It’s ten in the morning and Aaron still hasn’t popped his head in the doorway of my bedroom yet. I don’t think it’s something to be concerned over since four other people in this house can keep him occupied as I hold onto Amaya, even forcing myself to stay here and not go pee even though I’ve had to go for the past hour or so.
She needs me for now and I’ve sworn to be there whenever she does from now on, and quite frankly, I need to hold her too. I don’t care if I’m not safe, I need to know that she’s safe from that asshole that said he wanted to see her crash and burn last night as he took her mother from her.
“S-Shawn,” she lightly calls out to me; I bring her a bit closer to my chest with a grim face.
“I’m right here, Wonder Woman. What do you need?”
I see now more than ever how much I’d be willing to do for this woman in my arms, anything that she could ever want or need I’d work my ass off to give it to her. I want to find a way to make her smile like yesterday morning when she woke up or after she heard my song for her. She’s my love that I don’t plan on ever letting go of.
I know that and have even before when I was thinking about setting her free, but I can’t do that. I can’t ever let her go again. It hurt too much the last time.
“How am I going to tell Jonah?”
That’s been on my mind since last night. “We can figure that out later, together.”
Jonah isn’t stupid. Not in the slightest. Soon, he’s going to find out whether someone tells him or it’s on his own. If I were him, I’d rather find out from someone I know after it happened, and so we’re going to tell him when the time is right.
“I was so mad at her, Shawn,” she hiccups out before I start running my hand through her golden hair that I’ve missed so damn much. “The last thing I said to her was for her to go away. Yesterday, w-when Enriquo was about to k-kill her, s-she looked like she accepted it, like she t-thought she d-deserved it.” What if that’s what Rachael thought?
“I- I didn’t want her to die. I wanted her to get that happily ever after that she wanted with D-Dad. I wanted our fight to be a bump down the road.” Amaya starts shaking as her nails begin to dig into the flesh on my arm.
I bring her closer to my chest. “W-What was your fight over?”
I know it’s not the best idea to push her into speaking about something that makes her uncomfortable, especially with the death of her mom being only a couple of hours behind us, but I need to know. Maybe it can help me with making her feel better, I just need more of an insight into it.
“My parents?” What do my parents have to do with anything that could cause an argument outside of our own family?
“Your dad, he was continuously visiting your hospital room once Xavier and I told him about what happened.” I didn’t know Dad even still cared about me, let alone enough to take time off work to watch me lay in some hospital bed unconscious, doesn’t sound like him. “My dad was trying to diagnose me while he visited me in the hospital-”
“Wait, you were in the hospital? And your dad?”
“I see you haven’t remembered everything,” she looks away from me, “Look, I don’t have to patience or mental health to explain that right now.” I clamp my mouth shut so I don’t irritate her anymore. Not when she’s been through enough and is only acting like this because of everything on her shoulders. “And I was in the hospital once I blacked out. They said I wasn’t taking care of myself and got too stressed out.”
I place a hand on her growing baby bump, imagining the harm that can come to them if the stress continues to wear down on her as it has been.
“Long story short, your dad told me he and your mom wanted to take Jonah and me in from our home situation. Mom refused to give us up which resulted in another seven years of torture at home.” She stares at the pictures of us and the boys that rest on the walls of my bedroom before she places her hand over my own that rests on her stomach to take it off of her, she gets out of bed, leaving me there to a now cold space.
“Where are you going?”
“To take a shower?” Her hand rests on her hip sassily. “You okay with that?”
“Yeah, of course, I just-”
Amaya steps into the bathroom and closes to the door before I can finish the sentence. I clamp my mouth shut once again. I get up from the bed to walk out of the bedroom, her low sobs meeting me on my way out.
That part hurt. She went into the bathroom to cry when I could’ve held her as she at least showed me how torn apart she’s feeling. But she doesn’t want me here at the moment, so I’ll wait for her to call me, but for now, I’m gonna go pee.
