Cara could always expect Chanel to make her laugh. She was a humorous girl, and had a strong ability to word things in a way where they were entertaining, but still real. Even if Cara was rolling her eyes throughout Chanel's comments, her smile was too strong to act like she was anything but amused with Chanel's take on things. "I'm definitely not into ugly guys, thank you very much," she corrected her, flashing her a serious (yet somewhat playful) look, as if it was offensive that it would even be suggested. "I'm not on birth control, so it would be stupid to even risk letting ugly genes into my gene pool." Although she was still half-joking, Cara definitely was not into ugly guys. Just as her standards for everything else in her life were unreasonably high, so were her standards for who she slept with. She didn't sleep around, and she could count the number of guys that she had slept with on one hand, so it wasn't like she had slept with hundreds of model-like men, but the small pool of boys that she had slept with had definitely been attractive. For reasons that probably weren't surprising given her character, she still cringed to an extent when she reflected on how Nick and Roman were two of those guys, but even if they weren't the traditionally expected type of guy that one would imagine her being attracted to, they were definitely still both blessed genetically. Social status and reputation wise, they were Jake from State Farm level, but appearance wise they weren't average, so it was still consistent with her "type" in regards to that. She would never admit though, that it was whatever type that the two of them were aesthetically-speaking, that was becoming more and more appealing to her over the Bartholomews.
Even if someone like Chanel, who had professed her attraction for Nick one hundred times, would be the last to judge, Cara was still too caught up in her image and what she felt was expected of her to be open to anyone, including Chanel, about that, or about her odd relationship with Roman. "New Year's," she admitted, though she certainly wasn't going to be honest about with who. "But New Year's doesn't count." Not going home with someone on New Year's seemed like something that would fall into the minority over the majority. "I don't know why it's impossible to find someone who has a good job, is ambitious, attractive, sweet, taller than I am, and normal. I don't even feel like I'm being picky because it's like yeah I have options, but so does everyone else, but why is it that all of my options have like three or four out of the six of my very reasonable requests, but not all--?" Cara ended her sentence abruptly, midway through, because a surprising text popped up on her phone. Seeing Roman's name instantly had her tilting her phone towards herself just a bit more. She didn't think that Chanel would even try to look at her screen, but it was a subconscious move nonetheless. When she saw that the content of his message was innocent, at least in terms of being related to something that made the extent of their friendship seem normal, she relaxed... even if that probably shouldn't have been her reaction, given its content. At the moment though, Cara really was trying to stick by her thought that Holly wasn't her responsibility. It was a reflection of her character for sure, but part of her even wanted to smirk at the message, because it validated her ongoing thought that Makayla was unfit and maybe even lazy when it came to caring for Holly.
"As if my mood for today wasn't already shot, Roman just texted me," she said, her tone suggesting that receiving a mere text from him was a drag. Her phone started ringing, something she expected given the content of his message, but she didn't answer right away. "He claims to have found Holly on the other side of the city or something. I don't even know. I've alleviated myself from any guilt regarding the way that she's being raised, so this is all you," she said, handing Chanel her phone. She was still speaking in the same tone as their natural conversation again, and wasn't trying to be particularly offensive regarding Makayla, but then again, Cara often spoke without fully taking into account how her words would be perceived by others.
Holly was barely paying attention as Roman reluctantly called Cara, but being handed the phone perked her attention back up. She smiled, half considering hanging up the call and using this as an opportunity to show Roman and Nick a funny video of a dog and a baby playing together. When Roman said something about telling Makayla about how she was being a brat, she frowned though. "And if you do that, I'll have to kill you," Holly responded with certainty, though she followed the statement up with an oddly placed bout of laughter after it. She was definitely a... unique individual, and it was pretty much impossible to guess what would come out of her mouth at any given moment. Even if she had sent a sassy remark back at him, Roman's comment had reminded her that she did need to get home. Brooklyn wasn't going to help her, which was unfortunate, so Cara was her last hope, because she still didn't want to tell the boys that she was lost. She didn't want to seem stupid, and besides that, she didn't enjoy the boys enough to want to go back home with them. Bringing Cara and Brooklyn into the picture brought in the added benefit of getting to hang out with one of them. It had probably been months by now that she had hung out with Cara and Holly was well aware of that. Makayla's constant reasoning that the girl was probably busy was getting old, and given that Cara was the first person in her life that had treated Holly as an actual friend and not a burden or an imbecile, so she missed her. It wasn't even the shopping trips, or dinners at restaurants that she missed - it was the companionship.
Pressing the phone to her ear, she didn't know look to see if someone had rejected the call or answered it, but she couldn't hear ringing anymore, so she started speaking anyway. "Hi Cara, it's me! Roman and Nick want me to eat with them but I would like you to come here because I don't like meatballs or eating dinner this early in the day! And don't tell Makayla you're coming! Roman said he was going to kill her if we invited her!" she said, surprisingly stopping there. Knowing Holly, it wouldn't have been even remotely surprising if she hadn't even given the person on the other end of the line a moment to interject until at least two minutes of her own rambling.
"Uh," Chanel uttered as the phone was passed to her, still in the midst of trying to digest what Cara just said to her. Because so, she almost missed what Holly said when she began talking, but even catching every single word, it didn't help much with her comprehension of what was going on. In fact, Holly just left her all the more confused. She wasn't sure how Holly could possibly be on the other side of the city, let alone with Roman of all people. But Cara had said that it had been Roman who texted her, and she didn't think the guy lived that boring a life to just randomly make that up out of nowhere. And add onto the fact that Holly just mentioned him, it seemed like things were aligning with what Cara just stated, but Chanel wasn't entirely convinced that was such a good thing. She glanced at Cara again, pulling the phone away from her ear as if she was about to whisper something important, but instead she remained silent and just observed Cara's nonchalance, a bit of confusion washing over her once again because...wasn't this...a bad thing? Shouldn't they all be collectively freaking out and asking a lot of questions? She saw that Cara was still upset with the girls, and Holly never really gave her much trouble, but this didn't really feel like her jurisdiction, at least not in a way that she felt comfortable in. From her understanding, Holly knew Cara a lot better than she did, and vice versa. The only thing that came to mind for Chanel was to call Makayla, though according to Holly, that was off the table. Though Holly obviously wasn't either of their actual responsibility, she wondered if this was such a normal thing to happen and that that was the reason was Cara wasn't phased. If Cara was dealing with this all the time, she could kind of cut the girl some slack for abdicating mom duty. Chanel didn't think any less of Makayla, though. She wasn't sure of the entire situation, but it did bring to mind the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Or in this instance, the entire fifth floor.
With a soft, albeit nervous chuckle, she put the phone back to her ear and cheerfully responded. "Heyyyy, Holly girl. It's Chanel." In a strange turn of events, Chanel was actually at a lost for words. She muted the speaker on her phone and turned to Cara, a snarl on her face. "You do realize you just did the equivalent of giving an average civilian the duty's of a hostage negotiator, right? I just want you to know that." Taking the speaker off mute, she put Holly on speaker. "Holly, girl, what's going on? You said you're with Roman and Nick? That's...new. How did that happen, like, where are you? Are they with you right now?Makayla's not with you?" Placing the speaker on mute one more time, she turned to Cara, shouldering the entrance door open and holding it there for Cara to walk through. "I'm just letting you know that you're on call too, because if she starts crying or something, you're on duty. Will you at least text Makayla or something? God knows those idiots probably didn't if they're calling you. Oh my god. Or maybe that's why they're calling you. Cara, freak out. Whythehellaren'tyoufreakingout?"
Holly's face lit up with enthusiasm when she heard that the voice on the other end of the line wasn't Cara's, but was Chanel's instead. She would have been happy to hear Cara too, but it was the surprising aspect of hearing Chanel that made her voice sound even more exciting. Even though she lived in the same apartment as Chanel, it wasn't like they hung out on a daily basis. She probably did cross paths with the girl typically once a day, but Makayla was very particular about not letting Holly be too overbearing with their roommates. Even Ruby, who was still fairly new in the apartment, and in turn, who Holly was still overly fascinated with, hadn't been exposed too heavily to Holly's ability to be annoying. Even if she was probably well aware now of how different Holly was, when it came to the people they lived with, Makayla made a major point with Holly that she wasn't allowed to pester them. Holly was convinced by now that if she did, she was going to wake up one day to find their bedrooms vacant and never hear from them again because as Makayla warned, she would scare them into finding new roommates. "Yes, I'm with Nick and Roman! And you're with Cara!" she confirmed with a laugh. "We should switch places!" She definitely would have preferred being with one or both of the girls, than being with the boys.
