Elegant Deception

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Twenty Six

It was nearly past nine in the evening. I was about to clean up my coffee table with the takeout I ordered in for dinner when I heard a knock on my front door. I wasn’t really expecting anyone since Dean was already with me. At the moment, he was in the bathroom. So it can’t be him.

The knocking continued when I didn’t respond. A second later, a familiar muffled voice called angrily.

“Amy! Are you in there? I need help…” April’s voice trailed off when I finally opened the door.

“What are you doing…?” I abruptly stopped when she looked up and my eyes darted to her bruising cheeks.

She noticed my expression but ignored me and walked in. “Don’t. I’m not ready to talk just yet. And…ah… Ice, please.”

I was still dumbfounded. It took me a moment to collect my composure and close the door.

“April, what the heck happened?” I lightly pressed in worry.

She was already in my fridge, rummaging. Since it only took her a second to find what she needs and not found it, she turned towards my living room, where I knew the remains of Dean and mine’s dinner are still evident. To her luck, she was able to find my leftover chicken fritters.

“Why you order this many foods? Did you just finish this yourself?” She asked nonchalantly and sat down, munching in between words.

“April, did you hear me? Who did this to you?” I asked again. This time with more authority.

She held up the box of chicken fritters. “Let me finish. And did you really eat all…these?” She asked again, unbothered by my tone.

I placed my hand on my hips and glared at her. From her reaction, she wasn’t mugged or worst, but I wasn’t sure. How do people react when something terrible has happened to them? Would they be like April right now?

It was then Dean entered the living room. “Oh. I see. He’s here. Wait, where am I?” She looked around the room, assessing it for a moment then nodded. “Right. Your apartment.”

“April? What are you…?” His Dean stopped talking, he had noticed the obvious bruising on my little sister’s face. “What happened? Who did that to you, April?”

Now with Dean and I, standing in front of her, half blocking the view of my television, my sister had no choice but to give up and answer. She sighed. After finishing the last piece of fitter, she put down the box with the rest of the empty takeout containers.

“Okay. Before I say anything, I want my sister to sit down and not overreact. And Dean, please keep her seated, please, for both our sakes.” April said and turned to Dean. She waited until we both complied.

I sat down on the single couch on her left, while Dean places a loose hand on my right shoulder. “So?” I urged her to continue when she didn’t.

She met my gaze. Maybe trying to gauge out how I might react to her story, but I wasn’t giving away. I kept a stern poker face.

She let out another deep sigh. “Okay…” she paused to take a deep breath. “Scott and I,” I noticed one of her eyes flinched from saying her boyfriend’s name, “you know over the weekend we were quarreling. But I didn’t actually tell you why because you’d give me a sermon like mom. And I have been stressing already with work, Zoey’s wedding – though I’m happy to be helping her with that, it’s adding more tension in my relationship these past few weeks. At first, I thought I was at fault. I’ve been neglecting him a bit, however, it turns out I wasn’t the one who is being distant.”

“Is he…”

April didn’t let me finish. She met my gaze, her eyes nearly tearing up, and nodded.

“THAT BASTARD!” I got up. My hands were balled into a fist.

It was then understood by my sister’s orders. So he placed both hands on my shoulder, and slowly urged me to be calm and sit back down.

“Did he do that to you?” I finally asked the right question. That one thing I needed to know.

“It was him. But he only hit me since we were fighting, and I provoked him, so I mean, this might be…”

“No. Stop defending him. You were not at fault here. No matter how angry you are at someone, you have a choice whether or not to direct that rage towards someone. He made his choice, April. He did that to you.” My words sounded harsh, though my anger was reflected the man who did this to my sister.

“Amy’s right, April. The reasons for his action, even if it’s because of provocation, doesn’t make the victim at fault. He made his choice to act on his emotions. And if you want, I can help you take legal actions on this. I have contacts and this will be dealt with by tonight.” Dean offered.

April was surprised by Dean’s offer, as I did.

Dean felt slightly uncomfortable under our gaze. However, it was my stare that made his skirmish. “What? You know what part of the government I used to work. Well, in a week or two, I will be working with them again.”

