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Chapter 12, Part 4

As we drove back toward my house (Joshua had offered to drive me so I didn’t have to figure out where Daniel was and rouse him to come pick me up), there was a weird silence in the car, not awkward exactly but strange all the same, like both of us were wishing that we were doing something else, that his mom had never called and we were still enjoying our walk on the beach. Or something. I watched the city wiz by past my window (we were moving at a much faster rate than we’d been on our way to the beach, though there was still a decent amount of traffic in spite of the hour), everything passing by in a blur of lights and advertising.

“So,” Joshua said as though the idea had just occurred to him, “what was your favorite part of the day.”

I turned to look at him and arched an eyebrow. “I have to pick only one favorite part?” At this moment, I felt like it would be completely impossible to single out any specific moment. “I mean, there are parts that I didn’t like, like all the parts where I humiliated myself.”

Joshua feigned a confused look. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He really was on his way to being the perfect man.

All too soon we were pulling into the subdivision where Emilia’s house loomed over all other mansions like a behemoth. To be completely honest, I have no idea how I managed to direct Joshua back toward the place I’d only been at for a few days but he seemed to have a plenty decent knowledge of the area, so I only had to bluff my way through a little.

I looked at the house, shining up on top of the driveway like a beacon, with more reluctance than I usually felt. “I had a great time.” I said, turning back to look at Joshua and hoping that he heard the complete sincerity in my voice.

Joshua smiled and crooked an eyebrow. “Not too boring for you?” At least this time, I knew that he was teasing.

“Hey, I didn’t get soup dumped on me, I consider that a great evening.” I assured him.

Just as I was hoping that he would lean in and kiss me so I wouldn’t have to leave obsessing over why he hadn’t, he was moving my direction and I was suddenly drawn to him like a magnet, my lips craving his. It was very uncomfortable to kiss in the front seat of a car, with the emergency brake partially digging against my stomach and the seat belt digging into my chest but I didn’t care enough to rearrange the situation or put a stop to it. Instead, I just kissed him, listening to Colin Meloy warbling softly in the background.

Finally, as if by some unspoken command, we pulled away and I realized with some embarrassment that I was breathing heavy and felt exactly like every other teenager in the world: making out in the front seat outside the driveway hoping the parents weren’t watching from the window. Joshua smiled, his cheeks flushed and I was sure I wore a similar expression on my face. “I should go,” he said apologetically, his voice slightly husky, “before my mom alerts the police.”

“That’s the last thing I need: Emilia Thompson, kidnapper.” I teased. My hand reached for the door handle, swinging the door open, a surprise seeing as I didn’t actually want to get out of the car. It wasn’t just because I wanted to continue our little teenaged hormonal make-out session (even though I wouldn’t have argued) but it was Joshua I was reluctant to leave and I would have been happy to sit with him in that car for hours, even if we were just talking.

But I headed up the driveway anyway, turning and giving him one more smile and good-bye wave before he was completely out of sight. I heard his car start as I opened the front door and could barely see the headlights wash across the cul-de-sac and faces of the other houses as he turned to go back the way he’d come.

Back in Little Paris, I would have heard eight feet hurrying to be in various places of the house as soon as I swung the front door open, as my family members tried to look like they hadn’t been spying or waiting up for me to return from a date. But all I was greeted with was the gleaming and immaculate foyer, winding staircase and side views in the living room and kitchen. Oh privacy, how I never knew you ‘til now.

I went toward the kitchen, since that was where I usually found my newly added family members, in spite of the fact that none of them had so far proved they could actually use the kitchen. I wasn’t disappointed. Garth was sitting at the kitchen table with Linda and there were folders and notebooks and loose papers spread out in front of them. They looked like bank statements and printouts and magazine articles and schedules, a dizzying array of information that I couldn’t begin to process given my lack of managerial and business skills.

Garth looked up first and gave me a wide smile. “Ah, Scout, we were just starting to wonder where you’d disappeared off to.”

I looked over at Linda, who was still studying a calendar intently, like it was in some foreign language. I looked at Garth doubtfully as I pulled up a chair to sit in between them. He gave me a little shrug. “Well, I was.” He admitted.

“I told him not to worry.” Linda mumbled, her eyes jumping around the paper but still not leaving it. “How much trouble could you get into.”

Well, I’d heard that one before. “What if I’d been kidnapped.”

This time, Linda did raise her head. “You know, I don’t think we’d ever considered that possibility. Trouble Emilia couldn’t get herself into.” She mused.

I wasn’t entirely sure of how to respond so I decided to keep silent. Though I might have to remember to tell that to Joshua so he further understood where I was coming from about Linda.

Garth eyed the tiger I’d laid across my lap. “Did you go to a carnival?” He seemed confused, as though he had no idea where I would have stumbled upon such a thing.

I felt my cheeks grow warm with the memories of the pleasure of the day. “Uh…yeah…the one on the beach…you know.” I shrugged, rubbing the tiger’s ear absently. “I…uh…I was with, you know, Joshua.”

Again, Linda looked up and I saw that I had her and Garth’s undivided attention. “Joshua?” Linda raised an eyebrow. “Joshua Beckett?”

I nodded. “Yeah, we, uh, ran into each other while I was shopping.” I was glad that I was perfecting my use of the word ‘uh’, hopefully it wouldn’t come back to bite me during any future interviews Schapelle had scheduled.

