Later in the future I would wonder on hours on end where I went wrong and where did it all being. Did it start a few weeks before my senior year in high school? Or would it start the very first day of school? Or maybe it didn't really start till my friends pool party? No, that would be me lying to myself. Saying that my life changed completely then would be my way of convincing myself that I never saw it coming. That life changed so drastically and unfairly, without a warning. But that would be probably the biggest lie that ever came out my mouth. Because I know where it all started really. Not in our divided hometown where who you are came down to which side of the train tracks you lived on. Nope, not even close.
It all started the summer before senior year when my family and I headed off to the tip Long Island, New York to enjoy all it could offer us. We made many trips down to Montauk since we owned a summer home there since I was eight years old. For ten years in the middle of July we would pack up one of our vans and drive down to Montauk to spend the rest of summer there.
I always looked forward to going to Montauk. It was the one time in my life where I could remember feeling no pressure to be perfect and untouchable, just truly happy. It was the only time my family got all together and actually spend some time together that wasn't interrupted by something that they considered important. When I didn't have to worry about mom nagging me about looking and being perfect for an upcoming show I would be modeling in or practice my dancing till I was a master at it.
Or even worry about my older brother Timothy getting into a fight with my parents. I loved my Timmy more than anyone in the world. He was always pushing me to become something and to be my own person. He saw the way mom acted with me and saw the way I strive to please her, he knew more than anyone in the world how important it was for me to keep up my appearance, he was there through the whole issue.
But it wasn't just the way Timmy treated me that made him such an amazing guy. . Oh no, you could ask my whole school and they say the same thing. Timothy was always made to do great things. He just had this natural way of helping people and smoothing out problems. Especially problems that dealt with our parents, by parents I mean mom. He was just so charismatic and smart. People were drawn to him like a bug to a light. The only people I ever see deny him were the people who lived on the left side of the railroad tracks at home.
My brother could have been anything he wanted, he had the brains and money to go far but instead he picked the marines. When I asked him why he would do such a thing and leave us behind to possibly get hurt or worse he only told me one thing. "This world needs some protecting. Why should I deny them that?"
"Are you going to tell them?" I asked Timmy as we helped Loretta, our housekeeper, pack the van up for our trip to Montauk. It was the summer that changed my life forever but at the time I was only concerned about Timmy. I was the only one that knew he enlisted in Marines instead of going to the Ivy League business school like our father wanted him to. Even though he got accepted, he told the school he changed his mind. Either my brother was the noblest man I knew or he was a complete dumbass.
"Maybe at dinner tonight," He said, closing the trunk and giving Loretta one of his most beautiful smiles. "Thank you Mrs. Loretta. I don't know where I would be without you."
Loretta rolled her eyes before giving me a hug goodbye and heading back inside to tell our parents we were ready for the road.
"Why ruin dinner? Just tell him now and get it over with," I said, giving our huge golden retriever a pat on his head. I loved that dog more than most people. I even named him after his honey color fur when we first got him three years ago. His grown up to be a huge drooling machine but I still love him to death even if Loretta and mother don't practically care for him. "His only go to make a scene in the restaurant."
Timmy gave a snort; pushing Honey's nose away from his hand. "Please," He says as if the idea of dad throwing a fit was something more amusing then something to avoid at all times. Timmy and I really did have different ways on dealing with our parents. "Dad would never throw a scene in public, mom wouldn't let him. Besides I rather hear it in our beach front house then in a stuffy car the whole trip there."
Before I could say anything to change his mind our parents came outside. Mom resembled a beautiful sailor with her striped blue and white shirt and white skirt, her blond hair pulled back in a ponytail and her blue heels adding two inches to her height. Dad looked just as handsome with his matching blue shirt and white dress pants. It was safe to say our parents took looking good to a new level.
After a few instructions to Loretta, we all hoped in the car and headed out towards the end of the island. The whole time I was thinking about Timmy and thankful he didn't listen to me and say something to dad before the ride there. Dad was not in the best mood thanks to the traffic that only added an hour to our already three hour trip.
To occupy myself I listen to my music and looked outside the window to watch the scenery change before my eyes. I started thinking about my past, which as usual caused me to start breathing heavy. The past was a living nightmare to me and one that I still was paying for. I could remember all the pain I went through and knew that despite all the therapy and time off that it had affected me in ways that I knew dedicated my life now. I was damaged beyond repair but there was time to still give off the impression that I was untouchable.
