Chapter 9: Shawn
I stand in my room staring at the wall covered in almost all my years, pictures of Amaya and I mostly on the walls though the boys each make a fair amount of appearances. Well actually, Jonah is in here a lot too since they’ve lived here on and off. My favorite picture on the wall actually isn’t one of Amaya even if she is featured in the picture. It’s a copy of the one Amaya had shown me on the day Derrick declared her and Jonah free from the gang; the day that Aaron was born.
The picture means so damn much to me since I didn’t get the chance to be there for her on the day that our son was born. When I close my eyes I can imagine standing in that room with her, she holds onto my hand tightly as I whisper reassuring words in her ear, saying anything and everything to make her feel strong enough to get through this. I can see it all when the room is completely silent and there’s nothing else to concentrate on except for being there with her. The girl I’ve loved since the day we met.
But then I find myself in that mindset and I find myself thinking of every single thing she had to endure. It wasn’t just the pain of childbirth, she had to go through a whole hell of a lot more, the fear of losing our son is part of that. There was a chance that it was too late or maybe it was too early for him since he was a preemie, though he was born about a month and a half early or so.
I can’t even imagine how it would feel to lose him. What if he wasn’t around right now? What if I never had the chance to know this boy that has made such an impact in my life? The boy that has made me stand tall in the time where I feel like crumbling apart. He’s my emotional support and I can’t live without him. I’d do anything and everything when it comes to him.
I remember the exact day Amaya had told me about everything, it was when she was bringing him home from the hospital. While she was lying awake with him in her arms she called me and we talked about how when he came out he wasn’t crying which was a really bad sign since it meant that he wasn’t breathing. So the doctors did everything they could to get him breathing as she was left in the dark about everything up until his blood-curdling screams met everyone’s ears, but he settled down the moment he was in her arms.
She said it felt like an eternity and I felt this pain as she continued to speak about it and how she spoke about the relief that coursed throughout her body when he was clinging to her, seguro y sonido, or safe and sound in english. Almost every other line that she spoke I was interjecting and asking if he was okay, if she was sure that he was okay. She thought it was sweet of me to be concerned and always assured me that things were fine with him. That she’d tell me if there ever was something wrong.
She proceeded to tell me about how his big grey eyes at the time opened to meet her own as he took grasp of her thumb with his teeny hand, both of them comforting each other with minimum effort on her side. When I got that first picture of him it just was something that I couldn’t ever think to take my eyes off of, it’s also hanging on the wall, right beside this picture actually, but seeing the first interaction between him and Amaya hits me harder for some reason.
“Daddy,” I hear before Aaron’s small body crashes into the back on my legs. I look away from the picture with a smile stretching across my face; I turn around to lift him up and into my arms and throw him over my shoulder. His laugh meets my ears, making my smile just a bit larger, he’s got my laugh.
“Hey bud,” I say while swaying back and forth at a quick pace. The hood of his sweater hits me a few times in the neck but it’s soft. I wonder why he’s wearing a hoodie though, there isn’t even a chill or anything.
Aaron twists around in my arms so he’s got head rested on my shoulder with his arms wrapping around my neck just a bit. It’s kinda like I’m holding him around my neck like a towel once I’ve worked out.
“Hey Daddy, what was you looking at?” he asks once he gets his laughter under control. I move my body just a bit so I’m standing sideways and he can get a good look at the picture that can’t stop capturing all of my attention. “Who’s that with Mommy?” I let out a small laugh before pointing to the baby version of himself.
“That’s you, bud, back when you were just a baby. That’s from the day you were born.” His eyes go wide with his jaw dropping following in close pursuit.
“No way was I that tiny.”
“Yes you were. We all start off around that size. If you were born at this size there’d be a lot of questions to be asked,” he lets out a small giggle before reaching out to touch the picture and I drop my hand from it so he has better access since my hands are pretty big. His index finger traces Amaya’s 14 year old face.
“Why aren’t you not there?” I bite down on the inside of my cheek.
“Since nobody thought you were mine just yet, Mommy thought it was best for me not to be there since she thought it’d be too hard on me,” he turns his head to look at me before dropping his hand from the picture.
