“Thanks, Janson,” I say. “Take care, they are in the garden.”
“None of your concern, chap,” he says hanging up.
I try to calm myself but fears are building in my chest and false images are crowding my mind. I think if how mom and Ethan are okay leaving er alone. I’d never forgive them.
My phone beeps, announcing a message from Janson.
Did you tell Ethan and aunt Molly?
I text him back.
I didn’t and I won’t.
It takes him a few seconds to text me back.
They’d get worried if they drop there and don’t fine her.
I roll my eyes; he’s concerned about their feelings.
Serves them right. Why didn’t they get worried when they left her? Anything could’ve happened to her!
He doesn’t answer. A nagging voice keeps bothering me.
“You left her as well,” the creepy voice says.
I pushed it away. I left her with mom and Ethan, I’d never leave her alone. Ever.
I lay my head on the window. The driver glances at me and asks,
I nod and close my eyes.
My phone rings and I answer.
“I’m with her,” says Janson.
“How’s she?” I ask abruptly.
“Uh…she’s fine,” he says.
“She has some bruises,” he says taking a deep breath. “But rather than that, she’s okay.”
“Is she crying?” I ask, my heart aching for her, just to see her and calm her down. Tell her everything is going to be okay.
“Yes,” answers Janson. “I think she’s crying more because she’s been left alone than she’s been beaten by the bastard.”
“I didn’t leave her alone,” I say heavily, trying to convince myself more than him.
“Calm down, mate,” he says. “I got her, she’s fine. Everything is going to be okay.”
I stay silent.
“Grace made her tea,” he says.
I choke on my own saliva, “Grace made her tea?”
He laughs lightly, “No, Grace will make me tea. But I didn’t tell her it’s for Amelia.”
“Can I talk to her?” I say.
“Grace?” he asks, sounding confused.
“No,” I say, disgusted. “My sister.”
There was the sound of shuffling and noise, “She’s asleep, she looks so cute yet sad.”
I inhale deeply, “Good, I’m on my way, cover her with some blankets.”
“Sure,” he says.
“I’m going to take my car,” I say.
“Yeah, good,” he says and stays silent for a second. “I’m not sure if it’s a good idea, Brad. Your dad will be so angry and he’ll go to London and get her.”
“Amelia?” I say.
“Yes, he’ll get her back,” he says.
“Tell you something?” I say.
“Take Amelia to yours,” I say. “I’ll meet you guys there.”
“What?” he asks. “Why?”
“Just do it.”
“Brand – ”
I cut him off, “I don’t want to bump into dad.”
“I’ll take my car and meet you at yours,” I say.
“Where’s the point?” he says. “You might meet with your dad.”
“Just do it, Jans.”
He stays silent and then, “OK.”
After an hour and a half, true to the driver’s word, we arrive at my house. I check the parking, but dad isn’t there nor is Oswald. Grace is sitting on the porch, shaking with a steaming mug clutched with both hands. She leaps to her feet at the sight of me.
“Brandon,” she breaths shakily. “You’re back.”
“I am,” I say and walk to my car. She follows me.
“Your – your sister,” she says, shaking. “She’s – ”
“I know,” I say, rummaging in my pocket for my keys. “Why would I be here, all the way from London?”
She stays silent, “Where did Janson take her?”
“None of your business,” I shoot. “Don’t get involved in our business.”
I unlock my PMW when she puts her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry for everything I had done before,” she says, her blue eyes glossing. Drama queen.
“I don’t care about what you have done to me," I say. I care about what have you done to my sister, and parting us.”
“I was only jealous you love her, Oswald doesn’t care about me the way you do her,” she whispers.
“I’m your brother, you know?” I say. “If you weren’t that cruel, you and your mother and brother. I would have loved you as I love my sister, and I would have cared.”
“I am your sister,” she says, tears flowing.
“And what sister does put her brother in all that trouble?” I ask.
“Freaking Grace?” she whispers.
I laugh dryly, “I’m leaving now, I have nothing in this house anymore.”
“Your mother,” she says.
“Is a betrayal,” I finish.
There was the sudden sound of a car horn, making both of us jump. Oswald’s drives like a psycho and park in front of us. His windows blacked out, he opens his door and climbs out.
Oswald’s ripped jeans hanging low on his waist and his denim ripped jacket blotched with Champagne. His black her messy and his shades hiding his drunken blue eyes.
