Chapter 11 : Book Sexy
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I didn’t let myself break down into horrible fits of despair and heartache until that night after the afternoon and dinner with Starr’s parents. Maxine and George Morgan were really nice, and they had a really nice house, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it when I knew I would just be faking it the entire time. I felt crappy. I felt crappier than I had ever felt and every one of my friends could tell that.
“But you told him,” Melody tried to reason with me as was sprawled out on Starr’s bed with my head in Victoire’s lap. I had been crying for a few hours straight now. I was short of breath and my side hurt like hell, but I couldn’t stop crying. “You told him you loved him, that’s better than nothing.”
“It…is…nothing!” I managed to squeeze out. Gigi handed me another tissue. “He…didn’t do…anything. He…stood there…staring at me. Oh god…it hurts…sooooo much.” I cried even harder.
“Well there is that,” Melody admitted. “But you must’ve left pretty quick, right? He didn’t have time to say anything.”
I wailed even louder and Melody gave up. As much as I appreciated her trying to give me optimism at the moment it really wasn’t time for that yet. I needed to wallow in my misery before getting all cheery that I still had a chance.
Victoire patted my head but didn’t say anything and Starr was holding a childhood teddy at the foot of the bed. Gigi sat on the floor making her head level with mine. Melody was behind my curled form. They were all there for me in my time of need, which I was thankful for.
Gigi reached over and took my free hand; the other was tissue-filled, and smiled reassuringly at me. I tried to smile back but the moment my lips turned up I felt this gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach that stopped me.
We stayed like that for a while longer before Starr left the room and returned with some chocolate and a whole other box of tissues. She also brought a hefty-sized bottle of firewhiskey and several glasses. “Reinforcements,” she said holding them up. I could only give a half-hearted chuckled, which was better than nothing I figured.
I ate chocolate and drank firewhiskey that burned with the sensation of my broken heart. Soon the heartache lessened and my head got heavier. Victoire had had a few drinks and when she finally said, “I’m going to kill her!” with drink and chocolate heavily in my system, I burst out laughing. “Stop laughing,” she slurred. “I’m going to castrate her.”
“Decapitate her!” Gigi corrected still laughing.
“Right, decapitate,” Victoire agreed. “Then I’m going to castrate her.”
We roared with laughter and I felt the weight in my chest loosen. I had my friends, who unfortunately could never make up for my loss of Jase, but at least I had that.
We fell asleep in a lump on the soft carpeted floor that we’d covered with sleeping-bags. I fell asleep peacefully, but when I woke up in the morning the hurt was still there. I cried softly before the other’s heard me. I suspected that it would hurt for a long time. Six years is a long time to love somebody, and I wasn’t just talking about romantically in love with Jase. I’d loved him before that too, as a friend. Six years was a long time to forgive and forget about.
I managed to tuck away my sad, hollow feelings and tried to fill my soul with the happiness around me. Starr and her parents were great. Christmas Eve I met Starr’s grandparents as well as her aunts and uncles and cousins. We were all welcomed into the time-honoring celebration and we had lots of laughs around the dinner table.
Christmas morning came and instead of sharing it in our rooms like we did occasionally at Hogwarts, we trundled down the stairs to the giant Christmas tree that Starr’s parents had set up. Sparkling with Christmas balls, white doves, and tinsel I felt the Christmas cheer fill me up. The presents were stacked high underneath the tree as well as on some chairs and on the table. Maxine and George sat on the couch with their cups of coffee and watched us girls go through the presents one-by-one, ooh-ing and awe-ing whenever we found something really spectacular.
I’d received two gifts from Starr’s parents. One from Maxine, a plush, cashmere scarf the colour of blueberries, and one from George, a book on western philosophy. Starr must have told them what was what. I went over and hugged them both, thanking them.
From Gigi I’d gotten a very soft teddy bear that had “I Heart My Friend” across the tummy as well as a pair of really jazzy sun glasses. Gigi had always been the one to keep away from books at Christmas. I think in the six years we’d been friends she only given me one book-type present, and that had been a magazine, which didn’t really count.
Melody had given me a musical jewelry box as well as some jewelry already inside that included a treble clef necklace and earrings. She hadn't given me a book either, but the card said to expect a couple for my birthday in May.
Starr pulled out her gift for me from behind the tree and I almost fell over when she handed it to me. It was really heavy. I opened it and found a beautifully carved case about a foot wide and half a foot deep. I opened it and found the entire set of magical encyclopedia’s inside. I laughed heartily when I saw them. “To continue your educational endeavours,” the card had said. Starr had just shrugged when I asked her the price and she said, “It was on sale.” I didn’t really believe her though because it had never really been a secret that her parents were incredibly wealthy.