“Did you want to be there?”
“More than anything,” I admit.
“Then why weren’t you?”
“I told you why, bud,” I sigh out at the end.
“You gonna do everything Mommy tells you to do?” he asks with a raised eyebrow. I fight off a smirk before shaking my head. “Good. Sometimes the only person that know what’s best for you, is you.”
“Alright guru, but you’ve got to listen to your mommy until the day you’re eighteen, got it?” Aaron scoffs before nodding which is the first time I’ve ever heard him do that. He’s definitely turning into one of us.
“Duh Daddy, I’m not dumb.”
“I know. So I’ve got a question for you,” I tell him before now adjusting him in my arms so he’s now facing me. He nods at me to continue. “Do you know when your birthday is?” His eyes narrow in the slightest before his head tilts to the side just a bit, his thinking face now making an appearance.
“I don’t know the day, but I know it’s in Sept- Sept-” he sounds it out for a moment or two like Amaya has been working on getting him to do for a bit of time now. She told me that if there’s a word he has trouble pronouncing to give him a minute or two to get it right which I do instead of giving him the answer as I used to do. “I was born in September,” he finally says in a small voice before I nod with a kind smile.
“Yeah you were, and the date was September 27, 2014, but I’ll remind you whenever you forget,” he nods before wrapping his arms around me. I remember then that he came in her for something so I rub his back while his head moves to use his right arm as a pillow. “What’d you need when you came in here?” A look of realization hits his face.
“Granna wanted to know if you’re ready to go or not, her and Uncle Avier are.” I nod slowly as I move to my bed to grab my duffle bag full of my football gear. “Daddy?” he whispers when I change my course to head towards the door; I stop the moment I hear the nervous hint in his voice.
“Nothing… just wanna know if Mommy’s coming or not.” I take a deep breath before kneeling and placing all of my things beside me; I place him on his feet in front of me and stare into his eyes as he nervously fidgets around. My arms go out to take his shoulders and keep his feet planted in place as my eyes soften.
“I couldn’t tell you. I asked her the other day if she was coming too and she said she’d think about it, which isn’t a complete no, but it’s not a complete yes either. If she doesn’t show, we already discussed that you’re going back to her place tonight, so someone will take you if it’s needed. I promised you that you were going and I don’t breath my promises, okay?” I ask; he nods but doesn’t say a word. I can tell he’s disappointed by the answer and I am too, but there’s nothing I can do when it comes to Amaya. She’s her own person that makes her own decisions. “What’s running through your head right now?”
“Nothing really, I just wonder why she doesn’t want to be around anymore, everything was fine before,” his voice is small and I can hear the hidden plea between each of his words. He’s begging me to explain what’s going on because he knows that I know more than what I’m giving up to him.
“I couldn’t tell you,” I lie and feel myself getting sick from it. I can’t exactly tell him that another woman kissed me and his mother witnessed it happen. Then he’d hate me and not to mention what Amaya might do to me if she finds that I disclosed that information. “What you need to know is that the both of us love you more than you could know. This is on me and I’m going to do what I can to fix this one day,” I say before bringing a hand towards him and moving the hair away from his face.
“What do you mean ‘your fault’?” he asks while pulling me in for a hug. I don’t know if it’s for me or himself but I can tell I appreciate it just as much as he does. That much is for certain and I’m grateful that he’s here for now though I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna end up doing when he’s out of the house and with her.
“It’s not important, now let’s go before we end up late.” He nods into my shoulder before pulling away.
I take my bag before throwing it over my shoulder and take Aaron’s hand into my own rather than lifting him up into my arms. We walk downstairs and into the living room where we find Xavier and Mom waiting for us, neither of them say a word but I can tell something’s on their minds, so I turn to the person I know will give me the most information.
“Uh Mom, can you get Aaron in the car so I can talk to Xavier real quick?” she only nods before Aaron drops my hand to instead take her own with a small smile. I wait for them to be out of the house before looking into my brother’s eyes but he doesn’t want to look at me. There’s definitely something up.
“What’s up?” he asks while staring down at his own duffle of gear. I wrap my strap around my neck and pull my arm through so I can cross my arms over my chest.
