Chapter thirty-seven: I Never had a dog

December 26th, 2012

It was the next day when Esmeralda woke up. However, not by herself, but by an enthusiastic tongue going over her face; she moaned and, hearing the breath, realized it was Jake, enthusiastically greeting her.

Once Jake began barking, Esmeralda rolled over, laughed and petted him as she saw Jamie standing in her doorway, wearing his red panda-pyjamas.

"It's ten in the morning," he said. "Ian's already downstairs, maybe you should too? Jake thinks so, anyway." Esmeralda sat up drowsily.

"You're right. But waking up is so much harder than sleeping," she moaned sleepily as she continued to pet Jake. When he sat down, she scratched him behind his ears, much to his enjoyment. "You opened the door for him?"

"Yeah," Jamie responded. "It's time for you to head down. Mum prepared toast and eggs for you."

"Thanks, I'll be going down soon. How did you wake up?" Jamie laughed.

"This moron left his own door open," he said and gestured with his head to his own room. "Once Jake woke up, he decided to sniff all over the house and when he found my door open, he greeted me enthusiastically, waking me up. I've been up since six now,"

"Heh," Esmeralda laughed as she stopped stroking Jake, who put his head in her lap, begging for more attention. "Then why are you still in your pyjamas?"

"Out of protest," Jamie complained. "Because I was really looking forward to having a good night's sleep. Oh, and because I think it's safer to shower when Ian's gone."

"Oh, right," Esmeralda said. "I'll go downstairs soon," Jake, having given up his quest for attention, walked out of the door as Jamie made room for him. He went down the stairs, searching for other people to pet him.

"Good," Jamie said and turned around, heading for his own room.

"Oh, Jamie!" Esmeralda said, calling him back as soon as she realized there was still something she and Jamie needed to fix. She was now sitting on the edge of her bed.

"Hm?" Jamie said, and he turned around. Esmeralda stood up from her bed and walked over to him.

"It was wrong for you to get involved in my business, and maybe you overstepped your borders when you went to Ian." She saw Jamie's facial expression change – he probably hoped she'd forgotten about this, though he should've known – this was the first real conversation they had ever since she had found out about his involvement. She had had time to think about it in the meanwhile.

She hadn't forgotten it at all.

When she was facing him, however, she didn't hit him – she hugged him.

"However, I'm glad you did. You're right, I never would've called the police or Ian, even if you tried to push me. I'm glad there's still someone in my life who cares for me that much." Flabbergasted, she felt Jamie replying the hug, but still not sure what to think of it.

"Now," Esmeralda said, "I think it's time I go downstairs."

Esmeralda opened the door of her living room, seeing her parents were gone – probably off somewhere – and only Ian was sitting at the table, having breakfast.

Her heart pounded a little faster at the excitement of seeing Ian in her own house at the crack of dawn, as Ian sleeping over at her own house had never happened before.

She raised her hand to greet him, and he waved back. Once she had closed the door, she sat down opposite to him at the table and buttered her own toast.

"How have you slept?" She asked friendly.

"Pretty well," he replied with his mouth full. He swallowed a piece of the toast he had in his mouth and continued. "Had a nightmare and woke up at three in the morning to go to the bathroom, but apart from that... yeah, pretty good night, actually."

"How long have you been up?"

"Oh, not long," Ian replied, buttering a piece of his second toast. "For about fifteen minutes now, I guess, maybe a little longer."

"Then we woke up just after each other," Esmeralda laughed, and both were silent as they continued eating their breakfast.

"How's Lauren doing, by the way?" Ian asked to break the silence once he had eaten a piece of his second piece of toast.

"Don't know. Dad brought her home yesterday, she's yet to call me."

"Okay," Ian replied. "So no idea on how she's doing?"

"Probably heartbroken," Esmeralda sighed.

"Poor girl. But maybe it's better this way."

"Uh-huh," Esmeralda smiled. "You were right. Sorry for chasing you away yesterday, I was tired, and..."

"It's okay," Ian said. "You had your reasons."

"Thanks for understanding," Esmeralda said as she gazed into Ians eyes one more time before taking a bite.

This was why Esmeralda loved Ian. He could forgive and forget so easily. As thick-headed as he might be, he had an aura of relaxation around him. He rarely, if ever, got angry and when he got into a fight with someone, he was always the first one to forgive and forget. Nothing seemed to penetrate the calm mood he always carried with him.

After having watched another Christmas movie – How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Esmeralda showed Ian out and once more apologized for her behaviour and she hoped that eventual future sleepovers would be much better, with a lot more movies to watch – instead of her forcing Ian to go to bed soon. Ian, maintaining his relaxed status, replied that he had loads of fun and that she shouldn't worry too much about the fight. Esmeralda loved him a little more then.

When Ian was out of the door, Esmeralda felt happy and sad at the same time. Happy he had been here and sad he had left.

And, of course, she was angry at herself for still not asking him. She would stay in this state of not daring to ask him forever if she watched out. But she was afraid to be rejected.

Nevertheless, she was glad everything worked out with Emily.

Miles away, over the Atlantic Ocean, Pete knew everything had worked out too, but he wasn't very happy about it at all.

Their days of rest were slowly ticking away, and Pete felt sorry about how the quest had ended. Sure, he might have been over Daniel through the quest – his crush on Bob proved that – but he didn't want it to end.

Out of boredom, he had gone to his own room and went through Ben's letters again, curious to find out more about his grandfather. They were actually quite intriguing, even if they didn't talk about the city at all – it helped him a bit in finding out who his grandmother had been looking for all that time.

It also helped him a bit in not thinking of Bob: his rejection still hurt and the idea of him having to leave Bob wasn't helping at all. It was as if his feeling tried to tell him he should be unhappy for the rest of his life – Pete had been here before, but still, he wondered if he'd ever get over Bob, a good friend of his on whom he was crushing.

Pete read the third-to-last letter again, even though he had been reciting it – but he reread one particular sentence very, very often once he had noticed it.

Then, Pete knew he was grasping at straws, but there was something in that letter that made him realize that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't over yet…

He ran downstairs with the fastest pace he had ever walked down the stairs as he almost shouted what he wanted: his heart was beating rapidly – fortunately, his request could be responded soon, because he saw Bob was busy on the laptop he had brought with him.

"I need a computer. One with an internet connection."

Author's Note: Well, there's a surprise for you! Did you like this chapter? I think this is my favourite chapter because it shows so much: the good bond between the twins, but also Esmeralda forgiving him and realizing she had been in the wrong all along. And, of course, her feelings towards Ian.

But, most of all, the cliffhanger is one I really like. If you're planning to read the third-to-last letter: it's being read in its entirety in chapter twenty-two, 23 if you use Fictionpress's numerical system. There's one hint I hid in there, and I'm curious if you can find it. So: here's a challenge and you have a while to complete it!

I'll see you 'round, with the answer to my question, until then!

(Also, guess who got the 50.000 now already? Only I'm continuing to the 100.000, so I'm not yet going to stop...)