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Chapter XXII:

Chapter XXII:

It was time for dessert, everything went smoother than I had expected it to be. Fleur had been in everyone’s arms already and was now back in her father’s arms.

The conversations had been rolling too, it went surprisingly easy, making me scared of a jump scare that could happen out of nowhere.

Something popped into my head again, those letters. I knew they would make them start asking questions, but I needed to respect that they were theirs.

I cleared my throat, not getting anyone’s attention. “Uhm . . . Everyone?” I decided to let my fork touch my nearly empty glass of water, making a sharp sound come out of it. I suddenly felt anxious to talk, I took ten more seconds and began talking, ignoring my pulsing heart and veins. “I’ve got something for you all . . .” I mumbled, grabbing the four neatly folded papers. “We have found those, lying in each of your rooms. I don’t really know from who they are, but I wanted to give them to you guys.” I personally lost control of my words, they just came out without me even being able to let them pass through my brain.

I passed everyone their own letter and received Fleur. I heard them all open the letters, Kaleb and I exchanged looks, I still wasn’t that comfortable yet and same counted for him.

A question popped up in my head, should we announce that he may or may not be my- our brother? I mean, it probably would be the best, I have lied so many times and maybe this is could be a sign towards them that I was slowly starting to feel ‘normal’ again. My thoughts were yet again interrupted, Fleur started to stir in my arms. Her tiny hand started searching for something to get a hold on. As an instinct I gave her my finger, with no hesitation she grabbed it and started suckling on it. For once it made something else rise up inside of me, adoration, maybe even love for this delightful thing, who was looking at me with her big brown eyes. It felt like she was able to see right through me, seeing what really was happening inside of me, right inside of my head, inside my spirit. It’s really strange to say that about a six-month-old, but I had the feeling that she really did get me, better than anyone one else.

I was so distracted by Fleur that I forgot that everyone else was still sitting there, I quickly looked up, still with my finger in Fleur’s hand and mouth. It was deadly quiet again, and I noticed that Autumn wasn’t sitting in her chair anymore and that the rest was nearly crying.

I looked confused at Kaleb, who mirrored my expression. I remembered having a letter too, and decided to open it too, expecting to get an answer out of it.

To my beautiful, smart, brave Alice

I know it will probably be too late already, but I just want to give you some clues that you could at least get the people who did this arrested, so this cannot happen again.

I am so extremely sorry for always leaving you and your brothers and sisters alone.

And I am not asking for forgiveness, because it’s almost impossible to forgive us after all this. But that is not what I am trying to say in this letter, because you will figure it out sooner or later.

I just need you to do one thing.

Attempt to contact grandma Scarlett as fast as possible, she’ll acknowledge my worries.

And please, I know that you think you will be able to do this alone, but don’t. You will need help.

-Love, Mom. <3

(Written: 03-07-2011)

Yet again, I was frozen, I should’ve opened the letter so much sooner. Tears were falling down like crazy, again. Now, I understood why the silence rose. I felt guilty for destroying the nice atmosphere that was finally getting there. I wiped my tears away, trying to get myself calm not wanting Fleur to notice anything. Some tears still kept sliding down my face, but I just let them slip. My eyes were focused on the still suckling baby in my arms. I hoped to get distracted by her adorable movements, face and sounds, but the words kept ringing in my head, even appearing in front of me. I let it slip, minutes passed, and I just couldn’t bare it anymore. Autumn was already back on her seat, and she noticeably shared multiple tissues with the rest.

“Autumn . . . Do you have grandma Scarlet’s number?” I immediately dropped the bomb, wanting to get this over with. It took her a few seconds to compose herself, she blew her nose once more. “Yes, of course . . . but why?” She sniffed, having the handkerchief close to her, just in case.

“I can’t explain right now, but could I possibly call her?” She didn’t answer, she just unlocked her phone and stretched her arm across the table to give it to me.

I mumbled something close to a thanks and wheeled myself out of the room as quick as I could, kidnapping Fleur safely. I don’t know why I just didn’t give her back to Jack, maybe I just didn’t want to be alone, not completely.

Still rolling I pressed on the call button and put her on speaker. Clutching Fleur closer to my body, I made a turn into the guest bedroom, me and Harper had slept in. I didn’t know if I was allowed to sit on the bed, but I did anyway. I cautiously placed Fleur first and then balanced on my one foot, jumped twice and then softly plopped down on the bed. I rested my back against the pillows and headrest, I also stretched my still casted leg out too. Fleur was comfortably lying on her tummy at the height of my knee.

Fleur looked up at me, she was hypnotizing, but because of that I didn’t notice the beeping actually changing into a voice I hadn’t heard in nearly two years.

