Peter, Jesse and Juliet had always known they were different. Having been abandoned at a young age by their father, the three siblings had spent most of their lives taking care of their sickly, insane mother, and trying to keep secret their strange abilities. However, the time has come when they can no longer live the lie. An ethereal girl found in the forest behind their house proves to be the catalyst that pushes them over the edge, and into a beautiful, deceitful world. But a new world comes with new problems, and they quickly become pawns in a jealous queen's game.
The room was on fire.
Juliet felt a dull throb of pain emanating from the base of her skull. She looked around herself in astonishment as sparks bounced off the ceiling, and flames licked her arms. She could see the bright orange light reflecting off of the various framed photographs of her and her brothers that hung on the walls, as they began to warp from the heat. A light bulb in the lamp beside the bed burst, sending out a white shower of electricity. Screams filled her ears, and Juliet looked behind her.
"What have you done? What have you DONE?"
Diana had her bony hands over her ears; she was curled up in a ball on her bed as she cringed away from her daughter.
"I-I'm sorry mom, I didn't…" Juliet trailed off, struggling to form a sentence. There was nothing she could say to explain herself. She should stop the fire, she knew, but it was so beautiful, the flames leaping… and it felt so nice to let them out…
The bedroom door crashed open,
"Juliet? Juliet are you even listening to me?"
"Hm?" Juliet looked up from her hands, where she'd been absent-mindedly playing with her lighter.
"Jesus you're hopeless." Her friend Suzanne said with a smile, "Something on your mind?"
Juliet shoved the lighter back into the pocket of her worn jean jacket, "Nothing, just my mom" she said guiltily, "I'm worried about her I guess."
Suzanne let out an exasperated sigh, "You worry too much. You need a vacation. We've only got a few more months till we graduate, after that we can get out of here. Go to Brazil or something. You could hire a nurse to look after your mom..."
Juliet bit her lip, then plucked a cigarette out from behind her ear, twirling it in her fingers. "She's my mother; I can't just pawn her off on a nurse." Juliet stuck the cigarette in her mouth and lit it, "Besides, she'll get better any day now" she added defiantly.
"Right," Suzanne responded sceptically. "Anyways," she began, throwing an arm around Juliet's slim shoulders, "I hear your brother's girlfriend's throwing a party tomorrow night…"
Juliet smiled; she knew where this was going. "You mean Sharon? Let me guess… you're thinking I can maybe get us on the guest list?"
Suzanne reached a hand out to grab the lighter in Juliet's jacket pocket, lighting up her own cigarette. "I'm just saying, it's already Thursday and we have zero plans for the weekend. And it's the first weekend of Spring Break! That's fucking depressing."
"So you expect me to beg my brother to get us invited? That's so demeaning. Plus you know Sharon hates it when highschoolers crash her parties."
Suzanne wouldn't be deterred, "But that's what makes them so fun, there's never anyone our age there. And besides, Sharon wouldn't mind if you came."
Juliet could tell Suzanne was trying to keep the jealousy out of her voice. Juliet tended to be a hit with Sharon and her friends, which was something of a challenge for the rest of Juliet's peers.
"Please Juliet, I'll let you borrow those black boots I got for my birthday. I know you've had your eye on them."
"The black boots?" Juliet said, a smile playing at her lips, "Well alright then. You're in luck, I already got us invited a couple of days ago."
"You bitch" Suzanne said, punching Juliet's arm playfully, "consider your boot privileges revoked."
Juliet laughed, "I don't think so, I could always change my mind and bring Jen…"
"Oh fuck no. I am way more fun than Jen. Don't even think about it."
Juliet raised an eyebrow
"Fine," Suzanne said, "You can borrow the boots. But you better not get any beer on them."
Juliet and Suzanne both jumped as the lunch bell interrupted their conversation.
"Fuck," Juliet said, "I got ash on my jacket." She started to rub it out with her thumb.
"I gotta go Jules," Suzanne said, picking up her bag, "Mr Kuantis is going to fail me if I miss another History class."
Juliet waved her away, "Yeah you go ahead, I gotta get to Spanish class. I'll see you later!"
Suzanne skipped through the school's back entrance, her red curls bouncing. Juliet stubbed out her cigarette, and slung her own bag over her shoulder. She hated Spanish class.
"Jesse, Jesse get the fuck up"
Jesse rolled over, ignoring his girlfriend.
"I swear to god Jesse, I'll kick you out if you don't get up this second."
Jesse ignored her still, and tried to get back to sleep. Sharon could be such a pain in the ass. He heard her slam the door behind her as she left the room. Finally, he thought to himself. It was only twelve thirty after all, and she knew he rarely got up before one. He had almost gotten back to sleep, when he heard the bedroom door open again.
"God Sharon, can't you leave me the fuck alone for twenty minutes?" Jesse shouted as he rolled over and sat up, "Jesus Christ you're-" he stopped abruptly. "You're not Sharon."
"Well noted." Peter said distastefully.
"Jesse," Sharon called with false sweetness from the kitchen, "Your brother's here!"
Jesse got up hastily and threw on an old t-shirt. "So, what brings you here Pete?"
Peter cast his eyes around the room, taking in the mess. Jesse hoped he didn't see the bag of pot Sharon had left on the dresser. "Just making sure you're still alive," Peter replied, sounding bored, but Jesse could feel his cold disapproval. "You haven't been home a couple of weeks now."
"Has it been so long?" Jesse responded, voice thick with sarcasm, "And yet I'm still sick of you."
Peter clenched his jaw, but said nothing. Jesse found his silence more chilling than whatever equally sarcastic comeback Peter would normally have come up with. "Peter seriously, why are you here?"
He glared at Jesse, still not saying anything. Peter always looked most like Jesse when he was angry. Though the two were identical twins, Jesse had always tried to avoid any similarities. He kept his hair long and messy, dressed in clothes reminiscent of the grunge era, and wore a permanent scowl on his face. He was the epitome of 'bad boy', and he knew it. The fact that he dealt drugs on the side didn't hurt either… not that Peter knew about that of course.
"You haven't chipped in for the mortgage in almost three months." Peter said finally.
"Yeah," Jesse said, rolling his eyes, "That's because I was fired three months ago. How am I supposed to chip in for the mortgage when I don't have an income?"
Peter's eyes flicked over to the bag of pot Sharon had left out. Fucking Sharon Jesse thought to himself. "I'm sure you could get the money from somewhere," was all Peter said. "I'm short for this month, so if you pay this time, I'll forget the other three. That's more than fair."
Jesse ground his teeth together. He knew that it was a really good deal, but… "I don't have that kind of money right now Peter."