I got up and hugged him. “Thank you,” I muttered.

Dean was baffled at my response. It took him a moment to reciprocate my embrace. “No worries. Of course, I would help, Amy.”

I leaned away to see his expression. His flushed cheeks told me he hardly gets the proper recognition sometimes from someone who used to be in my shoes. For a brief second, I felt jealous that I hadn’t met Dean earlier. Yet when I felt his warmth close to me, I knew I shouldn’t be now that he was with me at this moment. If I choose it, he would be with me for the rest of my life. In that single thought, my heart and mind agreed. Though I may not admit it to him just yet, I knew he was it. He was what I want to be with for the rest of my life.

After my insistent, and Dean’s reassurance that my sister’s former lover would be given due process for his crimes if proven guilty, the three of us spend a long night after Dean made the first call. From my past experience with long nights, which didn’t involve alcohol or dancing, this felt like forever.

With Dean, and his still active FBI badge – the first time I’ve seen it myself– we were able to stay with April. Turns out, he had been carrying around his ID badge these time. I’ve grown more respect towards him not flaunting it around. Or was it Hollywood’s fault for giving them that image.

We went to the police station to make the statement, then followed along with April on the process, not leaving her a second too long. It took us most of the night since it seemed there weren’t that many attending staff to entertain your case. And again, Dean did his magic with the FBI badge, and I’m more surprised and interested how far that thing’s authority can go.

Somehow he noticed my expression and said, “we can only ask them to attend to our needs first, but other than that, I can’t ask them to do it under an hour.”

“Of course. But thank you anyway.” I whispered close to his ear, feeling like the people in the same boat as we were are noticing we were being served first. If I were them, that’ll be unfair. Yet if I did have the ability to make this process faster, I would use it. No one wants to go through something like this and do the waiting game.

After everything was finalized, the police were able to get some evidence off April. So it seems when Scott, her boyfriend, had punched her, she was able to evade his strikes and injured his knuckle. So when he punched her on her stomach – it seems she had other bruises as well – his blood stuck to her maroon blouse. If I wasn’t informed, I would notice that detail at all. But Dean did, which was why they got that evidence before April could continue to tamper with it, not noticing the blood as well. She might have thought it was hers. The thought of her bleeding from his assaults only made my blood boil.

Once they got everything, the police called an ambulance, hinting there might be some internal bleeding – and to be safe. Hearing that, my heart race and nearly gone blank. Thankfully, Dean was beside me and kept me upright the whole time. He then guided me in the ambulance, as I insisted on being with April – and Dean’s FBI badge gave him some privilege to be there as well.

In the hospital, we had to be separated while she entered the E.R., and the wait from then on was difficult. Even if I knew she would be fine, as I did saw her still kidding around a bit when she noticed my stern expression.

It was lucky she didn’t get to stay there long and was transferred to a room, where she can stay for the rest of the night to be examined. Once she was settled, being her only next of kin, the doctor talked to me. It was then I heard how many injuries she got.

“Her cheeks are swollen, she also has a broken wrist, but we were able to cast it before it got worst. And more bruises on her stomach, left arm, leg, and possibly a minor concussion.”

“A concussion? Will she be okay? She did seem confused when she entered my apartment.” I said.

“She’ll be fine. And minor concussion isn’t life-threatening, Ms. Nolan. Your sister will make a full recovery, with rest and proper nourishment. Though, I suggest she must stay at least tonight to be observed.”

“Of course, doctor. Thank you.”

“No worries, miss.”

After the doctor left, Dean approached me as I started overthinking again. He grabbed my hand and enveloped me under his arms. “Hey, she’ll be fine. And April’s sleeping now.”

“God, Dean. A concussion? How hard did he hit her to get that? Or did she fell and hit her head somewhere, and passed out? What it then he punched her arm or stomach? I can’t image how afraid she was for her life. And how she was able to escape from that monster.” My voice was slowly losing its strength as a tear escaped my eyes. “She wasn’t even blaming him. When did my own sister start defending a man whose abusive? And why did I just notice this?”