I start walking out of my bedroom to head towards Xavier’s room and use his bathroom when I hear the pounding steps of the stairs.
“Shawn?!” I turn around to see a fuming Jonah that walks to me with a purpose, his limp barely holding him back from walking fast. It’s a single second of me standing there, waiting to see what the hell is going on with him before a fist connects with the side of my face, making me freeze.
“What the hell, Jo-”
He punches me again, this time in the stomach which has me collapsing onto my hands and knees, but dropping down to the floor a second later. I roll onto my back as I try to catch my breath.
“You piece of mother-” Another blaze of heat hits me when I make eye-contact with me, this time in the eye. “Y-You fucking shit! Why d-didn’t you tell me she’s f-fucking dead!” This time his knuckle connects with my cheek, forcing my head to jerk to the side.
God damn, Jonah packs some heat behind each punch.
I curl up into a small ball but don’t retaliate by hitting him. Not when he’s doing this because of how much pain he’s in towards something I did. I could’ve called him. He has the right to know just like Amaya did.
“Jonah, don’t do-” I hold my chest where his fist lands, leaving me breathless more than the other ones. God, please let that be the last one.
“Don’t fucking talk to me!”
“Jonah, what the hell are you doing?!” It’s Amaya but my vision is too blurry from that hit to the eye. “Stop! Let Shawn go!”
He gets up from me slowly, his eyes jumping from me to her.
“I don’t want either of you to talk to me again you- you assholes! You were like my fucking brother Shawn, and Amaya, you- you’re my sister and you would go and hide some shit like this from me! She was my mom too! I had to find out from the fucking news that she’s dead but I know good and damn well you guys were there!
“I fucking sent you the goddamn address! I hope you’re both happy with each other and have fun burning for that shit!” Then he’s gone, racing down the stairs, leaving me in that hallway with his sister, regretting the decision to not tell him right away.
“What the hell is going on out here?” Xavier asks before I feel a fresh pair of eyes on me. “Holy shit, are you okay? What happened?”
“I- I’m fantastic.” I cough out a bit of blood after the comment. I guess that didn’t help my case any.
“Jesus Shawn, how many times did he hit you?” Amaya kneels in front of me, her hands falling on my cheeks.
“Who? Who hit him?” How didn’t he hear any of the exchange that just happened, it was literally outside of his bedroom.
“Jonah,” Amaya supplies.
“Jonah did this? Shit Shawn, what did you do to piss him off?” I would glare at him, but it would hurt my eye a little too much to narrow like that.
“It wasn’t Shawn, it’s on me.” I move to sit up so I can get as close as I can but that doesn’t work in my favor, that shit only hurts worse.
“That’s not your fault, Amaya.”
“The fuck it isn’t, I should’ve forced myself to get my shit together last night and tell him that she’s dead. He had the right to find out right after I did. Finding out from the news is the worst possible way that could’ve happened.” I spit out a bit more blood before letting out a dry laugh.
“Merry fucking Christmas to all.”
“Really, that’s what you say?” Xavier’s anger is clear; I hold a hand up to silence him.
“Go fix things with Jonah, babe.” I take in a deep breath. “Xavier can help me, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll handle him.”
“Shawn, Jonah literally came here just to attack you, I don’t think he’s in the proper mood to speak to anyone except for Alexis at the moment, and even still, he might not want to speak to her either.” I lift her hand to my lips before lightly pecking it.
“Amaya, you’re his sister, and right now he needs to speak to you and wants to share some of his pain with you. It doesn’t matter if he’s pissed or not, you’re the only one that’s going to closely relate to what he’s going through because you’re going through the same things. Before you go, please tell me I don’t look as shitty as I feel.”
“No matter how you look you’re beautiful…” So I look like shit then? “… but this, this is sad to look at. Your eye and cheek each are starting to swell.” She pecks my lips, standing after she does so. “I’ll be back.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Then she’s gone, leaving me and Xavier alone in the hallway to go throw on some better clothes and shoes so she can go to talk to Jonah.
