Best Friend For Hire, Entry 26

 

After introducing Jarod to everyone, I excused myself to freshen up and change clothes.  Even Jarod had dressed well, wearing a long-sleeved dress shirt and khaki pants.  He normally wore t-shirts to my house, even when he was crashing dinner.  I wondered if mother specifically told him what to wear when she invited him, or perhaps saying who the other guests were was enough for him.  Either way, I was inclined to dress up a bit when I finished my shower.  I even put on some cologne, not wanting mother to have any reason to say I wasn’t prepared for lunch.  I walked down the hall to the sound of a rather troubling conversation.  “So James stayed over last night?” asked Jarod.  “Oh yes,” replied Emma, “He slept with the twins and me.  We all had such a wonderful time together.”  This encouraged Aaliyah to pipe up and say, “I slept with them too!!!  James kept us all warm!”  The little sweetie probably had no clue why Jarod nearly spat out the drink he was sipping when she spoke.

“James,” yelled Aaliyah upon seeing me.  She ran up to me and asked, “Why is your face all red?  Are you feeling okay?”  I told her that I was feeling fine and added, “I was apparently in the shower too long given the conversation I walked in on,” as I reached Emma and Jarod.  “Emma tells me you all had quite the time last night.  Going to give me the details later?” inquired Jarod with an enormous grin.  Emma was all smiling innocence, and Aaliyah said, “I’ll give you the details!  Emma’s bed is sooo comfortable!  We played so many games in it, and were completely exhausted by the time we fell asleep.  We had the best time!  James is really, really talented!  You wouldn’t believe the moves he pulled off!”  Aaliyah only seemed to stop due to Jarod laughing quite loudly by the last sentence.  “No, really!  James is amazing,” stated Aaliyah, apparently thinking that Jarod didn’t believe her.  “Don’t worry, short-stuff.  Jarod is always like this when talking about games.  He’s really into them,” explained Emma while she quite obviously was barely holding in a laugh of her own.

I just shook my head, took Aaliyah’s hand, and told her we should check if lunch was ready.  To my great surprise, mother was allowing the twins to help her cook, despite how expensive the dresses they wore looked.  “Get out of the kitchen, James,” exclaimed Ai.  “We’re not ready for you yet,” followed Mai.  “Please set the table in the dining room, dear.  Then keep Jarod and Emma company until lunch is ready.  The twins are plenty of help in here.”  Aaliyah insisted on helping to set the table.  The first thing she grabbed was a stack of too many plates, which she nearly dropped as she strained to lift them down from the cabinet and then up onto the table.  I still had trouble believing that she was eleven with how tiny she was; her shoulders didn’t even reach the tabletop.  “Nice, James.  Letting the kid do all the lifting,” said Jarod as he and Emma entered the room.  With an ever-surprising show of agility, Aaliyah flipped backward onto a chair, made a flexing motion, and then said, “I am mighty!”  Emma shook her head and told the girl, “Just remember that you’re in a dress.  No more acrobatics.”  Aaliyah lifted her dress, pointed to the shorts she was wearing under it, and exclaimed, “But I’ve got shorts on!”

Jarod laughed and said, “You’ve definitely got some moves, squirt.  Are you able to keep James in line?  He tends to misbehave.”  Aaliyah’s mouth dropped open in shock.  “James does not misbehave!”  She ran over, hugged my leg, and said in a whimsical tone, “James is the most wonderful person alive.”  Having Aaliyah defending me from Jarod wasn’t so bad afterall.  At least they weren’t causing trouble together.  Then Jarod commented, “Looks like you have a girlfriend now, James.  I don’t think Aaliyah’s going to share you at all.”  I looked down to see Aaliyah hiding herself behind my leg to which she still clung, a faint blush on her cheeks.  “Don’t encourage her, Jarod.  She’s conniving enough without you telling her to steal James away.”  My troubles never ceased.  Jarod was definitely proud of himself, his smile splitting his face in two.  “Aaliyah,” I asked her, “will you teach Jarod a lesson for me and show him how to play video games?  I don’t think he’s being very nice.”  She smiled and nodded up at me, so we all headed to my room.

