Anything But Normal
Author's Note: So, haha.. I know I shouldn't be putting up another story when Love and Theft isn't finished, but this is just something I came up with to cure writers block. For any LaT readers reading this, I deleted chapter 25 because I hated it, but I will be putting up another chapter soon. So- review me loves, and happy reading! :)
So, in theory- my life is perfect. I have a long-term boyfriend named Matt (who by the way has a pair of gorgeous cobalt blue eyes) and we've been together for 3 years since senior year at high school, I'm living my dream job- I'm working as a PR executive for a fashion company, which means I get freebies as well as invites to various fashion shows and I have absolutely no dark past whatsoever.
The problem? I have achieved all of that at the age of 21.
I love my work. Really, I do. I don't call it my dream job for nothing, you know, I really do enjoy PR. Plus it also helps that I have a knack for handling press and organizing events. And I'm really happy with Matt. I am, really! My mom doesn't believe that, but I'm not deterred. It just bugs me, sometimes, that while I'm organizing press conferences, covering up any mistakes a fashion show leaves behind and makes sure my boss's fashion label (Electrify) gets maximum PR as possible, my friends are still studying, partying at weekends and they just get in a car and go on vacation when they feel like it.
Meanwhile, I have to think about a million things if I want to take a leave. Who's gonna keep the Electrify website updated? Who's gonna complete the checklist of a new skirt line launch and make sure the press doesn't find out that the design was actually created while the designer was high on cocaine, thus resulting in her getting fired? Who was gonna feed my fish-?
…Oh, crap. I completely forgot about Harry.
I mentally slapped myself as I remembered Harry, my goldfish at home. I bought him just a week ago, after Henry, my previous goldfish died from, er, starvation, and I completely, completely forgot to have someone look after him.
I reached for my Blackberry automatically, opening the clasp of my handbag, and then bit my lip as I sorrowfully remembered the day before, at office.
"Honey," Paige said, looking at me firmly. "You're taking off."
"Taking off?" I asked, confused. My mind was running over other things- namely worrying about Harry, my new goldfish, whom I'd forgotten to feed this morning.
"Yes," she said, looking absolutely chic in her red pencil skirt, white pussy-bow shirt and matching red bolero. Well, duh she looks chic. Who picked out her outfit? Uhuh, me. Paige is an awesome boss, but for the life of me I can't really figure out how someone who's own fashion sense is completely plain can design a simple tie and it becomes a sales hit. She's brilliant, but insane. I'm not joking. "You've been working too hard, for too long. You've got to take a few months off."
"Few months?" I echoed, almost horrified. "No, I can't- what about-"
"Alessa can manage perfectly fine without you," Paige interrupted. Alessa, by the way, was my personal assistant. She's really good, and she's a psychology genius. Apparently she got bored while studying PR in college and decided to take psychology, 'for fun'.
My mind mulled over those things, and the conclusion sprang to my mind.
"I'm not getting fired, am I?" I blurted out, before I could stop myself.
Paige laughed. She walked around her desk, filled a plastic cup with iced lemon tea (yes, she has an ice lemon tea dispenser in her office. Told you she's insane) and handed it to me, smiling.
"I wouldn't fire you if I needed blue buttons and all you had was the last pink button on Earth," she smiled at me.
…Yeah, I didn't get that either. But I nodded fervently anyway, glad that my ass wasn't being fired. I sipped the drink once and at once decided I hated it.
"But seriously," she turned serious. "When was the last time you went home?"
"Uh," I faltered. "Um-"
"Exactly." She put the tips of her fingers together, like that concluded everything. "I'm not only your boss. Our families have lived next to each other for as long as I can remember, in case you forgot. Of course, that was until we moved here," she added thoughtfully. "Anyway, back to the point. For all this while that you've worked at Electrify, your performance has been nothing but excellent. Take a break. I'm giving you two months off- one month before and after Christmas, and I expect you to take a break and have a freaking life, dammit. You're only 21."
