You Are Kidding Me!

I'm sure you'd hyperventilate if you found that you're jumping from an only child to the brother of three siblings. Make the three new arrivals a tomboy, the new favourite in the family and the girl-you-fall-for-who-hates-you-at-first-sight, and you have the makings of a nightmare. Alas for Nathaniel K. Smith, its a living one.
Despite his usual tenacity, determination and way too vivid imagination, this is certainly beyond his wildest dreams. With his reputation on the line, will he be able to keep the terrifying additions to his family a secret?
Jeer, cheer, laugh or aww in this way too cheesy reminder that coincidences are never coincidences, love is never easy and not to ever wish life was less boring...

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16. Chapter 15

Henry’s pov

I’m trembling as I run a comb through my hair and check my outfit in the mirror for the millionth time. I’m not vain and I am pretty sure I am good looking 90% of the time, but this date needs to be perfect, and that includes my appearance.

Sophie appears in the doorway, dressed in a blue denim dress with a brown belt. She looks really nice, and I compliment her for it.

She and I slip on canvas sneakers and get into the car. Dad looks at us and smiles. “My kids are all grown up now,” he says, a bit wistfully. I suppress a groan and hope fervently he stops indulging in nostalgia. The past is all a bitter memory to me. Fortunately there is no more mention of the topic and we soon pull up at the teashop.

Kayla and George are already waiting for us. George is trying to talk to Kayla, but she’s buried her head in a book and only looks up when our car appears. The look of utter relief on her face is hard to miss. She throws her arms around me- uncharacteristic of her- and murmurs in my ear, “I’m afraid George has been pouring poison into my ear about you for the past 10 minutes.”

I smile at her, a little sadly. “Some of them might be true,” I warn her. “I’m not exactly on the straight and narrow.”

Her arms tighten around me. “I believe you are different now, Henry. You’ve proved it to me.”

“Anything for my girl,” I say lightly and she blushes and slaps my shoulder. We turn to find George and Sophie gone already.

As we walk into the quaint teashop, I take the time to study Kayla’s outfit. She’s wearing a lilac dress shirt that just reaches her thighs, and leggings encase her in black fabric all the way to her ankles. She’s wearing a chic bracelet and I touch it gently.

I let her choose where to sit and she finally selects a table for two situated near the large glass panels that make up the walls of the teashop.

"A choice befitting the artist in you," I laugh. And it is.

From our table one can look at the garden outside which is filled with every imaginable flower. The same owner of this cafe owns the flowershop. I tell Kayla we can swing by to look at the flowers and pick some out later.

To my surprise, she shakes her head to decline.

“That is so sweet of you, Henry, but I’m afraid I can’t. I get hay fever too easily and I can’t appreciate flowers without my nose running and my constant sneezing.”

Oh. Oops, have I messed up our date. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realise you have hay fever. Its just that girls really like flowers, so I figured...” I end lamely when I see Kayla staring at the tablecloth, studying it as if its way more important than me. Then it hits me and I want to slap myself. Why did I bring up the girls I’ve dated in the past?

I need an instructional guide for dummies on how to not mess up a date. Honestly, I’ve gone out with so many people, but this is the first time I’ve committed so many mistakes!

I sigh and reach over to cover one of her hands with my own. “Look at me, Kayla,” I say with a short laugh. “When I’m with you I fall to pieces and can’t seem to do anything right. I’m so... inadequate.”

She laces my hand with hers and I’m a little surprised by her bold act. Looking up at me and smiling, she says, “Why don’t we get something to eat?”

As we chat about our interests and just get to know each other, I wonder what Sophie and George are up to. Perhaps we’ll run into them later.

o~O~o

Sophie’s pov

I look at the roses, then George. Petunias, then George. Tulips, then George. Spiderlilies, then George. He still hasn’t budged from the hibiscus. He looks at them, then looks at the price tag. Is he going to buy them? Are they for... me? A shiver of delight runs up my spine for his thoughtful actions. The hibiscus isn’t my favourite flower, though. Tulips are. Plain but pretty.

But before I can drop a hint about my favourite flower, George has already walked over to the florist and requested a bouquet of hibiscus. He pays the cashier and gestures for me to walk out with him through the garden. I jog up with him and consider asking him for the flowers, but he seems rather preoccupied. So instead I keep up light chatter.

