I nurse my coffee for a tad longer after Andy left, just absorbing his words and manner. He seemed alright about the whole debacle, but who really knew?
I couldn’t imagine what it felt like getting framed for something I didn’t do, let alone having two sisters claim they couldn’t remember anything. Then the police let him down, and it was only when Hayley confessed that Andy escaped a heavy prison sentence. The nightmares I’d had recently were terrifying, and my parents had begged me to see a counsellor.
I had booked an appointment, but I was yet to go. Alex on the other hand, has gone awol again- Frankie has heard from her though, and she said she is having a break from reality. I just hope that doesn’t mean a cocktail of drugs, because that’s what got us into this mess. My phone trills, disturbing my silence.
“Hello you,” I say into the phone, smiling. I haven’t spoke to Charlotte anywhere near as much as I’d like lately, but I guess that was to be expected. My family were trying to move on from the trauma of the past few months, and Charlotte didn’t want to invade.
“Babes, have you heard from Cain?”
Charlotte's voice is raspy and urgent, and I tense up as she speaks.
My stomach plummets at the thought of something happening to Cain, and I sit up straight, clenching the phone.
“He’s walked out of work, as in, he’s quit,” Charlotte breathes, her words spilling out of her mouth in record speed.
“Quit?” I echo, frowning. Cain loved his job.
“Harry said he can’t tell me what is going on, but he said to tell you that he’s probably looking for you,” Charlotte groans, and I gaze ahead of me, almost in a daze. Charlotte is talking, but I’m not listening.
If Cain had quit his job, I knew it would be something serious. Nausea crept up my throat silently as I ended the call with Charlotte, promising her I’d call her when I’d spoken to Cain.
My fingers tremble as I dial his number, but my heart relaxes when he answers.
His panicked tone makes me feel all gooey inside, and I nod despite him not being able to see him.
“Charlotte just called me- she said you’ve quit your job.”
There’s a silence then, and I realise I’m holding my breath. Cain curses, before answering me.
“Where are you?” He sighs, not giving anything away. My heart is pounding now, my palms sweating. Why has Cain quit his job?
“I’m in the café, the one near the bridge. Cain-“
“Wait there Maxie, okay? I’ll explain when I get there. Love you.”
With those sweet three words, he ends the call. A thousand scenarios run through my mind, and I try to remain calm.
But for Cain to quit a career he has worked so hard to build? I know he is stressed. He is always tired, yet he seems so passionate about it. He’s a hot head, sure; but this must be more than a knee jerk reaction. Deep down, I know it’s got something to do with me.
It feels like I’m waiting for him forever. I watch people come and go, and I push away my now ice cold coffee. I’m gazing out of the blinds, chewing my fingernails as I do.
Then I see him, and my body breathes a sigh of relief.
His eyes met mine within seconds of him entering the cafe, but he nods for me to go to him. I hastily pick up my things, dropping a tip into the jar as I leave. I’m searching his eyes, but he’s giving nothing away. He guides me out of the cafe, a grim expression on his face.
“How did it go with Andy? Are you alright?” Cain asks, sweeping his gaze down both sides of the road as we cross. His car is waiting for us by the park, and instead of heading towards it, Cain laces his fingers with mine as he opens the gate to the park for me.
“Yes, fine,” I wave dismissively. “You’re worrying me, Cain.”
Cain drops down to a bench, his head in his hands. I perch beside him, my heart in my mouth. I’d never seen him like this; and it was making me panic.
“Cain?” I press gently, as he lifts his gaze to mine. His eyes are sad, his brow furrowed. He looks tormented, and I can’t help but reach out for him.
“I’m going to tell you something, Maxie,” Cain whispers gruffly, his eyes dropping down to the floor. “Because I love you, and I can’t keep this from you.”
I’m nodding frantically, twisting my hands as he continues.
“Harry told me today Alex did a deal with the bureau. They’re higher up than us. They get more scope to do whatever the fuck they want,” he says, his face twisting into a bitter smile. “Your sister asked for two things.”
My ears are ringing, so loudly I can barely hear him speak. My breathing has stopped, my fingernails digging into my palms as I wait.
“She doesn’t want you guys to know, and she wants time off Yan’s sentence,” he says carefully, his hands reaching out for mine.
“Yan?” I echo, confused. “Her dealer? Who kidnapped me, that Yan?!”
Fury runs through my being, my entire body trembles in response.
Why would my sister want time off Yan’s sentence after what he did to me? To Andy?!
Cain swallows, and I know there’s more. I try to brace myself, but his words hit me like a freight train.
In on it…
Didn’t know you would get taken or hurt…
I’m numb. Rage bubbles beneath my flesh, crawling into my very bones. My own sister was going to run away with our money?
“Where is she?” I whisper, tears spilling down my cheeks.
Cain looks like he’s in pain, and he strokes my tears away, his eyes searching mine.
“I don’t know,” he bows his head, and it’s then that I see him; the real him. He looks tired, fraught, and exhausted. Dark circles surround his eyes, and he looks terrified. “I’m so sorry, Max.”
I find myself nodding, but I don’t feel anything.
“Is this true?” I ask, my lip trembling.
I know that it is, and Cain reinforces it with an apologetic nod.
“My family can’t know,” I say, as Cain egos his head to mine. “I’ll make sure she never goes near them again, but my parents-“ I choke up then, my hands walking around my mouth as I stifle a sob. “They aren’t strong enough, Cain.”
He wraps his arms around me, his familiar scent soothing me as I let my emotions out. My heart is psychically aching, and I feel violently sick. Memories of Alex and her nonchalant attitude over the past few weeks made me worse; and I wanted to wrap my hands around her neck.
“How could she do that to us?” I moan, burying my head in Cain’s shoulder.
My own sister.
“I’m so sorry, Maxie. I’m sorry I told you, but I had to. I hope you understand.”
His voice aches with confusion and hurt, and I squeeze him tight. If he wouldn’t have believed Andy-
I shudder, refusing to imagine the consequences further. He is an amazing detective. My head aches, and I swallow.
“Can we go back to yours? I think we could both do with a stiff drink.”
Cain nods, and together we walk back to his car. If I saw my sister now, I’d happily run her over and serve time.