Chapter 43 - Lessons from the Butthead
"You sure you don't want me to drive you back to your place?" I asked as I pulled over in front of Kristina's house. "An offer like this is only available once every three years."
Tops sighed dramatically before taking off his seat belt. "I know. I'm resisting the urge to pull my hair out for missing such a golden opportuniy."
We snorted at the same time.
"Tim said he was gonna pick me up after preparing our supper." He explained. "So while I'm waiting for him, I'll hang around a bit."
I nodded in understanding. Tim was one of his most trusted bodyguards. He was also like a nanny to Tops, seeing as he practically raised this idiot since he was a kid.
We got out of the car and headed for Kristina's house. We were greeted by Aunt Lizzy at the front door. As usual, she was all smiles.
I think she was about to say something until she looked at me again, like some kind of realization hit her. Her smile quickly turned into a thin line of confusion.
"I thought you were with Kristina?"
"She hung out with the girls after class." I said. "She isn't home yet?"
"No, no," she replied, shaking her head a bit too quickly. "She came home a while ago. I asked her to buy something for me, and I told her to take you with her."
I just stared at her in confusion before I checked my phone. Her last text didn't say anything about that though.
"Why am I getting worried. Oh my," Aunt Lizzy laughed a bit nervously, placing a hand on her chest. She then glanced at her wrist watch. "She should be back by now."
I hid a frown. Hearing her mother say that was unsettling. Aunt Lizzy wasn't one to say things like that after all.
"Do you know where she went?" Tops asked, sounding worried as well.
"The convenience store just a few blocks from here," she replied. "Can I ask you boys to go get her?"
"We'll be back right away," I nodded before quickly spinning on my heels to head for that store.
She's fine. We're probably worrying too much.
But there was just this really bad feeling lurking about.
Tops followed from behind. He was almost jogging again, probably because I was walking too fast. I didn't notice due to the urgency.
Was I just being too overprotective? Was I probably just influenced by Aunt Lizzy?
This was probably nothing to get so worked about. But I couldn't help it. I started recalling all those times I heard cameras clicking at class and even when we went to the Aquarium.
The nagging feeling that someone kept watching us.
I felt my heart beating harder with each step.
Please God. Let her be safe.
"Danny," Tops called, alarmed.
Just meters away from us, we noticed a small group of people. It was dark so we couldn't recognize them but they appeared to be holding cameras and were in uniform jackets.
I could hear the cameras clicking from this distance. Those familiar, nauseating clicks accompanied by those persistent flashes of lights.
One of them suddenly grabbed someone's shoulders forcefully. It looked like an assault.
Tops and I ran full speed at the same time. I know we were thinking the same thing too. When we got close enough to see their faces, my whole body tensed up.
"Please leave me alone..." She all but pleaded. She closed her eyes so tight, as if pretending this was all just a nightmare. Two of them stepped closer to film her face that she was trying so hard to hide.
My blood boiled, my senses numbing at the sight of her looking so helpless. I don't know if I was still breathing at that point.
The next thing I knew, I had already lunged forward, grabbed the man by his shirt and threw a hard straight to his jaw.
He flew to the ground but it wasn't enough. My knuckles were still trembling. My insides were twisting into knots. My blood was rushing to my head. I felt like my heart was going to explode from beating so rapidly.
I've never felt this much anger in my body before.
I was pretty sure I had broken his jaw seeing how he writhed on the ground in pain. So that meant he still had two hundred five bones left for me to break.
I glanced at Kristina and felt my chest tighten. She looked like she could barely stand due to her tremulous knees. Her face had paled from the shock. She seemed disoriented.
As the man sat on the ground in a daze, I grabbed him by the shirt again and twisted it in a hard grip.
How dare you?
"How about I answer all your questions?" I gritted my teeth, suppressing my anger with all my strength.
I was furious at what they had done, but I didn't want to lose myself for these low-lives.
This was what I had always feared of happening. I knew it was inevitable but I hadn't prepared myself enough.
"Go ahead," I dared, staring the man down. His eyes flickered in distress. "Ask me anything."
The look on his face said it all. Like he knew I was gonna punch him again the moment he opens his mouth.
His companions that were filming the whole thing stepped forward, trying to get a better shot at the scene transpiring right in front of them.
I know they'll cut some parts, alter the story and make me into a violent person. They'll make me famous for all the wrong things. All to boost their ratings. All to get paid handsomely. All to get a name for their selves for apparently debunking my 'true nature.'
