This is the first bonus chapter I will be posting. It is in Kai's POV.
"Kai! Kai! Catch me!" She screams loudly. Before I can register what's happening, she is falling from the top of the slide. My automatic instincts take over; I rush over to her and stretch my arms out in the blink of an eye. Fortunately for me, I manage to catch her just in time.
Her smile is large and full of life. Her giggles are beautiful—they sound so angelic.
My beautiful niece is every bit the angel we all think she is. She is sweet yet feisty. This girl is going to grow up to be a heartbreaker. Just like her mother.
Rose gives me a toothy grin and then leaps out of my arms. She skips away, happier than ever. A smile forms on my lips as I stare at her in a brotherly way. Rose may be my cousin's daughter but I see her as my younger sister. She is this ray of sunshine that keeps me together.
With my parents threatening to kick me out of the house, along with my best friend being charged with murder, I have a lot going on in my life. Having Rose around me helps so much. She brings joy to my heart.
I watch her happily play in the park. My cousin, Michelle, is at the hospital, getting the results from the doctor. Rose hasn’t been feeling too well recently. She complains about having headaches a lot. At first, we thought she was just one of those unlucky people who suffer from headaches regularly but after a while, things weren’t adding up. Michelle thought the best thing to do was to go to the doctor. They too were a bit miffed by what was happening so they decided to run some tests.
Which brings us to now.
My phone begins to buzz, knocking me out of my thoughts. Pulling the phone out of my pocket, I catch a glimpse of Michelle’s name before answering the phone.
“Hello cousin, how’s it going?” I ask her, my tone happy.
“It’s going great!” Her chirpy voice replies. I smile, already knowing the trip to the doctors went okay. If it didn’t, Michelle would be bawling her eyes out right now.
“So I assume the results were okay?” I ask.
I can imagine her nodding her head, forgetting that we are speaking over the phone.
“Yeah, she got the all-clear. I’m so glad.” She replies. I know she is so thankful. She loves Rose more than anything else. Since Rose’s father isn’t in the picture, she feels as if she has to double the love she shows to Rose. Michelle loves Rose more than the ocean loves the moon.
Michelle proceeds to tell me all about the appointment. Afterward, we discuss who is going to look after Rose tomorrow night. Michelle and I both have to attend a party so Michele is hiring a nanny. She’s a bit nervous about it actually. She doesn’t like leaving Rose with a stranger. I suggested hiring my best friend's sister who is in year 11. She’s sweet and does a good job.
“I bet she is good...” Michelle drawls out, taking a deep breath. “I just...this is my little girl. I’m a mum and mums worry.”
“I get that, Michelle. But you’ve been working non-stop. You need some time to yourself.” I argue, stating the truth. Michelle works very hard just to keep both of them afloat. I chip in when I can, even though Michelle hates me doing it. She doesn’t like being seen as a charity case.
I hear her sigh over the phone. For a few moments, she doesn’t make a sound as she mentally debates with herself.
“Okay, fine,” she eventually relents. “Call up your friend and tell his sister she has to be at mine for 7.”
We hung up then. It was at that moment Rose decided to surprise me.
“Boo!” She screamed in my ear. Jerking backward in shock, I feel my heart hammer in my chest.
“You are a little menace,” I tell her, feigning a glare. “I guess I’m just going to have to chase the menace away.”
She catches onto what I'm saying and starts running away.
“That’s so mean uncle Kai!” She hollers over her shoulder, never stopping.
After giving her a small head start, I start chasing after her.
Later that evening, I drop a sleeping Rose off at Michelle’s house. Dressed immaculately, she steps out of her house and approaches my car. A smile graces her lips, showing off her pearly white teeth.
At the sight of her mother, Rose bounces up and down in her car seat.
Michelle’s smile widens at the sight of her daughter. Anyone right now would be able to sense the love between these two. It’s unconditional.
Swiftly opening the car door, Michelle cocoons herself around Rose. For several moments, they hug each other tightly like it was their last time with each other. Michelle opens an eye and motions for me to join in. Gladly, I do.
It might not be much but these two people are my family.
“—it was an unfortunate occurrence. We tried our very—“
“Shut up!” Michelle yells through tears. She sobs into her hands and crumbles to the ground. The last bit of strength escapes her, leaving her numb.
