When we arrived at Aidan's house, he was already standing by the front door, waiting to let us in. I had a feeling that he had already been filled in with what had transpired and he knew what Noah was planning for the rest of the day.
"Hey!" I smiled at him, while he pushed the door open wider for me to step through.
Before I could walk more than 5 steps into the house, I caught a blur of pink running in my direction and straight for my legs. A small body collided against me with a tiny 'oof!'.
"Aliceeeee! Hi!" Aria beamed up at me from her small height near the floor. Her eyes big and shining as they gazed at me.
"Hi there, cutie. What are you doing?" I gently pried her vice-like grip from my legs and crouched down so we were at eye-level.
"Nothing. Gonna have a tea party!" Her blonde hair was tied into piggy tails and bounced with her excitement.
"That sounds lovely, who's invited to your party?" I carefully balanced my arms on my knees so I wouldn't topple over, and let me get more comfortable in my crouched position.
"Erm…" Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration and her bottom lip jutted out slightly as she thought. A small index patting her chin tentatively in thought. Then her small hand grabbed one of mine.
'You! Alice!" She then stepped back and pointed with her other hand to Aidan and Noah. "Aidan and Noah."
With her hand still clutching mine, she tugged me to stand up and follow her. I shot a look backwards at Noah and Aidan who were grinning at me, letting me get dragged away by a small, pink human.
"Where are we going for our tea party?" I asked her, conscious of the footsteps following behind us. I distinctly remembered a round, pink table in her room when I helped her find her ballet pump. Although her room was pretty sizeable for a little girl, I wasn't sure Aidan and Noah would be able to fit in there comfortably on the light pink seats clearly made for children.
"Here!" She continued to lead me down the hallway to the living room where I was surprised to see the sofas pushed back against the wall and huge cushions placed around the coffee table. Right in the centre of the clear, glass table was groaning under the weight of an assortment of beautiful cakes and a steaming tea pot.
"Oh wow. Who set this up?" I stared, completely gobsmacked.
"Aidan! And I helped!" She piped up, bouncing on the tip of her toes, before running to claim a cushion. In the place where she sat, I was amused to see a plastic pink tea cup, whereas the other seats had fine bone china, designed with intricate blue flowers curling around the rim and base of the cups.
"I heard you had a rough day, and I had promised Aria a tea party." Aidan casually shrugged, he had moved to stand next to me, watching Aria grab a stuffed bear and prop it next to her.
"The only difference is, we get more cake with you guys here. Plus, it's not like Aria minded."
I bumped his shoulder with mine, "Thanks for setting this up."
He nudged mine back with an even wider grin, "No problem at all."
"OK! Coming through, cake is calling my name!" Noah lightly barged past us, separating us with his arms as he moved. He threw himself down on a cushion next to Aria and rubbed his hands gleefully. He lunged for the cake knife and moved to start slicing when Aria made a disgruntled noise of protest.
"No no no! Alice has to cut the cake!" She called, holding her hands out in an attempt to stop Noah.
Noah pulled a sad face at her, "What makes Alice so special?"
The look that Aria directed at Noah was a myriad of disappointment, sympathy and what could only be described as 'duh'. "Because she's the princess."
Aidan chuckled and gently guided me to the cushion next to Noah before taking the final cushion.
"Yeah Noah, Princess Alice needs to cut the cake." Aria frantically nodded her agreement.
Noah sighed before handing me the knife. "Prince Noah doesn't approve. Mind you don't slice your own hand."
Aria again shook her head at Noah, almost as if she was disappointed that he didn't know the rules in the imaginary world she had created.
"Noah isn't a prince. You need to marry a princess to be a prince!"
Noah nodded seriously as if he was considering his options, "Princess Alice will be my bride."
In my surprise, I almost dropped the knife, even though I knew he was joking.
"No!" Aria half-shrieked.
"What's wrong with that?" Noah asked her innocently.
She wrinkled her nose before replying, 'Boys have cooties."
And with that, I burst out laughing as Noah's face dropped. "She has a point, you have got cooties." I gave him an offhand shrug.
"And Aidan!" She sang, clapping her chubby hands together in delight as she divulged her knowledge.
Aidan looked at Aria in surprise, before a mischievous look crossed his face. Without missing a beat, he tackled Aria and began tickling her around her ribs.
"Oh I have cooties? Well, you have cooties now Aria! I'm passing it on to you!"
Aria squealed and she tried to move away from Aidan's attack, "Mama will cure me from the cooties when she gets home!"