They won't hesitate to destroy a person's life. They won't hesitate to bury the truth for their glory.
They were disgusting.
There weren't much laws against paparazzi too. It was just frustrating.
"Andrew Shaw, David Hanke, Judy Zimdars, Peter Moore," I recited all of a sudden, much to their surprise. I eyed each of them as I called them out. "I've memorized all your names, all your faces."
Their IDs were hanging around their necks and I took the liberty of memorizing them for a small advantage.
Realization hit them and they hid their IDs, but it was too late.
I already snapped.
"You know who I am, don't you?" I asked them, keeping my voice low as an attempt to stay calm, but it ended up sounding intimidating instead. They all winced in reply. "You've been following me around these past few weeks, taking pictures as you please. And now, you even go as far as this. You harassed someone for information. You think I'm just gonna ignore this?"
They knew what I was capable of; that's why they didn't pursue me and went for Kristina. They knew I had connections all across the UK and US. I couldn't just end their careers overnight.
I could end their whole agency with one phone call.
That was how much power I had and never used. That was the kind of reputation I had back at London. Being journalists, they knew that too well.
I narrowed my eyes at them, and they avoided their gazes. But their cameras and phones were still up.
Tops suddenly stepped up, shaking his head in disappointment, earning their attention.
I just noticed that he had his phone up as well. When did he start recording?
"I'd be careful if I were you," he told them, extending his arm to capture their faces on his phone. "I know very well how you do things. Whatever you do with that video you have right now, I guarantee, I can do ten times worse with this video that I have."
It was fighting fire with fire.
"Post it. Humiliate us for all we care," he dared, unafraid. "But don't forget I have connections too. I'm sure your boss will be thrilled at the story. Want to find out who goes viral first?"
Of course. Despite his usual cheerful personality, Tops was serious in his career. He was a big name in the industry and he already had powerful connections before that. Something like this was a small matter to him. He was used to it.
They looked pissed but downright scared. It was a stare-down of a few moments before they finally gave up. They knew they were at a massive disadvantage.
This was the world we lived in right now. Where the media distorted the truth and manipulated the public's opinion. Where a single video can completely destroy a person's whole life.
"Look," Tops motioned to the posts nearby. There were security cameras. "We can even use the footages captured by those cameras if you want to take this to court. I do hope you have very capable lawyers, because ours are scary as shit."
I had already released the man from my grip a while ago. Tops stepping in to back me up was a good thing. In that moment, I had calmed down a bit and had regained my composure.
I went to Kristina's side and quickly held her face, checking for injuries or anything. She was just staring at me in wonder or shock, I don't know.
When I saw bruises form on her arms from that man's assault earlier, my blood boiled again. I almost went back to finish him.
But she stopped me. She pulled me in a tight embrace, letting me feel just how relieved she was that I was here. I took a deep breath and released it slowly as I held her in my arms.
In a matter of seconds, all anger just...disappeared.
No words were exchanged between us. But our actions conveyed everything.
"I'll know if you do anything stupid, Andrew," I said, making sure he got the gist. "Don't test me."
The man scoffed and gathered his crew. He glared hard at us but with a single look from Tops and I, he lowered his gaze.
"We get it, we'll leave," he said, gathering his crew and preparing to leave.
We didn't even bother telling them to delete the footages. They knew what was coming if they ever made use of those.
But that didn't mean they won't keep coming. My whereabouts were confirmed now. More of them will appear soon.
I shrugged it off for now, feeling like all my energy's depleted. I'll worry about it later. I was exhausted.
Without another care, I placed my arm around Kristina's shoulder as she placed hers behind my waist. We walked away from the scene.
Tops called out to the reporters before he followed after us though. They looked back to hear what he had to say.
"As a token of my gratitude for your obedience, I'll answer one of your questions for them." He said, grinning. They looked genuinely interested yet weary. "That girl you just harassed? She's his fiance. Bother her again and, well. You know the hell that comes next. Have a pleasant evening."
Daniel looked really troubled throughout the evening. We didn't tell mom about what happened. But I had a feeling she had an idea.
Kristopher stayed for dinner with us. He said his bodyguard ruined their supper and decided to eat out. He was gonna come pick him up later.
Yup, very dependable.
My knees were still shaking a bit. I keep recalling the incident earlier.
It wasn't because I was still scared. It was because I was mad.