Crouching down onto my knees, I gently place a hand on her back and begin rubbing soothing circles. Silent tears leave my eyes and run down my face.
“You are wrong, you are all wrong,” Michelle mutters, brokenly. “This is all a nightmare. I’m going to wake up now.”
Standing up, she furiously wipes the tears away from her cheeks and punches herself on the arm. The whole scenario reminds me of Alice In Wonderland, where Alice refuses to believe she’s in Wonderland. Just like Alice, Michelle doesn’t wake up from some nightmare.
Discovering this isn’t a nightmare caused Michelle to snap.
“Oh my god, my baby is dead.” She sobs into her hands, shaking like a leaf. My heart breaks for my dear cousin—the only family member who I really called family.
She doesn’t deserve this. It is wrong. So wrong.
“Ma’m, I’m so so—“
“Don’t.” Michelle cuts him off with a harsh glare. Slowly, she lowers her hands from her face and lets them hang by her sides. She stares deadly at the doctor who gave her the traumatic news.
“But Miss Carmichael...”
Once again, she interrupts him. “I don’t want to hear any excuses.”
“We tried our hardest.” The doctor manages to slice in, taking a cautious step closer to her. “We were just too late.”
The hard-hitting truth destroys Michelle. I lunge at her and catch her before she falls. Her shoulders tremble in my hold. I try and remain strong for her even though my outward appearance is faltering. Michelle needs someone to help her through this and I know she won’t get any sympathy from her parents. They are the epitome of cold. Her parents have never truly helped Michelle in any way and when they found out she was pregnant at sixteen, they kicked her out.
If it wasn’t for her willpower, Michelle wouldn’t be as strong as she was today. However, right now it’s like all of that strength is disappearing down the cracks of the floor. The mom in her is vanishing—dying just like her daughter.
And I don’t know what to do about it.
“You—you,” she stammers, trying to blame someone. The truth is, it’s no one's fault. “It’s all that stupid babysitter’s fault.”
For the millionth time, she cuts someone off.
“If you hadn’t have persuaded me to go out tonight, she would be fine. She wouldn’t have snuck out. You told me Katie was reliable.” She explains, getting angrier and angrier as she talks. “You said Rose would be fine. That she would be safe.”
“You can’t put this on Katie. She did everything you asked. She thought Rose was asleep.” I counter, defending the fifteen-year-old girl who didn’t deserve to be blamed. She did what Michelle asked of her. It’s not her fault Rose escaped—she thought she was asleep.
“But still...she should have checked more often.” Michelle retorts with watery eyes.
It feels as though this conversation is going in a loop.
“You told her to check every half an hour. She sent you pictures every half an hour just like you said. Even you thought she was asleep.”
Michelle sucks in a shaky breath and steps away from me. The doctors eye her warily as if she is a dangerous patient who needs to be sedated.
“What am I going to do?” Michelle whispers after several minutes. Nobody responds at first, not knowing what to say. It’s a terrible thing losing a child. The thought that the parent outlives their own child is dreadful. I don’t know if Michelle will ever get over this.
“What am I going to do, Kai?” She directs the question at me this time.
Swallowing the thick lump in my throat, I rack my brain for an answer. I want to say something to help relieve the pain. I want to help her instead of being hopeless.
“I—I,” comes my supposed helpful answer.
What can I really say to her? She lost her child—nothing can help her right now.
“How about we get a hot drink?”
Two years later
“Hello, Kai,” Michelle greets me with a small smile. She opens the door wider and gestures for me to walk in. She’s wearing casual clothing with an apron on top.
“It’s good to see you,” I tell her honestly. I haven’t seen her in a couple of months due to our schedules. Now that I have started a new college, things are difficult. I can’t see her as much anymore which worries me. I’ve heard from one of Michelle’s close friends that she doesn’t socialize anymore. She goes to work and then comes home. Nothing more and nothing less. She’s like a robot.
Michelle quietly repeats my words and lets me in.
Stepping inside her small house, I'm reminded of all the times I spent with Rose in here. When she would 'accidentally' paint the walls or when she would hide behind the sofa.
Without her, the house seems dull. It doesn't have the homely feeling it used to have.
"Tea?" Michelle asks and I nod my head whilst shrugging my coat off.
"That would be lovely," I tell her and head into the living room. Photos of Rose are littered all around the room, making me heart squeeze painfully. One that catches my eye is of all three of us two years ago. It was taken a few weeks before Roses' death.
