We all were woken up by Beverly, 6 A.M. when the sun was only rising up. She stormed into my room, screaming and jumping like a little girl who’s first tooth just fell out and she was expecting a Tooth Fairy; but the only fairy she got was me, wearing purple boxers and yawning. She pulled the sheets out of my bed and me, together with them.
Because she had a surprise.
When she forced me to put my sweats on and dragged me to her room, which is clearly bigger than mine; all of us were already there, all sleepy, yawning, tired and angry.
“Can we make it quick, I really want to sleep for five more hours...”
“Definitely. What is going on?”
Lexi lays down on the bed, when Aaron does the same and places his head on her chest; but she aggressively pushes him away, making him fall out of bed.
“Keep your distance!”
I take a seat on the beige leather couch, right next to sleepy Brooklyn dressed up in her khaki sweats, her hair tied in a messy bun; but she still looks incredibly cute.
“So what’s up?”
Beverly and Kai stands right in front of us when Kai pulls out a bottle of champagne and wraps an arm around Beverly’s waist; who’s still smiling like a little girl. She raises her hand forward, showing us and incredibly beautiful diamond ring.
“We’re getting married!”
“Are you serious!?”
All the sleepiness disappears when my eyes widen and I jump on my feet, like a huge dose of caffeine was just poured into my system. I feel the corners of my lips rising up when a honest happiness for my brother fills up my stomach; I have never thought he would be ready for this step.
Not because he wasn’t ready to commit; he is already committed, to all of us. He built a big family, he worked hard to bring us all together, and he takes care about us all; I didn’t even think he had time to plan a proposal. To be brave enough to take the next step.
Deep inside my head, it makes me realize I’m not like my brother at all. On the inside, I’m still just a boy, locked in a basement for eight years; afraid, frightened and with no hope. Everyone says that I’ve changed, but in reality... I’m still a coward.
I wrap my arms around Beverly, pulling her into a tight hug while others congratulate Kai and he opens the bottle of champagne. We drink straight from the bottle - there’s no need to be courteous at the moment; we’re all family, celebrating on 6 A.M., just being happy; and these moments are rare. There were losses, pain and heartbreaks in all of our lives, so we learned to appreciate every moment we can spend being happy.
Because we know it won’t last long.
We taste the bubbles, like they were a real proof of our excitement and joy. The laughter, cheerful voices spread around the room and probably, around the whole hotel; but I don’t think that any of us cares. How many moments like that we’ll have until anything will fall apart again?
Happiness is such a fragile thing. It’s like a glass, transparent, invisible; and if you won’t hold it too tight it will leave your hands and shatter on the cold ground, leaving you with nothing but regret. I learned to appreciate every moment, lock the memory of everyone’s smile, everyone’s laughter inside my mind, in case I will never hear it again. Life is as fragile as happiness, and that’s what we all do - holding on everyone so tightly, protecting each other, being a real family.
I feel my cheeks starting to hurt from smiling all the time, looking at Beverly and Kai, kissing and whispering something to each other, at Aaron and Lexi, who frowns every time he looks at her. Until my eyes stop on Brooklyn, talking to Brent.
“I really need some more practice to use a gun. Sometimes I just don’t feel confident enough when I use it.”
“I totally get you, Brooks. I can show you how to use it, if you want to.”
I watch them, the conversation between two friends, nothing more; I know Brent has a love of his life he’s willing to find. But it still ruins my mood, and I can feel the time running again, which was frozen while I felt really happy. I don’t have a reason to be sad or angry; but somehow I am.
I have absolutely no reason to be jealous; but here I am, standing all alone, frowning for nonsense reasons. I was the one who pushed her away, because after I got my freedom back I still needed some time to recover. And still, Brooklyn stood by my side, even after being rejected. But she is the only woman I could ever admire. No matter how tough things got she always knew the difference between essential virtues to be upheld no matter what and what was negotiable; perhaps she got it from Bev.
Or it’s just a family trait.
No matter what it is, she’s probably the best person I’ve ever met. Not to mention her looks; she’s beautiful, mysterious and also very innocent, no matter what she could’ve done you could still see her only as an angel. She does her best to help others, she goes the extra mile to do what’s right when there’s nothing in it for herself at all. I know I didn’t appreciate how much she did to me, but now I do. When it’s probably too late.
“Why so sad, brother?” Kai walks to me, holding another bottle of champagne and handing it to me. I immediately take a huge gulp; letting the bubbles to tickle my throat and stomach, hoping that the sourness will help to calm down my jealousy. “Oh... nothing. I just want some sleep.”
He glances at Brooklyn, then back at me with a curvy smile on his face. He can read me, like I was an open book, even when I’m not talking.
“Do you remember how I and Beverly met?”
“Yeah. You kidnapped her.”
“But do you know why she fell in love with a man that kidnapped her?”
