"GRUBBS! BILL-E'S HERE! AND IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW LONG YOU SPEND LOOKING IN THAT MIRROR, YOUR FACE AINT GOING TO CHANGE!" I laugh as I hurry downstairs, eager to check out Bill-E's party attire.
"It takes time to create a masterpiece Dervish." He looks bemused.
"I bet it took time to get your arse in them jeans, ha-ha!" He laughed as he walked away. Bill-E chuckled too. He was wearing jeans too; with a rather striking purple belt might I add. He caught me gazing, "Like it? It's got a bottle opener on the buckle." He sounded genuinely smug with himself.
"Yeah it's cool," I reply smiling, knowing as much about fashion as Dervish does on hair products. Bill-E walked on to the living room, his aftershave overpowering my every sense. I followed having perfected my ginger mop to look like it was casually ruffled; it only took half an hour and half a tub of wax. Ha!
I sit next to Bill-E who had taken a slightly more 'I rule this sofa' position. Honestly the guy puts on nice jeans and a fancy belt and all off a sudden is bursting with swagger! Although to be honest it's nice to see him have a bit more confidence; I worried he would be too shy to come tonight.
"Oh! Don't you two look sexy!" Meera exclaimed, smiling as she entered the room. I saw her nose scrunch a little as Bill-E's potent smell hit her; I hoped it would wear off a bit. She came and gave us both a big kiss, up to her usual tricks again. I tried unsuccessfully to hide the burn in my cheeks after her lips had touched them. "Ana won't be long; she's just finishing her make-up." Meera smiled as she walked out the door.
"Ah, okay. No rush," Bill-E called after her... The words you should never use when waiting for a woman to get ready; Ah, so much to learn. I remember dad shouting up the stairs for the umpteenth time for Gret to hurry up, already ten minutes behind schedule. I smiled fondly at the memory of Gret's exasperated voice, "I said just a minute!".
Bill-E flicked through the channels, pausing on Dr Who and some other sci-fi series. I noticed he skipped over the wrestling channel completely, much to my disappointment. I thought about asking him to go back but ever since Loch and I discovered we shared that particular interest, Bill-E has been very sceptical of the sport. This is frequently demonstrated by his rants, "I mean its sweaty guys on sweaty guys, who would want to be a part in that? It's not even real, it's scripted! I mean it is hardly a sport!" Of course this is always said in the absence of Loch.
We watch a couple of programs, Bill-E frequently glancing at his watch. The party was meant to start at six but I suspect no one interesting will arrive until about nine. Except Reni who has probably been there for hours; helping Sharron with the preparations, probably sipping away at some fruity drink. I wonder what she's wearing, perhaps a nice dress or skirt and top. My stomach squirms as I think about how to play it, I should probably talk to Loch first but that is not a conversation I am excited to have. Hey Loch mind if I steel a kiss off your sister? I mean the guy's hardly going to jump for joy and high five with me is he? God, life can be complicated.
"Do you think she will be ready yet?" Bill-E asks. I had almost forgotten he was there.
"Erm... Ana?" I looked at the clock, it was half eight.
"Yeah, Meera said she was JUST finishing her make-up like an hour ago! How much make-up is she wearing?" he laughs and so do I. I am getting kind of restless just sat with my thoughts on Reni. I'm nervous enough as it is, without sitting and thinking about it for hours. I hear feet on the stairs and I see Bill-E's ears prick up at the sound too. He tilts his head to the side, a little like a dog does when you call its name. He can be strange sometimes.
Ana enters the room. She is wearing a green dress; it's fitted over her top half, hugging her little figure. The bottom of the dress floated above her knees, it's a little short but acceptable for the occasion I guess. She has on some rather high, black heels which add about three inches to her height. Her hair is straight and all the way down her back; her green eyes are framed with black lashes and they look much longer than usual. She looked at me uncertainly and gave a shrug and half a smile, "Do I look okay?" she asked. Bill-E was smiling at her, "Yeah, you look good." I nodded along and gave a reassuring smile. Truth is she looked amazing, beautiful even but it seemed a bit weird to say that. Dervish walked in with Meera and stopped dead in his tracks. He looked awkwardly at Ana and what she was wearing. "Erm, don't get me wrong, you look nice but ermm…" I saw him struggling for the right words, "You might get a bit cold, without a jacket or anything… on your legs." I laughed as he looked away with his cheeks burning. Meera slapped him playfully, "oooo, Mr Protective now are we?" she giggled and winked at Ana, who smiled sheepishly.
