"So ... Maia ... What do you think of the house?" I shrug and continue to cut the sausages until they're little squares. The restaurant is full with a low buzz of chattering; there's music playing in the background but it's so faint, I can't tell what song is playing. The lights are dim and I don't like the way I have to squint to see Stan and Mum in the seats in front of me; the restaurant is crowed. I'm surprised we got a seat.
I duck my head lower.
"It's cool." I say lamely. Stan laughs; Mum's embarrassed laugh joins in. I feel her glare on me but she can't yell at me now; not while Stan's looking, so I savor the way she can't beat me up yet and pop a piece of sausage in my mouth. Stan looks impressed to have gotten a sentence out of me; I can tell he was expecting a simple nod or shake of my head. I try to ignore his stare as he turns to Mum. She stops her death glare and meets his gaze, smiling. Stan looks at her lips; I can see the urge to kiss her appear on his face. I clear my throat to remind them that I'm sitting here. Mum pulls away and sighs dramatically. She tries to include me in a conversation.
"So, Maia, Stan has a son, did you know that?"
"No." I mumble. Silence. She winces and looks to Stan for help. He swallows what he was eating and puts on a reassuring smile.
"He's not here tonight; he's staying at a friends to avoid all the drama of unpacking but he'll be here tomorrow and could give you a quick tour around." I raise an eyebrow as Mum nods.
"He's really nice; you'll like him. He's just a little older than you but he's a real sweetie." I stop eating and look at her, suspiciously.
"You've met him?" I ask, dumbfounded. She shifts uncomfortably in her seat.
"Well ... I've spoke to him over face time ..."
"He'll be going to the same school as you as well; I'm sure he'll show you around for the first few days." Stan adds. I don't know what to say so I just bow my head awkwardly and continue to eat in silence. Eventually, Mum and Stan give up with trying to include me in their conversations and they start to pretend that I'm not there.
And that's fine by me.
The door opens; somebody throws there keys to aside. I look up from the sofa as a boy walks in. He removes his coat and chucks it onto the armchair; he pulls at him jumper. His top rolls up with it; I get a sight of tone abs. I look away, heat rushing up from my neck and staining my cheeks. He grunts with effort and then swears to himself.
"DAD!" He yells. I slouch further into my seat and try to focus on the TV. I hear Stan and Mum in the kitchen calling my name. The boy hesitates. "DAD! ARE THEY HERE YET?"
"YES! COME AND SAY HELLO!" The boy swears.
"Fucking visitors." He spits before sighing. "I'M COMING!" I bite down hard on the inside of my cheek as then Mum is calling my name. The boy disappears out of the room; I stay where I am, unnoticed. I try to calm my flaming cheeks down as I pull myself onto my feet. I step round to the door, where the boy is fixing his hair in the mirror. He looks at me, alarmed, and then he collects himself.
"Oh. Hi." He says. I look at him; the image of his bare chest slides into my mind. I blush and step past him, retreating into the kitchen. He turns pale as he realizes I heard what he said; I pretend not to notice and step into the room. Stan looks up from the chopping board; Mum stops rolling the bread. She smiles when she sees me; I make my way round to her. I turn just to watch the boy slip into the room after me. His eyes flutter over to me and Mum, before looking over at Stan. Stan smiles.
"Jack, Maia. Maia, Jack." Stan gestures to me and then him. Awkwardly, I dip my head downwards and force a smile. He copies.
"Hey." Stan then gestures towards my Mum.
"Jack you know Lauren, yes?" Jack nods his head.
"Hello Lauren. It's nice to see you again; you look well." He says politely. Mum blushes.
"Oh, um. I am, thank you. So are you!" He smiles and turns back to Stan. His smile drops and he waits to be excused. I spot Stan's eyes flicker over to me and then back to him. He gives Jack the look Mum gives to me when she wants me to make friends with someone. I guess every parents has 'the look'. I turn my head away, ignoring the way Jack looks over at me, irritated. He finally exhale sharply and turns to face me.
"You want a tour around the neighborhood?" He asks through gritted teeth. I shake my head maybe a little too quick.
"No than-" Mum smacks my arm. I gasp a little and glare at her.
"She'd love a tour, thank you." Mum snaps, glaring viciously at me. Her eyes are fierce; I give up after a few seconds of trying to reason with her.
"Fine." I snap. "Yes, I'd like a tour please..." I turn back to Jack; he's too busy bickering with Stan to notice Mum and I watching. Finally, Jack swears and then glares over at me.
"Fine." He snarls. "Let's go." What now?
He starts out the room; Mum pushes on my back, gesturing me to follow him. After sending her an evil glare, I follow after him silently.