Her voice sounded a little raspier than I remembered, but that may be a good thing.

“Autumn . . .? Are you there, darling?” She – because she was from and in the United Kingdom- still let her accent stand out more than others would.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is Alice speaking . . .” I answered, using my British accent as well, doing it automatically.

I heard a loud sound, followed by a gasp, and then it was quiet.

I gave a worried glance at Fleur, hoping that the sound wasn’t actually from here. But luckily to my relieve Fleur was now chewing on the cloth of the blanket. I heard some rumbling on the other side of the line. “Jack, Will? I am not a mug, please, appear.” She said, somewhere deep in her voice was hope heard, hoping that it actually was me holding the receiver.

“Gran, yet again, I apologize, but it still and really is Alice speaking.” I answered, trying to articulate, knowing that if I didn’t, she would have a hard time understanding.

Some rumbling was heard again and followed by the quietness I had come to get used to this evening.

Approximately one minute passed and I was getting tired of the silence, it slowly started to tear my apart. “I’ve read mom’s letter. . . She referred me to you. . .” I put a pause in between my sentences, doubting to continue after every word that came out.

“You’ve found it . . .” She gasped, barely audible. “I’m booking a plane as soon as possible. I need to see you.” She announced suddenly in a rush. “I’ll be there in a little more than ten hours.” And the line was cut off. I was numb. Afraid of what my grandmother had planned to do. She was mad to drop everything and fly over. What in god’s name was she doing . . .?

My thoughts were – not to my surprise – cut off, interrupted by a move I hadn’t seen Fleur doing. She was moving her arms and legs. At first I was puzzled, but observing it more, I saw that she was slowly going forward. She was crawling.

I was amazed, stunned. My little niece was presumably crawling for the first time ever. This was a huge milestone and I got to be there with her, while she was having it. Staring at the little girl, who was slowly getting closer to me, I realized I probably should cherish this moment. I pulled out the phone, stared at it for a second, having a bad feeling about what my grandmother was going to tell. I quickly shook it off as soon as it came and then swiped to the right, opening the camera. Record.

The girl looked up, having a look on her face explaining that she was giving up.

“Good job Fleur! You can do this!” I encouraged the girl, who seemed to beam from pride.

She knew she could get attention from this, so she eventually decided to continue her show.

She, with a big smile, made her way in front of me. I knew she crawled less than one foot, but she was really talented for a six-month-old.

I started clapping, having made her smile even bigger as effect. “You’re so smart!” I already put the phone away and picked the shining girl up.

“You’re so talented, sweetie, don’t let anyone ever tell you different.” I cried, holding her closer to me, not wanting to lose this wonderful creature. Tears were forming in my eyes after hearing her giggle, I didn’t want to leave her anymore. I didn’t want to leave anyone anymore, but like always something in me was telling me to. I needed to find my parents. I needed to know on who’s killing list I was on now. “I love you so much already.” I whispered, to the becoming sleepy girl. “And no matter what happens, that won’t change, I will always love you and stand by your side.” No doubt, no hesitation, just pure from my heart, every single word I’d just told her was true. “And I love everyone here so much too, and I will be forever angry at myself for leaving them and perhaps leaving again. But I need to save you all, else I won’t forgive myself either.” I carefully placed my lips on her cheek and with that I knew she was sound asleep.

Humming something my mother used to sing for me when I was younger, I ended up in tears near the end. Her voice, at least to me wasn’t worth any money, it was beyond that, her voice was too good for anything. She always sung it when we had a bad day, we had problems falling asleep, just when she felt like it, she just sang it every day until I was seven to eight.

***

I had cooled down and let every thought pass by minimum trice. I – with Fleur clutched to my stomach – pushed myself forward with one hand and entered the funeral atmosphere that filled the room. I looked at my lap, not even daring to give them a glance.

First minute passed; I hugged my baby niece closer to me.

Second minute; I was numb. There was nothing, just nothing crossing my mind, it was blank.

Third minute; I felt some light tingling in my upper torso.

Fourth minute; the tingling sensation became a burning one. It was like fire entering my body and slowly extending my already too big gap, a hole in my chest. It was like my heart was leaving small shards behind.

Fifth and last minute; I couldn’t stand it anymore, the pain became even worse than the burning hole, it was like magma burning. Peeling bigger and bigger pieces of the imaginary thing in my chest. I started moaning in pain, attempting to keep it quiet.

“I- eh . . . Gran . . . Gran is coming over.” I stumbled over my words; the pain was getting too bad. I should consider telling something to Kaleb, but I was too afraid.

