It's official. That's right – I've finally finished high school! Since about a month and a half ago, I've left such an important chapter of my life behind and I'm slowly integrating into the real world. I've been meaning to update Under One Roof for a while now but I've never really found the chance when balancing work, friends and family.
It's YOUR support that makes me want to write and I sincerely thank all my dedicated reviewers (trailblazer888, sailorsweetart, Snowlilly31497, LeiLei990, camilla, inocencia and other guest reviews – why not log in so I can acknowledge you here?), story alerters, story favouriters, etc. It makes me smile to receive such feedback. :D
Anyway enjoy this chapter coz it's pretty crazy. And let me know what you think of it in a review ;)
SYNOPSIS: Some say it's fate. Others say it's destiny. But he and I call it hell. / Camilla and Adam can't stand each other and their parents getting married won't stop that. So will someone explain to her why she's falling for her new step-brother?
Chapter 14: Closer
The weather was beginning to warm up in Richards Valley. That was great for several reasons. One – it meant it was getting close to the end of the school year. I had been looking forward to Christmas and the holiday season since it ended last year, although preparing for finals that would eventually determine whether I attained my dream in studying law at Harvard also began to slowly creep closer. Two – it meant that I could swap my warm, comfortable boots for my new royal blue Yves Saint Laurent open-toed heels, which I had been dying to wear since their release in earlier months.
And three – that the Summer Formal was within the week, giving all girls the perfect reason to skip studying for the upcoming exams for frolicking around expensive boutiques and department stores.
That, unfortunately, included Abby and Brooke.
"What about this turquoise one?" Brooke suggested, pointing at a slinky silk Gucci gown.
"It's kind of cute," I smiled, "Almost angelic,"
"Oh, oh! I want to look angelic!" Abby squealed. She snatched the gown covered in a thick plastic casing off the rack and raced to the change-rooms at the end of the aisle.
We laughed gently at Abby's enthusiasm and continued to browse before Abby came out screaming about how this was the perfect dress – even when she had said the exact same thing for the last six dresses.
"Silver Donna Karan sequined gown?" Brooke said pensively. "I think it's a nice colour. And I love a little one-shouldered action,"
"Try it on!" I pushed on, giving Brooke a little shove towards the change rooms. "I'm sure it'll look amazing on you,"
Brooke nodded quietly and with flushed cheeks; probably due to her naturally shy nature, disappeared behind the burgundy velvet curtains.
I returned to the racks of gowns. This little boutique pretty much had all the top and emerging designers' dresses available on demand so I knew that if I was going to find a stunner of a dress, it was going to be here. My mind became hazy from all the colours that floated within the room. Dreamy hues of creamy blues, pinks and yellows blurred with the vibrant shades of fuchsias and golds and my fingers found themselves wading through an infinite amount of materials like silk, suede and chiffon. It felt like a material girl's heaven.
If I was honest with myself, I knew shopping with my best friends was just a distraction from reality. My friendship with Wes was well under repair and we would speak several times throughout the day with any awkward silences or unresolved issues. I wasn't sure what it was but Wes just seemed to get me. It was weird, I guess, considering that I honestly thought I'd never let Wes back into my life. Simon had been such an ass to me and Wes had just sat there, watching me take his shit...it almost pushed me across the edge. But Wes was different to all the other people who had hurt me. He wasn't like Rachel or Simon – he had a heart. He was a good person; caught in the middle of something he had limited control of. So who was I to not forgive him?
In addition to this, Abby hadn't really spoken to me more about Brooke and Quack. I was still kind of in shock that Abby had claimed that Brooke was changing for the sake of her new flame. Personally, I had yet to see her act obscurely, but that didn't mean it wasn't happening. Maybe it was happening when I wasn't around or I just wasn't looking deep enough into Brooke's actions. Either way, I had to be more cautious around Brooke than ever. If she really was changing for the worse, could I still trust her?
"How hard do you think it will be for Adam to find a turquoise coloured tie, Cam?"
I sighed. And then there was Adam.
"It'll probably be expensive. He might need to go for a silk tie to match the texture of your dress," I replied dryly. Abby was too caught up in the ruffled sleeves of her dress to really notice my change in mood. I glanced up at her and as soon as I saw her hundred-watt grin, my disinterest in the subject vanished and I knew she had to skip out on all other gowns because this was the one.
