A Bad Girl's Love

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Chapter 24

“I’m going to get some fresh air,” Mommy announces before standing from her seat beside me.

I reach out to take her hand in my own so we can go out together which seems better than watching Daddy and not being able to say something to him. I miss talking with him when my day isn’t going so well, but he’s not talking anymore, and for now, I’m not either.

I stare blankly over to Granna who sits on Daddy’s left and Daddy’s dad sits on his other side, both of them look to us with eyes sadder than I’ve ever seen before, at least on Granna’s face. Granna’s usually happy and the last time I saw her sad there was something different about it. I remember seeing Mommy and Daddy in the mopes, but when she came around me I could always get her to smile. But that’s not here with her, there’s only fear in her eyes.

“I’m going too,” Uncle Avier declares while making his way to the door, his hand sitting on the handle. “Let’s go.”

“We won’t be gone too long,” Mommy’s voice is small. I look up to her, noticing a deep frown on her face, not a single hint of happiness, or even hope written across it.

I knew she was faking it for me.

“I’ll make no such promises,” Uncle Avier mumbles out but I catch it. “Now where are we headed?”

“The garden, each time I come to this place I end up there, it helps me to forget all the problems that we swallowing me whole.”

“I don’t think that staring at some damn flowers is going to be of much help to me.” His response throws me off a bit but I don’t say anything, it’s simpler not too, plus, Mommy says I’m not supposed to get involved in conversations like these.

“Calm yourself down a few notches, Xavier, for two reasons mostly, I didn’t tell you that you had to come with me. That was your own personal decision. Secondly, I never said this would magically heal your problems, now did I?” I can hear a slip in patience in Mommy’s voice but it doesn’t go more than that. I don’t think she has it in her to argue right now.

I know it feels like the world is beating her down, especially now that Daddy’s not here, I’ve heard her say it before too, and I just wish I could help her. Mommy deserves to be happy too, and Daddy gives her that, or he did.

“No, but-”

“Look, I know you’re angry and you have the right to feel that way, but don’t take my understanding of your situation and push it. I’d rather not start arguing with one of the only people I feel comfortable speaking to during all of this.”

A sigh meets my ears before a muffled “shit” starts chasing after it in a small voice. “Amaya, I’m sorry, I’m just-”

“-going through some things, you don’t need to explain yourself. I remember having my own bad days when I was still in the house. Today has just been kicking your ass, and I’ve definitely had days similar to that.” She doesn’t even bother to filter herself because she knows I now know which words are no-no words from what’s acceptable, as she would put it.

She cleared that up after I said the BS word.

“Why does everything have to keep crashing down around us when we’re already at this all time low?” I can hear Uncle Avier’s clear defeat that makes me think back to when I thought Mommy didn’t love me anymore. I remember thinking that’s why she gave me to Daddy, but I was wrong.

Why did Mommy have to get scared when she seemed so happy? This is stupid.

“Because life can just really suck sometimes.” Mommy glances down to me with a hint of something else in her eyes. She leans down, lifting me off my feet and into her arms. “I want you to know that too, okay? Do I lie to you?”

Not since the whole you’re my son thing.

I decide to just shake my head no.

“Then trust me when I say this, Canguro, life is hard, especially when you get older and possibly have a family of your own, but things will be worth it. Things aren’t always hard though, and you’ve got to remember that there are people always in your corner even if it doesn’t seem that way.” She places a kiss on my head like she does almost a thousand times throughout the day, but I don’t mind it.

‘Like you and Daddy were there for each other?’ The question is at the tip of my tongue, but I don’t have enough it me to force it out.

I nod slowly and before I know it, we’re standing in front of the doors to the garden, Mommy pushing the doors open with her free arm before she sets me down on my feet. I immediately rush over to the beds of roses but don’t reach out to touch them like I would’ve tried a month ago.

“It’s a mini-mansion,” Daddy tells me with a bright smile the second I comment on how large Uncle Cody’s house is.

Daddy and Uncle Avier walk in sync with each other until I interrupt the pattern by tugging on Daddy’s hand, trying to lead him over to the multitude of flowers, my favorite being the red roses. Daddy held my hand a bit tighter, keeping me in position.

“No wandering, you don’t want to get pricked by thorns.” I remember that happening before, it hurt and then my finger started bleeding. I also ended up crying.

