Read Love-Struck Online

Authors: Rachael Wing

Love-Struck (5 page)

I suppose he's quite cute, in a way; nice eyes, good skin, great hair, nice smile – but it's Wes. I mean,
come on
, I don't look at him in that way…

“Nyeh, you'll do,” I replied easily with a grin, as he poked me in the ribs. “But this week, you've got to be tip-top fitty, inside and out. This leads us to Step Three: finding out what she likes. I'll do some cunning girl-chat to find out what her type is, and we'll play up that side of your personality. We're going to pick out some stuff for you to wear for the rest of the week, and as I snoop and find out what she likes, we'll get you to emphasize that with your Wes-style…!”

“OK,” smiled Wes. “So we get her into the group, we get her to come to the gig, we make me look good during the week … then what?”

My devious grin widened. “You get cosy at the gig, and prepare to ask her to come with us to Midsummer Rave, bay-bay.”

“Are you sure that this will work?” Wes asked uncertainly, rereading my scribbled mish-mash of notes on The Plan. “It all sounds a bit simple.”

“My darling boy,” I purred, putting on my best Margo impression, “the course of true love always did run smooth.”

Wes frowned.

“Erm, no, actually, Shakespeare begs to differ: ‘The course of true love never did run smooth'.”

Dammit. I said English has never been my strong point.

“Well, whatever. Shakey or no Shakey, The Plan will work and you will get your Barbie doll and I will get Jonah and it will be epic times all round…”

I grinned. Everything was about to fall into place, and I was falling into my favourite daydream: I'd get Wes fixed up with Barbie, then I'd get Jonah to come share our tent, then we'd dance the weekend away, and then he'd turn around and say in a really husky and slightly Italian accent—

“Holly, bambino, you have-a always a-been the most bella girrl, the only girl for-a-me!” Wes exclaimed, stretching out his arm to me and laughing as he said it.

I had previously shared the Italian-sounding Jonah daydream with Wes, which was a big mistake, as now when I'm in the middle of a daydream he will start doing an awful impression of it, and I never finish my dishy daydream-fest. Annoying, stupid boy.

“Shut UP, you fool!” I cried with a huge smile as I berated him with a rather fluffy pillow, and he grabbed one too and started biffing me over the head with it.

“Aaah, NOOO, my
hair
! This means war!”

I rolled over and yanked another pillow off the bottom of his bed, then commando-rolled back with the duvet flying everywhere and tried to take him out from the knees, but he was too strong for my stupid weak, girlish arms and so managed to sit on top of me, strip me of all my pillows and hold one threateningly above his head with an evil smile plastered on his face, hair and glasses askew.

“Surrender?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Never!” I cried, wiggling to get free, but shielding my eyes too in case of an unexpected biffing from Wes's pillow.

“All right,” he sighed, shrugging his shoulders. “Your funeral.”

At which he lifted the pillow high above his head and brought it down so I had to squeal:

“Noooo! No, I surrender, I surrender! Just don't pummel me PLEASE!”

He started to laugh. Putting the pillow down, he gave me his hands so we could stand up and pulled me up with him, but the duvet slipped under us on to the floor, everything went everywhere, and we ended up crashing back down on to the mattress, laughing like right loons and not breathing.

I was laughing so much that I cried, and started gasping for air. We sat up and he gave me a hug.

“Breathe or you'll pass out!” he laughed, and patted my back gently.

“Well, well, doesn't this just look cosy?”

We broke apart, me still breathing uneasily with a bright red face and both of us looking a bit of a mess. Ooop. I can see how this would look to an outsider.

“What?! Me and, and Wes?! No, no, no,” I exclaimed in a gush of words, shaking my head and untangling myself from Wes. I know how she likes to stir things. “
So
not what you think!”

Margo raised an eyebrow.

“Dear, that was just a bit of soft mockery – but it seems that your defence mechanism is working right on the ticket. And what is this?”

She bent down with perfect grace and picked up The Plan. The Plan with four different colours, and glitter pen, and pictures … and “SECRET” written at the top (yeah, so I got a little carried away! I'm not sixteen yet, I'm still a kid!). When I had been making it, it had been a giggle, but now it was in her hands I felt a bit pathetic.