Four blank looks were given my way, zombies. No emotion, or no good emotion was visible in their eyes, just pain. I saw some trying to compose themselves, but it didn’t help.

“Why . . .?” Autumn tried, failing in her ‘always positive mission’. It pained me even more to see them like this, it’s like an arrow in the heart, but then a billion times worse.

An apple, that was the size of the hole inside of me, only it was growing like crazy. It was going quicker than even the fastest car in the world.

“She- err . . . Sh-she wants to say something . . . in person.” Pain from not completely telling the truth, I expected them to continue interrogating me, but Autumn’s head dropped again.

I didn’t expect these letters to influence us all so badly, what could possibly stand on theirs that could make them all so morose? Maybe just the idea, they just received something from their parents, whom they hadn’t seen in approximately two years, maybe even two and a half, boy, maybe even more.

“Do something. . .” It was just a whisper, blowing in my neck. I cautiously turned around to find nothing again. “Talk . . .” Elevator boy was back, he kept puffing it over and over again. Me never having got a glance of him was kind of frustrating, but after a minute of being tormented I give in on his request. Well, I tried to, but no subject would come to mind. “Trust them . . .” Jayden’s whisper was just captured by my ears, nearly not having heard it, because of its volume.

If I could I would’ve immediately taken them in my trust bubble, in the fight bubble, but I did not want them to risk their lives for that.

His normally hot breath felt now like an ice-cold winter storm causing goosebumps all over my body. “If they aren’t going to get it this way, they will do it another way, risking even more.” His little louder statement made sense to me, but my stubbornness like always took over. “Trust. Trust. Trust. - . . .” It started to get me mad, annoyed, but especially even more tired.

Mom said that we need Gran’s help for the next ‘clue’.” I mumbled, getting everyone’s eyes on me in a flash.

“What do you mean by next clue?” Autumn hesitated, being first to vocalize.

“Yeah, what did you do first? Is that how you got wounded?” Will and Jack following, saying some words altogether once in a while.

Levi just looked at my face, notifying me that she’s all ears.

“Could we move to the living room? That’s a little more comfortable. . .” I mumbled, not being prepared to explain everything in these, not so good sitting chairs.

“Let me take the cake to the living room.” She said, causing the twins to gasp dramatically, resting their hands on their chest like a world wonder happened.

“You’re letting us eat on the couch?” Sunshine eventually found its way back for a few, which was better than nothing. The guys made a sound, it was the kind I hadn’t had for so long and it felt so good. A giggle, a chuckle, a laugh, whatever it may be called, it came out of my mouth.

“Wow! Autumn, are you okay?” I played along, having a holy feeling being welcome: home, love, family. Everything I needed.

The two childish young adults sprinted their way into the living room, plopping down so hard on the couches, the people from the first floor would hear.

Levi, without any warning stood behind me, making me jump up a little, letting Fleur stir.

“Sometimes it’s better that you’ve missed some things, they’re really tiring sometimes.” Levi mumbled, chuckling to herself, making me smile after hearing that sound. Just hearing her voice was something wonderful to me, she wasn’t the person to talk much, but it was quite normal to me, the better you knew her the more would come out.

“I take my hat off to you.” I smiled lightly, seeing it mirrored on her face.

I was parked right in front of the television, some color draining from my face at the sight of all five pairs of eyes on me.

“I- . . . I don’t really know where to start . . . So, feel free to ask me anything . . .” I sighed, my heartbeat raising at the stupid decision I realized to have made.

A thoughtful silence was what I received.

“What got you into whatever this may be?” Questioned Jack, making everyone look a little sterner and more attentive.

Sighing deeply, I started; telling them about the notes, about meeting Jayden, just everything. Autumn who had heard half of it already, still had the same look of interest on her face.

“Why haven’t you contacted the federal agents?” Levi stunned everyone, because of her suddenly joining in a conversation.

“Uhm. . . We figured out that it would be too dangerous.” I answered, doubting myself.

“Plus, we didn’t really want a lot of people getting involved and most importantly, they threatened to kill all of our loved ones. And I – we couldn’t do that to any of you all. . .” I was trailing off seeing the vivid memory in front of me.

“What is your next plan?” Will spoke, having some other tone in his voice, one that was really unfamiliar, it was like he had a lump in his throat only worse.

“We-” I cleared my throat, which was suddenly dry. “We haven’t really talked about that yet, but I will just listen gran Scarlet out first.” I hummed, asking Autumn for some more water directly after. When she returned and the others slowly caught up on the conversation again. I gave a glance Kaleb’s way, but he was in the middle of a conversation with Fleur in his hands. For once this night, it made something good boil inside me, adoration? Happiness? Happiness for this family that was slowly starting to grow towards each other again. Only if the rest were solved, everything would’ve been perfectly fine.

