Saying that Jules was shocked would be a total understatement. I’ve never seen a person’s eyes widen as big as his did.
“Seriously,” I replied. “Now get in the car, I wanna go home.”
He did as he told, getting in while I buckled myself in. I looked over at him, finding him staring at me like a creep while he fastened his seatbelt.
“What?” I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Are you sure we’re next door neighbours?” he asked, causing me to roll my eyes and put my attention on starting the car. “I’m mean, I’m sure I would’ve noticed if my neighbour had pink hair.”
Why was this so hard for him to accept?
“Well, it wasn’t always pink,” I replied. “And yeah, I’m sure. Abby and I have lived next to each other our entire life.”
I drove out of Oscar’s street, turning around the bend and towards our destination. It’s a ten-minute drive from Oscar’s but I have a feeling that it’s gonna to drag out for longer.
“I just don’t get it. I feel like Abby, or even Penny, would’ve mentioned you,” Jules said.
Jules was right. Abby is the type of person who can’t help but share anything and everything she hears. She couldn’t keep a secret to save her own life. I guess it’s not that big of a deal, but I just can’t help but wonder what she is up to.
“Well, that’s just it,” I started to explain. “Abby clearly didn’t mention your arrival to anyone. She can’t keep secrets and once her friends heard this, you would’ve become the talk of the town.”
“Well, I’m glad she didn’t,” he said. “But I guess it makes sense. She wasn’t too happy with my arrival.”
“So she didn’t want you getting all the attention?” I wondered.
“Maybe,” he replied quietly.
Silence sat between us, both of us pondering on the thought.
“So,” Jules said suddenly. “Are you Will’s kid?”
“Wait, you met my dad?” I glanced over at him.
“Yeah, I think so. Nice guy, seems like a dad,” Jules replied. “Has a really fluffy cat.”
“You met my dad and my cat,” I said, sounding a little surprised. “Yet none of the traitors told me about you.”
“It was a brief meeting,” Jules shrugged. “I was out back smoking and Will came out, gave me this lecture on lung cancer and stuff.”
“You smoke?” I asked, baffled.
“Uh, well, um,”
Jules stumbled to figure out what to say but eventually just gave up and sighed.
“I didn’t mean to share that.”
“Do you know how gross that is?” I made a sour expression.
“Yeah, I’m aware,” he said. “I already got that lecture from your dad.”
“Yet you do it anyway,” I replied. “I hope you’re quitting.”
“Eventually,” he said. “Just right now, they help.”
“With lung disease, yeah.” I grimaced.
Jules chuckled. “I know it’s bad, and I hate it, I really do. But there are times where I need ‘em.”
“Well I really do hope you quit soon,” I said. “Because they are really, really gross.”
“Still aware of that,” Jules replied.
“Good,” I smiled. “Cancer isn’t worth it, trust me.”
I drove into our street, passing the houses of our neighbours. I slowed as I passed his house to mine, where I then pulled up in my driveway.
“Well, here we are,” I announced, turning the ignition off. “Think you can manage to walk the rest of the way home?”
“I don’t know,” Jules said, looking out the window towards his place. “Might get lost.”
“You must be hopeless with directions then,” I replied.
“Just a bit,” he turned back to smile at me. “Thanks for today.”
“For letting you get all those wins? Sure, no problem.” I grinned at him. “Seriously though, I didn’t know I sucked so badly at Mortal Kombat.”
“No way, you put up a pretty good fight,” he said.
“Really?” I asked.
“For the first few seconds,” he added.
“You ass!” I lightly shoved him. “Gimme your phone.”
“Why?” he asked.
“I want to go through your files and find what naughty secrets you have,” I suggestively wiggled my eyebrows at him. “I'm kidding, I just want to add your number.”
“Uh,” he seemed unsure as he pulled his phone out. “Why?”
“Why not?” I smiled at him, snatching his phone from him.
I pulled up the text messaging app, glancing at the contacts he had been messaging, finding he has only been texting with his uncle. He had nothing else and part of me was curious about that. Ignoring it, I quickly started a new message and texted my number the devil’s face emoji.
“To be honest, I was really trying to be a lone wolf this year.”
“Heh,” I replied, passing his phone back to him. “Well, that clearly isn’t going as planned.”
“Clearly,” he replied with a smile but I heard the tension in his voice.
I softly exhaled.
“Look,” I started to say. “I know it can be hard to open up to people and find people you can trust. But I hope you can trust us one day, and realise that we aren’t going to screw you around.”
He looked at me, surprised but didn’t say a word.
“You don’t ever need to tell us what happened, but know you don’t need to be alone,.” I continued. “You don’t need to rely on smoking in order to feel better. And if you ever do feel like smoking, give us a call. We got your back, Jules.”
A soft smile appeared on his face as he looked away from me, down to his phone.
“I’m really failing at this lone wolf thing, aren’t I?” he said.
“Definitely,” I agreed. “Not a bad thing though.”
I smiled at him, receiving a brighter smile back.
“Right then, enough with this serious crap,” I said, turning away to open my door. “I really gotta work on that homework so I’ll catch you later.”
I got out of the car with my bag, watching him reach for his and jump out as well.
“Thank you, Oliver,” Jules said, keeping that soft smile. “See you tomorrow."
I retreated back to my home, closing the front door as I thought about how Jules and Abby are nothing alike. It rose more questions, questions I wasn’t sure I was allowed to ask.
“Who was that?”
I nearly crapped myself, jumping as I looked up at Elliot. He stood in the entrance, a towel wrapped around his waist and a bowl of cereal in his hand.
“I saw you guys talking for a bit,” Elliot said, taking a spoonful of cereal to his mouth.
“Jules, he lives next door,” I replied. “Where’s Dad?”
“Asweep,” Elliot answered with a mouthful of cereal. “What do you mean ‘lives next door’?”
“Like with Abby,” I replied.
He choked on his cereal.
“Elaborate please!” he demanded.
“I don’t know much,” I stated. “He moved here in November, staying next door. He’s Abby’s cousin.”
“How the fuck-”
“I know, impossible for him to stay hidden, especially with Abby,” I said. “But I think it’s a mystery that won’t be solved. Jules isn’t keen on talking about why he moved here.”
“What if he is on the run? Witness Protection or something?” Elliot wondered.
“I already asked him,” I replied. “Na-da.”
“He isn’t going to tell you the truth, you idiot.” Elliot frowned. “We’ll find out soon enough. If he disappears, then that means he is in Witness Protection.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “I don’t think so, he gave me his number.’
“Ooh~” Elliot immediately changed his attitude. “You got a boy’s number?”
I stared at him with a deadpan expression.
“I’m going to bed,” I simply said. “Have fun with that essay you got due.”
“Ughh, don’t remind me!” Elliot whined.
I dashed upstairs to my room, sighing as I took my books out of my bag and placed them on my desk. I changed from my uniform into a loose shirt, ditching the shorts. Once feeling ready to tackle my pile of work, I took a seat at my desk, opened my notebook with determination and started going through my work.
However, my phone pinged, causing me to glance over at it. I thought I had gotten a text from Jules, but I was completely wrong. Immediately, I dropped my pen. My heart stopped and my stomach flipped, twisting into a knot.
Cole had sent me a text.