“When will you move into the new house?” Hazel asked Gia when they were leaving the school locker rooms after gym class.
“This weekend. We’ve pretty much packed over half of our stuff, and the new house is almost ready for the stuff to be moved there, so it shouldn’t take long. Why?”
“Because I want to come visit,” she grinned.
“You’re just saying that because you want to meet my dad and stepmom.”
“And don’t forget your unborn step sister or brother. Do you know which one it is yet?”
Gia shook her head. “No. Dad and Lindsey don’t know either. They wanted to keep it a surprise or something.”
“If I was having a kid, I’d want to find out the gender as soon as possible so I could buy the color-appropriate stuff.”
“Oh, that reminds me. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff they’ve bought already. It’s like, they’re going to fill the nursery with so much stuff that the baby can’t even fit into it,” Gia complained. “And they keep buying more! When I was a baby, it was like ‘Oh, Gia’s crib broke down. Let’s put her in a box filled with sharp pieces of glass’, and ‘Oops, we’ve run out of diapers. Let’s use newspaper instead’. They’re spoiling the kid and it hasn’t even been born yet!”
“Do I sense a bit of jealousy?” Hazel teased, but then stopped talking when they got to a corner. She pulled Gia back a few steps so she wouldn’t walk around the corner, and quickly shushed her.
“What is it?” Gia whispered.
“I heard Henry,” Hazel whispered back, and peeked behind the corner.
“Who’s Henry again?”
“The guy that shoved Max into the locker last week.”
Gia was peeking behind the corner too, her head under Hazel’s. If the group of boys had noticed the two girls, they would’ve seen that they were doing some sort of a Huey-Dewey-Louie imitation.
“So many people dislike Max that it’s hard to keep track,” Gia whispered, but Hazel shushed her again. The halls were empty other than the two girls, evil Henry, and three of his friends.
“What’s Ryan doing with them?” Gia asked.
“Would you shut up? I wanna hear what they say.”
Gia shut her mouth, and concentrated on listening to the conversation, even though she really didn’t want to. Somehow she had a really bad feeling about all this.
One of the other boys, a junior, was throwing a football around. There was no way he was in the football team, so he must’ve taken the ball without permission. Gia knew for a fact that he couldn’t be in the team, because she’d seen him fight with the football players, and besides, according to Hazel, he smoked like three packs a day.
“You still going out with that girl, whatsherface?” the junior guy asked Ryan as they were just standing around in the hall. One of the other guys had a lit cigarette between his fingers, which Gia didn’t really like. School may suck, but it was still against the school rules.
“Yeah. You know me, I don’t give up that easy,” Ryan smirked, snatching the ball from his friend.
The other guy retrieved the ball back after a short fight over it, and then laughed. “How far have you gotten with her yet?”
“Not far,” Ryan said with a frown. “But I like a challenge.”
“Ten bucks says that you can’t even get to first case with that chick,” the guy with the cigarette said.
“Oh yeah?” Ryan instantly cheered up. “Well, 20 bucks says that I get to at least second base by the end of next week.”
“I’ll take that bet,” the football guy said. “But how are you going to do that? She’s a fucking saint from what I’ve heard.”
“She might be a goody-two-shoes, but damn, the girl can drink. I have my ways.”
Gia glanced at Hazel, who was staring right back at her. She took a hold of Gia’s arm and didn’t stop walking until they got out of the school building and to the yard. Everyone else had already left, only they had stayed behind after gym class to talk, and now they were glad they had the privacy.
“Oh my god,” Hazel gasped when they got outside.
“Yeah,” Gia agreed, but the expression on her face was far from Hazel’s shocked one.
“You’re not surprised? Angry?”
“Didn’t you hear at all what he was talking about? He said it himself! He bet on whether he can get you to do it with him or not!”
“Well, no one’s perfect, right?” Gia said, unsure of exactly how she was supposed to react to things like this.
“Read between the lines, Gia,” Hazel said with a deathly serious tone of voice. “Ryan is a jerk.”
“I know,” she sighed.
They walked in silence for a little while, but when they got to the school gates where they’d have to part ways, Hazel spoke again.
“So, what are you going to do? I mean, you’ll dump him, right?”
Gia honestly didn’t know how to answer that. She had no desire to do anything other than talk with Ryan, but then again, she liked having a boyfriend.
Ryan could be a good guy, too. He carried her books at school, bought her ice cream and soda, sometimes walked her home, helped her with stuff, and he even promised not to make her ride that death machine he calls a motorcycle again.
Hazel tried to make her promise to end things with Ryan, but Gia couldn’t make that promise.
Somehow, all of this just made Gia miss Lucas even more. The following day she wished that she hadn’t packed up her laptop yet because that meant that she couldn’t check her emails every five minutes, but she did have her cell phone with her at all times. Just in case.
From Gia’s plea, the official moving was scheduled to happen during the weekend. She didn’t want to miss school any more than she had to.
Saturday was reserved to moving in the furniture, and to help with that, they had some guys from the moving firm to carry them, and of course Frank and Jersey to mess things up as much as possible.
