Chapter - 23
"What happened?" I asked Alex
"Nothing… Why do you think that something is wrong with me? It should be me asking you that." Alex answered confidently.
"I know something is wrong. I am your sister, Al. You can always tell me anything. I promise I won't be angry with you and I won't judge you." I tried again.
I know something is wrong with him. There is no way he is just stressed about Rishi.
" Can't you see… I have been trained still when I get in a situation, I couldn't handle it. What would I tell Mumma and pappa? That they raised a loser…" Alex said frustratedly.
"See Reyhan… First thing, you are not trained fully. Even though you had been trained fully there is no way you could predict the future. Training is based on hypothetical conditions whereas you don't always face the same things in real life.
As a first-timer, you have done quite well. Why are you being so hard on yourself? You are just 8. There will be more challenges in the future. Are you going to sulk like this every time if your calculations go wrong?
This is life Alex, no matter whether you are right or wrong. The basic principle of life is, it goes on.
So even if you haven't excelled this time, you will do great in the future. It's all about the experience. And you won't get experienced until you fail." I tried to reason with him.
He didn't say anything for a moment then asked me,
"Have you ever failed? "
"Yes, I have. More than once… But trust me. You always learn from your mistakes.
Most importantly, don't compare yourself with me. You won't be in my shoes ever. I won't let that happen to you. " I answered.
I promise you, Alex, you don't have to face anything that I have faced. Not even when I will be dead. I had already planned everything for you.
"Now tell me what is bothering you? You and I both know that something is bothering you." I ordered him this time.
"When I got conscious that day… I… I… I accidentally hugged Mia. I swear I didn't mean to. I opened my eyes and I was in Xavier's bed. She was sitting right beside me. I tried to sit up and she tackled me in a hug… But Theo also hugged me… I mean it was kind of a group hug. I know I should - "
"Are you embarrassed that you hugged Mia? Or are you feeling guilty? "I cut him off and asked directly. But he just lowered his gaze.
"Is that a reason that you are avoiding her? " I asked him again. But he just shook his head.
"I hugged her without her consent… what others must be thinking about me?" Alex mumbled.
"Alex… It's ok to hug your friends. Even if they are from the opposite gender. It's nothing to be ashamed of.
Dating and having a girl as a friend are two different things." I tried to make him understand.
"But Rishi doesn't have any friends of the opposite gender." He tried to argue.
"Who said that to you? Of course, he must have some. It's just he never brought them home since we came here.
And even if he doesn't have opposite-gender friends that don't mean you also can't have.
Mia is a good person. She took care of you when you were unconscious. You should have thanked her for that."
"So, do you think I should be friends with her?" He asked innocently.
"Yes, I think you should be friends with Mia and Theo both."
"But I have you… why do I need them?" He argued.
"So there will be someone who will sit with you at lunch. Someone who can be there for you at school."
"What happened to him? Is his head hurting?" Rishi panicked when he entered and saw Alex holding his head in hand.
"Yes… He is hurt but because of your behavior not by other things. " I snapped at him.
I know it's not his fault and I always kept him in the dark. But It's going out of my hands now. I gave him enough time to pull himself together. He is still not ready to let those things get off his mind.
'Look who's talking? Have you forgotten about your past? It's been 13 years… You are still stuck there and you expect him to forget it within a week… How hypocritical!' my mind taunted me.
Which was right… of course… but my situation was far worse than him. He just got threatened… I was being tortured.
He just looked at me with teary eyes. I looked away from him and gestured to take a seat. I know I have to be strong for them.
"I found this in my closet." I handed him that threatening note.
"Wh… when??? How??? " He stuttered.
"That doesn't matter. But I have something to ask you about it. " I got to the point directly.
When he didn't react I took it as a signal to continue.
"Don't you think that you should have informed me about that?" I asked him.
"You shouldn't have gone through my stuff. I can handle my problems. " Rishi snapped at me.
