"I'm leaving. There's no Gates party without the founder of it's treasure now is there?" Ben said sarcastically while hastily leaving the kitchen and entering the living room.
"Well, Mr. Poole," Issy said as she grabbed her now empty plate and headed towards the sink. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I've read all about you in the magazines and newspaper."
Riley's face showed an immediate sense of worry. "Nothing...bad I hope..." He trailed off.
Issy laughed as she looked back at Riley in an assuring fashion. "No, no, not at all."
Riley sighed quickly in relief and breathed a quick, "Good."
"They mostly mentioned little tidbits about the treasure and stuff like that." Issy set down the towel she had been using to clean the plate with and peered out the window facing the backyard in deep thought. "Well...actually they didn't talk about you much at all, now that I think about it. Mostly about Ben and Abigail."
Riley rolled his eyes. This had happen much more often than he would've hoped. Abigail and Ben seemed to be the ones harvesting all the attention when it came to treasure recognition. All he had gotten was bimbos and airheads. And those shouldn't even count...
"Yeah, they get all the good attention," Riley huffed in a childish tone, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Issy asked in a curious way.
Riley shuffled about in his seat nervously. "What it sounds like I guess. They get the good fame, the good lifestyle, the good house, and the perfect ending. And what do I get? Nothing but knowledgeless hotties that can't hold a conversation without thinking about themselves."
Issy raised her eyebrows at his venting. He doesn't seem as happy as I thought he would've been, she thought to herself. "You have nothing good? Nothing at all?"
"Well..." Riley began. "I have this flat screen plasma TV that's pretty tight," he finished, mostly to himself.
Issy laughed at his typical "guy" answer. "Then there's something to live for."
"I guess so..." Silence filled the room for a few moments as both Riley and Issy stared into space. "So, your name's Isidora?"
Issy nodded. "Yep, Isidora Gates. Issy's just a nickname my dad came up with."
"Is that...Spanish or something like that?"
"No, it's Croatian. Well, I guess there's some sort of Spanish form out there, but mine's Croatian."
"Oh, ok...Where's Croatia?" Riley asked dumbly.
Issy looked at Riley in utter shock. "You know everything there is to know about computers and other technical...gadgets," Issy put emphasis on gadgets by flailing her arms in an exxagerated fashion. "But you don't know simple geography?"
Riley shot his forearms up as if he was being accused of murder. "Hey! I know how to get to my apartment and Ben's house, that's good enough for me. Besides, GPS can get me anywhere."
"That's sad, you know?"
"So?" Riley replied with a small smirk emerging on his face. "Never got me into too much trouble."
Issy sauntered slowly towards Riley, a smirk playing on her lips and her arms crossed as she stood only inches from his face. "It's not attractive to play cocky, you know that right?"
"And playing a know-it-all is even more unattractive, you know that right?" Riley replied cooly and confidently while mocking her. Wow...did I just say that? Issy furrowed her eyebrows and stared deeply into Riley's bright blue eyes, nearly losing herself in the process. "So...Where's Croatia?"
"I'm not telling," Issy said simply and turned, leaving Riley in the kitchen by himself.
"Fine," Riley said to himself as he grabbed his laptop from out of its carrier, propping it onto the counter and plugging it into an outlet. "I'll figure it out myself."
Issy continued to smirk as she left Riley to himself in the kitchen. As she turned the corner into hallway, Ben was standing in her path. She jumped in fright and took a few steps back to regain her composure.
"Jesus Christ, Ben, don't do that!" she yelled.
Ben chuckled lightly. "Oh, please. You need to handle yourself better."
Issy rolled her eyes and looked up at Ben. "And you need to step a little farther from the corner next time, so this doesn't happen again."
"Will do, then." A few moments of silence filled the void between Issy and Ben as they both looked blankly at each other.
"Thanks for inviting me, Ben," Issy muttered, looking at the floor. "I never really get invited to these family gatherings."