I was mad because I was completely powerless. I was helpless. My fear got ahead of me. I turned stiff at the moment of danger. I was weak. And I hated those feelings the most.
Those people earlier were just the beginning. I know more of them will appear soon. People even worse than them. And for that, I had to prepare myself.
I heard a knock on my door. Daniel and Kristopher went inside casually.
"How are you?" Daniel asked as soon as he saw me. He sat right next to me on the bed, holding my hand right away.
We didn't get to talk about the recent incident when we were walking back home earlier because I was still in shock.
When we got home, mom was already waiting by the door, and then she made us eat dinner. Dad wasn't home yet. I wasn't planning on telling them. They'll just get worried and probably won't let me out alone again.
"Pissed, actually," I replied, hiding a pout. "I couldn't fight back."
Daniel sighed heavily as Kristopher just released a light chuckle.
"But I'm not bothered about them," I said, looking at the boys with determination. "I made up my mind. I'm going to take up self-defense classes. When you leave, I have to be able to defend myself."
After saying the word leave, grim expressions replaced the boys' faces. The room was quiet for a bit until Daniel spoke up.
"How can I leave you like this? How can I leave you at all?"
"This again," I said, squeezing his hand. He looked all sorts of regretful and apologetic. His mind must be in turmoil, just as much as mine was. "I told you. I'll support you. We'll figure it out. But right now, I just need to prepare myself. I need to stop depending on you."
He looked miserable when I said that. I sighed. Did I say all the wrong things again? Why do I always trouble him?
"I'm so sorry," he whispered, lowering his head in guilt. My heart just ached seeing him like that. I hated it.
"Don't worry about a thing," I said, cupping his face tenderly. I hated seeing him so crushed. It hurt. "You guys were great handling the situation earlier. I don't have the power or connections like you guys have, but I still have my strength. So..."
I looked at them a bit sneakily.
"Do you know where I can find a self-defense teacher willing to teach me at a convenient time and a reasonable price?"
They looked at me before looking at each other knowingly. They were perfectly in sync. I wonder if they planned this. Smug grins broke out from their faces and I just raised a brow in reply.
"You're looking at them," Kristopher grinned.
I was about to take it as a joke until Daniel continued, pushing his cousin into the spotlight.
"He might not look the part, but Tops is especially skilled in Muay Thai and several other martial arts." My eyes widened in surprise. I was not expecting that. Was he serious or joking? "He can take out a man five times his size in three minutes."
I looked at Kristopher, who was now smiling at me embarrassed.
How can this be real? It can't be, right?
I just judged him by his cheerful personality and deemed him physically okay. He was actually this great? I needed proof.
"Danny is more impressive," he said, redirecting my attention to the butthead. "He's a seventh degree black belt in Aikido. He's also a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Kendo."
My eyes were bulging out of my sockets.
What the hell?
Were they for real?
Why was this only being revealed now?
How was such a low-energy human so skilled in many martial arts?
"This shouldn't be surprising." Daniel added, quietly laughing at my gaping expression. I probably looked like an idiot. "We had high profiles back in London. Our dads had us trained at an early age so we could fend for ourselves when the time comes."
That made a lot of sense...
"It became a hobby too," Kristopher continued. Daniel agreed. "It's a great workout and stress reliever."
So that's how they kept in shape. I never imagined. I just thought they had naturally good builds...as stupid as that sounds.
"But one should never abuse the disciplines," Daniel reminded, Kristopher kept nodding. They got along pretty good today of all days. "They're honorable arts and must only be used when necessary."
"Do you still practice?" Kristopher directed the question at Daniel, and in reply, Daniel just shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't have anyone to spar with, so I just do home workouts. How about you?"
"I spar with Tim every other morning, just as a part of my workout," he replied.
I just stared at the two impressive people sitting in my room. I wonder if my jaw was still on the floor.
I thought these guys were just plain nuisances or idiots when I first met them. But now, they seemed very dependable.
"What can't you two do?" I asked, still in awe. That question seemed to humble them though.
"Still a lot of things, unfortunately," Kristopher mumbled.
Daniel linked his fingers on mine, giving me a gentle smile. I smiled back without realizing.
"So this is settled. I'll be teaching you self-defense." He said. I nodded, feeling a bit excited. "I think Jiu Jitsu will be perfect for you. It has techniques that can give you the advantage against bigger and stronger opponents."