The gift from Victoire was sort of a surprise and yet not so much, because clothes were her life I knew I’d get some kind of clothing for my Christmas present. Yet when I unwrapped it I found a very cute pair of jeans with an embroidered design stitched onto the back pockets and all down the left leg. Super cute! The shirt was not pink, which I was thankful for, and it wasn’t covered with hearts. Instead it was a goldie-yellow colour that, after trying it on, hugged me perfectly. It had medium length sleeves and sort of lifted at the waist when I lifted my arms, but that was okay, and the only thing girly about it was the single bow in the middle of the oval neckline. In short, I loved it!
My dad, whom I’d written that I was going to be at Starr’s over Christmas, had sent me a picture frame filled with him and an old antique book. The back said I could have the book when I got home because he didn’t feel safe sending it by owl. I laughed and showed my friends the picture. “It’s so like him,” I said.
My grandparents sent me a stationary set with a card reminding me that they weren’t dead and would still love to hear from me. They did that every year, and every year I laughed my butt off.
My Auntie Barb, the joker in the family, sent me a collection of small things that started with a pair of oversized glasses and a red clown-nose. “For your funny side,” the card said. She sent me a long feathered quill like was very feathery. “For your creative side”, read the card. “And for your freak side”, she’d stuffed a long feathered boa in the bottom of the box with an extremely sparkly and extremely tiny purple shirt and a pair of florescent pink spandex leggings.
“There is no way I am going to wear that!” I said to my friends who immediately wanted me to try the entire ensemble on.
“Why not?” Gigi said trying to keep from laughing. “It’s…ahem…cute.”
“Oh you are such a bad liar. I am not putting those on.”
“At least put the boa, glasses and nose on, please!” Starr whined.
I looked over and saw that her parents were laughing but their eyes were sparkling with affection. I was with good company and so I might feel embarrassed but I would be able to get over it. “Fine,” I agreed throwing the boa around my neck, putting the glasses on my face and completing the ensemble with the bulbous red nose. “How do I look?” I posed for a few pictures that Victoire took with her new camera from her Uncle Harry.
“Darling,” Melody crooned. “Just darling!”
We all collectively and individually posed with our various gifts as well as with each other’s gifts and each other. I think we’d taken about two hundred pictures by the time Starr’s parents said that it was time to get ready for Christmas dinner. We were going over to Starr’s grandparents for a big turkey lunch/dinner.
Starr’s grandparents, Eleanor and Leonard Morgan, were two of the most sophisticated people I had ever met.
Eleanor was a short woman that had short grey hair that was elegantly pinned back. Her navy-blue pant-suit was pressed within an inch of perfection and the pearls around her neck showed her status within society without making her look the least bit pretentious.
Leonard was much taller than his wife, his grey hair had receded back so far on his head that he had started this awful comb-over thing with the few long hairs he still had left. But despite his bad hair style, he still looked regal in the black and white tuxedo he’d chosen to wear that evening. He greeted George, his son, and Maxine holding a snifter of amber-colored brandy and a cigar.
It had been Starr’s grandparents on her mother’s side that had visited the day before for Christmas Eve dinner. They were incredibly high-class but muggle and thus from a different circle. I liked both sets of grandparents equally, but there was something about the wizarding nobility of Eleanor and Leonard that made the fantasy of all the books I’d ever read jump out from the page and into reality.
Dinner was five courses and I was so stuffed by the end that I practically waddled back out to the van that George had driven to get there. It was convenient having enough money to afford a van, a sedan, and a sports car, especially when his daughter had four really good friends.
We spent the afternoon in a respectful silence as part of our downtime. We’d had an exciting morning as well as a lot of food to eat a noontime, so we were all feeling pretty tired and needed some time alone to relax.
Restless however, I wandered through the house until I made a full circle and a huge sigh escaped.
“Are you okay, Allie?” George asked from where he was seated at the dinning-room table. He had papers spread out all around him and a pen in his hand.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I said walking towards him. “Work on Christmas day, Mr. Morgan?”
He smiled, “Call me George. And yes, I never stop working and providing for my family.” He leaned back and stretched. “Oh but I think it’s about time for a break, wouldn’t you say?” He stood up and walked towards the kitchen. I followed.