"I just thought she might get cold that's all." Dervish retorted defensively.
"Oh of course dear, "she turned to Ana and held out a lacy black cardigan, "You can borrow this hun."
"Thanks," Ana took the cardigan and put it on. It was hardly going to keep her warm; it was more decorative than anything else. It was thin and lacy; you could still see her skin through it. However Dervish seemed a little more satisfied… I guess.
"Well I guess we'll be off then," I stood up awkwardly and smiled at Ana, who seemed to appreciate the excused to leave the room.
"Wait! I want a picture!" Meera smiled whipping out a little black camera.
"Oh mum, no, don't" Ana moaned as me and Bill-E tried to clamber out the door as fast as we could.
"Oh I never see you out of them converse, let me just take one of you and the boys, please"
"Fine!" she gave in to her mum, turning and smiling defeated. Me and Bill-E came and stood next to her in the hall and smiled. There was a flash. Meera deleted it and took another. And another. And another. Awkward as hell.
The taxi ride there was fast and uneventful, not that I expected a drama. The usual talk of a taxi man being busy on a Friday night and how long his shift was had been and gone. We turned the last corner; you could tell which house it was as soon as we pulled up the cull-de-sack. There were lights on in every room, dark silhouettes all holding drinks were scattered around; the base-line was thumping at the crumbling bricks of the building, which was evidently Shannon's.
I paid the taxi and turned to see only Ana stood there, holding her little black bag. She was waiting loyally for me… unlike Bill-E who was already making his way towards the house and, I expect, to Sarah's longing arms.
"Nervous?" I asked Ana. She nodded and smiled shyly.
"Don't be. You're with me after all… what could go wrong?"
"Well after dealing with Lord Loss, a little party should be fine, right?" She smiled at me. This was the first time she had mentioned his name. She has used humour to adapt just like the rest of us. Welcome to the gang, I guess.
"Exactly kid" I smiled back and gave her a reassuring squeeze with one arm. She wrapped her arm around mine, like I see Meera do to Dervish, and we walked towards the house.
"GRUBBS!" I hear lochs booming voice from down the hall as we enter. He is stood with the usual people who I hang with at school, all of whom had noticed the person who I was leading towards them. I wave and make my way towards them. "Hey," I smile at everyone, not that anybody was looking at me. I thought I better introduce them seen as that was what everybody was waiting for, "This is Ana, my cousin." She smiles a classic flame smile at them, "Hi".
"Hey," Charlie stepped forward with his hand outstretched a little too eagerly, "I'm Charlie, and we met earlier."
"Yeah, I remember" She says taking his hand. Charlie puts her hand to his lips, bowing slightly as he kisses it. I roll my eyes at him as Ana laughs; she takes it well.
"And this is Loch," I continue, pushing Charlie aside, who is stood there grinning like a fool.
"Hey," Loch replies and gives a 'yeah I'm big' nod of the head as she stares up at him.
"And this is Frank, Leon and Robbie" I add as awkward hello's are said. I see Robbie's gaze drop slightly lower than Ana's face as she turns to answer a question from Loch. I feel slight annoyance spur in my gut but I'll let it pass… this time. Robbie doesn't usually hang with us at school, we don't trust him. I spot Shannon and Reni going into the kitchen, they are talking behind their hands to each other as usual. I'll have to pick a moment when they aren't joined at the hip. Reni looked good though, she had on a blue dress that wrapped around her, and it had a nice pattern on it and went well with her auburn hair that was tied up in a fancy way with the odd curl hanging down. I turn my attention back to the group and Mary who had just walked up.
"Hey Grubbs, and…." She smiles at Ana expectantly.
"Ana," She replies holding out her hand. Mary takes it and looks curiously at me, then her attention turns back to Ana, "Would you like a drink?"
