Chapter 4. Insomnia
My eyes memorized Abigail’s face as she slept soundly on my chest. The doctors told me that I suffered from insomnia. Out of all the things that were supposedly wrong with me, this one seemed to be accurate.
The alarm clock read three in the morning. If the alarm clock could talk, it would probably tell me to go the fuck to sleep. I sighed and carefully climbed out of bed. I crept down the hallway and downstairs. I gazed around, trying to remember where the kitchen was.
I walked to the right and through the first door, which was a door that swung both ways. I crept into the kitchen, which was dimly lit by a stove light. I walked to a cupboard and opened it to look for a cup.
“Next cupboard over if you’re looking for a cup,” a deep voice said. I jumped and spun around. I didn’t realize it, but I had walked right past Ace.
“Oh, um, thanks,” I said awkwardly. I grabbed a cup from the cupboard and ran the faucet.
“You’re up kind of early,” Ace said.
“I never went to sleep,” I said honestly.
“Insomnia?” Ace asked and chuckled.
I spun around, surprised. The way Ace said it implied that I wasn’t the only one. “You too?”
“Yep,” he said. “Your sister, Andrea, has it too. She used to come into our room in the middle of the night. I was usually awake, so I would bring her down to the kitchen, get her something to drink, and talk to her until she was tired enough to go back to bed.”
I smiled and shook my head. “That’s kind of weird. Do you guys have IED too?”
Ace pursed his lips and shook his head. “I’m not sure what that is,” he said.
“Intermittent explosive disorder. It’s an anger disorder.”
“Do you have that?” Ace arched a brow.
“That’s what the doctors said. After I supposedly killed my siblings and blacked out, which I blacked out probably from a concussion because I was knocked out by Harold, they diagnosed me with a bunch of things. I have bipolar, IED, insomnia, depression, and a couple of others.”
“Oh, well, that all probably runs in the family, but we like to use our mental disorders strategically,” Ace said and chuckled. “Your mother is kind of nuts. I have a bad temper. Angel’s kind of weird.”
“Speak for yourself, old man,” Angel said as he strolled into the kitchen.
I chuckled. “Did you sleep?”
Angel shook his head. “Nope. Not yet. I probably won’t at this point. I slept pretty well the other night, though.”
Ace chuckled. “I forgot to mention Angel has insomnia too. He also has ADHD pretty bad.”
“Yeah, I got that one, and here I thought I was crazy.”
“Buddy, you’re a Garcia. You’re fucking nuts,” Angel said. “Runs in the blood.”
Andrea walked into the kitchen. “Holy shit. A family reunion.”
“We must be the lucky ones with the insomnia gene,” I said.
Andrea shrugged and nodded. “I slept like an hour, but I woke up again.” Andrea plopped in a seat beside Ace.
We were silent for a long time.
“Are you going to stay after all this crap is over?” Andrea asked.
“I doubt it. I don’t know yet. That’s something Abigail, and I have to talk about.”
“When will I get to meet her?” Andrea asked.
“She’s here,” I said. “I’m sure you’ll see her up in a few hours if you’re up.”
“Did you tell Iris and Abigail the truth?” Ace wondered.
“Yes,” I said. “They’ll stay quiet about it.”
“So, how is Iris feeling? She was in a coma for seven years, wasn’t she?” Angel asked.
“She seems fine, and the doctors told her she was okay. She’s just weak from it still.”
“I’ll have Mia work with her,” Angel said.
“Do you call her Mom?” Andrea asked.
“Usually,” I said. “She was a good mother. Harold was the problem.”
We fell into silence again. It felt strange standing around in a kitchen with three people that practically mirrored me mentally and physically.
“I’m going to attempt to go to sleep again,” I said.
“Good luck,” all three of them said.
“I’m going to need it,” I muttered, probably too quietly for them to hear.
I crawled back into the bed carefully, so I didn’t wake Abigail. I wrapped my arm around her waist and scooted closer to her. I pushed the thoughts back that threatened to keep me awake and closed my eyes.
When I woke the next morning, I knew before I looked at the clock that I didn’t sleep much. My vision blurred from the lack of sleep, but I knew once I had caffeine, it wouldn’t matter or bother me. Abigail was still sound asleep. Her brown curly hair fanned across the pillow. I stared at her for a long moment before I crawled out of bed.
The smell of coffee lured me into the kitchen. I had a serious caffeine addiction. I couldn’t function without it in the morning. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. The entire family seemed to be piled into the kitchen.
Stormy sat at the table with the other kids. She kept her eyes on her plate. Stormy wasn’t the shy type, but she was in a strange house with people she never met.