“Okay,” I say in a small and disappointed voice.

I only wanted to get a pretty rose because it reminded me of Mommy. She used to have red roses all the time, Daddy used to give them to her when he’d come over to visit.

“Aaron?”

I continue staring at the flowers before she makes her way over to me, crouching down so she’s at my level. Her eyes go to the roses for a second, the next she’s looking around us, pulling out a pocket knife in the process to cut me one.

“Give me a minute,” she requests before awkwardly positioning her hand on the flower to take away each of the thorns. “This won’t go and stab you now.” She holds the rose out for me and mouth out a “thank you” which she only nods too. I wrap my arms around her, placing a kiss on her cheek.

“You’re not the only one that likes roses. I guess that just might be a family thing.” She blows out a loud breath. “Your daddy used to always give them to me, and sometimes, when I couldn’t fall asleep at night, I would draw them.” I nod to her before she lets go of the hug to stand fully and move back to Uncle Avier.

Amaya P.O.V.

I bite down on the inside of my cheek as I watch Aaron lean forward to smell the roses while holding the one I gave him a bit closer to his chest. His forest eyes close and I swear I can see the smallest hint of a smile on his face.

“He seems to be at peace.” I whip around at the same time as Xavier to be met with the sight of Jacob Bryant holding a baby girl. “How are you guys doing?”

“What are you doing here, Bryant,” Xavier grounds out while managing to forget that this is a hospital’s garden that anyone is welcomed to.

I hold an arm out to stop him from doing anything stupid for three reasons. Aaron has seen too much violence, Jake is holding a baby in his arms, and we don’t need security coming out here.

“Hello, Jake,” I don’t try to pretend I’m happy.

“Hi,” he says while refusing to break eye-contact with me. “To answer your question, I’m here because my girlfriend slipped coming down the stairs and hit her chin at the bottom, she’s getting stitches now.” The little girl in his arms let out a whimper before burying her head in the crook of his neck. “Don’t you worry Jane, she’s okay.”

He rubs her back while slightly bouncing.

“How the hell do you have a girlfriend, you’re an asswipe.” I punch Xavier in the arm at medium strength. “Damn, chill out,” he mewls out.

“You don’t have to fight about it. I can fully understand why you feel that way about me…” His glance becomes downcast “...but I’m changing.”

Xavier snickers but I keep quiet, because part of me, a big part of me, believes he is changing. Even with the small display of compassion he showed to the girl I now know as Jane when she whimpered and the way he holds her that says he never wants to let go.

I know that look because I get it when I look at Aaron or think of this baby I’m carrying.

“I don’t believe you,” Xavier’s voice is blunt.

“I do,” I confess; Xavier looks to me with eyes of shock.

“He was spreading rumors about sleeping with you! He said that you’re easy and you want to be so damn quick to believe him when he says he changed? People who do dumb shit like that don’t change so quickly.” Xavier’s face starts to turn a dark red.

“I’m done being that person, I swear it. The whole situation with you and your son has changed me. You inspired me to stop being that asshole when I have people that affect me in the same ways that Shawn and your son do.” He beats around the bush and I can tell he’s ignoring the presence of Xavier to get out what he needs to.

“Who might have been the person to change the beast?”

“Jane’s mom, she ended up showing up at one of my parties in this silky blue dress that made her look out of this world, a smile that naturally made people gravitate towards her. She was mesmerizing. She hypnotized me and when she danced it was almost like the waves of the ocean gliding, and by God I was drawn to her.” Jake smiles softly, getting lost in the love he feels for the woman he speaks of and a twinkle appears in his golden eyes.

“I worked up the courage to dance with her and by the end of the night we were in bed together. She was so timid, and when she left the next day I gave her my number and we spoke about all the good and bad going on in our lives.” The smile on his face drops before he stares at the small girl in his arms.

“Two months later, she showed up at my house when I was home alone and said three words, ‘Jake, I’m pregnant.’”

Xavier’s eyes go wide but the news doesn’t really surprise me right now since Charlie said there was somebody else in the school that had a kid that nobody suspected. I also happened to put two and two together a few minutes ago from observing him with the girl he’s hinted is his daughter.