Thinking about the past was mistake; I should have been more concern about what laid ahead of me
By the time we finally arrived at our summer house we had no time to visit any friends or hit the private beach behind our home. As soon as we got there we were already getting ready for dinner. After my shower I changed into one of my many dresses that I knew mother expected me to wear. The one I slipped into now was a soft baby blue dress that hugs my chest but then came down like a waterfall to my knees. I brushed my curly, unruly hair till it looked decent then braided a piece of my hair till it looked like a crown on my head. Finishing off with some seashell necklace, some make up and my white flats I knew I finally meets mom's approval.
Somehow though it seemed all fake. Like I was a Barbie doll and mom was the little girl changing my clothes for the millionth time. I shook my head and plastered a smile on my face before heading downstairs. Mother smiled at me when she saw my outfit, her own dress and heels making her look like she was twenty five instead of forty five.
"Wonderful dear," mother said genuinely. She always seemed so much happier here on the beach then back home. There she always seemed tensed and critical. "Though you could do without the shell necklace. It doesn't look as expensive and beautiful as the pearls you have."
I tried my best to keep my smile but I could already feel the corners of my mouth slipping down into a frown. "I know but this necklace goes with the beach theme mother." It was ridicules. This necklace was worth more than my diamonds, how could she say it was not as expensive. Maybe because it was simple. Nothing about my mother was simple.
I saved from the lecture that mom was surely going to give by my brother and dad coming down the stairs. They looked almost like twin brothers. Both there brown hair was brushed to perfection, their green eyes shining with delight. They both wore button down shirt and dress pants but somehow Timmy made it his own. He might be dressed the same way but you could clearly see the person he was without mistaking him for dad. I was jealous that Timmy could truly be his own person while I was always a mini me of mother.
"Sweetheart where's your tie?" Mother asked Timmy as she help dad with his own tie. Timmy shrugged, winking at me.
"I don't like ties."
"But it ruins the whole outfit. We're going to a very respectable place Timothy. What would they think if you run around without a tie on?"
"They would think I had a mind of my own and probably kick me out." I bit my lip to keep back from laughing, it would only make the matter worse. Mother was already turning as red as the dress she wore and me encouraging my brother would only make her scream. Mother was not a pretty screamer.
"You better get used to ties son," Father said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. His own tie hung around his neck with perfection. "When you go to business meetings you have to wear them all the time."
Timmy opened his mouth to tell dad the breaking news but I quickly intervene. I was starving and if Timmy told dad now it would be a huge argument that would probably last throughout the night. I wanted to enjoy my last summer with my family and I was not going to let it get ruined the first ten minutes.
"Come on mom," I say, slipping my arm through Timmy's. I gave his arm a squeeze that I hope he interpreted it as a big shut up. "We better hurry or else we'll miss our reservations."
Mom gave Timmy one last glare before holding hands with dad. "Right as always Melody dear. Let head on out."
The restaurant of mother's picking was as over the top and expensive as mother was herself. The restaurant over looked the beach and was known around the world from selling the best seafood in New York state. It was gorgeous, just like the people who occupied the dining tables, laughing and drinking imported wines. All the girls wore dresses and all the men wore ties. When mother took in that little fact she narrowed her eyes at Timmy, but to the point where someone would notice. Timmy on his part just crossed his arms and beamed at the hostess as she took us to the table by the window to ceiling window.
"Well isn't this nice?" I said, opening up the menu and scanning anything that wasn't fish. Despite the fact I told mother over and over again that I do not like fish she still takes me out to these restaurants. She tells me lobster is good for me but I just think she wants me to eat because it looks good.
"The whole family spending a relaxing vacation together," Father said, taking a sip of wine that the hostess had come back with along with a basket of rolls. I eye the food anxiously, counting the amount of calories in my head. Old habits die hard. Food still was public enemy number one even if I had cured myself of such things. I take a deep breath and grab a roll, buttering it up as mom glares at me and dad continues on how much fun we will have this month.
"Can we take the boat out tomorrow sweetheart?" mother ask, smiling adoringly at her husband. I can see Timmy hiding his disgust behind his menu; he always did think mom was dad's puppet.
"Of course," Dad said as the waiter comes over to take our order. We all being to order our meals, mom picking the most smallest thing she could find on the menu while the men order crabs and lobster. I finally found the one thing on the menu that's not fish, chicken Caesar salad, and order that.
