“Wow, that’s pretty. But why are we looking at clothes when we have a uniform?” Allison asks, putting down the shirt she picked up.
“Delilah said something about after school clothes and put an envelope in my hand as she left this morning.” I shrug.
“Do you want to pick something out for each of the girls?”
“Really?” She asks, surprised.
“Yes. I don’t need many new clothes. And I’m not a very good shopper. To be quite honest, I’m happy for a couple hours without Finn.”
“I don’t know. I guess it’s just that after not seeing him for so long, it’s a little intense to see him all the time.”
“I can understand that. But is there anything going on between you two?”
I try not to blush.
“Is there anything going on between you two?” I ask back.
“I asked you first.”
“You’re the one who sees him in his natural habitat.”
“What is he, a different species? You’re the one who sees him most of the year.” Allison pauses. “What am I doing? This is not a girl fight. Finn is a brother. That’s why I’m asking."
“For him?” I ask, a little hopeful.
“For me to know what the next two months will be like.”
“Honestly, I don’t know if anything is going on. I haven’t seen him in months. I do like him though.”
“Well, it seems like something is going on.”
“Do you,” I pause and try again. “Do you approve?”
“Approve really, Lizzie? I’m not his mom.” She says adding skirts to our basket. “But yeah, I ‘approve.’ You guys complement each other from what I can tell.”
“That’s good.” I say, smiling. “Do you know Michelle Campbell?”
“Of course. Isn’t she wonderful?”
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met her.”
Allison looks up, surprised.
“Really? You’ve known Finn for years and never met his mom?”
“Yeah. His parents don't visit for long.”
That and I think he keeps them away from us.
“She’s the Latin teacher, right? The one who couldn’t come to dinner?"
“Correct. You’ll meet her at school, then.”
Spirant Iustum: I’m done shopping. Are you ready?
“Finn is asking if we’re ready to go.”
“I got clothes for everyone. Is there anything else you need?”
“No, I’m ready. Let’s go.”
Me: Going to check out now.
Spirant Iustum: Ok, I’ll be at the car.
“I wonder why there’s no one here. Isn’t school shopping supposed to be going on?” I ponder aloud.
“There’s a pause between those who prepare before and those who wait for teachers’ special request.” The cashier answers.
“That makes sense.” I say, smiling at her.
“I’ll have to remember that for college.” Allison says.
The cashier nods and tells me the price. I pay and pick up the bags.
“See you at school Monday, Chloe.” Allison calls.
“Why won’t you see her tonight?” I ask.
“I don’t think she’s living on campus this year. It’s a great experience but given the option five blocks from school is not a bad one.”
“Wait, she’s a tuition student? Why is she working?”
“Yeah she is. Chloe doesn’t have to study long and doesn’t have any extracurricular activities so she decided to work part- time.”
“Oh.” I say simply.
Their school is different from ours. Tuition girls do not work. We don’t mingle either.
----- ----- -----
I sit further up in my seat. It’s my first morning assembly. I can’t seem like I’m disinterested yet.
“I don’t think sitting up is going to help.” A girl whispers to me. “My cousin says all her speeches are boring.”
I turn to the girl. She flashes a smile and turns back to the stage.
After another 15 minutes, I have to say something.
“What is she even talking about?”
“The history of the school.”
“We all know the history. Why else would we want to come here?”
“True. But she’s trying to motivate us to uphold it by telling it in the most boring way possible.”
I laugh and someone shushes us.
We sit in silence until the assembly ends.
“I’m Milly Musgroves, by the way.” She says, offering her hand.
“Well, Miss Gent.” She says, shaking my hand. “I look forward to greatly enriching my education and more importantly my life alongside you.”
“Me too.” I say laughing.
“See you around, Elizabeth.” Milly says, standing up.
I don’t usually like being called Elizabeth but I don’t think I’ll correct her. Maybe if I can get Lindsay to call me Elizabeth, I’ll be her again.
“Uh are we going to change for P.E. Mistr—Lizzie?” Lindsay corrects when I look at her.
“Sure. I can’t believe we forgot the clothes in our dorm.” I say, leading the way.
“Did you make any friends? My section was quiet.”
“I met a Milly Musgroves. She’s the tall brunette up ahead.”
“… charity case?” I hear and immediately slow down.
“No, Milly you weren’t.” Says a girl who looks like Milly.
