21. 20



“So, uh, which store do you want to go in?” Amanda’s voice was like a bucket of ice cold water being poured onto my face. I flinched, looking up from my phone.

 Oh. Right. Shopping.

 “Erm, let’s go in here,” I pointed to the first shop I saw, which was some footwear store. Amanda made a little noise in the back of her throat which I ignored and lead the way into the store like I was wanting to be here in the first place. No, in case you were wondering, I don’t actually want to be here, but when life hands you lemons -- what was the rest of that saying? You make lemonade? Squirt lemon juice in someone’s eye? Whatever, I don’t fucking care anyway.

 “You know, I’m really glad we could do this, Brigh,” Amanda said while we were cruising down the Boot aisle. I looked over my shoulder at her with raised eyebrows, definitely ready to fire back some rhetorical comeback, but the words suddenly dissolved on my tongue.

 “Me too,” I managed to choke out, my lips forming around the syllables weirdly. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it.”

 “Yeah, too long if you ask me,” Amanda mumbled, shifting her eyes on a pair of high-heeled leopard print boots. She reached out to take it off the shelf, examining it curiously.

 “So, um, where did you go after high school?” I dared to ask, casually checking out a pair of plain black winter boots. Amanda cleared her throat and set the boot back gently.

 “I actually went to London for a bit, stayed with a few mates until I had enough money to travel around,” She answered lightly, picking up another boot. I did the same.

 “Oh, uh, sounds like fun.” I shot her a tight-lipped smile, feeling something cold knot in the pit of my stomach.


 The tension between us was enough to make my head hurt so I put the boot I randomly picked up and patted my stomach. I could tell Amanda had the same thoughts because she turned towards me.

 “I think we should get some lunch. I’m starving,” She layed extra emphasis on starving and I couldn’t help but wince.

 “Don’t use the word starving. Say hungry instead,” The words slipped out before my brain could process them. I clamped my lips together tightly. Amanda gave me a strange look.


 I backtracked, thinking frantically of something to say...anything…

 “Okay,” I nodded once and walked out of the store, hands stuffed deep into the pockets of my jumper.


 “How did you and Ron meet?”

 Those were the first words either of us had said in the last ten minutes. As much as I didn’t want to ask her anything, the silence would have driven me mad, so I cracked.
 Amanda, mouth full of brown rice from the Chinese restaurant in the food court, swallowed roughly, making a little choking sound. My lips twitched up slightly.

 “Hm?” She asked, eyes watering. I repeated the question, watching with amusement as she washed down her food with a sip of Sprite.

 “Oh, yeah, uh, Ron and I met in Scotland a few years back. Perthshire, I believe. I was out with these girls I met and I was sitting at the bar. It was a restaurant, not a pub, anyway, I was sitting with these girls and this guy with black hair comes up to me and sits down. At first I thought, ‘Oh shit, this creep is goin’ to talk to me’.” Amanda shakes her head, smiling to herself.

 “He’s a smooth talker, that one. Charming as well. It didn’t take long before I was pulled right in. So I gave him my number by the end of the evening and the rest is history.” She finished her tale with big hand gestures

 “Aw, how romantic,” I commented, a hint of sarcasm infused with my words. Amanda nodded and grinned widely, forgetting her food and focusing on me. I shifted uneasily under her piercing stare.

 “So, you know my story. What’s yours?” She said. I frowned.

 “What story?”

 “Ya know, how you and that handsome boyfriend of yours met,” she said, eyes glinting. My stomach muscles contracted almost painfully.

 “Harry and I met through my job at the cafe, nothing special. Uh, he came to the cafe to order a coffee and I thought he was really fucking hot,”

 Amanda let out a cackle which made me want to roll my eyes, but I plowed through the rest of my story instead. I made sure to leave out any information she didn’t need to know and even made up a few minor details about dates that didn’t happen to make up for the time we spent in witness protection and such. Nothing big.

 “Sounds like a proper gentleman,” Amanda said warmly, smiling all sister-like at me. I felt my own lips twitch up into a grin.

 “He really is,” My thoughts drifted momentarily to the image of Harry’s smile. All soft and cute and the way his dimples indented into his cheeks and his adorable little chin --


 “What?” I looked up, startled, “hm?”

 “I asked, ‘What about Michael’?”

 “What about him?” I asked wearily.

 “What’s the deal with him? He’s your friend, right?” Amanda was definitely done with her food now as she leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table, hazel eyes wide.

 “Yeah, he’s my friend.” I answered, curious as to where this was going.

 “How’d you guys meet?”

 “I met him through Harry,” I said smoothly. The smirk on my sister’s face grew.

 “Why’s his hair black? I thought it was blue yesterday?”

 “Oh, uh, he likes to dye his hair a lot. He thinks he’s punk rock, but he’s really not,” I laughed for the first time since I woke up this morning, shocking Amanda.

 “Cute,” she commented casually. My smile faltered into something more like a frown.

 “I guess, sure,” I said. Realizing my chips were still in front of me, I picked one up and shoved it in my mouth.

 “So,” she cleared her throat, “how old is he?”

 “Who? Harry? He’s only twent--”

 “No, I mean Michael. How old is Michael?” Amanda had a weird look on her face, it was like an eager, hopeful, slightly hysterical look that made me want to turn away.


 “Just curious,” She shrugged like it was no big deal. I shoved another fry into my mouth.

 “He’s nineteen,” I answered and couldn’t help but wonder how old Amanda is. If I remembered correctly, she should be about twenty five, I think. Possibly. I don’t know. Oh well.

 “Oh,” Amanda tilted her head like she honestly didn’t expect him to be so young.

 Oh my fucking god, I mentally sighed.

 “Yep. He has a girlfriend too. In case you were wondering,” I added that last bit with a little heat behind my words. Although her facial expression didn’t change, her posture surely did. She straightened her spine and crossed her legs, balling her hands into fists and shoving them into her lap.

 “Who? You?” Amanda laughed obnoxiously. My eyes bulged.

 “What?!” I sputtered. “No! No, he’s dating my friend Kate.” They weren’t exactly dating anymore, but I wasn’t about to tell her that.

 “I was just messin’ with ya little sis. Calm down,” she grinned. I felt my face heat up and I ate the remainder of my chips with a wall of sudden hate slowly building up.


 When I got home later that night, it was past ten and I could tell every one was already asleep as the windows were dimmed. I unfastened the seatbelt and grabbed the bags crowding my feet.

 “Hey Brigh,” Amanda said right before I got out of the car.


 “Thanks again for agreeing to do this with me. I had fun,” she said quietly, sending a small but sincere smile. I clutched by bags closer to my side.

 “Me too, Amanda. I’ll see you tomorrow okay?” I offered, not really for the whole heart-to-heart conversation yet. Amanda nodded and waved as she backed out of the driveway, disappearing into the shadows.  I didn’t waste any time running into the house, shivering like a fool all because of the stupid dark.


-Hunter x

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