“I told her to leave and luckily for me, she kept Ms. Verianna Jane Bryant because I would be lost without her even if I’m just now getting involved in her life.” I new wave of anger takes over each of Xavier’s features but he doesn’t try to advance on Jake.

“How could you do that?” he croaks out. “She came to you and told you that she was pregnant and you knew the child was yours but you made her leave in her most vulnerable of moments. That’s really fucked up of you.”

I wonder if the reason he’s acting this way is because he was there, he knows the pain of not being wanted and I guess Aaron knows that pain to an extent too.

Aaron, Verianna, and Xavier each have that is common, except for the fact that she isn’t old enough to remember.

“I know and I apologize to Angela every day for forcing her to go through everything without having me at her side, and I regret my decision. Not to mention that I missed my own daughter’s birth.” Jake’s eyes start to well with tears as he hugs Jane that much closer to his chest. “I did what I did because I was scared of messing up as not only a boyfriend, but as a father too.”

“What changed?” I decide to finally open my mouth instead of standing in silence.

“Two things: Angela was continuously sending me updates, mostly updates of this one right here and they made me realize that I wanted to be here along the way. I don’t want another man tucking my daughter in at night and I sure as hell didn’t want another man falling asleep with the girl I couldn’t get my mind off of beside them.” God, he sounds like Shawn.

“The second was seeing you come clean about everything that happened in your house to stop that fight between Shawn and I. You placed not only him but your son first and I knew I wanted to be like that too.” He sounds so sincere and I can tell he’s slowly starting to gain Xavier’s respect.

If Jake hasn’t earned Xavier’s respect, he certainly has gotten mine because even though he wasn’t there in the beginning, he did fight to get his family back. He knew when to admit that he’s made a mistake and he tries to fix the situation rather than ignoring it which is better than a major percent of the world’s population.

“This Angela must mean a whole hell of a lot to you.”

“She means more to me than I’ve ever felt for anyone else and she got me to be more open to myself and the world around us. She’s the one that convinced me to in her words, ‘Stop being a dumbass and instead be a man’, so here I am.” It’s good that he has someone that not only makes him happy, but also pushes him out of his comfort zone.

“Why did you say those things about Aaron when the same could’ve been said about your daughter too?” Jake hands me an apologetic look before taking a seat on the small barrier around the roses.

“I was angry and jealous. You guys were so happy parenting together and I remember seeing how at peace you were when he came to school that day.

“I’m sorry for my actions and I know words aren’t going to change what I’ve done. I also know I shouldn’t be asking for this much, but I want to know if you can give me a chance. I already apologized to Shawn before all this and-” Xavier throws up a hand to silence him.

“When did you speak to Shawn?”

Jake sets Verianna down, allowing her to stretch her legs out as she stands, he takes her small hands into his own.

“It was during the time you guys weren’t speaking. He seemed so out of space and so I started to tell him everything and he opened up to me. That’s when I realized that one of the coolest and nicest people to walk these halls was actually depressed and I felt scared for him.” Scared for what? Did Shawn tell him he thought this was going to happen? What would make Jake scared for him?

“What made you scared? What did Shawn say to you?” Jake bites down on his bottom lip before shaking his head. “You want to prove you’re sorry, then tell me what my brother said,” Xavier demands with narrowed eyes.

“He said he always felt like someone was going to come for him, but he didn’t know if they would get him first or if he would off himself before it could happen. He told me about this cliff side he could jump from, that happened before Dylan was jumped, after that he was only angry. Very, very angry.” Well, the tears were bound to come again some time today.

I wish Jake was lying, but I know how to tell a person is lying. He isn’t, he’s speaking the full-hearted truth.

“Why didn’t he come to us?” I force out while staring at Aaron who still has his attention devoted to the flowers.

What if he had to go the rest of his life without his father because of a choice, not because of something that was out of our hands.

“A few reasons, one of them possibly being how alone he felt inside; he felt like everyone was against him. Another being that he said he wouldn’t ever go through with it even if he had been thinking about it. I told him he should tell someone but I don’t know if he’s gotten around to it.”

Somewhere in his speaking I found it starts to sound like I’m listening to the conversation underwater, but maybe that’s because I’m lost in my own thoughts.

“Amaya,” Shawn’s voice comes to my ears with a hint of hopelessness that I’m responsible for.