“‘Plan Barbie'?” She looked up at Wes with a frown. “You like what you see in Emily? Isn't she a bit …” Margo flicked a look at me, and then back to Wes. “… far from your usual type?”


Girl
is his type,” I replied, standing up to take The Plan out of her hands. I held mine out to her to receive the paper, but she wouldn't let go right away. Margo surveyed me closely with her big, cold eyes before letting it go; and as I walked back to the bed, she turned and stalked out from the room.

She waved her hand lazily behind her as she walked out the door. “Good luck, Winston. I daresay you'll need it.”

“Holly, are you up yet?”

No, I am still asleep and trying to ignore you.

“Hols!”

I rolled over and snuggled deeper into my duvet, tugging it over my head so Mum became a muffled background sound. I didn't want to get up. I'd been having this amazing dream—

I was at this club, and the strobes had been going, and I'd been “throwing shapes in the Temple of Dance”, as my dad calls it (normal people call it “dancing”), and suddenly The Faeries turned up and just started dancing with me! Chevans (drummer and charmer of the band) was looking me up and down, and kept winking; Vikki (the tiny blonde bassist, with all sorts of colours through her short hair) started to get her groove on with me, so we had a little shimmy; and then Matt (he's the gorgeous, moody lead guitarist who has a messy mop of curls and the best butt I've ever seen) started twirling me around, and I just couldn't stop laughing. It was so funny. In the strobe I couldn't see much and it was just so cool, I couldn't believe I was dancing with my idols, and then Matt twirled me around and around and around but I let go of his hand and flew straight into the arms of Robin Goodfellow, lead singer and bonafide, grade-A, lusher-than-lush super-star rock god. And he was getting closer, the strobes highlighting his gorgeous cheekbones and bright green eyes, and we inched closer and closer in slow motion for a perfect moment, I was so close—

And then my darling mother woke me up.

Drat.

But it had been a pretty spectacular dream, so I was still smiley when Mum came in, a towel wrapped around her wet hair, laden with clean washing wedged under one arm and the phone in the other. She shoved the phone into my face.

“It's your father.”

Good morning to you too, Mother! I do hope you slept well.

I grunted in thanks and picked up the phone.

“Morning, Dad,” I mumbled, trying to find my voice.

“Hello, Berry! How are you this morning?”

He has always called me Berry, because I'm Holly, so I'm his little Berry, blah blah blah. It's nice, but no one else is allowed to call me it. It would just be wrong. Dad's voice was far too awake and cheerful for this time in the morning, but he had been up for a while because he's a postman. He works the night shift in the sorting warehouses, and then works the morning shift for delivery, so I don't see him loads, but he always rings first thing in the morning before I go to school.

Mum gracefully plonked the pile of clean washing on the bottom of my bed, picked her way over to my windows and, before I could stop her, threw open my curtains and pushed open my window in one movement.


Ahhh
, my eyes!”

“Did your mum open the curtains?” he chuckled.

“Don't stay in bed, as you'll be late! You need to get up – school won't wait!” Mum sing-songed on her way out of my room.

Ahh, too much activity for this early in the morning!

“It's not
that
early, it's eight o'clock!” Dad replied.

I didn't even realize I had said that aloud I was so tired; stupid school, starting so—

“Eight o'clock?!” I cried down the phone, suddenly quite awake. “Oh pants, I was supposed to be up
ages
ago, Wes is waiting for me!”

Dad laughed softly. “It's always a rush at the Hockers' household! Just tell me that you're happy, healthy and alive and I'll let you go.”

“Happy? Yes. Healthy? Yes. Alive? Almost!” I shot out as I searched frantically for my hairbrush. I looked in my mirror and winced at my reflection: cat pyjamas and a strappy top, my hair like a bush and sleepy eyes? Ouch. “Are you OK, Dad?”

“Fit as a fiddle!” sang my dad. What is it with the rhyming and alliteration from my family so early in the morning?! It's what comes with having young children, I swear; everything turns into a children's TV show. “The sun is shining, I am smiling and I'm most of the way through my shift, so I can't complain!”