He does respond, but it's often vague, and he still seems very preoccupied. My heart sinks and I stop walking. He turns.

“What’s wrong?” he asks brusquely.

“You still love her, don’t you?” I say quietly.

“What?”

“Even when you were asking me out, even when you are with me now on a date, you still love Kayla and you wish I were her,” I say, voice rising slightly due to incredulity.

“What on earth, George!?”

He opens his mouth, probably to utter a sharp retort, when Henry calls to us from afar. Great. More complications.

“Sis! George!” Henry is waving to us, one arm around Kayla’s shoulder. They are both beaming. I look at George, study his face intently.

He looks defeated, yet determined, and I feel a surge of regret that I’m not the girl he wants. Betrayal and bitterness are crashing around me, tearing down the illusions of the boy I once thought I knew everything about.

He marches towards Kayla and I register the look of panic on her face. I turn around, trying not to let the tears flow freely down my cheeks. Of course it was for her. Of course it wasn’t for me.

I spin around immediately when I hear the cry from Kayla and Henry shouting “No no no!”

Kayla has turned to the side, hands cupped over her nose, trying to breath. Tears are streaming down her face. Henry is kneeling next to her, trying to calm her. George is pacing around in anxiety.

“What happened?” I cry as I run up to them.

Henry points to the bouquet of flowers, now lying miserably on the ground, and grimly says, “Hayfever.”

My face must register shock and horror, because George gently tugs at my arm and brings me a few steps away from Kayla. “Give her some breathing space,” he says and I feel another pang that he only cares about her, her and not me. I twist myself away from him and catch the look of hurt on his face.

Multiply that by ten and you’ll know how I feel, George.

Kayla finally calms down and Henry looks up in disgust and George. “How could you do such a thing!” He barks. George opens his mouth to reply but I’m faster.

“It’s not George’s fault. I was the one who decided we’d buy flowers for Kayla.” I swallow thickly with the lie and George shoots an angry glare at me.

Henry’s move curves downwards in a stern frown. “I can tell when you’re lying, sis.”

Curse sibling telepathy.

“I think George has been neglecting his date for mine,” he says, emphasising on the word date. He puts an arm around Kayla and leads her off, but not before shooting George a dirty glare that indicates, I’ll talk to you later.

George throws his hands up in annoyance and spits, “You ruined everything!” He marches off in the direction of the teashop.

I stare blankly at his back. Where is the George I know?

o~O~o

Henry's Pov

I sit on the bench and watch Kayla dissolve in tears. Tears of anger, tears of frustration, tears of defeat. I want to cry with her and punch the wall, but I need to be the strong one. I need to be there when she needs comfort.

And that need is now.

She suddenly turns and collapses in me. Its almost comical- she’s like a strong soldier, who, battered and world-weary, runs bawling into a mother’s arms. But the fact that its Kayla and she’s turning to me quickly makes my expression sober. I pat her comfortingly and slowly her sobs cease. Realising her position, she wrenches herself from me and looks at the ground.

“Everything’s spoilt,” she says quietly, and I take my hands in hers and look her squarely in the eye.

“Don’t be silly. Of course it’s not spoilt. I’m not going to let a friend and sister spoil our first date.”

“Sophie didn’t do anything-“

“I know, my sister is faultless. She’s been badly used by my friend and I intend to make George pay for that.” My expression is grim but softens at her forlorn expression. I cup her face and urge her to look at me. “We still have an hour or two before we have to go back. Care to make the most out of this date, Miss Kayla?”

“Can you do something first to comfort me, Mister Henry?” She asks with a shy grin.  Scooting over, she whispers in my ear.

o~O~o

Kayla's Pov

His face lights up and he draws closer to me. Tenderly tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, I lean over and kisses me on the lips.

I hesitantly return it. It’s my first kiss and I honestly don’t know what to do, but it brings about some of the best sensations I’ve ever felt. And when I’m still giddy and stunned from the onslaught of joy I’m experiencing, he hauls me to my feet and drags me away to resume our date, exclaiming about how I love to waste time. I just laugh and let him drag me along. With him, I can go anywhere and it’ll still be the perfect date.

 

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