As soon as the waiter leaves Timmy takes the opportunity to drop the bomb on our parents. And like I predicted it was not pretty.
"Dad, mom I have something very important and I think it's time I tell you," Timmy said, putting down the roll he was eating and leaning back in his chair. "I'm not going to college."
Dad and mom exchange a look before laughing hysterically. Mom covered her mouth to hide her unlady like snort while dad rocked back in forth in his chair. I looked up at Timmy and could see the anger building up in him. I wonder how long it would take before he exploded.
"Very funny Timothy," Dad finally said when his laughing fit comes to an erupt end. His green eyes smiling and look at their son with pride. "But we all know you got accepted to one of the top schools in the nation. All that's left is to pay your tuition and purchase some books. You should be proud son. You're following your old man's footsteps."
Timothy shook his head violently, clenching the side of the table with growing frustration. "Dad that's the thing I don't want to be a business man. I want to do something big, something that gives back to the world. I want to be a hero dad and make this world safer for everyone I love," Timmy takes a deep shaky breath, locking eyes with dad. I could practically hear him begging dad to understand. "Which is why I called up the college and told them I would not be attending there this fall. I joined the United States Marines. It's a done deal, I'm going at the end of this month for boot camp."
I could feel my eyes fill with tears. Even though I knew about this already it never stopped giving my heart a pull when I heard him say it out loud. It was as if by saying it he was defiantly going. I had no idea how I was going to say goodbye. Mom and dad however seemed too angry to be sad now.
Mother let out a gasp and covered her face while dad stared at Timmy like he had said he wanted to take over the world instead of save it.
"Excuse me?" Dad said in a low hiss. I could tell from the blazing look that replaced the pride in his eyes that he was beyond pissed. I never saw him so mad. Knowing that all hell was going to break loss I quickly jump to my feet.
"I'm going to the bathroom." I said to no one in particular. They were all focused on Timmy though and could care less if I was going to the moon right about now.
Their angry words followed me as I ran to the bathroom. I wanted to escape the fight and the future that didn't have Timothy in it. He was the only thing that stood between me and my parents but now my protector was going off to fight a war. It was because the tears made me blind that I didn't see the busboy running out the kitchen with his bucket in front of him.
I collided right into him, falling right onto my butt. I blinked a couple of times, clearing the tears from my eyes. Whatever was in the tub he held was now on my chest. It smelled like fish yet was a strange green color; I tried not to guess what it was.
"I'm so sorry miss! I really didn't see you," a deep voice with a slight Spanish accent said to me. "Do you need help?" He threw his tub onto the floor and grabbed my hand. I was not prepared for him to pull up with such strength that I collided into him once more, this time my face press against his chest. His hands wrapped around my arms automatic and I could feel a spark fill my body.
I pealed my face from his chest and looked into the most beautiful face I ever laid eyes on. His skin was a golden brown color that just seemed to glow, his hair was a dark brown that curled into almond shape brown eyes that when the light hit it seem to change golden. He had a strong jaw yet the softest lips that looked more inviting then a pool on a hot day. He was tall, my head coming to his mid chest and he was muscular. I could see the tone muscles through his thin white long selves. I caught a flash of black running up his neck and knew instantly that it was a tattoo. His was so handsome and I was so dirty covered in unknown green seafood.
I ripped myself out his hold as quickly as I could, my face burning probably the reddest color it could manage. "I am so, so sorry," I said, avoiding his eyes. "I should of watch where I was going."
The boy laughed, rubbing his fingers through those beautiful locks. I wonder if he knew how handsome he was. "I think it was me who should have been watching mamacita," he said with a smile tugging on those full lips. "If I promise to clean that mess on your dress will you promise not to tell my manager?"
I looked down at the huge stain spreading on my gown and knew if I went back to the table like this mother would freak out on me. She was already in a nasty mood because of Timothy, she would be ready to pounce on anything that annoyed her even if it was a simple stain.
"I would be really thankful," I manage to say through my embarrassment. "By the way I'm Melody."
"Nice," He said, picking up the bus tub he had dropped. "Always nice to know the name of the girl I tackled. Mi nombre es Julian."
