"Look on your front porch." I said as soon as Tori answered the phone. I'd been calling her all morning and it had gone straight to answer machine since 10am until she finally answered over an hour later. It had been a few days since the waterpark and even though we'd text and spoke on the phone I was missing Tori like mad.
"Hello to you too." Her voice was sleepy and croaky as she replied. I could tell she was smiling through a yawn.
"Oh you called me baby this must be serious." I could hear her footsteps creaking down her wooden staircase as she headed towards the door. Her footsteps stopped abruptly. "Should I be scared?"
I chuckled at her. "No."
"Okay. My hand is on the handle now. Nothing's going to jump out on me right?"
I rolled my eyes. "Just open the door, Vega."
As she pulled the door open I could hear a sweet gasp leave her lips. "Oh Jade! Thank you so much."
I didn't need to picture her face because my car was lined perfectly with her front door. From my car I could see her face lighting up. "So, you like them?" I couldn't help but smile while I watched her while she was still blissfully unaware that I was even there.
From afar I could see her cheeks blush. She pushed her bed hair behind her ear and reached down to pick up the bouquet of red roses. "They're beautiful. Thank you so much. I love them." She pressed the flowers under her nose taking a deep breath in to inhale the floral smell.
"They're to say sorry." I paused slightly. "For how I've been acting recently. But that's not the only surprise. Look to your left." I unwound my car window. "You look cute with your glasses on."
Tori's mouth dropped open in shock. She shut the front door behind her and raced towards my car, flowers still in tow. "What are you doing here? Not that I'm not happy that you're here I'm just shocked and I still have bed hair and bed breath and how long have you been-"
"Coming to get you." I interrupted her rambles. "Been here twenty minutes."
Her smile was contagious at this point. It spread from ear to ear. "What for?"
"It's a surprise." I looked her up and down. "However, as adorable as your giraffe pyjamas are you'll need to put on some real clothes."
"I'll be back out in five. I'll pop these in some water first and then get ready. What should I wear?" Excitement was thick in her voice even though she seemed flustered.
"You look beautiful in whatever you put on. Nothing too fancy though, it's not that kind of date."
"You woke up on the right side of the bed this morning." She leant into the car window and kissed me on the forehead. My car quickly became filled with Tori's familiar summery scent. She smiled at me one last time before dashing back inside quickly.
When she came back out exactly five minutes later I almost couldn't believe it had only been five minutes. In that time she'd managed to put her hair up in a cute half do, change her clothes into a white pair of denim shorts and a baby pink t-shirt and do a full face of natural looking make up. "How do I look?"
"So where are we going?" She quizzed me as soon as she got into the passenger seat. She popped her seat belt into the buckle with a snap and turned to face me as soon as she was strapped in. "Please tell me!"
I tapped my nose. "It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you." I pressed my fingers over my lips. "My lips are sealed."
"The flowers were so beautiful, Jade. It was so thoughtful of you." She placed her hand on my thigh, giving it a soft squeeze as she smiled at me.
"It's the least I could do." I sighed. "I've been such a bitch recently and I'm sorry."
"It's okay-" She started.
"No, it's not. You're my girlfriend and I love you and I can't treat you like that."
She smirked at me. "Wow I got an apology and an I love you within the space of two sentences. Are you feeling okay?" She moved her hand onto my forehead as though she was feeling my temperature.
"Ha ha." I took her hand from my forehead and entwined our fingers together on her lap. "I'm sorry babe. I've been so used to treating my ex like crap that I kind of forgot that that's not right. You don't deserve that."
"Thank you." She kissed my hand several times before letting go. She ran her fingers through the ends of her hair, pulling at the fraying ends. "I know you've been having a rough time and I know you're struggling to deal with things and so you've been taking it out on me a little. I've tried not to take most of it personally."
I felt immediate guilt for what I'd been putting her through. My stomach knotted as she spoke and I felt like I could lose her. "One of the many reasons I love you, Tori. You are so understanding."
"Oh stop." She joked. "I'm always here for you, Jade." The sun was shining on the left side of her face and making her glow.
"I know. Right back at you." I gazed at her. She was now staring out of the window, mouthing along to the familiar pop songs on the radio and I couldn't help but smile at the sight. It was so simple and pure and I loved it.