Peter nodded, as though he'd been expecting that answer. "I can get you a job at Bon Appetit. The wages won't be great, but with tips…"
Jesse backed away from Peter as though he'd been slapped. So this wasn't an angry visit, it was a pity visit. That was so much worse. "I wouldn't work at that shitty restaurant for a million dollars, even if my brother is the manager." He sneered.
Peter looked way, but Jesse could see the sadness in his eyes. He almost felt bad. Almost. "Look Jess, I'm sorry. I'm not here to convince you to get a job. It's just… Just come home. Juliet needs you" He said wearily
Jesse ran his fingers through his hair, pushing it out of his face. His anger momentarily forgotten. His voice was rough as he replied, "Yeah, sure. I'll come home for the weekend maybe." He needed Juliet too. Deep down he knew that it was unfair of him to leave her with the burden of taking care of their insane mother, but he couldn't bear to be in the same room as that frail husk of a woman.
"Peter, d'you want a cup of coffee?" Sharon called out from the kitchen.
Peter took a long look at Jesse, then turned away, "No thanks, Sharon. I gotta get to work." He walked over to the bedroom door; "I'll see you soon Jesse." He said, then added in a voice barely above a whisper, "She did it again."
Jesse stood motionless in the middle of the room. "You mean..."
"A fire this time." Peter said softly, then walked out.
Jesse sat back down on the bed with his head in his hands. He listened to Peter's footsteps as he made his way to the door, and heard the car sputter as Peter started it up and drove away, tires spinning on the gravel driveway.
"Wow, no shouting this time. I'm impressed."
Jesse looked up to see Sharon's slender body leaning against the doorframe, two mugs of coffee clutched in her skinny fingers. She walked over and sat next to Jesse on the bed, handing him one of the mugs. She pushed a lock of dark hair behind her heavily pierced ear, "So what'd he want?"
Jesse took a swig of coffee, "Nothing, he didn't want anything."
Kasi was running through the night as fast as her legs could carry her. Not far behind she could hear about 50 of Ellipsan's best knights, armed to the teeth and willing to lay down their lives for the thin jewelled necklace twisted around her fingers. An arrow soared past her, just brushing the edge of her cloak. She stopped, chest heaving. She couldn't have them following her the entire way back to Allarina's court. She bit her lip and turned to face them. She'd sworn to her queen that she wouldn't use her magic, but… this had to count as an exception. Kasi raised her right hand out in front of her. She could feel a deep twinge at the base of her skull, followed by a pleasant tingling… her hand started to glow. The forest was steadily illuminating so that the knights were visible now; their looks of triumph quickly changing to looks of horror as they realized just what –or who– they were up against. A few of them tried to run away.
"No, You fools!" Slatir shouted at them, "Stay and fight! She can't kill all of us!"
Just Kasi's face could be seen from underneath the hood of her dark cloak. She allowed herself a small smile. How wrong he was. "Goodbye Slatir," she said quietly.
His eyes widened, and he raised his arms as if to protect himself–
"Ouch" Kasi said, the powerful light dimming slightly. She looked at her wrist. Someone had shot an arrow at her. It had torn her bracelet. "No," she whispered terror filling her, she raised her head, looking out into the gloom, "Do you have any idea what you've done?" she cried, her eyes blazing at the marksman.
Slatir seemed to have realized too, as he saw her bracelet fall off and onto the forest floor. He gave up all pretence of chasing Kasi, and called out to his knights, "RUN, WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!"
Kasi sank to her knees, and curled in on herself, trying to stop what was about to happen. A blinding light obstructed her vision. She could feel herself losing consciousness…
Peter woke with a start. He'd fallen asleep on the couch, waiting for Juliet to get home. He rubbed his face, trying half-heartedly to remember his dream. It had been something to do with a bright light… oh well. Peter was always having strange dreams, always about the same girl. He pushed himself off the couch, and paused to turn to turn the TV off, then changed his mind. The background noise was nice. He stumbled into the kitchen, and leaned against the counter, pulling his phone out of his pocket. The screen read 11:54. He let out a sigh, then punched in Juliet's number. It rang four times before she picked up.
"Yeah?" she said shortly.
"Juliet it's almost midnight. You should get home." Peter said.
Jules laughed at his parenting attempt, "No, I think I'll stay at Suzanne's tonight."
Peter rubbed his temple. "Seriously Juliet? You've got school tomorrow."
Peter heard as she tried to stifle another laugh.
"Jules please come home, I want to talk about what happened this morning." Peter said gently.
"What?" she asked sharply, all the laughter gone from her voice now.
"You know what I mean Jules. What happened with the fire. I'm not mad, just please come home."
"I didn't do that Peter," Juliet said, her voice hushed but firm. "I don't know how that fire started, okay? And nothing was damaged, so I don't see why we have to talk about this."
"See you tomorrow Pete." She said abruptly, before hanging up.
Peter resisted the urge to throw his phone against the wall. How was he supposed to keep his family together when his siblings were doing everything in their power to tear it apart?
Peter shoved his phone into his back pocket and walked over to the fridge. His work schedule was stuck to it. "I have tomorrow off…" he said to himself. Maybe he'd go out for once, to Sharon's party perhaps… Peter jerked his head up suddenly, looking down the hallway. He thought he'd heard a noise from his mother's room.
"Mom?" He called out uncertainly. There was no reply. Peter sighed, then walked down the hall. He slowly eased the door open.
The room was dimly lit, the only source of light a small beaded lamp giving off an ambient orange glow. He slipped inside, and gently sat down on the edge of the bed. His mother was sleeping, her short hair a tangled in a cloud around her head. Peter remembered when his mother had been beautiful. Her hair used to be long and light brown, with gentle waves framing her tanned freckled face. Her big brown eyes used to shine, looking almost golden in the sunlight. Her movements had always been so graceful. Everything she did -whether pouring a glass of water, or lifting a giggling Juliet into her arms- had been full of purpose and confidence. It was hard to look at her now, so dishevelled. It was like looking at an empty shell. It had been so long since she'd seen sunlight that her freckles were almost all gone. She was so thin… so frail. She was barely a whisper of what she had once been. Peter lovingly stroked her cheek. She began to stir,
"Peter?" she said hoarsely, her eyes cracking open.
Peter tried not to look shocked. It had been years since she'd been able to recognize him.
"Yeah, it's me mom." He said shakily, "How are you feeling?"
"Thirsty," She replied. Diana tried weakly to sit up,
"Careful. Here I'll help you." Peter held out his arm for her to grip onto.
"Thanks," she said, a smile stretching her pale skin, "What time is it?"
"About midnight. I'm sorry that I woke you."