Brooke ducked her head out of her change-room and scoffed.
"Forget Adam, Abby!" she exclaimed, as I ignored the uneasy stirring in the pits of my stomach, "You look hot in that dress and you should definitely get it,"
Unlike Wes, Adam and I were drifting in limbo. There was no certainty here. Our relationship had suddenly become unidentifiable – we weren't even friends at the beginning of this year; he taunted me to no end and I hated him more than I hated my current feeling of self-disgust at how the simplest things in my life like hating Adam Knight had suddenly become so complicated.
All because I had decided to tell him I missed him. I bet that gave him the hugest ego-boost ever. He was such a self-conceited big, I swear. My memory of that night had become faded snapshots of particularly painful fragments of our conversation – or lack of.
Abby's phone came to life in her purse and she excused herself to go retrieve it. Brooke came out of the shadows and twirled around in her hand-picked sequinned dress.
"I like it, but I'm not sure if I'm digging all the sparkles," Brooke thought aloud. "You know I'm never one for the limelight,"
"Adam just called me and said he's having a movie night at his – uh I meant, your place, Cam," Abby interrupted my train of thought. "All three of us should go,"
"Are you sure it isn't just a date for you guys?" Brooke winked playfully. She waved it off and muttered that Adam was inviting Wes and Quack along too.
What was I doing here, again?
"Guys, there's something I need to do before tonight," I informed hastily, grabbing my leather tote from a chair I had tossed it onto earlier.
"You should both get your dresses because you just glow in them!" was the last thing I screamed at them before I raced to my destination at the same pace of my heartbeat.
I finally knew what I needed to do.
I hadn't visited this place in a while. I stared at the sandy-bricked mansion; it's old yet classic aura flooded my thoughts, almost giving me a small boost in confidence. Cautiously, I curled my fingers into the palm of my hand and gave a gentle but firm knock onto the timber door that stood at twice my own height.
I heard the hinge of the door squeak and a mop of blonde hair appeared at the door.
"Camilla?" a voice echoed into my ear drums.
At this moment in time, my eyes became glued to the metallic sheen of my designer heels.
It was his more forceful tone that made me suppress my butterflies and look up.
"Hi Wes," I smiled, shuffling my feet slightly. I had imagined that I would've been a lot more nervous – so nervous that I wouldn't be able to speak. But it was like his kind brown eyes were magic; silently urging me to continue.
"What's up?" he grinned, stepping outside and shutting the door behind him. "Is something wrong?"
"No, no," I breathed. "Why would you assume that?"
He cleared his throat, as if the answer was obvious.
"You haven't been here since your birthday, you know, when I took you for dinner, as part of Adam's plan?"
Yeah, his surprise birthday dinner for me with all my closest friends and family was incredibly sweet and heartfelt. I groaned internally. Leave it to Adam to even make hating his guts hard to do. Why did he always have to make my life harder than it needed to be? I mean I was here with Wes, not Adam...so why was he still in my head?
"Camilla? You came to me...remember?"
My attention snapped back into reality – back to Wes.
"Sorry, I just got distracted," I explained briefly, before biting my tongue from saying that it was because of Adam. "I just wanted to know if you were going to the Summer Formal next week,"
He bit his lip anxiously.
"Yeah, I am,"
"That's...great!" I stuttered. He gave me a questioning glare and I involuntarily shrugged. "I mean, I guess I'll see you there then!"
I was already almost halfway out the door; already spinning on my heels to race out of there. My face was burning with embarrassment and I wanted nothing more but to escape the suffocating atmosphere of Wes' home.
But a wrist held me back.
"Is that your way of asking me to go to the Summer Formal with you?" he grinned cheekily.
"Kind of," I mumbled, nodding timidly.
He laughed sincerely – not at all in a mocking way, and within a second, I found myself laughing along with him too.
"That was a pretty pitiful way, Camilla,"
My cheeks reddened even further.
"I know," I acknowledged, "But in my defence, no girl should be made to ask out a guy. It isn't exactly how the universe works,"
"Well, I guess you're just lucky I don't exactly follow the status quo then," Wes winked, although I was perplexed on what he had meant. But I forgot about it when he swung an arm around my shoulders and invited me inside for some tea.
