The Parkers’ Front Gate

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“The double date?” Lauren exclaimed.
She had her arms crossed over her chest, leaning a shoulder against the locker next to Alex. She actually had a cheer practice scheduled right now but she decided to check on Alex.
School was over and if Lauren remembered right—like she could forget—Alex had a house to visit.
“Alex, do you hear yourself right now?” she went on saying while Alex arranged her things, “After what happened at the party, should we even trust Max around you?”
Lauren expected to hear Alex whine about the house visit—or grumble about it but the double date? She couldn’t tell why Alex would even think about that. That plan had been thrown to the trash the moment Max tried to force Alex into something she clearly didn’t want to do.
Alex focused on her books. She had new homework to do and taking home the wrong books would be disastrous.
She puffed out her cheeks then, blew out a sigh, “Lauren, I know this sounds like a terrible idea but the guy himself asked for a chance to make up for what happened. If this ends badly then, we have every right to ship Max to Timbuktu.”
Alex looked over the contents of her bag one more time. She wasn’t able to take notes for Logan but she could drop by a photocopier and just give him a copy of hers. She already listed out all the work he needed to do, assignments and make-up tests for the ones he missed.
Satisfied, she zipped it up and slung it over her shoulder. She grabbed her skateboard and closed the locker.
Alex finally turned to Lauren, mimicking her position except she had one hand on the strap of her backpack and one arm at her side with its hand wrapped around her skateboard.
Lauren definitely did not look amused. Her high ponytail, catlike eyeliner and blood red lips made her much more intimidating than normal.
Alex placed the top of her head on the locker, “You know if you change your hair color to platinum blonde, you could be Elsa.”
Lauren stomped her foot, “Alex, this is serious.”
“I don’t hear you protesting.”
“That’s because I don’t have your mother’s brains to counter your logic without looking like a bad person.”
Alex snorted. One Angeline Greenwood was more than enough to have in her life, “How about we leave as soon as you want to?”
“That would be the next second after step in wherever he takes us.”
“Lauren” Alex grumbled. If Max thought Alex didn’t see right through him, he thought wrong. Convincing Lauren to this double date could be the next plot for Mission Impossible.
“Alright, alright. Fine! We’ll go to this stupid date that you didn’t even want to do in the first place!” Lauren relented. She didn’t find one bit of this pleasant. Just thinking about it already made her blood boil.
That aside, she could now focus on more important matters, “Do you remember the address?”
“I also typed it out in my phone so I’m all good. I don’t really get lost often.”
“Well, text me when you get there. That way I know you didn’t end up in a ditch somewhere.”
Alex had to smile. She could never get used to Lauren’s concern for her. It almost felt like Emily was around.
Speaking of her, how was Emily? Maybe she could call her later.
“I will. No need to worry.”
Lauren scoffed playfully, “Oh, I’m not worried about that. Just remember not to throw Logan out of his own house, okay?”
===
Alex found herself in what she hoped to be Logan’s front gate with a bag full of ingredients.
The sun in the horizon prepared to set. She guessed it would be down in about an hour or two.
She took a deep breath and rang the doorbell while she still had the guts to do it.
Alex waited patiently for anything that meant she could step inside. She should have asked Lauren about the household. The mansion looked clearly inspired by Greek and Roman influence. They had a big lawn out front. Based on these alone, she could decipher that they had several servants. 
She wondered if they’d even let her in. Was Logan awake? If he wasn’t, they would need to ask another family member and she’d really would rather not meet anyone else.
Two minutes had passed and Alex rang again.
Nothing happened.
Alex frowned. Lauren and her mom wouldn’t be too happy if she failed but it wasn’t like she could so anything about it.
While the chance presented itself, Alex turned around, ready to leave.
She jumped when she spotted someone standing by the sidewalk.
Her eyes looked at Alex curiously. She seemed to be about her mother’s age. Dirty blonde hair sprouted from her scalp and reached just below the person’s shoulders. She dressed casually with a pair of black flare slacks and a simple light blue blouse. She had a tote on one arm and three shopping bags on the other while balancing an umbrella to keep the sun away.
Her curious eyes switched to suspicion when Alex didn’t say anything, “As interesting as it is to see a new face at our house, I would like you to state your business.”
Her voice held no emotion. Initially, people thought Alex was harmless since she was petite but this woman’s hazel eyes had fire in them. They could trap a person on the spot.
Alex gulped, “I—uh, I—uh. I didn’t mean to intrude. I just know that Logan has a fever and, uh, my mom convinced me to come and to offer him soup since it was what friends do according to her.”
That didn’t sound as bad Alex thought it did, right?
She blinked, “You’re friends with Logan?”
Alex took a step back, scratching her head figuratively, “Um, yes. I guess you can call it that.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so!” the woman beamed, “That boy hardly lets anyone come over. I started to think he was a loner. Even Colin is usually asked over by Jae. I’m glad Logan found a friend.”
Her bubbly personality caught Alex off guard. She didn’t doubt that this was her true personality. The fire in her eyes relaxed to a soft glow. They were alive and held so much warmth. She passed by Alex, almost skipping in her steps. She fished out a set of keys from her bag and searched for the lock on the other side of the gate.
“Well, he can be annoying at times though ” Alex found herself saying.
Like she hoped, the woman chuckled, opening the entrance, “I’m sure he is. Please don’t take it personally. It’s part of his charm.”
In spite of herself, Alex smiled, “I’ll try not to.”
She stepped inside and Alex followed her, “I understand. My stepson can be difficult.”
“Madam!” a maid exclaimed in front of them. She looked like she ran a marathon, “You didn’t need to do that. You should have called for us.”
“Oh, pish-posh, Lele” the mistress of the house waved it off, “I can do it by myself. No need to fret but if it matters so much to you, I’d let you do the honors of locking it.”
The maid merely shook her head and started mumbling in Spanish. There weren’t any harsh words, just a bit of grumbling. Even so, Alex could detect the tenderness in her voice… like a big sister.
“Come on, I’ll lead you to the kitchen” the woman grabbed Alex’s arm with her free hand and stirred Alex towards the front door.
“Pardon me but… your stepson? Is that what I heard you say?” Alex confirmed. The conversation between Jae and Logan about their mother came to mind. She knew Logan’s mother was dead so she thought of this possibility.
Since then, she hadn’t thought about it.
“Oh, he didn’t tell you” the woman gasped. Her face morphed into remorse, “I’m sorry. I thought you already knew! I’m his father’s fiancée. Yes, we’re not married yet but I’ve known the boys for a year and a half. I already treat them like my own even though I know I can never be their mother.”
By the way she talked about the boys Alex could tell that she thought of them fondly, “Still, I think they’re lucky to have you in their life.”
Alex received a genuine smile, “Thank you—I’m sorry. What’s your name?”
At this point, they were near the front porch.
“Alex. I’m Alex, Mrs—well, future Mrs. Parker” Alex replied.
A different maid opened the front door and led them inside.
The woman shushed Alex immediately, “Oh, don’t ma’am me, dear. I’m not that old. Call me, Aunt Tim.”
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