"Oh no, it's fine. I feel like I've been asleep for ages…"
Peter watched in amazement as she slid her legs out from under her quilt and placed them on the floor.
"I feel so strange," she said, placing a bony hand on her forehead, "Did you see the light too?"
"I… Did I see the light? What do you mean?" Peter asked uncertainly.
"I had a dream… the light from the forest… I thought maybe your father was home." Diana looked wistfully at the door behind her son.
Peter's shoulders dropped. "Mom, dad's been gone for sixteen years."
"He should be back any minute now…" she continued, as though she hadn't heard him, her eyes distant.
"Mom, do you remember what happened this morning? With Juliet? The fire?" Peter asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
Diana's head snapped in Peter's direction, "That wasn't my Juliet."
Peter bit his lip and looked away, trying not to show how weak he felt.
"My Juliet's gone, now she's an abomination." Diana said, her voice clear and angry.
Peter felt an overwhelming guilt. He rarely checked in on his mother, and when he did she was almost always sleeping. It was Juliet who took care of her every day, getting her medication, food, whatever she needed. And here Diana was, saying that Juliet was an abomination. He didn't know what Juliet was, but he knew she wasn't that. If only there was some way to get rid of those strange, awful outbursts she sometimes fell victim to… His skin crawled when he thought of the things she and Jesse had done when they were kids, playing in the forest...
Peter reached for the jug of water on the bedside table, and poured his mother a glass. "Here mom, you said you were thirsty."
Diana slid back under her quilt, grasping onto the cup of water. She gulped it back eagerly.
"Goodnight mom." Peter said sadly, getting to his feet. He made his way to the door, then turned back, his mother was staring at him, her eyes glowing in the dim light.
Peter left the room. Joseph was his father's name.
He walked back into the kitchen and started opening cupboards, looking for something to eat. He heard the front door whine as someone entered the house.
"Juliet?" Peter called out hopefully.
"Yeah, it's me," she said. He heard a muffled thump as she threw herself onto the couch. Peter walked into the living room. Juliet's long slender form was sprawled out on the couch, with her head resting on a pillow, turned towards the TV. Her glossy short black hair, normally falling neatly to just below her chin, was splayed around her head.
"Jesse's coming home this weekend. Maybe tomorrow if we're lucky."
Juliet nodded; she was staring unseeingly at the TV.
"Did you have dinner at Suzanne's?" Peter asked.
Juliet shook her head this time. Peter sighed, then walked into the kitchen.
"It's a bit late for dinner, don't you think Pete?" Juliet called from the couch.
Peter opened the fridge, examining its contents, or lack thereof. "Ahh well maybe we'll have an early breakfast." He said, pulling a carton of eggs out from the back of the top shelf.
Juliet ambled into the kitchen, "Scrambled eggs?" she asked.
Peter nodded, and Juliet walked over to the cupboard to look for a frying pan. After a fair amount of digging Juliet found it, and handed it to Peter. She then sat on the counter, her long legs dangling over the edge.
"So how was Suzanne's?" Peter asked, as he cracked an egg.
Juliet shrugged, watching him silently.
"You taking her with you to Sharon's party tomorrow?"
Peter's question received another shrug. He started whisking the eggs, feeling Juliet's eyes on him as he poured the mix onto the frying pan and turned on the old electric stove. He wiped his hands on his pants, then slowly turned to face her.
"So about this morning…" He began.
Juliet looked up at her brother, her eyes shining. "What's happening to me Peter?" she said quietly, her voice unsteady.
Peter didn't know what to say, he just looked at her small form sadly. Juliet slid off the counter, running a hand through her dark hair. She wouldn't meet his eye.
"Something happened at Suzanne's," she began.
Peter raised his eyebrows, "Another fire?"
Juliet shook her head, "No, it was… different… Suze and I were in her room, just talking, and then her mom came in. She'd found out that Suzanne had stolen a bottle of her rum." She took a deep breath, her slim fingers toying absent-mindedly with the gold locket around her neck, "They started shouting at eachother, like I've seen them do a million times before… But I just couldn't take it this time. I kept thinking about our mom, and how angry she was this morning…"
Peter looked away from her. The hurt in her voice broke his heart.
"I tried to slip past them, I was gonna maybe wait it out in the kitchen or something, but then she turned to me, and started saying it was my fault that Suzanne had stolen from her, that I was a terrible influence on her daughter… And I was just so mad. Because she was right, and I couldn't even say anything, I just wanted to leave. But Suzanne interrupted, and her voice was all scared, and she said like 'Juliet, your hands' or something, and I looked down, and they were all bright and glowing. I freaked out and just ran outta there." Juliet levelled her gaze with Peter's, her light brown eyes, the same colour as her mother's, asking him that same question: what's happening to me?
Peter didn't know what to say. He just walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. He felt her tense for a moment, then relax. She buried her face in his shirt, shaking slightly.
"It's okay Jules, it's okay." He said softly, rubbing his hand gently between her shoulder blades, "We'll get some help for you, it'll be fine."
Juliet froze. "Get some help?" she asked, pushing herself back from him.
Peter frowned, "I mean whatever's going on, we'll get someone to help you." He said calmly
Juliet let out a humourless laugh, "I don't think there are people to help with this sort of thing. My own mother thinks I'm the spawn of the devil! What are you going to do, send me away? Put me on meds?" Her voice was harsh, accusing.
Peter rubbed his temple, "No, that's not what I meant Juliet," he said wearily, "I don't want to send you away, I just want you to be happy and feel safe."
Juliet shook her head, her eyes distrustful, "You can't tell anybody about this Peter," she hissed, "Promise me that."
Peter looked at her for a long time, his jaw clenched. "Fine," he said curtly, "But I want to know what's going on with you Juliet, I-"
"I'm going to bed," Juliet interrupted, turning her back on him, "Your eggs are burning." She added, as she walked down the hall to her room.
Juliet slammed her door behind her and dragged herself over to her closet. She knew she shouldn't have said anything to Peter; he could never keep things like this to himself. She peeled her clothes off and threw on one of Jesse's old t-shirts. It was so worn and soft, it made the best pyjama shirt. Juliet reached down and picked her jeans up off the floor, pulling her phone out from the back pocket. 16 missed calls from Suze. She sighed, then punched in Suzanne's number. She picked up on the first ring.
"What the fuck man"
Juliet felt the shadow of a smile brush her lips. That about summed up everything.
"Like seriously, what happened? And you just bolted on me!"
Juliet closed her eyes, "I know, I'm sorry. I was just freaked out…"
"You were freaked out? I had half a mind to go the hospital and make sure I wasn't running a fever or something!"
