Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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53. ⪻ 53 ⪼

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There’s not much to do during an hour long drive with a six year old and a man who is focusing on driving in the rain. So like any other normal person dealing with the stresses of social anxiety, I allowed my mind to take over and drive me crazy.

I’m a tad nervous if I do say so myself. I’d met Leigh-Anne when she so kindly offered to watch Edward on the night of the banquet, well I actually met her the next morning when Harry and I actually made it back to his place. And I’d met John, Harry’s oldest step sibling, when he was in Manchester for business. But I’d never gotten to meet his father, step mum, sister, or youngest step sibling.

From what Harry’s told me, they seem lovely, but I’m still allowed to be nervous. I was just as nervous when I met Anne for the first time.

“Get ready for crazy.” Harry mutters, his words and hand on my knee driving me from my thoughts.

We appear to be turning onto a road with a bunch of residential homes on one side and farmland on the other. Part of me wonders where on Earth Harry is taking us, especially since the turn for Liverpool was a few kilometers back.

“How crazy is crazy?” I find myself asking, as I let my eyes scan the road. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Harry grin and shrug his shoulders. His idea of crazy and my idea of crazy are two different things.

“Slightly crazy.” He assures me. “Juliette was raised in a large household so in order to get your voice heard, you had to be quite loud. That demeanor just carried over onto Leigh-Anne, Nathalie, and John, and then onto Gem and myself.”

“But you’re usually so calm and collected.”

“Get that from my mother.” I giggle and peer back at Edward, who is engrossed in something on my old tablet. “But I can be loud,” my eyes dart to his as he quickly gives me a look, “loud in the bedroom.”

Immediately, my cheeks warm and I’m shushing him from the little ears in the backseat. He doesn’t seem phased only laughing at my reaction.

“I’m only preparing you for what’s in store… behind closed doors that is.”

“Prepare me, huh? How’d you know we’re ever going to do that? Maybe I’m waiting until…”

“In that case,” Harry interrupts me, grabbing my hand, “wanna get married?” His tone is joking, but I can’t deny the flutter I feel in my heart at his words.

“You wish. And if I’m remaining celibate for life?”

“Is there anyway I can persuade you otherwise?” Harry wonders, smirking over at me whilst dropping his hand down onto my knee before running his hand further up my leg. I slap his hand away, not wanting to get too flustered in the car with my six year old brother in the backseat. “I love you.”

“I love you too-” Just as I’m nearly finished speaking, Harry gasps and points to one of the tree covered area to his right.

“We’re here!”

Narrowing my eyes at the trees to our right, I feel very confused as to where we are. I wasn’t quite paying attention to our surroundings a few minutes ago with Harry in his teasing mood. Suddenly, my eyes widen when Harry pulls up to a gated entrance. Whilst I sit shell shocked before the gate, Harry leans over, rummaging in the glove compartment near my knees and takes out what looks to be a garage opener of shorts.

“Harry.” I say as I hear a small wow being said from the backseat. “Where are we?” I wonder, as the gates before us open slowly. Harry sends me a sheepish smile and pulls forward through the open gates. “Babe, you said your dad was wealthy, you didn’t say he was this wealthy.” Driving down the long gravel covered drive, I feel my heart racing even quicker.

Oh God, I hope they’re not those parents who won’t allow someone to date below their status.

“Love, relax, you look as if you’re going to be sick.” Harry says with a laugh.

I guess I didn’t really put two and two together when it came to Harry’s childhood stories. He said he had a nanny, but a lot of children have nannies nowadays. And Harry’s flat is lovely, but he makes good money as a doctor, I wasn’t under the impression that his father bought it for him until he mentioned that a week ago. But then again, I thought his father had saved up for his son to have a nice home.

