"So... How is it over there?"
There was an irritated grumble in response, but Analise took that in her stride. She kept one eye on the man on her laptop screen, whilst the other fiddled around with her earring. "Fine, tell me. Have you met any friends?""No."
The voice was gruff, and filled with just as much irritation. "Why would I want to do that?""Why not?"
Analise looked confused, her full attention diverted to the laptop now. "Benji! come on, you know having some friends with you will help! Time goes faster when you're en-""Enjoying myself, yes, I know. Tell me, Anna, do you really think this is the time and place for me to enjoy myself?"
Anna opened her mouth immediately, ready to cut in, only to not say anything. Benji humphed. "You know mother dearest does not want that to happen."
Benji sounded bitter. Anna watched as Benji adjusted himself in his bed, the screen shaking almost violently until he found a better position.
The boy on screen looked like nothing Anna remembered him to be. He was gone for almost five months, yet he somehow looked worse than before he had left. The dark circles under his eyes, the permanent frown on his face, Anna didn't like it. She tried asking her parents to let Benji come back home, that he had done enough, but Cassandra wasn't having any of it. Anna understood why, Benji needed
to grow out of his rebellious habits and their mother was only trying to help, but it still broke Anna's heart to see her brother look so tired."Benji... you know she isn't like that..."
Anna said, sadly. She just received another scoff in response, and Anna knew the conversation was over. Anna glanced at her phone, the screen flashing to show her the time. Her eyes widened and she stood up quickly, almost knocking her laptop off the desk in her haste. "Oh no, we're going to be late...!"
Anna scurried back towards her bed, on top of which was a small grey and white Shih Tzu
lying on the sheets. Anna reached out to touch the dog's head, only for the dog to bury himself deeper into the comfortable bed. Analise heard a laugh from her laptop, and she gave Benji a pout as she reached down beside her bed to grab a discarded shoe box.
Benji whistled and the dog's ears perked up. "Winston!"
Anna wailed as the dog raced towards her laptop, his little legs struggling to reach the table. Benji laughed again, seemingly entertained as Anna hopped on one foot towards the laptop, bringing the camera down towards the dog whilst she tried wearing her shoes."Why are you so dolled up anyway? What's the plan?"
Anna took a moment to respond, finally slipping her feet into the heels. When she stood up, Analise gave a twirl in front of the camera. It was a strapless, sweetheart neckline with dark stones lining the neckline. The dress was almost skin toned; a reddish brown shade. Underneath was 4-inch peep-toe stiletto heels that were secured around her ankles with a cute buckle, a similar shade of nude."You know Audrey right? Her family is hosting a New Years Eve party, and we were all invited. Miranda Priestly will be there so I must look good."
She then looked at Benji. "Do you think she'll like it?"
Anna chewed at her bottom lip."She'll be stupid not to love it."
Benji sounded sincere, and Analise gave a sigh of relief. She reached down to give Benji a flying kiss on camera, grinning widely."You're the best brother ever."
Benji rolled his eyes and shut the feed. Anna pouted at the sudden end of the Skype call, but she noticed Benji was still typing.
Anna couldn't stop grinning as she logged off, shutting her laptop just as her mother and father called for her.
The smile remained throughout the ride to the party venue. She kept her phone in her hand, her nails clicking on the screen as she typed up her responses to her ever growing list of people to text. Even now, Analise was busy trying to help her friends with their New Year's Eve dates. What better role for the girl with many friends than playing the matchmaker?"Analise, dearest. Isn't it time you put down your phone?" Cassandra
finally asked, the fiftieth buzz of Anna's phone finally grating on the elder blonde's nerve. "We're here now, you don't want to be rude to our hosts, do you?"
Analise pressed the send button before locking the device and tucking it away into a clutch, finally looking at her mother. She shook her head as their chauffeur opened the door for the three of them. Being the closest to the door, Analise stepped out first, followed by her mother and then her father.
Fifteen minutes after the Hunstbergs had arrived, the Arnettes followed.
Inside, Anna spotted Audrey in the crowd with Christian and her beautiful cousin, Delilah. She excused herself from her parents' side, letting the elder Arnettes interact with the rest of the guests whilst Analise took small, hurried steps towards her best friend. "Auuuuuuuuudreeeyy!"
When close enough, Anna gave all three of them a hug - Audrey obviously getting the tightest hug. "I missed you!"