"I can see that… I am here for you. All you have to do is ask for help. Why are you suddenly being stubborn?" I asked him.
"So, you think I am not capable of saving my own family. Is that it? " He asked me with so much hatred.
"All I am saying is that you don't need to face anything all by yourself. You have me for that."
"Is that so? Then tell me who those people are? What do they want from you? Why are there always scars on your body? What are you hiding from us?" Rishi fired me with all of his questions.
All these years, he accepted all those lies without questioning me. But I never thought he might have gotten affected by my scars. Do I look scary with those scars?
Whom am I kidding? He is Black. Of course, smartness is one of the prominent talents in the Black family. How can I assume that he would not notice my scars and distress?
"I know you know. Because the way you acted proved that you are very much aware of their thinking. So stop with all those lies. Just you went through my stuff and told me that it was your right to know.
I am also asking as your younger brother. It's my right to know. For God God's! Have some faith in me. I am mature enough to hear the truth now." Rishi yelled at me.
"I second him in that thing. We want to know Di. Please! Let us know what has been bothering you for all these years." Alex pleaded with me.
"I am telling you the truth only. I don't know who they are and what they want from me?
Yes, I know the way their brain works because it's a pattern they always followed. They were just threatening me. They wanted to ignite a fight between us so we would fall apart and they could take advantage of that.
That's what they had tried to do with our parents in the past. And now with us also. All I am asking for is your trust and cooperation. Is it so much to ask?
No matter how much I tried, I still couldn't get them. If you don't trust me. They will use you against me. You know, I can't act against you. So if you want to help me then trust me.
I got this, guys. I can fight with anyone if you both just trust me." I gave them information about what they should know.
It was not the full truth but I know it was enough for the time being.
"As long as we are included in all plans. We will give you full cooperation. And 'we' means all siblings including Bella.
See Di! Let's face the fact that you can't do everything alone. You will need someone at some point. So we should be well informed. When the time comes, you don't have to recite all those things.
It will save time and you will have someone to rely on." Alex put forward his conditions.
And I felt so proud of him at that moment. My brother will be a good negotiator in the future.
"Yes. So no hiding from now onwards. You are going to discuss your plans with us. So you would have a new perception of those situations.
The most important thing is, we want us to have you through life and not just for now. I know you are capable of handling everything alone but my question is why should you? When you have us.
This is what family is for. So they could stand by your side when you don't have anyone." Rishi urged me.
"I never have hidden things from you, at least not those things which you should know. But things that are not your concern or things that can get you in trouble will be kept hidden from you. And that's my final decision.
And please try to understand that sometimes I can't explain to you what's going on? All I want you to do is trust me. Do you get what I mean? " I asked and they both nodded at that.
I tried to soothe Rishi and Alex. I tried my best to console them. But I am not sure how much I succeeded.
On the other hand, the meddling of those boys in my life is increasing day by day. They even pointed out to others that I am avoiding them.
Smith and Lily tried to talk to me about that but I flipped them. I don't want them to get hurt because of me.
It's ok to be hated by them than seeing them dead. They don't know what type of people are after me. I have seen them killing so many innocent people.
My kidnappers used to torture and kill people in front of me so I will be scared of them. I could never forget those pleas and screams. Those eyes filled with fear when those monsters used to kill others.
I had spent so many sleepless nights because of that. Only I know what I have been through. I don't even wish that for my enemy. Those days were horrible.
I am thankful for this skin which heals quickly and leaves me with fewer scars. Otherwise, I couldn't imagine what uncle Vincent had done to so many people.
We were shopping for groceries and as usual, Alex was taking sweet time to choose goods. Kate and Ryan also accompanied us.
Kate was trying beauty products at one end while Rishi and Ryan went to fetch Baby's essentials. Alex had given them a detailed list of Bella's things.
"No Bella… You can't have it. You just have 4 and a half teeth." Alex was scolding Bella and snatching Cheetos packet from her hand. But Bella was so adamant about keeping it.
