Joe beamed at seeing his long-lost friends at his front door. He felt that he had missed so much, even with just the year he'd been gone. But then again, they'd missed a lot of what had gone on in his life, too. Looking at his friend's faces, he was in awe thinking about how much someone's life could be turned around in just a short year. His certainly had been. His father had been transferred to work in another county, and while away, he'd met the woman who would become his new wife, and Joe's new stepmother. And that woman had a daughter, so Joe had gotten a bit of an instant family. At first, he hated the new woman, and her daughter too. He was still didn't get along completely well with his stepmother, but he quickly learned to love and adore his new sister, Jennifer, who was just a few months younger than Joe.
"Come in, you guys." Joe smiled at his friends and led them into the living room of his house, where they sat down and all excitedly turned to Joe, waiting for him to begin to talk about what had been happening in his life for the past year.As the boys talked, soft footsteps began to enter their ears. A pretty, fair girl turned swiftly past the boys, on a path to the kitchen; the boys stopped talking in order to follow her movements. Her lips formed a shy smile as she looked to Joe, before moving once again, away from his sight. The boys all turned back towards Joe, wanting to know what lied outside of Lillian.
Except for Charles, that is. His eyes still followed Jennifer, his face burning red. His mouth slightly opened, like he wanted to speak to her - but, no matter how much he tried, he had no words.
Cary glanced over to him. "Come on, lubberboy," he snapped.
"Shut up, Cary, I- what the...oh." Charles looked around the room, confused by his friend's exasperation. Cary quizzically gaped at his friend, who was still reeling from his daydream. Actually, everyone was gaping at him. "Quit that," he said.
"Yeah, whatever," the blond spat back. "You're-" A woman's voice interrupted Cary's insult. "Want a snack, boys? Food's on the table." Joe recognized the defined, savory scent of his stepmother's chicken tenders.
Charles, Martin, Cary and Preston all dashed to the kitchen, shouting a string of random compliments - "Thank you! You're the best, Mrs. Lamb!"
But Joe stayed frozen. He hadn't seen anyone for a year - but Charles was already more interested in his sister - a newcomer, naive to the group - than he was in his own friend - someone he'd known for so long.