I nodded blankly. I knew I was 21, pfft…
"OK," I agreed, trying to compromise. "How about I take a two-week break and then I-"
"I said two months," Paige said, tilting her blonde head to the side. "And you're taking two months off."
The look in her eye told me that I wasn't going to win this argument, so I gave up and nodded reluctantly.
"Have a good holiday, Honey." Paige smiled at me, and I left her office, sulking.
It wasn't like I don't go home at all. I do go home. Once every few…months. Ugh, sod it. I'm going home. I haven't seen dad in a long time.
I stalked to my office, still sulking a little at the fact that I was being forced to take leave (I hated being forced to do anything- it was the reason why I was detention favorite back in high school) and found Alessa waiting at my desk, smiling.
She already packed my handbag and in her hand was a cup of OJ- my favorite drink. My laptop was closed and stored in the glass drawers, my diary, day planner and event planner books neatly stacked inside the drawers as well and the chair pushed back in.
"I'm being kicked out today?" I muttered, downing the cup in one gulp.
"Honey," Alessa said seriously, "take a break, seriously. If there's anything urgent, I'll call you, don't worry. In the meantime, I'll be taking over…or at least, I hope I don't screw things up. Then you'll come back to find a new assistant who doesn't know where you hide all the OJ cartons in the building."
I laughed affectionately. Alessa was in many ways, more of a close friend than an assistant. "Yes, well, I'll be back soon." I sighed, holding my bag, looking around. Then in a rush of inspiration, I turned to Alessa. "What if I tell Paige that I'm gone, and then I'm not actually gone, but I could do work from-"
"-Home? No, not a chance," Alessa shook her head. "Paige warned me you'd try to escape. Sorry Honey, you have no way out of this. It'll do you good. Do you know what you're feeling right now? Reluctance. And do you know why you're feeling reluctance? Because you are, slowly, morphing into a workaholic. If this doesn't get treated …"
She's as bad as Paige, dammit.
"…And eventually end up in a house with several dead fish and no love live," Alessa concluded gravely. That was her psychology cert talking, by the way.
"Alright, fine," I interrupted her, before she could go into even more detail about how being a workaholic would cause me even more goldfishes. "I'll…have fun. Bye."
"Not so fast," Alessa said, and I turned around suspiciously. "Hand it over."
"Hand what over?"
"Your baby. Hand it over."
"No…not my baby. Anything but my baby."
"Paige's orders, Honey. Give it."
"No." I took a horrified step backwards, clutching my handbag to my chest.
Alessa suddenly smiled. "I knew you wouldn't give it up. That's why I already took it out before giving the bag to you." She brandished my Blackberry in the air, and I felt like a child who's lollipop been taken from her.
Seeing the look on my face, Alessa smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry, Honey! I put your cell phone in your bag, so you won't be completely out of touch. You won't be taking your laptop with you too," she added. "Have a happy holiday!" With that, she ushered me out of the office and into a taxi, into which she already put my luggage in and gave directions to the train station, and waved me off cheerfully.
I reached into my bag and pulled out my cellphone and stared at it. Although I bought it this year, about five months back, I never used it because I pretty much depended on my Blackberry for everything including calls, reminders and such. I only bought the cellphone to keep in touch with family, because whenever I took out my Blackberry to call home there'll be some sort of reminder, about unfinished work and so on. The ironic thing is, I never exactly got time to use it.
Nevertheless, I replaced it back inside and stared out of the window. Everything was a blur of grey concrete, and that frankly bored me. I looked at the other occupant in the compartment: a really old man with a surly face and offered him a smile, hoping he'd provide a good companionship.
He glared at me.
It was at least an hour and a half before I finally stood in front of my house, all my luggage on the ground by my feet. I thanked and paid the taxi driver, and then turned around just as the front door slammed open, followed by two loud cries of "Honor Sierra Rivers!" before my parents dashed down the driveway, and I was smothered a hug.
(YES my name is Honor Sierra Rivers, Honey for short. Call me Honor and I. Will. Murder. You.)
"Mom," I gasped out, suffocating slightly. "Dad, how are you guys?"