“I don’t know, you tell me.”
“What are you talking about?” he plays dumb.
“I’m talking about the fact that you can barely even look at me. You’re hiding something and we don’t do that with each other, we’ve always come to each other and the only time you haven’t is when you think I’ll be pissed off or it’s about me, but even still you eventually crack about it. Now crack because we don’t have all that much time and you know Coach Collins will kill us if we’re late,” his foot starts to tap away nervously at the ground and I can tell that it’s both of the things I mentioned earlier. I’m gonna be pissed and it’s about me.
“They don’t know if you’re ready,” he blurts out.
“What do you mean they don’t know if I’m ready?”
“The team, Coach, Mom… me,” he now decides he wants to look me in the eye with so much guilt that I find I’m not angry, but concerned about what his confession is making him feel. I move closer before placing a hand on his shoulder. I haven’t given any of them much of a reason to think that I was ready since I’ve been all in this slump.
“Don’t feel guilty, I get it, but I’m going to show everyone just how ready I am. To do that though, I need you to have faith in me along with the team, and I’ve got a plan,” I tell him with a smile before dropping my hand from his shoulder to instead hold a hand out for him to take. “Got me?”
“I got you, now we’ve got a game to win.” I nod.
“That we do.”
I come out of the locker room with all of my teammates before we full out onto the football field, half of the crowd screaming out for us while others boo, but whatever, that’s how this works anyway. I catch Aaron sitting in the bleachers with everyone else excluding Xavier who’s on the field with me, and Amaya who has been avoiding me like the plague. I try to deny the pain that comes with that but there’s no way it’s going away anytime soon.
My heart breaks further each time I see her run away from me, hell I thought she’d at least show up as my friend, or be there for Xavier if not for me.
I don’t allow my pain to show on my face as I catch Aaron waving down to us; I wave back with a small smile with the thought that he’s the only thing keeping me sane at the moment from doing anything stupid.
Almost every person I come in contact with pats me on the back as we make our way over to Coach Collins who pulls me to the side. I’m not too shocked. Xavier already warned me about their doubts, but I plan on clearing those up so my team knows they can lean on me and know that this is all that needs to be on my mind right now. Not Amaya who keeps flaking on me and breaking us each slowly though that’s easier said than done.
“This is a very important game, Harper.” Tell me something I don’t know. I keep my mouth shut and nod slowly. “Are you sure that you can go out there and play your damned best? You’re our star player and captain of this team, you can’t be off your game.” He looks around us to make sure I’m the only one able to hear this but we both already knew that I was, he’s probably just paranoid.
I raise a questioning eyebrow to him.
“Why would I be off my game, Coach? I’m fine.” He sighs before shaking his head.
“Are you really though? Everyone sees you walking around these hallways with heartbreak all over your face. We all know there’s things going on with you and Amaya, nobody’s telling you that you have to pretend to be strong now. It’s okay to be hurt. I’m just making sure you’re in the right mindset so nothing happens to you.” I find myself running my hand through my hair as she always used to do to calm me down though it makes my heart ache more.
“Well if you know about that can you at least consider the fact that I need this right now? When I play I get everything off my chest and put it towards winning these games with the help of my teammates. I can’t go to her and speak about it, nor can I go to many other people, let alone see Aaron break,” he looks in the direction of him. “Please sir, don’t bench me… not with him here to watch this,” I beg which is something I practically never do and he knows this much. It shows how much paying means to me.
“If you get hurt he’s gonna be here to see it, that’s a lot for a kid to see, boy.” I nod.
“That’s the game of football, Coach. This is a full-contact sport, he knows that there’s always a chance of me or his uncle getting hurt when we play,” Coach Collins groans before dragging a hand down his face.
I can’t sit out of this game, not with everything going on with Amaya and sure as hell not with Aaron in those bleachers to watch. I also can’t forget about everyone else watching as I stand here speaking to the coach, if they see me sitting out then they’re going to know that even Coach Collins is losing faith in me. They’ll find out just how broken I am though I’ve worked my ass off to hide the worst of it.