“Well, well, well,” he sneers. His voice is steady, a sign that he’s still sober. “My dear brother is back? What for?”
“Taking my car,” I say.
“And what’s my sister doing with you?” he asks, taking his shades off.
“Ask her,” I say.
He takes a few steps toward me and stop.
“Back for her?” he sneers.
And he lands a punch on my cheekbone. I hear Grace shrieking. The whole world started slowing but I managed a punch on his nose.
“Your sister,” I say, panting. “Is my step sister. I’m not a psycho.”
He touches his nose and looks at me, he comes forward, preparing for a punch which I am ready to doge. But Grace takes his arm and stops him.
“I was lying!” she exclaims. “He didn’t try anything. He didn’t do anything of what I have said last week...I am the one who has feelings not…him.”
I raise my eyebrows; Oswald froze beside me.
“YOU WHAT?” he exclaims.
“What you heard,” she says quietly.
He takes a few steps towards her, “HIM? You need a lesson, sis.”
He prepares a punch but I dodge his hand away
“What’s it to you and beating girls?” I shout.
He pushes me and slams her hardly, the force has thrown her back. He starts panting hardly and walk to his car, takes a bottle of vodka and drowns it in one. I stare at him. He starts slumping, gets in his car and drive, his wheels screeching loudly. I look at Grace, if he comes back and stay with her, he might kill her. I walk to her.
“Where’s dad and Suzanne?” I ask.
She’s sobbing, “Out.”
“When are they coming?” I ask.
I press my lips into a hard line. I can’t just leave her here.
Yes, I hate her. But she doesn’t deserve to be killed by a mad drunk. Which happened to be our brother.
I sigh, “Stand up, I’ll take you somewhere safe.”
She stares at me with wide eyes, “I – I can’t leave. He’ll kill me.”
“I’ll take you to your aunt’s,” I say. “She lives here, right?”
She nods, “But Oswald – ”
“Bring your phone and come,” I say. “I don’t have all day; he’ll be back in any time. I’ll call dad and tell him you are at your aunt’s”
She looks at me and stand up, “Thanks, Brandon.”
“Don’t thank me,” I say. “Nothing has changed between us. I just can’t leave you here, a murder might happen then.”
She nods and walks to my car, she sits in the passenger seat. I climb in the car.
“Do you have your phone?” I ask.
“Give it to me,” I say.
She hands me my phone, when Janson starts ringing on my phone. I dial dad through her phone.
“Hi, darling,” he says.
“Hello,” I say. “I’m Brandon.”
“Bran – ” he chokes. “Where’s Grace! What are – ”
“Dad,” I say firmly. “Oswald has drunk to a dangerous level. He hit Amelia and Grace. They are alone at your house. I took care of Amelia. She doesn’t want to live there anymore. I’m taking Grace to her aunt’s.”
“What!?” he bellows. “You’re taking Amelia?!”
“Listen,” I say. “Let’s keep it on her choice. Now, your daughter is at her aunt’s.”
“Okay,” he says.
“And your son,” I say. “If you keep letting him drink like this he’d die of poison or might make anything which will lay him in prison, you better hold him down.”
“I know my job as a father,” he says firmly.
“I’m just saying,” I say and hung up. I hand her phone back to her.
“What does he say?” she asks.
I shrug, “I’m taking Amelia to London with me. I don’t want her dealing with Oswald’s drunken tantrums.”
“He’s your brother,” I say. “You have your father and mother. Amelia has no one. She has me.”
We stay silent as I drive and I feel guilt. But what shall I do? I’m not taking her as well to London. I laughed at the thought mentally.
“Brandon,” she says.
“Would you ever forgive me for what happened?” she asks.
I stay silent and consider what she has asked, would I? I can forgive her on everything she has done to me. I already did, she tried to defend me when her brother punched me and put herself in problems pretending that she had feelings for me. But I don’t think I can forgive her for what she has done to Amelia.
“You took my sister’s childhood,” I say. “She can’t have it back now, and I don’t think I can ever forgive someone who hurt my sister. She’s all I have.”
I don’t look at her, but I hear a sob.
When we reach her aunt’s house, I walk out of my car and open her door and then walk to her aunt’s front door and knock twice. Her aunt opens and looks at me.
She frowns, “You are Suzanne’s step son?”
I nod, “Grace is staying here this night.”
“I thought you moved to London,” she says.
I nod and look at the disgusted look on her face, a look which has been probably planted by Suzanne’s tales about me.
