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Chapter 3: A Birthday Surprise (1)
Time pa.s.ses in a blink of an eye and long before you know, it slides through your finger.
The weekend comes, the day of Jackson's birthday. Throughout the week, Jackson formulated a plan he thought fiendish. He feels confident in the plan and would not give Gwen a route of escape but his method was somewhat cliche and old-fashioned.
Two days ago.
On the way home from school, Gwen's car suddenly collides into Jackson and he falls instantaneously to the ground on spot. Gwen pulls the car to a stop and gets out in frenzied mode, immediately running towards Jackson.
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"Are you okay?" She gets on her knees and she swears she's never been this nervous.
"It okay…" He shakes his head and consoles her regarding his well-being, but suddenly lets out a cry when attempting to stand. The painful sensation tingles throughout and it causes Jackson much agony. There is no way of knowing whether his cry is genuine or merely a theatrical act.
"You're bleeding?" Her expression softens and her stomach flips, her fingers reaching out to his calves where thick blood flows freely. Gwen feels rather nervous, she'd never encounter such sight before.
"It's okay, it'll heal…" His lips tugs into a wide smile as Gwen helps him stand.
"I apologize for the troubles I've caused…" Gwen purses her lips, slightly embarra.s.sed. "I'm Gwen from Imperial High School. You should go see a doctor… Don't worry about the fees, I'll reimburse you for medical expenses."
Jackson's lack of attempt to place the blame on her causes her cheeks to flush a rosy red.
"Really? Then don't worry about it… We're cla.s.smates, after all. I'm also from Imperial High School. My name is Jackson and regarding the medical bills, don't worry about it." His voice is soft then he clears his throat and gives her a crooked smile. "It's only a minor injury. It'll heal in no time."
"That would not be right…"
"If you wish to give me something in return, do you think you would be able to agree to my request?" Jackson arches his brows, his eyes appear wider, and a little bit sad (puppy eyes), eliciting a sort of sympathy.
He smiles a foolhardy smile deep within. He thinks his plan is proceeding as he expected. She'll have no way out of this and soon he'll get what he wants.
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Her voice is soft and gentle when she answers. "What is it?"
"My birthday is coming soon. This weekend to be precise and I've yet to invite a girl till now." There's a flutter in his eyelashes and his lips are just barely parted. Jackson tilts his head and looks deeply at Gwen. "I'm worried my friends will laugh at me…" He trails off. There isn't a need to finish his sentence because he knows Gwen's caught on.
"You want to invite me to your birthday?" And sure enough, she replies according to his plan.
Jackson nods and he's quick to reply. "Yes… would you be able to come?" He's pulling all of his life's experience and theatrical act right here because he needed her to come. Without Gwen, there is no plan. Jackson's eyes are full of expectation as he pushes his fingers into his hair.
"This…" She hesitates for a slight moment but when looking at his puppy-like gaze, she can't help but to agree. "Okay… I will go, but you need to tell me the time and place."
"Really?! You'll come? Okay, no problem!" Jackson gives her that crooked grin of his. "Thank you for coming. Here, this is my contact info." He hands her a small piece of paper containing his personal info and further details regarding his birthday. "Well, goodbye." His smile widens as he limps home.
Gwen looks at Jackson's back. She watches his figure fade into the distance before turning her head to look at the piece of paper in hand. The development of the situation seems a bit strange.
"Did he rush out and hurt himself only to invite me?" She whispers, the words meant only for her. "Why?" She thinks hard of Jackson's intent. "But what of it? It doesn't matter. Dad's always so strict and going to a cla.s.smate's birthday should be the first step. Besides, he's not too bad looking." Gwen's lips curves into a smile.
She walks to the car and warms the engine before going home.
Jackson was unaware that his act had been seen through.
Just after five o'clock.
He stands in front of the door eagerly awaiting the arrival of his guests.
Jackson's mother, Mary works at a company in Queens and his father, Lin Hai inherited his grandparents business—a relatively large Chinese restaurant also located in Queens. And naturally, his home would also be in Queens.
Jackson and his friends had agreed to meet after five in the evening, but he's been waiting for a while now and as time pa.s.ses, he grows more anxious. This day is not only a birthday of celebration. No, it is where he plans to set everything in motion. For Jackson to thoroughly break the the thick thread of friendship between Peter and Harry, Gwen would play the important piece in this game of chess.
"Hey, Jackson!" Tom pounds on the door, his voice echoing and Jackson turns the k.n.o.b and pulls it open only to see a wide a smile plastered on Tom's face holding a gift in his hands.
"Happy Birthday!" He steps forward and pa.s.ses the gift to Jackson. "Many blessings to you, Jackson." Tom smiles foolishly before stepping foot inside.
Tom's parents follows and enters the living room.
"Thank you, Tom." Jackson says sincerely and he means it. He's been ignoring his friend this past few days with his mind, body, and health too preoccupied in the current mission, but thankfully, Tom did not mind this too much.
Jackson's eyes soften; he did not wish to lose his good friend. "Thank you, Tom." He says once more.
Tom grins wide and pats Jackson's shoulder. "You're sixteen now. Haha, I think you can consider yourself a man!"
Tom's parents nods in agreement and gives Jackson their blessings and congratulations. "You're a grown man now, Jackson."
"Thanks Uncle Smith and Aunt Lucy!" He says. "And thank you for coming, I appreciate it."
Jackson was a deviant child though not by nature but because of the system which caused him many troubles. One time, Jackson had gone through the troubles of smashing the tires of Uncle Smith.
"We wouldn't miss it for the world. I heard you have a few cla.s.smates coming, is that right?"