I cleared my throat, again, but this time in a manner to get everyone’s eyes on me.

Attempt failed.

I tried again, a little louder and hoarser.

Failed again.

“Guys?” It slowly started to annoy me to not get an answer.

“Guys?!” It was nearly a yell now, but luckily the louder sounds of the rest died down.

Ears turning pink, I started. “I have news.” I announced, pausing for a while, willing to see everyone’s reaction first. Eyes wide, curiosity seen in them, I started.

“Uhm . . . So-Ho-So . . .Uhm, how do I start . . .” I stuttered, staring at my lap, being scared to catch anyone’s eyes.

Without myself noticing, I found Kaleb next to me, trying to get my breath under control.

“Hey, Alice, slow and deep breaths. It’s okay, nothing’s wrong.” He mumbled, doing the exercise along with me. “Just copy my breaths.” I did everything he said, but it didn’t help, it only pained me more. The thought of what would come after I calmed down, made it end up in hyperventilating. The invisible gap devoured my insides even more than before.

Hey, hey. Alice, here, look into my eyes.” Uneasily, I managed to focus my eyes on his, but to no surprise it didn’t help, in fact it did the opposite. My (our) father’s eyes were easily seen in his, I had mixed emotions about it. My breathing became a little steadier, but the pain felt in my chest didn’t, nor did my heartbeat.

“You know what? I’ll just do the talking, so you don’t have to wind up.” He whispered, his breathing starting to sound a little raspier than normal, he unbuttoned his shirt a little, attempting to get some air.

“I will tell, explain, what Alice wanted to start.” Kaleb stood up, leaving my hand -that he was holding- cold. All eyes flickered from him, to me and ended on Kaleb eventually.

“Err- . . . Well I’ll just rip the bandage off, shouldn’t I?” He mumbled, chuckling to himself. Everyone’s eyes were now as big as marbles, even bigger, mouths close to gaping open.

“Alice and I were talking, about, err- . . . About your parents.” A painful expression was seen on my siblings’ faces. “and I recogni-“

“Not the whole story.” I choked out, starting coughing immediately after.

“The point is, we may be . . . related, siblings . . .” He sighed, welcoming the wooden planks as view, just as I did.

A hurting, long silence, my coughs were sometimes heard, just as my sniffs.

“I-I . . . I will take a DNA test in a few days, just then and only then this will be clarified. I really hope, that if this turns out positive, your view about me won’t change and I don’t really expect you to welcome me with open arms, I am-“ His eyes, still focused on the ground, popped open after feeling a pair of arms around him. It was really hard, and uncomfortable in this chair, but that didn’t matter to me, nor did the burning sensation in my whole body. No matter what pain I am in, my family will always go first, was something that always counted to me, but through the events I’d been through lately, this promise was quite hard to keep. And thinking about that made me give him a harder squeeze, the emotion raising up again.

“I will always welcome you with open arms, I love you, big brother.” I mumbled to him, letting tears leave a trail on my cheek, later on Kaleb’s shoulder too. I know Kaleb tried to be strong, I noticed because his arms around me started to tremble. His mouth open to say something, four, no five other pair of arms were crowding us.

“We would never.”

“You are part of this family now, even if the test turns out negative.”

“Welcome.”

Was what I made out of all the murmurs, making the drops leave a bigger wet spot on Kaleb’s shirt.

“I love you all so badly.” I said, eyes glassy.

Everyone’s (minus Fleur’s) answered: “I love you all more.” I looked up to everyone, nose red, just as my cheeks and possibly my eyes. Autumn, the little make-up she wore, smeared. Jack, a small smile, teary eyes. Will, whiter glow on his face, countable small tears on his cheeks. Levi, not showing much emotions to a stranger, but to me it was a miracle. Her mouth was in a straight line, her eyes, a little more water in them than they normally have, one tear on her so pale white skin. Kaleb, his already so tired eyes, even more puffy, tears drooling out of them. For once shining real happiness, a small smile playing with his lips. And lastly little Fleur, not comprehending what was happening to her aunts, uncles and father, was a little fuzzy, while playing with Autumn’s hair.

“Impossible. . .” I mumbled, closing my eyes, cherishing this moment as long as it would last.

A/N:

I'm sorry for the later update, but I've been quite busy with school. And I also had a huge writers block. Because of that I also have extend my update days to three weeks instead of two. I'm really sorry.

Hope your all okay! Stay safe!

-Kito


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