C'mon... Quarter to ten isn't early... Oh no. Maybe it is. Oh God. This is so embarrassing.
Just as she was turning around to tiptoe back down the driveway, the door opened.
"Oh, good morning, mizzz Halley."
It was Mr. Hanson. She turned back and smiled.
"I'm afraid Taylor and Isaac are still asleep. Zac's up and about though. I'm pretty sure he'd like some more mature company than his sisters right now..."
"Yeah, okay. I guess guys are the same everywhere..."
"You have a lot of experience in that field?"
Dusk had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Oh well. When in doubt...
"I have a brother who's about Isaac's age. He's not exactly what you might call an early bird either."
"I see. Yes, well, I guess you're right."
He stepped aside, letting her in.
She'd figured they might be busy, so she had a thick paperback in one hand.
"You come prepared, I see?" he said, gesturing towards it with a banana.
She'd followed him into the kitchen.
"Yeah... I've spent a lot of time in studio's and hallways, waiting. So..."
"Been there... Do you want some fruit or something? We've got apples, oranges, bananas..."
"I think I'd like an apple, please."
He tossed her a large, shiny green apple.
"I've... It's probably been a while since I've been around girls your age. Well, except for the, you know... So you'll excuse me if I treat you like Jessie or Avie, won't you?"
"Yeah, sure." She smiled. "That's how my dad seems to treat me anyway. He's still in denial about the whole two-figure-age thing."
He laughed, apparently recognizing himself in the description.
"What do your parents do?"
"My dad's a bona fide academic. He teaches Literature and History, don't ask me how he manages both, at the university. My mom's... Well, dad says she was an actress."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"Why? Is that such a tragic thing to be?" she smiled.
"No, I just... You said she was an actress, so..."
"Oh, no, nothing like that. They met pretty young and had me and my brother, and then, when I was maybe three, she left. No fighting or disappearing or anything, she just wanted to live on, you know? Dad takes care of us really well."
"I can almost tell."
She looked down, spinning the apple in her hand, trying to hide the pleased look on her face.
"Maybe Troy and I are a hassle sometimes, and maybe he doesn't always know what to do, but he tries."
He smiled. She smiled back, and took a bite out of the apple. The sweet fresh taste filled her mouth, but the bite had maybe been a little too big. She was munching happily, her cheeks bulging, trying to manage, when Zac entered the kitchen.
"You look like a chipmunk!" he laughed.
She grinned, a little of the juice trickling from the corner of her mouth, and uttered some unintelligible words.
"Um, I don't speak apple. Sorry."
"I said, good morning."
"Yeah, okay. I can live with that."
At that point, Taylor entered the kitchen, relatively awake, rubbing the top of his head. Isaac followed suit. Dusk laughed.
"Looking lovely, as always!"
"Yeah. Fortunately, I heard your voice, so I'm decent..."
"As you'll ever be," Zac cut Isaac off.
"Well, yeah, that's true."
Taylor, with a lot of clattering, was getting two bowls out. Isaac grabbed one and sat down at the table, next to Dusk.
"Zac, you're in my seat," Taylor said, pushing his shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah," Zac grumbled, getting up.
"I wanna go back to bed..." Taylor said, eyes practically closed, arms out for the milk.
"Good morning, good mo-o-orning, it's great to stay up late, good morning, good morning, to you..." Dusk sang, and took a bite out of her apple, the most innocent look imaginable on her face as Taylor looked her way.
"If I wasn't such a lovely person, I'd tell you to shut up. But now I'll just nicely ask you to."
She mouthed 'okay', and opened her book to the place where she'd stuck her finger.
"Whutcha reading?" Isaac asked, grabbing at it. She lifted it off the table, out of reach.
"Sole Survivor, by Dean Koontz. He's really cool. I'm a sucker for being scared."
"I know what you mean..."
"When I was twelve, I think, I read Stephen King's Misery late at night, a bad idea in itself. I finished at like one am or something. Then I took a shower, and when I was finished, I was too afraid to pull the window curtain back. I thought there'd be a face there... I had to wake Troy up so I wouldn't feel so afraid."
"Troy being your brother?" Taylor asked.
"Yeah. He thought I was being really stupid, but he stayed up with me until I fell asleep."
"Older or younger?" Isaac asked.
"Older. He's about your age."
This is ridiculous. I don't take this long to get dressed, Dusk thought, returning the watch to her pocket and opening the book back up.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," Taylor said as he thumped down the stairs, two steps a stride.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't there two of you when you went up?"
"I have absolutely no idea to whom you might be referring."
"I'm here... Sorry. Where's Zac?" Isaac said, making a face at Taylor.
"I think he's in the kitchen. I'll go get him," Dusk said, getting up and heading out.
They were, a few minutes later, on their way to the backyard of Dusk's temporary home to shoot a little while the sun was out, Dusk and Zac sagging behind a little due to the interesting nature of the, well, nature around them.