Juliet bit her lip, "I'm so sorry Suze. What'd your mom think?"
The phone crackled as Suzanne let out a heavy sigh, "She didn't even notice, just kept on yelling. I'm not allowed to hang out with you anymore, gotta be back home before 10 every night blah blah blah… The usual. You know how she gets when her and Vince are fighting."
Juliet sat down on her bed, pulling her legs up so she was sitting cross-legged. Vince had been Suzanne's mom's boyfriend for a few years now, and the two were almost always arguing about something. "They're fighting again? Fuck, I'm sorry to hear that… You're more than welcome to crash here for a bit if you want."
"Yeah yeah," Suze said dismissively, "Back to the freaky glowing hands thing…"
Juliet tensed, then said in a whisper, "It's just like when we were kids, remember?"
"That was the first thing I thought!" Suzanne replied, "I always thought I'd just imagined it back then though… Those things you and Jesse could do…"
Juliet shivered. When she and Suzanne had been children, they used to play in the big forest behind Juliet's house. From time to time, she and Jesse would make strange things happen. Juliet had taken to making flowers wilt or bloom with just a touch of her hand, or sometimes changing the colors of their petals. On the rare occasions that Jesse would play with them, he'd make the forest around them so dark that Juliet and Suzanne couldn't see anything, or send colonies of ants chasing after them. Of course, after too many of Jesse's tricks Juliet had gone crying to Peter, who had decided to put a stop to it by telling their mother. That had been the start of Diana's mental breakdown. Diana had screamed and shouted at Jesse and Juliet, and made them promise to never do any of those things again. Though Juliet had only been about 7 at the time, and Jesse and Peter 9, the three of them still felt an overwhelming guilt and responsibility for their mother's broken and insane state of mind. Since then Jesse and Juliet had done their best to forget what they could do, and Peter had tried to convince himself that his siblings were ordinary. Although lately, it seemed Juliet was finding it harder and harder to keep that part of herself a secret.
"So it was all real?" Suzanne asked in a hushed voice.
Juliet closed her eyes, "I'm afraid so."
The light, it was so bright… Jesse ran towards it as fast as he could, the trees a blur as he passed them. He didn't know what the light was, but he knew it was where he needed to be. He was close to it now, his lungs protesting to the excessive physical exertion, his fingers outstretched. There was a girl at the source of the light, she was in trouble…
Jesse's eyes flew open. His heart was beating rigorously in his chest. He was lying in bed with his arm extended out in front of him, as though he was trying to reach for something, and his skin was slick with perspiration. Jesse let his arm fall to his side, his fingers curling into a fist. That was the fifth time this week he'd had that dream, and he always woke up at the same part. He turned his head to see the clock on the bedside table. The red digital numbers changed from 5:59 to 6:00 AM. Jesse sat up, rubbing his eyes. He could hear Sharon's deep even breathing beside him. He flicked on the bedside lamp, which cast a dim orange light on her skinny legs poking out from the edge of the blue flowered sheets. He and Sharon had been seeing eachother for almost a year now, but Jesse felt no real connection to her. She was funny, pretty, and let him stay at her place whenever he couldn't stand his own anymore. But that was about it.
Jesse sat up and rolled his shoulders back in a stretch, sliding his legs over the side of the bed. His feet made contact with the smooth wooden floor, and he stood up, walking over to the white dresser in the corner of the room. As quietly as he could, Jesse eased the top drawer open, and pulled out a fresh(ish) shirt and jeans. He reached into the jeans pocket, pulling out an old receipt from a liquor store. Flipping it over, he used a pen from on top of the dresser to scrawl a note for Sharon.
Hey Ronnie, gone home. See you at the party tonight. – J
He left it next to her shiny red alarm clock, then grabbed his keys, jacket and phone and headed out.
The air was warm for a spring morning, and the early sun pelted him with sweet warm rays. The town's early risers were leaving for work. Jesse started down the stairs of Sharon's apartment, walking past her rusty green truck in the parking lot. It hadn't worked in almost four months now; He would take a bus.
Jesse reached into his jacket pocket and fumbled around for his pack of cigarettes, then pulled out a packet of matches from his jeans. Sharon loved matches, and never had any lighters. Whenever Jesse stayed at her place for a lengthy amount of time he always ended up with at least three or four packets of matches in his pockets. He struck the match, then stared at the tiny flame as it burned down to his fingers, fizzling out. A fire this time Peter had said. Oh Juliet… Jesse thought to himself. He went to pull out another match, then changed his mind. Jesse cupped his hand around his cigarette; his palm momentarily glowing with a small flame. The flame disappeared once the cigarette was lit, and Jesse exhaled a stream of smoke, a sly smile touching his face. Ever since that incident with their mother when they had been children, Jesse and Juliet had tried to pretend they couldn't do these strange things… or at least, Juliet did. Jesse had been secretly practicing his abilities, gaining control and precision. He had decided long ago that he would never let anyone, especially his insane mother, tell him what he could or couldn't do. Jesse arrived at the bus stop, trying to finish his cigarette before the bus arrived.
"That was a cool trick"
Jesse turned around to see who had spoken. A man stood behind him. He had long auburn hair, with braids and beads woven into it at random, and wore a long black coat with dark combat style boots made of a strange almost shimmery leather. His face was pale and decorated with a pattern of light tattoos that were barely visible. The man's eyes were a light green-brown, and regarded him sternly.
"Thanks," Jesse said shortly, mentally berating himself as he turned away. He hadn't known there was someone behind him.
"You might want to be a bit more careful in these parts though," The man said.
Jesse turned around again, confused by the remark, "Is that supposed to be a threat?"
The man shrugged, the movement causing his long hair to shift. For a sliver of a moment, Jesse could have sworn he'd seen a pointed ear poke through. A trick of the light obviously. "Threat? No."
Jesse clenched his jaw, turning away from the man again.
"Your glamour's incredible, I gotta say. I can't see a hole in it at all."
Jesse looked back at the man. At this early hour, it wasn't unusual to see drunk or drugged up vagrants loitering around bus stops and 24 hour gas stations, looking for an extra buck or two. "Look man," Jesse began, stubbing out his cigarette with his shoe as the bus arrived, "I don't have any money. You'd have better luck at Guzzlers." He gestured to the gas station down the block, and stepped up into the bus. He barely had time to register the man's puzzled expression before the bus door closed behind him with a pneumatic hiss.
People were screaming. She couldn't tell which direction it was coming from, but they were screams unlike any other she'd heard before. They were panicked and scared, and they were making Juliet scared herself. She spun around, trying to see through the thick dark trees. The screams stopped abruptly and a white flash of light blinded her…
Juliet awoke to the sound of the front door opening, and the metallic clatter of keys being dropped onto the table in the living room.