George Morgan was a very tall man, just like his father. He had a beautiful head of sable-colored hair and the same blue eyes that Starr had. He also had a very warm smile that made me feel comfortable with him. Most parents gave off the awkward, stiff and formal feel when you first meet them, but not George. He was a very rich and powerful man in the wizarding world but he wasn’t the least bit intimidating.
“Glass of eggnog?” he offered when he looked into the refrigerator.
I shook my head, “No thanks. I never really got used to the taste of eggnog.”
He nodded, “It’s an acquired taste. I didn’t like it until I married Maxine. I still don’t really like it, but I tolerate it for her.”
I laughed. He was really nice. Then I had a question, “How did you meet Maxine?”
He poured himself a glass of the yellow eggnog and then put the carton back in the fridge. “We were childhood friends actually. We went to the same private school before I went off to Hogwarts. Of course I knew my heritage and I knew I would be leaving when I was eleven and I would have to say goodbye to her. But we were best friends from the start. We still are.”
“And after Hogwarts, how did you meet her again?”
“We met formally as business associates. Her parents were getting a great big merger together and after she’d finished university at Oxford she took up an assistant position at her father’s firm. I had moved right into my father’s business and was quickly progressing at the age of twenty-two into a right-fine businessman.”
“Her parents dealt with wizard businesses?” I asked. I had often been fascinated by the discrimination that some muggles held for wizards and had heard dozens of stories, but then my father had been a good example of the opposite to that stereotype. I always loved hearing that others fit in that category too.
“Yes. Well you met them the other night. Very down-to-earth people who enjoy every aspect of this world, and dealing with wizards and witches on a day-to-day basis is partially why they are so successful. So business associates became best friends again and soon things got to be more than that and I asked her to marry me.” He smiled at me and then his brow furrowed. “Why do you ask?”
I felt rather unsure about talking to Starr’s father about my love-life, but it seemed to fit. “I’ve been in love with my best friend for a long time and he and I just had a fight on the train. I don’t see any reason for him to forgive me or see that I love him, despite the fact that I told him.”
“Ahh,” he said knowingly. “Well the attention you were giving him before didn’t work right?”
I frowned, “Right. How’d you know?”
“Age-old trick,” he laughed. “The next trick in the book is to ignore him. Laugh at other jokes when he’s watching usually works. But enjoy your life and don’t focus on him. That way he sees what he’s missing out on and you don’t feel like your wasting your time.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s really good.”
I looked past George and saw Maxine leaning on the doorframe smiling. She came up beside her husband and wrapped her arm around him. “Worked for me, didn’t it?” she laughed.
He kissed her nose, “Definitely.”
I felt brighter, I felt happier, I felt more energized and all because of this loving couple in front of me. By all rights I should be horribly miserable seeing that they were happy together and I didn’t have that for myself, but then that would be selfish and it would also be ignoring the advice George had just given me. Instead I felt better than I had in days.
“Thanks,” I said as I turned to leave.
“You’re welcome,” George said as he took another swig of his drink. He downed the rest of the eggnog and winked at me. “Anytime.”
I turned to leave and was climbing the stairs when Maxine caught up with me again. “Allie, Starr says that you like books.”
“Yeah, I love them.”
“Then I have another Christmas present for you,” she climbed the stairs and I followed.
“Its okay, Mrs. Morgan, I don’t really need anything else for Christmas.”
“Ah you mistake me. This is a very different kind of present.” She opened the door at the top of the stairs and my mouth dropped open when I saw the great wide windows directly in front of me that illuminated stacks upon stacks and rows upon rows of books. “This is our own personal library. You may borrow any book you wish, but I would hope you’d return it when you’re finished.”
I walked into the room with my mouth still hanging open. “Of course. Wow, this room is amazing!”
“We like to think so,” Maxine agreed. “So do you think you could spend a little time in here?” Her eyes were smiling at me.
“I could spend days in here!” I admitted as I let my fingers drift across the spines of books that I deigned to read. “I could spend months in here.”
Maxine laughed. “Then I will leave you to it then.” She turned to leave.
“Mrs. Morgan?” I called out to her.
She turned back and said, “Maxine, please Allie, we may be well-off but we’re not pompous snobs. Call me Maxine.”
I’d expected that, “Maxine, do you…do you think books could be…sexy?”
She smiled and considered for a moment. “Sure they can. I’ve read several sexy books.”
“No,” I laughed, “What I mean is do you think that my liking books a lot could be sexy?”
She laughed then and picked up a book and handed it to me. “Do you feel sexy when you hold books?”