“Don’t get too engrossed in there.  The twins and I almost have lunch ready.”  I smiled and told her, “We’re just going to see a little girl kick Jarod’s butt at video games, mother.  This shouldn’t take long.”  Jarod laughed and replied, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Somerset.  I’ll take it easy on the squirt.”  To this the twins called out, “Show no mercy, Aaliyah.  Let him see what girls can do!”  Ai was stirring something on the stove while Mai appeared to be arranging a platter.  “Man-slave, your bed is too far from the tv!  How can they play like this?”  I shrugged and told her that I usually sit on the floor when I play.  Emma leaned her crutches against my wall and sat on my desk chair.  “You may have to get on the ground and be my footrest, man-slave.”  I gave her an exaggerated sigh and fetched a chair from the other room for her leg while Jarod and Aaliyah started their game.  Seeing Emma’s cast still made me cringe inside.  “Why the sour look,” she inquired.  “I’d rather not talk about it at the moment.”  She didn’t look pleased but didn’t press the issue.

Jarod quickly seemed frustrated, and I actually felt sorry for him.  Watching how casually Aaliyah was beating him made me realize that she had been holding back when she played against me.  His fighter hadn’t even landed a single blow by the end of the third match.  Before they could start a fourth, Ai and Mai appeared in the doorway, demanding that we come eat.  “Your mother is such a nice lady, James.  You don’t want all of her hard work to be wasted, do you?”  They both were feigning concern, which Jarod might have mistook for the real thing.  “Don’t worry.  I’ve been schooled enough by this twerp for now.”  After saying this, he looked Aaliyah in the eye, pointed at her, and told her, “You and I are having a rematch sometime.”  Her wide-eyed stare turned into a big grin the moment he cracked a smile.  “Did the big, bad boy get beaten up by the little girl,” asked Ai?  “She might take it easy on you next time if you ask nicely,” said Mai.

We all headed into the dining room where mother was waiting by a chair.  “If you sit here, Emma, you should be able to rest your leg on the chair at the end,” she said before heading to the serving table.  The girls, Jarod, and I sat down and mother started serving us, despite some protests from the girls.  “Ai and Mai told me that you were picking on them all day yesterday, James.  I can’t believe I raised a son who would be mean to such sweet girls, especially ones who are so very talented in the kitchen.”  Before I could even open my mouth, Jarod said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Somerset.  I’ve tried being a positive influence on James over the years, but some people are just born bad.”  He was definitely enjoying himself.  Then Emma added, “I wouldn’t give up hope yet.  If we all work together, we may be able to reform him.”  Next the twins spoke up.  “We’ll gladly help you save this poor, lost soul, Mrs. Somerset.  Despite all the teasing James does, we forgive him and would like to help “  Instead of trying to defend me like normal, Aaliyah said, “Let me help!  I want to save James too!”

The meal was delicious as ever, and mother continued giving credit to the twins, claiming they did most of the work.  “While you were in your room, the twins contacted their parents and commissioned me to do a painting of them, James.  I hope you can manage being a proper host, since they’ll be over fairly often during the week.”  My right eyebrow jumped up of its own volition at this.  “Mother, I realize that I didn’t inherit your artistic talent, but I did pay attention when you tried teaching me.  You take pictures of clients who want portraits and paint from the photographs.  No one wants to pose for hours on end, even when graced with such wonderful company as your own.”  She just shook her head.  “Be that as it may, they still will need to discuss backgrounds and other details with me.  I will expect you to be on your best behavior for these lovely girls.  Just think what your father will say when he hears how unfairly you treat them.”  Luckily, father had a wonderful knack for ignoring silliness, but I was a bit worried that he might join in on teasing me if given a chance.