A small smile begins to grow on my lips for a single moment because it’s so damn hard for me to lie and say I don’t miss him. I notice his eyes light up when he notices it but I have no choice but to knock that smile off his face. This is something I have to do.

“Shawn, go away.” It’s not what I want to say, but it’s what I have to. He has to be kept at arm’s length. I turn away from him, starting to walk away even though I know he’s not going to let me go without a fight.

Shawn’s hand takes my own before he pulls me to his chest, the hint of mint overtakes my senses. I fight the urge to lean into him and get lost in every part of him that I’ve missed more than I could’ve ever imagined. It feels like I can’t function without him. I start limiting the amount of breaths I take in to avoid taking in so much of him.

“Fuck off,” I bite out; he gives me one of the saddest looks I’ve ever seen before holding me closer.

“I can’t. I can’t ever let go of you. Not when I’ve just gotten you back, please baby. I can’t do it. Don’t try to make me.” I don’t want to make him, especially when he’s latching on to me like I’m the last person he’s ever going to see. This is too hard but it’s necessary, though I really wish it wasn’t.

“Don’t call me babe, baby, or love anymore. Don’t call me anything outside of my name.” My eyes harden and it isn’t because of him but how ashamed I feel in myself right now. “And you can let go, you should do so. You only make this worse, and you did this.” No he didn’t. No he didn’t.

“You might’ve worked your ass off to get me back, but you gave me up real quick. Now how hard is it for you to grasp the fact that I just don’t want you anymore?” That part is a half-truth, I don’t want him, I never wanted him… I needed him to stay strong. I still need him, and I always will need him.

“I wouldn’t ever give you up like that. I’m going crazy.”

“Welcome to my world, Shawn. It’s a cruel ass place that sucks to be in sometimes. When all the beauty disappears, and the flowers quit blooming, where the hell are we? Is this the world that we choose, or is it how we make it? You and I both have helped to burn to place to all hell, my heart going with it.”

I watch Shawn’s face, waiting to see his reaction to what I’ve came clean to. The beauty is gone sometimes and half of the time, that’s the world I’m in, not the one that’s all bright and colorful. I wasn’t so gracious to experience that as often as the misery and despair came to swallow me whole.

Shawn takes his right arm from around me to instead bring his hand to my face to pull off my sunglasses. His green eyes look straight into my silver ones. I can feel the desire to kiss him so I can forget all I’ve said, but I can’t do that anymore.

“I did help to burn this place to the ground, I helped to fuck up this place, but it did the same to me. I watched the burning, I felt it in me, I watched the once beautiful flowers burn until it was nothing but ash. That flower was me, twice actually, but I got burned, dangerously burned to the point where water couldn’t fix me,” his voice shrinks.

“I couldn’t grow a damn bit. I was stunned. I knew that I was soon going to die, I was prepared. I couldn’t give a damn, all I wanted was for the pain to disappear, for the color to come back to my life instead of the ash. I heard you going through the same thing, and I was angry at you for hiding it, but I was doing the same.” I grit my teeth but don’t say a word, allowing him to confess.

“I felt that same pain in me, and I’m scarred mentally and emotionally, my body maybe one or two, but I lied. Not all of my scars are from playing with you and the boys, some are from my own personal issues, and I couldn’t let go. I became addicted in the same way I was and am to you, it was my clutch.”

I notice his eyes watering but this time around I’m actually pissed at him, not myself. I start to fight his hold from around me unlike what I was doing before. Shawn’s hold becomes a bit tighter.

“You do want me, Amaya, you’ve made that much clear. You want me so bad that it actually hurts. The same exact way that I feel towards you. I fucking love you, and nothing in the world is going to change that much. I’m sorry. I’m so damn sorry for everything, and you have to believe me when I say that.”

My eyes get dark and I swear everyone looking over at us can see how angry I am.

“If you loved me, you would’ve said all of this already. You could’ve told me when I ended up telling you, instead you wanted to get all mad when I said I did it. You said I could’ve said it on the day we had our first kiss after the break-up the last time. What the hell is wrong with you?” I finally built up enough strength to shove him away from me, creating some distance between us.

Shawn doesn’t say a word.

“Tell me already! What the hell is wrong with you?!” I feel eyes land on us but ignore them; my eyes are trained on him. “You have too many damn issues. And how the hell could you let her fucking kiss you?! That’s not what love is, you weren’t even thinking of me when it happened!