It's not like she loves them but she loves to irritate Alex.
"Bella… You should eat healthy food. Rishi will make some fresh carrot soup for you when we get home. So there is a strict no for this thing. " Alex scolds her mildly.
As soon as Bella heard the word soup she made a face and pulled out one chips packet from the shelf.
" I say no, Bella. Put that back. "Alex glared at her. But Bella ignored him.
"Don't you dare to give me that attitude, Bella" Alex was angry at her now.
I purposely ignored them. Because Bella is being bratty these days. She fears no one. Someone should be strict with her. I know I don't have that in me when it comes to her.
But Bella yelled at him in her gibberish language. She was looking so mad right now.
An old couple was looking at us. I was about to intervene when that old lady got near us and said, "She is just a baby. Let her have what she wants. It's not like she can eat them."
"I know Ma'am. But that's the thing. If she is not going to eat then why should we purchase it?" Alex answered her politely.
"It's ok, I will get that for her." That lady with blonde hair offered.
"It's not like we can't afford it. We can buy the whole store. He is just against fulfilling her wrong demands." I answered that lady.
I ducked down to Bella's level and said, "Bella… Honey… We have this at home. You don't like to eat this. We are going to get your favorite candy floss and ice cream. Put that on the shelf or you won't get anything. " I used a gentle but stern tone on her. She obliged immediately.
I looked at Alex and instructed him," Never lose your temper in front of her again. She is just a baby. "
He nodded his head and went ahead to fetch the next item.
"She is so cute… What's her name again? I am Rose by the way." She said and extended her hand towards me.
"Her name is Bella… Say Hi to Miss Rose, Bella. " I said but didn't take her hand. Bella waved at that lady. I mean Rose.
I just didn't like the way she was looking at my siblings. As if she was going to eat them.
"I am Rishab. Bella's brother. Nice to meet you, Rose." Rishi came out of nowhere and took Rose's hand and shook it.
Rose was looking at me. Well, practically scanning me.
"My apologies Rose. My elder sister gets conscious when she meets new people." Rishi tried to cover up for me. Because I didn't shake hands with her. I rolled my eyes at that.
"You have beautiful sisters, Rishab. And you are just as sweet as Bella. " Rose looked lovingly at Rishab.
Her husband got near his wife, sneaked his arm around her waist, and said, "Hey Rosy… Got what you were looking for?"
"Yes, Patt. I got what I wanted. I met this sweet and handsome boy also." Rose said.
I quickly pulled Rishi behind my back and glared at that Rosy… cozy...
'My brother is not a public property woman. Back off. ' I mentally screamed at her.
"It's time," Seth said from behind me. To inform me that we probably should get going.
"See you around, Rose… have a nice day! Rishi said and smiled at the couple. Bella waved at them. But I glared at them. I didn't like her at all.
"Was it needed to glare at that lady? Why were you acting strange?". Rishi asked me as soon as we got in the car.
"I didn't like her," I replied annoyingly.
"Rhea! When you are with a baby… You catch the attention of people. That's natural. That doesn't mean someone is going to snatch her away from you.
You know what… you need to loosen up a bit." Kate said as a matter of fact. When Rishi told them what happened at the store.
"Relax Di! Seth was with us the whole time. " Alex mumbled to me and I nodded.
I don't know why but I think I have met her husband Patt somewhere.
Third person's pov:
"Guess what… Guess what… " Rose yelled in excitement as soon as she entered the house.
"What happened? " Mike and Will asked together.
"I met my grandkids at the store." Rose chipped in happiness.
"Really? Give me full details." Will asked with full enthusiasm.
Rose told him the full incident with Rhea.
"Did she nod at any of you?" Mike asked hopefully.
"No, but don't worry! She is not suspicious of us. She was looking at my hand which I had placed on Rose's waist. She was being overprotective of Rishi. There were 10 men with her just for grocery shopping.
But the good news is I got to talk with Ryan." Aaron said.
