The Christmas I Turned Pretty

'After a long and boring three-hour drive, our car is finally driving down the familiar snow-covered streets. I gaze out of the car window at all the little shops I know so well. We are finally back in Holmes Chapel. Back home.'
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Summer spends every year longing for the winter or more specifically, Christmas.
Every year she spends two and half weeks in The Lodge with her family and the Styles'.
But this year everything is different.
This year, Summer has turned pretty.
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Inspired by Jenny Han's book 'The Summer I turned Pretty'. Cover (c) Shilo

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7. The No-Brainer

For the rest of the day Harry and I are practically glued to each others side. We sit across from each other at the dinner table, while we all enjoy Anne's beautifully cooked Christmas Dinner, and sneak glances at each other. When we all settle down to watch Love Actually Harry and I sit next to each other and his presence next to me leaves me unable to concentrate on the film. His hand grips mine underneath the blanket away from the watchful eyes of the mums but I do nothing to hide the grin that stays permanently on my lips.

 

After the film Harry and I explain how we need some fresh air but I'm just desperate to spend some alone time with him where my mum isn't watching like a hawk, ready to question me about what's going on.

 

We walk hand in hand down the deserted streets. The only sound that can be heard is our quiet breathing and the crunch of our footsteps in snow.

 

It's weird, I've spent so many Christmases here but walking down the street with Harry makes me view it all differently. Everything looks more beautiful and the streets seem more peaceful. Maybe it's because I'm finally peaceful. With Harry's hand in mine I am at peace and, honestly, nothing has ever made me feel more relaxed and actually happy.

 

“Will it always stay like this, Haz?” I find myself asking. “Will we always come back to The Lodge each Christmas no matter what?”

“I think so, yeah. Where else would we go? It wouldn't be Christmas without you guys,” He smiles at me and I feel my heart start to race.

 

I desperately want to tell him that, for me, Christmas is nothing without him. That the rest of the year is merely a countdown to the two weeks I get to spend in Holmes Chapel, the two weeks I get to spend with him. But something holds me back so I bite my tongue and just smile.

 

Harry's statement fills me with the hope that I really won't have to spend a Christmas without him, even in a few years when we've left school and are at university. Just knowing that Harry doesn't think and doesn't want it to change gives me hope that it won't. Because if everything keeps going as it is, I feel like everything will fall into place.

 

“Come on, we better get back,” Harry says, leading me back down the street.

 

I could spend hours out here with Harry, despite the temperatures being below freezing, but he's right: we should be getting back.

 

That night I go to bed with a smile on my face. Everything seems right and for once a million questions aren't swarming around my head begging for my attention. I know that I only have ten days left at The Lodge, and they will probably go by a lot quicker than I want, but I don't mind. I'm not dreading the thought of leaving Holmes Chapel because, although I will have to leave the beautiful village, maybe this year I won't have to leave the one thing that is my reason for coming back.

 

~*~

 

I wake up the next morning after having a dreamless sleep. No memories came back to haunt me and I can only blame that on yesterday's events and how happy they made me feel.

 

I make my way down the stairs and a smile takes over my face as my eyes land on Harry sat in the lounge with my brothers.

 

He must have told them by now because they don't keep anything from each other. They've always been like the three musketeers and I can't imagine Harry not telling them something like this...

 

I take a deep breath and walk into the room, ready for all the playful teasing about Harry and I. But there isn't any. I get a simple 'morning' from my brothers and Harry doesn't even look up. Maybe they find it a bit awkward so don't want to say anything... but that's not like them. They're my brothers – they take sheer delight in teasing me about anything, especially boys.

 

Every single boyfriend I have ever had (although there haven't been many) has always been the main topic of their banter with me. So I don't understand why they haven't made at least one comment about Harry and I, even though we're not exactly going out. But something different has happened between us...hasn't it?

 

Yesterday Harry held my hand and stayed by my side and he whispered into my ear words that no one else would be able to hear. That's something isn't it? It's more than anything he's done before. And he bloody kissed me. Does none of that mean something? I was sure that it was the start of something – something exciting, something that I have always wanted. But now it feels like it was all in my head. It's as if it's a repeat of the Christmas when I was twelve; when Harry kissed me and then ignored me for the rest of the week.

 

I clear my throat slightly and sit down but I still get no acknowledgement by Harry.

 

“So what are your plans today?” I ask everyone in the room but really I'm hoping for an answer from Harry because his silence is starting to drive me crazy.

“I don't know really, we were thinking of having a lazy day. What about-” Will says but he's interrupted by a knock on the door.

 

Everyone makes no sign of moving to answer it so I go because I'm desperate to escape the tension that my brothers seem to be completely unaware of. I swing the door open and my jaw nearly falls to the floor when I see Liam standing there.

 

Just the sight of him makes my palms start to sweat with both nerves and guilt.

 

“Hi Summer,” he smiles at me and I give him a nervous smile back. “I'm glad you're awake..I thought you'd still be asleep.” He laughs nervously. Phew, at least I'm not the only one.

 

We stand there in a silence for a few seconds of awkwardness before I break the silence.

 

“Did you want to see my brothers?” I ask.