"I was walking home from school -- well, I was walking to the subway but then Roman invited me to eat meatballs with him and Nick and I wasn't going to be rude and say no, Chanel!" she explained with another laugh. Even Holly wasn't delusional enough to truly believe that that was the truth, but she often found it to be amusing to spin the truth in ways that sounded better for her. She didn't think of it as lying. It was more like joking to her, because it wasn't that serious, even if at times like now, the true truth would have been preferable. "And now I'm not sure how to get back to the subway because Makayla only showed me how to get there from my school, but we can't call her because she's cleaning people's teeth! I told her that on Halloween she should be Hermey. Do you know who that is? He was the little elf in Rudolph that wanted to be a dentist but he couldn't because he was on the island for all of the misfit toys. She could be Makayla the misfit midget elf on the island of people who want to be dentists!" With the way that every sentence ended in her laughing at her own remarks, it would appear as if Holly had entirely forgotten about how bothered she was just a few minutes ago by the comments from her schoolmates. Even if it would probably bother her later when something reminded her of school, for now, she had admittedly forgotten about it in the midst of these new advancements.
"I honestly don't even have her number." Technically, Makayla's phone number was stored somewhere in her phone, but she had blocked it because she didn't want to see any texts to remind her from the guilt she would feel from not answering them. It all kind of contradicted itself, but Cara wanted to be absolved of any guilt from not helping out with Holly. It wasn't because she disliked Holly or felt burdened for it. She just felt taken advantage of. The Disney thing had definitely been the event that set her off, and truthfully, Makayla had always been extremely grateful towards her for what she did for Holly, but Cara didn't want to acknowledge that. She didn't want Makayla to get down on her knees and beg for forgiveness, but at the same time, she felt like she had been disrespected and taken for granted. It was immature and ignorant, but she couldn't help but to think that if Makayla apparently always had money to buy drugs, and time to smoke them, then she had the money and time to better invest in Holly. Again, to some extent, Cara was aware that Makayla wasn't Holly's mother, that she deserved some sort of relief and time to herself too, especially when everyone knew that Makayla really centered her entire life around Holly, but it wasn't something she wanted to consider now. She couldn't just be a good person and let that go. It was part of her personality complex, really, and it was something that she genuinely was struggling with.
On one hand, she truly loved Holly. She was probably one of her most true and loved friends, because she, without a doubt, was the most lovable human that Cara had ever met. And Cara really and truly enjoyed spending time with her. On the other hand, Cara had been raised in a family where poor people weren't viewed as people who deserved to be treated with empathy and compassion, or even pity. They were leeches on society. People who popped out kids just to exploit welfare, or people who didn't go to school just to get food stamps. There was no leeway, no considering individual circumstances or the impact of the cycle of poverty and other social injustices could have on an individual, family, or even community. Additionally, there was no taking into account how being born into wealth was literally 100% luck. Though her father had worked for most of the wealth he had accumulated now, he hadn't been born poor by any means, and the majority of the upper class that shared these same feelings as her hadn't been poor either. They ended up where they were because they had been dealt good cards at birth. Nothing more and nothing less. Just as easily, or perhaps, statistically speaking, even more easily, Cara and the rest of the 1% could have been born into a situation just like Makayla, where the cards were always stacked against them. People like Cara, of course, assumed that if they were in those shoes, things wouldn't be so difficult. They would work hard, go to school, and live the American dream to make it to the top, as if it was that busy. Even if it was a delusional way of thinking, it was a mindset that could only be expected by someone who was raised to believe that that was exactly how things worked. In truth, Cara had never known anyone who wasn't wealthy on a friend level before moving into this building. She had known some upper middle class people through school, but never anyone even in a remotely similar situation to Makayla and Holly, so it kind of made sense that she remained in the mindset that what she had been taught was true. She didn't have enough of her own experience to believe any differently, and catching Makayla smoking on that Disney trip had solidified her thoughts on the matter.
She smirked as Chanel turned the speaker on and off, but she had managed to convince herself that she had no reason to freak out. For one, she knew that Roman wasn't stupid enough to lose Holly twice. Secondly, for some reason, she felt like Nick was more capable of taking care of a child than Roman, so she figured that him being there reduced that risk even more. Lastly, it wasn't her problem. That was the hardest one to convince herself of, because again, she did truly care about Holly, but she reminded herself that she needed to stop feeling like this was her responsibility. She didn't owe anyone anything, and secretly, every time that Makayla messed up (as Cara felt like she was doing now), it justified her beliefs that she was all the more responsible than Makayla was. Even if she had convinced herself not to feel worried, she couldn't keep her expression from turning into one of bewilderment and amusement as Holly spoke. "She's too much," she said, shaking her head with a smile, though she proceeded to look at Chanel with an expression that read something along the lines of "what in the fucking world is she saying?!". "Just tell her that we'll call her an Uber to take her home and to give the phone to Roman. I'll get the address from him. Do you really not have to deal with this kind of stuff like twenty times a day, living with her?" she questioned, knowing that the speaker on the phone was still on mute, as she hoped that Chanel would confirm that Makayla was neglectful regularly, too. "Ruby can't act like I didn't warn her."
Well, Holly certainly wasn't in any real danger. It was evident before, but the unexpected nature of the situation thrust onto her all of a sudden was enough to trigger a splurge of panic. Upon hearing Holly's archetypal rambling, she was able to calm down a lot more. There was obvious holes in her story, but despite that, the general theme that she was somewhere with Roman, and had apparently gotten lost (explaining why she was so far away from the apartment) aligned with everything she was told. Chanel herself wasn't able to withhold a humored smirk, even if it was coupled with a sigh of relief, though that quickly evaporated. Perhaps it made a lot more sense that Chanel had a lot more patience, and less of an incentive to criminalize Makayla in instances like this because, well, there weren't really instances like this that she ever dealt with. With the way Cara was reacting, it made it seem like this was normal to her, which in turn made it a lot easier on Chanel's part to see things from Cara's point of view, even if Chanel's perception was incorrect. Nevertheless, her lips did tighten a bit when she was reminded of the things she apparently said to Ruby the previous month. "Yeah, it was really fun meeting someone for the first time and having to explain to them that we weren't a bunch of psychos abusing and neglecting Holly in some sort of trap house. So thanks for that."
Chanel was very rarely, if ever, sharp with Cara in a serious manner, even if she had good reason to be a lot of the times. Because of what was happening now, she wanted to believe this couldn't possible still be over Disney, because even she had forgotten about everything, though of course it was a lot easier for Chanel to do so. Had she known that this still stemmed from that, and wasn't it's own separation problem, then she would have been all the way frustrated. Not simply because she disagreed with Cara's approach, but because she felt guilty too. Chanel was still couth enough to not end her sentence by saying something along the lines of it being Cara's own brother who was supplying Makayla with drugs, even if that would have been a severe stretch because it was really just that one time several weeks ago. The entire point would have been to emphasize that Makayla and Holly, the people who were the most susceptible to it, were the ones who were getting the brunt force of what had happened. Collin was her brother, and Chanel wasn't dependent on Cara's companionship. She was no one's care provider and didn't depend on Cara for anything outside of a typical friendship, of which Makayla's relationship with the girl was not that. It wasn't typical, nor was it really a friendship. She took the phone off mute, pulling the bottom of it closer to her mouth. "Makayla could be that, couldn't she?" Chanel echoed with a sweet laugh. "Hol, can I talk to Roman for a second? I'll tell him to give the phone right back."
As if on cue, she heard Roman in the background grumbling about something. She faintly heard him say something along the lines of 'Who are you talking to?' before there was shuffling on the other line until Roman's voice was clear. "Hello?" he said, sounding as cheerful as he usually did. "Hey, Roman, buddy. It's Chanel," Chanel said, trying to overcompensate for the apparent frustration in his voice. She typically didn't care about Roman's moods, but because she still felt like she was in an awkward spot from last time, and because she was certain that Roman would just leave Holly, she felt an even stronger need to play nice. She secretly wished it had been Nick who had called since he would have been a lot preferable to deal with. "Great," Roman said, not trying to conceal the disgust in his voice. "It's just my lucky day today, isn't it?"
