Chapter 22

At home to driveway was empty, and since it was rare for someone to park in the garage without it having been raining, I figured I was going to be home alone. I parked the car closest to the front door, and went in. My mother had bought a ton of frozen dinners- all with bright labels promising some weight loss- but I was fine eating them because they were easy to make, and tasted fine. I hadn't eaten much at Peter's, especially because I felt awkward with Nathan heckling me. He got me to eat a slice of cold pizza, but I could barely eat that much in front of Peter, let alone his brother who loved to tease the both of us.

When I stepped inside, I heard the TV was on, and the lights were out. Gabriella's head was poking out over the top of the couch, and I could see the light of the TV hitting her hair, turning it a light shade of blue in some spots. She was watching a movie, I assumed, but I didn't know which one. I'm not a movie kind of person. "Hi," I said, twirling my keys around my finger, taking a few slow steps into the room. She didn't jump, or turn around to look at me. She just returned a quiet, "Hello."

"What's up?" I said softly. She hadn't bombarded me about the car, or complained yet. Maybe she was in a good mood, but even then she would rarely treat me any different.

"I ordered a pizza," She said, turning her profile into a silhouette as she turned her head in my direction. "There's a lot left if you want some. It's still warm." I stood there, looking at her. I couldn't tell if her eyes were opened, or if her eyelids were covering them, her whole face from my point of view was swallowed by darkness. I walked over in the direction of the kitched, hitting the hall light on my way. The house was dark, but she was home. Everything was wrong; I could feel it.

The box was in the middle of the island, with its bottom edge perfectly parallel to the edge of the marble-top. I went over and lifted the top, peaking in. Touching the crust, it was still warm. I was starving, so I took her offer, and broke off a piece and put it on a napkin, walking back into the living room sensitively. I didn't know what to say to her.

With the lights on, I could see she was seated with her legs folded under her knees, and her arms gripped a pillow to her chest. The curves and folds of her clothing and arms were dusted blue by the lights of our too-big-TV. She stared blankly, and her face drooped down into a frown. Not just one of concentration, the corners dipped downwards, deeper towards the ground. The frown that you can feel, but can't get rid of. I looked at her, leaning a hand to the light dimmer, and turned the lights up slightly, so that I could see the room more clearly. The only family room I know without a fireplace.

"Are you okay?" These words were a surprise. I never usually got myself involved in Gabriella's problems. It sounds mean, but it's not, I swear, she changes too much for me to keep up. Her moods are all over the place. I've figured out it's better not to try to figure them out, there was a strange barrier formed in between us. I wasn't meant to know little things about her, which is something I forgot in the moment. But I inched forward sitting down on the edge of the couch, trying to take a smaller bite of the pizza growing greasy in my palm.

She moved slightly, reacting to my question. She just tugged her shoulders upwards, making herself grow a few inches, and the frown on her face became more subdued. "Yeah," She said. Her eyes remained on the screen, moving with the people. They were singing karaoke, and the girl was wearing a pink wig. I recognized the actress faintly, but looked down, chewing a modest mouthful of lukewarm food.

We watched the movie for a few minutes, and then she glanced over at me. "How's Peter?"

I swallowed before speaking, giving myself a chance to think. I figured her intentions were innocent. So I shrugged. "He's good," I said with a nod, smiling. I looked at her. "I met his older brother today."

She looked over at me for a second. "Oh, what is his name?"

I dropped my hand into my lap, holding onto a thin piece of crust I had been nibbling at. "I am not positive on his last name, but his first name is Nathan." I said. "He's Peter's step-brother, so I don't know if you know him. You might, he's a little older."

"Nathan," She repeated, looking over at the TV. "Is he cute?"

I nodded a little. "Yeah," I said. "I guess." I went back to nibbling.

"Find out his last name," She said softly. I nodded, and she brushed some of her hair behind her ear. We looked back at the TV. Now the girl who had had pink hair just had normal hair, and was walking through a monostary-type place. The screen was colored mainly pink and blue. I watched her walking across. She always watched kind of funny movies.

"Are you and Peter going to get serious?" She asked.

I paused for a second. "I hope so," I said. "I really like him."

"And you've been friends with him all this time?"


"It's so weird."

"I know."

She looked over at me, and I could hardly recognize her. Maybe it was the fact that the room was so dark, and the only real light was coming from the TV, which had grown considerably dark; for some reason, when I looked at her, something happened and her face seemed to have transformed into someone else's. There were small things that made her face hers that seemed to melt into the shadows- like maybe the corner of her lips, or the blackness of her eyelashes. Maybe she just wasn't wearing make-up. "I don't even remember you mentioning him." She said. "And all of a sudden you're dating someone."

I sat back for a second, looking at her, and she looked back at the TV. She wasn't accusing me of anything, but there was something biting in her tone. Right then I couldn't figure it out. With that one stupid, meaningless sentence the room became tense. I got up first to go upstairs, knowing I couldn't stand being the second to go.

A/N: Hey there, I have gotten a lot of new readers here who have made themselves know via Reviews, and I'd like to thank you and welcome you all! Please, feel free to review, I read everything, and write for you. I know this one is short, but I hope you keep reading! I love to hear from all of you, and I love knowing you guys have kept reading. Have a good day, or night!