Spending a few hours with Wes didn't exactly help the confusion of how I felt for him. I had gone through the reasons for and against dating Wes a thousand times over in my head – it seemed like an eternal dilemma that was always present in my thoughts. Of course I had to consider whether Wes liked me in that way too, but I had the feeling he did. He was just so good to me. He couldn't be like this to everyone.
Regardless of this, I walked – actually, more like skipped down the cobblestone footpath, passing the community park along the way. The last time I was there, I was pretty much assaulted by the Smoks: Simon's gang. And Wes watched it.
I know I had said I had forgiven Wes – and I did. But that didn't mean I forgot. It haunted me excruciatingly; almost like a constant reminder of the emotional damage Simon and the Kitty Crew had done to me in my younger years. Although this was countless years ago, the wound was still fresh and Wes' inaction just added salt to my critical injury.
A familiar muscular figure sat in the swings, kicking the dirt aimlessly with his converse-clad feet. I hesitated for a second to approach him but I knew we couldn't keep avoiding each other forever.
Crystal clear green eyes bored into mine and I instantly felt light-headed. My reaction to him was getting a little tiring, to be honest. Not only was it completely irrational and illogical for me to even behave in such a way in response to his damned presence, but it was Adam Knight that I was being odd around. I knew the feeling of liking someone – I had experienced it with Simon for several years, but there was no way this was the same to that.
"Funny," he remarked derisively, "I thought we'd be avoiding each other for a little longer,"
I sat down on the swing beside him and I felt nostalgia take over. It felt like the night Adam had found me after I saw Rachel and Simon together. And suddenly, I wanted to cry into his shirt again and reiterate how much I missed him.
But I didn't.
"I've said all I needed to say to you Adam," I sighed, staring at the shiny buckles on my heels. "So what's the point in ignoring you now?"
He remained stoic. Although I was usually incredibly intolerant to the silent treatment and if this happened under any other normal circumstances, I would've screamed at him for being so incompetent and rude and damned stubborn and left the room in some dramatic fashion, I decided to tap into the miniscule sliver of patience I had and waited for him to respond. I watched the clouds pass over our heads – I saw one shaped like a cube and another like an elephant, but that soon became boring so I went to think about Wes as my date to the Summer Formal. My insides growled and I felt something that I almost believed was guilt because I shouldn't have been trying to think about Wes when I was here for Adam.
"How about we start over?" Adam proposed. I turned my head to look at him, but he still wasn't looking at me. "Abby has been telling me on countless occasions that I need to know her friends better, which counts you too,"
I inhaled sharply – more sharply than I had planned to. It seemed like the few moments I didn't use arguing or fighting with Adam was spent on him and Abby. And honestly, I was getting kind of sick of it.
"You don't have to do what Abby tells you to do," I pointed out blankly.
"I know, little red," he chuckled. He paused and shot out his arm, encasing a calloused hand around my own. "But I want to,"
My heart beat irregularly when Adam held my hand. It was even weird to say that. But in that moment, as the clouds continued to soar over our heads, I smiled at his gesture, because I knew him well enough to know that this meant he had missed me too.
"Where have you kids been?" Martha questioned, placing one hand on her hip and the other on the kitchen bench.
"Nowhere really," I brushed off, as Adam grinned at me. I couldn't help but crack a small smile then too. "Wow, something smells really good, Martha!"
"It's banana cream pie – your favourite," she said. She nodded her head towards the oven and I could see the dessert cook delightfully. "Your father and Pamela are back from their honeymoon and have returned home, but as soon as he arrived, he dropped their bags, took a shower and hurried to the firm. You might not be able to see him until Monday evening because of that case he has, so he told me to bake you a pie as his way of apologising,"
I had missed my father very much. Even with the long divorce settlements between him and my mother, Eve and the days where he drowned himself in work in order to get over him – I don't think I had ever not seen him in such a long period of time without hearing a word from him. But knowing that he was back in the country, safe with no broken bones and whatnot was good enough for me.
"What is that popcorn for, Adam?" Martha queried, as he took out a packet of microwaveable popcorn from the pantry.
"Movie night," I answered nonchalantly for him and I didn't miss the elated expression in Adam's green eyes.
"How observant," he drawled.
I poked my tongue at him but he just laughed lightly as he shut the door of the microwave.
"Abby told me about it, actually," I confessed, taking a large plastic bowl out from the cupboard and handing it to him.