Chanel exchanged a look with Cara, her lip upturned as if to say 'What the actual fuck?' "Okaay, so could you share your location? Cara's going to send an Uber to grab Holly and bring her back here to the apartment. That way you can finish your meatball and hopefully be in a better mood." Roman scoffed on the other line, though instead of sounding irritated, he sounded a bit more humored, but she could still hear the eye roll on the other line. "You idiots seriously think she won't hop out of a car as soon as she sees a candy store or a cute dog?"
"Is Makayla even at her place?"
"Er...no. She is...not at her..."
"Are you at your place?"
"Well, we're not inside because we were headed out, but--"
"So your plan was to put her in a car and hopefully she ends up there with all ten fingers so she can burn the entire fifth floor down while neither you nor her sister are there. Great idea. I can tell you two thought long and hard on that one. Especially you, Cara."
"Hey, Roman. Why don't yooou send us your location," Chanel said, trying hard to sound nice and not show him her other side for being so rude. Like Roman, she had no idea if Holly had a key on her. She assumed she did but it wasn't like she had ever really checked or anything. In reality, she knew very little of the girls' lives. Unlike Roman, however, she didn't know that he was even more hesitant to let Holly take an Uber back because of what had happened last month. She didn't understand his specifically calling Cara out, and would have had no basis to assume that it was his basically saying that since she was present during the situation, she should have been just as cautious herself. "And we'll just wait here for Holly to get back, okay?"
The other line was quiet for a while, long enough that Chanel almost checked to see if he hung up, but she still heard the noise in the background. The sounds on the other end were muffled, as if the phone was pressed to his shirt, but she was able to make out him talking to someone, more than likely Holly given his tone, saying something like 'Pick something out.' The next second, he was clear again. "You can come get her here. It seems she has a higher chance of not ending up in a ditch somewhere if she stays with us, since you two don't seem the most capable at the moment. See you when you get here."
Even if Cara felt certain ways towards Roman that she showed in private, the way that she had publicly treated him since the start of their interactions was like second nature to her, and it came to surface all too quickly when she heard his voice and what he was saying. Her eyes must've rolled to the back of her head ten times by the time that he had finished speaking through the phone, and when he declared that he wasn't going to send Holly to them, and that they had to come get her, she was tempted to tell him that that was fine, but he would be sitting with her there all night then, because they were going to show up. She didn't want to bicker with him over the phone though, because for once, she knew that it was a battle that wasn't worth picking. She did pluck the phone out of Chanel's hand though, and end the call immediately. Chanel was too nice. It baffled Cara that she could manage to somehow still be nice to Roman, of all people, especially when he was being his ass-like self very clearly to them. She understood that Chanel's personality was quite different than hers, and to an extent, she envied how the girl was able to maintain such a cool and collected composure (at least enough to save face, since Chanel had flashed her a look of annoyance too). Cara definitely didn't have a bone like that in her body. When she was annoyed, or angry, or disgusted with someone, that person, as well as everyone in the immediate vicinity, was going to know it.
"I really do not want to go to the other side of town, Chanel. Do you really need good karma that badly that you think this is necessary? I love Holly but like, this is kind of not our problem." And Cara was right. It wasn't their problem. Holly wasn't their responsibility. By many people's standards, it was their responsibility as productive members of society to be good people, though. If taking twenty or thirty minutes out of their day to ensure that Holly got home safely put them behind a bit in their schedule, or felt like a dreadful errand, then that was a minor price to pay for the amount of good it would likely do Holly, Roman, and Makayla. At this point, it was more like common courtesy than doing a good deed, but Cara still wanted to act like this was really pushing the limits of what could be required of them. She considered responding to Chanel's comment from earlier about what had been said to Ruby, to put it on the record that she hadn't said anything bad about Chanel, but she opted against returning tot hat. "If anything, I think I should just tell Collin to go get her, or we'll tell Makayla to text Roman herself. You are on a schedule, aren't you?" she added, hoping that reminding Chanel of the errands and her mysterious evening plans would force her to be more selfish.
"Um, first of all," Chanel said, pointing her finger up towards the sky. While she was being serious, her tone was still light. "That's not how karma works. You can't behave with malicious intent and think the universe won't notice that shit. Karma is attracted to energy, not just action, and right now, there's a lot of bad vibrations in the air and therefore it's really fucking with my karma, so yes, Cara, I do need some good karma because I need some good energy in my life." Chanel definitely wasn't as passionate about karma and the workings of cosmic energy as her response might have seen. She didn't have birth chart memorized nor was she visiting lapidary stores every weekend to buy special crystals for manifestation rituals. Discussions of spirituality were far more common now than it was five years ago, evident in the prominent discussions about toxic people and protecting your energy. Just a couple of years ago, that was completely off the radar and would have been seen as weird, but it had become trendy, and Chanel had become intrigued. It wasn't enough to where she had invested herself into; if anything, it was more like a to-do item that she needed to cross off because she was interested in it. But she really only knew what she knew from talkings on social media and some late night curious Google searches, not from actually really texts on cosmic energy or the sort. Even still, that wasn't why Chanel wanted to go get Holly. Well, she didn't want to, but she didn't feel as comfortable as Cara with just leaving this on the table. Unlike her, Chanel actually did have to see Makayla and Holly on a regular basis because they lived together. She couldn't just write them off, and to her, it still seemed pretty wrong to just say it wasn't her responsibility. Chanel wasn't one too be all high and mighty, as she could be quite petty herself, but that was simply where she and Cara differed. She liked to believe this was just Cara's stubbornness talking and that the girl wasn't actually so morally eroded.
"Yeah, and you're not, all the more reason you should go, especially because I am," Chanel said, referring to being on a schedule. "I mean, you know how it is. It's like work. You have a schedule and sometimes things change," she said, knowing good and well that Chanel would in fact not know. "It's just groceries anyways, not a job interview. I'll be back before the evening, so it's really not that bad. Plus, I can just bring Holly to the store with me. I mean, it's no more Collin's responsibility than it is ours, but now it's our problem. A lost kid at the park isn't my responsibility either, but I'm not going to just shrug my shoulders and walk away." Chanel wasn't going to stand around in the cold trying to convince Cara on principle. She could, but today it was pretty self-explanatory, and at best, this was just an annoying inconvenience. But as much as she hated to, she did see Roman's point. Even if Holly did catch an Uber back, they still couldn't go on about their day because she would again be by herself. She wasn't at sure where Makayla was involved in this, so she just assumed that Holly wasn't supposed to be by herself at all, which was why it didn't seem to matter what they did. Holly would have to end up with them one way or another. "We'd have to wait for her here anyways, but if you don't want to go, then just send me the address Roman sends you. I know she's going to ask about you, so I'll just tell her you had to do something. But you know when you love people, you make sacrifices for them. Holly likes you a lot more than me and I swear to god she's probably been writing ballads about you because she misses you," Chanel said with a chuckle despite the fact that she was trying to prove a point. "And so I'm sure it would make her day to see her best blonde friend," Chanel said with a theatrical tone for emphasizes before finally slumping her shoulders with a loud, defeating sigh. "But I guess this is the cruel world we live in and Holly was going to have to grow up one day or another. I just hate having to be the one who gives the first blow." She dabbed under her eyes with an imaginary cloth. "Winter's still so young and yet it's already attacked your heart, Cara." She had every intention to continue her Shakespearean antics before she heard Cara's phone go off. "Is that Roman?" she asked as she pulled up her own Uber app and waved her phone. "Soo...?"
Cara rolled her eyes. She had every intention of staying there (or more literally, going back inside) just to prove a point, but she considered Chanel to be enough of a friend that the point didn't need to be made at this very moment. She would be a good person, because now she had decided that she was going to treat instances like this as doing Makayla and Holly a favor, rather than just doing it because that was what friends do, as she had formally felt. She had no where else to be, she knew that if she went back upstairs she would probably find it fitting to start a fight with Collin about something unnecessary, and in a way that was only minimally self-absorbed, she knew that Chanel probably was right and Holly would enjoy seeing her. "84 Stanton Street," she said in a half-playful begrudging tone as she followed Chanel to the curb, where their Uber would hopefully meet them momentarily.
I hope you have that same attitude next time you see Makayla in the hallway because it's her who just ruined all of our afternoons. Don't act like I'm not doing you a major favor rn.
