Then You Look At Me

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Brotherhood

~All the things that I know, that your parents don’t. They don’t care like I do, nowhere like I do. ’Cause I care about you. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than right here around you~ Khalid.

Chapter Theme Song: ‘Saturday Nights’ by Khalid.

°°

Third Person POV

“Damn…Rain’s house is…amazing.” Arden gasps, his eyes bulging out of their sockets as he stares up at the grey walls. Aiden is equally as astonished as he regards the modern infrastructure.

“Told ya,” Alex smirks, extending his hand toward Arden. “My money. You said if it was as big as I said, you’d pay me fifty.”

“Could you three assholes hurry up?” Alaric frowns as he leans against his car. He’s supposed to be at work, but he wanted to stop by to check on Rain. They heard about her being ill and figured it would show some amount of concern if they came themselves to check on her.

“Dude, I’ll pay you after school, go knock on the door before Alaric loses his shit.”

“You better pay me Arden, or I’ll murder you.” Alex makes a ‘V’ with his fingers, points it to his own eyes, then to Arden who friskily kicks him in the ass and pushes him toward the door. “Hurry the fuck up, idiot.”

He rubs his rear as he knocks on the door a few times. When no-one answers, he glances at Aiden in wonderment. “Maybe they left already.”

“No way, An would have told us.”

“Yeah, but I have been trying to call him all morning, it keeps going straight to voicemail. Seems his battery died or something.”

Aiden scratches his forehead. “Just try again.”

Alex pounds again, then Aiden folds a fist and does right after. Finally, footsteps can be heard as they approach the door and Aiden shrugs his shoulders arrogantly, stepping back. “You weren’t knocking loud enough, baby-knuckles.” He laughs.

Alex gives his brother a deadpan expression, drooping his eyelids. “That was so fucking lame, dude. Your jokes are always lame, you should just stop trying.”

“Something here for you boys?” Jeff now stands at the door, arms coiled across his chest while his eyes travel among the brothers.

Alex snaps his gaze to the man, then glances over his shoulders briskly. “Yeah, sir, good morning. Rain…is Rain here?”

Jeff narrows his eyes, a clear look of displeasure etched on his features. “And what do you want with Rain?” He reaches out to grip the doorknob, indicating he does not plan on conversing with these boys for too long.

“We just need to see her, that’s all.” Arden shrugs, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Jeff regards them with a judgmental glare, eyeing their attire from head to toe. His eyes drift to the gates where Alaric leans against his Chevelle, smoking a cigarette casually.

He rolls his eyes. “I suggest you boys get off my damn property.” He gestures to swing the door close when Aiden stops it with a palm, sighing apologetically.

“Wait, we’re sorry if we’re taking up your time, but Rain is kind of important to us and we just want to check on her. We brought a few stuff for her as well, so if you could pass on the message and tell her that we’re here, we would greatly appreciate it.”

Arden and Alex dramatically gawk at their brother and Aiden glances at them quizzically. “What?”

“You sounded so intelligent.” Arden gapes.

“Yeah,” Alex agrees. “Like you spoke a whole paragraph without cursing profanities.”

Aiden smirks cockily. “Well…”

“Don’t waste my fucking time you bunch of delinquent assholes. Leave my house, or I’ll call the damn police.” Jeff threatens, pulling the door up again but this time, Alex blocks it with his heel.

“Woah, short-tempered much. Look, we don’t want any trouble, but slamming a door in our faces is asking for it, sir.”

“Are you her uncle?” Arden questions. “Where did you get this insolent gene from? Rain is sweet, but you? You’re something else, mister.”

“Uncle?” Alex scoffs. “Definitely not. I think Ansel told me that he is her mother’s boyfriend. But someone is a little too possessive for his own good.”

Aiden sighs. “We don’t want to waste your time, but if you don’t let us see Rain, we just may have to congregate out here all morning. Would you like that?”

“We can even have a party out here if you like.” Arden taunts, opening his arms widely. “Do you have beers in there? No? Well, soft drinks are fine too.”

“She already left for school, so don’t waste your time here,” Jeff states, his jaws clenching hard.

Instantly Ansel and Rainey begin to descend the stairs and the sound of their footsteps drags everyone’s attention. Jeff narrows his eyes at the scene, a muscle twitching in his face as he villainously watches them.

Aiden smirks, tilting his head while he looks at Jeff. “Well, look at that. Turns out he’s not only weirdly possessive, but he’s a liar too.”