I was beyond grateful, and I think I just fell in love with him all over again.
"Let's start right now," I announced, a bit too enthusiastically. "Show me one move. I wanna see how it's done."
"Yes, right now." I nodded.
"Well this is gonna be interesting," Kristopher chuckled, adjusting himself into a more comfortable position to watch us.
Daniel scratched his head and looked deep in thought for a minute, as if thinking what move he was going to demonstrate. After deciding, he told me to stand up.
"Pretend I'm about to attack you."
I snorted. "In what way?"
I didn't mean to say that out loud.
When he realized what I had meant, a playful smirk appeared on his gorgeous features. Instead of replying with something witty like he usually did, he just pinched my nose. We laughed and then he continued with his demonstration.
When I met this guy again after twelve years, I somehow knew my life was gonna take a turn. But I never expected to learn a whole new language, learn self-defense and several other things this way.
I hid a smile.
I know I wouldn't have it any other way though; I wouldn't have it with any other person.
He explained everything briefly and showed me how I should properly do this particular move that worked best against bigger opponents.
He even demonstrated how I can pin someone on the ground, which I was sure would be very useful when the time comes.
It was only small examples though. He told me we'll start practicing seriously tomorrow after class since it was getting late.
"Seriously," Kristopher scoffed, announcing his presence that we had already forgotten. I'm still here you stupid couple was written all over his face. "I can't tell if you guys are practicing or flirting."
Daniel was currently in the middle of pinning me on my bed, but a playful grin was on his face as he did this.
"Both," he replied to his cousin's disgusted grunt. I laughed and kissed his cheek, much to his surprise.
Not counting that.
And with that, his grip loosened and I kicked him off me, reversing our positions and it was now me pinning him down. If we were doing this seriously, I could chokehold him now and claim my victory.
"God." Kristopher stood up, dramatically waving his hands around as if there were flies everywhere. "Seeing Danny being chummy was entertaining at first, but now it's making me sick. I'm outta here."
He snickered after he said that, meaning he was just teasing us, but left the room anyway.
"Good riddance," Daniel called out when Kristopher left. I just laughed, enjoying every bit of fun I was having.
Might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
The next day after class, the girls and I went out again for another attempt to buy Christmas presents. The last time was unsuccessful because we got a bit too carried away chatting.
Daniel was anxious that something like last night might happen again, so he decided to tag along.
I was reluctant. I wouldn't mind him tagging along if we were simply hanging out, but if he came with us now, my plan would be ruined.
Because now I can't pick his present.
Kristopher told the girls what happened last night and they became overly protective as well. Ella was almost hysterical; and Anne, well.
She was quiet but she looked like she was bothered a lot. Like she was responsible for it or something.
Kristopher went home after class, saying his bodyguard might ruin their supper again. His ever so dependable bodyguard.
When we arrived at the mall, Daniel never let me out of his sights. It was getting real annoying because now it was completely impossible for me to buy his present.
But I couldn't blame him for his actions too. He was genuinely worried about me. And I wasn't capable of defending myself.
"The present won't be a surprise anymore if you keep following me around," I mumbled, making sure he heard.
He released a deep chuckle as he put an arm around my shoulder. "I already told you what I wanted for Christmas."
I prevented myself from swallowing hard. The hundred kisses deal. He said he wanted to finish the promise before he leaves.
I was acting all high and mighty when he told me that during our date, but I was actually nervous as heck. When the time comes, I might actually faint from being so nervous.
"When do we start anyway?" I asked, sounding all nonchalant when in reality I was slowly dying.
Daniel just shrugged before sending me a wry smile. "When you're in a good mood?"
I narrowed my eyes at him and he just laughed in reply.
"Ahh, this is why I hate third-wheeling," Anne raised her voice, gathering our attention. She and Ella were walking behind us, arms linked.
Ella giggled in delight. She was really happy to see Daniel and I like this. "We're third-wheeling together, so don't be so upset."
Anne just sighed dramatically but proudly grinned at us anyway. She and Kristopher were so alike. No wonder why they were so perfect for each other.
After walking around for hours, going in and out of several stores and Daniel announcing how tired he was every ten minutes, we finally bought our presents.
I bought some for my parents and secretly bought presents for the girls too. I couldn't buy Daniel his present because he was stuck to me like glue.
I was still annoyed. I at least wanted to get him something nice to take back to London. But I was too embarrassed to buy one with him watching. And I wanted it to be a surprise.
