This is one of the most stressful things I've ever had to watch. My breath is tight, and my eyes stay wide to the point where they're getting dry, and I really should blink, but I can't. I just keep watching as Cyrus's shaky hand attempts to pull the Jenga block clean from its spot on the tower. He releases a huge breath of relief when he achieves his goal.
"Okay," Jonah says. "My turn."
While he chooses his target, Cyrus checks his phone. His sudden smile lets me know that it can only be one person.
"TJ?" I say.
"Yes. He found a bakery that he claims has the best chocolate chocolate chip muffins ever."
"You and TJ are doing pretty good huh?" I respond. "Now that" —I gag a little when I say her name— "Kira is out of the way."
Jonah successfully removes a block from the tower, dropping it on the coffee table in my living room as he says, "What was that about anyway? Did she actually like TJ, or was she just trying to annoy you?"
"She hated my guts," I answer. "She just wanted to hurt my friends so that she could hurt me."
"But isn't that kind of—I don't know—stupid?" Jonah says. "Like, really what did she want to get out of it?"
"Who knows what goes through her head," I respond. "She's just an awful person who finds pleasure in other people's suffering."
I reach for a block from the tower, but the instant I try to pull it out, the friction causes the entire tower to rumble and collapse on the table. Cyrus and Jonah both cheer at my defeat.
"Whatever," I mumble. "It's just a game."
That makes Jonah smirk as I begin cleaning up the pieces, scooping them into my hands to put in the box. While the three of us are taking care of that, Andi is lying on the sofa chair nearby with her legs up over one of the arm rests. Right as I drop the last block into the Jenga box, Andi's mouth falls open in response to something on her phone.
"Oh my God," she mutters.
"What?" Cyrus asks.
"I just saw a news article, and get this." She kicks her legs down to sit normally on the chair. "'Demolition company accidentally demolishes seven of the wrong houses.'"
"Wait, what?" I react.
"Seven houses were demolished?" Jonah says in disbelief.
"Yeah," Andi confirms. "I'm not making this up."
"Wow," I say.
"That company's gonna be sued bad," Cyrus remarks. "And those poor people who don't have houses anymore. That's terrible."
"There's no way that's real," Jonah denies.
Andi shoves the phone in his face for him to see, and after reading it, his eyebrows rise in shock.
"Huh," he mumbles. "Wack."
The front door opening brings the attention over to my mom as she enters in. She gives a smile to me and my friends when she sees us.
"Hi," she greets. "Sorry to interrupt."
"It's all G, Mrs. Driscoll," Jonah tells her.
"Thank you, Jonah," she replies with a slight chuckle. Then she looks to me. "Buffy, I want to ask you something. There were seven families that lost their homes due to a company error yesterday."
"Yeah, I heard," I respond. "Andi literally just read an article on that."
"So some of the families are struggling to find places to stay, and I already talked to your dad, but we wanted your permission before we went out and contacted one of the families. Would you be okay with us inviting one to stay with us until they get back on their feet?"
"Yeah, of course," I say.
What kind of heartless person wouldn't say yes to helping a family whose house was demolished? The only person I can think of like that would be Kira.
"Great. I'll reach out to them. They'll likely be coming either tonight or tomorrow, so make sure your room is clean so that we aren't embarrassed when they walk by it."
"Will do," I respond.
She leaves for the kitchen, and I turn back to my friends.
"So," Jonah says, "you got Uno?"
I wander into the kitchen, on a quest to find a snack, but as I turn around with two Oreos shoved in my mouth, I see my mom and dad entering in together with looks of surprise on their faces at the sight of me.
"Honey, you know aren't gonna lose one if you eat them one at a time," my mom says.
I crunch down on the cookies, dropping the uneaten parts into my hand while chewing the rest. After my parents witness my struggle, they move on to another topic, one more important than my Oreo-eating habits.
"So the family is going to be getting here soon," Mom explains.
"They're bringing along all the belongings they have that survived the demolition," Dad adds on. "Those will be stored in the basement, so just don't take anything from there thinking it's ours."
"Got it," I say.
"The sleeping arrangements will be a little tight," my mom goes on. "The parents are going to take the sofabed in the living room. But they also have a daughter. Would it be okay if we blew up an air mattress for her to stay in your room? Your floor is big enough, and we thought it'd be more comfortable for her than sleeping in the kitchen—"
"It's fine, Mom. I don't mind."
"Thank you," she says with a gracious smile.
"What are their names?" I wonder.
"Oh, well, the parents are Paul and Crystal," my dad answers. "And the daughter's name is…um… I can't remember off the top of my head."
"I know she's around your age," Mom says.
Maybe I'll make a new friend out of this. Maybe they'll go to my school. What if it's someone I have classes with? That would be interesting.
All of a sudden, the doorbell rings.
"That would be them," my mom says.
I follow my parents over to the front door where they swing it open with friendly smiles. The man and woman standing on the porch shake my parents' hands almost as soon as they come face to face.
"Hi," Mom says. "It's nice to meet you in person. This" —she gestures to me— "is our daughter, Buffy."
"Hello, Buffy," the woman, who I assume is Crystal, says.
"Hi," I respond.
"Our daughter's just grabbing some things from the car," the man, likely Paul, explains. He glances back to check for her, and as soon as he does, he says, "Ah, here she is."
In steps the last person on the planet that I thought it would be, and also the only person who could make me wish I had said no to letting a family stay with us. She looks just as shocked as me, but I guarantee I have more rage.
"Buffy," Paul says, "this is—"
"Yeah," I cut him off. "We know each other."
The girl gives me a glare, which I shoot right back. Like hell am I sharing my house with Kira.