"Sure, I brought some Malibu but I have nothing to mix it with,"
"Oh," I see Mary's eyes light up as Ana pulls the bottle from her bag. "Come with me," she smiles fondly and then winks at me as I begin to follow. "Grubbs, its fine I'll look after her," She takes Ana's hand and walks away. Ana smiles so I know everything is okay and I relax, glad that Mary is taking her under her wing. That's typical of Mary, eager to find out 'goss' about the newbie but she's always friendly so I guess it's cool. Loch hands me a beer and I catch Robbie watching Ana walk away… and he isn't looking in a direction I approve. I glare at him till he notices and then he mumbles an excuse and takes his leave. That's what I thought!
"She living with you then," Loch asks, just making conversation.
"Yeah, Dervish is her Dad, he has only recently found out."
"Shit; must have been one hell of a shock."
"It was but everything is cool now, he's getting used to the idea." We decided to tell people the basics of the truth; we can't get caught up in lies that way. And I suppose it gives Ana an interesting topic of conversation.
"What's her mum like? I bet she's hot, 'cos no offence but she hasn't got those fine looks from your Uncle now has she," Frank jokes.
"You and your older women, Frank" I reply to the laughter of everybody around. Frank used to have a hot babysitter who apparently kissed him. This was a complete testosterone filled lie of course but the joke was on him when people saw his babysitter was actually a fifty year old neighbour, who barely had half a set of teeth! We make our way towards the dining room which seems to be where the heart of the action is and lay down some of the finest dance moves this house has seen. And by that I mean a casual sway and occasional bob of the head.
The night continues like a general party would, Charlie threw up all over the downstairs bathroom; Leon disappeared with a girl with black hair and the general Goth 'get-up'… don't ask it's just his thing. And Frank, Loch and I are stood around drinking beer, after beer, after beer. You just can't beat it!
I saw Bill-E once tonight, with his tongue down Sarah's throat. I made a mental note to high five later. Ana has spent the night with Mary and a couple of other girls, she walks past laughing and occasionally dancing. I wonder if she notices that guys watch her, I glare at those I don't like much. A few have come up to her with a drink in hand but Mary makes short work of them and they leave with their tails between their legs. I can't believe I was once one of them, gawping into her pretty eyes… I like to think I played it better than most of the guys are doing here though. I keep seeing Robbie dancing a little too close, Ana moves away from him but Robbie pretends like he hadn't realised his back was rubbing against hers. Slick git. He's quite large, the usual buffoon who will kick around a muddy ball, sun or rain. He may also be on the school rugby team too; not that he would be a match for me of course… I'm huge, ha! I doubt he will cross the line though, not with me stood here and Loch by my side; the guy would be an idiot if he did. Yet Robbie isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box if you get my drift; the guy would probably struggle with the nursery coloured bricks.
Loch nudged me and nodded in the direction of Shannon who was stood glaring at us from across the room. "I thought she was glaring at me mate but it might be you that she's giving evils at."
"I doubt it," I laugh at his worried face, as Loch realises that he may not meet his goal tonight.
"No seriously, she is looking at you." I checked again and sure enough it was me her eyes were burning into.
"But… What I do?" I stammered under that glare. Shitttttttt
"I dunno mate, go find out. I'm still thanking the lucky stars that she isn't mad at me. I mean I love that woman when she gets mad but I'd much rather it not be at me." He chuckles and slaps me on the back as I make my way towards her.
"What's up?" I asked her. I know dumb question but where else do you start.
"You tell me!" she spat back. Why do girls do that! If I ask a question it's because I don't know! I consider saying this but then decided against the idea; I don't want to anger it any more.
"Well I dunno, something I have done to offend you?"
"Do you know that it's rude to just invite someone else to a party and not tell the host?"
"Well I… ermm" I stammer, technically it was Charlie who invited her but I can't just drop him in it.
"Well she was living with me; Bill-E and I was both coming, I guess I didn't see the harm in just one more person. I didn't want her to be left out and at home on her own…"
"Wait, what? She lives with you?" Shannon crossed her arms tightly across her chest.
"Well yeah, her and her mum moved in the day she met my Uncle." I reply confused as to why that's important. "Listen, Shannon I'm sorry I didn't ask if she could come, I should have done, it was rude of me."
"Her mum lives with you too? I'm confused"
"That makes two of us, what's the real issue here, do you dislike Ana?"
"Naturally." Shannon snapped.
"What?" I feel my own voice rising, what's this girl's problem?
"Well how would you feel if you had a party and I brought some other guy with me after flirting with Loch all week?"