Her text to Roman mirrored her typically snippy attitude towards him, but she also felt like her words were sincere in that they were doing him a major favor. Really, as she had tried to convince Chanel of, this was not their problem. It wasn't their problem any more than it was Roman's, at least. Maybe technically, based on the relationships forged, the standards that had been set, and expectations based off of that and their characters, it was more expected for her and Chanel to take care of something like this over him, but Cara didn't think she needed to. Had Roman called her and she hadn't been with Chanel, as poor of a reflection of her character as it would be, she absolutely would not have went.
"Can you literally imagine thinking it would be appropriate to let that child walk home from school by herself? I mean, seriously - what kind of drugs would you need to be on to think that's even remotely a good idea?" Cara ranted aloud. She obviously already wasn't a fan of Makayla recently, but today in particular she also wasn't in the best of moods, so nothing was working in favor of this situation at the moment. She had pent up anger about her stepmother's birthday celebration that Collin wasn't having her back about, and this was the easiest situation to project that frustration into. "Care.com exists for a reason. Maybe someone should let her know about that."
Thankfully, it didn't take too long for the Uber to arrive. While Chanel understood that it wasn't necessarily her or Cara's duty to look after Holly, it was still the responsible thing to do. That didn't make it any more enjoyable though, so if it had turned out that they had to wait around for ten minutes, or something else unfortunate happened, it would have been a lot more difficult to be chipper about the situation. As she expected, it wasn't totally out of the way, just a little over a fifteen minute drive before they were there. Even still, it was out of the ways from which she would expect Holly to be. Chanel wasn't at all considering that Holly went to school in the area. While she didn't have any reason to know the New York City public school system and its locations, she assumed that Holly's school might have been closer, and that Holly was more lost than she actually was. Right now, she just assumed that Holly had gone opposite the direction she was meant, effectively getting further from the apartment. She didn't realize that she was still in good proximity to her school. Chanel was just thankful that she had coincidentally run into the two boys because there was no telling where she would have wound up.
In reality, they weren't that far away from the apartment, but for Holly, it did seem like a stretch for her to take on her own. She hadn't assumed that Makayla would entrust that responsibility to her, and given the present situation, it only rectified her assumption. On the way to get her sister, she texted the girl letting her know that that was happening, and forwarded the location to Makayla as well. She let the girl know that she would text her when they got back if not already. Chanel didn't feel close enough to Makayla to openly chastise the girl, and her lack of personal connection to the girl allowed her to be more patient in trying to understand what was happening.
"Thank you," she said to the driver as she slipped out of the warmth of the car and into the cold. Chanel checked her phone to look at the time, seeing that it was still before four. A little ping of anxiety hit her stomach, since she needed to be there by six, which was an obnoxiously early time by her standards, but even more now that it seemed like she was going to have to rush a little bit. It didn't take much looking, as the three were seated right by the window. She followed a younger woman through the door and headed towards the group, wrapping one of her arms around the back of Holly's shoulders as she embraced her in a quick hug. "Hey guys," she said, rubbing her hands together in an attempt to thaw them. "We heard there was a bit of party going on."
Even if it felt like a major nuisance, getting to where Holly was really wasn't that much of a hassle. Like Chanel, Cara was silently wondering how Holly could have ended up this far though. Even if distance wise, it wasn't that far, Manhattan was a small island, so Cara thought of the proximity of things relative to that. Since she knew that Holly went to public school, she assumed that it would have been closer. Though Cara was a New Yorker, born and raised, she had never been a part of the public school system, so she had no idea how the zoning worked. She was unaware that there were even public schools that you had to apply and be intelligent enough to get into. Cara had never been asked to pick Holly up from school, so she didn't know the details on this situation at all, but the thought that she could get over here on her own made her think of Makayla as being even more incompetent. Holly truly was lucky to have run into the boys. She could have ended up anywhere, and even if Holly was probably the perfect example of the type of child that kidnappers would toss out of their van for being too annoying and not worth it, the world was obviously more dangerous than silly sayings like that. Holly was a pretty girl; probably the ideal prey for the many predators that roamed the world, given how she seemed to blindly trust everyone.
When they got inside the little restaurant, she had half a mind to make some remark about how random of a place it was to be eating at. A place that only sold meatballs (as far as she could tell)...? Really? The two of those boys were weird enough that it probably made sense somehow, though, and Cara was sure that their high selves would have eaten anything. She had no doubt in her mind that they had probably just come back from making some sketchy drug deal and this was the first restaurant they passed. Considering that she still felt like Holly was lucky to have found them spoke to how bad the situation was in itself. "Shocked yet grateful that you managed to actually hold on to her this time," she said to Roman, her typical holier-than-thou attitude present in her voice, though there was a hint of something... else... in the way that a smile tugged at the corner of her lip, no matter how hard she tried to fight it. Nick wasn't getting any acknowledgement from her. She had been lucky enough in avoiding him mostly since he had moved back in, and she wasn't even dipping her feet back into that pool. Their hookup had been a one time thing, and she was over it. She pulled out her phone, calling an Uber to the Trader Joe's by their house, since she had thought Chanel had mentioned that as being where she originally had wanted to go. If it happened that the plan was to drop Holly off at the apartment first, it was only five minutes out of the way, and Cara certainly had no problem in demanding that the driver divert to there instead. The car was three minutes away, but given her relationship with both of the boys, she didn't think there was any need to linger. Maybe it was rude, and maybe they deserved more of a thanks, but they definitely were not going to get that from her. "I'd like to know why in the world your sister isn't with you," she said, placing an arm around Holly's shoulder as she made it official that they were done there by starting back towards the door. "She let you walk home from school alone? What would have happened if you hadn't come across the boys, Holly? Chanel and I have things we need to do. What if we couldn't have come to get you?" Cara didn't like playing bad cop, mostly because that wasn't her role in Holly's life. They were literally just friends, and even if Cara was a role model to the younger girl, it never came with the responsibilities of being the one to teach her right from wrong. Cara indulged in Holly, possibly more than she should have, but only ever with good intentions. It felt strange to be borderline-lecturing her, but it was coming partially out of genuine concern, too.
For the average person, spending twenty minutes inside of a small restaurant without a seat, and without a meal in front of you while the others sat and ate, probably would have seemed awkward and unwelcoming. Any sensations related to and including those went entirely over Holly's head. The time flew by for her as she talked, and talked, and talked. It probably helped that she was a picky eater, so even if the food that the boys ate smelled good, Holly didn't want to try it, and didn't complain about not having her own. She busied herself with explaining her day to the boys, pulling out a flyer from her backpack and telling them about a school dance that was being held for Valentine's Day, and then somehow ending up in a passionate one-sided conversation about what the best type of candy was. To her, it seemed like only a few minutes had passed since she had given the phone over to Roman after speaking with Chanel and Cara. Even if she would have quite happily continued to converse with the boys (or probably more technically, with herself) for at least another hour, she was happy to see the girls as well. Few people could say that they had friends as pretty as Cara and Chanel, and "friends" was exactly what Holly thought of them as being.
"We would need Brooklyn to be here if it was going to be a real party!" Holly said with a laugh, missing Cara's comment to Roman about holding on to her in the process. Holly's mini-obsession with Brooklyn was odd given how Brooklyn was frequently abrasive towards her, but it was still an obsession that was going strong nonetheless. She was surprised that the girls didn't want to stay longer. One second they were arriving, and the next, Cara was leading her out. Holly had no real reason to stay, even if she had enjoyed talking to the boys/to herself, so she didn't resist leaving. After all, she had wanted to hang out with them over the boys in the first place. She was displeased, though, when almost immediately, Cara seemed to express her annoyance and confusion about the situation. Holly didn't want to admit that she hadn't followed Makayla's instructions and had gotten lost. She didn't want to sound stupid and incompetent, and she didn't want the girls to think that they needed to alert Makayla to this and get her in trouble. She also didn't want to think about what would have happened if she hadn't come across the boys. Even if it seemed like Holly didn't know how horrible of a place the world could be, she did. She knew very well, from first hand experiences. In fact, she probably knew about it in a more vivid sense than Cara and Chanel did. It was something she didn't think about, though. Not when she could help it. Thinking about that and what had happened to her as a child made her feel sick to her stomach. It made her want to crawl out of her skin, or drench it in bleach to maybe somehow get rid of that... that feeling. That dirty, disgusting, helpless and painful feeling. In a sense, she was probably more numb to just how vile her upbringing had been, because it was all she ever knew. The things that happened to her weren't rare enough, dispersed moments of hell in an otherwise pleasant childhood. Her entire childhood was what the normal person would have described as one of despair, neglect, and abuse. She had been failed by not only her mother and her non-existent father, but by the system as a whole. Very little had went "right" in Holly's life, and even if it had resulted in her not being all there in the head, she was doing well given the cards she had been dealt.