“I have way too many damn problems in my life that I have to worry about! You aren’t about to be on that list anymore.”

“But Amaya, you were all I could think of. You’re all I ever can think of.”

“Well sure that makes me feel a million times better,” I say while rolling my eyes.

“Please Amaya. What do you want me to say? I know I made a big ass mistake, okay? But I can’t let you go, I’m so sorry, all of this has been fucking with my head so damn much that I can’t let it go. I can’t let go of this, what we have, or you. I just can’t forget.”

“I want you to. I want you to forget all about that damn relationship, I’m not about to go back down this road. I’m done with you. Forget about the moments we laughed. Forget about your arms around me. Forget every damn moment, because I can’t trust you. Not when you kissed her, and not when you lied to me for so damn long. I’m done with all this shit, especially when you’re the only one able to hurt me this way.” I look away from him. “Keep your distance, and I mean it.”

“Amaya, please-”

“If I have to ask you again it won’t be nicely.”

“Amaya! Amaya!” a voice calls out for me but everything is black. “God dammit, open your eyes! I’m not doing this shit two times over, you stubborn ass.” I feel a sharp pain in my back. What the hell happened to me? “Jake, go get help, quick!”

I hear shuffling before the world around me goes dead silent and my mind blanks.

A few hours later…

I look around before noticing that I’m now lying in a hospital gown, an IV shoved in my hand. Aaron lies beside me which doesn’t throw me off a single bit, but then I catch a glance of Mrs. Harper, Xavier, my dad, Jesse and Jared, Mom, Jonah, and the biggest surprise, Mr. Harper standing there, watching me.

“What happened, and why am I connected to an IV?” Xavier moves over to me before taking a seat.

“We were in the garden and you were keeping quiet, you were quiet majority of the time but something was different. It’s like you were lost in your own head. You froze and then you were on the ground, the doctors said you started convulsing or some shit like that.” He scratches his head with a scrunched up face.

“That would mean I had a seizure, right? I didn’t- I’ve never-”

“I know that you’ve never been in this situation before, but you have been in some fairly terrible shit where your ass couldn’t move.” His breathing starts to get all over the place. “I was sitting there, watching them with you. They said this could’ve happened for two reasons, the stress you’re feeling or even something psychological. They found some of your old records and found… a lot.”

How did I know this was gonna trace back to the whole Derrick situation, I’m never free.

“I’m fine,” I say in a narrow manor.”

“Amaya, you just had a seizure, you need to relax.” Jonah hobbles over to me using a pair of crutches. “We don’t need you having another one.”

“Jo, I’ll be fine-”

“Are you always this damn stubborn?” Jared asks with pure disbelief; I shrug my shoulders. “Most people in your situation would want to take a break from things and relax. You need to take a breather.”

“I’m not like most people.” Jared’s grey eyes narrow.

“That’s the problem.” He dramatically throws his hands up. “This is serious no matter how you try to play it off and I know you’ve been through a lot, whatever it is that you’ve been through and I hope that one day you’re willing to open up to us.” Worry takes over his features.

“Until then, I can’t lose my only sister that hasn’t made me crazy yet, you still have to piss me off at some point.”

“Trust me, you spend a week with her and you’ll be ready to curse up a storm. She’s such a mom,” Jonah says before Mom, Mrs. Harper and I each give him a look.

“You done put a foot in your mouth now,” Mr. Harper comments. I cross my arms in front of my chest.

“Alright, give me a second. I’ma rephrase that,” he quickly starts, “I love her very much and I love moms very much because we can’t do a lot of things without them or uh- yeah, but sometimes she tries to keep me from the truth. I know she thinks it’s what’s best for me, but I end up putting two and two together, it just takes me a bit of time to get the pieces right.”

I do tend to hide things from him.

“Anyway, back to you, you’re being held here overnight and I think you might want to open up about your predicament,” Jonah advises before motioning to everyone else in the stuffy environment, this grabs everyone’s attention. Which predicament is he talking about?

He leans a bit closer until there’s practically no space between us.

“I went back to the apartment and found the test but then the doctors pulled me aside. Take a look at your phone whenever you feel.”

