A Bad Girl's Love

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Chapter 19: Amaya

I hold Aaron to me, Shawn’s jacket now draped around him like a blanket. His body still slightly shakes but I hold him close, watching as he drifts off to sleep, this time to hopefully have a peaceful dream where life is a bit easier on him. I hope he finds his escape that I wish I could reach but it feels impossible to have that moment when just sitting in this room right now is making me sick to my stomach.

The thought of Aaron screaming for everything to stop is tearing me to shreds, and then there’s the over-imaginative part of me that has a loop of Shawn yelling out playing to the point where I feel I could possibly puke.

Shawn being attacked is one of my nightmares coming true and it’s like I feel this emptiness within myself. I feel shattered and like life is being drained from my system to never be seen again, but it’s not just Shawn getting hurt that did that.

Xavier is also laying here hurting and I can’t do anything to change it. Then my mind goes back to Aaron who hasn’t spoken a word since the 911 call which was just about two and a half hours ago and even though he was asleep he would still wake up and not say a word. He usually would be speaking the moment his eyes opened, whether it be for him to say ‘I don’t want to wake up’ or to see how everything was going. He used to always say he doesn’t want to wake up back when I had to wake him up in the mornings.

But half an hour ago, when he looked at me I could see he was scared and for good reason. I’ve seen some pretty tough things to swallow and at his age, I was forced into some messy situations which I tried to keep him from since the moment he came along.

Mrs. Harper had a point on the phone, maybe it’s best for me to sit down and have a conversation with Aaron about everything that happened while not getting into hardcore details obviously. He has the right to know and hopefully that will help him realize he doesn’t have to go through on his own, because there are people willing to help.

But in the meantime, I’m going to allow him to sleep and pray that some sort of distraction makes its way into my life so I don’t have to think about if he doesn’t speak again.

I lean down to place a kiss on his now flushed out cheek that creates an uncomfortable warmth on my lips. I don’t want to keep Aaron here, but since there are doctors here already I might just ask them to check him out and make sure he’s fine.

This is a new low for me and I know it’s gonna get worse the moment I see Shawn. The color in my life is draining, becoming duller, filling up with even more black and gray than what was already existing.

I’m so caught up in the memory of his hearty laugh that I love so damn much and am terrified of never hearing again or seeing the brightness in his eyes that appeared when he used to look at me. This whole situation has forced me to place things in perspective and it helped me to realize that pushing Shawn away wasn’t saving him, it was hurting him in far worse ways. I should’ve listened to Charlie when she told me to talk to Shawn about where we stand.

On Friday I had the opportunity to do so, but for some stupid reason, I didn’t. I can’t change the choices I made in the past, all I can do is promise that if he survives this to let him know every single day that I love him. That I’m not about to let go of him again. I’m going to say that I’m sorry for being stupid and that I don’t want to go through any of this anymore.

I’d tell him that I never want to push him away again and that I’m an idiot. That I was wrong for treating him the way that I did when he never once has done something to me to be spiteful, all he wanted was to love the unlovable and at some points I wished that he would’ve just given up on me to save himself from the heartbreak.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ll be shocked as hell if he forgives me because I don’t deserve his forgiveness. Not when I pushed him away in the past and promised that I wouldn’t do it again when we started up again. Aaron’s right, my stubbornness when it comes to his father is because I’m scared. I’m terrified even.

With that in mind, I know Aaron is also scared so I’m going to place my feelings to the side and help him through this even if it eats away at me. And to this child I’m going to make a promise that I plan to keep, I’m not forcing them through what Aaron has experienced. No repeats of my mistakes anymore because there’s only so many times somebody can forgive you for shattering them.

“Go see Shawn,” a voice cracks out.

I slowly turn my attention from Aaron to Xavier, seeing that he’s in the process of sitting up, he stops, letting out a drawn-out wince before doing it again, this time even slower. When he’s up all the way I notice how bloodshot his eyes are.