She looked at Cara for a long few seconds, as if she was trying to come up with a response. She wasn't really, though. The questions repeated themselves a few times in her head, but she wasn't trying to come up with an answer, but she didn't want to put any thoughts into those questions. She wanted to talk about other things. Happier things. Things without the negative connotations of the "what-ifs". After those long seconds, she opted to turn her head back towards Chanel, as they reached the curb outside. "Did you know that Valentine's Day is coming up?" she asked excitedly, acting as if Cara hadn't just said a word.
While Chanel didn't really expect that they would stand around and chat with the guys cordially, she was still mildly surprised on her quick they had left. If she knew that, they probably could have just told the Uber to wait momentarily. There was also a chance that Chanel was slightly disappointed because she didn't get a chance to capitalize off of Nick's presence, but she did admire him while she could. Though it was hard to do that since she was trying really hard not to cut a sour look towards Roman for being so damned rude earlier. Why was someone nice as Nick hanging out with someone like Roman? As the girls headed back towards the door, she offered a sweet apologetic smile and a quick wave. "Orrrr I guess the party's over," she said with a chuckle. "Thanks, you guys. Sorry for interrupting your meal. Twice." Without much surprise, Holly looked completely normal. Pleasant as always. While Chanel knew the girl was in no real harm since she was with the guys, and since Roman had suddenly gotten oddly protective out of nowhere, and she sounded fine on the phone, it was still reassuring to see her in person and actually have her with her. While Chanel was pleased to see that Holly was still happy and peppy Holly, it did chip at her heart just a little bit, thinking how innocent she was. She hated that she lived in a world where she had to worry and be thankful that she ran into the right pair of men. It went without saying that no one deserved abuse of any sort, but it was obviously especially more frightening when it came to people you knew and loved. Chanel considered Holly a friend, but perhaps not in the same way that Holly and Cara considered each other friends. Chanel's relationship with Holly was still relatively superficial and polite, although it didn't take long to feel like the social boundaries were down once you were with Holly. The timid politeness quickly went away due to the girl's friendly manner. That was mostly why she was pleased that Cara took the reign in very mildly scolding Holly. She would have felt weird doing it herself, although she likely would have ended up doing it anyways. Cara wasn't being rude to the girl either, so it didn't even seem like something she was totally being relieved of.
Chanel was never the mom of the group, not only because she was never very responsible, but because she simply wasn't maternal. Nowadays, that side of her was more prevalent and even characteristic of her composition. Still, though, what people here saw was just a snippet of her entire life. So even if she had evolved a lot since moving to the city and having to behave nicely was less like behaving and more like just being, Chanel was looking at it from an entirely different perspective. She was looking at it from the inside, as her best critic, and with the most comprehensive knowledge of herself. She saw a couple of years of being nice compared to almost two decades of the very opposite. While her zipping up Holly's coat was probably pretty Chanel-ish, for Chanel, it was still more maternal that she typically was. She would usually just simply remind Holly to zip it up, but because she had been so panicked twenty minutes ago and now everything had finally settled, she was still reveling in it. She winked at Cara when Holly completely ignored her. She figured Cara wouldn't take it personally because it wasn't that serious, but Chanel also was in a very mom-like mood so she enjoyed having Holly's attention on her. Not as extreme as Cara, or at least not stemming from the same causes, Chanel also desired to feel needed and like she was caring for something. It wasn't so much for the sense of having purpose than it was to feel that validation and to feel as though she was making up for past mistakes. She was still very hands off about that part of her healing, though. She did consider it still with Holly, but he had never been that deep. Holly had given her a bit of a scare today which was why she was feeling especially nurturing and even more like she needed to overcompensate. Just like with her brother, it was an unsuspecting phone call and she was on the spot. Obviously, not as severe, but Chanel was thrown for a big enough loop quick enough to just go into extreme mode. So now she was going to go into extreme nice mode because that's what Holly deserved. "Wow, it is, isn't? I can't believe it's already coming up that fast. Is your school doing anything fun?" she said, taking the girls between her palms as though she was going to warm them up once a gust of wind blew by. "Woo girl! You've been walking around in this cold, like this?!" Chanel said, wiggling dramatically as if to shake the cold out of her bones. She bounced on her tip toes. "I would have frozen to death!"
"My school isn't that far!" Holly explained. She looked down the street in both directions as she pondered which way she had come from. Without a doubt, math was the subject that she struggled with more than anything else. Even at sixteen years old, adding numbers outside of single digit ones in her head was absolutely impossible, because her brain didn't grasp numbers the same way that normal people's did. In addition to having dyscalculia, she was dyslexic too, but that was something that she was making strides against. It wasn't something she could ever really grow out of, but the strategies that the teachers at her current school were offering her had helped her improve tremendously. She wasn't reading at the level of a sixteen year old, but she wasn't as horribly delayed as she was a few years ago. In addition to those things, disabilities that one would initially think of as being linked to someone with learning disorders, Holly struggled with other things, and for some reason, directions were one of the worst. It wasn't blatantly obvious to most people, simply because Holly was already a very dependent person. Makayla was the only person who probably noticed it, and even then, Holly had never received intensive therapy to a point where Makayla could even really be expected to recognize what was a disability that was out of Holly's control, and what was her just being forgetful or thoughtless. Getting lost today was definitely an extreme example of it, but had Holly actually made it home somehow, it was quite likely that she would have ended up walking up to the top floor of the apartment building, simply because she wouldn't have thought to keep track of how many floors she had walked up, or of any familiar indicators that she was at her floor.
As she looked around now, she was trying to figure out which way she had come from so she could explain to Chanel that she had just walked a few blocks in that direction, but she had no idea where she had began this journey. Instead of lingering on that subject, she returned to Chanel's comment about Valentine's Day. "There's going to be a Valentine's Day party in the gym! There's going to be a DJ and stuff!" she exclaimed excitedly, laughing because... why not? "I'm not sure if I'll be able to go though because it costs five dollars to get a ticket and Makayla said we only have thirty dollars until she gets paid next week so don't ask for a single thing!" Makayla probably would have smacked her for putting their business out there like that, but in a very innocent childlike manner, Holly didn't consider anything like that to be embarrassing or private. Holly still had her typical energy in her voice as she said that, too, because she didn't see it as a real deterrent. It was certainly true that she didn't understand the concept of money fully, outside of knowing that they had very little of it, but she was also blessed in that sense, because she didn't need to understand it because somehow, Makayla always made it work. Holly was sure that she could convince Makayla to give her the money. That wasn't the real problem. After today's incident at the ice cream shop, Holly had had a rare instance of social realization, and that was the only thing that had caused her voice to grow more uncertain as she spoke. "And I don't know if I would have anyone to go with. You don't have to go with a boy even though it's Valentine's Day, because I heard girls talking about it in my social studies class and they said they were all going together, and I don't think I could bring Collin because he's too old," she said, as if it was merely expected that Collin would go with her otherwise. "But none of... like I don't have... I don't have friends in the same way that everyone else has in their classes," she explained. She wasn't speaking in a manner that portrayed sadness or disappointment necessarily, but more-so confusion, as if this was the first time that she was really thinking about this in depth. Reflecting more directly on what had happened earlier, she added, "Do you think I'm annoying?"
It was probably immature, but Cara was bothered that Holly had just ignored her like that. Being that it was Holly made it all the less annoying, because it was hard to hate someone like her... but still... Cara didn't like being ignored. She tried to give Holly the benefit of the doubt though. Makayla's reckless irresponsibility had probably left her scared and wandering the streets before she had come across Roman, she figured. The gust of wind that swept past them, followed by Chanel commenting on just how cold it was, was only one more reminder of how bad this situation could have turned out. Obviously Holly wouldn't have frozen to death out here. She was clearly friendly enough to have wandered into a store to ask for help (if someone with bad intentions didn't find her first), but the fact that Makayla even thought she could walk home in this kind of weather was even more concerning. Cara didn't even consider that Makayla would have expected her to navigate the subway system on her own. Cara herself still got confused by it, and even if she rarely used it, she was obviously more mentally competent than Holly was. All you had to do was walk down the wrong staircase and end up on an uptown train versus a downtown train, and before you know it, end up in another borough.