“Qualities of an asshole...” Arden mutters inaudibly.

°°

Ansel

My brothers have a special liking for Rain. When they told me yesterday that they would stop by to check on her today, I thought they were only bluffing. But seeing as they truly came, I can tell they genuinely care about her.

Jeff looks incandescent as he stands by the sidelines, his eyes boring through mine iniquitously. He detests the fact that I spent the night in Rain’s room, and knowing this, the corner of my lips quirks up in a sly smirk. A muscle jerks in his face while I pull my gaze from his and to my brothers.

“I thought you guys were at school already.” I wave to Alaric who is leaning against his car with a joint between his lips.

“Nah, we had to see Rain before we go…” Alex replies. “Plus, ma’ gave us something to give to her.”

Rainey smiles genuinely, her face lighting up with gratitude. “Thanks for coming guys, I truly appreciate it.”

“How are you feeling?” Arden asks her.

“Yeah, when I heard you were sick yesterday, I couldn’t sleep all night.” Aiden smiles, leaning against the doorframe.

Arden rolls his eyes. “Don’t listen to him, Rain, this bastard slept like a baby last night.”

Aiden glares at him and Rainey begins to laugh. I look at her with pure admiration. The sound of her laughter is pleasing, far more enjoyable than any music I have ever heard.

The sound of an engine drags everyone’s attention as a jet-black BMW pulls up behind Alaric’s car.

A man with brown hair, dressed in jersey and trousers emerges from the vehicle. From where I stand, I can see how he scrutinizes Alaric from head to toe, a look of contempt on his face as he passes by him. Alaric just smirks then places his cigarette between his lips. The opinion or thoughts of others doesn’t affect him.

The man shoves his palms in his pockets as he makes his way up the pavement. “Who’re these boys, Jeff? Are you having a party or something?”

I hear a soft sigh comes from Rain and I glance at her. Her expression is visibly troubled and perturbed. Whoever this guy is, she does not seem to like him.

I lean down to her ear. “Who’s that?”

She sighs, wrapping her arms around herself. “Jeff’s friend,” she whispers, staring at the floor. “Greg Taylor.”

I recall the name instantly, and my brows draw together as I pull my gaze back to the man.

Greg Taylor. Jeff’s partner in the assault of that thirteen-year-old girl in 2006.

“Party?” Jeff scoffs. “These people are just about to get off my property because I am calling the damn police.” Jeff returns inside and Greg glares over the boys, who is daringly staring back at him with equal displeasure.

One thing I know for sure is that my brothers can easily identify negative energies, and Greg Taylor gives off a whole lot of that.

His eyes land on Rain, and a clear look of lust flickers in them. “Rainey. Thought you left for school already, I am happy I got to see you.” She winces as he extends his hand to touch her, but I tightly clutch onto his wrist to stop him, narrowing my eyes at his audacity.

“What do you think you’re doing, Greg Taylor?”

His eyes drop to my hand around his and he simpers, sliding his free hand in his pocket. “And you are?”

“Her boyfriend,” Aiden states, his eyes darkening. “Which means you should keep your hands to yourself.”

Rain looks a little startled by Aiden’s response and I choose to go along with it.

“I’d appreciate it if you refrain from touching her…” I continue, “If you wish to live in peace, that is.”

Rainey glances at me as I release him, and Greg laughs, his gaze returning to hers. “Ah. I am disappointed Rain, I thought we had this discussion. A kid is no match for a man…”

She glowers at him and he looks back at me, smirking arrogantly. My hands clench into two tight fists but Alaric comes onto the scene, throwing his cigarette aside. “Something going on up here?”

I shut my eyes and take a deep breath. “No, we’re just about to leave…” I take Rain’s hand in mine and my brothers shoot Greg glares of threats as we descend the porch steps. I can feel Greg’s eyes on Rainey’s back as we walk to the cars.

Alex had brought me a fresh suit of uniform, so I change into his backseat while my brothers speak with Rain. I get out of the car, and Alaric gestures to me with his hand. “An, can I speak with you?”

I nod my head as I follow him to the corner of the street, away from everyone.

“Yeah?”

He looks a bit troubled as he rakes his hair back. “Uhm…what was the name of that school Rainey previously attended?”

I cross my arms. “Freetown High…why?”

He sighs. “Well, the thing is…I don’t know if it’s her, but do you remember Ron Moretto?”