After a few minutes of Tori and I singing along to every pop song on the radio we finally pulled up outside a colourful looking building.
"Are we here?" Tori's eyes looked hopeful. She moved forward in her seat to get a good look at the sign in front of the doors. She hadn't brought her glasses with her and I could see her eyes squinting to get a proper look.
"Yep. We are volunteers for the afternoon shift at the animal centre. So we get to cuddle all the animals, feed them and probably clean up after them too." I rolled my eyes playfully.
Tori clapped her hands together in glee. "Yay! Best surprise ever!"
"I thought you'd like it." I pulled her in for a tight hug. I wrapped my arms around her neck and held her so close I could feel her heart beat against my chest. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Tori practically ran into the building with me trailing slowly behind her a lot less enthused than her. "So you must be Jade?" The woman at the counter looked right at Tori with a wide smile.
"Nope, that'd be me." I raised my hand slightly. "That's Tori." I pointed to the grinning girl.
She looked me up and down quickly with a disgruntled look on her face. "Right, of course." I could tell what she was thinking. I hardly looked like the type of girl to volunteer at a place like this whereas Tori was so stereotypically that type of girl. "Do any of you have any animal allergies?"
"No." We said in unison.
"Any fears of animals?"
"Don't say it." I whispered through gritted teeth to Tori.
She giggled. "Nope." She answered with a smirk. "I don't think they have dolphins here Jade."
I ignored her playful comment and followed the woman. As we walked past the animals Tori sighed and awwed several times. She even stopped a few times to pet a few dogs. From the corner of my eye I could see her pause quickly at a particular cage. She bent down and placed her hand by the bars of a cage. "Hey little one." From the back of the cage a small, scared looking dog looked up at her slightly. "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you." Her voice was as light as a feather.
Slowly but surely the dog moved forward towards Tori until he was close enough for her to pet him. She beamed at the tiny dog as she stretched her hand out to let him sniff her. "That's a good boy." She looked up at his information on the cage. "Cooper. Hey Cooper." She scratched under his chin and behind his ears and if I didn't know better I'd of said the damn dog was smiling at her.
The woman smiled in awe. "Cooper doesn't let just anyone pet him you know." She took a deep breath. "They found him the trash like someone had just thrown him out. He's not a big fan of most people as you can imagine."
Tori gasped slightly and I could see the tears in her eyes from a good ten feet away. "How could they?" She looked back at the dog and gave him one last pet before standing up and blowing a kiss to him.
"No we aren't getting him." I joked as we continued to follow the woman.
"Do you even like dogs?"
"I'm more of a bunny person."
She twitched her nose at me. "I wouldn't have said that. I thought you'd like snakes and spiders."
"Well I did have a pet spider once."
She looked at me hesitantly. "And what happened to it?"
"I don't know. It escaped in my room about a week before I met you."
A breathless gasp left her lips as her eyes widened. "You're kidding right?"
"Nope." I laughed loudly. For once I really wasn't joking. She didn't need to know my Mom had found him a day later after she'd killed him mistaking him for a regular house spider.
The rest of the afternoon was surprisingly more fun than I'd first anticipated. Tori spent the majority of the time cuddling and kissing every fluffy animal in sight. She sat like an animal whisperer with all kinds of animals sat around her. She looked like a real life disney princess.
"Hold still." I pulled my PearPhone out of my back pocket and held the camera up at her. I looked at her through the lens. "Try and look natural."
She giggled. "I can't now you've said that."
I snapped a shot as she laughed at me. "Got it." I looked down at my phone. Tori was smiling naturally although she was not looking at the camera but looking to me behind it. Her eyes were creased with laughter and her left cheek was slightly dimpled. She looked radiant.
"You never normally like taking photos." She took a small bird from off her shoulder and back into its cage giving it a final stroke before closing its gate.
"You don't normally look cute." I cocked my eyebrow sarcastically with a smirk on my lips. I picked up a puppy that had been on Tori's lap and gave it a quick kiss on the nose. Before I could stop her she'd snapped a photo of it as evidence. "No!"
"Too late." Her eyes were glued to her phone. "You look adorable."
"Delete it now!"
"Nope." She stuck her tongue out at me in defiance.