"No problem. Wouldn't have been a party without you."
Issy laughed quitely. "Yeah right." Another moment of silence passed between the two. "So...whats this 'perfect ending' between you and Abigail?" Issy asked, raising an eyebrow.
Ben's face showed of confusion and surprise. "Where'd you hear that from?"
Ben rolled his eyes. "Issy, you can't tell anyone," he began in a slight whisper, checking around him to see if anyone else was listening in on their conversation. "Nobody knows yet."
"Oh, it's all a big secret?" Ben nodded enthusiastically. "Well I guess I'm obliged to keep it a secret until the secrets out then, right?" Ben nodded, only slower this time. "Damn, that kind of sucks. But it is fun to know things other people don't..." Issy trailed off.
"Issy, you can't tell anyone. This family party is here partly because I wanted Abigail to meet the family and the family to meet Abigail before I announce the engagement." Ben replied in a hushed manner.
Issy's mouth gaped open as the engagement was revealed. "You're getting engaged!?" she exclaimed.
Ben put a hand over Issy's mouth to keep her quiet. He then looked at her confused. "You didn't know?!" he yelled in a loud whisper. Issy shook her head silently because of Ben's hand still clapped over her lips. Ben then removed his hand from her face. "I thought you knew?"
"Nope, you never told me what the 'perfect ending' supposedly was," Issy replied, using air quotations.
"You have to keep this engagement a secret, Issy. I'm begging you."
"Will do, Uncle Ben." Issy then closed her mouth as if it were a zipper. "My lips are sealed..." Ben sighed dramatically. "...For now." Ben's expression turned back to frustration as Issy stood laughing whole-heartedly. "I'm kidding, Ben! Jeez, calm down for once."
"Please, Issy, a secret."
"I know, I know," Issy replied rolling her eyes. "You know...I still haven't met Abigail."
Issy sat on the ground, her back against the hallway wall, waiting for Ben to return with Abigail in tow. He had told her to stay put until he came back and she had obeyed, much to her dismay. She figured it was because he didn't trust her with their secret and all. She found it odd, but she just figured Ben wanted to be very overprotective about the secret engagement until the secret was out on his watch. She didn't like being told what to do most of the time. She was an independent person or sorts, not wanting to be bossed around. Freedom was crucial to her. She was smart, independent, stubborn, and determined: everything nobody would want in a girl or friend...and a girlfriend.
Footsteps came from the other end of the hallway as Ben and Abigail entered to see Issy sitting on the floor, staring into space.
"Is that her?" Abigail asked Ben discreetly.
"Yeah, that's Issy." Ben grabbed hold of Abigail's hand and led her towards the dazed Issy. "Issy?" Issy was awakened from her daydreaming state and looked up at Ben and Abigail. "This is Abigail: my fiancé."
Abigail's eyes widened in shock. "Ben! I thought we were keeping the engagement a secret?!"
"I know about it already," Issy chimed in as she stood from her sitting position. She held out her hand. "I'm Issy," she said politely.
Abigail took her hand and shook it lightly. "I'm Abigail." Both women smiled brightly.
"Yeah, I've heard. Ben talks about you all the time," Issy smirked as Abigail's smile brightened even more.
"I do not!" Ben said in defense. Abigail looked at him somewhat shocked. "No! Well...I do, but..."
Abigail kissed him quickly to save him the suffering. "It's ok, sweetie."
"Ok, enough of that, now," Issy interruptted. "What now?"
"Um...," Ben looked to Abigail for advice. "Well...we could...uh...you kno-"
"Croatia. Captial is Zagreb, roughly 4,443,000 inhabitants, approximately 56,542 kilometers squared, 1,185 islands, 5,835 kilometers of coastline, uses Croatian language and Latin alphabet, currency is the Kuna, and drinkable tap water available all throughout the country." Issy, Ben, and Abigail all looked at Riley in shock as he named off randomly useless facts about Croatia.