He hummed in acknowledgement, as Martha cleaned up the kitchen. I decided to help her, picking up the large plastic bowls with bits of pie mixture sticking to the sides. She took the half-empty bag of flour and clipped it shut with a peg, before throwing dirty measuring cups and saucers into the dishwasher.
"Did you bake anything else, Martha?" I said suspiciously, eyeing the sticky brown, cream and red substances in different mixing bowls.
"A cherry pie because it's your dad and Rosie's favourite," she explained while loading and setting the dishwasher to the appropriate settings. "A chocolate tart because Adam loves chocolate and an apple pie because who doesn't love a good apple pie? I know Pam loves apples so I hope she likes my pies too,"
"I'm sure my mum will Martha," Adam chimed in, smirking handsomely. "Your cooking is better than the majority of the top restaurants in Richards Valley,"
"Why thank you, Adam," she blushed. Martha was so adorable, really. She was such a sweet person and I didn't only see her as our housekeeper – but also as a friend too. I'm sure Adam felt the same way. And for the first time in a long time, I didn't find Adam's flattery sickening, but kind of nice.
"Don't think you're getting out of cleaning up after your little 'movie night', though, Adam!" Martha yelled. And as Adam's face crumbled, I could only laugh teasingly.
I turned around, letting my defences fall, and as I heard Martha's quiet steps out of the kitchen, something warm and livid began to attack my sides.
"Don't...Adam! Adam...I'm ticklish...Adam!" I giggled, unable to catch my breath. His fingers continued to claw at my ribs and moisture leaked out of the slits of my eyes. I tried desperately to regain my composure but Adam's hot breath tickled the sensitive skin of my neck and I found myself weak at the knees.
And suddenly, all I could tell was that I was falling and I had to grab onto something to stop it. Adam Knight wasn't exactly the best option though. So down we tumbled onto the cold marble kitchen floors; our legs tangled ridiculously and my mouth parched.
"Give up, Montgomery?" Adam challenged; wiggling his eyebrows.
"It's like you don't know me at all, Knight," I said, rolling my eyes humourously. "Am I ever one to give up?"
"I'm not actually quite sure," he retorted.
There was a second of silence, as his amused expression fell and I felt mine disappear too. His eyes suddenly became so intense – almost like a magnet, drawing me in as if I was some kind of helpless prey. And I found myself coming closer; my eyes glued on his lips which appeared oddly inviting and I wasn't quite sure what he was doing but whatever was happening, I needed it to stop immediately.
It had been too long since we had last argued.
"So..." I said, clearing my throat awkwardly. It was hard to tear my gaze away from his chiselled jaw. "Umm...why were you in the park in the first place?"
His grip tightened on the microwave door.
"No reason," he lied through his perfectly-pearl-like teeth.
"Adam," I deadpanned, glaring threateningly at him. "Tell me the truth,"
"It's family stuff," he said nonchalantly, "You wouldn't understand,"
"Right," I snorted, "Because my family's perfect and hasn't gone through a divorce or anything,"
"Forget about it Camilla," he sighed softly. "Just forget about it,"
I wanted to retaliate but I stopped myself from doing so, and decided on a change of subject –something that had kind of been bothering me since I knew of its existence.
"So...about this movie night..." I exhaled, coughing slightly, "Why didn't you call me and well, invite me?"
He arched a perfect eyebrow at me and somehow, the reasons why I completely and utterly hated him began slipping away from my memory.
"It's your house too, little red," he said matter-of-factly, and I wanted more than anything to smack that trademark smirk off his face. "I didn't think I needed to invite someone who already lived here,"
His deep voice, dripping with immense sarcasm, sent my blood pressure to dangerous highs.
And usually I'd complain, but I was kind of beginning to like it.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the brands mentioned, such as Gucci and Donna Karan.
All the dresses I mentioned are actually real and can be found by googling the description or checking the dresses on the respective designer or shopping destination websites. One of my favourite things about this story is that I get to check out the awesome creations these designer brands create for the characters – who live in the rich suburb of Richards Valley. Gosh, I'm so jealous they get to indulge in these luxe fabrics every day!
And isn't Camilla and Adam just too cute? It might seem like blue skies for them from here, but you have to remember they both have baggage and a murky past; plus, significant others! Adam's still with Abby and it seems like Camilla is falling for Wes. Plus, Rachel and Simon have kind of been absent for the past few chapters so they better make a come-back soon...;)
Please leave me a review!