“Damn,” he mumbles out while now holding his head between his big hands. “This shit hurts worse than a hangover.”

“What did you say?”

I know he just told me to see Shawn, but I don’t think I’m in a strong enough state to walk into that room and see him just holding onto life, and that’s if he’s even in his room right now. They did say they were taking him into surgery, it’s a possibility he’s still in there, being cut open and all that.

It’s hard for me to even think about what’s going on with him. He never liked doctors and now, because of me, the doctors are the only people keeping him alive right now.

“The second thing I said was that this hurts more than a hangover, the first thing, you know good and damn well I just told you to go see Shawn.” Xavier takes calming breaths, beginning to massage his temples. “I can tell that you haven’t seen him, you and him both share the tendencies of prolonging the inevitable as you would say, which is a trait that I hope Aaron doesn’t inherit for your sakes.” Aaron’s more the type to force us to go and do what we need to do, not hold things off.

“He wouldn’t want to see me.”

“Well, even if that were true, it’s not like he has a choice. Dr. Whatever the hell his name is told me that Shawn was going into emergency surgery and they don’t know if he’s gonna wake up,” he says in this grim voice, a grimace making an appearance on his face. “He would want to see you if his eyes were open, we both know that, hell, he wrote a damn song about you and your relationship. All he could do was talk about you yesterday and Saturday. I don’t think you realize how much you even mean to him or our family.”

I don’t say a word about that. “I don’t even know if he’s out of surgery yet,” I offer up.

“You act like that makes a damn difference for you, you have your ways of getting around that, and maybe it’ll help you in a sense. You know, get whatever you feel the need to say off of your chest because I know there’s a whole hell of a lot that you want to say to him even if you might not know how to put the words together.” His head droops down.

“I don’t see how it could help me except for managing to get me angrier than I already feel, make me want to break something and find the ass-”

“Don’t do that, Amaya. You know I would like more than anything to find those animals that did this to me and Shawn and hurt them badly, but it’s not about that. Shawn wouldn’t want you or me to go after them and dish out a fresh can of whoop-ass, he’d want us to figure things out in a sensible way.

“So let’s do this a sensible way, alright?” I bite down on my lip, already knowing that he has a point. Shawn wouldn’t want us to go around and place ourselves in harmful situations, and that’s not an option for me in the first place anyway.

“If I find out who the men are I won’t do anything like confronting them.” It doesn’t mean I won’t have someone do it for me though.

“Good. Now what do you plan on doing to find them?” he asks with an eyebrow raised. I look away from him, my attention now going back to Aaron.

“I’m gonna get Jonah’s help, he’s great at tracking people down.” But we’re not going after the guys that did this just yet, we’re gonna see if we can enlist someone else in this.

“He’d need some type of lead to do that,” Xavier tries to enlighten me but all of this is stuff I already know.

First thing I need to know is if there were any security cameras that caught the attack, somewhere the footage of what happened will show up, but only if it’s meant to. That’s the frustrating part of this whole Panther situation.

Well actually, all of this is frustrating, but the part that hits hardest is that footage only shows up when the Panthers want people to know who they are.

“We can search around the front of the building to see if there are any cameras that could’ve possibly had the perfect angle for us to see faces.” I stand up, now placing Aaron down on the bed and making sure Shawn’s jacket is keeping him nice and secure, maybe it can work as a way to keep the nightmares out as Shawn does for the both of us.

I remember finding him and Aaron snuggled up on the couch in his living room, Aaron was having a nightmare and so Shawn took him to calm him down. He helped to get Aaron back to sleep, falling asleep in the process while still holding Aaron to his chest.

Shawn is a protector, he always has been. He used to do the same with me when I struggled to fall asleep or would have a nightmare that had to do with Derrick. I always felt safe with him.

