Chapter two Oaken hills

Jade groaned as the car gave a sudden sharp lurch forward, jarring her suddenly from her light doze. Opening her eyes, she blinked against the bright sunlight filtering through the tinted windows of the family car. Uh where are we? She silently wondered. Struggling to a sitting position, she rubbed idly at the base of her back to try to relieve dull ache of stiffness throbbing beneath the skin. The hard knots refused to loosen. Growling, Jade slumped back into the seat in defeat. Beside her, Cory, sensing her movement, twitched slightly in his sleep from where he was leaning against the window. Jade glanced over at him and resisted the urge to smile when she noticed a thin line of drool leaking from his open mouth. "Yeah, you are so punk." she muttered under her breath. Smiling deviously, she sifted slightly in her seat so that she was angled towards her brother and gave him a soft kick to his heels. Corry grunted roughly before curling up on the seat. Muttering something incoherent, Corry clutched the pillow he was laying on to his chest as if it was a stuffed animal and smiled in his sleep. Shaking her head slightly, Jade rubbed her eyes before glancing out the window in an attempt to achieve some type of barring.

Outside of the car, an endless row of colorful fall trees lined the roads on both side as far as the eye could see. The small single lane well worn street they were traveling was a big change from the two lane interstate that she fell asleep too. Staring at the forest passing by, Jade faintly wondered what stated they were in. We must be getting closer. Jade mused as the car vaulted once again over a large pothole. Otherwise, dad would avoid roads this bad. Jade shifted positions to get a better view of the road hoping that she would see a road sign or some other insight on there position, but after watching a good three miles of road speed on by Jade still came up empty handed. Hmmm. Maybe I am just missing them. Let's seeā€¦ . Leaning forward, she unbuckled her seat belt as quietly as she could as not to wake Corry and carefully slide to the middle of the seat so she could see through the windshield. In the front seat, her mother was leaning against the window her eyes closed. Jade cautiously leaned forward and stared out the window scanning the road for signs. Grr, still nothing. Glancing over at her dad in the driver seat, she whispered. "Where are we?"

Jade's dad jumped violently about a foot in his seat and swore loudly causing her mother to stir momentarily in her seat. Grabbing at his chest with one hand, he glanced back at her via the rearview mirror with a look of incomprehension that quickly turned to embarrassment when he saw her daughter looking at him with an amused smirk. "Oh hey there kid, I thought you were still asleep." her father said softly, quickly turning his eyes back to the road. Glancing back into the rear view mirror, he checked to see that Cory was still asleep.

Jade quirked an eyebrow at him. "Geez dad, think I was an axe murder or something." she teased. "And you always accuse the school for Corry's bad language."

Her father made a face. "I have been driving for ten hours straight what do you expect. Besides, as far as swearing goes, Corry puts me to shame on every level and you know it. One of the only things that that boy is good at. Anyway, how you doing back there? You need to use the restroom or something."

Jade rolled her eyes at the question. "No dad." Jade said tolerantly. What does he think I am four. "Where are we?" she repeated giving her father a questioning look.

"Just crossed the state line into PA a few hours ago. Would have woke you all but you two looked so exhausted that me and your mother decided against it." Her father answered finally. Glancing absentmindedly over at her mother, he added. "Suppose to have switched out to but your mother coped out on me."

Jade nodded her head in acknowledgment to her father's statement. So we are finally in pa, she thought in relief. Giving the road another glance, she stated. "Were not on the interstate anymore are we?"

Her father smirked. "Brilliant deduction." he muttered sarcastically in a teasing tone earning him a deadly stare from his daughter. Choosing to ignore it, he continued. "Nope, left that about a half an hour ago. We are now about an hour away from Oaken Hill. Just about there."

Jade sighed and leaned back to her seat. Turning her attention back to the side window, she stared at the colorful fall trees whizzing past and lapsed into thought. It was several moments before she spoke again. "Tell me about it."

"About what?" her father responded giving her a confused look.

Jade rolled her eyes. "About the town." Duh wheat else would I be talking about. " What is it like? I mean you and mom were the only ones who got to come up here when you bought the house. You made Cory and me say at home."

