Home Can Be You

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Chapter 21

He grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly. I felt like crying but I held my tears. I was stronger than this and I needed to tell my family about all these life-altering changes, or as some would call it: Plot twist. I gazed at Zeno’s hand and for the first time since I’ve known him, I noticed a tattoo on his forearm. I inspected it for a while and then looked back at him. He raised his eyebrows in confusion but when he realized what was on my mind, he twiddled with his hand and sighed. I felt that there was a major story behind it, therefore I asked. “What does it mean?”

This was the very first time that I got to witness utter sorrow and grieve his dazzling eyes. I felt his pain the moment I looked at him. “This tattoo... It has a deep meaning and it kills me when I remember the day. It kills me when I remember mom’s last day. She was diagnosed with liver cancer and after thirteen chemo treatments, she got weaker than before and eventually, she couldn’t handle the ache in her body and her heart gave up on her. I was 15 and devastated. I was angry at the world. I wanted to release my anger and tears somewhere, so I went to a tattoo shop. At that point, I didn’t care about the legal age for getting a tattoo so I faked my ID. I just wanted to do it so badly. After the painter arranged everything, I told him to draw a little boy who’s holding a broken heart. Mom was my heart and she was gone forever.” As he finished telling his story, I got up and hugged him. My tears were finally cascading down my cheeks and I didn’t know what to say. “Sorry if it was too much for you Eve,” he embraced me and patted my back, with a gentle touch.

I smiled at his actions. He wasn’t aware that he was doing what I was deemed to do. “I’m the who’s supposed to pat your back, not the other way around. I’m so sorry for your lose Zeno, I don’t know how it feels to lose a parent but it must have been difficult for you, Oriana and your dad, how old was she when your mom passed away?” I stated, then asked. I felt stupid because I could have done the math, yet I just let him think.

I let go of him and he wiped my tears from my face. “She was 5 or so,” he replied and I sighed. She must have remembered her mom, if not entirely, partly. I hoped that she remembered the good times with her mom, not only the hardest time for the whole family. “She remembers her on her death bed, crying in her hands. That picture haunts me every once in a while and I really feel terrible for not being able to do anything for my little sister. So, thank you for being her friends, she needed you. She looks delighted when she plays with Elara even though she’s older than her. You could say that part of her childhood was spent in the hospital near our mom.” He cleared and rubbed the back of his neck.

“If you want... you can cry, you have my shoulder!” I tried to brighten the mood for a bit, however, I was serious about the crying part. He glanced my way and beamed at me with his beautiful smile. “I’ve shed tears that could fill a big hole. Thank you.” He said and I nodded in understanding. “Now for the important part, do you want me to come with you to inform your family? You know, about how you might be targeted by a psychopath?” He suggested and I agreed. We got up from the swing and bid Ruth goodbye also thanked her for the privacy and left the shop.

“Hey guys,” I greeted them after entered my house. Oriana and Elara were watching a movie, Nolan, Andro, and dad were chatting and mom was reading a book. The Evaska twins went to visit their relative who lived nearby and they would be back by tomorrow. When my family saw us, they all smiled. “Welcome back,” mom said and Zeno and I sat on the empty sofa. We sat there for a while without talking and I knew that mom and dad felt my uneasiness. They were my parents after all. “Is there’s something wrong?” She asked and I nodded.

“We need to tell you this but don’t tell anyone else. Oriana, can you and Elara continue the movie in my room, please?” I requested and they both nodded, knowing that they can’t be involved in the grown-up talk. We waited for them to enter my room and when they did, I looked at Zeno, so he can do the talking.

“First thing first, when I tell you what my dad do for a living, I expect you not to tell anyone at all.” After they nodded, Zeno continued. “My dad works as an FBI agent, and he found something quite disturbing and related to your family.”

“How though? And wow, an FBI agent is something grave and tough. We won’t tell, that’s a promise and we don’t break promises in our family,” dad assured and Zeno smiled. He knew that dad was genuinely honest.

" It is all related to the fire. When the house next to yours was on fire, the police came to investigate it. Dad tagged alone because he was free that day. As they searched for any clues to show that it was an intentional act, they found a ribbon made of iron. It was unusual and out of place so they asked the family if it belonged to them but it wasn’t, so, the police department decided to treat the fire as arson and they released a notice in a few of the states that faced these unfortunate events as well and Virginia was one of them. When they searched through their database, they came across your house. The one that burned down. It turned out that they also found this ribbon after the firefighters cleared all the fire.” He explained and my family was too shocked to even move. “Be careful guys, whoever is doing this has more plans and I think they are targeting you.”

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