“I think we should move you downstairs.”
“Why? That means Mom and the Grands are going to see me almost right away when they come back from breakfast.” Xavier lets out a groan.
“I think you need to come clean with what happened, it’s not like Jonah wanted to hide the fact that he was beating your ass if he did it out in the open, right? That means he doesn’t give a shit, and you kind of should’ve told him when we came home or something, he did send us the address to bring Amaya home.
“It’s kind of the least you could’ve done or any of us.” He’s not wrong.
“Okay fine, but only because it’s closer to the kitchen and everything else.”
“Eli!” Xavier screams out. I forgot I told him he could spend the night here.
“Yeah?” he yawns out as he steps out from Xavier’s room. “Woah, Shawn, are you okay?” I only nod but don’t open my mouth to explain the situation. “We need to get some ice on you and clean up the blood on the floor before someone steps in it or something.”
“Can you carry him downstairs to place him on the couch?”
“I mean, I can, but what’s the point of doing that when his bedroom is right there. It’d be more comfortable for him that way, and we can just bring him up anything he needs.”
“Do what you’ve got to do, I don’t care, I just don’t want to be on the floor anymore.” Eli’s face clears out just a bit, things not looking as blurry as they were a while ago, but still blurry enough.
“Brace yourself.” He doesn’t wait a minute to lift me up and into his arms.
“I said to brace yourself.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t give me much time to do it,” I whine out as he heads into my room to place me down gently on the bed. I get a glimpse of Amaya who throws on one of my sweatshirts that makes the baby bump barely visible if you’re not looking for it.
“Bye again,” she says before walking out of the room. “I’m borrowing your car!”
Well obviously, you think I’d want you walking to Ace’s house wherever that is?
“Do you need anything?”
“Can you get me some ice and a sandwich? I never got to eat…” Or pee for that matter.
“Yeah, no problem,” Xavier answers before walking out of the room, Eli goes to follow but I grab him, pulling him down onto the bed beside me. I figure Amaya’s not the only one that should speak to her brother.
“I’m sorry for being an asshole to you, Eli. You didn’t deserve that and well, I also want to thank you for being there for me yesterday even when I was too much of a stubborn ass to make that call myself.”
“There’s no point in apologizing for something that happened in the past, I told you last night, and I can tell you again. I don’t expect you to love me right away, especially when you’re just now hearing about me, and you weren’t that bad to me.” Not aloud, but in my head is an entirely separate story.
“You also don’t have to thank me for last night. I tend to be there for people even when they don’t like to allow themselves to think they need help. Shawn, I’ve lost a lot in my life and something tells me you know the type, and like Amaya, I don’t let many things get to me, or when they do, I don’t make it clear.
“I don’t care if you love me or if you hate me, I plan on being there for you and Xavier each because other than you guys and Ryan of course, I don’t have any living relatives. At least that I know of. My grandparents are a whole other story since I don’t know shit about them. If and when you need me, you have ways of contacting me.”
Last night I found myself having that brotherly feeling with him for the first time and I can’t explain it. All I know is that he selflessly put his own life in danger for the sake of me and Xavier even though he barely knows us.
“I don’t hate you, Eli, and I want you to know that I’m going to be there too if you ever need me.” Those green eyes start to brim with tears, maybe it’s because it’s been a while since he’s heard those words or something along the lines of them. I can only assume that much anyway from what he’s told us about his life. “You’re my brother, Elijah Archibald James, and even though we’ve missed an entire eighteen years of each other’s lives, nothing and nobody can change that.
“You don’t have to be alone anymore.”
“It’s been a long ass time since I’ve felt like someone genuinely cared about me, Shawn, thank you.”
“No, thank you for finding us.” I reach over to hug him even though i causes so much pain to spread through my entire upper body.