"Jesse" she mumbled, as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. She pushed the strange dream she'd been having out of her head and reached for a pair of pyjama bottoms from off the floor. She slipped them on, then stumbled out of her room.
Juliet entered the living room to see Jesse slouched on the old peach coloured floral couch with his head propped up on the backrest, his eyes closed. The sun streamed in from the front bay window in thick rays, casting him in an almost ethereal light. Sitting there, with the dust motes sparkling around him, Jesse looked as if he'd been there for years. His shaggy dark hair was messier than usual, and he had large bags under his eyes. His cracked leather jacket hung off his lanky muscled frame unevenly, making it look as though he was falling apart. Juliet smiled, happy to see her older brother, then walked over to the couch and curled up next to him.
Jesse groaned; his body tensing as he stretched, "Juliet? Why're you up so early?" He said with a yawn.
Juliet stifled a yawn herself, "I heard you come in." she said, then punched his arm lightly, "I feel like I haven't seen you in ages!"
Jesse's arms wrapped around her in a big hug, "I know, I'm sorry. I needed some time away; you know how it is…"
Juliet nodded. She understood perfectly. "So how long you back for this time?" she asked.
Jesse shrugged, "As long as I feel like I guess."
Juliet nodded, getting to her feet. She shuffled into the kitchen, reaching for the coffee pot. "I'm making coffee, you want some?" she called out.
"Yeah, that'd be great Jules," Jesse called back.
Juliet started to measure out the coffee grounds. She heard the floorboards creak in a different part of the house, and reflexively peered down the hall to see the source of the noise.
"Jesus, since when are you two up this early?" Peter said groggily, his tone was a mixture of annoyance and disbelief.
Juliet turned the coffee machine on and returned to the living room, "Since when are you not up this early?"
Peter smiled tentatively. Juliet felt bad about her overreaction last night when Peter had suggested getting her some help. After all, it wasn't as if he'd gone and called the CIA on her.
"I've got the next few days off for a change," Peter said happily, sitting on the brown leather lazyboy across from Jesse, "I was thinking I might go to Sharon's party tonight…"
Jesse stiffened, "If you want. I dunno if it'll be your kind of crowd though."
Peter grinned, "Every crowd's my kind of crowd."
Juliet rolled her eyes at Peter. "except for this crowd…" she said under her breath, referring to herself and Jesse. She sat down on the arm of the couch, putting her feet up on the cushions.
Jesse laughed quietly, and Juliet smiled back at him.
"Whatever," Peter said indifferently. He sniffed the air, "Is someone making coffee?"
"Oh!" Juliet jumped up, "It's ready!" She ran into the kitchen, pulling three mugs out of the cabinet and placing them in a line on the counter. The sweet smell of hot coffee swirled around her as she filled the three cups. She picked up the first two then carefully gripped the third with her pinkies and thumbs, slowly shuffling back into the living room. No one in her family took cream or sugar in their coffee.
"Thanks Jules," Peter said eagerly, reaching for a mug of coffee and taking a hearty swig.
Jesse's eyes lit up, "Yeah, thanks Jules," he said as well, shrugging off his jacket before reaching for his own mug.
The three sipped their coffees in silence for a few moments.
"So, how's mom doing?" Jesse asked finally.
Juliet stared guiltily into her coffee mug. She didn't want to think about how her mom was doing. She felt Peter's eyes on her as he responded to Jesse,
"She's doing alright… She had a bit of a scare yesterday morning though." Peter's tone was light, but Juliet felt the deeper meaning behind his words.
"A bit of a scare?" Jesse asked, taking another sip of coffee.
Juliet looked up at Peter, catching his eye, and nodded her head stiffly, letting him know it was alright for him to tell Jesse the whole story.
Peter took a deep breath, "Juliet set mom's room on fire."
Jesse's eyes widened, and he looked incredulously at Juliet. She looked away. "The whole room?" He said, his voice hoarse, "How? Is the room okay? Is Mom okay?"
Peter answered for her, his voice even and calm, "Mom's fine… physically at least. The room's fine too, somehow…" his voice drifted off, and his eyes rested on Juliet. She felt Jesse's eyes settle on her too. Juliet stared at her feet, her dark hair falling forward to hide her face.
"It was an accident," she mumbled.
Jesse gaped at his younger sister, his mouth hanging open slightly. How had she set an entire room on fire? Jesse could light cigarettes or candles, maybe the odd barbeque… But a room? Never. And how could there be no damage?
"Tell him about what happened at Suzanne's Juliet." Peter said, his voice soft and encouraging.
Jesse looked at her expectantly.
Juliet bit her lip, "I was angry at Suzanne's mom-"
"Don't tell me you set her on fire too," Jesse muttered darkly.
Juliet shot him an icy glare, "No, I did not set Suzanne's mom on fire," she said stiffly, "I was really angry, and my hands started to glow…" Juliet held her hand out in front of her, staring at them in wonder.
Jesse stared at her hands too, half expecting them to start glowing again.
"But I took off before anything happened. Things have been going on with me," Juliet said, her hands falling back down to her sides, "Remember how it was when we were kids?" she asked Jesse, fear pooling in her light brown eyes.
Jesse nodded guiltily, looking away from her. Maybe her problem was that she hadn't been exercising her powers like he had, and now they were just bursting out at random intervals, beyond her control…
"Has anything been happening to you?" Peter asked.
Jesse shifted uncomfortably in his seat before meeting Peter's eyes, "I dunno, I mean not really I guess."
Juliet's shoulders sank. Jesse felt bad for lying, but he couldn't tell her the truth, not in front of Peter. He was surprised Juliet was trusting him with the details of her outbursts, after what happened when they were kids. Jesse knew it was only a matter of time before his brother had them committed to an asylum somewhere, or used as some scientist's lab rats.
Juliet got to her feet slowly, "Well I guess I should get ready for school."
Jesse watched as she dragged herself down the hall to her room, her shiny black hair swaying with each step.
"Thanks Jess, for coming home." Peter said quietly.
Jesse turned his head to look at Peter. His normally neat hair was all mussed up due to authentic bed head. "Yeah, no problem," he replied awkwardly.
"So how's Sharon doing?"
Jesse shrugged, "Alright I guess. She got a raise at work, so that's… yeah."
Peter nodded, but Jesse could tell he wasn't really listening.
Peter looked down, taking a deep breath, "I think it might be time to get some help with mom. It's not fair to leave that kind of responsibility with Juliet."