Thank God I listen in Spanish class freshman year enough to know that he was telling me Julian was his name. I smiled at him as he turned back around to the swinging doors he came from. I followed him into the huge kitchen that had about hundred people running around. Most of them were occupied by their work, cooking thousands of different meals for the rich people that expected the best. Only a couple of people looked at me with curious and almost hostile glares.
Julian led me towards a huge sink and dishwasher, throwing his tub into a giant washer. He spoke some Spanish to the older man throwing plates into the washer. The guy looked at me before nodding and walking away from us. With the older man gone Julian turned the water on and grabbed a rag.
"This isn't probably the best way to introduce yourself to a pretty girl," he said while he wet the rag. "You know, throw nasty leftovers onto her."
I laughed, pulling the dress away from my skin to see the damage. The stain was bigger than I thought and all over my chest. Hope Mr. Gorgeous Latino didn't think he was going to be rubbing that rag on my chest. Even if he did call me pretty.
"It's ok," I said as he handed me the wet rag with some soap on it. "I had guys do weirder things before."
Julian raised his perfect eyebrows as he leaned against the sink, hands shoved into his black pants. He stared at me like he was unsure what to make of me, from the looks of it he was no impressed by my fancy clothes or perfect hair. I bet he cared less about how many house and cars we had. To earn this handsome boy respect was determined by what kind of person you truly were. And as scary as that was it was also refreshing.
"If you don't mind me asking you," He said slowly, his brown eyes burning a hole through me. "Why were you running anyway? Look like someone was chasing you."
I focused on cleaning my dress, scrumming the dirt out the fabric like doing so would somehow make me feel better about what was going on outside with my family or even my past. "Oh," I said slowly, not really wanting to get into it with this complete stranger. "I was going to the bathroom. I don't have to go anymore by the way."
Julian's laugh made me feel better about everything. It was warm and inviting, a promise of more. I put the rag down on the edge of the sink when I did all I could for the dress and was happy to see the stain was gone even if it did smell like lemons and seafood now. With the dress clean I knew that there was no point in me staying in the kitchen and risking Julian getting in trouble though he didn't seem to care too much about the risks. Either way our time together was done and it was time to get back to my real world.
"Well, thanks for everything. I appreciate you helping me and not leaving me there on my butt like an idiot. Sorry for bumping into you," I paused. "And nice meeting you."
I smiled at him one last time, trying to engrave his beautiful face to memory then headed out the kitchen. It was a shame I would never get to see him again, he was cute. I could never be with him though besides the fact he lived here and I live three hours with traffic away. Mother would have a fit if I ever brought home a busboy, even if he was gorgeous.
As I was passing the area where I fell I heard the swinging kitchen doors open and someone calling my name. Turning around I was surprised to see Julian. Maybe I left something. But if I left something why was he smiling like he was up to no good.
"Hi again," He said, his voice laced with amusement. "Look do you live around here or something?"
Taken off by the question, I leaned back a little to see if my family could see me from my spot. I couldn't see them so I just assumed the same about them. "Um no. I come here every summer for the month with my family. Why?"
"I was just wondering if we could hang out again. When I'm not spilling food down your dress and I'm not smuggling you into the kitchen."
Again, he made me laugh. The guy had jokes. "You know what, why not. Let me give you my number and maybe we can hang out tomorrow night, if you're not busy."
"Mamacita I'm always busy but for you I'm free." We exchange numbers and a couple more flirting bantering before I finally headed back to my table.
The moment I sat back down at the table I could tell that the air hung with anger and frustration. Timmy had his arms crossed, his food in front of him untouched. Father was rubbing his forehead like a headache was forming. Mother was as usual smiling and eating her food with her usual grace but I could see that her eyes were blazing and her smile seemed tight. My parents didn't notice my disappearance or even the wet spot on the front of my dress. I could tell Timmy did but he would never rat me out.
"Yum, chicken," I said with fake enthusiasm. I could care less about my chicken but I did care about my brother and trying to ease the tension so he could have an enjoyable last summer with us. It was always my role in the family to keep the peace so everyone else could be happy but I never tried to be happy myself.
Whatever, this summer I was going to enjoy it to the fullest. I was going to spend as much time with my brother as possible and try my best to keep my parents from fighting. I had to live up my last summer with my family all together and before I headed off to college myself.
And if I got to know a certain handsome Spanish busboy then that was just two for the price of one. It wasn't like I was ever going to see him again so why not hang out with him as much as I could before heading home?