" You had school at the time." Her father stated defensively. "Didn't want you and Cory skipping classes to look at a bunch of boring houses. Your education definitely comes first."

"Like Cory went to school anyway," Jade muttered under her breath. Her voice was not low enough to be missed by her father.

Her father's eyes flinted to the rearview mirror. "I thought you said that he went." He asked his eyes narrowing as he glanced at his son's sleeping form.

Jade choose to ignore her father's naivety for the moment. Instead , she continued to stare passively out the window. After a moment, she stated moodily, " I don't even know what color our new house is let alone anything about anything else."

"Hmm.. Red." her father answered absentmindedly. "Lovely house. It's a three bedroom colonial. Got two bathrooms and even got a pole table in the basement. Mom said you and Cory can make that room into a game room if you would really like."

"Wonderful," Jade stated dryly. Our old house was bigger. She thought.

Oblivious to his daughter's mood, her father continued. "The place really is really beautiful. Old fashion decor, hard wood floor. Hand carved baseboards. ."

Dusty antiques, creaky floors, rats in the walls. God, what am I in for. Jade thought her attention towards her father's words starting to wane.

". . . Got it at a bargain too. it's a bit of a fixer-upper but nothing I can't handle."

This statement however caused Jade to snap back into attention and she raised an eyebrow. "A fixer-upper?" she gave her father a skeptical look.

"What? Are you insinuating that I can't do handiwork?" Her father retorted glancing back at his daughter.

Jade gave him her best lecture face and stated simply. "No good house has ever been called a fixer-upper."

"Our eternal optimist." her father muttered. "Come on Jade, Give it a chance. It's a nice house. You will just love room honey. Its bigger then the one you had at the old house. The furniture was all included. You even have a window that overlooks our pond in the back yard. . ."

That caught Jade's attention. "We got a pond? We don't live on a farm do we?" Jade asked leaning forward to give her father a penetrating stare.

Jade's father rolled his eyes. "Now don't get excited. No, we don't live on a farm but we are not moving to the bustling streets of Philadelphia either. Oaken Hills is a quaint. . ."

"Great, by quaint you mean boring and small as hell." Jade sighed and sat back to rest her head against the back of the seat.

"Jade, watch your mouth." Her father said pointedly, giving his daughter a stern look. Jade sighed, giving up. She turned her attention back to the window. The two fell into silence for a few moments. Jade could feel her fathers gaze as he stared at her via the rearview mirror, but blatantly ignored him. Finally, after about five minutes, Jade father spoke again. "Our nearest neighbor is about five feet away not a mile. I never said we had moved out into the boondocks. The neighbors seem nice. Family to the right of us even has a kid your age I think. The family across from us has three young boys. Single mother. I told her about you. She had a position open for a babysitter twice a week. The boys looked a little like hellions but nothing you can't handle. Plus it's a great way to earn some money. Never to late to start saving."

"Dad, I'm fifteen." Jade stated..

"Still, if you're planning for college you can never start too soon." Jade's father pointed out. "Babysitting is a good job for a girl your age. You never know. You may start sitting for her kids, but once she gets the word out you may be sitting for the whole block before the summers out."

"Yeah, because I am sure that's what Jade wants to spend her whole summer doing. Looking after snot nosed kids while their parents go out. Gee dad, you and mom work fast. Now all you have to do is ship me off to some asylum and you will have the house all to your self." a sarcastic voice rang out from the back seat. Jade and her father both glanced back in surprise at Cory whose eyes were now open and fixed on the scenery speeding by. The young boy frowned as a hunter green sign sped by. "Fifty miles from the nearest city, hundred more to a city who's name someone would actually recognize. . . Congratulation, you have officially picked the pimple on the ass of America to live. Good job.'

Their father frowned. "The whole point is not to live in the most active place in PA. As I recall, that is the reason that we are here in the first place young man."

"Yeah, yeah. Save the lecture for some time when I'm not trapped in a small ass car with you, will you?" Cory shot back, his eyes never leaving the window. Jade flinched, Oh no, here we go.

Her father stared at the boy, stunned for a moment before his face turned a brilliant shade of scarlet. His eyes widen in a mixture of shock and anger. "That's it, young man. I'm fed up with your insolent behavior." He began his hands tightening on the wheel of the car. "You should be grateful for the sacrifice this family has made for you."

