Summer’s Arrived in Oasis Springs And Emotions Are Running High. It’s Time For Rohan To Meet Magnus And Marie Properly!
Summer, Year 4
“Ricky!” Zoe squealed as she flung her arms around her brother. “Oh I’ve missed you!”
Riccardo laughed. “Not as much as Emilio has I shouldn’t think!”
Grinning, Zoe gently released her brother. “We weren’t expecting you until tomorrow!”
“I thought I’d drop in this evening. I’m on my way over to Jared and Andrea but I wanted to see everyone first. I’ve got Elliott and Rohan with me.”
“Rohan’s here?” Zoe asked, her eyes dancing.
“Yeah. Well, he’s going to be staying with his grandparents this summer as you know, but he’s spending the weekend with me. Elliott’s moved in with his brother Ryan so he’s visiting en-route to Evergreen Harbour.”
Before Zoe could respond, Tara flung herself into Riccardo’s arms. “Ricky!”
“I’ll let Madre know you’re here,” Zoe smiled and disappeared back inside the house.
“You look lovely Tara,” Riccardo said as he released his youngest sister. He caught her eye and frowned. “Are you okay? You look like you’re going to cry!”
Tara shrugged. “School stuff.”
She evidently wasn’t going to say anything more, so Riccardo didn’t press her. Instead, he followed her into the house, Elliott and Rohan in tow.
Zoe managed to sneak away into Magnus’ office with Rohan. “It’s so lovely to see you! I didn’t even know you were coming!”
Rohan grinned nervously. “It was a surprise. To be honest, I didn’t know Riccardo was detouring here today. He never mentioned anything earlier.
Before either could say anything more, Elliott burst in. “There you are. Ricky’s mum wants to meet you properly, Rohan.”
Marie appeared in the doorway. “Ah, so this is where you’re hiding.” She glanced from Zoe to Rohan and back again and her eyes narrowed slightly. “We’re gathering for drinks in the front room.”
Zoe gulped. She knew she needed to introduce Rohan to her parents sometimes but since they weren’t too pleased with her going behind their backs to meet up with him in the first place, she’d been putting the moment off. It looked like Riccardo had just brought the moment forward for her and she groaned inwardly.
“Come on!” Zoe giggled as she tugged Rohan’s arm. It was much later and Rohan was feeling a little worse for the wear.
“Zoe, this is your parents room. They’ll kill me if they find me in here with you,” Rohan said, nervously biting his lip.
“No they won’t!” She laughed as she gave his arm another tug.
“Yeah, they will. Zoe, I really get the feeling your parents don’t actually like me.” He sighed. “Is it always going to be like this? Because you were sneaking behind their backs?”
“Don’t be so paranoid!” Zoe laughed and gave Rohan a final tug, pulling him into the cupboard. “You just caught them on a bad day!”
“Chris, are you even awake?” Emilio asked, laughing. It was the following day and he’d escaped the moody atmosphere at home to play some basketball with Christopher at the Sport Court. “You look half asleep, buddy.”
“Sorry!” Christopher yawned again. “God, this is terrible. Celestia still won’t sleep through the night and my room’s opposite hers. Anyway, let’s go and get changed.”
“I didn’t know your sister was here,” Emilio said mildly as he launched the ball towards the hoop. He’d spotted Rosie Valentine in reception after he and Christopher had changed into their kit.
“Rosie? Yeah, she’s meeting up with your sister Tara, I think. She said she wanted to come anyway. Mum and Dad were fighting when we left.” Christopher cursed under his breath as the ball missed the hoop and he went running after it.
Emilio frowned. “Tara didn’t come today. She’s at home.”
Grinning, Christopher jogged back and slapped his friend on the back. “Jesus Emilio, if you haven’t worked it out by now then you’re really dense. She fancies you, mate. She goes red every time you come over.”
“Oh.” Emilio fell silent.
“Rosie?” Emilio stood up. Evening had fallen and Emilio had texted Rosie to meet him in Windenburg. He’d been convinced she wouldn’t come so he was very relieved to see her walking towards him.
“I got your text. I’m out of credit so I couldn’t reply,” she smiled shyly.
“Okay. Um, cool.” Emilio swallowed. His heart felt like it was working overtime as he swallowed again. “Umm, you look nice!”
“Oh!” Rosie blushed furiously and looked down at herself. “Well, thanks. So do you.”
“Umm. Thanks.” Emilio swallowed again and mentally cursed himself for being so tongue-tied. “I, err. Well, I…ummm…well, I was playing basketball with your brother today.”
“Umm, I know. I was there.” Rosie’s blush deepened.
