Chapter 1: Tigers
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The soft rain pattered down onto the sleek black Lexus as it drove down a small road in south-west British Columbia. As the car turned the corner I wasn't surprised that the rain suddenly came down forcefully and the sky turned grey.
Though, I didn't see it as a bad thing or a bad omen. It was just rain. I love the rain.
My older sister however, thought otherwise.
"MOM! Oh my god! Is that where we're headed to? No wonder the freaking rain picked up! The house is hideous; it looks like it came out of a murder mystery movie – a horrible one. I'm not living there"
"Well, too bad, because that's where we're living."
"Mom, please if you love me and want me to stay with you you'll rent an apartment or something, anything!"
My mom just kept on driving; clearly she didn't want to argue with Linda just now. I don't blame her; my older sister can be painful….Who am I kidding? She's a fucking pain in the ass. My mother turned her head towards Linda and simply said,
"Alright, then you can get off at the next stop sign. I'm sure we'd be better off anyways".
Yeah, it was something a bit mean for a mother to say, with complete seriousness, I think she got it from me. No, I didn't mean that I get it from her; I mean that she gets it from me. My mom wasn't so corrupted and rebellious until I started talking. Anyways, what she said shut my sister up and that was fine with me.Trust me that was all we were asking for at the moment.
As the rain continued to fall, our car continued to coast closer towards our new home on "Brighton blvd." as it was called. I looked out the window at the few people walking down the street. There was an old lady dressed in a light blue summer dress with faded dark blue roses patterned over it. Her son, I'm guessing, wore a brown raincoat and held a black umbrella over both their heads as they walked down the street and up the walkway of house number 72 where I guess they lived. Well, the son walked, his mother hobbled up the path like a lame monkey. Don't tell me I'm mean, I'm just telling you what I see. Then there were two little girls running in shorts and baby-doll tops laughing as they covered their heads and turned down a creepy catwalk to who-knows-where. It was actually kind of freaky. I mean, the catwalk was covered in thick vines and you couldn't see more than a third way in because it got so dark. It just didn't seem like a place two little happy 12-year-old girls would be headed. So far, the few people down this street--oops I mean "boulevard"—weren't very typical, they were actually slightly odd. I liked it.
We neared the stop sign where my sister was supposed to get off (get kicked off actually, if I got to say good bye) when mum's phone rang. Mom's kinda big on the no one-handed driving thing so she parked the car on the side of the road, turned on her hazard lights and then answered her phone. I'm guessing it was probably Uncle Art, wondering if we'd made it home yet…we would have already if mum didn't want to piss my sister off by driving slowly.
As my mom talked to her brother, I looked outside again, at the few more people that had seemed to appear. Well, the two girls had come back, still laughing. There was also a stout, balding man walking his dog, a young golden retriever. And then, coming out of mist as if they were holy things graced on earth, a group of very cute guys were walking down the left side of the street (Okay, so maybe there wasn't really any mist, but there should have been, it would have suited the scene very well). One was somewhat short with, again, somewhat short, spiked up black hair. A blue sweater donned his slightly built torso over a white t-shirt and faded dark, ripped jeans. The guy beside him seemed a couple years older, maybe 20? He wore a red sweater over a black t-shirt and equally dark jeans. He was pretty much towering over the short dude and the other boys at the back that I can't see.
I looked at my sister, and naturally, she had noticed them too. She let out small mumbles of approval, or extreme want. In all honesty I'm not really sure what all her grunts and mumbles mean. They're very puzzling. She also noticed that I had noticed them and suddenly sat up alert. She gave me a look as if to say "You better not be thinking what I'm thinking". I don't even understand why she does that. Linda knows that I don't compete for guys; I don't look at every guy as if I need to rape them on the spot. I mean, yeah some are cute or hot, but I've never really wanted a boyfriend. I've hung around guys most of my life, and been viewed a dude by mostly everyone. Since I've hung around them so much, I know what they're like, I know how they think. Dating is just not something I do, not something I want to do, not after….