Since she was feeling childishly upset over being ignored, she decided to let Chanel run this conversation until the Uber got there. She was still considering going in on Holly a bit more harshly, because she didn't think that Holly grasped just how badly this could have went. Cara was indulgent in Holly's innocence, and though she didn't think it was ever to an extent that was harmful for the girl's development, she felt like right now, it couldn't hurt to be more brutally honest. For a moment, Cara's least flattering colors showed through, because as Holly rambled on, briefly mentioning Makayla saying they only had thirty dollars, she smirked, nearly on the verge of chuckling. Granted, Cara was in the delusional mindset that people couldn't be that poor. She assumed that Holly was referencing their spending money account, and that Makayla had to have had a separate savings account. They had thirty dollars in expendable money - not thirty dollars total in their names. That still probably didn't make it that much better, but she found the pathetic-ness of it, combined with how unrealistic it was for Makayla to think they could survive a week and a half on thirty dollars to be amusing. She tuned out the rest of what Holly said, luckily leaving the "Am I annoying?" question in Chanel's hands, because their Uber driver was calling her to say that he was pulling up then. After hanging up, it took a few seconds for Cara to spot him, but she eventually did, and pointed to a black car by the corner. "I think that's us," she said to the two girls, as she led them in that direction.
Despite the interruption in the day's flow and the brutal chill, Chanel was content with warming Holly's hands between hers for a little while as she listened to the girl speak. She was only keener than usual because she wanted to feed off of the girl's good energy and hopefully get into the right mood herself. She also figured time would fly listening to Holly because it took two pairs of ears and an extra set of legs just trying to keep up with the girl's speech. She had expected a handful of side stories and multiple questions that she wouldn't have the chance to answer all of, and before you know it, the Uber would arrive. She was sure Holly missed the transition from a genuine smile to an awkward one when the girl went from talking about the DJ they would have in the gym to she and her sister needing to survive on $30 until next week. Sometimes Holly had innocent slip ups like these that were only painful for Chanel because she could only visualize the severe ass beating she would get as a kid for doing something similar, though as a kid, Chanel didn't really have much excuse besides her just being a loud mouth and enjoying any kind of attention. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, Holly continued without hesitation, but it didn't cause Chanel's original smile to return. If anything, it completely ruined her fantasy of their interaction and pulled her away from the good vibes she was looking forward to having. It pushed her right back into those seconds of panic shortly after she and Cara left the apartment. She didn't realize it, but why she was still so bothered by it, and why she subsequently was so eager to feel happy and normal again, was because it had pushed a very sensitive button for. It conjured up too many familiar emotions and memories, and unexpectedly at that. So, really, while she had been worried for Holly, it was less about her being that scared for the girl, and more about her old scars springing up on her. She was, in a few words, shell shocked. Holly's discussion of not having any friends didn't help either.
Chanel tried to maintain her smile without looking obviously sympathetic, but she couldn't help but clench her teeth together and inhale deeply. It was really as simple as telling Holly that no, she wasn't annoying and asking her why she thought she didn't have any friends, or even reassuring her that you don't want cruel people to be friends with you. For Chanel, though, it wasn't that simple. It was uncomfortably familiar, not just because she had overheard similar conversations between her eldest brother and their parents. Nor because discussion of school functions was something Chanel loved discussing during dinner so she could brag about all of her plans, knowing full and well that her brother didn't have any. It was because it was so confrontational. The issue arose because she had been able to evade her brother's issues. She should really be jumping at this opportunity to make sure Holly didn't think she was annoying or to see if she was being bullied too, because she had replayed those same conversations with her brother in her head time and time again. She had rehearsed what she would have done differently, and yet here she was, ready to cower again. In reality, Chanel was overthinking everything simply because this did bring up a lot for her, and she now felt the need to make up for everything through this little moment. Anyone would freeze. She felt a kick in her stomach, disgust with herself for being relieved when the Uber came. She shuffled Holly towards the car to follow in after Cara.
"Holly," she said tightly, finally able to find her voice, though the act caused a huge surge of adrenaline to stream through her chest. Closing the door behind her, she then began buckling her seat belt. "Why would you ask that, huh? Of course, you're not annoying. I mean..." She exhaled before reaching over to grab Holly's belt, again overcompensating by being extra maternal. "No matter what you do, you're going to upset somebody, right? You can't please everybody. There are people who I annoy because I'm always super happy, and sometimes people just don't like that, you know? But I don't let that stop me from being me, and the same goes for you. I don't think you're annoying, but even if I did, that's not a reason for you to stop being Holly." She wasn't at all sure if that would be helpful for the girl. She knew when she was Holly's age, even hearing the right thing wasn't always what you wanted to hear. You weren't interested in waiting for things to get better. You wanted them solved now. Being the bigger person didn't help when you would still end up going to a dance alone. On the one hand, Chanel did want to make up for past mistakes and not ignore Holly's conversation, but she also wasn't going to fill her head with lies and tell her to just be nice and try asking someone to the dance. "Did something happen at school or something? What makes you say you don't have friends like the others?"
Holly was listening to Chanel as she spoke. Her medication definitely deserved some credit. Typically, even if she had wanted to focus on what someone was saying (and if it was someone like Chanel speaking, she definitely would have wanted to), her brain got the best of her. She would have gotten distracted in a half second by the change of scenery as the got into the Uber, or the Justin Bieber song playing on the radio, or the way that the car smelled like pine needles. She probably would have brought up how the scent reminded her of Christmas time, and then turned that into a conversation about the Christmas gifts she had received this year. She somehow managed to still have her mind centered around the words coming out of Chanel's mouth though, and she sat contently for those few seconds, soaking up the words. This whole situation was a strange one for Holly because it was very new. She had never had the mental clarity to really pick up on the way that people perceived her, and through that, she had (very obviously in many instances) been oblivious to the fact that she was sometimes overbearing and, as she had said, annoying. Because this was new for her, she wasn't sure why they had thought that she was annoying, though. They hadn't outright even said that that was how she was acting, but she had just picked up on that vibe. Now, she was faced with questioning why she thought that. Had she said something wrong? Maybe something that had hurt their feelings? Did they think that she was ugly, or weird, or stupid? It didn't cross her mind in her innocent obliviousness that some people were just mean, and that especially at that age, girls liked to exclude other people to feel more included themselves.
"I bet that no one in the world thinks you're annoying," she began. She wasn't saying it in a manner meant to compliment Chanel, and instead, was speaking in a factual tone because she truly couldn't imagine anyone thinking that way about Chanel. She didn't understand how anyone could see her as being annoying either, though, so that probably played into it too. "I just... I don't have any." Despite the uncertainty in her voice, Holly wasn't upset. Confusion and uncertainty were the best words to describe how she felt, because she was piecing all of this together in real time, as she spoke. "When I was leaving school I saw a girl whose backpack I liked so I followed her to an ice cream shop because that's where her and her friends went and I could tell that they didn't want me to be there, probably because they thought that I was annoying." She didn't have friends like that girl had. In school, Holly spoke to people, but it was mostly her speaking to people and not the other way around. There were three girls that she sometimes sat with at lunch that she thought were nice, but most days there coincidentally was never enough room at the table by the time that Holly got off the lunch line, so she often ended up sitting by herself at a table that was reserved for students who couldn't eat nuts. It had never really bothered her because she often conversed with one of the lunch aides who stood by the table, but then again, she had never really looked at it in this light. "But I don't have any friends like that. You guys and Brooklyn are the only people who ever let me hang out with them."
Brooklyn had been no help to her and the GPS on Holly's iPad still hadn't updated to its current location, but thankfully, just a few minutes later, Chanel texted her. The fact that this many people had become involved made Makayla feel sick to her stomach. Not only did she cringe at the thought of everyone having to have their days interrupted because of Holly, and in turn, her, but she also hated the idea that everyone was probably judging her for this. To an extent, Makayla was judging herself for it too. She knew that letting Holly commute home from school was a big step, but she literally felt like she had no other option. It was either Holly learn to do this on her own, or she drop out of school, and with the latter option, accept the fact that she would likely never go back, and would be stuck working minimum wage jobs for the rest of her life. Makayla was stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and at this point, getting to a level of depression that was alarming. Nothing was going right. Nothing ever went right, and she couldn't even catch a break for a day without something like this happening.
I'm going to kill her but thank you. I'll be over there ASAP.