“Paige told me to watch you but I thought your cousin was exaggerating as usual. You know we're not talking to them.” The first girl says.
“I know, I know. I was just being nice. It’s not like we have anything in common or I really like her. It won’t happen again. Macey, I’m going to class. Come with me or go with Jo. Do what you want.” Milly Musgroves says.
I feel my throat go dry and my eyes begin to sting.
“That door is closer to the dorms.” I say, gesturing vaguely.
Lindsay nods and pulls me over, even though it’s not closer.
----- ----- -----
“Surprise.” Finn says, holding out apply juice.
“Okay… thanks.” Allison says, looking at him confused.
“Don’t mind him. Apple juice is a thing.” I say, putting the bags in the trunk.
“Eliza order apple juice on our first date because she didn’t want to spend all my money.”
“Really?” Allison asks, looking at me.
“No, not really. We went to a café the first day we met. It wasn't a date. But now I habitually surprise her with apple juice.”
“Interesting habit.” Allison whispers.
“Apple juice is the best.” I say, ignoring her.
“Although, the hot chocolate Daniel used to make was amazing.”
“Don’t mention it. I miss Daniel and his creations.”
“You two love the past don’t you?” Allison asks.
“It was a simpler time. Eliza also lives for the future.”
“Whereas, Finn lives in the moment.” I retort.
“It’s what you’ve got with you.”
“You need to plan ahead.”
“But that doesn’t mean you should be focused on the future and miss what is currently happening.”
“Of course but you can’t miss opportunities that will help your future.” I reply.
“I just asked a question.” Allison mutters.
“We’re just joking.” Finn says.
I scowl at him and he smiles back.
----- ----- -----
“I’m walking up to the school now. I should go.”
“Alright. Have a good first day.”
“Have a good afternoon, Lindsay.”
“Be wary of Finn.”
“Bye.” I say rolling my eyes.
I take Jennifer’s hand to the right of me.
“Are you ready?”
“I’m fine, Lizzie. Are you ready?”
“Then, I’ll see you and Finn at lunch.”
“Later, Jenn.” Finn says.
Jenn waves as she goes down a different hallway.
“I’m sorry, Finn.”
“For making you live at home for ten weeks and for taking you away from your friends. There must be a reason you don’t go to this side.”
“Not really. My parents wanted me to live in two places. I would have gone to one of the three but I had various reasons for the one I chose. And you didn’t take me away from my friends. Now I’m with some of my less seen friends.”
“But still you’re going to be the only boy in the school.”
“Yes but I get to be in every class with my best friend who disappeared last year. And I get paid for it.”
“You disappeared last year.”
“I was right there for you to find me.”
“I was the same.”
“Eliza, I presume.” The teacher says.
“Lizzie Gent actually.” Finn says.
Once again, the school year starts with tension.
“Sorry. Finn is protective of that nickname.”
“I understand.” She says, smiling. “Well, since you’re early you can choose your seats first.”
Finn looks at all the seats for a few moments before choosing the second to last against the wall.
“Why these seats?” I whisper.
“They’re away from the window. They’re also not immediately after the door.”
“Okay, that’s thorough.”
“Excuse me, Mrs. Campbell. I didn’t get to--- wait, you’re Finn’s mom.”
“Took you long enough.” Finn says and Mrs. Campbell chuckles.
“Yes I am. I wanted to meet you at the dinner but I was visiting my brother.”
I smile as she sits backwards in the seat in front of me.
“It’s fine. How was your visit?”
“It was wonderful. I got to meet my new niece.”
"Do you have pictures mom?"
“Of course. I’ll show you when you get home. Lizzie, you’ll have to come visit the house soon.”
“Okay. Thank you for the invitation.”
“I have to run to the staff room. I’ll be right back.” Mrs. Campbell says.
“You have a cousin?” I ask, getting out my notebook and pens.
“Yeah. She’s actually my uncle’s second child and my seventh cousin overall.”
“Wow. I had no idea. What have we been talking about all these years?”
“I just avoided talking about family.”
“You can talk about your family. It won’t bother me. I want to know everything about you, Finn.”
He stops organizing and meets my eyes. I feel my face getting hot and try to think of a way to make that statement less meaningful.
“Hi, Chloe. How was your summer?”
“It was fine. I interned at one of my dad’s offices. How was yours?”