Anyways, on top of knowing all that, there's me in general. I am in absolutely no way competition against Linda--or anyone for that matter—yet she still thinks that every time we notice the same guy, she has some reason to be worried or go all defensive. Which seems kind of stupid this time because there are four guys, who are all equally good-looking; I mean she didn't expect to have all four of them did she? Wait, its Linda, yes. Yes, she did.
Something was jabbing at my side. I looked down, annoyed, ready to smack something. When I saw the source of the poking, I relaxed my face and smiled. My younger sister, Alani, had woken up. But being the special person I am, I call her Apple. The reason? She never goes anywhere without one, it usually ends up disappearing after a while; she either eats it or not (weird, I know). Currently, she was once more poking my side to get my attention.
"Hey Apple, had a good sleep?" I said smiling down on her.
She was looking at our sister, who was still all defensive about the two guys across the street. I guess Apple sensed the tension because she gave me a hopeful look and asked,
"Elle, I really want to go outside, can we please go for a walk?" One glance out the window made her quickly add,
"It's okay, I don't mind the rain."
My full name is Elezza Haythem and I've asked my mother countless of times if she was on crack when she named me. I was feeling kind of lazy at the moment and was about to tell her that I'd take her out later, when I was struck with an idea. Of course, I didn't really have much interest in the guys across the street, but I can't deny the entertainment opportunity in provoking Linda. She noticed my sly grin, and probably figured out what I was going to do.
"Maybe I should come with you, Alani, so you have more company."
She added a contorted (perhaps even slightly constipated) smile that I'm guessing was supposed to come across as "comforting". Smiles, unless used in flirting, don't suit my sister very well.
Mum, clearly alarmed by Linda's sudden kindness, quickly ended her conversation with a swift "I'll talk to you later" (with linda's attempted "comforting" smile, I think mum was also a bit worried that Linda might have gas or something). She then turned towards us who were both giving Linda the same perplexed look.
Linda clearly understanding why we were looking at her said,
"Mom, c'mon, don't be like that, you're the one who wanted me to leave the car before remember?" Of course being the stupid chick that she is, she made the mistake of stealing a glance at the group of boys. Mum noticed.
"Come on Linda! Don't you think you should settle before chasing after another one, no four guys, that you seem to have your eyes on?"
"No Linda, you're staying here. Elezza, you and Alani can walk the rest of the way home, if you really don't mind the rain. It's only 10 minutes straight down the road, don't turn anywhere. Linda and I will start unpacking-"
One look was all it took to shut her up.
Hahaha. I love mum.
"—Linda and I will start unpacking. Come back soon with your sister; you can help Linda bring in the rest of the stuff."
"Alright mum, later."
I got out of the car and reached back inside to help Apple out, who of course, was holding a small bright red apple. The car resumed its slow coasting and Apple waved good bye to Mum and Linda. So did I, except I gave Linda a sly, satisfied smirk as the car dove away. For a while, we watched in silence as our car drove down Brighton Boulevard. The rain still fell, but eased up a bit light droplets of rain really did feel good in the warm weather. They were like tiny splashes of velvet-soft sun falling onto my medium-brown olive skin. The occasional breeze that cooled us was an added bonus. After zoning out a bit, I then reached down to grab Apple's hand, but…..she wasn't there. With a slight panic arising, and tightening my throat, I welcomed the relief as I turned to see her across the street…………. In the arms of the guy in the red sweater.
How did she get there so fast?
I ran across the street to get her.
Hmm this is good. If I actually talk to them, I'm sure Linda would eventually find out...she'll be furiously jealous...awesome.
Reaching the mass group, I took my little 6-year-old sister out of his arms while apologizing.
"I'm so sorry; I don't know how she got here so fast she usually doesn't cross streets on her own."
"It's alright, don't worry about it."
He smiled and patted her on the head.
"Apple!" I hissed. "Why did you do that? You're supposed to stay with me, buddy."
"Apple? I thought you said you're name was Alani.