I nod. “Yeah, how can I forget Ron Moretto? That guy betrayed Dad and almost got us killed.”

“Yeah, he’s coming in town soon.”

“Okay...?”

“And he’s going to be searching for this girl that had an altercation with his niece. I heard she used to attend Freetown High and she’s around seventeen, Rainey’s age.”

I narrow my eyes, glancing over at her. She is laughing while she chats with my brothers. The thought of someone wanting to harm her makes me uneasy.

“Damn…” I mutter, snapping my head back to him. “Are you saying it could be her?”

“I don’t know…has she ever told you that anything happened at her past school?”

I nibble on my lower lip as my thoughts drift back to the first day I met her. We were having a conversation in the cafeteria about our literature text; To kill a Mockingbird and Aiden had called me in the middle of our dialogue to tell me that Arden got into an altercation with Ken about the money Alaric owed. I had to rush to the police station to assist in getting him bailed out. My brothers had been punished quite often by the law; community services, probational house arrest; you name it, and on that day while the officers were skipping through the list of juvenile files to locate Arden’s, my eyes caught a familiar name among the rest.

Rainey Slate.

A small photo was stapled onto her brown folder, which served as enough confirmation that it was her. The girl in my math class, the girl that I spoke with at lunch about the cafeteria’s curry, the girl I caught staring at me from the mirror of her locker.

When they had finally located my brother’s file and we exited the police station with Arden and his injured arm, I saw her standing by the sidewalk; it had to be coincidence or perhaps, fate.

She seemed frozen as she inquisitively stared at me and I stopped in my tracks and looked back at her. My thoughts returned to the file I had seen, and many questions flowed through my mind.

What was her past like? Why did she transfer to Freetown High? Why does she have a file at the district’s police station?

Then the night she slept at my house and we had that heart to heart talk, I took the opportunity to ask her what happened at Freetown High. I knew she would not have told me outrightly, but I was hoping for a big enough lead; something to help me put the pieces together as I got to know her more. She responded saying she almost murdered someone, she did not go into details and I was not allotted to ask too many questions, but what she said was a lot deeper than she may have realized.

“So?” Alaric prods. “Did she ever tell you that she did something in the past or that something happened to her?”

I sigh. “I think something might have happened at Freetown, but she hasn’t told me what it was.”

Alaric nods. He seems equally worried. “Okay well, keep an eye on her, alright? I’ll look out as well.”

I run a hand over my face. “Yeah, thanks for telling me.”

“I like Rain a lot, I don’t want anything happening to her.”

I exhale heavily. “Yeah, me neither.”

°°

Rainey

Aiden and Arden are childishly wrestling in the middle of the street; like two five-year-old boys. Alex and I are laughing while we watch the hilarious scene. I keep glancing up and down the road, hoping they do not end up getting hit by an oncoming vehicle.

“Are they always that immature?” I chuckle.

Alex nods. “Everyday.” He takes a sip of the beer he is holding while I dart my gaze over to Ansel, who is utterly consumed in the conversation with Alaric. He seems a bit anxious as he forks a hand through his hair; I wonder what they are talking about.

Alex tracks my focus and his lips rise in a smirk. “So…how was last night?”

I bring my gaze to his. “Mm?”

“Ansel spent the night here, how did that go?” He raises a brow cheekily, taking another sip of his beer.

I smile, heat rising to my cheeks. “Well, he got me medicine…made me chicken soup…and slept beside me.”

Alex grins, passing his tongue over his lips to collect residue from the beer. “Sounds interesting.” He turns around so he can rest his elbows on the top of his car, looking over at me. “You know, I like seeing you guys together.”

I look at him, and he taps his fingers rhythmically against his car, bobbing his head. “I think you two haven’t realized just how perfect you both are…for each other.”

I stare at him, my cheeks flushing at his words. My thoughts travel back to Lea. She is pretty and although it is painful to admit it, they did look cute standing next to each other.

I look at the pavement beneath us, shrugging my shoulders. “Was Lea… perfect for him?”

Alex takes another drink of his beer, then idly gazes at the label, salivating his lips. “Nope. Lea betrayed him and one thing I know for sure is that Ansel won’t ever be able to get over that.”

“Okay guys, it’s time to go! My boss is going to kill me.” Alaric interrupts our chatter as he and Ansel return to our side.