We headed for a good cafe in the mall to reward ourselves for accomplishing our goal of buying presents. The girls and I chose a table and sat down while Daniel ordered our food and drinks.
"I hope Tops will like this," Anne said, placing his present on her lap and watching it dearly. "The last time I bought him a present, we got into a huge fight and he threw it away."
I hid a sympathetic smile. Daniel told me all about their story, and Anne told us her side a little while ago too. It was great that they patched things up now.
"That was in the past. The misunderstandings are all cleared up now. I'm sure he'll love whatever you get him," Ella said, sincerely. I nodded in agreement.
"Mine, on the other hand," Ella sighed, watching the present she bought as well. She didn't look satisfied. "What do you even get a guy who already has everything?"
"Your love, time and attention?" Anne jokingly replied. Ella rolled her eyes laughing. Anne laughed as well, until she set her eyes down, looking bothered again. "That's for Chie, right?"
Daniel just came back after ordering our food. He sat on the seat beside me and quickly caught on our conversation. He probably sensed the sudden change of mood so he didn't insert any witty remarks.
Anne took a deep breath and looked at Ella, her eyes widening and her brows knitting in determination.
"I didn't mean to keep this a secret from you guys, but I had to keep quiet until I figured out what they were planning," she started, guilt coating her words. "But they wouldn't tell me anything. And it's making me worried."
I knew where she was going with this. Daniel had already told me about this before. But Ella had no idea.
"What are you talking about?" She asked, confused. Anne sent her a weary smile. I could tell she felt responsible, even though none of it was her fault.
"The guy you're dating... Chie," she paused for a bit after mentioning his name. She lowered her head but her eyes were peeking at Ella. "He's my cousin."
It took a few seconds for the information to sink in. Daniel and I were just silent. It was a conversation between the two of them. After a little while, Ella finally made a clear reaction.
Anne looked uneasy as she spoke. It must've taken a lot of courage for her to finally tell us the truth. She considered us her friends, that's why she told us. But telling us also meant she was taking our side, and not her family's.
What kind of wars did she fight in her mind to reach this decision?
"Oh... I see," Ella finally replied, looking like she was still processing it. "And you're only telling me this now because..?"
Ella was asking, but the look on her face said she already had an idea. My best friend was pretty sharp when it came to these things. And sometimes, that sharpness became her downfall.
Anne bit her lower lip and explained the situation.
She told us about her family, the Watanabe family, and the huge reputation they had back in London.
She told us about how they did things when it came to business, how stubborn they all were and how they stopped at nothing to get their way.
She also didn't miss telling us about how they were involved in Daniel and his dad's departure for London twelve years ago.
She told us how much they disliked Kristopher, and that she knew her uncle wanted to meet both Daniel and Kristopher after the holidays.
She told us that the Watanabes did everything they believed necessary to get whatever they wanted; whoever they wanted.
Ella was quiet as Anne explained everything. She looked like she was already expecting something like this. Did Chie probably tell her already? Was he a good guy after all?
Because I can't tell what she was thinking right now.
"What I'm trying to say is..." Anne breathed, holding Ella's hands on the table. She looked so sorry and I almost wanted to hit her for feeling that way.
"That Chie might only be using me?" Ella finished for her. Her eyes were already dull, yet a small smile was on her face. An attempt to look okay.
"No..." Anne replied, unsurely. "He isn't a bad guy. And it's not like I'm bad-mouthing him...well, I kinda am...but only because I know his history with girls. I know he'll do anything to fulfill his father's wishes. And Ella, you're a precious friend of mine. I just don't want you to get hurt again. I just wanted to warn you. I still don't know if telling you this is the right thing. I feel like I'm betraying my cousin. But if I don't tell you, I feel like I'm betraying you."
She buried her face in her hands and the rest of her words turned into muffles. She sounded like she groaned and whined a bit.
The internal conflict was probably draining.
Ella was in a small daze. Anne's face was still buried in her hands. Daniel and I just looked at each other, wondering what we should say or do.
Then our food arrived.
It was silent as we all ate. And it took about three minutes until one of us broke the ice. A silence even that short was enough to be suffocating.
"Thank you for telling me."
Ella smiled at Anne, nodding her head as if agreeing with something she was thinking about. She was smiling, but she looked exhausted.