The guy in the blue sweater was talking to Apple. He glanced up and flashed a dazzling smile at me. Right then, he kind of reminded me of someone, I couldn't really put my finger on whom though. Remembering what he just said, I laughed.
"It is, I just call her Apple, since she hardly ever goes anywhere without one."
"Alright then Apple, I'll see you around right kid?"
Apple nodded. After kneeling to shake her hand, he stood back up and looked me in the eyes. They were actually really nicely coloured. They weren't the hot light blue or gray eyes that all the girls (especially Linda) crave for. His eyes were a deep brown shade, almost black, with a soft lighter brown outline. They weren't hot or alluring or anything; but they were welcoming and they complimented his tan skin tone very nicely.
"I'm Jett by the way." Wonderful, I don't have to call him "somewhat short dude" anymore.
His giraffe of a friend, came forward too.
"And I'm Ian."
Suddenly, the two boys I couldn't see before came forward. And I'm sorry to say, I think I drooled a little. The two guys, wait… twins, came to stand in between Ian and Jett. Similar black hair hung in their eyes, black t-shirts with splatters of different colours clung to their bodies with skinny jeans making it visible to follow the planes of perfectly shaped legs. Apple looked so drawn in with their appearance and for once I couldn't blame her.
"Elle, Elle, Elle, those boys are my new best friends," was all she said before running up to them giving them a tight embrace.
Everyone laughed while my cheeks burned hot with embarrassment.
Embarassment? Wtf? Apple's actions never bothered you before.
Her eyes lit up with new excitement when she asked for their names…I think mine kind of did too…
Each of them gave her a genuine smile and shook her little pudgy hands.
His brother, with a joking smile that almost made me drop dead, gave him a slight smack in the head. With a small laugh, the boy quickly corrected his sentence.
"--I mean Sean, and this here is Seth."
Seth shot a dazzling smile at Apple and then one at me. No matter how dark my skin was, im positive that a solid and noticeable blush showed on my face when I returned his smile with my own retarded one.
"Did you just move here?" continued Sean.
"Yeah we live right over there!" Apple pointed down the road.
But this time it was Ian that spoke up, "I'm sorry to cut this lovely meeting short, but remember we have stuff to do?"
Everyone made a face at him but didn't argue. They all waved a goodbye until it was me, Apple and surprisingly Seth.
Wait…what?no, stop, don't get excited….ugh why are you even excited its just another guy. Hes just probably a bit fond of Apple, everyone is. No big deal.
When he turned to face me, I swear my knees melted to puddles and my brain seemed to stop functioning. Seth's eyes, oh God his eyes, were a deep gray, with brown outlining the shimmering orbs. Speckles of green decorated the rest of his eyes, making them look as if they were a delicate object. Now these were alluring….
Time for me to shut up now.
But at the moment, he spoke, and for the life of me I couldn't help to imagine that sweet, velvet voice of his say I love you to me.
Elezza, you deserved to be slapped. What the fugsickles is happening to you?!
"I, uh, we never got your name."
My cheeks, again, inflamed. Too nervous to look in his eyes, I looked down at my worn-out converse and said,
His fingers found my chin, pulling it to meet his eyes. A blank face stared back at me then the mask broke when his grin reached the ends of his face.
"Elezza, I like it." Pushing my hair behind my ear, he gave me a farewell and left me dumbstruck on the sidewalk. That is, until Apple tugged on my pants did I get my senses back and started walking again.
"Yeah buddy?" I lifted her up onto my back.
"Do you have a crush on Ian?"
"What about Seth?"
My heart skipped a beat….do I? Do I have a crush on Seth? No…well…
"No, I think he'll be a good friend."
Looking at the house, Apple and I stopped mid-step. What made us stop was Linda, who had definitely seen us talking to the guys, and definitely noticed Seth. Our sister, who was leaning against car, was watching us with a smile. And not Apple's kind, soft smile that makes unsuspecting people falter. No, Linda was watching us with the same smile a mother tiger gives her young before she eats them.