“You’ll never see me again,” I say. “I promise.”
She looks surprised at what I have said. I walk back to my car and stop at the sight of Grace. She’s standing out of the car, drenched in tears.
“Thank you, Bran-Brandon,” she sobs.
I nod and walk to the other side but stop in my way and walk back to her. I take a few steps towards her and hug her. She freezes but then puts her head in my chest and hug me back, crying and soaking my shirt with tears.
“I’m – I’m sorry,” she sobs.
I pat her back, asking myself what on earth am I doing.
“I always wished I was Amelia,” she sobs. “That you defend me and hug me when I cry. And hit the bullies who annoy me. Everything I have done is out of jealousy and childish attempts to get your pity…”
I shut my eyes, “It’s okay.”
She pulls away and looks at me, “Take care.”
“I do,” I say. “You take care from him.”
“I have to go now,” I say.
She nods again and I walk away. I sit in my passenger seat and don’t look at her or her aunt at all. I drive away and never look back.
“You did the right thing,” a voice says. Every girl needs to feel loved and secured. You gave your step sister this. Just for a minute.”
I drive to Janson’s as quick as the speed limits can allow me.
I park in front of his gates and climb down. I ring on the doorbell and Janson answers.
“Is she asleep?” I ask.
He shakes his head.
“Lead the way,” I say. He gets in and I follow him. He takes me to the living room and there she was. Sitting on one of the couches, wrapped with a blanket and a mug in hand. I walk to her and pull her into my arms at once. She wraps her small arms around me tightly and cry.
My jumper gets wet again but I realise that the tears are a mixture of mine as well. I stroke her red hair and put my head on the back of her head, urging her to lean on me and she does. I sit on the coach and we stay there like this.
I close my eyes not wanting to see her state. Both of her cheekbones are bruised. Her lip is cut and is still slightly bleeding, the pyjamas shorts she’s wearing reveals the purple bruise on her right leg and I can’t suppress my tears. I lean down and hide my head in her neck and let the tears pour down. If I didn’t move to London none of this would’ve happened. The drunken psycho might have gone further than that, she might have been…
I shake the thought away and look at her.
Janson comes in and looks at us.
“It’s late,” he says. “Would you stay here and leave tomorrow.”
I shake my head. No more Manchester.
“I’m going now,” I say. “I want to leave as soon as possible.”
He nods in understanding, “I’ll be at Tyler’s at Thursday.”
“I’m staying there,” I say. “The boilers at Dorm needs fixing so I’m staying there.”
“And then,” he says. “Where would Amelia stay? Not the dorm.”
I nod, “I’ll sort it, I have some fortune in bank.”
“So?” he asks.
“I’m going to buy an apartment,” I say.
He raises his eyebrows, “Do you know how much it costs.”
“I don’t care,” I say. “I’ll just put all I have.”
He nods, “Do you want anything to eat or drink?”
I shake my head.
“What’s wrong with your face anyway?” he asks.
“The drunken psycho,” I say.
“What?” he asks. “What happened?”
“Later,” I say, nodding towards Amelia who has her face buried in my chest.
“Let’s go, Ames,” I say.
She stands up and hold her hand.
“Thanks, Jans,” I say. “I really appreciate your helping.”
“Dude,” he says. “Amelia is our lovely kitten, how shan’t I help?”
I smile. Amelia hugs Janson.
“Thank you,” she says.
“Welcome,” he says. “You’re my cousin. I must help.”
I nod and we walk out. Amelia climbs into the passenger seat and
I sit my seat and turn the engine on. We wave to Janson and drive away. I turn my google GPS because I am bad at directions and especially when it’s dark.
I look at Amelia; she has a ghost of a smile playing on her lips which made me smile in spite all of what happened.
“When did Ethan move?” I ask.
She looks at me, “He has been preparing to move since last week. But he only moved this morning.”
My jaw tightens, “He didn’t tell you he’s moving?”
She shakes her head, “He didn’t even tell mom.”
I press my lips into a hard line and feel Amelia’s head on my shoulder.
“I love you, brother,” she says. “I thought you all left me for good.”
I shake my head, my chest tightening, “I would never leave you. And from now on, you’ll always stay with me. Mom and dad are not responsible of you anymore. I promise I’ll take care of you and make you the happiest and luckiest sister alive.”
“I am the luckiest sister alive,” she says and I can hear the smile in her voice.
“Kitten,” I smile. ”I am the luckiest brother alive.”
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