I pull my top over my head as the sound of water echoes from the bathroom. I’ve held Abe tightly as he cried hysterically over my shoulder, a slobbering mess heaving and shaking. He should thread very carefully, I’ve told him many times, but the numbskull that he is, he refuses to listen. I don’t want him to descend further into the deep, dark caverns but I’m afraid it’s a little bit too late to pull him back up. So the only thing left for me to do is jump ahead and fall like he did. And for my brother, I’d do anything.
Abe is pacified. For now. Freshly showered and scrubbed clean. All courtesy of moi. I even took a second bath to do so. For him. I honestly expected to hear some bad news regarding his state when he first came in. Still, I don’t know if I should be relieved that I mistook his grief for unhinged exhilaration. I should be feeling the same way but my guts tell me otherwise. I’ve always questioned the decisions of my mind or the impulses of my heart but I’v always trusted the instincts of my guts. I’ve managed to calmed my brother down but the weight of his news is heavy on my shoulders and I think he was just too high on gaiety to notice the doubts in my eyes.
My brother. My beloved brother. He’s so fucked up. I snort, earning a raised eyebrow from him. Who am I to talk?
Ah, but there’s another thing, or rather person, I’m worried about.
“You know mom’s gonna be here, right?”
I only got an annoyed huff.
As if her presence would stop Abe from acting like a guard dog to what is quickly becoming his new obsession. I watch him dry himself and button his shirt, straight out of it’s wrappings, it’s tag tugged violently. Weird choice. I haven’t seen him wear one out of school since what? We were eight and he was forced into it by our mom for a compulsory family Christmas photo? Yeah, must be it. Where did he even get it? I eye his black backpack and wonder what else could be there. A chill run through my bare arms. Like I even wanna know. I grab a cardigan from my coat hanger. I suddenly feel underdress with my strapless top and short skirt. Maybe I should wear pants? Fuck, no. I always find those things constricting. Abe wore the same ones he came in here with, though.
“She’ll be fine,” I reassure him. At least, I try to. I’m met with one of his piercing gazes yet again. I sigh. “Abe. Damn, aunt Mich and uncle Ted and nana are all gonna be here. Even Harry.”
Abe’s mouth pulls taut, baring his teeth at the mention of our cousin’s name. Seriously, this pissing contest between the two of them is getting annoying.
Besides, him worrying his ass off about Callie implicates only one thing and I don’t like how he could even think of it that way. I push the jealousy aside, knowing he must only feel the same that’s why he’s acting all broody and territorial. Sit Callie next to him during dinner? Fat chance in hell at that when I know he’d try and do something that might cause nana to have a heart attack. Every day Abe grows bolder and bolder. While it’s good that he is, this is not the right time to be asking for a quick death. Not when he’s one step closer to what he’s been aiming for. Callie would most likely sit between her parents, anyway. Or beside Harry. Fuck, I see where his frustration is coming from now.
“You’re staying,” I add. Not only to guarantee Callie’s safety but also that he won’t just up and leave like he always does. Either way, it seemed to calm him down a bit, his frame relaxing. That’s good enough for me. Then the worry returns in his eyes, his look aimed at me. I fight not to swallow. I knew the reason behind this new concern and look away from his accusing glare.
He opens his mouth to speak but I quickly cut him off.
“I got the scholarship.”
It took two seconds for Abe to rush towards me and squeeze me tight in a bear hug. My feet lift off the ground as he sways me left and right, my feet brushing against the comforter of my bed. Tears sprung in my eyes as nostalgia floods my memory. At the back of my eyes, I see a dark-haired boy the same height as me with a mischievous smile and a sparkle in his eyes indicating how naughty he’d been. He’d whisper silly little secrets into my ear, make me swear on my teddy not to tell anyone, and carry me around spinning the both of us in circles until he loses balance and we both fall on the ground.
Now the secrets have been too grave even for my teddy to know, and too painful to warrant a fun, innocent spin. I did that. Me and my dirty secrets. I’ve hurt the only person in the world who’s always stayed by my side. I almost turned him against me.
Abe slows to a stop and I feel his huge hand stroking the back of my head. I wrap my arms around his shoulders, inhaling the heady scent of his neck, comfort flooding my senses.
“I knew it,” Abe grumble in congratulations, pulling back and giving my forehead a kiss. I had to laugh. That was so Abe. I learned the meaning of the phrase, actions speak louder than words, through him.
The look he gives me tells me I’m not off the hook just yet, but he’s letting it go for now. One of his eyebrows raise and I knew his question without him asking it out loud.
“Yeah, I’ve told them. This dinner is actually to celebrate that, too.” I shrug, suddenly embarrassed. This family get together is long overdue and I don’t want anyone to think that it’s only because that I got accepted to some snobby, prestigious performing arts school.
Oh, alright. It’s upitty, yes, full of entitled rich bastards and bitches who most probably came from old money, but it’s the best school out there and yes, I am excited. That much I can admit. I’m willing to get thrown with the wolves if it meant I could do what I love.
The doorbell rang just when my feet hit the ground floor. Abe nods his head to me and heads off to the back patio, pulling a thin silver rectangular metallic box from the back pocket of his jeans.
“Not too much,” I warn him. The idiot just grunted at me. “It’ll dull your tastebuds.”
When he didn’t reply, I tried another angle. “Your mouth will also taste fucking bitter.”
That halted his steps. I smirk. I heard his lighter snapping shut and turned around to see him place one thin unlit cigarette back to its case. He’s so worried about me tonight when I’m pretty sure it’s him who’s up to no good.
Nana’s bright face greets me when I opened the door. Mom arrived next and soon, the two of them had everything going in the kitchen. I tried to help but my hands are just not coordinated when it comes to cooking. I don’t know where the clumsiness comes from, all the coordination must be concentrated on my legs and feet. At least, that’s how my dad tried to explain it when I got upset about helping mom cook one day when I was little, before he took my place and joined mom prepare our dinner.
Right now, he’s not here, though.
My stomach twists at every second I glance at the clock on the wall. If not for my mom and nana’s soft chatter, I’d have bitten my nails off and wrung my perfectly coiffed hair out of my scalp.
Another doorbell has me jumping on my feet off the stool I was perched on.
“Oh, maybe that’s Kenny,” mom muses as she moves to grab a towel to wipe her hands. She’s about to leave her mashed potatoes and answer the door.
Thinking quickly, I swiftly head to the living room, telling her over my shoulder, “I got it!”
The air leaves my lungs and my blood thrums in anticipation. Two days. I almost let myself cry if only I didn’t know he’d be upset if I do.
I pause when I’m a feet away from our obnoxiously white-painted mahogany door. The light from the porch peeking from underneath the slit of the door dances as the shadow moves around it.
With the slow motion movement of an old Hollywood scene expressing anticipation, I reach out with one arm, fingers slightly curved but itching to stretch out further. I’m sure the happiness and excitement could not have been more evident in my face as I feel my muscles stretch wide. I don’t need to think, my body does that for me. I just need to feel.
I collide with a solid hard front, knocking my breath away. I hold on tight and close my eyes.
Hi, everybody 🤗 How are you all doing?
I’m so sorry for being gone again for long 😅 I finished school 🥳 and wrapped up some things and now, I’m officially free! 😆 I took a break from everything for the last few days and now, I’m ready to get grinding again 🙈 Here’s the first circle of hell 👿
Thank you for those who checked up on me continuously 🥰 This chapter is dedicated to you ❤️
Hope you like it 🥰
Stay safe 🌹
P.S. A little hint for the next chapter: do you know what the next circle of hell is? 🤭