I rolled my eyes. "Never let anyone see it."
"I'll keep it for myself." She slipped her phone back into her pocket and placed a kiss on my lips. "Thanks for such a fun date."
"You're welcome. Do you want to come back to mine? Mom said you could stay the night if you wanted?"
"Sure. I'll let my Mom know."
As we got into my car she held her phone between her shoulder and her ear. "Thanks Mom you're the best. I'll be home tomorrow morning. I love you too."
She nodded with a big grin. "Home, James."
I pushed my shades onto my head as I turned to face her. "Whose James?"
"I'm not sure. It's a saying though right?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "If you say so." I teased.
"There's dessert if you're still hungry. It's in the refrigerator." Mom smiled as she cleared the table.
"I'm full but thank you. Dinner was lovely." Tori smiled sweetly.
"What she said." I took Tori's wrist. "Come on let's go."
She followed one step behind me as she followed me upstairs. "Do you wanna watch a movie? I heard Inception is meant to be good."
I reached under my bed and pulled out a bottle of vodka. "I heard it was shit. Want a drink instead?" I threw the bottle with a spin and caught it in my other hand.
Tori reached forward as if I was going to drop the bottle as she let out a deep sigh of relief. "Oh my god I thought it was going to smash all over your floor!"
"As if I would waste vodka, Vega." I unscrewed the top and poured the liquid into two glasses on my desk. "What do you want with it? Orange or soda?"
She shook the bottle in her hand. "I'll just have mountain dew with it."
"You're wild." I joked as I stirred the liquid around the glass.
"It makes me feel sick that you drink that shit straight." She stuck her tongue out in disgust while she sipped on her drink.
"I like the kick." I held the glass in the air doing an imaginary toast before necking the drink in one all while maintaining a smirk on my lips. "What are you doing?"
Tori had sat down at my desk and was playing around with the computer. "Putting music on. Is that alright?" She turned and cocked her eyebrow up at me.
I sat down beside her feeling slightly proud. "Attitude. I like it. Put Ke$ha on."
"Your wish is my command." As the music started Tori bopped her head and sung along loudly while dancing in her seat. "We should make a music video!" She hiccuped enthusiastically.
"God you are so corny." I laughed. "Hold on." I took the laptop from her and opened the camera. I hesitated over the red button before eventually hitting record. We rarely took photos of ourselves together let alone any videos so it felt so surreal. I'd gotten so used to us being a secret and to an extent we still were a secret so this was new ground for the both of us. "There you go, be a star."
Tori blushed the moment the laptop was moved back in front of her. "I'm shy." She held her hands across her face with just her eyes peering out from behind her fingers.
I rolled my eyes and moved so the camera was facing on both of us. "Sing." I poked her in the ribs and wrapped my arm around her neck swiftly moving her hands away from her face as I moved. I planted a soft kiss on her cheek to reassure her.
It took about thirty seconds until her nervous and shy smile turned into a confident and slightly tipsy smile. "Do you like 3OH!3?"
I nodded. "Yeah they're alright."
She lent over me and put their new song on once again singing along to every word. Her eyes diverted to my desk. I watched as she scanned almost every item before stopping and grabbing at an old photo frame of me when I was a kid. "What did your Mom dress you in? Oh my god!" She chuckled and pointed the photo to the camera.
"Dude it was the 90's everyone dressed like elaborate models. Plus having your entire outfit match was so in back then." I took the photo off her. It's true, the outfit was ugly. A blue floral shirt with a matching hat. The only saving grace was that I looked cute as a button. "Come on then let's see you as a kid."
She took her phone out and scanned through it briefly before handing it to me with an image of a very young Tori. She was sat cross legged on a bed with a green and yellow patterned pillow behind her. She had thick dark bangs that almost covered her innocent little eyes and to top it off she was wearing a Pocahontas night gown. She looked like the epitome of childhood innocence. "Adorable."
She blushed as she took her phone back. "We were both such cute kids."
"Modest." I laughed playfully at her. "So any song requests?"
She shook her head as she drank more of her drink. "You pick."
"Do you like any musicals?"
"Only your stereotypical ones like Annie and Grease."
"God you're a cliche." I took the laptop and pulled up a playlist of my favourite songs from shows.