“I spent it touring schools and training. Aren’t breaks supposed to be refreshing?”
“They are. But our parents don’t feel that way.” She looks at me. “I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”
“Yeah. At the boutique Friday. My name is Lizzie Gent.”
“Hi, Lizzie. Everyone’s talking about you three. Jennifer’s a sophomore, right?”
“My sister’s in her grade. If she mentions a Lynn, you’ll know she’s been captured.”
“Lynn may be equally captured.” I say, smiling. “It’s nice to meet you, Chloe.”
----- ----- -----
Delilah: Do you have plans this afternoon?
I ask everyone the same question as I put on my shoes.
“I have work.” Olivia says.
“We have a project.” Mandy says. “Doesn’t everyone actually?”
“I have to wait until Chloe finishes class.” Allison says.
Finn and I nod.
“Well, I have to go. See everyone later.” Olivia says.
“We should go home, then.” Jennifer says.
I text Delilah back.
“How was everyone’s first week of classes?” Allison asks.
“It was fine. I wish we didn’t jump right into projects and such though.” Nicole says. “Summer classes just finished.”
The girls agree. Finn stares off.
“Hey.” I say, stepping closer to him. “Why are you so quiet?”
“Sorry.” He says, shaking his head. “I’m just thinking. Your phone’s lit up.”
Delilah: you don’t mind coming home?
“Why has she been trying to get me out of the house every day?” I mutter.
“Delilah or Belle?”
“Delilah. It feels like she doesn’t want me around. I don’t understand why they invited me to stay.”
“They probably want you to have fun, Delilah especially. Have you explicitly told them you enjoy staying home, watching lame movies?”
“No. I suppose I could though. Maybe then they would stop pressuring me to make plans.” I unlock the car and going to the trunk.
“Did you just ignore me?” He asks as the girls get in the car.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You said something about my movies and I just don’t discuss movies with people who aren’t on my level.”
“Well, I apologize for not liking children movies.” He says, patting my head and smiling.
Stop looking. Don’t stare. Continue talking.
“It’s okay. I just feel bad for you.” I say.
“You guys figure out how to drive from the trunk?” Jennifer asks.
I try not to blush as I get in.
I look in the back seat and Jennifer winks at me.
“Did you close the trunk, Finn?” She asks as he gets in.
“Yes. Did you not hear it? She might need her ears checked, Eliza.”
I dig in my purse before he looks at me.
“She had them checked during the summer but maybe the plane ride knocked something out of place.”
“That’s uncalled for you guys.” Jennifer says. “Nicole, are you going to show me the library today?”
Me: Yeah, it’s fine. We’re going to the movies Sunday afternoon.
Delilah: That’s good. Dinner is at 6:30pm. Belle and I will both be there.
“You know the Simm sisters haven’t been at dinner together all week.” I tell Finn.
“I’m surprised they’re eating at home at all. They usually work 12, 13 hour days.”
“That’s crazy. They want me to have fun but when do they take breaks?”
“Well, Delilah wants you to have fun. She had a lot of fun when she was younger. She became more serious around 20.”
“I’m glad she did and the Peyton Empire grew. But my mom always said too much work nullifies the progress.”
“I’ll see you later, Lizzie.” Jenn says opening her door and running into the house.
“I’m sure they’ve heard things like that. I doubt Delilah at least will budge. She just woke up one morning extremely focused. Something changed.”
I wonder what that could have been.
“That’s enough about the sisters. What about the Mr. Simms?”
“They’re nice and respectable. I’ve looked up to them as long as I can remember.”
“That’s it? Really, Finn, that’s all you’re going to give me?”
“Yup. I don’t gossip about my employers. Now are you going to go into the main house or am I still on duty?”
I look around to see we are in the back yard between the main house and his.
“I’m going to take you mother up on her invitation.” I walk toward his house.
“We just got out of school. Is she even here?”
“She has four classes same as us. She said she comes home immediately on Fridays and we delayed today. She should be here.”
Finn stares at me.
“Why do you know my mom’s schedule better than I do?”
“We ran into each other in the ladies room Wednesday. She wanted to make sure I knew when to come by.” I say as I knock on the door.
“I do have a key.”
“Hi, Lizzie.” Mrs. Campbell says, opening the door. “Hello, son.”
“Hello, mom.” Finn says, kissing her on the cheek. “How was work?”
I realize they’ve been speaking Latin and I’ve been translating.