I bite down on the inside of my cheek as I approach Jonah’s hunched over figure on the steps of Ace and Alexis’s black and white house. Bruno Mars- Just the Way You Are blasts from his phone as he allows himself to cry his eyes out similar to how I was last night, but I had Shawn holding me while he’s trying to ease the pain out all alone.
“Lo siento, Jo. Lo siento.”
Those light blue eyes glance up to me, looking as broken as I feel on the inside, but this hits me seeing that I haven’t seen this look in months. He’s always been the optimistic one and right now, well he’s hurting even more because of this song because, in a way, Mom had made it her own.
I remember she used to play it on a loop for almost a year when it first came out.
“Is Shawn okay?” he cracks out while tearing his eyes away from my own.
“He spat up blood twice before I left. I don’t know what’s up with him now that I’m here with you, but do you realize the harm that you could’ve and might’ve caused him?” I find myself parenting him; his eyes fall to the pair of checkered Vans he wears on his feet.
“Yes, and I’m-”
“Jonah, I don’t think you see the damage that you could’ve caused. The hits you gave him, especially that blow to the chest, he had a collapsed lung not even a month ago! That could’ve killed him!” I raise my voice before noticing how he slightly shrinks down. I sigh, taking a seat next to him and grabbing his phone to turn off his music.
“Are you scared that I’m going to hurt you?” I whisper the question out because I can’t believe I’m even asking it. Jonah places a bit of space between us, giving me my answer. “God, Jo, nothing you could ever do would ever make me hurt you. I’m not going to slap you around like Derrick used to do to us. I came here to talk to you, that’s it.”
Jonah’s scared of me. When the hell did that happen?
“Why didn’t he stop me? Why did he let it happen?” I wrap an arm around his shoulders before pulling him closer.
“Shawn wouldn’t ever hurt you, even though you attacked him and gave him probable cause. He knows you did it because you’re hurting over the fact that we didn’t tell you last night.” Jonah’s head lowers that much more, even for me to worry that he’s going to get a crick in his neck. Those hands make small fists at his side. “We didn’t plan on hurting you like that. I didn’t plan on hurting you. Hell, the idea was to tell you when the timing was right and I can see how wrong that was.
“You should’ve found out right after I did.”
His head falls on my shoulder before he’s crying that much more, allowing the pain to reveal itself to me. I hold him without saying a word at first because nothing can take back all that has happened. Nothing can give us back our mother who might not have done the best towards us but she’s the one that welcomed us into this world.
“W-Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was a fucking trainwreck. I still am. I’m also trying to cope with the thought of never seeing her again or the fact that these twins and any future children that I have won’t ever be meeting her,” I sniffle out before wiping my eyes.
“Mom’s the reason Aaron knows Shawn is his dad and though it was bound to happen, she pushed me closer to Shawn who loves me so goddamn much that I don’t know what to do with myself half of the time.” I think that’s one of the parts that manage to hit the hardest with me. I might not be as happy as I am right now had Mom not decided to tell Aaron who I am to him and get that paternity test that told us who his true father is.
She made some terrible decisions in the past, but so have I. We all make mistakes.
“I never got to thank her for that, I was always so angry and miserable.” I’m gonna work towards fixing that.
“You had reasons for being that way, and she already knows all these things. You didn’t have to thank her when she could see how happy you and Aaron became once the news started to spread.” I try to blink away the tears only for more to fall.
We sit there hugging each other while it feels as though time has slowed.
“I know, Amaya, I knew her secret.”
“What?” I whisper out, already having an idea as to which secret he’s speaking about.
“I know Mom was working that night club.”
I try to make eye-contact with him but there’s no point in it. “How did you find out?”
“Guys would constantly make these sly and vulgar comments while looking at her as if they wanted a piece,” he sounds sick to the stomach which is how I felt back then. “They didn’t care to even censor themselves with us there. I’m not stupid. I could put two and two together, then Derrick, I know he somehow put an end to all that.” He’s never been the type of person you could hide things from, but then again, neither was I.
