Troubled Waters, Idle Minds

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Ane

Abe held my hand the whole ride. I reveled in the furious stare daddy struggled to contain. It was a miracle we reached the hospital the same time as mom and aunt Louise, with the Lanes and Harry following closely behind. Then again, it had to be dad’s growing irritation that made him step on the gas and cruise through the road at a record speed.

Aunt Mich has her arm wrapped around her as they sat cuddled in the corner of the private room dad had asked for grandma to be admitted to after a stressful code blue in the emergency room. She had held Callie’s bony wrist tightly in her shaky hands, like a mother eagle’s sharp talons suffocating the life out of its babe’s pliant, innocent body. Poor uncle Ted was helpless against his wife’s theatrics just as I was with my parents’ display of affection with each other as they stand next to each other beside Nana’s bed.

Harry went out to get coffee, and, not wanting to feel left out, I held my brother’s arm in a tight grip. He got a call in the car and I spotted the name on his phone before he turned it silent. The next vibrations of the call annoyed the shit out of him, though, and he had to excuse himself to take the call once we arrived at the hospital, while the rest of our family listened to the doctor about Nana’s condition. I followed him, as stealthily as I could. I know it was a fruitless feat since one can’t really bullshit Abe, but I’m glad he knew I was watching.

Maybe he felt guilty about my obvious need for him. Maybe he felt bad for Nana. Maybe he just doesn’t want to leave our precious little Callie with her neurotic mother. To be honest, I couldn’t care less. I’m just glad he’s here. With me.

I led him out of the room quietly. I doubt anyone would’ve noticed, well, maybe except for Callie. And daddy. Once we’ve stepped out of the room, it was Abe who guided me towards the nearest vending machine.

“I’m sorry for monopolizing your time. I know you’re excited about - “

He cut me off, popping a few quarters in the slot and pressing the fourth row button. “Doesn’t fucking matter.”

A smirk grew on my face. Such an Abe way to say, Don’t fucking worry about it. I got a few of my own coins and waited until the product he chose got dispensed. I chose a chocolate bar, then decided I could use some chips, too. What a way to relieve the stress of today and it hasn’t even ended.

Abe got another two bottles of water and a can of Diet Coke before we walked to an empty waiting area and sat together. I opened my bag of chips and stuffed a couple into my mouth, chewing as I tear the wrapper off my chocolate.

“She’s gonna chew your head off,” Abe shook his head, a little smile playing on his lips. No judgments in his eyes as he spared me a side glance.

He’s not wrong. Mom’s definitely going to fucking curse me and play the passive-aggressive shit if she sees me gorging these snacks. Fuck her. I hurriedly bit off a piece of my milk chocolate and grabbed the Diet Coke from one of Abe’s huge hands. Seriously, how was it possible for him to hold four beverages on both? I opened the can, and washed the sickeningly sweet taste off my mouth with another source of carbohydrate.

Heaven.

“Unless you shut your fucking mouth, she’s never gonna find out.” My quip was met with a snort. I chewed the potato chips even louder at Abe’s direction, bits of it scatter on his dark jeans. “And FYI,” I said, swallowing the all too salty treat, “Diet Coke isn’t even real Coke.”

I scoffed at the audacity, but I still gulped down the drink despite what I said.

He has the decency to look startled. “Hey, I thought you’d appreciate the gesture. At least one of us was wary of what you put in your mouth.”

Now I didn’t miss the subtle hint in his words especially when it was laced with the tiniest bit of bitterness. But this isn’t the time for that discussion. There was something I want to talk to him about, anyway.

“So you found him, huh?” I inquired with all the subtleness I could muster. Sometimes, Abe draws back so fast I don’t get the chance to squeeze anything out of him. “You must be…”

I let the sentence hang, wanting him to fill it in.

“Pretty fucking ecstatic?”

I wasn’t prepared for his answer coming out as a question.

“You’re not?”

Abe opened one of the energy drinks he got, and took a long drag. “I guess I should, but…”

For a few seconds, I waited. When he first told me about it tonight, I thought I’d actually saw a flash of excitement in his eyes. Gratitude. I might just have confused it with something else. Of what, I’m not entirely sure.

Abe’s chest rumbled as he laughed darkly. “If you knew what I had to go through to find him,” his intense stare found mine. Tucking a stray hair from my bun to my ear, Abe continued, “Relief would be the farthest thing from what you’d feel.”