“Excuse us. We should be speaking English.”
“Eliza just noticed. That’s why she was staring.” Finn explains.
“I should have know from your last scores that you could follow the conversation. But we should still speak English.”
“It’s fine. Really.” I say with a start. “I was simply surprised to hear it in every day life.”
“Still. Can I get you anything to drink? Water, coffee, tea?”
“Tea, please.” I say, sitting at the breakfast bar.
“Could I have coffee, mater?”
“Of course, filius.”
Finn drops his bag and glances at me. I need to stop watching him.
“My mom taught me the Latin titles before the English ones.” He tells me.
“I wanted to name him Filius but Timothy said no.”
“I’m very grateful to dad. I’d rather have a fish part than the dead language word for son as a name.”
“Even if people think of fish with your nickname, you know that’s not why we named you Finnegan. ---”
“Mater! Can you at least wait until I’m not in the room?”
“Finnegan?” I ask as he picks up his coffee and bag.
“Yup. I’m going to my room. I'll try to pretend she’s not embarrassing me. It has to happen at some point. I might as well let it.”
“What happened to you being on duty?”
“That ended the moment you stayed on the estate surrounded by guards. Later, Eliza.”
“His first words were finem, mata, and pata.”
“I’m almost there, mater!” Finn calls down the stairs.
“Here’s your tea, Lizzie.”
“Thank you for your hospitality, Mrs. Campbell.”
“Oh, you can call me Michelle, dear. When we’re not at school, of course."
“Alright, Michelle. So Finn’s name is Finnegan?"
This is the person who can tell me the most about the boy I like. I'm sure not planning to talk to Mr. Campbell anytime soon.
“Yes. It’s for my grandfather's name, legends, and the word finem. He was the end or completion of our family. He hates it though."
“I think it’s cool that there’s a family connection and a deeper meaning.”
“Thank you. Would you like to see some pictures?"
Michelle shows me pictures of the family from when Timothy and her started dating until Finn was 14.
“I haven’t had time to put the ones from high school in a book yet.”
It’s beautiful. I remember a lot of pictures as a kid but I don’t take any now. Our dorm should start a photo book.
“How about some videos?”
I nod absentmindedly.
I watch as one-year-old Finnegan calls to his parents in broken Latin.
Spirant Iustum: Have you gotten to the videos yet?
Me: Just started.
Spirant Iustum: Let me know when you’re done. I’ll walk you home.
Is it the job or because he want to?
Spirant Iustum: ;)
“Just breathe?” Michelle asks.
I think about it.
“I don’t mean to pry.” She adds.
“No, you're not prying. It’s simply something my mom used to say. It was the first thing I told Finn about her and he loved the phrase. His phrase for me is strange. It was amicitia, friend but yesterday I saw he changed it. Does amifico benessi mean anything?"
“No. Those aren’t words in Latin. My filius is as interesting as ever.”
I don’t have to wait to take pictures. Jenn and I can start here. I’ll convince Mikalya to do it at home.
----- ----- -----
Jenn finishes her antedote about science class.
“I’m glad you’re both enjoying school.” Delilah says. “How about after school?”
“There’s a lot of homework. Well you were Alden girls too so you know. Since this is our first weekend, we’ll see how much fun we can have. Though, Liz will probably just want to watch movies and read.”
“No fair, Jenn. It’s my fun. Let me have it my way. That said, I want to explore and hang out with the girls. You watch, I’ll party it up.”
Delilah smiles at Belle, who misses it as she is looking down.
“Well since you want to party how about a benefit?” Delilah asks.
“A benefit?” Jenn asks excited.
“Yes. Our foundation is having one next week. We’d like for you be our guests.”
“What’s the minimum age?”
“There’s no minimum. Parents can bring their youngest as long as they are well behaved. And the children too.”
Jenn and Delilah laugh. Corny.
“There should be plenty of young people. I’m sorry we don’t know any young men to escort you.”
“I’d rather go unattached and Lizzie doesn’t need an escort.”
“Finn Campbell will be on duty that night.” Belle says, looking at Delilah.
“Of course. Safety first. Lizzie, would you invite him please?” Delilah asks.
If he's on duty, why do I need to invite him?
Jenn and Delilah start discussing theme, attire, and shops. Belle and I sigh at the same time and then smile at each other.
I guess we’re warming up to each other.