As helpless as I felt with everyone ganging up on me, I was actually glad to have this many friends over, getting along so well.  Mother seemed quite taken with the girls, Ai and Mai especially but Emma as well.  I felt hope that a day might come where I could date someone without her telling me how I should be with Regina instead.  Between the anger I felt over Emma getting injured and the affection I had for the long-time friend, thinking about Regina made a jumble out of my emotions.  I needed to talk with her eventually about what precisely happened, but not yet.  I wasn’t ready.  Another part of me was also wanting to find the strange girl with the violet eyes again, just to be sure she was real, but that was also a conversation for some unknown future, assuming I ever found her.  With my head in the clouds and banter all around me, lunch honestly was over far too soon.  Then the girls and Jarod left for their respective homes.  As we stood in the doorway watching the cars disappear, mother smiled and hugged me.  “I do like your new friends, James.  They seem like wonderful girls.”

“James,” yelled Aaliyah upon seeing me.  She ran up to me and asked, “Why is your face all red?  Are you feeling okay?”  I told her that I was feeling fine and added, “I was apparently in the shower too long given the conversation I walked in on,” as I reached Emma and Jarod.  “Emma tells me you all had quite the time last night.  Going to give me the details later,” inquired Jarod with an enormous grin.  Emma was all smiling innocence, and Aaliyah said, “I’ll give you the details!  Emma’s bed is sooo comfortable!  We played so many games in it, and were completely exhausted by the time we fell asleep.  We had the best time!  James is really, really talented!  You wouldn’t believe the moves he pulled off!”  Aaliyah only seemed to stop due to Jarod laughing quite loudly by the last sentence.  “No, really!  James is amazing,” stated Aaliyah, apparently thinking that Jarod didn’t believe her.  “Don’t worry, short-stuff.  Jarod is always like this when talking about games.  He’s really into them,” explained Emma while she quite obviously was barely holding in a laugh of her own.

I just shook my head, took Aaliyah’s hand, and told her we should check if lunch was ready.  To my great surprise, mother was allowing the twins to help her cook, despite how expensive the dresses they wore looked.  “Get out of the kitchen, James,” exclaimed Ai.  “We’re not ready for you yet,” followed Mai.  “Please set the table in the dining room, dear.  Then keep Jarod and Emma company until lunch is ready.  The twins are plenty of help in here”  Aaliyah insisted on helping to set the table.  The first thing she grabbed was a stack of too many plates, which she nearly dropped as she strained to lift them down from the cabinet and then up onto the table.  I still had trouble believing that she was eleven with how tiny she was; her shoulders didn’t even reach the tabletop.  “Nice, James.  Letting the kid do all the lifting,” said Jarod as he and Emma entered the room.  With an ever-surprising show of agility, Aaliyah flipped backward onto a chair, made a flexing motion, and then said, “I am mighty!”  Emma shook her head and told the girl, “Just remember that you’re in a dress.  No more acrobatics.”  Aaliyah lifted her dress, pointed to the shorts she was wearing under it, and exclaimed, “But I’ve got shorts on!”

Jarod laughed and said, “You’ve definitely got some moves, squirt.  Are you able to keep James in line?  He tends to misbehave.”  Aaliyah’s mouth dropped open in shock.  “James does not misbehave!”  She ran over, hugged my leg, and said in a whimsical tone, “James is the most wonderful person alive.”  Having Aaliyah defending me from Jarod wasn’t so bad afterall.  At least they weren’t causing trouble together.  Then Jarod commented, “Looks like you have a girlfriend now, James.  I don’t think Aaliyah’s going to share you at all.”  I looked down to see Aaliyah hiding herself behind my leg to which she still clung, a faint blush on her cheeks.  “Don’t encourage her, Jarod.  She’s conniving enough without you telling her to steal James away.”  My troubles never ceased.  Jarod was definitely proud of himself, his smile splitting his face in two.  “Aaliyah,” I asked her, “will you teach Jarod a lesson for me and show him how to play video games?  I don’t think he’s being very nice.”  She smiled and nodded up at me, so we all headed to my room.