"You do know she's my cousin right?" The look on her face clearly showed that she did not. I start to laugh, this is all just some big misunderstanding. Thank the Lord.
"Oh, your cousin."
"Well in future let me know if you're bringing other people." Shannon smiled and walked away. I breathed out a heavy sigh of relief and made my way back to Loch. He laughed when I told him, "And she never apologised?"
"No but to be honest I was just happy that she'd stopped spitting fire at me"
"That woman will do great things," Loch said and gave Shannon an 'I'm checking you out' nod from across the room. I rolled my eyes and sniggered.
"Laugh all you want mate, it worked!" And true to his word Shannon and Reni were walking towards us. Reni with a flirty smile on for the Grubbster, might I add.
"Loch, you want to come and help me move this table in my room? I want it on the landing so people can put their cups on it"
"Of course babe" Loch winked drunkenly at me, flexing his muscles which had been called upon in this table shifting dilemma. Shannon exited but Loch hung back. His gaze fell upon Reni who remained standing next to me, glaring at him. He chinked his bottle against mine and shrugged. Could that possibly be the okay for me to make a move on Reni? I hadn't brought up the topic yet, if I'm honest I didn't think I had the balls to ever bring up that topic.
"My brother is such an idiot, we can't be related" Reni laughed and swayed a little.
"Ha!" I laugh awkwardly, not exactly sure what to say. "Shannon talked to me earlier, about Ana. She though Ana was my girlfriend. Owt to do with you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about Grubbs" She smiled cheekily and changed the topic, "Want to dance?"
"What's up Grady, you shy on the dance floor?"
"Actually I don't want to show you up 'cos I'm amazing!" I lied. Completely lied. Imagine my awkward build trying to wiggle… just no.
"How modest of you" She laughed and took a step towards me. I could smell her perfume from here. It was sweet and subtle, I moved closer ever so slightly. The corners of her glossy lips curled upwards into a smile. An invitation? I leaned in a little closer, wondering if I should go the whole way or let her come the rest? I knew one thing for certain; I had passed the point of no return. She seemed to be waiting for me so… What the heck I kissed her. Our lips locked for a couple of seconds, and my nerves vanished. I felt her tongue on my lip so I did what the lady wanted and our first kiss went French. My hands found a place on her hips while hers wrapped themselves round my neck. I felt a tug on my shirt but ignored it, can people not see: man at work here! It persisted.
"GRUBBS! FOR GOODNESS SAKE!" The voice was high pitched and a little squeaky, not one I recognised. Reni and I stopped kissing and turned to see who the intruder was. Sarah was stood pulling my shirt earnestly, a look of urgency on her face.
"What's wrong?" Even as I said the words I heard people jeering outside
"It's Bill-E, he's…."
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! She needn't finish the sentence; I dash outside towards the chanting. A circle had formed and I know who will be at its centre. Reni is close behind me, looking for Shannon. She spots her coming out the front door with a rather unsteady Loch. Both look a little flustered. I begin to push people out the way, I Can't see Bill-E but there is Robbie and two others stood at his side looking down. My stomach tightens as I push to the front and see Bill-E scrunched over on the floor.
"Get up Spleen! Not so loud now are you?" Robbie jeers and his friends laugh. I step besides Bill-E and help him up. He is winded badly and his lip is bleeding. Bill-E shrugs me off, stands and looks at Robbie. He spits blood towards him and several girls squeal in disgust, leaping a mile away. Robbie puffs up his chest and balls his fist, as do his mates.
"Your cousin is a nice kisser, Grady!" I look for Ana but can't see her anywhere.
"Yeah like she kissed you back! Hardly!" Bill-E spat some more blood in Robbie's direction. "You disgust me, you just forced her!"
"That true?" I say the two words laced with an unsaid threat, taking a step forward, still looking for Ana. Loch stumbled into the circle also and stood at the other side of Bill-E, "You been causing shit at my girls party Rob? Well?" He stood up straighter and took a step forward.
"She wanted it really, that little slut was beggin' for it!" A mate of Robbie's taunted. He doesn't go
to our school, at least not any more.
"Where is she?" I demanded and looked around.
"With Mary inside, you come inside too Grubbs," Reni pulled my sleeve.
