Taming a Killer

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(ch 10) When It All Falls Down (Giovanni)

<Giovanni>

Though the sun was already shining through the curtains, all three boys had remained in bed. Giovanni hadn’t wanted to sleep in, but they had stayed up till four the night before, watching movies.

‘Mum wants us to meet her in the back by the secret door.’ Gabriel interrupted his thoughts. ‘She told us all to come, including you, Johnny.’ he told the boy who was still grumbling about loud kids.

Gabriel threw a pillow at him, and finally Johnny sat up, glaring at the former with fire in his eyes. ‘Stupid arse,’ he glowered, getting out of the bed and heading for the shower. Gabriel smiled pleasantly, heading to the bathroom in the corridor to shower himself. With a sigh, Giovanni followed the two older boys, dragging a towel from one of Johnny’s drawers. He always hated having to shower, but once he started, it was one of his favourite things. Giovanni loved to smell good, so once he started, he always finished with a wonderful effort.

By the time they were all finished, it was past two in the afternoon. They had never got up this late before, but Giovanni figured it didn’t matter at this point. The school would have its own set of rules that they needed to follow. It would be something they needed to acclimate to regardless of what they did at home.

Making no sound, the three boys tiptoed through the house and to the back door. If they needed to use the secret door, it was because something happened that they needed to hide.

Johnny and Gabriel sat down on the grass while Giovanni sat on the swing as a lookout.

‘Mum sent me a text again!’ Gabriel whisper yelled, joining Giovanni by the swing, beckoning for Johnny to follow.

‘There will be a surprise for all three of us?’ Johnny asked, feeling curious. ‘Your mum rarely involves me in private matters, so why is it different now?’

‘It’s possible you’re involved now? I mean, she basically made you one of us. So matters involving us involve you now too.’ Giovanni told him, kicking his legs harder to swing higher.

‘Why do you still use that, you’re not a kid anymore.’ Gabriel grumbled as the hinges of repeated squeaking overpowered their whispered conversation.

‘She said to meet us out front now.’

‘Is your mum okay?’ Johnny glanced at the two, feeling worry for the woman who was trying so hard to care for her sons.

‘You’re gonna have to learn to call her mum or no one will believe us at school.’ Giovanni groused, angry and pouting at Gabriel. The latter was ignoring Giovanni’s anger with practised ease, but Johnny knew he was right.

’Fine. Why does mum want us to go to the front now, isn’t that completely the opposite of ‘doing things in secret?’ Giovanni was sure that calling the woman he had served ‘mum’ felt all kinds of wrong on his tongue. Johnny withheld his grimace well, only nodding as if that alone would give him answers.

‘Let’s just go. It doesn’t matter at this point, mum will let us know everything when she arrives.’

They had only waited for two minutes when their mum’s car pulled up in the driveway.

‘She’s here!’ Gabriel announced unnecessarily.

‘Hello lads,’ mum called, her voice happy and excited.

A gasp brought their awareness to the passenger seat. For the first time, Giovanni noticed a boy sat in the front seat next to his mum. Before he could do anything or comment, there was a mad scramble, and then Johnny’s arms were full of the smaller boy.

‘What’s happening?’ Giovanni asked, unable to keep the jealousy out of his tone. Johnny cooed, a happy, carefree sound that Giovanni had never heard Johnny make before. The boy was sobbing, and Johnny, in a way that he usually did for Giovanni, stroked the boy’s hair in a soothing way. Johnny continued to card his fingers through the boy’s hair, and Giovanni had to sit down. His legs were shaking so hard, he was sure they would have made a noise. But only Gabriel noticed and began copying Johnny, ruffling Giovanni’s hair, too.

‘Mum?’ the boy asked of his own mum, and Giovanni felt his fear spiking.

‘Mum?’ all three of the boys said at the same time.

‘WHAT IS GOING ON!’ Giovanni couldn’t hold himself back any more. He knew he didn’t have to scream, but no one was giving him answers! First his mum wants to send him away, and now she brings home another child that calls her mum?