“How was it?” I couldn’t help but wonder if Linda’s interest was from a motherly or managerial stand-point. Was she intrigued on how the date had gone or was she interested in how the outing would help her get Emilia’s career back on track.

I shrugged, suddenly feeling evasive, probably much like a normal teenager. “You know, it was fine.” My smile betrayed me. Damn you emotions. “I had a great time.” I said more truthfully.

Linda smiled and so did Garth, though the gestures seemed to come from completely different places. “Good, I’m glad you two seem to be hitting it off.” Linda nodded, returning to her paperwork. “I knew you would.”

Garth reached over and gave my hand a squeeze, the way my father might have done. “I’m glad you had a fun day, Joshua seems like a good kid.”

I smiled at him. “He is. I…I had a great time.”

For a minute, I sat, not saying anything, just remembering the day as it played out in my mind, like a movie of the best day of my life. Linda was muttering to herself, rapidly moving the papers in front of her around like she was trying to physically organize the stacks and not just the information and I had the feeling she didn’t even remember that Garth and I were there.

I got to my feet. “I think I’m going to hop in the shower.”

Garth bid me goodnight and I headed up the stairs and down the hallway. Emilia’s door was shut, which wasn’t surprising, but I could see light shining from underneath the door and I briefly considered knocking, just to see if maybe I could lure her into a conversation. But I decided against it, though I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep my date with Joshua for myself or if I didn’t want her to ruin it somehow with an off-handed comment.

Instead, I just went into my own room, setting my tiger on the bed, thinking of what Joshua had said about his parents. I took the shells out of my pocket and laid them out on the dresser, their appearance seeming to make everything look much more homey and personal.

As I was taking off my sandy clothes and putting on my robe, there was a knock at the door and then the door was flung open, without the knocker bothering to wait for an invitation. I wasn’t surprised to see Emilia standing in the hallway. I glared. “I could have been naked.” I pointed out.

Emilia scoffed, walking into my room. “It’s not like you’ve got something I haven’t seen before.” Touché.

Emilia flopped down on the bed, picking up the tiger and looking it over. “Where have you been?” She questioned and I couldn’t tell if she was actually curious or just so bored that she would talk to anyone.

I sat down on the window seat, foreseeing a potentially long conversation. “Well, I ran into Joshua while I was out and we ended up going to the beach and hanging out.” It was funny how something that had suddenly taking so much importance in my life could be summed up so quickly.

Emilia raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been out with Joshua Beckett all day? Wow, I have to say I’m impressed.”

I mirrored her expression. “Really?” I wasn’t sure where she was going.

“Yeah, I mean, I expected you to hangout in like a bookstore or coffee shop or something all day but instead you’re hanging out with celebrities and soaking up the sun. I’m proud of you.” Emilia put the tiger underneath her head so she was slightly propped up.

I decided that it would be best to take her words as a serious compliment. “Well…yeah…I’m getting the hang of being you.”

“So I’ve noticed.” For the first time, she didn’t actually sound mad or bitter. “So what was he like?”

“Joshua?”

Emilia rolled her eyes. “No, the Pope. Yes, Joshua.” She shook her head. “He always seemed kinda boring to me, even though he did get pretty heated over that whole thing with his brother.” She smiled, like she was remembering a good time. “But still, boring. Maybe that’s why you guys are getting along so well.”

“Ha ha Emilia you’re hysterical.” My tone was completely deadpan, suggesting she was anything but. “He’s not boring. He’s just…normal. Which I guess isn’t really your style.”

Emilia shrugged. “I mean, I’m feeling pretty normal right now, being grounded and all. Isn’t that what normal teenagers do?” She looked at me expectantly.

I shrugged. “I dunno, I’ve never been grounded.”

Rolling her eyes, Emilia shook her head. “Of course not, I forgot you were Saint Scout.” I wished I had something to throw at her. “But I guess you’ll get your chance tomorrow.”

I looked at her doubtfully. “What do you mean?”

“Mom didn’t tell you? I’ve got a concert tomorrow, you’re stuck in the house so people don’t think I’ve cloned myself.” She paused, considering. “Though, that might not be such a bad idea.”

“You really think there should be more of us?” I questioned, rolling my eyes. “Maybe you have been locked up in here for too long.”

Emilia shrugged, getting to her feet. “I’ve just been wondering where you’ve been all day.” Was it possible my sister was actually interested in my company? The surrealness of this day would be complete. “I guess I’ll let you get a shower or whatever you were about to do.” She headed for the door.

“Okay. Uh…hey, maybe we could hang out tomorrow.” I suggested quickly, hoping I didn’t sound too eager or desperate or something that would give Emilia fodder to throw back in my face. Was it wrong to want to get to know my sister?

Emilia turned back toward me. “Don’t count on it. It sounds like Schapelle has got the chains on tight tomorrow.” She shrugged. “Oh well, better you than me. I actually could get used to having you around.” She opened the door and disappeared down the hallway.

I felt like that was progress with Emilia. And with Joshua. And with my relationship with the public and with fame and the paparazzi, I was starting to get the hang of things. Today had been a very progressive day.

But if Emilia was to be believed, it sounded like my freedom was short lived.

If you missed the other parts of You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home see the links below and ENJOY!

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

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Nice writing. I got a big backlog of chapters to read