"Oh wait I like Hairspray. I saw Trina in it last year."
"No kidding. At Hollywood Arts?"
She nodded eagerly. "Yeah Trina was one of the nicest kids I think."
I smirked at her. "Do you remember anyone else in it?"
I could tell the cogs in her brain were turning as she thought. Her mouth dropped open slightly as it clicked. "No way. You were in it?"
I nodded proudly. "Yep. And I played the role your sister so badly wanted. I played Amber Von Tussle. I had to wear a blonde wig so that's probably why you can't picture me." I took my laptop and pulled up a photo from the production. "I hated wearing the dresses so bad. I refused to wear anything pink also. The only reason I agreed to play her was because she's a bitch like the entire show."
"Yeah I remember that. You sing that song about umm what was it like cooties or something?"
"Yeah that's it. My friend Cat was Penny and a senior was Tracy. My friend Andre played an awesome Seaweed too."
"I can remember you being incredible."
"Yeah right." I laughed. "God this thing is still recording."
"Okay let's do one more song?" She took the laptop off me and turned on Forever Baby in spanish.
As the song started Tori began singing and swaying her shoulders to the beat. I watched in awe of her until the chorus where I belted out every word perfectly in Spanish. I was actually glad we were recording ourselves because her face was priceless. Complete shock and happiness covered her face as I finished the chorus perfectly. "Oh my god, you learnt the words?"
"Obviously. It's our song isn't it?" After the first night I'd heard the song played in the car with her I'd gone home and downloaded it right away. It took a while to pick up the words because it was all in Spanish but slowly I picked it up and was able to surprise her perfectly.
She threw her arms around my neck with such force it knocked us both off our chairs. We collided with the floor with a loud bang but in complete fits of laughter.
As the song and our giggles stopped the room went into a dead silence. I stood up slowly and walked towards my bedroom door, stopping to push my ear against the door.
"What are you doing?" Tori questioned as she sat at the end of my bed.
"I'll be back in a minute. You can pick a movie to put on if you want?" I headed straight down the corridor following the muffled cries I could just about hear. "Mom?" I pushed her door open slightly, poking my head around the frame. The room was totally dark apart from the moonlight forcing its way between the blinds.
"I'm fine." She slurred back at me.
As my eyes adjusted I could make out the shape of a bottle of wine besides her feet and a pack of cigarettes on the side next to her. "Mom what are you doing?" She'd been sober for a while now and I finally thought everything was changing for the better.
She slumped against her bed frame. "I'm sorry." She began to cry louder as I moved towards her.
"Why are you drinking? What happened?" I took the almost empty bottle from her and poured it out of the window while she wasn't looking. "Has Jett seen you like this?" I swiped the cigarettes from the side and pushed them into my back pocket.
"No he hasn't." She took a deep breath and rubbed her watery eyes. "It's your Father."
"What's he done now? Has he hurt you?" I sat down and wiped the mascara from under her eyes.
"No he hasn't even been near me." She took a deep breath and ran her fingers through her hair. "He's got a new girlfriend already. When Jett came back from his today he told me all about her. She's apparently just like me except she's ten years younger than me. I don't even want the bastard back that just hurt so bad you know."
I hesitated before wrapping her into a warm hug. "You'll meet someone Mom. So what if he's dating some blonde bimbo? She's probably only with him because she thinks he has money."
She laughed slightly. "I hate that he still gets to me like this. I was doing so well too."
"I know Mom. It's okay to have bumps in the road though and it's still all so fresh too. Just promise me this isn't going to be a regular thing?"
She nodded her head at me. "You're such a good daughter. There's one thing your Father and I did right and that was make you two wonderful kids." She raised her hand and stroked my face gently. "Thank you darling. You go back to bed now. Remember, door open please."
I smiled at her. "Night, Mom."
I pulled the door to making sure I snuck a look one final time before closing the door entirely and I felt my heart sink. The moment she thought I was gone she reached into her bedside drawer and pulled out a small bottle of vodka. She sobbed quietly while she took several shots from the bottle. I felt powerless to stop her so I just shut the door and walked away. Everyone I loved always seemed to disappoint me. Everyone but Tori.
A/N - The childhood photos of Tori and Jade I described are actual photos of Liz & Victoria if you want to google them for reference!
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