A little constriction became present in my chest. If only I knew, but I never would. Because he’d never tell me. I know but I don’t. Not really. It makes me nervous every time Abe disappears and doesn’t let me know where he was. We let each other know of our whereabouts, that’s just the way it has been since we were little. The times he doesn’t reply or dodge my question about where he was is a hint enough that he doesn’t want me to know.

“What do we do now?” Even if he excludes me, I’m still going to try.

He took another swig of his drink, shaking his head. “Ane - ”

“You don’t want me to interfere, I got the message.” I sounded annoyed, as I should be. He wants me out of his shit but he’s not gonna throw me out of his life which what is quickly becoming this.

I blew out a breath as his glare bore a hole in me. I love my brother but I swear to god he’s becoming more and more stubborn as he ages. “Fine. What ’s your next move?”

A frown crosses his brows and he opened his mouth, no doubt to tell me he couldn’t tell me anything - no shit, Sherlock - but before he could, I hold out one finger up his face.

“You don’t have to tell me the specifics. Just,” I move my hands in the air, trying to articulate what I meant. “Tell me something,” I finally settled. “Anything.”

His lips pursed as he study me thoughtfully. I’m not asking for much. He lets me do me and I let him do him. Neither of us willing to let go of our drives. Still, we care too much to really just ignore what we’d gotten ourselves into.

“Don’t you worry about me,” he said quietly. “I won’t do anything stupid. In fact, I think we may have gotten someone to help me get in.”

“We meaning you and Carter?” I asked without thinking and immediately regretted my impulse. Abe’s back straightened and I cursed myself inwardly.

I’ve seen the guy in the shadows lurking even before out family moved to this town. I know he’s the same guy who’d been with my brother all this time. Abe doesn’t just trust anyone. If he couldn’t trust the man he was with before, he wouldn’t have one with him right now.

It had to be the guy calling him before with his name flashing on the screen.

Carter Bolin.

Just when I unravelled another piece from the secret life of my brother, I had to ruin it by running my stupid mouth.

I’m a little afraid to gauge Abe’s reaction so I kept my gaze on the now empty bag of chips and the folded wrapper of what’s left of my chocolate bar. There’s no escaping my way out of this one. Abe clearly heard me. Will he shut like a clam again on me this time? Will I be able to get him to open up when I myself keep secrets from him?

When he spoke again, his voice was deliberately slow, as if measuring the length of my knowledge. “Yes. I meant us.”

He’s not getting anything else from me. He has to do the talking. I mean, it’s not like I know more than just a single name on his phone. I wouldn’t have even noticed if I wasn’t also awake at the dead of the night as he slipped out his bedroom window in our old home.

“I’ll go slow and keep it low, unnoticed. I’ll still play the game but I’m going to bend the rules. I’m going to find out the truth and get what I want.”

Instead of elaborating, he’s choosing to turn a blind eye on my perceptiveness and gave me what I asked for. Something. Not entirely useless but not of importance either. Just a string of vengeance words. For someone who hates drama, Abe has a penchant for dramatic quotes and he doesn’t even realize it.

Of course, I know this is just the beginning. A preamble to what was about to go down once Abe finally faces -

A loud crack followed by a muffled shout had both of our heads snapping towards Nana’s door. I looked at Abe with questioning eyes. What was it?

“Maybe she’s awake,” he supplied. His forehead crumpled in a frown, fists tightening around the neck of the bottle.

Then a pained sob broke out and Abe was out of his chair faster than lightning, storming back to the room like an oncoming tornado. I jumped from my seat just as quickly, following closely behind.


***


Author's note:

Hi, everybody! 🤗

How are you guys? I hope you're all doing well 🥰

It's so good to b back here on Inkitt 🙈 Fortunately, I got to publish this story again after it was pulled out. I'd like to thank everyone who still supported the story even when I was only able to publish it on Wattpad.

Here's the other half of Ane's chapter (already published on Wattpad along with the previous chapter as one whole chapter, as I actually intended).

I'm sorry if I'd been gone for a long time again. It's just that this story being removed from Inkitt really affected me more than I first thought it did, even more so than I'd actually admit.

To add salt to the wound, I (stupidly) thought it was a great idea to read It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover in time with moving between houses, while still reeling from the removal of my story in this platform. It's just all been overwhelming and I took comfort in reading plenty of books to try and distract myself from sadness. I'd been active on bookstagram just finding escape.

Hope you guys still want to continue reading this story. Of course I've written the next chapter, I just don't have the courage to publish it yet because the impostor syndrome has been really getting under my skin.

I'll always be thankful to all of you who reads this story and encourage me every step of the way 🥰

Stay safe, everyone 🌹


Yours,

Ama ❤️

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