Jeremy grabbed his bags then continued inside the room. He shut the door with his foot. When he lifted his eyes, Zariah stood before him in nothing but a knee length white towel. But to Jeremy's shock, Zariah was obviously not a boy. Her long wet blond hair hung down the front of her body. He jumped back at Zariah's short girlish scream, tripped over his bag, which burst and sent his clothes sprawling about the floor, and landed on the ground trying to hide his eyes. Since when was Zariah a girl? He heard the bathroom door slam shut.
He stood slowly and gaped at the dark brown door. If this Zariah is a girl, what happened to the real Zariah? And who is this girl? Jeremy stood and began to debate on whether he should leave and tell the others or if he should stay. As he stood there, he heard a sob. He stepped to the door, but paused when her breathing caught. He couldn't tell. If she disguised herself as Zariah, she had to have a reason. He realized then that she was either crying because he walked in on her and she was embarrassed or she was afraid of being caught. Since he did not know which one, he decided to speak of both.
"Hey," he began, "umm, I… I'm sorry for walking in on you like that. If I'd know you were a… I—I would never do that. I'm so sorry, Dongsaeng." He ran his hands through his hair and his bangs covered his eyes. He noticed the breathing had calmed. After ten minutes of standing and chewing his lip—he had no gum, so he resorted to his to his old habit—he said," I—I promise I won't tell anyone your secret, Dongsaeng. You can come out," he said after ten minutes of standing.
Dongsaeng-Korean term for younger sibling and can be used for a boy or girl.
"I-I can't," she replied, but again to Jeremy's shock, her voice sounded just like Zariah's.
"I left my clothes in the drawers beside my bed upstairs."
"Hold on." Jeremy turned and darted up the stairs. The second he made it to the top floor his eyes began their search for the drawers. His feet rushed him over and his hands jerked the drawer open. He bit his lip at what he saw and his face flushed. Definitely the wrong drawer.
He went to the second drawer and brought out a shirt and pair of pants. He groaned when he realized he had to get her underclothes. He returned to the above drawer and quickly grabbed her undergarments. Filled with embarrassment and still biting his lip, he raced half-way down the staircase and leaped over the rail.
His feet thumped on the ground and alerted the girl in the bathroom. "You okay, Jeremy?"
"Umm, yeah," he replied; "Clothes are by the door. I'm going to stand outside for a minute." He hurried outside and shut the door loud enough that the girl could hear.
Zera sighed and quickly parted the door, grabbed her clothes then changed. As she was placing her clothes, she grew embarrassed knowing Jeremy had touched her personal items. This was going to be more difficult than she had thought. After she had pulled her pants up, she wrapped the ace bandages around her torso, and placed her baggy shirt on.
She then slipped out of the bathroom. She paused and looked at Jeremy's scattered clothes before she sighed and continued upstairs. She replaced her belongings and sat on the bed. The main door crept open and Jeremy's feet touched the floor. "Zariah?" he called. Zera sighed. Okay, she had to face him. She stood and ventured down the stairs.
He looked up at her and gave a shy smile. He had rearranged his hair, Zera noticed, to hide most of his face. He must have been embarrassed, too. "Yeah, Jeremy?"
"Why are you here?" he asked, but his eyes drifted to their feet.
"It's complicated, Jeremy. I don't think you need to know." He looked at her.
"I'm not going to tell. I promise. And I'm not like Zach, so don't worry about getting blackmailed. I just want to know why I've got a girl—that looks just like Zariah—dressed up like a boy living in my room. I need to know how to process this."
"Umm…" Zera paused: "Let's take your things up to the room. I don't want someone walking in and hearing." Together they forced Jeremy's things back into the bag and what they couldn't stuff, they carried.
Jeremy grabbed his re-stuffed bag and forced himself to follow Zariah and not stare at her long wet blond swishing hair. He wanted to know who this girl was and what she was doing there, but more than anything, he wanted to talk to her about why she was posing as Zariah.
Once upstairs, he dropped his bag and sat on his bed. Zariah laid Jeremy's things on a chair before sitting on another chair and facing him. "Go ahead and ask your questions."
He had to stop himself from bouncing up and down on his bed so to hold in his excitement he, again, bit his lip.
"Jeremy, you're making your lip bleed," Zariah informed. Jeremy paused and let go of his lip.
"Habit," he replied, "I do that if I don't have gum."
"Here," Zariah leaned over and grabbed a pack of gum then tossed it to Jeremy. Jeremy ripped the new pack open and quickly received a piece and settled his nerves the second he began to chew it. "So, why are you pretending to be Zariah?"
"My twin is Zariah and he met you guys during the summer. You know more about that than I do. A few weeks ago, the day school started, he got in a car crash—his breaks went out. You heard about that, or sort of heard. He's terrified that Zach will be upset and remove him from the band because he has to use the money for hospital bills and he had no way to repay Zach if he doesn't perform. He's also upset because the concert was coming up soon. Zach had told Zariah that he'd announced Zariah as a new member and that he would be performing at the next concert. There's no way he could recover in time, so I agreed to become him and join the band; however, I wasn't supposed to get caught nor was I supposed to stay long. I'm just here till he gets out. Which should be a few more weeks."
"So what's wrong with him exactly."
"I just know what I was told and what I could see. He broke his leg and had to have stitches and surgeries. He hit his head, broke his arm. I'm not sure of everything else, but I do know that the first day I saw him, I cried because he looked like he was dying. But yesterday, he looked better."
"So you're here because your brother is hurt and he's afraid to tell Zach, yet you don't fear him?"
"You're wrong there, we fear the power his money has not him. Zariah could knock Zach out anytime he wanted; he's just not stupid enough to risk it—unlike me."
"Yeah, I noticed, you have more of a courageous spirit, yet you're kinder. By the way, what's your name?"
"I think it is best if you don't know. You might end up slipping."
"Awe, I wanted to know the pretty name that fit such a pretty face," he stated with a pout. She looked down, her blond bangs concealed half of her face, but he could see the blush on her cheeks. He smiled.
"I'll tell you some other time. Right now, I need to fix my hair and become a boy again. Thanks for keeping this a secret."
His smile brightened, "No, problem. Actually, it makes me feel great." He put his fist over his heart, "I'm the first person to know; therefore, I'm your protector. I'll do my best to help keep your secret safe. I'd even fight Zach."
"Thank you, Jeremy. Soon, you won't have to protect the secret because I'll be gone."