Woods and Worries
I sigh as Chris continues to pace. His eyebrows were drawn together in a frown and creases decorated his forehead. He was evidently worried.
It had been three hours since he started and I was getting tired of waiting for him to talk."Chris, relax. She's your sister, you don't have to be nervous about her coming back." He looks up, startled at my voice. I guess he forgot I was here.
He exhales quickly before running his hand through his chestnut-colored hair." I know. But I haven't seen her in 8 years, haven't talked to her in 3 and she hasn't tried contacting us either. It's almost like she doesn't want to come home. What if she's forgotten what we look like?!"
I give him a reproachful look before answering him." You know she didn't leave because she wanted to. She had to get the drug out of her addict. She was addicted. And you know how the HQ is about anything that makes us even relatively human, so of course she couldn't call. Plus, she's a Legionary now. You should be proud of her."
Chris runs a hand through his chestnut-colored hair."I know. I am. Is it bad that I almost wish she wasn't one? I mean she could have come home 6 years ago if she wasn't a Legionary." I don't say anything as he walks towards where I sat against the tree before sliding down and looking back at me."Aren't you worried she forgot you?"
I ignore the way my heart skips at the question. I turn back to my sketch before replying." No, not really. It's not like we were close." He raises an eyebrow at me and opens his mouth to respond when his phone rings.
I let out a sigh of relief when he answers the phone and diverts his attention away from me." Hey, Aust. What's-"
He's cut off almost immediately, and I tune in to the conversation.
"Everything! Everything's fucked up, Chris! I've lost the keys to the car, I burnt the food, Elmo's missing, and I just realized that Juliet gave us the flight timings based on Rome, not California!", Austin yells into the phone, his breathing quickening with every word, and Chris sends me a surprised look. Austin wasn't one to get all worked up. He was, in comparison, the level headed brother.
"Austin, Relax. We have the car and we'll be on our way back soon. Don't worry about the food, Jason and I'll cover it. Elmo's probably hiding somewhere, just sniff him out, you're a werewolf for God's sake! And her flight lands in two hours, I checked, so don't worry about it.", He says, concern finding its way into his voice.
I hear him taking a deep breath before replying, his voice much calmer." Okay, yeah. You're right. Thanks, Chris. Get back home soon, alright? And tell Jason to come over too."
Chris smirks at me." Don't worry, he'll be there whether we invite him or not. He's annoying like that." I roll my eyes at him before hitting him on the back of his head. He winces before smiling at me. Austin laughs before hanging up.
"We should head back.", I nod in response before walking towards the black Porsche parked at the road and getting in at the passenger side. Chris climbs in, starts the car and we start the half-hour journey back to the living quarters of the Praetorian Gard.
My mind wanders to Juliet, the youngest and only living female of the Santiago family. It was expected for me to think about her, she was coming home after all. I look over at Chris when we pass an ugly, burnt house and I let out an internal sigh of relief when his hands don't tighten around the wheel. He had healed. Well, as much as possible.
Chris and I had been friends since the day the Lorenzos adopted me 12 years ago. I had been a half-blood in the foster care system for 2 years when they found me, they gave me a new life, a new beginning, and a family I would kill for. The Santiagos just happened to be a part of that family.
Their father had left a few months before Juliet had been born. Their mother had met Elias Cartwright almost immediately after and they got married in less than a year. He was amazing at first, I guess. By the time I entered the scene, his physical violence had escalated to leaving the kids beaten and bloody and raping Ms. Santiago.
What was worse was that Juliet had seen it happen on multiple occasions. She suffered from constant nightmares, panic attacks, and flashbacks. Ms. Santiago asked mom for a drug that brought almost immediate unconscious, venenum dormienti. Little did we know that Juliet would start taking it on a daily basis. Trying to take it away from her had almost killed her. At the age of 6, she was addicted to a drug that both saved and destroyed her.
When a letter asking the boys to join the Praetor Guard for 'early training' came, Mrs. Santiago gladly accepted the offer. They had fought her tooth and nail, begging her to let them stay, until Juliet had pleaded with them to go. Chris had pulled me aside before leaving, asking me to protect her, he didn't know that I would have protected her whether he asked me to or not. I followed her around at school, tried to keep her mind off her mom, invited her to spend as much time away from home as possible. I like to think it helped, if just a little.
Then came the fateful night that the Santiago household burnt to the ground, Ms. Santiago and Elias with it. I had barely managed to get Juliet out. The HQ finally decided to interfere and sent her for drug rehabilitation in Rome, leaving the brothers here to continue their training and me to become the first half-blood to join the Guard.
The mark on my shoulder, burnt there with a silver stamp dipped in a mixture of dragon scales, crushed wolfsbane, and vampire venom, when I was 8, tingles as the living quarters of the USA Praetorian Guard comes into view. Without the symbol of two black swords forming an x on my skin, the building would have been invisible to me.
" Dude, snap out of it. You literally passed by your girlfriend without saying a word.", he says pulling me out of my thoughts. Sophia and I weren't dating, per se. "We just slept together. It was just a fuck. Plus, I heard she's been dating some guy in Rome.", I tell him as we enter the elevator and press the button to Austin's floor. He gives me a weird look and looks like he wants to ask me something when his phone beeps with a text and his face lights up." We have to leave for the airport, in another half hour. Juliet's flight will land by then.", he tells me and I ignore the little dance my heart does." Cool."
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