"Make sure you don't mix yourself with the adults and have fun with kids your age, alright?" Tom's dad says with a smile and walks away with his wife.
Tom watches his parents leave the vicinity then turns to his friend. "Hey, Jackson, who did you invite? Is it a girl? You said earlier it wasn't anyone from our cla.s.s.
Who is it?! Stop being secretive and tell me already!"
"Ah, be quiet already. Anyways, you'll find out and don't flirt with her, alright?" Jackson says in a low tone and warning Tom of his foolhardy behavior.
Jackson doesn't see Tom much of a threat. Tom's not Gwen's type, he thinks. Tom's only a big, foolish guy.
"I know! I know! I won't mess around! Since you like her… I won't do anything." Tom explains in a hurry.
Jackson seemed to take a fancy to this mysterious girl he invited to his part so who was he as his best friend to ruin what could be a blossoming relationship?
"Actually… well… nevermind." Jackson waves his hand. "This should be fine…" Previously, Jackson planned to explain the current situation and correct Tom's misconception but after a slight moment of hesitation, Jackson decides he won't pull Tom in what he considers a devious plan.
While chatting with Tom, Jackson hears the sound of the car nearing closer outside the courtyard. Jackson's eyes lights up eagerly. He's quick to look out the window hoping to see the person he expect to attend.
The car stops outside the front yard with a quiet whine.
Harry on the other did not like the arrangements his father, Norman Osborn set up. If able to, he would refuse such showy entrance but he can't.
Jackson and Tom walks to the front yard in a hurry while Harry and Peter are stepping foot out of the Rolls Royce vehicle. Although Peter lived in Queens, the same Jackson lives in, the distance between their homes was quite far away to the point of needed Harry's a.s.sistance.
"Ah, Peter! Harry! Welcome to my house!" Jackson grins and welcomes them with open arms.
"Happy Birthday, Jackson!" Says Peter.
"Happy Happy Birthday!" Says Harry.
The duo walks up to Jackson and gives him a simple hug, greeting him as they would a brother.
"Here, this our gift! There wasn't enough time and we only brought one. I hope you won't mind…" Peter hands Jackson a gift wrapped in quality materials.
Jackson smiles and kindly takes the gift from Peter's hold. "Thank you. This is also just as well. I'm just happy to have you to come."
While Jackson prepares to welcome Peter and Harry inside his house, another vehicle pulls up outside the front yard. The vehicle purrs before the engine turns off. Seeing the other vehicle arrive, Jackson's eyes glints.
The most important person finally makes its appearance.
"Did Jackson invite other people too?" Peter tilts his head and asks curiously seeing Jackson eagerly walk past him in a hurry towards the the vehicle. Did he guess wrong? He thought it'd only be him and Harry who received the invitation but after looking at Jackson's actions, it would seem that Jackson places this person as more important than them.
"Oh, you'll know right away." Tom grins as he looks at Peter and Harry.
"Who is it? Come on, tell us!"
Jackson pats his clothes and tidies himself. He breathes deeply and opens the door of the car in a gentleman-like manner with no other thoughts but to escort and welcome Gwen to his birthday party but however, the figure who stepped foot out of the car made Jackson speechless.
It was not Gwen but a middle-aged man dressed in police uniform.
"Jackson Lin? Is that your name? Today is your birthday?" The middle-aged man says indifferently and looks at the brat who dares to ask his daughter out.
"Yes, police officer! This is Jackson Lin!" Jackson straightens his back and replies immediately. Sweat begins to form on his temples, slightly nervous of the presence of the police officer standing tall and proud.
It seems he had forgotten that Gwen's father, George Stacy is a police officer, a well-respected member in the NYPD police force.
George Stacy cares for the safety and well-being of his daughter. A birthday party? Of course he would send Gwen to the party sound and safe.
The atmosphere was rather vexing and awkward. Moments of silence fills the air and at this time, the door to the other side opens and Gwen steps out the car wearing an elegant blue dress. Her eyes lands on Jackson and unconsciously walks towards him. She stands nexts to Jackson.
"Father, you said you'll only send me over safely. What are you doing?" Gwen frowns and voices her complaints.
Earlier, Gwen promised she would only attend a birthday party of one her high school friends. In return, George Stacy personally sent Gwen to the given address provided so his heart may rest at ease knowing that Gwen had no other alternative motive.
"Haha, nothing! Just greeting your cla.s.smate." George Stacy smiles.
"Ah yes, it's okay. He just greeted me." Jackson says.
"Dad, I'm here safe and sound. Now it's time to go."
"Okay. I'll pick you up when the party's over. Remember, don't stay up too late!" He says to Gwen but Jackson feels that the message was meant for him.
After the statement, Gwen's fathers drives away till the outline of his car could no longer be seen from the horizon.
Gwen looks at Jackson, her cheeks flushed slightly red and slightly awkward, apologizing for the behavior of her father in her stead.
Jackson shakes his head. "It's okay, I think he just cares a lot about you. Anyways, let's go. I have a few friends that I want to introduce you to." Jackson smiles softly.
"Well, alright." Gwen replies and she takes Jackson's arm and begins walk.
Jackson's body stiffens but he manages to recover within seconds.
"Is that Sergeant George Stacy and his daughter, Gwen? Huh, I didn't expect Jackson to have such a woman!" Harry says surprisingly.
"Ah, what did you say?!" Peter found himself unable to move his eyes seeing Gwen appear before him.
Seeing Peter's current expression, Jackson smiles smugly. At least his plan is turning out as expected.
Translator's Note: I'm going to use past tense from this point onwards. Writing in present tense is more of an arduous effort than I initially believed. And let me know what you think! Give the novel a rating and a review at .