I place a kiss on Aaron’s forehead. “I knew something bad happened. I had this gut-feeling after you texted me earlier saying you were only ten minutes away, but then time kept moving and when that police officer showed up-”

“Who called 911? Good thing they did, but that’s splotchy for me and when I asked that doctor guy he didn’t say anything to me.” I glance over to Aaron before sighing. “He called? He was-”

“Still there and he saw everything.” Xavier shakes his head which I know definitely isn’t good for his concussion. He mumbles out a few incoherent swears.

“He shouldn’t have been there for that, oh my God, he- is he okay?”

“I don’t know, Ave, I really don’t know. When he was up earlier with the doctor and nurses they said he wouldn’t verbally respond to the questions they asked, we both know Aaron enough to know that he loves to talk to people no matter what situation he’s in. Especially if it can be helpful for that person.” I go quiet before fisting my hands up at my sides.

“I’m scared of if the police want to speak to him. He’s not talking right now and I don’t want anyone to push him into that, especially knowing how fresh all of this is, but they know he saw everything. There’s no way they wouldn’t want to talk to him. Then if the Panthers find out he spoke to somebody, well that doesn’t sit well with me.

“It didn’t help the anxiety when he woke up and ended up writing this down,” I say while pulling the note that Dr. Martin had given to me out of my pocket, I hold it out for him to take and he does so, re-reading each of the words that I had read once Aaron had written them down and passed it over to me.

“He knows one of the guys’ names?” Xavier sounds shocked; I nod. “Can I ask you a question, it’s about the Panthers.”

“Shoot.”

“Wasn’t it in your agreement with them on your release from the gang that they couldn’t come after you, Jonah, Aaron, or your mother?” I nod to him, waiting to see where this leads. “Well from this it says that this Enrico dude placed a hand on Aaron, which is a direct break in the agreement, so use that. I don’t know how you can, but you can find a way to make it work.”

“I have a way already…”

“Why don’t I like the sound of that?” he whispers out.

“If I tell you what I’m thinking, can you promise not to call me anything like a dumbass or anything along the lines of that.” Xavier tilts his head to the side before bringing a hand to his chin and rubbing.

“Amaya, if you’re being a dumbass you can’t expect me to not tell you, you would do the same for me and you’re my best friend. If it’s something Shawn would disapprove of I’m most likely not gonna like it either.” Shawn would kill me if he knew what I was thinking.

“If Shawn had a say in this he’d tell me constantly how terrible of an idea it is and say that it’s not well-thought-out, which might be true, but it’s all that we’ve got and it could really help us out.”

“Go ahead and say it then.”

“I need Derrick’s help.” A low growl comes from his mouth.

“Are you fucking crazy,” he sneers out. “That’s not even an option. First off, Shawn would kill me if he found out I let you turn back to that asshole that hurt you and Jonah over and over. Then there’s Jonah, do you really think he wants to see him after finding out that he’s his father? Absolutely not, I’ve already possibly lost Shawn, I can’t lose you, Aaron can’t either.” Tears begin to fall from those eyes that are usually happy.

I haven’t seen him cry for so long.

I make my way over to him, pulling him in for a hug as I take a seat beside him. His head falls onto my shoulder before he’s shaking in the slightest, small whimpers that aren’t Aaron’s now filling the air.

“Don’t go away too. You can’t be laughing one moment and be gone the next. I don’t- he shouldn’t have- those people-”

“I know, I know, but you don’t need to worry about me, I’ve been through far worse and-”

“You act like that makes it any better, it actually kinda makes things a lot worse. I don’t want you to go through anymore, Amaya. You shouldn’t have been through half of the things you’ve already suffered from in the first place.”

“Xavier, I’m a survivor. Each time that I’ve survived what I’ve been through I think about you and Shawn and Aaron too, that’s when I push myself to go even further. I won’t not do something because I’m scared. That’s also why I say that if Jonah doesn’t want to get involved and come with me then I can handle him on my own.” He shakes his head, now holding me tighter and I allow him to do so.

“If you go to see him and Jonah doesn’t want to go then I-I’ll go.” I look into those eyes ones again, seeing a small bit of fear but mostly determination setting in them.

