"Dani, go get ready for dinner," Mum called to me while ascending the stairs two at a time.
"Okay," I answer. I was curled up on the sofa in our living room watching scary movies. It was the second week of January and the afternoon of my first day back to school. I glanced down at my outfit and resolved to swap my sweatpants for jeans; after all it was Monday and Monday meant pizza or whatever other food of choice – I wasn't going to dress up for that.
A full forty-five minutes later Mum came downstairs in a cloud of perfume, with her hair styled up, wearing a pretty black dress. I looked up from the television screen, "Aren't you overdressed for pizza?"
She looked upset, "I put a note on the fridge this morning; we're not eating out tonight, tonight we have guests. Go get dressed quickly before -" Ding dong! Too late. I pulled my hair out of the bun it was in and answered the door while Mum busied herself doing whatever in the kitchen.
In front of me was a guy that was stooped low, fixing a little girl's shoe. "Hi," I opened the door wider. When the guy stood up I almost audibly gasped from the surprise. What was Hunter Blair doing on my doorstep?
He didn't recognise me for a moment but when he did he just wrinkled his brow and went, "Dawson?" Seeing as his question/statement did not need an answer I just stepped aside and let him in. We all filed into the dining room and Mum lightly embraced the man I supposed was Hunter's dad while we stood by awkwardly.
"Danielle, this is Gavin," I shook his hand, "and this is Natalie, Winnie, Brennan, Vaughn and Hunter."
"Hi," I said to all of them. They nodded in response. Only Natalie smiled and said 'hi' back.
"Danielle, do you know Hunter? He goes to school with you, and he's a senior too."
"He's in a few of my classes." Yeah, only American History, Geography, Math and English.
Gavin and my mother whispered a little and then we all sat to eat. We said grace (while holding hands, which means for thirty magical seconds I held Hunter Blair's hand), and then we ate.
We engaged in light conversation throughout the meal, mostly Natalie amusing us with stories, and then, "So...Gavin do you work with my mother or are you a client?"
"There's something we need to tell you sweetheart; Gavin and I are getting married."
I blinked a few times and tried to process what was just said. "Congratulations. That's great." Everyone else at the table either looked comfortable with the breaking news or looked like it was yesterday's news. I'm not sure which, but I'm guessing it's the latter. Soon we all got up. While Mum and Gavin cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher I was left to play host – something I was no doubt no good at, given my lack of experience. 'What do little kids like?' I asked myself, 'Games! Board games or video games?' Either way N/A.
"Hunter, how come you aren't talking to Danielle?" the youngest one, Natalie, asked her older brother.
"Uh," you could practically see the gears turning in his head, he was obviously trying to find an excuse or answer, "we don't know each other very well." Fair response.
Natalie walked over to me. "Hi, I'm Natalie and I just turned seven. I'm not afraid to talk to you even though I think Hunter is," she tossed a look at Hunter when she said the last part.
"My name's Danielle and I'm seventeen."
"You're going to be my new sister, y'know that, right?"
"What's your mother like?" she asked a little nervously.
"She's a lawyer so she works a lot. She's really nice and -"
"Does she let you stay up late?" Natalie asked eagerly.
"Sometimes," I nodded.
"I don't think our mommy would let us-"
"Shut up! You don't know that!" Brennan shouted.
Hunter calmed Brennan. It was quiet for a while until, "What happened to your daddy, Danielle?"
It suddenly felt like all the eyes in the room were on me and that made me uncomfortable. My throat was suddenly dry.
"Guys! It's time to go," Gavin called from the kitchen.
"Bye," I waved a little as they all stood up and headed for the door.