"Rose, come on. We're here."
I looked at my brother, who I hadn't spoken to in the past two hours it took to get here. His gray eyes were set in front of him and he looked genuinely happy. When I looked around my surroundings, I realized that we were parked in front of a small house with a driveway made for only one car. Without even a glance in my direction, Seth exited and began speaking with the movers, directing them on where our furniture should go.
Before leaving the car, I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and to make the sting in my eyes disappear. Right now, I hated this town with all my heart. I wanted nothing more than to be back in my cozy apartment in New York City, surrounded by my family, but I knew that could never happen. My parents were gone and they were never coming back. That thought alone brought on another onslaught of fresh tears.
Sucking in another couple of calming breaths, I left the car and let my tanned skin touch the sunlight. I looked around the neighborhood and saw that my new "home" was small, but enough for me and Seth. It was the smallest on the block, but that didn't really matter.
A Jeep pulling into the driveway of the house to the left brought my attention to it as loud, pumping music and raucous laughter filled the atmosphere. The doors opened to reveal three young guys around my age jumping out of the car, the easiness with which they interacted made me assume that they were brothers. Well, that and their similar features: strong jaws, thick, black hair, wide shoulders, similar heights and overall good looks. The one thing that set them apart the most was the texture of their hair, since one had hair in tight ringlets, one had waves with the occasional curl and the last had hair straight as a pin.
He was the one that stuck out to me. There was no way to describe him but simply gorgeous. His stance was confident and his smile, dazzling. I didn't realize I was staring at him until his eyes flicked to my own gray ones and he shot me a smile that made my head spin. In return I lifted my lips up slightly, but I knew that it was nowhere near as stunning.
I groaned when I heard the loud chirpy sound of Alexis Harper's voice and reluctantly tore my eyes away from the guy to look in her direction. She had pulled up to our new house in her cherry red Porsche and leapt out of it, her platinum blond hair bouncing as she ran into my brother's arms. I had to look away in disgust when they started kissing in our driveway.
Without meaning to, I glanced in the direction of the guy. He must have seen my disgust because his lips lifted in amusement, rendering me speechless. Then I lifted my eyes from him to his brothers and noticed them glancing between the happy couple and I in delight. When they saw me looking at them, they both gave me a smile, but neither as dazzling as their straight haired brother. I felt so stupid when a blush filled my cheeks. To prevent further embarrassment, I looked down at the ground before walking toward the front door, the movers walking past me as they hauled our belongings inside the house. Now would be a good time as any to get acquainted with the house.
It was actually much more spacious than it looked from the outside. The kitchen and the living room were separated by the stairs and both were reasonably bigger than back home. Boxes were piling up in the living room and I thought of what a pain unpacking all of this would be.
My room was nice, I admitted to myself with a sigh. It had a huge window that allowed sunlight to stream through and my bed was already in place. The walls were bare, though, and alien; this place didn't feel like home, yet. But I guess I would have to make the best of it. So, I opened one of the boxes that littered the floor labeled 'Important,' and took from it a picture of my parents 18 years ago, looking happy as ever. At this point they didn't know that I would come into the picture to ruin their lives. I sighed and placed it tenderly on my nightstand.
"Rose! Come down!" I heard Seth's voice call.
I ran down the narrow stairs and at the bottom Seth stood with a smile on his face and an arm around Alexis' waist. "Rose! How nice to see you," Alexis said, with a bright, fake smile on her face.
"Likewise," I said. Not. I hated her. I only tolerated her because she made my brother happy. Otherwise she was the only reason we were really here in the first place.
There was a loud rap on my bedroom door and I called to the person, "come in," knowing exactly who was on the other side. Since a couple of months ago, the only other person living in this apartment was my brother. Seth entered the room a little hesitantly and came to sit next to me on my bed. I shot him a small smile, but it fell when I saw the look on his face. "What's up?"
"Rose, I have something to tell you and I know you won't like it."
"What is it?" I asked worriedly. How much more bad news would I be able to endure? My father just died; how much worse could anything get?
My mouth went completely dry and a hollow feeling spread through me. I could barely choke out one word. "What?"
"We're moving upstate."
I blinked back the tears pricking in my eyes, trying to restrain them. "When?"
He stared at the floor as he spoke. "In a week."
He sighed. "I think that it's one of the best ways for us to move on. There are so many bad memories linked with this place."
"But what about the good ones? We grew up here, Seth."
"I know. I know you love the city, but I can't stand to be here anymore. It hurts so much whenever I pass the spot where-" He cut himself off, but I knew what he was going to say. Where dad crashed and his car burned.
I thought over the news and was overwhelmed with grief before I fully comprehended what he said. Upstate. "Where upstate?"
"About an hour north of Bear Mountain."
My back straightened. "Now, doesn't that sound familiar?" I asked, sarcastically.
He nodded stiffly. He knew I would put it together. "She asked me if I would move there so that we could be closer together and I said yes."
My eyes narrowed at this. "Did she ask or demand?"
He turned his face to my cold expression and he suddenly looked older. Sometimes he looked so much more like an old man than just 24. "Rose, don't be like that. You may not like her, but you know she loves me and I do too. We're engaged and we have to make sacrifices. Plus she knows of a house that's in our budget."
I took all of this in and swallowed up my hate for Alexis for now. He was asking me to leave my home. The only place with the memories of my deceased father. And I would do it to make him happy. He was the only family I had left and I needed him. I could not lose Seth. "Okay."