“You don’t need to put yourself through that.”

“I do, for Shawn. And you don’t need to go and speak to him alone, none of us can trust him, you know you can’t. That man has caused so much pain and destruction, you can’t lose anything more from him, but if Shawn dies that lands on him,” he grounds out each word, his hands slowly making these fists.

I decide not to tell him that I think there’s still a chance of Derrick changing. I can feel it somewhere deep down inside of me, or maybe that’s just me having hope. I remember a better time between the two of us, when he wasn’t abusive, not by much, but I do remember. He wasn’t always bad, and I know that he hides the part of him that isn’t bad. The part that tried to save me, my mom, and Jonah from getting hurt again by my father’s previous ways.

“Okay,” I whisper out.

“I love you too much to lose you, not again.”

“What do you mean not again?” I ask confused.

“I-It doesn’t matter.” I shake my head at him, letting go of him. “Amaya please don’t make me say-”

“It matters to me, Xavier, tell me.” He sighs.

“A few years ago, Aaron was three and I stopped coming around. I did it for many reasons, but there are some things that would just be harder than anything to bring up. All I knew was that something was up, it wasn’t just with me but with you and those around us.” Xavier takes in a deep shaky breath. “You didn’t really want to open up with anyone unless it was Shawn or Jonah, it made it harder because I thought that I could change that, but that would mean coming forward with a lot of things that were going on with me.”

“What was going on with you?” Neither of us really brings up the time where he wasn’t showing up, but I do remember Shawn saying something about how Aaron was hurt when he wasn’t around. He missed him a lot and he most likely planted that on his shoulders.

“God, I can’t tell you,” he starts to fist away at the bandages on top of his head, but he stops himself now taking in these deep breaths. I can see that everything is tearing away at him. I just feel like I need to know what it is besides the fact that he’s in a hospital bed, Shawn’s in surgery still, and maybe I just want a distraction. Is that so bad?

“Can’t or won’t?” I reply back, now gnawing away at the inside of my cheek.

“I can’t.” His voice is hard and sure, also telling me that he wants the discussion to be over, but even then I don’t quit pushing him and I won’t until I get an answer. That persistence is what people both love and hate about me.

“Why not?” I ask confused.

“Because it’s in the past and it should remain in the past, I shouldn’t have even brought it up, not to mention that Shawn would probably kill me for even having this conversation with you,” he grumbles out while now looking to me with those eyes full of vulnerability.

“What’s Shawn got to do with it?”

“Shawn has everything to do with it, but if you’re thinking he told me not to come around, you’re wrong, he said the exact opposite actually. That was my own doing because I couldn’t look at you without the thought of speaking everything that’s in my mind…” He bites down on his lip while now forcing himself to stare down at his hands, cracking his knuckles.

“What was so bad that you couldn’t tell me? Did I do something to make you think you couldn’t talk to me about it or-” I start but he cuts me off by shaking his head.

“Yes, no, kinda,” he says in a shaky voice.

“What does that even mean?”

“It means that you’ve been in love with Shawn since we were just kids and the same with him. I was the first one either of you told, did you know that?” he asks with a sad smile on his face.

Something is tearing away at him but I can’t read him a single bit. What’s going on? I want to ask but don’t know how to. It’s like I lost the ability to speak my mind.

“I didn’t actually,” I basically whisper.

“Yeah well, I was. You both came to me over liking each other because for some reason I’m the one to go to for that,” he says in this almost bitter voice.

“Are you upset that we came to you?” I ask a bit shocked. “Or are you upset that we actually got together?”

“I’m confused, alright? But I don’t see how you didn’t realize already,” he says while looking down at his shoes.

“Realize what?” I ask. What am I not realizing?