They released me, beaming. And the joy was contagious; I couldn't help but grin as well, as dad carried my luggage and we made our way inside the house, mom's hand still around my shoulders.
We settled in the kitchen, with a glass of OJ for me- mom hadn't forgotten.
"Three years, Honey," dad said sternly, although the unmistakable twinkle in his green eyes belied it. "Did you forget the way back home?"
"Now that you mention it," I said, equally serious as him, "there was that accident a few years ago, I lost my memory until yesterday, and-"
"Be quiet," dad said, throwing a spoon at me. I dodged it, laughing. Mom simply shook her head in amusement.
"I'm sorry," I said sincerely to the both of them. "I just got so caught up with work- in just a year Electrify expanded, and then Paige offered me a two-year contract, and when it was over she didn't want to let me go so I stayed on a permanent basis. I really meant to come home, time just…slipped from me."
"It's alright," mom said, smiling at me. "We were busy."
Dad rolled his eyes. "She doesn't mean 'we'. She means 'I'."
"Why?" I asked, looking interestedly between the both of them. "And where's Jace?" I was referring to my brother.
"He's at basketball practice," mom answered. "The boys are training real hard- it's their senior year, you know, and they want to win this season."
"Oh," I said, a little ashamed at not knowing that my own brother was going through his senior year. "Oh. Right."
Maybe dad sensed my discomfort (he knew me best), because he then got up and dragged me out of the kitchen, saying, "you're now going to meet your mother's dream."
"What…" I said, following him upstairs. He led me to the end of the hallway, and we stopped in front of a room, which previously served as a guest room.
"What you're going to see," dad said slowly, "will shock you for your entire life."
Mom rolled her eyes behind him. "Don't exaggerate, Will. Come," she took my hand excitedly, and opened the room with a flourish. I stared at the room from the doorway, torn between feeling amazed, surprised, and disbelieving.
'Amazed' would be at the room, which had transformed into a canvas. Paint splattered the walls and the ceilings, and all of that were of an artist's work. Beautiful abstract designs were painted on the walls, and even the windows were painted to look like the Eiffel Tower was outside, glowing brightly in the night.
You see, before my mom married my dad, she did a whole variety of jobs. My mother was the kind of person never to sit still- previously she's worked as a bartender, a stewardess, a florist, a nurse, and finally an artist. She traveled half the world by the time she was 26, and married at 28, when she met my dad here while she was buying art supplies in a store.
Her artistic…um, mind, would explain my unusual name. She claims she purposely named me Honor and nicknamed me 'Honey' because she wanted to walk inside and scream "Honey I'm home!" and then laugh helplessly. I know that because she's actually done it a few times. My brother's name is actually Jaxcen Luke-Skyler Rivers. (Long story short, she's a huge fan of Star Wars and my dad talked her out of naming him Luke Skywalker Rivers at the last minute. Jace owes his entire life to dad for that.)
Meanwhile 'surprised' and 'disbelieving' would be at the fact that dad actually let her do this. He's as crazy as she is. But then, looking at mom's paintings, and the adoring look in my father's eyes, I knew better than to question his sanity.
"It's amazing," I said, rushing over to the window, touching the painting of the Eiffel Tower gingerly. "Wow, mom! How did you do this?"
"It's nothing," she said modestly, beaming at me.
"'Nothing' there was forcing me to but stain paint so she could paint the windows," dad muttered aside to me. I laughed, and we stood there for a moment, and then we heard the sound of a car pulling up.
"Jace is home!" mom said. "He's going to be so excited- we haven't told him that you're coming back today."
"Good," I said, and we headed back downstairs quietly and into the kitchen.
I could hear Jace talking as mom and dad entered, and I waited outside silently, wanting to ambush him.
"…so hungry." I heard the sound of crunching, and assumed he was eating cereal. "So are we going to aunt Rosie's or what? 'Cause I don't really feel like-"
"Actually, I was thinking of taking everyone out to dinner tonight," I interrupted, casually walking into the kitchen. "What d'you think about that?"