As if I'm in a trance, I walk over to it and carefully pick it up. My eyes start to water thinking about how great that day was.
"That's my favorite photo," Michelle states from behind me. Swiveling around on my heels, I crack a sad smile.
"Mine too," I tell her, honestly. "It was a great day."
"We were happy. All of us." Michelle says, almost as if she's talking more to herself than me. "I miss that. I miss being happy with her."
"I miss her too," I reply. "She is missed by many people."
A bitter laugh escapes Michelle's lips. "Not by my parents. They are glad she's gone. F*cking glad."
Anger courses through my body at her words. Her parents have always been a*sholes but this...this is even beyond them. How could they be so cruel?
"Anyways, how are you? I don't hear from you anymore."
Delicately placing the photo back on the table, I take a seat on her sofa.
"I'm good," I answer. "The university is good."
Michelle nods her head and puts the tray of food down on the coffee table in front of me. She sits next to me, whilst keeping her eyes straight ahead.
"That's good, have you met anyone?"
At the question, I think of the blonde-haired spitfire who has somehow caught my eye. I've spoken to her a few times; each time, the outcome has been the same.
We argue, causing her to practically explode like a volcano.
She is something else. She is the first girl to grab my attention.
Just thinking about Blondie causes a smile to form on my lips. Michelle notices this and arches an eyebrow.
"So you have met a girl." She states and leans in closer to me, ready to get all of the details. "Tell me everything about her."
And I do, proceeding to tell her everything about Blondie. The words flow from my mouth smoothly. The passion I feel for her is so obvious, anyone could detect it.
Michelle listens to me carefully. The corners of her lips quirk upwards as I go into more detail. Talking about Blondie makes me feel better. I haven’t spoken about her to anyone else. Michelle is the first person to hear this from me.
“Of course you’d fall for a crazy girl,” Michelle jokes when I finish speaking.
I double back at when I register what she says. Did I fall for Blondie? I couldn’t have, right?
The way she makes me feel is different. Sure, I like her but there’s not anything else. It’s just lust.
Who are you kidding? You feel something real and authentic. You are falling for Blondie.
“There is something about Ren that pulls me to her," I admit, dragging a hand through my blonde hair. "She does the stupidest things yet I find it..."
Michelle leans in closer and presses, "What? You find it what?"
She smirks, her eyes brightening.
"You have to let me meet this girl," Michelle grins, clapping her hands excitedly. It's the first time I've seen her so happy in two years. She's like her normal self.
"I don't want you to scare her away," I tease, feigning cautiousness. I want this lighthearted vibe to continue - I want her to not think about Rose. She deserves to feel happy again.
Michelle gasps, placing a hand over her heart. "I'm hurt you would think that, Kai. We all know people love me."
"I can't even lie about that. It's so true," I cut the act and laugh.
Michelle laughs too for a moment. But, it's ruined when she reminds herself of Rose. She sobers up quickly and coughs, casting a guilty look to the ground.
"Michelle," I say, firmly, grabbing her attention. "It's been two years. Laughing isn't a crime. You deserve to be happy."
She sniffles, "You say that but I don't think you are right. Rose should be alive right now. She should be living her life. Why should I get to live my life whilst she doesn't?"
Sighing, I move closer to her and comfort her. "What happened to Rose isn't your fault. You cannot put the blame on yourself. If she was here, what do you think she would say to you? Do you think she will be happy to see you like this? Because I know she won't be."
Michelle releases a long breath. She knows I'm right. Albeit young, Rose could sense when her mother was down. She always hated seeing Michelle sad.
"But as her mother, I had a duty to protect her," Michelle argues. "I failed."
I hold onto her hands tightly. "We've gone over this, Michelle. It wasn't your fault."
She opens her mouth to object but I slide in before she can. "We all miss Rose so much. What happened to her was awful but you can't let what happened determine the rest of your life. Rose wouldn't want you to stop living."
Michelle is quiet for a minute. She ponders over my words. Eventually, Michelle runs a hand through her hair and reluctantly nods her head. "Okay, I'll try and do things that make me happier."
I smile, thrilled she's going to try and move on.
"And the first thing I want to do is meet Ren."
So this is the first bonus chapter. I'll post the other one sometime in the future. It will be in Ren's POV.