“You had one brother fall so damn hard for you and didn’t think about me at all. I stopped coming around when I did because you and Shawn were split up but still sneaking around with each other. I didn’t want to be the type of brother that has feelings for his brother’s ex and then make a move on her, that’s the reason I stopped. I wanted to make sure I didn’t say anything because I was, after all, the one that told each of you to open up about your feelings. But when both of you came to me I had those same feelings, and hearing you say you felt that way about Shawn tore me. So I decided that if I couldn’t be with you I at least wanted Shawn to be with you since I could see how bad you guys had it for each other. That was one of the hardest damn things I’ve ever done.” His head turns to the side a bit as he doesn’t want to look me dead in the eye. His eyes instead set on the side of my face.

“You have feelings for me?” I ask in this shocked voice.

“Not anymore, it’s something I’ve recently gotten over. I realized that I had no chance, you and Shawn are in it forever, I’m okay being the best friend and supportive brother. I’m alright with always being Uncle Avier and keeping that boy safe with every fiber of my being, but back then, I couldn’t. That’s why I had to sort myself out and being separate was the way to do it.

“I nearly lost everything because of my feelings, but this time, now that I’m over that and over you, moving on, it’s like I’m going through similar stages all over again. I can’t trust myself to be around Charlie and not speak about wanting to be with her, she makes me happy in ways that I’ve never really felt before, but then she rejects me because of this prick fuck boyfriend she had back in her old school breaking her heart.

“If I knew him I would probably fight him and I’m not the violent type, that’s more Shawn’s territory, but the simple fact is, he had a girl that worshipped him, was loyal to him, and gave him a child, but to be an asshole and stab her in the back… God. I couldn’t even imagine putting her through half of the things he has.”

Xavier starts making fists in his hospital gown, his face turning red as his thoughts eat away at him. It shows me that he really cares about her. I already knew he cared, but I didn’t know the level, and the fact is that Charlie trusts him enough to tell him what’s gone on in her life. I didn’t know she had a son until less than a week ago, I don’t know how long he’s known for, but I know that it’s part of her deep private life that not everyone knows about.

It’s not like she ever lied about having a child or anything, she didn’t avoid subjects when she spoke, and I knew good and well if somebody walked up to her and asked her if she had a child she’d probably deck them and then say, ‘why, does it matter to you or something?’

“You’re sounding a lot like your brother, you know?” A soft smile appears on his face. “And if you would like, I can talk to Charlie for you. If you haven’t figured it out, she and I are similar some days and don’t know when there’s something good in front of us.”

“You’d be willing to talk to her for me?” I nod slowly.

“I can play wingman for my wingman every now and then. Plus, I owe you for the two major joys I have in my life right now.”

“You don’t owe me anything, I was doing what was best for my family. I can’t stress enough how happy you make Shawn and how glad I am to have you and Aaron both in my life.” I fight back a smile.

“We’re glad to have you.” I wrap my arms around him once again.

“Do you think he’s gonna make it out of this mess?” I nod into his shoulder.

“Every time that I’ve managed to get hurt he’s held this faith in me, even with the near-death experiences, it’s time that I return the favor and do the same for him. He’s strong.” Xavier places his head over my own, now slinging his arm over my shoulder.

“Yeah, he is, the same goes for Aaron.”

“I think I’m gonna talk to my dad in the next couple of days.” He glances down to me, his eyes now filling with confusion.

“Why?”

“Two reasons. First, Derrick wasn’t my only connection to the Panthers, my dad was one too back when he was in high school but he got out. I still don’t know the story for that. Second, he’s a therapist and since my therapist right now isn’t able to be spoken to because of asshole people- I need to talk to someone before I end up doing something that I regret.” Xavier blows out a breath, lifting his head up.

“Wow, I’m proud of you,” he shocks the hell out of me with the words.

“For what reason?”

“You don’t ever talk to people about your issues, Amaya, you know that right. You like to bottle it up and the only times that you would really say a word to Shawn would be when he pushed it until you opened up. Talking to someone might do you some good.” I bite down on my lip.

