The week eventually drew to a close and before heading to bed on Friday, I finished throwing the last few things into my carry-on so I was ready to go in the morning. It was a relief to have everything already packed up, even though I knew Id worry once it was time to leave thinking Id forgotten something.
We woke up around midday, had a quick lunch and once everything and everyone was in the car, we made our way to the Campbell residence where Riley and her mom were already standing outside. Riley was very excited to see me, even more so than usual, and it was impossible to think otherwise with the way she bounced up and down and pulled me into her arms, grinning from ear to ear. I genuinely wondered if she was going to be able to keep herself together for the duration of the flight.
With a little extra help from my dad and me to pack the Campbells bags into their car, we were able to set off pretty quickly. The roads were thankfully rather quiet, at least for the first half of the journey, which made it easier for us to follow behind them on the way to the airport.
The flight from Hillsboro, Oregon to L.A., whilst it couldve been longer, was tiring and most of my time was spent with my headphones in and eyes glued to a book, occasionally texting Riley back when she had something to say. Tao got rather restless during the last hour and since our parents were sitting in front of us and Yuna had fallen asleep, the responsibility of calming him down fell to me; he may be eight years old, but hes still got a lot of growing up to do. Regardless, I put my skills into practice and managed to distract him with some games long enough for the plane to land.
After a relatively short taxi ride, we all pulled up outside Rileys grandparents house which was just as majestic as I remembered. Despite its intimidating size, it was very warm and homely; it was one of the main reasons I loved summer vacation, along with the fact that the people who owned it were as good as family to me, and I adored them.
That feeling was quickly returned the moment we stepped out of the car, as mere seconds after our feet touched gravel, the residents came out to greet us, pulling each of us into a warm hug in turn.
I smiled as I stepped forward and enveloped them both in my arms, enjoying the feeling of being with them again after so long. ”Hi, Rose. Hi, Jeremy. Its so good to see you. ”
”Its good to see you too, sweetheart, ” Rose hummed, rubbing my back softly. ”Weve missed you. ”
”Ive missed you guys, too. ”
Once all the greetings were out of the way, Yuna and I, along with Riley, helped our father and Jeremy bring all of the luggage inside whilst our mothers, Rose and Tao got to work on dinner, since time was ticking on and we were all feeling the hunger begin to take hold; apparently, there was a special new recipe Rose wanted to try. By that point, I was starving so Id have been prepared to eat almost anything, but Rose is a great chef and my mom reads a lot of cookbooks, so I had no doubt whatever theyd make would be delicious. Knowing that only made me hungrier.
It was soon decided that Rileys mom would be staying in her old room, my parents were given the loft conversion, Yuna and Tao got their own rooms, and Riley and I were going to be sharing a room, which I didn mind. It honestly felt like wed spent more time in each others room across the years than in our own. The layout had changed over time what with all of us growing up, but that seemed to be the way we were most comfortable.
Dinner was ready within the hour, meaning we hurriedly gathered together in the dining room to enjoy a good meal with some even better conversation, catching up on almost everything from our time apart.
”So, Riley, hows school going?
” Rose began, gathering some food on her fork.
”I hope you haven been letting yourself get distracted anymore. You
e a smart girl, but you really let your daydreaming affect your grades. ”
”I haven , I promise. Ive been getting better! ” From my peripherals, I saw Riley glance at me. ”Lias been helping me study, and Ive even managed to raise my grade average to a B! ”
Jeremy whistled, clearly impressed. ”Look at you, Riles. Youll be getting your Harvard acceptance letter in no time. ”
Although Riley shook her head, I could tell from her smug smile that she was secretly revelling in all the praise and admiration. Im sure if she really did stop with her daydreaming and fangirling, she probably could get good enough grades to at least get into a University somewhat close to the level of Harvard… but I had a feeling that wasn part of her plans.
”Lia? I assume you
e still topping the class and wowing your teachers? ”
I felt my cheeks flush red as I looked up from my plate to meet Roses gaze. ”I don know if Id put it like that… but yeah, my grades are still good. Studied hard, made sure I was ready for exam season; I think I did okay. ”
”Im sure you did, sweetheart, you always do. You should have more faith in yourself. ” I nodded, pushing some blonde strands behind my ear before taking a sip of my iced tea. ”And how about you, Yuna? Hows school? Everything going alright with you and Greyson? ”
Although Yunas expression was pretty blank to begin with, I swore I could see the hint of a smile she wore drop slightly in response to that question. ”Yeah… yeah, its— ”
”We watched a dinosaur movie today! ”
Everyones attention suddenly snapped to Tao who was halfway through his mouthful, happily swinging his legs back and forth under the table. It seemed nobody really knew how to respond, as we all shared confused looks across the table until our mom cleared her throat and decided to set him straight.
”Tao, what have I told you about interrupting people? Its not polite. You need to wait your turn. ”
My little brothers face immediately dropped, clearly disappointed he couldn continue his story, as well as upset that hed gotten told off. I gently nudged his arm and smiled at him which helped a little, though I could tell he was still desperate to tell us all about the movie hed seen once the conversation resumed.
”Everythings fine, Rose. Just the usual, working on keeping my grades up and planning for university. ” I couldn help noticing how she completely ignored the question about Greyson, and I only became even more confused when she continued, ”Buuut, I wanna hear about Taos dinosaur movie. ” Those words were enough to brighten Tao up again, and he nearly jumped out of his seat as he prepared to explain every little detail.
Over the next half an hour or so, once we were sufficiently reminded of Taos adoration of dinosaurs, we spoke about an array of different topics. I found out that Rose and Jeremy were currently having some work done to their backyard, and that Rose herself was considering retiring from her job at the homeless shelter, which was a big deal considering how much she loved working there. The two of them found it difficult to believe that Tao was already halfway through middle school, or that Riley and I only had a couple of years left in school at all. To be honest, hearing it out loud surprised me, as well.
Eventually, we finished up our meals and I helped Rose tidy up and do the dishes whilst everyone else gathered in the living room to relax for the remainder of the evening. There didn appear to be anything particularly interesting on TV, however, we managed to somewhat unanimously decide on a random comedy show to watch until one by one, we grew tired and dragged ourselves upstairs to bed. I was really looking forward to laying down and stretching out on a comfy mattress; my back still ached from the aeroplane seat.
As I prepared for bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth and getting changed into my pyjamas, I thought over all the things I wanted to do whilst on vacation, with my mind gradually drifting to the idea of Rileys plans. I was already well aware of how she wanted to spend her time in L.A. and that she was going to drag me along with her whenever possible, and that drained whatever minuscule amount of energy I had remaining. On top of that, I wanted to spend some time with Rose and Jeremy after being apart for so long, as well as with my own family, so I was going to have a lot on my plate.
That was something to worry about in the morning, though. I was exhausted.
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