Like I Would


“Park! Who’s there?” Eric asked when we heard the door close. Immediately his brown eyes lit up, and he took off hollering.

“Grandma!” the little guy ran full tilt towards the porch, and we could all hear our mom laugh at his excitement. Eric and Tanya’s boys were basically the center of this family – and I knew that my parents were all but waiting for me and Angie to announce that we were starting a family ourselves. I wanted to – I loved being around the boys and I’d always liked kids in general – but Angie wasn’t thrilled by the idea of starting a family. Hell so far she wasn’t even thrilled at the idea of planning a wedding.

At this rate Jordan was going to end up knocking some girl up and having a kid before I did.

“Hey mom – where were you?” Jordan asked as she rounded the corner, Parker settled comfortably onto her hip.

“Just went to see Carly – you remember her from school right? She and Marc were best friends,” I felt my stomach drop slightly, my hands becoming cold and nearly clammy at just the mention of her. I sat quietly, hoping someone else would ask and she would elaborate.

“Kind of… she was kind of tall and gangly right? Long hair?” Jordan asked, and as much as we all groaned that was how he had described her even back then.

“Yes, dear. She’s not so gangly anymore though, so you better stop using that description,” mom chided him, although it rolled right off my younger brother’s shoulders – in one ear and out the other.

“She’s back in town? I thought she took off for California or something right after you guys graduated?” he asked, and I knew he’d be looking at me.

“Yeah – she was going to Berkeley College,” I confirmed, and my mother just chuckled.

“Well she’s over in London right now,” I could see my brother’s – with the exception of Jared – jaws drop. I still chose to not comment, not wanting to have anybody flinging questions at me when I didn’t want, or know how, to answer them.

“She’s modeling!” Natalie piped up, obviously excited to join the conversation. She and Jared were just that bit younger that they hadn’t had as much to do with Carly.

“Really? She was kind of… not awkward… but I mean… uncoordinated…” Jordan seemed confused and I could only shake my head at him. Leave it to him to remember she was gangly and uncoordinated, and not pretty or sweet. His attention had always been on the cheerleader types; petite and athletic.

“Not anymore,” this time Jared added his two cents.

“She’s gorgeous – she’s not gangly at all,” Natalie hopped back in, catching Jordan off guard. “And she’s not uncoordinated – that girl can take a catwalk like nobody’s business in seven inch heels!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it. I remember a gangly girl nearly as tall as Marc who could trip over her own feet,” he chuckled, and we knew he meant it in a fond way. He’d gotten along pretty well with Carly, even if he was having trouble remembering her.

“Here, I’ll show you,” Natalie got out her laptop, and while Mom chuckled, Tanya, Eric and Jordan crowded around her to see the “grown up” Carly that my mother, younger brother and Natalie had all seen.
“Holy… that’s her? That’s seriously the same girl?” Jordan asked, and Tanya nodded.

“Wow, Marc, you should see her! You almost wouldn’t recognize her!” Eric insisted, and although I rolled my eyes and Angie gave me a not-so impressed look I got up and walked over. It was a video from some show at Fashion Week and Natalie quickly went back, and pointed her out.

I almost didn’t recognize her.

She’d grown into her long arms and long, long legs. Her curves filled out what had been an extremely wispy frame in high school, and with her hair done – falling in long, loose curls down her back, highlights lightening up the dirty blonde colour to a warm gold – and her face done with makeup, she looked every bit the high-fashion model Natalie told us she was.

“Wow… it almost doesn’t look like her,” I admitted, and Jordan clapped me hard on the back.

“She’s a babe, and she’s back in town?”

Immediately I knew what Jordan was getting at, and it made me sick to my stomach. He loved women a little too much – to the point where he couldn’t commit to just one. As long as I was around he wasn’t going to put Carly in that position.

“Don’t even think about it,” it came out as almost a growl, and I knew I’d accidentally caught my family’s attention. “She’s in town because her dad passed away Jordan – she doesn’t need you trying to hit on her.”

His eyes widened, mouth forming a small ‘o’ shape as it sunk in.

“Poor thing,” he whispered, eyes turning back to the paused image of her on the screen. We’d been so blessed to not have lost anyone in our family, and we knew we would never be alone. But I had no doubt that Jordan remembered that it was only Carly and her dad while we were growing up.

“I can’t imagine…”

“Me either Jord,” I sighed, moving back to my seat on the couch. Angie was absolutely silent, and I nearly sighed again, knowing she wasn’t enjoying so much attention being put on some girl that none of us had seen since we had graduated.

“I think she’ll be okay eventually – I just can’t imagine being in that house all by herself. Especially since she hasn’t been there since she graduated,” mom sighed, making her way to the kitchen to find something to start for supper. Silence seemed to take over the room as it hit home with all of us, just how hard it would be.

“Why don’t we invite her to stay here?” Jordan piped up, and everyone’s heads whipped around to look at him.

“What? I’m just saying, I mean if she doesn’t really have anybody else here it might be easier on her,” he shrugged, and while I tried to find fault with his logic it was hard. Except for the part where he obviously found her attractive and would no doubt try to put the moves on her.

“That’s actually not a bad idea Jord,” Tanya seconded, and Natalie nodded enthusiastically.

“She could stay with us– we’ve got extra room at our place,” Tanya suggested, and Eric made a face.

“I don’t know if she’ll want to deal with the boys while she’s trying to figure all this out,”

“Or our place; we’ve got room too,” Natalie added, and Jared nodded his agreement.

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“Or she could stay here with me and your father,” Mom raised an eyebrow at all of us, before a chuckle seemed to become contagious to all of us. It wasn’t like mom and dad had any shortage of space here with Jared, Eric, and myself all basically moved out. Jordan had his own place, but liked to stay here because it was less lonely.

“You should ask her, mom. I think it’s a good idea for her to have someone around,” Eric insisted, and mom nodded.

“I just saw her for the first time today – I didn’t want to totally bombard the poor thing. But she asked if we could get together again sometime soon, maybe I’ll ask her over and you guys can all see her again and we can go from there,” mom decided, and everybody seemed to silently agree; the girls going to help mom in the kitchen while we all tried to busy ourselves by keeping the boys entertained. It didn’t ease the butterflies in my stomach at the thought of seeing her again.
♠ ♠ ♠
Ta-Da! Finally a nice and long chapter, because who doesn't love all of the Staals together?

Work is finally settling in... just in time for Finals to start... oh yay.... being an almost-grown up sucks sometimes. Hope you guys had a wonderful weekend, and for those of you lovely people south of the Candian border in the states I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving... and hopefully warmer weather than we in Saskatchewan had!