I hate speaking to people about my problems for many reasons, some of them being that I really don’t want others to feel sorry for me or to feel like my problems are now shared with them. I could handle things on my own before, but now, things have just shifted for me and I might just need to speak to someone who can help and luckily isn’t a complete stranger.

“We’ll see how it goes when I’m there.”

“Yeah, I guess we will, keep me updated?” he asks with his eyebrow slightly raised.

“I think I can do that.”

Xavier and I sit in silence for a good ten minutes, staring down at our shoes as we just think about everything that has happened so far. This day has just been a lot on me and I wasn’t even there to see anything happen, but I wish it had been me instead, what a terrible concept. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t in that situation because of the predicament I’m in, but then again, now everything is going to be different.

Everything is just changing so fast that I can’t keep up with it. I can’t even come to grasp all the shit that has happened in the past week. All I know is that this hurts like hell and I can’t take the pain off of my shoulders or anyone else’s.

Not even the person I’m supposed to put before myself. That hits harder than anything I could imagine.

“Have you guys heard anything?” a frantic Mrs. Harper asks once she walks through the door, Dylan trailing behind her with his eyes down on his shoes. “All I know is that Shawn’s in surgery right now,” she says while making her way over to Xavier before pulling him to her, his arms go around her. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Ma, just a little beat.”

“What happened to you guys?” Dylan’s voice is small, like he doesn’t know if the words are going to come out right or if he wants them to come out at all.

“Ambush. I couldn’t do anything, they got me first, I tried to fight back until I couldn’t- I was out after a minute or so, but I could hear them. I could hear Shawn around me for a bit and Aaron… he was talking to me at first. Trying to tell us it’d be alright, I remember that now,” his voice shrinks down as his eyes lock on me.

I glance away, fighting the twinge in my chest.

“Aaron was there?” Dylan chokes at the sentence and I find myself nodding.

“Before you ask if he’s alright I’m going to tell you that I don’t know, he won’t really talk and I don’t want to push him to do it in case it causes him to have a breakdown. He’s already experienced so much,” I shake my head at the words. He’s four, his biggest problem should be coloring inside the lines but instead he’s got to be worried about if his family is alright. Or better yet if he’s gonna have a dad for much longer.

“Maybe you should see about taking him with you,” Xavier suggests before I feel myself biting down on my lip.

“I’ll give it a try, but what if he just wants his time and not speaking is his way of coping or something, I don’t know. I haven’t ever had to face something like this, I’m used to being the scared one, not the one that has to have faith and fix the problem.” I throw my head back slightly.

“Are you saying you’re not scared? Not in the slightest?” Dylan asks.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m not scared. I’m terrified, but I have to have faith in Shawn, that’s something that I can’t let go of. I know it’s not healthy, but my way for dealing with this at the moment is going to be by trying not to think about it at all. My concerns are more on the idea of getting some answers to the situation and making sure those people don’t plan on striking again.” My voice builds in intensity with the new wave of strength that courses through my whole existence. I’m no longer the hunted, I’m the hunter, and I’m not about to let more people get hurt because of something that I started whether it be intentional or not.

“Do you know who did this?” His voice is lighter than feathers.

“Not entirely, but we know the Panthers have to do with it and if it’s me that they want then they need to know they fucked up the moment they threw the first throw at you,” I say while pointing to Xavier.

“Why doesn’t that give me a good feeling?” Mrs. Harper stares to me with soft eyes.

“Because she’s going to do something reckless,” Xavier sighs out before rubbing at his eyes, “but you better be careful, Amaya, don’t start looking for trouble, it’ll find you eventually. Aaron doesn’t need you ending up in the same position as Shawn.”

“I can’t get into any physical altercations at the moment anyway.”

“Why, I mean that’s a good thing because it stops you from doing something stupid. It means you’ll be safe and that’s great, and I don’t want to watch someone else I love get into situations like this,” Dylan rambles for just a moment, taking in calming breaths the next.