“Erm no I was wondering if you were doing anything today?” He asks as his chocolate orbs bore into me, making me feel like he's reading every single thing inside of my brain. “I was just wondering if you wanted to go out somewhere... there's an ice rink in Altrincham, unless you think that's lame then you can choose somewhere else or if you don't want to go at all-”

“It's not lame,” I blurt out but then compose myself. “I mean, it's really sweet. I love ice skating.” Liam's face instantly lights up and I feel my heart breaking just looking at him. He's caused me no harm and he's always been so caring and sweet and then I went and kissed Harry.

 

“I'll just go get my coat,” I smile at him before rushing upstairs.

 

When I come back down the stairs I shout a goodbye to my brothers and without a second thought I go out the door with Liam.

 

We catch a train to Altrincham and make our way to the ice rink. Liam's never done it before so he spends the first few minutes gripping onto the railing and having no control over his feet. But I grab his hand and pull him into the middle of the ice rink and, surprisingly, he manages to stay on his feet. We glide around the rink together (slowly, may I add) and I find myself laughing the whole time. My nerves start to shift and I really start to enjoy myself.

 

“Shit!” is the only thing that I hear before Liam falls flat on his bum pulling me down with him. I fall into his lap and I can't contain my laughter as Liam pouts as bruises start to develop on his arms and I'm guessing on his bum as well.

 

“I was doing so well,” He whines but he quickly joins in with my laughter.

“You were,” I say once I have calmed down. “seeing as you started off holding onto the railing for dear life as a six year old practically made circles around you.”

“Hey, she must have done it before! And she looked more like twelve not six!” He argues.

“No Liam, I'm pretty sure she was more like six.” I say as I start to laugh again. “But you got better! You're probably the same level as the six year old now.”

 

I laugh as Liam pushes me playfully off of his lap.

 

“Aw, did I upset you?” I coo.

“Yes,” He pouts. “And my bum is bruised.”

“Maybe that's enough ice skating for today, then.” I smile as I get up from the ice.

 

We return our skates and exit the building as Liam winces at his now bruised bum.

 

“Do you know what will make my bum feel better?”

“What?” I laugh.

“Food.” He grins as he starts walking into the town.

“How will food help your bum?” I joke.

“I don't know, it just will.” He smirks.

“Okay, whatever you say.” I smirk back as he leads me into a little Italian on the edge of one of the streets.

 

It's completely empty but the sign says open so we get a table anyway.

 

The old couple running the restaurant look happy to have business so we make sure we order extra garlic bread, breadsticks and we both order a pudding after our main course. I see the couple smiling from behind the counter while they watch on as Liam makes hats out of the napkins and places one on my head and one on his.

 

By the end of the meal my mouth hurts from smiling so much and I'm completely stuffed from all of the food we ordered.

 

Nothing about today felt forced. I didn't have to fake laughs or smiles at Liam's jokes, they came naturally. I didn't have to rack my brain for conversation starters to fill awkward silences because there weren't any. The conversation flowed easily and the few silences that did settle weren't awkward at all. I didn't have to try and read all of Liam's actions because his intentions were clear – he was just being nice. Nothing was confusing and he sent no mixed messages.

 

When Liam drops me off at The Lodge I feel slightly disappointed that the day has ended because it didn't feel long enough. I could spend another couple of hours with Liam and I wouldn't get bored.

 

“Thank you for today, Liam. I had a really nice time.” I say once we get to my door.

“I did too,” He smiles. “Even though my bum is now bruised and a six year old is better than me at ice skating.” He adds on with a smirk.

“We should do something like that again,” I say and I truly mean it.

“Yeah we should... goodnight, Summer.”

 

He lays a sweet, lingering kiss on my cheek causing a blush to quickly appear where his lips once were. As he starts to walk down the drive he turns around and sends me another smile as I wave.

 

I enter the house and feel like I'm floating. I know that I have a goofy smile on my face but I don't care – I'm really happy and there's no point hiding that.

 

“You were out late,” and my bubble of happiness pops.

“So?” I say as I begin to mount the stairs but his towering figure stops me.

“Well what were you doing?” He snaps.

“We went ice skating and then got dinner, if you really want to know, but it's none of your business really.” I say as I finally push past him.

“What about yesterday?” I stop in my tracks. “Did that mean nothing then?”

You tell me, Harry.” I snap. “I thought it meant something but this morning you acted like nothing had even happened. You didn't even look at me. I felt invisible. Hell, I am invisible to you most of the time.”

“You know that's not true.” he sneers.

“Do I? Because I don't know anything with you! One second I think that you might actually like me and then the next it's as if I don't even exist! I'm done with these mixed messages, Harry. I can't take it any more! Kissing me isn't going to fix this messed up shit any more. I need someone who actually treats me well and doesn't mess with my head as much as you do!”

“Oh and is that Liam then? Well tell me how it all works out, will you? But don't come crying to me when you realise that I'm-” He cuts his sentence short, as if he was going to say too much. “Never mind.”

“When I realise that you're what?” I yell to his back as he storms off to his bedroom.

 

I'll probably never know the end to that sentence but I'm past the point of caring.

 

Harry is confusing and Liam isn't. Harry makes me feel invisible and Liam treats me well. Harry has made me cry too many times for me to even count and Liam has only ever made me smile and laugh. It should be a no-brainer but for some reason it isn't.

 

 

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