Jesse frowned at his brother, "What are you talking about? We can't afford to get help for mom. Do you have any idea how much a live-in caretaker would cost? I mean we can barely manage to pay the mortgage on this house!"
"That's another thing…" Peter continued, not meeting Jesse's eye, "I think it might be time to downsize. If we sold the house and moved somewhere a little smaller, like an apartment or something, then we might be able to afford a nurse for mom…"
Jesse stared at Peter. "Sell… Sell the house? But this is our home. This is where we grew up! What the fuck Peter… We can't just move!" He said, his voice increasing in volume.
Peter looked guilty, "I know Jesse, I know. But look at the big picture here!" he continued, his voice indignant, "In a few months Juliet will have graduated. Don't you want her to be able to go out and see the world? Instead of being tied down to this place?" Peter gestured around at the dingy living room they were seated in.
Jesse got to his feet, running his hand through his hair distractedly, "Right, because that's what we did." He said sarcastically.
Peter stood too, "That's what I'm saying, if you could go back and have a chance to travel, or go to school, or… I dunno, do something, you would, wouldn't you? Why shouldn't Juliet get that chance?"
Jesse narrowed his eyes, "Why shouldn't Juliet, or why shouldn't you?"
Peter frowned, "What are you talking about?"
Jesse looked his brother up and down with distaste, "You don't care about Juliet's future, don't try to make this about her. This is about you not being able to go off to some stuck up university."
Peter pulled himself up to his full height, "Of course I care about Juliet's future!" he replied, "But yes, I also care about my own. So what? Just because you've got about as much ambition as a slug doesn't mean we all do."
Jesse shook his head at his brother, "It wouldn't be right, selling the house. If you want to leave and go to school then fine, but you'll need to get money from somewhere else."
Peter glared at Jesse, "Don't do that. Don't turn the argument around, making me look like the bad guy. I don't want to leave town and go to some distant country while my family lives in squalor, I just want to go to the community college downtown and take a few classes. Is that really so awful?"
Jesse clenched his jaw, "Whatever, we'll talk about this more later." He said dismissively.
"Alright, I'm heading out now guys. Peter, do you mind looking after mom this morning?"
Peter and Jesse both turned their heads; Juliet had just entered the living room, clad today in cut-off jean shorts and an artfully loose fitting pale blue sweater made of a thin soft material. Her leather book bag hung off her shoulder.
"Yeah, no problem. See you tonight Jules," Peter said with a wave as she made her way to the door.
"Hey- wait Jules!" Jesse called, following after her, "I'll walk you."
Juliet was half way out the door, but she paused to wait for him to throw his jacket on and snatch up his keys from the table.
Juliet tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and applied a fresh coat of lipstick while Jesse sat on the front porch lacing up his shoes. She had pocketed a new shade of red from the local drug store a few days ago and had been dying to try it out. Using her phone screen as a mirror she pursed her lips, satisfied with the bright color, then slipped the tube into her jacket pocket.
Impatient with Jesse's slow pace, she let her eyes wander, and found herself taking in their house's derelict appearance for the first time in awhile. Her nose wrinkled in distaste. The light yellow paint was peeling off of the wooden siding in long strips and small trees were growing between the roof's cracking shingles. The modest garden that used to surround the house was now littered with weeds, moss and, beneath Juliet's bedroom window, cigarette butts. If she were just a passer-by she would have guessed the house was abandoned.
"God this place is a mess."
Jesse looked up at Juliet, and then behind himself at the house she was staring at. He shrugged, "It's home," he replied; Juliet could hear the affection in his tone.
"It could use a fresh coat of paint." she said shortly, "Will you hurry up? It's taking you three hours to get your shoes on."
Jesse finished tying the last knot and got to his feet, "I'm picking up on some slight exaggeration there Jules…"
Juliet rolled her eyes, a reluctant smile turning her lips, "Maybe a slight exaggeration."
The two began walking, the crisp spring air and sunshine making for a lovely day. The edge of the forest behind their house was teeming with fresh growth, and Juliet could see a deer grazing behind a tree. Juliet commented on the nice weather to Jesse, but his eyes were distant, and his mind was clearly elsewhere.
"Something on your mind Jess?"
Jesse shrugged, "A few things on my mind actually."
Juliet waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. She let the subject drop and reached into her jacket for a cigarette. The click of her lighter brought Jesse back from his mental wanderings.
"You… since when do you smoke?"
Juliet inhaled deeply before blowing a stream of blue smoke in his direction. "Started a few years ago I guess. You always leave cigarette packs in your room when you stay at Sharon's, so Suze and I take them." she said indifferently, "You want one?"
Jesse scratched his head, then shrugged his shoulders, "Yeah sure, why not." He took two, placing one behind his ear. Juliet smiled at that; she always did the same thing.
"I'm surprised Peter approves of this little habit," Jesse said, his tone dusted with sarcasm.
Juliet snorted, "Peter doesn't know, and you're not going to tell him."
Jesse smiled, defeated. His mind was already well on its way to whatever thoughts were keeping him occupied.
He seemed to be unaware of Juliet's eyes on him as he cupped his cigarette in his hands and produced a small flame out of thin air. Juliet stared, her cigarette slipping out of her fingers, as he let his arms fall to his sides and stuffed them into his jeans pockets, still unfocused on the world around him.
"What the fuck was that?"
Jesse stiffened, his eyes widening. "Shit."
Juliet was outraged, "Peter asked you minutes ago if anything like this had been happening to you Jesse! So what, you just lied to us?"
Jesse somehow managed to look both immensely guilty and affronted at the same time. "I didn't lie exactly… I mean it's not 'happening' to me, I'm making it happen on purpose. Don't you see the difference?"
Juliet crossed her arms, "No, I don't." she said icily. This was so typical of him, unable to admit he'd done wrong, twisting people's words around to fit his needs…
"I've been practicing. Since we were kids." Jesse said, eyes staring distantly into the forest behind them.
If Jesse had thought that would placate Juliet, he was mistaken.
"You mean… you mean you've been doing this," Juliet gestured towards Jesse's cigarette, "since we were kids?"
"What, smoking? Don't be ridiculous."
Juliet's cold glare didn't waver.
"Yes, yes I have. I'm sorry, I should have said something! I was afraid you'd go tell Peter again, and he'd go to mom…" Jesse ran a hand through his hair, his eyes pleading with Juliet, "You're… You're not going to, are you?"
Juliet felt her anger towards him soften ever so slightly, "No, I won't tell Peter," she said stiffly.
Jesse relaxed in relief, "Thanks Jules, I rea-"
"On one condition," she cut across him, "You have to help me practice too."