"Babe, that's enough now, please come inside." Shannon also asked Loch, who turned to her and
nodded. She turned to Rob and co. "You three leave."
"Alright, fetch me the bitch and we'll take our leave," Robbie's mate retorted, smirking at Shannon.
He had a shaved head and a ridiculously large, fake earing, the appearance of him was enough to
piss me off.
Loch turned on his heels and his whole body tensed. I stepped in front of him, "It was three simple words. 'You three leave.' I'd have thought between the three of you, you would have enough brain cells to work that one out!" I smirked back. That got a few laughs from the crowd. I knew how to play this game too. Ana emerged from the crowd; Robbie whistled, "Come back for more, sexy? Tell your cousin here how much you want me?" Ana shook her head in disgust, "No one would ever willingly kiss a brute like you!" she snarled.
"Tut. What you sayin' slut?" Robbie's mate started towards her, and I was on him in a second.
My balled fist sunk into his fat cheeks with a whole one hundred and eighty pounds behind it, basic physics explained the result. The guy spun and went down hard on all fours. He groaned and held his face. Robbie and the other guy started towards me. Loch rugby tackled the third guy; the force that Loch's body hit him would have knocked the air out of him in a heartbeat. I almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost. Loch stood up disappointed that his enemy remained on the floor. I squared up to Robbie ready for him, adrenaline surging through my veins. Yet someone else's fist struck before mine. It was Bill-E! He had gone and landed a neat jab right on the end of Robbie's already broken nose. It didn't have much behind it but enough power for people to hear the crack of Robbie's bridge. Blood splattered the road and Robbie let out what can only be described as a yelp! I laughed and put an arm around Bill-E, "nice hit mate" he grinned at me proudly, blood still dripping down his chin from his bust lip.
Loch was dragged inside by a disgruntled Shannon, as me and Bill-E made our way over to Ana. The crowd had dispersed, the fight was clearly over.
"You okay?" I asked her. She smiled and nodded.
"I'm sorry about that, I should have been watching; I knew he was a git." I apologse.
"Not your fault, anyway Bill-E was there," She hugged him and he smiled sheepishly.
"You started the fight?" I asked him surprised.
"Well I couldn't exactly just let him do that now could I?" Bill-E seemed upset by my surprise. I smiled at him and slapped him on the back to reassure him, that I meant no offense.
"What happened then?" I turned back to Ana. "Well Robbie wouldn't leave me alone and took no notice of me saying no. So Bill-E dragged him off me and hit him in the stomach. It was brilliant but I was so angry, I could have lost control, maybe I'm not ready for this…" She trailed off, "anyways, Robbie's mates came out of nowhere and it was three on one. They dragged him outside and it was three on one, it was awful. But then you came and well…" she spoke fast and excitedly; she was quite drunk. We made our way inside and Ana walked off with Mary and Bill-E went off to find Sarah so I was left on my own once again. The party had reached its climax and people were beginning to leave. I went upstairs in search of Shannon to apologise for the fight… she might be with Reni… who might want to resume earlier activities. My stomach turns in response to this attractive thought.
As it turns out she did. I found Reni in Shannon's bedroom picking up bottles. I took them from her and put them down on the nearest table. She smiled as I leant in for another kiss. This time it was Loch's booming voice on the stairs that interrupted us.
"Perhaps we could hang together sometime when there aren't so many distractions." I added as I would rather not have Loch walk in on us.
"Give me your number," she got out her fancy phone and I retrieved my brick of a mobile.
I found Bill-E after that, it was time to make our leave. Shannon had begun chucking people out. She said we were welcome to stay but I didn't much fancy the sofa. Ana collected her things and we called a taxi home, Bill-E was unusually quiet for someone who had just won their first fight; I thought I would never here the end of it. My question was answered by his drunken mutterings during the ride home.
"Sarah won't talk to me… dislikes violence…What could I do? She won't text me… thinks I like Ana. I can't tell her she's my sister… I shut him up promptly at that. Ana has not yet been informed of Bill-E's 'Dervish is my father theory' and that's how it is best. She doesn't seem to be paying attention to Bill=E anyway. In fact I think she is asleep.
As the most sober of the three I got everybody a glass of water and into their own beds; before I finally crashed out on my own bed. I think of Reni and our kisses that we shared in Shannon's living room and bedroom, as I drop off to sleep.