“Fine… you can play, but if I see that at any part of the game you aren’t able to handle this I’m pulling you out and you won’t be able to complain about a damn thing, capiche?” I quickly nod in agreement. “Alright, now we’ve got a game to win, so go and talk to your team.” I look back to the bleachers and notice that Aaron’s sweater is gone to instead reveal a miniature jersey of my own; a smile comes onto my face.
This ones for you, bud.
“Damn right we do,” I find myself saying before pulling on my helmet and pulling on my Nike grip gloves. The guys huddle up when they see me approaching them; I make sure to take in the Mustangs, our opponents who wear dark and sky blue all over. “Alright boys, I’m gonna make this short and sweet because we’ve got to go kick the damn horses asses.” They let out a laugh. “I’ve been going through a fair amount of shit as of late and the majority of you have been there, I’m grateful for you guys and for now helping me get my shit together. I’m saying screw that shit for now so we can win this game as a damn team, now who’s with me?!” Each of the boys cheer out.
“Let’s go Panthers! We can’t allow another team to kick our asses in our own territory!” they each nod to me before I remind them of the play we spoke about earlier in the locker room before we break and get into position in the middle of the field.
The Mustangs follow our lead and I notice that they have a bit of diversity when it comes to the height and build of some of these kids, like one of them looks as though he could be on a damn college team, forget high school. The guy literally has a goatee and a mustache, reminds me of the damn green arrow for christs sake, but I’m not scared of him, I have enough faith in my team.
“Blue 52, set hut hut!” I shout out to Ralph who passes the ball between his legs to me which I catch before moving around just a bit, shuffling to find whoever is furthest away from me and closest to the endzone. All goes slow and I find myself letting out a deep breath, calming myself down as I take in each of the players from the other side that are rushing at me. Each of the team members on my side hold their arms out but my eyes land specifically to Xavier.
He continues running with his arms open and eyes willing me to throw the football to him so that all the heat is off of me and now on his own shoulders, not to mention that he’s closer to the destination our team is aiming for. My arm pulls back to throw before moving forward and releasing, the perfect spiral meets my eyes, traveling further and further from me, getting closer and closer to him. It looks as though it’s in slow motion and I can’t help but look after it.
That time is abruptly taken awake from me when I find myself being tackled to the ground by two guys, my back slamming into that freshly cut grass, but I’m not too fazed since I know Xavier caught it and passed it to Jake as planned out. Although I don’t like him much, it’s clear to everyone including myself that we work good together.
The players from the other side get off of me before running over to get back to the rest of their team and see if they could be of assistance. I decide that I should probably do the same when I notice Jai Martin running and pushing pass whoever is in his way with the ball though they try coming at him.
Now he and I are a complicated story since I’ve tried so damn hard not to like him since he has a thing for Amaya and has for a little shorter than I have, but he’s just too good of a person to not like. He’s met Aaron on a few occasions and I know they like each other, hell, almost every kid likes Jai. Jai babysits in his free time and even goes to the animal shelter to volunteer, but that’s not all he does.
Since his family has a decent amount of money, he’ll use his allowance to get the animals in the shelter the food they need plus toys, and even ask his family to take in the animals that are about to be put down since nobody has tried to take them in yet. He does it a lot before taking his time to find them the perfect family so he knows they’ll be properly taken care of.
There’s not anything to not like about him.
He’s one of the nicest guys that go to our school, has good looks, and is athletic with a brain, he’s gonna be going places when he’s living his life. Even his family does good things, they’re constantly doing what they can for others, they even foster kids, but my dad used his money to cheat and get away with it for a decent amount of time. Mom does what she can and has always refused the money that he tries to send to her since it comes with a price.
Money changes people and it’s not always for the best. That’s why Cody, Xavier, and I each despise of it as we look at what it’s done with both of our families.
I’m sure Amaya could move on to him and they’d have an amazing life together rather than her being with my dysfunctional ass. Hell, Aaron would probably love him too.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” I shake my head to clear it as the yells of a touchdown meet my ears. The ache in my chest only grows larger but I continuously fight to get it as small as possible, but I know it’ll only get bigger later on.