"Seriously? Oh, God! How is he? What does he look like?" Will asked.
"Is he handsome? I am sure his basket was full of Lay's chips, onion, and cream flavor. Does he still scratch his right brow before choosing items? " Mike asked.
"He was good. He looks handsome with Robert's face and his mother's eyes. I didn't see his basket. But he was talking to me politely. " Aaron answered them.
"Did you click his picture?" Will asked hopefully.
"No… Rhea's eyes were on him constantly. There were 3 guards around Ryan." Aaron said with a sad face.
Mike and Will got sad instantly.
"Do you… Do you think he will identify us?" Both of them asked at the same time.
"I can't tell that. But I don't think we should take any risk." Aaron said.
"Come on Patt… At least let us see Ryan from a distance. We will not talk to him. We will just take a look at him from a distance and get back instantly." Will requested his grandfather.
"Yeah… We will cover ourselves properly and won't go anywhere near him. Just one glance. Please. We promise we won't get in trouble. " Mike also pleaded to him.
"I heard him saying that he will be at a coffee shop near your college at 6. You can go there. But you will get home as soon as possible. Am I clear?" Pattrick asked.
They both jumped from the couch and ran into the room to get ready.
Aaron was happy seeing them happy after so many years. Their excitement was contiguous. Aaron also wants to know more about Ryan. After all, he is the son of his godson, Robert.
"How was grocery shopping?" a boy with black hair asked him.
"Not bad… " Ryan answered.
Both Will and Mike were seated at a corner table which was at a hearing distance. They both wanted to get to know about Ryan.
"How is Ethan? Ian is very relieved that Ava is using a cane to walk." the same boy asked.
"I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I put the bag in Black's house and got directly here." Ryan answered.
"Xavier king, how dare you order fries for you alone? What about me? Are you going to divorce me? " A brown-haired boy gave drama queen expressions to both of them.
Will and Mike looked at each other.
"Xavier king… As in John King's son?" Mike asked in a low voice.
"Do I look like his mother to you? How would I know?" Will whispered, yelled at him.
"Ian, I will punch you next time if you create a scene like this." Xavier glared at him.
"Hey, you know. Today we met an old couple at the grocery store. Rhea suddenly got annoyed with them without a reason." Ryan told them.
"Were they creepy?" Xavier asked Ryan.
"I think Rhea got suspicious about them," Mike whispered to Will.
"In whose team are you siding? Stop scaring me. If Rhea got to know we are here. She will beat you and me both." Will said through gritted teeth.
"You are still scared of her?" Mike snicker at Will.
"Did you forget what she does when she is angry? " Will asked him with a fake smile and Mike shuddered at the memory.
"Not creepy exactly. But she was looking at Rhea weirdly." Ryan asked.
"Then it's obvious for her to get annoyed with them," Xavier said in a duh tone.
"You always support her behavior, why? " Ian asked Xavier.
"She is sensible, Ian. I don't know why but I think she always acts according to the situation " Xavier defended Rhea.
"So we should be treated like dirt according to the situation," Ian asked.
"Stop talking like Ethan and Ava. She made it clear that she does not want to do anything with us.
Isn't it enough that she saved Ava? You can't expect her to be friends with us.
For a thousand times, I am telling you that she is not used to this type of life. She spent all of her school life lonely." Xavier stated.
"I am not blaming her. Of course, I am thankful for what she had done for Ava. But the question is why? Why did she do that? It's not like she owes us or her anything." Ian said.
"Don't know." Ryan and Xavier mumbled at the same time.
Ryan's eyes suddenly met Will's eyes and he froze there. Will looked down at his coffee cup instantly.
Ryan was sure he didn't know any guy with red hair. But he was sure he had seen those eyes. Ryan kept glancing at their table.
Will and Mike quietly finished their coffee and went out quickly.
"What happened? " Xavier asked. He noticed his distress.
"For a moment, I felt like… I know him…" Ryan said looking at the red-haired guy who was paying the bill.