“Gia, will you please keep the dog out of the way?” Gerard yelled from somewhere in the house, and Gia, who was in the living room with Lindsey, trying to decide where to put the couch, whistled loudly.
Jersey ran to her, but as he did, he knocked over one of the moving guys who was carrying barstools. He fell over, dropping the stools in the process.
Gia grimaced when she heard the crash. Gerard’s nerves had been a bit tight the whole day. They tried to get as much stuff done as possible during the weekend, so that they could move out of the old house, which was already sold, sooner. That’s why Gerard bossed people around like a dictator and snapped at everyone who dared to do something wrong.
“Get the dog out of here!” Gerard commanded, standing at the top of the stairs looking madder than ever, and then disappeared when one of the mover guys had a question.
“Why don’t you take Jersey out for a walk?” Lindsey suggested with a much calmer, nicer tone. “You need to get to know the neighborhood anyway. I’ll handle this.”
Gia couldn’t argue with her. She wanted out of the house for a while anyway. It seemed to be filled with people, everyone looked stressed and in a hurry, and Gia felt like she was in the way.
So she took Jersey outside, grabbed his leash from the car and spent five minutes trying to attach it to his collar. It was difficult because he kept running around her in circles, too excited to go for a walk.
When she finally managed to get the leash on him, Jersey determinedly started to pull her onwards.
While Jersey was busy inspecting every single bush and tree along their path, Gia looked around the neighborhood.
The place was really different from the old one. The old neighborhood was more like a regular suburban living area, but this one had fancier, bigger houses with big yards and expensive, shiny cars on the driveways.
Jersey seemed to be enjoying it though. It was a bright day, but the weather was cool so he didn’t get too hot. Some kids ran from one of the yards to ask Gia if they could pet Jersey, and since the dog hadn’t mauled anyone yet, she let them.
In the end Gia went to the backyard of one of the kids’ house, and let Jersey run loose with them for a while. It was good for the dog, too, as he had far too much energy for Gia to handle at the moment. She was just happy that someone else would make him get rid of all that extra energy.
So, Gia sat on a chair by the pool and watched the kids throw a ball for Jersey to catch, when she felt her phone start vibrating.
Figuring that it would just be her dad calling to check where the hell she’d gone, Gia answered the phone without thinking.
It definitely wasn’t her dad. Gia’s heart jumped up to her throat and she felt like crying. “Lucas?”
“Hey. Are you busy or can you talk?”
“I’m not doing anything,” Gia answered. After not talking to him for weeks, it felt nice to speak to him again. She was happy he called. She glanced at the kids and Jersey to make sure the dog was still playing nice.
“How’ve you been?”
“Okay, I guess. We’re moving again,” she said. “You can’t imagine how happy dad is to get away from Tina.”
“I bet he is.”
“How are you?”
“I’m okay. Mom has to move to Texas so I was thinking…”
“Um, never mind. That’s not important. But hey, I’m sorry I haven’t really been calling lately, I’ve been busy and stuff.”
“It’s okay,” Gia said. “I’m happy you called though.”
“Yeah. Listen, the last time we talked, you were…”
“Going on a date,” she finished his sentence.
“Yeah. What exactly happened with that?”
To anyone else, his tone of voice would’ve sounded completely nonchalant. But Gia knew that he wasn’t just asking this for the sake of saying something.
“The date went okay.”
“And… You two still…?”
Gia hesitated for a moment. He had finally called her, which meant that he wasn’t mad anymore. And it made her so happy. Gia really didn’t want to make him mad again. She didn’t want to lose him. And besides, after overhearing Ryan with his friends, she knew that she couldn’t stay together with him.
“No. I’m not with him anymore,” she lied, but didn’t regret telling that lie at all. After that, they talked about their daily lives and what they’d been up to for the past few weeks like they had never stopped talking to each other. She had to hang up when she got another call from Gerard, telling her to stop playing around and go home.
The kids were disappointed to part with Jersey, but Gia promised them that he will be there to play with them again, and then it was time to go back home to Gerard’s reign.
Gia regretted promising Hazel that she could come over and meet her dad and Lindsey. Sure, Gia had met Hazel’s family, but it wasn’t the same thing. Gia didn’t have a picture of Hazel’s mom on her bedpost.
“They know I’m coming? Are they home?” Hazel asked as they were standing outside of the door and Gia was trying to find her keys from her book bag.
“They’re out grocery shopping, but they’ll be home in about an hour,” Gia said, finally finding her keys and opening the door.
“I can’t believe I’m in Gerard Way’s house,” Hazel gasped, looking around in the hall like a shark on a public beach packed with people.
Jersey came running from somewhere, barking like crazy. He immediately went to Hazel, growling while trying to smell if she was an enemy or not.
“Aww, cute dog!”
“His name is Jersey.”
“Does he bite?”
“Not unless you bite him first.”
With this encouragement, Hazel thought it safe to crouch down to pet the gray dog. Jersey of course enjoyed the attention and rolled over on his back, hoping that his tummy would get some scratching too.