Iris came into the kitchen shortly after I did. She stared longingly at the coffee pot. Without asking, I poured Iris a cup and handed it to her.
She thanked me quietly.
“Is it always so crowded in this house?” I asked.
“Buddy, this isn’t crowded,” Angel said and chuckled. “Just wait until the others get here.”
“Others?” I raised one eyebrow at him.
“Yeah, Alana, Aiden, Arianna, and Adelina are coming to meet you,” Angel said.
“So is Carlos, Tammy, and Tina,” Aria added.
“Right,” I said. “Who is Carlos, Tammy, and Tina again?”
“Carlos and Tammy are your grandparents. Tina is your great aunt and Tammy’s sister. My mother Adrianna is coming too,” Ace said.
“Alright. So, I triggered a family reunion?” My voice stayed light, but part of me didn’t like all the attention.
“When you finish that, we want you to come to the basement with us. We have a few things we want to teach you,” Ace said.
“Sure,” I said.
Everyone in the kitchen chattered lightly. Iris, Stormy, and I stayed quiet for the most part. Abigail came in a short time later and grabbed a cup of coffee. She sat down beside Stormy, and Stormy relaxed a little.
I followed Ace and Aria down to the basement, which they had set up like a massive gym. There was a boxing ring, punching bags, and different equipment. They walked to a different room, which appeared to be a shooting range.
They stopped me in front of a dummy in the shape of a man. Ace handed me a knife and held onto several more.
Aria smiled at me. “Have you ever tried throwing a knife?”
“You mean, like this?” I asked. I pulled my arm back and whipped the knife forward. The knife spiraled through the air, struck the dummy where the eye would be with such force that the dummy fell over.
Ace and Aria turned and stared at me in disbelief. Their eyes were wide, and their mouths hung open.
“Um, something like that,” Ace said. “Damn, bebita, he makes you look bad.” Ace’s voice was light and teasing as the words came out.
Aria snickered and rolled her eyes.
“Okay, kid. You got our attention. What else can you do?” Ace asked.
“Pretty much any mixed martial arts. Knives aren’t a problem, and I can shoot guns and bows.”
Aria threw her arms in the air and let them drop. “Ace, I don’t think we can teach him anything he doesn’t know.”
“Alright. Should we find out how strong of a fighter you are?” Ace asked.
“Sure,” I said and shrugged.
We went back out to the room that had a boxing ring. Aria pulled a mat out and gestured for us to proceed.
Ace and I stepped onto the mat.
“Be careful with your father. He’s getting old, and he’s taken a lot of beatings over the years,” Aria said.
“Especially from your mother,” Ace said.
I threw my head back and laughed.
“Pin me,” Ace said.
I looked at him warily. “This is weird.”
“I know, but just do it. Imagine me as someone you hate,” Ace suggested.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “I might kill you.” I stepped forward and swung my arm out, but Ace moved away quickly. I wasn’t expecting Ace to be able to move so fast, considering his age. I knew that both Ace and Aria were headed for sixty years old. However, they didn’t look it, and they sure as hell didn’t move like it. They were more fit than most people their age.
Ace reached for me, but I blocked him and stepped away. We both tried to come at each other, but neither one of us could get to the other.
“Try harder,” Ace said.
I took a deep breath and came at him again. This time when he caught my arm to stop me, that was what I wanted. I used my free arm and my legs to get him down onto the mat and pin him.
“Oof,” Ace huffed.
“What are you doing, old man?” Angel asked.
Ace’s gaze flickered to Angel’s, and a flash of excitement clouded his eyes. Angel and I stared at him, confused.
“I want you two to box,” Ace said.
“That’s not fair, Dad. I was a boxing champion,” Angel said.
“Exactly,” Ace agreed. Ace and I got to our feet. “Have you ever boxed?”
“Yeah, when I was younger,” I said. “It’s been a while.”
“I want you two to do this like you mean it,” Ace said sternly.
“Ace, what if one of them gets hurt?” Aria’s eyes and voice filled with concern.
“If it gets too serious, we’ll end it,” Ace said. Ace stayed beside Aria as I jumped into the boxing ring. Ace murmured something to Aria that he didn’t mean for me to hear. “That kid is fucking dangerous.”
Angel and I put the gloves on and took off our shirts. We danced around the ring. Every time Angel went to swing at me, I blocked the hit. However, most of the times I swung, I didn’t miss.
Angel started to wear down. We didn’t hit each other in the face, but I could tell that Angel would have bruises on his ribs and chest.