"I already knew he was hiding something from me. I had my suspicions too." She smiled down at her food. "But I played dumb because I really liked him. That's what I did best. Played dumb."
I stood up and transferred to the seat right next to her. I put an arm around her shoulder and gave her a side hug. My best friend just didn't deserve this.
Why does this keep happening to her?
Anne looked like she was close to breaking down into tears as well. She grabbed Ella's hands and lowered her head in apology.
"I'm really, really sorry..."
"Don't apologize, silly. It's not your fault." Ella released a small breath of laughter.
As we continued to comfort Ella, Daniel slurped on his drink so loud. Whether it was on purpose or not I wasn't sure, but he broke the moment.
I sent him a scolding glare but he just shrugged.
"Nothing's for certain yet so don't conclude anything." He said, much to my surprise. I thought he hated the Watanabes with a passion? Was this probably just his way of comforting Ella? "If you're not sure who to trust anymore, just trust yourself. Whatever happens, never lose faith in yourself. Try to control your thoughts before it consumes you. You can do it. It'll work out in the end."
My glare softened into a smile and I was quick to give him a nod of approval. Anne and Ella looked to be deep in thought for a while until they realized how true his words were and agreed.
"That's Mr. Prodigy for you," Anne said, winking at his direction before giving Ella a warm hug. "I'm not saying that he will, but if Chie ever hurts you, just tell me and Tina, okay? We'll take care of it."
"Yeah," I said, tightening the hug I was already giving her. She started giggling despite almost suffocating from our hugs. "We'll take care of you. So rest assured."
I wanted her to rely on me too.
Ella released her hands from her sides to each grab a hold of us and somehow gave us a hug back. We started giggling at how ridiculous we looked but the weight had already lifted from our hearts.
Everything was gonna be alright.
Ella went ahead and got inside Anne's car. Daniel went to warm up the engines in his car as well.
We were currently in the mall's underground parking lot, getting ready to go home.
"See you tomorrow," I smiled at Anne. She was smiling back at me but there was still this troubled look on her face.
"Tina," she said, glancing at Daniel's car, as if checking if he was listening. "About the boys leaving after New Year's..."
I raised my brows, getting anxious all of a sudden. "Yeah?"
"I just..." she mumbled, staring at her feet and then shaking her head, as if shaking off an unwanted thought as well. "Just be prepared whatever happens okay? Those boys... they're rash. Even though they say they'll leave at a later date, the next thing you know, they're already leaving tomorrow. That's how it was with Tops and I... I feel a great sense of deja vu and I can't help feeling so worried that--"
"Anne," I stopped her, letting her breathe. She was rambling. She was probably more anxious than I was. "Don't worry. We'll prepare ourselves. So don't worry."
She let out a sigh she must've been holding for a while and nodded, giving me a reassured smile. "Yeah. Yeah you're right. I'm sorry. I'm probably just overthinking. I hate it when I'm like this."
I laughed a bit to release some tension I was feeling as well.
"Well, see you tomorrow Tina." She said, brightly this time. "Have a good night."
When I got inside Daniel's car, he quickly leaned over and placed a chaste kiss on my forehead. I didn't realize I was keeping my head down the whole time.
When I finally looked up, he was giving me this sad gaze as he tucked my hair behind my ear.
My chest tightened.
"Don't worry about a thing, okay?" He said, repeating the words I told him last night.
"The next thing you know, they're already leaving tomorrow."
I held my breath to stop my heart from bursting out of my chest. Anne's words were drilling my mind. I almost felt like tearing up.
"Okay," I told him, kissing the hand that was tenderly holding my face.
He smiled, reassured before he drove us both home.
I silently sank in my seat.
"The next thing you know..."
Anne's trembling words kept echoing in my head. Why was it so haunting?
"They're already leaving..."
God. Please. Not yet.
"I'm never leaving you again for another twelve years, I promise."
Daniel's words echoed back like knives digging deep in my back. I held back a whimper. Someone make it stop...
"The next thing you know..."
Anne's words were like loud bells chiming in my ears. It sounded like a multitude of voices, bells, noises, more voices--I wanted to cover my ears. I almost wanted to scream to shut them out.
It was so noisy in my head--their words were echoing everywhere; competing on who's loudest, who's most convincing.
As the voices reached it's peak, a weak, apologetic voice silenced them all.
And it won over every thought I ever had.
"I'm sorry for leaving you..."
My heart shattered into a million pieces.
It was Daniel's voice.