We say our goodbyes and the boys all take my number, promising they will call to check on me later. Aiden and Arden climb into Alaric’s car while Ansel and I get into Alex’s. We begin the journey down the road while a Kendrick Lamar song plays on the radio. I glance at Ansel through the side mirror and he seems distant. His gaze is fixed on the passing trees while he squints his eyes from the blazing sun.

The anger on his face earlier while he stared at Greg sparks my curiosity. Does he know something? Or could it just be that I'm overthinking?

“Oh, there’s a bag on the seat next to you, my mom says that’s for you, Rain,” Alex says, smiling at me from his top mirror.

I beam. “Really? What’s inside?” I retrieve the bag ecstatically, unzipping it to peer inside.

“I don’t know, I think it’s herbal tonic and she made you lunch as well,” Alex says.

A smile stretches my lips when I sight the metal thermos and food plate. “Thanks.”

Ansel’s family is so much different from mine. They remind me so much of Riley’s. I realize I have not spoken with her since my mom took my cell, so I put the bag aside, slide to the edge of my seat, and look over at Ansel.

“Uhm…could I borrow your cell? I wanted to call Riley.”

Alex smirks. “You can just use my phone; I’ll just save her number right after.”

Ansel chuckles, shaking his head as Alex slides his phone out of his pocket. He hands it to me, and I sit back with a smile while he reduces the volume on his radio.

I punch her digits in and press it to my ear, jerking my legs while I wait for her to pick up. Instead of Riley answering though, it is her mom. Her voice is soft and unenergetic as it breaks through the line. “Valerie speaking.”

“Hey, Aunt Val, has Riley left for school yet? My mom took my cell and—”

“Oh, dear…” Her voice cracks as she begins to sob.

It scares me and I clutch the cell tighter in my palm. “Aunt Val?”

“Something…. something happened to Riley, Rain, oh God…”

“What?” My heart skips a beat and I press a quivering hand against my forehead. “W-what do you mean, what are you saying?”

“She was beaten up pretty badly yesterday…” She cries. “She’s in the hospital…she’s not waking up…”

The cell drops from my hand and hits the floor of the car. My eyes burn with tears as I stare at the device lying on the mat. I must have heard wrong, right?

Alex glances at me from his mirror, his eyes narrowing in concern. “Hey…you alright?”

His question causes Ansel to turn his head, his brows pulling together as he studies my expression. “What’s wrong, Rain?”

A tear escapes and slaps my thigh and I bring my palms up to cover my eyes. I begin to cry softly, my body jerking at each gut-wrenching sob.

“Shit…is she okay?” Alex’s head darts between my puling figure and the road.

Ansel takes a deep breath. “Pull over, Alex.”

He immediately obliges, stopping at the curb of the street. Ansel opens his door and gets around to my side. He slides into the cramped space, sitting next to me as I cry in my palms.

“Rain…” He lays a comforting hand on my back. “What’s wrong?”

Alex shifts in his seat, his gaze softening with sympathy as he watches me. Ansel realizes I am unable to speak and wrap an arm around me, pulling me against his chest. I nestle my face in his neck, my tears soaking the collar of his dress shirt.

“What happened?” He softly asks. “Tell me…”

“Riley…” I whimper. “They…they did something to her.”

“What the fuck, who?” Alex’s eyes go wide. “What happened to Riley?”

Ansel’s throat moves as he swallows hard, but he tries to remain calm. “Who Rain? Who did something to her?”

“That girl…I know it’s her.” I tremble, gripping his shirt tightly in my palms. “I know it’s Kendra…Riley’s in the hospital…she’s not waking up…” I squeeze my eyes shut. “She’s not waking up…”

Alex rakes a hand through his hair and flumps against his seat. He buries his face in his palms. “Shit.”

Ansel blows his cheeks out then attempts to console me. “Don’t worry…we’ll go to the hospital right now and get to the bottom of this, okay? It’s gonna be alright.”

He pulls my head back, tracing his thumb along my cheek. “I promise it’ll be alright…please don’t cry, Rain, okay?”

Pulling me close to him, he rubs my back while he and Alex exchange glances of melancholy. Despite his request, I cannot stop the tears of grief that race down my cheeks.


^A/N: Hi😊Thank you so much for reading!💜If you love my story don't forget to hit that heart/like at the bottom and follow me (if you want lol) so that you can get instant notifications of when I post updates❤Lots of love, keep safe and stay tuned for more!💜

-Tiffanyluvss❤


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