Mrs. Colleway broke down and started crying.
“Mom, it’s OK. We’re here now. We’ll figure out how to take him down,” Xavier said in a soothing voice. His face was red and silent tears were streaming down his cheeks.
She shook her head. “I saw him beat Aric. I think he’s dead too.”
I quickly shook my head. “He isn’t dead. He’s alive but badly injured. My brother isn’t dead!”
Mrs. Colleway looked at me then nodded. “That thing. It was so savage. He killed your mother in cold blood. He didn’t have any remorse. He wanted to kill her. I saw everything.” She buried her face in her hands and cried some more. “But why did he leave me? Why didn’t he kill me too?” she moaned. Xavier tried to calm her, but she moved away from him. “He didn’t even touch me. He barely looked my way while I was screaming for him to stop.” She tried to get up but fell to her knees.
“Mom, please.” Xavier tried to hold her but she shook him off again.
She tried to stand up again, but this time with the help of the bedside table. “Just don’t touch me. Please.”
Xavier stood up too, and raised his hands in surrender. “OK, Mom. I won’t. Just sit down on the bed please.”
Mrs. Colleway shook her head and muttered something we couldn’t hear. “What is it, Mom?” Xavier asked softly.
“I want to go home. I can’t be here right now. Laylah is dead. My best friend is dead. I just saw this thing kill one of the most important people in my life. He was so brutal and sadistic.”
Xavier was about to say something, but he was cut off by the ambulance siren. I ran out of the room and down the stairs, followed by Xavier. I stopped and looked at Aric’s unmoving form. I knelt down beside him while Xavier walked passed me to open to the front door.
“It’s OK now. You are going to be OK, Aric. The ambulance is here,” I whispered softly to him.
I couldn’t bear to see him like this. It made my heart ache. I was still whispering quietly to him, when I noticed a nurse kneeling down on the other side of him.
“Miss, please step out of the way. We need to hurry. He’s losing a lot of blood.”
I nodded, and Xavier pulled me to my feet. I turned around and hugged him hard. He returned my hug, and as I was going to step out of his embrace, he held on to me tightly. He caressed my hair and murmured in my ear. “Shh, let it out, Alexia. I’m here.”
As soon as he said the words, I let out an angry cry. It was an ugly, choking cry. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Me neither, but we need to be strong,” Xavier reasoned with me.
I pushed away from him and glared up at him. “Really? I just saw my mom lying dead in a pool of her blood and my brother almost dead. You want me to be strong? I don’t know how to do this.” I almost shouted the last sentence.
Before he could stay anything else, I cut him off. “My dad is dead and now my mother. She was murdered. And my brother, I don’t even know if he is going to make it. What will I do if he dies too?” I was distraught. I thought I was losing my mind, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get away from all of this.
I turned to walk away, but Xavier stopped me and spoke firmly. “Alexia, your brother is still alive, and right now you need to be with him. And I’m here for you. You are not alone! And you think I’m not grieving for your mother? She was important to me too. She was my second mother,” Xavier continued in a soft voice.
I looked into his face. He was looking at me with pleading eyes. I knew my pitiable situation was affecting him, but he still had his mother. I didn’t.
I swallowed hard and finally nodded. “I’m going to ride with Aric in the ambulance.”
Xavier sighed in relief. “I’m sorry I can’t come with you. I need to be with my mom right now. She’s still upstairs.”
I gave him a small nod to show my understanding.
“I told them about your mother. They will take her body away too.”
Just at the mention of my mother, I felt the tears starting again. I quickly swiped them away. Xavier was right. I needed to be strong. Not just for Aric but for myself.
“OK.” I tried to sound strong, but by the look of sympathy that crossed Xavier’s face, I knew I sounded as broken as I felt. I quickly walked away, towards the ambulance that was still in my driveway. There were two paramedics and three nurses.
When I approached them, I heard a petite blonde say in a quiet voice. “It looks like a massacre happened in there.” Her colleague gave a nod. Their faces were pale.
When they noticed me, their expressions changed to sympathy. “Miss, how can we help you?” the woman said.
“I’m his sister. My name is Alexia Mercier.” I pointed at Aric, who was being loaded in the ambulance. “This is my brother, Aric Mercier. I would like to ride with him in the ambulance to the hospital.”
They looked at me for a moment before muttering a quick “Sure.”
I climbed into the ambulance and sat beside Aric’s stretcher. A nurse was sitting on the other side of him, doing who knows what. He was white as sheet. “Can I hold his hand?” I asked.
The nurse looked up at me and gave me a sweet smile. “Of course, sweetie.” She looked to be my mother’s age. I noticed her eyes were grey. I choked back a sob and shut my eyes tightly. Her eyes reminded me of my mother.
A paramedic came and was about to close the ambulance door when I caught a glimpse of my mother. She was in a black bag. The black bag that they put dead people in. My hands were shaking, and I couldn’t take my eyes from my mother’s body. I saw another nurse zipping her up. He zipped her inside the bag until her face wasn’t showing anymore.
She really was dead. The reality hit me with such great force that I found it hard to breathe. The man closed the doors with a bang as I was still fighting for my breath.
My eyes started to tear up and my heart went up to my throat. I swallowed hard and tried to calm myself.
“Miss, are you going to be all right?”
I rubbed a shaky hand over my face and nodded. When I opened my eyes again, the grey-eyed woman was staring at me intently. I gave her a tight smile and said, “I’m not OK, but I need to be strong for my brother.”
When we got to the hospital, everything happened so fast. It was all a blur. They took Aric into a cubicle in emergency and told me to wait. So I waited. I must have slept because the next thing I knew; I was being shaken awake. “Miss?”
I opened my eyes groggily, and when I saw the blonde nurse standing over me, I quickly jumped to my feet. “What happened? Is he OK? How is he now? Is he awake?” I fired the questions at her,
She put a hand on my shoulder. “Miss, calm down. Deep breath in and deep breath out. Can you please do that right now?”
I did as I was told, and when she was satisfied I wasn’t having a panic attack, she answered my questions. “Your brother is OK now. He has a very long recovery ahead of him, but he’ll be fine.”
I sighed in relief. “How bad is he?”
“Well, he’s very banged up. He has four broken ribs, a bad concussion, his left leg and right arm are broken. His body is pretty battered — but he’ll be OK.”
I grimaced and said quietly, “That’s really bad.”
When the nurse nodded and turned to leave, I caught her hand and asked a final question. “Can I see him now?”
“Yes, Miss Mercier, you can,” she replied, “You’ll find him in room 348.”
When I arrived at Aric’s room, I stopped outside. It took me a few minutes to gather the courage to open his door.
He was the first thing I saw. He was lying in bed, unconscious and looking so broken. I walked over to his bed and sat down on the chair next to him. I took his hand in mine and laid my head on top of it. “I’m here now. It’s going to be OK, but I just need you to open your eyes. Please?”