Ace. King. Seven. Two. Jack. Three. Six.
I stopped, gazing idly at the card held between my forefinger and thumb before allowing my line of sight to drop between my thighs, at the house of cards I had been constructing for the past hour or so.
The number of days since Isabel had left.
The number of days that I'd constantly thought about her.
It was sort of sick, really. No matter what I did, I always ended up back on her. Making a grilled cheese? Isabel mocking my cooking skills ghosted the back of my mind. Folding socks? Isabel complaining that I left my clothes everywhere echoing in my ears. The thought of her was like a fucking disease; and I was getting sick of it.
But, at the same time, I sort of liked it. In a sick sense, almost. If I couldn't have her here with me physically – at least I had the memories of her.
I vaguely heard someone open and close the front door, but I didn't bother to look up as Sam crossed the room with a long, purposeful stride, as if he was getting ready to jump straight over me and my pathetic card-house and dive-bomb into the kitchen. Knowing him, that probably was his plan. Especially since we had left-overs from the pasta Grace had made last night.
But, contrary to what I believed he was going to do, he instead stopped a pace before me and looked down. I could hear the smugness in his voice as he spoke, his words slow and careful – each word weighted.
Yes. "No." I responded, glancing up at him and crumpling the flimsy card in a tight fist.
"Really? Any other reason you've been ridiculously quiet since she's left?" It wasn't a question – not with that tone. Sam knew he had me. He wasn't the kind of guy to twist me. He wasn't a sadist. But the satisfaction of my discomfort definitely urged him forward.
"Are you complaining, Sam? Would you rather that I muck up some trouble again?" I hissed – an empty threat.
Sam laughed. A loud, sharp bark that rumbled in the back of his throat. It reminded me of Beck, in the short time I knew him. I don't know why.
"Not at all." He answered, making his way past me and into the kitchen – but not before adding;
"Expect a different answer from Grace, though."
I stood and, leaving my card house to the mercy of whoever was next to cross the room, made my way up the stairs. Turning once, I headed for my bedroom – or, really, Beck's old room – and shut the door firmly behind me as I slammed myself face-first into the comforter on my – Beck's – bed. I inhaled deeply, enjoying the familiar scent of, well, myself before flipping onto my back to stare at the ceiling.
As much as I hated to admit it, Ringo was right.
I did miss Isabel.
I couldn't help it, though. She was the only girl who had ever had the balls to show me up. The audacity to back-sass me and show me I was wrong before I could even think I was right.
The only girl who ever bothered to tell me exactly what she thought of me.
And, as much as it might've annoyed me at the time – I liked the challenge. Sam and Grace never bothered to do that. They only rolled their eyes at me and went on with their lives. I went without an oppose, and that was boring.
Isabel brought some sort of spice into my life. An opponent. Someone of equal status to bicker incessantly with.
It took me few moments of processing to realize there was someone knocking on my door, rapping the wood beneath their knuckles repeatedly. As if they had been doing it for some time without a reaction.
"Come in, Grace."
I wasn't a fan of being in Cole's room. For one, it smelled like sweaty socks and moldy pizza. For another, it was Beck's old room. I felt like I was intruding a personal ground being in here. Despite the fact Beck had a new home in a forest far, far away.
"Sam tells me you're being difficult, Cole St. Clair." I pursed my lips, quirking a brow at the larger young man laying before me.
"When aren't I being difficult?" He sneered, fitting me with a playful glare.
I couldn't help but to smile, before I remembered where I was going with this.
"So I talked to Isabel this morning." I began as innocently as I could.
Cole's leer faltered at the sound of her name. "Really?" he attempted to feign innocence and disinterest, but he must've known that that look he gave me pretty much guaranteed I had caught him. And I had him, right where I wanted him.
"Yeah. We were discussing plans for when she comes to visit. 'Yanno, for my Graduation and all that." I shrugged, leaning against the door's frame as I watched Cole's expression flicker from happiness, to surprise, to light confusion.
"So, is she coming? How long is she staying?" He sat him, bracing his weight on the palms of his hands as he attempted to pass his questions off as polite conversation.
"Yeah, she's coming. She might stay a week, maybe a little more, depends on what her parents say." I tossed out there.
Cole nodded, as if thoughtful. It took a few moments, but when his gaze met mine again, I sort of just… let it out.
"She misses you, you know."
He sighed, but said nothing. For a moment, he opened his mouth – as if he was going to respond – but it closed again and he was gone. His eyes devoid of any attachment. Cole was off again, thinking of God-knows-what in that mind of his.
I softly clicked the door shut behind me as I backed out of his room.
Downstairs, I could hear the clinking and clanking of Sam probably attempting to heat up my sauce on the stove. The dying light of the sun flittered through the windows, casting golden hues on everything in the house. Outside, both mine and Sam's cars sat, sleeping, in the driveway. With the lawn cut and some flower pots in place around the walk way, the house had a more friendly feel to it than when Sam and I had first taken up residence in here.
It had a more… home-y feel.
But that didn't change the fact that, in the backyard, the Golden Woods held horrible, snowy secrets.
I was only grateful that it was summer, and the temperatures wouldn't drop past seventy degrees.