“Where’s my phone?” I ask before bringing the hand without the IV through my hair.

“I’ve got it,” Xavier tells me as he reaches into his pocket to surrender my phone.

“Thank you.” The first thing I do is open my messages from Jonah; my breath hitches in my chest when I look at the latest picture. I feel my eyes starting to dampen. “Do you have the original,” I sniffle out.

“Yeah.”

“Can I see it?”

Jonah doesn’t say anything as a hardcopy of the sonogram I saw on my phone is placed gently in my hands, he forces my hands around it. This one is just a bit clearer and I notice two bean shapes beside each other. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

“No damn way,” I gasp out.

“I said the same thing.”

“I need some air.” I try sitting up before being pushed back down again. “Jonah, I love you, I really do, but if you don’t want to get crippled a bit more I suggest you stop doing that,” I ground out. “All I want to do is get out of this stuffy room, is that too much to ask for?” I cross my arms over my chest.

“Where would you be going exactly because you can’t go out without someone. I was there and things still managed to hit the fan, let’s not have another one of those spells,” Xavier contributes to the conversation before I let out a groan. I bite down on the inside of my cheek. Now here I go back to the world of people treating me like I’m so damn fragile.

“I want to go to the spot and-”

“You want to go to your spot, that’s legit a cliff that I don’t want you or Shawn when he gets out of this around,” Xavier’s voice gets lower.

“I’ll be alright, I won’t even get close to the edge.”

“Damn right you won’t, because you aren’t going. Why is it that whenever someone wants to keep you safe you go off and do the opposite of what people tell you to do. Can’t you see that I’m not trying to lose anyone else that I love. It’s like you don’t know how to stay the hell away when it comes to dangerous situations,” Xavier bites out before getting up from his seat next to me; I watch him.

“Go if you want to, it’s not like you’ll listen to me.” He then rushes out of the room, leaving me with one less person in my corner, and I just know I’ve screwed up this time.

“I’m going after him, I’ve got an idea as to where he ended up, and Amaya, I think you should stay here too. Xavier wasn’t wrong when he said you don’t know how to stay away when it comes to dangerous situations. Half of the time I don’t know how to feel about those decisions, some of them being selfless like that day with Aaron or saving Ace and Alexis’s dad.

“Others, like today, it’s not necessary. You want to clear your head, please think of a safer way to do it, one where you stay in the hospital.” Jonah walks out of the room too before everyone’s eyes are back on me.

“I know what you’re doing,” Dad says as he moves a bit closer.

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“You fight others because you want to prove that you’re not this wounded person, you want to make it seem like you are perfectly fine to others. You don’t like it when people know that you’re scared just as much as we are.” How the hell could he know that?

“What’s this turning into, therapy for me.”

“Wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve heard,” Mr. Harper comments before everyone in the room is giving him a look, well except for me. For once I’m actually sitting back to listen. “What? Personally, we told her she should speak to someone years ago.”

Jesse and Jared stare between us, moving behind everyone else so they’re almost invisible, I wish I was.

“Amaya’s been through some pretty traumatic shit that none of us can even comprehend, you realize that, right? Sure, you’ve got parental issues,” he points to my dad, “I’ve got parental and commitment issues. Must I really speak about this? The amount of injuries Jourdyn has nursed for her, the amount of time that Shawn and Xavier have watched her feel so damn powerless.” Mr. Harper shakes his head before he starts pacing around the room. “This is ridiculous.”

“Ryan, not your place,” Mrs. Harper’s voice is thin and I can tell it’s because of how true his statement is.

“The hell it’s not. Do you know how many times Jonah and Amaya have stayed at the house while I was still living there, what about after? She was scared shitless of going back to that place and that doesn’t surprise me a damn bit, that shit is sick.” I cover Aaron’s ears though he’s knocked out beside me because I want to make sure he can’t hear this even if he wakes.

“I know I’ve made mistakes and-”

“Mistakes, no, what I’ve done are mistakes, and even those should count as far more than that. You- you stayed in a messy ass situation that could’ve ended up with your kids in foster care, jail, or dead.” I feel my head start to get heavy before I pull the IV from my arm.

