What's your favorite book? Mine's Dracula.'
'Oh, tough one!'
I was surprised by Jack's enthusiasm. Was it tough because he didn't have any, or because he had too many?
'I'd have to go with Alice in Wonderland.'
I was shocked. No, mind-blown. Jack had a favorite book? And it was Alice in Wonderland?
'Before you die from a heart attack, yes Julie, I like to read. I chose Alice in Wonderland because I read it as a kid and still love it even now. I read it once a year, during Christmas.'
I never figured Jack to be the type for reading books during the holiday season. He seemed like the kind of person that would rather be out partying with everyone rather than curling up on the couch with hot chocolate and a good book. I was surprised, in a good way.
'Well mine's Harry Potter.'
I was flabbergasted for a moment. Liam? Reading? Together in one sentence? I never thought I'd live to see the day. I couldn't help a big smile from forming on my face.
'Don't laugh. I just, eh... Like the concept. Yes.'
I could hear Jack struggling to keep his laughter in. It made it even more difficult for me not to giggle too. I knew that if I dared to look up now I wouldn't be able to keep my laughter in at all. I forced myself to look down at my hands once more and calm down. It worked, barely.
'So eh, Liam. Why Harry Potter?'
'I like magic. And it's a good read.'
I couldn't argue with that. Harry potter was a good read, I had all of the novels stacked on my bookshelf as well. I had read them all twice. I should read them again sometime soon.
'I didn't know you liked reading.'
'I do. You're not the only one with a penchant for books in the family. I like reading.'
'That's great Liam. Now you and Julie have something major in common!'
'True, I guess.'
It was a great revelation. I had never figured Liam for the reading type. But seeing him sit here, utterly serious I knew he was. I loved it. It got me all giddy and excited.
'I read your book too, you know. I had to. You are my sister. And you published a major book. So I went out and bought it the first day it was on the shelves.'
I blushed. Liam had read my book? I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks and blushed. Well, that was awkward. I had poured my heart and soul into that book and Liam reading it made me feel strangely vulnerable. He knew a lot about me then. About how I thought and what I valued. The main character, Sonja was quite like me in many aspects. However she was popular. Looked up to, and surrounded by followers and friends. I had never been any of that. I had always been the awkward writer, the friendless. The loner. I shuddered at that. Those times needed to become history. I didn't want to be the loner anymore. I wanted to have great friends, like Sonja had Percy and Clarke. They were good friends, the best even. Sticking with her through every mistake, every win, every downfall. Friends worth mentioning. Friends worth loving.
'What... Did you think about it?'
'It was good. I wasn't sure whether I liked Sonja all that much though.'
Ouch. That was a major blow. He disliked the one character that I had modeled after myself. Could this get any worse?
'I liked Sonja. She was real. Made mistakes but owned up to them anyway.'
'True, but she was quite. Persistent. Always thinking she was the only one correct. While in the end it was Percy who figured out the bigger picture. Sonja practically killed Clarke in her need to be right.'
'But she realized her mistakes. She did everything she could to set it right. And she did. Even thought they didn't remain friends, because of what Sonja had to do. Sonja did the right thing, knowing she would lose her friends over it, but that it would save them too. I'd say that's true friendship.'
I felt my eyes water at Jack's argument. He worded it, exactly like I envisioned it. How I wrote it with tears in my eyes but also utter determination. Sonja did what was right for them, even if they didn't see it that way.
'I guess you're right. She was just sort of annoying, really.'
'She was modeled after me, Liam.'
Shit! Why did I say that? Great, Julie. Now you truly sound every bit the whiny sister like that. Great, Julie. Perfect. This is step one towards making Liam hate you.
'I had figured that much.'
Well I suppose that said something about how Liam viewed me. And boy, it wasn't good. It wasn't good at all. He disliked Sonja, probably exactly how and why he disliked me. No, stop. Julie. Don't assume just yet. I needed to know though.
'Do you dislike me then, Liam?'
The room grew silent. Jack and I were holding our breaths and watching Liam like hawks. What he was about to say could potentionally destroy everything we had built up in the past few days. No, don't think quite so dramatically, Julie. Just wait. See what he has to say.
'I don't dislike you. But like all of us you have traits that irk others too. The same traits Sonja had too. But Sonja isn't my family. You are. And I should like you despite your flaws, and you should do the same for me.'
Wow. That was quite the speech. It had really put me on my spot for nagging at him about every little thing he did wrong in my eyes. It was true, I had been too strict. I allowed myself to make mistakes, he allowed me to make mistakes but I didn't let him hear the end of his mistakes. That truly was a bad habit.
'You're right. I will try to do that more in the future, Liam.'
'Well-o, to keep it from getting awkward I'll just go ahead and ask you two for your favorite food!'
'Oh, food. I can't just choose one thing.'
'You have to, Liam. Mine's mac and cheese. Julie already knew that.'
'Yeah, when I got drowned in milkshake.'
'This sounds like a story I need to hear.'
'No you don't, Liam.'
'Yes, I do.'
'We'll tell it when we're at the diner again. Maybe this week sometime.'
I nodded. Fair enough. Liam needed a laugh too, and despite the fiasco I loved the diner already. But food. Favorite food. That was a tough one. I wasn't as much of a food monster as Jack was, but I still had a lot of favorites. Fruit? Cheese? Both? Probably fruit. But which fruit was the absolute best? Strawberries. Yes, definitely strawberries. I felt my mouth water just by the thought of it. Strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream and sugar. Lots of it.
'Good choice! Liam?'
'No, don't dream about it, tell us.'
'Probably chocolate chip muffins.'
'Oh that's so good too! Why didn't I think of that?'
The three of us groaned simultaneously, thinking of the delicious foods. We were really quite stupid coming to think of it. We had just had three pizza's and now because of this questions our stomachs were rumbling again. I silently thanked Jack for taking so much snacks from the grocery store. Jack seemed to think the same.
'I'll go get the snacks. Jules, drinks?'
Jack hurried to the kitchen and I followed at a considerably slower pace, lost in thought. This night was both nice and bizarre. I wondered briefly if Jack and Liam thought the same. Probably. It was both awkward and hilarious. Interesting and sad. Everything. I couldn't handle the overload of emotions I had been feeling these past few days. Jack. Liam. Me. Shit! My mind was one big mess with us as the key players. How could I get some clarity? I shuffled into the kitchen, only to collide with Jack. The bags of chips went flying as his hands shot out to my waist to steady me.
We were awkwardly close and his hands were burning hot on my waist. I felt like I was caught in a horrible romance movie. Could this get any more cliché? I shrugged and stepped back, Jack's hands left my waist somewhat reluctantly. Or was that my imagination? I mumbled a small thank you before picking up the bags of chips and handing them to him. I was blushing uncontrollably and tried my best not to look at his face. I heard how Jack moved past me and out of the kitchen. Only when I heard him start talking to Liam I exhaled and leaned against the counter. That was crazy. Why was I this affected? Well maybe because I hadn't been with a man in years. Yeah. Probably. Damn it, Julie. What did you say. Don't fall for Jack. Yet here you are, blushing like an idiot after he touched you, saved you. He did that a lot, saving me. I snorted. Truly a prince charming. Saving his damsel in distress. Right. I could take care of things myself. I wasn't a damsel and I wasn't in distress. I could handle everything perfectly well. I moved to the kitchen but slipped on the cold tiles. Within seconds I was on the floor and clutching my big toe in pain. Shit!