This house though, is the epitome of nice; it’s gorgeous. It’s vintage, but well kept. The white exterior shines bright even through the heavy falling rain. There’s flowers and greenery everywhere you look, all beautifully maintained. The home itself appears to be three floors tall, with two garages in the back, and beautiful large, floor-to-ceiling windows in the back.

“This place is huge!” I hear Edward exclaim from the backseat. I nod my head in agreement, but for some reason can’t find words to express my opinion. I want to say something, I just don’t know how.

As we approach the double garage at the side of the home, I see a vehicles sitting outside the closed garage doors; a brand new BMW.

“Looks like John beat us here.” Harry mutters to himself as he shuts off his Range Rover. “Now,” Harry begins, turning in his seat to look back at Edward. “This house may seem intimidating, but I assure you that the people inside are far from it.”

“Is your family nice?” Edward asks, still staring out the window.

“You bet they are. They’re a bit loud, but don’t worry.”

Without another word, Harry throws open his door and steps into the pouring rain. He shuts his door and runs around to the boot of his car, throwing it open and grabbing an umbrella. Opening the umbrella as Edward throws open the door, Harry aides the boy out of the car. Taking a deep breath, I, myself, exit the car, and just in time for an Audi to pull up behind us and flash their lights at us.

Harry laughs to himself as I pull up the hood of my raincoat to escape the falling droplets.

“Yo, H!”

The door to the Audi is thrown open as and a beautiful, light-skinned black woman exits the expensive car. She smiles widely, her pearly white teeth shining bright in contrast with her dark lipstick colour. Her natural dark brown curls are quickly covered by her own umbrella as she approaches Harry to give him a hug.

“Hey Nathalie.” So this is Harry’s youngest sister. “How are you?”

“Exhausted. You know mum and her first impressions; she wanted everything perfect for today, had me up cooking all night. Let’s just hope my cooking survived the four hour drive from Bath.” She laughs loudly, her eyes fitting down towards Edward. “This must be the birthday boy!” I smile at her demeanor towards Edward as I stay back near the vehicle, pretending to be looking at something in the passenger seat.

Way to be a creep, Annabelle.

“I’m Edward.” Edward introduces himself to Nathalie, his voice quiet as he stands slightly behind Harry.

“Edward, this is my annoying sister, Nathalie.” With that Harry receives a shove from his sister, the two laughing amongst themselves as Edward watches on.

“Hello there, Edward. Happy Birthday.” I approach the three to see Edward, nodding in Nathalie’s direction, not saying a word. I take this as my cue to stop being a creep and actually approach the two siblings and my brother.

“He’s a bit shy at first, sorry.” I cut in, walking up behind Harry and Edward, placing my hands on Edward’s shoulders. Nathalie looks to me, her smile widening.

“You must be Annabelle.”

“Yes, lovely to meet you, Nathalie.” I say, shaking Nathalie’s outstretched hand. She returns the gesture, complimenting my raincoat in which I’m caught complimenting her expensive looking boots that appear to be getting slightly damaged by the mixture of rain and gravel drive.

“H, talks about you a lot. Now I don’t speak with my brother often, but when I do you’re mainly the topic of conversation.” Nathalie gushes, holding her index finger in front of her lips and shushing lightly whilst sending me a wink. Harry sighs from beside me and shakes his head.

“Thanks for that, Nat.”

“No problem. You should get inside before mum throws a fit. I can see her peeking through the curtains as we speak.” All of our heads turn towards where Nathalie is motioning, only to see closed, yet moving, curtains.

“That’s Juliette for you.” Harry says laughing. “See you inside, Nat.”

Nathalie waves us off and the three of us are making our way towards the front door of the house, completely by-passing the open boot of Harry’s Rover. He tells us he’ll deal with the cases later, once Edward and I are settled in the house.

“She was lovely.” I mention as we approach the front door.

“See, nothing to be nervous about.” Harry tells me, nudging my side.

“Who said I was nervous?”

“Oh please, it’s written all over your face. Now, get ready for the real crazy.”

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