Shortly after Callie got settled into her new house, Julian went over to see her and check the place out. She was so excited to be receiving her first visitor–especially her older brother–she ran outside to meet him when he said he was on the way.
“Callie! This place is beautiful! I’m so proud of you.” He threw his arms around her.
“Thank you, dear brother!” She tore herself away from him and grabbed his hand. Her face was as bright as his yellow shirt. “Come in! I’ll give you the tour!”
After the tour, they settled in the living room to sit and talk.
“So, how is it living on your own,” Julian asked. “Do you get scared at night?”
“‘Scared’ is not the word I would use, but I will admit to being a bit freaked out at first. I mean, at home, there is always a TV or a stereo on. You can always hear someone talking, doors opening and closing, and even the clinking of forks on plates. But here, there is none of that. It’s so quiet, Julian!”
“You’re not regretting it, are you?”
“Oh, no! Of course not! I just have to get adjusted to being alone, that’s all.”
She was his little sister by only four days, but he was still so proud of her for taking charge of her life and welcoming the challenge of adulthood so confidently.
“Well,” he said, “hopefully you won’t be alone for long. I mean, this house is perfect for a small family…” He looked at her like he was trying to feel her out. Because she moved away so suddenly–or at least it appeared to be suddenly to everyone else–they all had suspicions about why.
Callie knew what he was up to. After all, she was a genius. “Julian, dear brother, why don’t you just ask me what you really want to ask me.”
“What? I’m not trying to–“
“Ok! Fine…because we’re here alone…you can tell me…” He leaned in close to catch every word of whatever he anticipated her saying.
She furled her eyebrows. “Tell you what, exactly?”
“You know everyone thinks you moved out because there is someone although you deny it. But you would tell me, right? Is there someone?”
She tried to feign disgust, but deep inside, it hurt. She longed for their to be someone special in her life, but she was not going to let the family see her down. “Is it a crime for a girl in this family to be single? Can I not live my life without the scrutiny? No, I am not hiding anyone, and frankly I’m tired of everyone pressuring me!”
Julian was taken aback a bit. “No one is pressuring you.”
“Everyone is pressuring me! Ever since you got engaged, all mother seems to think about is me getting engaged!”
“She’s just excited, Callie. It’s the first wedding. And you know she wants all of us to get married. You just happen to be the only one old enough for her to be excited for right now.”
She sighed in frustration. “You don’t understand, Julian.”
“What? What don’t I understand?”
“The pressure! It’s not just mother ordering me to get engaged. And it’s not even what everyone else says. It’s what everyone doesn’t say. You said so yourself that everyone thinks I moved out because I was hiding a man in my life. That speaks to everyone’s expectations of me! Everyone expects for their to be someone special in my life right now, and there isn’t! I feel pressured to jump into a relationship with someone just so I won’t feel like I’m letting everyone down.” She didn’t plan on telling him her true feelings, but they came out anyway.
Julian’s face fell. “Callie…I didn’t know you felt that way.”
“Why would you? You’re too busy with your own life which is going swimmingly, I might add.” There was a tad bit of jealousy in her voice.
“Callie, please don’t be that way. You know I love you and will always have time for you. I will never be too busy for you.”
“Promise?” She knew her brother would always be there, but she needed some reassurance from time to time.
“Cross my heart!”
“Good. Sooo…what are we having??”
Julian’s expression changed just as quickly as she changed the subject. “A girl! We’ve named her Juliette!”
“A girl?! Oh goodie!”
“I know, right? Jeannette and I both wanted to have a daughter first, so we’re thrilled. I think it scares most heirs to have a daughter first, but I feel really lucky.”
“You should! Girls rock! This is so great. I am going to teach her how to play cards and give her all my secrets so that my genius can live on throughout the generations.”
Julian rolled his eyes. “Oh brother. Don’t ruin my daughter with your card game!” He laughed.
“What? My methods are a sure way to ensure she will never lose! I think you should be grateful.”
He shook his head. “Whatever. But, listen, Callie…teach her whatever you want, but don’t give up! Juliette is not your only chance to shape the next generation. You’ll have your own kids someday.”
“I’m not so sure sometimes, but thanks.”
“I know you will. At least, you better. My kids need some crazy little cousins to play with!”
“Crazy little cousins?!”