All the guys run over to me before raising their arms up for high-fives that I give out to make it seem as though I’m perfectly fine. We move back into our positions and get through each of our planned plays before making it to the fourth and final quarter where things usually get risky for both sides.
For once, our opposing team is close to us and somehow managed to land themselves just three points behind us; I wish I was able to remember how the hell that happened. All I know is that we need this game more than anything, correction… I need it more than anything.
I’m not about to allow them to beat us when there’s only a minute and a half left of the game, we’ve worked our asses off to get where we are. I’m not about to let all that hard work slip away in that small bit of time.
“What’s the play, Cap?” Xavier asks with his attention fully to me. I look to each of my team members, thinking of anything and everything that can get us this win.
“Yeah, what’s the plan for this? We can’t lose,” Jake’s voice meets my ears. Tell me something I don’t know. Shit, I know the answer and maybe if we win this it’ll stop everyone from staring at me like I’m a damn pity case, making me feel more broken than I already do.
“We’re gonna watch a game of decoy. We’re all gonna rush at someone that might end up in Jai’s way as he’s going to bolt with the ball to the end zone. He’s one of our fastest running backers. If the heat on you gets to be too much you can throw the ball to me. You got it?” Everyone nods besides Jai who stares at me with wide eyes.
“What if I’m not fast enough or if I can’t get it to you, that’s a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. I don’t think I can do it.” I shake my head.
“Stop stressing,” I tell him in a similar voice to the one Amaya and I use when Aaron tells us he’s had a nightmare and is scared. “You’ve got this, Jai. Don’t doubt yourself when you’re just as valuable as anyone else on the team.” My voice sounds a bit weird from the mouth guard in my mouth, but I know he hears and understands what I’ve said when he nods. “Good, now break!” I yell out before clapping him on the back. “Let’s make this one count, boys!”
Once noticing we’re each in agreement with each other we rush back into our positions once again before I notice a giant Mustang charging to Jai, but there’s no way in hell that I’m about to allow him to take a hit that strong when it would be his first hit like that. I don’t think he’s ready for something like that, and I’d feel guilty if something happens to him when I’m the one that came up with the play.
Jai must’ve sensed the guy as he begins to survey the field for me before I make his attention known, moving as fast as I can to get to him so he can pass the ball to me. When it meets my hands I know I have a few seconds before one of the Mustangs is on my ass. Using that small window I propel my feet forward in the direction of the endzone, running like all hell as the realization of how if we lose now, it’s all about to be on me.
“Shawn! Shawn!” I hear the crowd chant out but I don’t allow the sound to get in my head, it goes in one ear and out the other, it’s only going to wig me out.
I jump over a tumbling player, almost tripping over them. A guy is on the heels of my feet, maybe a foot or so behind me. I can only imagine it being the same person that was chasing Jai who I’ve now come to realize that it’s the Oliver Queen looking guy from earlier. That simple thought alone was enough to make me push myself to my limits, moving faster than ever until I’m just a few feet away from the end zone. The place that decides by just how much we’re about to win. By nine points, or three, which a decent amount of people consider to be a lucky win.
That’s when everything goes blank for me and time just slows down. Right as I’m about to make it through the jackass brute tackles me to the ground, but I make sure to put my arms out, praying that the ball will make it if I’m not able to get there too. A sickening snap is heard before my blood curdling yells of pain echoes all around, probably being heard by everyone that’s present.
My eyes are ready to close from the pain as I begin to roll around on the ground but avoid getting anywhere near where I know the bone had snapped. My vision gets blurry as the loud buzz of the timer goes off, telling me the game is over but I know the ball made it. The ball is still in my hand as I now use it as a grip from all the pain I feel.
“Shit it hurts!” My yells of agony meets my ears and it doesn’t sound like me at all.
“Dammit, man I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to break it. I was just trying to stop you from getting through to the end zone,” the guy that tackled me to the ground says before holding a hand out for me to take. I take it with my good arm; he pulls me up to my feet. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s a full-contact sport, I’m not allowed to be mad,” I grunt out. “I’ve got to get to the damn hospital though.”
“Stop apologizing.” His head slowly nods. “What’s your name anyway?” I ask while trying to take my mind off of everything as he moves me over to our teams that stand watching us.
