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...


7. Chapter 6

Elizabeth's pov

I hate dark.

I mean, who doesn't? Despite welcoming horror movies and laughing over 'things that go bump in the dark', its difficult to embrace that cold night brings, the haunting calls of nocturnal animals, the long minutes that stretch endlessly when you're trying to sleep while all senses are tensed and wide awake.

Call me emotional, but I have every right to despise what cuts off light.

After all, its dark that the memories come back.

It's dark that I lie awake and listen to the muffled sounds of crying and wailing.

It's dark that I have to force my eyelids shut, and I dream the same dream once more.

And like countless sleepless nights I will awake in the wee hours of the morning, crying out to parents who were once there and no longer there.

And then reality becomes my nightmare.

But these past nights, the dream has been different.

Instead of stumbling and collapsing in the hall when the television blares the dreadful news, warm sturdy hands reach for me and block my fall.

Instead of being in a sobbing mess alone in the hospital, I am cradled, embraced, tenderly soothed.

Instead of jeering at me for not spending enough time with my parents, for failing as the oldest daughter, a voice offers comfort, encouragement, support, even a joke that makes me laugh despite the situation.

Despite never seeing that person's face, I know who that person is. I know who he is. I know he looks out for me, protects me, helps me, cares for me.

And for now, that knowledge is enough.

Enough to get through the endless nights, enough to get through the day enduring sympathy and pity, enough even to tolerate his awful attempts to make me feel better.

Enough to make me feel special.

Enough to make me feel loved.

My eyes flicker open and I resist the urge to yell in my pillow. I'm surrounded by my sleeping sisters- can't risk it.

Love?! Where did my mind get that??

Perhaps Nathaniel does care for me, but I doubt his feelings for me go any farther than brotherly care for me. To my shock and horror I'm a little dismayed by that thought.

Snuggling into my blanket, I allow one fact to drift through my mind as I fall asleep.

Well, I won't question that ever since I met Nathaniel K. Smith, my dreams have definitely been a bit more sweeter.


Nathaniel's pov

I hang up the phone and turn to the general direction of the kitchen.

"Mom, I'm having friends over this Saturday, okay?" I yell.

An affirmative drifts from the kitchen.

I get to my room and stop outside their room. I hesitate for a full thirty seconds before knocking.

"Come in!"

I open the door and walk in, seeing Elizabeth perched on her desk reading. I scan the room. No Crystal, no Esther. Perfect.

"Elizabeth, do you mind if you hang around on Saturday if you have nothing on?"

She looks up from her book. "Why?" she asks curiously. I look down and clasp and unclasp my hands.

"I want you to meet my friends," I blurt out in a rush.

A silence hangs in the air for a moment, before she flatly replies, "No."

Step 2- resort to pleading.

"Please? They are really nice and won't make fun of you or anything. I look at her imploringly.


"I'll do your chores and help you with homework!"


Step 3- play dirty.

"I'll tell them you were too shy to meet them. That you felt you were too ugly to-"

Suddenly I'm on the floor, and she's towering over me.

"Listen, Nathaniel K Smith," she hisses.

"I do not care at all about your friends."

"First, they probably suck as much as you do. And I don't want to be disappointed further." She jabs a finger at my chest and I don't know what hurts more, the insult or the contact.

"Second," another jab, "I do not want our schools to ever cross. It is enough that my friends know the secret. I don't want the whole school to gossip about me."

"Third," she gives a particularly vicious jab, "We have a deal, a rule, to stay scarce when the other's friends are over. Stick to it."

"Fine." I stalk out of the room.

Strangely, fate is in my favour. Crystal has tuition, and Esther has ballet classes. But obstinate Elizabeth already called her friends and arranged an outing with them.

Then the both good and bad thing happens.

Elizabeth begins coughing and sneezing uncontrollably.

The reading on the thermometer says 38*C.

She gloomily cancels the outing and shuts herself up in her room.

Despite her sickly situation I grin like a Chesire cat.


Nathaniel's pov

Henry and George greet Mum politely before going upstairs to set up the game set. I grab the plate of cookies and Mum yells at me to save a few for Elizabeth.

No problem. All three of us will go into the room to deliver it.

We play until there's only two cookies left. She won't be in the mood to eat many in her state anyway.

We tiptoe to her room, George elbowing Henry each time he snickers.

I push open the door and see Elizabeth sprawled on the bed sleeping soundly. Her face is pale, and she's wearing this cute set of panda pajamas. I recall Esther telling me about their trip to China and smile.

