made no move that this was anything out of the ordinary. I guess Jake had always thought this about his family, and the whole "being rich" ideal. I knew he hated the fact that heaps of people only hung around him because he was rich and popular, not because they genuinely wanted to be his friend.
In some respects, I guess I felt sorry for him because of that.
Jake had always been the popular all-rounder, with the rich father. For Connor and I, it had never clicked that Jake Carter was Jake Carter but when we did find out, it hadn't really mattered. He was still just Jake.
We headed down to the basement, where a foosball presided in the middle. The four of us headed straight to it.
Elizabeth (never Liz) stood at the same 6-foot height as her brother. She was a year older than Jake and Connor (making her two years older than my tiny 16). She and Jake shared the same hazel eyes, piercing, and the trademark Carter hair, curly and brown, streaked with blonde and auburn, a look that so many people were going for. I would've killed to have hair like that.
Connor and I versus Jake and Elizabeth. There was no doubt who was going to win. I was playing attack, hitting the ball from one set of players to the other. I lined up the ball and took a shot, only to be blocked by Jake's goalie.
I glared at him, a smile on my face.
"Try again, Stevie," he said, a heart-warming grin on his face.
He hit it down to our goal. Connor's defence was just as good.
It was really a game between Connor and Jake, Elizabeth and I purely accessories in their game.
The score was finally level, 8 all. Two more goals to either team and the game was over.
It was our shot. I hit the ball to the players I was controlling with my right hand, aimed, and hit it.
The ball hit the side of Jake's goalie, before it slid in.
"Woohoo!" I yelled.
Ever Connor cracked a smile. "One more, Carter. Just one more."
I raised my eyebrow at him, in surprise.
In reply, he just shrugged.
We just needed one more goal and we would win.
We'd never won against them before.
The ball spun towards the players in my left hand. Using as much coordination as I could with my left hand, I manoeuvred the ball around Elizabeth's players and towards those in my right hand. I hit the ball lightly, only to be blocked by Jake.
"Try again," he said, a smug grin on his face.
He hit it back down the field, but I stopped it with one of my left hand players. I proceeded to hit it down the field again, and it hit the corner, where it rebounded off the side, towards my right hand players. I aimed, I shot and...
Who knew that foosball could be so much fun?!?
Sitting down to dinner, the adults were seemingly all talked out, and it was basically just Jake, Elizabeth and I running conversation. We moved around various topics, from school, to movies, to music, back to school. It was a vicious cycle.
"So what subjects are you taking this year?" Mr Carter asked me.
I was seated across from him, and there was no way to avoid his question that had obviously been directed at me.
I smiled, the politely finished chewing, thinking before I answered him.
"Extension English?" he probed.
I nodded, still not having swallowed.
I nodded again, then wondered who said 'mathematics' anymore.
"Stephanie, I pick you to be an arts student."
I refrained from spluttering my half chewed morsels of steak. Me? Arts? You have got to be kidding.
I shook my head and then finally swallowed, noticing that everyone had turned their attention to me.
"Well, I'm doing maths and English, like you said, Mr Carter, and I'm doing the social sciences, economics, business studies and legal studies."
He nodded, chewing.
How come other people didn't feel all awkward when they were chewing?
"So, do you have any idea what you want to do when you go to university?"
Dude, it's uni! Who says university anymore?
But of course, I just smiled politely and shrugged.
"I'm not sure. I've been wanting to go into law for a while now, but I'm beginning to see a whole lot of other areas open up for me."
I don't usually speak like that, it was just something about him that made me want to... speak like that, rather than the usual way that I speak. I can speak normally, I swear I can.
"Oh really," he said, a slight note of sarcasm to his voice.
I nodded. "I've been looking into psychology, though I'm not really a science student myself. There's also journalism, but the career opportunities aren't as wide."
He nodded, then turned to face my father, who was seated on his left.
"You have a rather intelligent daughter, Henry. Now, if only your son was as well spoken."
I laughed to myself, softly, catching Jake's laughing eyes from the head of the table. Why he was sitting there, and not his father, I couldn't quite understand.
I felt myself blush, then looked down at my plate, as I cut myself another piece of steak.
Jake turned to talk to Connor, who's usual grunting gave the table conversation a bit of... grunt.
Elizabeth, who sat on my right, looked at me, amused, with a smile on her face.
"What?" I asked.
"He's a little old for you don't you think?"
She simply laughed and turned to pay her attention to the boys' conversation.
How had she known? Was I really that obvious?
Dinner continued through to dessert, which was a delicious mud cake, served with ice cream.
I savoured the taste of the mud cake, and made a face at Jake, who sat smirking at me.
How did he know?
I nodded, my mouth too full to talk.
Finally dinner was over, but the Carters were far from over entertaining us.
They gave us a tour of their house, us kids trailing behind. My parents, I could tell, were simply feigning interest and waiting to get out of there.
"So how do you like it?" Jake whispered.
I smiled. "It's nice."
He took my hand and pulled me into a room.
"Then how do you like this," he whispered, his face close to mine.
My heart was beating really fast. I pulled away from his grasp and turned to look at the room.
It was their library.
Jake knew how I loved to read. Even for a ditz like person like me, I loved to read, everything from Jane Austen to Dan Brown to J.D Salinger. And here was my idea of heaven.
"You like it, huh?" he whispered behind me.
I nodded, too amazed to say anything else.
He gently turned me around.
"Stevie," he murmured, pulling me close to him.
This was it! I was squealing inside of myself. I mean, here I was, me, hugging Jake. JAKE!
I was pulled out my daydream of our beautiful wedding when he laughed, my wrist in his hand.
"I can't believe you wore this!"
I blushed when I realised he was talking about the bracelet.
"Do you remember why I gave it to you?"
I nodded, still not really able to speak.
Before I knew it, I felt his lips on mine.
It was nice. Granted, it was my first kiss, and I didn't really know what it should feel like but... wow.
He pulled away, and I gasped for some air.
He smiled and I couldn't help but smile shyly back.
He rested his forehead on my own, our noses touching. "You know, I meant what I said that day. Well, not about rubbing the beads, but about being around to save you."
Then he kissed me again.
Scrap what I said about the library being heaven.
This was definitely heaven.
OK. I have no idea why I wrote this. Originally, I'd planned for this to be a nice long chapter story, but I just lost all my muse. So the ending is corny and stupid and I don't really like it, but meh. It'll do. Lol.
Anywayz... I reckon this one is really crap, so if you want to review this and tell me how crap it is, go ahead! But I'd love it if you checked out my other story, Last Thing On My Mind, which at the moment is my baby ;)