Peter watched from the window as Juliet and Jesse walked down the driveway. He then sat on the couch, his head cradled in his hands. The conversation with Jesse had not gone as well as he would have liked, but he supposed that it could have gone a lot worse. Peter rose to his feet, stretching his arms out as he did so. He wasn't surprised that Juliet had neglected looking after their mother again; he could tell she was afraid of what might happen if she went back in there.
Peter ran his fingers through his hair, sighing heavily. It was getting long again, he'd start to look like Jesse soon… well more like Jesse. Peter wandered into the kitchen, opening the fridge, and pulled out the leftover scrambled eggs from the night before. He was about to put them in the microwave when the phone rang.
"Hey, is this Peter?" a voice said uncertainly.
"Yeah, and who am I talking to…?" he asked back, balancing the phone against his shoulder as he put the leftover eggs in the microwave for one minute.
"Oh, hi," Peter said awkwardly, "um, what's up?"
"I was just wondering if Jesse's there? He was gone when I woke up this morning, and he didn't mention that he was going anywhere…"
"Yeah he's staying here for a bit to help take care of some things. He's just walking to school with Juliet now."
The phone crackled as Sharon let out a sigh, "Oh fuck, I just realized he left a note for me. I'm sorry that I bothered you!"
Peter smiled, "No worries."
"You coming to my party tonight?"
Peter chewed his lip, "Yeah, I think so. That alright?"
"Of course!" Sharon said brightly, "So you bringing a girl this time?"
Peter rolled his eyes and let out a short laugh "Unlikely. You know me, I don't really date."
"Are you sure? Because I have a friend who I think you'd really-"
"Sharon, really, don't. I appreciate the thought but I'm fine on my own." Peter said calmly.
Sharon sighed again, "Alright then Peter," she said, her voice smudged with disappointment, "I'll see you tonight!"
Peter hung up the phone just as the microwave went off. He jumped slightly, before taking the hot bowl out and sitting down at the kitchen table, snatching a fork out of the cutlery drawer on his way.
You know me, I don't really date.
Peter closed his eyes, losing himself in the memory of the first time he'd seen the girl, the one in all of his dreams, nearly 6 years ago.
"Hey Pete, there's a table of two in your section. Pour them some water and give them these."
Peter was handed a couple of worn laminated menus. It was his first day as a busboy at Bon Appetit. He nodded at his trainer, then scooped up one of the water pitchers from behind the bar and hurried over to the newly occupied table. There were two girls sitting there, one with chin length dark gold hair and another with long pale gold hair. The one with short hair was facing him. Peter's grip on the water pitcher slipped, and he almost spilled water all over himself.
For a few brief moments, she would be the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. Her skin was light and smooth and perfect, her eyes shining and golden. Peter watched in awe as she argued with the girl sitting across from her.
"I'm not comfortable with this Seira! Do you have any idea what will happen if I get caught?" She said; her voice lowered but firm.
The long haired girl let out a lovely giggle, "But that's the fun of it Rina! Besides, you won't get caught. You're with me."
The short haired girl –Rina– crossed her arms, leaning away from the girl across from her. Then she noticed Peter.
She raised her eyebrows, "Can I help you with something?"
Peter almost tripped as he came closer to the table. "I-I have your menus." He said lamely, "and your water."
"Thank you" the long haired girl said brightly, turning to face him.
Peter dropped the water pitcher.
She looked so similar to the short haired girl that she was with, and yet so completely and spectacularly different. Her skin, also pale, was almost iridescent. Her golden eyes didn't just shine, they burned. Her long light hair seemed to slightly float around her in a way that didn't quite abide by the laws of physics, and it looked so soft…
Peter was infatuated from that moment on.
"I-I'm so s-sorry," he stammered, pulling a cloth out of the pocket of his apron, "It's my first day and I'm just really nervous I guess, I'll get you some m-more napkins and-"
"Honestly," the long haired girl interrupted, "Don't worry about it. First days are tough," she winked, nearly blinding him with an exquisite smile.
Rina rolled her eyes, "cut it out Seira." She said under her breath, her arms still crossed.
Peter smiled back at Seira, his heart full of longing. "Your server will be with you in a moment."
"Seira," Peter whispered the name to himself. She was the reason he 'didn't really date'.
Sharon sat on her bed with the phone still in her hands, staring at the note Jesse had left her.
Hey Ronnie, gone home. See you at the party tonight. – J
That was it. And it was written on the back of a goddamn receipt. She tore the note in half and tossed the pieces into the trashcan by the bed. It was so typical of him to just take off like that, not a word of warning…
She sighed heavily as she got to her feet and wandered into kitchen to open the fridge, plucking a yogurt off the shelf. She didn't understand Jesse. One moment he was arguing with his brother and the next he was cozied up at home with him. She was always an afterthought to him, and she hated it. Just once she'd like to be a priority in his life. Just once she'd like to hear him tell her that she mattered.
Sharon pulled her hair back in a loose ponytail and took a seat at the kitchen table, eating her yogurt thoughtfully.
She knew she should talk to Jesse; tell him about how she felt, but…
She was scared.
Jesse was a very sought after man; with his classic good looks and dark sense of humor, he could go home with just about any girl in town. But he never did. Without fail, he always ended up back at her place. That had to count for something, right?
But he didn't love her. And it broke her heart.
She would do anything to make him love her, anything.
Sharon dropped the empty yogurt container into the bin and walked back to her room. She opened her closet door and pulled out her outfit for the party that night; a short, flowy deep green chiffon dress. Now if only she could remember where she'd left her gold hoop earrings…
Of course, she'd let Hana borrow them last weekend!
Sharon hopped over to her nightstand and grabbed her phone, punching in Hana's number.
"Hello?" Someone groaned from the other end.
Sharon glanced at the clock, it was 9:30; perhaps a bit early to have called her friend….
"Hey Hana it's Sharon. Sorry I called so early…"
Hana groaned, "Yeah no kidding. What's up?"
"Well two things, I'm wondering if you've still got my hoop earrings? They were my favorite pair."
Sharon heard the rustle of bed sheets as Hana sat up, "Your earrings? Yeah of course I've got them. Do you need them for tonight?"
Sharon sighed in relief, "Yess I do. Can you come by early and drop them off? We can do a little predrinking together too."
"Yeah that sounds great," Hana said happily, "So what was the second thing you wanted to talk to me about?"
Sharon bit her lip, "Well, you're not gonna like this, but I just got off the phone with Peter about fifteen minutes ago."
"And?" Hana asked eagerly,
"Well, he claims he's really not interested in dating anyone right now."
"Fuck." Hana said dejectedly.