“At the moment, I’m not going to answer, but that doesn’t mean that sometime soon I won’t answer, because I will, but not today, not now. I have to find out where I’m sleeping for the night.” I drag a hand down my tired face as a yawn leaves my mouth. I can feel the confused looks on me before I decide that I better further explain myself.

“I don’t want to be anywhere near the apartment right now and I know Aaron won’t want to be around there either, then there’s the house which he still won’t want to be around for good reason.”

“You’re always welcomed in the house,” Mrs. Harper offers.

“Thank you for that, but I just- there’s so much of him there and I-”

“I know, it’s gonna be hard for me to be in the house too knowing that he’s sitting in this place while I am home.” I couldn’t even imagine. “I’ll end up being here most nights anyway.” I nod slowly.

I stand from my spot beside Xavier, moving over to the seat beside the one that I briefly sat in earlier to pick up the paperwork that gets Aaron free from here. “Is he free to go?” Dylan asks in a small voice.

“Once I fill out the paperwork, but I don’t really want to leave, not yet.”

“You should go and give Aaron the chance to get some sleep in a good bed, I’ll text you if we get any information,” Mrs. Harper sounds so sure that I find myself almost immediately agreeing. “Now fill that out, and can you do me a favor?”

“Anything.”

She reaches into her pocket before pulling out a set of keys, but not any keys, Shawn’s keys. “The lady at the front gave me these once I said who I was. Can you keep an eye on his car for me, I know he’d want you to keep it in good condition.”

“Okay,” I whisper out before taking the keys from her hand. I find myself gulping.

“Thank you, Amaya.” I nod while biting down on my lip.

I force my eyes away from her, starting to fill the forms out while my hand slightly wobbles on each word so I move just a bit slower. When I’m done I place the papers down beside me once again as I begin to pack Aaron’s clothes into the backpack I had on earlier.

“Good to see you,” Xavier’s voice meets my ears before I turn around to see Aaron sitting up and staring at everyone in the room. He stands up, moving over to me slowly with Shawn’s jacket still around him. God he’s never looked more like Shawn before.

He looks up to me, his head tilting to the side with confusion. He opens his mouth and I think words are about to come out but they don’t, instead he slams his mouth shut once again, but I know what he wants to ask. Where am I going?

“You and I are going out for a bit, but we’re going to come back, okay?” Aaron shrugs before pulling at the hospital gown on him, staring at it all weird. “You wanna change first?” He nods almost immediately.

I bring his clothes back out of my bag and he reaches for them so I hand him his shirt first, he pulls off Shawn’s jacket, handing it to me. I take it, holding it close for a few moments. He brings his shirt over his head, now waiting for his pants. I allow him to use me for support as he pulls them on before taking the jacket from my hands to now wear around him the correct way.

I help him with his shoes so we can end up getting done quicker. When I’m done he moves to grab the bag before pushing things out of the way and pulling out a notebook, he opens the pages and I freeze. Aaron knows how to read and I wrote some shit in there that can’t be taken back.

I think about grabbing it but stop myself when I see him flipping the pages quick, not even glancing at the words on them. He only stops when he finds a page with no words on either side of it before he tears the page out, grabbing the pen I used for the paperwork; I watch his movements.

He writes something down on the paper before looking around for something, his eyes landing on Brownie. His hands lift the dog slowly before he makes his way over to Xavier with both the note and Brownie, placing both in his hands.

“Got it,” Xavier says before Aaron throws his arms around him, climbing up him like a monkey would a tree to place a small kiss on his cheek. “You’ll be good for your mommy, right?” Aaron nods as he lets go, now moving over to Mrs. Harper giving her a brief hug, moving to Dylan to do the same before he waves a meek wave to them and takes my hand.

“You ready?” I ask lightly; he nods. “Alright.”

I move to the door with everything we need before saying bye to everyone and walking out of the room and in the direction of the elevators. The moment those doors close is when life hits me hardest but I hide it away from Aaron to let him believe that I’m okay when in all honesty I think I’m going to snap.

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