She didn't have money for an Uber, but even if she did, with New York City traffic, it probably would have taken longer than the subway anyway, so Makayla opted for the more affordable option. She nearly ran to catch the subway, and fifteen minutes later, ended up in front of the restaurant that Chanel said Holly had been at. She didn't even pause to glimpse in the window, and upon bursting inside, she quickly realized that Holly wasn't there. The place was small, and the girl's bright red hair and loud voice would've stood out immediately. It wasn't too crowded either, making her lack of presence all the more obvious. Who she did see, however, was Roman sitting by the window. His presence confirmed to Makayla that Holly had likely been here, and she wasn't just in the wrong place because it would have been too coincidental. 'I must've been a fucking mass murderer in my last life to deserve the shitty luck I have,' she thought. Again, it was just one thing after another. Nothing went smoothly. She had raced down here, only to find that Holly actually wasn't here. Where she was now, Makayla had no idea. She checked her phone and confirmed that Chanel hadn't texted her back, so she approached Roman. "Hi," she started. She didn't know Roman well, and honestly, she had no need or desire to know him well, but they weren't strangers to an extent that she felt odd greeting him. "Was Holly just here? Chanel too?" At this point, it would seem only fitting for her life if Roman said that Holly had been here but had run off, or something, leading Makayla on an extended wild goose chase.
"You actually just missed them."
"She left with Chanel?" He had said "them", so confirming that part probably wasn't necessary, but there was a big difference in Holly leaving alone compared to her leaving with Chanel. Despite practicing her ride home multiple times, Makayla had clearly overestimated Holly's capability of being even a remotely functioning and independent teenager, so at this point, she couldn't chance it.
Roman looked up towards Makayla. He had been short with the other girls previously, and was relieved when he could finally forget about Holly, so seeing Makayla come in to remind him of everything again didn't sit well with him, but he knew better than to try Makayla, especially now. He'd never had any bad encounters with the girl, but that was why he didn't try to step on any toes. And he understood well enough that now wasn't really the time for smart remarks. It was one thing when it was Chanel and Cara, but this was Makayla's sister. "And Cara," he said, taking a short sip of his drink. "Maybe a minute or two ago."
"God dammit," Makayla muttered. She was too caught up in her own anger and frustration and stress to offer Roman another word, nonetheless a thank you, as she turned and walked back outside. The cold air that she was met with reminded her that she probably should have stayed inside until she found out what her next move was. As she texted Chanel, she walked back towards the subway station. It probably would have been smarter and easier to have just called the girl, but Makayla was too flustered to be thinking straight.
Hey I just got there and Roman said you guys left. Are you going back to the apartment? If not lmk where you are and I will get her. I'm sorry you got dragged into this. She's dead when I get her I can promise you that
Cara was definitely in a mood right now, but even in her worst of moods, the words that came out of Holly's mouth still would have tugged at her heart. Although it probably should have been obvious, given how Holly was literally always with Makayla, she had never actally thought about how the girl fared in school or socially. She was such a ray of light that it was hard to imagine that people would exclude her, but middle school kids were the most brutal of them all. At least come high school, some wold grow a conscience. In middle school it seemed like kids enjoyed being mean, simply for the sake of being mean. Holly was a cute girl with good intentions and a lot of energy... those things had to work in her favor. On the other hand, though, she was a sixteen-year-old still in the eighth grade. Pushing all of her personality flaws aside, that in itself was probably grounds for some scrutiny by her peers. On top of that, she also didn't have money. It was a superficial thing to point out, and Cara doubted that any of the kids that Holly went to public school with had lots of money, but they probably had semi-normal families who could provide them with the basics... like a cellphone (which in Cara's head counted as a necessity in this era). Maybe she was being materialistic, but she didn't think that it was possible to be friends with someone who didn't have a phone. How were they supposed to make plans, or share things that happened outside of school? Cara would have hoped that the iPad would have helped, but texting from an email address was probably almost as "embarrassing" as not having a phone at all. She doubted that Holly thought about it like that, but Cara was pretty convinced that her lack of "things" was another thing leaving her outcasted from her peers.
"You shouldn't count Brooklyn as being your friend. She's barely ever nice to you." That was probably the last thing that needed to be said right now, but as was noted, Cara wasn't in the best of moods, and yes, she absolutely still disliked Brooklyn. Their whole situation was probably bizarre to an onlooker, given that they still lived together, but it was what it was. For some reason, she could deal with that, but she couldn't accept Holly giving Brooklyn even half as much credit as she in taking care of the girl. Bringing herself back to the point, she continued speaking. "Middle school is a weird time, Holl." Her school had been a K-12 one, but the students were still separated by grades and the older kids went to school in different buildings than the younger kids. Even if it hadn't had a traditional middle school, it was mostly that age group that was annoying than the school itself. "A lot of people don't find their real friends until they get to high school, and you'll be there next year, right? Isn't that how it usually works?" she continued, looking towards Chanel.
"High school is definitely better than middle school," Chanel said with a cheerful grin. "Besides, those dances aren't even that fun to begin with. I bet we could throw you an even better one right from the apartment. Guarantee it." She wasn't be entirely truthful, and was still trying to make Holly feel better, even if the girl didn't seem as sad as her words came across. If anything, she seemed a bit more confused than anything, which oddly enough didn't make things any better. When she was in eighth grade, she and her friends didn't go to dances as often because they were felt like they were too cool for them, having grown out of the giddiness they felt towards it just a few years prior. But even still, they would pretend to reluctantly go, using the excuse of 'I'll only go if you go', and they would always have a good time. It was part of the innocence of being a child. It was fun to just run around with your friends, without parents, tiring yourself as you tossed around gossip and tried acting older than you actually were. It was fun when those nights turned into sleepovers and left so much to look forward to the next school day because so and so did end up kissing so and so at the dance and it made some other so and so mad. Of course, looking back on it as an adult, they weren't anything special and there was still the unbearable awkwardness that came with being that age, but it was still a fond time. Chanel wasn't lying about throwing a better function out of the apartment. Though that was kind of a given considering one was at a school and the other was in your own personal dwelling. What she was thinking about was how those dances were most fun because she had fun people there with her. She would think Holly would enjoy that more, being around people she actually liked, versus going to some dance where she didn't have any friends.
Still, it felt like a shot in the dark. Holly was a unique one, and Chanel still wasn't sure what was the right approach for her. Putting the idea of having her own party probably wasn't the best idea, though, especially as she read the texts that Makayla had sent her. From the sound of those, Holly would be lucky to even be alive for such an event. She promptly texted the girl back, half-frustrated with herself for something out of her control. They had to have just missed Makayla. If the Uber came even a minute or two later, they surely would have ran into the girl. She was sure Makayla was already flustered, but then to get so close to getting her sister just to barely miss her was just rubbing the wound.
No no, it's okay! We're actually headed to Trader Joe's, so I have a little shopping buddy, but if you want, we can stop by the apartment first
If it’s not out of the way plz do. I’ll be outside. Otherwise np I will meet you at Trader Joe’s
Chanel chewed her lip. It didn't look like Holly was going to be able to dodge this one. Even though Chanel didn't mind holding onto Holly for the time being, it seemed like Makayla was intent on getting to the girl. She didn't want to make Makayla go all the way out to Trader Joe's just to have to come back to the apartment, and the girl had sort of indicated her preference. She looked across to Cara. "Hey. Makayla said could we meet her at the apartment, or if not, she'll come to the store. What do you want to do?"
"It doesn't matter to me. If Makayla wants her home, though, we could drop her first."
Chanel nodded before meeting eyes with the driver in the rear view mirror. "Do you mind if we change the address?" After things were settled, she nestled back in her seat and gave Holly a sweet, if not sympathetic, smile. She understood Makayla was probably upset, which was putting it humbly, but she couldn't help but disagree a little. Certainly it seemed kind of obvious that this would happen, right? Chanel always assumed someone was responsible for bringing the girl back, whether it was riding the bus or Makayla getting her herself. Surely if this was the first time Holly had gone off on her own, then it would stand to reason that the girl couldn't be blamed entirely. Chanel still didn't know the depth of the situation, and she felt like there had to be more because she couldn't really see Makayla just letting go of the reigns on Holly, and with today's incident, for obvious reason. So, as a way to try to better understand what happened, she turned to Holly. "So, Holly, how did you end up with Roman and Nick? I thought you usually caught the bus or something. Did you get lost?"