“It’s hard to think the notorious Derrick Johnathan Stone is gone too, huh?” I do a double-take as I drop my arms from around him before staring forward at the freshly cut green grass of the front yard.
“What are you talking about?”
“You didn’t know?” Jonah’s voice gets small like a young child’s when they’re in disbelief.
“Know what, Jonah? What don’t I know?”
“Amaya, Derrick is dead, so is that Enriquo guy that slapped Aaron and placed Shawn and Xavier each in the hospital.” I feel my heartbeat picking up in my chest. Feeling yet another grave sense of loss, this one, however, hits me harder than I could’ve ever imagined Derrick dying could.
He abused me. He raped me. He hurt people that I care about, but before all of that, he saved me from my first heartbreak. He was there for me every night I fell asleep for six months when Mom and his relationship was still fresh.
The first night he helped put me together was the first time he spent the night at the house with us.
“I’m sorry that your father left,” Derrick whispers as he places me down in my small twin-sized bed. He tucks me in under my purple Tinker Bell comforter. His hand reaches out to brush some of my blonde hair away from my line of vision that managed to fall out of my ponytail. “That man lost some pretty great people.”
I smile at him even though he might not be able to see it well from the dimness of the room.
“Thanks, Derrick.” I wrap my arms around his neck but they aren’t long enough to fully wrap around.
“No need to thank me, now get some rest.”
He starts to stand fully so he can walk out of my room but I wrap my hand around his wrist, holding onto him with as strong of a grip as I can manage. Those brown eyes fall back on me.
“Can you wait for me to fall asleep before you go?” I ask in a small voice; he slowly nods his head. “Are you still going to be here in the morning? Daddy left when I fell asleep then didn’t come back home.” I see the pain spread across his tan features and I can tell he feels it for me as he plops down on the floor right next to my bed.
I hold a hand out for him to take into his own, he does.
“I’m not going to slip away in the middle of the night. I’ll even be the one to wake you up in the morning if that’s what you want.” He doesn’t break eye-contact with me.
“I’d like that.”
“Then that’s what I’ll do.” Derrick gives me a smile that I can’t help but return. “Good night, Amaya.”
“Night-Night, Derrick.” That’s when I’m out like a light, nothing but sweet dreams for the first time in weeks.
“Amaya! Amaya!” Jonah calls out for me, a hand is waved in front of my face.
“Y-Yeah, what?” I pull myself away from the thoughts of who Derrick once was to me, but the last two times I swear to God it felt like he was coming back. And now, well I guess I’m never gonna know because he’s dead and gone.
“I don’t know, I was calling out for you but you weren’t responding to me, you were lost in your head and it was starting to worry me,” Jonah’s words are faster than a speeding bullet but I manage to catch each word.
“No, you aren’t. You can’t bullshit me, Amaya, I know when something’s wrong and it’s okay for things to be wrong. Life is kind of kicking our asses right now.” He sure as hell can say that again. “Now give me Shawn’s car keys, I’m going to drive you back to his place and also apologize to him.”
“Good to hear.” I pass him the car keys.
The drive isn’t long but it does provide me with enough time to think over everything and everyone that is in my life right now. I have Shawn, Aaron, and other people who have constantly held me up when I feel like breaking.
It’s time that I stop hiding from my feelings and let the people in my life know what they mean. That’s Mom’s final lesson for me.
“Come on. Walk faster,” I huff out as I stand on the doorstep waiting for him to catch up.
“For a pregnant woman you sure as hell do walk fast.”
“I’m only fifteen weeks, Jo, and it’s not my fault you’re slow as hell. You can walk fast when you want to.” I knock on the front door, it gets pulled open a second later revealing my little kangaroo who smiles up at me.