"Grateful? Yeah, I am so grateful for you totally destroying my life." Jade rolled her eye and turned her attention back to the window, trying to black out her father's and brothers continues bickering. She faintly noted when her mother softer voice joined in to referee, but she paid little attention to the content of the arguments. Instead, she stared out silently on the scenery until a sign caught her attention. She lunged forward craning her neck for a better look. "Look." she cried out, bouncing with excitement in her seat.

Her father and brother went silent, looking at her as if she was mad before glancing out the window in the direction she was pointing. Through the windshield, the image of a bright decorative metal sign scrawled with the words Oaken Hills shined in the sun like a beacon. Jade stared at it with a mixture of sadness and trepidation swirling in her stomach. "We're here."

All the members of the car fell silence as they officially crossed the line into Oaken Hills. Jade stared as the trees started to thin out on either side of the road revealing neat little rows of tiny houses as the car crossed into the streets of their new hometown. Jades eyes widen as she took in the small street. Glancing up at her dad, she saw that he was watching her from the rearview mirror with a slight smile on his face.

"Well, we're here. Welcome to the tiny town of Oaken Hills. . ."

"Population 37-40 depending on how many teenagers have recently coming back from family reunions." Cory commented snidely from the back seat. "Really, dad cut the tourist crap. It's another thing you suck at."

Jade couldn't help but giggle at that one. Her father frowned. "Joke all you want about it. It's not going to change a thing." Jade's father replied. Jade hardly noticed as she gawked out the window at her surroundings. Building after building flew by along what she could only assume to be the towns main street. An old-fashioned massive stone churches with high bell tower and sparkling stain glass windows shimmered in the sun over a tiny graveyard. A small restaurant with old fashion saloon doors next to a small florist shop whizzed by. Jade stared at these things with curious eyes. Turning to her dad, she asked. "Where's the school?"

Her dad who was still bickering with Cory looked up in surprise. "Schools not on the main street. Its further south across from the library. Your going to love it there sweetheart. Got plenty of activates and school dances. And don't worry, we talked to the principle last time we were up. Says the school is one of the top in the state. You guys will be starting this Monday. As soon as humanly possible."

"Oh Joy." Cory said looking out the window as well. "Church, bar, church, bar. Hmm, looks like a town of drunks and religious extremist. Good choice."

Jade's father glared at him, but said nothing. The stop light ahead turned green and the family turned left and up a small street. "After we settle in, I will take you on a drive around the town. Show you two all the towns hot spots." Cory snorted.

"Thanks dad, but I thing that I rather walk around instead." Jade stated, watching row after row of houses pass by. "I rather explore the town myself. You know, get to know my way around."

Jade father glanced back at Cory.

"Yeah like I want to spend yet another hour in a car with you. Two days of bonding just is not enough." Cory stated dryly.

"Come on kids. It will be fun."

"Oh let them go. They can figure it out for themselves." Her mother chimed in as they slowed near an intersection.

"Here's our street." her mother suddenly called out as they turned down a small street labeled Maple Avenue. Both Jade and Corry turned back to the window, their stares fixated on the homes passing by. Which one is ours? Jade wondered craning her neck widely from side to side, trying to catch a flash of that red brick that her father so adamantly described.

"Where's our house?" she asked finally after several long agonizing five minutes passed by.

"Coming up just about now." Her father replied as the leaves and branches of a huge oak passed on to reveal a small red brick house near the corner of the street. Jade gasped when she saw it. Sitting in the middle of a decently large yard, a brick read house sate its crimson stained shutters and pitch black shingles glittering in the sun. A fixer upper. This place is beautiful. Jade thought her eyes glued to the window as she studied the houses large airy windows and darkly stained door. In front of the house, a small wooden porch overlooked the small street and adjacent houses its dark boards looking well cared for. On the porch, a lone wooden swing stained a deep rich brown stood overlooking the generous front yard as if calling them in a welcoming way.