“I’m so sorry, Amy. I know how situations like this can be difficult for the family. In my early days working as a uniform officer, I’ve seen cases such as domestic abuse where the victim is justifying their abusers. These people are manipulators, and your sister, April, she was strong enough to fight them back as it escalated. But we shouldn’t blame ourselves, and April, for what happened. It will only make the abuser feel like he’d won. Let’s not give him that satisfaction.”

Dean’s words brought some comfort. And with his encouragement, he was able to gauge me to go back to the apartment to rest. Yet promised that we were going back first thing in the morning. I left a note for April if she woke up without us with her.

However, once Dean pulled me to my bed, and slept soundly beside me – tired from the long night, I couldn’t bring my eyes to close. My mind was racing with concern. After at least four hours of sleep for Dean, in my case four hours of lying in bed, thinking, we both got up, showered and dressed before heading back to the hotel.

To my relief, we got there before April woke up. Though Dean wasn’t thrilled to see the dark circles under my eyes. When April woke up, and finally felt better, she reminded me about telling our parents and friends.

“April, if I called mom and dad this early with the news that your…” I trailed off, feeling choked up. I was confident my mom would be brawling and will be driving here not a minute too soon.

“If you prolong it, she’ll just be angry with you,” April argued.

Dean agreed. “You should call them, Amy.”

I met his gaze and he gave me an assuring nod. “Okay.” I finally said. “I’ll be outside making the calls. Please watch over her, Dean.”

“I won’t be going anywhere, sister.” April lightly jested, smiling.

Seeing her smile and being her bright self again gave warmth in my cold heart. Then I’ve grown some confidence she’ll be fine.

However, as I exited the room and pulled out my phone, my heart sank again as I knew I’ll be giving people I love some bad news. But they need to hear it. They need to know and be here for April.

The call didn’t last longer than I expected since I only making two major calls. One to my parents, and the other to Zoey, my sister’s best friend. As I guessed, the call with my mother was difficult. I had to push through my tears when I told her why she was at the hospital. And when I told Zoey, she sounded guiltier and told me that April had informed her over the weekend, on the night Dean and I finally got together, April admitted she found out Scott was cheating. And over the week, they were verbally fighting until last night. April had told Zoey yesterday morning she was breaking up with Scott that evening.

I reassured her that April was fine, and Scott’s had been taking in custody this morning – after Dean made a call at the police station – and was building a case on him. Zoey readily jumped in and offered her help. I was grateful, but I knew what my sister needed more now was her loved one’s presence. It didn’t take her a minute to decide to cancel her plans for the day and promise to be at the hospital within an hour. Though I wouldn’t hold it against her if she was busy, being an executive secretary for a CEO has important duties, but I knew Zoey. She was the type of woman who would drop everything for her family. And April was like a sister to her.

When I finished the call, I returned to the room and found Dean sitting on the visitor’s chair and looking up at the television with April. They were watching some sitcom, smiling at whatever the actor or actress was doing. I didn’t bother to check since I was observing the two silently by the room.

It was Dean who first noticed me. “How was it?” He asked and stood up. He gestured me to take his seat.

“It was okay. Mom and dad are coming over, so is Zoey. But I’m not sure if Julian would be coming as well.” I informed and sat down as Dean placed a hand around my shoulder.

“Julian would be here if Zoey’s coming over,” Dean stated confidently.

I looked up at him. “What makes you sure?”

“Because he knows how April means a lot to Zoey, and he does think of April like a sister-in-law,” he replied.

“Really?” April looked surprised by his statement. “I thought he doesn’t think much of him. Maybe I should stop harassing him about ruining girl’s night.”

“You were harassing my boss? What the heck, April?” I sighed in disappointment.

“He isn’t my boss. So why should I treat him differently from all of Zoey’s old boyfriend? I harassed them too, you know.” She cheekily said.

I shook my head, smiling.

She’ll be fine, I reassured myself again.

Thank you for reading! There are at three more chapters left from here. And I’m really sad yet happy that I was able to complete the series. I will try and end this series in a good note, as I always do. Until next weekend’s update, have a lovely day!

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