“Little Canguro, you’ve got to stop opening the door on your own, you never know who’s at the door,” I lightly scold him as I scoop his small body up and into my arms, he rubs his cheek against my own.
“Sorry, Mommy, but I knew it was you. I heard ya yelling at Jonah.” I place a kiss on the top of his head. “I asked Granna if I could open the door first too.”
“Alright, now where’s your daddy?”
I look over to the bottom of the stairs where the voice came from.
“You shouldn’t be walking around just yet.” I point a finger over to him before he holds his hands up in surrender.
“I take it you were worried about me, baby?” I roll my eyes but I know he can see the subtle smile on my face. “Well, we can discuss the fact that you were totally worried about me later… I see things went well between the two of you?” Those green eyes jump between me and Jonah.
“Shawn, I’m so sorry,” Jonah starts before Shawn shrugs it off.
“Aaron, buddy, can you cover your ears?” He rolls his eyes but follows his father’s soft command. “I’m not mad at you for beating my ass. I let it happen for two reasons, one, it was getting some of that pain off of your chest. Two, you’re the first person to forget all the shit I went through and didn’t go easy on me when I pissed you off.
“With that being said, there’s not a single ounce of bad blood between us.” Shawn takes slow steps towards us, not because he’s cautious but because he’s still feeling some of the pain that came with allowing Jonah to take his anger out on him. “Aaron, you can stop covering your ears now,” Shawn says before placing his hands around Aaron’s to grant him his sense of hearing again.
“Hey, Uncle Jonah?”
“Wanna go upstairs with Uncle Avier and Eli, we was watching this movie called Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” Jonah reaches out to take Aaron.
“I would love to.”
I wait for them to be upstairs before wrapping my arms around Shawn’s neck to place a soft kiss on his lips.
“Not that I’m complaining or anything, but why did you kiss me?” His muscled arms snake around my waist to pull me flush against him. Those eyes staring me down as he awaits his answer.
“I just really, really love you, Shawn. I’m so sorry for not always showing you and proving it to you because damn you mean the world to me. Can you forgive me?” He lowers his lips back to my own, this kiss making my heart flutter a total of eight times in my chest.
“Of course I can forgive you, eres mi amor.” Damn, I love the sound of the white boy speaking Spanish.
“I know we’ve each been through a lot, but that shouldn’t have had me pushing you away in the ways that I did.”
“Can I ask you a question that you can totally get back to me with?” My heart starts picking up a bit more as he places his head in the crook of my neck but tilts his lips up so I can hear the shallow sounds of each of his breaths in my ear.
“Okay?” It comes out more like a question.
“I know this isn’t the perfect timing, actually, it might be the worst possible timing, but I can’t look at you any longer without saying that I tried with this.” I feel his heartbeat through the fabric of his sweatshirt. “Please marry me, Amaya Santana Wolff. Let me wake up to you in the morning for the rest of our lives. Let me fall asleep holding you at night. Say you’ll be mine.”
I twist in his arms, lifting his face so we’re looking each other dead in the eye. I notice how nervous his beautiful green eyes reveal he feels on the inside.
“I know we’re young and all but- wait, did you say yes?”
“Yes. Shawn Matthew Harper, I want to marry you.” I make sure there’s no room for confusion before he’s kissing the life out of me, stealing my breath away while I let him.
I smile against him, allowing him to wash away the pain like he almost always does to welcome in a feeling of nothing but joy. I want to get caught up in this moment and hold onto how great I feel when I’m with him.
“I love you so fucking much, Amaya.”
“I love you more.”
“Highly unlikely.” He rests our foreheads against each other. “Amaya?”
“I wish I proposed to you upstairs and in my room.” I let out a small laugh before he smirks at me and pecks my lips once again. “I’m taking you out tomorrow to do things the right way.”
“I already said yes.”
“Doesn’t matter, we’ve already done things out of order, and I want to do things the way I imagined doing them months ago. Let me have this.” I nod slowly before he starts to drag me towards the stairs.