I then watched, full of fascination, as Jace's face transformed quite hilariously from casual to surprise to disbelieve to jaw-dropping to shock and then finally, a complete blur as he attacked me.
"Honey!" he yelled, tipping over his bowl of cereal in his haste to give me a sweaty hug. Dad sighed theatrically and walked out, giving us time together, and mom followed him, smiling. "Why the hell didn't you tell me you were coming back?!"
"Language!" mom called from the hall, and Jace ignored her.
I grinned. "I only found out I was coming back today, there wasn't much I could do. God, you've changed so much!" I examined my brother, younger than me by 3 years. The last time I saw him he was still a scrawny little kid. Now, he's completely changed. His black hair was lazily messed up, falling into his eyes a little, and he's certainly not wasting his time at basketball, because his muscles are rock hard, and god dammit he was tall.
"I've changed? What about you?" He looked me up and down, and grinned widely. "This is so awesome, Honey. You coming back just in time when we have our semester break- wait, Matt's not with you, is he?"
"No, he's not," I said, gently disengaging myself from him. Jace, like mom, didn't quite like Matt. "I'm on a two month vacation all by myself. You should take a bathe," I added, sniffing disgustedly at him, and then at myself. Ew, I smell like a sweaty guy! Ew, ew.
"Later," Jace waved a hand airily. "Hey- wait here! There's someone you know very well outside- I'mma go get him-" and he left me there, darting out of the kitchen.
I wiped my arms gingerly, grumbling about sweaty boys, and I heard the back door open. Just before I could turn around, a pair of arms crossed my mid-section and carried me up, spinning once around the kitchen.
"Hey!" I said in surprise, trying to pry the arms off of me- they were, like Jace's, muscular, sweaty, and almost felt good- before I mentally shrugged it off and focused on not being twirled around like an idiot.
"Shit-" I was immediately put down, and the arms snaked off my waist.
"What the hell were you thinking?" I scolded, wiping myself off again.
"I'm so sorry, I thought you were my-" I had turned around, and the stranger broke off as my brown eyes met his grey ones- we paused, shocked. "-girlfriend," he finished slowly.
He took a step closer and looked intently at me for a moment. "Jesus- Honey?" he asked, voice slightly hoarse.
"Logan," I said, shocked. "Logan. Logan!" I immediately started smacking his arm. "Logan, you big idiot! What the hell are you doing?"
"Sorry!" He took a step away from me now. Well, at least he was pretending to be hurt. "I thought you were Josephine- my girlfriend- you looked like her from the back, so I-"
"Not that," I interrupted him, still scowling. "I thought you moved away! What the hell are you doing back here?"
The back door opened, closed and Jace walked in.
"There you are," he said, upon spotting Logan. "Honey- you remember Logan, don't you?"
"I don't see how I can forget," I huffed, feeling like a teenager all of a sudden. Logan and Jace used to be the best of buddies- they were literally inseparable. They were really close; Logan was practically family, and my mom was convinced that he was Jace's brother, until Logan moved away a few years ago. The times that they were together, though, they never failed to pester the life out of me.
Jace grinned. "Right, well he shifted back here last year!"
"Ah," I said, now smiling.
"And Josephine usually comes here and hangs out, I thought you were her. I'm sorry," Logan said apologetically. I waved it off.
"What happened?" Jace asked curiously. Logan filled him in and Jace snorted with laughter. "Serves you right for not coming back for 3 whole years."
…Wow, the love. I feel it so.
I rolled my eyes. "Shut up, Jace, and clean that mess." I pointed at the table, where the spilt cereal was still on top of it. "After that, you're going to bathe, and we're going to go out. My treat. You're invited too, Logan," I added, and Jace grinned in approval.
"Me-ah- I don't want to interrupt your family time together-"
"You are family," I shrugged.
"And you'll be saving me from Queen Boring over there," Jace nodded his head at me, and threw a wet paper towel at me, which hit me squarely in the face.
They laughed at me together, slapping their thighs.
"Boys," I muttered under my breath, as I left the kitchen.