George puts the plate of cookies at her bedside while Henry oohs and aahs at the bedroom. I sit on the bed and look at Elizabeth. She's shivering and without thinking I take the blanket and drape it over her.

Her eyes immediately snap open and she jolts upright.

"What..." she rasps. Her eyes fall on the frozen me, then George standing calmly at the door, then Henry who has been looking through her wardrobe.

"Get out," she snarls at me menacingly.

But when George turns to go, she says in a gentler undertone, "You two can stay."

I fume at the door slams behind me. How biased can she get? Life is so unfair.

The door opens and Henry looks at me, a little panic stricken.

"She says if she finds you eavesdropping you will die a terrible death." He says.

I nod and strode in the direction of my room. Might as well do some homework then.


Elizabeth's pov

I sigh heavily and turn to look at the two boys. The blond one has returned and is looking at me with a mixture of awe and terror. The one with those black serious eyes in already sitting on the floor looking at me. Studying me in fact.

I lie on the pillows, strength all drained out of me suddenly.

"I'm Elizabeth. But I'm sure he's told you all about me already," I laugh harshly.

"I'm Henry," the blond speaks, "And Nathaniel's taken pains to not speak about you. He knows it makes you upset."

"George," the other says simply.

"Oh," is all I can muster. We sit there looking at each other, sharing a mutual understanding. We chat a bit more pleasantly and they get up to leave, apologising for intruding.

Just before they go, Henry turns. "Don't be too harsh on Nathan," he says quietly. "He's got a lot on his hands to deal with."

Then the door slams shut.

I lie down, wondering what he means.

The door swings open and Nathaniel comes in.

Great, the last person I want to see while my emotions are in turmoil.


I turn to the side. When you're sick you can be selfish. "Go away. I don't want to see you."

The door slams shut and I'm left in the darkness, with only thoughts to keep me company.


Elizabeth's pov

Its 2AM and I can't sleep.

I've been tossing and turning all night. I didn't join the rest for dinner, and Esther and Crystal slept with Mr and Mrs Smith. Although I'm grateful they won't catch my flu, it just makes the place more lonely somehow...

I flop on my back and consider sneaking into someone's room. When I was little and scared of the dust bunny monster stories Daddy told us to keep our rooms tidy, I would sneak into their room and lie down with them. Then I would get up earlier and run back to my room, scared I would get caught and be teased for being a coward.

I'm too sick and tired now to care about the label. I just want someone to embrace, someone to whisper comforting words in my ear, someone I can cry on.

I flip on my back and stare at the ceiling, debating. Going to Mr and Mrs Smith seems plausible, except I don't particularly want my sisters to stare at me while I cry.

So the only room left is Nathaniel's.


I idly clench and unclench my sheets as I think quietly.

I realise I've never really seen Nathaniel's room before. Is it boyish, full of electronic gadgets? Does he have a computer of his own? Books? Is he hiding anything? I snicker at the thought of a Barbie doll or something equally embarrassing.

Then I recall a memory of me wandering into a toy shop and getting lost.

Mummy found me, and scolded me till I cried. Then she bought my first Barbie Doll for me...

Tears begin to fall thick and fast, and before I know it I'm out of bed and standing in front of Nathaniel's door.

Too late to go back now, I think as I push it open.

The moonlight is dim, but I still can get a rough gist of what his room looks like. A framed photo hanging on the wall and a few posters is all there is- the rest of the walls are bare, and painted in a dark colour I can't really make out. A study table, a swivel chair, a wardrobe and his bed. I guess guys really go for the bare necessities.

Speaking of the bed... I turn to look at the occupant. His eyes are shut and he's sleeping soundly. No noise or movement whatsoever.

I head to the window nook that he has, and settle on the pillow he has there with a sigh. Its really comfortable, and I feel a pang of envy that he has a window nook.

I look out the window, observing the stars, and for once I let my barriers break.

Right there, in a guy's room, I cried until my eyes were dry. How stupid of me.

But it wasn't stupid when I felt his presence near me, and strong arms enveloped me and pulled me into a tight embrace. It wasn't foolish when we just spent the night that way, him murmuring things into my ear and me sobbing.

When dawn broke, I washed my face in his bathroom, stood at the door and nodded at him.

He looked like he wanted to do something, but his expression became a sort of weary resignation, and he said "Bye" to me in the least audible voice. Which isn't surprising since its 5AM in the morning.

But I surprise him, and myself, in what happens next.

I wrap my arms around him and murmur, "Thanks" in his ear. When I turn to look at him again, that lop-sided grin guys specialise in is plastered on his face, and I smile too before parting.

And as I enter my room and get into bed, I realise the place doesn't feel so lonely anymore.


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