Talk of throwing their own Valentine's Day party had Holly smiling, even if it was only a tentative thing. Since the idea had been brought up, it was unlikely that she was going to let it go now. Parties in themselves were always fun, but if Chanel and Cara were going to be involved, Holly was convinced that it would be an even more enjoyable time. The last holiday she had celebrated was Christmas, but she had been sick during it, and Makayla had to work, so it wasn't too enjoyable. Valentine's Day was another fun one though. The stores were already filled with red and pink cards, chocolates of all kinds, and a million different products shaped like hearts. Even if she didn't typically actually buy any of that, she enjoyed the spirit of the holiday, and typically had enough fun designing her own cards for Makayla and her roommates, and some of the others on the floor, by hand. "That would be fun!" she offered, already imagining their apartment decorated in pink streamers with Chanel's nice candles making the whole place smell like flowers. "I bet Ruby would like it too!" Holly hadn't gotten to know Ruby too well yet, thanks to Makayla's watchful eye over her whenever any of their roommates were home, but she liked what she knew of her so far. With that said, it was also very easy for Holly to approve of people, especially girls. She wasn't so harshly biased towards the gender, but just given her experience with men, and a lack of any male role models in her life, she appreciated the company of females more than males.
When Chanel returned back to the subject of Nick and Roman, Holly wasn't sure how to respond initially, because she still felt dumb admitting that she had gotten lost. The word in itself bothered her for some reason, but she knew that that was exactly what had happened. "I was supposed to walk to the subway," she said, unzipping her backpack and pulling out a sheet of paper that had step by step directions that included easy landmarks to help ensure she would get to the subway station. Makayla had written it very well in Holly-friendly language, including things like "turn left right after you pass the pizza store with the red awning, where we saw the dog wearing the green jacket one time", and had Holly not gotten distracted immediately after walking out of the school's doors, she probably could have gotten to the station just off of that. "Me and Makayla practiced all week and I have my directions here just in case! Not because I'm stupid but just in case I forgot which way to turn! I don't take the bus, but me and Makayla usually walk home if Makayla wants to walk, or we take the subway but now she's in school and she has to work at the dentist's office until three o'clock so she said I have to start being more independent," she explained. It didn't necessarily explain how she had ended up with Nick and Roman, but by that point, Holly had forgotten that that had even been part of the questions that Chanel had asked. Looking towards Cara, she added, "Since you're always busy now I even stay home a lot by myself, and I don't bother Chanel or Ruby ever, right Chanel?!" It wasn't an entirely true claim, and Makayla's wishes could definitely be heard in the fact that Holly even added that tidbit in, but it was something that felt like an accomplishment to her. "Did you guys know that Ruby wears glasses? If you see her during the night, you'll see! When you're almost blind, you have to wear glasses but when your eyes are good, you don't." Only then processing that the girls had been talking about going somewhere after dropping her off, she added, "Makayla would say it's okay if I come with you! I really don't want to go home. Please?!"
Cara was glad that Holly seemed to go back to her normal self fairly quickly. She hadn't even seemed upset when discussing her friend situation, but even if sadness wasn't the emotion behind her words, there was still something off-putting and uncomfortable there, and Cara was relieved to see it go. Typically, she enjoyed playing the maternal role that Chanel was actually taking on. When it came to Holly, that sense came surprisingly naturally to Cara, after their year of friendship. She had grown to appreciate the feeling of being needed and useful, especially when she had only been going to school part time. She had a lot of free time on her hands, and since she didn't want an actual job, taking care of Holly felt like she was being productive and helpful, but also in a sense where it was still within her realm because it was on her own terms. Even with that said, Cara hadn't suddenly lost that love for Holly simply because she had gone back to school full time. Her desire to distance herself from the girl stemmed completely from her newfound distaste for Makayla. The fact that going to school full time had made her overwhelmed and busy was just a timing coincidence, and an enabler in distracting her from it.
"Makayla said she wants you home," Cara insisted gently. She wouldn't have minded bringing Holly to Trader Joe's. She did enjoy hanging out with the girl, even if it would infringe on the typical dynamic between herself and Chanel. In this scenario though, she wasn't going to push to take her with them if Chanel had specifically said that Makayla wanted them to drop her off first. Since Makayla had basically asked for this to happen, Cara also didn't imagine that the girl was as angry as she was. Chanel hadn't shared the comment that Makayla had made over text that relayed that angry attitude, so she had no reason to feel uneasy or guilty about dropping Holly off. If she had known that Makayla was angry with Holly, she definitely would have been more reluctant. It was no secret that Cara hadn't been raised in a traditional household, and that wasn't even in a financial sense. She was officially raised by a single father, but on a more honest level, she was raised by a rotating number of nannies. Discipline wasn't a thing, and that became evident once she hit her teen years and made it clear that she was going to do whatever she wanted to do, whenever she wanted to do it, no matter what anyone said. She had simmered down a little since then, but just barely, as it was still clear that Cara couldn't accept anyone saying no to her. Needless to say though, the idea of discipline didn't sit well with her, and she would have been horrified to think that Makayla would actually hit Holly. "We'll bring you back something, though, I promise," she insisted, resting a hand on top of Holly's and giving it a little squeeze. "When you get home you should tell Makayla that you don't think it's a good idea for her to let you walk home alone anymore, though," she added.
Cara's response wasn't one that Holly wanted to hear, but she didn't feel like she had the leverage to do anything other than accept it at this point. She already knew that Makayla was going to be mad at her, so Cara's suggestion of informing Makayla that she shouldn't walk home alone anymore wasn't really necessary. For one thing, Holly wouldn't admit that she wasn't capable of doing something that everyone else could do. Secondly, though, even Holly was well aware of how telling Makayla anything when she was angry was a bad idea. Given the amount of stress and pressure that Makayla was under, she was probably abnormally composed and peaceful. It really was hard to comprehend just how much Makayla had to deal with on any given day. She was a perfect example of how the cycle of poverty was extremely difficult to break out of, no matter how hard you tried, but on top of being born into poverty, she had to juggle jobs, support two people, and take care of Holly. Taking care of a child on its own was a difficult task, but considering that the child wasn't hers, and had abnormal difficulties too only made the job all the more strenuous. Holly didn't think about any of that ever, but she did love Makayla and appreciate what she did for her, even if it she didn't express it in ways where she was directly thanking Makayla for all of that. At the same time, she probably did take what Makayla did for her for granted... thought it was mostly because she really didn't understand the extent of the struggle that Makayla went through to ensure that she was getting a good education, had clothes on her back and food in her stomach. They were sisters but with an abnormal relationship due to the guardianship status and the fact that Holly's own mother had never stepped up to fill the maternal role, so while Holly depended on Makayla like she would a mother, she sometimes disliked the authority that Makayla exerted that only a parent would have, and not a sibling.
"Maybe we can go ice skating this week!" she suggested, switching the subject once again. Although Cara wasn't going to let her hang out with them today thanks to Makayla, Holly was already under the assumption that Cara was going to go back to normal in being her friend more regularly now. "Do tall people know how to ice skate? I know you guys are good at playing basketball probably, right? Chanel, are your brothers tall too? As tall as Collin? Is your mom tall too? And your dad?" Turning to Cara, she asked the same questions. "Is your dad blonde and tall? Was your mom like that too?"
Chanel still didn't have it in her to completely break Holly's spirit, especially since it was evident that the girl was in for a world of trouble in just a few short minutes, so she just settled with a, "Maybe," thankful that the girl switched from the subject shortly afterwards. As far as her physical attributes went, Chanel was above average. However she didn't come from a family where all the men were giants and the women Amazons, but tall people definitely ran in her family. Her mother, at 5'7, was considered short. Chanel and her brothers was also quite typical as far as growth went. She was tall for her age and stopped growing early, and was taller than her brothers until they were in high school when they had a sudden growth spurt, and now they were as tall as their father. As far as sports went, Chanel was a bigger soccer player than basketball player. She did play in middle school, but her parents were far too intense, so she never picked it up in high school.
"I know how to play, but I wouldn't say I'm that good," Chanel said with a careful thought. It was fortunate for her that she did find activities that she did well in because in her household none of the kids had an option and were required to play at least one sport. "My youngest brother played in high school, but he did other sports too. I did soccer and track. And they're a little taller than me and are the same height as my dad," she explained. "But my mom is pretty short. She's only 5'7. But I'm not sure if tall people are particularly good at ice skating. I think being smaller is better suited for the sport, like with gymnasts."