I heard a clatter from somewhere below me and Lizzy gave an almighty wail. Mum's voice rang through the house:

“Hols, can you help me feed Liz? I need to do my hair – I've got a lesson at quarter past!”

Mum teaches extra English to some kids at school. She's got a new pupil starting today, but couldn't see them after school because she's got to take Liz to the dentist. They rearranged for this morning instead, I forgot. Damn! I'm going to have to text Wes and tell him to take the next step of The Plan without me.

“It all sounds a bit hectic there, love, so I'm going to let you get on. I'll see you later. Have a great day.”

“Yeah, you too, Dad. Sorry! See you later, love you, bye!”

I chucked the phone on to my bedside table and jumped out of my squishy single bed, desperately trying to comb my hair.

“Yeah, Mum! Hang on a sec, I'm coming!”

I threw open my wardrobe and checked out its contents. Jeans, jeans, more jeans; shorts, skirts, leggings, jogging pants…

I took a look outside. Gorgeous sunshine, as far as the eye could see. Not one single cloud. Definite shorts day.

I pulled out a pair of shorts and my favourite T-shirt, shoved them on my bed, and ran down the steep stairs two at a time. At the bottom I took an immediate left, straight into the kitchen, where Mum was battling Lizzy into a high chair and a bowl of apple slices was all over the floor. Lizzy started shouting my name happily as she refused to go into the high chair, and I quickly sprang into action; picked up the random bits of apple and shoved them into the bowl and rinsed them under the tap, then went and helped Mum with the high chair.

“Good morning, Liz-Biz!” I cooed, picking up my sister and giving her a hug.

“Hoh-wy!” she cried, her big blue eyes wide and blonde curls bouncing. She may look like an angel but I promise, an evil, evil spirit can live beneath that innocent exterior. “Hoh-wy, Hoh-wy, Hoh-wy! Mor-neen Hoh-wy! Brekky!”

“That's right, it's brekky-time! It's time to sit in the big chair and eat some yum-yums!” I cried with more enthusiasm than I knew I had.

“Yay!” she squealed, and obediently let me pick her up and put her into the high chair.

“I've been trying to get her into that chair for ten minutes!” Mum exclaimed, exhausted. “She's always so good for you! How do you do it?”

I shrugged, passing Lizzy a bit of apple, which she started to gnaw on immediately. I
do
know why she's so good for me; I slip her a bit of ice cream every so often, which Mum won't do any more because she realized that it's bad for you. I tried to tell her that everything is bad for you nowadays, but she was having none of it. She says that giving Lizzy ice cream will “make her even more hyperactive than she is now”, and she won't touch it herself because it will “stay on my hips for ever”. But Mum doesn't need to know about our Secret Ice Cream Arrangement, so I shake my head and smile.

“I don't know. Maybe I have The Touch!”

Mum smiled. “Well, whatever you have, it's invaluable!”

I saw a glimmer of opportunity to address something I had wanted to address for a while. I knew it was a touchy subject in our household, but I just thought, seeing as the opportunity had arisen…

“Yeah,” I agreed, nodding enthusiastically as I fed Liz a bit more apple. “Invaluable, that's interesting. I don't suppose … with me being
invaluable
and all, that I could have, well … I suppose you could think of it as, say, a ‘
summer bonus
'—”

“Holly.” Mum's face went stony as she pushed the next load of dirty washing into the washing machine. The radio was blaring, Lizzy was singing some tuneless, unrecognizable song and chucking her piece of apple into the washing basket, and it was now ten past eight. Hmm. I was beginning to think that maybe I should have addressed this at some other, less stressful, time.

