I follow the familiar road to Grayson’s house. I place my bike against the wall and march up the steps, ringing the doorbell manically. Nobody answers, not even after the sixth ring has faded out.
I rise on my tip-toes amongst the shrubbery to peep inside the window. My fingers lose grip on the ledge and I topple backwards into the flowerbed, landing awkwardly on my elbow.
“That’s going to bruise tomorrow,” I say to myself.
“Who’s out here?” A male voice demands, making me freeze.
Footsteps approach and I try to untangle myself out of the bushes with no success. “I’ll call the police!”
Fudge. We wouldn’t want that to happen.
Grayson appears, standing over me, eyes large. “Skye? What the hell are you doing in my mother’s flowerbed?”
I fling my arms in the air, exasperated. “I got stuck. I was trying to look through the window, but I fell and ended up… down here.”
If we were still on speaking terms, I know he would be laughing at this. But that’s the problem. Everything is different now and we both know it.
Grayson sticks out a hand and helps me up, despite the growing tension. I brush myself off once I’m back on solid ground and thank him quietly. He takes a large step backwards, as if being around me is too painful. It actually hurts more than I thought it would. It’s clear he doesn’t want to be anywhere near me.
He starts heading back into the house and I stumble after him. “Where are you going?” I ask sharply, watching him tread up the steps.
He looks back, fixing me with a cold stare. “I’m going back inside. What does it look like I’m doing?” The anger is thick in his voice.
“Is it true that you’re going away for a few months?”
He huffs under his breath. “Who told you that?”
“It doesn’t matter who told me. Are you really leaving?”
My lips part. “Why?”
He runs a hand over his face. “I have nothing to stick around here for. And my mother needs me right now.”
Linda. Just thinking about her makes my skin crawl.
“We’re going to stay with my aunt for a while.”
“How long are you planning on staying with her for?”
“I don’t know Skye! As long as it takes!” he cries, “I can’t sit around and watch my dad play happy family with you and your mother. I don’t want that rubbed in my face, believe it or not.”
I can feel the tears coming on and my voice wobbles. “That wouldn’t happen. You could come with us. We could all spend time together.”
He laughs at the very idea. “The last thing I want to do is tag along on one of your little father and daughter outings and pretend to be okay with it.”
My chest tightens. “This isn’t just about you anymore Grayson. This news has affected everyone, including me. Michael is my father, whether you like it or not. You’re just going to have to accept that.”
He turns his head to the side, refusing to look at me. “My parents are going through a divorce Skye. You couldn’t possibly understand what I’m going through.”
“Maybe I can’t. But I’m hurting as much as you are.”
“No, that’s the thing… you’re not!” He snaps, running down the steps towards me. It’s my turn to take a step back. “You have every reason to be happy, now that you’ve found your long-lost father. How am I supposed to feel? My parents can’t be in the same room together anymore. My dad refuses to talk to my mum, let alone look at her.”
“Grayson, don’t you realize that she’s partly to blame for all of this? She lied to everyone. She’s responsible for not telling Michael that I even existed.”
“My dad cheated on her,” Grayson snarls, “Mum was fragile, confused, she wasn’t thinking straight. She didn’t want to lose him. You’ll do anything for the person you love and that’s exactly what she did. She did what she thought was best at the time.”
His mother has him brainwashed. He’s refusing to believe the truth.
“Do you hear yourself?” I say, raising my own voice. “That is not what love is Grayson. You don’t keep information like that from the person you love. Michael had a right to know that he had a daughter.”
I find myself thinking about Rory and how he continued to lie to me whilst we were together. That’s not love either. You don’t do that to someone you care about.
Grayson is getting more agitated by the second and I’m wondering whether coming here was the right choice. He’s clearly not ready to hear anybody out.
“I hate what my dad has done to this family. His mistake has caught up with him and it’s his fault we’re in this mess. That’s why I agreed to go and live with my mum somewhere else. I need space from him… and you.”
I swallow at last. “Is it really so unbearable that I’m your sis…”
He doesn’t let me finish. “Don’t even say it.”
I take a deliberate step towards him, but what he says next sends my heart plummeting to the ground. “You mean nothing to me Skye. As far as I’m concerned, you’re not my sister, you’re not my friend… you’re just a girl that was in my class.”
My mouth wobbles. Wow. That was painful.
“I don’t want to see you ever again – not that it’ll be a problem, since I’ll be far away. You’ll get your happy ever after story, just like you’ve always wanted.”
The first tear trails down my cheek and Grayson shows no remorse. I can see he is not prepared to apologize and there’s nothing else I can do.
More tears threaten to fall as I turn around one last time to face him. His hands are in his pockets, hair blowing in the wind, his own eyes filling slowly. This might be the last time I ever see Grayson Swain and maybe it is for the best.
“Do you know what, I was actually quite happy to hear that I had a brother,” I say.
“I was ready to make this work. Obviously, you’re not willing to do that. But for you to say that I’m living my happily ever after, isn’t true. I am just as angry as you are. Your mother tore my family apart! I have a lot to say about her involvement in our lives, but I’m choosing to be the bigger person here for your sake – not that you deserve it after the speech you just gave me. I get why you’re defending her, but she’s not innocent.”
I’m sure I see him wince, but I could be wrong. “You’ll find out the hard way, since you’re not giving the rest of us a chance to say our piece. I wish that things could have been different between us. Good luck with everything Grayson.”
I let the tears fall as I walk out of his life for good.