‘This is Vernon,’ Johnny told Giovanni, a reproachful look on his face at Giovanni’s attitude.

‘And he is calling me mum because he is now my son too.’

The room filled with different measures of silence then. ‘For what it’s worth, Johnny, I’ve made it legal, so now so are you.’

‘They still had my paperwork?’ Johnny asked, bewildered.

‘Mrs Attwood keeps everything.’ Vernon interjected, grinning like a Cheshire cat. ‘And this is Mishu, by the way.’ He pulled a small kitten from his pocket, and Giovanni felt himself get surprised all over again.

‘Vernon is right. Mrs Attwood had all the paperwork. It was a little old and worn out, so she printed a new one, and I made sure all the information was correct.’ With this, she winked at Johnny, who nodded his head solemnly.

‘So listen up, kids.’ His mum waited for all four of them to look at her, and when they did, she continued. ‘I am happy to announce that there is a change of plans. Your father cannot know of this, though, otherwise it will not work.’

‘I only need to pack a suitcase, and then we can be off. Are you boys all packed and ready to go?’ She glanced at them all, then got out of the car. His mum ruffled his and Vernon’s hair simultaneously, then dashed through the gates.

‘Okay, I STILL did not get an explanation.’ Giovanni felt his hands shaking and hid them in his pockets.

‘First, we need to make some sort of order. If Mark... ah... Dad comes down and sees Vernon, we need an excuse. He will wonder who he is. For the sake of this secret, until we can leave without a glitch, he will act as Giovanni’s friend.’ Johnny’s eyes roamed the younger boys, stopping when it reached Giovanni. Bitter and afraid of Vernon’s spot in Johnny’s life, Giovanni scowled at him viciously. Vernon, who was still clinging to Johnny, didn’t seem to notice the animosity.

‘I think Giovanni needs a time-out right now.’ Gabriel interjected, pulling his younger brother behind him protectively. Giovanni kept his eyes down, glaring at the ground now that his brother was getting involved.

‘Meow,’ Vernon murmured, snuggling the kitten close to his chest without a worry in the world. Everyone ignored him.

‘Does anyone know what mum’s plan is?’ Gabriel asked, but everyone shrugged. ‘I don’t understand why she needs a suitcase. All she needs to do is drive us to the airport.’

‘Well, she’s not the only one that needs to pack a bag.’ Johnny added, looking at his watch. ‘If anyone hears anything, let me know, yeah?’ With that, Johnny turned and left, Vernon following him like a puppy. Johnny didn’t invite them along, but by then Giovanni felt little desire to go anywhere with the boy.

‘Is there something I need to know?’ Gabriel asked with a sigh, once Johnny was no longer visible. ‘Vernon should have stayed with us because of our plan, but it seems he won’t separate from Johnny right now.’

Giovanni didn’t answer him right away. Wrapping his jacket tighter around his body, he pulled the drawstrings taut and hid his face.

‘Nothing.’ Giovanni replied once the silence grew wings.

‘Listen, Gio, you need to realise that nothing about this situation is normal, okay?’

Giovanni shook his head from under his hood.

‘We need to get past this day, and once we can do that, more things will make sense for us and everything around us.’

‘If we can leave today would be good. I’m done with all this crap.’ With that Giovanni stood up too, heading back to the mansion, Gabriel hurrying behind him.

Giovanni was happy that Gabriel couldn’t see the look on his face. He had no idea he was capable of this many emotions all at once. And now, when he had to feel it, Giovanni couldn’t predict what he would do to cope.

It was with great mercy that Giovanni did not meet anyone when he entered their home. He was scrawny and knew it, but his wrath could do something, surely?

Giovanni growled in frustration, and Gabriel being Gabriel took his hand and led him to his room.

‘We will get through this. I promise.’

And though Giovanni didn’t want to believe him, he grabbed hold of that promise and refused to let go.

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