Besides the brick, building a smaller white garage with onyx black doors stood proud and unbreakable like a solider at the end of a gravel driveway. It was in front of this midnight door, that her father slid their family car into the gravel driveway, putting the vehicle in park. Jades hands flew eagerly towards the door hand as she jumped eagerly at the opportunity to explore the house shimmering at the end of the driveway. Her efforts were quickly barred however when the door locked firmly. Jade and Corry's eyes both traveled to the finger her dad had on the lock button. Jades father turned to face his two children, a triumphant look on his face.. "Ok, now before you all go, I want to make it very clear that their will be no roaming about until the car is completely unloaded." he stated sternly, ignoring the groans this prompted from Jade. Cory on the meantime seemed unphased, already slipping back into his 'I don't give a damn' mask. The young boy stared vacantly at the front sear avoiding the window entirely.

"Dad. Come on." Jade protested, giving the door handle a yank.

"No, buts Jade. We have over fifteen boxes crammed in the trunk and . . ."

"Oh, let them have their fun, darling. We have all the time in the world to unpack the car. We couldn't unpack both the moving vans and the car on the same day anyway and the moving vans are due to arrive soon." her mother chided her father gently smiling back at the children. "Go on you two look the place over." she encouraged waving her hands as if to shoo them away hitting the unlock button. Jade jumped at the chance, bolting for the car door as soon as those words left her mother's mouth, vaulting out of the car she could hear her mother ask Corry, "well, why don't you going?"

"I rather unpack the car."

Jade smiled as she all but danced up the steps of the house to peer into the windows of the house. The rooms were to dark too see much of anything, but she could make out the faint outlines of furniture in the shadows. Excited, she reached for the doorknob. Locked. Duh, kinda should have guessed, Jade thought. Dad must have the keys. Behind her, Jade could hear her parents car doors slam shut and her parents footsteps click on the porch steps. Turning, she saw her father standing behind her with two large boxes in his hands. Giving him a quick sweep with her eyes, she smiled as she spotted the lanyard hanging out of his pocket. "Keys?" She asked holding out her hand.

"Impatient aren't we?" Her father said quirking an eyebrow before shifting the weight of the boxes so that it rested on one hand. Grabbing the keying with his freehand, He located the collect key and held it up towards Jade. Jade reached upward towards it but her father yanked it away before her hands can clasp it. "Remember, you are still helping with the packing and keep in mind that this house is no finished yet. I still got some worked to do so don't let a few cracks and peeling paint phase you ok?" Jade nodded eagerly. Her father gave her one more 'I'm serious' look before handing her the keys. "Your room is the second on the right. Just up the stairs."

Jade smiled broadly and snatched up the key. "Thanks dad." Jamming the key into the lock, she turned the key and swung the door open, fumbling to find the cord to open the window. Contacting it, she gave it a good tug, flooding the room with light. Jade gasped, gapping with a mixture of shock and appreciation at the large living room she found herself standing in. It was a medium sized room with height ceiling and huge windows, which let sunlight, pour freely into the room. The walls were an inviting shade of ivory punctuated here and there with framed pictures of art left by previous owners. In the center of the room, a large fireplace with a stone mantle dominated the wall. It was here that Jades eyes locked.

"We will have to get it cleaned so to avoid a fire. Previous occupants didn't take very good care of it, but if all goes well then we will be able to have a nice roaring fire this winter." Her father chimed in from behind her. "House is electric heated but a fire or two will be nice. Don't you think?"

"A fire would be wonderful." Jade responded enthusiastically.

"Told you she would like it." She heard her mother say softly.

Her father rolled his eyes. Snatching her mother up by the waist, her father pulled her mother close and kissed her. "What woman doesn't?"

Jade ignored them, scanning the empty floors and eyeing a few damaged boards here or there. "I assure you are going to redo the floors?" she asked turning to give her father a pointed look.

Jades father rolled his eyes. "Yes, miss Jade. Redo the floors, repaint the walls after I fill in the cracks in the walls of course," he said in a fake corny butler accent which caused her mother to laugh merrily. "Thinking of adding some color in here. Walls are blade."

"I like the colors of the wall. You should keep it." Jade commented absentmindedly as she crossed the room to lay a hand on the mantle. Reading books by the firelight. Yay.

