ARCHWIZARD (TROY SANDERS BOOK 3)

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5: The Night I Had a Heart-to-Heart With My Brother

I tossed and turned for a while in bed before finally giving up and getting out of my room. I don’t even know exactly what to do right now, I realized as I walked down the corridor; the only thing certain was that I couldn’t sleep.

I reached the staircase that led to the upper parts of the house and an idea suddenly wedged its way into my head. Why not go to the terrace on the third floor? And I decided to do exactly that- I mean I wouldn’t be hurting anybody, now would I?

I opened the door to the terrace and the night air hit me full blast. I should have brought a coat, I realized a little too late, the air was damn chilly. I walked towards the statues of the two gryphons facing each other and positioned as if they’re about to fly; the crest of the house of Sanders, I’d been told.

I noticed that one of the gryphons had a person on its back; Stan. He had hidden himself so well that you had to really look before you saw him there.

“Couldn’t sleep either, huh?” I asked as I sat down on the back of the second gryphon. The statues were really huge and located at the edge of the terrace which made the ground look really far down; or maybe it was actually that far down.

“Please leave me in peace, Troy,” he muttered and concentrated on digging into a bowl of popcorn while looking ahead and pretending that I would just turn into dust. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t and after a while, he passed me the bowl. “Have a go at it,” he said.

“Thanks,” I received the bowl from him and ate some popcorn before passing the bowl back to him. We did that for some time without talking.

“Why do you hate me so much?” I suddenly asked some moments after we finished the popcorn and now laid on the back of the gryphons watching the stars; a can of soda hovered magically between us but none of us made a grab for it.

“I don’t know really,” he replied. “Besides, ‘hate’ is a strong word. Sure, I don’t like you, but I don’t hate you either. Dislike is more like it.”

“So, why?” I persisted.

“You just seemed like the right person to blame for Mom and Dad’s falling out.”

I raised myself up on an elbow and turned to give him a confused look; all that was news to me. “Oliver and your mom are divorced?”

“Yes,” he replied as he assumed the same position I was, without the confused look of course. “About four years now.”

“I’m so sorry about that, Stan. But you have to know that Oliver knew about me just two years ago.”

“Actually, he knew about you way longer before that,” he corrected and I quirked an eyebrow; another confused expression. “Many years as I was growing up, there were nights when I would hear Mom and Dad screaming and arguing over you.”

I felt really bad. I never wanted to be the cause of anyone’s marriage going down the drain, especially not Oliver’s. And fortunately for me, Stan wasn’t dwelling on it.

“The real truth is that you have nothing to be sorry for. Their marriage would have fallen apart even without you being an issue. Oliver is an insensitive jerk and I’ve got to admit that Mom can be a first class bitch when she wants to be. They just weren’t made for each other,” he said with a simple shrug for such a heavy statement.

“Is that her?” I asked when I saw him pull out a photograph out of his pocket and looked at it.

“Yes,” he replied, passing me the photograph to look at. The woman in the picture was really beautiful. She had a face that reminded you of a Russian model, nice black eyes that turned magical grey in the moonlight and a long blonde hair reaching down to her shoulders- was it just me or did Oliver have a thing for blondes?

“Her name is Nicole Slaine. She comes from a long line of powerful and rich wizards in. Her divorce wasn’t taken lightly by the family, especially because they believed that she was the sole cause of the bad breakup, and she became estranged with everyone, even her own twin sister.”

It sounded like life wasn’t going well for Nicole and I couldn’t help but feel kinda responsible for that even though Stan insisted otherwise. “Is she okay now?” I asked.

“More than okay,” he replied with a short laugh. “She set herself up quite nicely in Texas with the money she got from the divorce. She’s dating another guy now and I think they’re gonna get married any time soon. But no matter how well he treats me, the fact remains that he’s just not...”

“He’s not Oliver,” I completed for him, a small ‘I understand where you’re coming from’ smile on my face.

I really did understand Stan’s pain even if he might not believe me. I mean, I would feel awkward too if Mom hooked up with another guy. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded so much before my life as a full Sanders but I couldn’t just see anyone else taking up the father role in my life other than Oliver now.

“It’s a sappy world, really,” I said with a long sigh as I grabbed the soda and took a swig before passing it to Stan who did likewise.

“Real sappy, brother,” he replied with a sigh to match mine and we both laid back down on the gryphons.

“Troy,” he called after a while.

“Yeah?”

“I just wanted you to know I think you’re a cool dude.”

“Thanks, I think so about you too. Although you show that side of you very rarely.”

“That’s the way I want it,” he replied and got up; it was obviously time to go.

“And before I forget,” he said as he closed the gap between us and reduced his voice to its minimum when he said, “If you tell anyone any of this, I swear I’ll kill you in your sleep.”

“Don’t worry Stan Sanders, your secret’s safe with me,” I replied and surprisingly, he hugged me real tight. Okay, that kid has really surprised me a lot of times tonight, can I die now?

Of course, it was probably the loneliness combined with the sugar rush from our little feast that caused us to act like that but I would still enjoy it anyway. Tonight, nothing else matters; Stan and I were brothers that loved, cared and protected each other. Tomorrow; well, tomorrow we could go back to dis-liking each other.

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