"...What?" Ben asked confused.
"Impressive," Issy said while eyeing Riley.
Ben looked from Issy to Riley in utter confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"Oh, I told Riley my name, as well as myself, are Croatian and he had no clue what Croatia even was."
"I did so!" Riley exclaimed in defense. Everyone, once again, turned their attention to Riley as he stared down at the floor in embarassment. "I knew it was a country," he muttered, hardly audible.
Issy rolled her eyes and laughed. "Well, good job anyways." She walked up to Riley and patted him on the back. "You did a fine job."
"Thanks," he mumbled in reply.
"Where is Croatia, anyways?" Abigail asked, still confused.
Issy opened her mouth to reply, but Riley interuptted before she could begin. "It's borded between Slovenia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Adriatic Sea."
Issy looked to Riley, her mouth agape and eyes twinkling in his presence. "Very impressive."
Ben looked from Issy to Riley again and again. "Uh, Issy, can I talk to you for a moment?" Ben began walking towards the kitchen.
"Sure," Issy said simply, not moving from her position next to Riley.
"Alone?" Ben replied.
As Issy made her way into the kitchen, Ben was leaning against a countertop.
"So..." Silence filled the room as both seemed to be hesitant on talking. "What did you want to talk to me about, Ben?" Issy finally spat out.
"You." Ben said plainly.
"Me?" Issy looked at Ben in confusion. "What do you mean 'me'?"
"I mean you!" Ben raised his voice and stood tall, intimidating Issy. "I'm...sorry, Issy. I'm just kind of...flustered right now."
Issy nodded. "Ok. What is it about me that you need to talk about?"
"Issy, do you like Riley?"
Issy furrowed her brows and looked at Ben in shock. "What?! No, no...I've only known the man for 15 minutes for gods sake!" She stuttered.
"Don't lie to me, Issy"
"I'm not lying to you, Ben!"
"Issy, you can't get involved with Riley" Ben said simply.
"Excuse me?" Issy asked quitely.
"You heard me! You can't get involved with Riley."
"Look, even if I did want to be involved with Riley, which I don't, you are in no place to tell me what to do!"
"Yes I am! I'm your uncle!"
"Uncle or not, I'm an adult now, Ben! I can make decisions for myself!"
"But you're young, you don't know what love is!"
"Love?! Who said anything about love?!"
"Issy-" Ben tried to gently grab hold of Issy's arm, but she pulled it away before he could.
"No, Ben. I'm not in love, nor have I been or will be in a very long time! You can't go assuming things, you know." Issy glared at Ben fiercly. "You have no right to tell me what not and what to do, Ben, no matter how close of a relative you are."
"I just..." Ben sighed before continuing. "I just don't want you to get hurt, Issy," he said in a softened tone.
"I'm perfectly fine taking care of myself, Ben, can't you realize that? I'm 25 now, not 10. I'm mature enough to make my own decisions," Issy replied, her voice softening as well.
Ben stuttered, trying to find the best words to say. "I know, Issy, and you've been dealt with probably the biggest decisions anyone could ever face, and I respect for that, more than you could ever know. But, you have to promise me," Ben stared deeply into Issy's coal colored eyes. "Stay away from Riley."
Issy kept Ben's gaze, her insides burning from betrayal. "I will not stay away from Riley just because you say so, Ben." Issy paused for a moment to make sure she had Ben's undivided attention. "I will decide for myself when the time comes what's right for me and for Riley." Issy then turned to leave the kitchen, heading in the opposite direction of Riley and Abigail, steam seeming to blow from her ears.
A/N: Hellooooooo!!! Kind of took long to get this chapter up, but thats ok. I guess I really spoiled you with basically two chapters in one night didn't I?? The next one won't be up for possibly 2 weeks or so because I'm in Las Vegas for dance nationals!! Exciting, isn't it?? Of course...So I'll post then??