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After collecting our baggage from the carousel, we left the airport. Gemma was supposed to come pick us up but Jason persuaded her to wait for us at home. We made use of a taxi and it took us about thirty minutes to get there. During the drive, I managed to turn down the window glass and breathed in the fresh air. It smelled of freedom. I was finally away from my parents and free to do whatever I wanted. Well, not that I was planning to do illicit things. But the feeling of being far away from my parents, being free to make my own choices and meetings new people was gladdening.
"Why are you smiling?" Tess asked. She was chewing gum and the popping sound slightly irritated me but I kept quiet about it. When were about to get into the taxi, Tess sat shotgun while Jason and I sat at the back seat.
"I'm just giddy." I replied with a wide grin.
"Well, did Jase tell you that it's quite boring here in England?" She asked and that was enough for my smile to fade.
"For God's sake Theresa, I hate that nickname. Moreover, we would make sure she has fun here. Now shut up and stop chewing that toxic gum. It irks me." Jason countered and I appreciated what he said. Nevertheless, his words made her pop louder. I could only imagine how the driver felt, being very close to her. He certainly must be going nutso.
Jason grasped my hands and I jerked out of my thoughts. He cradled my hand in his and drew me close to him. I rested my head on his shoulder and huffed. It felt good to be this close always.
We were silent for the rest of the ride until the car stopped and the driver signaled that we had gotten to our destination. Jason led me out of the car after paying for the ride and unloading our luggage. After we got down, the car sped away.
Jason held my shoulders and tucked my hair behind my ears as the wind blew.
"I don't have friends here. The only friends I have are Charles and George and they aren't here. But that won't stop me from making sure you have fun. You can count on me." He said and although it wasn't a question, I said yes, in affirmation. Even if I didn't find fun for the next seven days here, I wasn't bothered because I had someone who could make me feel fun, happiness, warmth and enjoyment all the time.
"Mum is coming. Let's go meet her." Jason said and then he took hold of my hand and led me forward.
All of a sudden, I became self-conscious. The last time I met Gemma was when I was a child. Meeting her now, made me feel terrified. What if she didn't approve of me? What if I am not up to the standards for the kind of girl she wants her son to date?
I squeezed Jason's hand in frustration and took series of deep breaths. What should I do? I was confused to produce a smiley face or become rigid. I heard some footsteps approaching us and realised she wasn't alone.
"Mum, Dad!" Tess screamed and hurried off to them. We finally stopped and then Jason unclasped his hands from mine, I believed to greet them as well. He grasped mine again immediately.
"Mum, dad, this is Cassieopia. Mum do you remember?" I was overly impressed by the fact that he acknowledged his stepfather as ‘Dad’.
"Hello Mrs Green." I extended my hands to her for a handshake.
"Oh dear, call me Gemma." She pulled me for a hug instead and I was relieved. I felt an instant pull towards her and realized I took a fancy to her already.
"Then you can call me Cassie also." I replied.
"This is my husband, Taylor Green." She introduced him to me and he hugged me as well, whispering into my ears that I could call him by his first name since I was a part of the family. I guess either Jason or Tess had spoken of me to them.
We walked down to the house, and when we got in, the cool air from the air conditioner made me shiver. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around me, seeking warmth.
“Let me show you your room, Cassie. You must be tired." Gemma placed her hand gently behind my back and led me a little steps forward before opening the door to where I would be sleeping in for the week.
It smelled a little bit dusty like it hadn't been used in years. Soon the dust faded when she retreated from my position and I heard the sound of the window opening.
"This used to be where we placed our Christmas souvenirs but I had to clean it up so you wouldn't have to make use of the guest bedroom upstairs." She led me to the bed and I sat down. The bed was soft, not like the one in my room but it was tractable. "Since you aren't familiar with the house, I figured it would turn out stressful for you going up and down the stairs." She spoke lightly, not wanting to hurt my feelings I guess.
"Thanks for your consideration. I like this room." I replied cheerfully so she'd understand I wasn't under pressure. We had so many rooms back home but I'd never stayed in any of them downstairs.
This was a first.
"Cool! I'll see to it that your luggage and cane is brought here." She said.
It was a tad bit strange hearing her say the word– Cool. I didn't realize people her age made use of that vocabulary.
"So just rest dear. Dinner will be ready soon." I nodded and laid comfortably as she closed the door after her.
I listened in silence and tried to get as much adaptation of the entire room. But I was bleary-eyed and couldn't bare to keep my eyes open.
I drifted off into a deep and languid sleep.