“Don’t get too engrossed in there.  The twins and I almost have lunch ready.”  I smiled and told her, “We’re just going to see a little girl kick Jarod’s butt at video games, mother.  This shouldn’t take long.”  Jarod laughed and replied, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Somerset.  I’ll take it easy on the squirt.”  To this the twins called out, “Show no mercy, Aaliyah.  Let him see what girls can do!”  Ai was stirring something on the stove while Mai appeared to be arranging a platter.  “Man-slave, your room is too far from the tv!  How can they play like this?”  I shrugged and told her that I usually sit on the floor when I play.  Emma leaned her crutches against my wall and sat on my desk chair.  “You may have to get on the ground and be my footrest, man-slave.”  I gave her an exaggerated sigh and fetched a chair from the other room for her leg while Jarod and Aaliyah started their game.  Seeing Emma’s cast still made me cringe inside.  “Why the sour look,” she inquired.  “I’d rather not talk about it at the moment.”  She didn’t look pleased but didn’t press the issue.

Jarod quickly seemed frustrated, and I actually felt sorry for him.  Watching how casually Aaliyah was beating him made me realize that she had been holding back when she played against me.  His fighter hadn’t even landed a single blow by the end of the third match.  Before they could start a fourth, Ai and Mai appeared in the doorway, demanding that we come eat.  “Your mother is such a nice lady, James.  You don’t want all of her hard work to be wasted, do you?”  They both were feigning concern, which Jarod might have mistook for the real thing.  “Don’t worry.  I’ve been schooled enough by this twerp for now.”  After saying this, he looked Aaliyah in the eye, pointed at her, and told her, “You and I are having a rematch sometime.”  Her wide-eyed stare turned into a big grin the moment he cracked a smile.  “Did the big, bad boy get beaten up by the little girl,” asked Ai?  “She might take it easy on you next time if you ask nicely,” said Mai.

We all headed into the dining room where mother was waiting by a chair.  “If you sit here, Emma, you should be able to rest your leg on the chair at the end,” she said before heading to the serving table.  The girls, Jarod, and I sat down and mother started serving us, despite some protests from the girls.  “Ai and Mai told me that you were picking on them all day yesterday, James.  I can’t believe I raised a son who would be mean to such sweet girls, especially ones who are so very talented in the kitchen.”  Before I could even open my mouth, Jarod said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Somerset.  I’ve tried being a positive influence on James over the years, but some people are just born bad.”  He was definitely enjoying himself.  Then Emma added, “I wouldn’t give up hope yet.  If we all work together, we may be able to reform him.”  Next the twins spoke up.  “We’ll gladly help you save this poor, lost soul, Mrs. Somerset.  Despite all the teasing James does, we forgive him and would like to help “  Instead of trying to defend me like normal, Aaliyah said, “Let me help!  I want to save James too!”

The meal was delicious as ever, and mother continued giving credit to the twins, claiming they did most of the work.  “While you were in your room, the twins contacted their parents and commissioned me to do a painting of them, James.  I hope you can manage being a proper host, since they’ll be over fairly often during the week.”  My right eyebrow jumped up of its own volition at this.  “Mother, I realize that I didn’t inherit your artistic talent, but I did pay attention when you tried teaching me.  You take pictures of clients who want portraits and paint from the photographs.  No one wants to pose for hours on end, even when graced with such wonderful company as your own.”  She just shook her head.  “Be that as it may, they still will need to discuss backgrounds and other details with me.  I will expect you to be on your best behavior for these lovely girls.  Just think what your father will say when he hears how unfairly you treat them.”  Luckily, father had a wonderful knack for ignoring silliness, but I was a bit worried that he might join in on teasing me if given a chance.

As helpless as I felt with everyone ganging up on me, I was actually glad to have this many friends over, getting along so well.  Mother seemed quite taken with the girls, Ai and Mai especially but Emma as well.  I felt hope that a day might come where I could date someone without her telling me how I should be with Regina instead.  Between the anger I felt over Emma getting injured and the affection I had for the long-time friend, thinking about Regina made a jumble out of my emotions.  I needed to talk with her eventually about what precisely happened, but not yet.  I wasn’t ready.  Another part of me was also wanting to find the strange girl with the violet eyes again, just to be sure she was real, but that was also a conversation for some unknown future, assuming I ever found her.  With my head in the clouds and banter all around me, lunch honestly was over far too soon.  Then the girls and Jarod left for their respective homes.  As we stood in the doorway watching the cars disappear, mother smiled and hugged me.  “I do like your new friends, James.  They seem like wonderful girls.”

 

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