His eyebrows rose. "Okay?" I nodded and he let out a breath of relief. He probably expected some kicking and screaming on my part. "Well, start packing. I love you, sis." He kissed my forehead when he saw my dejected face.
I looked up at him. He hadn't been this nice to me since Dad died. I know some part of him really blamed me. Him and my father were so close and when he died, Seth was shattered. "I love you too." And that's why I would do this without a fight. For my brother.
"Do you like the house?" my brother asked.
I shrugged. "It's bigger than our apartment."
"Yeah, we could live here, easy," Seth said, too happy to catch that I didn't really answer his question. "The commute to the city isn't bad either."
"Such a big change," I muttered. I already missed the city. The smog in the air and the hustle and bustle of all the people in the road below was something that wasn't going to happen here. I missed my apartment building on the 14th floor and the balcony that I could see the Empire State Building from.
"I know; it's actually peaceful here." My brother disagreed with me. He was never a city guy. He loves the great outdoors and the smell of fresh air. Me, not so much.
"And now we'll be closer together, right, baby?" Alexis cooed, pushing herself against my brother and shooting him a smile. I hated Alexis, but I couldn't help but admit how gorgeous she really was. She had a perfect body and natural blonde hair and bright blue eyes. If she was actually nice, I would understand why my brother would have fallen for her.
"God, kill me now," I mumbled under my breath. Alexis turned her head slightly to glare at me before turning back to my brother and in a minute they were wrapped up in each other again. Thankfully the doorbell rang, but they didn't let up. "Oh it's okay. You two enjoy yourselves; I'll get it." As I walked past Alexis I "accidently" kicked her and said, "Oops, sorry." Even that didn't make them unglue themselves from each other.
I reached the door and when I opened it, I was greeted by the sight of two of the three boys I had seen earlier. Unfortunately, I noticed with dismay that the one with the straight hair wasn't among them, but instead put on a polite smile. "Hello."
"Hey. Um, I'm Jayden and this is my brother, Nate," the older one said, with an extremely pleasant smile.
"I'm Rose," I said quietly, as Jayden stuck out his hand. I blushed- who shook hands anymore?- before taking it.
"Nice to meet you," Nate said, with a smile. His voice was smooth and light and it rang pleasantly in my ears.
"Who's at the door?" Seth called, and I could hear his footsteps behind me. So he did hear the bell ring. I felt him come to stand behind me and he looked at the two guys at the door suspiciously. Seth was extremely, unnecessarily overprotective. "Hey."
"This is my brother, Seth. Jayden and Nate, right?" They nodded and shook hands with Seth, who was still wary. He is exactly why I've never had any boyfriends. That and the fact that I'm extremely quiet.
"We noticed you guys were moving in, so my parents wanted to invite you over for dinner tonight," Jayden said.
My heart rate went up. Meeting new people? Not my thing. But before I could decline, Seth was already saying, "I'm going out with Alexis, but I guess it's alright if you go."
Jayden smiled, looking at me. "Great, we'll ju-"
"No!" I exclaimed, panicking at the thought of being in a house full of strangers by myself. The three of them looked at me, taken aback, and my face reddened before turning to Seth. "I mean, you should come too! You should get to know the neighbors also."
He caught the frantic expression on my face and he sighed before nodding. "Alright."
"Okay..." Jayden said slowly, arching an eyebrow as I died of embarrassment. Two seconds and he already thought I was weird. "We live there." Jayden gestured to the house on the left. "How's 6:30?"
"Sure. Sounds great," Seth said, smiling. "See you then."
"Nice meeting you. Bye," Jayden said. Nate waved once before they left the house and I shut the door behind them.
When I turned around, Seth was glaring at me. "What?" I asked, embarrassed.
"You can't be serious. You can't possibly be that shy," he said, crossing his arms across his chest.
"You couldn't just say no, could you?" I shot at him.
"It'd be rude to decline. Besides, how else are you going to meet people?"
"Who said I need to meet people?"
"I did. How else are you going to get adjusted here?"
I looked at the ground. "I wasn't planning on getting adjusted here," I mumbled. When I looked up at him, he shot me a look and I rolled my eyes. "You really expect me to be comfortable going to a house full of strangers by myself?"
"You can't keep being so antisocial."
"I'm not antisocial," I argued. "I'm just more comfortable around people I know. Meeting new people is hard."
"It's hard for everyone."
I scoffed. "Ha, right. I have never seen you get flustered around anyone, ever." Seth was the most likable person I have ever met.
He shrugged. "Practice makes perfect."
"Still, I don't want to go," I whined, sounding like a little brat.
"Too bad, we already agreed. I still have half a mind to make you go alone. I had this whole evening planned."
"If you don't go, I'm not going," I threatened. Getting the feeling I hadn't totally convinced him, I decided to bring out the big guns. "Besides, would you really be comfortable with me going alone? I mean, you are the reason I have virtually no guy friends."
I hid my smile as his back stiffened and realization hit him about the type of company we were having tonight. He was basically giving me permission to hang out with a bunch of guys. "You're right. I'll go out with Alexis some other day."
I congratulated myself on my persuasion skills and went to my room as Seth went to find his fiance. Despite my apprehension about having to meet new people, I couldn't help feeling excited about seeing the guy with the straight hair, who I assumed was their brother. I smiled small as I thought about him. Hmm, what was I going to wear?