"But I was thinking," Sharon continued, "That doesn't mean you can't at least try to make a move. I mean the guy hasn't had a girlfriend in years."
Hana seemed to consider that for a moment, "You know, you're right. Maybe he'll loosen up a little with some alcohol in his system."
Sharon smiled, "That's the spirit. I'll see you tonight, don't forget my earrings."
"So for the party, I'm thinking of wearing that new turquoise dress. You know, the really short one? And with my hair up. What do you think?"
Juliet stared at her feet and didn't respond.
Suzanne rolled her eyes. Juliet had been like this for their entire lunch break so far. God she was so out of it lately. "Juliet? Jesus if you keep this up I'll have to find a new best friend, one who actually listens when I talk to her…"
Still nothing. Suzanne reached out her hand and pinched Juliet's arm.
"Ouch, what the fuck Suze!" Juliet exclaimed, rubbing her arm.
Suzanne raised her eyebrows, "You haven't been listening to a word I'm saying. Are you still upset about last night?"
"Of course I'm upset about last night. I'm a fucking freak, Suzanne." Juliet replied.
Suzanne resisted the urge to roll her eyes. It was all Juliet could talk about the whole morning. Suze had had enough of her negativity, "Are you kidding? You've got like… magic powers. That's amazing! Name one person who wouldn't kill for that."
Suzanne threw an arm around her shoulder, pulling Juliet close. "Well I would kill for magic powers. Why haven't you been using them all this time! I mean why did you stop when we were kids? We could have ruled the world… or something less cliché."
Juliet rested her head on Suzanne's shoulder, sighing deeply. "It's complicated Suze. Something happened when we were kids… something bad. I had to stop."
Suze frowned. Juliet had never mentioned anything bad happening before.
Juliet took a deep breath, "You remember what a dick Jesse always was? How he would send bugs crawling after us or melt our favourite toys?"
Suzanne shuddered, "Oh god, yeah I remember. He never did pretty things like you, with the flowers and stuff…"
Juliet nodded, "Well I got angry with him for it one day, and I told Peter. And Peter told our mom."
Suzanne was silent, waiting for Juliet to continue.
"And our mom… She freaked out. I mean really freaked out. You remember how she used to be? All smiles and baking and hugs…"
Suzanne nodded, remembering how often she'd begged Diana for an extra cookie after lunch, or stolen a warm hug on a bad day.
"That was when she first started to… change. She screamed at the three of us for an hour, then she just screamed at no one in particular, then she started crying and locked herself in her room for days."
Suze's eyes widened. She'd never heard this before, the story of how it had all started with Diana.
"After a bit she was okay, back to normal even. But she kept having episodes like that one. They used to be every once in a while… then they became more frequent. And now, now she's never herself. She's always either screaming or sleeping or crying."
Suzanne bit her lip. That part she knew. In the past ten years, she'd rarely seen Juliet's mom leave her room.
"So I kept my word to her, and I've tried my best not to do anything… strange. The only problem is I keep slipping up. Like whenever I'm really angry, things keep happening."
"Like last night! When your hands started glowing!"
Juliet nodded, "Exactly. Or yesterday morning, when I set my house on fire."
Suzanne froze, "Wait, what?"
Juliet's mouth curved in her signature half-smile. "Well not the whole house, just my mom's room. Then Peter ran in and I realized what I was doing and the fire just stopped, and all the damage disappeared."
Suzanne's mouth hung open slightly.
"And then this morning!" Juliet went on, her voice rising.
"Oh my god, you did something else this morning?" Suze asked in awe.
"What? Oh, no. This morning I was walking to school with Jesse and-"
"Ooh is Jesse back?" Suzanne asked hopefully. She'd always had a crush on both of Juliet's brothers, and hearing that the two were under the same roof again wouldn't be bad news at all.
Juliet rolled her eyes, "Yeah, for a bit. But anyways, I was walking with him, and I found out that the bastard never actually stopped doing… magic or whatever you want to call it."
Suzanne's eyes lit up, "Are you serious? Oh my god! He must be an expert by now!"
Juliet shrugged, "I hope so. He said he'll help me get some control so I don't fuck things up anymore, so that's something."
Suzanne grinned, "That'd be great Jules! Then we could really start using your powers for evil. Like we could steal some of those gorgeous dresses from that ritzy boutique downtown!"
Juliet laughed, "That sounds like a good idea to me."
The two were quiet for a bit, as they watched a few guys from their class tossing a football back and forth. One of the guys –Dan– caught them looking, and waved. Suzanne smiled back.
Dan started to walk over.
"Hey Juliet, how's it going?" he asked, slightly nervously, Suze noticed.
Juliet smiled, "Alright. You?"
"Oh I'm great!" Dan replied enthusiastically, "It's finally sunny out again. I'm hoping the lake'll warm up soon!"
Juliet nodded, but didn't say anything.
"Um, Anyways… I came over here to ask you – Are you doing anything tonight? Because me and a few of the guys were thinking of testing out our fake ID's at the Lacy Lounge…Just for a laugh, you know. But it'd be great if you came with us?" He shuffled his feet, and looked at her nervously.
"Sorry Dan, I have plans," She replied, "Maybe some other time?"
Dan's shoulders drooped dramatically, "Oh, yeah, sure thing," He looked over his shoulder, his friends were shouting for him to return to their game. "Well I'll see you round."
Juliet nodded, throwing him another smile.
Suzanne watched as Dan ran back to his friends, a dazed look on his face from Juliet's irresistible smile. She loved her friend dearly, but it wasn't easy always being second. For Christ's sake, Dan hadn't even so much as looked at her. Suzanne tried to quell the thick pangs of jealousy she felt. Juliet had always been the main focus when it came to everything. It wasn't her fault; it wasn't like she actively tried to attract attention… She was just so damn beautiful. Her limbs were long and slender and moved so gracefully, her dark hair was always perfect and glossy … and she had a face that a painter could spend years trying to capture. Her makeup was always immaculate, perfectly balancing her light brown eyes and clear tanned skin. Everyone she talked to –or so much as smiled at– was instantly enchanted by her mesmerizing charm and exquisite beauty. No one ever said no to Juliet. Although for the most part, Juliet was oblivious to the almost hypnotic effects she held.
Then there was Suze… Suze was still pretty, maybe even more pretty than average, with her rust coloured curls and dark green eyes... But next to Juliet, it never mattered.
"You okay Suze?" Juliet asked, "You seem kind've distant."
Suzanne let out a short laugh, turning her attention back to her friend, "Now you know how it feels," she responded, before remembering what she'd been talking about earlier, "But anyways, back to my outfit for tonight. You know that turquoise dress I just bought?"