“That’s enough,” Aria said. “Shake hands, boys.”
Angel and I tossed the gloves and shook hands. Angel stared at me with a mix of shock and envy. “No experience? That’s hard to believe.”
“I used to box from ten until thirteen, but I quit doing it. They put me in a hospital. I’ve always been a strong fighter, no matter what it was,” I explained.
We jumped out of the ring.
Ace stared at me in disbelief. “In all my years,” he said and shook his head. “I’ve never seen anybody fight like that.”
“Yeah, well, when you’re a kid fighting off a grown-ass man, you learn a thing or two. Harold threw something at my eyes once that caused temporary blindness, and I had to fight against him only using my other senses. I got in a lot of fights in and out of school and at home. All I ever did was fight, and I avoid it when I can,” I said. “I’m tired of fighting.” I bit back the emotion that rose in my throat.
Aria rubbed her forehead as if to push her thoughts away. “Sometimes fighting is the only solution, and in this case, you’re going to have to be prepared.”
Ace gave me an apologetic look. “She’s right, but what you’re capable of. . .it’s the most unreal thing I have ever seen, and that says a lot coming from me, trust me.”
Aria nodded in agreement. “Your father is still considered to be the best assassin that the Latin Kings ever had, Andrew,” Aria said softly. “What you’re capable of, it’s beyond us. Above us.”
I felt awkward. It was a compliment, but somehow it didn’t feel like one. They were basically telling me I was designed to kill, and that scared me a little.
Weeks passed without incident. Angel took me along to a few of his meetings. The main things they dealt were weapons and explosives. Everyone called me Andrew, but Abigail often called me Andy. After others started hearing Abigail say, Andy, they started to call me that at times too. The only one who didn’t call me Andrew or Andy was Stormy—Stormy called me Dad and nothing else.
At first, it felt strange that Stormy called me that, but she did it on her own, and I wasn’t going to tell her not to call me that. I couldn’t break that little girl’s heart; I couldn’t stand her being hurt emotionally or physically.
Life had completely changed for me. I spent years knowing exactly who and what I was. Suddenly, I didn’t know myself at all. It was like having to reprogram a computer. It was as if I was learning how life worked all over again.
People didn’t look at me like I was a horrible boy that killed his family. Some people looked at me with envy and respect, and I didn’t know how to respond to it. All of the compliments and the way I got treated started to give me a big head, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“Abby,” I pounded on the bedroom door. “Abby, come back downstairs, please. I was only joking around.” I sighed and rested my forehead against the bedroom door. “Abby, I’m coming in one way or the other. If you don’t unlock this door, I’m going to break it down.”
After a long moment, I heard the click of the lock. She opened the door and immediately walked away. I walked after her and closed the door. I stopped when I noticed her duffel bag on the bed, open and filled with clothes. She zipped the duffel bag smoothly and slung it over her shoulder. My eyes locked with hers when she turned around.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little bit?” I demanded.
“Overreacting?” Abigail challenged.
That probably is the wrong word to use. Women hate that word. Even though I knew I was in the wrong, I stood my ground. “Yeah, overreacting,” I snapped. “It’s what you’re good at, isn’t it? You’ve been like this for two fucking weeks, Abby. Since when can you not take a damn joke?”
“Since the jokes get too fucking personal!” she snapped. “Since the jokes humiliate me. Do you think I like the fact that I was a stripper? I don’t want everyone knowing that about me, and your family just found out in the worst way. You made a damn joke out of it.”
I covered my face with my hands and rubbed it fiercely. “I’m sorry, okay?”
“You’ve apologized to me like every day this week. Do you realize that? Where am I supposed to draw the line, huh?” Abby shrugged her shoulders and looked away. “I’m drawing it. You’ve humiliated me for the last time. I’m taking Stormy, and I’m going back home.”
“You can’t leave, Abby,” I murmured. “You and Stormy are the first ones he will look for. Don’t you get that?” I stepped closer to her.
“What makes you so sure?” Her voice filled with so much challenge and venom that I broke my stride.
How could she even ask me that? “How could you ask me that?” I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head. I chuckled under my breath and shook my head. “You two are the most important to me, and I don’t doubt that he has that figured out by now. He sent people after me while I was with you, remember?”
“We were,” Abigail corrected.
I shook my head. “No. You still are,” I spat.
Tears filled her eyes as the anger faded. “Not anymore. You’re not the same. All of this,” Abigail paused and gestured around the room. “It has changed you. You’re not the same guy that I fell in love with.”
