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Chapter 13 : It's Party Time!
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It was finally time. That was all Cameron could think as he stood in front of his mirror yet again. The party that he and Aisley had planned over a month before to get his sister back together with Byron, who still sent flowers at least once a week, had finally arrived. But not long after that party was planned, Cam had come up with another, far more important purpose behind the get-together, with the help of the very same sister, of course. Rebecca was absolutely brilliant when it came to the whole 'Operation Make So-And-So Not Hate Me' thing. Cam just hope that Rebecca's plan worked, because if it didn't, he didn't know what he would do.
For the past month, Rebecca had been drilling him on acceptable behavior, how exactly to trap Aisley in his clutches, blah blah blah. Rebecca ever had him wear the itchy green sweater Aisley had recently knit for him. Everyone else thought it was horribly uncomfortable and scratchy looking, but Aisley thought it brought out the color of his eyes.
"Hell!" he muttered. "Everything brings out my eyes!" The sad thing was that Aisley really was proud of the stupid sweater, and Cam wouldn't ever say so in front of his siblings, but he actually liked it. Even if it was itchy.
Five minutes later, Cam was fully dressed, but still standing in front of the mirror. He had one last thing to do before he went downstairs: practice what he was going to say to Aisley.
"I love you." he said dully to his reflection. The things he did for her.... "I've always loved you, Ai-" Cam didn't get a chance to finish his little 'rehearsal,' seeing as Aisley herself was standing in his doorway, staring at him as if he was a lunatic.
"Are you done yet?" she asked with a laugh.
"Erm...yeah. I mean, I guess." Cam stuttered as he brushed past her, grabbing her by the wrist. "Come on."
After a few seconds, Aisley just had to ask.
"What was that all about?"
"What was what all about?"
"That thing with the mirror!"
"Huh?" Cam asked, pretending to be dumb.
"You were standing there telling your reflection you loved it...only you were calling it Ai-"
"Ai-da." Cam finished for her, purposely mispronouncing the name. "I'm...trying out for a play. The part I want is this guy who's in love with Ai-da. I'm surprised you haven't heard of the show...it's actually kind of famous."
"It's pronounced Eye-ee-da, you dummy! And for your information, Aida is both an opera and a musical. Not a play." Aisley said, rolling her eyes.
"Oh. Right." Cam said, smiling sheepishly. "I knew that."
"Sure you did, Cam." she replied with a patronizing smile. "Sure you did."
"Shouldn't we go downstairs?" he asked, a trifle of annoyance evident in his voice. His desire to change the subject was also obvious, so Aisley took pity on him.
"Probably. But hey, who says we can't be fashionably late to our own party?" she asked, grinning. Cam laughed.
"Well, it is our party, so I guess we can do whatever we want, darling."
"You bet your life we can." Aisley burst out with a laugh. "Oh, Cam, this is going to be so much fun. And so romantic...." She sighed. Cam felt twitchy just thinking about his plan. Lure Aisley into closet. Snog her shamelessly. Enlist friends and family to sing his virtues. Convince her of his love. Live happily ever after. The end. Oh yeah, the night was going to be loads of fun. Pssh. More like....nerve-wracking. Terrifying. Jumpy. Nausea--inducing. Frightening. Terrifying. Not surprisingly, Aisley didn't seem to expect him to answer her; she just continued her chatter and kept giving him that smile that made his gut clench.
Thankfully for Cam's sanity and Aisley's virtue, they arrived downstairs in a little under two minutes. The entryway was fill, and the sheer number of people was staggering. They both looked at each other as if to say "What on EARTH possessed us to throw a party this big?", and they just happened to catch their first real glances of each other, seeing as the lighting earlier had been horrible, to say the least.
Aisley couldn't speak. She would have thought that after twenty years of friendship, she'd be able to look at Cam and not be astonished by just how handsome he was. But she always was. It only proved her point that Cam had absolutely no genuine interest in her whatsoever; she was only passably attractive, and gorgeous people tended to only marry other gorgeous people. Speaking of gorgeous...the sweater he was wearing perfectly set off his green eyes.....wait a minute. Was that the sweater she'd knit for him? It was. She knew it had to be scratchy, and that he'd professed to it being really hot, but he'd worn it anyways...because she'd asked him to. So maybe...just maybe he was interested in her after all. But just a little.