“No, not really. I feel like a bookworm.”
“Okay, well do you feel at peace, in charge and excited when you read books?”
“Yes, all the time. I love getting locked into a story so that I have to keep reading and find out what comes next. When I hold books I feel a sense of ease and comfort. I feel strong.” I held the book she’d given me to my chest.
“That’s sexy then,” she decided.
“Yes. Confidence is sexy. Take it from someone who knows.”
“Thanks,” I smiled. “Thank you very much.”
“My pleasure,” she replied. “I’ll leave you with your books then.” She gave me a very toothy grin and left the room.
Maxine Morgan was a very classy lady, I decided as I took the book she’d given me and curled up in one of the comfy chairs in front of the big windows. I opened the cover and began reading. I was drawn into the story and I was smiling the entire time.
I didn’t realize until much later, after a light dinner and then more laughs with my friends, that under that tree this morning there was not a single gift from Jase.
My heart was pounding and I clutched the book I’d borrowed from the Morgan’s library as we walked towards the train on January 3rd. We dropped off our luggage at the baggage car and climbed aboard to find an empty compartment. I reached back and found Gigi’s hand there. She squeezed mine reassuringly.
I lifted my head and took a deep breath. I was not going to be afraid. There was no use in being afraid. I’d already worked out every angle, knew what I was going to do and who I was going to be and I wasn’t going to get scared off now. I was going to focus on me now instead of focusing on him. I was going to enjoy the time I was spending with my friends and forget that my heart had been crushed.
I’d made one request of my friends and they’d agreed with very little hesitation. “Keep him away from me,” I’d said. “At least until I say I’m okay again.”
They’d looked at each other and then at me before agreeing, which meant they weren’t too sure about what I was doing, but they would respect it because they were my friends.
So, on the train now with my book as my shield, the book that Maxine had handed to me and the book I felt strong and confident with, we found a compartment and took the ride one step at a time.
I saw Jase and Nikki walk by and my gut clenched as I’d expected but when he looked at me and met my eyes and I met his for a few seconds there was zero sadness. I wouldn’t let sadness pull me under. I’d had two weeks, fourteen days to cry over him. I’d cried my tears. If things were going to work out now it would be him coming to me, not the other way around.
Nikki’s smile was a different story altogether though. She smiled triumphantly, her eyes alight with victory that made me want to squish her like the disgusting cockroach that she was. I didn’t look at her for very long.
Brad popped his head into the compartment just before the train whistle went and lurched forward. “Hey babe,” he leaned down and kissed me and while he lingered I pushed him away subtly the first chance I could get. “I’m going to hang out with Teddy and Andy in their compartment, come with me?”
“No thanks,” I managed to say with considerable calm.
He shrugged, “Any other takers?”
Victoire and Starr jumped up and went with Brad because their respective/prospective others were in the direction Brad was headed.
Gigi and Melody looked at me when the three of them had gone. “I think it’s time for drastic measures,” I said.
“I agree,” Melody chimed. “It’s been a long time now. Things are getting ridiculous.”
“Find Chase tonight and set things up,” I told her. “We need to pull this off by the end of the week because if I have to continue being Brad’s girlfriend and sort of lying to Starr then I will never last.”
Gigi nodded, “Yeah, I was just about to ask when you were going to ditch him.”
“I need to get things ironed out with Andy and Starr first, and then I can call things off with Brad.”
“Good plan. And when you tell Starr do you think she’s going to be pissed?” Melody asked.
“I sure as hell hope not. I’m banking on her being so happy about being in love with Andy that she will pass over my lies and realize the sacrifices I’ve made for her.”
“And then maybe we can all gang up on Brad and dump him together?!” Gigi sounded excited.
I laughed, “Yeah maybe. Give him a piece of our minds.”
“Or maybe a few knuckle sandwiches.” Gigi sounded really excited now. She was really amusing when she was angry.
“If anyone’s handing out the knuckle sandwiches,” I said, “it’s going to be me.”
“Ooh, I like this new you,” Melody laughed. “It’s kinda scary and fun at the same time. Plus I’ve never seen you punch anyone before.”
“Stick around and you’ll have front-row seats,” I smiled.
I had to admit to myself that I did feel pretty good. I was taking charge and letting loose, and the thought of punching Brad right in the nose made me feel really, really good!
A/N: And really, really good it shall feel...so continue reading if you want to see Brad get his ass whooped. Haha! Hey and leave a review please, ~K :D.
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