While Aidan played with Aria, I deftly started to slice the cake laid out before me. It was a huge chocolate cake, with neatly piped flowers on top and frosting oozing from the sides. My mouth was salivating. I carefully placed four slices onto plates and set them down in front of everyone. I gave Aria a slice that was just slightly smaller than ours in case it filled her up too much and I didn't know how much sugar she usually ate.
Once Aria saw the cake placed in front of her, her attention immediately fixated on her slice rather than Aidan's faltering assault. She began grabbing crumbs of cake in her small hands before shoving it into her mouth. I smiled lightly at her before tucking into my own slice.
Noah, out of the corner of my eye started pouring tea into my teacup, followed by Aria's and Aidan's.
We ate in amicable silence until Aria jumped up from her spot, "I gotta go get Elle-y!" and proceeded to dart from the room. The distinct pitter-patter of her feet could be heard, running deeper into the house and upstairs.
Once she was a safe distance away, all attention in the room turned to face me. An ominous feeling falling into the air.
"So, Alice." Noah propped his head up on his hand, "Wanna tell me why wart-face witch Chloe smashed your heart?"
My palms grew moist with tension. Do I tell him what was happening? I dared a look at Aidan who was also looking at me curiously.
"She obviously wasn't just admiring your work, Juliet. Nobody looks with their feet." He carried on, waving his hand in the air dismissively.
Did I tell them what was going on? Chloe's obsession with Aidan and Noah? It couldn't hurt, right? They were my friends, and friends shared things, right? Strengthening my resolve and giving myself a mental nod, I started.
"Well, in case you didn't notice, Chloe has an obsession with Aidan and is convinced that you guys are going to get together." I stopped to take a breath, watching Noah dart a look to Aidan and stifling laughter.
"Oh, and she also wants you-Noah-to go out with Vicky." With that, Noah began sputtering and choking on air.
"What? What have I got to do with anything? And why did she think crushing your heart would achieve anything? We're…friends. We're not gonna grovel at her feet because she's ruined your work. What kind of logic is that?"
During Noah's incoherent and poorly structured speech, Aidan had shifted in his seat and was scrutinising me, like a stern parent.
"He's right, what has that got to do with you?"
I pushed myself lower into my cushion, uncomfortable with his stare. "She erm…thinks I'm sucking up all your attention and stealing you guys away from her."
With that announcement, Aidan's shoulders started to shake with poorly hidden laughter.
"She's mental. Of course you are taking attention away from them, you are our friend and much more important than some silly high school crush."
Just as I was about to open my mouth to reply with a 'duh, I know that', a pink elephant with bright pink patches for ears was thrust into my face.
"Kiss Elle-y Alice!"
And for the rest of that night, the subject of crazy witches was dropped. Much to my relief.
I don't think I have any life updates for you guys. I wanted to post this before Christmas as a gift but I ended up writing half of this chapter and then relaxing! I then wanted to get this chapter done for the new year, but I guess I missed that too. In short, Merry late Christmas (or early, depending on how you see it :P ) and happy new year!
allbookmonkey: thank you for your kind words, I don't think I'd be a very good author, I can't seem to keep on top of my own chapter deadlines! And going back to displaying my name on your profile, you actually directed the next person I need to thank to my stories (so huge huge thanks for that, it's crazy!).
Mudpaw488: dedication is reading my story from the very first chapter to the most recent, considering it's taken me so long to get to chapter 23. I'm glad you didn't lose interest, it makes me feel less like I don't know what I'm doing (although I really don't know what it is that I'm doing). Thank you for your review as well as following the story, following me as an author on FP AND favourite-ing (is that a word?) me and the story.
These are some miscellaneous thanks, but I didn't feel right not posting my thanks on a story. These messages are for my current standalone/one chapter stories, so I hope they are seen by the people they intended for even though they may not necessarily read this story of mine!
Skyler Sabrine: In response to your review on 'The girl who was scared of everything'. I hope you are well and I'm glad you enjoyed the short story. Please reach out if there is ever anything you want to talk about :) I'm here! (That applies to any of my readers really, I'm here to help!)
Mudpaw488: In response to your review on 'Her'. I hope you enjoy writing, I will be keeping an eye on your work! Hopefully when I get my brain in gear I will carry on with 'Her', I have a few ideas floating around my brain but I haven't had chance to write them down.
That's all for now folks, hopefully I'll update soon! If you see a new story written by me, I'm sorry that I've probably neglected this one and I get too excited by new ideas. I'm like some sort of fictional magpie, obsessed with the shiny stuff ;) in this case, new ideas! Bye!