“So, do you want a tour or something?” Gia asked after a while of Jersey’s attention-whoring.
“Come this way then.” Gia led her to the first room on the left, which was the living room. It was a spacious place with big windows and lots of art on the white walls. There was a piano in one of the corners, and a big shelf covering one of the walls. It was half filled with books, and half with the awards and other meaningful objects that Gerard and Lindsey had gotten.
“This is so fancy,” Hazel said and plopped down on one of the big, white armchairs. “Does that piano work?”
“Yeah. I never play it though. Dad and Lindsey do. Come on, I’ll show you the kitchen.”
The living room and kitchen were connected by a small dining room area, with a big oval table and six chairs. Behind the table were double glass doors that led out to the backyard. After Hazel pointed out again how fancy it all was, they moved on to the kitchen.
“And this is my kingdom,” Gia said, presenting the black and white kitchen with an island in the middle. Everything was neatly arranged, mostly because Gia insisted that no dirty dishes are left on the counters. “Do you want something to drink?”
“Sure. What do you have?”
“Water, apple juice, energy drinks, coke... Oh, and milk.”
“I’ll take a coke.”
Gia tossed her a can of coke and took one for herself too, and then they continued the tour. They went back to the entrance hall and walked up the stairs. The walls of the corridor upstairs had framed pictures scattered around, and some artwork Lindsey and Gerard had done.
“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to show you their bedroom, but… Here,” Gia said, opening the nearest door, hoping that she won’t get in trouble for this. She knew that Gerard and Lindsey were really private people.
The room itself was regular sized, but the high double bed was so big that it took up so much space that the room looked smaller. The floors were dark brown, but it was a nice contrast to the white walls, white bed and the beige couch on the corner. The room was connected to its own bathroom, but Gia didn’t bother showing that to Hazel.
Next room was the nursery, and it was placed right beside Gerard and Lindsey’s. Gia knew that Hazel would fall in love with the pale yellow, blue and pink room, and she was right. The room was kind of small, but cuter than anything the world has ever seen. The ceiling was painted to look like a blue, cloudy summer sky, and the walls were paler blue with yellow and pink floral shapes on them. There was a yellow armchair, and the crib was light brown wood.
After Gia managed to drag Hazel out of the room (where she seemed to be ready to move into), there was only one room left to show. Gia’s.
The room was nothing like Gia’s old one. This one was much darker, as there were no windows. But Gia didn’t mind that (and neither did Gerard, because this way he didn’t have to worry about her sneaking out through them). The bed was her old double bed, but the bedpost was new. Also the pink sofa was new, as was the large mirror hanging above it. Next to the bed was the entrance to the closet where Gia had put her clothes and beanbag chairs (until she finds another place for them).
Like Gerard and Lindsey’s room, Gia’s also had it own bathroom with a shower. And much like all the other rooms in the house, Gerard had also made something for Gia to put up in hers.
“Your room is awesome!” Hazel said and sat on the couch, grabbing one of the silver pillows. “But why are there no windows?”
“No idea. I don’t mind though. I didn’t like the whole bars on window thing.”
“He can still barricade your door,” Hazel pointed out.
They hung out in Gia’s room for a while until they heard Gerard and Lindsey come home. Immediately Hazel got all excited and fussy.
“Oh no! They’re here!” Like gasped, looking like she was about to have a stroke.
“Do you want to meet them or not?”
“Of course I do!”
They left the room and went downstairs, where Gerard and Lindsey were taking off their coats. When they noticed the two girls, they stopped the chattering and smiled politely.
“Hello,” Hazel said shyly.
“This is Hazel,” Gia said. “And those are Lindsey and my dad but… you know that already.”
“Hey Hazel,” Lindsey said, and shook hands with Hazel. Gerard did the same, and the girl looked like she was about to faint.
Since it seemed like Hazel had suddenly lost her ability to speak and she was unable to stop staring, Gia said: “So we’ll be up in my room then.”
“Okay. Dinner’s at six. Hazel, will you be staying for dinner?”
The girl just shook her head, and Gia decided it best to just drag her friend back upstairs. Hazel was still completely star struck when they got to the room, and she laid down on the couch with glossy eyes.
“Wow,” she breathed all of a sudden after a while of being silent.
“They’re so normal!”
Gia raised an eyebrow. “What did you expect?”
“I don’t know. I figured they’d spontaneously start singing or dancing or something. That’s all musicians do, right?”
“Not that I’ve noticed, no. Trust me, they’re completely normal. Just like any other parents.”
“You know what?”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard you acknowledge Lindsey as a parent.”
Gia thought for a moment. She had never really considered Lindsey as anything else than the mother of her father’s unborn child, or at least she thought that. But the thing is, Gia wasn’t sure if she was supposed to think of Lindsey as a mom, stepmom, or just someone who happens to live in the same house. They hadn’t talked about it. Gia did like Lindsey, and she was almost completely certain that the feeling was mutual, but how could she know?
Even though Lindsey was growing Gia’s little sister in her abdomen, there was a definite barrier between them.
A barrier, which Gia wasn’t sure she wanted to break.