“Of course you were.” Emilio closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Umm, he told me something.”
Rosie froze. “W-what sort of something?”
“Umm.” Oh God, he thought as his brain scrambled to find the right words. Rosie was looking like a rabbit caught in headlights. “Umm, he said you’d wanted to go with him to the courts today.” Not quite what he’d intended to say but it was a start.
“Oh. Umm, yes. I did.” Rosie bit her lip.
“Okay.” Emilio swallowed again and felt his pulse quicken. The best way would be to come right out and say it. “He said…um. Well.”
Rosie looked at him expectantly. Her heart was beating in double time and for a split second, she thought she was going to pass out.
This isn’t working, Emilio thought furiously. I’ve gotta try another approach!
Clumsily, Emilio leaned in and his lips brushed Rosie’s for a split second before he pulled back. Rosie stared back at him, stunned. They stared at each other in stunned silence.
“I’m sorry,” Emilio gasped suddenly.
“No, it’s okay,” Rosie replied. “Um, what exactly did Christopher tell you?”
Emilio began to panic. “Well, he said you…he said you fancied me.” The last part came out in a rush. Rosie’s expression was unreadable and for a moment, Emilio had the terrifying feeling that Christopher had been pulling his leg and that he’d just made a complete and utter fool of himself.
Suddenly, Rosie’s face split into a nervous grin. “Yeah. I do.”
“Oh good!” Emilio said with relief. “Because I fancy you too!”
“Oh! Well, good!” Rosie giggled.
Emilio floated home in a daze. He couldn’t believe what had just happened and the world felt like it was spinning. Sadly, this made him an easy target for Alex, who was sulking because Magnus had delivered a lecture on responsibility to him that morning. Alex loved pulling pranks and was determined to take his frustrations out on his siblings.
At the same time, Emilio saw Zoe giving Tara a comforting hug. Tara had been getting problems at school all year and she was dreading going back in the autumn. She desperately didn’t want Magnus and Marie to know so the siblings were keeping it secret. Zoe’s biggest worry was Alex; now he was going to be at the same school this year, would he keep Tara’s problems a secret from their parents, the way she, Riccardo and Emilio were?
Marie’s patience with Alex was wearing thin. She was tired of him not listening to anything she or Magnus said to him and it was getting too much. Alex hated being told off…
…so he took it out on his younger brother Che and started spreading silly rumours to scare him.
The following day, Zoe received a text from Rohan. She felt a little guilty for not having taken him seriously before so to make amends, she arranged for the couple to have dinner at Eden with her parents. She wanted to prove to him that her parents didn’t have an issue with him at all.
It was a gorgeous evening, sitting at one of the outside tables, high above the city. Zoe felt calm and relaxed as they ordered, whereas Rohan looked edgy and very nervous.
The evening didn’t get off to a very good start. Magnus was firing off very personal questions towards Rohan who did his best to answer them honestly. The answers never seemed to be right and Magnus could feel his temper rising. Marie tried to settle the situation but it was no good. Magnus had made his feelings clear.
As the evening went on, the atmosphere didn’t improve. Marie and Magnus glowered at each other every so often and Magnus made snide remarks whenever Rohan spoke. Zoe was counting down the minutes until everyone had finished eating and they could leave. She felt terrible; the idea of the evening had been to prove Rohan wrong. Instead, it had only served to prove he was right.
Finally, the group had finished eating. Magnus and Marie made their excuses and left hastily. Zoe hung back as Rohan took his hoodie off and sighed. He glanced up at Zoe.
“Don’t tell me that wasn’t a disaster,” he said. He shook his head. “Jesus, Zoe. Your Dad really knows how to plunge a knife in and twist it, doesn’t he?”
“I’m so sorry, Rohan. He’s not normally like that. You just caught him on a bad day.”
Rohan raised an eyebrow. “Is he having a succession of bad days or something? You said that before.” Shaking his head, he pulled Zoe into a hug.
“Be honest Zoe. Can you really see your father’s opinion changing?” Rohan asked.
Zoe was silent. Truthfully, no she couldn’t. Once Magnus made up his mind about something, there was usually no changing him. She was desperately trying to find a way of breaking it to Rohan without hurting his feelings.
“Understood.” Rohan said softly after several minutes of silence.
“Listen Rohan. My parents, their opinions; they don’t matter. None of that matters.” Zoe took Rohan’s face in her hands. “I love you. I really do. It doesn’t matter what they think. I won’t be living at home for much longer, anyway. So don’t worry, okay?”
Rohan nodded. In his heart though, it did matter. It mattered a lot.