Hugo and I gradually started to spend more time with eachother. We sat beside eachother at dinner, and beside one another in the sitting room. But since we're both quite socially awkward, we only ever had small chats and reassuring glances from eachother.
Living with this new family wasn't easy. My privacy and routines had all been thrown out of the window. I didn't feel at ease yet.. I still walked around with my shoes on. My uncomfort caused the days to drag.
I sat on the couch, straight and uptight, as if I was in an old, distant relatives house. Hugo came into the room, like a beautiful God, lighting up the room, and sat down beside me. I begged the warm, nervous excitement in my tummy to go away, but typically, it wouldn't.
"Would you like to go to the lake with me? It's somewhere to go... It'll break up your day, if you're bored" he shrugged.
"Yes, please" I sighed in relief.
"And.. You can sit back" he said, raising an eyebrow. "No need to be so tense."
"I know" I grimaced. "I just can't seem to help it at the minute." He nodded, and I knew he understood.
Just then, Lacey and mum came in. Lacey fell down on the seat beside Hugo, and mum on the couch across.
"Oh Sarah, you're great!" laughed Lacey. I cringed. Lacey was pretty loud. She was going to take some getting used to.
The two of them chatted noisily for a few minutes, and I glanced at Hugo, his face the picture of confusion.
"So Hugo!" my mum beamed, making us both jump to attention. "How are you?"
"Uh... Grand?" he answered awkwardly.
"I feel I haven't gotten to know you very well yet. Tell me about yourself." She rested her chin on her knuckled, eagerly watching him.
I sighed. What a horrendous question. She knows he's socially awkward. You can't help but notice. What does she expect him to say?
"Tell you what?" he asked, dumbfounded. Mum looked surprised.
I rolled my eyes.
"Well.. What do you like in school?"
"English" he answered bluntly. Mum seemed taken aback. I think she had gotten too used to Laceys personality over the past couple of weeks.
"Uhm.. Do you have a girlfriend?"
Lacey started to laugh.
"Of course he doesn't! You haven't even been kissed yet, have you?" she said to him patronisingly, grabbing him in a headlock and ruffling his hair.
He pushed her away in annoyance and fixed his hair, and his face sat in a sulk.
Mum took the hint and changed the subject.
"Is Lacey taking you anywhere today?" mum asked me.
"Um.. No.. Hugo is" I said slowly, not sure of whether I should mention it or not.
Mums eyes widened in shock.
Hugo saw his opportunity.
"Yes, and we better be going now. Meet you outside Emily." He hastily got up and sped off.
I gave my mum an apologetic smile and followed him.
"You must think I'm horrible" he said sadly.
"Why would I think that?"
"You know as well as I do that I try to stay away from Sarah."
"Yeah, and you see me talking to James twenty four seven" I said sarcastically.
His eyebrows twitched, but then he smiled, understanding what I meant.
We started to walk through the town when I saw a huge group ahead of us.
"Oh no..." I heard Hugo groan. He put his head down and hunched his shoulders, and I knew straight away that these were the people who caused him misery.
"Want to go another way?" I softly asked.
"There is none" he muttered.
"Well then. Let's try something new" I said bravely, even though I could feel my hands shaking.
I linked arms with him. His head jerked up in confusion.
I had never even met these people, but they striked fear into me, like the people in my old school. I felt sick.
"Strength in numbers" I nodded, mustering up a tiny amount of fake courage. He frowned, but then his face relaxed and slightly nodded his head.
I gulped. We walked towards the group, and looked ahead of us.
As we waded through the group, I heard a few choruses of "crossbred".
I squeezed his arm with mine for reassurance.
When we got about twenty metres ahead of them, I let out a shaky breath of relief.
Did that just work?
"I've never had strength in numbers before" I smally smiled.
"Me neither." He paused. "It's easier that way. But... Thanks for not saying anything... trying to stand up for me or anything."
"No worries. I'm sure you can fight your own battles."
The adrenaline was still pumping through me. He smiled at me, and I loudly inhaled, and then blushed. But Hugo didn't pick up on it.
We kept on walking, neither of us unlocking arms.