My mind swirled down into something dark. I rolled my eyes and scoffed. “Well, of course not!” I shouted. The loudness of my voice made her jump, and her eyes widened. “I don’t even have the same damn name, Abby! For years I walked around alone, being told that I was sick when I wasn’t. People looked at me like I was some cold, heartless murderer. They trashed my fucking apartment, my car, my bike, and anything else they could get their god damn hands on!”
She sniffled and looked down at the floor. “But—”
“But what, Abby?” I snapped. “You didn’t know all of that, right? I mean, you knew about my car, but you didn’t know that they came into my fucking house, right? That’s right because I never told you. You don’t understand the shit that I took for so many damn years. Doctors would test me every day, and when they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, they would just experiment with medication until they found the one that wouldn’t make me physically sick. I would spend days in a hospital bed, puking and barely able to breathe because of the shit they would put me on.
“So, you’re right,” I paused. “You’re absolutely right. I’m not the same guy. Not at all. It’s like someone taking you apart and putting you back together. I don’t know how I’m supposed to act or talk or anything. What I do know is I’m not going back to Florida, not even when all of this is over. I refuse to spend my life being treated like something that someone stepped in.”
Abigail stared at me for a long moment. “So, that’s it? When you asked me if I would stay here with you after this was over, you really had no intention of leaving,” she guessed.
“No, that’s not true. At first, I would have followed you anywhere, even if that meant that I was a miserable fuck like I have been since we met. I realized after a while that I can’t go backwards like that. I love you, and I love Stormy, but I’m not that guy anymore.”
“What are you? I don’t even think you know,” she said.
“I don’t know,” I whispered. “I’m fucked up. Don’t you think that I know that? I don’t understand what is happening to me any more than you do.”
She moved closer to me and stopped in front of me. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, as it always did when she got close to me, but lust and love weren’t always enough, and she knew that well, thanks to Jason.
She stared into my eyes as she spoke. “You might not have liked who you were, but that’s who I fell in love with. I fell for Hayden, not Andrew. So, if Hayden decides to show back up, you tell him to give me a call, but if this is who Andrew is, stay the hell away from me.”
I scoffed and shook my head. “Hayden is dead, bebé,” I whispered. “He’s not coming back.”
She shrugged. “Then neither am I,” she murmured. “I won’t spend my life with some egotistical jerk that puts me down to keep everyone’s eyes off of him.”
“That’s not what I was—”
“If it makes you feel better, keep telling yourself that, Andy.” She stood on her toes, and her lips brushed my cheek. The warmth of her lips stung me. The feeling was worse than a bee sting. It was more like a thousand bee stings all over my body. I hated it, but I didn’t know how to go back to the way I was before. After finding out all the things that I did, going back would have been impossible for anyone.
“Abby,” I whispered.
Her eyes locked with mine and her lips were dangerously close to mine.
“I can’t make you stay, but think this over, please. For the sake of your safety and Stormy’s safety,” I said. I swallowed hard. It felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I couldn’t stand the thought of her leaving, but she was right. I wasn’t treating her the same way.
“We will be fine,” she muttered. “We have been all over California the past few weeks, and nothing has happened. Maybe Harold isn’t as big and bad as Hattie said, or you thought.”
“No. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know that man like I do. He is as big and bad as I said he is.” I shifted my weight awkwardly.
“Look, I know you went through hell, especially with Harold. I get that, okay? But I can’t stay here and be the center of your wise-ass remarks anymore. Next thing you know, you’re going to be joking about me getting knocked up with Stormy,” she muttered.
“I said that I was sorry, Abby. And as for Stormy, I would never say anything remotely bad or insulting about her,” I argued.
“Just me, right?” Her eyebrow arched.
It felt like a low blow, but I couldn’t comment. I had said some things this week I shouldn’t have, things that weren’t like me.
“Not to mention you traded one group of Latin Kings for another. You can’t change who your family is, and I get that, but you shouldn’t have to change for them either, and I don’t think you understand that. You need to figure yourself out and learn to be happy with who you are before I could even consider forgiving you for the things you have said to me and about me. You’re no better than Ryan,” she said.
The last part pissed me off. “Are you out of your fucking mind? Don’t you dare compare me to that piece of shit,” I spat.
“It’s true!” she shouted. “You may not have put me down for the same things, but you did!” Abigail shoved past me and out the door.
“Abby, wait,” I called after her. It didn’t matter what I said, I screwed up, and I knew it. Maybe some part of me wanted her to leave because I feared for her safety and Stormy’s. Maybe I could have stopped her. Maybe I couldn’t.