“Oliver Adams,” he tells me. I nod slowly. How funny. Xavier comes over to me before pulling me into a hug. I swear under my breath; he lets go of me and stares down at my arm.
“That looks really bad. Mama’s gonna kill you-”
“Shawn!” I hear Mom’s voice meet my ears before I flinch and realize that Oliver is still standing beside me instead of going back to his team. My eyes move to Mom as she comes over to me with Aaron in her arms and watching me with tears in his eyes. He reaches to the floor so he can placed on his feet before he runs over to me.
“You hurt Daddy,” he whispers out while throwing his arms around my leg.
“I’ll be fine, I just have to visit the doctor,” he looks up to me with a pout and his lip quivering just a bit. “Don’t start crying. I told you I’m okay.” I crane my neck to look in the direction of Mom before signalling her over. ‘Can you take him to Amaya’s? I’ll get Dylan and Cody to take me to the hospital,’ I mouth out. She nods slowly.
I wrap my good arm around him before an idea comes to mind.
“Hey bud, can you watch over this for me?” I ask while holding the football out for him. His eyes go wide before he takes the ball slowly and a soft smile appears on my face though the pain in my arm is starting to get unbearable. “Granna’s going to take you to your mommy’s house, okay? I’ll call you later tonight.”
He nods slowly before trekking over to Mom with the ball still in his arms. I silently thanked her for taking him as she turns away from us and begins the walk to my car.
“Well it would seem your arm is broken,” the doctor tells me before I glare at him. No shit, I could’ve said that much just by looking at it. Now it’s beginning to turn a sickening shade of purple and with the shit looking like this I can tell it’s getting a cast. There’s no way in hell it wouldn’t get a cast, the bone literally is making my skin bump out in the middle.
“I think we figured that one out at the game,” Cody says while shaking his head.
“We’re gonna need to put it in a cast for four weeks and then we’ll check up on it after, if the x-rays on it reveals that it’s still broken then you’ll have the cast for a bit longer,” I sigh before straightening my back so I can get just a bit taller. “You have a preference for what color you want it to be?”
“Red.” It’s Aaron’s favorite color.
Dr. Marsh nods slowly before turning to a tray with all the things he needs to wrap my arm. I put my arm out for him and he does what he’s supposed to in dead silence while Cody, Dylan, and Xavier watch closely for some reason. “What are the restrictions of things I’m not allowed to do with this thing anyway?”
I hate having casts on since it always means I’m not allowed to do things. I’d prefer to wear a brace since I can still do some things with that on and I can take it off whenever the hell I please but a cast, nope, I’m stuck with that for as long as they make me wear it. Not to forget how weird it makes taking a shower.
“Don’t do anything that could possibly end with more damage being done to your arm which means no trying to play sports, even if it’s things like soccer or even track. If you play soccer and the ball hits you in the arm hard enough it’ll end up snapping once again which means even longer with the cast.
“When you go in the shower you should place your arm through a plastic bag or something along the lines of that so no damage is caused to the cast. If it’s supposed to rain have an umbrella and something around your arm. Basically, anything you do on a normal day, don’t do it. No fights or anything like that,” Dr. Marsh makes sure to look up at me when he says that last part before each of the boys chuckle.
I stare down at my cast with a scowl on my face, there’s no way in hell. If someone starts something with me then I’m gonna do something about it.
“Don’t do anything that you need two arms for, or ask for a hand.” Cody laughs before I look up and catch Dylan slap the back of his head.
“Why couldn’t I do track?” I ask.
“If you end up becoming a klutz and face plant your arm could suffer damages too,” this time around it’s Xavier who chuckles and I find myself flipping him off with my other hand. I don’t know why he’s laughing, he’s more likely to do that than anyone else here.
“Didn’t you basically face plant tonight?”
“Hell no, I was tackled and even still I made sure that ball made it to the end zone. At least the first time I broke my arm wasn’t from falling out of a tree house trying to impress Kylie Thompson in the third grade,” I reply smugly before his jaw clenches; Dylan and Cody laugh as I shake my head.