I finally draw my eyes away from Brooklyn and turn to him. All excited, because he just got engaged. But still having time to come to his little coward brother to give him a speech about life.
“Because I wasn’t afraid to show what I want.” He wraps an arm around my shoulders and rumples my hair before taking the champagne out of my hand. “Women like men who take what they want, no matter the circumstances.”
Laughing, he walks back to Beverly and gives her a loving kiss; leaving me standing there even more anxious.
I’m having a conflict inside my head, but all parts of me are hating me the same way. Why do I have to be like this? I know I like her, I always did. I always enjoy the time we spend together, I spend most of the time thinking about her, even if I don’t want to admit that. But I can’t just go and tell her that I’m ready to try. That I like her. I’ve never done that, I’m too anxious to do something wrong.
And that’s the main problem... I’m too afraid to mess things up. Because I don’t know what dating is, what flirting is. I’m a 24 year old man, who didn’t have his first kiss yet, and not even mention the other things. I wish I was more like Kai, like Aaron, that I was brave and impulsive; but I’m not. I care. I care and I want everything to be perfect.
But Kai is right. If I won’t do anything, I will lose her.
And I’m a man, which means I have to make the first step to get my woman. I have to be brave and face my fears to mess things up; because if I won’t, I will lose her forever.
And I’m not going to let that happen.
I don’t think if I ever felt more happy than I feel now; I still can’t believe I’m an engaged woman. It’s like tone of butterflies were trapped in my stomach, trying to her out, but if they will, I know I will lose that happiness. Which I want to keep as long as possible.
It still surprises me what love can do, after all, I never knew what it’s like to love someone. Despite all the darkness, Kai is the reason I see my life as beautiful. It is because I’m lost in those eyes, those thoughts and I think of him every moment. And when I feel low, when I feel that I will never be happy again; when I feel like I want to give up, he always knows how to light up the hope inside me. Kai always knows the right words to say, at any moment.
“It will be alright; I’m right beside you.”
Kai always knows when I need him to comfort me, and when I need to be left alone. He always knows when it’s time to joke around, to tease me, and when it’s time to keep silent or just listen to me. It’s like he was reading my mind, but in reality... he’s just perfect for me.
And now I’m going to be Beverly Woods.
“What are you thinking about?”
We all walk down one of the busy streets in the city, to meet one of the spies Brent was working with. The sidewalks are smooth grey stones, joined with such precision that the joins are almost invisible. There is a music somewhere behind the gray buildings, a chaotic rhythm that makes the day more special. But still, we try to keep distance from each other in case something happens, or someone will recognize us.
It’s Florida, after all. Someone might remember Kai or Brent.
“About our wedding.”
A devilish smile plays on Kai’s lips; whatever you would say to him, he still would smile the same way, like an evil idea was rolling around in Diabolus’s head.
“And what about it?”
“Well, we should plan it a little bit.”
“To plan what? You’ll wear the most beautiful white dress, we’ll get the most expensive wedding rings and I’ll be smiling the whole time like an idiot.”
“No. Right now my smile is sexy as hell.”
I shake my head, laughing at his adorable cockiness. I know he doesn’t mean it; but he always does it to make me laugh or smile, and to be honest, there’s nothing that could stop me from smiling at the moment.
At least I thought so, before I turned my head to the right.
Between two big, old, dark buildings, in street covered with garbage and dumpsters, I spot a man with a suit and a small suitcase. That ginger colored beard, pale and thin, nose slender and rounded; I don’t think I will ever forget that face, no matter how much time will pass.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
For a few moments, I just watch him, and every second feels like gasoline, fueling the fire inside of me, my fists begin to clench and my jaw roots. Just before I let the anger to take my brain, blocking away my every logical thought, Kai grabs me and presses to the wall with his whole body.
“Don’t fucking do this, Beverly.”
Everyone of us freezes in their places as Kai holds my moving body, not letting me go. But as soon as he draws his finger on my lips, blocking any word coming from my mouth; I stop breathing. I feel my muscles melting. There’s nothing that could stop my breath faster than Kai’s lips and body so close to mine.
“We don’t know what he’s doing here and if he’s alone. Don’t mess things up if you want to find Avery.”
“What’s going on?”
Brent silently walks to us, whispering as Kai draws his finger away from my lips, his eyes locked on my mouth, craving for a kiss. Craving for something more. Even at this point, when I’m angry, even furious; I still can feel the desire growing inside of me. I don’t know what he has, that at every moment in my life he can make me horny only with his look.
“Leonardo." Kai slowly turns to Brent as the others walk to us, with confusion on their faces and narrowed eyebrows. But Kai doesn’t seem confused at all, standing straight and confident like a real leader does, making only the logical, smart decisions. "Let’s see what that motherfucker is doing here, and find out what he’s actually hiding."