"That's what your mother said. . ." her father stated his words trailing off as he gave the wall an analyzing look. "Must be a women thing." he muttered causing him to be conked playfully on the head by the women in his arms. "Anyway, you have the rest of the day to inspect the house for faults. Why don't you save your mother and me a lecture and head up to see your room. Stairs are through that door to the right." He stated waving in the general direction of the hallway. Shooing Jade in that direction, he turned his attention back to his wife, which caused Jade to make a face and turn away. Jade slipped out of the room and through the aforementioned door. The door lead to a hallway, which emptied out to a small wooden staircase. Jade slowly made her way to the second floor, pausing just enough to admire the house's hand carved banister before continuing at the top of the staircase. Just before the hallway turned, Jade noticed a round window overlooking the yard around sunlight to pour into the hallway. Jade paused to gaze out at the backyard.

Her father had been right. They did have a decent sized yard. She noticed that there was yet another tall oak tree in their yard. Well guess the place is called oaken hills for a reason. Jade mused. Upon closer examination, she realized that there was a thick rope with a round wooden disk secured by a round solid knot at the end of it. Yay, a rope swing. Jade thought.

Not far from the oak, a small circular natural pond sat near the center of their yard, its blue water sparking faintly in the sunlight. The boundary of their yard was a line of trees Jade assumed emptied out into forestland. Great, I will wake up one morning to find a bear chilling in our yard. Yeah, that is perfect.. Still looks lovely though. Jade sighed and backed away from the window and looked with a mixture of apprehension and excitement down the hallway. Two rooms down to the right. Her father's word echoed in her mind.

Slowly, she made her way down the hall until she came to a solid looking, darkly stained door. Taking a deep breath, she sighed and turned the knob. The door swung open and Jade peered cautiously inside. Her breath caught in her throat. Her eyes widen with shock and amazement as she took in the rooms furnishings. The first thing her eyes set upon was the bed. A large sprawling canopy bed made of darkly stained maple dominated the far side of the room nearest to the high windows. White transparent fabric stretched from post to post creating an almost story book appearance. Beside the bed was a nightstand made of similar material with an old fashion lamp with a beaded lampshade sitting on it. The wood is so pretty. I wonder why they left this stuff behind. Jade thought as she ran her hand across the decorative wooden desk sitting in the corner.

The walls of her room were warm brown in color. The shad of brown that easily captures the sunlight and reflects it back into the room in inviting tones. The large square window provided ample sunlight and a view of the street. Lace curtains in patterns of stars blew lazily in the wind. Jade reached out to still them and as she did something caught her eye. Spinning around, she gasped and gaped at the opposite wall. Line after line of bookshelves built directly into the wall engulfed the far wall of her room. Jade squealed in excitement. I have a library right in my room. Jade thought happily as she skipped over to examine them.

"Do you like it?" Jade jumped as a voice interrupted her thoughts. "We thought this room would please you."

Jade spun around to face her mother. "Its perfect." she cried. "I love the color and I will be able to keep all my books in here now."

"I'm glade you like it." Her mother responded, walking over to the window. "I knew this town don't look like much Jade, but I really do think you two will be happy here. I know it hasn't been easy for you being forced to move half way across the country at the drop of a dime. And yes I know your father and I ask a lot of you, but just remember, this opportunity can be used to your advantage too. Corry isn't the only one who can make a new beginning too, you know. This is your opportunity to start over too."

"I know," Jade stated.

Her mother nodded and the two feel silent for a time. Finally, Jade's mother sighted. "Well I guess it will let you start getting settled in. I brought up your bag from the car, but you don't have to unpack right away if you don't want too. You should get out and see the town a little. Lord knows after two days in a car you must be itching to get outside." Jade mother finished softly, inching her way towards the door. Setting Jade's bag down carefully on the desk. Jade's mother retreated, closing Jade's door softly behind her. Jade watched her go and sighed. Crossing the room, Jade opened her bag and pulled out the silver picture frame containing the picture of her and her friends. Setting it on her desk, she took a deep breath and glanced towards the window. "Like it or not, Oaken hills, here I come."

A.N (well that is it for the second chapter. Sorry it was so boring but in order to set up a story you sometimes have to be a little bland. I tried to mix it up with Corry's comments here and there. Promise the next chapter will be more interesting. Please review.)