“Ryan-”

“No. Somebody needs to say this and I don’t care if everyone in this room hates me for it, you cannot walk away from your child and just expect them to be ready to throw their arms around you and say ‘I love you’!” For a moment, it’s like he’s Shawn, it’s the same face he makes when he’s angry and the darkness that creeps into his eyes is enough to make me have to blink away the imaginary Shawn. I really need to stop comparing them.

“You’re one to talk,” Mom decides to answer instead of defending herself.

“Yes, actually, I am. When I left my children went to a stable woman who was more capable than I was. I tried, but not enough, I didn’t realize what I had and made the choice to give that up. I don’t expect Shawn or Xavier to forgive me, Shawn more specifically because of our interaction when I was leaving, you, not so much.

“I have one question, when Amaya was jumping in front of Jonah to stop him from being harmed, where were you? We gave you chances, and if it wasn’t for Amaya we’d be in a completely separate situation right now.” I can feel the tension in the room, now knowing that something was said that I wasn’t supposed to know.

“That’s too far.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask confused.

“Nothing,” Mom says quickly.

“Nothing, huh?” Mr. Harper’s voice is full of sarcasm as he rolls his eyes.

Dad has a sudden interest in the conversation too and I can tell he’s missing some information. Jesse and Jared are missing more than a little bit of situation since I know nobody has gotten them up to date on everything, but for once, I’m missing some of the story too. This one being history between my mom and the Harpers.

“This isn’t the time for this,” Mrs. Harper tries to be the peacekeeper in all of this.

“What are you guys talking about?”

“It’s in the past and doesn’t matter,” Mom’s voice sounds like she’s daring someone to challenge her, and though stupid, that person is about to be me.

“It seems like it does matter. The moment it’s brought up you go stiff and I can tell it’s about me which means I have the right to know.” Mom doesn’t open her mouth to say a word.

“Jourdyn and I were speaking about taking you and Jonah in when you were younger,” Mr. Harper reveals.

“When?” I don’t try to hide my shock though I don’t know why it’s there. They saw that we were struggling and have been willing to help since they found out about everything.

“When you showed up on the doorstep with the brass knuckles, you remember that?” he asks.

“Y-Yeah, I remember that.”

“Well, that was the last straw with us. We wanted to get you guys out of that place before it was too late, but your mom, she didn’t want to give you your best chance and kept the two of you in that place where you continued to get abused for seven years after.” I look over to Mom, seeing a guilt ridden face before the tears start to actually stream down my cheek. I can tell the betrayal is visible across each of my facial features.

“You- you didn’t, please tell me it’s a lie.”

“Amaya, I’m sorry, I-”

“Holy shit, you- why in the hell would you force me to go through that? Every fucking slap, punch, kick, stab… Jonah got shot for Christ’s sake. You’ve been lying to me for all this time when I could’ve been in a better situation. Aaron found me almost bleeding out for fuck’s sake, what the fuck!” I grip my hair in my hands, tugging away at it.

“I basically had to choose between my boyfriend and my brother.” I take in a deep breath.

“Amaya, you’ve got to believe-”

“I don’t have to believe shit! At least with Derrick he was always straight-forward when it came to me, he didn’t try sugarcoating shit or lying. How long did you know Derrick was hurting me and Jonah? You know what, I don’t want an answer to that, just go.” My voice cracks at the end, but it doesn’t even reveal a fraction of how broken I feel inside.

“Amaya-”

“Please don’t make this any harder. I don’t have the strength for anything right now.” Mom sighs before walking out of the room with her head hanging down; Dad stays planted, not taking a step to go after her. “You don’t want to go after her?”

“She needs to think about things and I think I do too. I know I missed all of your childhood and I wasn’t there to protect you from that bastardo pandilla líder, but I do care. I can’t take back the past, but I can promise to be there for you whenever you need or want from here on out, okay?” I wipe my eyes before nodding.

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Alright, please get some rest, mija, I have to go speak to your uncle Carter, but if you need me to come back all you have to do is call.”

“Okay.”

“Can we stay here?” Jesse asks.

“I don’t mind, but you’re gonna be watching me sleep for an hour or so.”

Dad shrugs his shoulders before it’s decided that Jesse and Jared will be staying at the hospital with us. I pull the sheet and blanket up a bit higher on my chest, hugging Aaron to my side when I’m done. His head goes to rest on the pillow beside my own.

It doesn’t take long for me to drift off.

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