"I think it's great that you're staying with, Isa," she says with a small smile.
I open the door to Jake's room, and walk out into the hallway, padding down the stairs slowly. I hear Claire talking to Jennifer in the kitchen, and I decide to listen when I hear my name.
"So, she's really staying?" Jennifer asks.
"That's so cool!"
"I thought you'd be happy. I want you to make her feel as comfortable as possible, okay?"
"Of course, mommy! Is Isa okay, though? She looked kind of sad. And she hurt herself pretty bad, too. I think I should tell her to be more careful. Maybe I should be more careful, too. I don't want to slip and hurt myself like that."
"Maybe you should," Claire says, "but don't worry about, Isabella. She's going to be fine, sweetheart. You know her, she's a tough chick."
Jennifer giggles, and I smile. I walk into the kitchen, and stand in the doorway meekly.
"Hi," I say, and Jennifer turns around.
"Hi! Mommy said you're going to be staying with us!"
"Yup," I smile as I walk over and plop down in the chair next to her.
"That's so cool, Isa. Will you teach me how to do my hair and stuff like you do?"
"Of course. We'll do lots of neat stuff together."
"Sure!" I smile.
"Darling, you're going to catch a cold if your hair stays wet. How about I dry it for you?"
"Oh, no, that's okay. I can do it."
"Don't be silly, let me do it. I promise not to pull."
I laugh slightly, and nod my head. She smiles, and stands up, making her way out of the kitchen. I hear her footsteps on the stairs, and I turn towards Jennifer.
"I think it's great that you're staying with, Isa," she says with a small smile.
I smile at her, and she leans in her chair towards me, and wraps her tiny arms around my neck. I wrap my arms around her, and gently pull her into my lap. I hold her close to me for a few moments.
"Will you play a game with me?"
"Sure. What do you want to play?"
"Umm...let's go play my racing game!"
"Okay. But, let's wait for your mom. She wants to dry my hair first."
"I can dry it in that room, if you want," Claire says as she walks into the kitchen.
"She wants!" Jennifer says as she wiggles off my lap.
I laugh as she grabs my hand, and pulls at it until I stand up. She takes off running, still holding onto my hand, and I have no choice but to run after her. We're both giggling the whole way there, and she lets go of my hand.
"Last one there is a rotten egg!" She yells, and I run faster after her.
She screams as I grab her, and pick her up, twirling her up in the air. She giggles and screams as I send her crashing onto the couch with a soft thud, tickling her. She tries to grab my hands, but I move them every time she grabs a hold of them, tickling her even more. By the time I stop, her face is slightly red from laughing so hard. I laugh a little and pull her up.
"I'll get you back," she says still giggling.
"If you say so."
She nods her head, and squints at me. I laugh again, and I kneel down in front of the television. I open the small doors where her video games and game cube are. I take out two controllers, and connect them. I hold them both out to her, giving her the choice between the black and the pink, and she takes the pink with a toothy grin. I laugh slightly and set the black one aside for myself. I grab her Mario Kart game, and open it, before sliding the small disc inside the game cube. I hit the power button, and turn the television on.
"I'll be right back, okay?" I tell her.
"Okay, but hurry back."
"I will. I'll only be a minute."
She nods and I stand up, and walk towards the door. I make my way up the stairs, and I walk into Jake's room. I walk over to his desk, and grab a single sheet of paper from his printer. I grab a black marker from his pen cup, and fold the paper in half. In the front, I write, "I love you..." and then I open it. Inside, I write, "I'm in the family room playing a game with your sister. Just thought I'd leave you this note in case you came back to look for me and didn't find me." I sign my name at the bottom, and put a small little heart. I smile to myself, and put it on his bed, so that when he walks in, it's the first thing he sees.
I walk out of his room, and make my way down the stairs to see Claire trying to carry a chair into the family room.
"Here, let me help you," I say and I walk over to her.
"It's okay, I got it."
Ignoring her comment, I walk over to her, and take the chair from her. She calls me stubborn with a small smile, and follows me as I carry the chair into the family room. I set it down, and turn around to ask Claire where she wants it, but she's not there. Slightly puzzled, I walk out to look for her and see her pushing a tray looking thing.
"And you call me stubborn," I tell her as I walk over to her.
"You are stubborn, dear."
"Not anymore than you."
She laughs as I take the tray from her, and continue pushing it into the living room. I roll it over to where I left the chair, and I plop myself down on the floor next to Jennifer. I grab the black controller, and I look at her with a small grin.
"Ready to lose?"
"No, are you?" she smirks, and I laugh.
"In your dreams."
As we start to race against each other, Claire starts to blow dry my hair with the hair drier, making it silky and straight-just the way Jake likes it. She occasionally comments on our bad driving skills, during the pauses of the hair drier. Suddenly, I hear the door open and close, and I smile, knowing Jake is back. I hear his footsteps on the tile floor in the kitchen, before hearing them on the stairs. After a few moments, I hear his footsteps again, and moments later, he appears in the doorway.
"Hi baby, having fun?" he asks as he walks over to me.
"Yup. I'm being pampered by your mom, and I'm winning."
"I'm letting you win!" Jennifer interjects.
"I'm sure you are, babe. You know Isabella can't drive."
"I can, too!" I pout.
Jake nudges my side with his foot, tickling me, and I squeal, right before I crash into a wall. Jennifer laughs, and I push Jake's foot away.
"There, I helped you out a little, Jen," he says as he hugs Claire, "I brought pizza for everyone."
"Thanks honey. I didn't really feel like cooking tonight," she says before running her hands through my hair, "there you go, sweetie. All done."
"Thanks," I say as I put the controller down.
I turn around and hug her, and when I pull away, I glare at Jake.
"No, I didn't, my foot slipped," he says hugging me after smiling innocently.
I sit back down as Jennifer starts the race over with a small grin, and Jake chuckles.
"Are either of you hungry?" he asks.
"I am," Jennifer says.
"How about you, baby?"
"Yeah, a little bit."
"I'm going to wait for your father, honey," she says.
"Okay. I'll be right back."
As Jake starts to walk away, an evil idea pops in my head, and I reach out to grab his foot. He trips slightly before looking back at me. I smile innocently at him, just as he did before to me.
"My hand slipped?" I giggled.
I laugh slightly, and he sticks his tongue out at me, only making me laugh more. He walks out of the family room, and I keep racing with Jennifer, trying to get back on my winning streak. By the time Jake comes back, I'm made up for my small crash, and I'm back in first place on the list. Jake sits in between us, occasionally holding up our slices of pizza for us to take a bite off while we're playing. He does the same with our sodas. Claire walks in after a little while, picking on Jake. Jennifer grins and high fives me; Claire just laughs, kissing the top of Jake's head.
"I'm going to get some more soda, alright? I'll be right back," I say.
"Want me to get it for you?" Jake asks.
"No, it's okay. I got it," I say, "you can do this race for me, though."
I stand up, and walk out of the family room, making my way towards the kitchen. I set my glass down on the table, and before I can open the fridge, there's a knock on the door.
"Want me to get it?" I call out.
"Sure," Jake calls back.
I walk towards the front door, looking at the clock. Seeing the time, I figure that it's Jake's dad, Robert. When I reach the door, I unlock it, and pull it open. The person I see standing at the other side makes my breath hitch in my throat.