Cam, for his part, couldn't even blink. He'd thought it was impossible for her to grow more beautiful than she already was, but he was wrong. She was wearing the same striking blue dress she'd had on that first time she'd gone out with James, but something was different. Maybe it was just the air or something. But whatever it was, she was positively glowing from the inside out. For the longest time, he forgot the plan, forgot his name, where he was. How to breathe. Without thinking, he reached out to touch her hair.
"Aisley." he said heavily, leaning far closer than was necessary to hold a conversation. She just stood there, completely transfixed. She couldn't even blink, especially when Cam leaned closer still. "Aisley...." he repeated, his breath warm on her face.
"Y-yes?" she finally managed to stammer out, her heart pounding so wildly she was afraid it was going to stop completely.
"I....I...." he started, unaware of what he was about to spill out. His head dipped down...down. Aisley's hand tightened involuntarily on his arm, and her eyes began to drift shut. Just another centimeter, and maybe the insane pressure building up inside her would decrease.
"Cam." she breathed, her heart shining in her half-open eyes. For once, she didn't try to hid it. And it was those very same eyes that stopped Cam when he was only a fraction of a second away from kissing her. He couldn't take that chance, not with both of their hearts, and both of their egos, on the line. But oh, how he wanted to.
With considerable regret, he stepped back an inch or so. It pained him to see the confusion in aisley's eyes, and the hurt. Because of that, his voice gentled.
"I, um....have a surprise for you."
"A surprise." Aisley repeated dully, taking a crucial step back from him. "For me."
"Yeah." Cam replied, trying to smile. "Hey Becca. Would you please turn the stereo on?" he asked his sister, who nodded as she walked across the room to do as he asked. In moments, the house was filled with the sound of two people banging away on two different pianos. Separately, the two tunes would be pretty enough, but together, the melodies were haunting.
"I don't understand." Aisley said, confused.
"Think back a few years..." Cam suggested.
"It isn't....it can't be. Is it?" she asked. Cam just grinned. "Merlin....that's us!"
"When you're right, you're right." he said with a laugh.
"Goodness, Cam, we must have recorded this five or six years ago!"
"Seven, to be exact." Cam said quietly.
"I had no idea you still had this, Cam." Aisley replied, touched. The man never ceased to amaze her; one moment, he was making her heart pump erratically, and the next, he was having her listen to a sentimental song they'd written years ago, one she'd forgotten was in existence.
"I had no idea you still had all those pictures." Cam pointed out, bringing Aisley out of her reverie.
"Oh." she said quietly, a faint blush staining her cheeks.
"You do realize that was the best gift I've ever gotten, right?" Cam asked her seriously.
"Of course! Looking through all those pictures brought back a lot of wonderful memories. So this," he indicated the music, "is a way of saying thank you."
Before Aisley could reply, one of the party guests yelled "Hey, are you two just going to stand there all night?" They sprang apart like a pair of naughty children.
A couple of hours later, once everyone was fed and Cam, Aisley, Sirius, and REbecca had opened a stockpile of birthday/graduation/housewarming gifts, the guests started asking what the little numbers they'd received when they arrived were for.
"Well, if you gentleman will follow me and Cam," Sirius started.
"And if you ladies will follow me and Aisley," Rebecca interrupted.
"...then we can start our little party game." they finished together.
"Yeah, but what's the game?" someone asked.
"Oh, just our version of Seven Minutes in Heaven." Aisley answered cheerfully. With much laughter and cheering, everyone quickly went to their respective rooms.
"All right, now here's how it works." Rebecca began once the girls were all there. "We're going to go in numerical order. The guys are going to head out first, and then one of us will follow. The lights in our little 'heaven' won't go on until the seven minutes have started, and they'll go off when the time's up. Now, we have several little 'heavens' to keep this from taking all night. Everything else, you guys already know." With that, Rebecca winked, and everyone laughed.
"I'll just go let the guys know we're ready to start." Aisley said. She opended the door, left the room, and knocked on the first door she came across. Sirius opened it. Taking a deep breath, she said "Let's get this party started, Sirius." And with that, the games had begun.
A/N: So. You know the drill. Read. Review. Cookies. Bye-bye!
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