“Lizzy,
don't throw
!” Mum reprimanded and she picked out the apple from the socks. She looked up at me and sighed. “Look, I'm not going through this again. You know things are tight at the moment; your father is working himself into the ground and I'm trying my hardest to write the draft for my next piece
and
look after Liz. We're trying our best here. We just can't give you a huge allowance like some of your friends get.” I knew that she was talking about Wes, but I blocked it out. “I can pay for your phone credit and give you a little bit of money each week, but that's it. So no ‘
summer bonuses
', no sudden cash flows and no windfalls, hon.” She looked up from her assault on the washing and looked me in the eye. I could see the strain in her face and the tiredness in her eyes, and the little bit of pain too. “I'm sorry, Hols.” she murmured. “Just … not right now, OK?”

I nodded, feeling suddenly guilty. “Yeah, Mum. Don't worry, just thought I would ask!” Goodbye gorgeous bikini I was going to buy for MSR! I did an internal sigh, and then looked back at the clock and had a sudden shock back into reality.

“Ah! Mum, go get ready, your pupil will be here in a second!”

“Ahh, you're right! Thanks, Hol!”

And with that, she ran off up the stairs and I heard the hairdryer blaring a few seconds later. Lizzy started grappling for some more apple, so I gave her a piece and watched her eat it, her little eyes focused on it with such attention and her smile all cute and satisfied. She gave a little giggle and banged the apple into the top of the high chair, and then laughed, a proper little-girl laugh, like it was the funniest thing in the world.

If only I were so easily entertained.

Unfortunately, the things that entertain me are music, clothes and boys. All of which have to be bought, I thought bitterly; the first two with money, the third with good taste in the former coupled with good wit and humour, and most importantly with a great pair of—

The doorbell rang and made me jump so that I dropped the apple bowl again, but this time I cried out.

“Oh
dear
, Liz! Your apple went all over the floor! What a shame! It'll just have to go in the bin.” I looked at the time: just after quarter past eight. I needed to get out of there and get going to meet Wes. I picked up the apple and chucked it into the compost out the back door. I made a sad face at Lizzy. “Brekky-time's over.”

Lizzy pouted for a second, but then realized that it meant she could get out of the chair, so held out her arms to get lifted out. I picked her up as the doorbell rang again.

“All right,
all right
,
all right
, I'm coming!” I muttered, jogging through to the hall. I ran a hand through my now tamed hair and then opened the door.

To find Jonah Jones standing on my doorstep.

Jonah.

Jones.

My mum's new pupil was Jonah JONES?!

And he was there.

At my house.

Standing on my doorstep.

Looking at me like I was a Martian.

That was when I realized that I was still in my Kitty Kat pyjamas, with no make-up on, and with my baby sister banging me on the head with her last bit of mushed apple and crying out: “Bounc-ee, bounc-ee, bounce bounce BOUNCE!”

She wanted me to play the game where I bounce her up and down.

Great.

I wanted the ground to decide it was hungry for a bit of brekky too and just swallow me up right there and then, but it didn't.

“Hockers?” Jonah asked, his mind-melting eyes all quizzical and gorgeous. “What are you doing here? Am I at the right house?”

He took a step back to glance at the house number and I glanced sideways at the mirror. I had a bit of apple in my hair and my right eye was a little puffy. Oh, why do the bad things always happen to good people?!

“Errm…” I cleared my throat and just told myself to play it cool. “If you're here for English tuition, you're in the right place! Come in.”

My voice miraculously sounded steady and friendly, as if I wasn't freaking out like crazy inside. Thank goodness. I stepped aside to let him in, and he walked into the house. He was wearing really nice dark jeans and a light polo shirt that showed off his arm and back muscles to perfection, and he smelt all clean and minty as he walked past. Oh be still my beating heart!

“I didn't know Mrs Cook was your mum,” he started, as I shut the door. “Isn't your last name Hockers?”

I smiled. “Yeah, so is hers. She uses her maiden name when she teaches. Come into the dining room…”

Ahh, so awkward!

He followed me through and I gestured to the table as best I could with a scrambling child in my arms. He put down his bag and leaned against the table with a sexy smile.

“Sister?” he gestured.

I nodded apologetically. “Yep, this is Lizzy!”

“She's cute.”

I shrugged. Ahh, I needed to get out of there! Quickly!

“Yeah, well … I better go get her dressed and, err …” I looked down at my pyjamas with dismay. “… get ready for school, too…”

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