“Kylie ended up kissing me on the cheek and signing my cast, she also happened to be my first kiss unlike yours with Patricia Friedrickson who was trying to make you deepthroat her tongue.”
“Daaammmnnn,” Cody lets out with a low whistle.
“Alright, alright, fine, but let’s get something straight here, your ass is the clumsiest one out of everyone in this friendship. I swear even Aaron is less clumsy than you are, and he can have his moments,” Xavier shrugs of my comment before a smile appears on his face and he takes his phone out of his pocket. He scrolls through his pictures I’m guessing before stopping on a certain one.
Dylan’s eyes go wide as does Cody but he laughs too before shaking his head. “That one is way too far, put that away before he flips his shit.” I find myself wanting to see the picture now but keep still as Dr. Marsh finishes up my cast.
“Okay fine, I’ll save it for a few months from now when things are good again.”
“Alright, I’m all done and you’re free to go home, but be careful with that cast as I told you earlier. If you aren’t, we’ll be seeing you again fairly soon,” I nod and hop up from my seat on the hospital bed and move over to the boys with my eyes expectant. Xavier shakes his head, making his brown hair fall just an inch or two over his eyes.
“I wanna see the picture.”
“No, you don’t. Trust me.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Shawn, you’re not going to be seeing that picture for a long time. Now let’s get home, you know Mama’s gonna be waiting up for us to hear about everything. Not to mention that you need to call Aaron since he’ll refuse to go to sleep until you speak.” Don’t I know it.
“Alright, let’s go, Dad was expecting me to be home by now,” Dylan’s voice remains calm as he looks to his phone, probably realizing just how late it truly is. We walk out of the hospital room and towards the exit so we can get home. I make sure to dial Amaya the moment we get in the car so I can speak to Aaron and she can get him to sleep as it’s already minutes to 12.
“Daddy?” Aaron yawns out.
“Hey bud, you about to go to sleep?” I ask him before he yawns again.
“Uh-huh, Uncle Jonah’s gonna get me to sleep since Mommy’s taking a shower. He already read to me, but I said not going to sleep until I spoke to you.” I smile gently. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, you don’t need to worry about me. I’ve just got on a cast but it’ll be gone in a few weeks. But you need to get some rest before you end up cranky in the morning,” Aaron murmurs something on the other line that I don’t understand.
“I don’t want to go to sleep, Daddy.”
“I know, bud, but you have to get your rest. You can sleep the whole day away and we can talk tomorrow if you want. I’m always available.” Such a sad but true fact, and even if I wasn’t available I’d make time for him always.
“You ready to go to sleep now?” I hear Jonah on the other line.
“One more minute, please Uncle Jonah,” he’s got this innocent quality to his voice though it almost always sounds innocent, now it sounds stronger than usual. I can just picture him with a big pout and those big green eyes going wider than I’ve ever seen them go before. He knows how to get what he wants when he wants it enough.
“Fine, one more minute.”
“Thank you,” Aaron whispers.
“I love you, Aaron and I’ll see you soon enough. You don’t have to fight off going to sleep, I know how tired you are. Get some sleep and hand the phone to Jonah.” Aaron doesn’t say anything else to me but instead yawns once again before handing the phone off to Jonah.
“Hey man, how’re you doing?”
“The arm’s just broken and well as for… everything else, I’ll be okay when your sister will at least talk to me without getting pissed off,” I say while turning to look out of the car window. I watch as we pass a bunch of trees with the moonlight shining through them and the stars brighter than I’ve seen in a long time. I sigh while continuing to stare.
Amaya likes looking up at the stars.
“What were you guys even fighting about anyway, she literally growls when I mention you. All I know is that it had to do with Bethany since you know, I heard about her kicking her ass in the hallway at school, and Mom told me to watch over her the day of, said they had dinner together in the house,” I let out a small laugh at that.
“Yeah, they did, I heard about it from Xavier since Charlie was there too. Amaya had to say something to the Santiagos’ mom after she made a comment about Amaya’s parenting. As for what the fight was over, it was Bethany kissing me and Amaya saw…” I trail off.
“You kissed Bethany?!” I hear him yell out along with Xavier. That’s when it hits me, I never once told Xavier about Bethany kissing me. I was waiting to do that. Too late for that now.
“No, I didn’t. I was waiting for Amaya to get out of class in the hallway and Bethany came out first before kissing me. I was damn near paralyzed and I didn’t pull away because of that, but then Amaya came and saw. I assure you I would never kiss Bethany willingly, the only woman I ever want to kiss is Amaya, but now she fucking hates me, so smooth ass move there, Harper,” I find myself saying to myself before resting my head against the window with the phone still to my ear.
“I don’t know how I’m going to fix this, man. She was ready to punch me yesterday, those eyes, fuck there was something in her eyes that has never been directed to me before. I know I messed up by not pulling away, but I just want my Wonder Woman back. It’s not like talking to her will work, she explodes on me each time I try that.
“It’s reasonable for her to have doubts about me. I don’t blame her for being angry with me, I just know that there’s something I need to do to fix this,” I clench my right hand into a tight fist in my lap as I take in deep breaths and let them out slowly after.
“I would think so.”
“Any suggestions?” I ask before he lets out a laugh.
“How the hell would I know? You spend the most time with her out of all of us, you should be able to find something, plus, you’re the only one that was romantically involved with her. Whenever you guys went out, what did you do?” I close my eyes for a moment and it all comes to me in a rush.
“Sometimes we’d go to Dylan’s restaurant and eat while talking about nothing at all, it was always something minor compared to all the major things going on around us. There we could relax and act our age without a worry in our mind, that place was like a safe haven for us before we went to our spot.
“It was a little cliff area and when we looked down we could see a lot of Silicon Valley, even Stanford University. There was a bit of glass up there and we could sit back and watch as the sunsets or sunrises depending on what time we went. We used to go there to stare at the stars until the very last one disappeared. She loved doing that.
“She said that in all the darkness it showed that there could be light, you don’t always have to look hard to find it either,” I find myself choking up at the end before a single tear streams down my cheek and luckily for me, it was too dark in the car for Xavier to be able to notice.
“So when you go to fix all this I think it’s best for you to incorporate your spot and Dylan’s restaurant, but whatever you do needs to come from the heart. I also think it’s in your best interest to let her cool down a bit,” I nod though I know he can’t see it.
“I know, it’s just gonna be really hard for me to do that.”
“Don’t be, this is on me and I’ll find a way to fix things, thanks for the input. Now I’ve got to go, but have a good night,” I say before he says bye and we hang up. I turn to face Xavier and I can just feel the disappointment on his face even if I can’t see the look.
“You didn’t tell me, but you told them.”
“There’s a lot of things that you know that others don’t, I just couldn’t tell you. I wasn’t comfortable, and the only reason they know is because they were there to witness everything and put two and two together,” I try.
“But I’m your brother, why didn’t you think you could tell me, that’s bullshit.”
“Because you worked your ass off the first time for the two of us to be together, the last time we ended up breaking up with each other you felt it almost as much as I did. I’m sorry for not telling you, but it was to avoid you being hurt,” I notice his eyes go wide before I notice that it was the kiss we were talking about, not the break-up, he didn’t know about that either.
“You guys broke up and you didn’t tell me?” he yells out. Well isn’t this is going just great?
“Nope, I get it, you don’t trust me. Thanks for the ride, Cody,” he says before getting out of the car the moment we pull up outside of the house. I let out a groan as an exasperated sigh lets out in the front.
“That’s one more person that I’ve made hate me in a single week, great job again,” I say to myself before rolling my eyes. “Thanks for the ride, I hope your nights go better than mine. I’ll see you guys sometime this weekend or Monday.” Cody and Dylan nod before saying good night; I get out of the car and head into the house.
I’ll talk to him in the morning. I yell out a good night to Mom and decide it’s going to be an early night for me. I pull off my sweatshirt with a bit of a struggle before throwing to the side and repeating the process with each of my gear until I’m down to just my boxers; I refrain from collapsing on the bed to instead take my time and not injure myself any further.
I can just tell this will be a restless sleep. I place my phone on the nightstand before trying to force myself to sleep.